Brief asides


POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009


Who's running this company, the government?

Ready to tool around in a new car in the New Year?

The time may be right for a good deal, as General Motors Co. conducts a fire sale to unload its discontinued brands of Saturn and Pontiac. Through Jan. 4, GM is giving dealers $7,000 for every Saturn or Pontiac sold, which means a trickle-down bargain price for consumers. Analysts say that could give buyers up to a 46 percent price break. The biggest caveat, analysts agree, is the negative effect on future resale value of the discontinued cars.

GM is also eliminating Hummer and Saab, even as 11th-hour talks try to keep alive the latter, Swedish car brand.



Flu scare fortunately turning out to be just that

New research suggests that the so-called swine flu is less contagious than originally thought, but that children are far more susceptible than adults. A study published in today's New England Journal of Medicine puts the odds of a person catching the novel H1N1 virus from someone already sick in their household at about one in eight, although children are twice as susceptible as adults.

The virus has sickened an estimated one-sixth of Americans since being identified in April. The second wave of cases now seems to have peaked, and health experts do not know if another surge lies ahead.