And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest footnotes to the American war on terrorism.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has abruptly changed his mind about Usama bin Laden. Last month, Mandela said the Al Qaeda network should be smashed, its strongholds destroyed and that bin Laden himself should be captured and tried for the 9/11 atrocities. Now, though, he's issued a statement saying those views may have been "one-sided and overstated" and saying he may have given the impression that "we are insensitive to and uncaring about the suffering of the Afghan people." Mandela said he was writing to President Bush to amend the views he had expressed to Mr. Bush in person.
The U.S. is paying to buy back stinger missiles, which were provided during the Soviet-Afghan war to the mujahideen guerrillas, but which it is now feared could end up being fired at U.S. aircraft. The Boston Globe says the U.S. recently paid $150,000 apiece to buy five of the shoulder-fired missiles from local warlords in the Kandahar area. No one knows for sure how many stingers may still be in Afghanistan, but the CIA gave rebels 500 of the heat-seeking missiles and estimates at the start of the current military campaign were that as many as 50 to 100 might still be around.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has decided that while it might be unethical to wear fur, it's a different matter for hard-up people in Afghanistan and even in Knoxville, Tenn. PETA, with help from the actress Sally Struthers, is urging people to donate their fur garments to help clothe freezing children in Afghanistan. And today the group was also giving away donated fur garments to needy people outside a Knoxville homeless shelter. No word on whether furs donated for Afghanistan might end up being worn in Tennessee.
The State of California is coming after Dale Atkeson's license plates. The 71-year-old former Washington Redskins fullback has had two vanity plates for years. One of them says, in abbreviated form, “1Redskn,” and the other says “Redskn2.” Atkeson says the word Redskin stands for pride accomplishment and toughness. But a group called Advocates for American Indian Children says the word is "a bad ugly term." The state agrees and wants the plates back.