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Reporters on the Job

SADDAM'S MISSING PORTRAIT: When the headmistress of Al Khakha primary school in Baghdad told Peter Ford that she had taken down and torn up the portrait of Saddam Hussein that had hung in her office until last month, he had no reason to disbelieve her. Peter was there to try to gauge the degree of "de-Baathification" in the schools.

"But my driver, seeing an apparently intact picture frame leaning face down against the wall, told me later that he suspected she had kept the portrait just in case Saddam ever returned," says Peter. "Given the fear many Iraqis still have of such an eventuality, I wanted to check, but didn't feel I could go back and ask point blank."

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But Peter's driver, whose daughter attends the school, had once repaired the portrait's frame as part of a PTA drive to refurbish the school. So Thursday morning he used that as an excuse to examine it more closely. Sure enough, the headmistress had been telling the truth: Saddam's likeness had been removed.

HUNTING FOR A STORY: Reporter Philip Smucker heard that some of the suicide bombers in last week's attack in Casablanca were from the shantytowns of Morocco, so he went looking for someone who knew them. He struck out in the first location. "My driver and I went to McDonald's for a Sahara burger (two spicy all-beef patties) and drove to the second shantytown," says Philip. But his driver- interpreter refused to accompany him. "He said it was too dangerous, too many thieves. He would wait for me at a cafe at the base of the hill." Philip went into the cafe, too, and asked around about the bomber, but no one was willing to talk. When Philip returned an hour later, he found his driver chatting with a cafe patron. "This guy knew one of the bombers, he'd been his friend. He didn't tell me a whole lot, but what he did became the lead of my story.".

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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