And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine:
Digging for the Root of Terror
A new study is casting doubt on the idea that poverty and lack of education are root causes of terrorism. Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., examined the background of 129 Hezbollah extremists killed in operations against Israel in the past 20 years. It found that, on the whole, they were less likely to come from poor families and more likely to have at least a secondary education, than others in Lebanon, the country where Hezbollah is based. The British newspaper the Guardian reports that the same researchers also found a correlation between better education and terrorism among Palestinian suicide bombers.
Saudi Government Internet Regulators
Saudi Arabia, ever on the lookout for signs of freedom in that country, now strictly controls which worldwide Web sites its people can see. A Harvard Law School study has found that approximately 2,000 Internet sites are blocked by the Saudi government, including the women's lifestyle site iVillage.com, the Rolling Stone Magazine site, and beachqueen.com, a British site that sells women's bathing suits, including bikinis. The BBC reports that the Saudi government routes all Web traffic through its Internet Services Unit, which monitors all traffic, and says it "preserves our Islamic values...filtering the Internet content to prevent the materials that contradict with our beliefs.”
World Youth Day Cuban Refugees
Twenty-three young Cuban Catholics are seeking asylum in Canada, after coming there to attend last week's World Youth Day celebrations, a religious event that culminated Sunday with a papal mass for 800,000 people. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports there were 200 Cuban delegates to the event, and the 23 who stayed are now hiding out in various locations around Toronto. World Youth Day officials are not pleased. A spokesman said, "That's not why we held World Youth Day.…We wanted people to come for the right reasons."
Selling a Cemetery
Out in Santa Cruz, Calif., the local SPCA is trying to sell off a pet cemetery to help it pay off debts. The site would then be dug up and the property paved over for development. But there's a hitch, and it's not the dead dogs and cats who would be dug up. It's that the Mount Hermon June Beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower have been discovered on the site and both are endangered species.