FROM Ron Scherer
The Growing Credit Crisis President Bush signed the " economic rescue " into law Friday but the stock markets are declining anyway in New York and around the world. Today, the Federal Reserve said it would buy up commercial paper to get lending started again. Will taxpayers be saddled with more debt? Meantime, state governments, normally safe investments in tough times, may not be able to borrow what they need for schools, police and local governments. California, the eighth largest economy in the world, may alone come up $7 billion short. Will states be going to Washington, too? We hear more about the credit squeeze from local and global perspectives.
Risk Assessment, Climate Change and Insurance Rates Last year, the global insurance industry saw revenues of more than $3 trillion--a third more than revenues from oil and gas, and it adds up to enormous economic and political clout. In the late 60's, insurers lost 1 to 2% of premiums to weather-related catastrophes. From 1984 to 2004, the average was 3.3%. Last year, it leaped to 14% because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Hurricanes in the Gulf, forest fires in the West, and rising sea levels that could mean catastrophic losses are turning the insurance industry into believers in global warming. So it's looking not just at past weather patterns but at what might be next, and using its clout to support hybrid cars, "green" buildings and other strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions. Insurers could also have much to say about where Americans locate their homes and businesses. Are they also using climate change as a way to jack up their rates and dump their riskier customers?
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?