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South Africa and Lesotho top gender equality list

The World Economic Forum posted the 2009 Global Gender Gap Report today, its yearly survey of gender inequality based on economic, political, educational and health factors.  For the first time, two African nations entered the top 10 rankings:  South Africa at #6 position (up from #22 in 2008) and Lesotho in the #10 slot (up from #16 in 2008).

The increased ranking for South Africa is due to increases in parliamentary and ministerial positions for women under the new government. Lesotho holds its strong position thanks to its lack of gender gap in health and education services.

These advances for South Africa may come as a surprise to many who feared for women's empowerment in South Africa following the May election of President Jacob Zuma, a practicing polygamist and accused rapist.

The World Economic Forum reports that two thirds of countries surveyed have made reduction in their gender gaps since 2006. However, the United States fell four spots since last year, coming in at #31 on the list. It looks like the death of macho due to the global recession may not be occurring as quickly as some expected. In any case, the United States is not alone in its loss of gender equality; Germany, the United Kingdom and France also saw declines in their rankings since last year.

Unsurprisingly, the bottom of the list remained largely unchanged from last year with Yemen, Chad, Pakistan, Benin, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran continuing to boast the world's worst gender gaps.

ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

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It's hard out there for a Saddam Hussein

Najaf is apparently not a friendly place for people named Saddam Hussein these day:

On last week's edition of Radio Free Iraq's weekly call-in show, "Open Windows," host Ferial Hussein spoke to a caller named Saddam Hussein, who complained that he has been facing discrimination and employment problems in Iraq due to his name.

Internally displaced from Diyala to Najaf, Saddam told Ferial that he had graduated from teaching academy and was attempting to find work with the Ministry of Education. He claimed that although he possessed the basic credentials required for the position, his application was rejected solely on the basis of his unfortunate name.

Saddam explained that his name has become a source of problems for him ever since he moved to Najaf -- a city that is predominantly Shi'a. He complained that he has often been summoned to the police station to check his documentation and papers. "How many other people have to do that?" he asked in frustration.

At least this guy's parents named him while Saddam was still in power. That's more than you can say for Adolph Hitler Campbell's family.