Ross Mackenzie

Strolling with brief comments, direct or implied, among items currently in the news...

Opinion remains divided about the long-term direction of the economy - and roger that! One of the principal indicators, the stock market, has thrilled bully optimists with its up-trend since March. Yet, even with a 20-plus percent jump in the Dow and S&P through the ensuing period, the market still has not regained its 9/11 lows.

The Bush administration was right to back away from its initial criticism of Israel for targeting Hamas honchos in response to a murderous suicide attack in Jerusalem. Both the White House and the State Department refused to condemn Israel further, with Ari Fleischer saying the issue is neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority but "terrorists who are killing in an attempt to stop a hopeful process from moving forward."

Maybe you saw that the ballyhooed AmeriCorps volunteer service program pushed so hard by the administration has just whacked its 50,000 volunteer slots for fiscal 2003 by nearly 50 percent - at precisely the moment when President Bush has been pushing for an increase to 75,000. The ostensible reasons: funding, or something; maybe mismanagement; lack of congressional support - whatever. The real reason: Such volunteer programs rarely achieve their desired levels because they are voluntary. Solution: Make one year of service for the young (with a front-end military component) compulsory for everyone 18-23 - no exemptions and no excuses.

Celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary's and Tenzing Norgay's successful summiting of Mt. Everest proceed. Hillary, now 83, thinks "the mountain should be given a rest" - perhaps for good reason, as this quote by The New York Times' James Brooke attests: "A record 65 expeditions are expected at Mount Everest this season. Since the 1953 ascent, more than 1,200 people from 63 countries have reached the summit. At the end of last year's season, the largest number of climbers, 258, came from Nepal (Everest's home country), followed by 160 from the United States. About 175 climbers have died trying, with as many as 120 bodies interred on the mountain."

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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