Friday, July 25, 2008

Bail-Outs, Pay-Outs and Pay-Offs Oh-MY!: Relevant News Flash (7:8)

Many, many news items have surfaced in the last few days. So as to not have a gargantuan post, I'll break it up into a few posts this weekend.

Top of the news:

  • I usually pass over the items that I classify as "if you missed this news item, you live under a rock," or news items that are covered ad naseum in all the major news outlets, unless I happen to come across a bit of coverage that brings a little something extra to the table on the issue. The soon to be passed housing rescue package in Congress is one of these items, but an article from the New York Times covers what it will mean in dollars and cents in a clear and concise manner.
  • So to this article from the Wall Street Journal has excellent, albeit technical, analysis of the condition of the financial and energy markets.
  • Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are pooling their considerable financial and philanthropic muscle to declare what amounts to war on Big Tobacco, and what they allege are their shameful practices of exploiting third world markets, to compensate for the markets in the developed world that are running them out of town on a rail.
  • Little snippets are surfacing here and there on the discussion shows about the reemergence of a certain "Russian swagger" born of their status of late as a major player in the petro-chemical markets, and the effect this is having on their diplomatic relationships. Worrying is their leveraging of their new found power, with a certain vindictive edge, that echoes of the cold war era. Recently they abruptly significantly cut oil supplies to the Czech Republic, coincidentally following the Czech agreement to work with the U.S. on a missile defense shield in their territory, which the Russians vehemently oppose. But the Czechs seem to have anticipated such a move, and put in place a plan B years ago. This is an issue that will be a definite foreign policy challenge for the next administration, and even more of an impetus to work towards energy independence.
  • Sadly, Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose stirring "last lecture" written as a "message in a bottle" to his three children, succumbed to pancreatic cancer. The lecture, delivered to his students, and widely viewed on YouTube, later becoming a bestselling book, inspired many with his joyful embrace of life, cancer and all. What a wonderful teacher! If you haven't listened yet, here it is:

  • How much is your child's life worth to you? This is the wrenching and untenable position many Chinese parents are being put into by the Chinese government keen to hush the calls for accountability in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that claimed the lives of tens of thousands, many of them children, trapped in what many allege were school buildings that were intentionally built with substandard materials and methods. Faced with the threat of being essentially cut off from the government on which they depend, these parents are forced to chose to take a payout and cease their quest for justice for their lost children.
  • Finally, this is a remarkable item that aired on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight, in view of the fact that the major news network coverage of the issue of vaccinations has shied away for years from investigating a dimension of the debate long called for by those that question the motives of those that have been key policy players.

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