And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
A Palestinian journalist, reporting from inside Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's besieged West Bank compound, reports that Arafat remains very much in charge. Journalist Rashid Hilal, whose reports were picked up by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote that "Arafat is personally and courageously managing the conflict and he raises our morale all the time." The journalist said Arafat has about 300 people around him and while there is no electricity, they do get food and drink every day and have managed to keep cell phones working. That, he reports, has managed to keep Arafat in touch with such foreign leaders as Javier Solana of the European Union and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Speaking of the Saudis, they are now joining Iraq in sending payments to the families of what they're calling "martyrs" — those killed in the Palestinian uprising. UPI says what's called "The Saudi Committee for the Support of the Al Aqsa Intifada" is giving $5,333 to the families of the dead, as well as $4,000 to each Palestinian getting medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Saudi official television and radio stations held an 11-hour telethon today, with the Royal Family contributing nearly $5 million. The Saudi embassy in Washington said the term "martyr" does not refer to suicide bombers but to "Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence." But Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations says the families of suicide bombers are just as needy as those killed by military attacks.
Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo says a State Department visa application form asks if the applicant is coming to the United States "to engage in subversive or terrorist activities" and if the applicant "is a member of a terrorist organization." But it goes on to say, "A ‘Yes’ answer does not automatically signify ineligibility for a visa."
Stupid White Men, the book by left-wing activist Michael Moore, which has topped the New York Times bestseller list, is being challenged for both its originality and accuracy. The book contains a list of what it calls 48 dubious achievements of President Bush. But Salon.com has found the list virtually identical to one called The Bush Wall of Shame that was written by California political activists Kirsten Selberg for an anti-Bush protest last May. And Moore quotes Fox News Contributor Fred Barnes as telling him over the phone that he knew nothing about the Odyssey and the Iliad. Barnes said today he had never talked to Moore in his life and that he read both the Odyssey and the Iliad, cover to cover, in college.