Today's Headlines

US News

Troop Movements Could Cost $25 Billion
The Congressional Budget Office estimated today that simply sending troops and equipment to the Persian Gulf to fight Iraq and returning them home would cost nearly $25 billion. Moreover, the Office concluded that the total cost of a potential war would doubtless be much higher, depending on how long hostilities lasted and how much was spent on reconstruction and other aid. This provides the first real financial view from the Republican government on the potential cost of a war in the Middle East.

Air Force Academy Scandal Deepens
The Air Force has finally begun investigating at least 54 reports of sexual assault or rape at the Air Force Academy in Colorado over the last decade. Air Force Secretary James Roche, in announcing this in a Congressional hearing last week, sounded deeply appalled and wondered aloud how many more unreported assaults have occurred, questioning whether a rapist could be in the cockpit of an Air Force jet "with a couple of thousand pounds of bombs under his wings." His reaction gives hope that Air Force command has finally recognized the academy's failure to respond to legitimate complaints by young women cadets.

Investigators Look Into NASA Communications
A fourth investgation team evaluating the space shuttle Columbia disaster will look into NASA's internal communications, including e-mails and management directives. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hess, an aviation mishap expert, said Friday the team will aid three groups already investigating the structural design, operations and technical aspects of the shuttle. Hess, who belongs to NASA's 13-member Columbia accident investigation board, also said that the overall investigation is focusing on the left wing, but has not ruled out other possibilities.

International News

Israeli Helicopter Kills Hamas Leader
Early this morning, Israeli helicopters destroyed a car with a barrage of air-to-surface missiles, killing a Hamas leader and three of his bodyguards. This strike comes a day after the militant group claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks that killed 16 Israelis. The apparent target of the strike was Ibrahim Makadmeh, 51, who was accused of engineering a series of attacks that have resulted in the deaths of 28 Israelis, most recently a tank bombing that killed 2 Israelis last month.

Blix Delivers Iraq Questions
Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix yesterday distributed a lengthy document to UN Security Council members which contains a wide range of questions he says Iraq has failed to answer about its weapons programs. This document was a supplement to Blix's latest report to the United Nations concerning Iraqi cooperation in disarmament, in which Blix praised Iraq's decision to destroy its al-Samoud missiles]. Due to these reports, the United Kingdom has presented a revised draft resolution to the Security Council; the resolution demands Iraq disarm by March 17, 2003 or face military action.

Iraqi Diplomat Expelled From Australia
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced this morning that Iraqi diplomat Helal Ibrahim Aaref had until Wednesday to leave Australia after hearing advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that Mr. Aaref was working as an intelligence officer. In a speech, Downer said, "The assessment is he is an Iraqi intelligence officer and clearly that has implications for Australian security." But the Iraqi senior diplomat in Australia, Saad al-Samarai, wondered, "How can you expel him if you don't charge him with spying?"


$1 Billion IBM Lawsuit May Taint Linux
The SCO Group has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against IBM for allegedly giving away trade secrets in its open-source Linux programs. SCO, which acquired the Unix operating system in 1995, claims IBM is freely distributing proprietary code by converting aspects of its own Unix variant into a Linux product, which includes open-sourced and freely accessible code. This move is seen as a potential boon to Microsoft and other proprietary software companies, who view Linux as a major threat to their software businesses.

Quattrone Resigns From CSFB
Frank Quattrone, one of Wall Street's most celebrated investment bankers in the 1990s but now facing criminal investigation, resigned under pressure from Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) on Tuesday. His departure from CSFB comes as state and federal prosecutors are studying whether or not the Silicon Valley financer sought to obstruct government investigations of 1999 and 2000 initial public stock offerings. The resignation was expected after Quattrone's decision last week to refuse an interview with the National Association of Securities Dealers, which violated CSFB's rules of cooperation.

Stocks Continue To Bounce On Mixed War News
United States stocks finished higher on Friday after an unconfirmed report that two sons of Osama bin Laden had been captured. Share prices fell early in the session on news the US economy had unexpectedly lost jobs in February and after chip manufacturer Intel said its first-quarter sales wouldn't meet its highest forecast. "Everything is hinged on anything related to terrorism, bin Laden, or Iraq," said Michael O'Hare, head of listed trading at Lehman Brothers. "Any positive piece of news and the market's going to fly. Anything negative, and it's going to drop."

Science & Technology

Microsoft Threatens Copyright Infringement Against Neowin
Using an unusually harsh application of a widely used Internet enforcement tool, a Windows news site was taken offline for nearly 24 hours this week after Microsoft accused the site of infringing its copyrights. Microsoft's Internet investigator sent a takedown notice on Tuesday, alleging the site was infringing the company's copyrights relating to its recently released Windows XP Peer-to-Peer Software Development Kit (SDK). However, Microsoft chose to alert the site's network service provider, who pulled the plug on the site without the knowledge of Neowin.

Intel To Boost Xeon Chip Line
Intel is expected to launch new Xeon microprocessors, running at clock speeds of 3GHz and 3.06GHz, on Monday. The Xeon line, which is similar to Intel's Pentium 4 line, is designed for single- and dual-processor workstations. This move is seen as a reinvigoration of Intel's high-end workstation and low-end server processor line in response to recent moves by AMD attempting to edge into these markets. The new chips, which are expected to cost about $700 each, follow the release of Intel's 2.6GHz, 2.66GHz and 2.8GHz Xeon chips in September.

University of Texas Warns of Additional Hacker Strikes
University of Texas officials are warning that more computer hacking may be attempted after publicity that thieves downloaded Social Security numbers and other personal data on 55,200 people from a university information system. In an internal memo, the university warned computer support staff to beware now that the February 28, 2003 breach has been made public, as it may label the university for further attacks. "The likelihood of attack and searches of the university computer systems for other vulnerabilities rises exponentially. I ask for your immediate attention to any vulnerabilities you may have in your systems that would allow someone to replicate this type of attack on your information," wrote information services director Sheila Ochner.


FDA Proposes New Rules For Dietary Supplements
The Food and Drug Administration moved on Friday to impose new rules on dietary supplements that would force manufacturers to make clean and accurately labeled products. The changes will not tell consumers whether the supplements, which include everything from vitamin C to ephedra, St. John's wort and ginkgo biloba, are dangerous, nor whether they work, but instead focuses on making sure that the products are actually clean and contain the material that is described on the label. This is in reaction to recent evidence showing the presence of bacteria, glass, pesticides, lead and other contaminants in food supplements.

Teen Gets Stem Cell Treatment
Doctors at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, California became the first in the world to use stem cells from a patient's own blood to try to repair damage caused by a heart attack. The innovative transplant was announced at a news conference Wednesday morning at the hospital, where Dimitri Bonnville, 16, who had been shot in the heart with a nail gun, sat at the table with his parents and cardiologist. Doctors hope the stem cells will regenerate heart tissue damaged by a massive heart attack that followed the injury and stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. Dimitri's heart function has begun to improve since the stem cell transplant Feb. 21.


Giants Release Jason Sehorn
After long-time Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn refused a sharp pay cut to free up salary cap room, the New York Giants released the colorful player after nine years in Giants' blue. Sehorn's fate was sealed sometime in the past two days when his agent informed the Giants he would not accept a proposed restructuring that would have dropped his pay from $4.3 million to $1 million and erased a $1-million roster bonus he was due to receive Monday. Over the last five seasons, Sehorn's strength at the cornerback position has dropped significantly, meaning he may not have much drawing power in the free agent market.

Els Remains In Driver's Seat In Dubai
Ernie Els, Alastair Forsyth and David Lynn go into Sunday's final round at the Dubai Desert Classic tied at 13 under par, maintaining the trio's lead that they held at the end of play on Friday. Ernie Els is looking for his fifth win in six tournaments to open a strong 2003 golf campaign for him, in which his primary rival appears to be Tiger Woods, who himself has won two of his first three tournaments. The Dubai tournament has a weakened field after Woods and Colin Montgomerie declined to play, citing fears around the building military conflict in the region.


Broadway Darkens Because of Musicians' Strike
Most of Broadway went dark last night when its musicians walked out over how many of them should be employed in each theater's orchestra pit, and actors and stagehands refused to cross their picket lines. Broadway producers announced that all musicals except for Cabaret, which operates under a different contract would be shut for the weekend. Dramatic plays without music and off-Broadway musicals will continue to operate as normal. It was the first time in nearly 30 years that Broadway had been shut down by a labor dispute.

Burt Ward and Adam West Reunite
The two stars of the 1960s camp classic television series Batman, Burt Ward (Robin) and Adam West (Batman), are reuniting for Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, to be aired on CBS this Sunday. The original Batman series ran from 1966 to 1968 on ABC. It is regarded as one of the biggest camp shows in television history. Animated POW!s and BLAM!s flashed on the screen when the blows were struck during fight scenes, and the acting was intentionally overplayed. Yet the show has retained a popular following over the past thirty five years.

And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I am considering running for public office as a member of the Libertarian Party.

Your initial reaction to this revelation might be well, he has no chance whatsoever of winning.

I know that very well.

The reason I am planning on running is because I think that a true grassroots effort is what is needed to get a Libertarian voice out there in the American consciousness. Most people are not even aware of the politics of parties outside of Democrats and Republicans. My goal is simply to raise the awareness of a different viewpoint.

How am I planning to go about this? I'm considering taking a year off from my job (which I think I may be able to do), packing up my car, and visiting every small town in my Congressional district. What will I do in those towns? Show up at the town meeting places and simply talk to individual people. In small towns, people usually congregate at the fire station or at a particular small restaurant. I just have to find that place and meet a few people. If I find a lot of interest in what I have to say, I may try to schedule a town meeting and just let it be an open question-and-answer forum, where I try to build a discussion on the topics at hand.

Basically, I want to run a truly idealized campaign in the style that they were run a hundred years ago, before politicians decided to use mass media to reach their constituency and took themselves away from actual contact with their constituents.

I don't expect to win. All I hope for is that I am able to make a few people in Iowa care about their government again and see the possibilities of what could be if they went to the polls and made a real choice rather than just choosing the lesser of two evils.

Lent Diary, Day 4

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.

Last night, about 10 PM, I took a long walk in lieu of my usual pre-bedtime meditations. I have a lot of things on my mind; this Lenten discipline has made me carefully reconsider what's good and what's bad in my life, and what I might want to consider changing.

I've found that I have two major regrets in my life. The first is that I did not even consider going to seminary. I think now that this may have been the path I should have followed in life. I think I have a gift for communication with people in a one-on-one basis, in terms of making people feel comfortable talking about things that they might not otherwise want to discuss. I wonder if I should not be in a career to utilize this gift.

My second regret (and one that I can still potentially change) is that I have not been involved in significant public service. I would like to run for a political office; more than that, I would like to provide a voice for those who are interested in individual liberties and freedoms.

I believe now, more than ever, that God made man to be free. Free will was one of the gifts we were all given, and we should be allowed to make choices, whether right or wrong. Whenever a government makes choices for us, this gift is being restricted.

My Lenten discipline has made me more of a libertarian than ever.