The Middle East. Quick, what do you think of? Oil? Terrorism? Women wearing head-to-toe burqas? Islam? Script with funny squiggles? Can you honestly think of much good? If you had a free ticket to holiday anywhere, would this region even make your short list?
SANA'A, YEMEN ✦ Dohhh! Just when the Yankee cat turns its back to focus on Iraq, the Yemeni mice go out to play. A gang of al-Qaeda-type jailbirds, including two held as key suspects in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, have apparently vanished from a jail in Aden for good. Six weeks ago, they escaped in a style that outdid even the Great Escape from Alcatraz.
SANA'A, YEMEN ✦ The Yanks. We love 'em. We hate 'em. Indeed, Jean and I are still recovering from the news of the brutal slaying of threeU.S.aid workers, including a doctor friend, at Jibla missionary hospital. The killer, apparently an Islamic extremist, reportedly said he killed "to get closer to God." Right. And who better to kill than American Christians? It's killing two birds, innocent as they may be, with one stone. Indeed,U.S.foreign policy really has folks in a huff these days. In fact, many of us would bend over backward to disassociate ourselves from the Yanks. No?
Jean is back in Hamilton to put final touches on McMaster University's Nov. 8 symposium on international women's health. My wife has left me to fend for myself. But rather than take on our kitchen stove, I've decided it's better to get kidnapped.
Dear Osama: We've been back several weeks now and Jean and I are settling nicely in this ancient land of your ancestry. But we're still not sure where the old bin Laden family homestead is. And where, Osama, are you? Somewhere warm?
It's daybreak and we're again travelling the dusty roads of Sanaa, Yemen's capital. After two days of travel, Jean and I are nearing home, a ground-level apartment on a street with no name. Thank you U-2.
So the poor Tories, $5 billion in the red, say they might clobber Ontario's smokers with higher taxes to bankroll new spending. An ex- smoker, I can relate to the pain. Too bad there's not another easy target. Like qat.