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Weekly News Roundup: March 29- April 3


This week was one focused on the global economy. The G-20 Summit draws praise and scorn, General Motors has to ask for a handout, pistachio growers take a hit to the pocketbook while pistachio eaters take a hit to the digestive system and
Guiding Light is finally dowsed. All this and more defined the first week of April, 2009.

 

Obama Gives the Queen an iPod

While visiting Europe for the G-20 summit, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made a visit to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II. The 82-year-old monarch seemed to take to the First Lady, with the two putting their arms around one another. It’s fairly rare for the Queen to show public affection. In fact, the last head of state who touched her—former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating—was dubbed “The Lizard of Oz” by the British press. Ouch.

On their visit, the Obamas gave the Queen a video iPod loaded with Broadway showtunes and video of her 2007 visit to the United States. One has to wonder if they missed a golden opportunity to load it with rocking Queen tunes. Or even Queensryche! In return, the Queen gave the Obamas a silver framed photograph of she and her husband, Prince Phillip. Doesn’t quite seem equitable. That one may end up being re-gifted.

Guiding Light is Canceled

The longest running television show in broadcast history, Guiding Light, was canceled this week by CBS. The soap opera has been a CBS mainstay for 57 years, and has been broadcast for more than 70 years. Over the past five years, the show has declined from 3 million viewers to 2.1 million viewers. And CBS only gave them 57 years to turn it around? When will networks start giving shows the time they need to build an audience?

At any rate, the show caps off a great run, having garnered 69 Emmy Awards. But, since it’s a soap opera, we can expect that it will turn out that Guiding Light didn’t die at all, but merely had amnesia while the show that everyone thought was Guiding Light was actually its evil twin.

G-20 Summit

The world’s major economic powers met in London this week to discuss the global financial crisis and try to hammer out a way forward. The press has been largely positive about the outcome of the summit, and its plans to stave off economic meltdown. Together, the leaders pledged to increase resources to the International Monetary Fund and boost world trade.

Not everyone was positive in their assessment of the summit. The New York Times accused the summit of committing too little to stimulate the economy, saying, “Where they fell dangerously short was their refusal to commit to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars in additional fiscal stimulus that the world economy needs to pull out of its frighteningly steep dive.”

The summit was also beset by protests, with thousands decrying the recklessness of corporate greed and bank mismanagement. Thirty-two people were arrested in the protests, and one man died.

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Pistachios Can Kill You

The latest in the long line of salmonella scares is an FDA warning against foods containing pistachios. At this point, any legume seems suspect. The FDA issued a warning after the discovery of tainted California pistachios in the Chicago area. Many pistachio producers are now voluntarily recalling their crops (and by that we mean bringing them back, not remembering them fondly).

Thankfully, pistachios aren’t quite as ubiquitous as peanuts, which seem to have trace amounts in absolutely every food item imaginable. But, pistachio ice cream is certainly a gamble.

GM in Trouble

General Motors is seeking federal aid (along with everyone else) to avoid bankruptcy. The automaker says it may not have the cash to continue operating throughout the year and could fall “significantly short” of the amount needed by the end of June unless people suddenly go on a car buying spree … or the government gives them money.

GM is the largest automaker in the United States, and reported a $4.2 billion third-quarter loss. The United States is facing its worst auto market in 25 years, with all of the Big Three in financial peril. Of course, there are a myriad of factors that have led to the automobile industry’s current desperate situation, but we place the blame squarely on those “Peeing Calvin” window decals. That can’t help consumer confidence.

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