DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - Feb. 15-28, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE


2/28/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. [‘Tis a pity he's a whore’ -]
    A salesman for Bush's tax plan who has belittled similar ideas, by Edmund Andrews, NYT, C1.
    WASHINGTON...- In nominating a respected Harvard economist as one of his top advisers, pResident Bush has now replaced nearly everyone from his original economic team [compare yesterday's item #2] with people who at one time spoke out against the kinds of policies Mr. Bush is prescribing.
    [Mark up one more Bush reversal. But hey, Dubya, it doesn't work unless you listen to them! "Taxcuts now - bad idea" -]
    Fight is likely in Senate as Bush sends tax cut plan to Congress - Centrists in each party question the timing of a large tax reduction, by David Firestone, NYT, A20.
    [Get that, Dubya? "In each party." Back to "A salesman for Bush's tax plan"...]
    N. Gregory Mankiw [how the heck does he pronounce that??], whom Mr. Bush nominated on Wed. to lead his Council of Economic Advisers, wrote a popular economics textbook in which he ridiculed the supply-side taxcuts of Pres. Reagan as "fad economics" conceived by "charlatans and cranks."...
    [Or maybe this is about trying to buy off the opposition.... Anyway, it's time we dumped the one-sidedness of supply-side or demand-side and got with the "balance side" of timesizing - which by adjusting the workweek against the unemployment rate, comprehensively defined, activates our full potential consumer base and brings us a quantum closer to a guaranteed balance between labor and employment, production and consumption, supply and demand - especially when coupled with overtime-targeted training and hiring.

  2. Pentagon contradicts general on Iraq occupation force's size, by Eric Schmitt, NYT, front page.
    ...Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army...several hundred thousand....
    Pentagon official...one hundred thousand....
    [Which Pentagon official?]
    ..\..Paul D. Wolfowitz...the deputy defense secretary....
    [Gee, haven't we seen that name somewhere else? Oh yeah -]
    Quotation of the day, NYT, A2.
    "We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground." Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, on the cost of a war in Iraq.
    [So now we're at the point where, not only can't they even agree within our military, but our deputy secretary of defense can't even agree with himself?! Hooboy. How did we get this collection of clowns in positions of power within this country? Under the circumstances, our allies, including France, are being superhumanly patient with us. This bumbling in the White House and the Pentagon is much worse than -]
    Dispute over label may delay US sweep in Philippines, by John Hendren, LA Times via Boston Globe, A12.
    ...The two sides cannot agree on how to label the role of the American troops....
    Philippine officials..."training exercise"...because of internal political considerations and...their constitution restricts what foreign troops can do in [their country].
    Pentagon officials..."military operation."...
    [So they're willing to hold it up while they play wordgames? Kinda makes you wonder how critical this whole costly and potentially entangling operation is, nesspaw? Howja like to be the supreme patsy and "die for America" in this little escapade?]
    US officials also appear concerned about justifying sending troops to the Philippines as the war in Afghanistan continues and a possible war in Iraq looms.
    [No kidding. Isn't Dubya spozed to be a Republican? a conservative? somebody who believes that "he who governs least governs best" and "he who meddles, mars"? Then ya gotta ask, why all this heavy-handed gov't action - elsewhere? Why all this meddling? Sumpin, or someone, a little off the track here maybe?]

  3. Demand for [backup] suppliers surges - Companies want backups in case of security, war disruptions, by Carlos Tejada, WSJ, B4. [Osama thanks you, Dubya - the paranoia rolls on, far worse than he could ever have dreamed in his most megalomaniacal dreams. As ever throughout history, the white witches like Bush turn out to be worse than the black witches like Osama.]
2/27/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. [1-2-3 punch -]
    Blue chips fall 102.52 points on war fears, by E.S. Browning, WSJ, C1.
    [and]
    Rising cost of oil isn't sending stocks higher - Investors fear collapse in prices [or market-killing jump?] would coincide with Iraq war, leaving share prices low on gas, by Brown & Herrick, WSJ, C1.
    [and]
    Short interest rose on Nasdaq in latest month - Economy and war worries led more investors to bet stock prices would decline, by Kate Kelly, WSJ, C13.
    [And so the war profiteering begins. Compare below 2/22-24/2003 #2.]

  2. [and the muffled meltdown in the Bush administration proceeds apace -]
    A top White House economic adviser steps down, by Edmund Andrews, NYT, C1.
    ...a leading architect of pResident Bush's ambitious tax-cutting agenda...in part because he had only a 2-year leave from Columbia.... "My family needs are my most significant concerns," Mr. Hubbard wrote..\..in his resignation letter..\..
    [and in part because he wasn't effective enough at selling that suicidal tax-cutting agenda, let alone rationalizing it in the first place? Compare Krugman tomorrow -]
    No relief in sight - The economic pain goes on and on, op ed by Paul Krugman, 2/28/2002 NYT, A29.
    So Glenn Hubbard has resigned as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers - to spend more time with his family, of course. (Pay no attention to the knife handles protruding from his back.) Gregory Mankiw, his successor, is a very good economist, but never mind: When the political apparatchiks who make all the decisions in this administration want Mr. Mankiw's opinion, they'll tell Mr. Mankiw what it is....
    [Back to today's article -]
    In early December,...Mr. Bush fired Paul O'Neill as Treasury secretary and Lawrence Lindsay as director of the White House National Economic Council....
    [And also today there's -]
    U.S. diplomat resigns, protesting 'our fervent pursuit of war,', by Felicity Barringer, NYT, A13.
    A [20-yr] career diplomat who has served in US embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan resigned this week in protest against the country's [make that "Bush's"] policies on Iraq. ...John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the US Embassy in Athens, said in his resignation letter, "Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson.... Even where our aims were not in question, our consistency [ie: follow-through] is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan to rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and interests."
    [Speaking of which, check out tomorrow's "Afghanistan, still there," editorial, 2/28/2003 NYT, A28.]
    ..\..In a telephone interview...he said he had acted alone, but "I've been comforted by the expressions of support I've gotten afterward" from colleagues.... Asked if his views were widely shared among his diplomatic colleagues, Mr. Kiesling said: "No one of my colleagues is comfortable with our policy.... The State Dept. is loaded with people who want to play the team game...."
    [Bush and his core of drooling morons keep trying to draft credibility, but revolving-door credibility is an oxymoron. So get out there, cowboy, and trigger World War III!   Massive destruction is the only thing sincere Godtoldmetodoit simpletons like you are any good at. You're sure no good at doing what you need to do for your Destrukto agenda -]
    European leaders dig in to defend their positions on Iraq - Meetings and parliamentary debates, but no minds are changed, by Elaine Sciolino, NYT, A12.
    [let alone at doing the only thing that really needs to be done -]
    Al Qaeda - Manhunt for bin Laden and top aide, Zawahiri, continues to be fruitless, by Bonner & Johnston, NYT, A12.
    [which suggests you're either ineffectual, or in league with the devil, or both. Bush in league with the devil or al Qaeda or Osama. Reeediculous, right? But then there's -]
    Washington wire - A special weekly report from the Wall Street Journal's Capital Bureau -...Who let him in?, by Jackie Calmes, 2/28/2003 WSJ, A4.
    Deomcratic Rep. Waxman asks Secret Service for details on a pre-Sept. 11, 2001, White House visit by Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian group leader recently indicted for conspiring to finance terrorism. Al-Arian was under investigation in June 2001, when he and other Muslims attended at White House invitation a briefing from Bush adviser Rove.
    [So to answer their question, "Who let him in?", it was Bush's closest adviser and confidant, Carl Rove, who not only let him in but invited him in the first place. So what was that little gabfest all about, eh? Or is all that, like the details of all the allegedly in-the-public-interest meetings between VP Cheney and the energy czars, still "classified" for "national (ie: Bush adminstration) security"?]

2/26/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Consumer confidence fell, pointer summary (to A3), WSJ, front page.
    ...to its lowest level [64 in Feb] since 1993 [from a revised 78.8 in Jan.], hurt by energy costs, the terrorism threat and a stagnant job market.
    [And for the last couple of years, consumer confidence manifested in consumer spending has been the only thing that's been propping up the wildly over-$concentrated global economy. Hey maybe CEOs’ tuff 'luv' of downsizing has finally killed the goose that's been laying the golden eggs, ya thiiink?   Here's the indicated article -]
    Consumer spirits decline to levels last seen in '93, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A3.
    ...The Conference Board said 30.1% of consumers now say jobs are hard to get, the highest % in 9 years....
    [and The Times version with a nice clear headline but buried on C7 -]
    Consumer confidence drops to a 9-year low, by Kenneth Gilpin, NYT, C7.
    ...The drop [14.8] is the second-biggest ever. After 9/11/01, the index fell 17 points. February...was the 3rd consecutive month in which consumers expressed warning optimism about their immediate and medium-term prospects....
    The Conference Board surveys 5,000 households about general economic conditions, their employment prospects and their spending plans....
    [Back to the WSJ -]
    ...A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University economist Melvin Stephens found household spending doesn't seem to respond to anticipated job losses....
    [Bottom line - it has to eventually, but in the short run, there's always the feeling - I gotta spend a portion of what limited amount I have on what I've been putting off, cuz it may be my only chance to get or do that thing I've been thinking about. Phil Hyde has only one place in the world he wants to travel = New Zealand, to see the fjords and the place where his maternal grandfather ran away to and became an inspiring mayor (Henderson, just west of Aukland). Now that Phil's nestegg is visibly winding down, it's soon or never for that NZ gambit.]

  2. Few investors see clear signals of sustained advance by stocks, by Kopin Tan, Dow Jones via WSJ, C10.
    [That would seem to follow. Gee, ain't it nice to see the Wall Street ("Death Star") Journal using a nice ecological concept like sustainability.]

  3. Speed may fade as the PC 'It' factor - With microprocessor power at levels beyond the needs of the average computer user, market watchers say the industry has to come up with more compelling features to attract consumers, by Donna Fuscaldo, Dow Jones via WSJ, B6B.
    [2 lines of commentary by Dr. Jeckyll and Phil Hyde -
    1. smashing into the qualitative limits on quantitative forecasting -
      One of the big power bases of economists is their ability to do quantitative forecasting. But there are strict limits on this, because, as you mix together a bunch of number-crunched forecasts which assume the simple increase or decrease or fluctuation of currently significant variables or dimensions - and then push the mix further and further into the future - well, you might have validity over 5 or 10 years (especially if you're historical data goes back 50 or 100 yrs), but as you push up to 50 or 100 or 500 or 1000 years ahead, you're in trouble - because currently below-the-radar qualitative changes intervene and upstage your variables, or maybe some of your quantitative increases or decreases go so far as to constitute qualitative changes that again upstage your simple quantitative processing. For example, if you replicate a dot long enough in the easiest possible way, you wind up with something that is poorly described as "multiple dots" and better described as a "line." Rad!   Phil Hyde's key to breaking through these subtle limits on quantitative forecasting is...harking back to the science that, in the mathematical-logic sense, "contains" mathematics, namely, linguistics, and specifically those activities within linguistics known as paradigm identification, gap finding, and gap filling (alias paradigm completion). It gets a bit like operating on your own retinas - hey, "it's nasty work but somebody has to do it." Another way people have tried to do this is John Naisbitt's "insistent event" clipping or tracking. That's similar to Timesizing.com's hope/doom du jour tracking but Naisbitt is apparently focused on local events such as take place in city councils and zoning boards. Paul Hawken's variation on this theme, dubbed "coupon-clipper economics" by Michael Melford, is focused on innovations in luxury tools. Both these approaches tend to bog down on trivia, and fail to integrate and prioritize their results. They occupy the 2d- and 3d-last chapters of David Warsh's excellent collection of essays, "Economic Principals" (Free Press, 1993).
    2. hitting the ceiling on meaningful human usefulness - when all usefulness is constrained by failure to grant more of the basic freedom = free time -
      This is the ultimate rebuttal to the notion that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys," cuz the only kind of technology that does that is quality-enhancing technology (in the absence of timesizing, quantitative or efficiency-boosting technology sure doesn't create more jobs than it destroys - it's the stuff of downsizing). The fact that computer speeds are now beyond the needs - or even the ability to notice - of most computer users reminds us of when "high fidelity" music went beyond human hearing - only canines, with their broader-frequency hearing range, could hear the difference between high and higher fidelities in further innovations in music reproduction. There goes the makework potential of built-in obsolescence. We are reaching these practical, human-body-based limits in more and more fields with more and more products. Automobile speeds, as reflected in how high their speedometers go, is another biggy that we hit decades ago except for "high-speed chases" in movies and even there, most of these chases are on city streets (and sidewalks) where, let's face it, you just can't go that fast. The latest silliness?]
      Driving - To be the fastest car on the road, by Jim Motavalli, 2/28/2003 Boston Globe, D1.
      Reeves Callaway builds one of the fastest and most exclusive cars in the world, the 188-mph Callaway C12....
      [All this unusable capability poses a problem for our present-day "Frozen Forty" (hrs/wk) Makework Capitalism. There are no urgent markets to be found by pushing quantitative growth along established qualitative lines or dimensions. It all just turns into what Fred Hirsch ("Social Limits to Growth") calls "positional goods," useful only for flaunting your position on the totem pole of prestige, at least in your own mind. There are only two problems with this - #1, real class doesn't 'flaunt' (e.g., Lao Tzu: "The sage knows his own worth and makes no display") and #2, positional goods, based on no urgent market demand or necessity, are notoriously capricious and erratic to build an economy on (sorta like economies that rely on capricious charity for vital functions, tho charity can be useful in transitional situations). All this is big trouble as long as we need to keep straining to create jobs for all those we're disemploying by downsizing, instead of timesizing alias worksharing.]

2/25/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Companies plan less hiring, survey finds, Reuters via NYT, C13.
    Fewer American companies plan to hire employees in the second quarter, the first drop in more than a year.... According to Manpower Inc's latest quarterly data, 22% of nearly 16,000 employers interviewed said they expected to hire more people in Q2, ...more than the 20% recorded in Q1 but when adjusted for seasonal fluctuations [a] drop....
    Manpower found that 63% of companies planned to maintain current staff levels, 9% intended to reduce the workforce and 6% were uncertain. ...Employers in the Northeast offered the weakest outlook.

  2. Industrials fall 159.87 points on war talk - Adding to economic uncertainty, investors withdrew $1B from stock funds last month, by E.S. Browning, WSJ, C1.
    [and why?]
    Taking issue with stock - Could investors be approaching what economist Gary Shilling charmingly calls the 'puke point'?, by Charles Stein, Boston Globe, D1.
    ...the moment at which people "regurgitate their last stock and swear never to own another one"....

  3. The Patriot Act - Did you know that it is now legal for government agents to - The new powers can be used even in investigations that might have nothing to do with terrorism.... The USA Patriot Act went too far...- removing the checks and balances that have helped prevent police and other law-enforcement agents from abusing their power....
    And just when we thought it couldn't get worse, the government is planning a second expansion-of-powers bill that would go even further. Incredibly, Atty Gen. John Ashcroft's Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003...would allow - Stay informed.... *ACLU.org....125 Broad St, 18th floor, NY NY 10004.
    [followup -]
    Privacy concerns - Canadian and Dutch officials warn of security's side effects, by Adam Clymer, 2/28/2003 NYT, A13.
    ...the American campaign to crack down on terrorism is needlessly infringing on the privacy of their citizens....
    [So hey, Americans not having the self-respect to block this witch hunt in a timely fashion doesn't mean that everybody else in the world is willing to roll over and let paranoid Gott-mit-uns Americans strip-search them.]

  4. War in Iraq would halt all [archeological] digs in region, by John Wilford, NYT, B1.
    Oldest human history is at risk, by Holland Cotter, NYT, B1.
    ...The archeological sites most at risk in case of war are at Nineveh in the north and at Ctesiphon, Babylon and Ur. [map caption]
    [Ur and neighboring towns of Uruk, Nippur and Lagash are all towns in the Sumerian civilization which first developed writing to the point of contemporary monuments (= "history") c. 3200 BC. While the Hamito-Semitic civilization of Egypt next got the concept, the Semitic civilizations of Agade (Akkadians), Babylon(ians) and Asshur (Assyrians) were on the spot and in line for the development of written records. Then came the extensive libraries at Tell el Amarna (the "Amarna Letters"), mainly in Aramaic, whose alphabet is still used in the Hebrew Bible (the stick-figure Hebrew alphabet died out early).]
    Iraq has hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites. Some 10,000 have been explored. Any of them could change what we know about human history, as past excavations have done. Some have already revealed the world's earliest known villages and cities and the first examples of writing....
    During the Persian Gulf war in 1991 at least one major archaeological monument, the colossal ziggurat of Ur, was bombed. Shock from explosions damaged fragile structures like the great brick vault at Ctesiphon....
    [Don't we have enough of a conservation challenge at home? - The yahoos at the WSJ make a joke out of a serious threat to one distinctive American landscape -]
    Prickly poachers - Cops can't keep up with cactus crooks - The desert look saves water in town but hurts parks; Five grand for a saguaro, by Jim Carlton, WSJ, front page.
    ...Law-enforcement agencies in 5 states have created special squads to protect [the cactus]. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada even implants computer chips in certain cactuses to help track them down....
    [and give short shrift to major health risks -]
    Rate of U.S. children contracting asthma more than doubles, AP via WSJ, D4.
    ...and one in every dozen women of childbearing age has blood-mercury levels that could hinger brain development in a fetus, the EPA said....
    [But perhaps that already happened to Bush Jr. and his cheerleaders at the Journal.]

2/22-24/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. 2/23   Cost of fear is taxing to the economy - On the business side, nervousness is one more reason to spend as little as possible, by Charles Stein, Boston Globe, F1.

  2. 2/24   Short interest on the big board begins to climb - Data indicate optimism among investors is fading on fears of war with Iraq, by Kate Kelly, WSJ, B8.
    [Guess that means they're "selling Bush short." Compare -]
    Investment pros want no part of current risk - Threat of war, weak economy, terrorism leave money managers with little stomach for business, by E.S. Browning, WSJ, C1.

  3. 2/24   Bush proposes major changes in health plans - Critics see less security and fewer benefits, by Toner & Pear, NYT, front page.
    WASHINGTON...- pResident Bush has begun one or the most ambitious efforts to reinvent Medicare and Medicaid since the programs were created 38 years ago...a fundamentally different vision of social welfare policy....
    [which would only be non-disastrous in a timesizing economy.]

  4. 2/23   Congress and the pResident: One party, but divided, by Carl Hulse, NYT, A19.
    [At last maybe other Republicans are waking up to how radical Dubya is and how-fast how-far-back he's taking US. He and his oil junta are a disaster for the GOP, but then, so is the religious right and the Christian Coalition, which in 1980 took them right out of the category of American political party and left us with only one major American political party.]

  5. 2/23   Revolt of the shareholders - At annual meetings, anger will ratchet up a notch, by Claudia Deutsch, NYT, 3:1.
    [Good - ask CEOs why they were so anxious to fund the presidential campaign of this oil junta that's now making the USA so unpopular the world over and endangering all our lives by gearing up for war with a madman who has been quiescent for 10 years (Stalin was quiescent for 25 years and his successors for 35 - then they tossed in the towel).]

2/21/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Shares decline on 4 disappointing reports on economy, AP via NYT, C6.
    [Compare -]
    Dow industrials decline 85.64, now below 8000, by E.S. Browning, WSJ, C1.
    [Back to the NYT article -]
    1. ...First, there was news that the U.S. recorded a $435.2B trade deficit for 2002, the largest in history, as the weak global economy hammered American exports while imports of cars and other consumer goods reached record highs.
      [See also "Trade gap widens to record level - Monthly deficit combines with other data to point to trouble for recovery," by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
    2. And the Labor Dept. reported that inflation at the producer, or wholesale, level jumped 1.6% in January, the biggest increase in 13 years, led by a 4.8% increase in energy costs..\.. Analysts said investors were particularly unnerved by [the] jump in energy prices, fearing that costs will go up even more if there is a war with Iraq....
      [See also "Producer prices are up sharply...," Reuters via NYT, C6.
    3. The government also said the number of newly laid-off workers filing unemployment claims jumped to a 7-week high of 402,000 last week, up by 21,000 from the previous week.
      [Interesting how they bury the most important one in the late middle. See also "Producer prices are up sharply - Jobless claims are also higher, Reuters via NYT, C6.
    4. In the 4th report, the Conference Board said a crucial gauge of future economic activity declined in January. ...Its index of leading economic indicators slipped by 0.1% in January from a month ago, to a revised 111.2....

  2. [how trustworthy is our Republican-Party government?]
    N.H. probes GOP firm about Election Day telephone tactics, by Jim Geraghty, State News Service via Boston Globe, A20, article-flag credit to colleague Kate.
    New Hampshire's [NH's] attorney general is investigating a Republican political consulting firm to determine whether it violated state laws by jamming phone lines on Election Day last year, a state Democratic party official said yesterday.
    NH Democratic Party spokesman Colin Van Ostern said party officials have been informed of an investigation into Alexandria VA-based GOP Marketplace and its role in the continuous hang-up calls that jammed get-out-the-vote phone banks operated by the Manchester NH firefighters union and the state Democratic Party Nov. 5.... According to FEC filings, the NH Republican party paid GOP Marketplace $15,600 on Nov. 1 of last year. The Republican Leadership Council, which is also headed by..\..GOP Marketplace's president, Allen Raymond,...indicated in its IRS filings that it paid GOP Marketplace neaerly $29,000 on Nov. 4 for "Phone bank"..\..
    It is a misdemeanor under NH state law to telephone someone "with a purpose to annoy or alarm." A federal law prohibits causing "the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring, with the intest to harass any person at the called number."
    Union and Democratic officials said the phone jam, which was broken by Verizon after about 2 hours, lasted long enough to undermine efforts to reach people who needed rides to the polls..\..
    Republican John Sununu beat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, 51% to 47%, in the state's senatorial race.... Van Ostern said that Shaeen was "very troubled" by the reports that GOP Marketplace made non-stop 5-second hang-up calls to the phone bank. He said she was "eager to see an investigation."...
    GOP Marketplace's...Raymond was travelling yesterday and did not return phone calls.... NH GOP chairman Jayne Millerick did not return repeated calls for comment..\.. NH GOP executive director Chuck McGee resigned 2 weeks ago, but maintained he had nothing to do with the incident....
    [Back to Nixon-type "dirty tricks" with little enough real democracy already? But how effective is our bipartisan government, specifically our loyal opposition, right now?]
    With help from Democrat [Sen. Zell Miller, Ga.], Bush pitches tax cut plan - Pressing the tax cut plan, now officially bipartisan, by Elisabeth Bumiller, NYT, A24.

  3. South Korea: Gloomy data on economy, by Don Kirk, NYT, W1.

  4. [and a little nightmare for you greens -]
    Development of biotech crops is booming in Asia, by David Barboza, NYT, A3.
    [despite difficulty selling them, when labeled, in many markets.]

2/20/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. The Fed's misspent youth, pointer squib (to D8), WSJ, front page.
    Why did the Fed, born in 1913, intensify trends instead of countering them, and why did monetary policy fail in the Depression?...
    [It isn't just the Federal Reserve's youth that's the problem - it's still doing it now, weakening the centrifugal forces on national income that support consumer markets that support industrial markets that support the financial markets (the Fed has this chain of support backwards) and further strengthening the centripetal, concentrating forces of the national income, forces that are already so overwhelming they are strangling the markets away from their own investments. Here's the indicated article dba book review -]
    A Fed without reserve, by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, WSJ, D8.
    Early on, the Fed was "pro-cyclical," exacerbating boom and bust. [photo caption]
    [Second problem. The "long-wave" is not an intramural economic cycle. It always takes externalities (things that economists have pushed outside their purview), outside forces, to rebalance the tremendous over-concentration of spending power that tends to build up in advanced economies over the last 200 (and more) years. Usually it takes war, but anything that removes the huge excess of manhours on offer in the job market will do, because the need is to engage market forces in driving up ordinary wages and centrifuging the income, and hopefully some of the wealth, of the nation in order to restore markets and again provide sustainable storage bins for concentrated wealth dba "investments." The tendency of the wealth to screw themselves by starving the markets away from their own investments accelerated in the last 200 years thanks to the acceleration of work-saving invention, work savings that they all too often took in the form of labor savings, i.e., layoffs, which deactivated more and more of their own markets, instead of time savings, i.e., hours cuts, which kept their markets active and even vitalized them by conferring more shopping time for their employees. And not only is our central bank alias the Fed aiding and abetting this self-destructive process among our wealthy dictator-class, but so is the IMF and the World Bank, the "typhoid Mary's" of international financial contagions, for the wealthy dictator-class the world over.]

  2. Federal debt near ceiling [now $6.4T]; Second time in 9 months, by Edmund Andrews, NYT, A25.
    [Can anybody find this in today's WSJ? By what fractured rationale is this outside their turf?!]

  3. [in one headline, what's wrong with media consolidation -]
    The trouble with corporate radio: The day the protest music died, editorial observer by Brent Staples, NYT, A30.
    [So what? So media consolidation damages systemic national feedback, and any system without lots and lots of course-corrective feedback declines. Remember the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? Now the American Empire is doin' it.]

  4. Taking on sugar, pointer blurb (to D3), WSJ, D1.
    There's nothing sweet in the explosion of sugar in our food and what it's doing to our bodies....
    [and the indicated article -]
    Let's subtract 'added sugar' from our diets, by Michael Waldholz, WSJ, D3.
    [Insulin-revving, bodyrepair-slowing sugar is now added to damn near everything. Just try to find a package of bacon or a can of vegetables in the supermarket that doesn't have some kind of sugar or (heavily subsidized) corn syrup or sucrose etc etc on the list of ingredients. For people on the Atkins Diet and others who regard sugar as a toxin, it's a huge problem.]

2/19/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. Antiwar protests fail to sway Bush on plans for Iraq, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, front page.
    [Hell no, he's had this plum in the crosshairs since '97!]

  2. [but maybe he'll pay attention to this -]
    The U.N. - Muslim lands say war could bring havoc - Close U.S. allies as well as neighbors of Iraq voice disquiet, by Felicity Barringer, NYT, A12.

  3. [or notice this -]
    Iraq for the Iraqis - 'The proposed U.S. military administration of Iraq is unwelcome and unwise', by Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi, WSJ, A14.
    [Unfortunately, the Ur-Plan of Bush's oil junta requires US military administration to facilitate the rapid vacuuming of Iraq's large oil reserves. Maybe they can come up with something a little more sophisticated than the Ur-Plan, if that doesn't cramp their testosterone-valves too much.]

  4. [here's something that none of us are supposed to notice -]
    At least 7 die in Gaza raids, raids Reuters via NYT, A6.
    [Why does the NY Times have this headline in such tiny, albeit bolded, print? Hopin' people won't notice? Trying not to inflame passions? The radio said there were no less than 40 Israeli tanks prowling around apparently residential 'hoods. And this article says -]
    Israeli troops and tanks backed by attack helicopters launched raids...killing at least 7 Palestinians.... Another 3 Palestinians were crushed to death as Israeli engineers blew up 2 workshops....
    ["At least 7" plus 3 equals "at least" 10, not just "at least 7" as in the tiny headline. Could it be that global Jewry, including some top executives of the New York Times, are getting embarrassed by the behavior of Israel?]
    The raids came despite tentative cease-fire talks between the 2 sides. It appeared that the Israeli attacks were retaliation for the killing of 4 Israeli soldiers by a Hamas land mine....
    ["At least" 10, for 4? "At least" it's not as bad as the 10,000s of innocent Chinese villagers killed by the Japanese in retaliation for the fact that some of them must have sheltered the American flyers of the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, although Bush's figures are going to match those if he gets his war wish.]
    Hamas said one of its men blew himself up alongside an armored column....
    [Suicide attacks are the resort of the desperate, those desperate for justice who see no other course of action. This situation is soooo ripe for one or other side to switch to Gandhi's "strategic non-violent resistance" tactics, and it would work for the Palestinians fastest because the Israelis have been implementing overkill retaliation for so long that they've succeeded in making even the Palestinians' pathetic violent responses look non-violent by comparison. And this last 2-year blowup began when Sharon, trying to make some kind of statement, provocatively walked into a sacred mosque where no Israelis had ventured before. Here's hoping some quirk prevents Bush from lighting a big unending fuse.]

  5. U.S. auto makers blasted a White House proposal..., pointer summary (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...to require SUV's and pickups to achieve higher fuel economy by 2007.
    [Automakers just don't get it. But at least, for a change, Bush has pursued a policy with a predictable and predictably positive future.]

2/18/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. [the real cost of taxing the poor and subsidizing the rich -]
    Do you need a bodyguard? - Connecticut kidnapping boosts demand for private security; Deputizing the nanny, by Laurie Cohen, WSJ, D1.
    [Thus pushing the decision-makers even further into isolation and insulation and damaging the nation's cybernetics and feedback system even further. Check out today's Journal cartoon -]
    Pepper...and salt, WSJ, D8.
    "Admit it. You don't want feedback. You want capitulation." [cartoon caption]
    [Back to the bodyguard article -]
    Even paranoids have enemies, accompanying photo spread, WSJ, D1.
    A few ways for the money-is-no-object crowd to boost security.... [And compare -]
    Trading alerts: Safety worries are distraction - Wall Streeters try to move on, but terror fears are always there; 'Hell no, it isn't back to normal', by Browning & Kelly, WSJ, C1.
    [or the more dramatic but carefully tucked-away inside header on this piece -]
    Terror fears overtake stocks, as the threat damps volume, WSJ, C3.
    [and some anecdotal evidence that crime is spreading beyond the usual "population at risk for crime" -]
    Yarmouth MA - 2 females arrested for armed robbery, AP via Boston Globe, B2.
    [And Yarmouth is on sleepy olde Cape Cod!]

  2. Wage growth was flat, pointer summary (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...in January, posing a risk to consumer spending and casting a shadow over some good economic news.
    [and the indicated article -]
    Consumers feel pinch, but business shows strength, by Greg Ip, WSJ, A2.
    ...Hourly wages didn't grow from the previous month for the first time in more than a decade \and\ household-income growth, the source of consumers' remarkable resilience over the last 2 years, is being squeezed [although] industrial production in January rose 0.7%....
    Indeed, annual wage growth has slowed steadily from an average of nearly 4% for the 4 years ended September 2001 to 2.7% last month. This is partly because inflation fell from 3% in early 2001 to about half that pace when energy prices fell during the summer. But it is also because collapsing profits and soaring health benefits have prompted employers to turn the screws on salaries. With unemployment up sharply, employees aren't in a position to resist....
    [Here we see the whole mechanism of the birth of a depression laid out before our eyes.]
    Now, rapidly rising energy prices [eg: gas] are eroding the purchasing power of the modest rises in wage.
    In 2001 and 2002, household after-tax income was boosted by high growth in productivity, or output per hour, which enabled companies to keep raising wages despite a limited ability to raise prices....
    [And sales ain't been too good lately either -]

  3. Blizzard buries northeaster U.S., disrupting travel - Worst storm in 7 years - Chest-high drifts in 10 states - But closings for [Presidents' Day] holiday reduce snow's impact, by Robert McFadden, NYT, front page.
    ["Reduce snow's impact" except on sales -]
    Sales take a holiday - Storm sinks big day for car dealers, retailers, by Kimberly Blanton, Boston Globe, B1.
    So much for Presidents' Day sales....
    [Again, maybe the Big Guy upstairs is sending US in general and Bush in particular a leedle message = chill out.]
    More than enough to shut down the capital, by Elizabeth Bumiller, NYT, front page.
    The blizzard of 2003, editorial, NYT, A26.
    ...restored us all to the immediacy of the moment [though] this was an event that had nothing to do with human will. Humans have always been disposed to read something symbolic into the grand cataclysms that nature brings, and in the hush that fell over New York, Washington and the other cities on the Eastern Seaboard, you could hear an extraordinary peace, [that] overshadowed the war against terrorism and...Iraq, the run on duct tape and plastic sheeting....

  4. North Korea threat, pointer squib (to A13), NYT, front page.
    North Korea's military threatened to abandon its commitment to the 1953 Korean War armistice if the U.S. moves to impose sanctions for its suspected nuclear weapons program.
    [Hey, the big strong USA under Bush unilaterally abandoned the ABM treaty - why shouldn't everybody abandon whatever treaty they want?]

  5. Mr. Bush's liberal problem - He needs to have fewer dreams and more nightmares, op ed by Nicholas Kristof, NYT, A26.
    The big problem with liberals in international affairs is that ever since Woodrow Wilson, they've been too idealistic.
    [See Thomas Bailey's "Woodrow Wilson & the Great Betrayal" (1945, 1963) which tells how Wilson's unbending idealism "killed his own baby" - the Treaty of Versailles - which was supposed to end The Great War (WW1) but instead, just set things up for Round 2 (World War II) by keeping America out of the League of Nations which America invented. Sound familiar? America invented the United Nations and has been frequently hobbling it ever since - like now, for instance - abrogating treaties, starving it of money, and then pressuring it to do a lunatic oil junta's shortsighted and bitterness-breeding bidding.] Now, alas, pResident Bush is also trying to be a foreign policy idealist - from the right - and is showing the same cavalier obtuseness to practical consequences. ...The irony is that some on the right seem to be sinking into ineffectual idealism just as the left has shown signs of growing out of it..\.. What matters most to Nigerian women or North Korean peasants isn't whether the White House mouths pious slogans on their behalf, but whether their children survive.... So let's hope pResident Bush learns from liberal mistakes and worries less about ideals and more about practical results. The world may not be able to afford much more of his idealism.
    [It's always the white witches who turn into worse problems than the black witches. The teenagers at Salem who just wanted to have a nice town. The Indian Bureau that just wanted Indians to fit in. Joe McCarthy, who just wanted to free America from communism. By the Witchcraft Act of 1735, England repealed its statutes against black witches, but not until the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 did England feel safe enough from white witches to drop its legislation against them. Truly, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." And Jesus' parable of the wheat and the weeds (or tares) is often good advice.   Here's a take from the Boston Globe -]
    The age of innocence, op ed by James Carroll, BG, A11.
    "This is the patent age of new inventions
    For killing bodies and...saving souls...all with the best intentions."
    The lines serve as an epigram for Graham Greene's "The Quiet American."... Greene was a connoisseur not of good and evil, but of innocence and corruption. The dangers of [corruption] are well known but - here is Greene's great theme - [innocence] is especially to be feared.... Beware a nation announcing its innocence en route to war.

  6. [headline sounds good, turns out bad -]
    Antiwar groups plan end-run to run TV ads, by David Armstrong, WSJ, B1.
    [Here's some of the loss of free speech that Bush's war fever has produced -]
    All-news cable networks including Fox News and CNN have refused to broadcast advertising opposing the "impending" war with Iraq [our quotes - ed.]....
    [but -]
    but that hasn't stopped antiwar groups. Starting this week, one organization plans to do an end run around the networks by buying time from local cable operators who will run the spots during time slots they control on some of the same news networks that turned the ads down. The ads, which will appear in several large cities including New York and Washington, include pleas for peace from actresses Tyne Daly and Amy Brenneman of the CBS TV series "Judging Amy"; record producer Russell Simmions and hiphop star Mos Def.
    A spokesman for the Cable News Network, a division of AOL Time Warner Inc., said CNN rejected antiwar ads because as a policy it doesn't accept "advocacy ads about regions in conflict."...
    [But Iraq is NOT "in conflict" yet - it is still under inspection by the United Nations. That's the whole point of the global protests and the advertisements - to PREVENT CONFLICT. America's vaunted "freedoms" are already toast. Check today's Journal cartoon -]
    Pepper...and salt, WSJ, D8.
    "Admit it. You don't want feedback. You want capitulation." [cartoon caption]
    [Osama has won. Innocent Bush and his guilty oil junta are following Osama's dream script. And Osama's still free, and likely on the CIA 's payroll, issuing videos on cue, right when the oil junta needs them. And gee, we haven't found the source of the anthrax yet either, and there are sooo many labs that do that, it's gotta be REAL TOUGH. And the American public still hasn't seen Cheney's energy taskforce records. And even the photos of Iraq that supposedly warranted Bush Sr.'s Gulf War (which saaadly didn't quite do it for his re-election) are still "classified." And... and... but we're starting to sound like Chomsky - Gott forbitt! (Just kidding - Phil Hyde came down from remotest Canada to study linguistics with Chomsky back in '68.) More ammo? -]
    Media hoodwinked by Powell, letter to editor by Michael Short of Wayland MA, Boston Globe, A10.
    Thanks for Mark Jurkowitz's cogent summary of Secy of State Colin Powell's ability to make the media swoon ("Powells' UN speech..." Feb. 13, B12). [Mark's] roundup shows that by and large the media remain able to analyze the problem only in ways framed by the Bush administration....
    [Yeah, Powell's whole presentation was beside the point, in view of the suicidal nature of first-strike precedent-setting and the historical success of containment.]

  7. The new Francophobia, letter to editor by Phillip Corwin of NYC, NYT, A26.
    Re "As Cold War link itself grows old, Europe seems to lose value for Bush" (news analysis, Feb. 12)
    It seems that Francophobia is now the lingua franca among American superpatriots.
    Are we to expect that because the U.S. reluctantly intervened in a European war 6 decades ago, and in the process helped liberate France, that France must now blindly obey for the next four zillion years whatever a warmongering American elite decides is just?
    Perhaps we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. It was France that helped America achieve independence from a tyrannical Britain more than 200 years ago. Should the U.S. therefore be obligated to pledge its blind allegiance to French foreign policy forever after?
    [Case in point -]
    Evil Iraq? Now, bashing France is a la mode, by Matthew Rose, WSJ, B1.

  8. Deficits are now OK?, letter to editor by Kelly Howard, NYT, A26.
    Re "Conservatives now see deficits as a tool to fight spending" (Washington Talk, Feb. 11):
    So deficits reduce spending? Conservatives are taking a novel approach to economics.... Those who manage budgets for homes and businesses would argue that deficits are a result of irresponsible spending.... The pResident's plans will handicap generations to come.

  9. Some at shuttle fuel-tank plant see quality control and morale problems - NASA says managers do not encourage cutting corners, by Edward Wong, NYT, A17.
    [But -]
    NEW ORLEANS...- Mark Hernandez said it took him just a couple of weeks to learn to cut corners in his new job at the NASA plant here. His task was to apply insulating foam to the 15-storey external fuel tanks...that help power NASA's space shuttles. An older workers soon showed him how to mix the foam's base chemicals in a cup and brush the mixture over scratches or gouges in the insulation without reporting the repair.... From 1981, when he started at the Michoud Assembly Facility to 1989 when he quit..., Mr Hernandez repaired small defects in the insulation 100s of times without filling out the required paperwork.... The practice was so common among employees...that it had a name - unauthorized rework. Some supervisors even encouraged it, he said....

  10. The tumultuous republic of California is still different, only more so - The nation's largest state [larger than Texas and Alaska?? - maybe they mean "largest state economy"] is hardly a bellwether these days, editorial observer by Andres Martinez, NYT, A26.
    [oooh yes it is, in all the wrong directions -]
    ...In many ways, Americans have treated the whole state as a theme park.... California's marginalization represents quite a change from the late 1990s..\.. In the aftermath of the dot-com bubble, this is clearly a period of disillusionment with California - [yep, all the bad stuff that's happening at the national level too]

  11. Toronto journal - A veil of deterrence for a bridge with a dark side - Obstructing [suicide] but, critics say, also blocking the view, by Clifford Krauss, NYT, A4.
    More than 400 people [since 1918] have jumped to their deaths from the Prince Edward Viaduct, and it is hoped a new $4m barrier will stop the suicides. [photo caption]
    TORONTO -...The steel-arched bridge span[s] the Don River and Don Valley Parkway with a 12-storey drop.... More than 400 people have jumped from the bridge to their deaths, including 100 over the last decade.... Only the Golden Gate Bridge has been the site of more suicides in North America, according to mental health associates here.... Workers are putting the final touches to a series of barriers across the bridge.... Many here have opposed revamping one of Toronto's esthetic treasures and obstructing one of the city's most spectacular views, and the project has fueled a debate about how far government should strive to prevent people from ending their lives....
    [In an overpopulated age, government should simply be making their decision more comfortable.]

2/15-17/2003  headlines from hell -
  1. 2/17  Riskier business - Losses related to mold and computer viruses join the list of exclusions as insurance companies try to rein in claims, leaving many firms without coverage, by Beth Healy, Boston Globe, C1.
    [A ripple effect from America's inability to design and implement something so basic and common in advanced economies as single-payer, universal-coverage health insurance? The prevalence of "I just want MY share!" (without limit) spreads out from self-styled "conservatives" and "Christian" coalitionists to poison an entire, once-great nation - and its economy? The results of thousands of frivolous lawsuits that should have been thrown out or capped, but - gotta have makework for judges and lawyers! America is a society moving toward a gridlock of conflicting liabilities, quintessentially because of one strategic and all-coloring mistake in 1933: the decision to block the promise of technology - to share the vanishing work, making life easier for everyone - and instead, to strain to make up enough work, however artificial, to maintain contemporary workweek levels and offset the efficiencies of technological innovation, no matter how much came down the pike. This already sabotaged the USA in competition with Japan in the 1980s while Japan still had lifetime employment, because that lifetime employment guarantee unleashed much more technological innovation in Japan than expanding job insecurity allowed in the U.S. As John Merson puts it in "Roads to Xanadu" (1988), p. 239, "Because of the commitment of the large firms to their staff [in Japan, so familiar from still-remembered experience with the strong social contract between the feudal manor and its serfs] - offering them lifetime employment and retraining as opposed to making them redundant [ie: downsizing] when new technology was introduced - there were few industrial-relations problems associated with the introduction of robotics. Instead of being displaced, skilled workers were taught computer-related skills and were expected to participate in the effective introduction of the new technology. These workers were also extremely important in making the new systems more productive since their commitment was to the firm rather than to a specific job or craft skill. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the effectiveness of the Japanese production system was to make them more and more competitive with firms in the United States. In 1979 when computer-controlled technology had been available for 20 years, only 2% of American firms had taken it up. At this time Japan was producing 14,000 of these new computer-controlled machining centers a year compared with less than half that number in the United States. Firms like Fujitsu Fanuc in Japan, which had first produced robotic machines under license for GM in the U.S., were now the world leaders. By 1981 Japan was supplying 40% of the computer-controlled machining centers used by industries in the U.S. The consequence of this for other Japanese industries was to become increasingly obvious. Japanese firms were able to produce basic consumer goods - automobiles, electronic goods, and other mass-produced commodities - that were cheaper and better than those produced in the U.S. and most European countries. By the late 1960s, as the Japanese began to make inroads into traditional American markets in a whole range of consumer goods the American business and academic elites were still making the same old observation that the Japanese were not creative but were just imitators." Lucky for US we could still snooker the Japanese into imitating our most suicidal corporate strategy, downsizing, and dropping their strongest strategy, lifetime employment. With this diet of economic arsenic and the most technologized economy on the planet, they quickly (1-2 yrs! 1989-90) plunged into the permanent economic toilet - or at least for as long as they continued this "diet of arsenic" - which, astonishingly, they have to this day. Unfortunately, all well-known American companies (except two, Nucor and Lincoln Electric) are also on this arsenic diet and America is also now plunging into a permanent economic privy - unless... - unless a lot of other companies start copying Nucor and Lincoln Electric.]

  2. 2/17  The economy - In military towns, [military] contractors' windfall is not doing much trickling down - Arms makers gain efficiency, and new jobs are scarce, by Peter Kilborn, NYT, A10.
    [Again, what was that you were saying about "technology creates more jobs than it destroys"??? And the big problem is the Ford-Reuther Paradox = Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots! Reuther, "Let's see you sell'em cars." The only effective peacetime resolution to this is, not makework, but sharework.]

  3. 2/15  Terror advice from Washington: Do not seal doors and windows, by Philip Shenon, NYT, page 1.
    Quotation of the day, by Tom Ridge, secy of homeland security, NYT, A2.
    "We just don't want folks sealing up their doors or sealing up their windows."
    [Then why'd you send millions of patsy-type Americans out to buy duct tape last week? Daniel Shore calls it "the orchestration of American jitters." We call it repeatedly "crying wolf" to try to keep Americans hyped up and distracted from Bush's suicidal unilateral first-strike reversal of global foreign policy over the past 50 years and from The Economy till after the Nov/2004 presidential election. This tape foofaraw is Yet Another Reversal on the part of the Bush administration. Former Secy of State Madeleine Allbright on Charlie Rose on Monday (2/17, 6:15 pm, PBS Ch.44 Boston) said, "There is the sense that this is what was designed from the very beginning.... I have the sense that there were people who joined the administration that wanted to have a war with Iraq and that's what they're doing today." Charlie Rose, "Is this shaping up as the epic American foreign policy disaster?" Madeleine Allbright, "It looks very bad."]

  4. 2/17  Helping poor countries, editorial, NYT, A22.
    ...America ranks dead last among wealthy countries in foreign aid as a percentage of the economy [at] less than 1% of the budget, and most of it goes to military or economic support for strategically important [not any longer - ed.], but not particularly needy, friends - mainly Israel [$3.5B/yr], Egypt [$2B/yr], Colombia and Jordan. This furthers American interests [not any longer - ed.] but should not be confused with development aid....

  5. 2/15  A wartime NYC Mayor Bloomberg begins to take charge, by Jennifer Steinhauer, NYT, B16.
    [Maybe the snowstorm's message to the NYT, Bloomberg and the nation is, CHILL OUT!]
    - As the tension level rises, so does the mayor's voice of reassurance
    [what tension level? - spare us your constant cries of "Wolf!"]

  6. [right below is an article on a wolf of greater potential danger to us -]
    2/15  Robert Chambers walks free, silently, after 15-year term for killing, by Robert Worth, NYT, B16.
    ...18-year-old Jennifer Levin in Central Park in 1986. The crime [was] known as the "preppie murder." \In\ an apology on Thursday to the family of his victim, whom he asphyxiated during what he called rough sex...he said, "There has not been a day since [her] death when I have not regretted my actions on that day." \However, he\ would have been released more than 6 years ago, prison officials said, had he not violated prison rules 27 times, including incidents in which he was found with drugs and a weapon....

  7. 2/15  Anthrax scare forces evacuation of Faneuil Hall, by Donovan Slack, Boston Globe, B1.
    Even though Boston isn't on the list of suspected terrorist targets this weekend, the heightened alert has frayed the nerves of so many in this seat of American patriotism that an envelope of rice, mistaken for anthrax yesterday at Faneuil Hall, sent people running for the exits....

  8. [green grabber -]
    2/15  Barge accident causes oil spill, NYT, B16.
    NORWALK, Conn...- An oil barge carrying 2m gal. of home heating fuel ran aground early this morning in Long Island Sound, puncturing at least four of its dozen compartments and spilling some 2,500 gal. of light-grade oil, the Coast Guard said....

  9. 2/15  Russia moves toward a breakup of its vast electricity network [again, learning nothing from the Calif. privatized energy meltdown] - An overhaul, or an overhaul to benefit the elite?, by Sabrina Tavernise, NYT, B3.
    ...Russia has the world's largest power grid. [photo caption]
    [Advice from an old English expression - "If it works, don't fix it."]


For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -

  • Feb. 1-14/2003.
  • Jan. 16-31/2003.
  • Jan. 1-15/2003.
  • Dec/2002.
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  • Oct. 16-31/2002.
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  • July 1-15/2002 + Jun 30.
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  • Nov.16-30/2001.
  • Nov.1-15/2001.
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  • Dec.21-31/2000.
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        Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
  • Dec.16-31/99.
  • Dec.1-15/99.
        Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
  • Dec/98.
        Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.


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