Today's Headlines

US News

Ad Executive Resigns State Department Post
Charlotte Beers, the former advertising executive hired to improve the image of the United States abroad, has resigned for health-related reasons. Secretary of State Colin Powell told his surprised assistants about Beers's departure at his morning staff meeting. Powell later credited Beers with taking "our values and our ideas to mass audiences in countries which hadn't heard from us in a concerted way for years." No word yet on a replacement for Beers.

Justices Seem To Side With Telemarketer
A combined and concentrated effort by most of the nation's leading charities to explain to the Supreme Court the dangers of limiting protections for charitable solicitation appeared close to bearing fruit today. The case dealt with consumer fraud charges against a telemarketer that keeps nearly all the money it raises on behalf of a veteran's charity.

Three Boys Survive Plane Crash and Long Night in Massachusetts Forest
After an 18 hour search, rescuers near Monterey, Massachusetts discovered a downed family plane. They also discovered that three of the seven family members had survived the crash and the subsequent shock from exposure to a cold Massachusetts night. Ryan, Jordan, and Tyler Ferris survived the accident, which killed Ronald Ferris, his wife Tayne, and their sons Shawn and Kyle.

International News

Phillipine Bomb Kills 19
At least 19 people were killed and 100 wounded early this morning when a bomb exploded in an airport in Davao, the second largest city in the Phillipines. Initial reports on the bomb were unclear, with Reuters reporting the bomb was inside a black box inside or near the waiting area, while the Associated Press reported the bomb was in a backpack. The bomb destroyed a shelter where people were waiting for ground transportation.

North Korea Intercepts US Reconnaissance Plane
The United States government plans to launch a formal protest of an incident over international waters on Sunday, in which a US reconnaissance airplane was followed by a pack of four North Korean fighter jets. Washington referred to the tailing of the plane, in which one MiG fighter came within 50 feet of the reconnaissance flight, as "provocative." The Pentagon initially said that one of the jets had locked its radar weapons system onto the US plane, but later recanted this claim.

British and Irish Leaders Seek Progress on Belfast Pact
Prime ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Bertie Ahern of Ireland held a series of emergency meetings yesterday with the major political parties of Northern Ireland. The goal of the meetings was to resolve a deadlock in carrying out the 1998 Belfast peace accord. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, surprised some by insinuating that they were willing to destroy most, if not all, of their arsenal in order to help the Belfast accord along.


Waksal Pleads Guilty to Fraud
Sam Waksal, founder and former CEO of ImClone, pleaded guilty to tax evasion for not paying taxes on $15 million in contemporary art he bought from a New York City gallery. Waksal admitted participating in a scheme where he purchased the art and had the dealer prepare phony invoices showing the art had been shipped to New Jersey while the art was actually delivered to Waksal himself. "Only two things are important to me at this point -- my family and getting our cancer drug approved," he said in a statement following the hearing. "Beyond that I simply look forward to the day when I can put all of this behind me and move on with my life."

Buffett Warns on Derivatives
Legendary investor William Buffett, in his annual letter to shareholders, said that the rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a "mega catastrophic risk" for the economy and expressed the view that most stocks are still "too expensive." Derivatives are financial instruments which allow investors to speculate on the future price of commodities and shares without buying the underlying investment.

Asian Stocks Sharply Lower
Asian stock markets moved broadly lower early this morning following in the footstep of Wall Street overnight amid ongoing concerns about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index 1.3 percent. Most stock markets experienced a 1% drop in early trading, only buoyed by strong news from Mitsubishi, which reported strong earnings.

Science & Technology

Sendmail Exploit Discovered
A security vulnerability in sendmail, one of the most common email server software packages, was announced yesterday. The vulnerability is similar to the recent SQL Slammer worm that terrorized computer systems earlier this year. Patches to fix the problem have already been released. Sendmail is the program that processes incoming email messages to mail servers, from which you download your email messages.

Government Considers Porn Filters
The federal government is considering forcing ISPs to filter online pornography in the light of an independent report stating that the current system of voluntary filtering is basically useless. The report stated that 84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls aged 16 and 17 had seen sex web sites. The study was done by the Australia Institute.

Jon Johansen Gets Another Court Date
Jon Johansen, the Norwegian teenager who allegedly broke the law by writing and publishing a DVD descrambling program so that he could watch DVDs on his Linux machine, faces another day in court soon. After his acquittal earlier this year, prosecutors have now decided to appeal the verdict, meaning that the case will be retried in a higher court.


Mosquito Experts Discuss West Nile Virus
At the 69th meeting of the American Mosquito Control Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota this week, scientists, government officials, and others plan to discuss policy for controlling mosquitos in light of the recent spread of the West Nile virus. The primary issue of discussion is methods for slowing or preventing the spread of such diseases as West Nile, which is becoming more difficult in the era of globalization.

New Cancer Treatment Seeks To Activate Immune System
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute have discovered a technique for encouraging immune systems to attack cancer cells. According to researchers, injection of bone marrow cells into brain tumors can trigger an immune system attack on the cancer. This potential treatment, called immunotherapy, shows strong likelihood of being able to treat other cancers as well.


Sports Federations Nearing Global Drug Ban
With many sports federations already on board (including FIFA), governments from the United States, Russia, and most European nations voiced support this morning for a proposed worldwide anti-doping measure. The agreement, if enacted, would disallow a set of drugs from all sports that are members of the agreement.

Sergei Fedorov Admits To Formerly Being Wed To Anna Kournikova
The Hockey News reports that in a recent interview with Sergei Fedorov of the Detroit Red Wings, the star player admits to having wed Anna Kournikova briefly in the past. Fedorov offered no more details, however, but the admission brings to an end a lengthy period of speculation on the issue.


Martin Sheen's War Stance Concerns NBC
Actor Martin Sheen said that NBC executives fear his opposition to a US-led war with Iraq will hurt popularity of the television show The West Wing, on which Sheen is a central character. Sheen told the Los Angeles Times that the show's staff has been strongly supportive of Sheen's stance, but that NBC brass has strongly encouraged Sheen to drop the public antiwar stance.

Hank Ballard, Writer of The Twist, Dies
Hank Ballard, the singer-songwriter who penned the classic The Twist, died yesterday at age 66, succumbing to a long struggle with throat cancer. A cover of The Twist, performed by Chubby Checker, experienced massive popularity in the mid-1960s, which led to a rash of imitation songs. The performer also had some hits with his later band The Midnighters.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I've been recently considering the possibility that the United States' recent announcement of the capture of supposed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed was perhaps preplanned as a publicity stunt to stir up positive support for the George W. Bush administration's current foreign policy (which most regular readers of this newslog know aren't popular with me).

Let's break this down a bit. The reason for doing this would be that by holding back on the announcement of Mohammed's capture, the United States government could hold the potential public response back until a time when a positive boost is needed. With support for George W. Bush's foreign policy slipping by the day, the capture of the "evil mastermind behind 9/11" comes at a suspicious time.

I would go so far as to claim that the United States already has Osama Bin Laden in custody and is waiting on the announcement of his capture until the time comes that the George W. Bush administration needs a big popularity boost, either on the eve of the war with Iraq if the declining public opinion continues, or at a key moment in Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. An indication of this position is the government's recent assertion that bin Laden is in a small town in northern Pakistan... if they know bin Laden's location, then why not capture him? Upsetting global balance is not an answer; we are actively doing that already in Iraq.

Bush wants and needs widespread support for a conflict with Iraq among the populace, and it is slipping through his fingers. A simple public relations stunt like the "capture" of the "9/11 mastermind" isn't enough. We want proof that Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to American lives or, at the very least, a threat to the sovereignty of other nations. So far, nothing even close to that has been demonstrated.