Fallujah in Iraq has just suffered the fate of Grozny in Chechnia - bombed and razed and uncounted thousands of its inhabitants slaughtered in a vain effort to 'restore order'. Now it's the turn of Mosul and still no end in sight! We sometimes forget that this was the cradle of civilization. I read the following moral tale today and thought I would share it. 'In ancient Baghdad there was a rich and powerful merchant with many servants but one he trusted with special tasks. One day he sent this servant to the market place on an errand. When he came to the market place this servant saw Death standing there and Death gave him a strange look. The servant was greatly afraid and ran back to the master's house where he told the other servants what he had seen. 'He has come for me,' he said. 'But I will take my master's fastest steed and ride like the wind to Samarra. I will be there by nightfall and Death will never find me there.' The other servants went and told the master. He was very angry. He strode off to the market place and Death was still there. 'What do you mean by giving my servant such a strange look and frightening him?' he demanded. 'I was merely surprised to see him, that's all,' Death replied. 'You see, I am to meet him this night in Samarra'. Many continue to meet Death this and every night in Samarra, Fallujah and Baghdad. Margaret Hassan, we learn now, has already been brutally executed. We celebrate the release of Annetta Flanigan and her two companions in Afghanistan, whatever the circumstances of their release.