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The Friday factor

In our interconnected world, we cannot expect what some are calling a "hostage crisis" involving Iran and the U.K. to enter its eighth day and not affect the global oil market. Tonight the domestic consumer impact will be among our top stories.  We'll also update today's findings on pet food, the allegations about Rudy Giuliani, and an examination of the mega-business strategy being pursued by Starbucks. We'll hear from the CEO.

The other story I'd call to your attention is a collaborative effort to bring us up to date on the startling situation in Russia. Veteran Correspondent Jim Maceda along with Nightly News producer Clare Duffy (who has lived there, studied the culture and speaks the language) have returned from Russia with some great reporting on Putin's rule, the economy and more. Jim has already filed a vlog in this space and there is a huge package of Web material that will be at Nightly.MSNBC.com when we hit air. Our operating theory is that Russia has been off the American radar -- and while we've been looking elsewhere and fighting dual wars, Putin has consolidated power and transformed many aspects of the country. Tonight we're airing a fascinating and important piece of work.

The e-mails that this network has received since the segment last night with Anne Thompson have been overwhelming. Talk about touching a nerve. You will see more of Anne tonight, and here's a hint: Friday nights are reserved for our Making a Difference segment.

We'll also take a moment tonight to mark the retirement of a veteran. Jim Cummins is one of the people our viewers think of as part of the "faces of NBC News." He's the definition of a field correspondent -- he has covered every story more than once, and has been the central man in our Dallas bureau for as long as I can remember. As I said on our inter-office conference call this morning, he has taught a slew of rookies around here, both in terms of direct mentoring and indirect osmosis. He has been a staple and unshakable presence on network television news, and we will always consider ourselves members of Jim's home team.

Until I figure out a way to make these a permanent feature, please remember our favorites here: Michael Yon's blog from Iraq, the best explainer I've encountered on that same subject (with thanks to ARMY magazine) and the book/DVD MEDAL OF HONOR, which is filled with such amazing and compelling stories and text... the proceeds from which go to such a good cause.

Have a good weekend and please join us for the Friday edition of NBC Nightly News.