John McCaslin

Now that he's out of jail in Zimbabwe and back in South Africa after being charged with working as a journalist without accreditation, New York Times reporter Barry Bearak is speaking his mind about President Robert Mugabe.

The following note was shared with students, faculty and alumni of Columbia Journalism School by Sree Sreenivasan, the school's dean of students:

"Dear Sree, I'm happily back in [South Africa], having evaded a likely re-arrest by going overland through Zambia rather than risking the Harare airport. I received a lot of support from many places and ... I'm extremely grateful.

"Zimbabwe is a very sad place right now. It appears that Mugabe is going to get away with stealing yet another election. That means continued suffering for the Zimbabwean people. My own understanding of their terrible problems increased a lot in the Harare cells, where I met many good people. I'm hoping for the day when I can safely return to that country and continue reporting."

God's goals

A gentleman named "Gustafsson" wrote this note surrounding the visit to Washington last week of Pope Benedict XVI, which we found posted on "Ted's Take," the blog of Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis:

"From my 18th Street office in Northwest I walked a mere block to Pennsylvania Avenue a little before noon and caught Pope Benedict's procession pass tens of thousands of Washingtonians today."

"I had a superb view of the Pontiff, and as I seemed to catch his eye for a nano-second I silently asked for his intercession in (1) world strife and conflict and (2) a cleared Capitals' crease. I'm not one to reorient my priorities in vulgar fashion just because the playoffs have at long last arrived in D.C."

Sure enough, facing elimination, Washington's hockey team Saturday jumped to an early lead and hung on to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 3-2 in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, forcing Game 6 tonight in the so-called City of Brotherly Love.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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