As reported by CBS News last week, if the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan, one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. This is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War.

Nnenna Freelon's passion for singing in public was ignited at the age of seven, when she faced an audience alone for the first time. She said that she was petrified, but after finishing singing "Amazing Grace" and seeing the smiles and hearing the clapping and "Amen"s, she wanted more.

• Are you cold, wet, and ready for the blossom of spring? Come, my friend, into the warm pulse of the bottom end of the pool, as two new releases of bass exploration - one a five-star reggae classic from 1980, and the other a nu-funk slammer - are the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

By now, you've probably heard that new Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was so surprised about the actual size of the state's budget deficit that he is considering breaking his campaign promise to not raise taxes.

An absolute necessity in politics is to have friends outside of the political game. Most political types understand this and routinely delineate between their political friends and their "real" friends.

A lobbyist, legislator, reporter, etc.

Secretary of State George Ryan sat on a couch in his Chicago office, reading a document in early September of 1998. It hadn't been a good day. The feds were closing in, the media was turning against him, and election day was just two months away.

What a season under the cult of celebrity! Moby takes a beating, Lisa Marie Presley is single again, David Lee Roth is suing Van Halen, and Kid Rock is firing guns with Carson Daly on TV. Any assorted boyhood home of Eminem sets off a multi-million-dollar bidding war on eBay's real-estate site! Future Slim Shady Gracelands are popping up all over gritty Michigan hamlets.

The Federal Election Commission's vote on November 25 to allow campaign committees to pay a salary to candidates for Congress and the presidency might on the surface seem like a terrible idea. Why should fat-cat politicians be allowed to skim cash off the tops of their campaign war chests? Don't they have enough perks as it is?

But the idea has merit - a lot of merit, actually - even though it doesn't go far enough.

Congressmen almost never have much influence in Illinois politics.

The political class sometimes even ships them off to Washington to get them out of the way - often to keep them from running for a truly important job, like alderman.

Every legislative session has its own feel, and its own rhythm. This fall's veto session feels like death - in more ways than one.

One should never predict anything about what could happen in a veto session, but nothing big seems to be moving or percolating this fall.

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