Besides John Garang's death, the other major news story of today is the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. I would argue that the latter is actually far less important (despite the fact it has replaced Garang's death as the lead story on both BBC News and Google News), since the King's half-brother and successor, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been the de-facto ruler of the kingdom since the King suffered a devastating stroke in 1995. Do not expect Saudi Arabia to become a liberal democracy anytime soon.

It would have been earth-shaking if a more progressive member of the House of Saud had come to power, like Prince Talal ibn Abd al-Aziz. After suggesting that the Saudi government become a constitutional monarchy back in the late 1950s, he left for exile in Egypt. While he has returned to Saudi Arabia, he still does not hold a position in the government. More importantly, he still supports reform today:

Women's rights should also be part of any reforms, he said. "I see women looking like black tents walking down the street - it doesn't suit the new century. And women should drive cars," he said, adding he would make the landmark move of appointing a woman as head of a Saudi university.

I also wish The Religious Policeman was still blogging, so I could get insight from people "on the ground." Hopefully Global Voices will have something interesting soon.