And now the most absorbing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine.

The Bush administration is opposed to Ariel Sharon's idea of exiling Yasser Arafat, and so is Arafat. But Sharon has also run into opposition from some surprising sources. The London Daily Telegraph reports that Israel's intelligence agencies are all against the idea as well. The Telegraph quotes one Intelligence source as saying, "Chairman Arafat can do much more damage abroad than where he is under siege. He will go all over the world presenting himself as a pacifist, and some leaders will believe him."

The president is opposed to it, but members of Congress have started maneuvering for a backdoor extra pay raise for themselves and their staffs. The president wants to give the military a 4.1 percent raise, but to hold civilian increases, which include Congress and its staff, to only 2.6 percent. Both House and Senate Budget Committees have now voted to give Congress the same increase as the military. John Scofield, spokesman for the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee, told the Hill newspaper that it's justified: "Congressional staff who are crafting legislation," he said, "are just as important and someone who is serving on the front line."

A somewhat similar attitude, on a different issue, comes from Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the left-leaning advocacy group Public Citizen. Wolfe is opposed to President Bush's choice of Dr. Richard Carmona of Arizona to be the next U.S. Surgeon General. Carmona is a former Green Beret who's now a trauma surgeon who's risked his life as a SWAT team medic. But Wolfe thinks he lacks credentials for the job. He told the Arizona Daily Star, "It's not like there's an ongoing war in this country."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's policy of avoiding the word terrorist or terrorism when describing events in the Mideast has run into trouble from some of the paper's most prominent readers. Gov. Jesse Ventura joined the state's two senators, Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton, and 356 other Minnesotans in signing a full-page ad that ran in the paper Tuesday. The ad said, "The Star Tribune is just plain wrong," and urged the paper to "refer to those who intentionally kill Israeli citizens as terrorists." The paper says it has no intention of changing its policy.