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Saddam Hussein kicked the big western oil companies out of Iraq in 1972.  Now they're back, with no-bid service contracts that will put them inside Iraq's redeveloping industry. Will increased Iraqi production help postpone an energy crisis? Will US troops remain for security? Is that what the war in Iraq is really about? Also, another bad round of news on the economy, and

Making News Another Round of Bad News on the Economy 5 MIN, 42 SEC

Home prices in twenty major cities are now back where they were in 2004, according to Standard & Poor's. Last month's Consumer Confidence Index dropped like a stone. The Conference Board Consumer Research Center says the "silver lining" may be that it's nearing rock bottom. Kelly Evans covers the economy for the Wall Street Journal.

Kelly Evans, Reporter, Wall Street Journal

Main Topic Was the Iraq War about Oil after All? 34 MIN, 55 SEC

Iraq has the fourth largest known oil reserves in the world. Big western oil companies were in charge of development until 1972, when Saddam Hussein seized their assets and threw them out of the country.  Now, 36 years later, the big Western oil companies are coming back. The Maliki government has agreed to sign no-bid service contracts with ExxonMobile, Chevron, British Petroleum, Dutch Shell and the French company, Total, providing a long-term advantage when production increases. Companies from Russia, China and India are not in on the deal. Can the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites agree on sharing the proceeds? Will US troops be required to maintain security?

David Kirsch, former Energy Analyst, US State Department
Naomi Klein, Journalist and writer (@NaomiAKlein)
Fadhil Chalabi, former Iraqi Under Secretary of Oil
Kevin Phillips, former political strategist, Republican Party

Reporter's Notebook The Real Eclipse in the 'The Odyssey' Myth 8 MIN, 7 SEC

odyssey.jpgAccording to Homer, it took the Odysseus ten years to get home to Greece after the Trojan War some 3000 years ago. Upon arriving, he had to kill off a crowd of rowdy suitors vying for the hand of his wife, all presuming him dead. Though The Odyssey was composed 400 years after the alleged events, there's now astronomical evidence he knew what he was talking about. Homer says the death of Penelope's suitors was prophesied by a seer who said, "The Sun has been obliterated from the sky and an unlucky darkness invades the world." Was that a poetic metaphor or was it a solar eclipse? Scientists think they have the answer, as Thomas Maugh explains in today's Los Angeles Times.

Tom Maugh, Science and Medical Writer, Los Angeles Times

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