Today's Headlines

US News

Richard Gephardt Throws His Hat In Ring For 2004 Democratic Nomination
Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri announced his candidacy for President on Wednesday, kicking off his campaign with a strong anti-Bush stance. Gephardt took Bush to task on both economic and domestic policies and pledged that he would work for health care coverage for all Americans. Gephardt is the second candidate to formally declare his intentions to run for office, but up to ten others have announced plans to investigate running.

Ridge Launches "Ready Campaign"
Tom Ridge announced yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security is unveiling a major new advertising campaign on Wednesday that uses television, radio, newspapers and billboards to urge Americans to prepare for possible terrorist attacks. A major component of this campaign is an initiative to help Americans educate themselves about the differences between chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Judge Rejects Boston Archdiocese's Motion to Dismiss 500 Lawsuits
On Wednesday, a Superior Court judge rejected a motion by the Archdiocese of Boston that sought to dismiss nearly five hundred cases filed in the ongoing sexual abuse scandal by members of the clergy in the Boston area. The judge, Constance M. Sweeney, dismissed the argument by the archdiocese that the First Amendment's proscribed separation of church and state prevents the court system from getting involved with how the church supervises and punishes priests.

International News

302 Killed in Crash of Iranian Military Plane
A military plane carrying members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (an elite Iranian fighting force) crashed in Iran, killing all 302 people on board. It is cited as being the worst crash in the history of Iran. The cause of the crash remains unknown, but the pilot reported bad weather and heavy winds just before losing contact with air traffic controllers.

17 Senior Officials of Pakistani Air Force Die in Plane Crash
Chief of the Air Staff Mushaf Ali Mir and sixteen other senior officials in the Pakistani Air Force died early Thursday in a crash in the northwestern mountains of Pakistan. The air chief and his immediate staff were on route to Chakala Air Base in Kohat, Pakistan for a routine inspection. Bad weather is being blamed for the accident.

First 9/11-Related Verdict: 15 Years
In Hamburg, Germany yesterday, Mounir el Motassadeq was convicted of helping a key al Qaeda cell behind the 9/11 attacks. He received the maximum sentence for his crime under German law: 15 years. This is the first verdict anywhere in the world related to the 9/11 attacks on the United States.


FCC To Continue To Force Baby Bells Into Cooperation
The FCC plans to vote today to uphold a strong role for states to regulate local telephone service. This system has led to recent price wars between major regional phone companies and their rivals, but it forces the local systems to lease their phone lines to other companies. Without these rules, the Bells could refuse to cooperate and long distance calling could become prohibitively expensive.

Qantas Profit Jumps 130%
Australian airline Qantas registered a A$353 million (that's roughly $210 million in US dollars) profit over the first half of its fiscal year, from July 1 to December 31, 2002. The profit margin is an increase of 130% over the profit from a year ago, said Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon. This increase in profits is due to effective cuts in flights and staff at the company.

Chrysler Restates Profit Goal
Carmaking giant DaimlerChrysler stated early Thursday that it expected its US carmaking arm Chrysler to post an operating profit of two billion Euros this year. This goal was originally set at a company meeting two years ago, but the corporation still feels that a two billion euro profit is attainable.

Science & Technology

Melting Snow Postulated on Mars
Philip Christensen, a professor at Arizona State University, offered up a theory yesterday explaining the sharp gullies that cover the Martian terrain: they were caused by melting snow. Over the years, one of the Martian poles may have been tilted greatly toward the Sun due to a wobble in the rotation of Mars; the vapor produced by the melted ice caused some snow near the equator. After additional axis rotation, the snow was then melted, causing trickles of water to cause the observable gullies.

Microsoft Must Adopt Open Source Practices
Outgoing Microsoft executive David Stutz again reiterated his argument today that Microsoft must adopt some of the best practices of the open source movement without becoming open source itself. This could be done by adopting the development models and architecture principles from open source applications and operating systems, most notably Linux.

NEC To Offer IP Phone Service
NEC Corp. reported on Wednesday that their ISP arm BIGLOBE plans to start offering a cut-rate IP phone service starting on March 1, 2003. This follows a similar announcement by Sony of a similar service being offered starting on the same day. The monthly cost will be somewhere around 1,000 yen ($10 US) with calls between BIGLOBE subscribers for free but a cost of 8 yen for every three minutes with lines outside the network.


Ebola Outbreak Confirmed In Congo
United Nations health officials confirmed today that a disease killing dozens of people in the Congo was an outbreak of ebola and warned that the highly lethal fever could still be spreading. "We're not suggesting that this is over or even contained. We're treating it as an active outbreak," said Iain Simpson, a World Health Organization spokesman. So far, 73 people have been infected, of whom 59 have died, according to WHO investigators; local counts have at least 100 infections and 80 deaths.

Sex Not To Blame For African AIDS Problems
Recent research suggests that less than one third of the HIV infections in Africa were caused by sexual contact, according to Pennsylvania anthropologist Dr. David Gisselquist. Gisselquist blames the AIDS epidemic in Africa on extremely poor medical practices on the continent.


Lakers, Bryant Resurgence Continues
Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, his seventh straight performance of 40 or more points, in leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 93-87 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. After stumbling out of the gate this season, the three time defending champion Lakers are now 28-25 and with the win have squeezed past the Houston Rockets for the eighth playoff seed in the Western Conference.

#3 Louisville Upset By Memphis
The Memphis Tigers upset the third ranked Louisville Cardinals 80-73 in a men's college basketball game that may give Memphis just enough of a boost to qualify for the NCAA TOurnament. After reeling off a 17 game winning streak, Louisville has lost two of its last three games and is finishing the season on a down note.


Michael Jackson Documentary Saga Continues
Video showing Michael Jackson's response to the controversial Martin Bashir documentary on Jackson's life will be shown in the United States Thursday evening on Fox. This two hour documentary is in essence a documentary on the making of Bashir's documentary, which Jackson claims is heavily flawed.

Fox Leads US Ratings War With Help From 24
On Tuesday night, much higher than average ratings for 24 and above average ratings for American Idol led to the Fox Network winning another night during the crucial February sweeps period in the United States. Bolstered by advertising during the heavily watched Joe Millionaire finale on Monday, Fox scored with 13.14 million viewers for 24 and 19.87 million viewers for American Idol. Fox's lead in February continues to grow, with a 5.7 share next to second place NBC's 4.9 share.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I am thoroughly disgusted when I visit a news website or catch a glimpse at a news network on television. Why? Because of a little feature that they've all added in the past several months: a little persistent graphic indicating the current "terror level" in the United States.

So, why am I bothered by the terror level? Quite simply, not only is it a poorly executed idea, but the idea itself isn't well thought out, either.

The goal of terror is to disrupt people's lives, to cause a persistent worry of terror in the minds of the American people. Thus, the best way to fight terror is to simply ignore the actions of terrorists. Terrorists want attention; they want people to watch and make sure that everyone is hearing their message of insanity.

So, when I see a newspaper prominently showing that the terror level is "high," or I see the persistent floating graphic on Fox News, my immediate response is similar to that of looking at the village idiot. I shake my head at the stupidity of the thing.

Can the mass media not understand that by constantly referring to the "terror," the terrorists win and are encouraged to do something again?

The real fool behind all of this is Tom Ridge. The only explanation I can come up with for Ridge's behavior since being named the Secretary of Homeland Security is that he loves to see his name in print.

Rather than investing money on useful homeland security programs such as an Air Marshal program (i.e., putting a US marshal on every domestic flight) or offering tax breaks to airports with high security standards, he instead invests millions of dollars on a color-coding scheme that alerts us all to the state of "terror" threat in the United States.

I pay a great deal of money in tax dollars each year to help pay for programs that are supposed to protect me from terror attacks. I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a US marshal on my next airline flight, watching my back, than having a floating graphic telling me that the "terror" alert is high.

What a waste of money.