NEWS AND OPINION:
In 24 hours, the 66th Bilderberg Meeting begins in scenic Turin, Italy, — a cue for those wary of powerful secrets and/or conspiracies to go into watch mode, seeking proof that a master shadow government is at work and a new world order is afoot somewhere — or words to that effect. Organizers of what is generally described as a “secretive” gathering say 128 learned folk plus economic and political titans from 23 nations are headed for the three-day event — rumored to be staged at the NH Lingotto Congress Hotel, a sleek, historic and moderne spot with views of the Alps and a spectacular rooftop attraction which once involved race cars. The hotel is definitely sold out at the moment.
The event is closed to the squawking press in order to encourage “openness and dialogue” say the ultra-discreet Bilderberg organizers.
They are a helpful bunch, though, supplying a list of the key topics for discussion this year. And here they are, verbatim from the source: populism in Europe, the inequality challenge, the future of work, artificial intelligence, the U.S. before midterms, free trade, U.S. world leadership, Russia, quantum computing, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the “post-truth” world and current events.
The organization is not shy about revealing who’s coming to discuss these things. The attendee list is definitely global and accomplished — full of economists, historians, government officials and academics, among other designations. The names are always interesting. The U.S. contingent includes Henry Kissinger, David Petraeus, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and veteran political analyst Charlie Cook. Motley protesters are usually a fixture at the event, but they have not quite surfaced yet. The mission, however, is clear.
“Thanks to the private nature of the meeting, the participants are not bound by the conventions of their office or by pre-agreed positions. As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights. There is no desired outcome, no minutes are taken and no report is written. Furthermore, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued,” Bilderberg says in its mission statement.
JUST TIRED OF THE WHOLE THING
A new survey released Tuesday finds that 68 percent of the public feel worn-out by the volume of news they are exposed to on a regular basis.
“If you feel like there is too much news and you can’t keep up, you are not alone. A sizable portion of Americans are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of news there is, though the sentiment is more common on the right side of the political spectrum,” write Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel, analysts for the Pew Research Center, which conducted the survey.
“While majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express news fatigue, Republicans are feeling it more,” the analysts said. “Roughly three-quarters (77 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents feel worn-out over how much news there is, compared with about 6-in-10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (61 percent).”
News fatigue also follows certain patterns, they found.
“Some demographic groups — most notably white Americans — are more likely than others to feel exhausted by the news,” the analysts wrote. “Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of white Americans express fatigue with the amount of news, much higher than among both Hispanic (55 percent) and black Americans (55 percent). Women are also somewhat more likely than men to feel worn-out (71 percent vs. 64 percent, respectively).”
There’s also a tolerance factor at work. The less you follow the news, the more fatigued you become, the poll revealed.
“While a majority of those who follow the news most of the time (62 percent) are feeling worn-out by the news, a substantially higher portion (78 percent) of those who less frequently get news say they are fatigued by the amount of it that they see,” the analysts said.
A CAUTIONARY POLL
A new survey offers evidence that the Democratic Party has some work to do, at least as far as effective political branding and image-making goes.
A new CBS News poll of close to 6,000 registered U.S. voters finds that 45 percent of U.S. voters say there isn’t “a leader” of the Democratic Party at the moment; 51 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents and 34 percent of Democrats agree with this. This is not particularly helpful in an election year.
Respondents were divided over who led the party, with near equal percentages citing Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Bernard Sanders.
Only 7 percent said the Democratic leader is Hillary Clinton and 4 percent overall said the leader was simply “someone else.”
Fox News Channel remains the most watched network across the entire cable realm for the 21st consecutive week, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox News also presented 13 of the top 25 cable telecasts with “Hannity” and “The Ingraham Angle” in the lead. As has been the norm for 16 years, Fox News leads its cable news competition, drawing 2.2 million prime-time viewers, compared to 1.4 million for MSNBC and 750,000 for CNN.
Fox Business Network continued to best CNBC according to Nielsen, with a 17 percent ratings advantage over its closest rival. Both “Varney & Co.” and “Lou Dobbs Tonight” continue their reigns as the most watched market and business news programs on the airwaves. “The Evening Edit with Elizabeth MacDonald,” “Making Money with Charles Payne” and “Mornings with Maria” also won the ratings race over the respective competition on CNBC.
POLL DU JOUR
• 88 percent of Americans say married men and women having affairs is “morally wrong,” 81 percent say the same about cloning humans.
• 78 percent say polygamy is morally wrong; 75 percent say the same of suicide, 55 percent say that about pornography.
• 48 percent say abortion is morally wrong, 42 percent say the same of doctor-assisted suicide.
• 33 percent say the death penalty is morally wrong, 32 percent say the same of “having a baby outside of marriage”; 31 percent say that about marijuana use.
• 30 percent say “gay or lesbian relations” is morally wrong, 29 percent say the same about medical research using human embryos; 28 percent say that about gambling.
• 20 percent say divorce is morally wrong, 19 percent say the same of alcohol use, 6 percent say that about birth control.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,024 U.S. adults conducted May 1-10 and released Tuesday.
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