Today's Headlines

US News

Polls Indicate Growing Bush Support
About two-thirds of Americans approve of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq and think he did enough diplomatically before invading, according to a new poll released yesterday. An ABC-Washington Post poll found the president's job approval rating at 67 percent, up from pre-war polls that showed his approval level ranging from the mid 50s to about 60 percent. The public rallying around the president is typical in wartime. But the public is viewing the administration's actions in Iraq less enthusiastically than the actions in the Persian Gulf war by President George H.W. Bush a dozen years ago, in which the senior Bush's approval rating reached as high as 90%.

Charges Dismissed In Friendly Fire Case
Air Force hearing officer Colonel Patrick M. Rosenow has recommended the dismissal of all criminal charges against two American fighter pilots who killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in a mistaken bombing last year that investigators said showed "reckless disregard" for orders and a breakdown in the most basic rules of combat flying. This was the first case in which Air Force pilots faced criminal charges in what the military refers to as a friendly fire situation. The F-16 pilots, Major Harry Schmidt and Major William Umbach of the Illinois Air National Guard, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty.

Senate Unanimously Supports Bush
The Senate voted 99 to 0 yesterday for a resolution that "commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President, as Commander in Chief, in the conflict against Iraq" and praised the troops "who are participating in the military operations in the Persian Gulf region, for their professional excellence, dedicated patriotism and exemplary bravery." The House of Representatives also passed a similar act with an even stronger pro-Bush wording 392-11, in which it was stated that Iraq was in "material breach" of United Nations resolutions. The debate in the House, however, was quite intense, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arguing strongly for a toned-down endorsement of the military action.

International News

US Missiles Pound Iraqi Capital In Second Wave Of War
US cruise missiles pounded Baghdad as US and British troops crossed into southern Iraq to start the ground war with the goal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime. For the second time in sixteen hours, explosions rocked the Iraqi capital late on Thursday, sending pillars smoke into skies filled with seemingly ineffectual Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. In southern Iraq, a stronger battle than expected has taken place over the southern port city of Umm Qasr, in which the United States and British forces have been unable to take the city by ground force and a helicopter was shot down, killing 16 US and British troops.

Ricin Found In Paris Subway
France's interior minister has said that traces of the poison ricin discovered in a Paris railway station could be linked to a terrorist network with Chechen connections. Nicolas Sarkozy said there was no proof that a ricin attack was being planned against France, but he said there was a possible connection with several men arrested last December for allegedly planning to attack the Russian embassy in Paris. Two vials of ricin were found in a locker at the Gare de Lyon, but the quantities of the substance were said to be non-lethal. The poison was found with ethanol and acetone, however, and a mixture of the three makes an extremely deadly poison.

Nigerian Oil Operations Suspended
Texaco has suspended operations in the western Niger Delta in Nigeria due to a major civil conflict in the past week in which at least a dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in a fight between two local communities. In the fighting, oil operations have been a target, thus causing Texaco to make the decision to suspend operations. Shell, which also has oil rigs in the area, is in the process of withdrawing staff from the region to ensure their personal safety. The national government of Nigeria has sent 1,000 troops to the region to quell the fighting, as the president Olusegun Obasanjo warned that the fighting could pose a threat to the safety of national elections next month.


US Budgets Pressed In Shadow Of War
Under the shadow of an unfolding war with Iraq, congressional Republicans moved this morning to press through revised budget plans that will provide $726 billion in tax cuts which George W. Bush says will revive the stagnating economy. "We just happen to believe on our side that getting a growth package to create jobs is vitally important," said House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, an Iowa Republican. In the Senate, the Republicans cut debate on the budget plan, which will force a vote sometime today. In response, Democrats openly protested the move, stating that the Republicans were trying to ram the tax cuts through the legislature before the total cost of the war could be analyzed.

US Consumer Prices Jump In February
The Consumer Price Index rose 0.6% last month, marking the biggest gain since January 2001, the Labor Department reported yesterday. The increase was mostly due to higher energy prices, mainly gasoline. The core index, which excludes food and energy items, rose just 0.1%. The numbers as a whole reflect the economic situation of the United States in February, as the economy itself remained relatively unchanged outside of the energy sector, where the proposed war on Iraq caused oil and gas prices to skyrocket. Other numbers indicated a slight tilt toward inflation, as the Producer Price Index climbed for a second month in a row in February, up 1%, and prices of imported goods rose for a third consecutive month, climbing 1.3%.

Stocks Rise, Oil Falls On News Of War
European shares raced higher and oil prices reversed course and slumped on Friday as military forces swept across the Iraqi desert, building hope that the invasion will reach Baghdad within three or four days. At the same time, demand for bonds fell, pushing up yields, and the dollar was slightly firmer against major currencies. These all add up to a rosy economic forecast for the West as the military and terror-related tensions that have governed the region for the last year and a half seem to be headed toward a degree of resolution. "Sentiment is bolstered by views that... troops are making smooth progress in Iraq, encountering little opposition. Things may change if we get into bloody street combat in Baghdad," said one equity trader.

Science & Technology

Internet Makes War, Not Love
Freeserve, the top ISP in Britain, reports that searches for war-related topics have overtaken the traditional top internet topic -- sex. "War was our top search term today, taking over from perennial favourites -- sex, Britney and travel," said Nadia Schofield, a spokeswoman for Freeserve, the UK's largest Internet service provider. Freeserve, a unit of France Telecom's Wanadoo Internet unit, boasts 2.6 million subscribers, putting it ahead of rival Internet service providers such as BT Openworld and AOL. Sex-related terms have long dominated the most searched-for subjects on the Web. Yesterday, Iraq became the top search term, replacing the previous day's top topic, The Dixie Chicks.

Wi-Fi Remains Top Technology At CTIA
Hype and whiz-bang technology ideas haven't been much in evidence at the CTIA Wireless 2003 show in New Orleans this week. Instead the show has been dominated by real products and partnerships designed to integrate existing technologies to make a more seamless whole. "Last year it was people talking about what they were going to do," said Brian Flanagan, manager of Content and Browser Applications Products and Services for Canadian carrier Telus Mobility. "This year it's been people talking about what they've done." The top topic at the show was Wi-Fi, with the entire show being covered with Wi-Fi service provided by T-Mobile.

Microsoft Denies Reports Of Demise Of Longhorn Server
Speaking to ComputerWorld, Microsoft spokesman Brian Valentine indicated that plans are still in the works to release a server version of Microsoft's next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn. This comes after a number of reports from various news agencies that Microsoft had abandoned Longhorn as a server solution and planned to focus on delivering Longhorn only for clients. Longhorn is expected to see a beta release late next year. Valentine also discusssed Longhorn's successor, Blackcomb, which is expected to ship in 2007 or 2008, which will include a new kernel with database capabilities for information storage built in at the lowest levels.


Six Cases Of Mystery Disease Spotted In California
A mysterious, flulike illness spreading from Southeast Asia has apparently stricken six Californians, including three Bay Area residents who recently returned from trips to China. State health investigators are evaluating whether to add to the list of suspected cases two other patients who lived in the same household as the returning travelers. Thus far, the disease called SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome has killed 10 people among the 306 cases listed by the World Health Organization. In the United States, the CDC has listed 13 suspected cases of SARS in 10 states, but the actual number could be larger because the CDC list runs about a day behind reports from state health departments.

Antibiotic May Cut Late Miscarriages And Preterm Risk
Treating a mild vaginal infection with a common antibiotic early in the second trimester can reduce women's risk of late miscarriage and premature birth, British researchers said on Thursday. Clindamycin, a common antibiotic, is often used to fight bacterial infections of the vagina. These bacterial infections often produce no symptoms, but they are known to increase a woman's likelihood of having a miscarriage or preterm delivery. According to Dr. Austin Ugwumadu from St George's Hospital in London, ingestion of 600 mg tablets of clindamycin greatly reduces the risk of a late miscarriage or early delivery.


Leeds Hires Peter Reid As Interim Coach
Peter Reid was announced as the interim coach of Leeds yesterday replacing Terry Venables, and says that he relishes the "great challenge" of steering Leeds out of potential relegation. Reid said, "I got a call early this morning (Friday). The Leeds chairman asked me to do a job. It's a great honour and a great challenge for me to take over. I snapped his (Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale) hand off. We didn't even talk about money. I'm just looking forward to the challenge of being the manager for eight games and doing the best I can." The team is in danger of being dropped from membership in the Premier League after a run of just one win in eight matches.

Tulsa Among Surprises During First Day of NCAA Tournament
As usual, the first day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament was loaded with upsets, with none bigger than 13 seed Tulsa defeating the 4 seed Dayton 84-71 in the Midwest Region. Both #1 seeds advanced, but among the upsets were 10 seed Arizona State defeating 7 seed Memphis 84-71, and 11 seed Central Michigan defeating 6 seed Creighton 79-73. The strangest moment of the day was when Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins was ejected from their game against Gonzaga (the 'Zags won), but shortly after the ejection, Cincinnati's radio announcer was also ejected from the arena for yelling at an official.


Politics Influence Country Music Charts
The country music singles chart this week was greatly influenced by politics revolving around the war with Iraq. As the United States geared up for its full attack on Iraq, Darryl Worley's patriotic single Have You Forgotten? jumped from No. 9 to No. 2 on Billboard's country singles chart; Worley wrote the song after he visited Afghanistan last December to salute the U.S. military and immortalize the events of September 11, 2001. Meanwhile, the Dixie Chicks' Travelin' Soldier fell from the top spot to No. 3, largely because of reduced airplay sparked by Natalie Maines' remark about President Bush. This left the non-political Brokenheartsville by Joe Nichols to claim the top slot.

War Clouds Gather Over Academy Awards
Although the Academy Awards are still scheduled to go on as planned this Sunday night, the show has cancelled the pre-show festivities, including the traditional walk down the red carpet. Several guests and presenters have already cancelled, including Will Smith and The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, and there is a deep concern that others attending the show may use the program as a soapbox for their own political views. The awards are scheduled to air at 8:00 PM ET this Sunday on ABC, but may be pre-empted for war coverage. The Academy is expected to make a final announcement today about the state of the awards show.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

And so I sit down to watch the news coverage...

CBS: Hello, I'm Dan Rather. The opening shots were fired in Iraq today with an unexpected targeted bombing outside of Baghdad. You know, Bob, I couldn't have been more surprised if I had seen Fidel Castro riding through New York City on the back of a hippopotamus.


CNN: This just in from the Pentagon... a Defense Department spokesperson tells our CNN sources that victory is inevitable and that George W. Bush is in fact the greatest American leader since FDR. In other news, Brits worldwide are putting photos of Tony Blair in their homes, comparing him to Sir Winston Churchill and God.


Fox News: Let's go to the White House for the latest... Thank you, Shep. Here, the White House confirms that there is a war. Back to you, Shep ... five minutes of snazzy graphics ... In Washington today, there was a war protest ... video of cops beating protestors ... five minutes of commercials ... Let's go to the White House for the latest... Thank you, Shep. Here, the White House confirms that there is a war. Back to you, Shep ... five minutes of snazzy graphics ... In Washington today, there was a war protest ... five minutes of commercials


NBC: For further commentary, let's hear from former General Tom Musselman and former Lieutenant Colonel James Abercrombie. Gentlemen, what was your reaction to the sudden targeted strike on Baghdad? Both men look at Tom Brokaw with a complete look of confusion.


MSNBC: Well, Chris, the attack was obviously carried out by a number of B-52s, B-2s, F-116s, Tomahawks, and Apaches, all using laser-guided detection systems and GPS locating devices. The Abrams tank you see here operates via digital controls, utilizing radar and sonar-based equipment enabling targeting to within one meter....


ABC: Hello, I'm Peter Jennings. For both of you who are tuning in this evening, here's the latest...


Lent Diary, Day 17

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.

Several people have asked me recently whether or not I've observed any physical change due to this fasting, so I thought I would address that issue. I have observed several changes, in fact.

I have lost 14 pounds. Unquestionably, this is triggering weight loss, even to the point where it is getting noticeable on my physique. I stepped on a scale before writing this and noticed a 14 pound reduction, which is a bit more than I would have guessed, actually.

Drinking cold liquids, especially milk, causes my chest to burn. That doesn't prevent me from drinking milk. I mostly blame it on a heartburn-like situation because of the major changes in my digestive patterns.

Lighter meals now seem more appealing than heavy ones. A meal involving a tuna sandwich and a salad actually sounds much better than a steak at the end of a day. Why is this, especially since I traditionally eat a great deal of beef? I'm not sure.

I urinate much less, and when I do it is very dark in color. This is largely due to water issues. I try to consume a great deal of water, both in the morning and in the evening, but the two long patches in the day (daytime and sleeping) without water is causing the change, I believe.

I feel more energetic. Interestingly, most of the time I feel more energetic than before I started the fast. I really am not sure why this is, it is sort of baffling.

I think this experience may bring about some long-term changes in my diet and my behaviors, which is a good thing. I perceive it as something new that God has shown me.