April 2, 2010
Posted: 1636 GMT

Happy Good Friday to all who celebrate/observe! We are live in Rome today for the Pope's service and the continuing controversy surrounding the Vatican's response to the ongoing Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal.

Also, Russian officials have identified one of the two suicide bombers they attacked the Moscow metro last Monday.

They say she is a teenager born in 1992. Matthew Chance will bring us the latest from Moscow.

And, Mohammed Jamjoom joins us from Baghdad with the newest developments on the case of a Lebanese TV host sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for "sorcery." It is extremely difficult (in some cases impossible) to get any information from Saudi officials. It is unclear if authorities have commuted his sentence or how Ali Sibat is doing.

Yesterday, a Lebanese official told Sibat's lawyer that he would not be executed today as planned. What now? We will look into this disturbing story.

Also, crucial March unemployment numbers are out today. The U.S. economy added more than 160,000 jobs but the unemployment rate for the country is steady at 9.7%. President Barack Obama is already seizing on the figures, suggesting that the economy is finally turning around. Is it? We will analyze the figures.

That and all the rest of the day's top news, weather and sports stories.

See you at the IDesk!


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April 1, 2010
Posted: 1639 GMT

Sometimes, it's hard to imagine there can be two sides to a story. In Saudi Arabia soon, unless that country's King commutes his sentence, a Lebanese TV host will be beheaded for the crime of "sorcery." Ali Sibat's lawyer says she has learned from a judicial source that the execution is scheduled on Friday.

It's 2010. This isn't 17th Century Salem, Massachusetts, where witches were sentenced to death based on "visions" and flimsy testimony. This isn't the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century. Those dark periods of religious zealotry during which leaders imposed a certain vision of compliant orthodoxy should be far behind us. Today, Saudis (including the clerics and leaders who issue death sentences for medieval sounding "crimes") have access to satellite television, the Internet and planes that fly them to the four corners of the earth.

Yet there is no sign that officials in Saudi Arabia will suspend the decapitation execution of Ali Sibat. The Lebanese TV host was sentenced to death last year for making predictions on a TV show from his home in Beirut and was arrested in Saudi Arabia while on pilgrimmage in Mecca.

One of America's top allies in the Middle East, whose oil is supplied to so many Western countries, is by all accounts going ahead with one of the most outrageous punishments against a man who isn't even a citizen of that country. Ali Sibat's lawyer says she has not been given access to him. The Lebanese Justice Minister called today on Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of the father of five, calling the sentence "disproportionate."

Human Rights groups, including Amnesty International, which will appear at the International Desk today, say they have tried to raise the profile of this particular case because bad publicity seems to be the only thing that gets the attention of authorities.

We will continue to watch this story, despite the fact that authorities in Saudi Arabia make it almost impossible to gather information on this or any other criminal case.

If this beheading goes ahead, the crime that will truly be committed in Saudi has nothing to do with witchcraft.

Perhaps there are two sides to this story: right and wrong.

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Filed under: Ali Sibat •Saudi Arabia •Today At The I-Desk

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