Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
The persistent rumors of war continue to define the mood of the nation's investment community. In some corners sophisticated investors are reported to be laying on "war straddles", buying gold and selling gold mining stocks, or buying oil and selling oil company stocks. The cynical investments assume there will be a war and it will disrupt refining, making the finished commodities more valuable.
For their part American consumers continue to buy stuff at deep discount and acquire homes with the lowest interest rates in more than 40 years.
War prospects aside, the White House continues to adjust its domestic agenda. This week that included a call form the White house to connect rural America with the rest of the world.
Rural Main Street and country homesteads needs a technology face-lift and President Bush wants to help. Bush wants $196 (M) million dollars of the USDA's 2004 budget earmarked for loans to telecommunications companies to improve Internet access in rural areas.
There is a push to connect rural areas with broadband … an Internet service that can quickly deliver large amounts of data and high quality video signals.
In addition to technology upgrades …
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….many in rural America want other improvements in their quality of life.
In Iowa, thirty-seven rural advocacy organizations have established a coalition and are pushing a list of what they call "no-cost" solutions to improve life in their state. The proposals include: a national ban on packer ownership of livestock … adopting a Meatpacking and Food Processing Workers Bill of Rights … return the citing of local control of factory farms to counties … …and refocusing economic development funds on sustainable and entrepreneurial agriculture by independent farmers.