QuickNews, Friday, November 6.
KILLING SPREE AT U.S.'S LARGEST ARMY BASE.
U.S. Sgt. Fanuaee Vea comforts Pte. Savannah Green outside Fort Hood Army Base. A U.S. Army psychiatrist has been held in the killings yesterday of 13 soldiers and wounding of 30 others at the base, near Killeen, Tex., in the worst incident of fratricide in decades. Photo: Ben Sklar, Getty Images.
JOBLESS SURGE IN CANADA AND U.S. | Canada lost 43,200 jobs in October. Raises Canadian jobless rate to 8.6%, heading for almost 10% next year, some experts say. The U.S. jobless rate has moved into double digits, to 10.2% - the worst in 25 years (since April 1983). Rates vary considerably by city. In ascending order of unemployment: Ottawa, 5.2%; Saint John, N.B., 5.2%; Winnipeg, 5.8%; Halifax, 6.8%; Calgary, 6.9%; St. John's, N.L., 8.9%; Vancouver, 7.3%; Edmonton, 7.7%; Oshawa, 9.1%; Montreal, 9.3%; Toronto, 9.6%; and Windsor, 13.7%.
H1N1 VACCINE IN GROWING SUPPLY | 6 million flu shots will be given in Canada early next week. But Ottawa admits reliance on sole supplier - in this case, British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSX) - is unwise and not to be repeated. Photo: Pandermix A (H1N1) vaccine.
AFGHAN QUAGMIRE | Ottawa sets firm plans for 2011 withdrawal. Had been some question of Obama pressuring Canada for more troops, but Parliamentary deadline for end to combat mission will be met. MacKay still on record, though, that some support staff will remain. Meanwhile, U.S. study shows NATO training of Afghan army and police has been incompetent. Western-trained and equipped Afghan forces and police often duck out of missions and engage in banditry and ethnic score-settling. Author of recent Vietnam War history defends Obama's cautious rethink. But most pundits - including me - expect U.S. president ultimately will accede to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for about 40,000 more troops. Still, Obama, who must cringe at every reference to "Obama's War," a debacle he inherited, will go two-track - attempting to better secure Afghan cities while quietly setting groundwork for negotiated peace with Taliban.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK | Harper's new senators to cost $177 million. NDP report is hard to dispute, simply computing publicly reported salaries and average annual expenses of Harper's latest crop of Red Chamber appointees. Whose work touches us all, you'll surely agree.
SICK BAY | Despite AMA and AARP support, U.S. House passage tomorrow of health reform is dicey. Dems can't hold caucus together as some members have last-minute qualms about costs and abortion coverage. Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Reid says his chamber might not pass its version until New Year, which means a conference bill passed by both houses for president's signature would come in March earliest. This is terrible politics. Heading into 2010 off-year elections, Dems need reforms in place as long as possible to curb the usual loss of seats by the party of a newly elected president.
A patient is wheeled into the cardiac lab at Intermountain Medical Center, part of a network of hospitals in Utah and Idaho. Intermountain has cut its death rate for coronary-bypass surgery to 1.5%, well below the national average. Photo: Béatrice de Géa for the New York Times.
PREVIEW | Healthcare, heal thyself: more science, less intuition, fewer drugs and procedures. NYT has posted startling Sunday NYT Magazine feature on healthcare economics, which finds culprit in over-treatment. For most of human history, doctors have done more harm than good, reformist doc Brent James tells NYT's crack economic reporter David Leonhardt. Dependence on a doctor's informed intuition, Leonhardt writes, means "different doctors frequently end up coming up with different answers to the same question. Cardiologists in Davenport, Iowa, are quick to insert stents; cardiologists in Iowa City and Sioux City are not. They can’t both be right. Some people with heart disease are getting the best treatment, and some are not. The same is true of debilitating back pain, various cancers and even pregnancy."
MAGNA, DON'T GO! | GM, Magna's biggest customer, wants Stronach's help in Russia. Russia will soon eclipse Germany as Europe's largest market, and GM - with two Russian automaking joint-ventures - wants Magna's help in making those operations more efficient. Meanwhile, Kremlin is appreciative of Magna's joint bid with Russian state bank Sberbank in ultimately failed bid for Opel-Vauxhall, designed to gain Russian access to Western technology. Magna's willingness to risk relations with its key client GM will see Magna rewarded in Russia, analysts say. On top of that, Magna reports return to profitability in 3Q.
Opel-Vauxhall workers walked off the job at most of the firm's plants across Europe yesterday to protest GM's reversal in deciding not to sell the automaker to Magna-led consortium. Protesters are seen here at headquarters of Adam Opel GmbH in Ruesselsheim, about 20 km. west of Frankfurt, with statue of Adam Opel, founder of what is now Germany's second-largest automaker. Workers fear GM will cut more jobs than Magna investor group would have. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach, Reuters.
PROFITS BAROMETER | Winners: Starbucks, Magna, Suncor-Petrocan. Losers: Manulife, Sun Life, RBS, Fannie Mae. Latter's staggering $18.9-billion (U.S.) loss in 3Q means erstwhile publicly traded mortgage backer will likely remain in government "conservatorship" for a decade.
DIET, DIET, DIET | Why fitness alone doesn't reduce weight. Working out is essential to good health and does burn off calories, but not nearly enough to compensate for too many meals, too-big portions, and too much unhealthy food.
FOOTWEAR FANCIERS | Even in recession, women still sparing no expense on shoes. So far as shoes go, at least, shopping remains America's #1 cure for depression.
I'M OUTTA HERE | 12 places to go if the world goes to hell. There's the South Atlantic's Tristan da Cunha (pop. 271), world's most remote inhabited archipelago, suggests BusinessInsider.com. Also Guam, Denver (you want to be mile-high when global warming climaxes), Yukon ("lots of wildlife for hunting and trapping") and Rio ("they already know how to live at the edge of economic and social chaos").
WHAT, YOU'VE NEVER HEARD A GUN GO OFF? | A playful moment yesterday as Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, blocks her ears while husband, Prince Charles, readies to fire a gun on HMCS Haida in Burlington Bay. Tribal-class destroyer Haida, which saw heroic service in World War II, was long a fixture of the Toronto waterfront in retirement, until its relocation to Hamilton a few years ago. Photo: Fred Thornhill, Reuters.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." -Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (Mr. Micawber).
Courtesy The New Yorker, Oct. 26 edition.