Monday’s news round up includes articles linking to the health bill, Obama and Afghanistan and holiday spending post Black Friday.
As the Senate takes up health care legislation this week, the question of whether it will “bend the curve” of soaring costs has emerged as a central dispute among experts and the subject of an all-out push by the White House.
With polls showing the public alarmed about deficits and dubious about the health care bill, White House budget director Peter Orszag said last week that the Senate legislation will control costs. He cited a letter signed by 23 top economists, including former Bush administration Medicare chief Mark McClellan, that said four provisions of the bill will help slow spending.
The president still must convince ordinary Americans he can be trusted to keep the nation safe.
When President Obama finally announces his Afghanistan decision Tuesday, the number of additional troops he sends will dominate headlines. But the real test of his leadership will depend on the depth of his commitment.
This article offers keys to understanding the speech.
The good news for merchants is that more Americans this year turned out to bag Thanksgiving weekend deals than last year. The bad news, however, is that shoppers on average spent less on their purchases compared to a year ago.
For nervous sellers, it’s next about Cyber Monday, or the online retail world’s version of Black Friday, when millions of people take a few minutes at work to surf the Web to score “doorbuster”-like deals from e-tailers.
Dystonia, a muscular disorder related to Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder Rogers Hartmann lives with everyday. She calls it frenemies, stating: “I have a friendly relationship with it and, I definitely try to live with it so I can live as normal a life as possible. At times I get frustrated.”
There are many Dystonia symptoms. Primarily, it is a movement disorder that can literally cripple people. It sends erroneous signals to one’s muscles. Many with Parkinson’s Disease have Dystonia as well.
I mention to Rogers Hartmann, “You strike me as a fighter and you are an activist. Sometimes what strikes us is what makes us.”
She shares her story – She, in her fight to overcome and conquer the disease, does not give up. She has gone from a wheelchair, to a walker to a cane and now actually runs 2 miles a day. Her comment, “I try to push myself. I can’t do more to myself than what’s already been done… so why not!” She states, “Dystonia has changed my life so deeply. It’s hard to express to people. I’ve always felt a sense of purpose, but this has left me totally ignited. It gave me such purpose.”
Rogers Hartmann has founded a Foundation that looks for causes and cures and is set up to help people with the disorder. Join us for an inside look at her sense of mission.
As always we’re talking about things that matter with people who care…
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
In 2005 Tanya Pinto started Baal Don, which means “Child Donation” in Hindi. Baal Don is a charity formed to help children in India. Tanya, born in India, took a sabbatical from her high powered Dallas advertising work to volunteer at Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Calcutta.
“The timing was right,” she tells us. “I had no pets, no boyfriend and I wanted to do something important. If I was going to give back, I thought, now’s the time.”
Tanya, also one of the presenters at TEDx SMU, says,
“I really wanted to work in an orphanage. My Grandpa was an orphan. So here I was, an Indian girl who had never lived in India, the country of my birth. So I went to Mother Teresa’s orphanage. There were 300 kids, 27 in a class. I washed nappies, changed diapers and taught.”
Tanya tells us of a people who have so little and yet are happy. She played with street children and got to know them and their names. There are 1 billion people in India and of these, 18 million are street kids and 40 % of the kids in India suffer from malnutrition. The turning point for Tanya was a quote by Mother Teresa that she saw on a wall in a Calcutta classroom, “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”
Tanya chose to focus on that on. “I can raise money, I can feed one or two kids, and I can improve conditions.”
Join us and Tanya Pinto at TEDx SMU and hear more about her work.
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/Producer the McCuistion Program
The Nobelity Project is first and foremost about noble people doing the right things. However, they are also noble laureates, renowned for their work in various disciplines. Turk and his wife Christie have traveled the world interviewing these noble laureates. In our interview with Turk Pipkin, a very tall Texan wearing a T-shirt reading: “One peace at a time. Take the first step.” I ask him about his shirt and he says: “It’s our latest. We made a movie about problems and people wanted to know about solutions.”
Turk visited 20 countries to gain a perspective on what ennobles us and what are the most pressing problems needing solutions, today and in the future. We asked him what is one of the most critical issues we face:
“Water. It’s a huge problem. We interviewed one couple who work in Ethiopia. They founded A Glimmer of Hope.”
Turk tells us, “Here is one couple working with the problems of 2 million people.” A Glimmer of Hope tackles 3000 projects surrounding the water issue. “They will dig 2000 wells, 60 feet deep. It costs them $4000 to provide water for 500 people” Not bad at $8 a head.
Join us and Turk Pipkin as we talk about what an average person can do to make something noble happen that produces radical change.
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
The McCuistion Program
The Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network makes movies and television accessible to millions of blind and visually impaired people by unobtrusively adding the voice of a narrator to the existing soundtrack.
The Network will feature all of our programs as we tape them.
They will also feature The Roots of War… the Road to Peace, which after many challenges due to the protest by The Freedom and Justice Foundation and my having to go back to the drawing board, finally aired June 17, 2009.
To give you some history on what narrative television is:
Described programming or movies include all the elements of the original program plus additional information that describes the pictures on the screen so that those who are blind or have visual impairments are able to follow the storyline. The descriptive track runs without interrupting the original dialogue or sound effects by inserting the description only where there is a pause in the dialogue or sound effects. Great care is taken to add just enough description to be helpful without distracting the audience from the flow of the program.
Who benefits from described programming?
Those who are blind or visually impaired find that description is extremely valuable and greatly increases their understanding and enjoyment of programs, but other populations also benefit from described programming. Studies have shown that description benefits children with learning disabilities and sighted individuals who are developmentally disabled.
In all of these populations, description has been shown to increase the educational, socialization, and entertainment benefits of television and movies. Description is also used by sighted individuals enabling them to turn away from the television and perform other tasks while still following their favorite programs.
NTN looks to the future in evaluating the possible uses of description. For example, a described track available on all DVDs would make the technology more accessible to a greater population. Satellite radio offers an opportunity for anyone to “watch” their favorite programs in the car or at other times when a television is not available.
As always: thanks for joining us as we talk about things that matter with people who care:
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
During this weekend’s episode, Is “Corporate Ethics” an Oxymoron?, panelists discussed everything that surrounds corporate business ethics and the breakdown of ethics in portions of corporate America in the past years. During the program, panelists discuss how the ethics of corporations will only be as strong as the ethics of the individuals that make up the organization. This is a fascinating point as it leads to questions regarding hiring, promoting and the overall leadership training of organizations. Tagging onto the question of corporate business ethics, the overarching question of ethics in general beg question.
In 2003, reporter Jayson Blair made national headlines for his lack of ethical reporting. He had covered stories for the New York Times, ranging from the D.C. sniper case to the rescue of Jessica Lynch. Unfortunately, he had both plagiarized and fabricated details of many of the stories he had written.
In instances like these we see how a young man rose to the top very quickly and was perhaps given more opportunity than he had earned. This begs one to question the speed of promotion in organizations. John Maxwell, leadership guru, often says, “Talent may take you to the top, but character will keep you there.” In instances like this and in circumstances such as the fall of Enron, we’ll find that statement to be true.
We’d love your feedback on this issue of corporate business ethics.
- What are the benefits of requiring character training and mentoring for new employees?
- Should there be checks and balances in place for promotion to ensure that character is being assessed as well as talent?
- If talent can take you to the top but then cause the downfall of your company once you are there, how does one safeguard from that?
We’d love your feedback as we discuss things that matter with people who care.
Photo Credit: Applied Corporate Governance
At TEDxSMU last month we had a brief visit with William Kamkwamba, the Don Quixote of Africa, and Bryan Mealer, journalist. William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer are co-authors of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, one of Amazon’s Top 10 books of the year.
A truly remarkable story, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the story of William Kamkwamba, a young man from Malawi, who, in 2002, at fourteen years of age endured one of the worst famines in Malawi’s history. The famine killed thousands of people and forced the Kamkwamba family of 20 to the brink of starvation. William had to drop out of school since his father, a corn and tobacco farmer, could not afford the $80 a year school fees.
But William was just as hungry for education as he was food. William tells us,
“I looked at my father in those dry fields and knew it was a future I could not accept.” Becoming a farmer “who farmed to live rather than for profit was unacceptable.”
So he continued studying on his own at a local library which had just opened in his old school. The library was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Even though his English was very rudimentary he taught himself basic physics, primarily through studying the diagrams and photos in the bedraggled fifth grade science book, Using Energy. In his autobiography, he says, “The book has since changed my life.”
While his villagers poked fun and thought him crazy, William rummaged through junk at scrap yards and used garbage- discarded tractor fans, shock absorbers, plastic pipes, and bicycle parts and built a windmill that generated enough electricity to produce twelve volts that powered four lights. A second windmill was able to irrigate the family garden. Since electricity is a luxury that fewer than 2 percent of Malawians enjoy, news spread. In his book he says, “A windmill meant more than just power. It was freedom.” He tells us, “My family would never go hungry again.”
Bryan Mealer, whose work has appeared in Esquire and Harper’s, among other publications, is the author of All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo and a former Associated Press staff writer, had been based in Kinshasa, Congo for four years. He was despondent and burned out, constantly reporting on the bad news that comes out of Africa. He happened to read a Wall Street Journal story about William, after William had gone to a TED conference, and said to himself, “This is the story I’ve always wanted to write.” He believes a reporter has a responsibility to tell the news, good or bad, but “to find good stories you have to look for them.” The two teamed up to write an inspiring work.
Join us in this short clip as we talk about things that matter with people who care…
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/Producer The McCuistion Program
China’s President Hu Jintao says his country is working hard to increase domestic demand and that Asia-Pacific economies must work together to open up trade.
In a speech at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore, the Chinese president listed his country’s efforts at fighting the global economic crisis.
Nov 13 (Reuters) – The voting lineup on the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee is about to shift once again.
Every year, four regional Fed bank presidents rotate out of voting seats, making way for four others. The current voting lineup will hold for the FOMC gathering on Dec. 15-16 before the new voters come in at the Jan. 26-27 meeting.
“The healthcare battle appears to be helping Republicans running for the Senate,” The Hill notes. “Two Quinnipiac polls released Thursday show the leading GOP candidates in Connecticut and Ohio growing their leads. Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) leads Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), 49-38, and former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has opened his first leads over two potential Democratic opponents.”
During a recent breakfast sponsored by the National Math and Science Initiative, headed up by Tom Luce, I had the unique and thoroughly amazing opportunity of watching and interviewing Arthur Benjamin (Art), a Mathemagician and Professor at Harvey Mudd College in California. Harvey Mudd, a liberal arts college, specializes in science and engineering. It boasts well-rounded undergraduates from a liberal arts perspective. Forty percent of whom go on to receive PhD’s, one of the highest percentiles in the nation.
During his presentation, Art Benjamin demonstrated his ability to square numbers in his head, while the rest of us followed along and tried to beat him while using calculators. Even to the 7th percentile, he was faster than the calculator and of course the people using them. At one point he missed an answer by one point. His comment, ”I do occasionally make mistakes, like picking the wrong people.”
Art Benjamin used a book of calendars and people birthdays to ‘guess’ when someone’s birthday had fallen. He was right 100% of the time. Art has been squaring numbers for 30 years and he shows us his system that appears elegant, logical and simple. What was powerful about his presentation was that he demonstrated through logic that: (1) ordinary mortals can master this, and (2) everyday people can be better equipped to handle math.
Art Benjamin’s presentation ties in with the goal of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) who is working to increase our competitive edge in the global marketplace through math and science, both of which are essential to move our economy forward. America’s 50 million public school students are not getting the math and science skills they need to prepare them for good jobs and to keep America competitive in the global economy.
NMSI is the public-private partnership that provides the ideas, inspiration, and resources to help America close the competitive gap. Check out their website to get an idea of the phenomenal and necessary work they are doing to assure we stay competitive in the global marketplace by utilizing our young people’s math and science ability. Their work has truly made an impact.
As Carole says, “One step at a time. If you’re very passionate, you can change the world.” Jim echos, “Individually we can make a difference, we can, each one of us, change the world.”
Join us and our TEDx guests as we talk about things that matter with people who care. Visit the website for more information on TEDx SMU.