The worldwide pulse. Things that matter.
WWSG speakers are actively involved in major events around the world and play a key role in shaping their trajectory and outcome. Below is a sampling of today's top stories that may be impacting your business and for which WWSG can help address these critical issues.
Pulse: On The News
Pulse: In The News
By: Sandrine Rastello and Terry Atlas, Bloomberg News
The International Monetary Fund has extensive experience lending to Ukraine in recent years. It’s not a track record favoring the country as it seeks aid to stave off default.
Twice since 2008, the IMF froze loans to the former Soviet republic after governments at the time balked at measures they had agreed to carry out. After failed attempts to revive loan talks with Ukraine, the Washington-based lender concluded in December it shouldn’t commit as much money to nations that don’t embrace economic change.
The challenge facing interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is convincing IMF officials burned by his predecessors that he’ll adopt unpopular measures such as raising gas prices before May presidential elections. Hinging on his success: aid the U.S. and European Union are tying to an IMF-approved bailout as the government seeks an initial $15 billion to stabilize its finances after its bloodiest unrest since World War II.
For the IMF, “lessons learned from Ukraine are going to be applied to any future program in Ukraine,” said Douglas Rediker, who represented the U.S. on the board of the IMF from 2010 to 2012. “The government has to believe in the program” and “prove that it understands what it needs to do to make the program a success by actually doing it.”
The deliberations over the aid package are occurring amid rising tensions, as armed troops occupied Crimea’s main airport in Simferopol, while deposed President Viktor Yanukovych said he’s still the eastern European country’s rightful leader.
As IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde announced a team would travel to Kiev in coming days to assess the economic needs, fund spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters yesterday that Ukraine’s leadership is pledging “wide-ranging reforms.” Rice said he didn’t wish to “make comparisons between different governments.”
“I will be probably the most unpopular prime minister in the whole history,” Yatsenyuk told Parliament before being approved yesterday, heralding decisions on cuts in subsidies and welfare payments and later calling his job a “political kamikaze” mission. “But we will do everything possible to avoid default.”
The IMF has heard such promises before.
In loans dating back to 1994, “usually the IMF had made two quarterly disbursements and then stopped because the Ukrainian government has refused to comply with the IMF conditions,” said Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
He said he expects the fund in this negotiation “will be tough and demand very strict prior actions” before offering support.
Under a $16.4 billion loan in November 2008, when Yulia Timoshenko was prime minister, Ukraine pledged to let its currency float and to balance its budget, in part by raising energy prices.
The fund froze the loan after a year, ultimately canceling and replacing it with a $15.2 billion package in July 2010 with similar prescriptions under Yanukovych, who defeated Timoshenko in presidential elections. Disbursements on that program stopped the following year as the country again failed to meet conditions.
The fund’s waning patience showed at a press conference last year when Reza Moghadam, head of the IMF’s European department, said talks “would only succeed if we can see a degree of seriousness” in addressing the country’s challenges.
After a three-month uprising led to Yanukovych’s ouster last week, European and U.S. officials say they now want Ukraine to get financial help fast.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that the administration is talking with lawmakers about providing a $1 billion loan guarantee. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Washington for talks with U.S. officials and the IMF, said the EU is likely to offer a similar amount.
The two diplomats said they would like to see a financing plan include the involvement of Russia, which pulled back from a $15 billion aid package after Yanukovych fled. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in a statement yesterday that Russia will talk to American and European officials about it.
“I hope the IMF stands ready to provide funds from a kind of emergency fund,” Steinmeier told reporters in Washington yesterday after meeting with Kerry.
Steinmeier said it will take time to figure out Ukraine’s financial condition in the wake of the collapse of Yanukovych’s government.
“It’s difficult for anyone to give you an exact idea of how much Ukraine needs,” the German minister said. “Yanukovych has kept the figures hidden under his desk.”
Lagarde, who met with Steinmeier today, agreed it’s premature to estimate financial needs, while urging Ukrainian authorities to refrain from “throwing lots of numbers” around. The IMF doesn’t see “anything that is critical, that is worthy of panic at the moment,” she told reporters in Washington.
After the IMF starts its assessments of Ukraine’s financial needs, “there’s then going to have to be a real put-up-or-shut-up discussion with key shareholders like the U.S. and EU member countries about parallel or complementary support,” said Andrew Weiss, a former director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs on the White House National Security Council staff.
Now that Ukraine’s central bank has abandoned a dollar peg, letting the hryvnia depreciate, two remaining IMF conditions are a smaller budget gap and higher gas prices, Peterson’s Aslund said.
The fund estimates that energy subsidies in Ukraine reached about 7.5 percent of the country’s economy in 2012 because prices for residential gas and district heating cover just “a fraction of economic costs,” spurring consumption and adding to losses of the state energy company, NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy.
While IMF spokesman Rice acknowledged that the IMF can move “very quickly,” he said “we do have our processes and we need to follow those and pay attention to proper due diligence.”
Weiss is skeptical that the IMF’s conditions will be met.
The measures needed “would be bad for both the people of Ukraine, in terms of shouldering pain, and the political fortunes for the people who will be running for president at the end of May,” said Weiss, now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “All that stuff to me seems quite improbable.”(+/-)
By: Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times
He is known as Abdullah al-Shami, an Arabic name meaning Abdullah the Syrian. But his nom de guerre masks a reality: He was born in the United States, and the United States is now deciding whether to kill him.
Mr. Shami, a militant who American officials say is living in the barren mountains of northwestern Pakistan, is at the center of a debate inside the government over whether President Obama should once again take the extraordinary step of authorizing the killing of an American citizen overseas.
It is a debate that encapsulates some of the thorniest questions raised by the targeted killing program that Mr. Obama has embraced as president: under what circumstances the government may kill American citizens without a trial, whether the battered leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan still poses an imminent threat to Americans, and whether the C.I.A. or the Pentagon ought to be the dominant agency running America’s secret wars.
Interviews with American officials and outside terrorism experts sketch only the most impressionistic portraits of Mr. Shami.
Born in the United States, possibly in Texas, he moved with his family to the Middle East when he was a toddler. Obama administration officials declined requests to provide biographical information about Mr. Shami such as his real name and age — saying that the information is classified — or any specific information about where he was born or where he traveled after leaving the United States. But his nom de guerre has a familiar ring for jihadists: An operative of Al Qaeda named Abu Abdullah al-Shami escaped with three other people from the American military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2005 and was killed in a drone strike three years later.
He came to the attention of the American authorities in 2008, around the same time that another American, Bryant Neal Vinas, was getting Qaeda training in Pakistan, one former counterterrorism official recalled. The authorities worried at the time that a surge of people with terrorism training and Western passports might be coming to the United States. Mr. Vinas was later captured and brought back to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.
The F.B.I. investigated Mr. Shami and determined that he had been born in the United States, but that he had left as a young child and had not maintained any ties to the country. In the years since then, Mr. Shami worked his way up the ranks of Al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan, his ascent aided by his marriage to the daughter of a top Qaeda leader. Last year, he appears to have risen to become one of Al Qaeda’s top planners for operations outside Pakistan, including plots against American troops in Afghanistan.
“We have clear and convincing evidence that he’s involved in the production and distribution of I.E.D.’s,” said one senior administration official, referring to improvised explosive devices, long the leading killer of American troops in Afghanistan.
Spokesmen for the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. and a spokeswoman for the White House all declined to comment.
For someone with an elevated position in Al Qaeda, Mr. Shami has kept an unusually low profile. He has made no propaganda videos, nor does he seem to have been mentioned in any of the myriad online forums that militant groups use to motivate their followers, raise money and recruit new fighters.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the online communications and propaganda videos of militant groups, said it had no records of Mr. Shami’s name ever being discussed in chat rooms.
Some terrorism experts said that it could be a calculated strategy by Al Qaeda not to broadcast the growing role of an American inside the organization, or that the group might refer to Mr. Shami by another name. Still others said that it might just be an act of self-preservation on Mr. Shami’s part, given that so many of the people who have planned external operations for Al Qaeda — including Ilyas Kashmiri and Saleh al-Somali — were killed by American drones.
“At some point, it would probably make sense not to advertise these positions,” said Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation. Mr. Jones said that Mr. Shami had made “a very conscious effort to stay below the radar.”
The debate over Mr. Shami’s fate is the first time that the Obama administration has discussed killing an American citizen abroad since Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a C.I.A. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. It comes less than a year after Mr. Obama announced new guidelines to tighten the rules for carrying out lethal drone operations. When the president announced the guidelines, during a speech in May in Washington, the White House acknowledged that four American citizens had been killed in drone strikes during Mr. Obama’s time in office.
According to the White House, only Mr. Awlaki had been targeted.
As it was in Mr. Awlaki’s case, the Justice Department has been enlisted to evaluate whether a lethal operation against Mr. Shami is legally justified, but it appears that the Obama administration remains divided on the issue. Several officials said that the C.I.A. has long advocated killing Mr. Shami, and that the Pentagon, while initially reluctant to put him on a target list, has more recently come to the C.I.A.’s position.
It is unclear what Mr. Obama’s position is on whether Mr. Shami should be targeted. American officials said that as part of the new rules ordered by Mr. Obama, the Pentagon, rather than the C.I.A., is supposed to carry out any lethal strike against an American overseas, a provision intended to allow government officials to speak more freely about the operation after it is carried out.
This has complicated discussions about Mr. Shami, since the C.I.A. alone carries out drone strikes in Pakistan, under the agency’s covert action authority. This was one of the conditions of a bargain that the spy agency struck in 2004 with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to allow the C.I.A. to carry out drone strikes in the country.
A decade later, many argue that there is little more transparency to the drone program.
“Given the significance of the authority the administration is claiming, it’s quite remarkable how little information it’s disclosed,” said Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union, who has been involved in legal challenges to the targeted killing program.
Some lawmakers have reacted angrily to the new drone rules, calling them overly restrictive. Representative Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, this month deplored a new environment of “self-imposed red tape.”(+/-)
By: John Yemma, The Christian Science Monitor
It was probably the mid-1920s when the automobile (a word that doesn’t show up in literature searches until the late 19th century) crossed the line from modern marvel to commonplace conveyance, when that amazing technology of horseless locomotion became simply “a ride” or “a lift.”
Air travel lost its magic more recently. People were rhapsodizing about flight as late as the 1970s. An Eastern Airlines commercial around that time flew viewers above the clouds and put a lump in their throats by calling its fleet “the wings of man.” (It was 1959 when I first flew, but I remember it vividly: a DC-7 from Tokyo to Honolulu to Los Angeles; a tiny window that my siblings and I took turns looking out of; the package of Fig Newtons from the friendly stewardess. It was awesome. Now flying is just “a trip.”)
We’re doubtlessly approaching the point of ho-hum with the Internet. The once-thrilling adventure of surfing and browsing is as dated as Beanie Babies and the “Macarena.” But before we get all been-there-done-that, take a look at a new Monitor cover story. You’ll see how the worldwide web of knowledge – the true intent of the Internet even if it sometimes seems more famous for updating and time-wasting – has penetrated the far corners of the globe.
But even that isn’t especially surprising. What it yields is.
Prodigies, geniuses, and kids who stand out from the crowd exist in every age and culture. Some are born with special talents. Many simply apply themselves. Some become world famous. Many live their lives in quiet obscurity – which isn’t always a bad thing. They might channel their talents along locally important lines, teaching others physics or developing a new water pump for farmers.
With the leapfrogging made possible by the Internet, the young and talented are increasingly tapping into high-level knowledge and connecting with one another. Even that may seem a little expected given the spread of Massive Open Online Courses, which Laura Pappano explored in our June 3, 2013, issue. In a followup, Laura shows you what happens when knowledge penetrates even the world’s most remote areas: how top-tier institutions such as Harvard and MIT use MOOCs to engage and recruit the brightest students anywhere – Mongolia, India, Pakistan.
It gets better. This is not a story of the exceptional and talented turning their back on their native lands and joining the cosmopolitan elite. Sure, that could happen. But these young people frequently plan to apply what they learn in the land of their origin. These are mental travelers at home in Cambridge, Mass.; and Ulan Bator, Mongolia; and participating in Coursera’s “Modern and Contemporary Poetry” MOOC – the kind of individuals that Thomas Hardy described as carrying “like planets, their atmosphere along with them in their orbits.
Like the automobile, the airplane, TV, and other technologies, the Internet is a mixed blessing. Everyone knows about its downsides. This week, consider its upside: The next steps in science, literature, music, and a thousand disciplines likely won’t emerge from one nation. They will develop collaboratively on a network that connects the best and brightest no matter where they are. If the World Wide Web is no longer especially remarkable, it’s encouraging at least to see its original purpose being fulfilled: not just to amuse us, but to make all of us better and brighter.(+/-)
By: Matt Bai, Yahoo News
The latest snowfall was a bigger story in Washington this week than Tuesday’s private meeting between the estranged president and House speaker — their first in more than a year. Since Barack Obama recently signaled that he has all but given up on legislating with Republicans, and since John Boehner has flat out said thathe can’t trust the president, the assumption in Washington is that the chances for big legislation anytime soon are basically zero, whether the White House breaks out the good china or not.
A clever Washington Post headline summed up the reaction this way: “Obama and Boehner Meet. No Big Deal.”
It probably invites mockery to raise the tattered flag of optimism here, especially among the unbending partisans on either side who would reject any form of compromise that isn’t a total capitulation of the other, and whose attention has already shifted to 2016, when they plan to win the White House and every one of the 535 seats in Congress, thus obviating any need for negotiation.
And yet I’ll offer the dissenting view that this week’s resumption of face-to-face talks could ultimately lead to a lot. In fact, there are several reasons to think that Obama and Boehner could still salvage their relationship enough to reach accord on some major issues, during the next Congress if not before.
First, although this isn’t a new development, both men (probably more than anyone else in their respective parties) badly want some bipartisan deals, or at least one significant breakthrough. Obama has less than three years left in office, and that could well be the limit for Boehner, as well, who has told friends there are other things in life he’d like to do.
As it stands now, Obama’s “paragraph in history,” as he recently put it to the journalist David Remnick, will reflect mostly futility after the first quarter of his tenure. And Boehner’s signature achievement as speaker will be not getting himself deposed. It’s safe to say that neither man sees this as his ideal legacy.
Also, while the breakdown of earlier negotiations over a so-called grand bargain, most notably in 2011, led to recrimination at the staff level in both the West Wing and the speaker’s crypt-like Capitol office, enough time has passed now that aides to Obama and Boehner may have a chance to reset the relationship and the negotiating parameters.
Most of the senior aides who took the lead in earlier rounds (including Boehner’s top two negotiators, his former chief of staff Barry Jackson and policy chief Brett Loper, and their counterparts in the White House, the former chief of staff Bill Daley and legislative director Rob Nabors) have moved on to other jobs. In their place, Obama’s new legislative director, Katie Beirne Fallon, and Boehner’s current chief of staff, Mike Sommers, have opened their own direct line of communication.
And despite all the talk about the vast ideological struggle raging in Washington, the simple truth is that on the three issues these aides and their bosses are most likely to find themselves negotiating—immigration, some restructuring of the tax code and maybe even entitlement reform again—the policy differences really aren’t very hard to bridge, if both sides are willing to move even a little from where they’ve been in the past. The real chasm has to do with trust.
More specifically, neither Obama nor Boehner—nor their aides—trust the other side to follow through with any concession that might infuriate their most ideological allies. Boehner sees Obama as unwilling to confront his party’s congressional leaders and interest groups, and he suspects that the president won’t follow through on enforcing key provisions of any deal. Obama doubts that Boehner will risk his speakership to make any deal for which the tea partiers in his caucus will excoriate him, and even if he will, the White House has been given ample reason to doubt that he can deliver the votes needed to pass it.
This trust gap represents a serious impasse to any bipartisan legislation. But when Boehner boldly pushed through a bill earlier this month that raised the nation’s debt limit, he used an intriguing strategy—and one that might signal another path ahead.
In this instance, Boehner found himself in a familiar conundrum; most of his members wanted to raise the debt limit, except for the contingent of several dozen antigovernment conservatives backed by outside agitators like the Club for Growth. The problem, as always, was that a lot of mainline Republicans who wanted the bill were deathly afraid of being challenged in primaries, and so they weren’t willing to vote for anything that the nihilist caucus opposed.
Faced with this problem in the past, Boehner has usually tried to get a bill that would satisfy his hardliners, so that he could keep his majority together. That’s how he ended up shutting down the government last year.
But this time, fearing that Republicans might self-immolate before the midterm elections, Boehner finally did what Obama has wanted him to do for years; he told his tea party contingent to take a walk. The speaker proposed an unconditional lifting of the debt ceiling, but he also told his other members that they could vote against the bill if they needed to.
As a result, the bill passed the House with mainly Democratic support; only 28 of 232 Republicans voted for it. But most of Boehner’s members were fine with that outcome, because they privately supported the bill and considered it good politics for the party nationally, if not in their specific districts. Boehner’s already strained relationship with the tea party crowd, meanwhile, probably suffered lasting damage.
This might suggest a new reality in the House. Obama’s team is skeptical, and perhaps reasonably so, that the strategy Boehner employed to pass the debt-ceiling increase will have larger implications. The feeling at the White House is that it was a desperate gambit to avoid political catastrophe, rather than a new way of doing business.
But if Boehner has now lost the most radical members of his party for good, as seems likely, then he has little impetus to negotiate other deals with their support in mind. And there’s no good reason, then, not to pass the legislation he wants with largely or even mostly Democratic votes, while at the same time retaining as much of a Republican bloc as he can.
When I asked Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, if the same strategy might work on an issue like immigration, where a centrist solution is likely to attract the support of a lot of the Republican caucus but not necessarily all their votes, he chose his words carefully. “We could get to a place on immigration where members want that to happen but won’t vote for it,” he said. “But we’re not there yet.”
It’s true — we’re not at anything close to a pivotal moment and probably won’t be until after this fall’s elections. But that moment is coming, and as Obama and Boehner eye their respective legacies, no one should assume that this week’s meeting is going nowhere. My guess is that the president and the speaker, for all their mutual disdain and disillusionment, will find themselves locked in a room again before long, facing another series of critical choices.
In Washington, things often seem like no big deal, until suddenly they are.(+/-)
Scott Gottlieb: Michelle Obama's Unfinished Business When It Comes To Improving Food Labels, and Diets (+/-)
By: Scott Gottlieb, Forbes
The decision by the Food and Drug Administration to revamp food labels, to improve disclosure of added sugars and serving sizes, is an important step by an agency that has been singularly effective in recent years at improving the information consumers get about the foods they eat. Implementing this sort of change isn’t easy – both operationally and politically. The Agency’s Commissioner, Peggy Hamburg, deserves credit for spearheading these efforts.
For her next initiative, she might revisit the FDA’s stance when it comes to health claims made on food labels. This is one area where FDA has gotten its policy wrong. It represents a big opportunity to change the healthiness of food products, and American diets.
At issue here is FDA’s longstanding discomfort with health claims made on food labels, particularly those touting the medical benefits of certain diets and ingredients. FDA staff worries when food health claims aren’t backed by the same kind of rigorous science that supports the medical claims made on drug labels. By their estimation, health claims made about food should require the same sort of scientific proof as claims made on medical products – randomized, prospectively controlled clinical trials. They argue, in effect, that there’s a single truth standard when it comes to health claims. A health claim is a health claim, regardless of where it is made. Foods shouldn’t be treated much differently than drugs.
There are problems with this logic, not least of which is that the courts have strongly disagreed with FDA’s position. In Pearson v. Shalala (1999), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals chastised the FDA, stating that it was “skeptical the government could demonstrate with empirical evidence” that health claims made with appropriate disclaimers would “bewilder” consumers, as the FDA claimed. The FDA has largely ignored this, and other similar Federal court rulings, by arguing that the cases were wrongly decided – an unusual revision of traditional civics.
Nonetheless, there’s an even larger problem with FDA’s position – one that isn’t a matter of law, but science. Developing the same sort of scientific evidence about diet that’s required for a new drug is hard, if not impossible. You can’t prospectively randomize people to different diets, and tightly control what they eat (like you would do in a drug trial). For that reason, science about diet has often depended on large epidemiological studies, where people’s behaviors aren’t as tightly controlled, as they would be if scientists were studying a new medical product.
The courts have also told FDA that there’s less at stake when it comes to food, which should enable a more relaxed standard. So long as the strength of the scientific evidence supporting a particular food health claim is properly disclaimed (to inform the consumer about how believable the science is) the courts also reason that the claim itself constitutes permissible speech protected by the First Amendment.
Moreover, in the case of a drug, there are often big risks at stake from a claim that isn’t sufficiently validated. It might prompt someone to opt for a less effective treatment, and forgo alternative, and perhaps curative therapy. What the courts have said is that the same risks aren’t apparent when it comes to food. The same stakes don’t apply. If a claim suggests that eating Cheerios might confer certain heart benefits, even if that evidence is strongly suggestive but not definitive, the worst outcome is that people might opt to eat more Cheerios instead of Corn Flakes.
As a result of the difficulty in making health claims, food labels today mostly carry assertions about taste, portion size, or packaging. As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal, this is precisely because FDA doesn’t regulate claims made about these attributes – the Federal Trade Commission does. Far fewer foods compete on the ability to improve health because they can’t make claims about these features. When they do, the FDA now often forces food makers to construct claims that are so weak and convoluted that the information is unusable for consumers, and marketers.
Yet science is giving us unique opportunities to leverage diet in health. For example, the emerging science of nutrigenomics seeks to combine insights from genome research with our understanding of how diet choices affect health. By adjusting food content, the diet choices we make could play a prominent role in mitigating disease. We are at a point in science where we can identify people at risk for certain conditions like cancer and perhaps use nutrition as a tool for chemoprevention.
But FDA makes it so hard to get health claims into food labels that few companies try. Even fewer invest in research to develop food products (and diets) that can confer health benefits. If food makers cannot talk about these benefits (and compete against each other based on this science) why would they invest in the research?
The FDA has legitimate concerns when it comes to translating medical claims onto food labels. But its impulse to apply its standards for drug promotion to all manner of products blurs important distinctions between the more significant risk that “P” doesn’t equal “.05″ when it comes to a new drug used to treat a life threatening disease, versus the risk that the same statistical bar isn’t met when it comes to a breakfast cereal. But mostly FDA is worried about adopting a different standard for health claims depending on the context. In the agency’s mindset, a health claim is the same regardless of where it’s being made. But this is precisely the wrong position. The strength of evidence required to make a claim should be considered in the context of where the claim is made, and the public health goal being pursued.
In 2003, FDA briefly allowed qualified health claims to appear on food labels so long as manufacturers included a disclaimer that described the reliability of the scientific evidence supporting the association between food and health. This concession was made in direct response to the Federal Court’s rulings in the Pearson cases.
The policy established four different levels of evidence, from highly reliable to highly improbable, and graded health claims from A to D. The notion was food makers would invest in developing good evidence linking diet and health. No food company would want to be forced to disclose their medical claims were sketchy and graded a “D” by the agency. But unfortunately FDA scrapped this framework only a few years after it was first implemented and went back to requiring large, drug-like trials for health claims made on food labels. The effect is predictable. Few food companies are trying to develop evidence – or improved food products — to support these claims.
As FDA seeks additional ways to advance the anti-obesity campaign launched by Michelle Obama, it might revisit that 2003 policy for enabling graded claims on food labels. Or it could go a step further and create a dedicated section on labels to display properly disclaimed information about the evidence supporting a food’s health benefits, when such science exists.
Consumers would pay more notice to products with health benefits, especially foods that help prevent the causes and consequence of disease. And food companies, for their part, would focus more of their money and attention on making products that confer these positive attributes.(+/-)
By: Staff, News 12
An autistic man from Bridgeport says he received a heart-warming message from NFL legend Jerry Rice following a story News 12 Connecticut recently aired.
News 12 Connecticut and Greenwich nonprofit group The Needs Clearing House recently helped Charles Fuller get an apartment for the disabled after he became homeless.
Fuller says it was a thrill hearing from the all-star wide receiver, because he has always admired the 20-year veteran of the NFL.
“I always liked him because he was a very gracious athlete and he always stayed in very great shape,” said Fuller. “I’m his biggest fan.”
A spokesman for Rice told News 12 he also plans to send Fuller a small amount of money to help him get settled into his new apartment.
Jerry Rice won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.(+/-)
By: Amity Young, Nerdles
20/20′s aristocrat episode features the real Downton Abbey and the 1st black marchioness Emma McQuiston. We see Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is set, and learn about Lady Almina, on whom Lady Grantham is based. Highclere Castle is worth about $400 million. Emma’s father is an oil magnate.
Tonight’s episode feels like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Royal Edition. How much of Downton Abbey is real? Set in World War I, the PBS show is on an aristocratic family and their staff’s relationships and money woes. Head of the family is Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham. His wife is Lady Grantham. They have 3 daughters. The show’s creator, Julian Fellowes told Amy Robach in the ABC News Special Secrets of the Castle: Beyond Downton, wanted Downton to be as historically accurate as possible.
The real Highclere Castle is where Downton is set. It is home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Lady Carnarvon said, “There are 200 or 300 rooms in the house and 50 to 80 bedrooms.” The 120,000-square foot castle has been with the Carnarvon family for 300 years. The Carnarvons have hosted prime ministers, kings and queens, and rents it out for weddings and other parties. Not unlike the Crawley family’s lavish parties.
The lifestyle is playing croquet or tennis, then lunch with champagne. From the original staff of 60, Highclere now has 20. How much does it cost to live the Downton Abbey life? Including maintenance and insurance, it would cost $697,108 a month.
The real-life Lady Grantham is Lady Almina, the Earl of Carnarvon’s great grandmother. She had the castle modernized to include electricity and phones. She was the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and an heiress with a dowry, as an illegitimate daughter of a Rothschild banker.
In Season 1 of Downton, we learn that Lord Grantham had married Cora, a US heiress to save his estate. Lady Carnarvon said, “There were marriages of contract, as well as one hoped of love. ..Between Almina and her husband, it was one of love, and one of real money.”
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora said, “She’s an American looking at her English family with bemusement, frustration, at times utter astonishment at what they take for granted about the way they behave and the things that drive them in their life [sic].”
After marrying Marquess Ceawlin Thynn, Viscount Weymouth, Emma McQuiston became Britain’s first black marchioness. They are a rank below Duke & Duchess, and above Earl & Countess, which are above Viscount & Viscountess, which in turn are above Baron & Baroness.(+/-)