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By Bill Gallagher

Events in the world and nation drive on at an incredible pace.

The war in Afghanistan rages as the murderous dog and blasphemer of Islam, Osama bin Laden, and his loyalists run and hide, awaiting the judgment they richly deserve.

In a resort along the Rhine River in Germany, the tribal factions that make up Afghanistan, their neighboring nations, and the United States and its allies try to figure out how to craft a power-sharing leadership that will work and endure and will not, we pray, be worse than the Taliban government.

President Bush muses about possible military action against Iraq. A move that may be premature at best and, as Bush the Elder used to say, "not prudent."

Attorney General Ashcroft moves to give more power to the FBI and trample on fundamental rights as the G-men still fail to produce a single indictment for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Ashcroft, the sanctimonious scourge of the Constitution, then has the nerve to whine, "There have been a few voices who have criticized." (Please include in my obit file that I did repeatedly.) Ashcroft cries about a rush to judgment, "Some have sought to condemn us with faulty facts or without facts at all."

Johnny boy, I defy you and all the lawyers in the Department of Justice to show a single factual error in the condemnations of your ruthless assaults on freedom printed on the pages of this esteemed journal.

Congress is debating the president's economic stimulus package which, if the Republicans get their way, will be the greatest corporate raid on the U.S. Treasury in memory and should make even the robber barons blush.

Mismanaged airlines will get billions, airline executives will rake in millions and displaced workers will pound salt. It's a disgraceful plan that benefits the rich and ignores the real needs of the poor.

More anthrax, but the fumbling federales don't have a clue or a suspect.

The world mourns the death of George Harrison, the former Beatle. The loss of the introspective, deeply spiritual musician should inspire us, in these difficult days, to reflect on the man and his wonderfully peaceful music.

So much is happening, and there is so much to write about, but all I can concentrate on is the craving for a decent night's sleep and the struggle to type this piece with my feeble left hand. I'm recovering from surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. So I'm more cranky than usual. If you want to see what they do to you, check out the third battle scene in "Braveheart."

But the experience is forcing me to better appreciate the pain of countless people suffering far more than my little problem requires.

The refugees in Afghanistan need much attention and the victims of decades of warfare should get the utmost of our physical and human resources. We cannot permit the lawlessness and vacuum that let the Taliban take power when the Soviet army left Dodge City.

That long commitment can be more difficult than the military moves now underway, but is essential to building the hope for lasting peace. America's attention span fades when the bombs are no longer dropping.

President Bush's thoughts about expanding the war on terrorism to Iraq offer little hope for success, and restoring Bush family pride -- after his father botched the chance to remove Saddam Hussein's government -- should not drive our policy.

The only way to get rid of Saddam is by committing a massive invasion of ground troops and taking Baghdad street by street. We're not going to do that, but we might try another round of air assaults.

That will only add more suffering for the Iraqi people, do nothing to topple Saddam, unleash more SCUD missile attacks on Israel, build more resentment in the Arab world and outrage our allies. The notion is ill-conceived and the timing is atrocious.

Ashcroft wants to relax restrictions on the FBI's surveillance of religious and political organizations. Restrictions on those activities were imposed when the FBI's longtime director and serial felon J. Edgar Hoover's use of political snooping came to light.

Giving the bureau -- which would have a hard time writing parking tickets -- more power is simply nuts. Career officials at the FBI and Justice Department are against the plan for good reason. They know the history of abuse. Only expedient politicians like Ashcroft favor the move.

Polls show 70 percent of the American people approve of Ashcroft's assaults on freedom. That's not good, but it is a reflection of how easily terror can pave the way for totalitarian states.

George Harrison's death reminds us of more tranquil, innocent days. The youngest of the lads from Liverpool touched us with his soulful guitar and haunting lyrics.

The only Beatles song Frank Sinatra ever recorded was Harrison's "Something." Ole blue eyes called it "the greatest love song ever written."

It rings with simplicity and beauty. "Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover." The words and melody are immortal and, in these darkening days of December, point us to reach for the light of hope.

Blessed are the peacemakers. The poor shall inherit the earth. I'll play tennis again. Here comes the sun.

Bill Gallagher is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox News. His e-mail address is