Today's Headlines

US News

Thousands of Students Protest Potential War With Iraq
Students at more than 300 high schools and colleges walked out of classes yesterday to participate in a nationwide "student strike," and thousands more students walked out in Britain, Sweden, Spain, and Australia in solidarity. The protestors wanted to highlight the effects of war on domestic issues, including education, health care and the economy. The protest was referred to as the "Books Not Bombs" protest and was coordinated by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition.

Monterey Bans Cruise Ship Over Dumping
Officials in Monterey, California have banned a cruise ship, the Crystal Harmony, from its harbor after learning that it had dumped 36,400 gallons of wastewater in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary last October despite pledging that it would not. "The Crystal Harmony is no longer welcome in Monterey," Carl Anderson, Monterey's public facilities director, said in an interview today. "We mean business and will do whatever it takes to protect our sanctuary."

Former Forest Worker Gets 12 Years In Prison For Fire
Terry Lynn Barton, a former employee of the US Forest Service, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in state prison for starting the biggest wildfire in Colorado history. The fire spread over 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes, and caused $29.9 million in damage. Barton accidentally started the blaze while burning a letter from her estranged husband.

International News

Colin Powell Remains Adamant on Saddam Hussein's Guilt
Colin Powell is currently in the midst of a two-day diplomatic journey in which he will try to overcome strong UN resistance to using force in Iraq. Powell also reiterated earlier claims that if the Security Council does not act, the United States and its coalition partners are prepared to disarm Iraq by force and take responsibility for Iraq's future after a war. Referring to Iraq's disclosures of a handful of missiles and other weapons information as being "too little, too late," Powell said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein still has not made a decision to disarm. Friday, Powell will speak to the United Nations in a final effort to convince the group to support the United States/Spain/Britain coalition committed to disarming Iraq by force.

Three Nations Vow To Block United States on Iraq Issue
France, Germany, and Russia unilaterally stated yesterday that they will block any movement towards war, and chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix delivered an upbeat report on what he called "real disarmament" in Baghdad. Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush met with an envoy from the Vatican, which has taken a strong antiwar stance, and thousands of students worldwide walked out of classes yesterday to protest military conflict with Iraq.

Osama bin Laden's Status Very Unclear
Reports from both al Qaeda operatives and Pakistani officials reveal strongly conflicting reports as to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, even going so far as to be unsure as to whether or not bin Laden is even alive. Letters found in the capture of al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed add to the confusion, as one letter is apparently in bin Laden's handwriting (but undated), while others discuss how to handle the death of bin Laden.


Hughes and Boeing Settle With US
Boeing Co. and Hughes Electronics Corp. agreed yesterday to pay $32 million to settle a civil case charging that the companies illegally transferred space technology to China in the 1990s. The State Department had claimed that China could use the technology to develop intercontinental missiles. The settlement ends a seven year dispute.

Ice Cream Merger Negotiations Continue
After the FTC rejected a planned merger between Dreyer's and Nestle to unify their high-end ice cream brands (leaving Unilever, which makes Ben & Jerry's, the only competitor in the market), the companies offered a new proposal in which the newly merged company would sell their Starbucks ice cream brand to the highest bidder (which would presumably be Unilever). Another company, CoolBrands, also testified before the FTC, stating that their company is also a competitor in the market, selling Eskimo Pies and other ice cream brands.

Bombardier Lays Off 10% of Workforce
Bombardier Inc. is again laying off thousands of employees, the company's third such cut since 9/11. The transportation company said it would lay off 3,000 employees in the next year, which amounts to 10% of its aerospace group. The company will also slow production rates on all plane lines. "In view of challenging market conditions, we have a responsibility to take aggressive actions to continuously improve our competitive edge and align our production rate with market demand," said the president of Bombardier's aerospace division, Pierre Beaudoin.

Science & Technology

Four Were At KSC and Cape Canaveral Illegally
Four suspected illegal immigrants from Mexico were arrested while working as contractor employees inside a restricted area of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, NASA officials said Tuesday. Agents from the NASA Office of the Inspector General made the arrests with the help of the US Border Patrol on Feb. 18. The four were working in an area where materials are displosed, according to Joe Kroener, executive officer of the NASA Office of the Inspector General.

Microsoft InfoPath Set For Beta Release
Next week, Microsoft will release the first wide beta of InfoPath, a new application for data sharing and organization that will be a part of the upcoming version of Microsoft Office. Experts say that the software is hard to use with a steep learning curve, but that the potential benefits for sharing data between applications is high. InfoPath is an XML-based tool for easily sharing data between applications. Microsoft will also release a beta test of OneNote, a Windows equivalent of the Macintosh Stickies.

Intel Plans Heavy Centrino Push
Centrino, a line of chips designed by Intel specifically for wireless computing, is "second only to the introduction of the Pentium" in terms of corporate importance, according to Intel CEO Andy Grove. Intel is planning on spending $300 million in promoting the chip bundle, which is intended for laptop and tablet PCs which will make heavy use of wireless computing.


Aspirin Reduces Colon Cancer Risk
On top of yesterday's study revealing that aspirin can reduce mouth and throat cancer risk, two separate clinical trials revealed today that aspirin is effective in reducing the risk of colon cancer. The studies focused on individuals with a high risk of colon cancer and found that aspirin reduced the rate of appearance of colon and rectal polyps, which are the precursors of colon cancer. The aspirin was most effective when taken in small doses, such as a baby-sized dose.

Clues Found in Mad Cow Disease Research
Researchers at the Imperial College in London, England have used antibodies as an effective treatment on mice infected with scrapie, a variation on mad cow disease. Both diseases are spongiform encephalopathic diseases, meaning that there is strong likelihood that the technique could be used to treat both diseases, as well as other brain-wasting diseases.


Sharks Trade Owen Nolan To Maple Leafs
Last night, the San Jose Sharks traded forward and team captain Owen Nolan to the Toronto Maple Leafs for center Alyn McCauley, center Brad Boyes, and a first round draft pick. By trading Nolan, the Sharks have apparently given up on making the playoffs and are now planning on undergoing a rebuilding process. Boyes is considered to be a top prospect at center, and the team is hoping to use the draft pick to select a forward. The Leafs appear poised for a playoff run, as Nolan fills one of the holes in their already strong lineup.

Tiger Woods Skips Dubai Tournament
Tiger Woods pulled out of this weekend's $1.2 million Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament because of a possible US-led attack on Iraq, leaving Ernie Els with top billing at the tournament. Els is on a roll, having won four of the five tournaments he's entered this year, and is defending champion of the Dubai tournament. Several other top players, including Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie, have withdrawn from the tournament due to political tension in the area.


Coughing Helped 'Millionaire' Champ Cheat
Major Charles Ingram's trial began yesterday in a cheating conspiracy stemming from Ingram's appearance on the television game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Ingram won the grand prize of 1 million pounds on the show last September, but suspicious members of the production crew noted that there was a large deal of coughing into one of the microphones. After further investigation, evidence for a conspiracy between two contestants was apparent.

Bill Clinton and Bob Dole Agree To Debate
Former President Bill Clinton and his 1996 opponent Bob Dole have agreed to a series of 10 debate segments on the television program 60 Minutes starting this Sunday. The debates are the beginning of a revival of the Point-Counterpoint segments that the program used until 1979. The debates will each involve a single issue, with Clinton describing the liberal viewpoint and Dole arguing the conservative side.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

Have you noticed that in the last month, the Bush administration has repeatedly changed their reasons for wanting to attack Iraq without actually stepping back and looking at the bigger picture of why the rest of the world disagrees?

At first, it was because of the implied threat that the 9/11 mastermind was being harbored in the country. Well, now the United States has the man in custody.

After a bit, the accusation was that Iraq was not being supportive of UN weapons inspectors. Almost immediately after this, Hans Blix said that Iraq was being largely supportive of his cause.

After that, the reason was that Iraq was refusing to disarm. But this week, Iraq has begun digging up and destroying missiles, much to the satisfaction of Hans Blix, the person who is actually supposed to be managing the issue.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration is continuing to beat the war drums, even though their supposed reasons for war are disappearing faster than Kevin Garnett in a playoff game. Colin Powell is apparently giving a speech this Friday stating that the United States will go to war with Iraq regardless of what the world community thinks.

This is madness, people.

Iraq has met every demand made of them in the last several months. They allowed weapons inspectors back into the country, and when the weapons inspectors wanted more cooperation, Iraq gave them more cooperation. Think of this from Iraq's perspective: they've got outside people coming in and investigating their military, ordering them to disarm, while planes are constantly monitoring 50% of the airspace in the country and shooting down anything that moves. Now, because the UN has asked, the Iraqis are digging up missiles and disarming them.

Iraq is being as cooperative as anyone could realistically expect. They've had trade embargoes and flying restrictions on them for better than a decade, and they're agreeing to allow searches and destruction of their military equipment. We have the 9/11 mastermind in custody, even.

Please, someone tell me why the United States is trying to start a war with Iraq.

Lent Diary, Day 2

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.

Aside from the thirst, the first day went pretty well. I did not feel the effects of hunger until almost an hour before sunset (but then it came on like a freight train, with my belly DEMANDING attention), and the three dates and a cup of water right after sunset helped as well; it was a really big perk-up.

But the high point of the day was the time I was able to spend walking in meditation. I took a route home through parks and other diversions so that it would allow a lot of time for me to think and meditate without having my concentration broken by vehicles and other such things. The cold weather also helped; there were no other pedestrians to speak of.

I walked along, feeling very thirsty, and several things occurred to me. The sense of thirst was much less pronounced than some of the challenges that Jesus faced during his forty days in the desert. What was that suffering like, I wondered? I couldn't imagine.

Moreover, the consuming of the three dates made me consider the Holy Trinity and the purpose of communion, and I came to realize that in some ways, the eating of the three dates has a lot in common with communion. The three dates and the Holy Trinity; the consumption of something representative of God after a period of meditation; there are some serious parallels there.

I think the dates themselves may become a spiritual comfort.