And there were these footnotes to the story of America's war on terror.

For a movement that represses women, this must be a sign of desperation. Usama bin Laden has reportedly told his loyalists to give guns to their wives. The British paper The Sun says anti-Taliban fighters intercepted bin Laden's radio messages, in which his henchmen were instructed to give guns to their wives "as necessary to fight against the infidel aggressors." Al Qaeda must not know the old expression about a woman scorned.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union is sending letters to police chiefs across Texas urging them not to cooperate with the federal government's interviews of thousands of Middle Eastern men. The letter says the group isn't trying to obstruct the investigation, but it argues that the Justice Department's plan violates the principles of the constitution.

The executive director of the Texas ACLU calls the government's tactics   "heavy-handed" and "antagonistic." The letter also praises the police departments in Austin, Texas, and Richardson for refusing to take part in the interrogations. But those departments say they will assist the government if asked to do so, as long as the interviews are voluntary.

Remember Argenbright — the private security company vilified for using convicts and foreign nationals at major U.S. airports, and the company that provided security for two of the three airports where terrorists hijacked planes on Sept. 11?   Well, the Voice of America reports that Argenbright once provided guard services for CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.   A spokesman says the agency no longer gets guards from Argenbright but employs private guards to escort maintenance type workers on the grounds. All those guards, the spokesman insists, have passed rigorous background checks.

And in Ramsey County, Minn., officials "banned red poinsettias" from the holiday floral display at the feet of the "Vision of Peace statue" in St. Paul, Minn.

The officials said, "there had been complaints that red poinsettias were a Christian symbol. So they replaced the red poinsettias with white ones, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Apparently some didn't take well to the political correctness, and some of the red-leafed plants were smuggled into City Hall overnight" and inserted into the display.

The County Manger says he'll leave them.