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Archive for April 2008

U.S. population to hit 1 billion in 2100, prof says

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It’s often difficult to get the attention of my students. But when I told them that it’s possible that a few of them would see the year 2100, and that most of their children surely would, they stopped furtively texting under their desks and began paying attention.

When I was born just after World War II, I told them, the population of the United States was about 141 million; of the world, about 2.7 billion. Now, 62 years later, Americans tip the scale at about 303 million; the world’s population has grown to about 6.6 billion.

A little extrapolation of U.S. Census data, I told them, shows the American population hitting 518 million at mid-century and 758 million in 2100. The world’s population is likely to grow to 14 billion at century’s end. Imagine what that world — their world — would be like, I challenged them.

But I was too optimistic. In a report to be released today, a Virginia Tech professor estimates that between 2100 and 2120 the population of the United States will reach one billion people.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 29, 2008 at 10:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

From hog slop to White House?

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Despite one presidential candidate’s proclamation that hope is nigh, little appears visible.

Pennsylvania votes Wednesday in what reasonable people might wish is effectively the last of a primary season in which presidential aspirants have effectively revealed their character by tearing down each other to become the last man or woman standing. That intent is much of the content of their words, ads and deeds.

Why should voters value destructive behavior? Why should voters value stridency? Why should voters value the invective that candidates (and their side men and women) throw at each other with such little concern for accuracy?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 21, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Retiring pol + unused campaign cash = power, access, influence

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On Jan. 1, Federal Election Commission records show, Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) had $862,809.75 in his campaign operation, Reynolds For Congress.

From Jan. 1 to March 31, FEC records show, he raised $271,851.79. Allowing for spending by his campaign ($123,825.39), Rep. Reynolds finished the first quarter with $1,010,835.55. That’s a nice piece of change for a Republican incumbent to take on any challengers, eh?

But on March 20, Rep. Reynolds became the 29th Republican in the 110th Congress to announce his or her intended departure (or actually leave) the House, saying:

While there is always more to do, elected officials are only temporary stewards of the people’s trust. That’s why today I am announcing that I will not seek and be a candidate for reelection.

Now that Rep. Reynolds won’t be a steward of the public’s trust, what kind of a steward will he be of the million bucks of other people’s money tucked away in his campaign fund?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 20, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NYT’s 1Q profit bombs: Now what?

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In the first quarter a year ago, The New York Times Co. made $23.9 million in profit. This week, the company reported a loss of $335,000. That’s about the worst quarter-to-quarter loss the company — and the news biz — has ever seen.

In a story by The Times‘ Richard Pérez-Peña, president and CEO Janet L. Robinson said “it was ‘a challenging quarter, one that showed the effects of a weaker economy,’ compounded by ‘a marketplace that has been reconfigured technologically, economically and geographically.'”

That’s Robinson-speak for “Holy crap! We’re screwed!”
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 19, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

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In a garbage dump in Haiti, people scavenge for food.

They look at me and say, ‘Papa, I’m hungry,’ and I have to look away. It’s humiliating and it makes you angry.

— Saint Louis Meriska of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, whose “children ate two spoonfuls of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food the following day”; food prices in Haiti have spiked 45 percent since 2006; April 18.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 18, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Seriously ill? Need costly drugs? Go broke and die

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Has the financial tipping point of life vs. death finally arrived? Do you now need to be financially healthy (meaning rich) to ease suffering from or survive diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, hepatitis C and some cancers (such as metastatic breast cancer)?

The lead story in the print edition of today’s New York Times reports this chilling fact:

Health insurance companies are rapidly adopting a new pricing system for very expensive drugs, asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions for medications that may save their lives or slow the progress of serious diseases.

With the new pricing system, insurers abandoned the traditional arrangement that has patients pay a fixed amount, like $10, $20 or $30 for a prescription, no matter what the drug’s actual cost. Instead, they are charging patients a percentage of the cost of certain high-priced drugs, usually 20 to 33 percent, which can amount to thousands of dollars a month.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 14, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

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This is actually a boost to remind people that we can produce this kind of journalism at any time. We’re going to have a large enough newsroom to continue to produce this kind of quality journalism.

— Leonard Downie Jr., editor of The Washington Post, winner of six Pulitzer Prizes for 2008; The Post‘s front-page story by media critic Howard Kurtz did not mention the paper has endured three rounds of staff cuts since 2003, but the AP’s story did; April 7; emphasis added.

I can only confirm that the route is dynamic.

— Nathan Ballard, a San Francisco city spokesman, as, said The New York Times, “The precise route remained in flux on Tuesday as the torch extravaganza threatened to become more civic migraine than celebration in the face of potential protests by those upset with China’s human rights record and recent crackdown in Tibet”; April 9.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 11, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Say what? A new business model for news should begin with … profit?

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It’s the new conventional wisdom: The news biz is dying. Declining circulation. Abandonment by advertisers. Falling revenues. Cuts in staffing to reduce costs. The news biz needs a new business model, the critical harpies proclaim.

But what should a new business model for an industry whose principal product is journalism look like?

It would have to recognize several new — and old — realities.

Any new business model must generate profit.

There’s no way around this. Journalism is best sustained within a for-profit frame. A company that engages in newspaper journalism as a product is not supported by government (unlike public television) nor should it be. The same holds for commercial broadcast journalism as well. To provide news, the company must make a profit to attract investors and secure the resources to collect, report and transmit that news. A non-profit model cannot immediately match the breadth and depth of news reporting that a healthy democracy of more than 300 million citizens requires.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 9, 2008 at 11:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Quotabull

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It’s a pleasure to watch Obama’s mastery of the technique. And Clinton — and I didn’t say “even Clinton” — uses it much better than McCain does. And just about everybody does it better than the capering loon who does soft-shoe in the White House while young Americans are dismembered and splattered in Iraq. Sometimes when he speaks I can forget who he is momentarily and find myself actually pulling for him; probably from misplaced performer empathy. His speechifying has a strong odor of remedial reading about it, combined with an apparent fear that there might be some hard words ahead.

— from a New York Times commentary by Dick Cavett discussing President Bush’s public speaking skills; March 28.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 4, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized