Economists and pundits agree that the U.S. economy is going through a rocky stretch, but why? And how can we fix it? In this column from the Washington Monthly, Karen Kornbluh looks at some significant trends in the last year that may have alot to do with the economic slowdown, and what might be done to turn things around.

It's About Oil?

Lauded political cartoonist and commentator Ted Rall has spent some time in central Asia, including a stretch last year in Turkmenistan (as a guest of the U.S. State Department, no less). In this article on AlterNet.Org, an independent media support project, he paints a fascinating picture of life in the region, and then gives some insight into how it may be linked to current U.S. military efforts.

Surveillance Powers

This summary chart of the surveillance provisions in the proposed new U.S. anti-terrorism legislation is useful, regardless of your opinion on the bills.

(Seeing the proposed legislation laid out clearly does make one question obvious: Why are so many of these new surveillance provisions directed at American citizens, when the participants in the tragic events of September 11th were all foreign nationals?)

Scenes from Ground Zero

A worker on-site offers a first-hand account of the current state of activity in the World Trade Center disaster zone. A telling detail giving some perspective on the magnitude of the destruction: three weeks after the tragedy, with crews working around the clock to clear the rubble, there are still piles of rubble eight stories high where WTC buildings 1 and 2 once stood.

Movies Without Wires

A serious gee whiz factor! Sony introduces a new 2x4x3-inch camera that records movies, takes still photos, and allows you to send e-mail and browse the web, all over a wireless connection using the new Bluetooth secure communication format. Dick Tracy would be envious.