And now the most captivating two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Backed Out on Baghdad
Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter has now canceled a planned trip to Baghdad in which he was to advise the Iraqi government on how to avoid a war with the United States. Ritter told the Albany Times Union he is not going to Iraq, but gave no reason. This comes after it was disclosed that Ritter was arrested in June 2001 after he lured an undercover policewoman posing on the Internet as a 16-year-old girl to a meeting at a Burger King restaurant. Child endangerment charges were dropped. It turns out Ritter was also let go after being arrested earlier that year when police say he tried to meet a 14-year-old girl he had met on the Internet. Ritter at first denied the incidents, but his lawyer has since confirmed the arrests.
Fifty-four-year-old Patrick Cubbage, a Vietnam combat veteran and retired Philadelphia policeman, has lost his job as an honor guardsman for funerals at a state military cemetery near Trenton, N.J. The reason for the firing: when presenting the folded flag to families who had indicated they were religious, he would say the following, "God bless you and this family and God bless the United States of America." That blessing is actually contained in a manual for such services, but the Philadelphia Inquirer says the state's affirmative action officer ruled there must be nothing said that could be interpreted as a government endorsement of religion. When Cubbage persisted, he was fired.
And the NAACP is now running this ad in movie theaters:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Today the NAACP is still leading the fight to bring justice and equality to everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
It is a staged re-enactment of an event that took place at the Supreme Court four and a half years ago but it had nothing to do with the filing of a legal case. NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume and his fellow protesters were protesting what they said was the paucity of minority law clerks at the court. When they crossed a police barricade, they were arrested.