Saturday, February 27, 2010

Week in Review

Short reads on a Saturday morning:

•  Economic news dominated the week: jobless claims went up, the stock market almost tanked before recovering somewhat, the crisis in Greece has citizens in the streets and economists on the edge of their seats. The resale homes report was a disaster, but one former exec got a $18.5 million payday just for going away.

•  While Washington went through the motions of the President's health care reform "summit" one Senator had his priorities straight: basketball rules. Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky) decided that he was mad as hell and not going to take it any longer. So, after being forced to miss a Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game, the aging Senator put a hold on a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits. The bill, which passed the House on a voice vote, faced no opposition in the Senate.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky) shows the world his IQ.  ☞

As a result of Sen. Bunning's actions, unemployment benefits for 1.2 million Americans expire on Sunday. The Senate will not reconvene until Tuesday. "This is -- literally -- taking bread off the table of human beings," Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash) said. "This is turning out lights in peoples homes. This is crazy. With unemployment at nearly 10 percent and millions of families depending on this, what Bunning is doing is inexplicable."

•  The Associated Press (AP) announced it is getting into the tablet publishing game, creating a new digital unit: AP Gateway. The new division will concentrate on paid applications, and has an iPad application ready to go. "Much like the AP Mobile news product, the iPad app will show custom packages of headlines, stories, photos and video from the AP and from newspapers and broadcasters that choose to contribute their content and share the revenue. AP members also could use the same system to offer their own iPad apps that show their own content," the AP said through a release.

☜  Hang 'em high: Italian Judge Oscar Magi.

•  The tubes were still vibrating from the news out of Italy: three Google executives were held liable for a video that was posted on YouTube. The video, admittedly vile, showed a young autistic boy being bullied by a group of Italian youth. Eventually, but apparently not fast enough, the video was pulled. But the Milan court ruled that the three execs, David Drummond, senior vice-president of corporate development and chief legal officer, Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel, and George Reyes, a former chief financial officer, were guilty and were sentenced in absentia to six months in prison (In Italy, sentences of three years or less are automatically suspended.)

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, and media mogul.  ☞

The reaction was shift and pretty much unanimous: the judge is crazy. But the ruling may have its genesis in the media/political situation -- one where the media is dominated by one person, who just happens to be the Prime Minister, as well.

•  Finally, some great news (snark alert): all those layoffs are producing profits for someone. The Washington Post reported that profits quadrupled thanks to staff reductions. So obviously the move by ABC News to cut hundreds of jobs has to be seen a great news, too, right?