And now the most interesting two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Closer to Clinton?
It seems the political clout that executives at now-bankrupt Enron allegedly exercised in the Bush administration did not begin there. A brief story in the new Time magazine reports that "the energy giant enjoyed much closer ties with Clinton administration regulators than was generally known." For example, Time reports that a 1995 plan to help energy companies get cash and credit was redrafted along lines Enron suggested. And it says that in 1996, Enron made its biggest campaign contribution ever, $100,000 to the Democratic Party.
Jackson and Sharpton No-Shows
Some reports put the attendance in the thousands, but the AP says that only a few hundred black demonstrators rallied for the payment of reparations for slavery Saturday here in Washington. Louis Farrakhan was there, but Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton skipped the event. One speaker, New York City Councilman Charles Barron, said, "I want to go up to the closest white person and say, ‘You can't understand this, it's a black thing,' and then slap him, just for my mental health."
Never Too Old to Vacation
Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, often described as so old and infirm that he leaves all the governing decisions to others, is still apparently capable of vigorous vacationing. The AP reports that the 81-year-old king and his entourage has now arrived in Malaga on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, having traveled there from Switzerland in 12 large passenger jets. The king was headed for his mansion in the coastal town of Marbella, where local shopkeepers are reported to have stocked up on luxury items for the royal party. Officials in Marbella estimate that Fahd and company will spend as much as $6 million a day.
Saudis Sour on Strictness
Meanwhile, back in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the AP says citizens are not happy about the new strictness the United States is applying in dealing with visa applications. No longer can the paperwork be handled by travel agents; would-be visitors to the United States must go to the embassy, wait their turn and be interviewed. The result has been lines outside the building in the heat, and angry Saudis, like commercial pilot Sultan al Duweih, who said, "This is too much, over and beyond disgusting." Saudis, he complained, were being punished collectively for the actions of the Sept. 11 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.