The American Staff

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Dossier: Black Gold, Texas Tea

In early May, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.18 … A year ago, it was $1.89 … Also in May, a barrel of light crude oil was quoted at $52 … When that price increase was announced, the stock market promptly fell nearly 30 points … Around that time, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told reporters in New Delhi that “The world should forget about cheap oil.” … His country is the fifth-largest oil producer in the world … His four-day visit to India was aimed at increasing oil trade with that country and China to ensure their fast economic growth … Between 1995 and 2004, demand for oil skyrocketed by 12.5 million barrels a day (mbd) … Global oil consumption last year increased by 3.4 percent instead of the usual 1 percent to 2 percent … Nearly one-third of that growth came from China , where oil consumption soared by as much as 16 percent … By 2007, Beijing estimates that China will rely on foreign imports for as much as 50 percent of its crude oil … Behind China's...

The Book Club

TODD GITLIN Professor of journalism and sociology , Columbia University Narrowly squeaking in under the 15-year limit is Chain Reaction : The Impact of Race , Rights , and Taxes on American Politics , by Thomas Byrne Edsall and Mary D. Edsall (1991), which doesnft bring good news to liberals but is valuable for precisely that reason. Edsall has been reporting the nuts and guts of American politics for decades now, and there is no more reliable guide to the infrastructural facts. In the same blue-state vein: Lisa McGirr's Suburban Warriors : The Origins of the New American Right (2001). PAUL BEGALA Co-host, CNN's Crossfire In 1995, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh were ascendant. James Carville's We're Right , They're Wrong was a shot in the arm for liberals, and a kick in the crotch to right-wing bullies. James showed us how to fight and win again. ELI PARISER Executive Director , MoveOn PAC Worthy progressive books aside, right-winger and direct-mail zealot Richard Viguerie's America'...

Devil in the Details

Food Stamped Not that they've advertised it, but Republicans are gunning for food-stamp recipients. It's all part of their low-visibility war on the poor. In early May, reports surfaced about the nasty surprise they've planned for poor seniors signing up for the new Medicare prescription-drug entitlement. Turns out that food stamps will be cut proportionally to the cash value of the drugs that seniors no longer have to buy out of pocket. But that was only the latest Republican attack on the program, which serves more than 25 million Americans. An even sneakier assault has been playing out in slow motion through the budget process. In February, President Bush earned plaudits from a wide range of very surprised observers by including in his budget proposal several billion dollars of cuts in farm subsidies. Many commentators championed his political courage, but savvy observers suspected from the outset that the president's talk of cutting agricultural aid was a charade. Here's why: A...

Dossier: The United Nations Works

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) shipped 5,612,257 student kits, 201,416 cartons of chalk, and 5,106,885 school bags for primary and intermediate-level schoolchildren in Iraq from the start of the Iraq War in 2003 through November 2004 … Through UNICEF's “Immunization plus” program, the distribution of high-dose vitamin A capsules has averted at least 1 million child deaths since 1998 … Since the UN–sponsored Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in 1988, worldwide cases of polio have plummeted from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,263 in 2004 … UNICEF aims to eradicate polio from the globe by 2008 … The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has won two Nobel Peace Prizes in the past half-century … Since 2002, the UNHCR has helped build 100,000 shelters in Afghanistan , providing homes for up to half a million Afghans … In 2004 alone, the UNHCR allocated $22 million to finance the construction of another 20,500 shelters … In November 2004, 500 families displaced...

Devil in the Details

Don't Ask, Don't Tell The release on March 31 of a report by the presidentially appointed Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction brought forth the non-news that America's intelligence community was mistaken in its assessment of Saddam Hussein's programs. Yet, the media missed perhaps the single most important sentence in the report, page 8's observation that “we were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community.” The commission, in other words, accomplished precisely what the president, who handpicked its members and defined its scope, had wanted it to do: cast the blame for the debacle on intelligence professionals while exonerating by omission the administration's leading policy-makers. Just what one would expect from executive-branch efforts to investigate itself. One expects better from the Congress. Yet when the Senate Select Committee...

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