Reporters on the Job

No Vote Too Far: Granted French citizenship by virtue of his marriage to a Frenchwoman, Peter Ford is entitled to vote in French elections (see story). He is registered in his wife's home village in Burgundy, where his vote is important for the election of various in-laws to the village council; but that is inconvenient since he lives 250 miles away in Paris. That meant that on Sunday that he took a nearly three-hour train ride, and then walked a couple of miles to get to his polling station, a civic duty Peter says he was glad to do, especially since he has spent a lot of his life in countries where democracy is tenuous or nonexistent.

"But the three fellows manning the polls were astonished to see me and my wife roll up," Peter says. "They were quite impressed, since half the village couldn't be bothered." Still, the mayor was proud that he managed a 50 percent turnout, when the national average was only 43 percent, and so was Peter. "My wife and I constituted more than 1 percent of the vote on our own."

Greenwich Village a la Baghdad: For Tuesday's story on Iraqi artists' response to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison (see story), correspondent Nicholas Blanford went to the Hewar Gallery in Baghdad. On a day that had started with news of yet another car bombing that killed at least 13 people in the city center, it was like walking into a different world. "So many attacks are happening that everyone is getting very jumpy as we approach the June 30 handover," says Nick. "But at this gallery, the atmosphere was very convivial. Veiled and unveiled women, people young and old, were sitting around, very relaxed. There was a cafe atmosphere. One man fell asleep in the sun."

Nick had another appointment, but was sorely tempted to stay at the gallery. "Being there was a welcome break from all the tensions of living and working in Baghdad."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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