Sunday, October 10, 2004

Ground zero

The Indy: “Bombs in Baghdad killed 18 people as the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, declared during a visit to Iraq that America was winning the war against insurgency.” Also, “Mr Rumsfeld’s trip had not been announced beforehand for security reasons.” He held a Q&A with Marines, who were ordered beforehand not to ask him when they would be going home. He told the Marines that Iraq was “ground zero” in the war on terrorism, which must have reassured them no end (American Heritage Dictionary: “Ground zero. n. 1. The target of a projectile, such as a missile or bomb. 2. The site directly below, directly above, or at the point of detonation of a nuclear weapon.”).

For a change of pace, a religious story, from the London Times:
Spanish count jet skis to heaven
From David Sharrock in San Sebastián

A SOCIALITE count hopes to avoid Purgatory by embarking on a maritime pilgrimage, using a jet ski to undertake one of Europe’s most well-trodden paths, the Camino de Santiago.

Alvaro de Marichalar, Spain’s most eligible bachelor, was expected to be somewhere off Spain’s “Coast of Death” this morning, bearing down upon Santiago de Compostela at 35 knots.
For centuries weary pilgrims have walked the Camino de Santiago, from the French Pyrenees and through northern Spain, to atone for their sins, taking an average of three weeks.

But Count Alvaro, who earned a place in The Guinness Book of Records in 2002 by crossing the Atlantic by jet ski, is pioneering what could turn out to be the salvation of time-starved believers.

This is a Xacobeo year — when the day of St James falls on a Sunday in Spain — which means the souls of pilgrims who complete the Camino are excused from Purgatory.

Count Alvaro hopes that by Wednesday evening, having made landfall on the Galician coast and marched the last 18 miles inland, the Camino will have been completed in record time.

The count, 43, was anxious to dispel thoughts that this 650-mile journey is no more than a jaunt for someone who took 63 days to complete the 10,000 nautical miles from Rome to Miami about two years ago.

“Success is never guaranteed, and I will be standing up all the time to avoid injuring my back,” he said.

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