Thursday, July 30, 2015

India Mourns the Loss of Abdul Kalam

Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, passed away Monday after reports claim he collapsed during a lecture at IIM (Indian Institute of Management) in Shillong during the evening.

Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October, was pronounced dead more than two hours after being wheeled into the ICU of Bethany hospital in critical condition. Doctors have reported, Kalam suffered a massive cardiac arrest. 

Kalam became the 11th head of the state and held the post between 2002 and 2007. He was an "everyman" which did not curry favor with the politician and, as a result, was denied a second term in office.

Arrangements were made to carry his body from Guwahati to Delhi, Tuesday morning, A seven-day national mourning will be declared. Both the Houses of Parliament are expected to make obituary references and adjourn as a mark of respect to Kalam's memory.

Avual Pakir Jainuladeen (APJ) Abdul Kalam rose from humble origins to become President, during the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government under Atal Biharia Vajpayee. As a aeronautics engineer from Madras Institute of Technology, Kalam was considered the brains of the Indian missile program and was the Chief Scientific Adviser to Vajpayee. He was also instrumental in the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998.

Prior to his collapse Kalam had been active on social media, tweeting about the lecture scheduled later that evening. Many political leaders and colleagues have expressed their deepest condolences for the former President.

During his Presidency Kalam seized any chance to address students - more importantly, young school children - suggesting they dream big so those dreams can be achieved in life.

"He had a special love for children and fought to constantly inspire the youth of our country," said President Pranab Mukherjee. "Dr. Kalam will long be remembered for his passion, science and innovation, along with his contributions which have enabled scientists, educationist, and writers. His achievements as leader of the DRDO
(Defense Research and Development Organization) vastly enhanced the security of our nation." 

"I got to work with him closely..., The country has lost a son who worked for the strength of India. He had spent every moment for the youth of India. No person will be able to fill the gap left by him. His work will inspire us to work for the development of the nation," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"He was the best human being I came across. I feel very sorry. He had good humour, had very good presence of mind and always wanted to give something to society," noted Former President Pratibha Patil.

"You have to dream before your dreams can come true." ~ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

"If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.~ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
October 15, 1931 - July 27, 2015
Former President of India
Writer, Aeronautics Engineer, Scientist  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Europe's Debt: America's Crisis?

After the country's voters rejected the terms of the proposed bailout, the next 48 hours will determine the fate of the Euro.

Political leaders and central bankers must make two major, linked decisions. They must determine whether there is a future for Greece in the Euro at the heels of a No vote, and with Alexis Tsipras as a negotiating partner - and by extension, whether to press on with talks for a bailout package. Meaning, they must decide if they can maintain the emergency cash support that is keeping Greece's ruined banks from collapse. Without the maintenance of these emergency loans, the major banks could come toppling down within days - forcing Greece to introduce a new form of currency. 

What does all of this mean for America? Our banks should be fine, however the global stock market and American exports are directly affected by Greece's economic crisis. 

Take a look at this video clip from our program, Europe's Debt: America's Crisis?

Click here to view the entire program online, for free!

"The drive for the Euro has been motivated by politics not economics. The aim has been to link Germany and France so closely as to make a future European war impossible, and to set the stage for a federal United States of Europe. I believe that adoption of the Euro would have the opposite effect. It would exacerbate political tensions by converting divergent shocks that could be readily accommodated by exchange rate changes into divisive political issues. Political unity can pave the way for monetary unity. Monetary unity imposed under unfavorable conditions will prove a barrier to the achievement of political unity." ~ Milton Friedman 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Free or Equal: Following Milton Friedman's Footsteps in China

Free To Choose Network recirculated this Field Report from 2010-2011, to demonstrate the significance of Freedom and Milton Friedman's journey as we celebrated the Fourth of July.

Report from the Field by Barbara Potter, Field Producer

Every production has its challenges, but this was one we never expected. A long-dormant volcano in Iceland erupted in 2010, and threatened to shut down Free or Equal before filming had even begun.

Jim and I flew to Hong Kong in April, five days before our program host, Johan Norberg, was to arrive. Part of our mission as director and field producer was to find the exact location where Milton had stood in Free To Choose to describe the powerful Hong Kong economy of 1980. We were armed with still frames captured from the then thirty-year-old public television series. That meant taking Johan to some of the most interesting places Milton presented in 1980. Well, if we could get Johan to us. Hong Kong, you see, was our first location. Those first few days, Jim and I worked with a local production assistant named Ho. Ho was himself a producer, who was very familiar with the city and would help us on our search. The most important matching location was an overview of the impressive Hong Kong skyline. The idea was to position Johan just where Milton had been, so that the angle and size of the buildings matched the old footage, and we could see the changes. We knew that we needed to be positioned across Victoria Harbor, shooting from the Kowloon side, but we had no idea how many of the original structures would still be there. 

Once we had ridden the Star Ferry across the bay, it took a couple of hours to figure out where we needed to be, and to determine that we could walk through a large parking garage to access the second story of a cruise ship dock and get our angle. Milton had been right here. We would dissolve from Milton to Johan, standing in the same spot, with the twenty-first century version of Hong Kong appearing behind him at dusk. The new International Commerce Center would appear over his left shoulder. At 108 stories, it is the fourth tallest building in the world, and would illustrate the city's growth.

For the next couple of days, we continued with our preproduction location scouting. With Ho, we toured the city with our camera and script, deciding on what to shoot, as well as where, (and when) the daylight would be most advantageous.

In the meantime, Europe's busiest airports were in complete chaos under the giant, slow-moving ash cloud. We realized that Johan probably wouldn't arrive from Stockholm on time, or maybe even at all that week. We watched CNN, checked our iPhone weather and news apps constantly, called Sweden, and tried to figure out how to get Johan out of there and to Hong Kong. If he didn't arrive, it would be weeks before his super-busy schedule would allow him to travel to China for five days again. And we had booked other locations to go to after Hong Kong. Newspaper headlines screamed, "Ash cloud expected to linger for several days" and, "Airlines consider using buses to transport passengers to other airports." But nobody could tell in what direction the ash was moving, or which airports were likely to open. I found out online that Heathrow Airport was closed, (his flight connected there), and Johan's ticket would be refunded. British Airways was not optimistic. Trains were fully booked and there was no way out of Sweden on public transportation. 

It was now Wednesday, two days after Johan's expected arrival and six days since Jim and I had arrived in Hong Kong. We decided to start shooting scenic shots of the ferry, rush hour, Victoria Peak, and other background material. I was unable to book any new airline tickets for Johan online. 

Finally, I called the American Express international travel agency number. It seemed that Arlanda Airport in Stockholm might open at 4 p.m. that day for a short time. It looked like there was a clear spot in the cloud of ash. There was one seat left on Qatar Airways, connecting in Doha, Qatar. It was our only option. I booked the reservation, and asked Johan to go to the airport. He was skeptical, but he did. He soon emailed us a photo of the huge Arlanda schedule board with every flight listed as cancelled. All but one: Qatar was still expecting to go, and it actually did. It was one of the only flights that left Stockholm during the hour that the airport opened that afternoon. We were thrilled.

Now we only had three days with Johan in Hong Kong out of the expected five. We had chosen all of our locations, but there was a lot of material to cover. Johan and Jim had worked many hours in advance of the shoot to get the script into a "final" form, but there are always changes on location. We were thoroughly impressed by Johan. He was amazingly adept at memorizing and personalizing the script segments on the spot. After the first hectic day, we knew that we would be able to squeeze five days worth of on-camera scenes into three, with a few minor changes. The skyline shot was one of many, as we raced around the city, back and forth on the Star Ferry, from one side of Victoria Harbor to the other.

One of the most memorable things about our shoot in Hong Kong was the man we met on Ladder Street. Ladder Street is a cobblestone, pedestrian thoroughfare that has broad, shallow steps, gradually climbing through four or five blocks in the middle of Hong Kong Island. It was one of the locations that Milton appeared in for Free To Choose, and we had rediscovered it during our scouting. There are small businesses along Ladder Street, and a number of vendors with tiny stalls of clothing, paintings, and tourist items. One older man, whose sign read "Cheung Kee Copper and Iron," sold metal goods like mailboxes and pails.  As we were carrying our equipment up Ladder Street with Johan, it struck Jim that this man looked very familiar. He asked Ho to find out whether the man had been around in 1980, in the same spot. It turned out that this Mr. Cheung had been profiled by Milton as he welded metal water containers in his shop. Over the footage of Mr. Cheung, Milton had narrated, "Only the businessmen who can adapt, who are flexible and adjustable survive." Today, Mr. Cheung survives, and now makes smaller products that appeal to visitors and locals. We thought that Milton would be pleased to know that he had adapted to the market's demands. We interviewed Mr. Cheung, with the aid of our translator, and bought a little red mailbox that now hangs in Johan's home in Sweden. It was sweet ending to our adventure in Hong Kong. And Johan was able to fly back to Stockholm without any problems.

To stream the full program click here. If you want to find out more about us and our other programs visit our media website here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Milton Friedman July Bundle Sales

July commemorates Independence Day and signifies Freedom for the United States, but July is also Milton Friedman's Birthday Month! So we created TWO different sales bundles for you!!!

The first is Friedman Freedom Favorites, bursting with programs that help illustrate Freedom to compliment Independence Day!!! 

The second is the Milton Friedman Birthday Bundle packed with all our Milton Friedman media to help honor this economist's values, ideas and influence.

Click here to see all our special offers.

Milton Friedman:
Born: July 31st, 1912 in Brooklyn, New York 
Died: November 16th, 2006 in San Francisco, California
"A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both."