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Mistakes, pirates and YouTube, oh my

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By Stephen Lega

Before I do anything else, I want to acknowledge a factual error in last week's column. In 1984, Ronald Reagan won an overwhelming electoral victory, but it wasn't against Michael Dukakis.

Alert reader James Spragens notified me of the mistake. Reagan actually ran against Walter Mondale.

I still stand by the premise of the column. I just wanted to acknowledge the error.

- Speaking of errors, the unfortunate events that have affected Marion County High School for the past two weeks garnered the attention of Louisville and Lexington television stations.

Unfortunately, some of the information they reported was incorrect. WDRB reported that police feared a "suicide pact" among local students. According to the school and law enforcement sources, that was not true.

Likewise, WAVE-3 and WLEX-18 reported that a student actually brought a gun to school Nov. 7. That report was also false, according to school and law enforcement sources.

That said, you will not see a correction or clarification from any of those news outlets. In fact, I can't ever remember seeing a correction on a television newscast.

Corrections are standard operating procedure at every newspaper I've ever worked for and for every newspaper and magazine I've ever read. I don't understand why television news doesn't follow the same practice.

- We don't really need another reason to reduce our oil consumption, but just in case we did, I want to point out that pirates - yes, pirates - hijacked a Saudi oil tanker Monday.

This tanker was carrying roughly two million barrels worth of crude oil, according to CNN.

And piracy appears to be on the rise throughout the world. The Associated Press reported that 11 ships were being held for ransom by pirates as of Monday. Time magazine ran a feature on problems in Somalia, and piracy was mentioned at the top of the list with terrorism.

One group of pirates has held the MV Faina, a Ukranian ship carrying Russian tanks, since Sept. 25.

Pirates may have collected as much as $30 million in ransom money this year, according to Time, which hardly provide a disincentive.

Everyone has noticed the drop in oil prices, but I hope none of us are naive enough to think they are going to stay low. (I'm setting the over-under for next summer at $4.50 a gallon.) If pirate ransoms or extra security costs gets added to the costs of importing oil, who knows how much we'll be paying to fill up.

- President-elect Barack Obama will likely be taking a step backwards technologically after he takes the oath of office.

The now former Senator from Illinois (he resigned his seat Sunday) may have to adjust to new ways of communicating. According to The New York Times, Obama will likely be asked to let go of his BlackBerry for two reasons.

First, under the Presidential Records Act, any correspondence conducted via smart phone could be added to his official records and therefore become subject to public review. Second, there are concerns about email security.

Neither of these are new issues, however. The Times reported the President George W. Bush had to end his email correspondence with friends shortly before taking office.

Considering how much I use email in my personal and professional communications, it seems strange to me that the chief executive of our nation is restricted in his use of technology. At the same time, I can only imagine what kinds of negative political ads we would see during the next election if the President's personal emails were available for public inspection.

- Obama's election has already been good for at least two segments of the economy, at least temporarily.

Daily newspapers flew off the racks Nov. 5. Millions of people were interested in getting a copy of the front page to keep for their records.

Also, gun sales have been on the rise since Obama was elected. Many gun owners are convinced that Obama quickly will sign more restrictive gun-control legislation, so millions of gun owners are buying whatever they can right now.

- On the other hand, soon-to-be President Obama will utilize technology in another way. He will be posting his weekly address on YouTube. Presidents have been delivering addresses to the American people via radio for decades.

Honestly, I've never listened to a single Presidential radio address, but I might actually check it out from time to time on YouTube just for the novelty of it.