Sunday, March 18, 2012

Millionaires in a World Gone Mad

It is 20 degrees Celsius and I am sitting overlooking the lake, reading and reflecting on the decline of the daily newspaper industry. The ice on the lake is blackening and perhaps will be out before April for the first time in history. Most of the snow is gone from the bush, unheard of in middle March.

A World Gone Mad
The world has gone mad, but it has little to do with the weather.

I am reading about the severance package handed out to Craig Dubow, former CEO of Gannett newspapers. Gannett owns USA Today and 80 other U.S. newspapers.

Dubow worked 30 years at Gannett, the last six as CEO. The Associated Press news service, on whose board he sat as a director, reported that Gannett's print advertising revenue dropped from $5.2 billion in 2005 to $2.5 billion last year. The company's stock price nosedived 86 percent while Dubow was CEO, dropping from $72.69 to $10.45.

He resigned at age 56 because of hip and back problems after having medical leaves in 2010 and 2011.

His severance? Thirty-two million dollars, a $6.2 million insurance policy, $70,000 in health insurance benefits, secretarial help, a home computer and financial counselling.

New York Times CEO Janet Robinson retired recently, snagging a $23 million adieu package.

More than three billion people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day. One billion children around the world - one in two - live in poverty.

Ontario is getting deeper into the casino-gambling business in a desperate move to keep the province from going bankrupt.

Truly, the world has gone mad.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Birth of a Shooting Star

It was 244 years ago in March, time of the declining snows, when a Shawnee woman lay in her bark birthing hut and watched a brilliant comet light up the early evening skies. Not long after, she gave birth to her third child, a son who would become a North American symbol of fighting for your culture against impossible odds.
Some months later, the child had a naming feast, at which an elder pronounced him Tecumtha, or Tecumseh -- Shooting Star.
Tecumseh became a Shawnee war chief at the time North American Indians were being driven farther away from their homelands by colonial advancement. He travelled thousands of miles on horseback trying to organize a pan-Indian confederation that would stop the westward march of the new American society.
He is best remembered as the man who fought alongside General Isaac Brock in the War of 1812 against the Americans. However, Tecumseh was no Canadian patriot. He fought for Canada but had no more liking for the British Canadians than the Americans. His sole interest was to hold some of the homeland being taken by people from afar.
His leadership and the battles he won against the Americans were important to Canada, however. His leadership inspired confidence and helped stiffen Canadian spines, which Brock himself noted were somewhat lacking.
In October 1813, Tecumseh died in battle along the Thames River not far from Chatham Ontario. He fell while trying to hold back the troops of William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, and who would become president of the United States.
More on Tecumseh can be found in: Tecumseh: Shooting Star, Crouching Panther published by Dundurn.