QuickNews, Thursday, Nov. 5.
PINSTRIPES IN PARADISE | Yankees win 27th championship, after nine-year drought. Team solidifies its lead among N.A.'s big four professional sports in championships, having eclipsed les Canadiens some years ago. The Yankee talent doesn't end with Mariano Rivera (above, holding trophy), a future Hall-of-Famer, but he showed once again in this Phillies series why he's one of the best closers the game's ever seen.
U.S. RECOVERY PUSH CONTINUES | Congress and Fed promoting conditions for turnaround. Day after drubbing in special elections, Congressinal Dems brush setback off their shoulders and extend jobless benefits and homebuyer assistance program that has been putting a floor under plunging home valuations. Emergency business-as-usual at Fed, as well, which says recent GDP recovery - which comes earlier than expected, due to Obama stimulus, middle-class tax cuts, cash for clunkers and other jolts - not sufficient reason to start raising interest rates yet, as Australia alone has twice done in recent months.
G.O.P. SURGE AFTERMATH | Dems, long expecting Tuesday's reversals, carry on with reforms. NYT op-ed on why Dems should relax, and lively roundtable among Dems and Republicans on meaning, if any, from contests with low voter turnouts. Gail Collins, gem among NYT political columnists, has bang-on reality check here: "In Ohio, citizens marched to the polls on Tuesday and voted to allow gambling casinos in the state. This was obviously a message to President Obama that independent voters are not happy with the way the health care bill is going."
ANIMAL QUANDARY | Animals, for pets or meat. Americans spend about $40 billion (U.S.) a year on their pets. They also eat each year some 35 million cows, 150 million pigs, and nine billion birds. A New Yorker inquiry into the impulse for, and resistence to, vegetarianism.
CHRYSLER'S BIG SHEW | After eight hours yesterday of extolling turnaround plan, Fiat-led company remains unconvincing it can survive. In short, the plan is to double volume (!) in two years, return to profitability in 2011 - something even the much healthier Ford isn't forecasting - and then do an IPO. And I'm the queen of Romania, as Dorothy Parker said. Sketchy implications for Brampton and Windsor here.
MSM TURNAROUND | Murdoch, Time Warner and Viacom reporting better numbers. But, alas, improved fortunes are deriving from their Hollywood studios (20th-Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, respectively) and traditional network TV, not from print ops, which continue to languish in epic ad drought.
PROFITS BAROMETER | Bellwethers Toyota and Cisco see faster-than-expected turnarounds. Toyota, world's largest automaker, backs away a bit from earlier forecast of $2 billion (U.S.) in projected losses this year and next. Cisco signals tech-sector revival with strengthened order book.
LET'S GET SERIOUS | Kevin Page makes case for decent funding of Parliamentary budget office. It was a ballsy, prescient Page who this year alone served the public well with two major initiatives, disputing the Tories' over-optimistic projections of economic recovery, then exposing dubious uses of the federal stimulus program. Yet Page (left) is not assured of receiving his department's meagre $2.8-million budget. Here's one aspect of governance where the U.S. is far superior to us. Since its creation in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office - independent of the executive branch, as Page is autonomous of Harper - has vetted all proposed legislation for fiscal sanity. (It's currently costing the proposed healthcare reforms). With a budget this year of $44.1 million (U.S.) and a staff of 235 (to Page's 15 permanent staff), the CBO is the respected source, on both sides of the aisle, for honest accounting of government expenditure and efficacy of programs. Page is right: Dispense with his hopelessly under-resourced office, or fund it adequately to be a source of facts independent of the government.
ALBERTA BLUES | IEA next Tuesday will forecast global natural gas glut. International Energy Agency expects excess of supply to be of long duration. Alberta derives most of its resource royalties from gas, not oil.
IGGY WIMPS OUT AGAIN | Won't force his caucus to vote against killing the gun registry. Says he respects the views of Grits whose party created the registry but, hailing from rural districts, hate it as much as rural Tories. Reality is Iggy seeking to avoid yet another bout of caucus turmoil. There are principled cases to be made for and against a registry (you can tell where I stand), but Iggy won't be making one. Meanwhile, like most police chiefs, Toronto's William Blair, citing usefulness to police of registry, argues why dismantling it is a terrible idea.
IRAN DISSIDENTS | Anti-government protests take place alongside government-staged anti-U.S. celebrations (above) of 30th anniversary of Shah's ouster. As with dissidents' protests earlier this year over flawed elections, Wednesday's champions of free speech in Tehran are put down by police with tear gas and beatings. To repeat, this complex nation is not to be bullied over nukes or support of anti-Israel terrorist groups. That only unifies support for government, since attacks on it are perceived by Iranians as attacks on their country. By now there are getting to be too many Iranians deeply disatisfied with the status quo - the mullahs have for three decades failed to deliver anything approaching prosperity - that the wise course is patience as the theocracy gradually self destructs.
WE WANT MAGNA! | Protests erupt among European politicans and labour leaders over GM's volte face in deciding not to sell Opel-Vauxhall to Magna-led consortium. This won't change the decision, just make GM's effort to extract the same European government subsidies pledged to Magna all the more difficult, and ensure fractious labour relations at Opel and Vauxhall plants in five nations.
AFGHAN QUAGMIRE | It gets worse. UN evacuates hundreds of staff after last week's attacks. Meanwhile, Afghan policeman kills five British troops in Hellmand. Turns out he defected to Taliban. A key to our Western mission, recall, is arming and training an Afghan army and a police force. Then they turn the weapons we gave them on us and engage in local banditry, especially the notoriously corrupt police.
IF YOU FAIL AS A CORPORATE CEO, THERE'S ALWAYS POLITICS | Fiorina's bid for the U.S. Senate. LA Times columnist lays into Carly, fired from Hewlett-Packard, later a McCain advisor, as underqualified to represent the Golden State in Washington. "The most cherished American credo is that anyone can grow up and run for high office. Carly Fiorina’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate, which she formally announced Wednesday, will put this notion to the test. Specifically: Can someone who has spent the last few years running from her checkered record as a big-business CEO, shown so little interest in politics that she consistently failed to vote and has at best a tenuous grasp of such major issues as healthcare reform prevail in a statewide California election?" It's a point worth making. Cheney hadn't bothered to vote for years, either, before veephood, and he too was a failed CEO (Halliburton).
BAGGED | Police nab couple who stole "up to" 1,000 pieces of luggage from Phoenix airport. Your Homeland Security dollars at work.
WHO KNEW? | Mickey Mouse has a darker side, to be revealed in video game released 2010. Desperate measures called for at Walt Disney Co., whose studio and theme parks are faltering.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "He is too illiterate, unread, unlearned for his station and reputation." -John Adams, future second U.S. president, on then-president George Washington. The first father-son presidential team, of John and John Quincy Adams, turned out to be a failure, as did the second, G.H.W. and George W. Bush. A useful reminder that even the most revered U.S. statesmen have been found wanting, generally by folks who couldn't tell one end of an elephant from the other.
Courtesy The New Yorker, Oct. 26 edition.