This is not a news story, but I think there may be some people reading the blog who are thinking about studying Japanese. This text book series (especially the one written in Hiragana and Katakana) is one of the best despite the name.
I know that “Whatever” For Busy people sounds pretty bad, but actually this book is a very good introduction. If you can do this, you can probably communicate pretty well.
The link (obviously) goes to amazon.com