January 17th, 2002 Vol. 6   No. 68 Editor-in-Chief: Ranan R. Lurie


The Enron Disaster

On December 2, the Houston-based energy company Enron, the seventh largest company in America, filed the largest bankruptcy claim in U.S. history. Now, just over a month later, the Judicial and Executive branches of the federal government have launched multiple criminal investigations into the company.

Enron executives are accused of falsifying accounting records in ways that allowed them to make millions before the bottom dropped out, while thousands of employees lost their life savings as their 401(k) accounts withered to nothing. Also under investigation is the company's auditing firm, Arthur Anderson, which is accused of destroying documents in order to impede the government investigations. 

But it does not stop there. Separate investigations will examine whether the government, particularly the White House, improperly aided Enron executives. Enron was the largest contributor to Mr. Bush's presidential campaign. 

The fact is, however, that many Democrats, including party leaders like Sen. Tom Daschle, Rep. Richard Gephardt and Sen. Joe Lieberman have also received large contributions from Enron.


1. What do the cartoonists find more compelling, accusations of criminal wrongdoing by Enron, or allegations of improper government influence?
2. What are the politicians fishing for in Ramirez's cartoon?
3. Why is Enron shown holding out a hand to Bush and Cheney in Ramsey's cartoon?
4. Why is Enron depicted as a whirlpool by Ramsey?
5. Does he think Bush will emerge unscathed by the investigations?
6. Look at the characters in the two cartoons. There is a crucial difference between them. What is it?
7. What, in the larger picture, do the cartoonists agree on?
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Airline Security

Long lines, increased security checks and new parking restrictions have been the reality at airports since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the trend does not appear to be reversing. In fact, airport security is getting tighter (and better!).

Since Richard Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, was caught trying to detonate explosives in his shoes on Dec. 22, many passengers have been made to take off their shoes at airport security checks. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that a new security fee of as much as $10 per flight will be added to the cost of every airline ticket beginning February. The money raised by the fee - expected to be around $900 million this year - will pay for new technology, safety officers and other security measures.

The effect of the stricter security enhanced  public's confidence, however.  Planes were an average of 85 percent full during the winter holiday rush, according to the major airlines, a decisive increase over previous weeks. 


1. Why would airline passengers be made to strip?
2. Why do so many passengers look shell shocked and unhappy?
3. Following the clothing - or lack of -  what incident inspired this cartoon?
4. Why does Markstein refer to the security process as a "progression"?
5. Why would the airline go to such extremes to meet the woman's wish in Ramirez's cartoon?
6. Even in the face of terrorism, are the procedures depicted here reasonable?
7. Do Ramirez and Markstein think passengers will accept whatever security measures the airlines   come up with?
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A Big Change for Argentina

Eduardo Duhalde has reversed a decade-long policy that linked the peso on an equal basis to the U.S. dollar. Argentina's new president blames the peso-dollar pairing for an economy that has not grown since 1998, which he says is the cause of the recent riots that have pummeled Argentina, leaving 27 dead.

Duhalde says breaking the dollar link will make exports cheaper and boost the economy. Many, however, fear that the devaluation of the peso will plunge Argentina back into the kind of massive  inflation that gripped the country in the mid 1980s and early 1990s, culminating in 1991 when inflation there hit 5,000 percent.

Duhalde says he can prevent inflation by fixing prices on survival staples like bread. A populist leader in the party founded by Juan Peron more than 50 years ago, he says the burden of the devalued peso should be borne by banks, oil companies and other bastions of wealth.

One hundred years ago, Argentina was one of the world's richest nations. The picture could not be more different today. One third of the population is currently living in poverty and some 2,000 more people fall below the poverty line every day. Unemployment is currently at 18 percent and growing. 

When he was sworn in as president on Jan. 2, Duhalde became the fifth man to take that office in a span of two weeks.


1. Why is a Argentina depicted as falling in Lurie's cartoon?
2. What does a parachute do for a falling man?
3. Why the dollar sign on the parachute?
4. Why is Argentina shown cutting its chute strings?

5. How is Duhalde like a captain of a ship?
6. Is the direction the ship is traveling in Ramirez's cartoon the way you want to go "full speed ahead"?
7. What's with the name of the ship?
8. Does either cartoonist think Duhalde's decision is a wise one?
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Going After Saddam

Following the recent, rapid gains made against terrorist forces in Afghanistan, there has been much speculation as to what America's next move will be. More specifically, there is a growing debate within the United States over whether President Bush should go after Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein.

Bush on Monday may have tipped his hat when he demanded that Hussein allow U.N. inspectors back into his country to search for weapons of mass destruction. Saddam, who was made subject to inspections following his 1990 invasion of Kuwait and subsequent defeat in the Gulf War, permanently expelled inspectors in 1998. 

When reporters asked what would happen to Hussein if he refused, Bush said, "He'll find out." 

In answer to Bush's demand, however, Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. Mohammed Aldouri said, "We will not permit weapons inspectors. We have nothing to inspect."


1. What does a fortune teller see?
2. Why would Saddam Hussein be interested in this information?
3. Why would the fortune teller in Luckovich's cartoon need payment up front?
Will running away do Saddam any good?
5. Do the cartoonists agree on what the U.S.' next move will be? What will it be?
  click here for answers
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