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2003-04-01 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Lay-off announcements fall to 6-month low
"Corporate lay-offs plunged 38% in March to 85,396, the lowest figure in 6 months... 'Corporate America is in limbo.', said John Challenger, chief executive officer of out-placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, which has tracked corporate lay-off announcements since 1989... 'One thing we do not expect is significant job creation.', Challenger said. In March, the transportation sector was the biggest job cutter, slicing 19,397 jobs. Electronics companies cut 17,051 while government and non-profits cut 11,493."
Kenneth Chang _NY Times_
Ideal Sensors for Bio-Chemo-Terror Attack Don't Exist Yet
"Most current sensors for chemical agents use one of 2 techniques. One, surface wave acoustic detection, uses a thin membrane, usually made of quartz, vibrating at high frequencies. The membrane surface is coated to attract certain chemicals. If present, those chemicals stick to the membrane, slowing its vibrations. The second technique, ion mobility spectroscopy, adds and subtracts electrons from the chemical molecules, making them electrically charged, and then pushes the charged molecules with an electric field. The speed that the molecules are pushed, bouncing through a gas, gives a measure of their size... Another technique, mass spectroscopy, which breaks apart a molecule, accelerates the charged fragments and bends their paths in a magnetic field, provides much surer identification. But it has not been widely used to detect chemical weapons, because most mass spectrometers are huge, weighing half a ton to several tons... A nerve gas molecule is but a few ten-millionths of an inch wide. A virus like smallpox is about 100 times as wide, and an anthrax spore is several times larger yet."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_/_IDG_
Out-sourcing growth predicted, but impact on workers may be uneven
"Companies increasingly will turn to off-shore out-sourcing to cut costs and will utilize their in-house technology talent for strategic development and competitive advantage. The IT professionals most threatened by the move are those with so-called commodity skills, particularly programmers. That was one of the key points raised by a panel of IT executives and end-user CIOs yesterday at a forum held by Mass eComm, a Boston-based technology industry association... Off-shore out-sourcing will also put wage pressure on workers whose jobs aren't out-sourced."
2003-04-02 10:06PST (13:06EST) (18:06GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
More tech firiings could be on the way: Even with cuts, revenue per employee is off (with table)
"Despite many rounds of tech lay-offs over the past few years, there are large technology companies that have yet to cut jobs in proportion to their revenue declines. The current amount of revenue generated per employee at some tech companies is still less than it was in 1998, according to data compiled by CBS.MarketWatch.com... Declining technology revenue is hardly a shock; it's been happening at some of the most revered companies for more than 3 years. What is surprising, however, is that revenue-per-employee figures have continued to fall at some companies, despite thousands of job cuts and the use of software technology to boost sales efficiency... Many software companies are attempting to get more services business, which is more employee-intensive than selling software licenses... sales-per-employee have declined for 3 consecutive years... Apple with a staff of 10K brought in $580K per worker in the last 12 months, as compared to $892,310 per worker in 1998."
2003-04-02 13:28PST (16:28EST) (21:28GMT)
Tech Job Outlook Still Dim
Bob Rosner, Allan Halcrow & Alan Levins _abc News_
How Human Resources Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your Team
"If no one in HR can tell you your department's turn-over rate; how long it takes (on average) to fill a job in your department; how much your department contributes to the bottom line; or what your best performers actually do all day, then they are probably a foe. We encourage you to ignore them -- except when it comes to legal matters or if you think there's a chance you can turn them into a friend."
Beth Healy _Boston Globe_
Feeling spent: Increasing expenses cut consumers' buying power, raising fears of recession
"Rising costs for heat, utilities, gasoline, water, and insurance may be leading the nation back into recession, as Americans who have kept the economy pumping with purchases of big-ticket items such as cars and dish-washers shift their spending to basic necessities. 'The consumer is caving in.', said Allen Sinai, chief economist at Primark Decision Economics in Boston. 'We are on a heightened recession alert at this moment.'... A typical Massachusetts family is paying $714 more in 2003 than last year for heating oil, water bills, medical coverage, and car and home insurance, according to a calculation by the Globe. Add another $1K for families paying college tuition, all at a time when most pay-checks are not growing."
John Rebchook _Rocky Mountain News_
Home foreclosures soar 38% around Denver
"Home foreclosures in the Denver area rose by 38% in the first quarter compared with the first 3 months of 2002. Public trustees in the metro area reported they have begun processing an estimated 1,974 foreclosures so far, compared with 1,433 in the first 3 months of 2002. It's a trend that has been growing with the bad economy. Last year, 6,574 foreclosures were filed, 55.7% more than the 4,222 filed in 2001. Last year's tally was the highest since 1991, but far below the record of 17,122 in 1988. Last year, foreclosures accounted for about 1.1% of all the homes on the market, while in 1988 they accounted for about 3.8%."
George E. Jordan _NJ Star Ledger_
Offices continue to sit empty
"New Jersey's commercial office market continued to nose dive in the first quarter of 2003, with vacancy rates reaching 17% statewide, according to figures released yesterday by Cushman and Wakefield. Christopher Kinum, Cushman and Wakefield's New Jersey senior managing director, said the weak national economy, war in the Middle East and rising unemployment spell little good news for the office market in the near future."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Sour Mood Pervades the Economic Front
"The Commerce Department reported today that factory orders dropped 1.5% in February, the steepest drop in 5 months. On Friday, economists predict, the government will report that unemployment rose again in March. Though the increase in joblessness is expected to be modest, the economy has already shed more than 600K jobs since November and 2M since President Bush took office... The trend is even worse in Europe and Japan..."
David R. Francis _Christian Science Monitor_
Job security becomes job #1 at home: As lay-offs continue, unemployment is expected to climb again this week.
"Lay-offs are continuing at many companies, and with consumer confidence at a 10-year low, even employers who aren't cutting jobs don't appear ready to do much hiring... Even the college-educated and professionals... are being laid off in large numbers in this economy. The difficult job market shows up in polls, with a Gallup survey taken in early March showing 82% of Americans see the current climate as a 'bad time' to be looking for work. That's up from 68 last November. Christian Science Monitor/TIPP polls show roughly 1 in 5 Americans worry someone in their household will be laid off. Yet Congress is a long way from settling on any plan to provide either fiscal stimulus to the economy or extending unemployment insurance benefits again... Companies announced 138,177 lay-offs in February, but planned job cuts fell sharply to 85,396 in March. With the war, American businesses put major decisions and actions on hold, explained John Challenger, CEO of the Chicago out-placement firm that compiles lay-off statistics, Challenger, Gray & Christmas."
Tinabeth Burton _ITAA_
"Overall, the IT work-force experienced a small 3.3% gain in 2002... The total number of U.S. IT workers [employed] at the end of 2002 was 10,226,243, a 3.3% rise since 2002 January, when there were 9.896M in IT. IT managers predict they will need to hire an additional 874,327 workers over the upcoming months, a prediction that is down from the third quarter and the beginning of 2002."
2003-04-03 08:24PST (11:24EST) (16:24GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment claims jump: Low business confidence continues to impact hiring
"The closely watched 4-week average of initial jobless claims requests rose 2,500 to 426,250, the Labor Department reported Thursday. For just the week ended March 29, benefits requests soared by 38K to 445K -- the highest level in more than 11 months... Meanwhile, the number of Americans who continue to collect benefits each week surged 107K to 3.61M. That's the highest level since the middle of November. The 4-week average -- preferred by economists because it lessens the impact of events such as storms and holidays -- rose 31,250 to 3.53M. That's also the highest level in more than 4 months... The insured unemployment rate held at 2.8% in the latest week, Labor figures showed... According to a survey of economists by CBS.MarketWatch.com, the U.S. economy probably shed about 17K jobs last month, while the unemployment rate rose to 6% from 5.8% [seasonally adjusted]."
2003-04-03 08:33PST (11:33EST) (16:33GMT)
Kathleen Hays _CNN_/_Money_
Recession signals flashing yellow: The 4 key indicators of economic health are sagging
"Here's what matters in trying to figure out where the economy is heading, the 4 main indicators of recession: 1. Employment - the number of jobs created each month 2. Industrial output -- mainly manufacturing 3. Personal income -- think monthly pay-check 4. Business sales -- wholesale and retail It's worth noting what's NOT on that list: 1. Two quarters of negative GDP (gross domestic product) growth 2. The unemployment rate First, the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) states explicitly that recession is NOT [to them] defined by negative GDP changes."
Katie Hafner _NY Times_
That Championship Season, in Code
"For 27 years, the Association for Computing Machinery has attracted teams of programmers from several dozen countries for the annual finals of the International Collegiate Programming Contest. For 5 hours they code their hearts out, cramming a semester's worth of problem-solving into one exhausting, nerve-shattering morning. They are billed as the world's top young programmers, 263 stand-outs (only 7 of them women) winnowed from a contestant pool of more than 23K. They represented universities as prominent as Harvard and as far-flung as the University of Guanajuato in central Mexico and Saratov State University in Russia... Warsaw took first place, Moscow came in second, and another Russian team, the St. Petersburg Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics, was third. Comenius University from Slovakia was fourth. Caltech was the highest-ranking American team, tying at 13th, just behind the University of Buenos Aires... he was considering attending school in the United States, where, many agreed, graduate computer studies are superior to programs offered abroad."
David Altman _NY Times_
Year-Long Decline in Dollar Is Little Help On Trade Gap
"'I can't think of an exchange rate at which U.S. exports might be competitive with those from a very low-cost country like [Red China].', said John G. Lonski, chief economist at Moody's Investors Service. And in [Red China's] case, Mr. Lonski said, the currency is tied to the dollar, which helps prevent a narrowing of its trade imbalance with the United States... All American companies, exporters or not, could suffer if foreign capital being pulled out of United States investments is not replaced by domestic savings. Though household savings rose to about $330G last year from $200G in 2001, the budget deficit of $158G cut the nation's total savings in half. This year, the overall deficit will probably be $250G to $300G, according to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office."
Eric Sylvers _NY Times_
Player in Cellular Phone Market in Europe Predicts Consolidation
"'Consolidation is inevitable.', Mr. [Marco] De Benedetti, 40, said in an interview at the Milan offices of Telecom Italia Mobile, part of Telecom Italia Group. 'Most European countries can support only 3 mobile phone companies. The first 2 can make a lot of money splitting an 80% market share, and if there's 1 operator left, he can make a decent living. But if you have a situation, like in Germany, where there are 3 companies fighting for the last 20% , nobody is going to make it.' Four of Europe's 5 biggest mobile phone markets have more than 3 operators, and some have as many as 6."
Carolyn B. Maloney _Thomas, Library of Congress_
Americans Abroad, HR1619
"Congress finds that-- (1) an estimated 3M to 6M Americans live and work over-seas while continuing to vote and pay taxes in the United States; (2) Americans residing abroad help increase exports of American goods because they traditionally buy American, sell American, and create business opportunities for American companies and workers, thereby strengthening the United States economy, creating jobs in the United States, and extending United States influence around the globe; (3) with the growing threat of terrorism against Americans who live around the world, the need to account for the number of Americans residing in different countries is even more important; (4) Americans residing abroad play a key role in advancing this Nation's interests by serving as economic, political, and cultural 'ambassadors' of the United States..."
Intel manager ordered to dump workers committed suicide
2003-04-04 07:58PST (10:58EST) (15:58GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Pay-rolls cut by 108K in March; US seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains at 5.8%
"The nation's [seasonally adjusted] unemployment rate remained at 5.8%, with 8.45M Americans officially looking for work... 'No one seems to care much about the lousy U.S. jobs report right now.', analysts at Briefing.com said. 'We think that could prove to be a costly mistake.'... Average hourly wages rose 0.1% to $15.10. The aggregate number of hours worked in the economy rose 0.3% as the average work week rose by 12 minutes to 34.3 hours. Job losses were widespread throughout most sectors of the economy in March. Since the recession began 2 years ago, 2.1M jobs have been lost. Goods-producing industries cut 14K jobs in March, including 36K in manufacturing. No major manufacturing sector added workers. Construction added 21K jobs, a bounce back from February's weather-related losses of 42K jobs. Service-producing industries cut 94K jobs. Retail firms sliced 43K workers, bringing the total lost since 2001 June to 470K. Government cut 40K jobs, most were in local education. Temporary help firms cut 48K workers in March, the largest decline since September. Temp jobs are often the first to be added and the first to be lost in today's flexible work-place. More than 500K temp jobs have been lost in the recession. Transportation lost 14K workers in March, bringing the loss since 2001 January to 301K. Half of those jobs were at air-lines. The [seasonally adjusted] jobless rate remained at 5.8% because 267K Americans dropped out of the labor force. Nearly a million Americans dropped out in the first quarter."
2003-04-04 14:42PST (17:42EST) (22:42GMT)
Leigh Strope _AP_/_Yahoo!_
More Than 100K Jobs Cut in March
"U.S. companies slashed 108,000 jobs in March... The [seasonally adjusted] unemployment rate held at 5.8% after thousands of job seekers gave up and dropped out of the work pool... Discouraged job seekers dropping out of the employment pool rose to 474K in March, up from 330K a year ago. Also likely skewing the data was the activation of about 200K Reserve and National Guard members leading up to the March 20 war start... About 8.4M workers are unemployed, with the average duration about 18 weeks."
2003-04-04 04:43PST (07:43EST) (12:43GMT)
Christina Dyrness _Charlotte News Observer_
Tech jobs leave area, go over-seas
"In the past decade, big companies from Nortel Networks to Bank of America have shifted information technology jobs to places such as India and Eastern Europe to save money. Nearly all Fortune 500 companies do some off-shore out-sourcing... Now technology start-ups, figuring they can save 50% or more on salaries, are embracing the idea. And firms with over-seas expertise are springing up in the Triangle to help them. But those new firms do not offset the thousands of jobs lost by the Triangle's tech sector in recent years. The shift over-seas is a slap in the face for software developers, who rode the tech boom in the late 1990s to high salaries -- until the bottom dropped out. Triangle tech companies have laid off more than 7,300 workers in the past 2 years, and those out of work for months are wondering whether the jobs will ever come back... North Carolina has lost more jobs as a result of free trade than any other state, many of them in textiles. As of January, 141K low-skill jobs in the state have gone over-seas since 1994, according to the U.S. Department of Labor... Tech research firm IDC says money spent on global out-sourcing will grow from $56G in 2000 to $100G in 2005."
2003-04-04 15:30PST (18:30EST) (23:30GMT)
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Damage assessment: 2 weeks into war, the home front is getting hurt
"And while the tax-payers will cover the lion's share of the costs of the invasion, American businesses and workers are already paying the price through mounting job losses, slumping travel and a parade of companies warning of lower profits... According to the Department of Labor, about 465Kjobs have vanished since the beginning of February, concentrated in turmoil-sensitive industries like lodging, leisure and airlines among the hardest hit. That's about 145Kmore lost positions than many economists wee expecting... Well-publicized boycotts of American consumer brands have been called for, or are underway, in the Middle East and Europe with companies including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Yum Brands and Altria's Philip Morris tobacco unit among the prime targets. None of those companies would acknowledge a fall-off in international business as of yet but they are all watching the situation closely. At the moment, 'like most boycotts, it tends to be more ink than action', said Jim Crimmins, chief strategic officer for ad agency DDB Chicago, a unit of Omnicom. 'But marketers are still concerned.' For some products, 'America is part of the enjoyment but in many parts of the world, that enjoyment has been diminished.'. Crimmins explained that brand appeal can rest at least partly on good projections of the United States -- 'things like freedom, prosperity, individuality and diversity'..."
2003-04-04 15:34PST (18:34EST) (23:34GMT)
Russ Britt _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
No new Tomahawks planned for a year: Navy, Raytheon say they have enough to finish Iraqi war
"Don't expect a rush to replenish the 740 missiles used thus far in the two-week campaign, though. The Navy says it has set aside enough of the cruise missiles to finish out the war and isn't planning any new Tomahawks to be in service for at least a year. Those will arrive five years after the new Tomahawks last came off assembly lines, in 1999... The Navy is looking to increase the capacity of Raytheon's Tomahawk plant in Tucson, AZ... roughly one-third of the Tomahawk arsenal has been spent on Baghdad and other Iraqi locations. There were about 2K Tomahawks in the inventory and 740 have been used thus far. At an average cost of $1.4M apiece, the Tomahawk is an expensive munition. Yet it does what few missiles or bombs can do -- literally fly itself to a target from a faraway location, usually a ship or submarine. The flight of a Tomahawk is programmed into an onboard computer in the missile. The computer can order the missile to make turns if need be, and it flies low to the ground below enemy radar... There have been 3K Tomahawks built in the program's history... Tomahawks will be outfitted with the capability to 'loiter', or fly around enemy targets for several hours before attacking. These will be called 'Tactical Tomahawks', and their cost will fall to just under $600K."
2003-04-04 04:00PST (07:00EST) (12:00GMT)
Canada's March jobless rate dips to 7.3%
"Canada's unemployment rate dipped to 7.3% in March when 14,200 jobs were created as the hospitality and construction industries compensated for a drop in factory employment, Statistics Canada said on Friday. A Reuters poll of analysts had forecast just 10,700 jobs would be created and that the unemployment rate would not change from February's 7.4%... By mid-March, 22,700 full-time jobs were created and 8,500 part-time jobs were lost. The survey reflects jobs created and lost, not announced..."
Kate Zernike _NY Times_
Professors Protest as Students Debate
"Some students here accuse professors of behaving inappropriately, of not knowing their place. 'It seems the professors are more vehement than the students.', Jack Morgan, a sophomore, said. 'There comes a point when you wonder are you fostering a discussion or are you promoting an opinion you want students to embrace or even parrot?'... On campuses like Yale and Berkeley, professors say their colleagues are overwhelmingly against the war. By contrast, students polled by The Yale Daily News are 50-50. Interviews elsewhere find students' attitudes equally fractured. Some are solidly for the war. Some are against it, but not to the point of protest. 'Protesting is a niche activity.', said professor Michael Kazin, co-author of _America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s_. 'There are some people who do drama, some people who do protest, other people who drink too much.'"
The More Things Change: Politicians/Bureaubums Turned Lobbyists
"The wielding of influence is Washington's most lucrative occupation -- a life-support system for the many capital politicians who never go home after their incumbency ends. A fresh head count of the top 100 executive officials at the end of the Clinton administration shows that 51 of them settled in a year later to lobby the government or work for companies that do. This is about the same percentage as for the alumni of the preceding Republican administration, according to the study, by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan but aggressive watch-dog group... Once in office, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order to carry out just such a vow, mandating that his best and brightest would have to wait 5 years -- not the required 1 year -- before cashing in to lobby government. But in his final days in office, as the private sector loomed, Mr. Clinton was somehow influenced to revoke that order."
Barbara Rose _Chicago Tribune_
UnderEmployed search, cling to what they have
"His 2 part-time jobs combined pay about 25% of his former salary as a software quality assurance analyst. W is one of a growing number of professionals who've been forced to take lower-paying, often part-time jobs to make ends meet while dealing with the stress of hunting for work in a labor market that no longer demands their skills and experience... These under-employed workers are not included in the most closely watched figure -- the unemployment rate... 4.8M workers who took part-time jobs because they couldn't get full-time work. Counting them in addition to the nation's 8.5M unemployed, plus discouraged job-seekers who stopped looking for work, produced a 10.8% labor 'underutilization' rate in February, according to the bureau. That's up from 10.1% a year earlier."
Richard Berner _Morgan Stanley_
Why Is the UnEmployment Rate So Low?
"One critical contradiction lies in the level of the US unemployment rate, which has stabilized just below 6% for over a year. Yet the economy is growing below trend, businesses aren't hiring, and time-honored macro relationships suggest that the jobless rate should be at least 6.3%... Reflecting the desires of business to boost productivity and cut costs, private nonfarm payrolls have declined by half a percentage point since the recovery began, compared with an average 2.8% increase in the most recent five postwar recoveries, and a decline of 0.3% in 1991-1992. The performance of factory payrolls in this recovery is weaker still: The decline of 3.2% in the current recovery compares with a typical gain of 2.5%... In contrast with past manufacturing down-turns, many are still enduring a drawn-out restructuring process, made deeper by the global financial crisis that began in 1997, by 7 years of a strengthening dollar, and by continued movement of production off-shore to low-cost venues like [Red China]. Employment in apparel, textiles, leather, paper and products has declined for 7 straight years... First, the household data include farm, self-employed and unpaid family workers and exclude multiple job-holders. Second, new population controls based on the 2000 census boosted the household job tally in 2003 January. Adjusting for these differences narrows the growth gap between the 2 measures to 314K."
2003-04-04 23:05PST (2003-04-05 02:05EST) (2003-04-05 07:05GMT)
_Reuters_/_NY Times_ Bodies Identified as Missing GIs
2003-04-05 02:03PST (05:03EST) (10:03GMT)
Allen Wan & August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US troops near center of Baghdad: Cobra chopper crashes; US bodies found when POW was rescued
"Coalition forces were near the center of Baghdad after tanks entered the Iraqi capital for the first time early Saturday, U.S. officials said. Thousands of Iraqis also fled the capital, fearing the start of urban warfare. 'As of this morning, coalition forces are actually in the city of Baghdad.', the Associated Press quoted Navy captain Frank Thorp as saying. 'As we moved into the city, we saw sporadic fighting, we've actually moved through the Republican Guard divisions to pretty much the center of the city.'"
Patrick E. Tyler _NY Times_
US Squeezes Baghdad and Readies Next Step
"United States troops began a gradual encirclement of Baghdad on Friday, apparently as part of a strategy to isolate the capital, and American tanks were reported moving into the city this morning. In a day of consolidation after a rapid advance, the greatest mystery to emerge as the battlefields began to clear was what had become of the Republican Guard divisions that had formed what the Iraqi government called a 'ring of steel' around Baghdad."
Aryeh Neier _NY Times_
The World's Other Tyrants
"With international attention focused on Iraq, despots are seizing the opportunity to get rid of their opposition ó real or imagined. In Zimbabwe, Cuba and Belarus, independent journalists, opposition leaders and human rights advocates have been thrown in prison. Absent scrutiny, the leaders of these rogue regimes have been emboldened, aware that their actions are causing little more than a ripple of protest beyond their countries... VietNam's most renowned dissident, Nguyen Dan Que, a 60-year-old writer who is a physician by training, was arrested late last month. Hardly anyone protested. In Egypt, hundreds of war protesters were detained, with dozens beaten and tortured. In Thailand, the government has justified what appear to be summary executions in the name of a war on drugs. At least 1,900 people have been killed, including innocent by-standers."
Michael R. Gordon _NY Times_
Incursion Aims to Show Baghdad Residents That U.S. Can Attack at Will
R.W. Apple _NY Times_
Allies' New Test: How to Define Victory
"How and when, it seems worth asking, will the United States and its allies know they have won the Iraqi war?... a half-century ago the Allies were willing to pulverize German and Japanese cities to force the Axis to submit. Nothing like that is planned now. On a number of occasions, President Bush has defined the war as an effort to bring about "regime change" in Baghdad, which sounds simple enough: Get rid of Saddam Hussein and his coterie and replace them, as soon as possible, with a more benign, proto-democratic government."
Robert Pear _NY Times_
Health System Warily Prepares for Privacy Rules
"New federal rules to protect the privacy of medical records take effect on April 14 and the changes have touched off a quiet revolution in the health care industry. Doctors, hospitals, drugstores and other health care providers must limit the disclosure of information about patients. From big teaching hospitals in New York to tiny clinics in west Texas, much of the industry is preoccupied with the new standards, which will be noticeable to anyone who visits a doctor or a dentist. Providers must now give a written 'notice of privacy practices' to every patient, and the notice must be posted in a prominent place in every office, clinic and hospital. The notices tell patients how their medical information may be used and advise them of their rights, including the right to inspect and copy their records and request corrections. Patients can get copies of doctors' notes, X-rays and laboratory results, as well as data collected on them by their insurance companies... Scientists are racing to get permission from patients who were unaware that their health information was being routinely used for research without their consent... The rules, issued under a 1996 law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, were written by the Clinton administration and endorsed, with changes, by the Bush administration... Under the rules, a hospital can disclose a patient's 'condition, described in general terms' -- good, fair, serious or critical -- but only to callers who ask for the patient by name... Moreover, each patient must be given an opportunity to opt out of the hospital directory."
Patrick McGeehan _NY Times_
Again, Money Follows the Pin-Stripes
"Three years after stock prices started their long, steep plunge and more than a year after the wave of corporate scandals started washing ashore, investors are demanding an overhaul of how companies are governed. If their cries have been heard in board-rooms, the response is not obvious from the pay packages handed out to chief executives last year... A few companies... reduced executive pay despite profit increases and share-holder gains. But many others... sharply increased pay as their investors were suffering losses. Still others showed a largesse... Share-holders hoping for a revolution that would spell the end of the imperial chief executive will have to wait until next year at the soonest, according to some investors and compensation consultants. 'We think that C.E.O. pay still continues to be totally out of line with company performance.', Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said. Members of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. have called for share-holder votes on various aspects of corporate pay at more than 150 annual meetings this year. In many cases, the resolutions seek to limit the granting of stock options without share-holder approval or to ban them altogether. On average, the total compensation of chief executives declined by 20%, to $10.83M, as the very biggest pay-checks shrank, according to a survey of 200 large companies conducted for Money & Business by Pearl Meyer & Partners, the compensation practice of Clark/Bardes Consulting. But the median pay of chief executives of those companies rose faster than the typical workers' income, climbing 6%, to $8.52M. The combination of cash, shares and the value of perquisites -- the sure things in the pay packages -- also increased, rising by 5%, on average, to $4.85M. The median amount of that direct compensation grew even more, by 17%, to $3.16M... Mr. Hodgson calls such inducements 'golden hellos'. Some companies are still offering "golden goodbyes" to retiring chief executives, even after a storm of criticism..."
T. Shawn Taylor _Chicago Tribune_
Stable jobless rate doesn't tell whole story
"The number of so-called discouraged workers -- those who want to work but cited poor job prospects as their reason for not looking -- rose 5.3% in March, to 474K from 450K in February... On top of those discouraged workers not tallied in the unemployment rate, Stettner said there are another 1.1M people not looking for work because they lack child care or transportation."
2003-04-06 11:42PST (14:42EST) (19:42GMT)
Tax Returns Taking Passage Through India
"The accounting industry has recently begun using the burgeoning India outsourcing and technology markets to process American clients' returns... About 20 firms sent 1K returns to India last year on a 'pilot basis', said Gary Boomer, chief executive of Boomer Consulting Inc., a consulting firm for the accounting industry in Manhattan, KS. This year, he thinks 50 firms are using these services and that about 25K to 45K tax returns will be processed in India... SS&G had meant to test an outsourcing program this year with 100 returns, but stopped after 16 because there were too many problems, said Shamis. 'They didn't get the right answers.' Others worry that transferring private financial information to another location could result in increased identity theft."
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Is That Your CEO Cashing Out?
"All of these executives sold large piles of their companies' shares in 2002, transactions that are obscured from the view of many investors. Even though stock now constitutes the crux of executive pay -- as it has for more than a decade -- the sale of shares does not appear in companies' annual listing of executive pay. As a result, pay experts say, the picture of compensation that appears in corporate proxy statements is often incomplete, excluding important information about executives' confidence in their own companies. Stock sales are instead relegated to a document known as the Form 4, which, unlike a company's proxy statement, is usually not available on the web site of the S.E.C... In 2002 and the first part of this year, insiders, who are mainly executives and members of corporate boards, sharply curtailed their selling of company stock for the first time since 1997, according to Thomson Financial, a research company. They sold 1.18M shares last year, down about 28% from both 2000 and 2001. Insiders, however, were not wildly bullish last year. They increased their buying only modestly -- to 542M shares, up 13% from 2001 -- suggesting that many executives did not see their own stock as undervalued despite the market's slump."
Carole Gould _NY Times_
Tech and Health Care Shares Become Silk Purses
T. Shawn Taylor _Chicago Tribune_
Temporary status, on-going woes: H-1B debate hot as Congress prepares to reauthorize tech visa
Congress takes on H-1B visas
Congress takes on H-1B visas
"As Congress prepares to reauthorize the controversial program for another 3 years in the Fall, foes are calling for safe-guards to stop the wholesale replacement of U.S. workers. They also want the annual cap on H-1Bs to return to the 65K limit established in 1990 [or even to 5K in line with the visa program's purported purpose of bringing in only those pre-eminent in their fields]... Unemployment among tech professionals has been estimated at between 10% and 15%, compared to the national rate of 5.8 in March. Gildea likened the H-1B's impact on tech workers to job losses in the steel and textile industries decades ago... last year...79,100 new H-1B visas were issued... As more tech workers struggle with long-term unemployment and stories circulate about U.S. workers being forced to train their foreign replacements, disgust is turning to activism. Last month, a group of Stanford University students posted fliers inside 2 graduate dormitories where foreign students live stating that visas are forcing Americans into unemployment... Devarakonda, who came to the U.S. in 1991 on a student visa, later obtained an H-1B and finally got his green card in 2001, said the administration of the H-1B visa is contrary to its basic premise -- that employers need foreign workers to fill shortages... The Labor Department does investigate complaints by foreign workers against their employers and awarded back wages to 580 workers last year totaling more than $4.2M, according to labor statistics..."
Pat Choate _USA Daily_
We Sold Our Country
Susan Warner _NY Times_
Fighting Off the Chains (3 pages)
"Such huge chains as Circuit City, Sports Authority, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot and Target came into the state with what is known as 'big box' stores housing vast product lines. Of course, buying from manufacturers in such quantity translated into lower prices for consumers, driving out thousands of small, independent businessmen... According to Chain Store Age, a trade magazine, of the $2.5T in retail sales in the United States last year -- excluding automobiles but including restaurants -- sales at stores with more than 5 outlets accounted for about $1.7T... Ms. Kaufman-Scarborough said that an alluring niche could take several forms: first-class service, a one-of-a-kind product line or merchandise that meets a particular local demand... In the 1980's, a wide release would include about 400 screens, he said, while today that number is up to 6K to 7K... 'In the 1980s if you had 150 films released domestically, that was a lot. Last year there were more than 500.'... Stephen Brandt, executive director of the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, a trade association for independent pharmacies, said there were 1,350 individually owned drug-stores in the state in 1993 as against about 650 today. Moreover, Mr. Brandt said the number of chain-owned drug-stores had risen to 1,100 from 300 in 1993... Vijay...Shroff, who came to the United States from India 10 years ago, is part of a network of Indian entrepreneurs throughout the country who own independent motels. In fact, he borrowed money from the other motel owners as well as his family to go into business."
Anthony dePalma _NY Times_
What the Economic Indicators Miss
"To bridge the gap, the Fordham Institute, in Tarrytown, NY, and part of Fordham University, has put out an annual report since 1987 that takes the pulse of the nation by looking at the well-being of its people. The Fordham index examines an array of social indicators -- including infant mortality, child poverty and health insurance coverage -- and then calculates a single composite number, tracking it over time. The index goes back to 1970. Until 1976, social health kept pace with economic progress. Since then they have diverged, with gross domestic product continuing to rise as social health has declined. Mr. Miringoff says he thinks this reflects a change in job composition. Solid blue-collar jobs with stability, ample benefits and salaries sufficient to support a family have been replaced by jobs with relatively weaker salaries, fewer benefits and less stability... For example, while the national unemployment rate hit its lowest point in 31 years in 2000, average weekly wages have also declined."
Alex Berenson _NY Times_
Out of Ammunition: The Economy Faces a New Foe
"many economists now believe the United States is on the verge of slipping into its second recession in 2 years... Even if the United States technically avoids recession (2 consecutive quarters of negative economic growth), the economy almost certainly will not create enough jobs this year to keep up with the expansion of the labor force."
Kristen Go _Arizona Republic_
$100M boost in housing aid
"Despite relatively inexpensive housing in the Valley, many people still can't afford homes. A household has to bring in at least $45K a year to buy the typical Arizona house, and more than half of all families bring home less than $35K a year, according to recent studies. In Phoenix, the shortage of affordable housing affects nearly a third of all families... the average purchase is $106,600... The couple ended up using $1K of their own money to buy their 2K-square-foot home about a month ago."
2003-04-07 09:58PST (12:58EST) (17:58GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Software IPOs rare, but firms get funds: Sector scores with first-round venture funding
"Connectivity and communications software firms drew the biggest chunk of first-round venture capital financing in 2002, according to a survey by Ernst & Young and VentureOne. The category accounted for 54 companies, or 11%, of the total first-round financing payments. Business applications software comprised 37 companies in the survey. Overall, software accounted for about 33% in all new venture investments. Health care placed a close second, making up 29% of the first-round deals last year."
2003-04-07 13:34PDT (16:34EDT) (20:34GMT)
FERC Pulls Enron Documents Off Web Site
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday agreed to remove temporarily from its web site Enron Corp. e-mails after the company complained the documents could hurt creditors in the company's separate bankruptcy proceeding... Tens of thousands of documents about Enron and other power sellers during the California energy crisis were released and posted on the FERC's web site late last month. The material was collected by the agency during its year-long investigation of alleged electricity and natural gas price-gouging during the 2000-2001 energy crisis. The FERC announced in early March its intention to make the documents public and gave companies 1 week to explain why any specific documents should remain secret. Enron said it did not object then to the release of any material because the company believed information would be made public only through Freedom of Information Act requests, or by placing a hard copy in the FERC's public reading room. 'Enron did not anticipate that all of the data would be instantly available to anyone who had a computer.', the company told the FERC in a filing on Friday. Throughout the 17-page filing, the specific information that Enron wants removed from the web site was blacked out."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
Workers Who Feel Discarded
"'I can't tell you the number of divorces we hear about.', said Janelle Razzino, who runs an executive search firm in Westwood, NJ... Nobody needs that kind of pressure, stress, whatever.' 'It's like someone ran an electric shock through your system.', said Dr. Steve Korner, a psychologist in Cresskill, NJ. 'People are anxious, depressed, feeling unwanted, powerless. The job market is really awful for a lot of people.'... The U.S. is hemorrhaging jobs. On Friday the government reported that 108K more jobs were lost in March. Some 2.4M jobs have vanished since the nation's payrolls peaked 2 years ago. The jobless rate held steady at 5.8% last month, but that is extremely deceptive. People who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work are not counted when the unemployment rate is calculated. This keeps the official rate artificially low. There are 5M people in the discouraged category and their ranks are growing... John Sampson helps run a support network in northern New Jersey for telecommunications experts who have lost senior positions. 'This is the bleakest employment picture I've ever seen.', he said. 'The number of people looking for jobs is overwhelming. We've got a whole bunch of people now who are doing everything from selling cars to driving limousines to working in retail.' Mr. Sampson, who is 62, said he's been out of work for more than a year."
Kenneth Chang _NY Times_
New Fusion Method Offers Hope of New Energy Source
"With a blast of X-rays compressing a capsule of hydrogen to conditions approaching those at the center of the Sun, scientists from Sandia National Laboratories reported today that they had achieved thermonuclear fusion, in essence detonating a tiny hydrogen bomb... 'It's the first observation of fusion for a pulsed power source.', said Dr. Ramon J. Leeper, manager of the target physics department at Sandia, in Albuquerque, who presented the findings at a meeting of the American Physical Society here... The Sandia apparatus, the Z accelerator, was originally built to study nuclear weapons explosions without actual nuclear tests... more than 200T watts... Most of the 104-foot-wide machine, which resembles a large wagon wheel, stores a large amount of electrical energy, enough to power 100 houses for two minutes, and unleashing it quickly, which sets off a Rube Goldberg chain of events that leads to fusion. At the center of the machine are 360 vertical tungsten wires that form a cylindrical cage one and a half inches across. Inside the cage is a plastic foam cylinder. Encased in the foam is a BB-size plastic capsule that holds deuterium, a heavy form of hydrogen. The burst of 20M amperes of current vaporizes the tungsten wires and generates a magnetic field that accelerates the tungsten vapor toward the center of the cylinder. The vapor slams into the plastic foam, creating a supersonic shock wave. The shock wave generates X-rays that heat the deuterium to more than 20M degrees Fahrenheit and squeeze it tightly."
Lisa Vaas _eWeek_
Perils of Going Off-Shore
"between 2001 January and 2002 December. That works out to a 20% shrinkage in high-tech manufacturing positions and a 9% drop in communications services employment... But the slow economy isn't the only cause of the shrinking IT job market in the United States. Off-shore out-sourcing accounts for a sizable portion of this loss... Janjua is standing up to off-shore out-sourcing because he has seen first-hand the devastating effect it has had on people. Talented IT workers are breaking down in tears during job interviews because they haven't been able to find jobs in 6, 9, 11 months and more, Janjua said... using U.S.-based out-sourcers can eliminate the frustrations of remote project management that over-seas out-sourcing entails. By using U.S. companies, for example, businesses can maintain tighter control over security and can more easily hold companies accountable. After all, as Janjua points out, do you really want to try to sue an off-shore out-sourcer in off-shore courts?"
Mary Boyle _Common Cause_
The Soft Money Finale!: Despite Economic Woes, Corporate Generosity Continued As The Curtain Closed On Soft Money
"The last 2 years have been marked by corporate scandals, plunging stock prices and growing unemployment. Nevertheless, some of Americaís biggest corporations and special interests continued giving generously to the national political parties during the 2002 election cycle, some even donating tens of thousands of dollars while on the brink of bankruptcy, making this the largest soft money cycle in history. Enron Corp and Worldcom Inc, two of the largest U.S. corporations to file for bankruptcy, were top soft money donors that continued funneling money to Washington even as their stocks plummeted after disclosures of massive misstatements of earnings... Top Donor Industries 2001-01-01 through 2002-11-05 are Labor $38,345,941, Securities & Investments $34,418,746, Telecommunications $29,051,870, Entertainment & Media $27,742,944..."
2003-04-07 19:19PST (22:19EST) (23:19EDT) (2003-04-08 03:19GMT)
Elizabeth Wine _Financial Times of London_
US companies see no sign of early recovery
"US companies are more gloomy about their profit expectations ahead of the forth-coming reporting season than they have been since the grim third quarter of 2001, well into the economic slow-down."
2003-04-07 21:03PST (2003-04-08 00:03EST) (2003-04-08 05:03GMT)
Marshall Loeb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bad bosses and how to deal with them
"When labor markets are lousy, as they are now, bad bosses tend to flourish. People are desperate to get new jobs and let themselves be abused in their present ones. Brutal bosses are only too happy to oblige... There's a new tolerance, even admiration, for these types in much of corporate America, given today's investor-driven emphasis on the [short-term] bottom line -- profits at almost any price. If the boss can make his numbers and hit those oppressive quarterly targets, who cares if he leaves a little blood on the office floor?.. Research shows 17% of workers report being mistreated by their bosses. Gary Namie, a psychology professor and author of _The Bully at Work_ says the victims are not only the employees but also the organizations they work for. Another study by Joel H. Neuman, director of the Center for Applied Management at the State University of New York at New Paltz, concludes that bullying bosses produce hundred of millions of dollars in losses a year as a result of their bad influence on absenteeism, employee satisfaction, consumer satisfaction, product quality and productivity. 'The number one cost is turn-over, particularly of the best and the brightest.', Namie says. 'Bad bosses are very threatened by technically competent and socially skilled staff. By comparison with them, the boss looks worse. So, the most talented employees are often the ones the bad bosses drive out. This means a talent drain for the employer.'... The key is communication -- really over-communication. The initiative has to come from you, not your boss."
2003-04-08 05:58PDT (08:58EDT) (12:58GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Meta Group: IT burn-out a problem
"Meta Group's survey of North American IT managers found that base salaries continue to rise 5% on average -- the same as last year -- and workers with certain 'hot' skills, such as computer system architects, senior web developers and senior network designers, can snag pay increases of 8% to 10%. But amid rounds of lay-offs and long work weeks, the surviving techies are frequently blue, suggests Maria Schafer, program director of Meta Group's Human Capital Management Service and author of its annual _IT Staffing and Compensation Guide_... Meanwhile, the American Electronics Association trade group says the technology sector has trimmed its work force by 10% over the last 2 years to 5.1M jobs in 2002 December, with manufacturing jobs bearing the brunt of the cuts... Tech worker advocates have criticized the H-1B visa guest worker program for worsening the job market during the downturn. And a swell of technology jobs being shifted over-seas also bodes poorly for U.S. programmers and engineers... The Meta Group study, based on surveys of more than 650 large and midsize companies spanning 14 industries, found that 44% of responders are using sign-on bonuses as a means to attract higher-level IT employees. The report also discovered that tech jobs still can pay well. For example, the median salary for senior business application developers was $73,821, while that for Unix systems administrators was $84,895. On the lower end, the median salary for help desk analysts was $41,793, and that for network administrators was $54K... Schafer said it's typical for IT employees to work more than 40 hours per week, with 55-hour weeks common."
2003-04-08 16:04PDT (19:04EDT) (23:04GMT)
Americans regaining confidence: ABC News/Money consumer confidence index rose last week as U.S. troops neared Iraqi capital.
"The ABC News/Money magazine consumer confidence index rose to negative 22 in the week ended Sunday, up from a reading of negative 26 the prior week. Index results are reported on a scale of plus-100 to minus-100. Nearly a quarter of respondents, 24%, rated the nation's economy as excellent or good, up from 22% in the previous survey. The lowest level, 7%, was recorded in late 1991 and early 1992 during the sluggish economic recovery following the 1990-91."
B. Raman _Asia Times_
US sees no evil in Pakistan's N Korea missile link
"On March 24, the United States imposed 2-year sanctions against A Q Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) of the Pakistan government and Changgwang Sinyong Corp of the North Korean government. These restrictions will debar the companies from any trade or technological exchanges with governmental and non-governmental entities in the US. The sanctions were imposed as a penalty for their clandestine missile-supply relationship with each other. It would seem that the sanctions are also applicable against the state of North Korea, but not against the state of Pakistan, despite the fact that KRL is owned and run by the state of Pakistan and is managed by its armed forces."
Stephen Blank _Asia Times_
The new East Asian arms race
"There is no doubt that Taiwan faces a growing missile threat form [Red China]. As the Pentagon announced in 2000, [Red China] has added and is continuing to build about 50 new conventional short-range ballistic missiles per year, all of which are aimed at Taiwan. The most recent estimate was that there were about 350 such missiles in southern and southeastern [Red China], primarily across the Taiwan Strait in Fujian province targeted on Taiwan, and the number is growing. Nor is this the only threat posed by [Red China], as it is under-going a comprehensive modernization of all of its armed forces, conventional and nuclear."
Stephanie Strom _NY Times_
Usually Resilient Charity Now Predicts a Leaner Year
"have struggled to raise money in the charity's 2002-03 campaign, which is shaping up to be one of the worst fund-raising periods in three decades for the organization... the system's annual campaigns were likely to produce as much as 4% less than they did in the 2001-02 campaign, when $3.95G was raised... early reports of increases in places like Milwaukee, where the campaign pulled in $34M, a 6.2% increase over 2001-02, and Birmingham, AL, where donations rose by 4.1% to $31M. But those gains have not been enough to offset losses in bigger markets like Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago, where fund-raising fell by 11.1%, 11.5% and 17.8%, respectively."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
Republicans Want Terroristic Law Made Permanent
"Working with the Bush administration, Congressional Republicans are maneuvering to make permanent the sweeping antiterrorism powers granted to federal law enforcement agents after the attacks of 2001 September 11, officials said today. The move is likely to touch off strong objections from many Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress who believe that the Patriot Act, as the legislation that grew out of the attacks is known, has already given the government too much power to spy on Americans. The landmark legislation expanded the government's power to use eavesdropping, surveillance, access to financial and computer records... Many Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated by what they see as a lack of information from the Justice Department on how its agents are using their newfound powers, and they say they need more time to determine whether agents are abusing those powers... [A] Kyl-Schumer measure would eliminate the need for federal agents seeking secret surveillance warrants to show that a suspect is affiliated with a foreign power or agent, like a terrorist group... Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, wants to add amendments that would require the Justice Department to give detailed information about how the secret warrants are being used and that could give defense lawyers access to some information generated by the warrants in criminal cases."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Is There Life After Silicon Valley's Fast Lane? (2 pages)
"Now some experts warn that Moore's Law may soon reach its theoretical limits, with dire consequences for the technology industry's economic engine. Yet an influential cadre of heretics is arguing that seeing an end to the slavish demands of Moore's Law could be the best thing to happen to the culture of Silicon Valley and maybe even to the future of technological innovation that is affected by that culture... Those who are still thriving have little time or patience for the new wave of reflection ó including Intel's Mr. Grove. Asked by e-mail message whether he had new thoughts about the meaning of Internet time, Mr. Grove issued a terse reply: 'I am too busy to contemplate this.'. Other executives argue that the bust simply provided a much-needed pruning of dead-wood and that the valley's round-the-clock style of innovation was alive and well."
Steve Johnson _San Jose Mercury News_
Bay Area workers face pay cuts, lay-offs: American employees caught in down-draft
FERC and market over-sight
"On March 26, FERC moved to strip Reliant Resources Inc., Enron Corp. and BP Energy Co. of their right to trade energy for alleged market manipulation, which the companies deny. The commission also took steps to increase refunds to California by $1.5G, for a total of $3.3G, to compensate the state for artificially inflated power costs during the 2000-2001 energy crisis. A FERC administrative judge had ruled that refunds should be $1.8G. Wood says the accumulation of evidence gathered over a 13-month probe suggests there was more misbehavior than regulators initially suspected... A coalition of state government agencies and utilities claims the state is owed $8.9G in refunds... He is quick to pull out a worn, hand-written poster that lays out the elements of his vision. An eye-ball is prominently featured. 'This eye-ball here is the market-over-sight eye-ball.', Wood explains, noting that 'balanced market rules' and sufficient infrastructure are crucial to establishing a competitive marketplace. 'It's only when you have true competition that you can go to deregulation.', he said."
2003-04-08 21:07PDT (2003-04-09 00:07EDT) (2003-04-09 04:07GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
HP share-owners are due respect: Board should honor their wishes
"If Hewlett-Packard's board has any spine, it'll do more than just give 'due consideration' to 2 share-holder measures adopted at last week's annual meeting. One of the measures would require a share-holder vote before the board can make any more fat executive severance payouts. The move stems from last year's $14.4M golden parachute for HP President Mike Capellas, who left the company just a few months after HP bought Compaq in May. The second measure would give share-holders final approval of any future 'poison pill' rules meant to discourage outside takeovers, and incidentally to protect current management... New executives are already attracted by huge stock and bonus packages -- like the one worth as much as $90M that brought CEO Carly Fiorina to HP 4 years ago. Huge severance payouts should never be part of hiring negotiations. What kind of performance incentive is a fat check for leaving?"
2003-04-09 06:07PDT (09:07EDT) (13:07GMT)
US Marines Take 'Secret Police' HeadQuarters
"U.S. Marines seized what they described as a headquarters of President Saddam Hussein's secret police in Baghdad on Wednesday, a Reuters correspondent who entered the building reported. Sean Maguire said the deserted Directorate of General Security (DGS) in the east of the capital was seized on Wednesday morning. The site was being looted by local people when the Marines arrived, he said."
2003-04-09 12:36PDT (15:36EDT) (19:36GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Indian call center to expand in US
"Turning the tables on off-shore trends, a call center company with operations in India aims to acquire a U.S. facility. iSeva, an Irving, Texas-based company that provides call center services from a 500-seat facility in India, wants to snap up a 1K-seat U.S. call center, said Gagan Sharma, the company's vice president of sales and business development."
2003-04-09 13:07PDT (16:07EDT) (20:07GMT)
IMF sees US, world economy at risk
"On balance, it said strong productivity, very low interest rates and the possibility of new tax cuts should 'cement recovery' and enable U.S. gross domestic product to grow 2.2% in 2003 and 3.6% next year... It foresees the global economy growing this year and next at rates that outstrip the U.S. economy, 3.2% this year and 4.1% in 2004."
2003-04-09 13:23PDT (16:23EDT) (20:23GMT)
Jennifer Coleman _AP_/_Yahoo!_
California Senators Propose Yet More Energy Regulation
Search for Senate Bill 888
2003-04-09 17:08PDT (20:08EDT) (24:08GMT)
Jon Groat _Medill News Service_/_CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Non-profits livingn large: Credit-counseling agencies come under attack
"Many credit-counseling agencies give bad advice, gouge consumers and abuse their nonprofit status, according to a report by the National Consumer Law Center and the Consumer Federation of America. About 9M Americans last year contacted such agencies, of which there are more than 1K nationwide, the report said. The agencies often push customers into debt-management programs even if they don't need them, reaping kick-backs from creditors for passed-along payments, the report said. Masquerading as non-profits, some agencies pay their executives annual salaries of $300K and more -- 3 times the average for non-profits."
John Crudele _NY Post_
Checking the Bull's Vitals: Was Wall Street Listening
"1. Stop playing investors for suckers... 2. Fire and criminally prosecute Wall Street executives and brokerage firms that cheated investors... 3. Provide tighter controls at companies... 4. Give us stronger enforcement in Washington... 5. Give us accurate information on which to base our investment decisions... 6. Forget the weekly warnings on terrorism... 7. Stop pushing the Dow up 200, 250, 300 points just because you can... 8. Force Wall Street firms to set up independent committees of investors to monitor ethics... 9. Washington must do something about the economy... 10. Come up with a real plan to keep the stock exchanges open in case of another terrorist attack... 11. Give us an apology."
IMF Cuts Worldwide Forecast to 3.2% Economic Expansion This Year
"The world economy grew 3% in 2002 and 2.3% a year earlier, the I.M.F. said in its World Economic Outlook, its most comprehensive look at global trends... Concerns about terrorism and war will cut global growth in coming years by a quarter of a percentage point, to 3.75% a year from a normal 4%, Mr. Rogoff said."
Crystal Carreon _San Jose Mercury News_
Warthog pilot survives dramatic combat mission: Took heavy fire, landed safely
pierced warthog pictures
"Large chunks of her plane shot away, the hydraulic control system dead, Air Force Capt. Kim Campbell pushed and pulled at a backup set of manual controls, struggling to keep the anti-tank aircraft from crashing as it limped away from an ambush over Baghdad. Landing finally in the safety of a coalition air base in southern Iraq on Monday, Campbell was greeted with applause, relief and awe. Maintenance personnel gawked, took photos, and clapped 'Capt. K.C.' on the shoulder... According to the Pentagon, there were 114 active-duty female fighter and bomber pilots in the U.S. military in 2001, and 7,735 male fighter and bomber pilots. Women have been permitted to fly combat aircraft in the U.S. military since 1993."
More troubling jobless news
"In 1983 January, only 2 months after the trough of the 1981-82 recession was reached in November, the labor market began a robust rebound. The same quick response in the labor market occurred following the 1974-75 recession. After the 1990-91 recession, however, the unemployment problem significantly deteriorated long after the March 1991 trough was reached. And now, during the current business cycle, the employment situation has proved to be much worse than it was following the 1991 trough."
Eric Hellweg _Business 2.0_
SARS is forcing many companies to re-examine their out-sourcing plans
"Still, Kastner says he is hearing a new concern about [Red China's] opaqueness with health information. Many companies out-source their manufacturing to [Red China] because it meets the three requirements for the tech supply chain: low cost, high quality, and dependability. But with [Red China's] initial closed-mouth approach to the SARS crisis (the country didn't update its official SARS tally between mid-February and last week), many are now questioning whether the dependability factor has suffered an irreparable blow. 'This isn't the first time [Red China] has stiff-armed the world on a major global health issue.', Kastner says. 'Tech companies, which heretofore had rushed to out-source to [Red China] because of the quality and low cost, are now rethinking whether they can put all their high-tech eggs in the [Red China] basket.'"
Linda Rosencrance _ComputerWorld_/_PC World_
Tech job losses declined
"Job cuts announced by high-tech firms plunged to 61,032 in the first quarter of this year, down 45% from the 110,247 lay-offs announced over the same period in 2002, according to Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The drop was mainly due to a decline in job cuts in the telecommunications industry, which posted 15,862 cuts in the first three months of 2003, down 81% from the 82,522 job losses announced in the first quarter of 2002, Challenger said... Electronics companies eliminated 26,270 jobs, up 101% from the 13,062 cuts announced a year ago. Computer manufacturers cut 17,088 jobs, up 29% from the 13,212 posted in 2002. And e-commerce companies have recorded 1812 cuts so far this year, up 28% from the 1415 layoffs announced last year, Challenger said. Through the first 3 months of 2003, IT lay-offs represented 17% of the 355,795 job cuts posted by all industries -- in sharp contrast to the past 2 years, when technology cuts accounted for 33% of the 1,466,823 jobs lost in 2002 and 36% of the 1,956,876 job cuts announced in 2001, according to Challenger."
2003-04-09 21:02PDT (2003-04-10 00:02EDT) (2003-04-10 04:02GMT)
Private Economists Gloomier on Growth
"Gloom about the U.S. economy's prospects is increasing among private economists who have slashed forecasts for gross domestic product after a slew of data showing hefty job losses and sluggish factory output. The closely watched Blue Chip Economic Indicators newsletter said on Thursday its forecasting panel had sharply cut its growth projections in the first half of this year... The U.S. economy lost 108K jobs in March, following a 357K reduction in February. March marked the fourth drop in pay-rolls in the past 5 months..."
2003-04-10 06:36PDT (09:36EDT) (13:36GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Lay-offs slowing, but so is hiring: Continuing claims at highest level in nearly 5 months
"The [seasonally adjusted] average number of workers filing for state unemployment benefits each week over the past 4 weeks fell by 3,750 in the week ended April 5 to 419,500, the Labor Department said Thursday... The number of first-time claims fell by 38K to 405K in the latest week, nearly erasing the increase of 41K seen in the previous week."
2003-04-10 09:04PDT (12:04EDT) (16:04GMT)
August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Pentagon expects more fighting after Baghdad success: Kurds, US take northern city of Kirkuk: Marines battle Baghdad hold-outs as fighting, looking continue
2003-04-10 09:23PDT (12:23EDT) (16:23GMT)
Tim Ahmann _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
CEOs Offer Bleak View on Economy
"A survey by the Business Roundtable, whose member companies have a combined work force of 10M and $3.7T in revenues, said U.S. executives expect U.S. gross domestic product to advance just 2.2% this year, a bit less than the sluggish 2.4% gain registered in 2002. In addition, only 9% expect to hire new workers, while 45% expect to let workers go."
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Executives See Weak US Economy Over Next 6 Months
"Only about 1 company out of 10 is planning to increase employment in the United States over the next 6 months, according to the poll of 120 chief executives by the Business Roundtable, an association of leaders of large companies. The remaining 90% of companies are split almost evenly between those that are planning job cuts and those that are planning to hold employment at its current level... Businesses are using less than 80% of their productive capacity, Mr. Dillon said, and they will not begin investing in new equipment or hiring more workers until demand increases... Speaking to reporters, Mr. Dillon called on Congress to pass President Bush's tax-cut proposal, saying it would lift consumer demand and stock prices... In the survey, 27% of executives said they planned to cut their capital spending over the next 6 months and 55% said they would make no change. 18% expected to increase it."
Rob Fixmer _NY Times_
It Adds Up (and UP, and Up)
"The party line phone service they had in 1974 probably cost Mr. Green's family about $19 a month, the equivalent of about $70 today when adjusted for inflation. Long-distance calls were thought of as expensive, infrequent luxuries. Watching television was free, and access to the Internet would not be generally available or billable for two decades. Today the Greens pay more than $225 a month for services that enable them to watch television, make phone calls and communicate over the Internet... Research at Columbia University in the late 1990's suggests that [most] American households have spent an increasing percentage of their disposable income over the last decade to link themselves to the outside world."
William Safire _NY Times_
Jubilant V-I Day
"Just as video of human suffering understandably triggers demonstrations against any war, unforgettable images of the jubilation of enslaved people tasting liberty drives home the wisdom of just wars... If Iraqis are able to adopt a system of free enterprise and representative government, they will become the center of an arc of freedom from Turkey in the north to Israel in the south (with Lebanon freed from Syrian occupation, if France will liberate the state it created). Egypt, the largest Arab nation, could not long resist such a tidal wave of liberty... Nobody came out of this war more nobly than the 3.5M long-suffering Kurds of Iraq. After Gulf War I, we at first left them to the poison-gas savagery of Saddam, then expiated that sin by provided them air cover for the next decade. In that time, this ethnic group built a model state: a lively parliament, schools, hospitals, a thriving economy built on farming and a little smuggling on the side."
Martin Grasdal _CramSession_
Are Computer Certifications Hyped Too Much?
"But, a significant part of the problem is the result of the unrealistic hype regarding job opportunities within the IT industry in general and the power of certification specifically as a way to achieve employment..."
Will Edwards _Bloomberg_
US Initial Jobless Claims Fell by 38K Last Week
"The number of Americans filing new claims for state unemployment benefits exceeded 400K for the eighth straight week as the war in Iraq crimped demand and companies cut workers. States received 405K applications for jobless benefits, down from 443K the prior week, the Labor Department said... In February and March, the economy shed 465K jobs, and the [seasonally adjusted] jobless rate reached 5.8%... The 4-week moving average of claims, which smoothes out volatility in the weekly numbers, fell to 419,500 from 423,250. Claims have averaged 405,285 so far this year. That compares with an average of 404,308 for all of last year, when the economy expanded 2.4%. The number of workers continuing to receive jobless benefits decreased to 3.487M in the week that ended March 29 from 3.556M the prior week. 23 states and territories reported an increase in claims, and 30 a decrease."
Eric Schmitt & Steven R. Weisman _NY Times_
US to Recruit Iraqi Civilians to Interim Posts
"Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, testifying before the Senate Armed Services committee, said the United States and its coalition partners in Iraq would begin regional public meetings in Iraq next week to seek out candidates for civilian leadership posts and elicit their views. An American official said tonight that the first meeting would probably be in Nasiriya on Tuesday. Administration officials said that in addition to seeking leaders they were appealing to allies for material help, including personnel to help keep order, in postwar Iraq."
Dean E. Murphy & Calvin Sims _NY Times_
After Espionage Arrests, FBI Looks Back and Wonders, "How?"
"Ms. [Katrina] Leung, 49, who lives in a wealthy suburb, San Marino, was arrested Wednesday on charges of obtaining a classified national security document for the [Red Chinese] government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said that Ms. Leung had had a 20-year affair with James J. Smith, a former F.B.I. agent who had recruited her as an informer, and that she had passed on information culled from Mr. Smith. Officials said she sometimes surreptitiously photo-copied classified documents he had left unattended at her house. Mr. Smith, 59, who worked for the F.B.I. for 30 years before retiring in 2000, was also arrested and charged with negligence. He was released on bail Wednesday night... Both Mr. Smith and Ms. Leung are married to others."
2003-04-10 18:43PDT (21:43EDT) (2003-04-11 01:43GMT)
Christine Dugas _USA Today_
More workers can't afford to retire
"Three years of stock market losses have caused savings to shrivel and spurred legions of workers to delay retirement. This year nearly one-quarter, 24%, of workers ages 45 or older say they plan to postpone their retirement -- up from 15% in 2002, according to the annual Retirement Confidence Survey released Friday. And 16% of workers say they are not at all confident that they will have enough money saved for retirement -- up from 10% a year ago. The findings coincide with other studies showing that participation rates in company-sponsored retirement savings plans have fallen."
2003-04-11 01:45PST (03:45EST) (07:45GMT)
Christopher Bowe _Financial Times_/_Yahoo!_
Bankruptcies help keep profits up at US law firms
"Fee income for the largest US law firms rose 6.5% on average last year, while many of their clients in corporate America saw profits and share prices fall steeply. Amid cost cutting, lay-offs and hiring freezes, the top 200 US law firms saw average profits per partner - equity holders in the firms - rise 8.5% last year."
2003-04-11 06:43PST (09:43EDT) (13:43GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
GOP leaders strike budget deal: Senate fate, size of tax cuts remain unclear after Dem Senators threaten filibuster to obstruct stimulus
"Republican leaders, after nearly 2 days of internal party haggling, pushed a unique budget resolution through the House early Friday morning that would allow for as much as $550G in tax cuts over the next decade. But the fate of the package in the more narrowly divided Senate remained unclear... The package instructs the House Ways and Means Committee to write legislation providing $550G in tax cuts over the next decade. The Senate would instruct its Finance Committee to write a tax bill no larger than $350G. But House-Senate negotiators would need to iron out differences between the 2 tax bills. And the revised plan would allow a final tax bill exceeding $350G to pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
A Plan to Recalculate Pensions
"The higher rate, known as the discount rate, makes obligations to retirees look smaller, at least on paper. Because companies are required to keep their pensions funded at certain levels, smaller obligations will shrink their mandatory contributions, even though nothing else has changed. America's companies, large and small, had a total pension short-fall of about $300G at the end of 2002, according to the government agency that insures pensions. That was by far the largest total deficit in the history of that agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and it has aroused concerns about the health of the pension system. The worst deficits are found among a relatively small number of companies, in sectors like the auto and airline industries and deregulated public utilities."
Eason Jordan _NY Times_
The News We Kept to Ourselves: CNN chief news exec
"For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk. Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services..."
Increase in Air-Craft Orders Narrowed the US Trade Deficit
"The trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in February, the Commerce Department reported today, as aircraft exports surged and American companies spent less on imported equipment. The $40.3G deficit was nonetheless the third highest ever. Economists had expected a deficit of $42.0G. The trade gap in goods and services compared with a revised $41.2G deficit in January and a record $44.9G imbalance in December... Consumer goods exports fell 7.2% in February, led by a drop in pharmaceutical shipments... The Commerce Department report showed that exports rose 0.5%, to $82.4G in February, from $82G the previous month. Imports fell 0.4%, to $122.8G. The decline in imports reflected less demand for computers, civilian aircraft and generators."
Kenneth N. Gilpin _NY Times_
Confidence Rising, Consumers Begin to Spend More Money
"Retail sales, which slid 1.3% in February because of fierce winter storms, rose 2.1% during March, the Commerce Department said. The gain, which was much higher than than economists' consensus estimates, was the biggest monthly gain since 2001 October... In a separate report that provided an early snapshot of what consumers might be doing this month, the University of Michigan's preliminary index of consumer sentiment jumped to a reading of 83.2 from a nine-year low of 77.6 in March... In another report today, the Labor Department said that prices at the wholesale level rose 1.5% during March, as energy prices surged in the run-up to the war in Iraq. The so-called 'core' index, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.7%."
Michael Janofsky _NY Times_
Burden Grows for Southwest Hospitals
"F, is an illegal immigrant, one of thousands from Mexico and other countries who find their way into American hospitals every year for care they can neither get at home nor pay for in the United States, where federal law requires hospitals to treat emergency needs no matter where the patient lives. For years, these patients have strained hospitals and health clinics near the border, driving some out of business and forcing many to reduce their services. The American Hospital Association estimated that in 2000, the 24 southernmost counties from Texas to California accrued $832M in unpaid medical care, a quarter of which was directly attributable to illegal immigrants. Now, the financial pressures are spreading north into larger cities, pushing the overall unpaid bills well into the billions of dollars and straining a health care system already stretched thin by rising numbers of uninsured citizens, inadequate Medicaid payments, ballooning federal and state deficits and federal laws that allow United States border agents to wave through anyone who claims to need emergency care... Bills moving through Congress would relieve some of the pressure by allocating as much as $1.45G a year for five years to hospitals in states where treatment demands from illegal immigrants are the greatest... Maricopa Medical, one of the state's largest hospitals, a 540-bed county-owned facility here that handles about 77 emergency room visits a year and has the only burn center in the Southwest. With uncompensated care losses in some years approaching $100M, about 10% attributable to illegal immigrants, the hospital is losing doctors and nurses, delaying improvements and squeezing four patients into rooms built for two. A study for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors found that in 2001, the five biggest health care providers in the county amassed $318M in uncompensated care, 23% of it by Maricopa Medical."
3 former top executives at Media Vision, Inc., who pleaded guilty and cooperated in the government's investigation, were sentenced today
"In particular, the Court sentenced Paul Jain, the former Chief Executive Officer, to 30 months in prison, whereas Michael Humphress, the former Vice President of Sales, and Robert Williams, the financial controller, both received sentences of probation... numerous offenses arising out of a prolonged scheme to inflate the publicly-reported revenue and earnings results of Media Vision... investor losses in excess of $200M... At the trial of CFO Steve Allan, the government introduced evidence at trial proving that Allan, Jain, Humphress, Williams, and Russell Faust, the company's former Chief Operating Officer, participated in a prolonged and elaborate scheme to falsely inflate the company's publicly-reported sales and profits during 1993 and 1994. To this end, the defendants created false sales and false inventory, hid millions of dollars of returned product, improperly recorded shipments as sales before the products were shipped, misrepresented Media Vision's expenses, and made false statements to Media Vision's outside auditors, to Wall Street analysts, and to the public about Media Vision's true financial performance."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
FBI Was Told Years Ago of Possible Double Agent
"Senior F.B.I. officials were told in the early 1990's that a Los Angeles woman accused this week of being a double-agent appeared to be spying for the [Red Chinese] [government], but they continued using her as an informer nonetheless, current and former officials said today. Around 1991, senior Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence officials met in Washington to discuss evidence that the woman, Katrina Leung, was spying for the [Red Chinese] [government], an official said today on condition of anonymity."
2003-04-11 17:14PDT (20:14EDT) (2003-04-12 00:14GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Silicon Valley's dream lives on: IPO contenders learn patience but still have grand visions
"But this is not 1990s, a time when start-ups were fast, and so was the money in IPOs. Three years into the worst market melt-down in several generations, everyone from upper management to lowly software code writers in the cradle of the tech boom is being forced to learn new lessons in patience and humility... When Silicon Valley reached its market zenith in 2000, it was home to most of the 140 companies that went public that year and raised more than $34G on Wall Street. This year, only five companies -- none representing technology -- have made it to market so far, raising only $1G... Even with the huge slow-down in IPOs, Silicon Valley still leads as the hot-bed of stock debutantes with its rich supply of entrepreneurial executives wanting to make their mark after stints at Hewlett-Packard or degrees from Stanford University."
John de Graaf _NY Times_
"On 1933 April 6, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have made the standard work-week 30 hours. Anything more would be over-time. The bill passed by the Senate was an effort to reduce a national unemployment rate that stood at 25%. It had strong support from labor and religious leaders who argued that working people needed time for family, education, recreation and spirituality as much as they needed higher wages. But the bill failed in the House. The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed 5 years later, gave Americans a statutory 40-hour work-week... According to the International Labor Organization, Americans now work 1,978 hours annually, a full 350 hours -- 9 weeks -- more than Western Europeans. The average American actually worked 199 hours more in 2000 than he or she did in 1973, a period during which worker productivity per hour nearly doubled... The harmful effects of working more hours are being felt in many areas of society. Stress is a leading cause of heart disease and weakened immune systems. Consumption of fast foods and lack of time for exercise has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Many parents complain that they do not have enough time to spend with their children, much less become involved in their community. Worker productivity declines during the latter part of long work shifts... The average Norwegian, for instance, works 29% less than [71% as much as] the average American -- 14 weeks per year -- yet his average income is only 16% less. Western Europeans average 5 to 6 weeks of paid vacation a year; we average 2."
Robert Pear _NY Times_
Nationwide Inquiry at Veterans' Hospitals
"The Bush administration has ordered a nationwide review of medical research at 115 veterans' hospitals and has halted some studies after investigators found serious violations of federal rules, including some that may have contributed to the deaths of patients... The new director of the veterans research program, Dr. Nelda P. Wray, ordered the review last month after learning of cases in which researchers falsified data and did not tell patients about the risks of experimental treatments. 'Those practices will not be tolerated.' Dr. Wray said. Research is one of the principal missions of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which spends nearly $1G a year on about 15K studies involving 150K patients. Ethics committees are supposed to monitor each study to protect patients."
Caroline Merrell _London Times_
India set for flood of jobs from the West
Jonathan Mahler _NY Times_
Commute to NoWhere (11 pages)
"From computer-industry wiz to Gap salesman, JE is caught in the new economy's downward spiral... 'Then it came to me. I said I used to be an executive vice president and a director of interactive marketing for Rapp Digital, a digital media company with 300 employees and a P. and L. of $40M.' JE, who is 50, lost his job at Rapp Digital almost 2 years ago, making him 1 of 21K computer-industry professionals in New York City to have been let go since the end of 2000. In percentage terms the numbers are even starker. Between 2000 December and 2003 January, the industry slashed 41% of its positions. While the recession of the early 1990s took a heavy toll on white-collar workers, this one seems to have institutionalized the phenomenon. Advanced degrees, no matter how prestigious, offer little protection... Since the end of 2000, the media-and-communications sector has cut 15% of its jobs, telecommunications 27%, advertising 25%. 18% of jobs on Wall Street have been slashed, and firms continue to lay people off... LC, an information-technology consultant unable to find work in his field since 2001 June, and his family at home in Summit, NJ. TP, of Princeton and Harvard Business School and unemployed at 50, with his wife, M, on the Princeton campus... In 1999, LC, a graduate of Brown University with a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford and an M.B.A. from Long Island University... LC was laid off in 2001 June. At the time, he figured heíd be out 3 to 6 months tops. 22 months later, he's still looking. When G.D.P. growth resumed in the fourth quarter of 2001, LC, like many economists, figured the worst was over. More than a year later, the unemployment picture for all workers remains bleak. Nationwide, more jobs were lost last February than in any single month since 2001 November. We are in the worst hiring slump in 20 years... She's 1 of 4 women at her Starbucks alone who are working there because their husbands have been laid off... an accountant who has been out of work since 1999 December introduces himself to me."
Amy Harmon _NY Times_
Some Search Results Hit Too Close to Home
"said Chris Hoofnagle, deputy counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. 'So it is an incremental loss of freedom, and it's often hard to battle against that slippery slope.'"
Dexter Filkins & John Kifner _NY Times_
US Troops Move to Restore Order in Edgy Baghdad
"A marine guarding a Baghdad hospital was shot dead, looting continued in many areas of the city and U.S. troops discovered evidence of plans for widespread suicide attacks."
Fara Warner _NY Times_
Carrying On When Suits Are in Camouflage
"companies are quickly learning that dealing with the absence of important executives goes far beyond completing day-to-day tasks. Much harder is filling in the gaps in creative, managerial and other skills that make many reservists so valuable in their civilian jobs... More than 218K reservists and members of the National Guard have been put on active duty because of the action in Iraq. That is the largest call-up since the Persian Gulf war, when about 265K reservists were called to active duty, according to the Defense Department. Reservists and members of the National Guard -- all 1.22M of them -- now make up 48% of all the armed forces, according Lt. Col. Stephen G. Brozak, a Marine reservist who is the spokesman for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve."
Rebecca Theim _Chicago Tribune_
Coming soon: Plenty of jobs: Despite today's grim talk of "jobless recovery", experts say several signs point to an "upcoming shortage of talent in the work-place" -- and a bright future for job seekers.
"Rising unemployment, a steady increase in the number of 'discouraged workers' and constant talk of a 'jobless recovery' have disheartened even the most determined job seeker in the past 2 years. But against today's depressing employment back-drop, economists and demographers steadfastly predict that we're on the brink of a significant labor shortage... The Aspen Institute, a non-profit think tank, pointed out that while the native-born work-force between the ages of 25 and 54 grew 44% in the past 2 decades, that demographic is projected to have zero growth between now and 2020. [which says nothing about numbers of jobs that will be offered]..."
James P. Miller & Melissa Allison _Chicago Tribune_
Each economic sector waits for another to move
"Years of steadily rising stock prices created what economists call a "wealth effect," in which consumers felt flush as they opened their 401(k) statements and saw the value of their retirement plans swell quarter after quarter. At the same time, U.S. corporations, anxious to reap the productivity gains promised by high-tech gadgetry, invested heavily in new equipment, particularly Internet and telecom-related gear. This confidence bred growth, and the growth created new jobs and new demand, in what's referred to as a 'virtuous cycle'. But the stock bubble burst in 2000, and the wheels quickly came off the longest economic boom in U.S. history... Only a come-back in corporate spending can launch such a rebound. And the captains of American industry seem inclined to continue sitting on their hands."
Dexter Filkins _NY Times_
U.S. Troops Poised to Oust Loyalists in Northern City
"American marines moved into the edges of Tikrit, the ancestral home of Saddam Hussein, after an intense bombardment."
Rachel L. Swarns _NY Times_
Coalition Says It Will Fight Local Pursuit of Illegal Immigrants
"Taking on a job traditionally done by federal agents, a small number of police departments has begun arresting people accused of civil violations of immigration law, like overstaying visas, since the Justice Department announced its new interpretation of existing laws last year, officials say. Officials say the change was necessary to provide assistance to federal immigration officers and to remove criminals and potential terrorists from the streets... Police chiefs in states including Texas, California, Florida and Colorado have warned that allowing local officials to make immigration arrests would jeopardize relations with immigrants, who might be less willing to report crimes... local police chiefs who disagreed with the Justice Department were not obliged to participate."
Brent Hunsberger _Oregonian_
More join line for state aid... reluctantly
"'You don't know how hard this is.', Doran said. 'Do you realize I've worked every day of my life since I was 16 years old? We were raised you don't accept charity.' Doran is one of an increasing number of out-of-work Oregonians who are seeking help from government programs and private charities for the first time, according to the agencies. Many newcomers had always resisted relying on others, agency directors say. But as the state's deep-cutting recession drags into its third year, holdouts have been forced to fall back on the state's social safety net... The total number of households receiving food stamps climbed to 202,805 in March, 11.3% higher than a year earlier and 47.9% over 2001 March, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services... In February, a St. Vincent de Paul chapter in Hillsboro fed more than 720 families, its largest volume in 2 years of running an expanded food pantry, chapter director Stan Miller said."
Gail Kinsey Hill _Oregonian_
Jobless workers pushed to edge
"As many as 20K Oregonians find themselves in a similar predicament: no work, more than a year's worth of unemployment benefits behind them and a job market that refuses to flower... On April 1, governor Ted Kulongoski signed a bill to provide 13 weeks of extra benefits. Combined with the state's regular 26-week program and other federally funded extensions, Oregon workers can tap into as many as 78 weeks of benefits. Checks from the new program begin arriving this week, and the state estimates anywhere from 18K to 20K Oregonians will qualify... No other state provides so many weeks of benefits... The [Oregon] unemployment rate for March climbed three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.6%, and businesses cut payrolls by 4,900 workers... Oregon's average weekly unemployment check in February -- the most recent month for which data are available -- was $255. That compares with a nationwide average of $263. Oregon's weekly benefits range from $94 a week to $405 a week. The minimum is linked to Oregon's minimum wage. The maximum reflects 64% of the state's average weekly wage, $633... In March, 83,100 Oregonians received benefits, while the number of unemployed, as measured in the calculation of the state's unemployment rate, hit 154,074."
Anick Jesdanun _AP_/_Orlando Sentinel_
Proposal would increase penalties for data corruption
"Draft legislation circulating in the Justice Department would extend prison sentences for scrambling data in the commission of a crime, something encryption advocates fear would achieve little in catching terrorists -- and only hurt legitimate uses of cryptography."
Diane E. Lewis _Boston Globe_
Internships Are Key Resume Booster
"When the National Association of Colleges and Employers in Bethlehem, PA, asked 152 US employers whether they planned to recruit at college campuses this year, 48.3% said they intend to hire interns and co-ops for temporary jobs as well as some upcoming graduates for permanent jobs, down from 52.2% last winter. At the same time, student demand for internships has climbed. In 1995, 63% of the college graduating class of 1995 had participated in at least one internship. Last year, 89% of the class of 2002 reported having had at least one interview..."
2003-04-13 17:00:07PDT (20:00:07EDT) (2003-04-14 00:00:07GMT)
Leigh Strope _San Mateo County Times_/_AP_
Bush plan for re-employment accounts goes on back burner: War with Iraq stalls plans
"But the new program, widely touted by the White House in January as a key to stimulating the economy, was missing from the record $2.27T federal budget that Congress approved Friday... There were other priorities in the budget.', said Traci Scott, spokeswoman for Rep. Jon Porter, R-NV, sponsor of the legislation... The nation's unemployment rate has hovered near an eight-year high of 6% for more than a year. The White House has been mindful that a weak economy and unemployed Americans can undermine a president's popularity, as happened to Bush's father... Many Democrats opposed the idea..."
2003-04-13 20:35EDT (2003-04-14 00:35GMT)
Tech Manufacturers' Woes Mount
"The companies, which operate in a cut-throat market with thin margins for out-sourced production, have a heavy and growing concentration of their assembly lines in Asia, including southern [Red China], which has been hardest hit by SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome]... In response, contract manufacturers slashed payrolls and moved operations to low-cost regions, especially [Red China]."
2003-04-14 04:00PDT (07:00EDT) (11:00GMT)
Declan McCullagh _CNET_
Guilty until proven innocent
"Intel engineer Mike Hawash is in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Sheridan, OR. On March 20, the FBI arrested Hawash at gun-point in Intel's parking lot near Portland for reasons that remain confidential. A 38-year-old American citizen with a wife and 3 children, he has not been charged with a crime... Hawash is being held as a 'material witness' under a 1984 law that the Justice Department believes should let the government detain American citizens at will for an arbitrary length of time. A well-researched Washington Post article from last Fall said the Justice Department has imprisoned at least 44 people, including 7 U.S. citizens, under the same law, with some held for many months and possibly for more than a year. These legal battles over the imprisonments are fierce and ongoing. Last week, a federal appeals court heard oral arguments in the case of a Jordanian man with the unfortunate name of Osama Awadallah, who was detained as a material witness after the 2001 September 11, terrorist attacks. A trial judge ruled last year that Awadallah was unlawfully detained, and the Justice Department appealed."
2003-04-14 01:40PDT (04:40EDT) (08:40GMT)
Grundig goes bust: Germany's Grundig, one of Europe's best-known consumer electronics makers, has filed for bankruptcy.
2003-04-14 06:59PDT (09:56EDT) (13:56GMT)
Margaret Quan _EE Times_/_Silicon Strategies_
H-1B debate flares as EE jobless rate hits 7% (with table of rates for different specialties)
"In its regular quarterly report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also said that unemployment among computer scientists and systems analysts held relatively steady at 4.9% in Q1. But there is a caveat. BLS narrowed the definitions of both categories in January in a revamping of its occupational-classification system, adding new job categories in an attempt to create more detail in the employment numbers. In addition, a BLS labor analyst said the bureau corrected some past coding errors, resulting in a further reshuffling of numbers. Some types of engineers were removed from the EE category and placed in a new one for 'computer hardware engineers'. The jobless rate for that group was only a touch better than for EEs, at 6.5% for the quarter."
2003-04-14 09:27PDT (12:27EDT) (16:27GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
NYTimes.com ad sales are up: Valuations queried for big Net names
"In a sign that online advertising is faring well, NYTimes.com said sales grew 21% in the first 3 months of the year. That overall revenue increase is due primarily to increased ad sales, the company said. Revenue at New York Times Digital grew to $19.6M in the first quarter from $16.2M in the same period a year earlier... The site had 620K unique users in January, 1.1M in February and 1.3M in March. The 77% increase in February reflected traffic to multimedia coverage of the Columbia shuttle disaster."
2003-04-14 11:10PDT (14:10EDT) (18:10GMT)
Erika Morphy _CRM Daily_/_Yahoo!_
This Call May Be Monitored...
"'This is one of those situations where the less the consumer knows, the better.', Gartner analyst Esteban Kolsky quipped. 'If consumers knew how things really worked behind the scenes, they would never use their credit card.', he told CRMDaily.com... Financial institutions and other retailers use it for protection in case there is ever a dispute with the consumer. Fair enough -- but at least 4 major credit-card companies do not allow consumers to use tape recordings of their calls when disputes reach the level of litigation. This clause is buried in the small print of the pages-long service agreement consumers must sign or click on when they begin using a credit card... 'Some places will use the tapes if they want to fire a certain employee. They will deny it forever, but if they want to fire someone, they usually can find a reason in the tapes.'"
2003-04-14 11:11PDT (14:11EDT) (18:11GMT)
Robyn Weisman _eCommerceTimes_/_Yahoo!_
Does Apple Still Need M$?
"Nearly 6 years have passed since M$ agreed to invest US$150M in Apple Computer and continue developing Mac versions of its Office application suite for at least 5 years."
2003-04-14 13:47PDT (16:47EDT) (20:47GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow rallies into the black for 2003
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average staged a late-day sprint Monday to end in positive territory for the year on optimism that the end of the war in Iraq is near and that corporate earnings won't be as bad as expected... The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 147, or 1.8%, to 8,351. The index is now 10 points above its starting level of 8,341 for the year... The Nasdaq added 26, or 1.9%, to 1,384. The tech heavy index is now up 2.65% for the year. The S&P 500 increased 16 points, or 1.9%, to 885. The Russell 2000 rose 6 to 377. Volume totaled 1.09G shares on the New York Stock Exchange, well below the average level of 1.4G."
Elisabeth Bumiller, David E. Sanger & Richard W. Stevenson _NY Times_
How 3 Weeks of War in Iraq Looked From the Oval Office (5 pages)
"The past 25 days have been among the most stressful of the second Bush White House... A White House that worships order had to react to the chaos of war and a script that kept changing. Sand-storms, unexpected resistance from the enemy and verbal grenades lobbed at the war plan by armchair generals... Those 25 days have shown Mr. Bush to be short-tempered [and patient and determined] to leave battle-field tactics in the hands of his battle-field commander, General Franks."
Barnaby J. Feder _NY Times_
Research Shows Hazards in Tiny Particles
"A new review of research on nanoscale materials suggests that tiny particles are often toxic because of their size and are likely to pose health hazards, especially to workers making them... Dr. Howard said that nano-scale particles, which are made up of tens to thousands of molecules and are far smaller than human cells, are easily ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin... Nanoscale materials are already used in products as diverse as sun-blocking lotions, tennis balls, computer displays and paneling on cars."
Stuart Elliott _NY Times_
Some Optimism Seen for Advertising
"Management Conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies... The waxing or waning of interest among major marketers in buying commercial time in what is known as the upfront market is an important indicator of the health of the advertising economy... While Madison Avenue has struggled to emerge from its steepest downturn in years, television networks, especially broadcasters like CBS, NBC and WB, have been setting revenue records."
More Energy Follies
"energy bill approved by the House on Friday... carries a price tag of $50G over 10 years... one-third of its $18G in tax breaks to increasing energy efficiency and alternative energy sources like wind power... $3G subsidy to encourage... extraction of coal-bed methane... subsidies... for the producers of corn-based ethanol."
Dan Rozek _Chicago Sun-Times_
Libraries move to protect privacy
"Schaumburg library officials recently altered their computer system so it automatically deletes the names of patrons who use library computers to access the Internet."
Jane Perlez _NY Times_
US OverSeer Begins Meetins with Iraqis on New Government
"The retired American general who will run post-war Iraq for the Bush administration flew to Iraq today on a mission to remake the country's politics, a process he predicted would be messy and contentious. But Lt. Gen. Jay Garner insisted that American-style democracy could sprout on the shards of President Saddam Hussein's government. 'I don't think they had a love-in when they had Philadelphia' in 1787, he said in an interview here before his departure. 'Any time you start the process it's fraught with dialogue, tensions, coercion, and should be.' Iraq, he suggested, could be the richest country in the Middle East within a few years. The general will preside over a meeting of Iraqis and Iraqi exiles in Nasiriya on Tuesday, the first of many meetings that the Pentagon says are intended to form the basis of a representative government for Iraq. The invitations to about 70 to 80 people, including prominent exiles like Ahmad Chalabi and Iraqis unknown to the outside world, were issued in the name of the war commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, to whom General Garner reports... General Garner will oversee how $2.4G authorized by Congress last week will be spent in Iraq. He will pass judgment on problems like setting up television stations and selecting a police force for a population of 24M in 17 provinces..."
Inventories Rose in February: Some Relief Is Seen for March
"Business inventories rose for a 10th consecutive month in February as snow-storms led to a drop in retail sales, the Commerce Department reported today. Total business sales fell the most in 15 months. A 0.6% increase in stockpiles, to $1.6T, followed a 0.3% rise in January. Sales fell 1%, to $836.4G, the most since 2001 November, after rising 1.3%... The inventory-to-sales ratio, which measures the time that goods remain on shelves, rose to 1.38 months in February from 1.36 months in January. That was the highest since 2002 March."
James Risen & Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
Spy Suspect May Have Told Red Chinese of Bugs, U.S. Says: Officials fear that an F.B.I. informer tipped off the Red Chinese government to a covert United States effort to plant listening devices aboard Red China's version of Air Force One.
Nicholas Wade _NY Times_
Scientists Say [outline of] Human Genome Is [more or less] Complete (2 pages)
"The human genome is complete and the Human Genome Project is over, leaders of a public consortium of academic centers said today... Their announcement marked the end of a scientific venture that began in 1990 October and was expected to take 15 years... A 'working draft' of the human genome sequence was announced with much fanfare 3 years ago in a White House ceremony. But at that stage the Human Genome Project had completed only 85% of the genome and its commercial rival, the Celera Corporation, using the project's data as well as its own, had attained somewhat more... Three years later, the international consortium of genome sequencing centers has now put all the fragments in order and closed most of the gaps, producing an extensive and highly accurate sequence of the 3.1G units of DNA of the human genome. The data, perceived as the foundation of a new era of medicine, will be posted for free on genetic data banks... even if the project is complete, the human genome is not. The parts of the genome still missing are [thought to be] of minor importance, but many biologists would like to see them sequenced before declaring the genome finished... some of the DNA performs structural roles. This includes the DNA at the tips of each chromosome and at the center. The tip and center DNA, known as heterochromatic DNA, consists of monotonously repeated sequences whose exact order of units is so hard to determine that the consortium's leaders said from the outset they would not try to do so. Within the rest of the DNA, known as euchromatic DNA, some regions are very hard to sequence for technical reasons. For example, they may contain DNA that is toxic to the bacteria used to amplify them. Foreseeing such difficult regions, the consortium said it would accept some gaps in the eventual sequence, provided their length was known... The missing paragraphs amount to only 0.8% of the euchromatic DNA, which is 2.9G base pairs, or DNA units, in length. The total length of the genome, with heterochromatic DNA included, is 3.1G base pairs. Because most of the chromosomes have only just been completed -- the laggards straggled in only last week -- genome analysts have not yet had time to compute the exact number of human genes, put at around 30K in earlier estimates... DeCode Genetics of Reykjavik, Iceland, which is screening the entire Icelandic population for disease-causing variant genes. Dr. Kari Stefansson, the president of the company, said the single base variants known as SNP's were now accurately assigned on the genome sequence 99% of the time, compared with 93% accuracy previously. The SNP's, which make one person's genome different from another's, are helpful in pinpointing errant genes providing that the position of the SNP's on the genome is known with accuracy. Dr. Stefansson said the current version of the human genome was 'absolutely wonderful to have' but that it was 'silly' to claim it was completed."
Peter T. Kilborn _NY Times_
Slump in Plane Travel Grounds Wichita (2 pages)
"With its 4 commercial and general aviation plane makers, Boeing, Cessna, Raytheon and Bombardier Aerospace, the city calls itself the Air Capital of the World. 1 in 4 of its workers, about twice the national average, works in a factory, two-thirds making planes. The air-craft workers earn an average of $55,642 a year... Since the attacks, about 11K air-craft workers in Wichita have been laid off, leaving about 37K. In March, Cessna, the last to order mass lay-offs, said it would let 1,200 workers go in May. It will shut its plants for 7 weeks in June and July, furloughing 6K more of the 8K still on the pay-roll. The unemployment rate, 6.8% in January, has doubled since the late 1990's... Bob Brewer, local manager of Boeing's engineers' union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace [said] 'We've never seen anything like that before.' In that sense, this city of 350K, much of it still glowing from the growth and new-found wealth of the 1990's, represents the extreme of ailing local economies. Yet it provides a window into the kinds of disruptions and uncertainties afflicting many pockets of the country as the long-awaited economic recovery seems stalled and people look to President Bush for answers. Here social services and charities are starved, some stores have closed, pay-checks are gone and lay-offs are spreading from one sector to the next... The lines into Wichita's restaurants have gone. The city has canceled the summer-job fair for teenagers because laid-off air-craft workers need the jobs. A hospital is laying off close to 5% of its staff because of declining revenue from patients. For 12 years, Cessna has trained welfare recipients for jobs there. It is suspending the program. From July to this past January. Food Stamp cases rose 38% to 17,323 in Wichita's Sedgwick County, compared with a statewide rise of 28%, said Paul Meals, an assistant director of the county office of the state's Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The laid-off aircraft workers are crowding a safety net too stretched to meet their needs, a bitter blow for people who helped others in better times. Year after year, most air-craft workers here contributed 2% to 10% of their pay to local charities. Now, their community cannot help them when they need help. United Way's 2002 campaign was the worst since 1970, Patrick J. Hanrahan, the president, said. To cope, he has cut support to all United Way charities by 11%, exempting only those providing food, shelter and clothing. Janet Pape, director of Catholic Charities in Wichita, said 23% more people sought the agency's help last year with food, rent, utility bills and other emergency services... Donations to Catholic Charities here plunged 14% after 2001 September 11... Steve Hudson, who manages the Living Word Outreach's big food pantry, distributed 1.3M tons of 60- to 70-pound sacks of food to 84K people last year, 13K more than in 2001."
2003-04-15 06:15PDT (09:15EDT) (13:15GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Industrial output falls 0.5%; capacity utilization is 74.8%
"High-tech goods output rose 1.6%, led by a 2% gain in computers and a 2.1% rise in communications equipment."
2003-04-15 08:18PDT (11:18EDT) (15:18GMT)
Irwin Kellner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Economy needs quick jolt, not political battle: Must-spend vouchers
"For their part, most economists think that cutting taxes paid by low- and middle-income people would yield a bigger bang for the buck, for starters... The government should send every tax-payer 3 vouchers, totaling $300 in all, that must be spent within a certain period of time -- say, 60 days -- or else they will expire... The intent... is to get people to buy items other than the basic necessities that they have been holding off on purchasing..."
2003-04-15 12:14PDT (15:14EDT) (19:14GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Trading with the enemy: US companies risk only a wrist slap
"When individual Americans are accused of helping terrorists, they're thrown in jail and their names are dragged through the mud. But when major U.S. corporations are caught trading with the enemy, they get just a slap on the wrist from the government. In the past 2 weeks, the government has revealed that 57 companies and organizations have been fined for doing business with terrorists, despots and tyrants. However, neither the government nor the companies are forthcoming with the public about the details of the illicit trade with rogue governments like Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Sudan. The fact that the New York Yankees and ESPN have been caught doing business with Fidel Castro won't be on any highlight film. ChevronTexaco hasn't bragged about breaking the sanctions against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Citigroup hasn't issued a press release extolling how it helped finance terrorist groups... Each year, the government imposes millions of dollars in civil penalties and prosecutes 10 or so criminal cases... violations... the information provided by the government about these violations is paltry, and unless you've memorized the law, you'll never understand that 'EO13121 FT' means an illegal funds transfer to the former Yugoslavia. The government has provided almost no information about the civil cases except what country the company traded with and what the penalty was. No dates, no details, no way of knowing if the violations were egregious or inadvertent. No way of knowing if the companies sold brass knuckles to the secret police or baby formula to an orphanage. 'The Treasury is giving in to corporate pressure.', said Russell Mokhiber, editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter, who sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act to learn the details of earlier violations of the trade sanctions laws."
John Noble Wilford _NY Times_
Lost No More An Etruscan ReBirth
"People lived at Poggio Colla from the 7th to the 2nd century B.C., almost the entire span of known Etruscan history. No one knows when the Etruscans came to Italy or where they came from. They spoke a language unlike any other known European tongue, one hard to read and surviving mostly as limited tomb inscriptions... Even more recently, Etruscan influence surfaced in disturbing form. One of their symbols of ruling power, a bundle of rods known as the fasces, had been adopted by Romans and was then unforgettably revived by Mussolini and the Fascists of modern history [and now appears on the walls of the chamber of the US House of Representatives]."
Beth Healy _Boston Globe_
Little pain, much gain: Many CEOs still reap riches despite slump
"Enron and the bear market may have knocked corporate chieftains off their pedestals, but they've barely put a dent in CEO earning power. In many cases, corporate boards are continuing to reward mediocrity -- or bald failure -- with riches, in the name of providing executives with incentives to do better... The typical CEO's cash pay actually rose about 4% last year, according to a study of 161 large US companies by Equilar Inc. Median total pay declined 10%, less than half the 23% decline in that same group of companies' stocks... With options, executives get to lock in a price for a stock and exercise the option to buy shares at a future date set by the board. If the stock has risen in value by then, a CEO can exercise the option by purchasing the stock and reselling it at a profit; if the shares have fallen, the options go in the trash heap. But CEOs get help with their investments in the company that ordinary shareholders don't get. [The option prices are often set well below the market prices from the start.] 70% of the time, options stand to make executives rich; the other 30% of the time, they end up worthless."
Walter E. Williams _Capitalism Magazine_
Taxation 101: How Pays Corporate Taxes?
Nicole Winfield _AP_/_Yahoo!_
US, Iraqis Seek to Form New Government
"Under a white-and-gold tent at the biblical birthplace of the prophet Abraham, the United States assembled Iraqi factions on Tuesday and told them it has 'absolutely no interest' in ruling Iraq... Participants also agreed to a list of 13 points, beginning with the principle that Iraq must be democratic and also calling for Saddam Hussein's Baath party to be dissolved... Participants included Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites from inside the country and others who spent years in exile... But many Iraqis boycotted the meeting in opposition to U.S. plans to install Garner atop an interim administration. Thousands of Shiites... demonstrated in nearby Nasiriyah."
Tom Raum _AP_/_Yahoo!_ Bush Pushes for Scaled-Back Tax Cuts
"Bush indicated that he would accept a reduction in his proposed tax cuts to $550G over 10 years..."
Michael den Tandt _Globe and Mail_
Bush cancellation shows economy's not on his screen
"Each day the list of things that trumps the economy grows a little longer... We're the United States' largest trading partner, by far. We account for 25% of its exports. 30M of us consume more than twice as many U.S. goods and services as Japan, a nation of 125M. We import more from the United States than all 15 European Union countries combined. Michigan -- 1 of the nearly 40 U.S. states that count Canada as their largest export market -- had Canadian bilateral trade worth $62G (U.S.) in 2001. Trade in cars, trucks and auto parts accounted for $47G of that sum. Throw in metal, chemicals and plastics, and Canada consumes more than half of Michigan's exports."
Marc Santora & Patrick E. Tyler _NY Times_
Pledge Made to Democracy by Exiles, Sheiks and Clerics
"Iraqi exile leaders, tribal sheiks, ethnic Kurds and Shiite clerics gathered in a tent near the birthplace of Abraham today and said they would work to create a fully democratic government in Iraq... They issued a statement that included 13 points outlining how they would seek to establish a 'federal system' under leaders chosen by the Iraqi people and not 'imposed from outside'... 'Those who would like to separate religion from the state are simply dreaming.', said Hussein Mussawi, a school-teacher at the meeting. His view has been echoed in the streets of southern Iraqi cities, where the country's Shiite majority is most strongly represented. Yet a Shiite cleric from Nasiriya, Sheik Ayad Jamal al-Din, disagreed. 'Dictators may not speak in the name of religion.', he said, demanding a 'system of government that separates belief from politics'... 'We've been left without water, electricity and jobs.', he said as the protest marches in Nasiriya were breaking up. 'Whatever they are meeting about, let them solve these problems.'..."
Julie N. Lynem _SF Chronicle_
Left behind: Psychologists say increased work-loads and insecurity put stress on job-cut survivors
"This is the world of job-cut survivors, workers who remain after the pink slips have been handed out. While some displaced workers get severance packages, outplacement assistance and a chance to start over, retained employees are often left with mounting work-loads, fear of more lay-offs and even guilt that they were allowed to stay on. Indeed, surviving job cuts can be just as frustrating and stressful as being fired, said Walt Jessen, a Los Gatos psychologist."
2003-04-15 20:18PDT (23:18EDT) (2003-04-16 03:17GMT)
Jim Hopkins _USA Today_
Small companies too scared to hire
"Small-company hiring, which was expected to rebound, instead grew worse last month amid war and economic jitters. Just 1% of 555 firms surveyed say they plan to add workers -- down from 6% in February, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) trade group said Tuesday. The last time it hit 1% was in 1991 December... The mood of the nation's 5.8M small employers is vital to economic growth because they create most new jobs... Employers, before adding to pay-rolls, first will build inventory, resume advertising and then invest in machinery, Zandi says -- and that assumes the war doesn't take a turn for the worse and that there are no terrorist threats or attacks within the USA."
2003-04-16 07:48PDT (10:48EDT) (14:48GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumer prices tame in March: Annual gain in core inflation lowest since 1966
"Inflation moderated in March, despite a 4.6% jump in the nation's energy prices, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The consumer price index rose 0.3% in March, half the 0.6% gain seen in February and a bit lighter than the 0.4% expected by Wall Street economists. Consumer prices were up 3% in the past 12 months as energy prices climbed 23.4%. The core rate of inflation -- which separates out food and energy prices -- was unchanged in March, the best performance in 4 years. It's only the second month in the past 20 years that core prices did not rise. Core inflation has run at a 1.7% rate for the past year, the lowest year-over-year increase since 1966... the core CPI rose at a 0.8% annualized rate in the first quarter -- the lowest quarterly inflation in 4 years..."
2003-04-16 09:38PDT (12:38EDT) (16:38GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Federal government tech spending projected to grow 8.5% through FY2008
"U.S. government spending on tech products and services will reach $68.2G in 5 years, up from $45.4G at the end of the current fiscal year, says Input, a government-contract research firm based near Washington, DC. Spending on defense, homeland security, transportation, energy and the Treasury Department will make up 70% of the total tech budget, according to Input... IBM ranks among the largest providers of tech services [i.e. out-sourcers], followed by Electronic Data Systems and Computer Sciences."
Elizabeth Wine _Financial Times of London_
US pension plans fall into default
"The 100 biggest US corporate pension plans have fallen into a deficit of $157G from a surplus of $183G in 2000, says Milliman USA, a benefits consulting firm... The study reviewed the 100 biggest defined benefit pension plans in the US, which had total pension assets of $732G at the end of 2002. It found that surplus assets declined by $172G in 2002, after losing $168G in 2001 - a $340G loss in funding over the last 2 years. Surplus assets evaporated in 2001 and 2002 as the bear market ravaged equity portfolios... This meant an increase in contributions companies had to make to pension plans, up to $33.6G in 2002, more than tripling from $9.2G in 2001."
2003-04-16 18:51EDT (22:51GMT)
David B. Wilikerson _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Apple's lower profit tops forecasts
"Apple Computer said Wednesday that profit in its fiscal second quarter fell 65% and predicted that this quarter will be sluggish as demand for personal computers remains weak... Apple said it earned $14M, or 4 cents a share, in the 3-month period ending in March, compared with $40M, or 11 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for a profit of 2 cents a share. Revenue fell to $1.475G from $1.495G; respondents to First Call had anticipated a figure of $1.46G... iMac revenue fell to $302M from $448M in the same quarter last year; and iBook revenue fell to $151M from $180M. Power Mac G4 revenue tumbled to $293M from $383M... PowerBook revenue rose to $353M from $198M."
2003-04-16 22:00EDT (2003-04-17 02:00GMT)
Christine Dugas _USA Today_
Pension short-falls drain firms' cash
"In 2002, 100 of the largest corporations with pension plans contributed $34G to their under-funded pensions -- more than a 3-fold increase over 2001, according to a study out Wednesday by pension consultants Milliman USA... The large pension short-falls at many companies will trigger rules requiring them to start making quarterly payments this week, he says. That means companies, already squeezed by the sluggish economy, will have less cash to spend in other areas, such as investing in their businesses or giving raises to workers... Only 39 companies in the S&P 500 had a pension surplus last year, Zion says. General Electric, for instance, had a surplus of $4.5G. Overall, the pension short-fall for companies in the S&P 500 totaled $216G last year."
Bob Rosner _abc News_
How to Protect Yourself from Claims that Employees Were Forced to Quit
"a little-known legal concept called constructive termination. In constructive termination an employee quits her job because her working conditions have become unbearable. The resignation is 'voluntary'. A court, however, might view such a resignation as involuntary because by not repairing the working situation, the employer has, in effect, forced the employee to leave. An employee forced to leave under these circumstances can successfully sue her former employer."
Terry Fiedler _Star Tribune_
Average search for white-collar jobs is 11 months
"A new survey of about 7K white-collar job seekers in the Twin Cities showed that the average search now lasts 11 months and that nearly half of those queried had exhausted their unemployment benefits. The research was conducted last month by the Minnesota Job Clubs Consortium, a group of 24 faith-based and 27 secular support groups for displaced workers. The groups have 7,049 participants in the metropolitan area, about 95% of whom are seeking white-collar jobs... State statistics show that first-time claims by white-collar workers were up 32% between 2001 March and 2003 March, while blue-collar claims were up 21% in the same period. The coalition's research showed that 3,220 people, about 45% of those surveyed, no longer had unemployment benefits. Many people are no longer tracked in the state statistics, Hanson said, which means that the white-collar jobless problem is more severe than the stats suggest. The survey also noted that 32% of those seeking jobs were in the information technology/computer category. The second-largest category of job seekers was management, 11.7%, followed by financial services, 11.3%, and sales and marketing, 10.1%."
Michael R. Gordon & John Kifner _NY Times_
US Generals Meet in Palace, Sealing Victory, Planning Security and Rebuilding
"The bevy of commanders who gathered today at Abu Ghraib palace... discussed how to maintain security and rebuild Iraq now that Mr. Hussein is gone, and agreed to meet again in General Franks's headquarters back in Qatar in several days to complete plans."
Steven R. Weisman _NY Times_
White House Is Pressing Israelis to Take Initiative in Peace Talks
David E. Rosenbaum _NY Times_
A Soft Economy and Resistance to a Tax Cut Plan Loom Above Re-Election Campaign
"a president cannot do all that much to strengthen the economy so it is strong for his re-election. [CBO declared] in March that the overall effect on the economy of the president's tax cuts and spending plans would be negligible... 'Taken together, the proposals would provide a relatively small impetus in an economy the size of the United States.' [Yep, too little, not well aimed, too late.]... 'There are always so many things going on at once.', said Benjamin M. Friedman, a professor of political economy at Harvard. 'If the economy does well, you can always say it did so for any of these 5 reasons. And if it doesn't, you can always say it did better than it would have otherwise.'"
Calvin Sims _NY Times_
Prosecutors Detail Lavish Way of Life of Red Chinese Double Agent Defendant
"Ms. Leung, a 49-year-old businesswoman who was arrested last week, dressed impeccably, gave lavish parties at her home in San Marino, owned various businesses and property, and frequently flew over-seas... she and her husband, Kam Leung, had access to at least $872,000 in bank and retirement accounts in the United States and that the couple might have had millions of dollars in foreign accounts under different names... Ms. Leung had received $1.7M for work and expenses as an informer for the F.B.I. in which she provided the agency with secret material on the Chinese government over 20 years. Ms. Leung, who is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and English, also was paid $1.2M in 1995 and 1996 for negotiating a deal that allowed Nortel Telecommunications to do business in China, prosecutors said."
(quoted in Lydia Polgreen _NY Times_
West Pointers Prepare to Face Changed World )
"It is one thing to know that I'll have to lead 30 soldiers who don't like me because I am a snot-nosed kid from West Point. But now I might have to go over there and basically be mayor of a town. That is a mission I never imagined... I am not afraid, because the Army will not send me into harm's way unprepared. I have been trained at the foremost leadership academy in the world, and I will be ready. I will serve my country with pride, and hopefully will come home safe... All our friends who graduated last year are now in combat. Once I get away from these gray walls, I'll probably be there, too. I guess the battle-field is not as far away as we thought. But I know I am ready."
Kevin Wheeler _Electronic Recruiting Daily_
4 New Rules for Staffing Agencies
"The number of agencies in existence is down considerably, and those that were large are now much smaller. Many who owned or worked in staffing agencies are now working on the inside as corporate recruiters... Successful agency recruiting has always relied on two factors: knowledge about who and where talented people are, and the ability to screen and sell that talent to the right client. Getting to know candidates used to require lots of legwork; hours on the telephone; attendance at meetings, shows, and professional organizations; and a big network of friends and colleagues who would refer people to you. Screening required interviewing skills and intimate knowledge of the client's needs. And the really good recruiters who worked in staffing agencies were excellent sales-people. They could convince candidates in the merits of jobs and clients on the merits of candidates... access to candidates is uniformly the same to everyone these days. The only differentiator is skill at using the Internet and at establishing electronic relationships with candidates. Sometimes corporate recruiters are actually at an advantage because they can create relationships with candidates who have come to them and are interested in their particular company or product/service area."
Steven Pearlstein _Washington Post_
Outrageous CEO Pay Still a Sore Point
"It's not just that many of the top guys got big raises despite a lousy year for most investors and negligible pay increases for most of their employees. More significantly, the proxies confirm that directors continue to accept the claptrap that the only way to attract and retain top executives is to lavish them with wealth way out of proportion to what other talented humans seem to require... Academic literature is unanimous in finding that there is no correlation between pay and company performance. And while directors go to elaborate lengths to show how pay varies with performance, their only explanation of why the overall levels are so high is that everyone else does it -- an excuse you wouldn't accept from your 8-year-old... share-holder value is an ephemeral thing that has as much to do with luck, the economy and mob psychology as it does with executive talent. There are also thousands of other people at these companies who can lay claim to that value creation. It's simply absurd to apply the scale of these corporate behemoths to the personal finances of one person, like a gratuity on a restaurant tab."
2003-04-17 04:20PDT (07:20EDT) (11:20GMT)
K.C. Swanson _The Street_
Don't Cry for Tech CEOs
"tech CEOs suffered a sizeable drop-off in pay in 2002. According to benefits research firm Equilar, the median pay package, excluding options, for tech chiefs shrank 15% last year. Still, CEO pay-checks have held their value far better than many technology stocks. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index lost nearly 32% of its value in the same period... last year the value of options dropped 28%... The typical options award still represents a whopping sum of money, with a median value of $7M."
Jobless claims climb last week, point to sluggish job market
"The Labor Department reported today that new applications for jobless benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 30K to 442K for the work week ending April 12. That increase pushed claims to their highest point since March 29, when claims hit 443K, the highest level of the year. For 9 straight weeks, claims have been above the 400K mark, a level associated with a stagnant job market. Today's figures were weaker than economists were expecting."
2003-04-17 08:42EDT (12:42GMT)
Jobless claims hit 2nd-highest level of year
"The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for jobless benefits rose a seasonally adjusted 30K to 442K for the work week ending April 12. That increase pushed claims to their highest point since March 29, when claims hit 443K, the highest level of the year."
2003-04-17 17:07EDT (21:07GMT)
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Industry in Peril: UnEmployment Rises
"An April drop in pay-rolls could leave job losses over the past 3 months above 500K... Jobless claims jumped to 442K in the week to April 12, well above forecasts of 411K and erasing all of the previous week's sharp fall to 412K. It was the ninth straight week claims held above the 400K level, which implies job growth is not nearly enough to help lower the unemployment rate. Worse yet, the four-week moving average climbed to an 11-month peak of 425,500 and this in the week when the survey for the April pay-rolls report is taken."
Katie Hafner _NY Times_
Eluding the Web's Snare
"A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that 42% of American adults say they are not connected to the Internet, and a surprising number are like Ms. Lewis. That is, they live in a household where other relatives are regular Internet users, or they have close friends who regularly go on-line. Yet they refuse to join the crowd. Of those who do not use the Internet, the study found, 74% have relatives or close friends who do. And 20% of the non-users are what the study calls Net evaders... Others simply prefer to send and receive handwritten correspondence. Still others lament the loss of face-to-face contact associated with the rise of the web. A few confess to ignorance and intimidation. And there are those who manage, through wired surrogates, to take advantage of the Internet indirectly for research or communication... Net drop-outs, representing 17% of the non-users... E-mail is so commonplace that those who do not have electronic addresses to hand out in addition to their phone numbers, or in lieu of them, are considered out-casts who must justify themselves."
Jeannine Aversa _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Jobless Claims at 2nd Highest This Year
"The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for jobless benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 30K to 442K for the work week ending April 12... For 9 straight weeks, claims have been above the 400K mark... The more stable, four-week moving average of initial jobless claims also rose last week by 3,500 to 424,750, the highest level in nearly a year... Economists believe the nation's unemployment rate -- now at 5.8% -- is likely to rise in the months ahead... But even if the economy starts improving a bit later this year, the jobless rate probably will creep up because job growth won't be strong enough to accommodate the expectation that an improved climate will attract a lot more job seekers. The number of unemployed people continuing to draw jobless benefits went up by 76K to 3.57M for the week ending April 5, the most recent period for which this information is available. That marked the highest level in continuing jobless claims since 2002 November 9."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Many Corporate Pension Funds Assumed Out-Sized Gains
"Of the 100 companies examined, 45 used an annual rate of return of more than 9%, the proposed standard for this year. Eight of the companies assumed that their pension funds would have returns of 10% or more. In fact, though, almost all the pension funds examined lost money last year... The optimistic assumptions about returns on fund investments translated into billions of dollars for corporate America's collective bottom line in 2002, according to the study, by the actuarial firm of Milliman USA... The Milliman survey showed that America's biggest companies last year assumed an average rate of return of 8.92% for their pension investments... by the end of last year, they were only 82% funded, on a collective basis... Noting that the average rate used by the 100 companies was 8.92%, on that basis the pension funds gave those companies a collective income increase of $3.3G. Had the companies used an average rate of 7.92% instead, he said, they would have wiped out that increase and reduced their collective pre-tax earnings by a further $5.7G."
Elizabeth Becker & Richard A. Oppel _NY Times_
US Gov't Gives Bechtel a Major Contract in Rebuilding Iraq
"The Bush administration awarded the Bechtel Group of San Francisco the first major contract today in a vast reconstruction plan for Iraq that assigns no position of authority to the United Nations or Europe. The contract, which was awarded by the United States Agency for International Development, had set off a heated contest among some of the nation's most politically connected construction concerns. The award will initially pay Bechtel, a closely held San Francisco company that posted $11.6G in revenue last year, $34.6M and could go up to $680M over 18 months."
James Dao _NY Times_
Trained for War, 12 Green Berets Keep the Peace in an Iraqi Town
"The Green Berets have had to wade into angry crowds. They have mediated between rival tribes locked in blood feuds. They have tried to hold together the city's thin threads of social order, not always with success... The 12-man team is doing what it can. In the last week, it has started a police force, recruited a city manager, located offices for a municipal government and begun holding meetings where community leaders discuss Diwaniya's problems. The goal is to create an administrative council consisting of tribal leaders, government bureaucrats and academics that can take control of Diwaniya, a city of more than 400K people 120 miles south of Baghdad... 'But I tell them: '''We are only 12. You must start to do it yourselves.'''', [said the Special Forces team leader, a 32-year-old captain]."
Philip Shenon _NY Times_
Air-Line Pilots Set to Carry FireArms
"After a graduation ceremony this weekend, a group of pilots from several of the nation's largest airlines will return home with a special gift from the federal government: a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun that, beginning next week, they can carry into the cockpits of their planes. The 46 pilots, most of them gray-haired veterans of the airline industry who volunteered to travel to southern Georgia this week for the first federal training class for armed pilots, say they cannot wait to get back into the sky -- this time, armed to protect their passengers from the threat of terrorist hijackers... He said that the first class of pilots represented some of the finest aviators in the industry and that several of them had had distinguished military careers and extensive weapons training before joining the airlines... Under the conditions of the program, pilots will be required to carry the weapon into the plane in the lock-box covered in a non-descript cloth bag, and to take the gun out of the lockbox only after they are in the cockpit. If they travel home as a passenger instead of in the cockpit, the guns would be carried inside the lock-boxes in special areas of the cargo hold... 'I think there are a lot of cops who shouldn't be carrying a gun.', said Stephen Luckey, a former 747 pilot for Northwest Airlines who is now a safety specialist with the Air Line Pilots Association and joined in the training here this week. 'But for most pilots, this is long over-due.' Mr. Luckey pointed out that this is not the first time commercial pilots have carried guns into cockpits. Beginning in the 1970's, he was among about 10 pilots who were allowed to carry firearms in planes. In the 1950s, airline pilots on flights carrying United States mail were allowed to carry guns. The captain of an American Airlines DC-6 shot and fatally wounded a 15-year-old who tried to hijack his plane in Cleveland in 1954 July."
State Dramatically Increases Enforcement of Wage & Hour Laws in 2003: More than $18.4M in wages recivered for New Jersey workers in the past 15 months
"The state continues to heighten enforcement of laws guaranteeing that workers are paid fairly for their work, Department of Labor Commissioner Albert G. Kroll announced today. From January of 2002 through 2003 April 15, the Department of Labor has collected more than $18.4M owed to workers due to violations of the stateís prevailing wage, wage and hour, and wage collection laws... In 2002, the department cited 1,250 contractors and subcontractors for violations of the Prevailing Wage Act, an increase of 550 over 2001. Also in 2002, the department debarred as ineligible for public works projects 91 contractors and sub-contractors and 119 individuals of those companies, an increase of 51 contractors and sub-contractors and 71 individuals over 2001. The department collected $1,649,999 in prevailing wages owed to employees and an additional $3M of back wages for various other wage and hour laws under its jurisdiction in 2002."
Timothy Egan _NY Times_
States Facing Budget Short-Falls, Cut the Major and Mundane (4 pages)
"Nebraska has dismissed 2 of its 3 state diagnostic veterinarians... Nebraska, a state where almost 25K poor mothers have lost health care and where state college tuition has been raised 20% over 2 years... The states are desperate, struggling with their worst financial crises since World War II. They have tapped rainy day funds, raided tobacco money that was supposed to have provided health care for children and taxed every possible vice. Last year brought the storm warnings: some layoffs, the inconveniences of libraries closing early and roads without fresh asphalt. Now, as states scramble to find ways to cut nearly $100G this year and next from budgets that must by law be balanced, the cuts are much larger, and their effects profound... They are also dismissing state troopers, closing parks and schools, dropping bus routes, eliminating college scholarships and slashing a host of other services that have long been taken for granted... 431 college positions were eliminated [in Nebraska]... President Bush, who was the governor of Texas, is aware of the problems states are facing, aides said. But he made clear when addressing governors in February that no significant help was on the way from the federal government [to state governments]... The University of Iowa increased tuition by 18% -- the largest increase in 2 decades... At the elementary school level, class sizes are increasing in many states as teachers are dismissed. Often, it is the music teacher or special education expert who is the first to be cut, educators say. Oregon has been hit particularly hard. In Portland, in a last-minute effort to keep schools open for the full school year, teachers agreed to work 2 weeks without pay -- the equivalent of a 5% pay cut. School districts in parts of Colorado have gone to 4-day weeks to trim costs. In Idaho, where the Republican governor, Dirk Kempthorne, has proposed a tax increase to stem further cuts, towns have held bake sales and auctions to keep teachers on staff. Teachers in Twin Falls gave up a day's pay to pool enough money to keep a hearing specialist on staff. In California, the most populous state with the largest budget hole, about $30G, lay-off notices have been sent to 25K teachers, although not all of them will be laid off... Half the school districts in Kansas have cut staff. At 2 elementary schools, students emptied their coin jars to keep nurses and foreign-language teachers... According to an analysis by the Cato Institute... spending from the states' general funds rose an average of 5.7% a year between 1990 and 2001, nearly double the inflation rate... For 7 years, ending in 2002, a majority of states had net tax [rate] cuts... As the economy staggered, the states turned to their reserve rainy day funds, took settlement money from tobacco companies and used it for general purposes and raised taxes in the areas considered least likely to be politically harmful. That was in 2001 and 2002. Now the cuts are much larger... Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio, a Republican with a family name synonymous with low taxes and streamlined government, proposed a tax increase to comply with court orders to finance schools adequately. But the legislature rejected it, prompting a round of cuts. At least 15 states have raised taxes, five of them by 5% or more. Other states are turning to gambling, but are finding that the market has gone somewhat soft... Camping fees have risen to $23.50 a night, from $12..."
2003-04-18 19:31:46PDT (22:31:46EDT) (2003-04-19 02:31:46GMT)
John Stossel _abc_
Addictions, habits and free will
"But if they [people with addictions] don't have free will, why do so many quit? During the VietNam War, thousands of soldiers became addicted to heroin, but once they came home, most stopped using. 60% of cigarette smokers have quit. Most people who have used cocaine or heroin no longer use. Most cigarette smokers have quit. We clearly have free will."
2003-04-19 10:07PDT (13:07EDT) (17:07GMT)
Prodigy, 13, adds college degree to long resume
"He breezed through 10 grades of school in 3 years, graduated with honors from high school at 9, founded an international youth advocacy organization, met with prime ministers and presidents, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Twice... He plans to earn PhDs in math, aerospace engineering, political science and biomedical engineering, and pursue multiple careers while continuing to champion non-violence and children's rights."
2003-04-19 10:58PDT (13:58EDT) (17:58GMT)
Chris Isidore _CNN_/_Money_
Americn Airlines union pulls out of deal... due to out-cry over executive pay
"American Airlines' flight attendants union announced it would hold a new vote on $340M in annual concessions due to out-cry over a compensation plan for the air-line's management, a move that could force the world's largest air-line into bankruptcy... The airline revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday that was reported in the _Wall Street Journal_ Thursday that its top 6 executives were in line for retention bonuses equal to 2 times their base salary if they stayed with American through 2005 January. A seventh officer of the company was due 1.5 times his base pay... After initially defending both plans, late Friday afternoon AMR Corp. CEO Donald Carty announced that he and the other top officers had given up their retention bonuses... The company said the funding of the supplemental pension plan for these officers and other top paid executives would remain in place despite the union objections."
Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Texas, Ohio Reactor Vessel Openings Are Leaking Water
"Technicians at the South Texas Nuclear Project, 90 miles southwest of Houston near Wadsworth, have found residues that indicate that cooling water leaked from the vessel through two penetrations where instruments are inserted into the core, according to the plant operator. Operators at all 103 commercial nuclear reactors have been giving closer attention to their reactor vessels since the discovery last year of extensive leaks in the vessel head at the Davis-Besse plant in Oak Harbor, Ohio, near Toledo... technicians found deposits of boron, a chemical added to the water to control the nuclear reaction, which remains after the water evaporates. At Davis-Besse, technicians cleaned out boron with shovels. In Texas, technicians found an amount about half the volume of an aspirin tablet, said Ed Halpin, the plant general manager... Workers have replaced the [Davis-Besse] vessel head, a part intended to last for the life-time of the reactor. Davis-Besse has remained closed since the leak was discovered, 13 months ago... The vessel is 14.4 feet wide and 46 feet high, made of steel about six inches thick. Its bottom has 58 penetrations, where instruments can be inserted to measure the flow of neutrons, the subatomic particles that sustain the chain reaction. There are leaks at 2 penetrations [in the South Texas 1 reactor], although the water volume was apparently small, Mr. Dricks said."
Edward Wong _NY Times_
American Air Pulls Back Bonus Plans for Executives
"American Airlines dropped plans yesterday to pay large bonuses to 7 top executives if they stayed with the company until 2005 January. But the carrier said it would keep money in a much-criticized trust fund set up to protect the pensions of 45 executives in case it files for bankruptcy protection."
Diana B. Henriques _NY Times_
Sub-Contractors to Receive Bulk of Iraq Re-Construction
"Although the Bechtel Group in San Francisco has been selected as the prime contractor for up to $680M worth of reconstruction work in Iraq, a substantial percentage of that money -- half or more, by some estimates -- will actually flow to subcontractors, which are expected to rely heavily on Iraqi workers, government and company officials said yesterday... But Mr. Natsios has waived certain federal procurement rules to give Bechtel the broadest possible scope for choosing its subcontractors. As a result, it may choose companies from outside the United States and is required to exclude only those based in countries on the government's short list of terrorist sponsors. That list includes Libya, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Laos and Syria."
Jenny T. Beatty _NY Times_
Anxiety in the Air
"My finger-prints are on file with the F.B.I., safety officers pat me down each day on the way to work, I'm separated from co-workers and customers by a bullet-proof door and government decree, and my seat-mate might be packing heat: my profession has certainly changed. As an airline pilot, I know these and other new security measures are necessary. But for me, 'security' recently took on new meaning. Now I'm concerned about job security... My wages are getting whacked -- by at least 23% -- and my dreams of retiring with a pension are fading like a mirage in the desert... the 8K pilots who flew them were left jobless... In another industry, workers might be able to apply their skills elsewhere. That isn't easy for a furloughed pilot who earned his bona fides flying bombers during war-time, or one who spent tens of thousands of dollars for flight training and her first decade of adulthood in low-wage apprentice flying jobs... And what then -- a Chrysler-style bail-out? A Darwinian blood bath?"
Allison Linn _Rocky Mountain News_
Donations fall as needs grow: With revenues sinking, non-profits struggle to provide services and keep their heads above water
"Colorado's non-profits are facing a triple whammy of financial troubles caused by the weak economy: Corporate giving is down, endowments and foundations are suffering investment losses and government funding is being cut... Stride's waiting list is growing, but the number of clients it can serve has shrunk from 250 to 200 because of cuts in programs with which Stride works, such as public housing... For their part, many philanthropists say they would love to be supporting nonprofits at the levels they were a few year ago. But amid myriad economic problems, many simply can't. As earnings have fallen, many corporations have faced the difficulty of balancing the need to please share-holders with the desire to keep up corporate giving programs, which can be an immensely valuable marketing and community relations tool."
On This Day in History
Michael Heylin _American Chemical Society_/_Chemical & Engineering News_
2003 Starting Salaries: Full-time employment harder to get for 2002-2003 graduates
"This decoupling of [GDP] from jobs growth was reflected in fewer full-time permanent jobs for chemistry graduates. It was also related to a spotty starting salary performance compared with the previous 2 graduating classes. According to the latest annual ACS survey of the starting salaries and employment status of chemistry graduates, the median salary of inexperienced 2002-2003 Ph.D. graduates was $63,300. This was down from $67,500 for the previous class and from the all-time high of $69,500 for the 2000-2001 class... for inexperienced master's chemistry graduates, there was a 2001-2002 to 2002-2003 salary dip from $45K to $44,500. for bachelor's graduates, the 2002-2003 median of $32K was up by $1K from the previous year. But it remained below the all-time high of $33,500 for the 2000 class... 37% of 2002-2003 chemistry Ph.D. graduates found full-time permanent jobs. this was down from 45% for the 3 previous classes. And over this same period from 1999-2000 to 2002-2003, the corresponding declines have been from 35% to 25% for bachelor's graduates and from 56% to 41% for master's graduates."
Paul Abrahams _Financial Times_
Computer groups unite to promote IT spending
"US IT spending fell for the first time in 2001, again last year, and could decline further this year. Many corporations have been disappointed with the results of investment in the late 1990s, when spending was increasing at double-digit rates... 'There has been an absence of data and an inability to quantify the return.', said Jeff Raikes..."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
FBI Spy Case High-Lights Problem with Informants
"part of a much broader institutional problem that has led to the disciplining of several hundred agents in recent years for improper dealings with informants, law enforcement officials say. The vast majority of these cases have never been made public, but law enforcement officials who have reviewed the problem say the F.B.I. has grappled with recurring episodes in which agents have had sexual or financial relationships with confidential informants. Some agents have worked out schemes in which they made 'tens of thousands of dollars' by padding the expenses paid to informants or by demanding kick-backs from them, said a senior law enforcement official who insisted on anonymity."
Kenneth N. Gilpin & Christian G. Koch _NY Times_
The Stage May Be Set for a Tech Recovery
"so far this year, the Nasdaq composite index, which is heavily weighted toward technology, is up more than 6%... Sales were up 4% year over year. I would argue the recovery is in place and there is a positive turn, but it appears there is a stall period that is happening right now, due to softness in demand for large-ticket technology products..."
Mark Helm _San Francisco Chronicle_
Increasing domestic security will raise U.S. cost of living: New cargo regulations, tougher immigration could slow growth
"Consumers can expect to pay higher prices for food, electronics and other household goods as businesses pass along the costs of stringent new security regulations on imports... Those rules include increased screening of containers holding imported cargo, more inspections of imported food, tougher scrutiny of visa applications and more agents to combat illegal immigration... Since the security measures employed to reduce the threat of terrorism are similar to those used to combat theft, many companies will probably reduce their losses from goods stolen. In addition, she says, the increased scrutiny of business operations can help companies uncover inefficient systems and ineffective employees."
2003-04-21 07:18PDT (10:18EDT) (14:18GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US leading indicators down 0.2%: Slow GDP growth likely, Conference Board says
"The nation's economy continues to struggle but may be due for a dose of relief, the Conference Board said Monday... 5 of the 10 leading indicators fell in March: building permits, jobless claims, interest rate spreads, money supply and consumer expectations."
2003-04-21 07:15PDT (10:15EDT) (14:15GMT)
Leading indicators down in March
"The New York-based Conference Board said Monday its Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.2% last month to 110.6... The coincident index, which measures current economic activity, held steady at 115.3 in March after falling 0.2% in February."
2003-04-21 13:42PDT (16:42EDT) (20:42GMT)
Rex Nutting & William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Snow proposes tax-cut compromise
"Snow, who is traveling in South America, told the Journal that the elimination of the dividend tax on individuals could be phased in over time, perhaps by cutting the tax in half the first year, and then reducing the tax each year for the next 10 years until it's fully eliminated. Also, instead of accelerating a cut in the top individual marginal income tax rate to 35% this year from 38.6% -- another element of the Bush plan -- Snow said he would consider delaying that cut while pressing ahead with accelerated reductions of other income tax rates... The White House has said the full package would create about 1.4M jobs by the end of 2004, although it has also been careful not to call the tax cut package a 'stimulus' plan... Snow and other Bush officials have claimed that eliminating the dividend tax for individuals would boost the stock market by at least 10% and would reward more straightforward accounting... The Congressional Budget Office concluded that Bush's proposed budget...would have little impact on the nation's economic potential."
Judith Miller _NY Times_
Illicit Arms Kept Until Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert
"They said the scientist led Americans to a supply of material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed to have buried as evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs. The scientist also told American weapons experts that Iraq had secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990s, and that more recently Iraq was cooperating with Al Qaeda, the military officials said. The Americans said the scientist told them that President Saddam Hussein's government had destroyed some stock-piles of deadly agents as early as the mid-1990s, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the ground combing through Iraq's giant weapons plants... officials asked that details of what chemicals were uncovered be deleted."
Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
Now Digital, Spy Camera Technology Widens Gaze
"to some customers, they are new examples of Big Brother run amok... In the United States, annual sales of digital surveillance products and services is expected to reach $8.5G by the end of 2005. That is up from $5.7G in 2002, according to J. P. Freeman, a market research company in Newtown, CN. One indication this trend will accelerate was the announcement by I.B.M. last month that it would offer a new package of consulting and system-design services for digital network-based video surveillance systems... Unlike videotape systems, digital images stored on DVD's or CD's can be indexed and searched easily. Using digital video, investigators can, for instance, nearly instantly retrieve images of every person who passed through a door on a certain day. Digital video's other [DIS]advantage is that its images can be quickly transmitted over networks... And digital video systems can be [ab]used in conjunction with... badge readers and alarms. With... data-bases and pattern-matching algorithms... Video-tape deteriorates over time..."
Kris Kosach _abc News_
From Celluloid to Cell Phone: Hedy Lamarr: Screen Star and Wireless Technology Innovator
"The same woman who said, 'Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.', was actually quite smart, some would say brilliant... In 1938 a teenage Lamarr, then known as Hedwig Kiesler, starred in the Czech film 'Ecstasy'. The film caused an international scandal thanks to a scene where the young chanteuse runs around a forest entirely nude... One night, while Fritz entertained clients, Hedy slipped her personal maid a sleeping pill and silently slipped out a window never to return. She made her way to London where she eventually met Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn... On 1942 April 11 [George] Antheil and Lamarr, using her married name Hedwig Markey, submitted what they called their Secret Communications System to the U.S. Patent office. The system was designed to keep radio-controlled torpedoes from being jammed and steered off course by the enemy. The idea employed a pattern of random frequencies set by a torpedo transmitter and picked up by a corresponding receiver. The device was impossible to jam because even if the enemy could intercept part of the message, they had no way of knowing what the next part would be. Hedy utilized her personal knowledge of Nazi technologies while the composer Antheil used his expertise in player piano methods... In 1962, the U.S. military [rediscovered] Lamarr and Antheil's patent, but this time, the reception was quite different. In time, the U.S. government began to implement the idea of 'frequency hopping' in classified communications services and networks... She's remembered for saying: 'Films have a certain place in a certain time period. Technology is forever.'. In recognition for her part in the high-tech world of communications, she was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation's prestigious Pioneer Award in 1997. Although Lamarr's son accepted the award on her behalf, she addressed the audience by phone saying words one might expect to hear from a screen legend. Her response: 'It's about time.'. Hedy Lamarr died 2000 January 19."
Calls for help to NJ welfare program won't be routed to India
"The state Department of Human Services and eFunds Corp. of Scottsdale, AZ, the company that processes the card system for 200K New Jersey residents, have agreed to a deal that calls for a new center to open in Camden within the next few days. The monthly cost for running the center whose 12 staffers will serve English-speaking customers will be $410K, or about $74K more than the [off-shore contract], Human Services spokesman Andy Williams said Monday. New Jersey's Spanish speaking clients will continue to be directed to the company's Wisconsin center... The deal came about after several New Jersey law-makers and officials complained about eFunds decision to move the center from Green Bay, WI, to Bombay, India, in a bid to save money. Workers at the Wisconsin center were paid $10 to $12 an hour, while their counterparts in Bombay were paid the U.S. equivalent of $2 to $3 an hour... Industry officials have lobbied strongly against the measure, which has spurred similar bills in 7 other states."
Laura Mansnerus _NY Times_
New Jersey to Step Up Violation of Privacy
"The 45 agency offices around the state must check identification documents, like birth certificates, utility bills and [Socialist Insecurity] cards, for each driver before issuing replacements. They must also photograph the more than 1M drivers who still have licenses with no photographs and only a thin laminate jacket. Governor McGreevey and Diane Legreide, the director of the vehicle division, said the new licenses would have an array of security features, some visible and some not, like holograms, a bar code and digital signatures. The bar code can be scanned by machines to be installed in police cars, allowing officers to verify a driver's identification at the site of a stop and to call up his motor vehicle record. The contractor, Digimarc Corporation of Tualatin, OR... Only one other state, Alaska, still uses paper licenses... The first of the six million drivers to be called in will be those whose current address or Social Security information is not consistent with other state records. The new system will raise the license fee to $24, from $18. New Jersey driver's licenses must be renewed every 4 years."
Julia King _ComputerWorld_
The Best of Both Shores: Off-Shoring Watch 2003
"In this off-shore-in-sourcing model, foreign IT workers aren't contractors but employees of the U.S.-based companies. They receive the same training, use the same software development tools and adhere to the same business processes as their IT counterparts in the U.S.A. The big difference is that they're paid a lot less... Keeping U.S.-based IT workers informed of the company's plans for distributing various IT projects is a critical component of managing on-shore/off-shore IT groups. 'The U.S. teams ask, ''What's the future for me, and why should I stay if you're moving work off-shore?''' says Tsolakis. 'You need to give an overall direction and plan. It's important to address this up-front. If you don't do that, you end up losing some key resources that you don't want to lose.' Scardino and Tsolakis also agree that on-site management, preferably by a local national, works best at off-shore regional IT centers."
LIsa Vaas _eWeek_
Will Ceiling Fall?
"He is still one of a growing number of irate technology workers -- some unemployed, some under-employed, some simply concerned -- that has been meeting with U.S. and state law-makers. The purpose of the meetings: Galinsky and others like him are being galvanized not only by technology job loss but also by the possibility of getting legislators to push down the H-1B visa ceiling... So many people are showing up at Programmers Guild meetings -- which are held in Morris Plains, NJ -- that the group is considering splitting in two... 'The door may have already closed, as far as H-1B visas go.', said Rep. Ballenger. 'More and more of our tech jobs, all the big banks and telecommunications companies, they're hiring out jobs in India.' For Ballenger, the message from his constituents has been loud and clear -- the fewer H-1B visas granted, the better... unemployment in his district remains above 9%. Off-shore out-sourcing has also contributed to the ITAA's disinterest when it comes to lobbying for a higher ceiling."
Mary Hayes & John Soat _Information Week_
Workers worry the IT career path has become less promising. That's bad news for the industry.
"she's concerned about lay-offs and the number of technology jobs that are moving off-shore... 7 out of 10 IT professionals say the IT career path isn't as promising as it was 5 years ago, according to a survey of more than 15K IT people for InformationWeek Research's 2003 Salary Survey... the pessimism permeating the industry raises concerns that the field won't attract the best and the brightest young people, or that it could lose some of today's top talent. It raises issues of how to motivate people if they don't see the opportunity for growth in the industry or their companies... Off-shore out-sourcing may be only one of the challenges facing U.S. IT workers, but it has certainly become the lightning rod... Carnegie Mellon University has seen applications for computer science drop a total of 36% since the 2001-2002 school year, to 2,067 for the 2003-2004 year. (It accepts a mere 350 students to its prestigious program.) The number of newly declared undergrads in computer science or computer engineering jumped from 10K in 1995 to nearly 24K in 2000, according to the the Computing Research Association [CRA], an organization of computer-science and computer-engineering departments. That was down to 23,033 for 2002, according to the association's most recent survey of 225 colleges, released last month... Stanford University, where the number of under-graduate computer-science majors is down about 30% in 2 years... The ITAA, a trade association representing the IT product and service industry, released a study earlier this month with job-search firm Dice that found U.S. companies hired 265K IT workers but cut 168K tech jobs in the fourth quarter of 2002, for a net increase of 97K new jobs. That's surprising, perhaps even counterintuitive, given the poor economy. But the trend isn't up. Consider that in the third quarter of last year, the industry had a net gain of 147K jobs, the ITAA says."
No Shortage of Scientists Here
2003-04-22 00:05PDT (03:05EDT) (07:05GMT)
Irwin Kellner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Wanted: Pricing Power: Companies pray for a bit of inflation
"Unfortunately for the vast army of the unemployed, it's not people that these firms are searching for - even sales-people. This is because few companies are buying any more than they have to with prospects as punk as they seem, so adding to sales staffs tends to increase costs without boosting profitability... When push comes to shove, what companies seem to be looking for is pricing power - the ability to raise selling prices to augment profitability."
2003-04-22 05:57PDT (08:57EDT) (12:57GMT)
Chain Store Sales Rose in Latest Week
"Sales at major U.S. chain stores increased by 2.3% in the week ended April 19 compared with the same week a year ago, the report said. Sales rose 4.6% in the two weeks ended April 19 compared with the previous month, Instinet Research said in its weekly Redbook report."
Philip Shenon _NY Times_
Some Secret Documents in Terror Case Can Be UnSealed
"The Justice Department said today that much of the now-secret court record in the case against Zacarias Moussaoui could be made public but urged the trial judge to keep a handful of documents under seal because they 'disclose confidential, sensitive details about the foreign relations of the United States'."
Tony Smith _NY Times_
Brazil Finds a Market for Exports and a Friend in Red China
"Brazil's left-leaning president, Luiz In·cio Lula da Silva, who is less than enthusiastic about the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement now being negotiated with the United States, is training his sights very publicly on [Red China]."
Calvin Sims _NY Times_
Release Set for Man Accused of Spying for North Korea
"The businessman, John Joungwoong Yai, a naturalized United States citizen who lives in Santa Monica, CA, was set to be released on $400K bond, after a ruling by a federal court last week that he was not a flight risk, as prosecutors had contended... Mr. Yai, 59, still faces federal charges of failing to register as an agent of a foreign government, of failing to report bringing more than $10K in currency into the country and of making false statements to United States customs inspectors."
Saritha Rai _NY Times_
Creditors Intensify Their Fight on Enron-Built Plant in India
"At $2.9G, the Dabhol power project on India's west coast was the biggest foreign investment in the country's history and was planned to be the largest gas-fired power plant in the world. Since the collapse of the Enron Corporation, which built it, Dabhol has become one of India's deepest financial quagmires."
Rachel Beck _AP_/_Seattle Times_
Where has foreign money gone?
"The United States has become so reliant on foreign investment and borrowing that without those dollars it is going to be difficult to propel growth."
Pamela Sitt _Seattle Times_
Washington state unemployment climbs to 7%
"Washington's unemployment rate hit 7% in March, inching up from February's revised 6.9% and stalling the state's previously forecast 'very slow' recovery from recession, according to figures released yesterday by the state Employment Security Department. 'We've been expecting it would be about 7%, so no surprise there.', said Chang Mook Sohn, the state's chief economist. 'The state's economy is still extremely weak. It's not getting any worse, but at the same time it is not showing recovery signs. In the Seattle area, the jobless rate jumped three-tenths of a percentage point from February's revised figure to 6.4% in March... [All figures are seasonally adjusted.] [Washington] has nearly 2.6M jobs..."
Caroline Cooper _abc News_
Supreme Court considers case against Nike's false press releases
"The dust-up started in the mid-1990s, when several news organizations and human rights groups published reports on labor conditions in factories where Nike subcontracted work in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. In 1996, CBS News' 48 Hours reported that workers in one factory in Vietnam earned 20 cents an hour -- less than the Vietnamese minimum wage -- and that certain workers were hit by their supervisors for poor sewing. To counter the slew of negative press, Nike went on a PR blitz, writing letters to newspapers, the directors of university athletic departments and holding press conferences disputing these charges. 'There's a growing body of documentation that indicates that Nike workers earn superior wages and manufacture product under superior conditions.', said Nike spokesman Vada Manager in 1997. But an Ernst & Young audit commissioned by Nike and leaked to the media in November 1997 seemed to cast Nike's assertions in doubt, angering Kasky and prompting him to sue in 1998."
Linda Greenhouse _NY Times_
Nike Fights MisRepresentation Suit in Supreme Court
"The company was asking the justices to dismiss a suit brought by a San Francisco man under California's unfair-trade-practices law, which permits an individual to sue as a 'private attorney general' on behalf of all the state's residents without a need to show that anyone has been injured. The plaintiff, Marc Kasky, charged that during the mid-1990s, Nike misrepresented its record in letters, press releases and op-ed articles that amounted to false advertising.... The California Supreme Court ruled last year that... Mr. Kasky was entitled to take Nike to trial, where he could prevail if he showed that any of the company's communications had been misleading, either in what they asserted or in what they left out. For non-commercial speech, by contrast, there can be no liability without proof of deliberate or reckless falsehood... Nike Inc. v. Kasky, No. 02-575... the challenged statements... included what Mr. Kasky has said were overly favorable descriptions of a report that Andrew Young, former ambassador to the United Nations, issued after investigating conditions at Nike's over-seas factories, as well as claims that a Nike executive made at a share-holders' meeting in describing factory conditions."
Fed Says Economy Remains LackLuster:
Dan Murphy _Christian Science Monitor_/_abc_
US MultiNationals Wary of BackLash: Blast at McDonald's in Istanbul, Turkey Is Latest in String of Attacks on US Firms
"There have been bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia, Moscow, Beirut, and Xian, China, and 3 bombs in Istanbul. KFC outlets have been bomb targets in Indonesia, Lebanon, Greece, and Pakistan. A Pizza Hut was bombed in Lebanon... The 13 McDonald's bombers, says Abdi, have links to a militia group called Laskar Jundullah. The Laskar Jundullah, in turn, has ties to the Jemaah Islamiyah (J.I.), an affiliate of al Qaeda that has been blamed by U.S. and Indonesian investigators for a string of terrorist incidents in Southeast Asia. The leader of Laskar Jundullah, Agus Dwikarna, was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Philippines last year for explosives possession, and many J.I. members have been rounded up since last year's attack on a nightclub in Bali."
Gun Owners Demand Guns Not Be MisDefined as Weapons of Mass Destruction in Washington State Statute
"But Gregoire said the Legislature needs to pass the anti-terrorism bill, in part because state law is ill-equipped to prosecute hoaxes calculated to stir up terrorism fears and waste law enforcement time. 'We need to hold those people accountable.', she said. Right now, she said, state and local officials have to rely on malicious harassment statutes to crack down on hoaxes [which is as it should be]."
Bill Redeker _abc News_
Mile-High Money Problems: Denver Facing Fires, Drought and Economic Recession
"Denver had it really good for the last 10 years with 3 new sports stadiums, a $4G air-port, and a revitalized down-town. But today, it's more of a bust than a boom. 'We're struggling with the recession that started in 2001 and it's not showing any signs of recovery.', said Margaret Browne, the Denver finance director. Telecommunications, technology, travel and tourism grew so big, so fast that today all three industries are in steep decline. In the last year, telecom giant Quest laid off 1,500 workers and United Airlines, which owes the city more than $13M in landing fees and rent, laid off 1,200 people... Colorado's Department of Labor says the jobless rate, in fact, reached 7.4% in early 2002."
Michael R. Gordon & John Kifner _NY Times_
US Warns Iraqis Against Claiming Power without Popular Support
"The American military moved today to strip Baghdad's self-appointed administrator of his authority and warned Iraqi factions not to take advantage of the confusion and the political void in the country by trying to grab power... However, the American military presence is sparse in several areas of the city. With nobody to stop them, long-banned groups ranging from Shiite radicals to communists have been seizing villas in Baghdad and adorning them with their respective emblems... But American troops are still being killed and wounded as they try to make Iraq safer and as political factions and clerics rush to fill the void of authority... But outside the military sphere, large political problems loomed. Among those engaged in the rush for power were two long-time Iraqi exiles. American concern over the activities of these two men -- Muhammad Mohsen Zobeidi and Ahmad Chalabi -- has begun to grow, military officials said."
Jennifer 8. Lee _NY Times_
Funding Cut after Grantee Criticized Grantor
"A respected Canadian computer programmer says the United States government severed research financing for a computer security project he was working on after he made remarks in the Canadian press critical of the American military. The programmer, Theo de Raadt, the 35-year-old founder of an international collaborative software project known as OpenBSD, had been receiving support from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, a research arm of the American military that is closely tied to the founding of the Internet."
2003-04-24 05:44PDT (08:44EDT) (12:44GMT)
Durable goods orders surge but labor market still weak
"Commerce said new orders for durable goods -- items designed to last 3 years or more -- rose 2% after declining 1.5% in February. It was the second increase in the last 3 months... demand for computers and electronic products rose 4.0% in March. A separate report from the Labor Department showed a rise of 8K first-time jobless claims to a seasonally adjusted 455K for the week ended April 19. It was the highest level hit since March of last year and the tenth straight week that claims held above the key 400K point, seen by economists as an unhealthy labor market."
2003-04-24 06:44PDT (09:44EDT) (13:44GMT)
Economy Is Top Issue for Elections
"The CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll released Thursday indicated that 53% chose the economy as the top issue, while 36% said the nation's security. The rest said the 2 issues were equally important... The poll indicated that 56% think the country is now in a recession and 41% do not feel that way."
2003-04-24 07:31PDT (10:31EDT) (14:31GMT)
Leigh Strope _AP_/_Denver Post_
Adults and Teens Competing for Fewer Jobs (with graphs)
"The national unemployment rate has hovered near an 8-year high for more than a year now and lay-offs haven't eased. In many communities, adults are snatching the lower-wage, part-time service jobs that teenagers traditionally have relied on for summer employment... College graduates looking for their first real job and students who want internships also are having difficulty. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that graduates were getting fewer job offers than those 2 years ago... Graduates with degrees in business are seeing the highest increases in salary offers, particularly in business administration and accounting."
2003-04-24 08:21PDT (11:21EDT) (15:21GMT)
Bush gets at root of tax plan opposition
"'It's important that Washington respond to some of the problems we face.', Bush said on the shop floor of ball-bearing factory in this northeast Ohio city [North Canton]. 'For the sake of our country, for the sake of the workers of America, Congress needs to pass this jobs growth package soon.'... Voinovich spokesman Scott Milburn says Voinovich will not back any tax cut over $350G without reductions in spending... Bush pushed his plan for at least $550G in tax cuts [spread out] over a decade... 'Some in Congress say the plan is too big.', the president said. 'It seems like to me they might have some explaining to do. If they agree that tax relief creates jobs, then why are they for a little bitty tax relief package? If they believe tax relief is important for job creation, they ought to join us.'... Ohio has lost nearly 168K jobs, or more than 3% of its work force, since Bush took office, House Democrats said, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data."
2003-04-24 08:24PDT (11:24EDT) (15:24GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Jobless claims at 1-year high: Conference Board Help-Wanted Index falls in March
"In a sign of further labor market deterioration, the 4-week average of initial jobless claims rose 13,250 to the 439,250 level, thus remaining above the pivotal 400K mark for two months now, the Labor Department said... For the week ended last Saturday, claims rose 8K to 455K, the highest since the week ended 2992 March 30. And benefits applicants in the previous week were revised upward... Continuous jobless claims rose 42K to nearly 3.6M... Meanwhile, the Conference Board's Help-Wanted Advertising Index dipped 2 points in March. The index stands at 38, down from 40 in February. It was 45 one year ago."
2003-03-24 13:31PDT (16:31EDT) (20:31GMT)
Yukari Iwatani _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Qualcomm's strong growth might be ending according to analysts
"Wireless telephone chip-maker Qualcomm Inc.'s string of exceptionally strong earnings results might be coming to an end, as growth from [Red China] and India disappoint and it faces greater competition, analysts said Thursday. The San Diego-based company late Wednesday posted a higher quarterly net profit and doubled its revenue, but it also acknowledged slower-than-expected growth and an over-supply of chips in Asia -- two issues it had disputed until now... As other equipment companies cut costs to stem massive losses, the company has been seemingly immune to the downturn, enjoying high double-digit growth. Qualcomm's shares have fallen only 6% since a year ago while Standard & Poor's communications equipment index has fallen nearly 40%... Qualcomm's fiscal second-quarter revenue grew more than 40% to $1.0G from a year ago, but was down slightly from the first quarter."
Neil A. Lewis _NY Times_
Fate of Prisoners from Afghan War Remains UnCertain
"Fifteen months after the first hooded and shackled detainees arrived at a primitive tent facility known as Camp X-Ray, some 664 prisoners seized after the Afghan war remain here in a legal, political and geographical limbo... In mid-March, 22 prisoners were released from Guantanamo, sent back to Afghanistan with blue jeans, new copies of the Koran and, on average, an additional 13 pounds from a diet that is similar to that of the soldiers who guard them. At the other end of the spectrum, the Pentagon is preparing soon to bring a handful of inmates before a military tribunal. But the majority of the detainees still face an uncertain future on an island chosen explicitly for its unusual features. Not only is the base lodged on sovereign territory of Cuba, a nominally hostile country, and ringed by a 17-mile-long fence with armed watchtowers on both sides. Two federal courts have also said that despite the fact that it is totally under United States control, the base is outside the reach of United States law because it is technically part of Cuba."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
DeCoding Computer Intruders
"according to Symantec, the number of software holes reported in the nation's computer networks grew by 80% in 2002."
Diane Stafford _Kansas City Star_
Execs don't get it; they get rich
"Put more real people on corporate boards. Real, as in those who live pay-check to pay-check. Real, as in most of the work force. Current boards, made up of fellow executives and rich folk, just don't get it. How else to explain their continued give-aways to top executives and continued take-aways from employees? The old argument about having to pay big bucks for top talent just doesn't wash anymore. In too many recent cases, that 'top talent' hasn't proved its worth, and workers have suffered for it -- financially and emotionally... Among thousands of ex-Sprinters who lost their livelihoods in a lousy job market, some are losing their homes. Furthermore, companies right and left are eliminating or greatly reducing relocation money for employees. Note, too, that across the work-place, employees are shouldering more of their employer-sponsored health care insurance costs."
Jerry Krammer _Copley News Service_/_San Diego Union-Tribune_
Manufacturing's southern migration
"Portelli and her husband, Giovanni, are among the scores of immigrants who built their lives with wages from Nabisco. Since 1958, the New Jersey plant has turned train-car loads of flour, sugar and other ingredients into some of Nabisco's most popular cookies. This month, the Fig Newton line here will roll to a stop, and production will shift to a plant in Mexico owned by Nabisco's corporate parent, Kraft Foods. The move to Monterrey, a 3-hour drive from the Texas border, will leave Nabisco's Chicago bakery as the Fig Newton's sole U.S. producer... According to the National Association of Manufacturers, about 2.1M manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the past 3 years, continuing a decades-long trend... 'We pay a competitive wage based on prevailing rates in the industry and in the local market.', Pernu said. In Mexico, that generally means a worker will need about 2 and a half days to earn the nearly $20 that the lowest-paid workers at the New Jersey plant now earn in an hour. Even that wage is too high for some manufacturers, who in recent years have moved thousands of jobs from Mexico to [Red China], where factories beckon with wages below $1 an hour."
Penni Crabtree _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Chugai closing unit in Sorrento Valley
"About 50 scientists will lose their jobs July 7 when Chugai closes the 47,000-square-foot research facility of Chugai Pharma, a subsidiary of the Japanese parent company... Chugai Pharma will retain a 70-person marketing and drug development support facility in San Diego. The demise of the research unit, which focused on the development of products to treat heart disease, is the latest setback for San Diego's financially troubled community of life-science companies. Many local biotechnology companies -- including Isis Pharmaceuticals, Corautus Genetics, MitoKor, Ontogen and Digital Gene Technologies -- have cut jobs and research programs in recent months, either because they can't raise capital in a harsh Wall Street climate or because they suffered a set-back in a clinical program."
Adam Clymer _NY Times_
Shaping Perceptions, if Not the Economy
"the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll should have concentrated their attention. That April 11-13 survey of 898 adults found the public evenly split on which party would ensure a strong economy. 42% said the Republicans would; 42% said the Democrats. Partisans were sure; 82% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans said this was what their own party did best. But independents divided equally, with 35% favoring each party. The telephone survey, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points... But hardly any well-known economists disagree with the CBO's judgment that even the $550G would make little real difference."
Sharon Gaudin _Datamation_
Deloitte Says 2M Jobs Moving Off-Shore
"The world's 100 largest financial-services companies say they expect to transfer about $356G of their operations and 2M jobs off-shore over the next 5 years in an attempt to reduce costs. Moving jobs and business off-shore is expected to save the companies approximately $1.4G each by 2008, according to a report from Deloitte Research, an arm of Deloitte Consulting, a global management consulting [i.e. off-shoring] firm... Deloitte analysts predict that more than 1M jobs -- or about half of the estimated relocations -- will move to the Indian Ocean rim over the next 5 years. Today, nearly half are targeting India, which has a huge market of IT professionals who earn much lower wages than in other countries. South Africa and Ireland are 2 other attractive off-shore locations, with [Red China], Malaysia and Australia growing in popularity... 30% of the respondents say they currently have existing off-shore operations. That percentage is expected to jump to 75% within 2 years... Deloitte reports that its analysts estimate that 2M out of the 13M people now employed in the financial services sector in North America, Europe and Asia will lose their jobs because of off-shoring."
2003-04-25 07:18PDT (10:18EDT) (12:18London) (13:18GMT)
Philip Coggan _Financial Times of London_
Still bearish after all these years
"Tony Dye is a contented man. In the late 1990s, he became known as Dr Doom for his statements on the prospects for the stock market and his deep scepticism about the technology sector. As the dotcom bubble inflated, it led to Dye's abrupt departure as chief investment officer of Phillips & Drew, the fund management group, in 2000 February... 'The first signs of the bubble were in 1995', he recalls, 'when the markets were driving the economy. My nervousness about markets at the moment is that the economy looks to be in a poor shape. The excesses of the bubble period have hardly been worked out at all.' In the 1990s, Dye argues, the US economy was 'borrowing growth from the future'. The problem is that this growth has to be paid back, just as in Japan, where the very high growth rates of the 1980s were followed by the sluggish 1990s... Dye believes the US economy will suffer the sluggish growth period he has long been expecting, probably over the next 5 years."
2003-04-25 11:20PDT (14:20EDT) (18:20GMT)
Kathleen Hays _CNN_/_Money_
It's the jobs, stupid: There are some hopeful signs and some bullish forecasts. But the jobless numbers need to reverse.
"Whatever it is, the latest jobless claims numbers show that the lay-offs keep coming, and that the economy may still be stuck in low gear... But jobs need to start growing. Economists can say all they want about jobless recovery and how this compares to 1990-91 -- but that doesn't matter much if you're one of the people who has lost a job and can't find another one. That's why the Bush team is pushing so hard for their tax cuts. No jobs could mean no votes for Dubya next year."
2003-04-25 13:25PDT (16:25EDT) (20:25GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow slides to triple-digit loss: Index falls into red for year; Nasdaq tumbles
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 133, or 1.6%, to 8,306... The Nasdaq eased 22, or 1.6%, to 1,434. The S&P 500 fell 12, or 1.4%, to 898. Volume on the Big Board totaled 1.3G shares, less than the average tally of about 1.4G. Economic data Stocks moved lower after first-quarter GDP came in at a weaker-than-expected [growth of] 1.6%, less than the forecast of 2.1% [growth]. Business investment declined 4.2% after an increase in the prior quarter. Consumer spending increased 1.4%, mostly on purchases of non-durable goods."
Kenneth N. Gilpin
Economy Grew Slightly in the First Quarter, Commerce Department Says
"The United States economy [really just the GDP] expanded at a tepid annual rate of 1.6% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported today, a barely perceptible improvement from its 1.4% rate of advance in the last three months of 2002... Over all, consumer spending, which represents roughly two-thirds of economic activity, rose in the first quarter at an annual rate of 1.4%, down from an advance of 1.7% in the fourth quarter of last year... And spending on equipment and software, which had been rising for a couple of quarters, fell by 4.4%, following a gain of 6.2% in the fourth quarter... 'Growth of anything less than 3% to 4% is a jobs recession.', said James Glassman, senior economist at J.P. Morgan. 'So far, this is a job loss recovery.' Nearly half a million jobs have been lost in the last 2 months."
Elisabeth Bumiller _NY Times_
Bush Takes Tax Cut Battle on the Road
"President Bush raced across Ohio today to try to pressure the state's stubborn, deficit-hating senator, George V. Voinovich, to support what Mr. Bush called the administration's 'robust' tax cut plan rather than the 'little bitty' package favored by Mr. Voinovich... He added that there had been 'too much focus' on his disagreements with Mr. Bush, and he repeated his position that he would be willing to back a tax cut larger than $350G if the administration closed some tax loopholes or off-set the cost of the tax package by cutting other parts of the budget."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
IRS Demanding Working Poor for Proof of Eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credits
"The Internal Revenue Service is planning to ask more than 4M of the working poor who now claim a special tax credit to provide the most exhaustive proof of eligibility ever demanded of any class of tax-payers... The new rules apply to the earned-income tax credit, a provision enacted in 1975 and expanded several times. The credit has long had bipartisan support because it has lifted large numbers of people out of poverty without offering the sort of assistance often derided as hand-outs. Instead of conventional welfare benefits, the earned-income tax credit provides an offset for the Social Security taxes low-income workers have already paid, along with a credit based on their earnings that is intended to give them an incentive to work. The credits vary according to income and family size, but no household with earned income above $34,692 is eligible. The average tax credit, paid by the government by check, was $1,976 for households with children in 2001. That is less than the average food stamp benefit for households with children that year, $2,904. But the I.R.S.'s proposed rules would make it much harder to qualify for the tax credit than for food stamps... President Bush has praised the tax credit. But his administration has also complained about fraud, and the president has asked Congress for $100M and 650 new employees to identify potentially erroneous claims before any money is paid out."
Douglas Jehl & Jane Perlez _NY Times_
Pentagon Sending a Team of Exiles to Help Run Iraq
"The Pentagon has begun sending a team of Iraqi exiles to Baghdad to be part of a temporary American-led government there, senior administration officials said today. The exiles, most of whom are said by officials to have a background in administration, are supposed to take up positions at each of 23 Iraqi ministries, where they will work closely with American and British officials under Jay Garner..."
Craig S. Smith _NY Times_
Cleric in Iran Says Shiites Must Act
"A religious edict issued in Iran and distributed to Shiite mullahs in Iraq calls on them 'to seize the first possible opportunity to fill the power vacuum in the administration of Iraqi cities'. The edict, or fatwa, issued on April 8 by Kadhem al-Husseini al-Haeri, an Iraqi-born cleric based in the Iranian holy city of Qum, suggests that Shiite clerics in Iraq are receiving significant direction from Iran as they try to assert the power of Iraq's long-oppressed religious majority. It is not yet clear how much popular support Mr. Haeri and other clerics emerging as a political force have among Iraqis."
James Brooke _NY Times_
As Profit Falls, Samsung Turns More Aggressive
"The Samsung Electronics Company announced today that it would spend $500M to upgrade its sole over-seas chip plant, in Austin, TX... In [Red China], Samsung's largest Asian export market, consumer demand is withering... Around Asia, prices of computer chips, a major Samsung product, are falling as new American and European tariff barriers against Hynix, a Korean-government-supported rival, are expected to cause excess Korean-made chips to flood the region... About 500K South Koreans in their 20's, or about one in 15, are facing bankruptcy... the nearly $500M in profit recorded in the first quarter of this year by Samsung's semiconductor division is about equal to the forecasted combined profits for Japan's 5 largest chip makers -- Toshiba, NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric and Fujitsu. And Samsung has said it plans to invest about $3.4G in new chip plants and equipment this year. By contrast, the investment plans of Japan's 5 largest chip makers add up to about $2G. Last week, Sony announced that it would enter the chip market with a $1.67G investment."
Tammy Williamson _Chicago Sun-Times_
Business spending, hiring called key to recovery
"'It's business firms' willingness to invest in capital spending, business firms' willingness to hire people. That's the swing factor.', said Michael Moskow, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and a member of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest-rate policy... consumers continued to spend money -- but businesses closed their pocketbooks. Typically, consumer and business spending will slow together, and then increase as the economy improves, Moskow said, speaking to the Common-wealth Club of Chicago, a business group."
2003-04-26 02:00PDT (05:00EDT) (09:00GMT)
Katie Dean _Wired_
On-Line Anonymity Comes Under Fire
"Invoking a provision of the Digital millennium Copyright Act, the Recording Industry Association of America sub-poenaed Verizon to turn over the names of 2 of its service subscribers, both alleged file-swappers... privacy advocates were sorely disappointed... Cincy Cohn, legal directory of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'There's no substantive review to see if (these claims) are valid at all.'"
2003-04-26 12:40PDT (15:40EDT) (19:40GMT)
Barron's looks for the Wi-Fi dollars
"802.11, a number designating the specifications set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The first generation is referred to as 802.11b, which moves data at 10 times the speed of a cable modem or DSL phone line... And venture capitalists are swarming around the market, which has spawned more than 190 start-ups in the past three years. Recently filing to go public was Netgear, which makes Wi-Fi hardware for the home and small office... newer and faster generation of technology -- 802.11g... Meanwhile, tech market research firm Allied Business Intelligence predicts more than half of all computer notebooks sold worldwide in 2004 will be Wi-Fi capable, along with 50% of all personal digital assistants (PDAs) by 2006. They expect these factors to drive up the number of paying hot spot customers to 5.5M in 2006 from an estimated 24K last year. More research from International Data Corp. sees equipment revenues for public access Wi-Fi growing from $127M last year to $502M next year as the number of commercial hot spots jumps to 50K by 2006 from 3,700 last year... rates starting at $29.95 a month..."
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
As Companies Reduce Costs, Pay is Falling Top to Bottom
"For the first time since the 1980's, the average pay of workers at all income levels is falling... The weekly salary of workers at the 90th percentile of earners... fell 1.4% over the last year, to $1,439, according to an analysis of government data by the Economic Policy Institute, a research group in Washington. The inflation-adjusted weekly pay of the median worker...fell 1.5% from early last year to early this year, according to the Labor Department. It was the biggest drop since the mid-1990's... Vinod Gupta, the chief executive of infoUSA, a company based in Omaha that sells consumer databases to marketers... During the first 3 months of the year, consumer spending increased at an annual rate of 1.4%, which matched the slowest pace in 10 years, the Commerce Department reported yesterday... 'As far as the kinds of jobs that pay the wages we earn, they're just not here anymore.'... By contrast, from 1997 to 2002, the weekly pay of the median worker rose almost 9%, to $656, after adjusting for inflation. The gains effectively erased almost two decades of declining pay... Many of the people who have lost their jobs, like MM of Eudora, KS, have struggled to find work with comparable pay. MM was making about $40K before... She is now making $8 an hour...at a part-time job as a telemarketer. 'Rather than one full-time job, I'm looking for 3 part-time jobs and hopefully one of those jobs will have benefits.'... For all the reasons that companies cite for cutting pay, however, the biggest one is simply that they are able to. Because the economy was so strong at the end of the last boom, with the jobless rate reaching a 3-decade low, employers have only recently won enough leverage to increase pay less quickly than inflation is rising. 'It took a long time for the pressure of the full-employment economy to dissipate.', said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a group backed by foundations and labor unions. 'But it's gone.'"
Tamar Lewin _NY Times_
Writing in Schools Is Found Both Dismal and Neglected
"Most fourth graders spend less than 3 hours a week writing, which is about 15% of the time they spend watching television. 75% of high school seniors never get a writing assignment from their history or social studies teachers. And in most high schools, the extended research paper, once a senior-year rite of passage, has been abandoned because teachers do not have time to grade it anymore. Those are among the findings of a report issued yesterday by the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges, an 18-member panel of educators organized by the College Board... On the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam, only about one in four students in Grades 4, 8 or 12 scored at the proficient level in writing in 1998, the most recent such results available. And only one in a hundred was graded 'advanced'. Further, a 2002 study of California college students found that most freshmen could not analyze arguments, synthesize information or write papers that were reasonably free of language errors."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Deep Divisions Over Measurement of Poverty
"the World Bank, which established the dollar-a-day standard for data from low-income countries in the 1980's. By the bank's calculation, 23% of the world's population, or 1.2G people, live in poverty."
Serge Schmemann _NY Times_
NY Auto Show
"Ford has an interesting little vehicle on display. It is sort of an ultimate green machine -- fueled by hydrogen, lubricated by corn-flower oil, rolling on tires made of corn, built with panels of soy. I can imagine waking up one morning to find my ride being devoured by ground-hogs. Ford calls it the Model U... Deep inside, we all know that S.U.V.'s are jacked-up station wagons, and that nobody will ever take the hot-rod version of Dodge's sub-compact Neon to the 150 miles an hour it can achieve."
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th dalai lama _NY Times_
Meditation Can Reduce Stress, Violence
"The implications of all this are clear: the world today needs citizens and leaders who can work toward ensuring stability and engage in dialogue with the 'enemy' -- no matter what kind of aggression or assault they may have endured."
Monica Davey & David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Jobless and Hopeless, Many Quit the Labor Market
"Worn down by job searches that have stretched on for months, demoralized by disappointing offers or outright rejections, some unemployed people have simply stopped the search... He thought he could find some other job working with his hands, or go back to the line once business picked up. But 8 months passed, and nothing came... Over the last 2 years, the portion of Americans in the labor force -- those who are either working or actively looking for work -- has fallen 0.9 percentage points to 66.2%, the largest drop in almost 40 years. More than 74.5M adults were considered outside of the labor force last month, up more than 4M since 2001 March, the Department of Labor says. They are people who fall outside the government's definitions of either employed or unemployed... the average length of time out of work has been rising over the past 2 years, to 18 weeks last month from about 13 weeks 2 years ago... Most people dropping out of the labor force are men, the Labor Department says, and the number of black men not looking for work has risen particularly sharply... Other people are still dangling, ever so precariously, on the edge of the labor market. They are still filing job applications, but they acknowledge that their searches have slowed over the months, and even years."
Brent Staples _NY Times_
To Worship Freely, Americans Need a Little Elbow Room
"The Bible Belt has historically viewed New York as a godless place. This caricature is blown away when you actually live in this polyglot immigrant city where the world's religions are widely subscribed to and crammed together cheek by jowl as nowhere else... in New York, where people provide each other maximum religious space... But the president's indifference to the church-state barrier is especially perplexing at a time when this country faces grave peril from religious fundamentalists abroad who aspire to theocracy. The president's conduct in the area has alarmed religious organizations, which recognize that religious freedom depends entirely on maintaining the constitutional separation between church and state."
Gretchen Morgenson _NY Times_
Shares of Corporate Nice Guys Can Finish First
"It is puzzling that these people cannot or will not see that doing right by share-holders, employees and customers is good business. Part of the problem may be that the pay-off from tending to corporate governance issues is nowhere near as immediate as the pay-back from [dishonesty]... Gavin Anderson, chief executive of GovernanceMetrics, said his firm studied one-, three- and five-year returns of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index and found that stocks of companies at the top of the firm's ranking outperformed the index in a meaningful way. Those ranked lowest significantly underperformed the index. In the S.& P. 500, the average decline of a stock for the three years ended March 20, 2003, was 2.3%. (The index itself fell much further because it is weighted by capitalization, and large companies that declined significantly had a bigger impact.) But the 5 companies earning the firm's highest score rose 23.1% on average. The top 15 companies averaged total returns of 3.4%. Top-ranked companies also outperformed their peers in measures like return on assets, return on investment and return on capital, he said. Stocks of the 50 companies with the lowest scores fell 28.2% in the last year, on average, and 11.1% in the last three years."
J. Alex Tarquinio _NY Times_
Have Business Services Stocks Fallen Far Enough, Or Can We Hope They'll Fall Through the Floor, Never to Rise Again?
"From credit card processors to technology consultants, these companies, over all, have had a stock-price decline of nearly 28% in the last 52 weeks, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Services Index. That compares with a decline of 16.5% in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index."
Tom Petruno _Chicago Tribune_
Will stock market rally jump-start economy?: Rebound may lift confidence of firms, consumers
"He believes that the long bear market ended in October with indexes at 5-year lows. Since the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 7286.27 on 2002 October 9, it has risen 14%... For executives, a sustained rise in their companies' share prices could provide the brighter sentiment necessary to justify long-delayed capital spending decisions, Lonski said. That, in turn, could give the economy what it has been missing most for the last three years: higher outlays on technology equipment, machinery and other goods that ultimately improve businesses' long-term efficiency... As with companies, a higher stock market could have a beneficial impact on Americans who own shares, which is estimated to be about half of U.S. households."
2003-04-28 06:03PDT (09:03EDT) (13:03GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumer spending inches up in March; Weak consumption growth matches gains in income
"After adjusting for the erosion from inflation, disposable incomes were flat in March after dropping 0.3% in February, the government agency said. In nominal terms (not adjusted for inflation), consumption expenditures and incomes both rose 0.4%, about as expected by Wall Street economists. Nominal incomes rose 0.2% and spending rose 0.1% in February. The personal savings rate fell to 3.6% of disposable income from 3.7% in February. The personal consumption expenditure price index - the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge -- rose 0.3% in March after gaining 0.5% in February. The core PCE - which strips out volatile food and energy prices - rose a very tame 0.1%, as it has for five of the past 6 months."
Sliver of the Pie: IT salaries are about the same as last year, and job satisfaction is down from 2 years ago, but the right mix of business and technology skills can still pay off (with graph)
"He was out of work for 3 months, makes half of what he made at his peak salary in 2000, and logs even longer hours than he did as a consultant. But count Janis among the lucky ones... The median of tech-management jobs is $84K in base salary, up just 1.2% from last year. On the low end, the typical help-desk manager earns $64K. For staff jobs, the median pay is $63K, up 3.3% from last year. That ranges from $78K for an integration specialist to $44K for a help-desk staffer."
2003-04-28 13:23PDT (16:23EDT) (20:23GMT)
Paul R. La Monica _CNN_/_Money_
The mythical second-half recovery: Tech earnings growth will be explosive in the 3rd & 4th quarter. Heard that one before? (with graph)
"When all is said and done, analysts think growth will be about 16% -- crushing the forecast of 10% growth that analysts were predicting at the beginning of April. But ... At the beginning of the year, analysts were expecting earnings growth of, well, 16%... Analysts are expecting tech sector earnings to increase 20% in the second quarter, 53% in the third, and 27% in the fourth... The S&P Tech index is up 6.3% since the beginning of the year, making it the second-best performing sector. (Consumer cyclicals are up 7%.)... At this time in 2002, analysts had extremely high expectations for the second half of the year because comparisons were even easier due to the slow-down following [the terrorist attack of] 2001/09/11. Analysts were predicting a 132% increase in tech earnings for the third quarter of 2002 and an increase of 72% for the fourth quarter. At the beginning of the third quarter, analysts were still expecting 118% earnings growth for the third quarter and an increase of 64% in the fourth quarter. Actual growth turned out to be much lower. For the third quarter, earnings were up 29% from the third quarter of 2001, while fourth quarter earnings increased 23%."
GDP Figure Starts with Economists in a Sealed Room
Will Edwards _Bloomberg_
US March Personal Spending Rises 0.4%; Incomes 0.4%
"Consumer spending gained 0.4% last month to $7.526T at an annual rate after rising a revised 0.1% in February. Incomes rose 0.4%, following a revised 0.2% increase the month prior... Wages and salaries jumped 0.5% to $5.126T, fueling the increase in incomes... From January to March, consumer spending grew at a 1.4% annual pace, matching the smallest gain since the first quarter of 1993, the Commerce Department said Friday."
Thomas S. Mulligan & Josh Friedman _LA Times_
MisGivings Over Wall Street Reform
"The crux of the analyst scandal concerned the breakdown in the independence of the stock-research function, which is supposed to provide investors with unbiased information and advice... Conflicts of interest have always existed, but market historians trace the recent decline of analyst independence to the end of fixed broker commissions in 1975. Once cut-rate commissions on stock transactions became the norm, the brokerage business no longer could support a large and expensive research operation by itself. The money had to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere was investment banking. Yet in most research departments, there was a powerful culture of independence that took years to erode, Wall Street veterans say. Research jobs were intellectual and high prestige; analysts, with more than a whiff of arrogance, tended to regard investment banking as mere commerce... It wasn't until the merger mania of the late 1980s, with its astronomical investment banking fees, that the bankers suddenly had the clout to start demanding favorable coverage for their clients. The arrogance in the research department dissipated pretty quickly, said one longtime pro, who asked not to be named... Thomson First Call's Hill, less diplomatically, calls the Chinese-wall reforms 'baloney'. As long as investment banking profits drive the train, he said, analysts will feel pressure to support banking clients."
Bazi Kanani _Denver Post_
Cap and gloom: grads face grim job out-look: Seniors lament "employers' market"
"Two years ago, 86% of seniors had lined up either a job or graduate school. Last year, the number fell dramatically -- to 68%. Burnett points out that that bleak figure would have been even worse if the rate of graduate school enrollment hadn't doubled since 2001. Only 50% of the students who graduated in December had been placed. Mid-year figures are typically down, so that may not be an indicator of what's ahead. Last spring's 68% rate was the lowest since 1994, when the placement rate stood at 67%. In 1993, the rate was just 60.5% as the nation was pulling out of a recession."
Poll: Shaky Economy Is Top Concern
"In this latest CBS News Poll, 41% of the public volunteered the economy and jobs as the most important problem facing the country, making it the number one issue."
Thomas Hoffman & Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_/_IDG_
Exporting IT Jobs
"In an unrelenting push to lower IT costs, more and more companies are tapping cheaper off-shore labor to handle routine tasks such as application maintenance and help desk support functions. Even companies that farm out IT work under pay-as-you-go and other hosted computing models to U.S. out-sourcers -- such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. -- are contributing to the loss of jobs, because these domestic service providers are also shipping IT work abroad. IBM Global Services, for example, is India's fifth-largest employer. By 2015, 3.3M white-collar jobs -- 472,632 of them in IT and mathematics -- and $136G in wages are expected to move off-shore to countries like Russia, India, [Red China] and the Philippines, according to a 2002 November report by Forrester Research Inc. analyst John C. McCarthy. In March, 212K U.S. computer and mathematical professionals were unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Looking ahead, Meta Group Inc. analyst Maria Schafer predicts that up to 50% of U.S. IT employees could shift to contract work by 2007, as out-sourcing in all forms continues to increase..."
Patrick Thobodeau & Thomas Hoffman _ComputerWorld_
The New IT Worker: Angry and ProActive: Out-sourcing off-shore compared to manufacturing exodus
"Many high-tech workers are feeling under siege, and Mangi is among those who are fighting back. Job losses from the dot-com bust, benefits cut-backs, off-shore development and foreign workers brought in on H-1B visas are fueling activism, lobbying and education efforts. Much of what union organizers do is educate IT workers, who largely remain reluctant to join unions. Indeed, the CWA, which represents about 700K workers in technical areas, estimates that only about 5K of its members are in IT... A bill pending in the Washington Statehouse would require employers to give employees at least 60 days notice of a lay-off of 50 or more employees. And a New Jersey law-maker wants state contracts to prohibit off-shore work... Dave Cooper, former CIO at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a U.S. nuclear weapons lab, says the social costs of off-shore development will exceed the corporate bottom-line benefits. Off-shore work will discourage young people from studying IT in college..."
Marianne Kolbasuk McGee _Information Week_
Job Search: Road Back To Employment Can Be Long
"DM has worked in IT for more than 30 years but hasn't landed a full-time IT job since being laid off 3 years ago as a consultant providing customized application development for clients of her employer, a process-manufacturing software vendor. Since the lay-off, DM has been doing some part-time work, including teaching as an adjunct professor at a university as she attends classes for a master's degree in IS. 'I went from earning $70K to $80K annually to making just $10K.', DM says. She recently lost out as 1 of 2 final candidates for a part-time data-base job paying $15 an hour... Just over half say the biggest challenge to finding work is that the salaries for new jobs are too low, while around 40% cite the need to take a more junior position, learn new skills, or relocate. The median base salary of the respondents before being laid off was $90K for management and $58K for staff. Of these, 17% have been out of work since the beginning of this year, but 30% have been out for more than a year. For those who are working, the vast majority -- more than 80% -- of managers and staffers feel secure at their jobs..."
2003-04-28 21:06PDT (2003-04-29 00:06EDT) (2003-04-29 04:06GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Research reform requires moral code: Conflicts remain, other reforms still needed
"Essentially, the new rules put a wedge between analysts and any compensation or review process that would come from the investment banking side of the brokerage they work for. This is reform? With bankers and analysts still working for the same employer, the same structural temptation remains for analysts to be promoters of stock and less arbiters of quality. Of course, the value in exposing the events that transpired during the boom years is beyond question (especially for class-action law-suits)... That goal just needs to be wedded with some value. We need the establishment of a highly moral environment, whereby decisions are made to achieve profits only to the extent that those same actions benefit investors... Buffett aligned his goals with share-holders... Gatto suggests tying compensation to the performance of analysts' recommendations..."
2003-04-29 05:00PDT (08:00EDT) (12:00GMT)
Jerry Flint _Forbes_
Globalism Or DeIndustrialization?
"Have you noticed the strange thing about the global platform-sharing concept? It's a one-way street. Japanese and German cars and technologies are badged as American cars. But you never see an American platform used to build Japanese cars in Japanese factories. And did you realize that Rick Wagoner, president of General Motors, is the last American to run a car company? Ford is run by foreigners. Yes, William Clay Ford Jr, is chairman and chief executive, but key operational people who really run the company are from abroad. DaimlerChrysler, of course, is run by its German masters from Daimler... The financial types love the idea of using Japanese or European platforms and engines so they can lay off American engineers. I say that Detroit is losing the ability to create its own vehicles, and is building cars that aren't all that attractive to American buyers."
2003-04-29 06:34PDT (09:34EDT) (13:34GMT)
Chris Pummer _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Big profits without busting knee-caps: US banks build legalized loan-sharking
"As it stands, the U.S. banking industry enjoys protection from prosecution for a lending racket that would make mobsters salivate. So that its reputation isn't sullied through comparison with payday lenders, the programs go by such respectable terms as 'over-draft privileges' and 'bounce protection'... they invite people to write a bad check that the bank agrees to honor for a $25 to $35 fee, for what amounts to a cash advance... The brief repayment schedule takes a page from the loan shark's book. So does the 'fee'. If calculated as interest on a short-term loan, it can amount to an annualized interest rate of 1,000% or more... Some banks sign new account holders up for these programs automatically, rather than offering the option of traditional over-draft coverage. Worse yet, some also include the pre-approved bounce-protection limit as part of the checking-account balance printed on ATM receipts, leading customers to think they have more cash in their account and draw off that amount. The growth in electronic banking enabled this shell game. The practice bears little risk for the banks in the age of direct payroll deposits, which enable them to confiscate the overdrawn amount the minute the next paycheck wire transfer rolls in."
2003-04-29 07:00PDT (10:00EDT) (14:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US consumer confidence rebounds in April
see also Reuters
"the Conference Board said Tuesday. The consumer confidence index jumped to 81.0 in April from 61.4 in March, the largest one-month gain since 1991 March, when the first Gulf War concluded..."
2003-04-29 11:56PDT (14:56EDT) (18:56GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Compensation rise most in 13 years
"The employment cost index for all civilian workers rose 1.3%, matching the highest 3-month gain seen since the second quarter of 1990, the Labor Department said Tuesday... 'The rising cost burden on employers is a concern if profits do not pick up in concert.', said Rakesh Shankar, economist with Economy.com. Wages and salaries were up 1% in the quarter ending in March, the largest jump in two years. Economists said satisfactory earnings increases for most Americans help explain why those left in the work-force have been able to keep up their spending. Benefits costs shot 2% higher. That's the biggest gain since the first quarter of 1988. Private-industry compensation rose 1.4%, after rising 0.7% in the final 3 months of 2002. Private wages rose 1%, while benefits costs were up 2.4%... State and local government compensation increased 0.9% in the first 3 months of the year. Over the last 12 months, civilian compensation is showing no acceleration, however, rising by 3.9% in the latest period. This was the same as a year earlier but retreated from the 4.1% growth seen 2 years earlier."
2003-04-29 13:08PDT (16:08EDT) (20:08GMT)
Ben Klayman _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Cisco CEO Says Expensing Options Could Lead to Job Losses
"U.S. technology companies might shift jobs over-seas if they are forced to account for stock options as a business expense, the chief executive of Cisco Systems Inc. warned on Tuesday. 'Jobs would go in the first decade, followed by the companies.', John Chambers, Cisco's chief executive, told industry executives at a networking conference in Las Vegas... Critics say stock options can inflate earnings because they are excluded from compensation costs and companies do not book them as an expense. Currently, companies must disclose the cost of stock options only in a foot-note to their financial statements... Intel's Craig Barrett last week suggested CEOs may refuse to certify financial results if stock option expensing was forced upon them."
2003-04-29 13:16PDT (16:16EDT) (20:16GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks gain for a second day
Jennifer Bayot _NY Times_
MasterCard Settles Case with Retailers As Juries Are Selected
"A signature-based, or off-line, purchase goes through Visa's or MasterCard's network and costs vendors at least $1.50 for a $100 sale to accept. PIN-based transactions are routed through regional debit networks like NYCE, MAC and STAR, which instantly withdraw money from customers' bank accounts; they cost merchants about a tenth as much, or about 15 cents for a $100 purchase... the retailers contend that the credit card giants used their dominance in the credit card industry to prevent vendors from using the cheaper regional networks, and the retailers say they must charge their customers higher prices as a result. In response, Visa and MasterCard accuse the retailers of wanting to tell consumers how they may or may not pay and of wanting to shirk a fundamental cost of doing business."
Saul Hansell _NY Times_
Web Sites On Host Service used by Spammers Shut Down by Spam Fighters
"Scores of web sites were taken off the Internet over the weekend because of new pressures on a commercial Internet service provider to stop unwanted marketing e-mail, or spam, and the companies that use it... On Sunday afternoon, 89 web sites operated by US Moneywerx, a Bryan, TX, company that operates web sites for small businesses, were disconnected. They were cut off because Server Beach, the San Antonio company that actually houses US Moneywerx's server computer, reacted to complaints by the public and an anti-spam group who said that a site that had US Moneywerx as its host was sending spam. Richard Yoo, the president of Server Beach, said he evaluated information provided by the group called the Spam Prevention Early Warning System that runs a web site called Spews.org. That site added to its list of spammers a small Los Angeles company called NetGlobalMarketing, which was a client of US Moneywerx."
Kimberly Blanton _Boston Globe_
Soaring rents squeezing Hub families: Living costs rocket 28% in 5 years
"A two-earner household with 2 children now needs gross annual income of $54,612 to maintain subsistence standards, 28% more than was needed in 1998, according to the study by the Women's Educational and Industrial Union. The study found that half of that increase was because of soaring rents, which climbed 60% over the last five years to about $1,350 a month. The 'economic self-sufficiency' standard allowed enough only for the basics -- rent, child care, food, transportation -- and no meals out, entertainment, soccer fees, or other items deemed luxuries for working and low-income families, according to the union, a nonprofit Boston organization that seeks to expand opportunities for working women and their families... A single parent now needs $51,284 to raise 2 children, up almost a third from $39,156 five years ago, the study said. A single parent with 1 child needs $44,046, up 36%... Between 1998 and 2001, for example, average incomes rose almost 1%, after inflation, for US households earning $33,315 to $53K a year, according to US Census Bureau data."
Om Bay area, signs swoon may cease: "People are saying this is an opportunity.", says one banker. (with table of economic indicators)
"'People are saying this is an opportunity to expand with new equipment or additional facilities at a cheaper price than it would have cost 12 to 18 months ago and probably at a better price than it will be a year from now.', said Robert Griswold, president and CEO of Bank of Marin... bad debts owed by large corporations declined in the first quarter -- for the first time in 18 months... Sung Sohn, chief economist for Wells Fargo. 'We still have to grapple with the high level of consumer debt, big trade deficits and lackluster consumer and business confidence.', he said... Traditionally at this point in a recovery, annual economic growth would be a brisk 5% or 6%. But Sohn expects growth in the first half of 2003 to clock in at 2% and the second half to come in at 4%... 'There is still a lot of idle cash on the sidelines waiting for investment opportunities or capital expenditures.', Bank of Alameda CEO Steve Andrews said..."
Lisa Vaas _eWeek_
IT UnEmployment On the Rise
"The unemployment rate for electrical engineers shot up to an unprecedented 7% in the first quarter of 2003, up from 3.9 in the fourth quarter of 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate stands a full percentage point over the quarterly figure for all workers. The BLS report, which was highlighted in a press release issued by the IEEE this week, also showed that the unemployment rate is 7.5% for computer software engineers and 6.5% for computer hardware engineers. The rate for computer programmers was 6.7%. One bright spot was the employment picture for technology workers was that with the unemployment rate for computer scientists -- including systems analysts -- dropped from 5.1% to 4.9%. The total number of unemployed technology workers in those job categories is now 172K individuals, with 62K unemployed computer software engineers forming the bulk of that group."
2003-04-29 21:06PDT (2003-04-30 00:06EDT) (2003-04-30 04:06GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Smith Micro could ride Wi-Fi wave: Linking wireless networks carries big risks
"Sales were a little north of $6M last year, and although it has drastically pared losses, the company is still losing money. On an average day, about 7,700 Smith Micro shares trade on Nasdaq. The stock has slid from an all-time high of about $32 in 2000 March, to less than $1 today... The company's upgraded main product is one of the first that lets mobile workers switch between cell-phone-based data networks and Wi-Fi networks on the fly... Network-switching from cell-phone to Wi-Fi networks is something that excites telecom carriers... It helps make their big investments in 2.5 and 3G wireless in the bubble years more viable."
2003-04-30 07:52PDT (10:52EDT) (14:52GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Spam becomes felony in Virginia; AOL blocks 2G spam messages daily
2003-04-30 06:28PDT (09:28EDT) (12:28London) (13:28GMT)
Jenny Wiggins, Paivi Munter & Barney Jopson _Financial Times of London_
US to issue a record $58G of debt this quarter
"The US Treasury said Wednesday it would issue a record $58bn in debt this quarter to combat a rising budget deficit, but bond investors shrugged this aside and Treasury prices rose sharply on fears over the economy... Market estimates for the 2003 budget deficit range from $350G to $450G, almost $150G higher than the start of the fiscal year and the short-fall is thought to increase next year... The Treasury is reintroducing the three-year note this quarter after suspending it in 1998. It will auction $22bn in three-year notes, $18bn of 5-year notes and $18bn in 10-year notes next week. The Treasury has decided to hold more auctions rather than dramatically increasing their size."
2003-04-30 14:21PDT (17:21EDT) (21:21GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Greenspan's optimistic, but on guard; Growth is likely; deflation, pessimism are worries
"'I continue to believe the economy is positioned to expand at a noticeably better pace than it has during the past year, though the timing and extent of that improvement remains uncertain.'... The Fed chairman reiterated that tax cuts should be accompanied by spending cuts to keep the federal budget deficit under control. He reaffirmed his support for Bush's proposal to eliminate investor taxes on stock dividends, saying such a move would benefit the economy long term, but appeared skeptical that tax cuts could provide a short term stimulus... 'I've tended to be very supportive of the employment of fiscal policy for long-term structural growth issues and leave monetary policy to be applied in the short run.'..."
2003-04-30 16:00PDT (19:00EDT) (23:00GMT)
Hazel Muir _New Scientist_/_Yahoo!_
Einstein and Newton showed signs of autism
"Autism is heritable, and there are clues that the genes for autism are linked to those that confer a talent for grasping complex systems - anything from computer programs to musical techniques. Mathematicians, engineers and physicists, for instance, tend to have a relatively high rate of autism among their relatives. Baron-Cohen, who is based at Cambridge University, and mathematician Ioan James of Oxford University assessed the personality traits of Newton and Einstein to see if they exhibited three key symptoms of Asperger syndrome: obsessive interests, difficulty in social relationships, and problems communicating. Newton seems like a classic case. He hardly spoke, was so engrossed in his work that he often forgot to eat, and was lukewarm or bad-tempered with the few friends he had. If no one turned up to his lectures, he gave them anyway, talking to an empty room... As a child, Einstein was also a loner, and repeated sentences obsessively until he was 7 years old. He became a notoriously confusing lecturer. And despite the fact that he made intimate friends, had numerous affairs and was outspoken on political issues, Baron-Cohen suspects that he too showed signs of Asperger syndrome. 'Passion, falling in love and standing up for justice are all perfectly compatible with Asperger syndrome.', he says. 'What most people with AS find difficult is casual chatting - they can't do small-talk.'"
James Bennett _NY Times_
Suicide Bomber Hits Tel Aviv; Top Palestinian Denounces Terror
"A suicide bomber killed at least 2 other people hours after the Palestinian parliament voted to confirm a new government."
Patrick E. Tyler _NY Times_
U.S. Exit Is No Sure Cure for Saudi Royals' Troubles
"The U.S. withdrawal will fortify the Saudi royal family against critics, but questions remain about promised political reforms."
Linda Greenhouse _NY Times_
Supreme Court Says US Government Can Hold Immigrants Set to Be Deported
"The government can imprison immigrants it is seeking to deport without first giving them a chance to show that they present neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, a divided Supreme Court ruled today."
Jonathan Fuerbringer _NY Times_
Signs of Good Economic News from Obscure Places Worldwide
"The Baltic Dry Index [is] going up... Among the other positive indicators are the the Journal of Commerce-Economic Cycle Research Institute index of 18 industrial commodities, whose performance is providing a reading on the strength of global manufacturing. And a look at the yields on junk bonds, which are rated below investment grade, shows more comfort with the economic outlook right now than many may have expected."
Steven R. Weisman _NY Times_
Bush's Goal: Balancing a Host of Opposing Forces
"The long-deferred publication today of a plan to create a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel plunges President Bush back into direct involvement in the Middle East peace effort -- and into some tough choices that his aides admit he has avoided for at least a year. In engaging himself again in trying to settle the often intractable conflict, Mr. Bush must address the opposing demands of Arab leaders and of his own political base, which includes evangelical Christians and politically conservative Jews. Supporters of the Palestinians want more pressure on Israel, while many of Mr. Bush's conservative backers do not want him to beat up on Israel as an election approaches. The delicacy of the domestic -- and international -- politics was reflected by the almost low-key manner in which the plan, known as the 'road map', was released today in the United States. Instead, administration officials said Mr. Bush wanted the focus to be on presenting the plan to the parties in Jerusalem and in Ramallah, the Palestinian headquarters, not in Washington."
James Risen _NY Times_
A Top Qaeda Member, Tied to 2001-09-11, Is Captured
"A top operative of Al Qaeda suspected of playing crucial roles in both the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000 and the September 11 terrorist attacks was captured in Pakistan on Tuesday along with five other terrorist suspects, American officials said today. Walid Ba'Attash, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent who was captured in Karachi by the Pakistani authorities, is the highest-ranking Qaeda leader to be taken into custody since Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the terrorist network's chief of operations, was captured on March 2, American officials said... American officials believe that Mr. Ba'Attash was the mastermind behind the Cole attack, and was also a leading participant in a critical meeting of Qaeda operatives in Malaysia in 2000 January that may have been called to plan the Sept. 11 attacks. Two of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks on New York and Washington also attended the Malaysia meeting."
Lawyers Raised Doubts About Expert Testimony Against Timothy McVeigh
"Ten days before Timothy J. McVeigh was executed for the Oklahoma City bombing, lawyers for F.B.I. laboratory employees sent an urgent letter to the attention of Attorney General John Ashcroft, saying a crucial prosecution witness might have given false testimony about the security of forensic evidence. The accusations, which involved Steven Burmeister, now the F.B.I. laboratory's chief of scientific analysis, were never turned over to Mr. McVeigh, though they surfaced as a judge was weighing whether to delay his execution because the government withheld evidence. The letter, however, was recently turned over to Terry L. Nichols, who faces a murder trial in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people. 'Material evidence presented by the government in the OKBOMB prosecution through the testimony of Mr. Burmeister appears to be false, misleading and potentially fabricated.', said the 2001 June 1, letter to Mr. Ashcroft, which was obtained by The Associated Press... Mr. Burmeister had testified in the civil case that cleaning crews and a fellow chemist had unrestricted access to his work area, without protective clothing."
Paul Meller _NY Times_
M$'s Anti-Trust Problems Remain UnResolved in Europe
"The commission is investigating whether M$ is leveraging its monopoly in the market for operating systems software into the market for low-end computer server software. The case concerns Windows 2000 and all previous versions going back to Windows 95."
Ron Scherer _Christian Science Monitor_
For unemployed, statistics tell only part of the story
"While every down-turn has its down-trodden, this one is worse than most. The percentage of people not in the work-force has grown nearly every month since early 2001... For now, though, executives - unsure of demand - aren't hiring. Desperate people apply for jobs beneath their qualifications, resulting in a loss of productivity - and a panoply of wasted skills. Consumers, wary of their own job prospects, are holding off buying that new car. As the so-called jobless recovery stumbles along, the number of long-term unemployed - now about 1.8M - is up 36% from a year ago. The tally of discouraged workers - almost 500K - is up 44%... Scott Kane, a partner at Gray Hair Management LLC, a Deerfield, IL firm that helps out-of-work clients hunt for jobs. 'So they wait until the perfect candidate shows up.'..."
Diane Alden _NewsMax_
Corporatism vs. Capitalism
Dice Report: 25,595 job ads
David R. Francis _NBER_
The Internet Changes the Labor Market
"NBER Research Associate Richard Freeman... writes in The Labor Market in the New Information Economy (NBER Working Paper No. 9254). Those working with computers or the Internet tend to work 5% to 6% more hours than other workers, Freeman finds. Those who work with the Internet work 4% more hours than those who use computers but not the Internet. The actual time worked may be even higher, Freeman notes, since the workers surveyed presumably did not add time worked at home, checking e-mail from there, sending business messages, or working at home with a computer at night or on weekends... one of the true successes of the dot.com world have been Internet recruitment firms. Half of unemployed Americans with home access to the web used it for job search in 2001 and 15% of the employed with home access also looked for a new position. That's especially true of younger workers. Altogether, 8% of the entire labor force (with or without home access) reported looking for jobs on the web."
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