Now the most engaging two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.
A new Washington Post poll shows support for President Bush on the war on terrorism at 88 percent – barely changed from December. The same poll also showed 91 percent support for the war in Afghanistan and 72 percent support for further action in such places as Yemen and the Philippines. The president's overall job approval stands now at 82 percent. This, by the way, is how the BBC world affairs correspondent in Washington, Paul Reynolds, explains the president's continuing popularity, "for all his bumbling, President George W. Bush has managed to find a way of talking to the American people, still in a kind of shock six months on, which has kept his popularity ratings high."
The Red Cross is trying to explain itself and the controversy over a 9/11 commemoration event it organized in California. A student group bowed out after it was asked to drop the words "God" and "prayer" from songs they planned to sing. Seventh and eighth graders planned to sing a medley of "America the Beautiful," "The Prayer of the Children" and "God Bless the U.S.A."
The kids were also asked not to sing a song called "Declaration,” based on the Declaration of Independence – too political, said the Red Cross, which has now put out a statement saying it acted out of "sensitivity to religious diversity" and the desire to be "inclusive and not offend different populations."
With even the cautious Alan Greenspan declaring an economic recovery well under way, the debate has begun over whether there really is a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research says yes, but the current data showed that only in the third quarter of last year did the economy actually shrink. A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of economic shrinkage. NBER rejects that definition, saying quarterly growth figures are subject to too much later revision.
Instead, the NBER's businesses cycle committee decides if there's a recession "by asking itself hypothetically what decision it would make if a turnaround in the economy started just after the most recently observed data."