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Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has long pushed an amendment to limit those pesky and expensive transaction fees at automated teller machines, but his fellow senators didn’t go along with the idea this week. One possible explanation: Quite a few of Harkin’s aging colleagues appear to have little or no contact with the decades-old technology of cash machines.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D), for example, told the Omaha World-Herald this week that he has never once used an ATM, relying on bank tellers instead…But Nelson added: “I could learn how to do it. . . . I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms.”
The remarks also appear to provide further evidence of a generation gap in the halls of an aging Congress. The average age of members is among the highest of any Congress in the past century, according to a February report from the Congressional Research Service. The CRS found that the average age of senators at the start of the session was 63.1 years, which is three years higher than it was four years ago; the average for the House was 57.2 years, which is up by two years.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”