Today's Headlines

US News

Democratic Party Divided Over Iraq War
With war looking imminent, some Democrats in Congress are choosing to voice their support for the 250,000 troups stationed around Iraq, while others, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, are continuing to voice disapproval over the upcoming military operation. "I'm saddened that the president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we are now forced into war," Daschle told union workers yesterday. However, it is expected that once the bombs stop dropping, many congressional critics will fall silent, a view expressed by Senator Frank Lautenberg, who said "As a veteran, I know what it means to have the strong support of Americans back home," after criticizing Bush's failed diplomacy.

Mitchell's Father Asks For Leniency In Smart Case
Shirl Mitchell, the 79 year old father of Brian David Mitchell, stated yesterday that his son deserves leniency from the courts for treating Elizabeth Smart well during her nine months in captivity following her abduction at knife point from her bedroom last summer. "They say, 'Oh, she could be terribly traumatized.' I didn't see any evidence of that. Apparently, she never was in danger of having a horrible end," said Shiri in a public statement. The father also attributed the kidnapping to Brian's desperate need for attention, but could not explain how Brian Mitchell went from his position as a high counselor in his central Salt Lake City stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to living on the streets, panhandling and preaching.

Security Level Raised To High Along With New Security Plan
The federal government on Monday night implemented the tightest security nationwide since the 2001 terrorist attacks and raised the terrorism threat level to "high" in the face of war with Iraq. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited "highly reliable" reports indicating that terrorists would attempt attacks "against U.S. and coalition targets worldwide in the event of a U.S-led military campaign against Saddam Hussein," which could come within the next 48 hours. Ridge also enacted a security plan called Operation Liberty Shield, which steps up surveilance at US ports and increases security at nuclear power plants.

International News

Bush Gives Hussein 48 Hour Ultimatum
In an address directed to the United States populace but broadcast on many networks worldwide, US President George W. Bush announced that he is giving Saddam Hussein 48 hours, which would end at 01:00 GMT on Thursday, March 20, 2003, to abdicate his leadership position in Iraq and go into exile or else face military action led by the United States. Iraq has already declined the abdication, leaving the route to war between the two nations seemingly very clear. During his speech, Bush stated that it is his view that the United Nations has abdicated its responsibility to disarm Iraq.

Tony Blair Faces Political Revolt Over Iraq
Tony Blair's nominally Labour government in Great Britain yesterday found itself in shambles after Robin Cook and Lord Philip Hunt, two members of Blair's cabinet, resigned over Blair's hawkish stance with respect to potential conflict in Iraq. Blair's pro-American stand over Iraq is opposed by the majority of Britons and has angered members of his party, leaving him politically exposed on the verge of committing troops to war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Today, Blair is expected to ask Parliament to provide support for "all means necessary" to disarm Iraq, but as many as 150 members of his own party could vote against him on this measure.

New Chinese President Promises More Democracy
New Chinese President Hu Jintao, in his first speech as president of the world's largest nation, told the closing session of China's National People's Congress that only socialism can help Beijing develop in the future, but pledged to bring greater democracy to the people of the nation. He also praised outgoing president Jiang Zemin for his work over the last ten years and called China's future "bright," which he attributed to an ongoing "national rejuvenation." The new president also promised economic and cultural exchanges with Taiwan in an effort to build more friendly ties.


Federal Reserve Board Running Low On Options
As the Federal Reserve Board meets today to determine how exactly to deal with the surprisingly weak economic data of the last month, but the question remains: what options does the board actually have in dealing with the weakened economy. With the federal funds rate already at 1.25%, the lowest since the 1960s, the board does not have many other options for attempting to stimulate the economy. It is expected that the board will stand pat for now, and then lower the rate a bit more in the springtime. Most experts believe that a rate as low as 0.50% would be fine for the economy, meaning the board does have some limited leverage in terms of adding oil to the economic gears.

Spiegel Files For Bankruptcy
Spiegel, one of the nation's oldest catalog operators and owners of the Eddie Bauer clothing chain, filed for bankruptcy yesterday after the failure of their credit card business, mounting debts, and suffering sales in many corporate divisions. In documents filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, New York, the company listed $1.71 billion in debts and $1.74 billion in assets. The company, however, has arranged for $400 million in financing to keep its stores and catalogs running during the upcoming restructuring. The company's troubles were largely linked to its failed credit card business.

Dow Surges As US Marches To War
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 282 points (or 3.6%) yesterday to 8142 on the news that war with Iraq is imminent, which would bring to an end the year-long standoff with the Gulf state. For months, instability in the stock market has been blamed on the constant geopolitical uncertainty, mostly revolving aroud ongoing hostilities with Iraq. With resolution coming in that area, some speculators feel that this could be the first jump in a consistently rising market over the next year, and is a clear reversal of the strong downtrends in the market over the last few months.

Science & Technology

Futher Security Holes Plague Windows 2000
Microsoft has announced that a security hole affecting web sites running from Windows 2000 machines that can allow crackers to seize control of the computers that the web site is running from. Microsoft has already posted a patch, but customers are complaining about the downtime for testing and other issues involved with applying the large number of patches released recently. Microsoft, which gave the latest flaw a "critical" rating, said it has received only one confirmed report of a customer attacked by this method. reports from attacked customers. "Critical" tops Microsoft's scale for security defects, and it indicates the hole may be used to control or damage a system. Microsoft said that the vulnerability isn't present in other versions of Windows.

Composting Toilets Urged By World Water Forum
At the World Water Forum in Kyoto this week, many parties are urging the United Nations to abandon their plan to install conventional sewers in the Third World, which would give more than a billion people sewer access over the next decade. Citing potential ecological damage, scientists attacked the proposal and encouraged the use of composting toilets. "Conventional sewer systems are just not the right answer," said Bengt Johansson, of the Swedish International Development Agency. "They are very expensive; they pollute rivers; they use a lot of water for flushing that could be set aside for drinking; and they deprive farm soils of the nutrients in sewage." Instead, a system for composting sewage, called ecological sanitation, is being proposed.

Internet Banking Passwords Stolen
An email scam circulating Australia has been used to steal countless passwords for bank accounts for the Australian Commonwealth Bank. The email provided a link to a website with much the same look and feel as the Commonwealth Bank site and encouraged users to enter their password there. When entered, the password was stored by the scammers and could potentially be used later to access bank accounts. Users are being encouraged to not fall prey to such schemes and to change their passwords if they are suspicious that they may have given away their password. The email was sent from an administrator at; however, the bank actually uses as their domain.


Asian Illness Claims Another Victim In North America
A 27-year-old Edmonton woman is in the isolation ward of a city hospital with a suspected case of the deadly disease from Asia known as severe acute respiratory syndrome. The woman travelled to Edmonton from Hong Kong on Saturday and went to the emergency room late Saturday evening complaining of a high temperature, cough, and gastrointestinal problems. Dr. Gary Predy, medical officer of health for the Central Region of Canada, said, "She's doing well clinically and appears to be recovering." This case brings to 11 the number of probable and verified cases of the disease in Canada.

Hormone Therapy Does Not Help Older Women
Researchers from the Women's Health Initiative, in an article on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine, stated that hormones prescribed to restore vigor, reduce depression, improve overall health, and increase sexual satisfaction actually do little for the millions of older women who take them. This is seen as a strong condemnation of the regular diet of estrogen and progestin that many older women take daily, particularly menopausal and post-menopausal women, and contradicts the common medical thinking of most of the 20th century, in which hormone supplements were prescribed with high regularity.


Pollock Becomes Scapegoat In South African Cronje Confusion
After South Africa's recent World Cup failure, captain Shaun Pollock was relieved of his captaincy of the team and was awarded to Graeme Smith in a move that is seen widely to be a move in which Pollock was viewed as a scapegoat for the great problems of corruption brought to the team by former captain Hansie Cronje, Pollock's predecessor. Cronje was removed from the captaincy five months ago amid a scandal involving corruption and bribery, but is still widely viewed as a hero in South Africa, where in Cape Town many bunches of flowers can be spotted sporting the message "We Miss You Hansie."

BYU Situation Bungled By NCAA Selection Committee
The placement of Brigham Young University in the NCAA mens and womens basketball tournaments has resulted in a great deal of controversy, since according to a well-known rule BYU does not play sports on Sunday, yet in both cases, the schools would be scheduled to play on Sunday if they were to make it through the first weekend of competition in the single-elimination tournaments. Rather than restructure the brackets immediately, the NCAA decided to handle the situation later if BYU advances far enough to make the question an issue, and would then move BYU to other areas of the bracket to allow the team to play on Saturday.


Gandolfini, HBO Come To Terms On The Sopranos
HBO and Sopranos star James Gandolfini have apparently come to terms for the upcoming fifth season of the hit show. The tentative agreement involves both sides dropping their potential lawsuits against each other and agreeing to a contract that would pay Gandolfini approximately $13 million for the season, or $800,000 per episode, but it would require Gandolfini to return to work immediately. The exact details of the agreement will be worked out today, according to talent manager Brad Grey.

News Organizations Battle Over War Coverage
As UN wepons inspectors and other officials fled Baghdad this morning in anticipation of war, all of the major news organizations are scrambling to cover the evacuation, set up proper coverage of the war itself, and also stay out of the way of any military conflict. In his speech last night, Bush urged all journalists to leave the nation, but many reporters and cameramen are staying in Iraq for now to cover the war as it begins and report on the situation inside Iraq. Demand for satellite time has also been tremendous, with individuals battling for time to submit their reports to stations in the West.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
- Johnny Rotten, 1978

As I watched Bush's speech last night, I couldn't shake the feeling that the United States is being greatly led astray by a government that is making poor choices that do not reflect the will of the populace. "Surely, though, there must be a lot of people out there supporting this conflict," I thought, so at the end of the speech, I called several people to get their opinions on the speech and the seeming inevitable military conflict.

I called people all along various points of the social and economic scales, people with vastly different backgrounds from absolute libertarians to absolute authoritarians, from socialists to Randites.

And yet every single person I called was opposed to this conflict.

It is completely inconceivable to me that in a representative democracy, as we supposedly have in the United States (and for that matter, in Great Britain), that a leader can make decisions that completely disrespect the will of the populace.

Something needs to change drastically in Washington. Behavior such as what is being shown by the executive branch of the United States government is completely unacceptable.

Is anyone in support of this war? If you read this and feel as though we should be involved in miltary conflict right now in Iraq, please let me know. I am not going to try to change your mind; I am mostly curious as to whether or not there is any support at all among the populace for this war.

Lent Diary, Day 14

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 am beginning to feel that my chosen discipline is more timely than ever.

Last night, I talked to an Islamic friend of mine who was extremely upset with the actions of the United States government. He said to me that their actions are leading to the perspective in much of the world that the United States and Britain are the true "axis of evil," particularly in portions of the world that are heavily Arabian and Islamic.

So I meditated on this, and I am at a loss as to what I can do about it. I am glad that many are aware of what I am doing and the purpose of it in the sense of demonstrating solidarity with those of Islamic faith.

But all I can do is pray that this does not turn into a Holy War and that this action is not perceived as another Crusade as I fear that much of the world is interpreting the action to be.

For all the political and social calculations that have gone into this conflict, has no one considered the spiritual impact?