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A NEW PRIORITY: Clean hands? No, child care. A new OECD report recommends that Japan expand child care and pay more attention to work-life balance to boost female employment.

Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

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Timing is Everything: Staff writer Howard LaFranchi was impressed when he arrived in Baghdad in mid-April to see a refurbished and newly reopened park along the Tigris River in central Baghdad. But no one was using it.
"For five weeks, I drove by the park while on the way to interviews or press conferences in the Green Zone. I asked if people were afraid to use the park or if they just went there at times when I wasn't driving by. I was told people came out in the cooler evening hours," he says.
Shortly before he left Baghdad, Howard confirmed that for himself. "I found the place swarming with strolling couples, families taking pictures, and children waiting in line at the slides and swings," he says.
He admits that the cautiously hopeful tone of today's story may be a reflection of "the fact that my last outing in Baghdad was to such a hopeful new slice of the city."

Don't Call Us: To understand a conflict often requires speaking to both parties involved. But if the Nigerian government is one of the parties, communication is difficult, says correspondent Sara Simpson (see story).

"There are very few operating land lines in Nigeria, and there's no up-to-date phone book or directory of government officials that the media can contact," she says.

What about e-mail? Well, there's no standardized government address either. "Most government officials use Yahoo or Hotmail accounts for official business," she says.

Nigeria has a Ministry of Information, but she says, "the minister is a very busy man with several mobile phone numbers and rarely reachable on any of them."

David Clark Scott

World editor


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