And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Bush Gets a Not So Brief Briefing
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, it seems, left his recent meeting with President Bush in Texas thinking the President a fine fellow, but poorly informed. Interviewed by the Saudi newspaper Okaz, Abdullah described Mr. Bush as "honest, courageous and highly compassionate." He added, "he listens and debates politely but was not fully informed about the real conditions in the region, especially the conditions suffered by the Palestinian people." He said the President goes to bed at 9:30 after watching only the domestic news and reads only a few lines about the Mideast in the morning. Said Abdullah, "I felt it was my duty to spend as long a time as possible to brief him on the facts directly."
White House In The Dark
Speaking of meetings with the Crown Prince, it turns out that former President Clinton had an unscheduled late night encounter with Abdullah in Houston after the meeting with President Bush. The two were staying in the same hotel and, as USA Today put it, Clinton “headed upstairs after midnight with Abudllah.” The meeting, which reportedly lasted until 4 a.m., was said to have "dismayed" the White House, which Clinton never told about it.
So far, those Palestinian gunmen from the Church of the Nativity who were sent elsewhere seemed to have moved up in the world. The 26 who were shipped off to Gaza are staying in the Cliff Hotel, described by the AP as swanky. The rooms have refrigerators, radio and satellite TV, and ceramic and marble bathrooms. Yasser Arafat is reportedly picking up the tab, and has sprung for a new wardrobe for the men, plus $300 in pocket money. The other 13, now in Cyprus pending exile in Europe, have been housed at the three-star Flamingo hotel in Larnaca, which has all the amenities of the Cliff, plus a heated pool.
And Al Jazeera, the notoriously pro-Palestinian Mideast satellite news channel based in the Gulf State principality of Qatar, has been barred from the fellow Gulf State of Bahrain. Bahrain, which is ruled by a royal family, says Al Jazeera is pro-Israel. The reason: it ran pictures of an anti-U.S. demonstration in Bahrain without permission.