by Inlander Staff $100 million -- That's how much more U.S. consumers are spending each day on energy over what they paid last year at this time. A barrel of crude oil was at $36 earlier this week, up from $20 last year, and gasoline, flirting with all-time highs, has hit $2 a gallon in some parts of the country. The biggest reason, according to experts in the energy industry, is the uncertainty about whether there will be war in Iraq. If war does come, the price could go higher -- during the Gulf War, it hit $40 a barrel. Economists point to high energy prices as a key reason the economy continues to struggle. But it's not all bad news: Exxon-Mobil recently reported a 53 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profits.
Dumpster Detectives -- If Washington State Sen. Dave Schmidt (R-Mill Creek) gets his way, taking what other people have thrown away will be a crime. While empty Ben and Jerry's cartons and other household refuse may appear to be available for the taking, Schmidt says old papers can be valuable -- as in old bills that can be exploited by identity thieves. While these criminals are known to run up credit card debts in other people's names, many jurisdictions barely tackle identity theft cases. Stealing mail is already outlawed, so Schmidt hopes his measure will add even another layer of security for Washingtonians.
Sharp-Tongued -- "How is it an honor for... men and women to risk their lives in Iraq when it's a burden for the rich to pay their share of taxes?"
-- presidential candidate Al Sharpton
No Politics Here -- Monday night's City Council refusal to take a stand on the looming war in Iraq is proof that good old American politics is dead and well here in Spokane. Some argued that a federal issue like war isn't any of the council's business. It's not a view shared by hundreds of cities across the United States, however. To name just a few, majorities of elected leaders in places like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Austin and Seattle have voted to oppose preemptive military strikes without the United Nations' support or written letters to their U.S. Senators to that effect. And most resolutions (found at www.ips-dc.org/citiesforpeace) articulated exactly how a federal issue can impact cities: they often criticize the paradox of having an open-checkbook for war while their streets, schools and police departments crumble.
It's not that we're angry about how Spokane's council won't oppose the war -- we respect the fact that it's a tough moral question. For all we care, they could endorse a resolution supporting the president in whatever he wants to do -- at least that would prove they have a political pulse.