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Undernews For September 18, 2008

Undernews For September 18, 2008

FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
Washington's Most Unofficial Source
611 Pennsylvania Ave SE #381
Washington DC 20003
202-423-7884
Editor: Sam Smith

18 SEP 2008

WORD

We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without. - Henry Thoreau

PAGE ONE MUST

WHY THE DEMOCRATS HAVEN'T BEEN MORE HELPFUL IN THE FISCAL CRISIS

The Democrats seem slightly befuddled how to react to the current fiscal crisis. One reason is that they helped to cause it. Starting with the Clinton administration, there was a conscious effort by Democrats to cozy up to Wall Street and to this day Barack Obama is being advised by those with deep involvement in the policies and practices that led to the current disaster. You can't well complain about Bush's Treasury Secretary having been with Goldman Sachs, when Clinton's was as well and now the guy has Obama's ear. And during the period liberals have largely looked the other way as the economic principles of the New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society were steadily unraveled.

The Prowler, American Spectator - When President George W. Bush nominated Henry Paulson to serve as Treasury Secretary, Republicans raised a red flag that Paulson, who, along with his wife, has strong ties to the Democrat party, would not be an honest broker with Republicans.

That seems to have been borne out, with sources inside of Treasury reporting that Paulson briefed Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign advisers on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout plan before offering such a briefing to the McCain campaign.

In fact, the McCain campaign had sought a similar briefing several days ago as word spread that a bailout plan was to be unveiled and had been turned down by Paulson's senior staff.

The next question is: Why was the Obama campaign so keen on getting advanced word about the bailout?

"They have a huge problem with the mortgage and housing market story, and everyone is missing it," says a Republican political media consultant with ties to the Obama campaign due to the bipartisan nature of the firm he does work with.

"You look at Obama's economic advisers, the guys he has counted on from day one and who have raised him a ton -- and I mean a ton -- of money: Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, both of them are waist to neck deep in the mortgage debacle."

Both Raines and Johnson have served as CEO of Fannie Mae, with Raines taking over from Johnson. Both are key political and economic advisers to Obama.

"How can Obama go out with a straight face and saw it was Republicans who made this mess, when it is his key advisers who ran the agencies that made the big mess what it is?" says a Democrat House member who supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "It's his people who are responsible for what may well be the single largest government bailout in history. And every single one of them made millions off the collapse that are lining Obama's campaign coffers. . .

It isn't just Fannie Mae where Obama has a problem. Another close political adviser, in fact the one man responsible for rallying support for Obama early on among Congressional Democrats, is Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who served on the Board of Directors for Freddie Mac after leaving the Clinton White House. . .

Emanuel claimed to be neutral in the primary race between the wife of his old boss and his longtime Chicago acquaintance, Obama. But the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, who would be first in line for the vacated Senate seat of Obama should he win the presidency, quickly dumped Clinton when it was clear Obama had a head of steam for the nomination. .

Both Raines and Johnson have served as CEO of Fannie Mae, with Raines taking over from Johnson. Both are key political and economic advisers to Obama.

Protein Wisdom - [In a] May 6th speech, [Obama] said that we "need a government that stands up for families who are being tricked out of their homes by Wall Street predators." What Obama failed to mention was that by the end of March 2008, he had taken $1,180,103 from people and groups associated with the top ten issuers of subprime loans. . . Indeed, Swiss banking giant UBS, which has written off more debt from the subprime crisis than any other bank, has contributed $363,257 not included in that total. . .

Obama failed to mention that his fundraising bundlers include: Louis Susman, Michael Froman and J. Michael Schell of Citigroup; Steve Koch of Credit Suisse; Bruce Hayman, David Heller, Eric Schwartz, and Todd Williams of Goldman Sachs; Mark Gilbert, Christine Forester, John Rhea, Nadja Fidelia, and Theodore Janulis of Lehman; and Robert Wolf of UBS Americas. These folks raised an additional $1,800,000 for Obama. . .

One bundler who deserves special mention is Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker, who happens to be Obama's national Finance Chair. Pritzker was an owner and board member of Superior Bank of Chicago, which went bust in 2001 with over $1 billion in deposits. Timothy Anderson - who obsessively pursued the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) over his role in the failure of Clyde Federal Savings & Loan - has been quoted as saying that "Superior's owners were to sub-prime lending what Michael Milken was to junk bonds."

In January, Max Fraser of The Nation compared the Democratic presidential candidates' plans to address the subprime lending issue, concluding that Obama had staked out a position to the right of not only populist Edwards but Clinton as well. Fraser blamed Obama's economic advisers, primarily Austan Goolsbee. Since January, however, we have seen that Obama knows how to ignore Goolsbee and even suggest he was never a senior adviser.

Contributions to members of Congress from Lehman Brothers - Top five recipients in the past 20 years: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Charles Schumer, Christopher Dodd, Joe Lieberman

Obama advisor Austin Goolsbee's defense of subprime mortgages

Bob Feldman, Nation (letter) - One reason Barack Obama might not want to talk about the role of financially irresponsible bank board members in creating the subprime mortgage foreclosure financial disaster is that the national finance chair of Obama's campaign, Penny Pritzker, is a former board member of the failed Superior Bank S&L that engaged in irresponsible subprime mortgage lending during the 1990s.

According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, the Obama campaign's national finance chair, Pritzker "served as chairman of the Superior Bank from 1989 to 1994, but the savings and loan institution collapsed" in July 2001. Created at the end of 1988 as the successor bank to the failed Lyons Savings Bank, the Oakbrook Terrace/Hinsdale, Illinois-based Superior Bank was 50 percent owned by Chicago's billionaire Pritzker family. . . In a December 2002 Chicago magazine article, Shane Tritsch noted that for investing $42.5 million in the failed Lyons Savings Bank before it was reopened as Superior Bank, the Pritzkers and their business partner received an estimated $645 million in federal tax credits and loan guarantees; and "by one estimate, it would have cost the government $200 million less simply to shut Lyons down.". . .

With a business loss estimate of between $350 million and $1 billion, the 2001 failure of the Pritzkers' Superior Bank represented the largest US-insured deposition institution to fall between 1992 and 2001. According to a February 7, 2002, report by FDIC Inspector General Gaston Gianni Jr., "the failure of Superior Bank was directly attributable to the Bank's Board of Directors and executives ignoring sound risk management principles."

To avoid being punished for the failure of Superior Bank, the Pritzker family agreed to pay the FDIC $460 million. Yet even with this settlement, the failure of the Superior Bank due its board's apparent mismanagement cost the federal thrift insurance agency (and US taxpayers) about $440 million. . .

The 1,400 Superior Bank depositors whose savings deposits in excess of $100,000 were uninsured, however, brought a federal civil racketeering suit against Penny Pritzker and other former Superior Bank officials. . .

Given the past involvement on the board of a failed savings bank that engaged in financially reckless subprime lending of the 2008 Obama presidential campaign's national finance chair, it's not surprising that Max Fraser reports that "only Obama has not called for a moratorium and interest-rate freeze;" and that Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute said that "there's been less emphasis from the Obama campaign on the really dysfunctional role of the financial industry in the subprime mess."

Dissent Magazine - The conventional wisdom has held that economic policy was a great success under Bill Clinton in the 1990s and a failure ever since. Hillary Clinton has made the comparison often, promising to end "the seven year detour" and "attack poverty by making the economy work again." In January, in response to the president's State of the Union Address, Barack Obama stated that it was "George Bush's Washington that let the banks and financial institutions run amok and take our economy down this dangerous road." Perhaps this reading of history makes for good politics in an election year, and it is certainly better for the Clintons than for anyone else. The only problem is that the story line is flawed. One could even say that it's a bit of a fairy tale.

For six of eight years, Bill Clinton governed with Republican majorities in Congress. Not surprisingly, there was much continuity between the Clinton and Bush administrations. Both embraced the so-called Washington Consensus, a policy agenda of fiscal austerity, central-bank autonomy, deregulated markets, liberalized capital flows, free trade, and privatization. . .

It is easy to forget that Clinton had other alternatives. In 1993, Democrats in Congress were attempting to rein in the Federal Reserve by making it more accountable and transparent. Those efforts were led by the chair of the House Banking Committee, the late Henry B. Gonzalez, who warned that the Fed was creating a giant casino economy, a house of cards, a "monstrous bubble." But such calls for regulation and transparency fell on deaf ears in the Clinton White House and Treasury.

The pattern was set early. The Federal Reserve became increasingly independent of elected branches and more captive of private financial interests. This was seen as "sound economics" and necessary to keep inflation low. Yet the Federal Reserve's autonomy left it a captive of a financial constituency it could no longer control or regulate. Instead, the Fed would rely on one very blunt policy instrument, its authority to set short-term interest rates. As a result of such an active monetary policy, the nation's fiscal policy was constrained, public investment declined, critical infrastructure needs were ignored. Moreover, the Fed's stop-and-go interest-rate policy encouraged the growth of a bubble economy in housing, credit, and currency markets. . .

The Washington Consensus has denied the need for regulation of the financial marketplace at every level. Jagdish Bhagwati, a prominent free-trade economist, has referred to the "Wall Street-Treasury-IMF complex" to suggest a policy agenda formulated and pushed by powerful financial interests. Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, has noted the agenda's many unscientific assumptions and refers to its promoters as "free market fundamentalists.". . .

For years the federal government had regulated [consumer credit and housing] lending standards to prevent inflation of asset prices in key sectors of the economy, particularly during wartime and boom times. For instance, Federal Reserve Regulation X required minimum down payments and maximum periods of repayment for housing loans. Federal Reserve Regulation W utilized the same devices for consumer credit for the purchase of automobiles, appliances, and other durable goods.

But starting with the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and continuing under Clinton, such regulations were mostly repealed. Known as "selective credit controls," these policy instruments took a "command and control" approach to regulation. It was an approach that reduced systematic risk by discouraging the development of a subprime mortgage market for borrowers with bad credit. Without such controls, lenders started making a flood of loans without minimum down-payment requirements, and eventually without even requiring documentation of income on many loans. Adjustable interest rates and hidden balloon payments made these loans inherently more risky.

Predatory lending was not an invention of the Bush administration. High-interest payday loans and subprime mortgages took off under Clinton. .

By 1995, the subprime loan market had reached $90 billion in loan volume, and it then doubled over the next three years. Rising loan volume led to a significant deterioration in loan quality. Meanwhile, by March 1998, the number of subprime lenders grew from a small handful to more than fifty. Ten of the twenty-five largest subprime lenders were affiliated with federally chartered bank holding companies, but federal bank regulators remained unconcerned. . .

Near the end of his eight years in office, Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, one of the most far-reaching banking reforms since the Great Depression. It swept aside parts of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that had provided significant regulatory firewalls between commercial banks, insurance companies, securities firms, and investment banks. . .

Wall Street had been lobbying for years for an end to Glass-Steagall, but it had not received much support before Clinton. Among those with a personal interest in the demise of Glass-Steagall was Robert Rubin, who had months earlier stepped down as treasury secretary to become chair of Citigroup, a financial-services conglomerate that was facing the possibility of having to sell off its insurance underwriting subsidiary. .

History should deal harshly with Bill Clinton. Throughout his terms, real wages stagnated, manufacturing and service jobs moved overseas in large numbers, and the middle class was squeezed. With the federal government asleep at the wheel, there was a significant rise in predatory lending practices by banks and mortgage companies. By Clinton's final years in office, all of these trends had contributed to an ominous rise in delinquencies and foreclosures on subprime mortgage loans. This was particularly pronounced in urban America. In Chicago, for instance, foreclosures on subprime mortgages rose from 131 in 1993 to more than 5,000 in 1999. . .

The Washington Consensus preaches private competition, transparent markets, and less government regulation. Although many mortgage borrowers have been subject to ruthless, unfettered competition, investment banks and hedge funds are increasingly protected by hidden subsidies. Thanks to the combination of deregulation and Federal Reserve bailouts, profits were privatized while the losses are now socialized. . .

Financial deregulation and central-bank autonomy were supposed to make the U.S. financial sector stronger. Financial innovation was among the great American exports, along with the model of an independent central bank. The Federal Reserve, insulated from public politics, was supposed to be the guarantor of price stability. Instead, the Fed has presided over what has been one of history's greatest financial bubbles.

Moreover, while trillions of dollars were channeled into housing and stock market bubbles, the public sector remained woefully underfunded. This, too, has been the legacy of the Clinton-Bush bubble economy: fiscal austerity and budget cutbacks in physical and social infrastructure, from structurally deficient roads and bridges and inadequate water and sewage systems to the collapsing levees around New Orleans and declining public education everywhere. . .

Timothy A. Canova is the Betty Hutton Williams Professor of International Economic Law at the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California.

THE AMERICAN WAR MOVES TO PAKISTAN

Tariq Ali Tom Dispatch - The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy.

Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the U.S. presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.

Why, then, has the U.S. decided to destabilize a crucial ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue that this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan. Its ultimate aim, they claim, would be the extraction of the Pakistani military's nuclear fangs. If this were the case, it would imply that Washington was indeed determined to break up the Pakistani state, since the country would very simply not survive a disaster on that scale.

In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Bush administration's disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that the regime of President Hamid Karzai is becoming more isolated with each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer to Kabul.

When in doubt, escalate the war is an old imperial motto. The strikes against Pakistan represent -- like the decisions of President Richard Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to bomb and then invade Cambodia (acts that, in the end, empowered Pol Pot and his monsters) -- a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong. . .

FURTHERMORE. . . .

Marc Pitzke, Spiegel, Germany - It really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that's changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch -- overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and -- at least in Morgan Stanley's case -- have prepared themselves for the end.

"Nothing will ever be like it was before," said James Allroy, a broker who was brooding over his chai latte at a Starbucks on Wall Street. "The world as we know it is going under.". . .

But what's happening? Experts have so far been unable to agree on any conclusions. Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it just a painful, but normal cycle correcting the excesses of recent years? Does responsibility lie with the ratings agencies, which have been overvaluing financial institutions for a long time? Or did dubious short sellers manipulate stock prices -- after all, they were suspected of having caused the last stock market crisis in July.

The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed -- at least for now. The near nationalization of AIG, America's largest insurance company, with an $85 billion cash infusion -- a bill footed by taxpayers -- was a staggering move. The sum is three times as high as the guarantee provided by the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March.

The most breathtaking aspect about this week's crisis, though, is that the life raft -- which Washington had only previously used to bail out the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- is being handed out by a government whose party usually fights against any form of government intervention. The policy is anchored in its party platform.

"I fear the government has passed the point of no return," financial historian Ron Chernow told the New York Times. "We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams.". . .

BREVITAS

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

DC Examiner - Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel said his party's vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, lacks foreign policy experience and called it a "stretch" to say she's qualified to be president. "She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said in an interview published by the Omaha World-Herald. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."

Politicker CA - Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican, is backing Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and attended a high-profile Beverly Hills fundraiser for the candidate. He explained to KCAL-TV why he had crossed party lines. "I think he's a much more open person," Riordan said as he arrived at the event, which featured a performance by Barbra Streisand. "He's young, he has more energy, more electricity." . . . "When I was mayor I had dealings with McCain where I didn't respect him," Riordan said.

ECO CLIPS

Grist - Applying to college means the liberal use of caffeine, SAT words, and ... paper: more than 750 million pieces of it every year, according to Students Plant the Seed. Don't want to join the ream team? Apply electronically, an option available at hundreds of colleges nationwide. Start by checking out the websites of the schools of your choice; many allow e-admissions. In addition, nearly 350 schools accept the online applications provided by the nonprofit group The Common Application. The SPS site, meanwhile, lets you petition colleges to support electronic apps -- and the group is aiming to plant 9,388 trees, the number it estimates are cut down each year to produce all that wasted paper.

Commuter Page - According to information just supplied to Arlington [VA} employees, the county will be adding nifty 2008 Trek three-wheel trikes to its motor pool as an alternative to using cars. The motor pool, which has been replacing vehicles with hybrid cars over the past few years is now taking another step towards the county's commitment to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent. Employees have to register to use the bikes and all registrants will receive a helmet. The three-wheeled trikes are described as "a light, durable aluminum frame with a laid-back riding position and comfortable seat. The quick-rolling aluminum wheels and linear-pull brakes ensure a steady ride and a rear basked provide space for a laptop, files or whatever else you might need."

READER COMMENTS

NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here. http://prorev.com/indexa.htm

THE SURGE

The Think Progress article about Bob Woodward's analysis omits the major reasons why violence dropped in Iraq during the surge. Muqtada al-Sadr, the powerful Iraqi cleric who has led much of the resistance to the US occupation, did two things: (1) he asked his militias to stand down in early 2007, although he maintained his condemnation of the occupation and called for mass protests, and (2) he urged unity between Sunnis and Shi'as, which helped reduce Iraqi sectarian violence.
The 'success' of Bush's surge (a euphemism for escalation of forces) is pure GOP propaganda, but Democrats, including Obama, won't openly criticize it because they cower in fear that McCain & Co. will call them unpatriotic. Unfortunately, most of the US media repeat the Bush-McCain claims about the surge without examining the situation any further, as well as the Republican line that any criticism of Bush's military policy amounts to callous disregard for our heroic soldiers.

The media also refuse to acknowledge that the 'Victory in Iraq' slogan is a fraud, since military occupations aren't won, they can only be ended either by withdrawal of the occupier's troops or by resumption of fighting and bloodshed (i.e., occupation is replaced by active war).

US victory in Iraq can only mean total defeat of Iraq, including all those resistance militias that have popular support, which doesn't square very well with the stated goal of "liberating" the Iraqi people, and it probably isn't even possible -- wars between invaders and guerrilla forces are never completely won by the invaders.

Al-Sadr is a young man who doesn't have to worry about stuff like getting reelected or opinion polls. He can maintain his truce as along as he thinks it's necessary to do so, and then order his followers to start fighting again. As long as any US troops at all remain in Iraq, even Obama's smaller occupation force, we can count on a new flare-up of violence, especially when Iraqis see Exxon-Mobil, BP, and other western companies plundering their oil. Both Obama & McCain favor placing Iraq's oil resources under US & UK corporate control (remember the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law benchmark?), which will require the protection of US troops. If the US launches an attack on Iran, it'll aggravate the situation in ways that we can't predict, probably resulting in a greater regional or even global war.

We can look forward to a long and bloody US involvement in Iraq, regardless of whether Obama or McCain gets elected in November. The only realistic way to end it is a complete withdrawal of US troops and military contractors as soon as possible. - Scott McLarty

BIDEN'S SPEECH

Best bullshit of the campaign, don't you mean? - MF

VIRGINIA BEACH UNFADED

But last week at the bungalow where she now lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of Washington,

Would that Virginia Beach, where my youngest daughter practices medicine and lives with her firefighter husband and two kids? It's now a frigging city. Lots has happened which the phony Brit writing this is unaware of. Maybe this was just a phone interview or are the writer's powers of observation so diminished as to put the rest of this account into question? - Emil Franzi, Tucson

THOMAS FRIEDMAN'S FRENCH FRIES ARE FLAT

Thomas Friedman, who invented the theory in 1996, said people in McDonald's countries "don't like to fight wars."

McDonald's began and flourished in the U.S., so this theory contradicts itself. . . When I was in Nicaragua in 1984, I saw a McDonald's in Managua. Again, the theory has been falsified. - Peter, Vancouver CA

OBAMA & O.J.

Who needs Willie Horton when we have a new OJ trial coming-up? Imagine a new opportunity for the public to vilify a black celebrity and take psychic revenge on the one who got away. This OJ thing is big trouble brewing for Obama. It will create a very bad atmosphere for him to be running in and he won't be able to shut it off. - Chris

MCCAIN & PALIN

After years of reading and enjoying your newsletter I have to take exception to your Sept 8th issue. It was discussing the way you took out after McCain and Palin. Both are strong people who can handle the jobs they are running for. Who else could live through the five years of torture that McCain did? He is strong and honorable and shows he has courage and tenacity. Palin has proven herself in Alaska. She is strong and resourceful and just what we need to plug the holes in the budget. She can do a man's job without losing her femininity or taking away from her family. Hilary should have been indicted when Bill left office. Her background is full of dishonesty and she is pure evil. I think you people just don't like people running our government who believe in the Ten Commandments and the Constitution. I didn't think I would ever accuse you of yellow journalism, but I think you have just displayed it in this issue. As for McCain's temper, if I had just spent 5 years being tortured in a prison camp, I think I would be a little crabby at times, too.

Writing of McCain's temper a reader notes that "Being in disagreement with the likes of Kit Bond and Thad Cochran ought to be construed as points in McCain's favor."

It is really disgusting to see the Democrats resorting to the same kind of smear campaigns that they have always accused (with reason) the Republicans of doing. When gossip and name calling replace real journalism, we are in a heap of trouble. One major problem with the Obama campaign is their constant use of moral equivalence. They argue that a tactic is fine because the other side "did it first". This is troublesome because it ignores the fact that there is a difference between right and wrong. Again it comes down to the "end justifies the means" philosophy of the Obama camp which I personally find morally repugnant.

REPUBLICANS LOUSY FOR BUSINESS

As a small business owner, I've been saying this for years. Unfortunately, small business consistently votes Republican because they have fallen for the Conservative sales pitch--and the media does not distinguish between IBM and Main Street. The NFIB, as well, seems to be all about big business, but touts itself as being for the small entrepreneurs. You'd think we'd be tired of being scammed. . .

Of course the GOP is bad for business. If your basic policy is to drop all regulation and oversight, then businessmen are going to go wild with greed. The inevitable result is such disasters as the internet bubble and the housing bubble and next the oil bubble.

RUSSIA

Russia's problems are nothing compared to U.S's. The feds are bankrupt with tons of debt in the hands of their enemies, no troops to fight the wars they've already started, a collapsing economy, the prospect of ten dollar a gallon gas once Iran is attacked and the Suez is full of sunken US. ships. Venezuela will cut off petroleum to U.S. and Russia, Europe's main source of lpg, will ostracise them from heat. The U.S. can do nothing to Russia short of a surprise nuke attack and hopefully Cheney's bunker is locked.

BUSH'S OCTOBER SURPRISE: WORLD WAR III?

Disturbance (war, crime, weaponry) has been escalating for thousands of years. All the wisdom of the ages has not been enough to de-escalate disturbance. This is because the chestnut of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" has never been cracked, and it's never been cracked because "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is rooted in transaction itself. Two things exchanged cannot be of exact equal value, and therefore there is fractional robbery on top of every fair exchange.

GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE

How does one determine 'correct priorities' in the first place? Are you not aware that curiosity about why coffee stains formed on a counter top helped lead to the development of Chaos Theory? It is amazing how often something so mundane as coffee stains leads to a monumental scientific breakthrough. Coffee stains on a counter top---an intriguing display involving the extraordinary interplay of fluid dynamics and convection systems. Ought to be simple to describe, yet the mathematics remained elusive.

THE LIST:RECENT STORE CLOSINGS

Would be interesting to see if these same store chains are seeing growth in online sales while in-store sales decline thus driving the need to close brick 'n mortar stores.

WIND TURBINES TOO CLOSE TO HOMES CAN CAUSE MEDICAL PROBLEMS

It isn't covered in the article, but I wonder if the smaller home wind generators cause the same problems that big wind farms do. Perhaps wind energy is best produced in a smaller scale setting.

COLLEGE PRESIDENTS SAY IT'S TIME TO RETHINK DRINKING LAWS

Between 1982 and 1992, in spite of raising the drinking age to 21, the United States experienced a lower rate of decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities than in the following countries:

United Kingdom: 50% decline
Germany: 37% decline
Australia: 32% decline
Netherlands: 28% decline
Canada: 28% decline
United States: 26% decline

This downward trend in drunk driving across the industrialized world shows quite clearly that the 21-year old drinking age in the United States was, at best, the least effective measure to limit drunk driving amongst these developed countries.

WHY SOLDIERS RAPE

As someone who has suffered through the humiliations of an adulterous affair (as the cheated on partner, not one of the cheaters), I am here to tell you the wounds left by this are searing and brutal. Until you've been on the receiving end of such treatment.

As a 50+, old-school feminist and proud of it, I've learned one thing for certain: the 21st century American male may be less of a prude, but he's at least as big of a hypocrite when it comes to sexual practice and double-standards as his Victorian forbears. And something about a number of the with regards to the Edwards thing tells me this fact is not gonna change anytime soon. Women are still objects of sexual gratification to males, firt and foremost; they may be legally sanctioned or socially approved objects (as the term 'partner' implies); but they're objects nonetheless. And when a man decides to assert his 'primal right' of penetration of another female object of his choosing, in contravention of the vows or commitments he's made to the first object, well then--after all, the feeling of objects can't really count for very much, can they? And the lovely term 'consensual' makes everything all right in their minds. (I often wonder just what, in the recesses of their brains, the term 'consensual' really means to most men anyway. Somehow, I think its' connotations are a bit different than they are for many women.) For all of their advanced, 'progressive' thoughts on this subject, most of the men here come off sounding as primitive in their real feelings as any 19th century roue. Nearly all men, given the right circumstances and opportunity, are quite capable of committing rape, and justifying the act in their own minds. Again, how much pain or violation can an object feel anyway?

GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE

Anyone paying attention to the article can see that scientists discovered something new and unexpected about absorption from this experiment. Whether the original intent meets some self-appointed anti-science neanderthal's notion of a good way to spend research money, that results speaks for itself.

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