Reporters on the Job

Benoit Tessier/Reuters
Balloon dog: If you’ve been wondering what American artist Jeff Koons has been up to, check out the latest exhibit at the Palace of Versailles near Paris. His 17 steel sculptures include this balloon dog, a rabbit, and a lobster, scattered throughout the ornate French palace.

Dark Iraqi Humor: While reporting on the Daughters of Iraq, a women's community policing program, staff writer Tom A. Peter was reminded that even after years of fighting Iraqis still have a sense of humor – albeit a dark one.

An interview with a sociology professor at Baghdad University lasted longer than expected. The professor's husband arrived to pick her up and waited in the office until the interview was over.

"Shortly after her husband arrived, the professor went on this long soliloquy about how the Iraqi woman has been made strong by years of war and is ready to grow even stronger. She pointed out that all the department heads at the university were men, but she hoped that would soon change," says Tom.

"It was a shared office, so one of her male colleagues overheard the entire interview. When she'd finished, he turned to her husband and jokingly said, 'Now you're going to have to beat your wife when you get home!'

"It was typical, Iraqi dark – and sexist – humor, but it also shows you how secular Iraq is at its core," says Tom. "Even though it's a predominately Muslim country, a lot of Iraqis look down on fundamentalist Muslims, who they see as the kind who would beat their wife for talking about expanding the role of women."

David Clark Scott

World editor

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