Deaths from cancer and new cancer cases have decreased slightly each year in the new millennium. It’s the first time the statistics have declined over an extended period, according to a new government report, and the best piece of news yet to come out of the nation’s War on Cancer, launched in the early 1970s with great fanfare. Despite scientists’ early optimism that the discovery of an actual cancer cure was imminent, most recent gains come instead from earlier detection and cancer prevention achievements, especially lower smoking rates. That leads some to call for a shift in federal cancer programs toward prevention and detection research, which have been funded much less generously than research on treatments. However, other scientists say that cancer biology now demonstrates that individuals’ cancers vary so widely and contain so many cell mutations that new, widely effective treatments will be even harder to come by than previously expected. That’s another reason to focus more heavily on prevention, they say.
By Marcia Clemmitt
Auto Industry’s Future
As U.S. automakers continue to seek emergency federal aid amid a global credit crisis and a worldwide slowdown in vehicle sales, policy experts are debating the potential effects of a government bailout and the long-term prospects of the American car industry. After their initial requests for aid were rejected, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have presented new business plans to Congress aimed at cutting costs and making the companies profitable. Management and the United Auto Workers union argue that letting even one automobile giant fail would have catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy. Skeptics say, however, that automakers have had years to reform themselves and that the companies need a “bumper-to-bumper” overhaul. GM and Chrysler already have hired advisers to prepare themselves for the possibility they will be forced into bankruptcy reorganization, and Chrysler has announced plans to close all its plants for a month, beginning immediately.
By Thomas J. Billitteri
The Obama Presidency
As the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama confronts from his first day in office a set of challenges more daunting perhaps than any chief executive has faced since the Great Depression and World War II. Obama finds the nation in the second year of a recession that he himself warns may get worse before the economy starts to improve. Abroad, he faces the task of withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq without jeopardizing its progress toward political stability, reversing the deterioration of conditions in Afghanistan and trying to use U.S. influence to ease the conflict in Gaza. Despite these challenges, Obama begins four years in office with the biggest winning percentage of any president in 20 years and a strong Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. In addition, as the first African-American to serve as president, Obama starts with a reservoir of hope and good will from the American public and from people and governments around the world. Some skeptics are warning, however, that Obama will face problems and lose support as he fills in the details of his campaign promise: “Change We Can Believe In.”
By Kenneth Jost
Posted by Marc Segers on 1/22/2009 01:49:00 AM