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Issue: "30 years of destruction," Jan. 18, 2003
how do you solve a problem like korea?
North Korea's saber rattling continues. "Sanctions mean a war, and the war knows no mercy," cried the state-run news agency. Over 100,000 people in dark overcoats and caps demanded a stronger military during an obviously staged Pyongyang rally. Washington officials say the communist state may have two atomic bombs and could build several more. At the United Nations, even Iran and Cuba condemned the Kim Jong Il regime for reactivating its nuke programs, violating a 1994 pledge. The Bush administration offered to open talks, but said it will not negotiate over the weapons programs. North Korea wants the United States to sign a nonaggression treaty and provide economic assistance. Any discussions could be crucial, because a small military confrontation along the demilitarized zone could escalate. U.S. military officials drew up a plan to bomb a North Korean reactor several years ago during a previous confrontation. This time, President Bush says the United States has "no intention of invading North Korea."
over there
Lots of hugs and goodbyes lie ahead for American soldiers who may fight the second Iraq war. The Pentagon plans to send 250,000 troops to the Gulf. That's five times the number there were at the start of this month. Many of these men were there for Desert Storm. The U.S. battle staff that would manage the conflict is already assembling at a post known as Camp As Sayliyah. While Washington stresses that war is not necessarily imminent or inevitable, men and materiel are in motion. Two leading congressional Democrats responded to the deployment with a facetious idea: reinstating the draft. Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and John Conyers of Michigan, both Korean War veterans, claimed leaders would be less likely to start a war if their sons might be shipped overseas. The idea is more stunt than serious policymaking. Defense officials note the military is more effective and less expensive as an all-volunteer force. America now boasts about 1.4 million active duty service personnel and 1.3 million reservists.
history repeats, finally
When George W. Bush delivers the State of the Union address on Jan. 28, a Republican President will make the annual speech to a GOP-led House and Senate for the first time in 50 years. Both Strom Thurmond and North Korea were fiery topics then, but lots has changed since then. Last time, the headlines surrounded the condemnation of Joseph R. McCarthy. This time they feature the political implosion of Trent Lott, who remains in office as chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee. ("We wanted him to be chairman of something," said Oklahoma Republican Sen. Don Nickles on NBC's Meet the Press.) Right now, the agenda includes the economy and the budget-along with 30 judges nominated by President Bush who remain unconfirmed as the Democrat majority becomes the minority. (See background on new Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, p. 10.) Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt-forever the speaker-in-waiting, never the speaker-said he would not seek reelection to Congress in 2004 so he could concentrate on running for president.
the referee fumbles
As San Diego prepares to host its third Super Bowl, New York Giants fans are left wondering what might have been. Officiating errors kept the team from attempting a 41-yard field goal that could have won them the NFC wild-card game. The NFL apologized, but the team's monumental second-half collapse stands. A Giants spokesman said the team really didn't care. Democrat New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto does. He wants the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs Giants Stadium, to sue the NFL. He has indicated he might settle for the league granting New Jersey a Super Bowl. (Nothing like the dome-less Meadowlands in January for the NFL's signature event.) The 70,000-plus seats at Qualcomm Stadium are long since sold out. This year, the NFL expects about 130 million viewers to catch the game on TV, about the same number as last year. ABC plans to broadcast an HDTV signal of the game this year and, keeping in step with its usual glitz and glamor, Shania Twain has been booked for the flashy halftime show.
what price iraq?
Will an Iraq war spike oil prices through the roof? Crude bounced over the psychologically important $30-a-barrel mark as the markets braced for more conflict ahead. Iraq now produces 2 million to 2.5 million barrels a day (not counting what gets smuggled out) and holds at least one-tenth of the world's oil reserves. Quick regime change could create only a brief interruption in Iraqi exports. Some economists say U.S. success -friendly new rulers-could keep gas prices as low as $1.10 a gallon; but if the oil fields burn, they could skyrocket as high as $4.84. One worst-case scenario is that Saddam will trash his own resources as a last act of defiance. The OPEC cartel decided to consider boosting production by up to 6.5 percent. Officials decided just a month ago to slash production. Representatives-including the Saudis-are concerned both about Iraq and the deepening turmoil in Venezuela.

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