Get Ready, Get Set, Get Out!
Manhattan 10021
Broken Heartland
Jesus Christ, Tough Guy
Whites Trashed
Doing the Dog

Get Ready, Get Set, Get Out!

With time running out, Y2K buffs have posted a last-minute checklist of dos and don'ts for Friday night, when they fully anticipate martial law in the U.S. and Europe. For Y2K enthusiasts, all signs point to a catastrophe: Amtrak's stopping all trains before midnight, over 7000 police will patrol Times Square, and the Brits are taking steps to seal off the City of London lest anarchists torch it. The head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey, promises to ride in a plane at midnight just to prove everything is safe. Time to hit the road, the Y2K Web wires say. Leave the city. If you've avoided warnings up until now, it's not too late. Head for the country to escape the brunt of military action when the national emergency comes down. Troops will take the cities first.

Where do I go? If you've got a relative in the country, that's the best bet. You can stash food and clothing in the basement and hide out until things calm down.

What to take? You'll need the basics: extra water, gasoline, heating supplies, sleeping bags, spare tools for on-the-spot repairs, extra car parts (spark plugs, belts, battery, etc.), a porta-potty, and so on. Don't take off without some sort of firearm, even if it's a cheap shotgun packed in the trunk. Make sure you follow all applicable laws, and don't wave your gun around. You'll need a weapon for protection no matter where you finally end up, but especially if you're out in the woods.

The hardest thing to transport in the car is water: It's difficult to carry enough! Make sure you also bring a water filter (so you can refill at a stream), an LED flashlight, spare rechargeable batteries, a solar battery charger, and personal hygiene items like soap, toothpaste, and shampoo. Y2K newswiresalso recommend you bring along a portable colloidal silver generator for medical emergencies.

Remember, even at this late date, the populace is pretty clueless. So you should be able to travel without restriction. However, just in case, plan an alternate route that avoids major interstates, toll bridges, tunnels, and other potential "checkpoints." Stick with the back roads, where possible, or use state roads. Now, get going!

Manhattan 10021

The well-heeled Upper East Side zip code 10021 has yielded more money for presidential candidates than any other postal zone—$1.5 million, according to Public Campaign, a Washington nonprofit that pushes for campaign finance reform. About a third of that neighborhood money has gone to Bill Bradley.

Candidates draw well in different zip codes. Al Gore has raised a combined $870,000 from 10021, 20008 in northwest Washington's Cleveland Park area, and 90210 in Beverly Hills. George W. Bush raked in more than $1 million from two Dallas zip codes: 75205 and 75225. John McCain drew $137,000 from 85253 in Paradise Valley, California.


Broken Heartland

Nearly 200 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River on their historic trek to the Pacific Ocean. When the pair crossed the Great Plains, they encountered huge herds of buffalo and elk. After the explorers came the riverboats, then the railroads and settlers who built a great farming industry throughout the plains. Agriculture sustained this nation for an entire century. Now, as we depart the industrial revolution for the new world of cybertech, we also leave behind this heartland of America—not as a treasure wisely cared for, but in near ruinous condition.

Al Krebs, an often solitary chronicler of the Great Plains, recently reported on our heritage in his weekly Agriculture Examiner.

First, there is what the politicians in Washington love to call "the family farm," by now a nearly mythical conception. The last individually owned farms are fast being gobbled up. Statistics tell the story. Securities Data Company recently reported that in the 12 years of the Reagan-Bush presidencies there were 85,064 corporate mergers valued at $3.5 trillion. In the seven years of the Bill Clinton presidency, there have been 166,310 corporate mergers valued at $9.8 trillion. "We are poised on the edge of the greatest period of consolidation we've seen in our lifetimes," says Neal Harl, an agricultural economist at Iowa State.

These days, farms are just one small part of a vertical agricultural monolith. Money gets made in processing and sales, not growing crops. During the 1990s, the rate of return on investment for retail food chains was 18 percent, for food manufacturers 17.2 percent, and for agriculture banks 10.8 percent. For farmers, the rate of return from current income averaged only 2.38 percent. That's according to C. Robert Taylor, an agriculturalist at Auburn University.

Meatpackers such as IBP, Excel (a Cargill subsidiary), and Con Agra, which control 81 percent of the nation's meatpacking business, are rapidly realizing they can control a large percentage of their own slaughter needs by squeezing out the small producers. And there are six large companies that hold a virtual monopoly on seeds, especially genetically engineered varieties which they claim will net farmers the highest yields.

While the rest of America enjoys boom times, the heartland suffers. The Center for Rural Affairs in Walthill, Nebraska, a nonprofit rural advocacy group, recently released a study of the least populated and most farm-dependent counties in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. From 1988 to 1997, those farm counties exhibited higher poverty rates, lower job growth rates, and lowerincome than their more heavily populated neighbors.

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