Today's Headlines

US News

Texas Execution Receives Special Attention
Former FBI director William S. Sessions has asked the United States Supreme Court to stay the execution of Delma Banks Jr., a man sentenced to death in the state of Texas in 1980 but has since gone through several appeals. The evidence against Banks was limited in the original trial, having no fingerprints, no witnesses to the crime and little apparent motive, and in the intervening years the key witness against him has recanted parts of his testimony and evidence of prosecutorial misconduct has emerged.

Dozens Hurt in California Bus Collision
One tour bus rearended another on a California interstate Sunday, injuring dozens of passengers, including at least eight critically, authorities said. The crash happened on southbound Interstate 15, the main artery from Las Vegas into California. The California Highway Patrol reported that the buses were going about 55 miles per hour through a road construction zone when a Gold & Silver tour company bus hit the rear of a bus from Hebaragi & Lemi Bus Inc. Gold & Silver was unavailable for comment.

Gwendolyn Brooks To Be Honored
A resolution to rename the Illinois State Library for the late poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks has been approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and is certain to be passed by the Senate. Brooks (1917-2000) will be long remembered as the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize (in 1950) and among the first women poets to gain an international following. "All my life is not writing," she once said. "My greatest interest is being involved with young people."

International News

Diplomatic Battle Rages Over UN Iraq Votes
France waged a diplomatic battle with the United States on Monday to win the support of wavering nations in a U.N. vote unlikely to hold up U.S. plans to invade Iraq for long. Meanwhile, problems appeared on the home front of its main ally Britain with the threatened resignation of a cabinet minister and a growing revolt in the ruling Labour party. US Secretary of State Colin Powell however remained confident that the necessary votes would be secured before the expected vote on Wednesday.

Germany Sentences Algerian Bombers
A German court has sentenced four Algerians to prison terms ranging from 10 to 12 years for plotting to bomb a Christmas market in France in 2000. The Frankfurt court found the four guilty of preparing a bomb attack and conspiracy to murder. The defendants were arrested in December 2000 after raids on their Frankfurt apartments turned up large quantities of chemicals for making explosives, as well as weapons and false identity papers. In his decision, the presiding judge referred to the targeted victims as "defenseless" and stated that the law "is not severe enough" in this case.

Power Shift in Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey's governing party, won a seat in Parliament on Sunday, setting the stage for his ascension to the prime minister's office and a reconsideration of a measure that would allow US troops to use Turkey as a base in a war against Iraq. Speaking on CNN, Erdogan, who heads the Justice and Development Party, said that there were steps that the United States had to take regarding the issue of motion, and it would be difficult to ease the atmosphere in Turkey before the United States took those steps.


Nikkei Hits 20 Year Low
Concerns about the likelihood of a war in Iraq continued to take its toll on Asian stock markets Monday. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.3 percent to 8042.26, a new 20-year low, extending its losing streak to five days. Other Asian markets also fared poorly, with major losses in Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, The Phillipines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The downfall in Japan led the way however, spurned on by talk of war and of the selling off of banks, shifting the playing field in the Japanese banking market.

Microsoft Plans Enormous Beta Test For Microsoft Office 2003
Microsoft Corp. on Monday is set to release the public beta of the of the next version of Microsoft Office. Office 2003, which until now was known by the code name Office 11, is set to launch in June and includes two new applications, a new interface for sorting e-mails in Microsoft Outlook, and several other tweaks that Microsoft hopes will entice customers to shell out for an upgrade to their existing version. "We're going to be making 500,000 copies available, which is one of the largest beta programs Microsoft has ever done -- certainly the largest Office beta we've ever done," said Simon Marks, product manager for Microsoft Office.

Intel Funds Wireless Startups
The latest recipients of Intel's largesse in its recent move to invest in wireless computing startups are, Vivato, Broadreach Networks and Pronto Networks. Intel has invested in seven such companies since it announced plans in October to spend $150 million on companies developing so-called Wi-Fi, or wireless networking, technology. More than $25 million has been invested in at least 15 companies since 1999, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said.

Science & Technology

Afghanistan Enters Cyberspace
Afghanistan has launched its own national internet domain, .af, for websites and e-mail addresses. This move marks a big technological step for a country where the net was banned under the former Taliban government. The .af domain was first registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority in October 1997 by an Afghan expatriate called Abdul Razeeq, who has since disappeared. Now the domain belongs to the nation of Afghanistan with the Afghan Ministry of Communication ( and the UN Development Program both online there.

New Insights Into Atmosphere of Jupiter
Pictures of Jupiter, taken by a NASA spacecraft on its way to Saturn has altered the scientific perspective on Jupiter's famous stripes. On Jupiter's surface, darker "belts" alternate with lighter "zones." Scientists have long considered the zones, with their pale clouds, to be areas of upwelling atmosphere. However, pictures from the Cassini spacecraft show that individual storm cells of upwelling bright-white clouds, too small to see from Earth, pop up almost without exception in the dark belts. This is causing a revision in the ideas governing the relationship between the belts and zones.

FeRAM May Revolutionize Memory Market
South Korean memory firm Hynix has started sampling its first FeRAMs, a new type of memory that works by moving iron atoms around inside ferroelectric crystals and keeps its contents even when there is no power going through it. This could truly revolutionize the methods in which memory is stored, including applications to countless limited power portable devices that could utilize such memory. Hynix has filed over 150 patents related to the technology, and are currently testing 4 Mb and 8 Mb chips, with plans to test 64 Mb chips in the near future.


Fast Food + Television = Risk of Obesity and Diabetes
Eating fast food and watching television can add up to a high risk for both obesity and diabetes, according to a study reported on Saturday at the American Heart Association Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epistemology and Prevention. "Fast food consumption in this country has increased dramatically," says Mark Pereira, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. "The association between eating fast food and the incidence of obesity and abnormal glucose control has not been thoroughly examined before."

Early Viewing of Television Violence Linked To Adult Aggression
Watching even one violent television program or movie as a child can increase the risk of aggressive adult behavior, according to a psychological study spanning 15 years. The study found a causal connection between early observations of violence in media and later aggression, even for young men and women not classified as violence-prone in first and third grades. A report about the study in the well-regarded journal Developmental Psychology cited violence like that in the Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry, where the Harry character is rewarded and the child views the violence as a slice of real life.


NC Defeats Duke
The Tar Heels salvaged their uneven season and three year slump against their rival by beating the 10th-ranked Duke Blue Devils 82-79 Sunday in Chapel Hill in a wild ending to the men's basketball regular season. Rashad McCants scored 26 points and Raymond Felton added 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as North Carolina ended a six-game skid to Duke (21-16, 11-5), which saw its streak of winning at least 12 ACC games in a season end at six. The Tar Heels (16-14, 6-10) lost to Duke by 29 at home last season, when they went a program-worst 8-20. They bounced back this season with one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Scott Hoch Angers Golf Fans At Dubai Tournament
Scott Hoch stopped his playoff with Jim Furyk in semi-darkness at the Ford Championship in Dubai on Sunday, angering thousands of golf fans who paraded Hoch back to the clubhouse with a chorus of boos. The tournament finished with the two competitors in a tie, resulting in a sudden death playoff. After the first hole ended with a tie, darkness began to close in, and the finish was postponed to Monday morning at the request of Hoch.


Chicago Dominates SAG Awards
The hit musical Chicago won three Actors, best female actor in both lead and supporting roles and best ensemble cast, at the 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held in Los Angeles, California on Sunday. Renée Zellweger won for best female lead actor and Catherine Zeta-Jones took away the trophy for best supporting female actor. These awards are seen as a prelude to the upcoming Academy Awards, in which Chicago is seen as the heavy favorite in many categories.

Clinton and Dole Debate on Tax Cuts
On the CBS news program 60 Minutes last night, former US president Bill Clinton and his 1996 opponent, former Senator Bob Dole, debated on whether or not a tax cut is appropriate in the current political climate. The format was with each side taking a single minute to present their side of the issue, with Clinton representing the liberal perspective and Dole the conservative perspective. Nine more segments are expected to appear before the end of the television season.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I work in a small office with another individual. We have frequent discussions on politics, music, philosophy, education, and other issues. On some issues our views overlap; on others, we're as different as night and day.

He is sixteen years older than I am, but he grew up in a similar highly rural background. I grew up with fishing, trapping, gardening, and hunting as the foundations of life, while he grew up on a farm.

We are both Libertarians, but in terms of fiscal policy, we're on vastly different ends of the scale. He wants massive tax cuts and a tiny government; I just want a reorganization of spending.

He listens to James Taylor and Mannheim Steamroller and Seals and Crofts; I listen to Woody Guthrie and Uncle Tupelo and They Might Be Giants.

I wish that Bill Clinton could have served a third term as President; he voted for George W. Bush and still thinks he made the right choice.

He listens to Rush Limbaugh; I listen to Neil Boortz.

He's an avid Windows XP user; I prefer to use Linux most all of the time.

But what makes it work? The fact that there's an underlying respect for one another as individuals.

It makes for an interesting mix, sometimes.

Lent Diary, Day 6

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

I woke up early this morning and sat outside eating a bowl of cereal, watching the horizon slowly fade to grey then ever so gently begin to reveal colors. With each cold bite of milk and crispy flakes, God added another stroke to the sky in the east. And I watched the painting unfold itself.

It was almost like watching Joy of Painting, except on a more massive scale; God was the figurative Bob Ross, but silent as he let his mystical strokes do all the work.

I finished off the cereal and leaned back as ever so slowly the sun began to peek up over the horizon.

And I was glad to be alive.

I hope with all my heart that God will grant me the grace to someday be in such a place where things of beauty like that are the essence of life.