News Junkies

Updated: Thursday, March 21 2013, 06:52 PM EDT
News Junkies story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Even for diehard news junkies, it's getting hard, and sometimes depressing, these days to keep all the storylines straight.

There are people who say it's gotten so bad their outlook only brightens when they shove aside the morning paper and turn from TV news to, say, an old movie.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe concedes that news has gotten a bit hard to take, and has a way to cope.

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Here we are only three weeks into the new year and I feel like I'm on overload.

I think I started going catatonic a few days ago when some talking heads started talking about who the Presidential candidates would be four years from now.

Really? Does anybody care in these days after his inauguration who might try to replace President Barack Obama four years from now?

And then a friend of mine said to me: "I'll tell you...I've been a news freak all my life. A total freak; and what do I have to show for it? I hate to say it, but...nothing. All that effort, all that interest, and worry, and time invested, and I haven't helped change one darn thing. I know a lot, but what do I do with it?"

I don't know.

I know what he's talking about. I get it. It's tough.

And then last night, I got an e-mail from a spiritual leader, a woman, a long-time friend, who always seemed to have an even-handed handle on just about everything.

"My desire to be well-informed," she wrote, "is at odds with my desire to be sane."

Whoa...

Maybe its 24-hour news machine overload. Maybe it's that try as we might, these days, the issues are so complex we really don't understand them except vaguely.

Like the whys and wherefores of universal health care. How it'll work, or if it'll work at all. Either way it'll be without me quite understanding why.

How can the NRA fight universal background checks on people who want to buy guns. What can be so sinister about learning a little more about this guy who wants to buy that revolver or that guy who wants to buy this assault rifle?

No one I've heard so farno onehas said anything about wanting to circumvent the second amendment.

No one wants to take your rifle, your shotgun, or your  handgun. No one, believe me, no one is going to force your son to marry a gay Muslim.

It's true the people who live in the beltway of Washington, D.C. don't really get it.

If they did  would they spend tens of millions on the President's inauguration celebration?  Some reports have it at more than a hundred million dollars.

The first lady's gowns for the event and the ball are said to have cost $20,000.

The median income in this country right now is $26,000 dollars. One suspects even the Romneys wouldn't be so clueless. The Obamas just out-Romneyed the Romneys.

What's wrong with more and more states, including Michigan, spending morea lot moreon locking people up than on education?

How did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell become millionaires as public servants?

When did politics become a dirty competition between parties instead of leadership and consensus for the people?

Why can't somebody fix our tax code to get rid of loopholes  for the rich and make it simple enough that I don't have to get professional help to file a tax form?

I don't care that Michelle Obama had bangs. I don't care that Beyonce lip-synched, although Carrie Underwood and James Taylor didn't.

I do care that corporations were allowed to give unlimited donations to help pay for the inaugural parties. Not that they're trying to buy future favors or anything.

News junkies keep up on everything. And they're starting to wonder why. All it does is get in the way of their sanity.

But...know what? Somebody has got to do it. And as with anything, ya gotta learn which stuff you can pitch and which stuff you ought to hang on to. The important stuff has a way of rising to the top. Let the rest go.

We have elections every two years, and each and every time an educated citizenry is what makes us who we are. We, who can't help but read and watch all we can have just got to hang on, know that, eventually...in some way...something will happen to make us all profoundly glad that we did.

In this corner...Oh...and you know what else...conversations are better.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.
News Junkies
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Business News

Last Update on April 24, 2014 07:31 GMT

WORLD MARKETS

TOKYO (AP) -- Asian shares lacked a clear direction today as players took a mostly wait-and-see view ahead of talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama.

The focus is on what Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may say about negotiations on a wide-reaching trans-Pacific trade agreement, despite resistance from local interests on both sides to wiping out tariffs.

Sentiments on Asian markets were dampened by worries about the U.S. economy, highlighted by a surprise drop in new home sales as well as dismal earnings.

The pessimism overshadowed confirmation from the European Union that Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013 -- what's left when interest payments are stripped out.

The dollar fell against the euro and was little changed against the yen.

Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $101.50.

ECONOMY- THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON -- The government's weekly jobless claims report comes out today.

Also, the government will release March durable goods numbers and Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates.

A slew of quarterly earnings reports will be released today.

Before the market opens, investors will hear from Aetna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Altria Group, General Motors, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, 3M , Caterpillar, Verizon, and UPS.

After the closing bell, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Visa and Microsoft will report their quarterly financial results.

EARNS-FACEBOOK

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook's first-quarter earnings and revenue grew sharply, surpassing Wall Street's expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

The social network says it earned $642 million, or 25 cents per share, in the January-March quarter, up from $219 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings were $885 million or 34 cents per share.

Facebook says its revenue was $2.5 billion, up 71 percent from $1.46 billion in the same period a year ago.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.36 billion.

Facebook says its finance chief, David Ebersman, is leaving on June 1 after five years. He'll be replaced by David Wehner, currently vice president of corporate finance and business planning.

EARNS-TEXAS INSTRUMENTS

DALLAS (AP) -- Texas Instruments is giving an upbeat forecast for the current quarter after the chipmaker's first-quarter profit rose 35 percent.

Texas Instruments makes semiconductors used in consumer devices and industrial equipment and is reducing its reliance on chips used in smartphones and tablets. The company said that revenue from chips that convert analog signals to digital ones and from embedded technology such as microcontrollers accounted for 84 percent of first-quarter sales. Both segments grew by double-digit percentages.

Meanwhile, revenue from everything else tumbled by 28 percent.

Net income was $487 million, or 44 cents per share, including a gain of 2 cents per share from a sale that the company had not included in previous guidance to investors. The results compared with year-ago profit of $362 million, or 32 cents per share. Revenue grew 3 percent to $2.98 billion.

For the second quarter, the company predicted that earnings would be between 55 cents and 63 cents per share on revenue of $3.14 billion to $3.40 billion.

CHINA-INDUSTRY REFORM

BEIJING (AP) -- China's government says it will open 80 projects in eight state-run industries to private and foreign investors as part of efforts to make its slowing economy more efficient.

The Cabinet announcement is the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at carrying out the ruling Communist Party's promises to give entrepreneurs and foreign investors a bigger role in the state-dominated economy.

The statement late Wednesday gave no indication whether private investors would be given any control over the newly opened industries, which include oil and hydro power.

Other industries cited by the statement were wind power, natural gas storage and distribution, solar power, coal, railways and port operations.

INTERNET NEUTRALITY

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

The proposed rules also call for enhanced scrutiny of such deals so they don't harm competition or limit free speech.

That's according to a senior FCC official familiar with the matter who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is to present the proposed rules to the other commissioners on Thursday.

The new rules are meant to replace the FCC's open Internet order from 2010, which was struck down by a federal appeals court in January.

While the older rules technically allowed for paid priority treatment, such dealings were discouraged.

TRAIN SAFETY-EMERGENCY ACTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the National Transportation Safety Board says the Obama administration needs to take steps immediately to protect the public from potentially catastrophic oil train accidents even if it means using emergency authority.

Deborah Hersman, wrapping up a two-day forum on the rail transport of oil and ethanol, said the Transportation Department shouldn't wait for the usual federal rulemaking process to run its course. She urged regulators to use their authority to issue emergency orders or interim rules to bring about tougher standards for tank cars used to haul oil and ethanol.

She said the risks of such accidents are clear and waiting will only lead to a "higher body count."

Hersman praised Canadian authorities who announced Wednesday that they banning or phasing out older, more dangerous tank cars.

WAL-MART STORES-EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

NEW YORK (AP) -- The pay of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s outgoing CEO fell 73 percent in 2013 because he didn't get stock awards that are given in anticipation of future performance as well as a lower performance-based bonus.

The world's largest retailer gave Mike Duke, 64, a compensation package worth about $5.6 million including a base salary of $1.4 million and a performance-based bonus of $2.8 million for the fiscal year that ended on Jan. 31.

Other compensation totaled $490,090, including retirement contributions and $144,586 for personal use of company aircraft.

The AP's calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.

COCA-COLA-BUFFETT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Warren Buffett says he disapproves of Coca-Cola's highly contested pay plan for its executives.

Buffett, the beverage maker's largest shareholder, called the plan "excessive" in an interview on CNBC after the plan was approved at the company's annual meeting.

But Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway abstained from voting against the pay plan because he believes in Coca-Cola's management and CEO Muhtar Kent.

The pay plan came under scrutiny after Wintergreen Advisers took public issue with it last month. Wintergreen CEO David Winters said the plan was a "raw deal" for shareholders that would transfer roughly $13 billion to management over the next four years. He urged Buffett to vote against the plan.

In a statement, Coca-Cola Co. says it respects Buffett's "philosophical stance on equity-based compensation."

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