Monday, December 29, 2008

lights out

Many of us are again sharing the dreaded loss of electricity this week after an abrupt change in temperature Sunday,accompanied by high winds, knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of homes.
As of Monday, there were still 177,000 customers in the dark, and for some, it may be days before power is restored.
Prolonged loss of power in the summer is an inconvenience for most, but in the winter it can be devastating.
Temperatures well below freezing mean life-threatening situations, not to mention potential damage to homes, loss of business, etc.
For many in SE Michigan, the question becomes why is this happening every time the wind blows a bit too hard?
Hardly a year goes by anymore without some of us losing power.
The last extended power outage (early June of this year) resulted in hearings aimed at our electric monopolies and what they were doing to prevent repeats.
At the time, I remember DTE spokesmen blaming dead Ash trees falling on the lines. And this morning I heard the same excuse.
Weren't all those dead trees supposed to be removed the last time the power went out?
We hear news about other parts of the nation where hurricanes and massive ice storms cause extended power outages. One has to wonder how long the power would be out here if we experienced those types of catastrophic events.
Perhaps it is time for another set of hearings.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A New Year and a New Era

A New Year and A New Era
With the close of 2008, The Oakland Press looks ahead to a new era in journalism: Citizen Journalism, an intense effort to get the community involved in our product.
Newspapers have been guilty to some degree of taking their audiences for granted, but the truth is that unless we involve more readers in the newspaper, interest will slip away.
Oakland Press editors are gearing up for working more closely with "citizen journalists" to bring more community news into our news pages and onto our Web site.
We are working on setting guidelines and standards to work more with members of the community.
Citizen journalism is not without troubled waters. Some may use it to further a political agenda, vendetta or their own business. These are areas that we as editors will need to keep watch for.
But overall, this is an opportunity to bring fresh eyes to news, and see things that we might may not otherwise be privy to.
Happy New Year to Oakland Press readers!

Monday, December 1, 2008

India's 9/11

The massacre in Mumbai was news throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. But what comes next could be even more important. What will India do about the alleged Pakistan connection? And what kind of reponse is appropriate when the collateral damage is likely to include citizens just as innocent as those killed in India? What is worse, both of these countries have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
These events are important here for a number of reasons. Oakland County has a sizeable population of Indians and Pakistanis. International corporations, including the auto industry, do a substantial amount of business with India. And many residents here have traveled to this region.
I am a part of that last group. I have been to India a number of times because my wife was born there and regularly visits relatives living there. We have passed through Mumbai (formerly Bombay) many times. And, a decade ago, we stayed at the Taj hotel. It is strange to watch the news and see it happening in places you know from personal involvement.
And that brings up the final part of why these events are news. The attackers, for the first time, specifically targeted U.S. and British citizens. And although the number of fatalities to Westerners was small compared to the overall death toll, it still raises a concern about India's tourism industry. Will Westerners shun this country after this attack? And was the targeting of Westerners specifically planned to chill both Western business investment and tourism?
A number of Westerners who were there during the attack said they would return. And I would have to agree with them -- I and my family are not deterred by these terrorist attacks. But such answers are always qualified by the one thing that would stop us -- direct hostilities between India and Pakistan.