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Reporters on the Job

An Iraqi Named Bush: While reporting on Iraq's elections Sunday in Najaf (page 1), staff writer Dan Murphy got turnout estimates from three polling stations. Each was more than 70 percent. Hours before the close of voting, one official told him that 1,500 out of 2,000 registered voters at his station had voted - a 75 percent turnout. By 9 a.m. at another polling station, half of all registered voters had cast ballots. While impressed by the heavy turnout, Dan's says the strangest story of the day came from a family of Shiite voters with a tale of hardship, apparently made more unbearable by their last name.

"They told me that two uncles had been executed by Saddam Hussein. One son had been jailed and tortured after the 1991 Shiite uprising in Najaf. Another son died while serving in the Iraqi Army. The father tried to get his son transferred to a better hospital, but when the military officials found out his name, they refused," says Dan.

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His name? Bush Hamudi Hussein.

"After the Gulf War, his name became a major handicap. Eventually, he told me, he decided to take it a step further and named his daughter Marilyn Bush, in defiance of Saddam. He thought it was the name of the sister of President Bush. (It isn't.) When he went to register the name, he says he was jailed for a month," says Dan.

Apparently, growing up, Marilyn was harassed and was left behind when her school took a field trip to Baghdad on Saddam's birthday. But on Sunday, she seemed to be enjoying the election process. "I met her. She seems like a perfectly impish 9-year-old," Dan says.

David Clark Scott
World editor