* The two Yemeni parcel bombs discovered on planes 10 days ago carried not only the addresses of Chicago synagogues but also, above them, a pair of intriguing names. They were, respectively: Diego Deza, and Reynald Krak, both of whom loom large in Muslim demonology, and, as is often the case with such figures, lived rather a long time ago. Deza, who died in 1523, succeeded Torquemada as the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, and was notorious for "converting" Muslims and Jews by torturing them. So excessive were his ways that, in 1507, Pope Julius II publicly asked Deza to tone things down a bit. He didn't. The second addressee, Reynald of Chatillon, was a 12th-century Crusader notorious for attacking pilgrims on the way to Mecca, for his lengthy feud with Saladin, and for amusing himself by having hostages flung from the walls of his castle at Kerak on to the rocks below. Having the parcels so addressed is further evidence that they were designed to explode en route, rather than reach their addresses.
* News from the United States that The National Enquirer may not be that much longer for this world – the firm that owns it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – has prompted a flurry of nostalgic stories about some of its more lurid headlines. Among them (and taken from its surprisingly brief crime and gore period) is the paper's most famous story, in August 1963, telling of a murder in the culprit's own words: "I Cut Out Her Heart And Stomped On It". What was ignored by every rendition of this macabre gem was the identity of the victim.
She was a Sonja McCaskie, born in Scotland, and a skier good enough to have represented Britain at the 1960 Winter Olympics. She had come to the US as a child, graduated high school in 1957, attended college in California, and was briefly married. She had a one-year-old son called Kim and, at the time of her death, was working as a part-time ski instructor and at a supermarket in Reno, Nevada. In April 1963, an 18-year-old high-school student called Thomas Lee Bean broke into her apartment, raped, strangled, and mutilated her. He remains in prison; Sonja remains the anonymous object of sniggering over the Enquirer's lip-smacking and tasteless headline. It is one of many reasons to wish the Chapter 11 process is not entirely successful.
* For years, the Swedes assumed that King Carl Gustaf's main interest in life was Scouting for boys, given his enthusiasm for Baden-Powell's organisation. But, according to a new book, scouting for girls was more his line, preferably young ones active in the adult entertainment community. The Reluctant Monarch says that over the decades, the king has spent a fortune on strip clubs, and what have been described rather coyly as "aspiring models". The shock value in Sweden is two-fold: first that not a word of these larks had made it into the press; second, that the king with the Berlusconi appetites is a mild-mannered bespectacled chap. Thus they have fallen for what we might call John Major Syndrome – that because a chap looks like a provincial bank manager, he's a loyal dud in the bedroom. Au contraire, as Sir John might say.
* A teenage reveller was arrested for drunk driving in Nebraska last week. He was seen driving erratically and, after he was stopped, he was found to be twice the legal limit, was under-age, and had beer and vodka in his truck. But what really drew attention to him was his Halloween outfit. He was dressed in a Breathalyser costume.Reuse content