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News Briefs

Rumsfeld Seeking To Bolster Military Force Without New Troops

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, seeking to increase the nation’s combat power without hiring more troops, is poised to order a sweeping review of Pentagon policies, officials say.

It will include everything from wartime mobilization and peacekeeping commitments, to reservist training, and incentives for extended duty.

A senior Defense Department official said Rumsfeld would order the Pentagon’s senior leadership, both civilian and military, to rethink ways to reduce stress on the armed forces, fulfill recruitment and retention goals and operate the Pentagon more efficiently.

In essence, Rumsfeld will ask the service secretaries and chiefs and his undersecretaries to address how the Pentagon can more efficiently use its troops at a time when the force is spread thin by global deployments.

Fox Loses Lawsuit to Halt Book

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- NEW YORK

A federal judge in Manhattan told Fox News on Friday that it had to learn how to take a joke.

Then he rejected the network’s request for an injunction to block the satirist Al Franken from using “fair and balanced” on the cover of his book, “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”

Calling the motion “wholly without merit, both factually and legally,” the judge, Denny Chin of United States District Court, said that a person would have to be “completely dense” not to realize that the cover was a joke, and that trademark protection for the phrase “fair and balanced” was unrealistic because the words were so commonly used.

Lawyers for Franken and his publisher, Penguin Group (USA), called the ruling a victory for the First Amendment. Franken was not in court. “I never really had any doubt,” he said in a telephone interview, calling the ruling “a victory for satirists everywhere, even the bad ones.”

He also thanked Fox’s lawyers “for filing one of the stupidest briefs I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The Fox court papers had referred to Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer and performer and an unabashed liberal, as a “parasite” who appeared shrill, unstable and “increasingly unfunny.”

The network could appeal the decision.

Many Iraqis Welcome Reconstruction

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- DIWANIYA, IRAQ

As the area around Baghdad endured a week of repeated violence, a happier scene unfolded in this city, a two-hour drive to the south.

American soldiers, without helmets or body armor, attended graduation ceremonies of the Diwaniya University Medical School. At ease with the Iraqi students and their parents, the Marines laughed, joked and posed in photographs. One by one, the students walked up to thank them, for Marine doctors had taught classes in surgery and gynecology and helped draw up the final exams.

“We like the Americans very much here,” said Zainab Khaledy, 22, who received her medical degree last Sunday. “We feel better than under the old regime. We have problems, like security, but everything is getting better.”

Such is the duality that is coming to define the American enterprise in Iraq, a country increasingly divided between those willing to put up with the American occupation and those few determined to fight it. While the areas stretching west and north from Baghdad roil and burn, much of the rest of the country remains, most of the time, remarkably calm. Rather than fight the Americans, most Iraqis appear to be readily accepting the benefits of a wide-ranging reconstruction.