And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
Local Afghans are saying that just before Operation Anaconda started, senior Al Qaeda leaders, possibly including Usama bin Laden's right hand man, were holed up in newly dug caves in Eastern Afghanistan and plotting new attacks against the United States. The Christian Science Monitor quotes local villagers as saying that Al Qaeda fighters were led by a man referred to as the "sheik" or "the doctor," and that he was a portly man with glasses, which fits the description of top bin Laden lieutenant Zayman al Zawahiri. The locals also said they had advance warning of the U.S. operation which enabled them – and senior Al Qaeda, to get away.
The Saudi Arabian government has issued a report suggesting that impostors were responsible for the incident last week in which rescue workers were prevented from helping young girls escape from a fire at their school in the holy city of Mecca. Saudi news agencies reported that members of the religious police not only interfered with the rescue workers but blocked the girls from leaving the burning building because they were not wearing the black gowns and head scarves their Muslim faith requires. Fifteen girls died in the fire, but the government is now suggesting those who blocked the way weren't really members of the religious police.
California political circles are still buzzing about the interview Gov. Gray Davis gave The San Diego Union-Tribune in which he said of his role in the state's energy crunch, "I saved this friggin' paper. I kept the lights on in this state. Do you understand that? I kept the lights on." He added, "I should at least get a round of applause. I don't get squat. People just roundly criticize me." Davis said the energy situation was like a war. "This is worse than being in Vietnam. This is a full out war against me."
Speaking of California, Barnabas Miller, a registered Republican in the town of Lafayette has been called to jury duty. The problem is that Barnabas is a poodle. His owner, a 78-year-old retired ironworker named Donald Miller, says he sent in a voter registration form for Barnabas to point out holes in the system. "If I can register my dog," he said, "Anybody can register." But Candy Lopez, the Contra Costa County assistant registrar, was not amused. "He should not make his point in this manner," she said.