QuickNews, Thursday, Nov. 12.
LEST WE FORGET | Military veterans yesterday honoured worldwide for their service and sacrifice. Scores of memorial services held, from Ottawa (above), Canada's Afghan base in Kandahar, to Arlington National Cemetary.
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION | Medvedev excoriates abysmal industrial status quo. "We haven't managed to get rid of the primitive structure of our economy," Medvedev told the Duma in his second parliamentary address since becoming president, noting that Russia has suffered more than most advanced economies in the global recession. "The competitiveness of our production is shamefully low." Also warns that dissidents will be silenced, like in the good old days. If Dmitry can name a country where disruptive innovation has flourished despite state repression of free speech I'd love to hear from him.
OUCH! | Cost of Canadian flu vaccinations projected at $1.5 billion and climbing. Some caregivers doubt all the shots are necessary, question efficiency of innoculation system.
WORLD HUNGER | Hunger causing stunted growth in estimated 200 million children. UNICEF calls for sweeping reforms in global population of malnourished people, including 1 billion people living in hunger. (Click on map to enlarge.)
BETRAYAL | Threat of populist revolt growing as independents swing to left. NYT columnist argues that Main Street anger over bailouts to Wall Street ingrates poised for $30 billion (U.S.) in bonuses at a time of 10.2% unemployment will take its toll on any mainstream politician who doesn't "get ahead of the rage."
OFF THE RAILS IN SOUTH AFRICA | Bombardier's showcase project way over budget. High-speed commuter-rail connection between Johannesburg and airport is key to demonstrating Bombardier engineering prowess during upcoming 2010 World Cup, arguably the biggest sporting event in the world - just as Bombardier commuter trains completed in time for the Beijing Olympics led to megadeals for the Montreal company in that country.
PROFITS BAROMETER | Winners: Hewlett-Packard, Bell Aliant, Shoppers Drug Mart, AB InBev. Loser: CAE. Also, Peugeot Citroen raises profit estimates for 2009. Quebec says Caisse de depot will continue to underperform peers in 2010.
H-P vs CISCO | H-P pays $3.1 billion (U.S.) for 3Com. Hewlett-Packard wants 3Com's advanced networking gear to plug a hole in its line-up. Trend here is toward one-stop shops, as with software giant Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems. My worry is that 3Com and Sun were also-rans by the time they were acquired (hence the low purchase prices). Can't help recalling Nortel's 1997 purchase of Bay Networks, also-ran to Cisco in routers (who isn't?). What merger architects don't get is customers like to pick and choose, buying best-in-class routers from one guy, servers from another. Not H-P, not anyone, is going to beat Cisco in networking. Analysts above my pay grade beg to differ.
WE KNOW THE FEELING | Power blackout hits much of Brazil, all of Paraguay. Storms are the cause, crippling power grid. Identical cause to regional blackouts in Italy and eastern North America earlier this decade. Investor alert: a massive overhaul of world's power grid is coming, not just because the existing one is aging, but global demand for power will soon skyrocket as world vehicle fleet switches to electricity.
NO SENSE OF IRONY 1 | Beijing warns Obama off making nice with Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, everyday Chinese who set off for government offices to register complaints are routinely kidnapped, with police looking the other way.
NO SENSE OF IRONY 2 | Lou Dobbs abruptly quits CNN after nearly 30 years there. Dobbs, 64, says too many issues are "now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology rather than by rigorous, empirical thought." This from controversial Dobbs, under fire for demonizing undocumented immigrants and showcasing "birthers" on his show who believe Obama is not U.S.-born. His plans for second life in politics might turn out if room can be found for him in the padded cell crowded with Palin, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, et al.
AFGHAN QUAGMIRE | Clinton and U.S.'s top Afghan envoy warn separately of Karzai corruption. Hint that sending still more U.S. troops might reward Mr. K. Meanwhile, Obama yesterday grilled his Afghan war council yet again on options. What's happening here is pressure on Karzai for genuine reforms in exchange for U.S. continuing to prop him up. So far, only lip service from Kabul. Hence the apparent U.S. "dithering" (Cheney's accusation), when reality is U.S. exploring every tool for trying to turn this Diem clone into a respectable leader. Can't be done, of course, just one reason U.S., Canada and rest of ISAF should quit the strategically inconsequential country now.
U.S BANK BAILOUT A WINNER | Surplus TARP funds will pay down deficit. The emergency $700-billion (U.S.) bailout, proposed by then-president George W. Bush but opposed by Congressional Republicans, not only arrested a complete collapse of the global banking system but will be far less costly than expected. WSJ estimates long-term cost of TARP could be as little as $200 billion (U.S.) WH is already redirecting TARP funds to ailing small-business and housing sectors and deficit reduction.
LAND OF THE RISING WON | South Korea eclipsing Japan in tech. Japan looks to new tech fields to conquer as Samsung, LG Electronics and the like steal a march on longtime Japanese leaders.
FORT HOOD "HERO" MAY BE NO SUCH THING | Questions over who finally stopped killer. As with Pte. Lynch and Pat Tillman myths, U.S. armed forces appear to have unduly rushed in declaring police officer Kimberly Munley (shown) as shooter of mass murderer. While not confirmed, appears instead that another cop, Sen. Sgt. Mark Todd, fired the shots that brought down the killer. I posted on this, based on what now appears false information. I apologize for my part in also rushing to judgment. This is the downside of the otherwise beneficial acceleration in getting out news and commentary. We also rushed to make heroes of the 9/11 firefighters, who for the most part weren't. I can hear my grandfather say, on such early reports, "Let's wait till all the facts are in" or "Better wait to see how this turns out." Well, modern media isn't about waiting, which is a problem.
APPEARANCES ARE DATE-ELIMINATING | Dating site rejects "ugly" applicants. Existing members of BeautifulPeople.com, Danish site that went global last year, assess photos submitted by applicants. So far they've given highest acceptance rate to Swedish men and Norwegian women, lowest to Russian, Polish, German and British men. Site managers say it's the stern, grim photos submitted that are the problem, not (always) the applicants.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "'I hate discussions of feminism that end up with who does the dishes,' she said. So do I. But at the end, there are always the damned dishes." -Marilyn French, The Women's Room.
Courtesy, The New Yorker, Nov. 16 edition.
Please consider joining me as an elf this holiday season by participating in the Toronto Star's Santa Claus Fund, a century-old Toronto tradition. The Star uses donations to assemble and distribute gift boxes to thousands of less-financially advantaged children throughout the GTA. Each box contains a book, clothing and a toy. You can read all about it, including first-hand accounts of Toronto families in need and the inner workings of the Workshop, at http://www.thestar.com/santaclausfund. I'm counting on your kindness to help put smiles on thousands of young faces this December 25th! Many thanks, David