Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Growing the Nanny State

One of the things I like about the Wall Street Journal is that, unlike most mainstream newspapers, it actually does provide opposing points of view. The other day they ran a piece by Rep. Charles Rangel defending his trillion dollar tax hike idea. Today, they ran this piece on saving for retirement.

The first thing I noticed about this article was that, despite it's title, it was written by a Clintonista. Hmm, I thought, what could a Bubba-lover have to say about fiscal restraint and self-reliance.

Surprise, surprise -- as it turns out -- nothing.

Some No-Brainer Savings Ideas

October 30, 2007; Page A18

The recent mortgage-loan crisis has exposed the dark side of predatory lending practices. But it may also help bring to light a potentially larger issue: Not only are Americans making poor choices when it comes to loan deals, but too many Americans are making poor choices -- or no choices at all -- to prepare financially for retirement. [yes, unfortunately that's all too true.]

The average Social Security benefit is about $11,000 a year. It is meant to supplement retirement, not fund it altogether, yet half of all families have no other savings in retirement accounts. People who do set money aside are not putting away nearly enough; half report savings of less than $25,000. [Yikes, what are these people planning on doing when they retire?]

There are many reasons why household savings are so low, but sheer inertia plays a role. Many Americans simply don't make the choices needed to prepare for retirement. Those who do take the time to consider their choices find the decisions too complex -- and complexity translates into nonparticipation and poor financial decision making. [Do you catch her drift? It's ok -- I didn't either when I read this. But this is the transition point of the article. The story line is being developed that "many Americans" are too stupid or too lazy to plan their own retirements. So, somebody's got to do it for them. Any guesses as to who that might be?]

There is a way to harness the power of inertia: the Automatic 401(k), in which workers are enrolled by default in a 401(k), unless they opt out. One year after the Pension Protection Act of 2006 helped smooth the way by clarifying some of the laws, the evidence shows that Automatic 401(k) is working. According to a survey of 350 employers nationwide by Wells Fargo & Co., 44% reported using automatic enrollment; and according to a survey of 1,000 401(k) and profit-sharing plans by the Profit-Sharing Council of America, 39% of employers automatically increased the contribution rate for employees in 2006 -- more than twice the number previously. [Wow, I'm shocked -- it's the government! Gee, since people aren't able to take accountability for their retirement, we need the government to do it for them. I guess it's too much to expect people to be responsible for themselves, and why should we bother educating them; no, the solution is more government!]

What does automatic enrollment mean for employees? The Retirement Security Project, launched by the Pew Charitable Trusts, estimates that a 23-year-old male professional will save an additional $200,000 through automatic 401(k) enrollment and escalation by age 67 -- enough to fund an additional four years of retirement. [Hey, I've got an idea. What's a government program without a government bureaucracy to administer it? We need another government agency. How about the Department of Retirement Security. That has a nice ring to it.]

The success of automatic enrollment in 401(k)s has policy makers looking for other ways to utilize the same "default" approach to help employees increase their contribution level gradually over time, invest prudently, and preserve their retirement benefits through rollovers at the time of job change.

To help the 75 million workers who don't have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k), a bipartisan group of legislators -- led by Sens.Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.) and Gordon Smith (R., Ore.) and Reps. Phil English (R., Pa.) and Richard Neal (D., Mass.), have introduced a bill to create an Automatic IRA. This would be a standard IRA account, but funded through payroll deductions. It would also offer automatic 401(k)-like features such as an automatic investment choice, level of contribution and enrollment. Under the proposal, employers with 10 or more employees that have been in business for at least two years would enable employees to save their own money in an IRA by using the employer's payroll system.

The Automatic IRA allows employers to facilitate employee saving without having to sponsor a formal, ERISA-regulated retirement plan, or make matching contributions. Firms would receive a temporary tax credit to offset any initial administrative costs; either the employer or the employee could choose which financial institution would hold the money. The Retirement Security Project estimates that the Automatic IRA could increase IRA participation rates significantly from the current rate of one in 10, and could ultimately increase net national savings by nearly $8 billion annually.

The next step is to use the same automatic mechanisms to enable workers to have the security of a guaranteed lifetime retirement income with annuity-like products. Employees could either have annuities built into their retirement savings programs, perhaps by directing the employer match into them, or be strongly encouraged to convert all or a part of their savings upon retirement. [What a great liberal. She hasn't even gotten her government program off the ground yet, but she already has grandiose plans to enlarge it.]

A conversion of savings into annuities could be phased in over time, or it could be accomplished on a trial basis that the retiree could reverse if he or she chose, or it could be in the form of "longevity insurance" that does not begin until say age 85 or so. The key is to make the process as easy and seamless as possible. [Think back to the 30s or 40s when they started Social Security. I can just hear them saying the same things: "It'll be a small program phased in over time. They can reverse it if they choose. The key will be to make contributions as easy and seamless as possible through payroll deductions. Of course contributions will have to be mandatory, but we can call it something innocuous, like "longevity insurance", which will make it more palatable.]

We have learned through hard experience that financial education, although important, is not enough. It has to be accompanied with procedures making it easier for workers to make appropriate decisions. Just as the Automatic 401(k) and Automatic IRA would help to ensure that employees have enough retirement savings, automatic guaranteed lifetime income would help to ensure that they do not outlive their savings.

Ms. Tyson is a professor of business and public policy at, and former dean of, the Haas School of Business of the University of California, Berkeley. She served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Falling on Deaf Ears

Well, not quite deaf but over-40 year old ears.

Ever hear of "mosquito ring tones"? Neither did I till today. Apparently, there are ring tones that use higher frequency ranges so that adults can't hear them. This enables kids/teens to ring their friends phones with calls or text messages, but nreaby adults (i.e., parents) remain unaware.

Here is an article on the phenomenon:
June 12, 2006

A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears

In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cellphone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.

In settings where cellphone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.

"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could."

The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain but has only recently spread to America — by Internet, of course.

Recently, in classes at Trinity and elsewhere, some students have begun testing the boundaries of their new technology. One place was Michelle Musorofiti's freshman honors math class at Roslyn High School on Long Island.

At Roslyn, as at most schools, cellphones must be turned off during class. But one morning last week, a high-pitched ring tone went off that set teeth on edge for anyone who could hear it. To the students' surprise, that group included their teacher.

"Whose cellphone is that?" Miss Musorofiti demanded, demonstrating that at 28, her ears had not lost their sensitivity to strangely annoying, high-pitched, though virtually inaudible tones.

"You can hear that?" one of them asked.

"Adults are not supposed to be able to hear that," said another, according to the teacher's account.

She had indeed heard that, Miss Musorofiti said, adding, "Now turn it off."

The cellphone ring tone that she heard was the offshoot of an invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way around.

It was marketed as an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected.

The principle behind it is a biological reality that hearing experts refer to as presbycusis, or aging ear. While Miss Musorofiti is not likely to have it, most adults over 40 or 50 seem to have some symptoms, scientists say.

While most human communication takes place in a frequency range between 200 and 8,000 hertz (a hertz being the scientific unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second), most adults' ability to hear frequencies higher than that begins to deteriorate in early middle age.

"It's the most common sensory abnormality in the world," said Dr. Rick A. Friedman, an ear surgeon and research scientist at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.

But in a bit of techno-jujitsu, someone — a person unknown at this time, but probably not someone with presbycusis — realized that the Mosquito, which uses this common adult abnormality to adults' advantage, could be turned against them.

The Mosquito noise was reinvented as a ring tone.

"Our high-frequency buzzer was copied. It is not exactly what we developed, but it's a pretty good imitation," said Simon Morris, marketing director for Compound Security, the company behind the Mosquito. "You've got to give the kids credit for ingenuity."

British newspapers described the first use of the high-frequency ring tone last month in some schools in Wales, where Compound Security's Mosquito device was introduced as a "yob-buster," a reference to the hooligans it was meant to disperse.

Since then, Mr. Morris said his company has received so much attention — none of it profit-making because the ring tone was in effect pirated — that he and his partner, Howard Stapleton, the inventor, decided to start selling a ring tone of their own. It is called Mosquitotone, and it is now advertised as "the authentic Mosquito ring tone."

David Herzka, a Roslyn High School freshman, said he researched the British phenomenon a few weeks ago on the Web, and managed to upload a version of the high-pitched sound into his cellphone.

He transferred the ring tone to the cellphones of two of his friends at a birthday party on June 3. Two days later, he said, about five students at school were using it, and by Tuesday the number was a couple of dozen.

"I just made it for my friends. I don't use a cellphone during class at school," he said.

How, David was asked, did he think this new device would alter the balance of power between adults and teenagers? Or did he suppose it was a passing fad?

"Well, probably it is," said David, who added after a moment's thought, "And if not, I guess the school will just have to hire a lot of young teachers."

Kate Hammer and Nate Schweber contributed reporting for this article.

Also, check this out. I did not hear it until it got down to 12khz.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another Liberal Crashes and Burns on the Radio

and good riddance too.

Whoopi whacked, Forman back on Lite FM

Clear Channel sees the Lite, assigns Forman to mornings and afternoons

October 19, 2007

It isn't every day that a big broadcast company admits a mistake.

But that's just what Clear Channel Radio did Thursday in dropping Whoopi Goldberg's syndicated morning show after 14 months on WLIT-FM (93.9), the adult contemporary station.

Starting Monday, mornings again will be hosted by Melissa Forman, who'd held the job for five years before Goldberg started in August 2006.

After six months off, Forman was rehired to host afternoons last February. Under a new two-year deal signed Thursday, she will be heard live in mornings and on recorded voice tracks in afternoons.

"I obviously made a mistake in replacing Melissa a year ago, and the ratings have suffered," said Darren Davis, vice president of programming and operations for Clear Channel in Chicago.

"To be frank, I simply underestimated Chicago's love for Melissa. But Chicago has spoken, and Chicagoland clearly wants to hear Melissa on the Lite every morning. I'm just thrilled to have Melissa back where she belongs."

How badly did Whoopi get walloped? In adults between the ages of 25 and 54 -- the group most coveted by advertisers -- mornings dropped from 11th place with a 3.0 percent share under Forman to 19th place with a 1.8 share under Goldberg, based on comparable Arbitron summer surveys.

The new lineup will feature Forman with newsman Rick Zurick from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m., an hour of commercial-free music from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Robin Rock from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Forman again from 4 to 7 p.m., and the syndicated Delilah from 7 p.m. to midnight.

The decision to go with just two daytime hosts -- Forman and Rock -- is geared to streamlining the station's product in preparation for Arbitron's new Portable People Meter ratings system, which starts in January.

Saying she "can't wait to dust off that alarm clock," Forman added: "You have no idea how much it means to me to be back on mornings at the Lite. I have missed the listeners and waking up with them every day.

"The statement management has made is a lesson in grace and class. I am so incredibly humbled by the support and outreach of so many amazing listeners."

Forman, who grew up in north suburban Northbrook, hosted mornings at northwest suburban WKIE-FM (92.7) under Big City Radio ownership before joining Lite FM for the first time in 2001.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We've Got the Taxation --
How About Some Representation?

Investor's Business Daily www.investors.com

Article Title: "Guns And Butter: A Primer "
Section: Issues & Insights
Date: 10/10/2007

Federal Spending: Speaker Pelosi says that for the cost of 41 days in Iraq, 10 million children can receive health insurance for a year. The Constitution says a lot about national defense. It says nothing about insurance.

Cut-and run Democrats argue that it's an either/or proposition. The choice, they say, is between defense spending in general and funding the Iraq war in particular and expanding programs like the State Child Health Insurance Program beyond its original intent to meet a need largely already met by the private sector.

Democratic attempts to "reauthorize the war" are based on the cliche that had we known then what we know now, they would never have voted for it in the first place.

But couldn't that logic be applied to all federal spending programs? How about a vote to reauthorize every program in the federal budget based on its cost-effectiveness?

How about a vote, for example, to "reauthorize" the War on Poverty and its legislative legacy? It has consumed trillions of dollars since its inception, but despite all the good intentions, the percentage of people defined as living in "poverty" has hardly budged.

Democrats such as Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin have proposed a separate "war tax" to pay for the War on Terror. We have one: It's called the income tax, which began as a 2% levy only on the very rich, but which has morphed into an economy-strangling behemoth that finances an annual budget of $3,000,000,000,000 - that's three trillion dollars.

Defense spending constituted only $528 billion of that budget in fiscal 2006 - or about 4% of gross domestic product. In 1953, during the Korean War, it hit a postwar high of 14.2% of GDP. In 1968, in the middle of Vietnam, it reached 9.5%. And in 1986, at the height of the Reagan buildup that doomed the evil empire, it was 6.8%.

We're not spending too much on the military. We're spending too little to meet both the needs of the War on Terror and the rising threat of a nuclear Iran, not to mention dealing with the frantic pace at which both Russia and China are arming.

Since the end of the Cold War, the needs and commitments of the U.S. military have expanded, not diminished. Yet our forces were almost twice as big at the end of the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations as they are today.

The active-duty Army was cut from 18 divisions to 10. The Navy, which reached 568 ships in the late 1980s, struggles today to sustain a fleet of just 276. The number of tactical air wings in the Air Force fell from 37 at the time of Desert Storm to 20 under William Jefferson Clinton.

The Preamble to the Constitution speaks of the need to "provide for the common defence" and to "promote the general welfare." But "promoting" doesn't mean providing. And while the Constitution speaks loudly on the structure of our armed forces and the role of Congress and commander in chief, it is silent on things like children's insurance.

Democrats forget that the greatest social service that a government can perform for its people is to keep them alive and free.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

"A far green country under a swift sunrise"

PIPPIN: I didn't think it would end this way.

GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?

GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

PIPPIN: Well, that isn't so bad.

GANDALF: No, no it isn't.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ashoken Farewell

Monday, October 08, 2007

Reporters or Partisans?

If you were to ask your typical journalist what their role is, I'm sure their immediate answer would be that it's to gather and report the news. They are no doubt aware that conservatives and others believe they go beyond simply reporting "the facts" and subtly (and not so subtly) advance their political views. And, no doubt, they'd vigorously deny it.

Take a look at this excerpt from Howard Kurtz's new book about network news coverage of the Iraq war. (Kurtz is the media writer for the Washington Post). Although Kurtz is a liberal and no doubt toes the party line on the "objectivity" of the mainstream media, sprinkled throughout this excerpt are revealing nuggets about how these journalists are determined to make sure that their personal opinions make it into their reporting.

As War Dragged On, Coverage Tone Weighed Heavily on Anchors

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 8, 2007; C01

Charlie Gibson is a product of the Vietnam War era. When he was a television reporter in Lynchburg, Va., he had driven to Washington on weekends to march in antiwar demonstrations. And he had lost friends in that jungle war.

Now Gibson had friends whose sons were dying in Iraq. His thoughts kept returning to one central question: When you commit kids to war, what are they fighting for? What was the mission in Iraq? How could a family say that the war was worth little Johnny's well-being?

The ABC anchor was obsessed with this point. If you were president, and you decided to go to war, was there a calculus in your mind, that the goal was worth so many American lives? After all, your generals would tell you that X number were likely to die. What was the acceptable trade-off? Gibson's threshold would be one: Was the war worth one life? [How did this simpleton get to be the anchor for a major network? Of course it is tragic that lives are lost in war. But, what's the alternative? Do we call up the terrorists and tell them that we don't believe in violence so the war is over? Maybe you could invite them to a world-wide group hug? More to the point, he's supposed to REPORT the news. If he's obsessed with the war and wants to do something about it, quit your job and run for office.]

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq stretched into its fourth bloody year, the media coverage was turning increasingly negative, and the three evening news anchors constantly agonized over how to deal with the conflict. [What do you mean, "deal with the conflict"? They're supposed to REPORT on the conflict, not "deal" with it.]

Their newscasts had become a nightly tableau of death and destruction, and whether that was an accurate picture of Iraq had become a matter of fierce political debate. Certainly the constant plague of suicide bombs, explosive devices, sniper fire and, occasionally, the massacre of large numbers of civilians played into television's need for dramatic events and arresting visuals. Certainly, by 2006 it was easier for the anchors and correspondents to offer a skeptical vision of the war, now that a majority of the country disapproved of the conflict, than in the heady days after the toppling of Saddam Hussein seemed to strike a blow for democracy in the Middle East. By training their powerful spotlight on the chaos gripping Iraq, the anchors were arguably contributing to the political downfall of a president who had seemed to be riding high when he won his second term. [Whew, that's a relief -- although it took us a couple of years, our constant sniping and criticism is finally starting to pay off. Now we don't have to be as subtle in our partisan attacks on the president and can "offer a [more] skeptical vision of the war in our "professionally detached" and "objective" reporting.]

Through the routine decisions of daily journalism -- how prominently to play a story, what pictures to use, what voices to include -- the newscasts were sending an unmistakable message. And the message was that George W. Bush's war was a debacle. [What an unintentionally revealing statement. No, our job is not to REPORT, it's to "send a message". And, of course, our message is to destroy and undermine the president.] Administration officials regularly complained about the coverage as unduly negative, but to little avail. Other news organizations chronicled the deteriorating situation as well, but with a combined 25 million viewers, the evening newscasts had the biggest megaphone.

Painful Images

When Brian Williams thought about Iraq, he thought about his visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was tortured by these trips to comfort the veterans being treated there. It was hard to look at their wounds. He remembered one soldier who had five titanium pins sticking out of his toes. His heart ached for these brave men and women who had been to Iraq, on orders from their commander in chief.

For Williams, it all went back to Sept. 11, 2001. As a citizen, he thought on that fateful day, thank God that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell were on the team. How together we all seemed. There was something about the murderous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that, in the eyes of the White House press corps, gave Bush a stature that could not be violated. And that was no accident. The administration's deft use of 9/11 against its critics had created an impenetrable shield. It was political magic.

Some people, the NBC anchor knew, believed that the administration was jonesing for a fight, exploiting Sept. 11 as an opportunity to launch a war in Iraq. Whatever the truth, he had to admire, in a clinical sort of way, the political management of the press during what came to be known as the war on terror. It was truly remarkable.

Williams did not enjoy looking back on the run-up to war, knowing what he knew now about the media's flawed performance. He did not want to look back on this period with the same sense of regret. He recognized how deeply the war had divided the country.

Every day, Williams asked the question: Did Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel have any news other than another 20 Iraqi civilians killed when an IED detonated, leaving the same smoking carcasses and pathetic scenes of loved ones crying? That, Williams felt, was the problem: The horrible had become utterly commonplace. To most Americans, he believed, the war could not be more ephemeral. It was half a world away, and it required no sacrifice by those who did not have a family member in the armed forces.

Williams had his own private intelligence channel on the war. He had an e-mail relationship with a number of military men -- some still in the war zone, some who had returned from the region -- and they were candid about the conflict in a way that top generals were not. These informants alerted him to a wide range of problems with IEDs, armor and morale. But they never spoke on the phone, which would be too dangerous, since they were barred from talking to journalists. Private e-mail was the only safe form of communication.

Under Pressure

Katie Couric had always felt uncomfortable with the war, and that sometimes showed in the way she framed the story. ["Framed the story"? I thought she was simply supposed to REPORT the story. "Framing" the story means "spinning" -- i.e., manipulating the story to promote a particular point of view. So much for "fair and balanced".] When Bush had been marshaling support for the invasion, she felt, the country seemed to be swept up in a patriotic furor and a palpable sense of fear. There was a rush to war, no question about it. The CBS anchor could never quite figure out how Iraq had become Public Enemy No. 1, how the United States had wound up making many of the same mistakes as in Vietnam. She was happy, like most people, when the war initially seemed to be going well. Nobody wanted to see all these young kids getting killed. But the frenzied march to war had been bolstered by a reluctance to question the administration after 9/11.

She had firsthand experience with what she considered the chilling effect on the media. Two months before the 2004 election, when she was still at NBC's "Today" show, Couric had asked Condoleezza Rice whether she agreed with Vice President Cheney's declaration that the country would be at greater risk for terrorist attacks if John Kerry won the White House. Rice sidestepped the question, saying that any president had to fight aggressively against terrorism.

Couric interrupted and asked the question again. Would a Kerry victory put America at greater risk? Rice ducked again, saying that the issue should not be personalized.

Soon afterward, Couric got an e-mail from Robert Wright, the NBC president. He was forwarding a note from an Atlanta woman who complained that Couric had been too confrontational with Rice.

What was the message here? Couric felt that Wright must be telling her to back off. She wrote him a note, saying that she tried to be persistent and elicit good answers in all her interviews, regardless of the political views of her guests. If Wright had a problem with that, she would like to discuss it with him personally. Wright wrote back that such protest letters usually came in batches, but that he had passed along this one because it seemed different.

Couric felt there was a subtle, insidious pressure to toe the party line, and you bucked that at your peril. She wanted to believe that her NBC colleagues were partners in the search for truth, and no longer felt that was the case. She knew that the corporate management viewed her as an out-and-out liberal. When she ran into Jack Welch, the General Electric chairman, he would sometimes say that they had never seen eye to eye politically. If you weren't rah rah rah for the Bush administration, and the war, you were considered unpatriotic, even treasonous.

Couric believed that many viewers were now suffering from Iraq fatigue. She tried not to lead with the conflict every night, unless there were significant developments. And when the day's Iraq events were too big to ignore, Couric made clear -- in starker terms than the other anchors -- her disgust with the whole enterprise. One night she led her CBS newscast, "With each death, with every passing day, so many of us ask, 'Is there any way out of this nightmare?' "

Getting Graphic

By the fall of 2006, an urgent tone began creeping into the anchors' coverage of Iraq. No longer were they describing the war as a difficult battle whose outcome was in doubt, or depicting the military struggle as part of a larger effort to rebuild the battered country. Now it was all about the violence, and they were framing the situation as an unmitigated mess. The anchors were giving real weight to what had once seemed unmentionable, the possibility that the United States might have to pull out.

They were, to be sure, reflecting the rapid erosion of support for the war, and a level of killing and chaos that seemed to grow worse by the day. But given their huge platform, they were also shaping public sentiment, reinforcing the notion that nearly four years after the invasion, the situation was all but lost. [In two sentences, Kurtz totally flip-flops. In the first sentence, the networks are merely reporting "the rapid erosion of support for the war", that is 'just the facts, ma'am'. But in the next sentence, the networks aren't reporting, they are "shaping public sentiment" and "reinforcing the notion ... that the situation was all but lost". Oops, Howard, I think you're lifting the veil a bit too much here. That sure doesn't sound like REPORTING to me. It sounds like INDOCTRINATING.]

"In plain English," Brian Williams said, "this has been a tough week to be hopeful about the prospects for victory in Iraq."

Charlie Gibson spoke of a "killing spree," a "horrific surge in religious violence, Iraqis killing Iraqis in unprecedented numbers." After correspondent Terry McCarthy reported that 50 to 60 bodies were turning up each day, Gibson could not remain silent. "Sobering to see people simply driving by a body in the streets," he said. "But such is life in Baghdad today."

Couric, in particular, appeared to openly yearn for a pullout. One night she spoke of "opposition to the war in Iraq growing and no end in sight." And at times she came close to describing the situation as hopeless: "The day everyone is hoping for, the day American forces can finally come home from Iraq, seems more and more elusive."

The anchors looked for ways to dramatize the grim statistics. Williams, noting "the bloodshed that has become an all-too-common fact of life there for so many people," highlighted a report on how Baghdad coffinmakers could not keep up with demand. Gibson, reporting a United Nations finding on Iraqi casualties in July and August, tried to bring the impact home: "And just to put the 6,600 Iraqi deaths over the past two months in perspective -- if the U.S. lost an equivalent percentage of its population, that would represent 75,000 American dead."

This article is adapted from "Reality Show," which is based on two years of research that included extensive interviews with journalists and executives at all levels of ABC, NBC and CBS. The interviews were conducted on condition that they be used for the book.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

OK, Where Do I Sign?


if BMWs are good enough for both Pope JPII and Ben XVI ....
BMW Presents New Vehicle to Pope

Mar. 14, 2001

VATICAN, Mar. 14, 01 (CWNews.com) -- The German auto manufacturer BMW presented Pope John Paul II (bio - news) with a new car today, at the conclusion of the regular weekly papal audience. BMW also donated three motorcycles for use by Vatican employees.

The black sedan was waiting for the Pope outside the Paul VI auditorium after he addressed pilgrims there. The color contrasted with that of the motorcycles, which are yellow and white-- the colors of the Holy See.

The first papal automobile arrived at the Vatican in 1909, but some years passed before a pope actually used a car. Pope Pius XII received and used several different sorts of autos: a Bianchi, a Fiat, a Graham-Paige, a Citroen, and finally a Mercedes-Benz. It was in the Mercedes that he travels to comfort the victims of bombing raids in Italy in 1943.

After the death of Pope John XXIII, subsequent pontiffs have favored an open Toyota Land Cruiser, which allows the Pope to be seen as he travels through crowds. Pope John Paul II was riding in such a vehicle 1981 when he was hit with a would-be assassin's bullets. Today's "Popemobile" is designed to provide some security for the occupant, but still leave the Pope visible.

Pope's BMW X5

THe new German Pope now drives a new German car. Pope Benedict XVI was given the keys to a BMW X5 to celebrate the fact that he was born in a small Bavarian town just an hour away from Munich, BMW's spiritual home. Nice work if you can get it.


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