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8:30 AM Monday, March 14, 2005: There's much discussion of an impending worldwide financial disaster which may be caused by one or more of:
+ The U.S. trade deficit, which widened by 4.5 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted $58.3 billion, the second highest on record.
+ The U.S. huge government deficit.
+ The escalating price of oil, which seriously affects corporate profits.
+ The desire of many Asian countries to diversify their reserves away from the dollar.
+ Creeping inflation and rising interest rates worldwide.
+ The rise in commodity prices.

No one knows what precisely will happen -- perhaps an overnight 25% drop in the price of equities (it's happened before) or an overnight 20% drop in the value of the U.S. dollar. No one knows precisely what to do about it. There are few "safe havens." Even the traditional ones -- such as bonds -- have little appeal as interest rates rise. They lose their value.

I don't believe you can take your entire portfolio and buy Euros or speculate in oil futures -- though both have a limited role. I come back to my old mantra: Cash remains king. It has three benefits. It's liquid, somewhat protected from asset down-valuations and available for investing in early opportunities -- when they come. And they will.

In short, after a weekend of reading and tennis, I'm not inspired, just concerned and restrained.

Sometimes you have to wonder about our CEOs' morals:
+ AT&T Corp. CEO David Dorman stands to receive a total exit package valued at roughly $32.3 million if he leaves SBC Communications within six months after the two companies complete their merger. This money is, in essence, a bribe/payoff by SBC for Mr. Dorman agreeing to SBC's takeover of AT&T -- irrespective of whether the deal was a good one, or not, for AT&T shareholders. (Dorman comes out of the same mold as Carly Fiorina. He's also not one of my favorite people.)
+ Virtually all the CEOs who got bonuses for bogus performance companies never give the money back. For example William Wise of El Paso Corp. received around $10 million in bonuses after his company reported $93 million in profits -- later restated to be $447 million in losses. Joseph P. Nacchio (also from the same place as Dorman and Fiorina) received bonuses in 2000 and 2001 from Qwest. In 2003, the company said earnings for those years were actually lower. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, requires top executives to pay back bonuses if the numbers on which they are based were incorrect. But so far regulators have not enforced the provision. And executives are getting away with breaking the law.

Useful Stuff:
+ I receive 200 spam emails a day. Outlook 2003 gets rid of most of them. I strongly recommend this program. If you're running an earlier version of Microsoft Office, get the latest. It's worth it.
+ Newest search engine, helps you with shopping the Net. Their shtick: "We find buying guides, articles, forums, reviews, specs and information from across the web to help you buy the right product."
+ remains best for shopping. Become is best for information about the product you're shopping for.
+ Two easy quick reads of the day's news are now both customizable: and
+ Dyson is now America's biggest-selling vacuum cleaner. We continue to love ours. And we're buying a second one for our country "mansion."

Don't tell anyone about this paradise:
Received this nice email:
"Dear Harry,
Welcome back to the Coachella Valley! I think it's the golf/tennis "field of dreams". Just build it and they will come.
Unfortunately I've been calling it a housing market bubble here for the last three years and missed the "perfect investment."
However, I was lucky enough to get off the plane in 93 and fall in love with the Coachella Valley and buy a small condo in Indio on a golf course. So now that I'm retired my wife and I enjoy most of the winters here instead of back home in RI.
Enjoy the tennis matches, but please don't inform your readers back east about our little heaven here.

Are you drinking the water you should be?
A friend sent me this information about water. From my experience, he's 100% right:
+ One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University study.
+ Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
+ Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers -- as well as avoiding cramps.
+ A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen.
+ Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

The Innocence Project is one of my biggest charities
I received this email over the weekend:
"Dear Friends,
As you may know, our client Michael Williams of Louisiana is going to be released and exonerated today - Friday March 11th. We are extremely excited to welcome Michael home after twenty-four long years in Angola prison. Michael went into prison at age sixteen and will be 40 when he walks out this morning.

Michael was wrongfully convicted of rape at age sixteen, based solely on a mistaken eyewitness identification. Despite his young age, under Louisiana's draconian sentencing laws, he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. While in prison, many of his closest family members died and he lost touch with friends. Since 1990, he has had no contact with anyone outside of prison (no calls, no letters, no visits)-other than with students and staff at the IP and our colleagues at the IP of New Orleans. Finally, in December, DNA tests of evidence previously overlooked by prosecutors proved his innocence. At the age of 40, he will finally experience freedom as an adult.

But he has a long road ahead of him. As an exoneree, he will have no access to state services, available to those on parole, to help ease his transition back into society. In addition, Louisiana, unlike many other states and the federal government, has no law that provides compensation to the wrongfully convicted. Only 19 states have such laws. Today we will call for a just compensation statute to be passed in Louisiana and will work with our allies there to make sure it happens. The circumstances of Michael's case are heartbreaking and demonstrate the serious need to reform the system.

As it happens, Barry is also in Louisiana today participating in a state-wide seminar for law enforcement officials to talk about eyewitness identification reforms that we believe, if adopted, will prevent future wrongful convictions. We will keep you posted about these efforts, too.

I hope you will join us in celebrating Michael's exoneration and share the news with others. If you would like to make a donation to Michael directly, you may contact the Innocence Project New Orleans. Please make out checks to the Innocence Project- New Orleans and write "Michael Williams" in the memo section. Checks may be mailed to:

Innocence Project New Orleans
636 Baronne St., 2nd Floor
New Orleans, LA 70113

For more information about life after exoneration, please visit the Life After Exoneration Program's website at Thank you once again for your invaluable support. We could not do this life-saving work without you."

Here is an explanation of the Innocence Project:
The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was created by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld in 1992. It was set up as and remains a non-profit legal clinic. This Project only handles cases where postconviction DNA testing of evidence can yield conclusive proof of innocence. As a clinic, students handle the case work while supervised by a team of attorneys and clinic staff.

Most of our clients are poor, forgotten, and have used up all of their legal avenues for relief. The hope they all have is that biological evidence from their cases still exists and can be subjected to DNA testing. All Innocence Project clients go through an extensive screening process to determine whether or not DNA testing of evidence could prove their claims of innocence. Thousands currently await our evaluation of their cases.

DNA testing has been a major factor in changing the criminal justice system. It has provided scientific proof that our system convicts and sentences innocent people -- and that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events. Most importantly, DNA testing has opened a window into wrongful convictions so that we may study the causes and propose remedies that may minimize the chances that more innocent people are convicted.

As forerunners in the field of wrongful convictions, the Innocence Project has grown to become much more than the "court of last resort" for inmates who have exhausted their appeals and their means. We are now helping to organize The Innocence Network, a group of law schools, journalism schools, and public defender offices across the country that assists inmates trying to prove their innocence whether or not the cases involve biological evidence which can be subjected to DNA testing. We consult with legislators and law enforcement officials on the state, local, and federal level, conduct research and training, produce scholarship, and propose a wide range of remedies to prevent wrongful convictions while continuing our work to free innocent inmates through the use of postconviction DNA testing.

We hope that this site (Click here.) will raise awareness and concern about the failings of our criminal justice system. It is a facet of our society that eventually touches all of its citizens. The prospect of innocents languishing in jail or, worse, being put to death for crimes that they did not commit should be intolerable to every American, regardless of race, politics, sex, origin, or creed.

On a Synagogue Bulletin Board:
- Under same management for over 5765 years.
- Don't give up. Moses was once a basket case.
- Which part of "Thou shalt not" don't you understand?
- Shul (Synagogue) committees should be made up of three members, two of whom should be absent at every meeting.

Bad Jewish One-liners
- Sign over the urinal in a bathroom at Hebrew University : " The future of the Jewish people is in your hands."
- My mother is a typical Jewish mother. Once she was on jury duty. They sent her home. She insisted SHE was guilty.
- Any time a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.
- It was mealtime during a flight on El-Al. "Would you like dinner?," the flight attendant asked Moshe, seated in front.
"What are my choices?," Moshe asked.
"Yes or no," she replied.
- Three Jewish women get together for lunch. As they are being seated in the restaurant, one takes a deep breath and gives a long, slow "Oy."
The second takes a deep breath as well and lets out a long, slow "oy."
The third takes a deep breath and says impatiently, "Girls, I thought we agreed that we weren't going to talk about our children."
- A waiter comes over to a table full of Jewish women and asks, "Is ANYTHING all right?"

Harry Newton

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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