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2003-07-01 06:57PDT (09:57EDT) (13:57GMT)
_BBC_ Q & A: Hong Kong's Anti-Subversion Law
"Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against a new anti-subversion law due to be introduced next week."
2003-07-01 07:00PDT (10:00EDT) (14:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Lay-offs sink to 31 month low: Job cuts fall 13% to 59,715 in June
"U.S. corporations announced 59,715 job cuts in June, down 13% from May's 68,623, the firm said. It's the lowest number of cuts since 2000 November... For the second quarter, companies announced 274,737 cuts, down 23% from the first quarter of 2003 & down 6% from the second quarter of 2002. 'The decline in job cuts is, of course, good news for workers who might begin to sleep a little easier at night.', said John Challenger, CEO of the Chicago-based firm. 'However, it does not necessarily mean an immediate rebound for the millions of people who remain jobless.'... Once gain, government agencies & non-profits were the industries most active in cutting jobs in June, with 7,728 reductions. Consumer product firms cut 5,672 & telecommunications companies cut another 5,528."
2003-07-01 16:52PDT (19:52EDT) (23:52GMT)
Russ Britt _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
At mid-point summer movies lagging: Will current crop catch up with last year's box office hits?
similar article by David Germain _AP_/_San Diego Union-Tribune
"The last 3 weekends have been down compared with the same periods in 2002... Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Inc. in Los Angeles. Dergarabedian said U.S. film revenue is down 2% for the summer, & ticket sales are down 6%. Year-to-date, box-office sales are 4% off 2002's pace. Last year's total revenue exceeded $9G, with $3.8G of that from summer receipts... The formula worked for Warner with its other major entry for the summer season, 'The Matrix Reloaded', which has turned in $641M in worldwide receipts thus far... The winner has to be Vivendi's Universal Studio group, which had three of the top 6 films in last weekend's budget tally, all with $100M-plus box office takes thus far. The best performer has been 'Bruce Almighty', which has taken in $221.3M. '2 Fast 2 Furious' has made $114M & 'Hulk' crossed the $100M mark, although business for the film dropped a whopping 70% last weekend. All 3 films opened at No. 1, helping Universal to win the June box office title by far. It's also got 'Seabiscuit' July 25 & 'American Wedding' August 1. Warner has a chance at topping Universal overall if 'Terminator' scores big. 'Matrix Reloaded' was the big winner for May, taking in $134M after a long opening weekend, & $234M for the month. It's made $270M thus far."
Abigail Zuger _NY Times_
The Mystery of Itch, the Joy of Scratch
"But new developments are slowly beginning to refine scientific understanding of itch. They include the identification of nerve fibers devoted to transmitting itchy sensations, of brain sectors that process itch, & of molecules that seem to provoke itch... atopic eczema. Filmed at night during sleep, the patients writhe in bed, unconsciously clawing at their faces, torsos, ankles & feet, clearly in the grips of a powerful primal instinct their doctors have been unable to interrupt. Itch is a sensation that links the skin, the spinal cord & the brain in a kind of circular neural superhighway with exits all along the way. An itch may start anywhere along the loop -- or even in organs like the liver far removed from the loop -- & the process may then escalate into a vicious high-speed circular chase of itch & scratch, one worsening the other... When a mosquito injects its saliva into the skin, antibodies against molecules in the saliva cause cells in the skin to release the well-known itch mediator histamine... Histamine causes nerves in the skin to send an alarm up the spinal cord to the brain... in 1997 a group of German physiologists identified a family of tiny slow-conducting nerves with broad tentacles in the skin that seem to be devoted to itch alone... As the volunteers' skin began to itch, their brains showed intense activity in sectors responsible for sensation, sectors responsible for planning & initiating movement & also in deeper areas of the brain where the more primitive emotions of pain & pleasure are processed... In its basic, most primitive form, scratching is a reflex that is controlled by the spinal cord & requires no input from the brain. Experimental animals whose spinal cords have been severed from their brains still have a scratch reflex. But the action of scratching a specific, annoying itch requires the brain to supply the strategy, strength & coordination to supplement the primitive spinal reflex... There is evidence that natural morphinelike molecules in the brain, called opioids, may also play an important role in producing the sensation of itch... But itching complicates other medical conditions too: it is very common in people with certain kinds of liver disease & also in people with kidney failure even after they go on dialysis... can sometimes be helped with drugs that counteract the effects of morphine [such as naloxone & naltrexone]. These drugs work by blocking opioid receptors in the body's cells..."
Donald G. NcNeil _NY Times_
Vaccination Graduates to an Older Crowd
"The price paid by public health programs for a typical set of childhood shots rose from $10 in 1971 to $385 in 2001, according to a recent University of Michigan Medical School study; private doctors charge more. The complexity of ingredients in new vaccines, the lengthy testing involved & the risk of law-suits over rare side effects all raise the price, as does the need to make a profit in what is, traditionally, a low-margin business for pharmaceutical companies... a vaccination against meningococcal disease now costs up to $80, & flu vaccines can cost $35 or more."
Survey: June job cuts lowest since 2000
"U.S. corporations announced 59,715 job cuts in June, the lowest number since 2000 November, according to a survey published Tuesday by an out-placement firm. The June number from Challenger, Gray & Christmas was down 37% when compared with the same month last year & down 13% from May."
Sharon Gaudin _Cyber Atlas_
High-Tech Leads Slower Worsening in US Job Market
"The computer industry lost 3,473 jobs in June, while telecommunications lost 5,528. The 2 sectors combined lost 54,278 jobs between 2003 January and May. That is 67% fewer cuts than the 165,391 logged in the same 5-month period last year, reports Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based out-placement firm that tracks job cuts and hiring trends. Overall, lay-offs declined for the second month in a row, with 59,715 jobs being lost in June. That's the lowest figure since 44,152 jobs were cut in 2000 November -- 31 months ago. June's job losses were 13% lower than the 68,623 announced in May, which was itself 53% lower than the 146,399 jobs lost in April, reports the out-placement firm. June also saw 37% fewer job losses than the same month last year... Since the beginning of the year, there have been 630,532 announced job cuts. That number is 14% below the mid-year total (735,527) recorded in 2002."
Tiernan Ray _eCommerce Times_
Selling to Skeptics in a Tech Down-Turn
"Economic data show modest signs of recovery, but the outlook of many tech buyers remains sour. We've entered an age of tech buying in the absence of hope. With no real signs of strong growth in the economy, CIOs continue to spend [small amounts] even as they declare their intentions not to spend... The stuff they're willing to buy is what can be had at a bargain price."
James V. Leonard _IEEE-USA_
"we are disappointed that the report ignores the most important resource of the S&E Work-force, current workers. Because of this omission, the report fails to address many important policy issues for the S&E work-force. These issues include:
2003-07-02 05:44PDT (08:44EDT) (12:44GMT)
Noell Knox & Elizabeth Weise _USA Today_
European law requires labels on bio-tech foods
"U.S. officials, grocery manufacturers and farmers blasted 2 European laws passed Wednesday that would require strict warning labels on food made with genetically modified crops like corn and soy beans. The rules approved by the European Parliament will end the five-year ban on imports to Europe of genetically modified food if ratified by the 15-nation European Union this fall. But they could create a trade barrier of red tape for U.S. farmers and food producers who would have to document if their products contain more than 0.9% of genetically modified organisms. Those products would have to be labeled: 'This product is produced from GMOs.'"
2003-07-02 09:57PDT (11:57EDT) (15:57GMT)
Thomas A. Fogarty _USA Today_
Debts could swallow up tax cut
"According to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll, more than twice the number of Americans who have seen an increase in take-home pay or who expect an IRS bonus check will pay off bills rather than spend it ó 45% vs. 22%. That could be bad news for a struggling economy in need of a new infusion of consumer spending... On July 25, the IRS will start sending 25M checks to parents who qualify for an increased tax credit ó up to $400 per child under age 17. Follow-up mailings on August 1 & August 8 should deliver the money to most who qualify."
2003-07-02 12:39PDT (13:39MDT) (15:39EDT) (19:39GMT)
_AP_/_LA Times_/_The Sierra Times_/_CBS News_
Urban Spying System Would Eye Vehicles, Drivers, Pedestrians
US government develops system to track every vehicle, person in cities
Big Brother To See All, Everywhere
"The Pentagon is developing an urban surveillance system that would use computers & thousands of cameras to track, record & analyse the movement of every vehicle in a city. Dubbed Combat Zones That See, the project is designed to help the U.S. military protect troops & fight in cities over-seas. But police, scientists & privacy experts say the unclassified technology could easily be adapted to spy on everyone. The project's center-piece is ground-breaking computer software that is capable of automatically identifying vehicles by size, colour, shape & licence tag, or drivers & passengers by face. According to interviews & contracting documents, the software may also provide instant alerts after detecting a vehicle with a licence plate on a watchlist, or search months of records to locate & compare vehicles spotted near terrorist activities."
Keith Regan _eCommerce Times_
Union Says US Jobs at Risk as M$ Turns to India
"WashTech & other workers' groups have been calling on Congress to investigate out-sourcing practices..."
2003-07-02 13:21PDT (16:21EDT) (20:21GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq closes at fresh 13-month high
"Analyst upgrades Wednesday of techs propelled the Nasdaq Composite to its best close since 2002 May... The stock market will observe an early 13:00EDT close on Thursday ahead of the Independence Day Holiday while bond markets will shutter at 14:00EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average swelled 101.89 points, or 1.1%, to 9,142, gaining support from M$, Intel, & AT&T. The Nasdaq Composite ran up 38 points, or 2.4%, to 1,678 & the Nasdaq 100 Index firmed 28 points, or 2.3%, to 1,245. Biotech & brokerage shares boasted the best gains, while networking & hardware issues led the charge by tech stocks... The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 1.2% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks sprinted 2.2%. Volume registered at 1.44G on the NYSE & at 1.84G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers comfortably out-paced decliners by 24 to 9 on the NYSE & by 22 to 9 on the Nasdaq."
2003-07-03 06:54PDT (09:54EDT) (13:54GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Will the job market ever get better?: US employers still aren't hiring. The labor market is now in its longest slump since WW2.
"Two years ago, the U.S. economy was just entering its third... quarter of recession, & the unemployment rate was just beginning to climb. Two years later, the jobless rate is still climbing. In fact, U.S. unemployment rose to its worst level in 9 years in June as businesses cut thousands of jobs, the government said Thursday. Unemployment rose to 6.4% from 6.1% in May. That's the highest level since 1994 April... Pay-rolls have fallen year-over-year for 23 straight months, according to Labor Department data, extending the worst stretch for the labor market since World War II... 'because the labor force is growing 1% a year, we need 125K new jobs per month to stabilize the unemployment rate.', said Mickey Levy, chief economist at [Bank of India, formerly called Bank of America] & one of the best economic forecasters of the past 17 years, according to a recent Federal Reserve study... For one thing, many unemployed people have simply quit looking for work, meaning they are not counted as part of the 'labor force' & thus are not counted in the Labor Department's calculation of the unemployment rate. If the economy improves, many of these 'discouraged' workers -- 482K, by the department's last count -- will likely start looking for work again, & the unemployment rate will rise... 1.9M people have been unemployed 27 weeks or more, meaning many of them have exhausted their unemployment benefits. According to research by Anthony Chan, chief economist at Banc One Investment Advisors, 43.2% of all unemployed workers have exhausted their benefits -- the highest rate in more than 3 decades... According to the Labor Department, if you add all the workers 'marginally attached' to the labor force -- out of work & not looking for work -- to all those working part-time & those unemployed & looking for work, the unemployment rate rises to 9.7%. Not included in this group are the untold number of people who have had to take lower-paying jobs because they can't find work in their chosen profession."
2003-07-03 07:38PDT (10:38EDT) (14:38GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumps to 6.5%: non-farm pay-rolls off 30K, dashing expectations
"The U.S. unemployment rate soared to a nine-year high of 6.4% in June as companies eliminated jobs for the fifth straight month, the Labor Department said Thursday. Non-farm pay-rolls fell by 30K in June after a downwardly revised 70K loss in May. May's job loss was estimated at 17K a month ago. The economy has lost 394K jobs since January & more than 2.5M over the past 2 years, according to the government's survey of some 160K business establishments. In June, 9.4M Americans were on the streets looking for work, the most since 1992 December... In a separate report, the Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits fell over the past 4 weeks to an average of 425K from 429,500 last week. The number of workers receiving state benefits, however, broached a 20-year high again in the latest data, rising to 3.74M, plus the 850K receiving the extended federal unemployment checks... Despite the job losses in many sectors of the economy, total hours worked were unchanged in June. The average work-week was unchanged at 33.7 hours. In manufacturing, the average work-week was unchanged at 40.2 hours, including 4 hours of over-time. Average hourly wages rose 0.2% to $15.38. Wages are up 3% in the past 12 months... Temporary help services [bodyshops] added 38K jobs in June after hiring 44K in May. The increase means that firms are meeting higher demand by hiring temps rather than permanent workers..."
2003-07-03 09:12PDT (11:12EDT) (15:12GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims data mixed: Average falls, latest tally rises partly on seasonal factors
"The 4-week average of jobless claims -- promoted by Labor statisticians as a key gauge during this volatile time of the year for factories -- fell 4,500 to 425K. That's the lowest level since the week ended April 5. The average has hovered above the 400K mark -- the dividing line between a weak job market & an improving one -- for 18 straight weeks. For just the week ended June 28, jobless claims jumped 21K to 430K, confounding economists who had been expecting a decline. The weekly figure thus sits atop 400K for a 20th consecutive week... the 4-week claim average has fallen for 3 straight weeks... Corporate [lay-off announcements] as compiled by Challenger, Gray & Christmas fell to under 60K in June, its lowest level since 2000 November, the job placement firm said this week. Still, according to Labor Department figures, the number of Americans who remain on benefits rolls jumped up by 34K, reaching 3.751M in the latest week. The less-volatile 4-week average of continuous claims rose 17,750 to more than 3.736M. The average level of benefits recipients stands at its highest in more than 20 years."
2003-07-03 10:50PDT (13:50EDT) (17:50GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks weaken on soft data: Sluggish job reports trip markets' bulls
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average shaved 72.63 points, or 0.8%, to 9,070.21, hindered by losses in AT&T, which was smacked by a debt rating down-grade. The blue-chip gauge briefly climbed into the plus column after the day's second round of economic news was released at 10:00EDT. The Nasdaq Composite fell 15.28 points, or 0.9%, to 1,663.45 & the Nasdaq 100 Index relinquished 14.41 points, or 1.2%, to 1,231.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index pulled back 0.8% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks erased 0.6%."
Kathleen P. Utgoff _BLS_
monthly employment report
"In professional and business services, the overall job total was essentially unchanged in June. Employment rose by 38K in the temporary help [bodyshopping] industry, following a gain of 44K in May. June's increase in temporary help employment, however, was off-set by employment declines in accounting services and in other professional and business service industries. Accounting and book-keeping experienced a large seasonal build-up for the tax season followed by even larger lay-offs. After seasonal adjustment, employment in this industry was down 36K from last November."
2003-07-03 12:34PDT (15:34EDT) (19:34GMT)
Leslie Haggin Geary _CNN_/_Money_
Starting Salaries for New Grads
|Economics & Finance||$40,764|
2003-07-04 14:59PDT (17:59EDT) (21:59GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tech firms eye flat-screen TV Market, consumer electronics
"Motorola... stopped making televisions 3 decades ago, &, while a foray into flat-panel microchip systems in the mid-1990s didn't pan out, the company never stopped researching flat-panel technology, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. This time, the company intends to focus on licensing a system based on carbon nanotechnology. Motorola has developed a way to create carbon nanotubes at low temperatures, rather than the high-temperature processes normally used, allowing for cheaper production while retaining high-quality television images, according to the Chicago Tribune report... Motorola's technology would result in a 50-inch, wall-mounted television with a screen just 1 inch thick -- for the price of a standard 32-inch set, according to Motorola scientists quoted in the Chicago Tribune report. Stadium signs & bill-boards can be manufactured using the same technology."
Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
Dell to Stop Using Prison Labor
"Responding to concerns from both customers & environmental advocates, Dell Computer announced yesterday that it would no longer rely on prisons to supply workers for its computer recycling program. Dell, the world's largest seller of PC's, said it had canceled its contract with Unicor, a branch of the Federal Bureau of Prisons that employs prisoners for electronics recycling & other industries... Dell selected two companies to replace Unicor as its primary recycler, Resource Concepts of Dallas & Image Microsystems in Los Angeles & Austin, Texas... the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, said in its report that inmates who work at the prison recycling operation were not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act & were paid from 20 cents to $1.26 an hour. The report also criticized Unicor for not properly disposing of toxic waste... The coalition said that reliance on cheap prison labor was a major obstacle to the creation of a profitable recycling industry for discarded electronics. The other obstacle, the group said, is the export industry, which sends materials to Asia for recycling."
Don Kirk _NY Times_
Seoul Warns Europe Not to Raise Tariffs on Hynix Chips
"The South Korean government warned the European Union today that it would appeal to the World Trade Organization if Europe decided to extend heavy tariffs against Hynix Semiconductor. The ministry of foreign affairs & trade said such action would be comparable to the appeal that it had already filed against the decision by the United States Commerce Department to impose a tariff of 44.71% on Hynix memory chips. Most members of the European Union favor a 34% tariff on Hynix chips, which would slightly increase a tariff already in place... The Commerce Department issued its tariff ruling in June based on a complaint by Micron Technology of Boise, Idaho, which surpassed Hynix 2 years ago as the world's second-leading manufacturer of memory chips after Samsung Electronics. Micron was rebuffed last year in an attempt to buy the plants that produce Hynix memory chips, & it contended that Hynix had cut into its sales in the United States because of large infusions of credit provided by government-controlled Korean banks. Infineon Technologies of Germany, which is challenging Hynix for third place in the manufacturing of memory chips, has lodged much the same complaint with European authorities. Both Micron & Infineon contend that Hynix is responsible for driving the price of memory chips well below $4 each, the average cost that it takes to make one. At the heart of the complaints by Micron & Infineon is the role of the Korea Exchange Bank, the lead creditor for Hynix, which now owes more than $6G after three major infusions of cash. Both the Korean government & the Korea Exchange Bank have insisted that the bank acted independently. The government, through the Bank of Korea & the government-owned Export-Import Bank, owns a controlling 36% stake in the bank. The European Commission imposed a provisional tariff of 33% on Hynix chips in April & is expected to impose the full 34% tariff on August 25 when it meets for its final decision."
2003-07-05 14:39PDT (17:39EDT) (21:39GMT)
Barbera Kollmeyer & Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Time to invest in Japan?
"A 13-year bear market has long kept foreign investors away from a beleaguered Japan, but the situation may be shifting, with foreign investors in the driver's seat of a recent rally. Last week, the Nikkei soared past 9,800 to hit a 10-month high, in the wake of data showing strong gains in May industrial output & more importantly, surprising improvement in Japanese corporate confidence. The biggest beneficiaries of the rally have been banks & technology exporters... The long downturn in Japan has been peppered by rallies, in the springs of 2001 & 2002, neither of which could be sustained. In the last quarter, the Nikkei gained 14% -- not bad, but not as good as other markets in south & southeast Asia. U.S. funds investing in Japan rose 12.81% in the second quarter, versus an 18.9% gain for world equity funds, according to Lipper."
G. Pascal Zachary _NY Times_
Searching for a Dial Tone in Africa
"'As Ghana improves its connectivity to the outside world, it has the potential to become for Africa what Bangalore became for India.', said Paul Maritz, a former senior executive at M$ who recently visited Accra to survey the nascent high-tech scene here. Last Thursday, at a United Nations conference in New York, the secretary general, Kofi Annan, delivered a message that developing countries also need to include wireless access, known as Wi-Fi, in building an Internet system... For example, Rising Data Solutions, which is based in Gaithersburg, MD, introduced a call center here last month, where a dozen Ghanaians -- trained in American-style English -- are trying to sign up customers in the northeastern United States on behalf of a wireless phone company. At least three other call centers are expected to open in Accra later this year, all relying on Internet telephony instead of telephone carriers."
Hong Kong's Message of Freedom
"About 500K of Hong Kong's 7M people turned out this week to protest a repressive internal security law that Beijing is trying to impose on the territory, a former British colony. The proposed legislation, which is scheduled to go before Hong Kong's Legislative Council next week, would permit the prosecution of political critics on charges similar to those used to crush dissent on the main-land. In the 6 years since [Red China] regained sovereignty over Hong Kong, most of the territory's civil liberties have remained intact. The passage of this bill would end that... It is heartening to see politicians in the pro-Beijing camp paying serious attention to public opinion..."
Shaila K. Dewan & Patrick E. Tyler _NY Times_
Latest Bombing Is Aimed at Iraqi Police Working with US
"Seven Iraqi police recruits died today as explosives packed into a utility pole near a police station went off during the graduation ceremony for the first American-trained class for a new police force... In Ramadi, more than 70 people were injured as shrapnel from the metal pole & the bomb ripped through a large crowd around noon, said the director of a hospital where the injured were treated. On the street outside the police station, a shredded blue shirt & a pair of navy slacks from a recruit's new uniform lay near the spot where the dead & injured fell as the graduation ceremony ended. The event was meant to mark the successful transition from the old era of police torture & corruption to a new era of officers who are being trained to act as civil servants... Hospital & police officials said there were 7 dead & 74 wounded. No American officials were injured... Still, there was a sense of urgency in the planning today to turn over more power to a governing council of about 25 Iraqis. A number of Iraqis, as well as American experts on Iraq, have counseled the Bush administration to help bring Iraqi leaders to the fore even if it is considered too early for elections... The cadets, who a police lieutenant, Yassir Abdul Hamid, said ranged in age from 17 to 28, had gone through a three-day course with senior Iraqi police officers & members of a National Guard unit who are American police officers. In the past 2 days, guard patrols have come under attack from rocket-propelled grenades, & mortar shells have landed in the yard of their compound."
Matt Richtel _NY Times_
The Lure of Data: Is It Addictive?
"Mr. L flew from Boston & paid $2K to attend the conference, called Vortex. But he cannot unwire himself long enough to give the presenters his complete focus. If he did, he would face a fate worse than lack of productivity: he would become bored. 'It's hard to concentrate on one thing.', he said... a brewing tension between productivity & freneticism... they are compulsively drawn to the constant stimulation provided by incoming data. Call it O.C.D. -- on-line compulsive disorder... assessing how technology affects attention span, creativity & focus... have developed shorter attention spans. They become frustrated with long-term projects, thrive on the stress of constant fixes of information, & physically crave the bursts of stimulation from checking e-mail or voice mail or answering the phone. 'It's like a dopamine squirt to be connected.', said Dr. Ratey, who compares the sensations created by constantly being wired to those of narcotics -- a hit of pleasure, stimulation & escape. 'It takes the same pathway as our drugs of abuse & pleasure.'... According to research compiled by David E. Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, multitaskers actually hinder their productivity by trying to accomplish two things at once. Mr. Meyer has found that people who switch back & forth between two tasks, like exchanging e-mail & writing a report, may spend 50% more time on those tasks than if they work on them separately, completing one before starting the other... Multitasking offers a guise of productivity, a 'macho' show of accomplishment, & similarities to a quick amphetamine rush." ---
William Lazarus _NorthWest Indiana Times_
Millions in farm subsidies go to Loop, south suburbs: Federal aid meant to help farmers stay in business primarily spurs inflation in land prices says Purdue University economist
"absentee ownership of farm land likely accounts for most payments between 1996 and 2001 of $16.5M to people and companies based in Chicago, many in the Loop, according to a web data-base developed by a Washington, DC, non-profit organization called Environmental Working Group. In suburban Cook County, the USDA made $3.6M in farm support payments between 1996 and 2001. [Well, there are some farms in 'suburban Cook county'.]... P grows soy beans and corn, which, he said, sold for about $10 and $3 a bushel respectively in 1973, and for about $4 and $2 a bushel last year..."
2003-07-06 20:40PDT (23:40EDT) (2003-07-07 03:40GMT)
Barbara Hagenbaugh _USA Today_
Several signs hint at coming recovery in job market
"The number of temporary help workers [bodies shopped] rose for the second-consecutive month, to 2.2M in June following three months of declines, the Labor Department said last week... In another good sign, 611K people entered the workforce in June, the third-consecutive month of growth. That shows job-seekers who had become discouraged are growing more confident about their chances of finding work. The influx into the labor market led to a jump in the unemployment rate in June, because not all newcomers were able to find jobs. The jobless rate was 6.4% last month, up from 6.1% in May. That was the highest level since 1994 April, the Labor Department said in a report that showed the job market was weak. The median duration of unemployment was 12.3 weeks in June, the longest in 20 years... The number of hours worked was steady in June... The Institute for Supply Management said its index of service sector employment suggested a rise in hiring in June for only the second time since 2001 February... While the group's closely watched manufacturing report still pointed to falling employment, the rate of decline fell for the second-consecutive month."
2003-07-07 13:48PDT (16:48EDT) (20:48GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks surge as techs take off: Nasdaq tops 1700 mark for first time since 2002 May
"Wall Street's optimism catapulted the Nasdaq to its best close in nearly 14 months, while the Dow industrials & broader S&P 500 logged their best finishes in almost 3 weeks... The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 146 points, or 1.6%, to 9,216... The Nasdaq Composite soared 57 points, or 3.5%, to 1,721, & the Nasdaq 100 Index ran up 50 points, or 4.1%, to 1,282. Goldman Sachs issued an upbeat note on tech spending projections. The firm said its mid-June information technology spending survey showed improvements in spending intentions by corporations for the first time since the survey began in the Fall of 2001. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index raced up 1.9%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks advanced 2.1%... Volume was 1.38G shares on the NYSE & 1.81G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners obliterated losers by 22 to 10 on the NYSE & by 23 to 9 on the Nasdaq... In the retail sector, VF Corp., which makes jeans & other denim wear, said it would pay $585.6M for Nautica Enterprises. The news sent Nautica shares up 27.2%, while VF rallied 4.6%. Finally, Comcast ascended 5.4%after agreeing late last week to sell its QVC Corp. stake to Liberty Media Corp. for $7.9G in cash & stock. Liberty put on 6.5%."
Bill Fleckenstein _NBC_
An IT rebound is just a mirage
"The fact is, companies are still delaying projects or canceling them out-right. That, plus overly bullish sentiment, sets the stage for disappointment... PC vendors such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data & the PC companies themselves have said they see no signs of 'acceleration'... 'budgets are not expanding in any way to support the idea of a second-half technology-spending rebound... Software spending...does not ratchet up in the summer... We also have gotten the expected up-tick in project cancellations as business units refuse to fund further technology efforts for the summer... We now have moved to almost 80% off-shore/20% on-shore at (XYZ Company) to cut costs...'..."
John Markoff _NY Times_
UnEasiness about Security as Federal Government Buys Software from Red China
"Sitting at his lap-top computer in a hotel near Toronto one day last October, Gregory Gabrenya was alarmed by what he discovered in the sales-support data-base of his new employer, Platform Software: the names of more than 30 employees of the United States National Security Agency. The security agency, one of many federal super-computer users that rely on Platform's software, typically keeps the identities of its employees under tight wraps. Mr. Gabrenya, who had just joined Platform as a salesman, found the names on a list of potential customer contacts for Platform's sales team. The discovery crystallized his growing concern that the company was perhaps too lax about the national security needs of its United States government customers, in the military, intelligence & research. [Platform] maintains a software maintenance & testing operation in Beijing -- which he was not sure the company had made clear enough to its American government customers. He repeatedly raised the concerns with Platform executives, who say his fears were unfounded... The trend poses risks... because... foreign spies [may] sneak illicit code into critical programs, & simply because the United States is increasingly losing dominance in information technology... Hua Yuan Science & Technology Association, a Silicon Valley group of more than 1K entrepreneurs & technologists who were born in main-land China... Platform Software dominates the market for software that enables clusters of powerful computers to work together... The company was co-founded in 1992 by a Chinese-born computer scientist, Songnian Zhou, who received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, & who remains Platform's chief technology officer... 'It's clear that we now have people in Beijing doing important development work & we are not, as a company, telling our U.S. government customers. That's a problem in my mind. Is this illegal?'... [Platform Software] recently created a separate board for its unit that sells to the United States government. The board includes 2 former [US] government officials: Oliver Revell, president of the Revell Group International & former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, & Harry Soyster, vice president of the Washington consultants Military Professional Resources Inc. & a former lieutenant general in the Army who directed the Defense Intelligence Agency."
John Markoff _NY Times_
A Simpler, More Personal Key to Protect Messages
"Voltage Security, which is based [in Palo Alto, CA], instead uses another unique identifier as the public key: the message recipient's e-mail address."
VietNam's CyberDissident Should Be Released
"Much like Red China's rulers, VietNam's Communist leaders in recent years have embraced market-oriented economic reforms, while ruthlessly retaining their monopoly on political power. Both governments are wary of the Internet, fearing that the free flow of information will undermine their grip on power. The case of Pham Hong Son is the latest example of Hanoi's insecurity. Last month, Dr. Son, who works for a VietNamese pharmaceutical company, was sentenced on espionage charges to 13 years imprisonment for exchanging e-mail with over-seas pro-democracy advocates & distributing material about democratic institutions that he translated from an American government web site. The government apparently feels that any criticism & free speech can be equated with espionage... he was held virtually incommunicado for 15 months prior to his half-day in court..."
Vin O'Neill _IEEE USA_
Engineering Careers Congressional Visits Day
IEEE-USA's Washington office is located at 1828 L Street, N.W., Suite 1202 in Washington, DC. If you are planning a trip to Washington & have a meeting or would like to visit the IEEE-USA offices, this page will help you with your preparations.
"IEEE U.S. members concerned about their careers, the effects of globalization, out-sourcing & guest labor on engineering employment, & the health of the U.S. engineering work-force are invited to participate in IEEE-USA's Engineering Careers Congressional Visits Day as a means to share your concerns with your representatives in Congress... 2003 July 14-15..."
Kris Maher _Wall Street Journal_
Vinnie Boombotz Finds On-Line Job Hunting Tough
"The applications can be so complex that 'it's almost like you're applying for credit', Mr. Zarling says. The feed-back from companies, meanwhile, is spotty... The unpleasant truth, according to job seekers, career counselors and even some companies, is that applying for jobs on corporate web sites is often a complicated and frustrating process. A few companies do a majority of hiring via their on-line systems... Applicants to corporate web sites are met with silence for many reasons. The competition is often stiff, since automation allows job seekers to flood the systems, leaving many companies facing the task of wading through thousands of resumes a month, and making it all but impossible to provide any individual feed-back. (Merck, for instance, gets 30K resumes every month.) Job listings themselves are sometimes out of date... More than 500K people have entered the J.P. Morgan candidate data-base alone during the past 18 months. For some sales positions, Merck can receive as many as 2K resumes, according to Mr. DeAngelo... real-life recruiters don't enter the hiring process often enough."
2003-07-08 12:38PDT (15:38EDT) (19:38GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _ZD Net_
Taking the measure of IT's pain
"There are many anecdotes about how badly high-skilled workers are feeling the tech economy's pinch. Now economist Jared Bernstein has provided a statistical snap-shot of the measure of their pain... inflation-adjusted wages for professional & technical workers have indeed fallen. Meanwhile, unemployment for mathematicians & computer scientists has risen to its highest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting the data in 1982. Bernstein discovered that the unemployment rate for mathematicians & computer scientists climbed from around 1% in the latter 1990s to around 5% at the end of 2002 -- twice that of the increase in the overall unemployment rate... Wages for professional & technical workers -- not adjusted for inflation -- grew 1.7% between the fourth quarter of 2001 & the fourth quarter of 2002, Bernstein concluded. That also happens to be the smallest increase since the Labor Department first collected that data in 1976... In the first quarter of 2003, their wage growth was 1.8% over fourth-quarter 2002 -- that's way behind inflation... It's not like these folks need training. The best thing we can do is get the economy going, so they can bring their skills on-line... IT workers are rightly concerned about the impact of out-sourcing. First the pundits told them to get IT skills. Now they're competing with much-lower-wage workers... [Off-shore out-sourcing is] going to slow the growth of the sector quite dramatically... I think it makes a ton of sense to curtail using H-1B workers in the IT sector, since that sector is so over-supplied."
2003-07-08 11:14PDT (14:14EDT) (18:14GMT)
Kathleen Hays _CNN_/_Money_
Taking job numbers is fine, as long as you consider when it's coming from
"the 1990-91 recession ended in 1991 February, but the unemployment rate, which had gotten as low as 5.2% before the recession started, did not peak until 1992 June when it got up to 7.8%. One reason the unemployment rate lags coming out of a recession is that companies don't start hiring workers again until they absolutely have to - until they are certain that demand is picking up & they have wrung every last hour of over-time out of their existing employees that they possibly can... Pay-rolls fell 30K in June on top of 70K in May & they have been falling for five months in a row. (Manufacturing is especially depressing, cutting jobs for 35 months in a row!)"
2003-07-08 12:31PDT (15:31EDT) (19:31GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Delayed tax fix risks EU sanctions: Congress needs to act by end of session
"The World Trade Organization [WTO] has authorized the European Union to impose $4G in annual sanctions on U.S. goods & services... At issue is the 'foreign sales corporation' tax program, which allows U.S. companies with a foreign presence to shield between 15% & 30% of their export income from U.S. taxes. The measure amounts to an annual tax break of around $5G for U.S. firms. The WTO ruled in 2001 that the measure was an illegal subsidy & violated international trade rules... The Thomas measure, which has the backing of U.S.-based multinationals with big over-seas units, would overhaul the tax code's international portions so that the $5G tax break for firms with a significant presence over-seas is not tied to exports. The Crane-Rangel approach, which has the backing of major U.S. exporters, would end the tax break & instead use the $5G to lower the corporate income tax rate on domestic manufacturing to 31.5% from 35%... Baucus also pressed the trade representative's office to work toward ensuring that any phase-out of the foreign-sales-corporation tax system happens over a 5-year period -- the same amount of time Europe was granted to phase out subsidies at the center of a dispute over the European banana-import restrictions that were successfully challenged by the United States in the 1990s."
2003-07-08 14:13PDT (17:13EDT) (21:13GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Shares End with Gains
"Propelled by a rally in technology shares & buoyed by a number of merger announcements, U.S. stocks rose for a second straight session Tuesday, with the Nasdaq closing near 15-month highs... The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 6.30 points, or 0.1%, to 9,223.09 after spending most of the session in the minus column. Intel & United Technologies, two of the index's biggest gainers, reached fresh 52-week highs in intraday action. The Nasdaq Composite rallied 25.75 points, or 1.5%, to 1,746.46 & the Nasdaq 100 Index rose 16.48 points, or 1.3%, to 1,298.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.3% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks gained 1.8%... Volume totaled 1.52G on the NYSE & 2.01G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers took out decliners by 18 to 14 on the NYSE & by 21 to 11 on the Nasdaq... Another piece of good news for the retail sector came in the shape of a 0.7% increase in U.S. chain store sales for the week ended July 5, according to the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi/UBS Index."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
White House Seeks Revised Pension Rules
"The proposal comes after months of debate about how to keep traditional pension plans healthy at a time when they have come under greater pressure than they have since the government began regulating pensions in 1974. Companies have been warning that they cannot comply with the federal pension-financing laws in today's economic environment, & have threatened to stop offering pensions entirely if they do not receive some relief... The administration plan would help companies by freeing them from the Treasury bond rate entirely. If enacted, it would allow companies to use instead a 20- to 30-year corporate bond rate for 2 years... Because long-term corporate rates are higher than the 30-year Treasury bond, switching to a corporate bond rate would instantly shrink each company's pension's liabilities, at least on paper. The smaller liability measurements would, in turn, lead to smaller required pension contributions, tiding companies through their current financial difficulties. But after 2 years, the companies would be required to start calculating their obligations with a technique that would combine 2 new factors: workplace demographics & a corporate bond yield curve. Under this system, companies with many retirees & older workers -- like auto manufacturers -- would have to use the interest rate that applies to corporate bonds with shorter maturities. Such bonds normally have lower interest rates, so these companies would soon find their liabilities growing again. Companies with younger work forces, meanwhile, would be able to keep using the interest rates attached to longer-duration bonds, which usually have higher interest rates. So their pension contributions would not swell, at least at first."
Robert C. Pozen _NY Times_
Jobless but Not Hopeless
"These surveys, conducted by the Center for State & Local Policy at the University of Massachusetts, polled 400 chief executives in Boston, Chicago, Dallas & San Francisco. The key question posed was this: In the next 3 months, the third quarter of 2003, will the number of employees at your company increase, stay the same or decrease? In total, 36% said the number would increase, 54% said stay the same, & 10% said decrease... Second, in May & June, the Labor Department reported a rise in the number of temporary workers [bodies shopped] -- often a first hint of a rebound. Temporary workers are generally the first to be fired as times get bad & the first to be hired as times become good. In April, 1.6% of all workers were temporary employees, but that figure rose to 1.7% by June... Third, the number of wage & salary workers in the non-farm sector has actually risen by 266K since January 1, according to the Labor Department's house-hold survey. This rise contrasts sharply with the large loss of 1.4M of those workers in 2001 & 2002... Finally, the survey of employers also done by the Labor Department shows a modest decline of 30K jobs from May to June. This represents a big improvement in the rate of job decline over 2001 & 2002, a period when employers reported whopping losses of 2.2M jobs -- an average loss of 90K jobs per month."
Good Boll Weevil News
"Now, after 25 years of spraying & more sophisticated antiweevil weaponry, the federal Department of Agriculture has finally forced this wily little beetle into submission. For many in the weevil's range -- & indeed for the struggling cotton industry -- this may be better news than another farm subsidy... Total eradication of the boll weevil is probably not possible... Now those subtle scents are used in traps across the cotton belt, & when a boll weevil is lured into a detector, the surrounding field is sprayed quickly & mercilessly. The idea is that the spraying of malathion, not a particularly friendly substance, can be kept to a minimum."
Maureen Dowd _NY Times_
Incredible Shrinking Y Chromosome
"As Nicholas Wade wrote in The Times: 'Although most men are unaware of the peril, the Y chromosome has been shedding genes furiously over the course of evolutionary time, & it is now a fraction of the size of its partner, the X chromosome... The decay of the Y stems from the fact that it is forbidden to enjoy the principal advantage of sex, which is, of course, for each member of a pair of chromosomes to swap matching pieces of DNA with its partner... Denied the benefits of recombining with the X, the Y recombines with itself.'... Dr. Judson, a 33-year-old evolutionary biologist at Imperial College in London...says the worm has turned. 'For a long time, it was assumed that promiscuity was good for males & bad for females in terms of the number of kids they could have. But it wasn't until 1988 that it really started to become evident that females were benefiting from having sex with lots of males, with more promiscuous females having more & healthier off-spring.'... In a new book called _Y: The Descent of Men_, Steve Jones, a professor of genetics at University College in London, says males, always a genetic 'parasite', have devolved to become the 'second sex'."
Economy at a turning point: Jobless tech exec keeps applying
tech exec (with graph of announced lay-offs)
"the [US] economy has lost jobs for 5 straight months, & the unemployment rate spiked to a 9-year high of 6.4% in June... Before the Internet crash hit in early 2000, CH, 52, was earning a comfortable, 6-figure income as director of global technology services for business information giant D&B... But after Y2K passed without incident & the Internet bubble burst, the high-tech industry began to collapse... In 2001, a new chief executive arrived at D&B, whose operations include ACNielsen & R.H. Donnelly, with a mandate to modernize the 160-year-old company. The companyís stock price was languishing & the CEO began an aggressive cost-cutting mission which lead to D&B out-sourcing its computer information functions to another firm... Nearly 5% of IT jobs in the U.S. have evaporated in the last year... many of those jobs are gone forever as more corporations out-source computer functions to firms over-seas."
2003-07-09 05:41PDT (08:41EDT) (12:41GMT)
Louis Braham _Yahoo!_
No Rest for the Productive
"Today, Americans work more hours than they did 20 years ago. Vacations have dwindled, & 'over-time' isn't over-time anymore. It's the norm... When times are good, he'll ask you to produce twice as much work, or if times are bad, he'll fire half his employees. CEOs, driven by profit-seeking investors, want to squeeze as much output from each employee as possible... Even if an employer recognized that technology could make workers' lives easier, lightening the workload could be a corporate death sentence. A competitor down the block or in Asia, Europe, or Latin America could use technology more efficiently & sell the same products more cheaply, possibly putting the company & its 'enlightened' CEO out of business. Technology has, in effect, created a productivity arms race...
Pay for the average worker [not top executives] grew just 0.5% annually after inflation during the 1990s, according to the Center for Economic & Policy Research, a Washington think tank. During the same period, the average CEO's salary grew 342%. Meanwhile, average annual hours worked grew from 1,783 to 1,878 -- about 12 additional days of work per year... One is to have close to full employment in the country. Such was the case during the latter part of the boom -- 1997, 1998, & 1999 -- & workers made significant wage gains during that period. With unemployment at the 3% or 4% range, they had more leverage to pressure employers for better wages, hours, or benefits. Even though the tech-induced productivity growth was just as strong throughout the decade, workers actually lost wages after adjusting for inflation during the first half of the 90s, when the jobless rate was higher... 'If productivity growth is 3% & there's no comparative increase in demand, that's 3% less of the labor force you need that year.', says Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic & Policy Research... The average European's annual work hours actually declined in the 1990s to 1,629, compared to 1,878 here..."
2003-07-09 16:14 (18:14EDT) (22:14GMT)
Carolyn Pritchard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nike to buy shoe rival Converse
"Nike said late Wednesday that it will buy shoemaker Converse for $305M plus the assumption of debt. Beaverton, OR-based Nike, the world's No.1 maker of sports shoes, said the acquisition fits with its strategy of acquiring strong brands that it can grow further... Privately held Converse, based in North Andover, MA, was once known for its basketball shoes."
Khurram Saeed _The New York Journal News_
Job searches stretch
"He estimated he had applied to thousands of companies nationwide. LV is among countless well-educated, highly skilled professionals living in New York City's suburbs who have been out of work for a long time, some more than a year. For many in the financial services, information technology & management fields, it's the first time they've struggled to find work in a decade. Worse yet, there is little evidence to suggest that things are about to get better... The average duration of unemployment claims in May in the Hudson Valley was 16.2 weeks. But national statistics show information technology workers & financial sector employees can expect to search for a job for 7 months. Job hunters & career counselors say the period is closer to a year... James Parrott, chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, a labor-backed think tank in Manhattan, said computer service jobs in New York City had declined by 40% since their peak in 2000 December, which translates into more than 20K lost jobs. During the recession of the early 1990s, New York City lost 10% of all its jobs, Parrott said. During the current economic down-turn, about 225K jobs, or 6%, have disappeared from the city."
Bob Rosner _abc News_
Can You Connect?: Tips for communicating with people at work
"With almost 40% of us thinking we're either at the top of the money pyramid or soon to be there, someone observed that no one in America is poor: We're all just pre-rich. That's the key to successfully connecting with people, you've got to assume that they're rich with ideas, energy & insight & treat them accordingly. It's your job to discover their internal riches & how to motivate them to bring these riches to work... Think hot button, something that will get a predictable reaction most of the time. Whether it's a passionately held political or religious belief, favorite sports team or favorite ice cream bar, we all have a few special things that we'll usually respond to. At work, these may include fear of being laid off or opportunities to gain new skills... try to resonate with their responsive chord... Pay attention to the words that you use & how your people respond, then incorporate more of the impactful ones in your daily vocabulary."
TV News Staple Peter Jennings Becomes a US Citizen
"The Canadian native quietly became a U.S. citizen more than a month ago at a ceremony in Manhattan, & revealed it to friends at a Fourth of July party last weekend. The 64-year-old anchor of ABC's World News Tonight, who was born in Toronto & raised in Ottawa, will retain his Canadian citizenship... With his family in tow, Jennings was sworn in on May 30 at a government office with several other new citizens, none of whom spoiled his secret."
2003-07-09 21:16PDT (2003-07-10 00:16EDT) (2003-07-10 04:16GMT)
Haya El Nasser _USA Today_
High-tech bust drains Bay Area population
"from 2001 July 1 to 2002 July 1, according to estimates the Census Bureau is releasing today. San Francisco's population fell 1.5% to 764,049. Sunnyvale & Daly City, also in the Bay Area, were among the Top 10 losers. San Jose declined 0.6% to 900,443. Experts attribute the population losses to sweeping lay-offs in the high-tech sector. The Bay Area lost an estimated 313K jobs from 2000 December to 2002 December... Austin, another high-tech center, slipped 0.2% to 671,873... 7 of the 10 fastest growing cities were in Arizona, California & Nevada. No. 1: Gilbert, AZ, outside Phoenix, was up 10.3% to 135,005... 76 of the 242 cities that have populations above 100K lost ground from 2001 to 2002, compared with 41 in the 1990s. The Bay Area's losses are small compared with those that many industrial cities have experienced for decades. In the 1990s, Buffalo lost almost 11% of its population & Gary almost 12%. During that time, San Francisco grew by 7.3%."
2003-07-10 08:50EDT (12:50GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US import prices increased 0.8% in June: Export prices fell 0.2%
2003-07-10 07:16PDT (10:16EDT) (14:16GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment compensation insurance claims on the rise
"The average number of jobless workers filing for initial state unemployment benefits over the past 4 weeks rose by 1K to 426,750 in the week ending July 5, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number filing in the most recent week increased 5K to 439K, the most in five weeks. The numbers are seasonally adjusted to account for variations such as factory retoolings. This is the 19th consecutive week initial jobless claims have been above the psychologically significant 400K... Meanwhile, the average number of workers collecting state unemployment checks over the past 4 weeks rose by about 10K to 3.74M, the most in 20 years. In the most recent week, the number of continuing claims jumped 87K to a 20-year high of 3.82M. The insured unemployment rate rose to 3%... The figures do not include some 850K workers collecting federal employment benefits, which are available only to those who exhaust their state benefits, typically after 26 weeks. In June, the U.S. employment rate rose to a 9-year high of 6.4%. Nearly 9.3M Americans are officially counted as unemployed, but not all of them are eligible for unemployment checks. On average, those 9.3M people have been searching for work for 19.8 weeks. About 2M have been out of work for more than six months but are still looking. In a separate report, the department said depreciation of the U.S. dollar is driving up the price of imported goods to the tune of 0.8% in June."
Michael S. Malone _abc_
Stop the Scape-Goating: High Tech's Latest Excuse Is Also the Key to the Future
"Apparently, the greatest threat to America's high-tech dominance is not the shortage of early-stage capital, the onerous tax & regulatory environment, the crappy public education system, the lack of major new national technology initiatives, the Federal obstructions to the widespread installation of broad-band, vindictive anti-trust investigations, a rococo patent system or the fact that the latest killer consumer product has yet to appear on the scene. No, the biggest threat to the U.S. technology industry is a small army of code writers in Bangalore, India... the off-shore movement of U.S. high-tech jobs to India (as well as China, Thailand, Indonesia, Poland, Costa Rica & VietNam)... Five states (Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington & Missouri) are already looking at legislation to prohibit off-shore out-sourcing of state contracts... Would the United States economy have been better off if we'd thrown up tariff barriers 2 decades ago against off-shore PC assembly or contract semiconductor fabrication?"
Azizur Rahman _The Courier Mail_
Indian students demand to cheat
"More than 3K students of 20 law colleges in the eastern Indian state of Orissa have boycotted their final university examination and demonstrated in protest against a ban on copying. The students turned against teachers when they were stopped from copying inside examination halls this week. Authorities called in police for help. 'On frisking in the presence of the police, we found almost all students carrying books and photo-copied notes hidden on their body.', education official Radhanath Mishra, said from the state capital of Bhubaneswar. 'We asked them to hand over all the illegally smuggled study materials. But they did not listen to us.' When authorities seized the smuggled notes and books with the help of police, the students turned violent and left the examination halls in protest. According to reports, students of almost all law colleges ready to take the same examination around the state protested in a similar way demanding they be allowed to 'resort to cheating' during the examination."
2003-07-11 07:04PDT (08:04MDT) (10:04EDT) (14:04GMT)
Paola Farer _KUSA, Denver_
US trade deficit climbs to $41.84G in May
"The Commerce Department reported Friday that the May imbalance rose by 0.5% from the April deficit of $41.65G even though U.S. exports posted their best gain since January with shipments of American-made autos & auto parts, computer chips & industrial machinery all showing gains. For the first five months of this year, the U.S. trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $492G, well above last year's record high of $418G. Critics point to the soaring deficit as evidence that the Bush administration is pursuing a failed trade strategy that has furthered the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs as U.S. companies have closed their American factories & moved production over-seas to take advantage of cheaper labor... The dollar's decline this year did appear to be boosting demand for American exports, which rose to $82.05G in May, a 0.9% rise which was the strongest monthly increase in percentage terms since January. The increase reflected gains of $117M in sales of autos & auto parts, which rose to $6.76G in May. Other products showing increases in May were exports of industrial machinery, up $101M; computer accessories, up $96M, & computer chips, up $50M. These gains offset declines of $9M in exports of farm products, which fell to $4.29G, reflecting a big drop of $177M in shipments of soybeans, which offset gains in exports of corn, meat & poultry & fruit. Imports were also up in May, rising by 0.7% to $123.89G. That increase reflected a 4.7% rise in imports of foreign autos & auto parts, which increased to $17.67G during the month. Imports of business equipment were up by $75M while shipments of televisions & video recorders climbed by $69M... the United States recorded its largest deficit with [Red China], an imbalance of $9.86G, an increase of 4.3% from the April level... The deficit with Canada rose 7.2% to $4.09G in May while the deficit with Mexico, America's other partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, was up 2.3% to $3.42T."
2003-07-11 13:30PDT (16:30EDT) (20:30GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks close with gains
"The major averages ended higher for a second consecutive week, with the Dow up 0.5%, the Nasdaq rallying 4.2% & the S&P 500 posting a 1.3% gain... The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 83.55 points, or 0.9%, to 9,119.59. The Nasdaq Composite gained 18.07 points, or 1.1%, to 1,733.93 & the Nasdaq 100 Index put on 11.92 points, or 0.9%, to 1,280.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index & the Russell 2000 Index of small-cap stocks both added 1%. Volume came in at 1.20G on the NYSE & at 1.51G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners handily surpassed losers by 22 to 10 on the NYSE & by 20 to 12 on the Nasdaq."
2003-07-11 13:39PDT (16:39EDT) (20:39GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Techs close out on high notes
"The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose 18 points to 1,733.93, to rise 70 points for the week. Sector indexes also edged higher, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index ($SOX...) & the Amex Networking Index posting slight gains... Wednesday will be busy for tech earnings reports, with IBM, Apple Computer & EMC scheduled to announce results."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Data in Conflict: Why Economists Tend to Weep
"Yet among all the alternative gauges, some of the most widely cited data is collected in a patch-work fashion, or checked against bench-marks only once a decade. What is more, frequent changes in the agencies' methods can make comparisons with earlier trends impossible. And a few economists complain that those revisions may be motivated by politics rather than science...
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that pay-rolls outside farming had dropped by 30K in June, on a seasonally adjusted basis. In the same report, it said that the total number of employed people had grown by 251K... The figure for pay-rolls comes from reports by businesses & government that are checked once a year against unemployment insurance records, which are fairly comprehensive. But the figure for employed people comes from a sampling of house-holds that is thoroughly bench-marked only once a decade, with the census...
'In a knowledge-based, information-based economy, one could argue that we don't have good metrics for measuring out-put.', Mr. Berner said. Measures of income, which the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases alongside measures of production, can also be incomplete. Mr. Moulton said the agency received fairly reliable data on wages & profit, but 'for most of the other pieces of income, we don't have very timely information coming in'...
The experts all said that almost constant revisions in methods & data sources made continuity a recurring problem in government statistics. Drawing comparisons of trends in inflation, employment & growth could be tricky, even, Mr. Berner said, for periods as short as 5 years."
Matt Richtel & Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
In Silicon Valley, Pressure for Stock Grants in Lieu of Options
"Technology industry workers are also beginning to talk about whether receiving a limited amount of stock is preferable to getting a trove of options that are unlikely to produce much wealth in a languishing stock market. The use of options has also been questioned because of the accounting controversy over whether companies that give the options to employees should be required to mark them as an expense -- a move that would reduce corporate reported earnings. Most companies do not characterize employee stock options as expenses, but many are now under great pressure from share-holders & shareholder advocacy groups to change their position... In the case of restricted stock,...employees receive stock at a certain price. The employees own the stock but cannot sell it for a certain time period."
Richard Armstrong _American Reformation_
Is there really a nursing shortage?
"The first sign that a company or an industry is planning to replace American citizens with cheaper foreign labor always begins with a fabricated claim of a worker shortage. To learn the real truth, informed citizens must always ask a deeper question. Is it a shortage of employers willing to pay the prevailing wage for American workers, or is it really a shortage of available American workers? A recent story in the Denver Post shamelessly declared that there is a nursing shortage, but at the same time discussed at length how hospitals wonít use the nurses that are currently available to them. The nurses that are available are highly qualified, have tremendous experience, & are available with little or no advance notice... Officials at the University of Colorado Hospital report that they have cut their nursing staff by about 30 nurses a day, & the hospital has slowed admissions by 60 to 100 patients a day, leaving some units vacant...
The computer industry fabricated a worker shortage because they wanted to pay IT workers less. There never was a shortage of available computer workers. American colleges & universities graduated more than enough high tech workers than jobs were created. It was only for monetary reasons that the computer industry fabricated this worker shortage. The computer industry lobbied Congress with deep pockets, & was given the H-1B program as a tool to replace American citizens in the computer industry with cheaper foreign workers. A staggering 8.6M Americans are currently out of work & trying to find jobs. Employers in the computer industry have hired over 1M foreign H-1B workers to replace American citizens, & continue to claim a high tech worker shortage to this very day."
2003-07-12 03:01PDT (06:01EDT) (10:01GMT)
Margaret Steen _San Jose CA Mercury News_
Man tires of sending resumes to "black hole"
"At first, he strategized on how to get back into the tech game. He took some programming classes and sent countless resumes into what he calls the 'black hole'. 'You send your resume in and you don't hear any reply back. You hear a recruiter call you one time, and that's the last time you hear from them.', said I..."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Blacks Lose Better Jobs Faster as Middle-Class Work Drops
"Unemployment among blacks is rising at a faster pace than in any similar period since the mid-1970s, & the jobs lost have been mostly in manufacturing, where the pay for blacks has historically been higher than in many other fields. Nearly 2.6M jobs have disappeared over all during the last 28 months, which began with a brief recession that has faded into a weak recovery. Nearly 90% of those lost jobs were in manufacturing, according to government data, with blacks hit disproportionately harder than whites. At the same time, jobless black Americans have been unusually persistent about staying in the labor force... the black unemployment rate...is rising twice as fast as that of whites, & faster than in any down-turn since the mid-1970s recession. Low-wage workers & women who went from welfare to work in the 1990s have largely kept their jobs; factory breadwinners have borne the pain, men & women alike... In Indianapolis, for example, Autoliv, a Swedish manufacturer of seat belts, is closing a plant & laying off 350 workers, more than 75% of them black. Many are young adults who were hired in the late 1990s when the unemployment rate in Indianapolis was only 2% & Autoliv, to recruit enough workers to expand production, hired young men without high school diplomas... It is not only the recently hired who are losing jobs. So are tens of thousands of textile workers in the South, many with long tenure, as production in the industry shifts to [Red China] & India. Bruce Raynor, president of Unite, the union that represents textile workers, ticked off a few of the more recent losses: 1K jobs lost in the last 2 years as mills closed in Roanoke Rapids, NC; another 1K in mill closings in Columbus, GA; 1,500 lost in the closing of a sweat-shirt factory in Martinsville, VA. These workers are mostly black men & women who were earning $11 an hour plus benefits... 'This is not like the cyclical down-turns in the old days, when you got furloughed for a few weeks & then recalled.', said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. 'These jobs are gone, & that represents a potentially significant slide in living standards.'... In 2000, there were 2M black Americans working in factory jobs, or 10.1% of the nation's total of 20M manufacturing workers. Blacks were represented in the overall work force in roughly the same proportion. Then came the recession that began in 2001 March [it actually started 2000 January & hit the trough in 2001 April]; since then, 300K factory jobs held by blacks, or 15%, have disappeared. White workers lost many factory jobs, too - 1.7M in all... blacks' share of the remaining manufacturing jobs has slipped to 9.6%."
Adam Liptak _NY Times_
A Web Site Causes UnEase in Police
"WS does not like the police. He expresses his views about what he calls police corruption in Washington State on his web site, where he also posts lists of police officers' addresses, home phone numbers & [Socialist Insecurity] numbers. State officials say those postings expose officers & their families to danger & invite identity theft... Larry Erickson, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs, says the organization's members are disturbed... 'Police officers go out at night.', Mr. Erickson said. 'They make people mad, & they leave their families behind.'... his postings hold the police accountable, by facilitating picketing, the serving of legal papers & research into officers' criminal histories. His site collects news articles & court papers about what he describes as inadequate & insincere police investigations, & about police officers who have themselves run afoul of the law."
2003-07-13 11:16PDT (14:16EDT) (18:16GMT)
Rachel Konrad _AP_/_Yahoo!_/_CNN_
Job Exports May Imperil US Programmers
Tech Jobs Leave for India, Red China, Russia
"Now 43, the veteran programmer is urging his 18-year-old nephew to stay in suburban Chicago & is discouraging him from pursuing degrees in computer science or engineering... Like many unemployed programmers, Kerrigan blames the sour labor market on off-shore out-sourcing -- the migration of tech jobs to relatively low-paid contractors or locally hired employees in India, [Red China], Russia & other developing countries. The hemorrhaging of tens of thousands of technology jobs in recent years to cheaper workers abroad is already a fact of life -- as inevitable, U.S. executives say, as the 1980s migration of Rust Belt manufacturing jobs to Southeast Asia & Latin America. But a new wave of technology out-sourcing -- involving tasks that involve greater skills -- could be cutting to the industry's bone, threatening to prolong the 3-year U.S. economic down-turn... 'We're giving countries like [Red China] & India the support they need to build up their technology industries, & the result could disadvantage us in the long run.', said Phil Friedman, an electrical engineer & chief executive of New York-based Computer Generated Solutions, a 1,200-employee software company that targets the apparel industry. 'At the same time, we're shipping tech jobs off-shore -- it's a short-sighted approach & cheats the American work force.'... Roughly 27K technology jobs moved over-seas in 2000, according to a November study by Forrester Research... According to the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute, non-inflation-adjusted wages for tech workers grew 1.7% between the fourth quarter of 2001 & the fourth quarter of 2002 -- not enough to keep up with the period's inflation rate of 2.2%... India... produces roughly 350K college 'engineering graduates' annually."
James Bennet _NY Times_
Palestinian Mob Attacks Pollster Over Study on "Right of Return to Israel"
"A crowd attacked a political scientist who found that only a small minority of Palestinian refugees would exercise a 'right of return' to Israel as part of a peace deal... A mob attacked an eminent Palestinian political scientist today as he prepared to announce a striking finding from a regionwide survey of Palestinian refugees: Only a small minority of them exercise a "right of return" to Israel as part of a peace agreement. he political scientist, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy & Survey Research here, had intended today to discuss for the Arabic-language press the tensions & complexities of Palestinian society. Instead, struck, shoved & pelted with eggs but not seriously injured, he wound up starkly illustrating them. From the wreckage of his office here, as workers swept up the broken glass & shampooed the carpet, Dr. Shikaki offered a political analysis of the attack. He said the dozens of rioters -- who came prepared with their own news release, in Arabic & English -- were hijacking his news conference as a signal to the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas... Palestinian refugees & their descendants now number about 4M, while Israel has roughly 5M Jewish citizens & 1M Arab citizens."
Kate Zernike _NY Times_
Teen-Agers Facing Hard Competition for Summer Jobs
"Teen-agers are facing the worst summer job market in years, with the percentage of those holding summer jobs at its lowest in 55 years & the unemployment rate at its highest in a decade... teen-agers are suffering a kind of push-down effect of the bad economy: older workers are returning to the job market, the laid-off are settling for jobs they might once have thought beneath them & college students unable to find better work are hanging onto jobs that used to go to high school students, squeezing out the youngest workers... The percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds with jobs is at its lowest since 1948, when the government first started tracking the statistic... The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds, at 19.3% nationwide in June, is rising particularly fast for black teen-agers. But the trouble finding jobs hits across the country, & all demographics. In Portland, OR, teachers with years of experience took jobs as play-ground supervisors in city parks -- positions that traditionally went to college students... Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University here. If the pattern of the past 3 summers holds steady, July & August will not look any better... The teen-age [labor force] participation rate dropped from 51% in 1993 June to 45% this June, & has generally declined since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records in 1948."
Charlie LeDuff _NY Times_
In Los Angeles, Skid Row Resists an UpGrade
"The eastern quarter of down-town Los Angeles is a cattle pen, an out-door out-house, a human calamity. It is the largest concentration of homelessness in the country. Thousands of people in the 50 blocks known as Skid Row live on the sidewalks in tents & card-board condominiums. Thousands more sleep on mission cots, in the back seats of automobiles & in flop-houses. Those who can manage it take hotel rooms with creaking bedsprings that let for $107 a week, plus a $2 deposit for a pillow. A welfare check will buy two weeks in a hotel, an unemployment check will buy three, a Social Security check four. For most, the cash stream dries up in the middle of the month, & then they are back on the street, riding the carousel of misery until a new check arrives. Skid Row has been 100 years in the making, but things are changing in the 'Nickel', the center of homelessness in a city with 41K homeless people, a number that is by all accounts rising... Homelessness is on the rise across the county, experts say. Unemployment is up, housing is scarce, counties & cities are cutting budgets. In New York, the number of people seeking shelter is up 65% since the 2001 September 11 attacks, officials there say. In Chicago, the number of homeless families is up 35% from 2001. But in Los Angeles, the problem is gargantuan. With half the population of New York, it has more people on the streets than New York has in its shelters. An additional 45K people are homeless in greater Los Angeles County. While New York will spend $640M on homeless services this year, Los Angeles will spend just $50M & provide fewer than 13K beds."
2003-07-14 13:38PDT (16:38EDT) (20:38GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks advance for 2nd session
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 57.56 points, or 0.6%, to 9,177.15 after rising as much as 159 points during the trading day. 6 of the Dow's 30 components breached 52-week highs early in the session, including Intel, Citi, American Express & J.P. Morgan Chase. The Nasdaq Composite rallied 20.89 points, or 1.2%, to 1,754.82 to reach a fresh 15-month high while the Nasdaq 100 Index of larger-capitalization stocks sprinted 15.17 points, or 1.2%, to 1,295.74. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index bulked up 0.6%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks firmed 1.1%."
European Welfare for Farmers
"European Union recently took a small, grudging step toward reforming its farm-subsidy policies that undermine the global trading system & cheat farmers in the under-developed world. The one advantage of the move is that it amounts to a welcome admission that the status quo can no longer be justified. It should also serve to spur some changes in the United States & Japan as World Trade Organization members negotiate a further liberalization of trade. Under the new changes, farmers will no longer always be able to greatly increase their subsidies by growing more food. In addition, subsidies to the largest farms will be diverted to 'rural development projects', & payments to farmers will depend partly on environmental criteria... Europe, the United States & Japan have aggressively sought to lower barriers to the flow of manufactured goods & services, & succeeded in forcing onto the trade agenda issues important to them, like foreign investor rights & intellectual property protection. Yet the rich world's reluctance to dismantle market-distorting agricultural policies, like tariffs & subsidies, betrays an unwillingness to make the sacrifices that poorer nations, with less negotiating leverage, have been asked to make in the name of economic orthodoxy... does not address export subsidies. Nor does it cut the overall amount of farm aid the European Union doles out, a staggering $49G a year. Price guarantees for certain commodities also remain in place."
Steve Chapman _Washington Times_
Helping Africa?: Subsidies and trace
Too much information: Experiencing memory over-load? Experts say focus on focus
"One French study estimated if we were fed 10 items of data every second for 100 years, it would only take up one-tenth of our brain's storage capacity. Instead, they say, the most likely problem associated with information overload is loss of focus. Zoming out... Gordon Logan, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN [said], 'The more things we have to remember that are similar to other things, the harder it is to focus on a single item. The bigger the forest, the harder it is to remember a single tree.'... Activating memory requires concentration & practice. If your life is busy, applying steady concentration becomes challenging... at random intervals he & his colleagues interrupted the readers & asked whether they were still on task. He found that over 45 minute periods, people's minds wandered for about 15% to 20% of the time... Other work has shown age & the time of day can also strongly influence how well we focus... Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has found that adults older than 60 are generally much sharper in the early morning hours but their attentions drift by the afternoon. Students in their 20s appear to operate on a reverse clock & are highly distracted in the morning, but better focused in the afternoon... Deborah Burke, a psychologist at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, has done studies showing that people older than 70 had 50% more TOTs [tip of the tongue experiences] than those 35 & under... Names of movies..., cities & other such general knowledge fall under a category called semantic memory. Episodic memory includes recollections of personal experiences like how we spent last summer & procedural memory is the more automatic how-to memory, such as knowing how to drive. Studies show that it's usually episodic & semantic memory that are first affected by age & disease."
Brad Knickerbocker _abc_/_Christian Science Monitor_
Idyllic Aura Fades: Report Shows the NW Lost Economic Ground in the 1990s Boom
"But the region Ernest Callenbach had in mind when he wrote _Ecotopia_ 30 years ago seems to have fallen on hard times: Dot-com collapse in the land that Bill Gates built. The move of Boeing's head-quarters from Seattle to Chicago. The highest unemployment rate in the country. Schools closing weeks early for lack of funds. Even the iconic salmon are dying out... The short answer is that the national economy -- combined with business & tax quirks in Oregon & Washington State -- has hammered an area... Oregon has the highest unemployment rate in the country (8.2%), followed by Washington (tied with Alaska at 7.3%). The list of Seattle-area companies cutting jobs reads like a who's-who of prominent businesses: Boeing, M$, Nordstrom, Alaska Airlines, Weyerhaeuser, AT&T Wireless. Here in Oregon, state officials last week extended emergency unemployment benefits from 13 to 20 weeks... much of the Northwest began feeling the economic decline some years ago. Poverty rose while falling elsewhere, the unemployment rate surpassed the national average...according to a new report by Northwest Environment Watch, a private research organization in Seattle."
2003-07-14 21:01PDT (2003-07-15 00:01EDT) (2003-07-15 04:01GMT)
Russ Britt _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
PG-13: Filmdom's new promised land: Hollywood maximizes profits by adopting middle ground
"In 1999, 8 of the industry's top 20 grossing films in the U.S. were rated PG-13, while seven were rated R. Overall, R-rated films accounted for $3G of the industry's domestic box office, while PG-13 productions took in $2.5G. But three times as many R films were released that year vs. PG-13s. The next year, Hollywood started pouring more money into PG-13s, & eventually those films dominated the box-office charts. In a record-setting year in 2002, 13 of the industry's top 20 films were PG-13s & none were rated R. Overall, PG-13s hauled in $4.5G at U.S. box offices while R films made $2G. The same trends are continuing this year. There still were more R movies released last year, 143 vs. 87 in the PG-13 category. But studio spending on PG-13 productions generally outpaces that of R films... Youths in the 12-to-17 range form a prime category of movie-goers, with 46% of the age group going at least once a month, according to the MPAA. That's nearly double the rate for adults 18 & over, 25% of whom attend films once a month or more. Conversely, the PG rating seems boring & turns off many teens. Many will even sidestep films with the rating regardless of content, industry observers say. And more parents are willing to take younger children to PG-13 films. Industry watchers say Hollywood is pulling out all the stops to shoehorn films into the PG-13 category -- & they're doing it from both ends of the ratings spectrum."
_Americans for Higher Education Reform_
Selling Out America's Future references
"80% of of the graduate students from China currently in the U.S. attended test preparation schools which are now being sued by the ETS... These have been on-going problems since at least 1996. Annually 55K Chinese students take the GRE of the 400K total. Chinese scores in the verbal section jumped 14% in one year (ETS attributes this to cheating)... our universities are using foreign labor on H-1B visas, to educate foreign students on F-1 and J-1 visas. The foreign student program costs the U.S. [tax-victims] $2.5G per year. Over 50% of our graduate students in science and engineering are foreign students... The 500 largest corporations have eliminated almost 5M U.S. jobs between 1980 and 1999. They have tripled their assets and their profits and enlarged their value 8-fold. Technology firms have hired temporary workers at twice the pace of overall employment growth since the 1980s, tens of thousands of [whom] are Asians which are poorly paid and at the mercy of their employer. The combined assets of the Forbes 400 increased from several hundred billion in 1982 to $3T in 2000."
Laura M. Holson _NY Times_
New Tarantino Film to Be Released in 2 Parts
"Harvey Weinstein, a co-founder of Miramax, which is financing the film, said in an interview on Monday that the first installment would be in theaters on October 10. The second release date is in still being negotiated, but it could be two to six months later, he said... Mr. Tarantino spent 155 days shooting the film, well more than planned & longer than usual for most films... When Mr. Tarantino first approached Mr. Weinstein about doing 'Kill Bill' several years ago, it was with the condition that he be allowed to film the whole 200-page script that he had written... Mitigating some of the risk is the movie's price tag, which Mr. Weinstein estimated at more than $55M, not including marketing costs: less than what many block-busters cost because many of the actors worked for union-scale wages & because production costs in [Red China] are lower than in the United States."
Martin Wolk _NBC_
Greenspan says Fed Can cut rates further
"Greenspan found himself the target of tough questions from more conservative members of the House panel as well. Rep. Michael Castle, R-DE, said he was 'increasingly concerned' that highly skilled technology jobs are following manufacturing jobs over-seas, & he wondered where the next generation of job growth is going to come from. 'The answer to the question is, it will happen.', Greenspan said. 'It's a very difficult question to answer because we cannot forecast technology effectively. But what we do know is that if we have a sufficiently flexible labor market & a capital goods market which is functioning appropriately, that jobs will be created.'"
2003-07-15 22:00PDT (2003-07-16 01:00EDT) (2003-07-16 05:00GMT)
_World Net Daily_
UN seeking global gun control: Conference moving toward that would regulate arms owned by private citizens
"A U.N. group is working toward establishment of an international system to register & regulate civilian possession of firearms, according to a former congressman. The ultimate aim of many members of the conference on small arms is to outlaw personal ownership of guns altogether, said Georgia Republican Bob Barr in an interview yesterday on the newly syndicated WorldNetDaily Report with Joseph Farah. Barr was an official representative of the U.S. State Department's delegation at the conference's week-long session last week. It is known officially as the first Biennial Meeting of States on the Implementation of the Program of Action on Small Arms & Light Weapons in All Its Aspects... Barr warned that many member nations, including the UK, Netherlands & India, want to set up a legally binding protocol requiring all U.N. countries to start registration of firearms."
2003-07-16 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Corbett Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US CPI up 0.2% in June: core rate unchanged
"On a year-on-year basis, the CPI was up 2.1%, while the core rate was up 1.5%. For the first 6 months of 2003, U.S. consumer prices have risen at a 2.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate. The core U.S. inflation rate is running at a 0.9% rate for the year."
Marian Burros _NY Times_
Is Organic Food Provably Better?
"And recent preliminary evidence suggests that the levels of certain nutrients, especially vitamin C, some minerals & some polyphenols -- naturally occurring anti-oxidants that may help bolster the immune system -- are higher in organically grown crops... A study in the 2003 January Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found 52% more ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, in frozen organic corn than in conventional corn, & 67% more in corn raised by 'sustainable methods' -- a combination of organic & conventional farming. Polyphenols were significantly higher in organic & sustainable marion-berries [?!] compared to conventionally farmed ones. A 3-year study in Italy, reported in the 2002 August issue of the same journal, found higher levels of polyphenols in organic peaches & pears, & about 8% more ascorbic acid in organic peaches. And a study in the 2002 February European Journal of Nutrition found more salicylic acid in organic vegetable soup than in non-organic soup. Salicylic acid is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin, & bolsters the immune system."
Thom Shanker _NY Times_
US Commander in Iraq Says Troops Facing "a Guerrilla-Type Campaign"
"American troops in Iraq are under attack from 'a classical guerrilla-type campaign' whose fighters, drawn from Saddam Hussein's most unyielding loyalists & foreign terrorist groups, are increasingly organized, the new commander of allied forces in Iraq said today. The commander, general John P. Abizaid, pledged that the United States & its allies would not be driven from Iraq by the guerrilla attacks, which today killed one American soldier & wounded at least 6 others around Baghdad. But he cautioned that pacifying Iraq might require fresh American troops to spend yearlong tours there, double the normal duration of Army forces on peacekeeping duty."
Monica Davey _NY Times_
Illinois Will Require Taping of Homicide Interrogations
"Though he once opposed the idea, governor Rod R. Blagojevich said he would sign a bill on Thursday that would make Illinois the first state to pass legislation requiring police to record their interrogations of homicide suspects... tapes will provide 'clearer, more reliable' evidence for the state's justice system. Even law enforcement officials, some of whom objected strenuously as recently as three years ago to the idea that interviews be recorded, have grown more muted as the politics have shifted here... The police in Minnesota & Alaska & some individual law enforcement agencies around the country already tape interviews with suspects, but Illinois is the first state to pass legislation requiring taping, said Thomas P. Sullivan, a Chicago lawyer who helped lead a commission appointed by Mr. Ryan to over-haul the state's death penalty system. Minnesota & Alaska were required to do so by their state supreme courts... Supporters of taped interrogations say the process protects both police & defendants by creating a simple, clear record for juries & judges of who said what during an investigation. The tapes, these supporters say, would resolve what has become a routine debate during criminal trials between the police, who testify that suspects confessed to crimes, & defendants, who testify that they did not confess, or at least that they did not do so voluntarily. 'Why should we assume that the police remember everything that happened?', asked Yale Kamisar, a law professor at the University of Michigan & the University of San Diego. Opponents of such a measure have argued that a recording requirement could prevent the police from carrying on interviews as they had before, or discourage suspects from speaking openly... Governor Blagojevich must decide on the related bill that would bar executions of mentally retarded people, give defendants more access to DNA evidence & set up a test program for conducting police line-ups."
Victorino Matus _Weekly Standard_
Metal Storm: Rise of the Machines: How one company is creating guns that fire a million rounds per minute & revolutionizing the way we think about weapons.
"A few weeks ago, in between segments about a robot that helps dig through rubble & a mosquito-zapper made by a high schooler at a science fair, CNN's Fredricka Whitfield had this tidbit to offer: 'An Australian inventor has come up with a gun that fires a million rounds per minute [they already have one that fires 90K rounds per minute that they created in conjunction with SAIC]. It's called Metal Storm & it uses electronics to control the blast of projectiles, which can shred a target or throw up a defensive wall against an incoming missile.'... Mike...O'Dwyer's key technological leap concerns the absence of movable parts -- IOW, weapons without locking mechanisms, hammers, firing pins, or ammo clips. Weapons that are fired electronically. Take the O'Dwyer VLE smartgun. It's the world's first completely electronic 'solid state' hand-gun -- the only parts that move are the bullets, stacked directly in the barrels (the model I held had 4 barrels, though the successfully fired prototype is a 7-shot, single-barrel hand-gun). There is no chance of jamming & the safety features include a coded receiver that prevents unauthorized use by children or criminals. The gun can be set to kill (with bullets) or stun (with bean bags) & features 'rapid reload' capability. A recoil barrel allows several bullets to be discharged, one after another, so that you'd feel a kick only after the last shot is fired, thereby improving accuracy. If that isn't enough, the gun can talk... 'The bullets are stacked in a barrel, with each bullet separated by a propellant load, such that the leading propellant can be reliably ignited to fire the bullet, without the resulting high pressure & temperature causing unplanned blowby ignition of the trailing propellant load, & without collapse of the projectile column in the barrel. This unique concept has been accomplished through the invention of a bullet which on the one hand expands & locks in the barrel in response to high pressure immediately in front of the bullet. As a consequence, each bullet in turn can be fired in sequence from the barrel, & an individual barrel tube, loaded with numerous rounds & exclusive of any ammunition feed or ejection system, breech opening, or any mechanical operation whatsoever, when provided with an electric priming system is, in effect, a complete weapon.' (It's no surprise that O'Dwyer currently owns 51 patents.)"
Kissinger says American jobs must not be lost
"When a former US secretary of state of the stature of Dr. Henry Kissinger walks into a technology conference, 10K techies filling up the Ballroom at Mandarin Bay [in Las Vegas, NV] stand & applaud, even before he says anything. When he answers a question about out-sourcing of economic activity, his reply draws a bigger applause from the largely American audience. 'If out-sourcing would continue to the point of stripping the United States of its industrial base, & of the act of getting out its own technology, then it requires really careful thought of national policy & probably create incentives to prevent it from happening... I donít look at this from an economic point of view but the political & social points of view. The question really is whether America can remain a great power or a dominant power if it becomes a primarily service economy, & I doubt that. A country has to have an industrial base in order to play a significant role in the world. And I am concerned from that point of view.' The mood was unambiguous -- American jobs must not be lost."
2003-07-17 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment compensation insurance claims fall to 3-month low
"First-time claims over the past 4 weeks averaged 424K a week in the week ending July 12, down 3,500 from the 427,500 in the previous week, the government agency said Thursday. It's the lowest in 3 months. Initial claims in the most recent week dropped by 29K to 412K. 'This is more a reflection of seasonal factors.', a Labor Department spokesman said."
2003-07-17 08:37PDT (11:37EDT) (15:37GMT)
New software translates the cat's meow
"Japanese toy-maker Takara looks set to herald a new age of communication between humans & felines with a device which converts a cat's meows into human speech. The Meowlingual, a gadget which gives cat owners Dr. Dolittle-like powers of discerning their pets' emotions, will be launched in Japan this November... This announcement comes a year after the firm introduced a similar device -- Bowlingual -- which translates a dog's woofs into words through voice-pattern recognition. Bowlingual consists of a wireless microphone that is attached to the dog's collar & a terminal which analyzes & matches each bark with a set of pre-programmed phrases. The device detects feelings -- including happiness, frustration & sadness -- & displays the associated expressions on the terminal's LCD screen... The cat language translator device has a price tag of 8,800 yen (US$75), significantly less than the 14,800 yen (US$120) dog owners pay for Bowlingual."
2003-07-17 05:54PDT (08:54EDT) (12:54GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
NBER says recession that troughed in 2001 April ended 2001 November
"The business cycle committee at the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that the recession that began in 2001 March ended in 2001 November."
Douglas Heingartner _NY Times_
Shredded Docs Can Be ReConstructed
"Advanced scanning technology makes it possible to reconstruct documents previously thought safe from prying eyes, sometimes even pages that have been ripped into confetti-size pieces. And although a great deal of sensitive information is stored digitally these days, recent corporate scandals have shown that the paper shredder is still very much in use... The expanded battery of techniques [for destroying documents] now includes pulping, pulverizing & chemically decomposing sensitive data... ChurchStreet Technology, already offers a reconstruction service for documents that have been conventionally strip-shredded into thin segments. The company's founder, Cody Ford, says that reports of document shredding in recent corporate scandals alerted him to a gap in the market. 'Within 3 months of the Enron collapse at end of 2001, we had a service out to electronically reconstruct strip shreds.', he said... hand-writing analysis began with accuracy levels of around 50%, & are now at 90% & above... ChurchStreet service can recover up to 70% of a document's content... ChurchStreet, whose clients are mainly law agencies & private law firms, charges roughly $2K to reconstruct a cubic foot of strip-shreds. A cubic foot of shreds is generally less than 100 pages. Mr. Ford said ChurchStreet would soon offer a service to reconstruct cross-shredded documents - that is, those cut in 2 directions - for $8K to $10K per cubic foot. A common standard in cross-shredding is particles one thirty-second by seven-sixteenths of an inch, which results in thousands of grain-like shreds per page."
William Safire _NY Times_
Localism's Last Stand
"Take the force of right-wingers upholding community standards who are determined to defend local control of the public airwaves; combine that with the force of lefties eager to maintain diversity of opinion in local media; add in the independent voters' mistrust of media manipulation; then let all these people have access to their representatives by e-mail & fax, & voil‡!... According to this week's Pew Research poll about the F.C.C. plan (to break the ownership barrier & permit media crossover), 'By roughly 10 to one (70%-6%), those who have heard a lot about the rules change say its impact will be negative.'. Nearly half of those polled had heard about this issue, despite conflicted media coverage. This growing grass-roots grumbling against giantism is getting through to legislators ordinarily cowed by network-owned station managers or wowed by big-media campaign contributions."
Joe Nickell _Missoulian_
Dip in the Cess-Pool
"Missoula's educated, diverse labor market drove an international software company to take a chance on opening a branch here. Tata Consultancy Services is a western Montana odd-ball. A globally distributed information technology (IT) consultancy [body shop, one of the worst] & software-development firm based in India, TCS runs offices in 50 countries & rakes in more than $1G in annual revenues. The company ended up with a Missoula branch after it purchased Apollo Innovative Systems, a local software development firm formerly associated with Combined Benefits Insurance Company & Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana."
Laurie Flynn _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Apple Posts Decline in Profit but Still above Expectations: Revenues Highest in 11 Quarters
"Net income fell 41%, to $19M, or 5 cents a share, in its third quarter, down from $32M, or 9 cents, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 8%, to $1.55G, the highest in 11 quarters. During the spring, Apple said it did not expect to improve upon the $1.47G in sales in the second quarter. The overall results beat analysts' estimates of 3 cents a share on sales of $1.49G, according to Thomson First Call... Apple said it shipped 770K Macintoshes in the quarter, a decline from the comparable quarter last year but an increase over the 711K units the company sold in the second quarter. In June, the company introduced the Power Mac G5, but that system does not start shipping until next month. 'Customer response to our new products has been very strong, & this quarter we are focused on delivering Power Mac G5's beginning in August & finishing Panther for release later this year.', Steven P. Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said in a statement."
Rick Creson _ComputerWorld_
Does out-sourcing offer savings at too high a price?
"Out-sourcing [domestically] and off-shore seem to be the rage these days for companies that want to save money relative to their IT environments. But do they really save money, or do they actually place their businesses in peril? Out-sourcing is effectively paying another organization to take responsibility for certain facets of a company's business. It can work very well for hardware and infrastructure, yet it can be very risky when applications, systems development and systems maintenance are involved... With all of the off-shore work being done today, there are very few success stories. About the only thing that off-shore has truly accomplished is the elimination of significant IT job opportunities in the U.S., thus placing our economy in further peril."
2003-07-17 21:13PDT (2003-07-18 00:13EDT) (2003-07-18 04:13GMT)
Jon Swartz & Jim Hopkins _USA Today_
Tiny signs of life bloom in Silicon Valley
"Glimmer. Hope. Those were 2 words rarely uttered in Silicon Valley in the past 3 years as it suffered its worst down-turn ever... Year-over-year job losses in Santa Clara County -- the heart of the Valley -- are easing. Median home prices, among the highest in the nation, have climbed since April, easing fears of a housing bubble. Stocks of Valley linchpins eBay, Cisco Systems & Yahoo, which took a beating during the Internet bust, are surging again, enriching employees with stock options. Intel, No. 1 chip maker & Silicon Valley stalwart, Tuesday posted an 8% year-over-year quarterly increase in revenue, its biggest in 3 years. In California, tech job listings on-line are up 11% this year, says recruitment site HotJobs... A Valley rebound could have major implications for the nation's economy. Despite the dot-com bust & tech melt-down, the Valley is still home to the biggest concentration of venture capitalists & tech start-ups. That makes it ground zero for tech innovations that then rumble through the economy in terms of productivity & life-style changes, says Scott Anderson, senior economist for Wells Fargo. Last year, VCs pumped a third of their $21.2G into the Valley -- more than in any other region... The June jobless rate in Santa Clara County was 8.5%, far above the national rate of 6.4%... In a recent Goldman survey called 'At Last the Bleeding Stops', tech officers from major companies indicated their 2004 spending budgets will grow 3.5% after declines in 2001 & 2002."
2003-07-18 13:14PDT (16:14EDT) (20:14GMT)
Jon Friedman & Luisa Beltran _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Warner Time AOL to Sell CD-/DVD-Making Unit for $1G
"Warner Time AOL confirmed Friday a deal to sell its CD & DVD manufacturing & distribution business to Cinram International for $1.05G... The transaction with Canada's Cinram is expected to be completed this fall, subject to regulatory reviews in the U.S. & other countries & other customary conditions... The deal includes, among other assets, two factories in Pennsylvania & one in Germany, along with U.S. & European distribution operations. [They are] also expected to announce plans to sell two sport teams in Atlanta...& their arenas to Dallas automobile dealer David McDavid... Warner Music Group, along with its Warner Home Video & New Line Cinema businesses, have entered into long-term agreements under which Cinram will serve as the manufacturer, printer, packager & distributor for these companies' DVDs & CDs in North America & Europe... The company previously announced deals to sell interests in the Comedy Central cable channel to Viacom & in GM Hughes..."
2003-07-18 14:07PDT (17:07EDT) (21:07GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Stocks Stage Hearty Rally
"The major averages halted a 3-day losing streak & the Dow industrials extended its winning stretch to 3 straight weeks, ending up 0.8%. The S&P 500 was off 0.5% on the week & the Nasdaq fell 1.4%... The Dow Jones Industrial Average sprinted 137.33 points, or 1.5%, to 9,188.15, buoyed by gains in McDonald's, Hewlett-Packard, SBC Communications & Caterpillar, which reached a new 52-week high. The Nasdaq Composite ascended 10.48 points, or 0.6%, to 1,708.50 & the Nasdaq 100 Index gained 3.97 points, or 0.3%, to 1,259.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1.2% & the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks piled on 1.1%. The latest data revealed that the U.S. economy is improving, but slowly. The University of Michigan's preliminary July consumer sentiment index rose to 90.3 from June's 89.7. The number was marginally lower compared with economists' estimates for a 90.5 reading... Volume totaled 1.35G on the NYSE & 1.60G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers breezed past decliners by 22 to 10 on the NYSE & by 18 to 13 on the Nasdaq."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Recession Is Over but Jobs Aren't Coming Back
"The recession that began in 2001 March ended 8 months later [November], the National Bureau of Economic Research, an independent group that tracks the business cycle, concluded... 'We've declared victory over the recession, & we're still laying off a couple hundred thousand workers a month.', said Representative Pete Stark of California, ranking Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee. 'If it weren't so painful for so many people who are out of work, it would be hilarious. But it isn't. It's not funny.'... The recession preceding the recent one lasted from 1990 July to 1991 March in the bureau's chronology. A year after it ended, the nation's economy embarked on 6 consecutive months of job growth. This time, 20 months after the recession's formal end, pay-rolls are still shrinking... Jobs have not followed growth, the committee wrote, because of increases in workers' productivity. In fact, Ms. Reaser said, the unemployment rate is unlikely to fall until the economy expands at an annual rate of 3.5% or 4%, the sort of pace attained in only two quarters since the recovery supposedly began. With productivity growing at more than 2% a year, & the labor force growing about 1% a year, she said, the 'hurdle rate' of growth for increasing the share of Americans with jobs cannot be less than 3%."
Jennifer Beauprez _Denver Post_
Tancredo wants to end guest-worker visas
"Special short-term visas... now are robbing U.S. workers of needed employment, according to U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO, the sponsor of a bill that would abolish the controversial H-1B visa program. He wants to end the program - or at least reduce the number of available work permits to 5K per year... Experts estimate about 90K of the permits will be issued this year... Tancredo & the unemployed tech workers backing him argue that tech companies abuse the program to hire foreigners who will work for as little as half of what Americans demand. The H-1B visa program doesn't require companies to attempt to first recruit American workers... HR 2688 was introduced July 9 & assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. Tancredo has not formally asked his colleagues to sign onto the bill, & so far the only co-sponsor is Virginia Republican Rep. Virgil Goode Jr... 'I haven't heard anyone talk about the measure.', said Jeff Lande, vice president of Information Technology Association of America, which represents about 500 major corporations, including M$, Warner Time AOL, Lockheed Martin, Intel & Hewlett-Packard... Tancredo's office estimates that 1.5M H-1B visa holders reside in the country, & as many as 1M Americans [capable of doing those jobs] sit unemployed."
Fawaza A. Gerges _NY Times_
Empty Promises of Freedom
"With President Bush vowing to bring democracy to Iraq & the Middle East, Arab governments have begun professing a new commitment to encouraging democracy. Kings, emirs & dictators alike suddenly appear to have discovered the value of human rights & civil society & are trumpeting initiatives to promote them. The problem is that there remains a huge gap between the rhetoric used by these governments & the reality of their response to peaceful dissidents & opposition groups. For every democratizing action, there's an authoritarian reaction."
David Beckman _WashTech_
Reps Smith & Inslee Request GAO Study on Off-Shore Out-Sourcing
"A Washington state congressman requested a federal study yesterday that would attempt to determine to what extent the rising trend of off-shore out-sourcing is affecting the loss of U.S. tech jobs. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) delivered a written request late Thursday morning to General Accounting Office Comptroller General David Walker in Washington, DC. Smith said in a news release yesterday that he wants the GAO to investigate the impact off-shore out-sourcing has on U.S. high-tech workers, aerospace engineers, & various levels of state & federal government workers whose jobs have been sent off-shore. Fellow Washington state congressman Jay Inslee co-signed the request... But Smith said he is concerned that retraining & educational programs may be training people in the United States for jobs that are being sent over-seas."
2003-07-19 21:01PDT (2003-07-20 00:01EDT) (2003-07-20 04:01GMT)
Phyllis Schlafly _TooGood Reports_/_WeekEnder_
Totalization: Government and Media Discrimination Against American Citizens
"American job hunters have to get their up-to-date employment news from The Economic Times of India? That faraway newspaper carries sensational items that somehow don't make news in the United States. The Economic Times published a report that the Bush Administration, speaking through U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, has assured India that its workers who come to the United States on H-1B visas will receive [Socialist Insecurity] benefits even though they don't comply with the rules American workers must meet. The Economic Times of India reported that India's Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley said in Washington, DC that Zoellick 'gave him the assurance', and that Jaitley also met with Commerce Secretary Bob Evans who presumably confirmed this assurance. Since the article was datelined out of Washington on June 14, it is all the more remarkable that we didn't hear about this on U.S. networks. In order for you and me to receive [Socialist Insecurity] benefits, we have to pay taxes into the system for 10 years or 40 quarters. Those who come here from India on H-1B visas are allowed to work here for 3 years and get one 3-year extension, for a total of 6 years -- but that's not 10 years!... Totalization makes sense only if you understand that the goal is to force U.S. tax-payers to subsidize the scandalous practice whereby multinational corporations hire cheap-labor foreign replacements for American workers. This makes even better sense when you understand that the big contributors to politicians are corporations and their executives, not U.S. workers who are laid off. A second India-based news source, Rediff.com, reported another comment by Minister Jaitley at that same Washington event. He said that Zoellick promised India (and Jaitley said he quoted Zoellick's exact words) that 'the federal government opposes it and is trying to resist it'. 'It' refers to the [bills] by New Jersey and some other states to ban the out-sourcing of taxpayer-paid services to foreign countries."
US a Place of Miracles for Somali Refugees
"State Department statistics show that Africans made up 3% of the refugees resettled in the United States in the 1990 fiscal year. By 2001, that figure was nearly 30%... The pace of refugee resettlement has slowed sharply since the attacks of 2001 September 11. Thousands of refugees are awaiting security clearance because they are fleeing countries like Somalia & Sudan, which have been accused of sheltering terrorists. Even so, State Department officials say they hope to resettle more than 1K Somali Bantu by September 30. Families have arrived in Houston, Salt Lake City, Nashville, St. Louis, Rochester, Concord, NH, & other cities like Tucson, where the cost of living is relatively low & entry-level jobs are available... the International Organization for Migration began familiarizing them with English, American culture & modern appliances while they waited in the Kakuma camp in Kenya... 'I want to work.', he said. 'I want to learn English. I want to leave all my problems behind in Kenya.' His enthusiasm is clear, but challenges await him... Nationally, these officials say, more than half of refugees find some form of work within 6 months. Here, 4 Somali Bantu adults arrived 7 weeks before the Yarrow family. Of those, 2 have found full-time jobs that pay $6.75 an hour & include health benefits, as house-keepers at a local hotel. Officials at the International Rescue Committee say such progress is common. From the beginning, instructors prepare refugees with English classes, interview skills & job training, along with lessons about how to shop, where to bank & how the local bus system works. These lessons are crucial. Refugees here receive assistance from the federal government for four months. After that, they are expected to support themselves. Needy families can continue to receive federal refugee assistance for several months & more from the state after that, but that is discouraged."
The Rigged Trade Game
"But meanwhile, struggling African cotton farmers are forced to compete with products from affluent American agribusinesses whose rock-bottom prices are made possible by as much as $3G in annual subsidies. Sugar producers in Africa are stymied by the European Union's insistence on subsidizing beet sugar production as part of a wasteful farming-welfare program that gobbles up half its budget. Instead of making any gains, the Philippines has lost hundreds of thousands of farming jobs since joining the W.T.O. Its modest agricultural trade surpluses of the early 1990s have turned into deficits... The United States, Europe & Japan funnel nearly $1G a day to their farmers in tax-payer subsidies. These farmers say they will not be able to stay in business if they are left at the mercy of wildly fluctuating prices & are forced to compete against people in places like the Philippines, who are happy to work in the fields for a dollar a day. So the federal government writes out checks to Iowa corn farmers to supplement their income, & at times insures them against all sorts of risks assumed by any other business. This allows American companies to then profitably dump grain on international markets for a fraction of what it cost to grow, courtesy of the taxpayer, often at a price less than the break-even point for the impoverished third-world farmers. If all else fails, wealthy nations simply throw up trade barriers to lock out foreign commodities... The United States & Europe have mastered the art of forcing open poor nations' economies to imported industrial goods & services. But they are slow to reciprocate when it comes to farming, where poorer nations can often manage, in a fair game, to compete... European Union cows net an average of $2 apiece in government subsidies. Japan, a country that prospered like no other by virtue of its ability to gain access to foreign markets for its televisions & cars, retains astronomical rice tariffs. The developed world's $320G in farm subsidies last year dwarfed its $50G in development assistance. President Bush's pledge to increase foreign aid was followed by his signing of a farm bill providing $180G in support to American farmers over the next decade... According to International Monetary Fund estimates, a repeal of all rich-country trade barriers & subsidies to agriculture would improve global welfare by about $120G. An uptick of only 1% in Africa's share of world exports would amount to $70G a year, some 5 times the amount provided to the region in aid & debt relief... Since the Philippines joined the W.T.O. 8 years ago, American corn growers have received an astonishing $34.5G in [tax-victim] support, according to an analysis of government data by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group. This helps explain how America is able to export -- the less polite word in the patois of trade would be dump -- corn at only two-thirds its cost of production."
2003-07-20 21:03PDT (2003-07-21 00:03EDT) (2003-07-21 04:03GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Job out-look grim for teens
"U.S. teen-agers faced with high unemployment rates & stringent school requirements are taking a pass on the job market in record numbers. In June, 53% of teens were working or looking for work, the lowest number since the Bureau of Labor Statistics first collected data in 1948... Teens' unemployment rate was 19.3% in June, compared with the overall U.S. rate of 6.4%, according to the BLS. Still, the teen rate hit 24.1% for 2 months in 1983, its highest level since 1948... Last July, 33.3% of teens were enrolled in school, up from 19.5% in 1994 July... Most college students who couldn't find work elsewhere often took over the retail jobs teen-agers usually seek, & when the college students head back to school, that may open up some opportunities for high-school-aged job-seekers, he said. Still, to find work in these times requires tenacity, as adults are increasingly moving in on jobs once reserved for teens, such as fast-food & retail services, Sum said."
2003-07-21 10:33PDT (13:33EDT) (17:33GMT)
David Weidner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Will Wall Street's merger chill thaw?: M&A still off 2002 pace
"Global mergers & acquisitions were off 10% for the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to a report released Monday by Dealogic... Companies announced 10,865 deals valued at a combined $705G in the first 6 months of 2003, compared to 14,300 & $781G in the first half of 2002... 'If your competitor does a deal, then there's a feeling you may be missing an opportunity.' And that would be good news to pared & scuffling investment bankers. Fees paid to financial advisersfell to $4.65G from $5.5G the same period the previous year. Fees in the Americas slipped 19% to $2.1G. U.S. M&A fell 20% to $213G in deal value on 3,407 announced transactions... Debt under-writing continued to drive investment banking. Total volume jumped 19% to $1.74T in the first half 2003. Fees from debt under-writing jumped 25%. In the Americas, volume for high yield bonds soared 70% to $69G & under-writing fees jumped 78% to $1.65G. Equity offerings -- including initial public offerings, secondary offerings & convertibles -- declined 21% to $177G. Fees fell 26% to $4.92G from $6.61G the same period last year. Syndicated lending, jumbo corporate loans shared by banks, declined 2.4% to $1.01T compared to $1.04T in the first half of 2002."
David D. Kirkpatrick _NY Times_
Amazon Plan Would Allow Searching Texts of Many Non-Fiction Books
"Executives at Amazon.com are negotiating with several of the largest book publishers about an ambitious & expensive plan to assemble a searchable on-line archive with the texts of tens of thousands of books of non-fiction, according to several publishing executives involved. Amazon plans to limit how much of any given book a user can read, & it is telling publishers that the plan will help sell more books while better serving its own online customers."
William Safire _NY Times_
"Saddam Hussein is waging 'a classical guerrilla-type campaign', says general John Abizaid, the new head of the U.S. Central Command, which is 'getting more organized' every day. What can the deposed dictator hope to accomplish? How can he, with a rag-tag force of Baathist criminals & imported killers with nothing to lose, possibly defeat 170K occupying troops? Saddam out-foxed one President Bush & intends to out-fox & out-last another. Facing the likelihood that his army would disintegrate under direct assault, he probably decided that the mother of all battles against a democracy is a war of attrition... This above all: to end guerrilla war in Iraq, find Saddam Hussein & his ghostly crew. Those he terrorized must be assured the tyrant will never come back."
Philip K. Howard _NY Times_
The Best Course of Treatment
"Lose-lose is perhaps the best way of describing the sorry state of justice in American health care. Doctors are going on strike & even quitting because of ruinous increases in liability premiums. Patients aren't doing so well, either: thousands die annually because of simple slip-ups, & no one seems to be able to revoke the licenses of inept physicians... Doctors & patients aren't natural enemies. They've been driven apart by an unreliable system of justice that tolerates both abusive claims & bad care, breeding distrust on both sides... Most doctors who make mistakes don't get sued. But most law-suits are against doctors who did nothing wrong; the cases involve human tragedy but not medical negligence... Law is the foundation of freedom in part because it provides guide-posts of right & wrong."
Jennifer Barrett _NewsWeek_
Wrongful Termination Suits Up
"Faced with dismal job prospects, a growing number of disgruntled ex-employees are filing wrongful termination suits & asking for more money from former employers... He [an ex-CFO] turned down the 7-month severance offer & joined a growing number of job-cut victims -- many of them white-collar workers -- who have turned to the courts instead. Forgoing the traditional severance package & job search, they are instead focusing their efforts, & often their money, into pursuing wrongful termination law-suits & negotiating more lucrative severance settlements. The number of employment cases involving civil rights filed in federal court more than doubled from 1992 to 1996 to more than 23K (the most recent figures available), & has continued to grow since then, according to the Insurance Information Institute. AIG Insurance says that overall claims of employment practice violations -- which include sexual harassment, breach of contract as well as discrimination -- have doubled in the past few years. And monetary awards for employment-related claims have jumped about 290%, according to Genesis Insurance Company. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports a similar rise in complaints filed. Last year, workers filed nearly 84,500 job discrimination complaints against their employers with the-the highest number in 7 years... Sure, thatís easy to say when youíre a lawyer representing the multi-million-dollar company that fired him. But to many laid-off workersóparticularly those whoíd grown used to a 6-figure salary & the life-style that accompanies it -- calling a lawyer can seem a better alternative than pounding the pavement in a dismal job market. Even among those not quarreling with the fact that they were let go, many are now pushing claims that they are owed more in their severance packages, says Judith Keys, a labor & employment lawyer at Morris & Foerster in San Francisco... The largest increases in discrimination complaints in 2002 were for age discrimination, with about 20K complaints filed, up 14.5% from the previous year, followed by national origin (about 9K complaints, up 13%), & religious beliefs (about 2,600, up 21%). While more than half of the overall discrimination complaints resolved in 2002 were dismissed for lack of reasonable cause, the EEOC obtained $257.7M in benefits for those whose discrimination cases had merit-more than twice as much as it had collected in 1992 & more than any year since... Most cases stem from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which has been around for nearly four decades. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was enacted in 1967 but the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed just 13 years ago. Then the Civil Rights Act of 1991 strengthened civil rights laws to provide for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination."
A Tomato a Day Keeps Heart Disease Away
"Just one serving a day of tomato-based foods such as pizza or tomato sauce could lower your risk for heart disease by as much as 30%, contends a new Harvard study... study author Howard Sesso, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health & Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston... Sesso & his colleagues reviewed the diets of approximately 40K women from the ongoing Women's Health Study, which was begun 11 years ago to follow women who, at the time, were free from cancer & cardiovascular disease. Controlling for factors such as age, family history, smoking status & other health indicators, they found that women who consumed seven or more servings of tomato-based foods a week -- including tomato juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce or pizza -- had a nearly 30% reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease compared with women who ate less than one & one-half servings a week. The study was sparked by research that has shown a connection between an increase in the diet of the anti-oxidant lycopene & a reduction in risk for prostate cancer, Sesso says. Since tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, he & his colleagues were interested to learn if the same anti-oxidant qualities, when eaten in tomatoes, might also lower heart disease risk. Interestingly, however, when the researchers tabulated the result, the lycopene in-take itself was not significantly associated with reduced heart disease risk. However, when they looked at food intake, as measured by self-reported servings, there was a clear cardio-vascular benefit for those who consumed the tomato-based products on a regular basis... The finding appears in the July issue of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences."
Downwardly Mobile: More and More Professionals Forced To Take Low-Paying Jobs
"Now they are among the [more than] 4.6M Americans considered under-employed. Many are middle-class workers who saw their manufacturing and high-tech jobs vanish in the recession... In his basement, D scrolled through his list of the thousands of companies he's contacted looking for work. He has sent out 7K rÈsumÈs so far. Not one of them has resulted in a job offer... 'If my car breaks down, or if my daughter gets sick, if anything happens out of the norm, I'm done.', B said."
Pender M. McCarter _IEEE USA_
500K US IT Jobs Projected to Move Over-Seas by Year-End 2004
"One-half million jobs, or 10% of the U.S. information technology (IT) professionals currently working in IT services firms, will be displaced in the next 18 months as their jobs move overseas, according to Gartner, Inc., the Stamford, CT-based research firm. The Gartner projection, in a July 15 research note by Diane Morello, would bring total IT job losses to 1M, when added to the 500K IT professionals estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to have lost their jobs in the United States since 2001. In addition, Gartner urged business executives not to 'trivialize' the impact of off-shore out-sourcing on their businesses and employees, stating that executives should pay attention to the loss of future talent and intellectual assets, as well as the potential negative impact of out-sourcing on organizational performance."
2003-07-22 12:27PDT (15:27EDT) (19:27GMT)
Mark Gogloff _CNN_/_Money_
US jobs jump ship
"As painful as the labor market has been lately, what's even more painful is that many of the 2.5M jobs lost in the past few years are never coming back. That's because US employers in a wide range of industries are moving more & more jobs over-seas... US imports of busines, professional & tech services, as a percentage of total private service imports, have more than doubled since 1990 [from about 2% to about 5%]... 'By 2004, more than 80% of US executive board-rooms will have discussed off-shore sourcing, & more than 40% of U.S. enterprises will have completed some type of pilot or will be sourcing IT (information technology) services.', Gartner Inc., a technology consulting firm, said in a study late last year... A February survey of 145 US companies by consultant Forrester Research found that 88% of the firms that look over-seas for services claimed to get better value for their money off-shore while 71% said off-shore workers did better quality work... Imports of business services account for less than 0.05% of gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economy... At the least, it's not doing much to end the longest US labor-market slump since World War II. More than 9.3M people are unemployed, giving employed workers less leverage when seeking a raise. As a result, wage & salary growth has begun to slow, threatening consumer spending, which fuels more than two-thirds of the economy... What's more, some IT professionals & immigrant groups complain that US employers manipulate H-1B & L1 visas, which let college-educated people from over-seas work in the United States temporarily. They're supposed to be paid a 'prevailing wage', but many employers pay them as little as possible. With such cheap labor available right here in the United States, there's even less reason for IT wages to rise."
2003-07-22 12:59PDT (15:59EDT) (19:59GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Saddam Hussein's 2 Sons Killed
"The 2 sons of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein were killed during an early Tuesday morning raid on a home in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, U.S. military leaders said in Baghdad. 'We are certain that Uday & Qusay (Hussein) were killed today.', Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters in Baghdad... The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 16 points, or 0.2%, to 9,112. The Nasdaq jumped 17 points, or 1%, to 1,698. The S&P 500 added 16 points, or 1%, to 983."
2003-07-22 13:16PDT (16:16EDT) (20:16GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Stocks Rise on News of Death of Saddam Hussein's Sons: Tech rebounds, financials gain, but Dow falls
"U.S. stocks rose Tuesday amid a series of positive earnings reports & as the government confirmed that Saddam Hussein's sons were killed by coalition troops in a firefight in Iraq. U.S. military officials said the bodies of two men killed in a 6-hour shootout in the northern city of Mosul are those of Odai & Qusai, Nos. 2 & 3 on the most wanted list following former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein... The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61 points, or 0.7% , at 9,158. The Nasdaq jumped 24 points, or 1.5%, to 1,706. The S&P 500 added 9 points, or 1%, to 988. Advancing stocks out-paced decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by 19 to 14, while trading volume came in at 1.4G shares. On the Nasdaq, advancers led decliners by 21 to 11, with volume at 1.7G shares..."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
IBM Explores Shift of White-Collar Jobs Over-Seas
"American corporations under increasing pressure to cut costs & build global supply networks, 2 senior I.B.M. officials told their corporate colleagues around the world in a recorded conference call that I.B.M. needed to accelerate its efforts to move white-collar, often high-paying, jobs over-seas even though that might create a back-lash among politicians & its own employees. During the call, I.B.M's top employee relations executives said that 3M service jobs were expected to shift to foreign workers by 2015 & that I.B.M. should move some of its jobs now done in the United States, including software design jobs, to India & other countries... off-shoring. In decades past, millions of American manufacturing jobs moved over-seas, but in recent years the movement has also shifted to the service sector, with everything from low-end call center jobs to high-paying computer chip design jobs migrating to [Red China], India, the Philippines, Russia & other countries. Executives at I.B.M. & many other companies argue that creating more jobs in lower cost locations over-seas keeps their industries competitive, holds costs down for American consumers, helps to develop poorer nations while supporting overall employment in the United States by improving productivity & the nation's global reach... But in recent weeks many politicians in Washington, including some in the Bush administration, have begun voicing concerns about the issue during a period when the economy is still weak & the information-technology, or I.T., sector remains mired in a long slump. At a Congressional hearing on June 18, Bruce P. Mehlman, the Commerce Department's assistant secretary for technology policy, said, 'Many observers are pessimistic about the impact of off-shore I.T. service work at a time when American I.T. workers are having more difficulty finding employment, creating personal hardships & increasing demands on our safety nets.' Forrester Research , a high-technology consulting group, estimates that the number of service sector jobs newly located over-seas, many of them tied to the information technology industry, will climb to 3.3M in 2015 from about 400K this year. This shift of 3M jobs represents about 2% of all American jobs... Forrester also estimated that 450K computer industry jobs could be transferred abroad in the next 12 years, representing 8% of the nation's computer jobs. For example, Oracle, a big maker of specialized business software, plans to increase its jobs in India to 6K from 3,200, while M$ plans to double the size of its software development operation in India to 500 by late this year. Accenture, a leading consulting firm, has 4,400 workers in India, [Red China], Russia & the Philippines... 'Once those jobs leave the country, they will never come back.', said Phil Friedman, chief executive of Computer Generated Solutions, a 1,200-employee computer software company. 'If we continue losing these jobs, our schools will stop producing the computer engineers & programmers we need for the future.'... The I.B.M. executives also warned that when workers from China come to the United States to learn to do technology jobs now being done here, some American employees might grow enraged about being forced to train the foreign workers who might ultimately take away their jobs... General Electric has thousands of workers in India in call center, research & development efforts & in information technology. Peter Stack, a G.E. spokesman..."
Howard Adamsky _Electronic Recruiting Exchange_
The Excruciating Job of Being a Recruiter in This Economy
"As Kris Maher, a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, reported in a July 8 article, 'Last year alone, some 500 head-hunting firms -- about 10% of the industry -- went under, according to consultants at Kennedy Information... Heidrick & Struggles International, one of the world's biggest head-hunters, laid off 1K people, 40% of its global staff, in the 12 months ended 2002 April.'... My conversations with recruiters remind me of how difficult it is to hire the right person for the job, assure role fit, & support not only the organization's strategic objectives but the details of tactical recruiting on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, as a result of the down-turn, recruiters increasingly have to deal with the misguided notion that because they can now cull through six hundred resumes for each job posting, they will somehow find that elusive perfect candidate (really now, did you ever meet the perfect candidate?). Most recruiters I know are somewhat frayed around the edges, feeling unappreciated & generally hoping those they support will work more effectively with them in ways that make their job more manageable, &, as a result, more successful... Advertising a position can be a dangerous thing to do today. If you spend corporate dollars on the advertisement, you will be expected to screen all of the resumes in a prudent & comprehensive manner as you look for the 'perfect' candidate. This is not a fun endeavor. Before you hit the boards, I suggest that you tap into your own employee referral program big time & start doing some networking on your own as well. In many cases you will be able to come up with several excellent candidates who can perform the job function effectively. This is the essence of quality recruiting... If you have presented 15 candidates -- or worse, if the hiring manager has interviewed 15 candidates & does not like any of them -- something is wrong..."
Elizabeth Millard _ComputerUser_
Getting training down to a science: IT job seekers are going after medical & scientific certifications
Bill Virgin _Seattle Post Intelligencer_
Americans resigned to migration of jobs over-seas
"It was in the midst of a business profile, written 8 years ago by yours truly, that a spokesman for Mackie Designs Inc. explained one of the reasons why the Woodinville company had been such a success in the making of mixers & other audio components. Every fourth or fifth buyer-response card the company received, the spokesman said, mentioned the fact that Mackie mixers were American-made... Mackie announced Friday that it is terminating manufacturing at its Woodinville plant, & terminating 201 employees who were doing the manufacturing. Mackie plans to out-source the work, with much of it going to -- where else? -- [Red China]... Mackie's was merely the latest in a long & depressing series of announcements of late in which American jobs are sent over-seas, likely never to return. In fact that may be the dominant, overarching theme of this economic down-turn... But the trend is starting to eat away at what had been thought of as the last few bastions of American manufacturing prowess... Nor is the trend limited to "old economy" industries. The migration of software jobs already has been well-documented. Last week, this column opined that cities are lusting after biotech because it's the one industry we haven't yet shipped to [Red China] & India. Nice try, responded a reader, but it's already happening in biotech, too... Never mind the loss of control of technology or production know-how or ancillary jobs, or the broader implication to the economy of losing high-wage jobs. Those who acknowledge any problem at all might argue that they've got no choice. Retaining higher-wage domestic manufacturing jobs may be noble, may be kind to those who have those jobs, may even be in everyone's best long-term interests. Make that very long-term. Unilateral disarmament in the race to cut costs is a short-term recipe for extinction... So what might work?... Some examples: enacting draconian regulations & financial penalties on the export of jobs & technology. Enacting similarly draconian requirements on local content & strict limitations on importation of goods. Waiting for wage rates in [Red China] & India to rise so much that the cost advantage of moving work to those countries is wiped out. Pounding the dollar's value down, to produce the same effect. Over-hauling taxes & regulation to make sure entrepreneurship & innovation aren't being discouraged. Jaw-boning with our trading 'partners', corporate executives & consumers on why this issue matters."
Eric Schmitt Thom Shanker _NY Times_
With Saddam Hussein's Heirs Gone Hopes Rise for End to Guerrilla Attacks
"The deaths of Saddam Hussein's 2 eldest sons in a battle with American troops in northern Iraq could be an important victory in the campaign to control, & even end, the guerrilla-style insurgency that has almost daily killed or injured allied troops, administration & military officials said today. The attack that killed Qusay & Uday Hussein could set off an immediate wave of retribution attacks, officials said, but the deaths should also embolden more Iraqis to come forward with critical information to energize the American military's anti-guerrilla operations. Evidence of the deaths, the officials said, will allow them to make the most convincing case that senior leaders of the Hussein government would never return to power -- & that Iraqis need no longer fear openly supporting the United States."
Dan Haar _Hartford Courant_
Manufacturers Fighting a Tidal Wave: Alliance Members Rallying To Stem Job Losses
"Like angry union workers, the state's spring-makers, stampers, platers, molders, precision machine shops, eyelet people and many assorted other firms are rising up against the tide of work rushing out of this country. They cannot stop the flood that has swept 2.6M manufacturing jobs - 32K in Connecticut - into oblivion since the middle of 2000... But they won't watch the down-fall of the once-mighty sector of small and mid-size factories, the real and mythical backbone of American commerce, without a fight... They're upset about what they say is unfair competition from [Red China], and official U.S. appeasement. They're upset about large U.S.-based companies, retailers such as WM as well as auto and aerospace manufacturers, reneging on contracts in favor of cheaper Asian firms... For example, the coalition wants U.S. policy-makers to force [Red China] to let its currency float in value. As it stands now, the Chinese renminbi, pegged to the dollar, is widely believed to be too low by 50% or more. 'This provides them a kind of subsidy, a kind of protection.', said University of Connecticut economist Fred Carstensen, an economic historian. But if Chinese consumers don't rise up in opposition because they can't afford to buy goods and services -- hard to do without a democracy in place -- there's only so much prodding the rest of the world can do... they want enforcement of existing copyright and patent laws. Everyone in manufacturing, it seems, can tell a story about a company whose product was knocked off -- copied illegally -- by a foreign factory. They want the military to spend most or all of its money on weapons and systems made in the United States. They want more consumer-friendly rules on product labeling, including a way to show exactly what percentage of a product is made in the United States."
Science and engineering are for losers
"Twenty years ago, the NSF came out with the famous report that the US was going to run out of scientists. This lie was repeated, even more forcefully in 1989, when the NSF predicted a 'shortfall' of 675K sci/eng students. The government promptly went into social engineering mode, and grand campaigns (and graduate funding programs) were instituted to ensure the USA wouldn't run out. Guess what? The faculty retirements never happened, people went into sci/eng and for the past 15 years, we've been running around with a huge glut of sci/eng (along with hordes of imported sci/engs)."
Paul Craig Roberts _V Dare_
Globalism plus Out-Sourcing Equals American Dispossession
2003-07-22 21:01PDT (2003-07-23 00:01EDT) (2003-07-23 04:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Budget benefit: Employers offer some debt-management aid
"Few employers offer even that help: About 20% of U.S. companies offer some type of financial-advice resource, & much of that is related to managing 401(k) investments rather than more basic budget instruction. But more employers are beginning to seek options to aid their workers. 'Companies are starting to understand that when their employees are stressed financially, it affects their work productivity.', said Kirk Watkins, chief executive of E-Duction, Inc., a company that produces pay-roll-deduction cards that work like interest-free credit cards. Making financial education easier to obtain could be a boon to employers: 15% of workers have financial problems & of those, one third spend 20 hours at work each month addressing those issues, Garman said. It also might help to make the information easier to find, some say. Often, employers bury the details in pamphlets about the mental-health benefits in an Employee Assistance Program or in the legal-services benefit information... With workers facing low or nonexistent salary raises & shouldering a bigger share of health-care costs, it makes sense employers offer more help budgeting an ever-shrinking paycheck, said Joanne Budde, president of BALANCE, a San Francisco-based company that produces a financial fitness program for employers to use... Employers who have yet to offer help with personal finances may want to wake up & smell the panic. ComPsych, an employee assistance program provider, has seen a 58% increase in the past year in phone calls from employees seeking financial advice."
2003-07-22 23:30PDT (2003-07-23 02:30EDT) (2003-07-23 06:30GMT) (2003-07-23 07:30London)
Eating pizza could help stop cancer
"A special chemical in tomatoes - the one which makes them bright red -- might help stop cancer developing, scientists reckon. They claim eating pizza -- which has loads of tomatoes in it [except in California] -- can help reduce the risk of getting throat, stomach & mouth cancer. Their research showed people who ate pizza at least once a week had less chance of getting cancer than those that didn't."
2003-07-23 06:41PDT (09:41EDT) (13:41EDT)
India back-lash to last 2 years
"Gartner principal analyst Rolf Jester, quoted in the India-based Business Standard news daily, said the current unhappiness felt by U.S. workers and politicians about IT jobs being relocated to India will ebb as the global economy improves and unemployment levels decrease." [Gartner's wrong again...jgo]
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Can there be too much IT off-shore out-sourcing?
"Sending software development work to lower-cost locations over-seas is vital for profits, software company leaders & industry advisers said on Monday... The software industry's use of cheaper over-seas labor is part of a broader trend of exporting IT work & other business tasks abroad. It's a heated topic, with unemployment rising for U.S.-based computer scientists & mathematicians, & questions emerging about the United States losing its technical leadership. At software company Manugistics, for example, the use of about 100 developers in India has corresponded with a cut in the number of U.S. developers from roughly 450 to about 275, CEO Greg Owens told the conference audience."
_KHQA Keokuk, IL_
"Eating Italian pizza on a regular basis might lower your odds of getting certain cancers, new research suggests. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer finds people who ate pizza at least once a week were less likely to develop cancers involving the digestive tract than people who did not eat pizza. In addition, for most types of cancer, the risk dropped steadily the more often pizza was consumed. Some 3K patients were involved in the nine year study."
2003-07-23 12:31PDT (15:31EDT) (19:31GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Where's my child tax credit?
"Over the next 2 weeks, the Internal Revenue Service is sending checks of up to $400 per child to an estimated 25M families under the tax law signed in May. The payments represent an approved hike in the child tax credit for children 16 & younger to a maximum $1K from the current $600. Tax-payers will get the $400 increase immediately & the remaining $600 when they file their 2003 returns next year."
2003-07-23 14:48PDT (17:48EDT) (21:48GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Federal Reserve officials confident GDP will pick up but job market may not
"job growth won't pick up for quite some time, & that prices will stay dangerously low -- no matter how strong economic growth is in the next several months... growth will pick up substantially in the second half of the year, fueled by tax cuts, low interest rates, a weaker dollar & other factors... Then Fed Governor Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of the nation's economy, could grow at a 3% rate the rest of this year & a 4% rate next year, but he added that the unemployment rate would still be as high as 6% by the end of 2004... Core CPI has fallen from 2.3% in June 2002 to 1.5% in last month, & the core PCE index has fallen from 1.7% in 2002 May to 1.2% in 2003 May, the latest data available."
2003-07-23 16:02PDT (19:02EDT) (23:02GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks clowe higher
"U.S. stocks closed higher Wednesday, as positive earnings statements from Eastman Kodak & Amazon.com helped the market overcome disappointing results from companies such as Sun Microsystems & Warner Time AOL... The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 36 points or 0.4. to 9,194. The Nasdaq jumped 13 points or 0.8. at 1,719. The broad S&P 500 rose 0.5 points to 988.61. Almost every sector participated in the afternoon rally. Internet, drugs, metals & technology shares gained the most ground. Computer hardware, oil services, airlines & networking stocks suffered... Advancing shares slightly outnumbered declining issues on both the New York Stock Exchange & the Nasdaq. Volume was mild at 1.3G shares on the NYSE & 1.9G on the Nasdaq... Individual investors are getting less bearish, according to a survey conducted by the Conference Board & released Wednesday. The number of individuals who say the current investment climate is 'bad' fell to 56% from 62% 6 months ago, the board said. The percentage who expect a better investment climate over the next 6 months improved to 26% from 24%. 22% plan to invest in stocks in the next 6 months, up from 21%."
Reed Abelson _NY Times_
Fewer Retirees Get Drug Coverage from Employers
"The number of people retiring with health insurance from their employers has dropped significantly since 1996, according to a new study, leaving many recent retirees without coverage for prescription drugs. The study, which was conducted from interviews of Medicare beneficiaries 65 to 69 years old, appears today on the web site of Health Affairs, an academic journal. While the overall percentage of Medicare beneficiaries with employer-sponsored coverage has remained relatively steady, according to the study, the percentage of younger Medicare beneficiaries with coverage fell to 39% in 2000 -- the most recent information available -- from 46% in 1996."
Leslie Wayne _NY Times_
Butting Heads with the Pentagon
"So there is considerable dismay, & some out-right consternation, over sweeping 'buy America' provisions that [Duncan] Hunter [Chairman of the House Armed Services committee] inserted into the House version of legislation authorizing the coming year's Pentagon budget. Countries that failed to help the United States in the Iraq war, he argues, should not enjoy the spoils of American military contracts or put the Pentagon in a position of depending on them for critical components. That view has set Mr. Hunter on a collision course with his many friends at the Pentagon & among American military contractors that buy everything from micro-processors to jet engines & air-plane wings over-seas. Mr. Hunter's proposal would cut back sharply on the foreign content allowed in American military goods as well as provide a laundry list of items -- from fuses to machine tools to airplane tires -- that only American companies could supply. Opposition to Mr. Hunter's proposal is so fierce that the defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, has said he will recommend that President Bush veto the entire $400G 2004 Pentagon budget if Mr. Hunter does not back down... 'If the American worker is going to pay for the defense of the free world.', Mr. Hunter said in an interview, 'he should participate fully in the manufacture of military goods. This is a warning shot, a red flag. We need to have domestic sources for critical military components. No one argues with that. We just differ in the details.'... The F-16 fighter jet, made by Lockheed Martin almost exclusively for export, draws parts from dozens of countries... 'It's hard to oppose someone you like. That's made it difficult for everyone.', said John W. Douglass, chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association, which represents big contractors. 'It's so awkward. We're so torn.' The military industry instead is taking its case to John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Some 25 top executives of military contractors -- among them Boeing, Lockheed & Raytheon -- met with Senator Warner last week to lobby in what they felt was a more sympathetic forum... The machine tool provisions alone -- replacing foreign with American tooling -- would cost $7G to $10G in the next 5 years or so, the analysis estimated. Some military production lines would have to be shut down, it said, costing 46K jobs until domestic machine tool capacity increased. At one Raytheon plant in Texas, for instance, 95% of the machine tools used to assemble missiles are foreign made."
2003-07-24 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Unemployement Compensation Insurance Claims Lowest Since February
"Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell to a nearly 6-month low in the latest week, the Labor Department said. Initial claims in the most recent week dropped by 29K to stand at 386K, the lowest level since the week ended February 8. In the week ended July 19, seasonally adjusted first-time claims over the past 4 weeks averaged 419,250, down 5,500 from the previous week, the government agency said... The 4-week average for new claims has been above 400K for the past 21 weeks."
Jennifer Dixon _Detroit Free Press_
Fire-storm over foreign workers: In Alabama, Eastern Europeans are helping to expand a Mercedes-Benz plant. Are they reaching for the American dream? Or are they taking jobs from needy Americans?
"The men are among those building the portion where luxury vehicles will be painted, clocking as many as 65 hours, & as many as 7 days a week, on the job. Their take-home pay, according to them: the equivalent of $1,100 a month. But Piotr & Piotr, Jerzy & &rzej, Stanislaw & Edward do not complain. Things could be worse. They could be back home in Poland earning just a fourth of what they make in the United States. A spokeswoman for Mercedes says the men of Apt. 1404 & dozens like them are in the country legally, on visas that permit them to work at the plant because they are installing a highly specialized paint system... But union officials question whether the visas were obtained under false pretenses. They say the Polish men are doing the same work as any skilled U.S. pipe fitter or sheet-metal worker, & that the Poles, along with men from elsewhere in Eastern Europe & Britain, were imported just because they are cheap labor. A member of Congress is investigating the visas, while the federal Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement says the men's B1 visas are supposed to be used by foreigners on short-term business, not for extended stays... For U.S. workers, this is the hard reality of the American economy, circa 2003, where large international companies export jobs to places like [Red China] & India &, even more disquieting, import labor from over-seas... Mercedes got $253M in incentives, mostly from state tax-payers, to build its original plant in the mid-1990s & an additional $119M for the $600M expansion. They thought the tax breaks were supposed to create jobs for Alabama workers. Now, with the national unemployment rate at 6.4%, & at 5.7% in Alabama, dozens of jobs created by Mercedes' expansion are going to foreign workers... Sarah Mouw, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration & Customs Enforcement, said: 'Typically, an alien does not work & live in the U.S. on a B1 visa. A B1 visa is to do business here, not to have a job here.'"
Bill Virgin _Seattle PI_
Exporting jobs is no way to run a business
"But the alarm-sounding is hardly limited to inconsequential industries like technology. Now we read, courtesy of The Associated Press, of a new threat to a long-established American production industry from lower-cost sources from [Red China]: Garlic... Many of those transport jobs already existed. American-made goods didn't, to borrow a term from _Harry Potter_, magically apparate from assembly line to store shelf. And as we've explained before, those support jobs will, over time, migrate to where the work is actually done... when companies find that American demand for the goods they're trying to supply has evaporated because people can't afford them, no one is likely to be happy with the out-come... One Boeing worker (where employee-rank concern over this issue appears most acute) cited quality guru W. Edwards Deming's assertion that 'businesses that resort to laying off workers or off-loading to the lowest bidder is a form of crisis management' -- in order to make some money for the short term. But this is not a successful way to run a business & according to Deming, such acts will only prolong their troubles & eventually kill the company completely. And weaken an economy, to boot. Look, for the umpteenth time, here is why this stuff matters: Out-sourcing jobs, particularly over-seas, means a loss not only of the immediate job but starts the erosion of support jobs. It chokes the source of product & production innovation, & transfers technology to others who will develop their own next-generation entrepreneurs, products, companies & industries. Listen further: Concern about out-sourcing & the export of jobs is not the same as a call for protectionism, a planned economy & the preservation of every job. If there were no other country outside our borders, we'd still be losing jobs every day. Companies screw up & are beaten by competitors. New technology makes old products obsolete. Consumer tastes change. But the jobs to replace those lost jobs do not, to use that word again, apparate out of thin air. They need a base, an economic heritage, from which to grow. Export that base, whether it's farming, manufacturing, technology or services, & ... And what you've got is a situation in which people will either do nothing or a whole lot of the wrong thing (see entry above on economy, planned)."
Martin Wolk _NBC_
Globalization takes toll on techies: It's not just low-level jobs that are leaving US shores
"In the old economy, the manufacturing sector has lost nearly 4M jobs since 1980. Some jobs have disappeared because of increased productivity, but many affected workers in industries like steel, apparel & electronics have been replaced by lower-priced labor over-seas. As globalization marches on, many jobs in the New Economy of services & high technology seem to be headed the same way... Now the trend is moving up the skill ladder, with jobs in computer software development, accounting & even investment banking research all offering opportunities for companies to cut labor costs, often at the expense of U.S. workers. And that worries labor activists, some economists & policy-makers."
Thomas diLorenzo _Lew Rockwell_
More on Cato's Protectionism
Kenneth G. Hopkins _Florida Sun-Sentinel_
Third World Nation
"President Bush said that we need 2M jobs for Americans. American companies are exporting jobs to [Red China] and Mexico by constructing manufacturing facilities in those countries. It is destroying our economy, and the American quality of life. Singularly, WM imported $104G worth of goods from [Red China] last year. They are planning to import an additional $12.5G in goods this year. Wal-mart will start selling appliances soon from [Red China]. We are supporitng a repressive Communist government, while American industry cannot compete with $2 daily paid labor. The bottom line is we will be a Third World country. No exports, only imports. Without jobs, our citizens will not be able to pay taxes and without our taxes, how will we be able to maintain our infrastructure?"
2003-07-25 11:34PDT (14:34EDT) (18:34GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Proposal would lower corporate tax: Law-makers also offer bills to avoid EU trade retaliation
"Congress' top tax writer formally offered a roughly $120G corporate tax package that would lower the top rate paid by U.S. companies & roll back a tax break that has been successfully challenged by the European Union. Under the proposal unveiled by House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-CA, the top tax rate paid by most U.S.-based firms would drop to 32% from 35%. The reduction in income tax rates, along with other provisions, would more than ease the sting from the repeal of the 'foreign sales corporation' & extra-territorial income tax programs. Those measures allow U.S. firms with a foreign presence to shield between 15% & 30% of their export income from U.S. taxes. The foreign sales measure amounts to an annual tax break of around $5G for U.S. firms. The World Trade Organization ruled in 2001 that it was an illegal subsidy & violated international trade rules. The WTO has authorized the EU to implement up to $4G in annual trade sanctions against the U.S., a step EU officials have indicated they would reluctantly take if Congress doesn't act before the end of the year. The 10-year 'cost' of the Thomas bill is roughly $190G, with $50G off-set by the repeal of the foreign sales corporation & extra-territorial income tax (FSC/ETI) provisions, & $20G offset by other revenue-raising measures. A rival bill sponsored by Reps. Phil Crane, R-IL, & Charles Rangel, D-NY, has attracted 140 sponsors, including more Republicans than Democrats. That bill would use the repeal of the FSC/ETI provisions to lower taxes for domestic manufacturers."
2003-07-25 13:40PDT (16:40EDT) (20:40GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks close the week on winning note: All 30 Dow stocks up
"All 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose on Friday, boosting the Dow to a triple-digit gain on the day & sending investors home for the weekend on an upbeat note. The whole market benefited from an afternoon rally, with the broad indexes gaining about 1.7%. Nearly every industrial sector was higher after a surge of buying rippled through the markets, starting with banks, computers, semiconductors & networkers... The capture of Saddam Hussein's body-guards also added to the buoyancy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 172 points, or 1.9%, to 9,285. The Nasdaq Composite added 29 points, or 1.7%, to 1,731. The broad S&P 500 gained 17 points, or 1.7%, to 998, while the Russell 2000 index, which tracks stocks of smaller companies, rose 0.8%. Winners out-numbered losing stocks about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, & 3 to 2 on the Nasdaq. Trading volume was modest at 1.4G on the NYSE & 1.6G on the Nasdaq. After gaining about 29% between March & June, the S&P 500 has traded in a narrow range for the past month. The broad market gained 0.5% over the past week & now is off about 1.5% from its recent highs reached 2 weeks ago. The Dow gained 1% in the past week, while the Nasdaq rose 1.3%... On Friday, traders mostly ignored an impressive 2.1% increase in durable goods orders for June, the biggest increase since January. Orders for core capital goods rose 2%, fueling hope that the nation's three-year drought in capital spending could be ending... New home sales surged 4.7% in June, to a record 1.16M, while existing home sales fell a surprising 0.3% to 5.83M units, still the fourth-best sales figure ever."
Eric Schmitt _NY Times_
President Orders Troop Deployment to Liberian Coast
"President Bush gave orders today for a naval amphibious force that includes 2,300 marines to sail from the Mediterranean & nearby waters to a position off the coast of Liberia, but left vague what its specific mission would be. The timing of the announcement caught Pentagon officials off guard, & sent them scrambling to explain that three ships carrying the marines could be off the Liberian coast within a week or so, in position to support 1,300 Nigerian peace-keepers who are committed to enforcing a cease-fire & delivering aid to victims of the civil war there."
Eric Schmitt _NY Times_
Iraqi Informants' Tips Grow After Brothers' Deaths
"In the 3 days since American soldiers killed Saddam Hussein's sons, informants have produced a stream of new tips, some of which have led to major raids in the last 24 hours alone, military officers in Iraq said today. On Thursday night, American forces raided a house south of Mr. Hussein's home-town, Tikrit, capturing nearly a dozen people suspected of being his personal body-guards & enhancing the allies' chances of finding the deposed dictator, officers said. In a second operation, soldiers seized more than 45K sticks of dynamite... General Odierno said that of the 13 people seized in the raid south of Tikrit, 'somewhere between 5 & 10 of those -- we're still sorting through it -- are believed to be Saddam Hussein's personal security detachment'... At a house in the town of Samarra, south of Tikrit, the search party turned up 10 AK-47 assault rifles, 34 grenade launchers & 150 rounds of ammunition for them, 80K feet of demolition cord, 45K sticks of dynamite & assorted firearms, General Odierno said. He said attacks against the 27K Army forces under his command, in a region that ranges from outside Baghdad north to Kirkuk & east to the Iranian border, had been cut in half in the last month because of incessant pressure by military patrols & the capture of 1K Baath Party supporters, foreign fighters & other guerrillas."
_AP_/_NY Times_ Former Cable Executive Enters Guilty Plea
"One of the 4 former Charter Communications executives charged with conspiring to defraud investors pleaded guilty on Friday."
Tom Curry _NBC_/_Reuters_
GOP worries grow on job losses: Congressional Republicans propose tax breaks, 'buy American' rules
"Concerned about the loss of factory jobs & with an eye on next yearís election, some congressional Republicans are pushing protectionist & pro-manufacturing measures -- which may provide cover for incumbents running for re-election. Republicans have offered a range of measures, from beefing up 'buy American' provisions in defense contracting to tax breaks for manufacturing firms... deep worry about the hemorrhage of American manufacturing jobs... According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has lost nearly 2.8M manufacturing jobs since 1998, which had marked the most recent high point in the past several years for manufacturing employment. The long-term trend has been a decline in the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs: in 1973, there were 18.8M such jobs; today there are fewer than 15M -- a 20% drop... But on another front -- the long-beleaguered U.S. textile industry -- Bush was under more GOP pressure Thursday. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, joined a call for re-imposing quotas on Chinese fabric, gloves & other imports. 'I have long maintained that [Red China] cheats on trade agreements.', said Graham. 'The practices of Chinese companies & the policies of the Chinese government are illegal & give them an unfair advantage in the textile market.'... Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is championing an increase -- from 50% to 65% -- of the mandatory made-in-America content of U.S. military items... Hunter said the United States must maintain its military manufacturing capability 'so that if we were in a war, we would have a reliable domestic base to produce weapons systems from. In Iraq, one of our most important weapons systems, the JDAM, required a component that came from Switzerland. Switzerland invoked their neutrality act, because the U.N. didn't support our Iraq operation, & cut off the crystals to the JDAM... We've gotten a little sloppy with respect to assuring that our troops have the weapons they need in time of war.' Hunter added, 'We have other industrial base problems: we only have one machine tool company left in America that makes the most sophisticated military machine milling specs. We only have 3 domestic makers of titanium, arguably our most important military metal. Otherwise weíd have to rely primarily on Russia for titanium. We only have one American-owned tire company left capable of making military air-craft & land-system tires. Our legislation is aimed at seeing to it that we maintain a strong American base for critical military systems.'..."
Peter D. Kramer _NY Times_
Taping the Mood Gene
"A report in the current issue of Science looks at the effects of stressful events in early adulthood -- & the way that responses to them are mediated by a single gene, called 5-HTT. This same gene was in the news in the 1990's, when its variant forms, long & short, were discovered. The gene makes a protein that modifies nerve cells' use of serotonin, a chemical messenger important in the regulation of mood. The short version of the gene was linked (if weakly) to neuroticism, as a personality trait -- the news media called 5-HTT the 'Woody Allen gene'. The long variant of the gene seems to confer emotional resilience... In young men & women with 2 long genes, stress did not produce depression. It made no difference whether the subjects had been mistreated severely in early childhood, nor whether they had later encountered deaths in the family, ill health or financial losses. But among subjects with 1 or 2 short genes, adversity, whether early or recent, led to an increase in depression at age 26... At first glance, the new genetic finding makes depression look like an aspect of normal temperament. After all, 70% of us have at least one short 5-HTT gene, & vulnerability to depression is normal... According to theory, most depression arises from an interaction of genes & experience. In the pre-disposed, early trauma & subsequent adversity lead to depressive symptoms & subtle changes in the brain. Chronic depression produces marked changes. Particular brain regions begin to shrink or show structural dis-organization. Resilience factors -- perhaps including the protein produced by the 5-HTT gene -- mitigate that damage or allow for repair."
NSA, DoD, NSC, CIA, Joint Chiefs created today in 1947
"On 1947 July 26 President Truman signed the National Security Act, creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency & the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
Stephen Labaton _NY Times_
MCI Faces Federal Fraud Inquiry on Fees to Other TeleComms for Long-Distance Calls
"Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation in the United States & Canada into accusations that MCI, the nation's second-largest long-distance carrier, defrauded other telephone companies of at least hundreds of millions of dollars over nearly a decade, people involved in the inquiry said. The central element of MCI's scheme, people involved in the inquiry said, consisted of disguising long-distance calls as local calls to avoid paying special access tariffs to local carriers across the country. Those tariffs are the largest single source of MCI's costs for carrying calls & data transmissions. The investigation is based on internal documents & information from former MCI executives & three other telephone companies: AT&T, SBC Communications & Verizon . They have provided significant technical evidence that shows, they say, that MCI is continuing to avoid paying access charges through the scheme, according to people involved in the inquiry. Telecommunications experts said that in the 1990s, it became common for long-distance providers to seek legal ways to shift telephone traffic to reduce access tariffs. But there have also been criminal prosecutions of companies that improperly avoided the tariffs."
Motoko Rich _NY Times_
Home-Owner Boards Becoming Dictatorial Governments
"About 1 in 6 people in the nation, or roughly 50M residents, lives in a community governed by a home-owners association, from co-op buildings in New York City to suburban sub-divisions. Formed to take care of the small tasks that fall through the cracks of municipal government, like picking up garbage & repainting curbs, some home-owners associations are asserting far broader powers, backed by local courts. Cities & counties, which are reluctant to raise taxes to pay for services, have in many cases stepped aside, allowing associations to become de facto governments with increasing authority over daily life. The growth of associations has created 'a whole sector of people who don't use public services', said Evan McKenzie, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois in Chicago who has written widely about the subject. Home-owners who live in such communities, he added, 'don't need local governments'. Home-owners associations collect dues, which finance a variety of things, including landscaping & play-grounds. The boards, composed of elected volunteers, dictate house paint colors, lawn-mowing schedules & parking policies for recreational vehicles. The boards can fine residents who break these rules &, in some cases, foreclose on homeowners who cannot afford the monthly dues... George Staropoli, a business broker in Phoenix... founded Citizens Against Private Government HOAs 2 years ago... About 20M homes, of 106M in the country, are governed by an association. That is a 21% increase since 1998, according to the Community Associations Institute in Alexandria, VA, whose members include homeowners associations, property managers & lawyers... only 40% of those surveyed said they would buy their next home in a community governed by an association."
Constance L. Hays _NY Times_
The WM Way Becomes Topic A in Business Schools
"Just as WM, the $244G-a-year retailer, has put countless rivals out of business, WM, the case study, has shoved aside General Motors, Sears & other companies as the paragon of business prowess... Professor Fram, for one, uses WM to illustrate ideas like 'channel commander', a term for the distributor with the most power. And to Uday M. Apte, an associate professor of operations management at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, 'no company better illustrates the principle of cross docking', a technique to minimize trucking expenses. Others turn to WM to high-light social problems that may be over-looked in the shopping scramble -- issues like the impact of goods that are made abroad & sold cheaply in the United States... The newest such [Harvard Business School] study, published in March, discusses the company's strategy for so-called neighborhood markets: building smaller stores in some areas to help WM capture more grocery business from local chains... Some students have been forced to return to school to gain new skills because their previous businesses were destroyed by WM's strength. 'We've had several students who had small hardware or apparel stores, & as soon as WM would come into a nearby town, it would hurt their business.', said Jeffrey E. McGee, chairman of the management department at the University of Texas at Arlington... Using some of the money from its vast sales, it has financed retail centers at several large universities, where the company's executives lecture & its recruiters descend to hire new talent. Among the recipients, a spokes-woman said, are Western Michigan University, Texas A&M, the University of Washington & the University of Florida. WM has sponsored retail centers for about 9 years, according to Betsy Reithemeyer, director of the WM Foundation, which is backed by sales from the stores. Her budget, which covers a variety of grants besides those to retail centers, is $150M -- double the amount 3 years ago. The company's profit also flows to education through other avenues. The Walton Family Foundation, controlled by the relatives of Sam Walton, who opened the first WM in Rogers, AK, in 1962, pledged $300M to the University of Arkansas last year to build up its under-graduate & graduate programs. In 1998, the foundation gave $50M to rename the business school on the university's main campus in Fayetteville after Mr. Walton, who was commonly known as Mr. Sam... Joseph M. Pastore Jr., a professor at the Lubin School of Business of Pace University in White Plains [said], 'They scrapped 20-plus stores for Germany because the courts there forced them to raise prices to avoid preying on small businesses.'... Shoppers may be drawn to WM because of inexpensive products that have been imported from countries like [Red China], Professor Anderson says, where labor & environmental standards are lower than in the United States. But there are larger costs, he tells his students, that are not factored into the price on the tag... James E. Hoopes, a professor of history & business ethics at Babson College in Massachusetts [said], 'It is an enormous employer, & it is identified with what's happened with America in the last 25 years.' Gone are many of the high-paying skilled jobs that the automotive plants once provided; instead, people are punching a cash register at WM for half the money, he added. That perception of reduced opportunity carries over into spending, he says. 'People have a sense of being trapped in this market-place.', he said. 'You work for these low-wage jobs, & you can have your American dream as long as you buy it at WM. So the dream is getting standardized, & down-scaled, in a way that hasn't happened before.'... Marshall Blonsky, a professor of semiotics at the New School & Parsons School of Design, both in Manhattan [described their offerings as] 'America's least common denominators gathered together'. He said he did not think that all of the prices were especially low, given what the consumer received in return... 'It is a heartless experience.'"
2003-07-28 09:26PDT (12:26EDT) (16:26GMT)
Greg Morcroft _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
SEC settles with Citigroup, J.P. Morgan over Enron role
"The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission has settled with Citigroup & J.P. Morgan over allegations the 2 banks helped bankrupt energy company Enron disguise loans. According to the Wall Street Journal on-line, J.P. Morgan will pay $135M in fines & Citigroup will pay $120M to resolve the issue."
2003-07-28 13:42PDT (16:42EDT) (20:42GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stock indices finish mixed
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 18.06 points, or 0.2%, to 9,266.51, held back by shares of Merck, Altria Group, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. The Nasdaq Composite added 4.66 points, or 0.3%, to 1,735.36 & the Nasdaq 100 Index gained 2.22 points, or 0.2%, to 1,280.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged down 0.2% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks added 1.1%."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Tax Increases in States Beginning to Hurt Economic Recovery
"Over the past 2 years, the states have gradually cut between $20G & $40G -- no one knows exactly how much -- from their spending. Billions more in cut-backs are coming in the fiscal year that started July 1. In California alone, a tentative budget deal will presumably require the state to rid itself of at least $8G in current spending, with the cuts likely to fall most heavily on education & aid to the poor... The annual [GDP] growth rate has averaged 2.6% for the last 15 months... Many state governments have been reluctant to lay off workers, preferring instead to freeze hiring & wages & not replace workers who retire or resign. Some states have raised tax rates to help cover salaries & thus minimize lay-offs. And a great variety of court fines & fees for service have gone up. Minnesota even came up with a new one: public defenders are no longer furnished free; defendants now pay $50 or more. The resistance to lay-offs has limited the drop in state employment across the nation. Employment hit a peak of 5.023M state workers in June of last year & has fallen since then by 91K, or less than 2%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. At the local government level, employment finally stopped rising this year & flattened out at 13.8M people, without falling... In February, for example, the Davis administration sold for $2.5G California's right to collect over the next 25 years a total of $5G or more in tobacco settlement money. Roughly $30G of the $38G deficit, in fact, is being dealt with through 'borrowing, payment deferrals & other one-time actions', Mr. Williams said. Then there is the growing practice, evident in California & Minnesota, among other states, of adopting optimistic forecasts of future economic growth & assuming that tax revenues will rise as the forecasts materialize. Minnesota, for example, is counting on the gross domestic product to be growing by early fall at a 3.5% annual rate, not the current 2.6%... total spending by the states, which nearly doubled over the decade to more than $1.1T a year, has slowed to a growth rate of barely 1% annually from an average of nearly 7% in the 1990s... But the hardest-hit states, California & Minnesota among them, have been those with [regressive] income taxes, charging upper income house-holds at considerably higher rates than those at the low end. As incomes have fallen, tax collections have fallen faster in these states than in those without [regressive] tax rates."
Fox Butterfield _NY Times_
Study Finds 2.6% Increase in US Prison Population
"The nation's prison population grew 2.6% last year, the largest increase since 1999, according to a study by the Justice Department... At the end of 2002, there were 2,166,260 Americans in local jails, state & federal prisons & juvenile detention facilities, the report found. Another important finding was that 10.4% of black men ages 25 to 29, or 442,300 people, were in prison last year. By comparison, 2.4% of Hispanic men & 1.2% of white men in the same age group were in prison... Mr. Beck said increases in inmates in several of the largest states contributed to most of the national increase. Those states included California, Florida, Michigan & Pennsylvania, he said. In Florida, he said, local judges used their discretion under the tougher laws to sentence more people convicted of felonies to prison rather than probation or some other program... Although many advocates of prison change have blamed drug arrests for the significant growth in the prison population, the report found violent crimes responsible for 64% of the increase in the number of men in state prisons from 1995 to 2001. Violent crimes also accounted for 49% of the increase in the number of women in state prisons in those years... In total, 49% of inmates in state prisons last year were serving time for violent crimes, the report said. 20% were serving time for drug offenses, 19% for property crimes, & 11% for public-order offenses, like drunken driving, parole violations & contempt of court. But in the federal prison system, which with 163,528 inmates is now larger than any state system, 48% of the growth in the number of prisoners from 1995 to 2001 was accounted for by drug crimes & only 9% by violent crimes. The number of inmates in federal prisons for gun crimes increased by 68% from 1995 to 2001, as Congress, President Bill Clinton & President Bush pushed to federalize some illegal gun possession cases. In addition to 1.4M Americans in state & federal prisons in 2002, 665,475 people were in local & county jails & 110,284 were in juvenile facilities, the report said. California had the largest number of inmates, with 162,317 followed closely by Texas, with 162,003. Louisiana had the highest rate of incarceration, with 794 inmates per 100K residents. Maine & Minnesota tied for the lowest incarceration rate, with 141 inmates per 100K residents."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
New Rules Urged to Avert Looming Pension Crisis
"the $1.6T industry... On Wednesday, the comptroller general placed the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation , the agency that guarantees pensions, on a list of 'high risk' government operations. Elaine L. Chao, the secretary of labor, issued a statement on the same day warning that the decades-old system in which workers earn government-guaranteed pensions 'is, unfortunately, at risk'. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, a former railroad chief executive who had responsibility for a $1.3G pension fund, warned recently that a financial melt-down similar to the savings-&-loan collapse of 1989 might be brewing [except that the savings & loan collaps started in the late 1970s]... But some pension analysts, reading between the lines, say they think that officials are not only looking at calling upon companies to put more money into their ailing pension plans -- a painful prospect at a time when cash is tight -- but also at the more radical remedy of encouraging funds to reduce their heavy reliance on the stock market. At issue are defined-benefit pensions, the type in which employers set aside money years in advance to pay workers a predetermined monthly stipend from retirement until death. Today, about 44M private-sector workers & retirees are covered by such plans. Three years of negative market forces have wiped away billions of dollars from the funds, triggering the defaults of some pension plans & leaving the rest an estimated $350G short of what they need to fulfill their promises... 'The fact of the matter is that more money is needed in those plans, to ensure that older workers receive the benefits they have earned through decades of hard work.', said Peter R. Fisher, under secretary for domestic finance, in testimony to a House subcommittee panel earlier this month."
Amy Harmon _NY Times_
Sub Poenas Sent to File-Sharing Pirates Prompt Anger & Remorse
"A blizzard of sub poenas from the recording industry seeking the identities of people suspected of illegally swapping music... The Recording Industry Association of America has obtained close to 1K such sub poenas over the last 4 weeks to more than a dozen Internet service providers... several universities... demanding the names of file swappers. Most Internet providers are notifying the unlucky subscribers by mail that they are legally required to turn over their contact information."
Saul Hansell _NY Times_
Diverging Estimates of the Costs of Spam
"Spam is costing the U.S. economy billions in network resources, diminished productivity & forgone Internet sales. But how many billions?... Gauging the cost of tiny bits of computer power & the value of many moments of wasted time, multiplied by millions of e-mail users, leads to big, if inevitably imprecise, numbers. One company, Ferris Research, says the cost is $10G in the United States this year. The Radicati Group estimates the world-wide cost at $20.5G. Another firm, Nucleus Research, shoots higher. By its reckoning, the economic cost is $874 a year for every office worker with an e-mail account, which multiplied by 100M such workers amounts to about $87G for the United States. 'Spam is one of those areas where we see a severe impact on productivity.', said Rebecca Wettemann, research director of Nucleus. 'The average worker receives 13.3 spam messages a day, which takes 6.5 minutes to process. Do the math & that comes to 1.4% of their productive time.'"
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Experts Urge Strong Education Rather Than Big Tariffs
"[Companies] are importing too many goods & services, the argument goes, while companies are exporting too many jobs... If thousands of jobs suddenly disappeared, the demand for labor would be dropping with no change in supply. Then wages -- the price of labor -- would also fall. And if imports had not risen & exports had not fallen, the economy might be in slightly better shape. (Of course, the trade deficit ballooned during the boom of the 1990s, too [thus helping to set up the crash].)... Professor Feenstra said, the nation should work to improve the quality of the labor force freed up as jobs move over-seas. That way, Americans will be able to exploit what economists call their 'comparative advantage' in producing high-technology & high-value goods & services. At the moment, the Labor & Commerce Departments have so-called trade adjustment programs intended to help workers & companies that lose jobs or business because of foreign trade. But these initiatives have remained relatively small -- budgeted this year at only $10.5M in the Commerce Department & about $933M in the Labor Department -- because of past controversies. Professor Feenstra recalled, for example, that in the early 1980's many manufacturing workers received trade adjustment benefits when their jobs disappeared after 2 brief recessions. When the economy picked up, however, many of them went back to work at their factories, leading Congress to conclude the program amounted to little more than corporate welfare... A pilot program just created as part of the Trade Act of 2002 offers a sort of insurance for workers who lose their jobs & take new ones at lower wages. For eligible workers, especially older ones & those with skills not easily transferred between industries, the government will pay half the difference in wages for up to 2 years... J. David Richardson, a professor of economics & international relations at Syracuse University. 'Government training & government-subsidized training doesn't pay off much. It's far better to give cash by which the worker can retrain.' Most successful training takes place on the job, Professor Richardson explained, so giving workers an incentive to find new jobs quickly [or, even better, giving employers incentives to hire] is crucial."
K.A. Dixon & Karl E. van Horn _Rutgers John J. Heldrich Center for WorkForce Development_ The Disposable Worker: Living in a Job-Loss Economy (pdf with graphs)
related story in the _Lansing State Journal_
Workers jaded by job losses, lack of assistance
"Nearly one-fifth of American workers were laid off from their jobs during the last 3 years. The vast majority of these workers received no advance notice, no severance pay, & no career counseling from their employers. As a result, their confidence in the American economy & political leadership has plunged to the lowest levels since the Work Trends series began. The latest 2003 June employment figures show that the duration of unemploy-ment continues to grow. Almost 3.6M people had been out of work for more than 15 weeks, representing 37.5% of all the job-less. The median length of joblessness, according to these most recent figures, increased from 10.1 to 12.3 weeks, the highest point since 1967 July. The nationís unemployment rate reached a 9-year high of 6.4% this June, as the economy lost 30K jobs. As reported by the US Department of Labor, the economy has suffered a total loss in 2003 of 236K jobs. Nearly every major industry in the economy has suffered losses, notably manufacturing, which lost 56K jobs in June alone... Workers who have been laid off during the 2000-2003 recession are much more worried about economic issues than workers who have not been laid off. For example, 47% of workers laid off between 2000 Spring & 2003 Spring are very concerned about the current unemployment rate, compared to 34% of workers who were not laid off."
Carl Hulse _NY Times_
Pentagon Prepares a Futures Market to Predict Terror Attacks
"It is an on-line futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations & coups. Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency... such futures trading had proven effective in predicting other events like oil prices, elections & movie ticket sales. 'Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective & timely aggregators of dispersed & even hidden information.', the Defense Department said in a statement. 'Futures markets have proven themselves to be good at predicting such things as elections results; they are often better than expert opinions.'... The overview of the plan said the market would focus on the economic, civil & military futures of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria & Turkey & the consequences of United States involvement with those nations. The creators of the market envision other trappings of existing markets like derivatives."
Jyoti Thottam _Time_
Where the Good Jobs Are Going: Forget sweat-shops. US companies are now shifting high-wage work over-seas, especially to India.
"Little by little, SM could feel his job slipping away. He worked for a large insurance firm in northern New Jersey, developing the software it uses to keep track of its agents. But in mid-2001, his employer introduced him to Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software company. About 120 Tata employees were brought in to help on a platform-conversion project. SM, 44, trained & managed a 5-person Tata team. When one of them was named manager, he started to worry. By the end of last year, 70% of the project had been shifted to India & nearly all 20 U.S. workers, including SM, were laid off. Since then, SM has been able to find only temporary work in his field, taking a pay cut of nearly 30% from his former salary of $77K... The friendly voice that answered your questions was probably a customer-service rep in Bangalore or New Delhi. Those relatively low-skilled jobs were the first to go, starting in 1997. But more & more of the jobs that are moving abroad today are highly skilled & highly paid -- the type that U.S. workers assumed would always remain at home... Financial-services companies in the U.S. are expected to move more than 500K jobs over-seas in the next five years, according to a survey by management consultant A.T. Kearney, & India is by far the top destination. U.S. banks, insurance firms & mortgage companies have been using out-sourcing to handle tech support for years. Now these firms are using Indian workers to handle the business operations -- say, assessing loan applications & credit checks -- that the technology supports."
Monica Davey _NY Times_
Justices in Illinois Order Increases in Their Salaries
"The justices of the Illinois Supreme Court have decided that all the state's judges deserve cost-of-living raises, themselves included. So they have ordered the government to pay them more. But others in this deficit-ridden state disagree, including the governor & the comptroller, who writes the checks. That has set off a storm of legal maneuvers that threaten to leave the comptroller in contempt of court, & some of the state's best-paid workers -- judges -- suing the governor in their own courts... So this month, Mr. Blagojevich vetoed a 2.8% cost-of-living increase for the more than 900 judges. That would have cost $3.8M. Judges here earn more than $127K a year. Supreme Court justices, who earn $158K, would receive an extra $4K a year with the increase."
Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China (53 pages)
"[Red China] is developing advanced information technology & long-range precision strike capabilities, & looking for ways to target & exploit the perceived weaknesses of technologically superior adversaries. In particular, Beijing has greatly expanded its arsenal of increasingly accurate & lethal ballistic missiles & long-range strike aircraft that are ready for immediate application should the PLA be called upon to conduct war before its modernization aspirations are fully realized... [Red China]ís 2002 December Defense White Paper, despite official claims that it reflects increased transparency, continues to reveal little about the quantity or quality of [Red China]ís military forces, to include the PLA budget. [Red China]ís defense spending may be more than three times larger than its public announcement in 2002 March of a defense budget of about $20G. Since the 1980s, U.S. military exchange delegations to China have been shown only 'showcase' units, never any advanced units or any operational training or realistic exercises... [Red Chinese] doctrine continues to emphasize surprise, deception, & shock effect in the opening phase of a campaign. In addition to development or procurement of Assassinís Mace' weapon systems to counter intervening U.S. forces, [Red China] is exploring coercive strategies designed to bring Taipei [the Republic of China] to terms quickly. Military Budget. In 2002 March, [Red China] announced a 17.5% or $3G increase in spending, bringing the publicly reported total to $20G. Estimates of total spending range from $45G to $65G; annual spending could increase in real terms 3- to 4-fold by 2020. For the fourth year in a row, contracts for advanced weapons systems from Russia were $2G -- double the average annual figure throughout the 1990s... [Red China] is replacing all of its approximately 20 CSS-4 Mod 1 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the longer range CSS-4 Mod 2. [Red China] also is developing two follow-on, extended-range versions of the DF-31: a solid propellant, mobile ICBM & a solid propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)... [Red China] is pursuing a robust research & development program for laser weapons. In 1995, [Red China] exhibited a man-portable laser weapon called the ZM-87 that was advertised for blinding human vision & electro-optical sensors. In 1999, the [Red Chinese] displayed a probable laser-based, anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) counter-measure on its Type 90-II tanks. In addition, Beijing produces a laser false-target generator intended as a decoy against laser semi-active homing munitions... Beijing may have acquired high-energy laser equipment that could be used in the development of ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons... There is no Western equivalent to the concept of 'shi'. Chinese linguists explain it as 'the alignment of forces', the 'propensity of things', or the 'potential born of disposition', that only a skilled strategist can exploit to ensure victory over a superior force. Similarly, only a sophisticated assessment by an adversary can recognize the potential exploitation of 'shi'... [Red China] has had a long-standing geo-political challenge in maintaining control over the heart-land of China & major elements of 'Inner Asia'. It also has sought to secure the vast periphery of coastal & land boundaries, as well as maritime territory in a region populated by traditional rivals & enemies. These challenges shape how [Red China] approaches grand strategy, especially its emphasis on maintaining a favorable domestic & international 'strategic configuration of power'. Moreover, Marxist & Maoist ideology, as well as lessons from the Sino-Japanese war & the Chinese civil war, are prevalent in [Red China]ís approach to grand strategy... In particular, sovereignty issues that Beijing considers internal & defensive in nature -- most notably Taiwan [the Republic of China] -- may not be perceived by others as benign & peaceful. In addition, Beijing probably calculates that ambiguity in international discourse helps to buy [Red China] time in developing its national power... Beijing continues to voice opposition to missile defense, as well as concern regarding U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It also argues against Taiwanís inclusion in a missile defense system, albeit less stridently than in previous years... Chinaís Taiwan strategy will continue to emphasize a coercive approach toward Taipei & Beijingís decision-makers have affirmed that they will resort to force if Taiwanís [the Republic of China's] present de facto separation becomes official, either through a declaration or international recognition as such. Moreover, [Red China]ís leaders have threatened force if they fail to make progress toward 'reunification' objectives... First, [Red China]ís future leaders probably will continue to pursue economic growth & technology amidst efforts to manage the information revolution & promote bureaucratic professionalization. Second, globalization & [Red China]ís linkage to the outside world will continue & expand. Third, there will be pressure for political change. [Red China] will continue to face economic & internal challenges, some of which have gathered momentum with WTO accession; the demands on the regime from both internal & external sources will persist. Consequently, [Red China] will continue to perceive challenges from the West but will continue to seek technology, wealth, & power associated with the Western system; however, it will continue to maintain that Western political concepts & culture are anti-thetical to its interests... The principal areas where [Red China] appears to be making advances in coercive military capabilities involve air power, missiles, & information operations... Degrading a high-tech adversaryís ability to process or gather information is viewed as an absolutely essential task if the weak is to defeat the strong, especially if that high-tech adversary is perceived to be overly dependent upon information systems to enable its own operations. Captain Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute, for example, envisions a weaker military defeating a superior one by attacking its spaced-based communications & surveillance systems. 'The mastery of outer space will be a requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding heights for combat.'... [Red China] retains the worldís largest military... In 1979, [Red China] began modernizing its weapons facilities through a policy emphasizing production of both military & civilian goods throughout its defense industrial base. This policy shift reflects [Red China]ís aspiration to attain long-term self-sufficiency through the acquisition of key foreign dual-use technologies & knowledge. Once such technology is obtained, defense-affiliated institutes & factories may apply them to the design & production of commercial &/or military end-items. Moreover, design & production of commercial goods by the defense industrial base can generate revenue & foreign exchange to finance the acquisition of advanced technology. Since 1979, thousands of PRC business entities have been established in the United States. The bulk of the business conducted by these entities is probably legitimate, but an undetermined number may target dual-use commodities & controlled technologies restricted from sale to the PRC. Authoritative PRC journals have recommended an increase in the use of over-seas ethnic-Chinese scientists to transfer foreign technology. Using academic exchange as a medium to train scientists & to develop ties between scientists, [Red China] appears to be building an informal science & technology (S&T) network around the world that could not only contribute to basic research but also to the development of commercial & military technologies. One example of a military significant S&T collection involves 2 [Red Chinese] students at 2 prominent U.S. universities collecting information regarding Terfenol-D. Terfenol-D is a rare earth metal developed by the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratories which is used in militarily critical naval & aero-space applications. Although one of the [Red Chinese] students admitted sending this information to the PLA, usually the connections between academic, commercial, & military organizations are not so [blatant]... In 1991, the China Defense Science & Technology Information Center (CDSTIC) -- then the information arm for the Commission on Science, Technology & Industry for National Defense -- published an S&T collection manual titled _Sources & Techniques of Obtaining National Defense Science & Technology Intelligence_. The manual suggested that 80% of Chinaís defense S&T needs are met through open & gray source (purchase/subscription) materials. This manual provided detailed information on foreign open sources on defense technology & noted that as of 1991 there were roughly 4K individual intelligence organizations operating in [Red China]. Many of these organizations are associated with state-owned enterprises, research institutes, & academies affiliated with [Red China]ís defense industrial base."
Bob Evans _Information Week_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing: A Means To an End
"in a lot of cases it is and will continue to be wrenching and deeply disruptive for not only many individuals but also large groups of professionals caught on the wrong side of this trend... Lots of people still believe it's nothing more than paying lower wages for lower-quality work... Then there are those who believe that the sole value proposition of off-shore out-sourcing here in 2003 is to pay lower wages... So I have to conclude that I really don't understand the hand-wringing in which some companies are engaging as they try to hide their relationships with off-shore out-sourcers or even try to pretend to the outside world that those very relationships don't exist... some of our elected law-makers will no doubt soon get the idea to craft legislation mandating that all U.S.-based companies must publicly disclose off-shore relationships."
Mary Hayes _Information Week_
Companies going off-shore to out-source IT need to learn how to talk about this increasingly sensitive subject
"From a social perspective, Honerkamp says off-shore out-sourcing bothers him a bit. 'But then again, what do you do?', he asks. Honerkamp isn't unusual in his concern about the tension and backlash that comes from sending jobs over-seas. Where he's exceedingly rare is in the blunt honesty with which he's willing to discuss it. The movement of a portion of high-tech jobs from the United States to cheaper labor markets in India, [Red China], Eastern Europe, and elsewhere seems irreversible... The difficulties of discussing off-shore out-sourcing with employees may soon pale in comparison with the impact of the political and social debate that's brewing. At issue is the cost off-shore out-sourcing extracts in terms of American jobs and the U.S. economy. And out-sourcing isn't the only concern: The practice of bringing lower-cost foreign technologists into the United States on work visas also faces scrutiny. Unemployed technologists and other white-collar workers who oppose off-shore out-sourcing are increasingly vocal and organized, and in recent months, members of Congress have introduced bills that could crimp the conventional off-shore-out-sourcing model by limiting foreign work visas or giving tax breaks to companies that keep jobs here... Today's economy intensifies the tension, since workers replaced by off-shore out-sourcing often have trouble finding new jobs. It's those unemployed workers who keep the political pressure on. John Bauman, president of The Organization for the Rights of American Workers [TORAW] and an unemployed IT consultant, says the non-profit group, which is funded by its members, has a data-base of 3K professional technologists, 1,200 of them unemployed. It's gradually taking on a more activist role, staging protests and lobbying politicians."
Mark Hall _Computer World_
Out-Sourcing: Mega-Trend or Mega-Menace
"Mega-trends may be real, but they're not always right or good. At least that's the view you'll hear from Keith Franklin, CEO of Empowered Software Solutions Inc., a Burr Ridge, IL, consultancy specializing in .Net development. 'We have taken on failed off-shore projects because people [overseas] did not know what they were doing with .Net.', he explains. Franklin says the most recent post-off-shore triage his company performed was on a .Net program that lacked an application architecture and was cluttered with unnecessary and sloppy code. For example, he says the off-shore-built code had 387 pages of Active Server Pages .Net extensions, which his crew cut almost in half. Franklin doesn't argue with Boni's mega-trend conclusion, but not necessarily because it's a sound business strategy. 'A high-level manager who sent a project over-seas is not likely to publicize that it has failed.', he points out. In other words, the job-hacking manager will be more worried about saving his own pay-check than yours."
2003-07-28 17:17PDT (20:17EDT) (2003-07-29 00:17GMT)
Mariko Ando _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Japan's seasonally adjusted jobless rate falls to 5.3% in June
"Japan's seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 5.3% in June from 5.4% the previous month, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts & Telecommunications said Tuesday. Economists have forecasted the jobless rate to remain unchanged at 5.4% in June, according to a Reuters poll. The jobless rate had remained at 5.4% for the previous 3 straight months, just below the post-WW2 high of 5.5% marked in January. The dollar fetched at 119.46 yen in Asia against 119.45 yen in New York late Monday."
2003-07-29 01:00PDT (04:00EDT) (08:00GMT)
Mariko Ando _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Japan seasonally adjusted jobless rate falls to 5.3% in June: House-hold spending rises 0.4%
"The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.3% in June from 5.4% the previous month, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts & Telecommunications said in a preliminary report. Economists had forecast the jobless rate to remain unchanged at 5.4% in June, according to a Reuters poll. The jobless rate had stayed at 5.4% in the previous three straight months, just below the post-war high of 5.5% marked in January... 'the level of workers increased. People are starting to look for work again.' The data showed that the number of unemployed came to 3.61M in June, down 70K from a year earlier. The ratio of job offers to job seekers stood at 0.61 in June, unchanged from the previous month. The figure means 61 jobs were available for every 100 job seekers. Meanwhile, a separate report showed that spending by Japanese salaried house-holds, a key gauge of personal consumption, rose 0.4% in June from a year earlier following a 1.8% drop in May. The increase was the first since September. The average monthly spending of the house-holds came to 312,081 yen ($2,644), the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts & Telecommunication said."
2003-07-29 07:00PDT (10:00EDT) (14:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US July Consumer Confidence Plunges to 76.6
"U.S. consumer confidence weakened in July as worries about slow job growth & a tepid recovery grew, the Conference Board said Tuesday. The consumer confidence index fell to 76.6 in July from 83.5 in June. It's the lowest level since March's 61.4. Economists were expecting the index to rise to 84.7 in July. The expectations index plunged by 10 points to 86.4 in July from a revised 96.4 in June. The present situation index fell to 61.9 in July from 64.2 in June. 'Expectations are likely to remain weak until the job market becomes more favorable.', said Lynn Franco, head of the board's consumer research center."
2003-07-29 12:29PDT (15:29EDT) (19:29GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Consumer Confidence Dropped in July (graph)
"The Conference Board, a business research group based in New York, said Tuesday that its closely watched index of consumer confidence sank to 76.6 from 83.5 in June. Economists, on average, expected confidence to rise to 85, according to a Reuters poll... The percentage of consumers saying jobs are 'hard to get' rose to 33.1% from 31.9% in June. The percentage of those who thought jobs were 'plentiful' fell to 10.5% from 11.2% in June."
2003-07-29 16:20PDT (19:20EDT) (23:20GMT)
Eric Auchard _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Report Says 1 in 10 US Tech Jobs May Move Over-Seas
"Gartner Inc., the world's biggest high-tech forecasting firm, said in a report entitled 'U.S. Off-Shore Out-Sourcing: Structural Changes, Big Impact' that 500K of the 10.3M U.S. technology jobs could move just in 2003 & 2004. While professionals in the computer industry itself are likely to bear the brunt, the report predicts that one in 20 tech jobs in industry-at-large also could be moved over-seas... As a global economic recession has hit hard over the past 2 years, U.S. companies have embraced as never before a decades-old trend to hire educated workers over-seas who can be employed for a fraction of the cost of U.S.-based programmers."
William J. Broad & Andrew C. Revkin _NY Times_
Has the Sea Given Up Its Bounty?
"More than 70% of commercial fish stocks are now considered fully exploited, over-fished or collapsed. Sea birds & mammals are endangered. And a growing number of marine species are reaching the precariously low levels where extinction is considered a real possibility... Behind the assault, experts say, are steady advances in technology, national subsidies to fishing fleets & booming markets for sea-food. Demand is up partly because fish is considered healthier to eat than chicken & red meat. Directed by precise sonar & navigation gear, more than 23K fishing vessels of over 100 tons & several million small ones are scouring the sea with trawls that sweep up bottom fish & shrimp; setting miles of lines & hooks baited for tuna, swordfish & other big predators; & deploying other gear in a hunt for sea-food in ever deeper, more distant waters... Federal fisheries officials note that although 80 American fish stocks have serious problems, restoration plans are in the works, & other stocks are rebounding. The North Atlantic swordfish is often cited as a sign of success. After limits were imposed four years ago, it has now largely recovered."
Andrew C. Revkin _NY Times_
Conservation as the Catch of the Day for Trawl Nets
"In 1376, just 6 years after the nets were first tried in British waters, fishermen complained to King Edward III that trawls, then called wondyrechauns, were 'destroying the flowers of the land beneath the water there, & also spat of oysters, mussels & other fish upon which the great fish are accustomed to be fed & nourished'."
William J. Broad _NY Times_
Much Under-Sea Wealth Remains Un-Tapped
"Although rich & poor nations clashed in the 1970s over the imagined booty littering the seabed outside their national waters, & though they eventually agreed to a division of spoils spelled out in the Law of the Sea treaty, the nodules were never mined, except in small amounts for research. Supplies on land turned out to be more plentiful, accessible & cheaper to mine. Today, new discoveries in the abyss have renewed dreams of tapping the sea's mineral wealth -- though in ways much different. Instead of vacuuming up the cold nodules that dot under-sea plains, entrepreneurs want to mine hot deposits that deep explorers have found building up on volcanic rifts & ridges. The deposits are rich in gold, silver & other precious metals. In the 1990s, Australians discovered a particularly rich site in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea, a nearby tropical archipelago. About a mile down, the site boils with volcanic hot springs whose rocky out-croppings are laced with iron, zinc, copper, silver & gold in high concentrations."
Betsy Stark _abc News_
White-Collar Exodus: High-Paying Jobs Are Moving Over-Seas, US Workers Replaced by Foreigners
"Up to speed or not, ME wound up being 'washed out' anyway. Last summer, he moved his family from California to Florida for the Siemens Co., makers of electronics and equipment for industries. Not long after, ME and 19 other programmers were replaced by cheaper foreign workers. Adding insult to injury, ME and the others had to train their replacements... Just as millions of American manufacturing jobs were lost in the 1980s and 1990s, today white-collar American jobs are disappearing. Foreign nationals on special work visas are filling some positions but most jobs are simply contracted out over-seas... Almost 500K white-collar American jobs have already found their way off-shore, to the Philippines, Malaysia and [Red China]. Russia and Eastern Europe are expected to be next. But no country has captured more American jobs than India... Vivek Pal, an Indian contractor for technology consulting group Wipro... is hiring 2K Indian workers quarterly to keep up with demand."
Renee de la Porte _Philadelphia Inquirer_
Fight unemployment problem: The 'nouveau poor' should band together so that solutions are formed
"Happiness I can work on - as soon as I figure out how to pay my rent. I saved all my life for a rainy day. Now there's a monsoon outside called unemployment - and it seems no one is noticing. If they are, they're not talking about it much. Not in polite circles, not at the grocery store, not at church, and not in the news - not enough, anyway. It's our culture. People who don't have jobs are embarrassed. People who have jobs don't know what to say to those who don't. People who want to hire you but can't are embarrassed. The people who should be able to make a difference but can't - our legislators - are embarrassed. At least, they ought to be... In the last seven years, I have lost jobs because of a company's dissolution from poor management, a corporate bankruptcy as a result of a merger, a firm's contract cancellation over cooking the books, and a foreign-owned firm's restructuring for its sale... People who have never been in this position offer simplistic solutions that border on insulting... Recently I told a friend my theory of why the unemployment rate is rising. My brief soliloquy on moving jobs off-shore and importing cheap labor, on the lack of capital investment, on dividend expectations, was met with [a] flippant response... I guess 12M Americans don't understand they are just feeling sorry for themselves... New Jersey's unemployment rate in June was 5.7%; in 2001 February it was 3.4%."
John Crudele _NY Post_
Why You Shouldn't Believe the New Jobless Stats
John M. Broder _NY Times_
California House Breaks Stalemate on Budget Plan
"The California Assembly approved a nearly $100G state budget today that cuts deeply into education & health care spending but does not raise taxes... The budget papers over the deficit with $11G in borrowing to be financed over 5 years, & still leaves the state with $8G in debt that will be carried into next year. Democrats & Republicans in the Legislature said they were unhappy with the result but said it was the best they could accomplish given the ideological gap between the parties. Throughout the months-long dispute, Democrats refused to consider deeper cuts in [spending]; Republicans would not budge on their refusal to raise taxes."
2003-07-30 09:34PDT (12:34EDT) (16:34GMT)
Eun-Kyung Kim _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Pentagon says Red China Is Aiming Missiles at Taiwan
"[Red China] is acquiring short-range missiles much faster than U.S. officials had thought & is aiming the weapons at Taiwan & possibly at U.S. forces to block their use on the island's behalf in any future conflict, according to a Pentagon report... [Red China] has about 450 short-range ballistic missiles but is expected to increase its inventory by more than 75 missiles each year. The sophistication & accuracy of the missiles have improved, with the [Red Chinese] army developing longer-range models of the CSS-6 missile capable of reaching as far as Okinawa, Japan, home to more than 33K U.S. troops... Taiwan split from the main-land in 1949 after Nationalist Chinese leaders fled there following the communist victory in [Red China]. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province & has threatened to retake the island by force if necessary [while the Republic of China considers the Red Chinese government to be usurpers]."
2003-07-30 10:50PDT (13:50EDT) (17:50GMT)
US employers handing out smallest pay raises since mid-1970s
"well below the 4%-plus increases routine before the economy lost its footing. Companies surveyed in 2 studies said they have budgeted raises averaging 3.3% to 3.5% this year & plan about the same next year... Also, the small raises reflect the anemic job market, with its over-supply of workers, according to the Mercer survey & another put out last month by the Conference Board, an industry research group... Employers in both surveys said they expect to grant median increases of 3.5% in 2004. With inflation, employees will see real gains of less than 1% this year & next. Over the past 10 years, pay increases have topped the rate of inflation by between 1.1% & 2.6%age points, according to the Mercer survey... Pay raises averaged about 5% in the early 1990s before slowing to nearer 4% in the latter half of the decade & the early part of this decade. Inflation is expected to hover around 2.6% this year & 2.7% next year... This year is the first time the figure has fallen below 4% since the Conference Board began tracking salary increases in 1975. The previous low was a string of 4% readings in 1994 through 2002."
2003-07-30 12:17PDT (15:17EDT) (19:17GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Federal Reserve's Beige Book adopts hopeful tone: Pace of US growth up a notch
"A majority the Fed districts -- or 8 of the 12 regions -- reported 'somewhat stronger growth' in the period since mid-June."
Carrie Kirby _SF Chronicle_
More & more tech jobs moving over-seas: Consultant calls trend permanent, irreversible
"Most Bay Area employers have already jumped on the off-shore out-sourcing band-wagon, including Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, People$oft and [Bank of India, formerly called Bank of America]... Less than 40% of U.S. workers whose jobs are taken over by lower-paid over-seas counter-parts will find other roles at their companies, the study predicts. The rest will be thrown into the already hard-knock job market... U.S. workers say they are being betrayed after years of study and work... Companies that send work over-seas too hastily risk under-mining the pool of tech talent in the United States, which could back-fire on them when the companies want to hire locally in the future, the report said. As engineers in Silicon Valley lose their jobs to Bangalore, India, the next generation of potential innovators will be watching, Morello said... In addition, companies that show an excessive disregard for the welfare of their American workers 'may find that their reputation gets sullied & people will not want to work for them', she said."
T. Shawn Taylor _Knight Ridder Tribune_
Let buyer beware bad job-hunting services
"It was an expensive lesson. But in desperate times, job seekers are more apt to believe the hype and to succumb to hard sales pitches, paying hundreds and even thousands of dollars for employment services and consultants claiming to have the inside track on the job market. The Internet is full of them -- resume-blasting services that can literally send thousands of copies of your resume to various employer web sites, 'hidden job market' search firms & 'exclusive' networking groups... Some operations are run like traveling carnivals. They set up an office, make their money, then close in a few months and relocate under a new name, Lee added... A lot of companies now use spam filters to block unwanted resumes. Recruiters view those that get through as the electronic equivalent of crab grass."
2003-07-30 21:03PDT (2003-07-31 00:03EDT) (04:03GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Rise in bodyshopping suggests pick-up in hiring may be ahead
"While the U.S. jobless rate hit a 9-year high last month, temporary employment rose 2%, adding 44K jobs in May, the biggest 1-month rise in 7 years. In June, employment rolls gained another 1.7%, with 37,700 new jobs, according to the U.S. Labor Department. About 2.2M Americans worked as temp workers in June, according to the preliminary, seasonally-adjusted data... Some false starts last year in which temp job gains were not sustained are leading some to express a cautious outlook for permanent employment... The unemployment rate peaked at 7.8% 15 months after the recession that ended 1991 March. It's been 19 months since the end of the most recent recession in 2001 November, as dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research."
2003-07-30 21:03PDT (2003-07-31 00:03EDT) (04:03GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Employment related stocks rally on recovery hope: Up-swing since Spring suggests turn-around close at hand
"The recent performance of employment-services stocks shows some investors are banking on an imminent improvement in the U.S. job market... The stock gains indicate investors are anticipating an end to rising unemployment rates. Many will be looking for improvement when the Labor Department releases its monthly report Friday."
2003-07-31 05:40PDT (08:40EDT) (12:40GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Employment costs up 0.9% in 2003 Q2: Unemployment compensation insurance claims declined to 388K in week ended 2003/07/26
"A rise in the costs of benefits out-stripped wage gains in the second quarter, propelling the Labor Department's Employment Cost Index to a 0.9% gain in the second quarter, matching expectations. Separately, the government said initial weekly jobless claims for the week ending July 26 totaled 388K, a decline of 3K from a revised figure of 391K the previous week. The 4-week moving average for claims was 408,750, a decline of 11,750 from the previous week's revised average of 420,500. The Employment Cost Index, or ECI, report showed the rise in employment costs moderating after a sharp 1.3% jump in the first quarter, which was fueled by increases in health-care expenses and wage increases in the financial sector. Benefit costs continued to lead the way higher, rising 1.4%, compared to the 0.6% gain in wages and salaries. For the year ending in June, employer costs for wages and salaries rose 2.7%, while benefit costs rose 6.3%... In the private sector, compensation costs rose 0.8% after a 1.4% rise in the first quarter. State and local government workers saw a 1% rise in compensation costs, after a 0.9% increase in the previous quarter."
2003-07-31 08:42PDT (11:42EDT) (15:42GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Q2 GDP Up 2.4% on Defense Spending: Fresh Signs that Economy Is on the Mend
"The largest increase in defense spending since the Korean War era propelled the U.S. economy in the second quarter to its highest growth rate since last summer. The U.S. economy accelerated to a 2.4% annual rate in the second quarter, compared with a 1.4% growth rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Second-quarter GDP growth was well above Wall Street's expectations for a 1.5% pickup. Excluding the defense buildup, the U.S. economy grew at a modest 0.7% annual rate... The Chicago factory gauge rose to 55.9 in July, its third straight monthly increase... In the second quarter, final sales -- GDP growth minus inventory behavior -- grew at a 3.2% rate in the second quarter, up from a 2.3% rise in the first quarter. Inflation moderated in the second quarter. Consumer prices rose 0.9%, compared with a 2.7% rise in the first quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, consumer prices rose 1.2%, after a 0.8% rise in the first quarter... Consumer spending rose 3.3%, after a 2% rise in the previous quarter. Consumer spending contributed 2.3 percentage points to GDP growth. The increase was led by a 22.6% surge in spending on durable goods. Business investment rose 6.9% in the second quarter after falling 4.4% in the first quarter. This is the largest increase in business investment in 3 years. Spending on equipment and software rose 7.5%, also the largest increase in 3 years. Trade subtracted 1.6 percentage points from second-quarter GDP growth, as imports rose and exports shrank. Overall government spending, which includes the military, rose 7.5% in the second quarter, after rising 0.4% in the first quarter. State and local governments, struggling with massive budget deficits, cut spending by 1.5% in the second quarter. Defense spending rose 44.1%, the highest rate since the third quarter of 1951. Businesses cut $17.9G from their inventories in the second quarter, after adding $4.8G in the prior quarter. The real change in business inventories subtracted 0.8 percentage points from second-quarter GDP growth."
2003-07-31 09:13PDT (12:13EDT) (16:13GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Mortgage rates top 6%: Sixth straight increase puts loans at 2003 peak
"The U.S. national average 30-year mortgage rate soared above 6% this week, as a continued bond-market fall took its toll on interest rates. The last time the rate was above 6% was 2002 December 19. Freddie Mac said Thursday that the 30-year, fixed loan hit 6.14% in the week ending August 1, up from 5.94% a week earlier and nearly one full%age point above the historic low of 5.21% reached June 12. Rates have not been this high since 2002 December 5. It was also the sixth consecutive week that rates have moved higher, following 3 months of nearly unbroken declines. The national average rate on the 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing choice, rose to 5.44% from 5.27% a week earlier. The 1-year, Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage barely moved however, edging up to 3.68% from 3.67%. All 3 loans required the payment of an average 0.5 points to obtain those rates. A point is 1% of the loan amount, charged as prepaid interest."
2003-07-31 13:50PDT (16:50EDT) (20:50GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks boosted by up-beat data: Dow forfeits much of triple-digit gain but still closes over 9200
"The Dow Industrials surrendered the bulk of Thursday's gains late in the session after a triumvirate of better-than-expected economic reports sent the blue-chip barometer to levels not seen in almost 13 months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, up by triple digits earlier, ended 33.75 points, or 0.4% higher, to 9,234. The Shares of General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and General Motors buttressed the index for much of the session... The Nasdaq Composite gained 14.11 points, or 0.8%, to 1,735, also relinquishing about half its gains seen earlier in the session. The Nasdaq 100 Index firmed 13 points, or 1.1%, to 1,277. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.3% to 990 and the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks ascended 0.7%... Volume amounted to 1.62G on the NYSE and to 1.82G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners outpaced losers by 17 to 15 on the NYSE and by 18 to 13 on the Nasdaq."
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