Today's Headlines

US News

Democrats Blast Bush on Iraq
The top Democratic congresspeople yesterday directly criticized President Bush's policy on Iraq, signaling a strong Democratic willingness to challenge the administration's policy just as international opposition is hardening. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both spoke out yesterday in separate appearances, stating that it would be "premature" for the United States to invade Iraq without winning broader international support.

Air Force Reports 54 Assault Claims
The Air Force has combed through 54 cases of alleged rape or sexual assault at the Air Force Academy that have been investigated over the past decade. Testifying before a Senate panel on the sexual misconduct in the Air Force, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche acknowledged that many additional cases have occurred but were never reported. Roche also promised changes in how the academy handles sexual misconduct complaints so that victims will feel freer to come forward.

Terence Hallinan Doubts Leaked
Even San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan didn't think he had enough evidence to charge San Francisco's police chief and other top cops with conspiring to obstruct justice. This revelation, leaked to the press by unknown sources, puts the district attorney and his high-profile case on treacherous ground. The leaks come from the 1,300 pages of grand jury testimony in the case, which Hallinan cannot leak to the public himself.

International News

Bush Calls For UN Vote On Iraq
During a Thursday evening press conference, US President George W. Bush warned that he is ready to go to war soon, even without UN backing, and that the United States would call for a vote on the Iraq situation. Today, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is set to deliver his report on the progress of the weapons inspections in Iraq; the nature of the report will likely determine how the vote will go down in the United Nations.

Two of Osama bin Laden's Sons Captured
A Pakistani provincial minister announced this morning that two sons of Osama bin Laden were captured in southwestern Afghanistan in a joint operation involving Pakistani and United States troops. Saad (the eldest son) and Hanza bin Laden were captured in the Rabat region of Afghanistan, and it is possible that they were injured in the conflict. US counterterrorism officials disputed the claim.

Annan Deeply Deplores Violence in Israel
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday in a short speech that he deeply deplored the use of "disproportionate and excessive force" by the Israeli military in a Gaza refugee camp. This action led to the killing of 11 Palestinians and the injury of more than 140. Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard expanded upon this, saying "Such military actions in densely populated areas, as well as the demolition of Palestinian homes, cannot be accepted as a legitimate means of self-defence and violate international humanitarian law."


Vivendi Universal Posts Staggering Losses
Doubts over Vivendi Universal's elusive strategy wiped more than a billion euros off the debt-laden media group's value in European trading today after it once again seized the prize for posting France's worst corporate loss. For the second straight year, the troubled media company had the largest corporate loss in the nation of France, this year posting a $25.7 billion loss. Shares in the company fell an average of 8% in European trading on the news.

3Com Predicts Lowered Revenues
Networking giant 3Com announced that sales for the fiscal third quarter will fall below previous projections, with revenue in the range of $240 and $245 million. The company blamed the drop on soft demand for telecommunications in the United States. This news comes on the tail of 3Com's announcement earlier this week of the sale of its CommWorks carrier equipment division to UTStarcom for $100 million cash, which reinforces 3Com's general direction to focus on selling networking gear to corporations rather than telecom services.

EBay Subsidiary Shuts Down
EBay announced yesterday that they are closing, its fixed price subsidiary for used books, CDs, and other items, in late 2004. founder Josh Kopelman also said he would leave the company office in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, effective April 15. EBay purchased in a stock swap in June 2000 in order to increase its customer base and unify part of the online seller's market, but the deflation of the internet industry has made the deal not worth holding on to.

Science & Technology

University of Texas Student Data Compromised
Crackers are believed to have stolen the social security numbers of 55,200 faculty, staff, and students at the University of Texas last weekend following a computer break-in. This disclosure has led to fears that the social security data may find its way into the hands of ID thieves and has caused the university administration to look into alternate means of uniquely identifying personal data. The university did say that student academic records, health records, and insurance data were not compromised in the attack.

Cassini Probe Sends Back Wonderful Jupiter Pictures
The Cassini space probe, on its way to a rendezvous with Saturn next July, did a close fly-by with the planet Jupiter in the last few days. The craft took a number of shots of the gas giant and the pictures were released earlier today by NASA and the European Space Agency. The shots reveal new features in the gaseous belts that cover the surface of Jupiter, including new details on their composition and relationship to each other. The Jupiter flyby was intended to cause a gravitational speed boost, which would cause the craft to reach Saturn much quicker than otherwise possible.

Silicon May Significantly Increase Battery Life
Adding a small amount of silicon to the graphite normally found in the anode of a lithium-ion battery can cause a doubling in the energy storage capacity, according to researchers at the Sanda National Laboratories said Thursday. If this advance can be commercialized, it will lead to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with more power, a longer lifespan, and smaller size.


Breast Implant Surgery Linked To Suicide Risk
Of the 3,521 Swedish women who were given cosmetic breast implants from 1965 to 1993, the number of deaths was 85, including 15 suicides. The death rate is 44% higher than would otherwise have been expected, and the suicide rate is three times as high as would be expected. Researchers suggest that the relationship is caused by psychological vulnerabilities in women who request such cosmetic operations, mostly centered around a poor self-image.

Thigh Length May Indicate Diabetes Risk
Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that people with short upper legs are more likely to have glucose intolerance or diabetes, particularly if they are white and female. Speculation on the cause of this is that the short thighs themselves do not cause diabetes, but that the genes causing both conditions are linked. Another hypothesis is that stunted growth early in life (causing the short thighs) can be related to chronic disease later in life.


Els Shares Dubai Lead
Defending champion Ernie Els holds a share of the lead at the Dubai Desert Classic at -10, continuing his run of strong golf to open this season. Els has won four of the five tournaments that he has entered during the 2003 campaign, and the Dubai tournament looked as though it might provide the first head-to-head meeting of Tiger Woods and Els until Tiger withdrew earlier this week.

South America Will Host 2014 FIFA World Cup
World soccer governing body FIFA announced Friday that a South American nation will host the 2014 World Cup. Germany is slated to stage the 2006 event, while South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia are currently bidding for the 2010 competition. Argentina was the last South American nation to host a Cup, back in 1978.


Sopranos Star Walks Out
Sopranos star James Gandolfini is suing the makers of the TV series after discovering that series creator David Chase was dishonest about payments for the upcoming season. Gandolfini, who plays mobster Tony Soprano, has begun legal proceedings against US network HBO to get out of his contract before filming starts on a fifth series of the hit drama.

George Michael Accuses BBC of Censorship
Singer George Michael has accused music TV show Top of the Pops of ordering him not to wear an anti-war T-shirt on the air. Michael recorded a version of the protest song The Grave for the show. The star said that the BBC refused to let him wear a T-shirt bearing the words "No, war, Blair out". In response, the BBC issued a statement saying "we are not giving George Michael a platform to air his political views, we are giving viewers the fantastic opportunity to see an international star perform on TOTP for the first time in 17 years."

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I watched the George W. Bush press conference last night in which he reiterated the supposed "logic" behind a war with Iraq. Most of the conference was just a reiteration of the same old tired line. That was, until the next to last question:

QUESTION: Mr. President, millions of Americans can recall a time when leaders from both parties set this country on a mission of regime change in Vietnam. Fifty-thousand Americans died. The regime is still there in Hanoi and it hasn't harmed or threatened a single American in 30 years since the war ended.

What can you say tonight, sir, to the sons and the daughters of the Americans who served in Vietnam to assure them that you will not lead this country down a similar path in Iraq?

BUSH: It's a great question.

Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.

In order to disarm, it will mean regime change. I'm confident that we'll be able to achieve that objective in a way that minimizes the loss of life.

No doubt there's risks with any military operation. I know that. But it's very clear what we intend to do. And our mission won't change. The mission is precisely what I just stated. We've got a plan that will achieve that mission should we need to send forces in.

This question and the response to it very clearly lays out the huge divide between the Bush administration and the thinking of many people worldwide. Bush sees nothing but a military conflict in this situation. To him, that is the way to solve the "problem" of Saddam Hussein.

But we tried that solution in Korea, and now North Korea is brandishing nuclear weapons. We tried that solution in Vietnam, lost 57,000 lives, and lost the conflict.

Military conflict does not work for disarmament. It's a simple fact that has been repeated time and time again in recent world history. Yet George W. Bush seems not to see this picture.

We can only hope that this will ONLY be another Vietnam, because this time around, it could cause a global holy war and massive terrorist onslaught that makes 9/11 look like a day at the park.

How many lives is disarming and removing Saddam Hussein from power really worth?

Lent Diary, Day 3

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.

The hunger effects yesterday were much less pronounced than they were the first day of my trial. Right now, I am not strongly feeling thirst or hunger effects, whereas on my previous lunch breaks, I was ravenous and parched.

But what does all of this really mean? I am finding that it is best to reflect on this in the hour before sunset, when I am beginning to feel very hungry and thirsty. Last night, I spent this hour in prayer and meditation. I sat crosslegged on a chair, breathed in and out slowly, closed my eyes, and tried to understand the sacrifice that was made for me and what I could do to help repay that sacrifice in my daily life.

Jesus led by example, and I hope to follow in that example. I will lead by my actions, not by my words.

And when I opened my eyes, I felt clear of conscience, and I feel that I'm beginning to comprehend internally what the true value of my life is.