Today's Headlines

US News

War With Iraq
At 9:48 PM ET yesterday, the United States began armed hostilities with Iraq, beginning with a surgical strike on a very specific target on the outskirts of Baghdad. The President addressed the nation twenty minutes later, announcing that war had officially begun. Iraq responded by launching four Scud missiles into Kuwait, from which the majority of military operations had been launched, and Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi television, shouting words of defiance. The military conflict as of yet has not achieved the large scale that was described by the Department of Defense in recent days, but it may have been limited by the conflict beginning just before dawn in Iraq and a sandstorm which may interfere with operations.

Hijacked Cuban Plane Lands In Florida
Navy fighter jets escorted a hijacked Cuban airliner tonight to Key West, where six knife-wielding hijackers surrendered to the FBI and approximately 35 passengers and crew members were freed. No injuries were reported in the incident. "It was kind of funny," said Steve Torrence, a spokesman for the Key West Police Department. "They landed. One of our police cars got behind them on the runway and put the lights on, and the plane pulled over." No reason was given in the hijacking.

Standoff With Protesting Farmer Ends In Washington DC
A protesting farmer who drove his tractor into a pond near the National Mall on Monday faces charges of threatening to use an explosive device. The farmer, a Virginian who was protesting the plight of tobacco farmers in America, ended a week-long licensed protest on Monday by driving his tractor into the pond and then claiming that he had a great deal of explosives, possibly enough to damage the Washington Monument. No explosives were found when the farmer gave up.

International News

Britain, Other Nations Prepare For Escalation War On Iraq
Britain said on Thursday its troops were ready for a rapid escalation in the war against Iraq and denied that the United States had sidelined its top ally with a first, unilateral raid on Baghdad. Senior members of the British military confirmed to Reuters that the upcoming hours will feature a great escalation of the conflict, likely coming as darkness descends on Iraq at around noon ET (17:00 GMT) today. Other nations pledged support and aid in the conflict, including engineering and medical support from Spain and additional logistical support from Australia.

France Denounces War With Iraq
Denouncing what it called an "illegitimate and dangerous war," the National Assembly, the lower house of France's parliament, suspended its session to demonstrate the broad domestic support President Jacques Chirac has won for his anti-war stance. "As the first military operation in Iraq starts, the French authorities express their deep concern," the Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement. "(French authorities) hope the conflict that has just started can end as quickly as possible," the statement said. "They call on countries in the region to abstain from any initiative that could aggravate the situation."

South Korea Backs War Amid Concerns With North Korea
The South Korean military has been placed on full alert with concerns mounting that North Korea could use turbulence in the Persian Gulf as an opportunity to ratchet up tensions on the Korean peninsula. In a televised address, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ordered the military to step up its alert status and early warning status "in response to possible North Korean attempts to increase tensions" during the new war in the Persian Gulf region. "The government will make every diplomatic effort to prevent the Iraqi situation from making adverse effects on inter-Korean affairs," Roh told the news conference after an emergency National Security Council meeting of senior ministers.


Wall Street Expects Modest Boost From War
Wall Street was expected to open slightly higher this morning as the United States began bombing selected targets in Baghdad at the launch of a war that investors hope will be swift. However, the opening may not be as sharp as hoped since the strike was very small and surgical, rather than the hoped-for widescale attack that would strongly indicate that the war would be very quick. Wall Street prefers a very quick war so that American investments are impacted as little as possible.

Jobless Claims Dip
The number of US workers filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week for a second week in a row, but other statistics suggested jobs remain scarce. Initial jobless claims declined by 4,000 to 421,000 in the week ended March 15, the Department of Labor said this morning. But the four-week average, which smoothes out weekly fluctuations, continued to climb, rising to a 10-month high of 429,500. The numbers suggest that the job market is now stagnant after a month of severe job cuts. Nearly two million Americans have lost their jobs as the economy has fallen into a deep recession.

Cisco Buys LinkSys
Cisco Systems has agreed to buy LinkSys for about $500 million in common stock. In a press release this morning, Cisco said the Linksys acquisition marks its entry into the consumer and small-office or home-office networking market. Based on the closing price Wednesday of Cisco stock, at $14.22, the Linksys agreement represents about 35.2 million shares out of the 7.1 billion shares of Cisco outstanding. LinkSys sells many home networking products, including wireless routers, adapters and print servers, as well as traditional wired products such as Ethernet routers and cable modems.

Science & Technology

War Has Impact On Internet
In the first hours of the war, many major news-providing websites were inundated with accesses on a level not seen since September 11, 2001, resulting in slow accesses from many sites. In addition, a new round of email-based viruses playing on the desire for individuals to access news on the conflict has appeared, containing attachments that can do damage to computer software. Email servers also saw a major uptick in message volume, along with an increased usage of instant messaging, as users tried to contact and discuss the issues with loved ones.

Bill Gates Describes Microsoft's "Wireless Manifesto"
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates committed to "significant" investments in mobility platforms during a keynote kick-off for the Microsoft Mobility Developers conference. "We are in significant investment mode," Gates told conference attendees gathered here Wednesday evening. "We are going to invest, invest and invest to make our mobile platform the most popular platform." Gates characterized mobile computing as a market that "will be the fastest moving of all of our businesses." Along with this speech, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of a new version of Visual Studio which will contain the .NET Compact Framework, enabling the use of .NET tools for development of wireless technologies.

ICANN Sees Change In Leadership
Australian Paul Twomey will replace Stuart Lynn later this month as president and chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization said Wednesday. Twomey will be the first non-U.S. citizen to head the global Internet oversight body, established in 1998, and faces the challenge of guiding ICANN through a major reorganization. ICANN is currently going through a major reorganization to meet the increased demands of internet naming requests, indlucing assignments for new top level domains.


Researchers Identify Chemicals Causing Hair Growth
The delicate interplay of two chemical signals coaxes stem cells into becoming hair follicles, according to new research by scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Rockefeller University. The research greatly increases the understanding of hair growth and may lead to insights into how other structures, such as teeth and lungs, are formed. The research, published in the March 20, 2003 issue of Nature, indicates that both chemicals can be artificially manufactured, making it possible that hair replacement treatments may become much more potent in the near future.

Binge Eating Has Genetic Root
A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that binge eating may in fact have a genetic source, which may lead to the legitimacy of binge eating as a disease and may result in genetic treatments for the condition. It is estimated that binge eating affects as many as four million Americans, and although it is influenced by sedentary lifestyles, this discovery provides evidence backing the widely-accepted theory that there are other factors at work in the development of the condition.


Newcastle, Arsenal Eliminated From Final Eight In Champions League
Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Valencia last night, coupled with Ajax's 1-1 draw with Roma resulted in Arsenal's elimination from hope of reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which they have not done in the past five years. At the same time, England's misery continued as Newcastle lost 2-0 to Barcelona confirmed the end of their Champion's League season as well. Both teams must wait another year for an attempt to win European football's most coveted prize.

Tiger, Els To Face Each Other
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els look to face each other for the first time this season at the Bay Hill Invitational, which opens today. Woods and Els, the top two golfers in the world according to virtually every ranking system, have not competed against each other this year, in which Woods has won two out of three tournaments he has entered and Els has won five out of seven. Els said, ""I've won and the more you win, I think, the more you close the gap a little bit. You know, he's come out and he's won himself. So it's hard to say. I know his big goals are to win majors and so are mine, so I think that's probably where it will happen. It's the majors where you're going to hang everything out. So I think that's where you're going to probably measure the gap closing or not."


Monica Lewinsky Gets Show On Fox
Monica Lewinsky, the former mistress of Bill Clinton, has agreed to host a new Fox reality show, Mr. Personality, which will get the same time slot as the major hit Joe Millionaire on Mondays starting April 21, 2003. On the show, a single woman will court several eligible men whose faces are disguised by hoods, making them rely on their personality to woo the woman. Lewinsky said, "Since Fox is the network that has had the greatest success with this reality TV genre, I was very excited when they approached me to host the show: It sounds like good fun."

Travis Tritt Openly Decries Natalie Maines' Anti-Bush Comments
Popular country songster Travis Tritt gave the Dixie Chicks a suggestion for mending fences with angry fans who have been boycotting their music due to the recent negative statement Natalie Maines made about President George W. Bush. On the Fox News Channel, Tritt first referred to the comments as "cowardly" and a "cheap shot," then suggested "If the Dixie Chicks (news - web sites) really wanted to do something to prove just how sorry they are about those statements, they would volunteer to go and perform at some military base." No response from Maines or the group on the issue.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

The Judgement of America

The war has begun; it is inevitable that the United States government has made a concerted decision to go ahead with an effort for regime change in Iraq.

The United States has unquestioned military superiority in this conflict. What I worry about is whether or not we will be able to demonstrate a moral superiority in the conflict.

We are already starting on the wrong foot, for we are the invaders. We are entering into a distinct sovereign state and planning to depose the leadership of the nation by military force. Regardless of the leader, this intrusion is definitely full of moral questions. Yet, the question has not been fully answered yet.

That question will be answered in part by our military. The young men and women serving our military, well trained and carrying brave hearts, will be greatly tested in the coming days. Can they stay focused on the task of minimizing human casualty and damage rather than following the much simpler path of murder and destruction.

Yet, the issue will also be determined by each of us, the American citizenry. It is up to us to respond to the news of the war and the increased threats of terrorism with compassion, careful consideration, and care for our fellow humans rather than a sense of rage, anger, and revenge.

Regardless of how we individually feel about this war, it is up to all of us to do the right thing as this action progresses. We must continue to treat others with care and compassion, offer aid where it is requested and needed, and express our viewpoints in a civil and intelligent manner.

The war isn't just fought in the battlefield. It is fought in the behavior and hearts of all of us.

Do the right thing.

Lent Diary, Day 16

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 sat at home last night, late in the evening, watching the news coverage of the war.

And before I went to bed, I read Numbers 10, verse 9, and said a short prayer for all Americans and all Iraqis.

Today, as my fast continues, I can't help but remember that the people of Iraq, mostly Islamic and many Christians as well, aren't all that different from me. And I just hope that as a result of this, very little life is lost.