Most of the U.S. military personnel fighting overseas these days have unprecedented access to home via e-mail, according to the Chicago Tribune. For example, when the 1,300 members of the Illinois National Guard's 66th Infantry Brigade were shipped out this month as part of the war on terrorism, for instance, each was equipped with a personal e-mail address.
Officials said the number of messages flowing from its ships and bases is increasingly significantly. During the USS Kitty Hawk's recent 83-day mission, the aircraft carrier tallied 350,000 e-mails for its crew of 5,500.
All of those messages raise extra security concerns, of course, but most of them are sent and received in controlled environments and the Pentagon does its best to screen them before they enter the Internet at large, the Tribune said.
(Thanks to UPI's Joe Warminsky in Washington)
NASA has opened its doors to a 28-year-old South African businessman who is paying the Russians at least $20 million to ride a rocket into space this April.
Internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, his Russian commander and an European Space Agency researcher are spending the week at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for training on communications, life support and other critical systems of the International Space Station. The three men are scheduled to launch aboard a Soyuz rocket on April 28 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to ferry a new lifeboat to the orbiting outpost. They'll return to Earth aboard a Soyuz capsule already berthed at the station.
Unlike the first space tourist Dennis Tito -- who flew to the ISS over NASA's vehement objections last year -- Shuttleworth will find he has access to all portions of the space station and may even be able to participate in news conferences and other activities NASA denied Tito.
LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW
The Midwest's unusually balmy winter of '02 ended Wednesday night when a heavy snowstorm socked the region with snow, sleet and freezing rain. The slushy stuff was perfect for snowball fights -- although many kids had to wait to indulge because most schools were open Thursday.
In Chicago, a commuter built a snowman on a Chicago Transit Authority train platform -- provoking smiles from grim-faced fellow commuters waiting as their train sat motionless for 10 minutes just outside the station.
REASONS TO CELEBRATE THIS WEEKEND:
FRIDAY: Today being Feb. 1, this marks the beginning of AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, American Heart Month (by presidential proclamation), February Is Berry Fresh In The Sunshine State, International Boost Self-Esteem Month, International Expect Success Month, Library Lovers' Month, Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month, National African American History Month (by presidential proclamation), National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Children's Dental Health Month, National Sign Up For Summer Camp Month, National Weddings Month, North Carolina Sweetpotato Month, Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month, Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month, Spiritual Teachers Month and Wise Health Consumer Month.
This is National Freedom Day, by presidential proclamation. It was on this date in 1865 that President Lincoln approved the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
Today is Robinson Crusoe Day, commemorating the anniversary of the rescue, in 1709, of Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk who, five years earlier, had been stranded at his own request on a desert island following a quarrel with his captain. His adventures became the basis for Daniel Defoe's novel "Robinson Crusoe."
And it's Women's Heart Health Day.
SATURDAY: This is Groundhog Day, based on the old belief that if a groundhog spots his shadow today, there will be six more weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil and all the other groundhogs around the nation will emerge from their burrows this morning to see if they've made the morning TV news shows.
Today is also Groundhog Job Shadow Day, when students spend the day "shadowing" an employee as he or she goes through the normal job routines. (Web site: jobshadow.org)
SUNDAY: Today through Feb. 9 is Get Paid To Shop Week. Sounds like a dream come true. (Web site: idealady.com)
It's also I Hate Financial Planning Awareness Week, and International Personal and Business Coaching Week.
This is Diabetes Sunday, which is also observed Feb. 10, 17 and 24.
Today is Four Chaplains Memorial Day, commemorating the four chaplains who sacrificed their lifebelts and their lives to save others when the SS Dorchester was torpedoed off Greenland during World War II.
It's the halfway point of winter today. At 2:19 p.m. EST, 44 days, 23 hours and 58 minutes of winter will have elapsed and an equal amount of time will remain until spring begins on March 20.
Mozambique celebrates Heroes' Day today.
Switzerland burns strawmen on poles as a sign winter is about to end in festivities known as Homstrom.
And Vietnam marks the founding of its Communist Party in 1930 with a national holiday.
MONDAY: Today through Feb. 9 is National Consumer Protection Week, by presidential proclamation. It's also National School Counseling Week.
Angola celebrates Armed Struggle Day to commemorate the beginning of its quest for independence from Portugal in 1960.
And this is Independence Day in Sri Lanka.
(Thanks to Chase's 2002 Calendar of Events)
BY THE WAY...
Where was the first moving picture studio built?
The first moving picture studio was built at Thomas Edison's laboratory compound in West Orange, N.J., and opened for business on this date in 1893.