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Everywhere you want to pay interest

April 19, 2002 | Page 4

PITY THE poor credit card companies. Having issued five cards for every man, woman and child in the United States, the credit bosses think that the market may be a bit "oversaturated." That's why Visa is finding new ways for people to use cards that they already have.

The company struck a deal with the biggest U.S. property manager, Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Co. (Aimco), to allow tenants to pay their monthly rents with credit cards.

The move is part of a growing effort by credit card issuers to boost profits by encouraging consumers to use cards for recurring transactions, such as paying utility bills, car payments and, now, rent.

Of course, bigger bills mean bigger profits for the banks that issue credit cards. So tenants can be ripped off by their landlords every month--and by their credit card companies and banks.

Then there's the added benefit for property managers. As Visa's press release puts it, "Offering residents the automatic bill-payment option helps avoid that moment of truth each month, when residents write a check and inevitably ask themselves, 'Am I paying too much for what I'm getting? Should I look around to see if I can get a better deal elsewhere?'"

--Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2002

Isn't Alabama a gas?

THE U.S. government sure knows how to make people feel safe. Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman recently sued to prevent a chemical weapons incinerator at the Anniston Army Depot in eastern Alabama from becoming operational.

The army had slated test burns of chemical nerve gas for as early as September. Not surprisingly, the 75,000 residents who live within nine miles of the plant aren't too happy with the idea of toxic clouds of smoke pouring over their neighborhoods.

So to make them feel safer (and to make the governor withdraw his lawsuit), the federal government has decided to issue gas masks and other protective equipment to 35,000 area residents.

--Associated Press, March 27, 2002

Does Bush have fleas?

"HE BARKS a lot." That's how one member of an Israeli tank brigade waging war in the West Bank described George W. Bush.

But it wasn't the U.S. president that he was talking about--it was the brigade's mascot, a pit bull terrier named "George W. Bush."

Apparently, Bush's call for the Israeli military to stop slaughtering Palestinians--meek though it was--hit a sour note with some Israeli soldiers. When a reporter asked what the dog was like, one soldier replied, "He's useless."

--Reuters, April 9, 2002

Heard it through the grapevine

"WE WILL continue until we make this camp submit."
--Major-General Yitzhak Eitan, head of the Israel Defense Force's Central Command, on Israel's refusal to pull out

"WE OUGHT to remind them that they're going to have a hard time eating their oil."
--National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, on Iraq's decision to halt crude oil exports for one month

"DON'T YOU think it was more important to go to Jerusalem first?"
--King Mohammed of Morocco to Colin Powell

"'IT'S BEEN one time it didn't work. Nothing man creates is perfect.'"
--Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on the 2000 presidential election

"A NEW Type of Scandal Fatigue: Enron Scandal Boring"
--A recent Wall Street Journal headline, giving the paper's opinion of Enron's bilking workers out of millions

"[THERE'S] LOTS of sentiment for nuking Mecca. Moderates opt for something more along these lines: 'Baghdad and Tehran would be the likeliest sites for a first strike. If we have clean enough bombs to assure a pinpoint damage area, Gaza City and Ramallah would also be on list.'"
--National Review editor Rich Lowry

"I BELIEVE that what happened [during the presidential election] in 2000 did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City."
--Actor Alec Baldwin

"[W]HETHER OR not they actually sympathize with radical jihadist Islam--though who doubts that they don't?--they are giving aid and comfort to the ******* enemy that launched the September 11 attacks."
--New York Post editorial, on antiwar activists

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