QuickNews, Tuesday, Nov. 10.
GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS
Severely malnourished Sadki Basilaki, 9, receives a mug of milk at a Catholic mission feeding centre in Rutshuru, about 70 km. from Goma in eastern Congo, Nov. 13, 2008. Photo: Finnbar O'Reilly, Reuters.
FOOD SHORTAGE ON HORIZON | FAO to detail conditions at conference next week. Crisis that first appeared 2007 was eased by global recession, but conditions will return to crisis state as economies mend. Already, world's population of hungry people crossed 1-billion mark this year. Spiralling food demand in emerging economies is returning, combined with adverse climate changes, including decline of fresh-water supplies. Raises tough questions about need for greater use of fertilizers and stronger embrace of genetically-modified foods, which are anathema for many.
POSITIVE LEADING INDICATORS 1 | Canadian October housing starts hit 2009 high. U.S. survey forecasts stronger American GDP growth in 2010 than earlier expected. Barclays, HSBC, say bad debts may have plateaued.
POSITIVE LEADING INDICATORS 2 | Dealmaking is back. The good kind, that is, in which once capital-short corporations are venturing back into M&A market to strengthen their businesses. Goggle to pay $750 million (U.S.) for AdMob, which places ads on mobile devices. Games-maker giant Electronic Arts announces worldwide layoffs affecting Burnaby, B.C. ops, but will also pay $275 million (U.S.) for hot social-networking game-maker Playfish Inc. And proposed huge Kraft-Cadbury combo still on the boil.
SO-SO INDICATORS | Bombardier to further cut aircraft production. Montreal-based giant reacting to continued weakness in commuter and private-plane orders, even as its railcar division has scored big with large contracts in China and elsewhere. CAE, also Montreal-based, lands $55 million in flight-simulator orders.
UNORTHODOX THINKING | We should "Buy Canadian" rather than fight U.S.'s "Buy American rules. Left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives makes a pragmatic point: We're never going to win over the protectionist U.S. state governors who naturally want to employ Americans with their federal stimulus dollars, which in any case Congress mandates they must do. Better to patronize local Canadian-owned vendors whenever possible, which means shopping at Rona rather than Home Depot, Bay/Zellers rather than Wal-Mart, Metro or Loblaw (No Frills, Zehr's, Fortinos, Real Canadian Superstore) instead of Canada Safeway.
U.S. REFORMS STATE OF PLAY | Dodd to unveil financial-reforms package today. And we'll see if any teeth remain after Wall Street's ferocious lobbying to maintain a dangerous status quo. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton to charm U.S. senators holding out against passage of the senate's version of Obama's healthcare reforms - the House having narrowly passed a robust bill last week. Some cavilling that Obama should be doing this instead of attending to global issues with APEC and other meets ahead, including icebreaker talks with Myanmar leaders. Any success on the latter could prevent another horrific loss of life in the former Burma when junta refused U.S., British and other outside help in flooding last year.
Nancy Pelosi, first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, with congressmen Steny Hoyer (right) and George Miller (foreground). No, they weren't celebrating their great good financial fortunes, but the historic healthcare reform bill that narrowly gained House passage that day. Photo: Yuri Gripas, Reuters.
RICH LIKE US | Report finds U.S. Congress boasts no fewer than 237 millionaires. That's 44% of both houses, compared with about 1% of the U.S. population. Conservative congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) heads the list ($251 million net worth). But plenty of super-rich Dems as well, including U.S. senators Herb Kohl (Wis.; $214.5 million U.S.), Mark Warner (Va.; $209.7 million U.S.) and John Kerry (Mass.; $208.8 million). Also some relative paupers: Vice President Joe Biden (net worth: $27,000 U.S.) That's what Joe gets for spending most of his adult life in the U.S. Senate. The Obamas' net worth of $4 million is of recent vintage, consisting mostly of royalties on the president's two bestselling books. The First Couple finally retired their student loans, about two years ago, from that windfall.
TORIES' BIG NIGHT | Party wins back N.S. stronghold, steals Quebec seat from BQ. Takes two of four by-elections, not punished by weak economy as Dems were last week in Virginia and N.J. gubernatorial races.
PREVIEW OF 2010 MAYORALTY SMACKDOWN | Smitherman confronts Tory on latter's talk show. Some gentle sparring, as only Smitherman has officially declared to replace David Miller. Star's Jim Coyle on the invaluable "enforcer" role "Furious George" Smitherman played for previous boss McGuinty.
PEAK OIL WORRIES | IEA report today will understate problem, IEA whistleblower claims. International Energy Agency will forecast world oil supply to rise to 106 bbl/day in 2030. But UK Guardian today reports unnamed IEA official saying: "Many inside the organization believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90 million to 95 million barrels a day would be impossible, but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further." Worth noting that both world oil price and plunge in major producers' profits this year are aligned with the IEA's sanguine view, which would make the stocks of BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron bargained-priced if peak-oilers are right.
IEA SOUNDS ALARM ON CLIMATE CHANGE | Energy prices to double in absence of deal. World leaders must act faster on promoting alternative energy to head off $500-million (U.S.) of a year's inaction on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, WH has received EPA's plan for doing just that, and Obama's EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, vows that major steps can be taken even if climate-change bill currently before Congress runs off the rails.
WTO ACCUSES USE OF BLOCKING WORLD TRADE REFORM | Lamy says U.S. obstructionist. Plus ca change, although Canada and EU nations aren't far behind in egregious heel-dragging. Best way to help impoverished nations isn't foreign aid. It's easing their access to Western markets for their food production by easing Western protectionism of local farmers.
WHAT AD DROUGHT? | World's most expensive TV ad spot is priced at $3 million (U.S.). A one-minute ad during Super Bowl hit $2.7 million (U.S.) last year.
WHO KNEW RABBITS NEEDED THIS KIND OF HELP? | U.S. researchers engineer artificial penises. Previously impotent bunnies, with penises made from their own cells, now able to reproduce, in groundbreaking work that might eventually have application in humans.
ANNALS OF CRIME | Man provides photo for own wanted poster. And four Aussies do the full monty at the car wash. Local police don't see the humour, and soaped-up Queenslanders will pay with charges for the photos they had their girlfriends take.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "I took one of those aptitude tests in the seventh grade, and they said: 'You're not much good at anything, so why don't you go into business?'" -Willard Marriott, interviewed in Fortune, March 17, 1986. Marriott built his namesake firm into today's world's-largest innkeeper.
Courtesy The New Yorker, Nov. 9 edition.