Monday, 22 October 2007

Last week's news ...

There was a big news day this past week that I've been meaning to comment on - but it's taken me a few days to find enough procrastination time to write about it! Wednesday 17 October, 2007 was the date, where three stories in particular peaked my interest - and no, I'm not even touching the ridiculousness of the Federal Throne speech and the Opposition responses to it=)

So from Health, to Foreign Affairs, to Jobs, here we go ...


Researchers from the University of British Columbia reported the results of a large Epidemiological study indicating that while the daily consumption of Aspirin, a popular blood thinner, can reduce the risk of heart attack in men by a substantial 25%, it confers virtually no benefit to women. While I haven't personally reviewed the study - if follow up research confirm their findings, it will have major implications for Canadian women as millions of people across the country from both sexes currently take Aspirin as a way to prevent the onset of a heart attack. It is difficult to say why the practice started in the first place if the evidence wasn't there to support it - but it has been a widely held belief for many years that a daily dose of Aspirin can prevent heart complications. Perhaps there was solid evidence in the past, but those studies only looked at male subjects. Perhaps there was a clever marketing effort by the makers of Aspirin that caught on and gave people hope. Whatever the case, unless these findings are promoted in a better way, millions of women will continue to spend their money on a product that might not be doing them any good.


For the first time in over 25 years, the US has announced a major shift in its Naval strategy, with a key priority now being humanitarian missions around the world and how this can help improve international cooperation with affected countries. This is welcome news for myself and some old colleagues. After the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the logistical expertise of military actors in South Asia were critical to so many relief operations in helping reach tens of thousands of people boxed in from the outside world by the destruction and debris caused by The Wave. In this regard, the US Navy proved incredibly valuable, and in particular, the resources provided by the USS Mercy Hospital and the USS Abraham Lincoln Aircraft Carrier enabled a type of humanitarian relief programming that had not been possible in previous post disaster environments. During these times, we'd often engage in debate over how the world's powers had struggled with what to do with such massive militaries after the Cold War, and just how well matched they are suited for working through the many logistical and security dilemmas present in complex humanitarian emergencies. The general reality with all of this, unfortunately, is that providing humanitarian relief is not what they have been designed for! In now seeing that they have learned, however, the potential diplomatic benefits involved with helping others manage a crises, perhaps a new chapter is indeed being written and we will hopefully see more of it.


There is a new proposal being debated in the manufacturing sector that would tie the salaries of workers to the rise and fall of the Canadian dollar. The seemingly endless rise in strength of the "Loonie" this past year has presented a host of new constraints on exporters who do most of their business in the reciprocally weak US currency. So what's the proposal? Well details remain vague, but they are trying to develop a system that would allow employee wages to increase or decrease should further changes in the dollar significantly impact on sales/profits. As most middle class Canadians depend on a consistent income to plan their lives around - a change in how their salaries' are determined such as this probably wouldn't do too much for the long term stability they are looking for!! This is especially so seeing as the strength or weakness of the dollar is generally far out of the influence of any one person or employer.
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