Today's Story Line

The oil crisis of the 1970s left most citizens and governments with a deep pro-environment resolve. Speed limits were cut. Cars and appliances became more energy efficient. And taxes on fuel were raised, particularly in Europe, to discourage driving and slow the increase in air pollution. Fast forward to today's world of gas-sucking SUVs and crude-oil prices hovering around $30 a barrel. Consumers everywhere are angrily demanding relief, and the scales are tilting away from curbing global warming and toward pocketbook politics. Governments from France to Thailand to Australia are responding with a quick fix: cuts in fuel taxes.

David Clark Scott World editor


*I SAID, 'GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES': Today's story by the Monitor's Ilene Prusher on quake preparedness was born, in part, out of a sense of self-preservation. She's lived in Tokyo for two months, but been shaken out of a sound sleep four times by earthquakes. "I kept thinking, 'Oh, there's a train going by.' Then I remembered I don't live near a train." She had no idea what to do during a quake. Ilene's research took her to the Honjo Life Safety Learning Center, where she rode an earthquake simulator. The program also includes a hurricane and fire simulation. She tried to opt out of the burning-building experience, but her guide insisted. "We had to crawl through six smoke-filled rooms," says Ilene ruefully recalling the time spent on her knees.

*A BETTER EDUCATION? The Monitor's Fred Weir has witnessed first-hand the decline in Russian public schools. His daughter was born in Russia and her public education in the earlier years was excellent, says Fred. But today, she begins the 7th grade at a new private school. "My wife and I became fed up with the misery of the public schools," he says.

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