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Sam Zuckerman _SF Chronicle_
State squares job loss numbers with reality: SF area mis-counted by 150%, San Jose by 54%
"At the end of 2002, the San Jose and San Francisco metropolitan areas had a combined 1.87M jobs, 113,700 fewer than previously reported, according to revised data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. In the 2 years ending in 2002 December, the San Jose area lost 149,200 jobs, 54% more than previously thought. The San Francisco area shed 92,900 jobs during that period, a stunning 150% more than previous estimates... The Employment Development Department also changed its calculation of the state's unemployment rate. The rate was 6.5% in January, down from 6.9% in December. That December figure - the highest jobless rate in the state during the current economic cycle -- was revised from 6.6% originally reported... The previously uncounted losses in the San Jose and San Francisco areas represented most of the statewide revision made by Employment Development that showed 143,900 fewer California jobs in December than official data had originally showed... The job loss under-counts were particularly big in San Jose and San Francisco because official statistics don't do a good job measuring employment in the technology sector, analysts said. The tech sector includes hundreds of young, volatile companies that come and go before the survey tracks them down... [Michael] Bazdarich [of UC Riverside] calculates that Santa Clara County lost 18.4% of its jobs in the last two years. Or from another perspective, half of the state's total job losses occurred in the San Jose region. 'Data for Santa Clara do look really horrible.', he said. An area representing about 8% of the state's economy, it suffered 50% of the state's job losses in the last 2 years."
Alex Berenson _NY Times_
Tight US Job Market Adds to Jitters among Consumers
"Americans are now more worried about their job prospects than at any time since 1993, raising the risk that consumer spending, the cornerstone of the economy, will slow even if the United States quickly resolves its standoff with Iraq. Concern about the job market is only partly reflected in the unemployment rate, which fell to 5.7% in January from 6% in December. Each month, the Conference Board, a private research group, asks people whether they view jobs as plentiful, not plentiful or hard to get. In February, 11% of people said jobs were plentiful, while 59% said they were not plentiful and 30% said they were hard to get, the group announced this week... Those estimates probably reflect the reality of the job market as well as or better than the unemployment rate does, said Stephen S. Roach, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley. Respondents may not know the inflation rate or the size of the federal budget deficit, but most people intuitively sense whether jobs in their field and their city or state are hard to come by, Mr. Roach said. The United States has lost more than 2M jobs since 2001 March, the worst slump in the last 2 decades, according to statistics from the Labor Department... Yesterday, the University of Michigan said that its consumer sentiment index had fallen to its lowest level since 1993 September... Except for the richest Americans, most people spend almost every dollar they make, whether they are feeling confident or not... Since the technology stock bubble burst in 2000 and business investment plunged, consumer spending, which accounts for almost 70% of all economic activity, has largely carried the economy... Anxiety about the job market may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, economists say... Smaller businesses are also cutting back on hiring. In a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, only 8% of small businesses said they were planning to expand in January, down from 12% a year earlier and 16% in 2001 January. Just 19% said they had one or more jobs open, the same level as a year earlier but down from 31% in 2001 January. Michael P. Niemira, a vice president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, was slightly more optimistic. Hiring tends to trail the business cycle, because companies do not want to take on new workers until they are sure the economy is expanding."
Michael Massing _NY Times_
Does Democracy Avert Famine?
"Just as Adam Smith is associated with the phrase 'invisible hand' and Joseph Schumpeter with 'creative destruction', Mr. Sen is famous for his assertion that famines do not occur in democracies. 'No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy.', he wrote in _Democracy as Freedom_ (Anchor, 1999). This, he explained, is because democratic governments 'have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentive to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes'. This proposition, advanced in a host of books and articles, has shaped the thinking of a generation of policy makers, scholars and relief workers who deal with famine. Now, however, in India, the main focus of Mr. Sen's research, there are growing reports of starvation. In drought-ravaged states like Rajasthan in the west and Orissa in the east, many families have been reduced to eating bark and grass to stay alive. Already thousands may have died. This is occurring against a back-drop of endemic hunger and malnutrition. About 350M of India's 1G people go to bed hungry every night, and half of all Indian children are malnourished. Meanwhile, the country is awash in grain, with the government sitting on a surplus of more than 50M tons. Such want amid such plenty has generated public protests, critical editorials and an appeal to India's Supreme Court to force the government to use its surpluses to feed the hungry."
Robert F. Worth _NY Times_ On-line Library Wants It All
"The legendary library of Alexandria boasted that it had a copy of virtually every known manuscript in the ancient world. This bibliophile's fantasy in Egypt's largest port city vanished, probably in a fire, more than a thousand years ago. But the dream of collecting every one of the world's books has been revived in a new arena: on-line."
" Stephanie Overby _CIO_
Bringing IT Back
"It's no secret that IT out-sourcing has a high failure rate. A whopping 78% of executives who have out-sourced an IT function have had to terminate that agreement early, according to a 2002 November study from DiamondCluster International, a Chicago management consultancy. The top reasons for CIO dissatisfaction: poor service, a change in strategic direction and costs... CIOs are finding that if they want something done right -- or at a lower cost or in a more strategic fashion -- they've got to do it themselves."
2003-03-02 08:16PST (11:16EST) (16:16GMT)
Fire Mars Egypt's New Alexandria Library
"A fire broke out Sunday in the sleek, new Alexandria library, sending thick smoke swirling through the building that opened to international fanfare in October... The fire was confined to the administrative area and no books were destroyed, said Khaled Azab, a library spokesman. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina reopened later Sunday. Egypt built the $230M library, on Alexandria's renovated seaside promenade, with financial and other assistance from around the world. The ancient library, founded in about 295BC by Ptolemy I Soter, burned in the 4th century. It had been an international intellectual center where scholars are thought to have produced the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament and edited Homer's works. The new library contains about 240K books, a planetarium, conference hall, 5 research institutes, 6 galleries and 3 museums."
The working class takes it on the chin
"during a long period of American economic hegemony, the real income of the average worker has remained essentially stagnant... It took an overheated economy to produce serious economic gains for the average worker."
Chuck Murphy & Sydney P. Freedberg _St. Petersburg Times_
"Since 1994, Florida law enforcement agencies have received approval for 1,941 rifles and grenade launchers from military surplus stocks. To get them, sheriff's offices and police departments have at times inflated crime statistics or misled authorities about the need for the weapons or the way the weapons would be stored... [The Leon county state attorney's office] executive director says the agency does not include its four M-14 rifles in its annual inventory because they cost less than $1K [each], the threshold at which tax-payer property must be regularly counted. The rifles were issued to investigators, but they received no special training and have never used them. Leon is the only prosecutor's office in the state to seek military weapons."
Andrew Bernstein _Knight Ridder Tribune_/_Tallahassee Democrat_
Cow-boy president brings Old West to international stage
"These smears imply that the heyday of the cow-boy in the Old West was a lawless period when trigger-happy gunmen shot it out with reckless abandon and brute force reigned. But to most Americans, the cow-boy is not a villain but a hero. What we honor about the cow-boy of the Old West is his willingness to stand up to evil and to do it alone, if necessary. The cow-boy is a symbol of the crucial virtues of courage and independence. The original cow-boys were hard-working ranchers and settlers who tamed a vast wilderness. In the process, they had to contend with violent outlaws as well as war-like Indian tribes. The honest men on the frontier did not wring their hands in fear, uncertainty and moral paralysis; they stood up to evil men and defeated them. The Texas Rangers -- a small band of law-men who patrolled a vast frontier -- best exemplified the cow-boy code. Whether they fought American out-laws, Mexican bandits or marauding Comanches, they were generally outnumbered, sometimes by as much as 50 to 1... In describing their independence and courage, Ranger captain Bob Crowder said: 'A Ranger is an officer who is able to handle any situation without definite instructions from his commanding officer or higher authority.' The real-life courage of such heroes has been properly memorialized and glorified in countless fictional works... Today the terrorists responsible for blowing up our cities are far more evil than the bandits and gunmen faced by the heroes of the Old West. To defeat them, we will require all the more the cow-boy's virtues of independence and moral courage. Even as our European critics use the 'cow-boy' image as a symbol of reckless irresponsibility, they implicitly reveal the real virtues they are attacking. European leaders assail Americans because our 'language is far too blunt' and because we see the struggle between Western civilization and Islamic fanaticism in 'black-and-white certainties'... Texas Ranger captain Bill McDonald reputedly stated: 'No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that is in the right and keeps on a-comin'.' If America fully embraces this cow-boy wisdom and courage, then the Islamic terrorists and the regimes that support them had better run for cover. They stand no chance in the resulting show-down."
Red Hills Horse Trials FAQ
Timothy Egan _NY Times_
New Economy Recedes in Pacific Northwest
"When President Bill Clinton came to Seattle 10 years ago as the host of a Pacific Rim economic summit, this city was his stage and his symbol. Looking to the next century, he held Seattle up as a New Economy role model for the rest of the country. After all, coffee, music, apples, wine, software, airplanes, even potential cancer cures, were sailing out of the Puget Sound area -- the most trade-dependent part of the country, with particularly close ties to Asia. M$, the home-town company, was minting fresh millionaires by the month, and the entire region was pulsing with creative energy from technology spin-offs... But now the very attributes that made the Pacific Northwest look like the vanguard of the new-century economy have come back to haunt this region. A staggering Asian economy, the worldwide down-turn in the air-line industry and the dot-com bust dealt a triple blow to the area... Over the last year, no place in the country has had higher unemployment than this region. Washington, Oregon and Alaska have all posted unemployment rates of about 7%... M$, is still hiring new employees while sitting on nearly $40G in cash at its global headquarters just across Lake Washington. And the air-plane company born in a barn along the Duwamish River, Boeing, is still turning out planes, although its world dominance is gone... The first warning sign of ripples from Asia hit the shores of Puget Sound in 1998 at a moment when money seemed to come out of thin air... For farmers, it meant markets that were supposed to be their salvation turned cold. By 2000, Washington apple growers, once proudly independent, were accepting government hand-outs and subsidies, like so many other American farmers. For fisher-men in Alaska, who had flourished with global sales while the fishing industry all but disappeared elsewhere in the country, it was the same story. Japan still wanted wild Alaskan king salmon. But once trade barriers fell, the Japanese market was flooded with Alaskan salmon and prices plunged... The prolonged down-turn may be causing lasting damage, especially at Boeing, which is still the region's largest single employer, with about 60K workers. The concern is that so many jobs have been lost that the skills needed to make air-planes are disappearing. 'The average Boeing machinist is 47 years old.', said Connie Kelliher, a spokes-woman for the International Association of Machinists... The machinists' local here has gone from a high of 39K members in 1999 to 17K now [a loss of 22K], said Ms. Kelliher. The average wage is $26.50 an hour. Increasingly, Boeing contracts out large portions of its airplane assembly jobs to cheaper sources over-seas. At the same time, the company that once called itself "plane maker to the world" has suffered a steep loss in market share to its European rival, Airbus, and now books barely 50% of new air-plane orders... Boeing moved its corporate head-quarters out of Seattle to Chicago in 2001... In 1971, for example, after Boeing laid off nearly 70K workers... Idaho, with 1.3M people, is a similar story. The state went from a resource-based market to one built around high tech and processed agricultural products, all tied to the new global economy. The population grew by 20% in the 1990s, as companies and workers fled Southern California for the cheaper business environment around Boise. Still, even though Idaho unemployment was the worst in a decade last year, just under 6%, and job creation lagged behind the rest of the nation, state officials say there is no turning back to the old economy."
Julia Lawlor _NY Times_
ReBuilding the Paths to Work When a Nest Egg Is Lost
"Unemployment in New York has climbed to 8.4% from 5.3% in less than 2 years, while the national jobless rate fell to 5.7% in January, from 6% the previous month. And of course, Wall Street is reeling and the city is planning extensive budget cuts. Ms. B quickly discovered that all her old contacts on Wall Street had been laid off. She sent rÈsumÈs to online job postings without success. To hedge her bets while she pursued a full-time job, she is also working toward a real estate license, and says she is thinking about starting a home-based business selling health and wellness products."
George Packer _NY Times_
Dreaming of Democracy
"In 1989, under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil, M published a book called _Republic of Fear_, which relentlessly dissected the totalitarian nature of Saddam's regime. The pseudonym wasn't a whim; in those years Iraq's overseas dissidents were frequently bumped off... [His] ideas cut deeply against the grain of Arab intellectual life and won him both powerful admirers and powerful enemies... The history of the Iraqi opposition's relationship with the United States government is a tangled and unhappy one, leaving deep suspicions between and within them... Faisal I, son of Hussein of Mecca, with his party and advisers at the Versailles peace conference in 1919, 2 years before being made king of the new country of Iraq. His British backer, T.E. Lawrence, is third from the right... The report proposes, among other radical ideas, a representative 'transitional authority' chosen by Iraq's opposition exiles and ready to operate inside the country as the regime crumbles; the postwar demilitarization of Iraq; the dismantling of the Baath Party along the lines of German de-Nazification; war crimes trials and a truth commission; thoroughgoing secularism; a constitution in which individual and minority-group rights would be guaranteed in advance of local and then national elections, so that democracy does not lead to tyranny of the majority; a decentralized federal government in which the regions would be drawn along geographic rather than ethnic lines; and an end to ethnic identity as a basis for the state... A recent report compiled by the International Crisis Group, a policy organization based in Brussels, from secret interviews held in three Iraqi cities last Fall... With unexpected homogeneity, Iraqis voiced an acceptance of the inevitability of war and a change of government... Questions about successor regimes and federal democracy met with indifference. OTOH, according to the report, the opposition in exile 'is viewed with considerable suspicion' -- far more than a foreign occupier would be -- 'and the desire for a long-term U.S. involvement is higher than anticipated.'... When the seal on Iraq is broken, the surge will be just as intense, and the smell of decades of repression just as rank... Today, Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of an allied no-fly zone, has a flourishing civil society and the beginnings of democratic self-government... In the Pentagon version, Iraqi exiles would form a provisional government prepared to take power under American protection. The State Department, which intensely dislikes the Iraqi National Congress and its chairman, Ahmad Chalabi, has done everything possible to block this possibility and either encourage a coup or plan for the American military to run Iraq for months or years until it would gradually hand over power to Iraqis... In Arabic, 'Iraq' means 'well-rooted country', which suggests the kind of promotional thinking that makes urban planners christen a concrete housing project 'Metropolitan Gardens'. The country was assembled at Versailles after World War I out of 3 former Ottoman provinces and handed over by the League of Nations in 1920 to be a British mandate, breaking the promise of postwar independence that T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, had made to Britain's Arab allies. But the British found this unruly concoction of peoples more trouble to govern than it was worth, even with Lawrence's friend King Faisal I on the throne, and in 1932 Iraq became an independent constitutional monarchy, though the imperial power didn't leave without securing favorable oil concessions. Within 4 years Iraq gave the Arab world its first modern coup. After that, the violence never really stopped, with coups, ethnic pogroms and massacres among political parties. (The Arab Baath movement emerged in World War II as a pro-Nazi group.) But the most turbulent decade followed the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy in 1958. One military regime was toppled by the next. In 1968 the Arab Baath Socialist Party finally consolidated power, destroying its opponents among the Communists and the other Arab nationalists. Saddam, the head of internal security, quickly acquired de facto power but assumed the presidency only in 1979 amid a bloody purge. Chaos gave way to dictatorship, two ruinous foreign wars and the Kurdish genocide."
Adam Cohen _NY Times_
Too Old to Work?
"Allstate recruited new insurance agents in the 1980s with a brochure aimed at the dreams of time-clock punchers everywhere... And 'job security'?... And once he got past the preliminaries, he was told, he could be terminated only for dishonesty... Then, in 1998, Allstate reduced the commissions it paid its neighborhood agents... In 1999 November... agents were handed a box of documents -- the 'job in a box', they would come to call it -- radically redefining their relationship with Allstate. Harper and the others would now be independent contractors. Their benefits, pensions included, would end... The box also contained what Harper now calls the 'damnable release', which guaranteed that the agents would not sue. They didn't have to sign, but if they refused, their days selling for Allstate were over... The company, which had more than 15K agents of various kinds, was offering all of its 6,400 employee agents -- the longest-serving agents, and those with the best benefits -- the same unrelenting terms. They could keep their jobs by forfeiting benefits that were, in some cases, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or they could give up their benefits and their jobs... Allstate's reneging on its promise... In the end, he did what all but a handful of the employee agents did -- he signed the release. Then he sued for age discrimination... According to the federal government, age-discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are up more than 24% over the past 2 years... In many elite job markets -- investment banking, computer programming, publishing -- youth is celebrated, and regardless of how young older workers may feel, they only have to look around to realize that they represent the old school, not the new wave. Hollywood has been rocked by a recent round of law-suits charging television networks, production companies, studios and agencies with 'gray listing' -- refusing to hire older talent. (In the case of some television writing jobs, 'old' actually refers to the early 30's.) Last September, Doris Roberts, the septuagenarian actress who plays Ray Romano's mother on 'Everybody Loves Raymond', told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that society views people her age as discardable... It's a typical pattern: when hard times hit, the ax falls disproportionately on older workers, who may be the most highly paid and who are often stereotyped as being less efficient. In a bad economy, with few other jobs available and retirement holdings taking a hit, fired workers are also more willing to sue... At the heart of their lawsuit is the claim that Allstate executives singled out one category of workers -- employee agents -- because more than 90% of them were over 40... Thousands -- maybe millions -- of older workers are discriminated against on the job every year, but many have no idea what their rights are... Ed Liddy... marveling to _C.F.O. Magazine_, 'It's amazing how quickly you can dismantle a business that took a hundred years to build.'... American workers are invariably surprised when they first learn, often when they have just been fired, about the concept of 'employment at will'. The general rule in American law is that employees hold their jobs at the whim of their bosses. Employers are free to fire workers, as the Tennessee Supreme Court explained in 1884, for 'good cause, for no cause or even for cause morally wrong, without being thereby guilty of legal wrong'."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Red China: Partner, Rival, Individual Rights Violater
"For Mattel, the toy maker, all production is now done overseas, said Thomas A. Debrowski, its executive vice president for operations. His options for production include Red China and other developing countries, not the United States, he said... Some white-collar jobs that would traditionally have resided in the United States are moving to Red China. Five years ago, both Intel and M$ announced the opening of major research centers there. In 1999, Motorola decided to make Beijing its global center for research and development, with a target work force of 5K within 5 years. Motorola also has large manufacturing plants in Tianjin and Hangzhou... Not everyone agrees, though, on the benefits to Americans. 'I don't think very much of it is passed on to the consumer.', Mr. Chastain said. He warned that companies might use low labor costs in Red China to subsidize higher costs elsewhere, with little change in the price of their products."
Robert Matthews _London Daily Telegraph_
Being fat makes you more stupid - but only if you're a man
"Now researchers in America have shown that obesity by itself is able to cause a significant decline in mental ability. The finding has emerged from the renowned Framingham Heart Study, begun in 1950 and involving thousands of people from Framingham in Massachusetts, who undergo regular health and mental checks every 2 years. By studying the records of more than 1,400 men and women in the study, Professor Merrill Elias and colleagues at the University of Boston found that men classified as clinically obese appear to have significantly reduced mental agility. Curiously, fat women did not suffer the same fall in intelligence."
Robert Matthews _Chicago Sun Times_
Does obesity turn men into dummies? Over-weight men lose brain power
"Given a battery of cognitive function tests involving logic, verbal fluency and recall, men with a body mass index of more than 30 -- equivalent to a 5-foot-8-inch person weighing more than 196 pounds -- achieved scores as much as 23% below those of non-obese men, even after taking into account factors such as educational level, occupation and blood pressure. Body mass index is calculated by dividing a person's weight in pounds by the square of their height in inches, and multiplying the result by 703."
1865-03-03: battle of Natural Bridge, Florida
2003-03-02 21:01PST (2003-03-03 00:01EST) (2003-03-03 05:01GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
America's innovation cut-backs: In reversal, tech giants shave R&D budgets
"Research and development spending among the largest U.S.-based technology companies declined in 2002 for the first time in at least 15 years, reversing a trend that has helped maintain American economic leadership. The 100 technology companies that spent the most on research and development in 2002 cut their R&D budgets by an average of 6.8% vs. the year before, according to data compiled by CBS.MarketWatch.com. According to the National Science Foundation, that would mark the first time since 1987 that the largest U.S. tech companies spent less on R&D than they did the previous year... Cut-backs on R&D are of particular concern to share-holders, since many consider it to be the one 'good' corporate expense. R&D has long been equated to a company's commitment to future products and services. It takes R&D resources -- time money and people -- to build new and innovative products that are expected to spur business when the economy improves. And in a stagnant or declining economy, introducing better, faster and cheaper products is the only legal way for companies to increase revenue."
2003-03-03 08:19PST (11:10EST) (16:10GMT)
Michael Baron _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Factory data trump calm on war front
"The factory sector grew in February but slower than most were expecting. The Institute for Supply Management's index for last month registered at 50.5. Economists expected a reading at 52.3 after 53.9 in January. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while a reading below that mark shows contraction... For the second time in the past 14 months, U.S. consumers reduced their spending in January, cutting real expenditures by 0.3%, the Commerce Department estimated Monday. Meanwhile, incomes rose 0.3%. Real disposable incomes grew 0.2%. The consensus estimate was for a gain of 0.4% in incomes and a 0.1% rise in consumer spending. The personal savings rate rose to 4.3% from 3.9%. Inflation remained subdued. The personal consumption expenditure price index rose 0.1% in January. Spending on durable goods fell 5.7%, the biggest drop in 13 years. Wages and salaries in the private sector fell slightly."
Tina Rosenberg _NY Times_
Why Mexico's Small Corn Farmers Go Hungry
"Macario Hernandez's grand-father grew corn in the hills of Puebla, Mexico. His father does the same. Mr. Hernandez grows corn, too, but not for much longer. Around his village of Guadalupe Victoria, people farm the way they have for centuries, on tiny plots of land watered only by rain, their plows pulled by burros. Mr. Hernandez, a thoughtful man of 30, is battling to bring his family and neighbors out of the Middle Ages. But these days modernity is less his goal than his enemy. This is because he, like other small farmers in Mexico, competes with American products raised on megafarms that use satellite imagery to mete out fertilizer. These products are so heavily subsidized by the government that many are exported for less than it costs to grow them. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis, American corn sells in Mexico for 25% less than its cost... European farmers get 35% of their income in government subsidies, American farmers 20%. American subsidies are at record levels, and last year, Washington passed a farm bill that included a $40G increase in subsidies to large grain and cotton farmers... [Mexican] Corn growers get about $30 an acre [in government subsidies]."
"Peace is retained by free persons willing to help the tyrant discover the after-life. Slaves and subjects have no peace." --- Mac McMasters
War fears contribute to lower UN forecast for US, European economies
Jane M. von Bergen _Philadelphia Inquirer_
As bills pile up, jobless wear down: Coping with collectors can crush spirits.
"Of course, people must pay their bills, but that doesn't mean they need to be subjected to humiliating harassment in the process, he said. Federal and state credit-collection laws limit the number of times collectors may call, and forbid most contacts with relatives and friends. M lost his job in November, but many of the 50 people gathered in St. Joseph's parish hall had been out of work for more than a year. And once creditors learn about the unemployment, some can become even more fierce, Woodruff said. 'They love to hear someone who is very upset, then they love to come along and push the buttons.', he said. Collectors reason that a stressed-out debtor will be more likely to pay up just to end the aggravation."
_New Mexico Business Journal_
Aerospace employment hits 50-year low
"U.S. aerospace employment has reached its lowest level since 1953, according to the Arlington, VA-based Aerospace Industries Association, which is basing its figures on data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the end of 2002, there were 689K people employed in the industry... Aerospace employment has dropped 106K since 2001 September 11, and it has fallen by nearly half, or 642K, since 1989 December, a period that marks the end of the Cold War, AIA officials say."
2003-03-03 21:43PST (2003-03-04 00:43EST) (2003-03-04 05:43GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Innovating through the down-turn: Tech players stretch R&D dollars to make advancements
"Corporate spending on research and development among the largest U.S. technology companies fell in 2002 for the first time in 15 years, as many companies focused on saving the present at the possible expense of the future... But 30 of the top 100 tech companies that spent the most on R&D boosted their R&D budgets by at least 5%, according to a study by CBS.MarketWatch.com... More than 40 of the companies MarketWatch studied in the software, computer, chip, and networking markets increased R&D spending as a percentage of total sales in 2002, helping the top 100 R&D companies increase their average spending to 12% of revenue, up from 11.7% in 2001... More than any other technology industry, software companies were able to increase R&D spending in 2002... Oracle cut its R&D spending by 5.5% in fiscal 2002... 'The dollars were down about 5% -- that's a fact.', Henley said. 'But the reality is that our head-count in development rose 12%.'... Oracle spends the bulk of its R&D on 'sustaining' engineering -- new releases of existing products... The telecom sector's down-turn has led to more than 500K job cuts, $1T in corporate debt, and nearly $2T in stock losses since 2000, according to the Telecommunications Industry Association."
2003-03-04 05:48PST (08:48EST) (13:48GMT)
Bill Snyder _The Street_
Survey Sees No Big Lift in IT Spending
"Two months into the first quarter of 2003, there's still no sign of a substantial rebound in IT spending. The latest indication: a survey by market researcher Forrester forecasting spending growth of 1.9% this year, not even enough to keep up with inflation as measured by either the producer or consumer price index. This year's forecast compares with growth of 2.3% in 2002, a terrible year for technology companies. The survey of 877 IT 'decision-makers' found that just 35% of the companies surveyed will spend more on hardware, software and services in 2003, and only 26% are planning to increase spending on desk-top [micro-computers] or work-stations... 60% of the companies surveyed will buy disaster recovery products. 45% will deploy business intelligence software. 26% of the $1G-plus companies will spend $500K or more on data storage, servers or networking."
2003-03-04 06:39PST (09:39EST) (14:39GMT)
Scott McNealy recruiting Indian developers, still belligerently opposed to privacy
"The head of Sun Microsystems will visit India for the first time to woo software developers in its battle with rival M$. CEO Scott McNealy will spend 1 day each in New Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore, the tech capital, during his visit starting March 20. Sun and M$ are pushing rival technologies -- called SunOne and .Net, respectively -- in their battle to dominate web services, which involves connecting different computer systems to do business over the Internet... The number of Indian developers, with their high skills and low costs, is expected to grow to 1.3M in 4 years from about 400K to 500K at present. Sun has 650 employees in India."
2003-03-04 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Announced lay-offs rise 5% in February
"The nation's job-cutting pace quickened in February, with announced job reductions rising about 5% to 138,177, according to a monthly tally compiled by out-placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. The job-cut scythe has mowed through the telecommunications, computer, auto, financial, aerospace, transportation and retail sectors, and it's now falling heavily on workers in government and non-profits, the Challenger data show. In February, the government and non-profit sector cut 41,559 jobs, more than any other sector... Telecommunications, which ranked at the top of job-cutting industries for most of 2002, fell to 10th in February, with just 6,169 cuts. Retailers have cut 51,063 jobs so far in 2003, the most of any sector and almost twice the number cut during all of 2002... Employers have announced 3.45M job cuts since the recession [of] 2001 March. Lay-offs peaked at 248K in 2001 September, gradually declined to about 70K in 2002 September before rising again as the economy hit a soft patch and geopolitical fears intensified... 'It is doubtful that a turnaround in hiring can be expected before fall, if then.', Challenger said."
2003-03-04 08:25PST (11:25EST) (16:25GMT)
Lay-off plans still haunt job market: Companies cut 138,177 jobs in February, up 5% from January's level.
"In a fresh indication that U.S. companies are still firing workers, corporate managers announced 138,177 job cuts in February, up 5% from January's 132,222, employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a report. 'It is doubtful a turn-around in hiring can be expected before Fall, if then.', John Challenger, the research group's chief executive officer, said in a statement."
Geraldine Fabrikant _NY Times_
Liberty's Malone and Comcast Set to Weigh Fugure of QVC
"That is because Liberty Media, which [John C.] Malone controls and which owns 42.5% of QVC, said yesterday that it would exercise the buy-or-sell option in its contract with Comcast, which is QVC's majority owner... Comcast is suing to reduce the prices it pays to carry Liberty's Starz Encore cable programming on some of its systems -- a move that Liberty has opposed with its own law-suit... Should Liberty and Comcast fail to reach agreement, a third party would be asked to set the value. Comcast would then have the right to buy out Liberty's stake, which analysts value at $5G to $6G. Should Comcast pass up the deal, Liberty can buy out Comcast's 57.5% portion, valued at $7G. If neither party wants the other's share of the service, which reaches 70M subscribers, QVC would be put up for auction, with Comcast and Liberty both eligible to bid... Comcast inherited a 25-year Starz Encore contract in its purchase of AT&T broad-band that has unusually rich prices for the service, Mr. Harrigan said. In court, Comcast is battling to have the terms reduced to the level of its own existing Starz Encore deal... Another motivation for shedding its stake in QVC would be the interest Liberty has already expressed in making a bid for DirecTV, the home satellite service, or making a run at Vivendi Universal's entertainment assets... As for Comcast, Mr. Harrigan said it would be tough right now for it to buy Liberty's QVC stake... Ms. Reif Cohen said that when AOL Time Warner takes its cable television business public this year, that sale could generate as much as $6G for Comcast, which owns 21% of those operations. But Mr. Harrigan counters that selling a large amount of Time Warner cable stock could be difficult in the current market. In addition, Ms. Reif Cohen said, Comcast will get roughly $3.6G in cash and stock in the revamping of Time Warner Entertainment, the unit of AOL Time Warner that owns cable systems, Warner Brothers and Home Box Office. Comcast owns a stake of Time Warner Entertainment, which it acquired as part of the AT&T broad-band deal."
Sidney M. Wolfe _NY Times_
A Free Ride for Bad Doctors
"The fact is, only a small percentage of doctors account for most of the money paid out in malpractice cases. From 1990 to 2002, just 5% of doctors were involved in 54% of the pay-outs -- including jury awards and out-of-court settlements -- according to the National Practitioner Data Bank of the Department of Health and Human Services. (The data bank allows hospitals and medical boards to see the records of individual doctors but, thanks to pressure from the American Medical Association, Congress forbids it to release information to doctors or the public.) Of the 35K doctors with 2 or more pay-outs during that period, only 8% were disciplined by state medical boards. Among the 2,774 doctors who had made payments in 5 or more cases, only 463 -- 1 out of 6 -- had been disciplined... Pennsylvania...has disciplined only 5% of the 512 doctors who had made payments in malpractice suits five or more times, the lowest percentage of any state. (Arizona, for example, has disciplined nearly half of the doctors in this category.) And while Pennsylvania has 5.3% of the doctors in the United States, they make up 18.5% of American doctors with five or more malpractice payments. One doctor there paid 24 claims between 1993 and 2001 totaling more than $8M (1 was for operating on the wrong part of the body; another was for leaving a 'foreign body' in the patient) yet was never disciplined by Pennsylvania authorities. The state with the next highest overrepresentation of doctors with 5 or more payouts is West Virginia, where doctors went on strike last month. It has 0.57% of the country's physicians, but they make up 1.69% of American doctors who have had made malpractice payments five or more times. Only one-quarter of the state's doctors with 5 or more pay-outs has been disciplined by the medical board. In NY... only 15% of these 698 doctors [wh ohad 5 or more malpractice pay-outs] have been disciplined by the state board... What patient would not like to discover the malpractice history of a potential doctor, especially if he is among the 2,774 in the United States who have had 5 or more pay0outs?"
Report: Lay-off Plans Grew in February
"Lay-off plans at U.S. firms rose for the second straight month, suggesting that a rebound in the nation's wobbly labor market is unlikely before the end of the year. In a fresh indication that U.S. companies are still firing workers, corporate managers announced 138,177 job cuts in February, up 5% from January's 132,222, employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a report... The U.S. Labor Department is due to issue its February jobs survey on Friday at 08:30EST (13:30 GMT). Economists polled by Reuters expect the unemployment rate to jump to 5.9% in February from 5.7% in January."
Amy Schurr _Network World Careers_
Severance period getting shorter
"Out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reports that the average severance period lasted just 10.5 weeks in 2002, the shortest severance period since the last recession when the firm began tracking severance data. The average length of severance has fallen by nearly 12 weeks since 1999's high of 21.8 weeks. 'This is undoubtedly troubling news for jobless managers and executives who took an average of 16 weeks to find new employment in 2002.', says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 'This means that the average job seeker is unemployed for six weeks after his or her severance is exhausted.' Challenger points out that layoff victims' slashed consumer spending doesn't bode well for economic recovery, nor does corporate hesitation to increase capital spending."
Christopher Hitchens _Slate_
An ally we're better off without Why President Bush should turn his back on Turkey
Red China: Where It Pays to Stay Nimble
"On the face of things, [Red China] might look like a country that U.S. computer makers would want to avoid right now. Revenue for PC makers in [Red China], which grew by double digits annually during the Internet craze, fell by 5% in 2002, estimates market researcher IDC. What's more, the competition for sales is stiff in a business dominated by two local players, Legend Computers, with 26.5% of the market, and a company called Founder, with 8.4%. By comparison, Dell has 6% of PC sales in [Red China], IBM even less... Though [Red China] has moved away from a planned economy, Beijing policy is driving growth in its tech markets. For instance, a government plan to get 90% of [Red China's] schools online by 2010 helped make the educational sector the fastest-growing one for PCs in 2002 -- it rose 27.4%. PCs sold to schools now account for 14.6% of the country's 9.29M unit PC market, according to Gartner. By comparison, demand for business PCs, which account for 38.7% of the market, grew an anemic 2.7% last year. So far, however, foreign companies aren't getting much of the education market, because schools go for cheaper local brands."
2003-03-04 21:22PST (2003-03-05 00:22EST) (2003-03-05 05:22GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Haunted by over-seas R&D challengers: Foreign firms with competitive advantage nip at U.S.
"Richard Chang, a graduate of Southern Methodist University and a long-time research and development executive at Texas Instruments, is the kind of guy who puts both the Pentagon and top U.S. research executives on edge... Borrowing techniques Chang and others at SMIC learned in Taiwan and the U.S., the [Red Chinese] company is expected to be one of the world's largest low-cost producers of high-end semiconductors in just a few more years. Already, SMIC is rivaling advanced plants in Taiwan -- and under-cutting their production prices. So much for the Defense Department's hopes that the [Red Chinese] would stay 2 generations behind the U.S. in its advanced manufacturing processes. Gone, too, are hopes of the Taiwanese that they could stay years ahead of mainland China's high-end manufacturing capabilities... 'There is a real issue about America's ability to continue to stay dominant -- to continue to invest in the future and not to unravel the present.', says Bernstein, whose labs are a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox. 'I see more D and less R in the U.S. And that's going to be a big problem.'... He says R&D spending was often wasteful and repetitive in the late 1990s, so a pull-back should be expected in the post-bubble years. It is possible, however, that any long-term lull in American R&D commitments will give companies in [Red China] and elsewhere a chance to cut into the market position of U.S. companies. That's true in tech manufacturing, as well as specialized software and services sectors where foreign competition barely exists today, says Matt Ocko, managing director of Archimedes Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture firm that invests in U.S. companies with manufacturing and engineering centers in [Red China] and India. 'Technology executives and venture capitalists who are more focused on their golf games than understanding capacity for innovation and the size and growth of the IT markets in [Red China] and India are making the same mistake that Detroit executives made regarding the Japanese in the late 1970s.', Ocko says... Ocko says that some of those projects are being brought back to life over-seas by former holders of special U.S.-issued visas who had been working on them until they were laid off in today's leaner climate. Now, when they return home, he says their knowledge is sought by start-ups in [Red China], India and elsewhere. 'We're grossly underestimating what smart people abroad with substantial government support and a growing home market will do to U.S. companies, where employees are spending more time fighting turf battles over who gets an office or who gets a cube.', Ocko says."
2003-03-04 21:25PST (2003-03-05 00:25EST) (2003-03-05 05:25GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
America's R&D wake-up call: Foreign tech rivals evoke Detroit's doom
2003-03-05 14:45PST (17:45EST) (22:45GMT)
Eric Hellweg _CNN_/_Money_
Centuries of failed business with Red China
"As technology businesses around the world struggle with market saturation (Palm), murky sales forecasts (Hewlett-Packard), and painfully slow recoveries (Intel), one bright light shines on the horizon, drawing these and scores of other companies to it like curious, hungry moths... The open-source operating system has made serious inroads with governments around the globe, including those of Peru and Germany. MSFT leaped into [Red China] when it realized that Beijing, too, was eyeing Linux. As the world economy worsens, more foreign governments grappling with budgets will view Linux's low cost and open-door nature as an attractive option."
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
America's R&D wake-up call: Foreign tech rivals evoke Detroit's doom
"Instead of sending future tech wealth abroad, we need to open our doors to more top foreign scientists. We're sending H-1B visa holders home with pink slips and a basket of skills they learned from U.S. companies. We should be giving the brightest of them research fellowships working for the Department Homeland Security. Above all, America needs to train the next great generation. The nation's educators need to make math and science top education priorities. U.S. elementary and secondary students continue to test below their international peers. Most don't even meet national proficiency standards, as schools are teaching advanced math concepts later than in other industrialized nations. The threats to American tech dominance are real."
Eric Lichtblau & William Glaberson _NY Times_
Millions Raised for Qaeda in Brooklyn, US Says: Attorney General John Ashcroft, left, joined Tom Ridge, Homeland Security secretary, and Robert Mueller, F.B.I. director, at a hearing yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Ridge said millions of dollars were sent from the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn to al Qaeda.
"A prominent Yemeni cleric apprehended in Germany on charges of financing terrorism used a Brooklyn mosque to help funnel millions of dollars to Al Qaeda and boasted that he had personally delivered $20M to Osama bin Laden, federal officials said today. The cleric, Sheik Muhammad Ali Hassan al-Mouyad, told an F.B.I. informant that he was a spiritual adviser to Mr. bin Laden and had worked for years to provide money and weapons for a terrorist 'jihad', according to two affidavits that were unsealed today in Brooklyn and that charge him and a Yemeni assistant with financing terrorism... In New York, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Qaeda operatives "did their fund-raising right here in our own backyard in Brooklyn'. The name of the mosque is spelled 'Al Farouq' in the court papers... The case has threatened to create an international rift because officials in Yemen, which has been increasingly helpful in fighting terrorism, say they are skeptical of the charges against Sheik Mouyad, the imam at a prominent mosque in the capital, Sana. He runs a large charity that provides food and clothing to the poor, works in the government ministry that oversees mosques and is active in the Isla political party... Mohammed Nagi, spokesman for the imam, Abdul Rahman, of Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn, said officials there were 'very, very, very surprised to hear of the allegations' that money collected at the mosque went to Al Qaeda. He said the mosque had always sought to comply with all American financial regulations governing tax-exempt organizations. 'This is just a place of worship.', he said. Al Farooq Mosque is where Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman -- convicted in the bombing in 1993 of the World Trade Center -- served as imam for 2 months in 1990."
Sarah Mahoney _NY Times_
Lap-Tops Win Over the Skeptics, Even in Maine
"Lap-tops will follow their users to eighth grade next year, while seventh graders will get new iBooks, for a total of 33K. When students leave the eighth grade, they will turn them in. The cost of the 4-year program is $37.5M, which includes leasing the laptops, installing wireless ports throughout schools so students are always connected to the Internet and training teachers. It translates to about $300 per user a year, said Tony Sprague, project manager of the laptop program, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. To bolster the program, Mr. King sought support from beyond the state government. The author Stephen King (who is not related to Angus King) toured the Freeport school and offered to teach an online writing course. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $1M for more teacher training. The technology giant EDS pledged $400M in software for Maine schools, the biggest gift the state has ever received."
Eric Pfanner _NY Times_
Dollar Hits 4-Year Low After Treasury Chief Rattles Market
"The dollar dropped to its lowest level in 4 years against the euro today, with the European currency touching the key level of $1.10, after Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said he was 'not particularly concerned' about the dollar's recent slide. The dollar has fallen about 4.5% against the euro since January 1..."
Gail Kinsey Hill _The Oregonian_
As state fights deficit Oregon's jobless ask for benefits extension
"Many have used up 65 weeks of jobless insurance -- the maximum available -- and have yet to find work... The committee considered and unanimously passed Senate Bill 2, which would give laid-off workers another 13 weeks of benefits, with weekly payments ranging from $94 to $405. The bill goes to the full Senate, where passage is expected. An estimated 18K workers would qualify for the extra checks. Benefits would be retroactive to December 29 for unemployed workers who have exhausted all other available resources... Oregon has such a high unemployment rate -- standing at 7.5 in January..."
Tom Costello _CNBC_
German economy in shambles
"Once Europe's engine of growth, Germany is now a dead-weight economy that is pulling down the rest of the region. U.S.-German relations are at a post-war low, 4.5M Germans are out of work, and the economy is all but dead in the water... Germany is the world's third largest economy, but it has barely grown over the past 10 years. Unemployment is running at 11% nation-wide, 18% in the east. Taxes have soared, consumer spending has stalled and bankruptcies are rising. Labor costs -- second only to Belgium -- are forcing German corporations to flee as labor laws make it virtually impossible for companies to restructure or lay off employees."
Stephen Roach _Morgan Stanley_
Global Capital Spending Myths
"These executives don't forget for a moment how badly they were burned by the open-ended capex [capital investment] surge in the late 1990s. Until the supply-demand balance turns more favorable, the business-people I have spoken with tell me this post-bubble caution is unlikely to fade -- irrespective of war-related gyrations in the US economy. The only capacity expansion programs they are contemplating are in low-cost out-sourcing platforms such as [Red China]... Unfortunately, with the manufacturing capacity utilization rate having fallen to 73.6% in the final period of 2002-- well below the 80% threshold that normally triggers increased investment -- the accelerator construct offers little encouragement to the capital spending out-look... In 4Q02, IT hardware and software amounted to 47% of total spending by US businesses on capital equipment -- well in excess of the 31% share that prevailed in 1980. To the extent that this transformation reflects a dramatic shortening of the capacity replacement cycle due to the rapid obsolescence of IT capital, then it may simply be time for an up-turn. After all, corporate IT budgets were slashed by 15% over the 5-quarter period from 20003Q to 20014Q. As a result of this down-turn and in the aftermath of the anemic recovery that has since followed, current-dollar corporate IT budgets in 20024Q were essentially no higher than they were 3 and a half years ago in mid-1999... Putting it all together, I see little reason to bank on business capital spending as the sector that will spark the next cyclical recovery in the United States."
Buck Wargo _Inland Valley Voice_/_LA Times_
Region out-performs state, nation in job creation
"The Inland Empire's economy continues to do better than that of the state and the rest of the nation despite losing 14,400 jobs in January. Between 2002 January and 2003 January, the region added 26,500 jobs for a total of 1.06M, an increase of 2.6%. That's less than the 5% growth rate in recent years, but the region did have the second largest job-growth rate in the state behind a 3.3% spike in Fresno County... San Diego added only 9K. Orange County lost 10K jobs and Los Angeles County, 40K."
2003-03-05 16:04PST (19:04EST) (2003-03-06 00:04GMT)
Leigh Strope _AP_/_Yahoo!_
House Panel OKs Tax-Free Job-Search Funds
"Unemployed workers having trouble finding jobs would get up to $3K tax free to pay for child care, transportation and training to help with their job searches under an administration proposal that passed a House committee Wednesday. The Education and Work-force Committee voted 23-22 mostly along party lines to approve the 'Back to Work Incentive Act'. The proposal goes to the full House, where Republicans have a 24-seat majority to help ensure passage... The Bush administration has said it will request a total of $3.6G in new supplemental spending for this budget year and in 2004 to fund the job-search accounts."
2003-03-06 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment Compensation Insurance Claims Average at 9-Week High
"The closely watched 4-week moving average of initial jobless benefits requests rose 8,750 in the latest period, to 408,750, the US Labor Department said Thursday. It's the highest level since the week ended December 28. The increase brings the level above the key 400K mark that analysts say divides an improving or worsening layoff situation. For just the week ended March 1, seasonally adjusted jobless claims rose 12K to 430K. The level is at its highest since the week ended December 14, Labor officials confirmed. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed individuals who continue to collect unemployment insurance jumped 180K to 3.52M - the highest level since the middle of November."
2002-03-06 06:31PST (09:31EST) (14:31GMT)
University Socialist Insecurity numbers stolen on-line
"Hackers have stolen names, Social Security numbers and e-mail addresses of some 59K current and former students, faculty members and staff at The University of Texas at Austin, school officials said in published reports Thursday. The theft was discovered Sunday evening when computer systems personnel discovered a computer malfunction, Dan Updegrove, the university's vice president for information technology, told the _Austin American-Statesman_ and _Houston Chronicle_... Updegrove said the hackers used a computer program to query the UT database with 3M potential Social Security numbers, resulting in about 59K successful matches."
2003-03-06 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US January factory orders up 2.1%: highest in 20 months
"Orders for new factory-made goods rose 2.1% in January to the highest level in 20 months, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The figure beat the consensus estimate of a 1.8% gain. It was the biggest gain in factory orders in six months. New orders for core capital goods - which exclude aircraft and defense goods -- rose 4.5%. Shipments of factory goods rose 2.2% in January, also to the highest level since 2001 May. Unfilled orders - a key gauge of future output - fell 0.2% to the lowest level since 1996 September. Inventories were unchanged. Core capital goods orders rose 4.5%."
2003-03-06 07:15PST (10:15EST) (15:15GMT)
Leigh Strope _AP_/_Yahoo!
Unemployment in sluggish economy finally spurs politicians to act
"In Congress, President Bush's plan to create 're-employment accounts' to help long-term unemployed workers find jobs is starting to move forward. He wants to spend $3.6G over 2 years on the program. The 'Back to Work Incentive Act', which would provide up to $3K tax free to pay for child care, transportation and training, was approved Wednesday by the House Education and Work-force Committee. The proposal goes to the full House, where Republicans have a 24-seat majority to help ensure passage. But the legislation could face obstacles in the closely divided Senate... Representative Rob Andrews, D-NJ said it was 'callous' to suggest 'that the reason people aren't going back to work is because they don't want to'. They said jobless workers are being misled about getting $3K because the money per person probably would be much less... Jobless workers who accept the money would be barred from receiving job training and education provided by local one-stop employment centers for 1 year."
2003-03-06 07:16PST (10:16EST) (15:16GMT)
Jeannine Aversa _AP_/_San Francisco Chronicle_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims rise sharply last week, partly reflecting toll of bad weather
"The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial applications for unemployment insurance went up last week by a seasonally adjusted 12K to 430K. It marked the third week in a row that lay-offs increased and represented a weaker work climate than analysts were expecting. They were predicting claims would go down... Productivity -- the amount of output per hour of work -- rose at an annual rate of 0.8% in the fourth quarter, according to revised figures. That marked a turnaround from the 0.2% rate of decline reported a month ago and was a stronger showing than analysts were predicting... For all of 2002, productivity grew by 4.8%, the strongest showing since 1950."
2003-03-06 08:19PST (11:19EST) (16:19GMT)
Hackers strike at University of Texas
"Authorities Thursday sought computer hackers who stole the names and Social Security numbers of 59K current and former students, faculty and staff last week at the University of Texas at Austin."
2003-03-06 11:17PST (14:17EST) (19:17GMT)
Jeanne Sahadi _CNN_/_Money_
Rx for the newly unemployed: Paying bills just got harder. Here's how to minimize debt and credit problems.
"In the fourth quarter of 2002 -- the most recent period for which data is available -- the median search time for a job was 3.87 months, up from 3.4 months at the beginning of that year, according to out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. For workers over 50, the news was worse -- their median search time was 4.93 months. Medians, of course, reflect the middle point in a range. So for half of the people seeking work their job-search time is actually longer."
2003-03-06 11:42PST (14:42EST) (19:42GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Brother, can you spare a job?: Private-sector employment is in its worst slump since WWII and unlikely to get better soon. (with table of labor-market slump durations)
William Glanz _Washington Times_
NASA faces brain drain as retirements approach
"The number of scientists and engineers at the agency 60 years and older out-numbers those 30 years and younger by a 3-1 ratio. About 15% of the science and engineering work force at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is eligible to retire now, and within 5 years nearly a quarter of them will be eligible... The average age of NASA's 20K employees is 46.3 years, up from 43.4 years in 1993, according to the Office of Personnel Management... The space agency will spend an estimated $6.1G to fund the shuttle program, the International Space Station and spaceflights in fiscal 2003, according to agency documents. That's nearly 41% of its estimated $15G budget... 'Even though we do have a large number of people who can retire, I don't think they will.', NASA Deputy Administrator Frederick Gregory said. NASA is pressing for a series of small changes to attract more workers and pre-empt a labor shortage. One proposal includes making more new employees eligible for relocation allowances... Both proposals are included in a bill introduced in January by Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican and chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee holding today's hearing. Mr. Boehlert introduced a separate bill yesterday giving NASA authority to offer more incentives to retain and recruit workers. NASA is not the only organization affected by an aging engineering work force. The Aerospace Industries Association released a study this week that concludes the number of industry workers has fallen to its lowest levels since 1953 because of industry mergers and acquisitions and because of lower revenue among air carriers. An estimated 689K people worked in the industry at the end of 2002, down 106K since 2001 September 11."
Tracie Rozhon _NY Times_
King of Sneakers
2003-03-06 12:58PST (15:58EST) (19:58GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Private-sector employment is in its worst slump since WWII and unlikely to get better soon (graph, table)
"According to the latest consumer confidence survey by the Conference Board, a private research group, the percentage of consumers saying jobs are 'hard to get' rose in February to a 9-year high. Recent data reinforce that belief. Private-sector unemployment is at 7% -- far worse than 2002's average rate of 6.2% -- and the 12-month net change in private payrolls has been negative ever since 2001 July and will likely stay negative in February, adding to the longest such stretch of pain since 1944-1946."
Matt Hayes _Fox News_
Costly Immigrant Labor Certificates
"[A] quick review indicated that many should not have been filed in the first place. Many of the applicants sought certification for work that any employer could quickly find an American to do, and most applications had been denied without the client ever having been informed... When we broke the news that his application for a labor certification would almost certainly be denied and could not be rehabilitated, he asked, 'Alright, but can you sue my employer to get back the $10K I paid him to go along with this?'... At the end of last year, well-known immigration lawyer Samuel Kooritzky was convicted on 57 counts of fraud in connection with two years of applications for labor certifications for which he collected $10M in fees. He filed 230 separate applications for only 2 Chili's restaurants, 184 for a diner, and 173 for a single Shoney's restaurant. Immigrants were reportedly charged between $8K and $20K per application. Managers of the restaurants insisted that they were unaware that they had been used as sponsors in a labor certification application... The H-1B visa, which exists to insure that American companies have enough skilled workers, is similarly abused, and is the chief culprit in the current glut of computer programmers. As disturbing as it may be to recent college graduates, most U.S. employers are not first required to hire American applicants before they seek foreign workers to fill jobs. At the end of 2002 America had 900K foreign workers on H-1B visas, the vast majority of which are computer programmers. If there were a critical need for H-1B computer programmers, then starting salaries for new graduates should reflect that fact. Data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers for 2000 indicate that average starting salary offers for computer science bachelor's graduates rose from $44,649 to $49,055 (9.9%). That compared with an increase for math graduates of 12.1% ($37,253-41,761) and humanities graduates by 18.9% ($37,253-41,761). With the bottom falling out of high-tech, salaries for computer science graduates have dropped over the past 2 years and were at $44,429 in 2003 January. If there is a shortage of computer programmers, then the market would show that. But it shows the opposite -- there are too many of them."
2003-03-06 21:01PST (2003-03-07 00:01EST) (2003-03-07 05:01GMT)
Charles Carlson _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
DRIPs are hip again: Tax plan & broker scorn lead to DRIP revival
See also the DRIP Investor
"In 1999, for example, dividend-paying stocks lagged non-payers by nearly 90 percentage points, according to Standard & Poor's. However, since the tech sector began imploding in 2000, dividend payers have beaten the rest of the market by a huge margin... DRIP investing provides an attractive way for investors to deal directly with companies, avoiding Wall Street and its middlemen."
2003-03-06 21:02PST (2003-03-07 00:02EST) (2003-03-07 05:02GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Paying a premium: Why Americans shell out for favored products
"61% of Americans said they cut back on high-priced items last year, down from 91% in 1975, according to an annual survey by market research firm RoperASW, consisting of 2K in-person interviews... Along with a unique experience, consumers want a product that embodies value before they'll shell out more money for it."
2003-03-07 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Pay-rolls tumble 308K: seasonally adjusted jobless 5.8%
"The government reported 308K jobs outside the farm sector were cut in February. The unemployment rate rose to 5.8% from 5.7% in January. Economists had expected a small pay-rolls gain and a rise in the unemployment rate to 5.9%... Construction pay-rolls fell by 48K last month, factories shed 53K jobs. Retail positions were down 92K and services fell 86K. The average workweek fell to 34.1 hours, with the manufacturing workweek unchanged at 40.8 hours. The January pay-rolls gain was revised down slightly."
2003-03-07 09:14PST (12:14EST) (17:14GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumers keep schizophrenia alive: Net stocks seen facing high consumer exposure
"With the approach of the third anniversary of Internet stocks' zenith-turned-meltdown, we're reminded of fleeting realities, dreams and wealth. But one thing lives on: schizophrenia. That distinct pattern of trading that's become common-place in the market, was again apparent Friday as many stocks mounted gains even in the face of fresh news of job losses, sinking revenue, and war tensions... Milunovich highlighted five companies with 90% of their revenue exposed to the consumer market. Among them are AOL Time Warner, Amazon.com, EBay, Electronic Arts and Yahoo. Those stocks weaved in and out of the plus column in midday trading Friday, but EBay managed to hit a new 52-week high, at $79.41. Sony is also at risk for having more than 60% of its operating profits generated from its gaming business, according to Milunovich. Hand-set makers such as Nokia and Motorola, have high exposure to the consumer as well, the analyst wrote. Nokia has 77% exposure to consumers while 75% of Motorola's business is exposed to the consumer. Apple Computer has 50% exposure to the consumer."
2003-03-07 10:50PST (13:50EST) (18:50GMT)
Jeordan Legon _CNN_
Scientists: Internet speed record smashed
"Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center used fiber-optic cables to transfer 6.7GB of data -- the equivalent of 2 DVD movies -- across 6,800 miles in less than a minute... The team was able to transfer uncompressed data at 923 megabits per second for 58 seconds from Sunnyvale, California, to Amsterdam, Netherlands. That's about 3,500 times faster than a typical Internet broad-band connection... Scientists were able to get 93% efficiency out of their record-setting connection because they didn't have to share bandwidth, they received donated equipment in excess of $1M and they changed the setting of Internet protocols to allow faster data transfers, Newman said."
2003-03-07 12:50PST (15:50EST) (20:50GMT)
Justin Lahart _CNN_/_Money_
3 Years of Pain: Sorting through the wreckage: On 3rd anniversary of Nasdaq's record high perhaps the biggest question is how things got so bad. (with graphs)
"When the Nasdaq composite index closed at its record high of 5,048.62 on 2000 March 10 it had in the space of just 1 year more than doubled. The unemployment rate had just come in at 4.1% and the latest read on gross domestic product showed the economy growing at a 6.9% annual rate. Weeks before, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress 'beneficent fundamentals will provide the framework for continued economic progress well into the new millennium'... The Nasdaq, down 75% from its peak, doesn't lead the evening news anymore, but for many observers the malaise both the market and the economy have fallen into have everything to do with the Nasdaq's rise and fall... The worry now is that, hard as the past 3 years have been, the bitter draught isn't finished."
Kenneth N. Gilpin _NY Times_
US Pay-Rolls Fall Sharply as Jobless Rate Rises to 5.8%
"The nation's pay-rolls outside the farming sector fell by 308K in February, erasing gains recorded in January, which the Labor Department said today were bigger than originally estimated. The nation's unemployment rate ticked up to 5.8%, from 5.7% in January... Over all, employment in the service sector declined by 86K jobs last month, the biggest decline since the Fall of 2001... Economists say there is no question the economy remains mired in a jobless recovery. Since employment peaked in 2001 March, nearly 2M jobs have been lost. In February, 8.5M people were unemployed. About 1.9M of those, or 22% of the total, have been out of work for 27 weeks or more."
Tom Brokaw _NY Times_
The Arab World Tunes In
"Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, is by far the most powerful, with some 35M viewers. It still reflects an Arab point of view, but it is far more independent than the old government-controlled broadcasters that dominated the Middle East until a few years ago. In addition, CNN has expanded its own reach. The network estimates it now has viewers in 10M households in the region. As a result of this widespread dissemination of information, the fundamental structure of Middle East politics has been altered, if not over-hauled... Even in Qatar, where the emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has made a big bet on his friendship with the United States, the leadership is not immune to the effects of Al Jazeera ó which the emir himself started... Communications experts in the Bush administration are aware of the power of Al Jazeera, and that their point of view is under-represented... One senior war planner said, bluntly, 'We've done a terrible job out here explaining why we're going after Saddam Hussein.'. The absence of that persuasive explanation is even more conspicuous against the desert-brown and olive-green backdrop of American military machines and uniformed forces pouring into the area. The overwhelming image of America on Persian Gulf television screens these days is a soldier's face framed by a camouflaged helmet... Americans have no doubt about their military superiority or their preparedness for the hard tasks of desert warfare against a desperate enemy. But waging and then winning the communications war is a different proposition. As a battle-field commander put it, 'If we don't get this right, we'll be here another 10 years.'."
David E. Rosenbaum _NY Times_
Troop Movement Could Cost $25G CBO Speculates
"Last week, a senior Defense Department official suggested that a war might cost $60G or more [and GWBush mentioned a figure of $90G]... The [CBO] staff calculated that the initial cost of deploying troops and equipment in the region of the war would be about $14G, that the cost of the first month of combat would be $10G and that the cost would then fall slightly to about $8G a month. After the war, the budget office figured it would cost about $9G to return the troops and equipment to home bases. American occupation of Iraq, the staff said, could vary from $1G to $4G a month."
Pat Choate _USA Daily_
Out-Sourcing Your Job
"If your job requires a specialized skill or a college education, a foreign worker may soon replace you. If this happens, you may get a few extra months of work so you can train your replacement. In most instances, your job will moved to some penny-wage nation, such as Mexico, India, or [Red China]. Already, millions of blue-collar U.S. manufacturing jobs have been exported. Now, in what is called the 'third wave' of globalization, high knowledge and skilled jobs are also being relocated to lower wage countries... India and [Red China], for instance, are each producing more than 350K new engineers per year. In combination, that is twice the number being produced in the United States annually. These foreign engineers will work 6 days a week for $10K per year, roughly one-sixth that of their U.S. counterparts. And equally important, U.S. employers sending work to India and [Red China] are not required to pay for [Socialist Insecurity], medical programs, retirement, or disability expenses... Equally important for most U.S. employers, these foreign workers are docile. They are not going to form a union, and they are not going to confront their bosses with demands. Criticism is discouraged with firing and by a black ball system operated by employers and the government. And in 'no-dissent' nations such as [Red China], critics may lose their freedom, if not their lives."
Paul J. Lim _US News & World Report_
An exodus of jobs
"In Washington, the Labor Department reported that the economy shed a higher-than-expected 308K jobs in February, the biggest monthly cut in non-farm pay-rolls since 2001/09/11. That led the unemployment rate to creep from 5.7% in January to 5.8% last month. 'While it is a shock that the monthly February job loss was so high, it is no surprise since announced job cuts averaged more than 139K since last October.', said John Challenger, CEO of the out-placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas."
2003-03-07 16:47PST (19:47EST) (2003-03-08 00:47GMT)
Kevin Bohn _CNN_
Nephew of Pakistani president arrested: Tourist visa expired in 1994
"The nephew, Amir Javed Musharraf, registered with immigration authorities February 19 as part of a Justice Department program requiring men from 25 countries, including Pakistan, to be interviewed and finger-printed. Musharraf, who was living in Memphis, Tennessee, had been in the United States since 1994, the spokesman said... The registration program, called The National Security Entry Exit System..."
2003-03-07 17:31PST (20:31EST) (2003-03-08 01:31GMT)
Matt Andrejczak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Facing the share-owners: Amid record proxy volume, annual meetings kick off
"Now, however, state pension funds, labor unions and other groups that for years have been snubbed by corporate boards are licking their chops. Outrage over the nation's bankruptcies and accounting scandals has delivered powerful ammunition, and this year marks the first full annual meeting season in which advocates have been able to meet corporate deadlines to submit share-holder proposals... As of early February, at least 870 proposals were filed vs. 802 in all of 2002, according to the Investor Responsibility Research Center, a nonprofit proxy-advisory group based in Washington. The bulk of the resolutions are tied to corporate governance issues, with the tally at 625, compared to 529 in all of 2002. Some companies, scrambling to appease agitated investors in the wake of the business scandals, are even bowing to share-holder demands before annual meetings, making concessions to keep certain proposals from ever coming to vote... At the top of the agenda this year are issues related to egregious abuses of executive salaries and other perks of the job -- a new thrust for activists seeking to put caps on pay, golden-parachutes packages and stock option grants... Post-bubble pay packages have outraged investors whose stock portfolios got crushed in the collapse of the technology sector and the crisis of confidence spawned by several accounting scandals. In 2001 and 2002, departing chief executives reaped an average severance package worth $16.5M, according to recent Corporate Library research that examined so-called golden parachutes offered by S&P 500 companies... In a movement gaining visibility at share-holder meetings this year, some proposals are taking on the practice of U.S.-headquartered companies that incorporate in off-shore tax havens like Bermuda... In an effort to dilute the power of top executives, there is also mounting pressure for companies to separate the positions of chairman and CEO. It would result in splitting board oversight duties between the chairman and the CEO... As a rule, share-holder proposals are nonbinding; even if a resolution receives a majority vote, the board isn't obligated to enact the change."
2003-03-08 01:00PST (04:00EST) (09:00GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Marking 3 years from Nasdaq peak: Stocks face menacing week on anniversary of mile-stone
"The NASDAQ hit its loftiest height on 2000 March 10, with a record close of 5,048... Investors finished out 2000 with the Dow's first losing year in a decade. The Nasdaq wrapped up the year with a 39% loss, the most devastating drop in its 30-year history. The pain was just starting as a 3-year stock slide continues to this day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 7,740, down 151 points, or 1.9%, from its week-ago close of 7,891. The index is won about 7.1% for the year. The Nasdaq finished Friday at 1,305, down 32 points, or 2.4% from its week-ago close of 1,337. It's off about 2.2% so far this year. The index will head into 2003 March 10, down a whopping 3,743 points, or 74%, from its heady all-time close 3 years ago. The S&P 500 wrapped up the first week of March, 2003 at 828, down 12 points, or 1.4% from its level of 840 seven days ago. The index of blue chips is down about 5.8% so far this year."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Net of 308K Jobs Lost in February
"the unemployment rate nudged up to 5.8% from 5.7% in January... The Bush administration... said they showed the need for quick action on the president's plan to cut taxes... Pay-rolls shrank in virtually every goods-producing industry and edged down or remained flat across the service sector. Only government pay-rolls managed a broad-based increase."
Jonathan Fuerbringer _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Interest Rates Keep Sliding Toward 1950s
"Interest rates are nearing their lowest levels in decades, surprising economists who predicted that rates would start rising this year."
Fred O. Willians _Buffalo NY News_
cross-border bodyshop/off-shoring firm from India to open Buffalo office
"Tata Consultancy Services, an Indian technology giant, plans to open an office in Buffalo to recruit clients and workers in Western New York. TCS will hold an opening ceremony on Monday, representatives said, drawing senator [Hitlery Rotten Clinton] from Washington, DC, and Subramaniam Ramadorai, the company's chief executive, from Mumbai, India. The event will be at the Hyatt in downtown Buffalo. Asia's largest technology services company [i.e. cross-border bodyshop and off-shoring firm] and its biggest software exporter, TCS uses [mostly Indian]professionals in the USA and India to develop software for corporations and governments. Its 50 offices around the USA and Canada have about 5K employees [over 80% of them born in India]. 'Their model is off-shore -- on-shore.', spokes-woman Leanne Scott Brown said, combining the work of developers in the USA and abroad... TCS recently announced the delivery of a computerized unemployment claims system for New Mexico, an example of its focus on government projects."
Iranian Women Rally to Demand Equal Rights
"The women, wearing the head-scarves and long coats required by law, and a small group of men held a rally in a central Tehran park. Watching them was a large contingent of police -- including some 400 women who in January became the first females to undergo training to be officers since 1979... In the crowd, some women held up signs against violence by men -- and against a war on Iraq."
_Ohio News Network_
Engineer Wins Age-Discrimination Law-Suit
"A jury in Cuyahoga County has ordered Philips Medical Systems to pay a former electrical engineer $7.8M in an age-discrimination law-suit. 56-year-old TS of Mentor worked for the medical equipment manufacturer for 23 years before he and 30 others were laid off in August. His lawywer Christopher Thorman says Sadowski was 1 of 3 workers cut in his department, all 54 or older. TS had gotten a raise and a merit promotion not long before. TS asked to be rehired after he learned the company had openings. Despite a company policy of trasferring laid-off workers into openings, it refused to consider him when he applied... The jury ruled unanimously that Philips discriminated."
Peter T. Kilborn _NY Times_
Texans Divided, Some Ambivalent about War
"Texas produced 364G barrels of oil last year, 250G fewer than in 1992 and 15% of the peak production in 1973. In 2000, according to the census, the median family income in Andrews County, population 13K, was $37,017, down from $43,756 in 1980. The median home value dropped to $42,500 from $59,558... Oil prices have rebounded from as low as $10 a barrel in the 1980s here, to $20 a year ago to nearly $40 now. By late last month 169 rigs were drilling into the basin, 20 more than in January and 40 more than a year ago, said Morris Burns, executive vice president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association in Midland."
Abel Valenzuela _UCLA_
Working Day Labour: Informal & Contingent Employment
"Day labour, the practice of convening in open-air or street-side curbs to seek daily, temporary employment is overwhelmingly portrayed as unstable, illegal, under-paid, and fraught with employer abuses ñ all key characteristics of informal and contingent employment. Light and Roach (1996) present day labourers as part of the informal employment growth of Los Angeles, with street-corner labour markets as a form of marginal self-employment. Parker (1994:63) describes day labour as bottom rung among wage earners in pay, receiving no benefits, and inadequate to provide workers with enough income to afford housing thereby concluding that most day labourers are homeless. In their study of Chicago's temporary employment industry, Peck and Theodore (1998: 658) describe the hiring halls and the day labour contractor as typical of the 'bottom end of the temporary industry'. Academic accounts of day labour in part reflect the dramatic growth of this market where large concentrations of recent arrivals most who are illegal and predominantly men, reside and partake in this burgeoning labour exchange. Even though the growth of temporary or contingent occupations paid informally or 'under the table' or with large concentrations of unauthorized immigrants is not adequately captured by the Census and Department of Labour statistics, other evidence suggests that in recent years, paid temporary day labour has increased (GAO 2000; Valenzuela 1999)..."
Lisa Baertlein _Reuters_
Post-Boom Life in Silicon Valley
"Silicon Valley, which vaulted to astronomical prosperity in the Internet boom, is still tallying the cost of an unrelenting -year down-turn. For many, the toll is measured in departed friends, grudging acceptance of low-wage part-time jobs, or the loss of little luxuries like hair salon appointments and season tickets. California's latest revised employment figures showed Silicon Valley's Santa Clara County alone lost 191,500 jobs -- or nearly 1 in 5 positions -- between the employment market peak of 2000 December and 2003 January... Marc Andreessen, who rode high as a former poster boy for the 20-year-old Internet millionaires minted during the boom, said Silicon Valley's current mood reminds him of the malaise that reigned when he arrived in 1994... San Francisco's best-known down-turn came after the Gold Rush of 1849, when banking and mining interests pulled up stakes. Lesser-know upheavals hit Silicon Valley in the 1970s, when microchips supplanted defense; in the 1980s, when the personal computer came to the fore; and in the 1990s, when the industry's focus shifted to software and the web... Santa Clara County includes such tech-heavy cities as San Jose, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto. It absorbed about half of the state's post-boom job losses and had a January unemployment rate of 8.6% -- above California's 6.5% and the national average of 5.7%."
2003-03-09 09:53PST (12:53EST) (17:53GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tech vulnerable on March 10 anniversary
"Three years after the March 10 market melt-down, tech stocks remain as vulnerable as ever, if investor sentiment is any guide... Since 2001, there have been four major Nasdaq rallies, each generating peak-to-trough return between 34% and 35%. Each of these rallies occurred at points - 2001 April, 2001 September, 2002 October -- when the volatility hit extremely high levels... Today, the tech sector is marked with positive relative performance. This is different from the periods in 100` April, 2001 September and 2002 October, Berman points out."
George Packer _NY Times_
Smart-Mobbing the War
"Eli Pariser, 22, tall, bearded, spends long hours every day at his desk hunched over a lap-top, plotting strategy and directing the electronic traffic of an instantaneous movement that was partly assembled in his computer."
Pop Went the Bubble
"5,048.62. That beguilingly pedestrian figure -- most numbers are, once untethered from their context -- marked the point at which one of history's most spectacular financial bubbles popped. Three years ago tomorrow, it was the closing number for the Nasdaq composite, the market index for all those 'new economy' tech stocks... 2000 March 10 does not seem like a long time ago solely because the Nasdaq is now at 1,305.29."
Gretchen Morgenson _NY Times_
Economy Can No Longer Count on the Consumer
"Accustomed as they are to ever-bigger bargains, and given how many cars, computers, sweaters and electronics gear they have bought in recent years, consumers may well commence a buying strike. 'As prices came down, that created a bargain effect', Mr. Hastings said, 'and consumers kept spending even though so much wealth was destroyed in the bear market.'. A strong dollar made imports cheaper as well. Also worrisome is a shift in the source of the funds available to consumers. In the 1990's, Mr. Hastings said, consumer spending was fueled by growing wages, a secure job environment and gains in real estate and the stock market. But since mid-2000, consumer spending has been bolstered by mortgage refinancings, home equity loans and falling retail prices. None of those sources can be relied upon much longer... Household wealth is in decline, Mr. Hastings said, and so is the number of people employed. Consumers are finally figuring out that the only way to save money in such an environment is to stop spending."
Kimberly Blanton _Boston Globe_ pg C1
Former computer worker tires of drawn-out search yielding few job leads, plenty of frustration
"BC experienced a miracle last week: He e-mailed an application for a job and someone e-mailed back... At age 38, BC is deep in the heart of a generation of software programmers and other techno-wizards who don't know how to find work in anything but an up job market. The current high-tech depression is the first time in history that payrolls at software firms have shrunk... Pounding the pavement, networking, cold-calling employers -- these generally are not among the skill sets of people whose geeky tendencies, once an asset, have turned into a liability in today's horrific job market... Unemployment among computer scientists nationwide hovers around 5.1%, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] -- triple the rate of just 3 years ago. In high-tech hot spots such as Boston, Silicon Valley, and Austin, Texas, programming jobs evaporated and may never reappear. Companies have shifted a lot of this work to other countries, mostly India, where hiring of contract workers to write software and perform other technical jobs is growing 30% a year, says Deborah Besemer, chief executive of Brass Ring Inc. in Waltham... he finds job hunting to be emotionally draining and has to get away from it... The specificity of skills required to snare a programming job is impossible for an outsider to grasp..."
Kimberly Blanton _Boston Globe_
Technical knock-out: Jobless for 16 months, executive seeks 'secret formula'
"He has scoured news-letters and networked for positions before they are advertised. Fearful someone his age -- 53 -- might be dismissed as too pricey in today's depressed tech industry, he'll accept a pay cut. He devises tricks to slip phone calls past the barricades constructed by human resources staff at companies that are hiring. To drum up job leads, he enlists people linked to his [wife's circle of associates]... GB is one of the walking wounded of the nation's high-technology disaster. Whether executives or programmers, the industry's unemployed face impossibly long odds in a job market that is still shrinking and is incapable of absorbing the throngs looking for a tech job, any tech job. About 1 in 3 of the 1.8M people nationwide who have been jobless 6 months or more are in technology or related occupations... Despite a full-bore job search, GB can't figure out how to stand out from the 29K other technology professionals in Massachusetts laid off in recent years. He has sent about 100 resumes, almost all of them ignored by prospective employers routinely bombarded daily by talented job applicants... As vice president of human resources at 24/7 Real Media Inc., [Audrey Blauner] receives 75 to 100 resumes a day when advertising a new position. Her staff sorts them into piles, by location -- applicants near the firm's Manhattan headquarters -- and salary requirement. Only the first 200 make the cut. 'Physically, we can't go through all of them.', Blauner says... GB believes age has something to do with it. The fast-moving high-tech industry is increasingly for young people who work long hours for lower pay. No employer would ever tell a job applicant they are too old; that is illegal under federal law. But he has noticed that veteran job-seekers at the 495 Networking Support Group in Westborough, which meets Wednesday mornings, are the older men and women..."
David A. Sylvester _San Jose Mercury News_
Help-wanted ads plummet along with jobs
"Help-wanted advertising has plummeted nationally to its lowest level in four decades -- and hasn't budged in the past six months. The Help Wanted Index, compiled monthly by the Conference Board research group, hit 40 in January, about the same level it has been since October. To put that in perspective, the index has dropped by more than half since its peak of just over 90, during 2000. It is also at its lowest point since 1964... One estimate is that spending on online help-wanted ads totals $800M, while in print that figure has dropped from $8.7G in 2000 to $4.4G in 2002."
2003-03-09 20:34PST (23:34EST) (2003-03-10 04:34GMT)
Del Jones _USA Today_
CEO pay takes another hit
"All the stock and stock options that companies have thrown at CEOs and other corporate leaders over the past 3 decades have done nothing to improve company performance. That's the conclusion of 4 professors from Indiana University and Texas A&M who say such motivational compensation does not boost the stock price or improve return on assets, equity, price-earnings ratios or other measures of financial success. The study, published last week in the February-March issue of _Academy of Management Journal_, is yet another slap at corporations that justified high compensation by saying it aligned the goals of executives with those of the shareholders... a USA TODAY analysis of Fortune 1,000 companies found little correlation to the amount of stock owned by insiders vs. return on equity. The analysis found dozens of examples of companies under-performing the competition despite their CEOs being laden with stock and options."
2003-03-09 21:01PST (2003-03-10 00:01EST) (2003-03-10 05:01GMT)
Shawn Langlois _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Sleeping tight in Luxembourg: Survey ranks the world's most, least safe cities
"The capital of the tiny sovereign state wedged between Belgium, France and Germany is the world's safest city, according to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.... At the opposite extreme, the crime-plagued city of Bangui in the war-torn Central African Republic ranks as the world's most dangerous at No. 215. The personal-safety scores factor in crime levels, law enforcement and internal stability, with each city ranked against New York City's base rating of 100. Under those guidelines, Luxembourg City scored 133.5, while Bangui, marked by a "highly volatile and dangerous" environment, managed just a 21.5 rating. Of course, Baghdad didn't fare much better, coming in only slightly ahead of Bangui on the list. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the Middle East's safest, both scoring 105.5 and ranked 54th... In the United States, Honolulu, Houston and San Francisco were the safest, tied for 40th place with a score of 106.5. Not surprisingly, the Washington, DC, score of 85 put our nation's capital at the bottom of the North America list, good for 107th overall. Calgary, Montreal and Ottawa are the continent's safest, tying for 25th with matching scores of113.5. Across the pond, Switzerland boasts half of the six safest cities, Bern, Geneva and Zurich, which all tied for second with a score of 126.5. Zurich also took top honors in Mercer's Quality of Life Rankings. Europe's most dangerous cities -- Milan, Athens and Rome -- still placed in the top 100, despite relatively high crime levels. London scored 100 and tied with New York for the 64th slot. Asian cities populate two-thirds of the top 15, including nine cities in Japan. Singapore, meanwhile, well-known for its strict approach to law enforcement, tied with Helsinki and the three Swiss cities for second."
2003-03-10 08:43PST (11:43EST) (16:43GMT)
Adam Lashinsky _CNN_/_Money_
3 Years of Pain: Silicon Valley 3 Years Later: with the bubble burst West coast tech heads face dark times
"How much has Silicon Valley changed in the 3 years since the Nasdaq peaked on 2000 March 10?... Three years ago it wasn't at all uncommon for people at parties here to talk about nothing but business, their stock options and their jobs... It was a time of inflation. Salary inflation, title inflation, housing-value inflation. Everyone was rich and smart... Jobs were plentiful..."
2003-03-10 13:41PST (16:41EST) (21:41GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks fall on birth-day of Nasdaq high: Weak economic out-look, war fears paint the Street red
"The Dow fell 171.85 points, or 2.2%, to 7,568.18 and the S&P 500 Index shed 21.41 points, or 2.6%, to 807.48. The Nasdaq Composite, which closed above 5K for the last time 3 years earlier, lost 26.92 points, or 2.1%, to 1,278.37."
Visa Loop-Hole as Big as a Main-Frame: More companies are abusing L-1 visas to bring in low-wage foreign "IT" workers-- and replace Americans
"After all, in 2001, congress had specifically banned the displacement of USA employees by foreigners brought in under the controversial H-1B visa program, which many employers had tapped to fill vacant jobs in the booming 1990s. Congress also had demanded rules requiring employers to pay H-1B workers 'prevailing USA wages' -- and Siemens made no bones about the cost-cutting nature of the lay-offs... her Siemens supervisors told her he [her L-1 replacement] earns just one-third of her $98K a year... Siemens spokes-woman Paula Davis says her company isn't responsible for [Tata subsidiary TCS's] employment practices. 'They don't work for us; they work for Tata [a body shop founded in India but also operating in the USA].', she says... just one example of an explosion in the use -- and in some cases, the abuse -- of L-1 visas. With the travails of the high-tech industry and the jump in 'IT' unemployment, fewer USA companies can tap the H-1B program these days by saying qualified Americans aren't available. At the same time, many employers looking to slash costs have discovered that they can use firms that hire L-1s to dump high-paid Americans in favor of cheaper workers from abroad. As a result, many companies are subcontracting thousands of jobs to out-sourcing companies... Bombay-based Tata now uses L-1s to bring in half of the 5K 'IT' workers it has placed at companies in the USA, says CEO Subramaniam Ramadorai. Nearly one-third of Infosys' 3K U.S.-based workers hold L-1s, the company says, as do 32% of Wipro's 1,500. Like Tata, Bangalore-based Infosys and Wipro say they follow the letter of the L-1 law. But they may be violating the spirit of the law. 'Is it O.K. to use L-1s for out-sourcing to other firms? The answer is no.', says State Department spokes-man Stuart Patt... At the same time, the Immigration & Naturalization Service is reviewing the L-1 visa program 'to assess whether companies are using the L-1 to circumvent the H-1B program', says an INS official. And Representative John L. Mica (R-FL) vows he'll try to amend the L-1 statute if Justice doesn't prosecute in the Siemens case. 'It's a back door to cheap labor.', he says. While many L-1s ease the intra-company transfers they're meant for, out-sourcing has triggered a surge in their numbers. New L-1s jumped by 50% between 1998 and 2002, to 58K, and climbed an additional 10% in the first 5 months of fiscal 2003, according to State Department data."
Fatuma Abdekadir, 20, one of 12K Somali Bantu refugees to be relocated from Kenya to the USA (quoted by Rachel L. Swarns _NY Times_)
Somania is not my country; the USA is my country
"I don't think Somalia is my country because we Somali Bantus have seen our people treated like donkeys there. I think my country is where I am going."
Ms. Aden (quoted by Rachel L. Swarns _NY Times_)
Africa's Lost Tribe, the Somali Bantu, Discovers America
"We are coming here to be resettled in the United States. There, we will find peace and freedom."
Greg Winter & Jennifer Medina _NY Times_
More Students Line Up at Financial Aid Office
"So when her father lost his job as a computer engineer last June, she took a deep breath and stepped up the groveling. Her financial aid package of $5K did go up, by $1K, but it was not enough. She dropped out and started working full time... tuition and living costs totals $15K a year, before financial aid... Dead-lines have not even passed on many campuses, yet financial aid requests have already risen by 50% at Skidmore College, in upstate New York, 39% at the University of Michigan, more than 30% at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Me., 30% at Willamette University in Salem, OR, 20% at Occidental College, in Los Angeles, 15% at State University of New York at Albany and 14% at Barnard College, in Manhattan -- all compared with last year, itself a particularly bad one... Even those who receive aid are coming back at midyear for more because their families' fortunes unexpectedly took a turn for the worse. Such appeals have doubled at Pomona College, in Claremont, Calif., doubled at Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio, almost tripled at Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, CA, risen 20% at the University of California at Berkeley, and increased fivefold at Smith College, in Northampton, MA, stretching some financial aid budgets to the breaking point... at Johns Hopkins University...the average aid package increased to $22K from $20K this year... College endowments fell an average of 6% in 2002, the steepest drop since 1974, the National Association of College and University Business Officers says. Beyond that, 26 states cut their higher education budgets for the current fiscal year, and just as many are expected to do the same in the coming one... Making matters worse, educators add, every state raised tuition and fees for public universities in 2002, some by 20% or more, as noted in a study this month by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Now states that had some of the smallest increases last year, like California and New York, are considering bigger jumps. Over the last 20 years, tuition and fees at private and public universities have more than doubled, even with inflation taken into account. The average tuition at state-supported colleges is $4,081, while the average at private institutions is $18,273... From November through January of this year, a smaller percentage of the population worked than at any time since 1994 -- it was 62.4% in February. Furthermore, the number of people who have been unemployed for 6 months or more is at the highest level in a decade, and nearly 3 times what it was just 2 years ago."
Floyd Norris _NY Times_
3 Years after Nasdaq Peak Investors Crave Safety
"It was on 2000 March 10 that the Nasdaq composite index hit a peak of 5,048.62. It had doubled since the previous summer, and those who had warned of a bubble in technology stocks had been so wrong for so long that few listened to them any longer... Within little more than a month, the Nasdaq had lost a third of its value... Then, in 2001 March, a recession began. 6 months after that, two planes hit the World Trade Center, and another slammed into the Pentagon. The recession probably ended in late 2001, but the after-effects of the bubble continue to plague the economy... At the market's peak, Mr. Hoenig noted, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, was comparing Internet stocks to lottery tickets. To an economist, lotteries and casinos are interesting because people pay to take risks even though they know that the odds are against them. It turns out that Mr. Greenspan had something of a point. Most of the initial offerings near the peak turned into disasters, with the ones that doubled and tripled the first day of trading being among the worst... Stocks that pay dividends have done better than those that do not, and there is a small trend toward paying dividends... Japan's market had been depressed for years, but even it put on a rally in the months before the United States market peaked. Since then the Nikkei 225 is down more than 60%, measured in dollars. The markets in France and Germany have lost more than half their value, and Britain has done almost as badly."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Measuring Lost Freedom vs. Security in Dollars
"In an unusual twist on cost-benefit analysis, an economic tool that conservatives have often used to attack environmental regulation, top advisers to President Bush want to weigh the benefits of tighter domestic security against the 'costs' of lost privacy and freedom... John Graham, director of regulatory affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget [said,] 'I want to make sure that people can see these intangible burdens.'... 'We already make these kinds of trade-offs all the time.',said Bruce Schneier, a security consultant in Sunnyvale, Calif., who is the author of a book due out in September titled _The Security Puzzle_. 'What you need to know are the agendas of the different players.' "
John Markoff _NY Times_
Software Pioneer Quits Board of Directors of Groove Networks
"Mitchell D. Kapor, a personal computer industry software pioneer and a civil liberties activist, has resigned from the board of Groove Networks after learning that the company's software was being used by the Pentagon as part of its development of a domestic surveillance system... Groove Networks' desk-top collaboration software [is] a crucial component of the anti-terrorist surveillance software being tested at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Information Awareness Office, an office directed by vice admiral John M. Poindexter... The project has been trying to build a prototype computer system that would permit the scanning of hundreds or thousands of data-bases to look for information patterns that might alert the authorities to the activities of potential terrorists."
Lisa Vaas _eWeek_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Battle Heats Up
"The New Jersey State Legislature has reportedly tabled a closely watched bill that would have prevented the over-seas out-sourcing of NJ state government IT projects... to ensure that government funds be used to employ U.S. workers, rather than workers based in India or other typical outsourcing recipient countries. The bill was passed unanimously by the New Jersey State Senate and was then sent to the New Jersey State Assembly on December 16... At least three other states are now considering similar legislation, including Connecticut, Missouri and Wisconsin. Meanwhile, backlash against domestic IT job loss to over-seas companies has taken a different tack in New York. The New York Software Industry Association, a high-tech organization in New York City, is organizing a 'Buy NY' campaign to re-establish the city's brand as a strong technology market and to increase the number of high-tech jobs in the area."
William F. Jasper _New American_
Your Job May Be Next!
"Millions of U.S. jobs, as well as thousands of independent businesses, face extinction under policies that favor importing cheap labor and exporting production... [Dell] was announcing new personnel 'attrition goals' of 10% per year, about double the normal attrition rate. These positions would not be filled in the United States, Clarke explained. They would be filled by new hires in India, [Red China], and other countries where Dell is shifting business... A steady trickle of Red Chinese engineers, project planners, and managers had been brought to Dell's Austin campus for training, and some U.S. Dell employees had made the trek to [Red China] for 4-to-6-month stints to train [Red Chinese] personnel there. Around the Dell head-quarters in Austin, employees had begun wryly referring to the 'Chinese invasion' as 'training our replacements'... eWEEK's Lisa Vaas reported... that the number of L-1 visas granted climbed from 112,124 in 1995 to 294,658 in 2000."
2003-03-10 17:08PST (19:08CST) (20:08EST) (2003-03-11 01:08GMT)
April Castro _AP_/_Houston Chronicle_
Law-makers consider banning Socialist Insecurity numbers as ID
"Less than a week after hackers stole Social Security numbers and other information from more than 55K students and employees at the University of Texas at Austin, the House Higher Education Committee on Monday started looking at legislation to ban colleges from using Social Security numbers as student identification. The bill would require all Texas colleges and universities to cease the use of Social Security numbers as a primary means of student identification by 2003-09-01... Last year more than 14K Texans reported to the federal Trade Commission that their identities were stolen... Luke Metzger, an advocate for the Texas Public Interest Research Group. 'We think we need to get Social Security numbers off student ID cards and off medical ID cards and just remove them from public view.'.. Representative Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, who authored the legislation..."
2003-03-10 19:27PST (22:27EST) (2003-03-11 03:27GMT)
Michelle Kessler _USA Today_
What rebound?: Tech firms still slashing jobs
"In January and February, tech firms announced 23,327 job cuts, including U.S. company cuts here and abroad and U.S. workers cut by foreign firms, says job placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas... For tech companies, the impact of lay-offs is 2-fold: Repeated cuts disrupt work flow and hurt morale.. Too deep a cut could jeopardize a turn-around. For workers, more lay-offs mean job hunting in a tough market. In Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley's heart, the unemployment rate hit 8.6% in January. One job opening attracts thousands of applicants, says career counselor Patti Wilson... Nationwide, spending on information technology, a key indicator of the economic health of many firms, is expected to rise 2% to 6% this year. In the mean-time, tech firms keep cutting... IBM, Apple Computer, Palm Computing, National Semiconductor and BMC Software recently announced cuts. U.S. tech companies have cut more than 500K jobs since 2000."
2003-03-10 21:02PST (2003-03-11 00:02EST) (2003-03-11 05:02GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Want a new Job? Gear up now: May kicks off a boom time for job hunting
"Families loath to move before their kids' school-year ends generate most of the activity in the spring job market... That means those interested in switching to a new job should consider ramping up efforts now to better position themselves for open slots... June was the busiest month for new hires last year, with about 5.1M people hired for non-farm jobs, according to non-seasonally adjusted numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which include, for instance, new college graduates. May was the next busiest month, with about 4.8M new hires. This year's spring rush may be muted by the current economy, but the number of workers new to their job has remained fairly steady over time. Even when companies aren't creating new positions, they're hiring people to replace workers who've left. Some 24.5% of workers held their current job less than a year in 2002. In 2000, it was 26.8%; in 1998, 27.8%; and in 1996, 26%, according to the BLS... hiring activity varies across industries... If you're not successful before summer starts, don't despair. September is another month with a high level of job activity, experts said... 'If you go counter-cyclical you have a better chance of being there when others are not.', said John Challenger, chief executive at Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 'You're trying to put your strongest effort out when everybody else is quiet.'"
2003-03-11 01:07PST (04:07EST) (09:07GMT)
Risa Maeda _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Nikkei Ends Below 8K
"The Nikkei finished down 2.24% or 179.83 points at 7,862.43, its low for the day and the lowest close since 1983 January. The capital-weighted TOPIX index of all first-section issues was down 1.77% at 770.62... ($1=116.88 Yen)"
2003-03-11 01:57PST (04:57EST) (09:57GMT)
Indian tech boom 'under threat'
"Indian software engineers typically earn one eighth of the salaries of their counterparts in the US and Europe... India's software exports are expected to have surged by 29% to 470bn rupees in the year to the end of this month. But Mr Paul warned of the growing competition India already faces from lower-wage countries such a VietNam, [Red China] and the Philippines, which are beginning to focus on the software sector."
2003-03-11 07:51PST (10:51EST) (15:51GMT)
Frank Barnako _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Half of Net companies are gone
"An estimated 4,854 of the Internet-related companies that received investor funding since 2000 have been acquired, shut down or declared bankruptcy, according to Webmergers.com. Since that time buyers spent almost $200G to buy as many as 4K web companies, the technology business research firm reported in a 3-year review of Internet mergers and acquisition activity."
2003-03-11 14:10PST (17:01EST) (22:01GMT)
Margaret Quan _EE Times_
Bill seeks to retain NASA engineers
"The NASA Flexibility Act of 2003 sponsored by representative Sherwood Boehlert, R-NY... 25% of NASA's work-force would be eligible for retirement by 2008... The proposed legislation 'allows NASA to offer larger recruitment and retention bonuses than are permitted currently and to offer bonuses to employees shifting between federal jobs without relocating', Boehlert said. The bill also increases voluntary separation incentives from $25K to up to 50% of an employee's annual salary and authorizes term appointments be extended from 4 to 6 years... One critic of the proposal is concerned, however, the bill may be designed to enlarge the use of H-1Bs, both by NASA and its subcontractors. 'The language is vague and I question why it increases voluntary separation incentives and increases term appointments from 4 years to 6 years, the term that fits with the period an H-1B worker is allowed to stay.', said Gene Nelson, a manpower expert in Dallas who tracks NASA."
Howard W. French _NY Times_
As Japan's Economy Slips, a Sense Leader May Fall
"'It's my first time out of work, and losing the income is tough.', said Mr. Okamoto, 49, an unemployed machinist. 'I've looked at lots of jobs, but it's tough when you are competing against people in their 20's and 30's. Mr. Okamoto's plight, one heard of alarmingly often in Japan these days, is a siren's wail for the prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, and the political elite cloistered in Tokyo. As the government fumbles with formulas to jump-start the sagging economy, ordinary Japanese are inching closer to exasperation. This discontent, which simmers ever closer to the surface, threatens to bring down Mr. Koizumi and further erode support for the governing party... Japan's economy grew an anemic 0.5% last year, and even that was a 'jobless recovery' similar to the one America experienced in the early 1990's."
James Brooke _NY Times_
Trial Runs of a Free Market in North Korea
"Even as it rattles its nuclear sabers, North Korea is toying with a version of market reforms to patch its ravaged economy. But 8 months after changes like price incentives began, the economy retains an unmistakable Alice in Wonderland quality. North Korea's deep ambivalence about business could be seen on a recent Saturday in this mountain resort district, opening day of the Magnolia Blossom. Security police officers paced outside the freshly painted restaurant, hands clasped behind their backs, glaring at customers inside. In the dining room, waitresses bent over ever smaller shards of a broken water bottle. The maÓtre d', on loan from South Korea and looking lonesome in his black tie, was not authorized to tell North Korean workers to sweep up the glass. Then the North Korean manager started to argue with an assistant over how much to charge for lunch -- $9 or $100... An American diner, halfway through his bowl of spicy Pyongyang noodles, suggested calculating a price based on profits. 'Our purpose is not to make a profit.', Kim Chol, the 45-year-old manager, lectured patiently. 'It is for the everlasting honor of our beloved leader, Kim Jong Il, that we are interested in serving proper meals to South Korean tourists, even to foreign tourists.' Asked the prices of ingredients for the meals, Mr. Kim said he did not know. He orders the food he needs. It comes... Last July, in a break with half a century of economic policy, Mr. Kim's government increased wages... Soon after, food rationing was partly abandoned and prices were raised... The result, defectors and economists say, has been hyperinflation -- at least in the small sector of the economy that runs on money... Relations with [Red China] reached a low point in October when [Red Chinese] authorities arrested the new head of a North Korean free trade zone, charging him later with 'economic crimes'."
Adam Nagourney & Janet Elder _NY Times_
Growing Number of US Back War, Survey Finds
"the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll...found that 58% of Americans said the United Nations was doing a poor job in managing the Iraqi crisis, a jump of 10 points from a month ago. And 55% of respondents in the latest poll would support an American invasion of Iraq, even if it was in defiance of a vote of the Security Council. But a majority of respondents, 52%, say inspectors should be given more time to search for evidence of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons on the ground in Iraq... The poll found that the economy continues to be a concern, with 35% of the respondents saying it is the most important problem facing the nation, compared with 23% who pointed to Iraq... In the poll, 44% of respondents said the United States should take military action against Iraq soon, compared with 36% just 2 weeks ago."
_abc 13_ Lay-offs, cost cuts lead to over-worked, dissatisfied workers
"Working over-time with no pay raise in sight has become the norm in Gidden's industry, and he says even though he has 15 years of experience in his field, he worries about being able to find a job if he were laid off. He says he copes by working hard and being grateful for his job... Since the recession began [trough, actually] in 2001 March, employers have announced more than 3M job cuts, says Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. U.S. companies slashed 308K jobs in February alone, marking the largest increase in job losses since the hiring slump that followed the 2001 September 11, terrorist attacks... Only 51% of the 5K people surveyed last year said they were satisfied with their jobs, compared with 59% in 1995, according to The Conference Board, a New York-based business research firm."
Conference Board table
Christopher Buckley _NY Times_
Capitalists in Red Chinese Legislature Speak Out for Property Rights
"Mao warned against 'capitalist roaders' over-powering [Red China's] revolution. But he perhaps never imagined that actual capitalists would one day press their cause here in his Great Hall of the People. The presence of more than a hundred of them at the current meeting of the National People's Congress is part of the Communist Party's tightening embrace of the market economy... Since the opening of the Congress on March 5, several groups of pro-business representatives have issued loud public calls for a constitutional amendment to protect private property from arbitrary confiscation and marauding officials. The national chamber of private businesses warned the legislature that the lack of secure property rights was forcing investors to send money abroad... A group of 30 legislators from Guangdong, the booming southeastern coastal province, called for a constitutional amendment making private property 'sacrosanct and inviolable'. Other legislators called for special laws to protect and encourage private businesses. Government officials have made it clear that there will be no such amendment during this year's session... There are 133 bosses of private enterprise in the Congress, according to a senior government official. That is a sliver of the total of nearly 3K representatives, a great majority of whom are government officials and Communist Party members, but it is nearly 3 times the number in the last Congress. A new Congress is chosen every 5 years."
Catherine Valenti _abc News_
All in a Day's Work: Lay-Offs, Cost Cuts Lead to Over-Worked, Dissatisfied Workers, Say Experts
"Working over-time with no pay raise in sight has become the norm in [software engineering], and he says even though he has 15 years of experience in his field, he worries about being able to find a job if he were laid off... He's been working 12- to 14-hour days without over-time pay just to keep up in his field, with the threat of termination never far from his mind... Since... March of 2001, employers have announced more than 3M job cuts, says Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. U.S. companies slashed 308K jobs in February alone, marking the largest increase in job losses since 2001 November, when companies cut 327K jobs following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon... Only 51% of the 5K people surveyed last year said they were satisfied with their jobs, compared with 59% in 1995, according to The Conference Board, a New York-based business research firm... Steven Sack...says the current environment is the worst he's seen in 23 years of practicing labor law. The biggest problems Sack sees are companies not paying severance or firing people before they're due for a bonus. Another problem is that so-called nonexempt, or hourly workers, are being classified as exempt workers, salaried professionals who do not get over-time pay. This misclassification cheats hourly workers out of over-time pay that is rightfully theirs. For example, this past Fall, Golden, CO-based bagel company Einstein Brothers Bagels had to pay $495,930 in back over-time wages to more than 400 assistant managers in 27 states, after misclassifying assistant managers as exempt from over-time pay."
Peter Nicks _abc News_
Life Without Work: For Long-Term Unemployed, Spiral Can Be Relentlessly Downward
"They are part of a growing number of Americans -- 1.8M to be exact -- who have been looking for work for more than 6 months."
Catherine Valenti _abc News_
All in a Day's Work: Lay-Offs, Cost Cuts Lead to Over-Worked, Dissatisfied Workers
"Working over-time with no pay raise in sight has become the norm in [software engineering]... The wave of downsizing that has gripped corporate America in recent years is being felt acutely by workers. Longer hours, nonexistent or small pay increases and the constant fear of losing their jobs has led to a nation of stressed-out and dissatisfied workers, say many career counselors and economists... Since the recession began in 2001 March, employers have announced more than 3M job cuts, says Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. U.S. companies slashed 308K jobs in February alone, marking the largest increase in job losses since 2001 November, when companies cut 327K jobs following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon."
Palmisano, CEO of IBM, saw his compensation jump 45% over 2001
"Samuel J. Palmisano, chief executive of International Business Machines Corp., saw his compensation jump 45% in 2002 over the previous year when he was president and chief operating officer. Palmisano, who became CEO in 2002 March when Louis V. Gerstner Jr. retired, received a base salary of $1.4M and a bonus of $4.5M, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2001, Palmisano was paid a base salary of $1.1M and received a bonus of $3M. Gerstner, who gave up his position as chairman in January, earned a base salary of $2M and a bonus of $1.5M in 2002, compared with a $2M salary and a $8M bonus in 2001, when he was CEO. In addition, Gerstner made about $4.7M from exercising options in 2002. At the end of the year, he had about 5.7M exercisable options. Gerstner didn't receive any additional options in 2002."
Janelle Brown _NY Times_
Restaurants on the Fringe, and Thriving
"Restaurants of dubious legality, where food is cooked in apartments and back-yards, abound across the United States. These under-ground restaurants range from upscale to gritty, and are born from youthful idealism, ethnic tradition or economic necessity. They lack certification from any government agency and are, strictly speaking, against the law. You dine in them at your own risk. If you can find them... [The owner] describes her restaurant as a kind of 'party' -- albeit one that comes with a bill -- and many under-ground restaurateurs harbor similar visions. Most chefs, after all, cook because they want to feed people great meals, but in the end, the compliments of satisfied diners are not always compensation for the headaches of running a business... [The private restaurant] is also profitable, which is more than most new restaurants can say. [The owner] attributes this to [its] under-ground roots. After all, he did not have to make an initial investment in a building or lay out a bundle for licenses, or insurance, or marketing, or staff. Starting a restaurant from scratch, depending on ambition and location, can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. 'The start-up cost of most operations is astronomical... It's impossible to do it by the book and make money in your first 3 to 5 years.'... Many under-ground concerns are born of neighborhood necessity... One family, he said, might make it its business to prepare cheap take-out meals for an entire apartment building... Most under-ground restaurants are a simple matter of economic necessity."
2003-03-12 04:17PST (07:17EST) (12:17GMT)
Larry Lange _Information Week_
"Doesn't this remind you of 1994, when Lou Gerstner cut 36K jobs, and saw his salary jump from $2.8M to $4.6M? Wall Street knows the rote. The stock market goes south; profits, investor faith and corporate credibility crash and burn; lay-offs and cuts abound; and CEO compensations soar as rewards from share-holders for meeting expectations. A typical chief of a major U.S. corporation took in an average $15.5M in total pay last year 428 times the $36,250 in annual salary earned by a typical American worker - a disparity 10 times greater than it was in 1980."
2003-03-12 11:07PST (14:07EST) (19:07GMT)
Enron executives arrested: DoJ accuses 2 of fraud, conspiracy and violation of securities; Commodities Futures Trading Commission charges a third.
_Bahrain Gulf Daily News_
Indonesia 'on top of Asian corruption league'
"The Asian Intelligence report found Indonesia was perceived as the most corrupt of 13 Asia-Pacific countries listed for the sixth year running. But [Red China's] perceived corruption grew more than any other country, seeing it leap-frog the Philippines into fifth place behind Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Thailand... Singapore was easily the cleanest country, followed by Australia, the United States and Hong Kong."
Dean Schabner _abc News_
The opposite ends of the political spectrum are coming together over the war on terror, but not in the way Attorney General John Ashcroft may have wanted.
"Some [libertarian and] conservative groups are finding common ground with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Bill of Rights Defense Council, expressing concerns about the effect that the USA Patriot Act and a possible follow-up law, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, could have on civil liberties... Now, right-leaning groups such as the American Conservative Union, the Eagle Forum and Gun Owners of America say they are concerned that American citizens could also be victimized by what they say are unconstitutional law enforcement powers allowed by the Patriot and the potential enhancement act."
Paul Craig Roberts _NewsMax_
Is Your Job Safe?
"U.S. corporations no longer have to out-source your high-tech or information technology (IT) job to [Red China] or India. They just bring your replacement here on an L-1 visa. L-1 visas get around the legal technicalities that Congress placed on the H-1B visa program. Employers are not supposed to use H-1B visas to bring in foreigners to displace U.S. employees or in order to cut costs by paying low wages [but that is their common use]. H-1B visas are supposed to be utilized only when there is a shortage of particular skills, and the visa holder is supposed to be paid prevailing U.S. wages. Of course, as any economist can tell you, a shortage is always at a price. H-1B visas were used to keep employers from bidding up U.S. wages and calling forth a larger supply of the needed skills. Instead of allowing the price system to work in the United States, H-1B visas simply enlarged the U.S. labor supply to include the entire world. Many American students who invested in obtaining software and IT skills graduated only to discover that their careers had been given to foreigners or out-sourced abroad... L-1 visas were created to facilitate intracompany transfers within multinational corporations. Corporations use them to hire Asians at one-third the salary of their U.S. employees. Then the Asians are transferred to the United States, where the 'down-sized' U.S. employees spend their last employed months training their replacements."
2003-03-13 07:13PST (10:13EST) (15:13GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Jobless claims hit high for 2003: Weaker dollar beginning to show in higher import prices
"The [seasonally adjusted] average of first-time claims for state unemployment benefits over the past four weeks rose by 9,750 to stand at 419,750 in the week ended March 8, the highest since the last week of December. The four-week rolling average is up by nearly 35K in the past 5 weeks... Initial claims in the most recent week fell by 15K to 420K, the government said. It was the second-highest level in 2003... Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Economy.com [said,] 'Lay-off activity remains at a recessionary level, while new hiring has yet to pick up.'. Meanwhile, the 4-week average of continuing claims rose by about 50K to 3.43M in the week ended March 1, also the most this year. The figures do not include some 800K workers receiving federal benefits, a fraction of the 1.9M who have been jobless for more than 6 months. In a separate report, the Commerce Department estimated that retail sales plunged 1.6% in February, while so-called core sales --adjusted to excluded gas and cars -- saw the biggest decline since 2001 September... January's retail sales were revised to show a 0.3% gain rather than the 0.9% decline previously estimated... In a separate report, the Labor Department said prices that Americans paid for imported goods jumped 1.3% in February after rising 1.6% in January. The import price index is up 7% in the past 12 months... Excluding petroleum, import prices rose 0.4%, the biggest gain since last April... Prices that Americans received for exported goods rose 0.4% in February for the second consecutive month. Export prices are up 2.2% in the past 12 months."
2003-03-13 09:40PST (12:40EST) (17:40GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
US jobs jumping ship: Cheap off-shore labor is not just for manufacturing anymore. Is your job heading over-seas? (with graph)
"As painful as February's big job cuts were, they're even more painful since many of those jobs are never coming back as U.S. employers in a wide range of industries move more and more jobs over-seas... U.S. businesses, battered by a 3-year bear market in stocks and an economy that can't seem to find its footing, are developing a taste for super-cheap over-seas labor in developing countries, where workers are increasingly better-trained, especially if they've spent significant time working in the United States on temporary visas. A recent survey of 145 U.S. 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 than from U.S. providers, while 71% said off-shore workers did better quality work... While tech spending by U.S. businesses has been under-water since the tech bubble of the late 1990s popped in 2000, countries such as India, [Red China], Ireland, Israel and the Philippines all are experiencing a boom in exporting IT services... NASSCOM predicts that the Indian 'business process out-sourcing' industry -- a narrow category that includes customer-support call centers -- will export $21G to $24G worth of services by 2008 and employ more than 1.1M Indian workers. Those workers -- in one narrow segment of the out-sourcing industry in just one country -- would replace about 1M U.S. workers, according to consulting firm Gartner... Employers cut 321K jobs in February, bringing employment outside the farm sector down to 109.2M, the Labor Department reported last week, ringing alarm bells about the health of the U.S. economy. Nearly 8.5M people are unemployed [and actively seeking work]... What's more, some IT professionals and immigrant groups complain that U.S. employers manipulate the H-1B visa system, which allows college-educated people from overseas to work in the United States for up to 6 years. They're supposed to be paid a 'prevailing wage', but many employers pay them as little as possible."
2003-03-13 13:23PST (16:23EST) (21:23GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow enjoys biggest rally in 5 months: Europe rebound, dollar surge spark broad-based buying
"The Dow Jones Industrials Average powered up 270 points, or 3.6%, to 7,822, the biggest one-day surge of since the 378-point blast off on October 15. The Nasdaq Composite bulled 62 points, or 4.8% higher, to 1,341 and the S&P 500 Index surged 28 points, or 3.4%, to 832. After dropping to 5-month lows in intraday trading on Wednesday, the Dow was up 82 points, the Nasdaq was up 36 points and the S&P 500 was up 4 points for the week... A Reuters report that Bank of England Deputy Governor Andrew Large had said that central banks around the world were discussing the slide in equity markets contributed to powerful recovery. The dollar shot up 1.7% higher versus the euro to $1.0803 and charged up 1% against the yen to 118.56. The apparent easing of geo-political tensions and mounting speculation that Japan was preparing a plan to halt the rise in its currency and boost its stock market helped boost the buck."
_Baltimore Business Journal_
High-tech jobs head over-seas
Gretchen Morgenson _NY Times_
Plan Restricting Stock Options Stalls at SEC
"Some share-holder advocates -- who object to investors' ownership being diluted when companies issue options in large volumes -- worry that other companies, too, will rush new options plans onto their books, in case the rule goes into effect by the end of the year. The rule, proposed in August by the New York Stock Exchange, would require companies whose shares are traded on the exchange to put all new stock option plans to a vote of their share-holders. The rule would also stop brokerage firms from voting the shares of customers who have not voted themselves."
Kurt Eichenwald _NY Times_
Fraud Charges Against VP, Accountant at Enron Unit
"Two midlevel Enron employees were charged yesterday with engineering a fraud that generated more than $100M in revenue through the company's short-lived video-on-demand business."
William Safire _NY Times_
The French Connection
"where would you... buy... the best binders for solid propellant? Answer: to 116 DaWu Road in Zibo, a city in the Shandong Province of [Red China], where a company named Qilu Chemicals is a leading producer of a transparent liquid rubber named hydroxy terminated polybutadiene, familiarly known in the advanced-rocket trade as HTPB... A shipment of 20 tons of HTPB, whose sale to Iraq is forbidden by U.N. resolutions and the oil-for-food agreement, left [Red China] in 2002 August in a 40-foot container. It arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus (fortified by the Knights Templar in 1183, and the Mediterranean terminus for an Iraqi oil pipeline today) and was received there by a trading company that was an intermediary for the Iraqi missile industry, the end user. The HTPB was then trucked across Syria to Iraq. Syria has no sophisticated missile-building program. What rocket weaponry it has comes off the shelf (and usually on credit) from Russia, so it therefore has no use for HTPB. But cash-starved Syria is the conduit for missile supplies to cash-flush Saddam, as this shipment demonstrates. We will have to wait until after the war to find out how much other weaponry, for what huge fees, Saddam has stored in currently un-inspectable Syrian ware-houses. The French connection -- brokering the deal among the Chinese producer, the Syrian land transporter and the Iraqi buyer -- is no great secret to the world's arms merchants. French intelligence has long been aware of it. The requirement for a French export license as well as U.N. sanctions approval may have been averted by disguising it as a direct off-shore sale from [Red China] to Syria. I'm also told that a contract was signed last April in Paris for 5 tons of 99% unsymmetric dimethylhydrazine, another advanced missile fuel, which is produced by France's SociÈtÈ Nationale des Poudre et Explosifs. In addition, Iraqi attempts to buy an oxidizer for solid propellant missiles, ammonium perchlorate, were successful, at least on paper. Both chemicals, like HTPB, require explicit approval by the U.N. Sanctions Committee before they can be sold to Iraq... (Anti-Kurdish analysts at Langley have it in for me for embarrassing them for 18 months on Al Qaeda's ties to Saddam, especially in the terrorist Ansar enclave in Iraqi Kurdistan.)"
Reuel Marc Gerecht _NY Times_
Iran Plays the Waiting Game
"It's a remarkable study in Middle Eastern contrasts: as Saddam Hussein scrambles to deceive the West about his illegal weapons, Iran, like the proud father of a precocious child, decides to show the world that it has a new underground uranium-enrichment lab... Since then  Iran has repeatedly used terrorism as statecraft. The virulently anti-American bulwark of clerical power, Iran's Revolutionary Guard corps, crosses the long Iraqi-Iranian border at will. The corps also maintains a small standing army of Iraqi exiles, the Badr Brigade; many of them may share their patrons' loathing of the United States. Confronted at home by dissident populist clerics and a student-led democratic reform movement, Iran's theocracy undoubtedly isn't happy about the prospect of a democratic Iraq born through the intervention of the Great Satan... Increasingly visible pro-American sentiment, particularly among Iran's youth, only encourages Iran's leadership to expect the worst."
Farhad Manjoo _Salon_
Take this tech job and shove it
"Bershadsky discovered that it was possible to find dozens of job listings for the sort of work she was looking for. The trouble was, most of the advertised positions required prospective employees to have a skill set that rivaled Superman's -- you not only needed expertise in Flash and Java, but your new bosses also preferred that you'd graduated first in your class from MIT, knew how to shoot and edit and encode video, were 'glamorous', typed 70 words per minute, took dictation and would perhaps wash the executive's car and feed his dog once in a while. Many times, the ads asked for intimate knowledge of the inner workings of some specialized world -- the cosmetic industry, say, or the French Foreign Ministry... several postings warned that employees should not only be qualified to do a job, but that they be 'excited' and 'passionate' about it -- a requirement that Bershadsky found difficult to fulfill because '80% of the jobs I was seeing posted, with these outrageous requirements, were unpaid internships'... Fuckthatjob.com, currently making the rounds of the unemployed, provides a good window onto the dismal reality of the current tech job market... 'It seems like everybody I used to know in this industry has got some unbelievable story that isn't getting told.', says Bill Lessard, the founder of Netslaves a site that chronicled, through the good times and bad, worker exploitation in the tech economy... Since the economy hit its peak employment rate about 2 years ago, more than 2M people have lost their jobs, and there's no sign, yet, of a reversal."
2003-03-14 10:30PST (13:30EST) (18:30GMT)
Eric Chabrow _Information Week_/_Yahoo!_
The Incredible Shrinking IT Work-Force
"Nearly 10% of the IT work-force vanished in the last 2 months of 2002, an InformationWeek analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Some 272,530 Americans who considered themselves IT professionals in October no longer did so in December, as the IT work-force fell to 2.6M... 'A large percentage of IT workers are shell-shocked by the unexpected high unemployment rate.', says Tom Fullerton, an associate professor of economics at the University of Texas-El Paso. 'IT skills are transferable to other segments of the economy.' IT joblessness stood at 5.6% in December."
2003-03-14 13:32PST (16:32EST) (21:32GMT)
Jodie Kirshner _Reuters_
ECRI: Economy May Be Near New Recession
"The ECRI index dipped to 118.9 in the week ended March 7 from 119.0 in the prior week... Retail sales fell in February by much more than expected, and the 3 consumer reports, including the University of Michigan's influential monthly sentiment survey, all painted a picture of an increasingly troubled U.S. consumer."
2003-03-14 15:52PST (18:52EST) (23:52GMT)
"Night-Stalkers" snoop on Americans
"The FBI has a fleet of aircraft, some equipped with night surveillance and eaves-dropping equipment, flying America's skies... The FBI will not provide exact figures on the planes and helicopters, but more than 80 are in the skies. There are several planes, known as 'Night-Stalkers', equipped with infrared devices that allow agents to track people and vehicles in the dark. Other aircraft are outfitted with electronic surveillance equipment so agents can pursue listening devices placed in cars, in buildings and even along streets, or listen to cell phone calls. Still others fly photography missions, although officials would not describe precise capabilities... The FBI will not disclose where the planes are being [abused]. This month, however, in the college town of Bloomington, IN, residents spotted a Cessna aircraft flying overhead at roughly the same times every day for more than a week. After first issuing denials, local FBI agents admitted it was their plane... The first major deployment happened in 1975 during the investigation of the killings of 2 FBI agents at the sprawling Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota."
2003-03-14 16:30PST (18:30EST) (23:30GMT)
Dana Frisch _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Little Sleep Over Many Days Impairs Mind as Much as No Sleep for 2 Days
"Dr. Hans P.A. Van Dongen, a research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia... The groups were monitored in a laboratory throughout the 2 weeks to ensure that they did not nod off or use caffeine. They were assessed on a battery of mental and physiological tests periodically every day and were also asked to evaluate how tired they felt. People sleeping less than 8 hours a night were slower to react, less able to think clearly and perform simple memory tasks, the researchers report in the March issue of the journal Sleep. They also performed as poorly on certain tasks as the individuals evaluated after one or two nights of sleeplessness. However, getting some sleep made individuals feel less tired than those who went without sleep despite test results that showed they were just as impaired... Data from the National Sleep Foundation show that Americans sleep an average seven hours a night during the week, although 31% of all adults regularly get less sleep. The study also found that that there were large individual differences in how much people needed to sleep."
Barnaby J. Feder _NY Times_
Face-Recognition Technology Gets Worse, More Pervasive Over the Last 3 Years
"[Among the worst abusers are] Identix, Cognitec Systems and Eyematic Interfaces."
Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
"Under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which Tehran has signed, it would be a violation of international law for Iran to build nuclear weapons. All countries, especially members of the United Nations Security Council, should insist that Tehran immediately agree to the I.A.E.A.'s strengthened safe-guards system, which was created in the late 1990s for just this kind of situation. Under the treaty's basic safe-guards, inspectors can check only acknowledged nuclear installations."
Tommy Tomlinson _Charlotte Observer_
Consciences hard to see amid lay-offs
"Forum for Corporate Conscience... I read through the whole stack of paper and found only a passing mention to the one thing that makes people wonder if corporations actually have a conscience: Their habit of throwing their workers out on the street. The one common thread in big business during the past 15 years is the compulsion to shed people. It's corporate bulimia -- gorging on mergers, spitting up employees. Not to get into Mr. McColl's area, but Charlotte's big banks -- [Bank of India, formerly called Bank of America] and Wachovia -- laid off more than 11K people between them last year. [BofI] announced 1K more lay-offs in February... My vote for Executive of the Year goes to the first CEO who ties his bonus to how many people he can keep."
Richard Bernstein _NY Times_
Schroeder Offers Plan for Ending Germany's Economic Slump
"Mr. Schroeder's main proposals, none of which came as a surprise, were aimed at making it easier for employers to fire workers, reducing the length of time unemployed people can receive benefits and eliminating some of the costs of the vast national welfare system. The program also would increase public works spending, would make it easier for small businesses to hire temporary workers and would require unemployed people who have received welfare payments for a year or more to accept jobs, even if undesirable, that are offered to them by the state employment agencies. 'Today, the reform and renewal of the social welfare state has become unavoidable.', Mr. Schroeder said. But the long list of proposals by Mr. Schroeder, who governs through a coalition of his own Social Democratic Party and the leftist Greens, was carefully balanced between calls for changes in Germany's elaborate and sometimes confining protections and a passionate defense of what Mr. Schroeder called 'a strong, performing welfare state'... With unemployment now over 11% and growth rates close to negligible for 2 years, the program is seen here as a political do-or-die necessity for Mr. Schroeder, whose approval ratings, despite the popularity of his position on the Iraq issue, have sunk below 30%."
Jessica Portner, Sara Neufeld & Yomi S. Wronge _San Jose Mercury News_
California school districts ready pink slips
"districts across the Bay Area will dole out pink slips by Saturday to thousands of teachers who might lose their jobs next year... Statewide, as many as 10K lay-off letters have been issued to teachers this month, according to the California Teachers Association. By law, teachers must be given 5 months' notice of possible lay-offs."
_The Guardian_ The joke's on Saddam
Robert Gavin _Boston Globe_
Number of unemployed in MA revised upward: new data suggest recession in state worse than previously thought
"The new figures boosted the annual average number of unemployed to 185K people, from 163K - an increase of 22K - and the unemployment rate to 5.3% from the initial estimate of 4.8%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revises state unemployment estimates each year, based on additional data compiled over the year. This year, most states saw their 2002 unemployment figures revised upward... The revised unemployment data showed that monthly jobless rates last year were as as much as 0.8 percentage point higher than initially reported... According to the new figures, unemployment rates reached or exceeded 5% in each of these months, except January, which was revised to 4.9% from 4.4%."
Texas Student Charged in Information Theft
"A 20-year-old University of Texas student surrendered to the authorities on charges that he broke into a university computer system and stole personal information from more than 55K students, faculty members and staff members. The student, Christopher A. Phillips, a computer science major, was charged with unlawful access to a protected computer and unlawful use of a means of identification."
Oscar Abeyta & Irwin M. Goldberg _Tucson Arizona Citizen_
Tucson reservist loses job when Navy calls: A federal lawsuit alleges Pep Boys fired a store manager because of his military obligation.
"Several other reservists fired from Pep Boys in Tucson and Pennsylvania have contacted a military advocacy group with similar complaints... In the law-suit, Balodis' attorney, Andrea Watters, said Pep Boys fired Balodis because his duties with the Navy were keeping him from work. The suit says he told the company he was being called to training in June of last year. On the day he reported for duty, he was told by Pep Boys that we was being terminated for 'job abandonment'."
Daniel Altman _NY Times_
Grading Bush on Prosperity and Pain
"But how much of the credit or blame do President Bush and his team deserve, just 2 years into his term? The experts have spoken, and the answer is... a modest amount... Answers were sought from 20 well-known Wall Street economists from different companies and 125 academics specializing in macroeconomics... The academics, of whom 57 responded, averaged 2.3 -- between 'a little bit' and 'a fair amount'. The average from the 11 Wall Street economists who wrote back was lower, at 1.9. Several economists who chose the most popular response, 'a little bit', wrote that the White House's actions could not have much effect on the economy in the short run."
Adam Clymer _NY Times_
Privacy Advocates Increase Efforts to Restrict Banks' Data Sharing
"For the past 2 years the financial industry has succeeded in killing a privacy measure in the State Assembly. On March 3, the State Senate again passed the bill and sent it to the Assembly. But now, with public opinion surveys showing high levels of support for financial privacy, the industry is considering a compromise. The bill would require financial institutions to get customers' permission before providing data to other companies and would halt distribution of that data to their affiliates if customers asked them to do so... The popularity of bank privacy measures was shown last year in North Dakota, where privacy advocates won 72% of the vote in a referendum even though banking interests had overwhelmingly out-spent them... The voters' initiative, which will be on the March 2004 primary ballot if sponsors collect 373,816 signatures, would go further. It would bar sharing among affiliates and subsidiaries unless customers gave permission first. And if customers ignored the request, the sharing would be illegal."
John Albion _Milwaukee Journal Sentinel_
Companies hold all the cards: Unemployed face hidden discrimination, fake ads, off-hand insults
"Some 15 months ago, I joined the ranks of the unemployed when my corporate employer decided it had made an egregious error in acquisitions of capacity to produce products they had no market for. After a career of 20-plus years in management, I had to search for employment... The new minority is the over-50 group. If you fall in this classification, be prepared to be shunned because of gray hairs you may have or the presence on your resume of numbers that will allow employers to do the math..."
Michael Kinsman _San Diego Union-Tribune_
Jobless deserve better than seriously flawed gift
"Larry Fitch, president of the San Diego Workforce Partnership [is] skeptical that anyone can obtain very extensive job training for $3K or less. 'You might be able to get help on writing a resume, or get help on interviewing skills, but you really don't have enough money to get any sort of comprehensive job skill training.', Fitch says. 'If you're an engineer who needs updated training, how far do you think $3K is going to go?'... 'I don't know too many people who are unemployed who don't want to work.', Fitch says. 'I think most of those without a job would rather be working.' The president's proposal ignores an important fact: There are three times as many people out of work as available jobs. The Employment Policy Institute, a liberal Washington research organization, reports that there are 8.4M Americans out of work and 2.6 million job vacancies. That means no matter how much we provide in incentives, there will still be people out of work. And, let's not forget that our gasping economy continues to shed jobs. Nationally, 2.5M jobs have been eliminated over the past 2 years, according to EPI. Even in a relatively healthy region such as San Diego County, job creation is running only about half of what it has been in recent years."
2003-03-17 08:42PST (11:42EST) (16:42GMT)
Susan Heavey _Yahoo_/_Reuters_
Marriage Does Not Change Out-Look on Life
"Researchers tracked more than 24K people from 1984 to 1995, asking participants every year to rate their overall life satisfaction from zero (totally unhappy) to 10 (totally happy). The average boost from marriage was small -- one-tenth of one point on the scale, researchers said. The study, which took 15 years to complete, also found that people who were already satisfied with their lives before marriage tended to stay married longer."
2003-03-17 14:11PST (17:11EST) (22:11GMT)
August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US, Britain set stage for Iraq war: France, Germany say peaceful disarmament still possible
"Efforts at the United Nations to disarm Saddam Hussein are over, according to Monday statements from the United States, Britain and Spain, setting the stage for a military campaign that would draw on the 250K-strong force assembled in the Persian Gulf. The major U.S. indexes rallied after 4 1/2 months of diplomatic maneuvering ground to a stop. Crude oil and gold pulled back from early gains... Iraqi military commanders were prepped for a coming invasion and divided the country into four distinct zones of control by the armed forces. Ominously, rhetoric used by Saddam on Sunday indicated a commitment to fighting the invaders anywhere in the world. The 60 U.N. weapons inspectors are expected to leave Iraq by plane Tuesday... Already, many journalists are quitting Baghdad. NBC News reportedly decided to pull its six-member television crew out of Baghdad, and two foreign reporters from ABC also said they were departing. A week ago, there were 450 foreign journalists working in Baghdad. On Monday, the number stood at 300, Iraq's Information Ministry said."
Saul Hansell _NY Times_
In Broad-Band, Comcast Lets Users Find Their Own Flourishes (with graph)
"High-speed service may be the future of the Internet, but it has been nothing but trouble for most companies involved. Comcast, the newly crowned king of cable, is the accidental exception... But the phone companies still lose money on every broad-band subscription. And Excite@Home, a company in which Comcast was an early investor and which was created to sell cable broad-band service, collapsed in bankruptcy in 2001... Without really setting out to do so, the company has become the biggest provider of broad-band Internet services, with 3.6M subscribers, and profit margins that would be the envy of any business... The chief executive, Brian L. Roberts, predicts that by the end of the year Comcast will have 5M Internet customers. That would tie it with Earthlink as the third-biggest Internet service of any kind in the country by subscribers, after AOL and MSN. By revenue and operating profit, Comcast would trail only AOL... So far, American users prefer cable over phone company broad-band service by two to one... But anyone willing to pay nearly $50 a month to buy high-speed service presumably already knows where to surf... The phone companies are trying to win customers by cutting prices for DSL service, which in most of the country had been $50 a month, slightly more than cable Internet. (Last year, Comcast raised its prices to about $46 a month.) SBC charges $35 a month for the first year, and those who buy a bundle of local and long-distance phone service pay as little as $25 a month for DSL... Comcast says its pre-tax operating profit margins are nearly 50%. That margin does not include any accounting for the $10G it will ultimately cost Comcast and AT&T to update their systems."
Humanity's Slowing Growth
"According to a United Nations report issued recently, most advanced countries could, in effect, slowly turn into old-age homes. For example, by 2050, the median age in Japan and Italy will be over 50. Fertility rates in nearly all well-off countries have already fallen below 2.1 babies per woman, the rate at which a population remains stable. In the developing world, fertility rates average 3 children, down from 6 a half-century ago, and the UN projects that the rate will dip below the replacement level in most poor countries later this century. Slower growth rates are both the cause and consequence of a higher standard of living, and of the emancipation of women... 2050 world population projections... 8.9G (we're at 6.3G today)... For its part, Europe will decline, after accounting for immigration, from 728M people to 632M in 2050... By contrast, America's population, boosted by a higher fertility rate and immigration, is projected to be 409M in 2050, up from 285M today. Ours is 1 of 8 countries expected to account for half the population increase in the next 50 years."
William Safire _NY Times_
Getting On With It
"The way for Bush to answer such legitimate disagreement is to get on with winning the war and to help Iraqis create a dictator-free confederation. As the U.S. does that, dissent will decline. Tragic mistakes will be revealed, but most of the embedded media will focus on heroes. Smoking guns and hiding terrorists will be found. European non-allies and Arab potentates will find ways to forgive us and our new alliances will be rewarded with security. And American voters next year will remember who offered fear and who offered hope."
AARP, Virginia Law Firm Sue Capital One for Age Discrimination
"AARP, the nation's largest senior citizens lobby, will be co-counsel in the suit with Richmond-based Butler, Williams, Pantele & Skilling. The suit alleges that Capital One instituted a plan of forced separation that was unfair to employees age 40 and older... As many as 60 former Capital One employees have stepped forward to become plaintiffs, said Harris D. Butler III of Butler, Williams, Pantele & Skilling."
Dana Calvo _LA Times_
Power Regulation: A Tale of 2 States: Unlike in California, Texas' transition has been fairly smooth and brought lower prices.
"The average residential electricity bill in Texas dropped by more than 9% in the fourth quarter of 2002 from the same quarter the previous year. By the end of last December, nearly 7.4% of residential customers, or about 361K households, had taken advantage of [competition] and changed electricity providers. Among businesses and other institutions, more than 10% had switched... 'Texas shows that if it's done right, it can work.', said Mitch Wilk, former president of the California Public Utilities Commission. Under deregulation, utility monopolies are eliminated and the market is thrown open to providers, which are allowed to compete for customers... In Texas, a utility is required to sell off power facilities if its power generation company has a market share of more than 20%, but no company has been big enough to force a divestiture. Texas deregulation law required utilities to divide their generation, transmission and retail services into independent companies so that profits in one area can't be used to subsidize services in another and unfairly gain market share... California failed to build a new power plant from 1994 to 1998, even though its economy and population were growing. During that time, 5 plants were built in Texas. What's more, many observers say California was too dependent on hydroelectric power -- and paid the price when the Pacific Northwest was slammed with back-to-back dry winters... According to the [Texas] PUC, the competitive atmosphere created by deregulation saved both businesses and households between 8% and 18% in 2002 compared with the previous year. Those lower prices meant a savings of $160 per household last year, or about $13 a month... Last month, a group of scholars from UC Berkeley and Stanford, joined by Wilk and other former regulators, signed a manifesto asking California policy-makers to take a second look at deregulation."
2003-03-17 17:01PST (20:01EST) (2003-03-18 01:01GMT)
George W. Bush
President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours
"That regime pledged to reveal and destroy all its weapons of mass destruction as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Since then, the world has engaged in 12 years of diplomacy. We have passed more than a dozen resolutions in the United Nations Security Council. We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the disarmament of Iraq. Our good faith has not been returned... I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services, if war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own life. And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders'."
2003-03-18 08:30EST (13:30GMT)
_US Census Bureau_/_HUD_
New Residential Construction
"Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.786M, according to estimates reported today by the U.S. Commerce Department's Census Bureau. This is 0.4% (±0.8%) above the revised January rate of 1.779M, and is 1.1% (±1.3%) above the 2002 February estimate of 1.766M. Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 1.315M; this is 6.8% (±0.9%) below the January figure of 1.411M. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 389K in February. Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.622M. This is 11.0% (±7.7%) below the revised January estimate of 1.822M and is 9.3% (±6.1%) below the 2002 February rate of 1.788M. Single-family housing starts in 2003 February were at a rate of 1.295M; this is 13.7% (±8.0%) below the January figure of 1.501M. The February estimate for units in buildings with five units or more was 297K. Privately-owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.674M, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 4.5% (±9.1%) above the revised January estimate of 1.602M and is 0.3% (±7.9%) above the 2002 February rate of 1.669M. Single-family housing completions in 2003 February were at a rate of 1.331M; this is 4.1% (±9.4%) above the January figure of 1.279M. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 321K."
2003-03-18 05:35PST (08:35EST) (13:35GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Housing starts dropped 11% in February
"New residential construction fell 11% in February to the lowest pace in 10 months, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.622M in February from January's 1.822M, the government said. It was the lowest figure since 2002 April's 1.566M and the biggest percentage decline in 9 years... Starts of single-family homes fell about 14% to a 1.295M pace, the lowest level since August and the biggest percentage decline in 12 years."
Hiawatha Bray _Boston Globe_
Sun fired US workers to hire Indians suit alleges
"A law-suit filed yesterday in California alleges computer giant Sun Microsystems Inc. laid off thousands of American high-tech workers in order to replace them with younger, lower-paid engineers from India. The law-suit, for which class-action status is being sought, is certain to intensify an already fierce debate between technology companies and American engineers over the future of the H-1B visa program... US workers say that at a time of high unemployment among American engineers and computer programmers, the H-1B program is mainly being used to bring in cheaper workers from overseas. The California case, filed in state Superior Court in Santa Clara, was brought by Walter Kruz, 52, who was employed at Sun from 2000 May until late 2001, at a time when Sun was laying off about 2,500 of its workers in the United States. While Kruz is currently the only plaintiff, his attorney, James Caputo, plans to sue on behalf of hundreds of other Sun workers who he believes received similar treatment. The law-suit claims Sun had a bias in favor of hiring people from India, citing as evidence statements made this year by Sun's Indian-born cofounder, Vinod Khosla, on the CBS television program '60 Minutes'. Khosla was quoted as saying that at Sun, people from India 'are favored over almost anybody else'."
Richard Bernstein _NY Times_
Germans Balk at the Price of Economic Change
"These protesters, several thousand of them, were not even expressing a view on the other great issue in German politics these days: the 4.7M, or 11% of the work-force, unemployed and a government in prolonged semiparalysis over what to do about it. The protesters' complaint had to do with a parliamentary decision allowing shopkeepers to stay open 4 hours longer on Saturdays, so that instead of a mandatory closing time of 16:00, they could stay open until 20:00... Even rather small changes in the elaborate rules governing economic life inevitably provoke spirited opposition from some quarters... Germany has almost no tradition of laissez-faire liberalism of the sort that provided intellectual justification for both the Reagan revolution in the United States years ago, or the Thatcher revolution in Britain... there are few, if any, pioneering German proponents of economic liberalism. 'The great German cause has always been stability and unity.', said Adam S. Posen, a Europe expert at the Institute for International Economics in Washington. 'The Germans have not gone in for the Anglo-American tradition of individualism and free markets.' This has been true, Mr. Posen said, since the great 19th-century unifier, Otto von Bismarck, introduced the welfare state to Germany. 'Bismarck provided goodies.', Mr. Posen said. 'It was unity and stability through goodies provision.'... extensive labor market rules that make it very cumbersome to hire and fire people... Another thinker, however, is more popular in Berlin, the capital of a united Germany. Two streets and a square are named after the philosopher most globally famous for his critique of capitalism: Karl Marx."
Paul Craig Roberts _National Center for Policy Analysis_
L-1 Visas Displace American Workers
Is Your Job Safe?
"U.S. corporations no longer have to out-source high-tech or information technology (IT) jobs to [Red China] or India -- they just bring replacements here on an L-1 visa. The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the United States and abroad to transfer certain classes of employees from their foreign operations to their U.S. operations for up to 7 years. The L-1 visa program is especially attractive to U.S. corporations because it allows them to tap low-paid skilled labor without having to construct facilities abroad. Instead of moving to China and India in order to hire engineers and scientists, the companies can simply import the labor. The L-1 supplants the H-1B visa which allows foreign professionals to enter the United States and accept temporary employment within designated 'specialty occupations'. According to _Business Week_: There are now about 350K foreigners on L-1 visas who have displaced U.S. IT and high-tech employees. Put this number together with the number of H-1B visas, and Americans have lost 750K high-income jobs in the last few years, claims economist Paul Craig Roberts."
2003-03-18 20:10PST (23:10EST) (2003-03-19 04:10GMT)
Tom Foremski _FT.com_/_Yahoo!_
High-tech sector no longer top US employer
"After 8 years at the top, the high-technology manufacturing sector has lost its status as the biggest US employer, according to an analysis of government figures to be released on Wednesday. A 2-year [depression] in the high-tech sector has taken a massive toll on US workers, with more than 560K jobs lost - a 10% plunge from 5.7M in 2001 January to 5.1M by 2002 December... The remaining 1.6M jobs in high-tech manufacturing fell by 415K from 2001-2002 - far more than the 135K lost in the troubled communications services sector during the same period. The US high-tech sector has not added workers since its 2001 February peak of 5.72M, dropping every month since 2001 March... The loss of a skilled work-force could further encourage US high-tech companies to set up shop over-seas - an issue facing not only high-tech manufacturing but the higher-paying computer services sector, he said."
560K tech jobs lost in US
"The U.S. technology sector, which has been battered by a downturn in corporate spending, lost about 560K jobs in 2001 and 2002, according to a study by an industry trade group. The sector's work force fell 10% to 5.15M in 2002 December from 5.7M in 2001 January..."
2003-04-19 05:53PST (08:53EST) (13:53GMT)
Lisa M. Bowman _CNET_
Tech sector still reeling with job cuts
"The American Electronics Association [AeA], a [lobbying] group that represents 3K technology [company executives], said the U.S. high-tech industry shed about 560K jobs, reducing the number of jobs from a high of 5.7M in 2001 January to 5.1M in 2002 December... One 'bright spot' in the study was software services [bodyshopping], which managed to add 5,300 jobs in the past 2 years."
2003-03-19 06:12PST (09:12EST) (14:12GMT)
Technology Sector Lost 560K Jobs in 2 Years
"The sector's work force fell 10% to 5.15M in 2002 December from 5.7M in 2001 January, according to the AeA, a trade group that represents 3K technology companies. The majority of the decline was in manufacturing, which lost 415K jobs, a 20% decrease, to 1.62M. Communications services jobs fell 9% with a loss of 135K jobs to 1.33M jobs in 2002 December... Software and computer-related services jobs declined by 0.4%, or 9,300 jobs, to 2.19M and total high-tech services jobs fell by 144,600, or 4%, to 3.52M."
2003-03-19 07:04PST (10:04EST) (15:04GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
A big 2003 tech rebound isn't enough: Even with improvement, techs too pricey
"After 3 years of market turmoil the only thing higher than the earnings growth expectations of the most heavily traded U.S. stocks are the prices they command... 'There are a hell of a lot of expectations built into the prices of these companies.', says David Halford, who co-manages $7.6G for Madison Investment Advisors, in Madison, WI. 'People are still expecting a very strong second half in 2003, and continued strength next year.' Growth is good. Fast growth is better. But even extraordinary growth for the next 2 years might not make money for investors who hold shares of market leaders..."
2003-03-19 07:05PST (10:05EST) (15:05GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
American Electronics Association: Tech lost 560K jobs in 2 years
"The AeA said overall high-tech employment fell 10%, from 5.7M jobs in 2001 January to 5.1M jobs in 2002 December. The study is based on monthly employment data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the hardest-hit areas was high-tech manufacturing, where employment fell from more than 2M jobs in 2001 January to 1.6M jobs by the end of last year -- a 20.4% decline. Communications services also took a big hit, going from 1.5M jobs to 1.3M jobs over the two-year period."
2003-03-19 11:49PST (14:49EST) (19:49GMT)
Eric Chabrow _Yahoo!_/_Information Week_
Businesses Increasingly Face IT Worker Burn-Out
"The weak economy is taking a toll on IT workers' morale. 7 of 10 IT managers surveyed by technology advisory firm Meta Group say IT employee burn-out is a serious issue that could result in longer-range turnover, lower productivity, and less overall shareholder value to their companies if not addressed... According to the report, 55% of companies surveyed have begun implementing skill-development programs as a means to boost employee morale, while 24% have created better overall retention programs. Monetary rewards register as a viable backup plan, Meta says, with 11% of surveyed companies raising salaries, 11% hiring more staff, and 8% offering cash incentives to prevent employee burn-out."
2003-03-19 14:45PST (17:45EST) (22:45GMT)
Randall Mikkelsen _Reuters_
White House Tells Americans to Prepare for War
"The Bush administration gave Congress the required notification for war and told Americans on Wednesday to prepare for a bloody and possibly prolonged conflict with Iraq. 'On the brink of war with Iraq, Americans should be prepared for what we hope will be as precise and short a conflict as possible, but there are many unknowns. It could be a matter of some duration, we do not know.', White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. 'Americans have to be prepared for loss of life. Americans have to be prepared for the importance of disarming (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein to protect the peace.'... Bush notified Congress on Tuesday night, under terms of a resolution passed in 2002 authorizing force against Iraq, that diplomacy had failed to reduce the Iraqi threat or enforce U.N. disarmament demands. The notice was required before or within 48 hours of the start of war. It was released on Wednesday. The timing of the start of the war is up to Bush and his military advisers. The president would make an Oval office speech in the event of war, but Fleischer declined to say if it would be before or after hostilities began."
2003-03-19 14:52PST (17:52EST) (22:52GMT)
Susan Cornwell _Yahoo!_/_Reuters_
House Passes Bankruptcy Changes
"The legislation, approved by the House on a 315-113 vote, would make it harder for individuals judged able to pay some of their bills to wipe out all of their debts. Instead, they would be put on a 5-year repayment plan... The House bill included a provision to cap a debtor's homestead exemption to a maximum of $125K if the debtor acquired the property within less than 40 months before filing for bankruptcy. Sensenbrenner said it was aimed at 'corporate crooks who build multi-million dollar mansions on the water in nice places in Florida because (of) the unlimited homestead exemption that is in the current law'."
2003-03-19 14:53PST (17:53EST) (22:53GMT)
Shawn Langlois _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nike slips past target after the bell; 3Com narrows loss; Jabil jumps on profit growth
"Nike beat Wall Street expectations by a penny and Apple tapped AlGore as its newest board member Wednesday in an after-hours session preparing for developments on the war front."
2003-03-19 15:27PST (18:27EST) (23:27GMT)
August Cole & Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Night-fall in Iraq as invasion looms: White House says to be prepared for American casualties
"Battle-ready U.S. and British mechanized forces massed on the Kuwait-Iraq border Wednesday as nighttime air strikes targeted Iraqi artillery positions that could threaten an invading force... American jets attacked Iraqi artillery positions and communications facilities near the border, escalating from weeks of intensifying bombing... When fighting begins, Bush plans to address the nation by television from the Oval Office in case of war, Fleischer said, assuming the war is unavoidable. Two NATO allies, Germany and Turkey, said they would grant U.S. aircraft overflight access to their airspace during the war. It's still unclear, however, whether Turkey will allow U.S. bases on its soil to be used in the attacks... Bahrain, a Persian Gulf state that is home to a major U.S. Navy base, formally offered a safe haven for Saddam, The Associated Press reported. For the first time, Saudi Arabia called on Saddam to go into exile, according to a Reuters report... For Saddam and the top Iraqi leadership, USA Today reported that the Pentagon plans to use teams of commandos inside Baghdad to hunt down and likely kill them when fighting formally gets under way... Some 30 nations are publicly supporting the United States, the State Department has said. Another 15 back the effort behind the scenes. Most, however, have sent no troops. The most powerful ally remains Britain, which has contributed about 40K troops."
Justice Served in Egypt
"Intellectually, Saad Eddin Ibrahim has always been one of Egypt's freest men. Now, after three years, three trials and 14 months of health-shattering imprisonment, Dr. Ibrahim, the country's most prominent democracy and human rights advocate, is legally free as well. Egypt's highest and most independent court, the Court of Cassation, affirmed yesterday what every honest observer of the Ibrahim case had known all along, that the charges against him were without foundation. The court's verdict is final; the Egyptian government cannot appeal. Dr. Ibrahim, who holds American as well as Egyptian citizenship, was charged with damaging Egypt's reputation by reporting past instances of electoral fraud, as well as illegally accepting European Union research funds. The real damage to Egypt's reputation came from the politically motivated prosecution of Mr. Ibrahim, a 64-year-old sociologist who worked to encourage cleaner elections, wider political participation by women and better understanding between Egypt's Muslim majority and Coptic Christian minority, earning him an international reputation. Yesterday's verdict will restore some of Egypt's good name."
Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
Approach of War Reveals Alienation in California
Gretchen Hyman _Internet News_/_Silicon Valley_
Over-seas Out-sourcing Hurts US Economy Says Firm
"Run-away out-sourcing might be taking a bigger bite out of the U.S. economy than previously thought, Integnology, a Santa Clara, CA-based engineering firm, said Wednesday... 'Why is so much off-shore out-sourcing taking place or being planned when on-shore makes just as much sense in many instances after total project costs are considered?',said Basheer Janjua, CEO of Integnology Corporation. According to Janjua and his staff, many companies don't even bother looking close to home for cost-efficient alternatives... Recent research from Forrester Research indicates that the percentage of off-shore out-sourcing for U.S. IT budgets took a leap from 12% in 2000 to 28% in 2003. META Group, Inc. predicted last month that off-shore out-sourcing overall would grow more than 20% annually... To date, American technology companies have contributed an estimated $10G to the Indian economy over recent years... On a weekly basis, Junjua receives hundreds of resumes from desperate high-tech workers, many of them with masters degrees from Stanford and Berkeley who have been laid off because of what Janjua says is the direct result of too many companies turning their out-sourcing needs away from the U.S. and hiring over-seas."
Tech sector shed 236K jobs in 2002: 2-year employment decline shows few signs of easing
"The nation's tech employment, as defined by the federal government's sometimes-imprecise classifications, totaled 5.15M jobs at the end of 2002, a 4% drop from 5.38M jobs at the year's out-set..."
Daniel Pipes _NY Post_
Why the Left Loves Osama [and Saddam]
"Only a pedant would point out that the suicide hijackers hardly represented the wretched of the earth; and that their objectives had nothing at all to do with socialism and everything to do with -- no, not again! -- militant Islam. So desperate is the Left for some sign of true socialism, it overlooks such pesky details. Instead, it warily admires al Qaeda, the Taliban and militant Islam in general for doing battle with the United States. The Left tries to overlook militant Islam's slightly un-socialist practices - such as its imposing religious law, excluding women from the work-place, banning the payment of interest, encouraging private property and persecuting atheists."
Tom Krazit _Information World_
Over 500K US tech jobs lost in 2 years
"The American Electronics Association (AeA) has put a number on the job losses suffered by high-tech workers over the last two years, reporting that about 560K jobs have been lost from the height of the dot-com era. The majority of those positions were lost in the manufacturing, according to a press release Wednesday. That sector shed 415,300 jobs from 2001 January to 2002 December, a 20% decrease."
2003-03-20 06:25PST (09:25EST) (14:25GMT)
Steve Gelsi & August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Missiles flying, bombs dropping: Bush: 'This will not be a campaign of half measures'
"The New York Stock Exchange said it would observe two minutes of silence at the open in honor of U.S. and allied troops participating in the war in Iraq. Trading on the exchange will open at 09:32EST, versus the usual 09:30... As the day burned bright in Baghdad, impromptu air strikes put senior government leadership in the crosshairs, just hours after a 48-hour deadline passed for Saddam and his cohorts to leave Iraq or face war. Iraq retaliated, firing 2 missiles that hit Kuwait's northern border with Iraq, the official Kuwait News Agency reported... The U.S. military further said Iraq fired a third Scud missile towards U.S. troops in the Kuwaiti desert but it was intercepted by Patriot missiles... CBS News reported that 36 Tomahawk cruise missiles and a sortie of F-117 stealth bombers were used in a raid that targeted senior Iraqi leaders. The group created an unforeseen "target of military opportunity" that U.S. military planners decided had to be hit immediately. No follow-up air strikes have been reported. Just before sun-up, air raid sirens blared and anti-aircraft explosions were briefly heard, but no airplanes were immediately seen overhead, according to journalists on the ground in Baghdad. A second air-raid siren sounded again about 2 hours later... Two divisions of Iraqi troops near Kuwait are reportedly trying to surrender... 'What this first strike in Gulf War II says is that it's not about oil, it's not about human rights, it's not about weapons of mass destruction. It's about Saddam.', said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute."
2003-03-20 06:43pST (09:43EST) (14:43GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Jobless claims at 10-month high
"The seasonally adjusted 4-week average for initial claims increased 3,750 to stand at 424,750, the most since May. Claims have risen by about 40K over the past 6 weeks. The number of first-time claims in the most recent week fell by 4K to the 421K level, the lowest in 3 weeks... Little job growth is possible as long as claims average more than 400K a week, economists say. In February, the economy lost 308K jobs, according to government data... Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted four-week average of workers receiving state benefits rose by about 33K in the week ended March 8, reaching 3.46M. This was the highest reading since late November. The number of people receiving benefits in the most recent week increased by 66K to 3.55M, the most since mid-November. The figures do not include some 740K workers who have been receiving federal unemployment benefits that kick in after the exhaustion of 6 months of state benefits... Jobless benefits are available to a fraction of unemployed workers. In February, 8.4M Americans were classified as unemployed, including nearly 1.9M who've been out of work for longer than 6 months."
Seth Schiesel _NY Times_
Their Mission: Intercepting Deadly Cargo
"It is a big job. According to the customs bureau, 7.2M shipping containers entered the country in the year ended last September, in addition to 11.1M trucks, 2.4M rail-road cars, 768K commercial air-line flights and 128K private flights."
William Safire _NY Times_
French Connection II
"On 2002 Aug. 25, e-mail went from the director general of CIS Paris to Qilu Chemicals in [Red China] regarding a preliminary order: 'We are about to have one of our affiliates open a L/C [Letter of Credit] for an initial order of 20,000 kg. of sealant type HTBP-III... The drums should have a label mentioning the nature of the goods, same as your sample: '''modified polybatadiene [sic buta-di-ene] sealant type III''' it is not necessary that the label shows the name of your company.' Ten days later, on September 4, this response came from Qilu: 'Thank you for your order to our HTPB-III! We just have sent a 40-foot container to Tartous (Syria) last month. I am not sure whether the container is in your warehouse now.' A month later, Qilu sought a 'formal order'. A Times colleague in Paris visited CIS early last week. The director, Jean-Pierre Pertriaux, acknowledged the documents but said someone else had filled the order. I duly reported his denial."
Jeff Madrick _NY Times_
Paying the Price for Isolationism [sic]
"As for the flow of goods, American imports have risen sharply, to 17% of gross domestic product, from about 5% in 1970. But that does not tell the whole story. GDP includes only final sales to consumers and to business for capital investment; it does not include most goods and services bought and sold between companies, like parts and supplies. In total, Ms. Mann points out, imports come to nearly half of all the durable goods... In a recent Conference Board report, Gail D. Fosler, the board's chief economist, estimated that apparel imports come to 45% of domestic consumption by consumers and business. About 42% of all computers and office equipment sold are imported. In cars, imports equal almost 30% of American purchases... companies that are both major exporters of products and importers of equipment and supplies often invest the most and pay the highest wages... Too often, workers' rights and environmental degradation have been ignored when it comes to liberalizing trade and capital flows. But few would argue that trade and capital flow have not been major contributors to growth... The economic goal should be... to ease the path toward converging interests..."
Bill Werde _NY Times_
Is the Employer Real? Guarding Your Personal Information
David Barboza _NY Times_
A Big Threat to Asia's Export-Driven Economies (2 pages)
"Asia should be enjoying a year of robust growth. The region is now the world's biggest factory floor, the global center for manufacturing everything from textiles and toys to sneakers and electronic gadgets like VCR's, cameras, televisions, computers and mobile phones. Though Japan has flagged in recent years, [Red China's] rapidly evolving economy is still roaring ahead, and the old 'tiger' economies like Malaysia and Thailand have been posting strong export growth... But in an increasingly global market-place, Asia's export-driven economies depend heavily on continued buying by consumers in the United States and Europe. Any shock to consumer confidence there could seriously harm Asia's exports, economists say. And officials of the monetary fund say the region already faced a slowdown because of the war. 'The U.S. is a locomotive for global growth, so much of what happens here depends on consumer attitudes in the U.S.', said David Cohen, a Singapore-based economist with MMS International, an investment research company... Countries like South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan are strongly affected by rising oil prices because they import much of their oil. [Red China's] oil imports are small relative to its economy, but energy costs are soaring there, too, as the country builds more cars and modern highways... Higher production costs could touch off inflationary pressures in some Asian countries, altering the domestic market for goods and services and raising the price of many exports to the West. Economists are also watching the global currency markets. The dollar has weakened in recent months against the Japanese yen, the Thai baht and other Asian currencies, a trend that has slightly eased the impact of energy prices, which are set worldwide in dollars. But the weakening dollar makes Asian goods more expensive when they reach their most important market, the United States, which may damp demand for them."
_AP_/_NY Times_ AlGore Joining Board of Apple
"AlGore praised chief executive Steve Jobs and other Apple executives for making the computer company 'once again the very best in the world'. But despite critically acclaimed products and a supportive fan base, Apple only has a 3% share of the U.S. personal computer market, according to the research firm IDC... Other board members include Jobs, William V. Campbell of Intuit, Millard 'Mickey' Drexler of J. Crew, Arthur Levinson of Genentech and Jerome York of Micro Warehouse Inc."
2003-03-21 06:41PST (09:41EST) (14:41GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Energy pushes February's CPI up 0.6%
"Consumer prices jumped 0.6% in February, the largest gain in 2 years, as energy prices increased by 5.9%, the Labor Department said Friday. Food prices rose 0.6%, but other goods and services exhibited little inflation. The core rate of consumer inflation, adjusted to exclude food and energy prices, increased just 0.1% last month... The consumer price index has now risen by 3% over the past 12 months, due in large part to a 22% rise in energy prices. The core rate has risen 1.7% in the past year... Medical care prices rose 0.1% for the second month in a row, bringing the year-over-year rate down to 4.5%. Prescription drug prices fell 0.3%, while physician service prices rose 0.1%. Housing prices -- which represent 40% of the CPI -- rose 0.3% in February. Shelter prices, which account for 32% of the CPI, were flat, as hotel and motel prices fell 1.8%. Transportation prices rose 2%, with energy accounting for the bulk of the increase. Air fares rose 1.2%. New car prices fell 0.1%. Apparel prices fell 0.2%, education and communication prices rose 0.2% and recreation prices rose 0.3%. Prices of services rose 0.2% while commodity prices rose 1.1%. Excluding energy, services prices rose just 0.1%, the lowest in 21 years. Prices of consumer durable goods rose 0.1%."
2003-03-21 08:10PST (11:10EST) (16:10GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow, S&P 500 turn green for the year
"The Dow industrials and S&P 500 Index have pulled back from their intraday highs, but have made it into positive territory for the year. The Dow is up 65 points at 8,351 and the S&P 500 is 5 points better at 881, up 9 points and 2 points, respectively, since the end of 2002. Earlier in the session, indexes had seen respective gains of as much as 101.40 points and 9.06 points. The Nasdaq Composite is up 5 points at 1,408, above its 2002 year-end close of 1,336."
2003-03-21 12:06PST (15:06EST) (20:06GMT)
August Cole _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
War intensifies with 'shock and awe': Heavy bombing under way; US has combat casualties
"Heavy explosions again shattered the night sky over Baghdad and other Iraqi cities Friday as the 'shock and awe' phase of the allied campaign to over-throw Saddam Hussein got underway. U.S. and British forces also seized southern oil assets and two key airfields in western Iraq... In the advance on southern Iraq, 2 U.S. Marines were killed in combat, CNN reported. Earlier, a U.S. Navy transport helicopter crashed in Kuwait, killing eight British and four American servicemen. The Pentagon said the helicopter was not downed by enemy fire. On the journalistic front, CNN's Nic Robertson and his crew were expelled from Iraq and were heading to Jordan."
2003-03-21 12:11PST (15:11EST) (20:11GMT)
Emily Church & Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Circling the globe, markets on a high: War progresses, crude slips below $25 per barrel
"The Dow Industrial average gained 100 points in the first minutes of trade and was last up 150 points at 8,436. That index and the S&P are now positive for 2003. The German and French markets have gained over 20% gain since March 13. The London FTSE has jumped 17% in the past seven sessions. Financial stocks led the gainers in Europe... After the close of London and French markets, the German DAX Xetra 30 index continued to climb, closing closed up 4.2%. The London FTSE 100 closed up 2.5% and the French CAC 40 index finished 3.4% higher... The global rally didn't seem to extend to Canada. The S&P/TSX Composite Index was closing up just 0.70% to 6,521, while the S&P/TSX 60 Index rose 0.85% to 372.4 However, Latin American markets performed well. Brazil's Bovespa was up 1.7% at 11,343.71, Argentina's Merval Index was last up 1.6% at 583.31. Chile's SASE Select Index was up just 0.20% at 1,025.28... South Korea's Kospi index climbed 1.3% to 575, spurred on by gains for financial and engineering companies... The euro was weaker vs. the dollar in London, holding below the $1.06 mark as European stocks continued to gain. In New York, the euro moved to $1.05. The dollar has gained further against the yen in U.S. trading hours, rising to around 121.54 yen from the late New York level of 120.25 on Thursday. Despite Wednesday's weakness, the dollar has appreciated over 3% in the last several trading sessions... In Japan on Friday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged that Japan would join the U.S. in helping to build a new Iraqi regime, Kyodo reported... In Australia, the All Ordinaries Index was up 0.1% at 2,839, while New Zealand's NZSE 40 rose 0.4% to 1,891. Shanghai's B-share index gained 0.5% to 1,472 and Singapore's Straits Times index climbed 0.6% to 1,316. Taiwan's Weighted Average, however, fell 0.3% to 4,586, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down 0.3% to 9,167."
2003-03-21 12:57PST (15:57EST) (20:57GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bush tax plan survives crucial vote: Senate beats back effort to limit cuts to $350G
"The Senate on Friday defeated an effort to cut President Bush's proposed $726G in tax cuts by more than half, preserving the center-piece of the White House's domestic agenda... A final vote on the under-lying $2.2T Senate budget resolution is expected late Friday or Saturday."
Michelle Malkin _Washington Times_
How to be a liberty shield
"Each and every American can and must serve as an individual liberty shield... (1) Know your enemy... (2)... More than 115K people from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries are here illegally among a total population of some 7M to 11M illegal aliens. Some 6K Middle Eastern men who have defied deportation orders remain on the loose. There are roughly 300 agents assigned to apprehend such absconders, plus an additional 5K FBI agents newly assigned to investigate foreign terrorist threats... (3) Watch the campuses. If you study or work at a college or university, be alert. We know al Qaeda operatives -- from the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa -- have been training in the American ivory tower for decades. Be especially on guard against suspicious behavior if you are in the computer or engineering fields... (4) Always be prepared... Sharpen your powers of observation... If you are trained and licensed to carry a concealed weapon, don't leave home without it..."
EDS Pays Ousted Chief $37.4M
"First-quarter earnings will be reduced by 6 cents a share because of the severance pay, E.D.S. said. Mr. Brown will get a $12.4M cash payment, $5.4M in stock units and $19.6M in retirement benefits. The package was part of the employment agreement the company gave Mr. Brown in December 1998 to lure him from Cable and Wireless... Mr. Brown's pay package last year, when the stock fell 73%, included salary and other payments of $2.02M. He received a package worth $55M in 2001."
Marjorie Connelly _NY Times_
Most Americans Support Iraq Action Poll Finds
"New York Times/CBS News poll... A majority -- 62% -- of the adults surveyed on Thursday night think the United States was right in starting military action, while 35% said the United Nations and the weapons inspectors should have been given more time. In 1991, the outbreak of war against Iraq received a higher level of support from Americans. In the Times/CBS News poll taken the day after the bombing began in 1991 January, 79% said the United States was correct in starting military action and only 16% felt it would have been better to wait to see if the trade embargo worked. In the latest Times/CBS News poll, 59% said the onset of hostilities has increased the threat of terrorism against the United States and only 8% thought the risk has decreased. But, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, also conducted last night, 65% of Americans do not 'personally feel any sense of danger from terrorist acts'.... 83% said they felt confident; 65% felt proud; 63% reacted with sadness; 56% were worried; and 34% were afraid."
Amanda Onion _abc News_
Stressed Out: Tracing Anxiety's Effects From Brain to Body
"First, the hypothalamus, located deep in the brain, senses trouble and signals for the release of the hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine, glucocortoids and cortisone. These hormones stream from the adrenal gland, located near the kidney, and enter the blood-stream sounding the alarm. In the brain, the alert is registered in the amygdala, a hub located deep within the temporal region of the brain. The amygdala then signals other brain regions with the message that something important is going on... Meanwhile, the glucocortoids prepare internal organs, shutting down systems that may not be needed and arousing others that are more critical. Glucose is produced and provided as energy and blood pressure rises to help the body's muscles... The heart races, palms sweat, pupils dilate and breathing quickens. In a second phase, these hormones continue circulating and keep the body on alert mode until the third phase, when the body reaches exhaustion and requires rest to refuel... Some of the consequences include sleeplessness that can result, at least partly, from a depleted source of serotonin -- a hormone that lends a sense of well-being and restfulness. People feel tense and irritable and can experience nausea, acne and headaches. The high level of hormones also wears down the immune system and make a person more vulnerable to illness. Hassett reported in a study published last year in the journal Internal Medicine that prolonged stress can also exacerbate existing medical conditions. People with arthritis, for example, might feel more pain in the joints. And those vulnerable to certain infections may experience more flare-ups. Another recent study showed that heart patients in New York City suffered more than twice the usual number of life-threatening heart arrhythmias... about 50% of Americans appear to have a healthy ability to 'roll with the punches' and don't experience physical damage from stress, according to Hassett. About 30% experience some stress, while 18% of the population have more serious stress-related problems... Spending time with family and friends appears to play a big role in keeping spirits up, says Wolford. Eating well, exercise and meditation can also help, as well as spending time doing hobbies or leisure activities like listening to music or seeing movies. But several experts agree the most important measure is to take time to tune out."
Pat Kossan _Arizona Republic_
Teachers recruited from India: Arizona rural schools search for educators
"Three educators from rural Arizona have traveled halfway around the world to New Delhi, India, looking to hire experienced teachers for math and science classes. They interviewed scores of teachers... Jay Kumar, a Houston businessman, started the company when he saw a national shortage coming, and has placed 75 teachers from India in 15 school districts in Texas, Indiana and Connecticut."
2003-03-22 09:44PST (12:44EST) (17:44GMT)
US Military Employs Israeli Technology
"technology developed in Israel -- from the Army's Hunter drones to the targeting systems on the U.S. Marines' Harrier jets to the fuel tanks on its F-15 fighters... It would be hard to find a modern military that manages without technology developed by the Jewish state's feisty industry. Israel emerged last year as the world's No. 3 arms and military services exporter -- ahead of even Russia's massive arms industry, according to Jane's Defense Weekly... Popeye air-to-surface missiles -- dubbed AGM-142 by the U.S. Air Force -- at ground targets. The precision-guided Popeyes were designed by Rafael, a company partially owned by the government of Israel. Israeli-designed Hunter unmanned aerial vehicles are in the service of the U.S. Army, and its cousin, the Pioneer, is being used by the U.S. Marines to scout Iraqi defenses. Both originated in the design labs of Israel Aircraft Industries, the country's largest private company... Some of the Army's Bradley fighting vehicles are guided by on-board computers supplied by a subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems, Shapir said. U.S. troops riding in the Bradleys might also be protected by armor from Rafael, said Lova Drori, Rafael's director of international marketing. Rafael is also the designer of the Litening Targeting Pods... Israel also makes or designs multiple rocket launchers, mortars, laser target designators... Much of the equipment is manufactured in the United States by subsidiaries of Israeli companies, or through joint ventures with U.S. weapons manufacturers. According to Jane's, Israel made more than $3.5 billion in arms sales last year, roughly equal to Russia's massive arms export industry. Only the United States and Britain sold more, Jane's reported."
Jonathan Fuerbringer _NY Times_
Dow's Week Is the Best in 20 Years
"The Dow gained 8.4% in the week that war began, while the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index rose 7.5%, its best week since the rebound after the terrorist attacks in 2001 September. The rally pushed both indexes into positive territory for the year, along with the Nasdaq composite index... The Nasdaq's weekly gain of 6% was its best since 2002 October... The Dow finished the day up 235.37 points, or 2.8%, at 8,521.97. The S.& P. 500 index rose 20.06 points, or 2.3% to 895.90. The Nasdaq climbed 19.07 points, or 1.4%, to 1,421.84. Trading volume was 1.9G shares, above the recent average of 1.4G shares, but well below the recent high of 2.8G... For the year, the Dow is now up 2.2% and the S.& P. 500 index 1.8%. The Nasdaq has a 6.4% gain for the year. All 3 gauges, though, remain below their highs of early January... Germany's DAX index rose 13.1%, its best performance since 2001 September... The dollar rallied, rising 0.7% against the euro, to $1.0534, and 0.9% against the Japanese yen, to 121.51."
Clifford Krauss _NY Times_
Concerns About Commerce as Borders Tighten
"Canadian officials said they had agreed to a request by Attorney General John Ashcroft to increase the number of Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents along the border. With the United States under an orange alert, Mexican officials also reported increased waiting times at the border with the United States... Law enforcement officials have arrested more than 30 smugglers and illegal immigrants trying to cross into the United States this year, already surpassing the number of such arrests in the area for all of 2002... Meanwhile, in recent months Canadian law enforcement has placed sensors on unguarded roads to monitor traffic and obtained warrants to place tracking devices on vehicles driven by suspected smugglers. Officials here said intelligence gathered and now shared on both sides of the border was leading to new major investigations of organized crime rings smuggling cigarettes, marijuana, illegal immigrants and cash that also could be exploited conceivably by terrorists... Still, the 5,500-mile border [between] the United States [and Canada] is hard to defend..."
Diana B. Henriques, Richard A. Oppel & Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
Which Companies Will Put Iraq Back Together?
"War began last week. Reconstruction starts this week. That, at least, is how it looks to government contract officers, who in the coming days plan to give American companies the first contracts to rebuild Iraq... Halliburton... Bechtel... Fluor... Parsons Corporation, the Louis Berger Group... Washington Group International..."
Paul Berman _NY Times_
The Philosopher of Islamic Terror (10 pages)
"Its popularity, which was hard to imagine at first, has turned out to be large and genuine in more than a few countries. Al Qaeda upholds a paranoid and apocalyptic worldview, according to which 'Crusaders and Zionists' have been conspiring for centuries to destroy Islam. And this worldview turns out to be widely accepted in many places... The vigilant police in many countries, applying themselves at last, have raided a number of Muslim charities and Islamic banks, which stand accused of subsidizing the terrorists. These raids have advanced the war on still another front, which has been good to see. But the raids have also shown that Al Qaeda is not only popular; it is also institutionally solid, with a worldwide network of clandestine resources... The organization was created in the late 1980's by an affiliation of 3 armed factions -- bin Laden's circle of 'Afghan' Arabs, together with two factions from Egypt, the Islamic Group and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the latter led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's top theoretician. The Egyptian factions emerged from an older current, a school of thought from within Egypt's fundamentalist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the 1950's and 60's. And at the heart of that single school of thought stood, until his execution in 1966, a philosopher named Sayyid Qutb -- the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda... their guide... One of the many volumes of this giant work was translated into English in the 1970's and published by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, an organization later widely suspected of participation in terrorist attacks -- and an organization whose Washington office was run by a brother of bin Laden's. In the last four years a big effort has been mounted by another organization, the Islamic Foundation in England, to bring out the rest, in what will eventually be an edition of 15 fat English-language volumes, handsomely ornamented with Arabic script from the Koran... These groups stand on a set of ideas too, and some of those ideas may be pathological, which is an old story in modern politics; yet even so, the ideas are powerful... He was born in 1906, and in the 1920's and 30's he took up socialism and literature... Qutb displayed 'traces of individualism and existentialism'... The most radical of the Pan-Arabists openly admired the Nazis and pictured their proposed new caliphate as a racial victory of the Arabs over all other ethnic groups. Qutb and the Islamists, by way of contrast, pictured the resurrected caliphate as a theocracy, strictly enforcing shariah, the legal code of the Koran. The Islamists and the Pan-Arabists had their similarities then, and their differences. (And today those two movements still have their similarities and differences -- as shown by bin Laden's Qaeda, which represents the most violent wing of Islamism, and Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which represents the most violent wing of Pan-Arabism.)... Sayyid Qutb's brother, Muhammad Qutb, was one of those people. He fled to Saudi Arabia and ended up as a distinguished Saudi professor of Islamic Studies. Many years later, Osama bin Laden would be one of Muhammad Qutb's students... Qutb wrote that, all over the world, humans had reached a moment of unbearable crisis. The human race had lost touch with human nature. Man's inspiration, intelligence and morality were degenerating... This error was philosophical. It consisted of placing an arrogant and deluded faith in the power of human reason -- an arrogant faith that, after many centuries, had created in modern times a tyranny of technology over life. Qutb shared that analysis, somewhat. Only instead of locating the error in ancient Greece, he located it in ancient Jerusalem... In Qutb's view, however, Judaism withered into what he called 'a system of rigid and lifeless ritual'... God sent another prophet, though. That prophet, in Qutb's Muslim way of thinking, was Jesus, who proposed a few useful reforms... Jesus' disciples... went too far in rejecting the Jewish teachings... The old code of Moses... had enfolded the divine and the worldly into a single concept, which was the worship of God. But Christianity divided these things into 2, the sacred and the secular... Muhammad's prophecies, in the Koran, instructed man to be God's 'vice regent' on earth -- to take charge of the physical world, and not simply to see it as something alien to spirituality or as a way station on the road to a Christian after-life. Muslim scientists in the Middle Ages took this instruction seriously and went about inquiring into the nature of physical reality. And, in the Islamic universities of Andalusia and the East, the Muslim scientists, deepening their inquiry, hit upon the inductive or scientific method -- which opened the door to all further scientific and technological progress... His deepest quarrel was not with America's failure to uphold its principles. His quarrel was with the principles. He opposed the United States because it was a liberal society, not because the United States failed to be a liberal society... The truly dangerous element lay in America's separation of church and state... He worried, instead, that people with liberal ideas were mounting a gigantic campaign against Islam... The most extreme despotism was all too visible in Qutb's revolutionary program."
Marhsall Sella _NY Times_
The Sound of Things to Come (6 pages)
"[Elwood G.] Norris is demonstrating something called HyperSonic Sound (HSS). The aluminum plate is connected to a CD player and an odd amplifier -- actually, a very odd and very new amplifier -- that directs sound much as a laser beam directs light... the sound waves are actually made audible not at the surface of the metal plate but at the listener's ears... American Technology Corporation... Today, A.T.C. has 14 patents in the U.S. and hundreds pending worldwide. The company has spent millions on patents alone... His first invention was a medical product, simply because he was approached by a few friends who wanted to form a company but had nothing to sell -- and the man with the most money to invest was a doctor. So Norris went and bought a flashlight at Radio Shack (evidently his spiritual home), then picked up a piezoelectric crystal and fine-tuned his knowledge of the Doppler effect until he puzzled out a way to detect clots in blood vessels. This entire process took a Friday night and most of a Saturday. 'It was called "Transcutaneous Doppler".', he recalls wistfully -- before adding, as a throw-away, 'Eventually, it evolved into the sonogram.'... These days, Norris's new love is the AirScooter, a personal helicopter that takes no more than an afternoon to master. It's slow, smooth and lacks the complexities of an actual copter. And, as it has been whittled down to meet the government's 'ultralight' standard -- weighing less than 254 pounds -- you need not be licensed to fly it... Norris and A.T.C. have been busy honing something called High Intensity Directed Acoustics (HIDA, in house jargon). It is directional sound -- an off-shoot of HSS -- but one that never, ever transmits Handel or waterfall sounds. Although the technology thus far has been routinely referred to as a 'non-lethal weapon', the Pentagon now prefers to stress the friendlier-sounding 'hailing intruders' function. In reality, HIDA is both warning and weapon. If used from a battleship, it can ward off stray crafts at 500 yards with a pinpointed verbal warning. Should the offending vessel continue to within 200 yards, the stern warnings are replaced by 120-decibel sounds that are as physically disabling as shrapnel. Certain noises, projected at the right pitch, can incapacitate even a stone-deaf terrorist; the bones in your head are brutalized by a tone's full effect whether you're clutching the sides of your skull in agony or not. 'Besides,', Norris says, laughing darkly, 'grabbing your ears is as good as a pair of hand-cuffs... HIDA can instantaneously cause loss of equilibrium, vomiting, migraines -- really, we can pretty much pick our ailment.'... Focus is Norris's real meat and drink -- but he will always go broad before going deep. He never finished college. He didn't want some university to foist a narrow course upon him. Instead, he veered all over the map, from physics to the philosophy of religion."
Michael Wilson _NY Times_
Marines Meet Potent Enemy in Deadly Fight
"What looked to be an easy ride into this city turned into a messy firefight today when Iraqi tanks, regular soldiers and guerrillas darted through the streets and turned their mortars, artillery cannons, rockets and rifles on advancing United States marines."
Peter T. Kilborn _NY Times_
Biding Their Time in Military Limbo, Longing for Action
"These are the soldiers left behind. They are not among the troops captured by the Iraqis, cut down in desert battles or lost in helicopter crashes. They missed the horror of a grenade attack on officers' tents that killed one of their own from Fort Campbell and wounded 15. Still, they cannot wait to get into the war... Fort Campbell is the home of the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles, which dispatched 18K of its 20K soldiers to Kuwait almost a month ago. They slide down ropes from the bellies of Chinook helicopters to go into battle. They left behind about 8K members of the Reserves, the National Guard and the regular Army, who have been parked here for as long as 2 months."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Start-Up Aims to End Spam
"Silicon Valley is continuing to hemorrhage thousands of jobs, but there are some here who say that the time has never been better for creating a start-up company... Mailblocks, based in Los Altos, CA, is entering the crowded e-mail market with the premise that consumers will pay a small annual fee for a solution to spam... The Mailblocks anti-spam service is based on a so-called challenge-response mechanism to block bulk mail sent automatically to e-mail accounts. When a customer receives a new message from an unknown correspondent, the system will intercept the message and automatically return to the sender a digital image of a 7-digit number and a form to fill out. Once a human being views that number and types it into the form -- demonstrating that he or she is a person and not an automated mass-mailing machine -- the system will forward the e-mail to the intended recipient."
Mark Truby _Detroit News_
Ford shifts focus to tech talent: Program that values engineers will grow
"After struggling with quality problems and product launch delays in recent years, Ford is undergoing an attitude adjustment. The company is implementing a new program -- dubbed Experience and Stability of Personnel, or ESP in human resources lingo -- that rewards and encourages engineers like MF who develop technical expertise... The linch-pin of the new program -- which will be implemented throughout Ford's entire 12K-person North American engineering corps by this summer -- is the creation of a technical career path that can be equally rewarding as a management career... In the past, Ford pushed engineers to change jobs every 18-24 months to gain a broad-based background needed for advancement. The result, according to some within Ford, was engineers who were 'jacks of all trades, masters of none'."
2003-03-23 21:09PST (23:09CST) (2003-03-24 00:09EST) (2003-03-24 05:09GMT)
Peter Loftus _Dow Jones_/_St. Louis Post-Dispatch_
IT staffs suffer from burn-out, low morale
"Meta Group, a research firm, in Stamford, CT, surveyed IT managers at about 300 large companies and found that 71% of the respondents believed that employee burn-out on their staffs was a serious issue... The number of IT workers in the United States rose slightly to 10.1M in December from 9.9M in 2002 January, according to Information Technology Association of America, a trade group... More than 55% of the companies surveyed have begun skill-development programs to boost morale, and 24% have bolstered their retention programs. Still, only 11% said they had boosted salaries and only 8% offered cash incentives to curb worker burn-out."
2003-03-23 20:40PST (23:40EST) (2003-03-24 04:40GMT)
Sharpest fighting in war to date: As many as 10 Marines killed; 12 US soldiers unaccounted for
"Witnesses to the troop carrier attack said at least 10 Marines were killed. But at a U.S. Central Command briefing in Qatar, Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid said the number of dead was less than that... In addition, Abizaid said, 12 soldiers from a U.S. Army maintenance unit are unaccounted for, and some were shown on Iraqi state television as prisoners. The 12 are believed to have been captured in an ambush by Iraqi forces outside Nasiriya... Two U.S. cruise missiles fell in unpopulated areas of Turkey on Monday, the Pentagon said. No one was hurt. In a separate incident the day before, Turkish and U.S. military authorities investigated an undetonated missile that appeared to have fallen into a remote village in southeastern Turkey. No one was hurt by the missile, which witnesses said left a crater 13 feet [4 meters] wide and 3.3 feet [1 meter] deep. The missile fell in Ozveren, 430 miles [688 kilometers] northwest of the border with Iraq, about 17:30 [09:30EST], as planes were seen flying overhead, witnesses said."
2003-03-24 10:54PST (07:54EST) (12:54GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
Study: IT spending to drop with war
"A recent Merrill Lynch survey of chief information officers found that 17% said they would slow their spending if war with Iraq begins... just 10% said that if war ended quickly, it would cause their information technology spending to accelerate from current levels."
2003-03-24 13:35PST (16:35EST) (21:35GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tech crumble in war-inspired sell-off: Nasdaq closes down 52 points as bell-wethers drop
No post-war IT spending rise expected
"The Nasdaq staggered to the close and finished the day down 52.06 points, or 3.7%, at 1,369.78 after reaching a two-month high point in the previous session. Despite the losses, the Nasdaq remained in positive territory for the year. Sector indexes had an even worse go of it, as the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index fell 5%, and the Amex Networking Index surrendered 6%... However, a new Merrill Lynch survey of 100 U.S. and European chief information officers showed that even a quick end to the Iraq war would not lead to any major increase in technology spending. Merrill analyst Steve Milunovich said that 90% of the survey's respondents said they did not plan on speeding up their spending plans, adding credence to the argument that there is still enough business uncertainty to keep the sector from showing noticeable improvement."
2003-03-24 13:48PST (16:48EST) (21:48GMT)
Paul R. La Monica _CNN_/_Money_
The Tech job dilemma: Lay-offs may be the only way to generate short-term profit growth, but are more job cuts a good idea?
"But many techs seem to realize that they can only cut so much. In fact, the pace of lay-offs has started to slow down. John Challenger, CEO of employee out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a telephone interview on Monday that the number of telecom lay-offs during the first 2 months of 2003 dropped 78% from a year ago... Investors are clearly banking on a tech recovery. The Nasdaq, even with Monday's nearly 4% pull-back, is still up 23% from its early October lows."
2003-03-24 14:21PST (17:21EST) (22:21GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
The Dow sees worst plummet of the year: Reality of war sets in on Wall Street
"Amid reports of rising casualties and an appearance by Saddam Hussein on Iraqi television, stocks sold off sharply as money flowed into bonds, oil and gold. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 307 points, or 3.6%, to 8,214, wiping out a 235-point rally on Friday. The Dow returned to the minus column in its year-to-date performance after just a day above the 8,341 level. All 30 stocks in the Dow industrials fell. The index plunged as low as 8,185 after a report of an explosion near a Navy base in Bahrain, but recovered off its lows once authorities said no one was injured. It was the worst point drop in the index of 30 industrials since 2002 September 4, when the Dow lost 355 points, according to data from Dow Jones. The Dow lost 390 points on July 19 of last year in another dreary day. On Monday, the Nasdaq slid 52 points, or 3.7%, to 1,369. It's still positive for the year by about 30 points. The S&P 500 gave up 31, or 3.5%, to 864. Advancers trailed decliners by 731 to 2,554 on the Big Board. About 1.27G shares changed hands, below the average level of about 1.42G shares."
Richard Waters _Financial Times of London_
Iraq War and Information Security
"These hackers can be divided to 3 groups: US-based patriotic hackers, who want to join the war against Iraq but have no others means to do it except by attacking the virtual enemy through networks. This might mean launching a distributed denial-of-service attack against the e-mail server of Iraqi embassy or web sites of Iraqi companies. Islamic extremist groups from around [the] world who are trying to fight back to the perceived enemy by launching attacks against US sites and especially .mil web sites. Peace activists who are not for USA or for Iraq but just against the war. For example, we've seen several computer viruses released which carry an anti-war message or are trying to use the situation otherwise for their own advantage."
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Skeptical Economic View Takes in More Than Iraq
"With each new month of lay-offs and other corporate cost-cutting, however, the exceptions begin to look more like a rule. Increasingly, corporate executives and some economists worry that the slow-growth economy of the last 3 years might in fact be the new reality, one that will bedevil workers and investors for a few more years... Economic turning points rarely announce themselves clearly... If stocks grow only modestly in coming years, consumers -- particularly baby boomers, who are approaching retirement -- are likely to increase their saving, at the expense of spending, economists say. Now, households are saving about 4% of their incomes, up from 2% during the boom but still well below their average of around 8% in the 70's, 80's and early 90's, according to the Commerce Department... At the end of last year, most chief executives predicted continuing job cuts and economic growth of less than 2% this year, according to a survey by the Business Roundtable in Washington. Despite the deep cuts of the last 2 years, industrial companies are still using just 75% of their available capacity, less than they were during most of the 2001 recession... Richard Yamarone, an economist at Argus Research in New York. Instead, the slowing of wage growth for most workers to a pace below inflation is leaving people with less money to spend, and the labor market does not appear poised for a quick recovery, he said. As baby boomers begin retiring, leaving the nation with fewer workers, wages could start to rise rapidly again."
James Grant _NY Times_
Battling the Fog of Finance
"The truth about the 3-year decline in stock prices and the hot-and-cold-running economy is that they have their roots in prosperity, not in war... The sky-scraping stock market of the late 1990's (which indeed commanded valuations higher than those of 1929) induced enough corporate spending to sate demand and cause a recession... But the source of America's persistent financial aches and pains is something more basic: the preceding mispricing of capital. In the manic phase of the bull market, capital was essentially free. The frittering away of American savings wasn't intentional. It happened inadvertently, through investing: in telecommunications equipment, semiconductor manufacturing plants, computer servers, power generators, office furniture, Internet initiatives, etc. We invested more than we should have -- in fact, more than we had... More productive capacity spurred higher output, which led to more intense competition and -- no surprise -- to lower profit margins. And those things led to lower stock prices, which, in turn, led to a crash in capital investment... It consumes much more than it produces. It imports much more than it exports. And it owns much less of foreign assets than foreigners do of American assets ($2.3T less, as of the end of 2001). In 2002, Americans imported about $500G more than they exported... It is useful to think about this deficit in terms of the current defense budget: it is 35% bigger... if they did get into the habit of consuming more than they produce, they would quickly have to earn their way out -- by consuming less and producing more."
Patrick Thibodeau & Jaikumar Vijayan _ComputerWorld_/_IDG_
War may prompt firms to delay off-shore work
"The Iraq war's impact on off-shore out-sourcing could be similar to what happened last year during the crisis between Pakistan and India, when for several months there was a decline in off-shore contracts and a renewed focus on contingency planning. Once the threat declined, out-sourcing to India largely returned to normal. But if the Iraq war is protracted and U.S. interests, such as India's out-sourcing centers, are attacked by terrorists, then U.S. businesses will likely pull operations back in-house, said Debashish Sinha, an analyst at Gartner Inc... The war is already having a short-term impact on out-sourcing, primarily because of travel concerns."
Patrick E. Tyler _NY Times_
GIs ReGroup after Set-back
"Having swept over more than 300 miles of sand and mud in southern Iraq, American forces gathered themselves south of Baghdad today, flinging artillery fire and attack helicopters against the Republican Guard, the outer ring of Saddam Hussein's defenses of Baghdad. But a curtain of fire from small arms and machine guns that was described as a 'hornet's nest' drove back the airborne force of 32 Apache helicopters seeking Iraqi tanks, and one of the aircraft went down in a farmer's field."
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
Data Expert Is Cautious About Misuse of Information
"As the government gears up its domestic security program, the chief executive of a venture capital firm founded by the Central Intelligence Agency warned today of the danger of amassing a large, unified data-base that would be available to government investigators -- as some technology executives have advocated. 'I think it's very dangerous to give the government total access.', said Gilman Louie, chief executive of In-Q-Tel, a venture fund established by the C.I.A. in 1999... First, there is what he termed the "data mining or profiling" approach. This involves collecting large amounts of data -- like credit card and air travel information -- and then sorting the data by names, buying habits or travel plans looking for patterns... The second way to use database technology to detect threats is what he called the data analysis approach. The alternative...starts with some kind of investigative lead and then uses software tools to scan for links between a person under investigation and known terrorists, in terms of where they live, recent travel and other behavior. Las Vegas casinos, for example, use data analysis software called NORA, for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness, for tracking threats to their business -- links between some patrons and sometimes employees with money launderers, known card counters and individuals with criminal records. The company that developed the NORA software, Systems Research and Development, is one of the companies in which In-Q-Tel has invested. [During the cold war] Information... was kept in separate data base silos so it would not leak or any leak could be quickly contained. Speed of information flow across databases was not a priority... Darpa, and the government's National Imagery and Mapping Agency, or NIMA, have also supplied financing to In-Q-Tel for specific programs."
Down-turn? What down-turn?: Body shops beat the recession by out-sourcing off-shore
"Despite recent economic turbulence, some American recruiters are reporting a 30% increase in new business. Greg Mishon, Director of Parker Scott Search and Selection, has out-sourced his company's CV screening, online CV data-base searching and vacancy hunting to an Internet recruitment/resourcing company based in India... The US recruitment industry leads the way in innovation and developing new codes of practice. Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable trend towards out-sourcing of all non-essential recruitment activity to India."
Joe Buff _Military.com_
Linda Greenhouse _NY Times_
In Government Court Groups Lose Challenge to Government's Broader Abuse of Wire-Taps
"An effort by a coalition of civil liberties groups to bring a Supreme Court challenge to the government's use of expanded surveillance authority under a post-September 11 statute failed today. The justices, without comment, refused to permit the groups to file an appeal from a ruling by a special federal appeals court that the USA Patriot Act granted broad new authority to use wire-taps obtained for intelligence operations to prosecute terrorists... Without comment, the court turned down a First Amendment challenge to an Arizona campaign finance law that created a 'clean elections fund', supported by a surcharge of 10% on civil and criminal fines collected in the state... the Institute for Justice, the libertarian group that filed Mr. May's appeal, said the law transformed the act of contributing to political campaigns from one of 'individual volition into an act of compulsion'. The case was May v. Brewer, No. 02-1065."
"When New Jersey State Sen. Shirley Turner was first inspired to propose legislation banning the out-sourcing of IT and other state contracts to over-seas companies, she had no clue that bill No. 1349 would incite both heated lobbying by technology groups against it and a wild-fire of support from laid-off technology workers."
Chris McManes _IEEE USA_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing and Labor Importing Put the Squeeze on Jobs in the U.S. High-Tech Industry
"The unemployment rate for electrical and electronics engineers (EEs) has more than tripled since 2000, going from 1.3% to 4.2% last year. For computer scientists, the jobless rate jumped from 2% to 5%."
Nicole Taylor _Los Angeles Business Journal_
Recruiting firms' revenues dive for 2nd consecutive year
Los Angeles Business Journal
"Revenues last year at retained search firms fell by 16% from 2001, which in turn were 14% lower than reported in 2000. At contingency firms, 2002 revenues were off 18% from the year earlier. In 2001, contingency firms' revenues were off 16% from those reported in 2000."
Daniel S. Greenberg _The Scientist_
The Mythical "Scientist Shortage"
"Despite the alarms, no current or impending shortage exists, and never did. Instead, we're glutted with scientists and engineers in many fields, as numerous job seekers with respectable credentials can attest."
Chris Cillizza _Roll Call_
"'It formalizes and puts in an organizational structure to how we are going to protect Democratic incumbents.', Matsui said."
2003-03-24 21:05PST (2003-03-25 00:05EST) (2003-03-25 05:05GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Prepare to jump: 12 tips for job-seekers to improve their chances
"The unemployment rate is projected to drop to 5.4% by this time next year, and to 5.1% by the end of 2004, according to Macroeconomic Advisers' forecast. The current [seasonally adjusted unemployment] rate is 5.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics... While the forecasted rates aren't as good as was seen during the boom time -- in 2000, unemployment was 4% -- neither are they as bad as was seen in 1992, when the rate was 7.5%, or 1982, when it was 9.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More pessimistic economists currently put next year's average rate at 6%, according to a survey of about 50 economists by the Blue Chip Economic Indicators newsletter...
2003-03-25 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
Irwin Kellner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Reading the economic tea leaves: Approach 2 schools of data differently
"Reliable data tend to be 'hard' in nature. That is, they measure actual developments such as employment, production, sales and incomes -- not to mention overall economic growth. These are the data that tell us where we've been, in theory so we can get a better idea of where we are going. The problem is, they aren't timely. The war makes a good case in point. Hard data for the period covering the onset of the war last week won't be available until May, by which time we all hope that military... OTOH, there are the 'soft' statistics. These are surveys of public opinion, which show up in the form of consumer and business confidence and thus offer a take on the temperature of the economy. By their nature, they can be very timely, reflecting how people felt as recently as the other day. The problem is, they do not necessarily translate into actual spending decisions."
2003-03-25 07:02PST (10:02EST) (15:02GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumer confidence was down before war according to Conference Board: February home sales off from record levels in January
"The board's consumer confidence index slipped to 62.5 in March from 64.8 in February. It's the lowest reading since 1993 October. The cut-off for the survey of 5K households was March 18, two days before the first bombing. The expectations index fell to 62.5 from 65.7 (the lowest since 1991 January) while the present situation index dropped to 62.4 from 63.5 (the lowest since 1993 December)... A daily tracking of consumer attitudes shows a dramatic improvement since the war began, according to pollster Scott Rasmussen. The Rasmussen economic confidence index rose to 108.2 on Tuesday from 89.9 a week ago... Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors said in a separate release that sales of existing homes fell about 4% to an annual rate of 5.84M in February from a record 6.1M in January. Economists expected a larger drop off to about 5.78M."
2003-03-25 10:37PST (13:37EST) (18:37GMT)
Keith Regan _eCommerce Times_/_Yahoo!_
Half of Out-Sourced Projects Will Fail
"In 2003, half of all information technology projects involving third-party consulting will be considered unsuccessful by executives who oversee them, according to a new report from Gartner, because they fail to deliver expected return on investment or operational value. The research firm's findings, unveiled at its annual ITxpo in San Diego, California, suggest service providers need to improve how they communicate with clients. In addition, enterprises should set up a series of regular, formal meetings with contractors to ensure projects stay on track."
2003-03-25 11:47PST (14:47EST) (19:47GMT)
William L. Watts _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Senate votes to slash tax cuts to $350G
"The Senate voted Tuesday to slash tax cuts in their fiscal 2004 budget plan to $350G. The vote came after President Bush detailed his request for additional fiscal 2003 spending of $74.7G to pay the costs of war with Iraq. The White House is seeking $726G in tax cuts over the next decade. The House budget outline passed last week includes room for the entire Bush package."
2003-03-25 13:28PST (16:28EST) (21:28GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Buyers return to the stock markets after 1-day retreat: Senate vote to cut Bush's tax plan cuts into gains
"The major stock indexes closed firmly in positive territory Tuesday, but gains were pared in afternoon trading after the Senate voted to slash the tax cuts embedded in President Bush's 2004 budget plan in half to $350G... The Dow Jones Industrials Average advanced 66 points, or 0.8% higher, to 8,280, the S&P 500 Index rose 11 points, or 1.2%, to 875 and the Nasdaq Composite marched 21 points, or 1.5% higher, to 1,391... Overall volume was relatively high, with 1.33G shares moving on the NYSE and 1.42G shares turning over on the Nasdaq... Consumer confidence slipped again in March ahead of the start of the Iraq war, the Conference Board said Tuesday. The board's consumer confidence index slipped to a 10-year low of 62.5 in March from 64.8 in February. The cut-off for the survey of 5K households was March 18."
Diminished Expectations in Iraq
"As American forces began skirmishing with Iraq's Republican Guard troops on the drive toward Baghdad yesterday, Iraq's best soldiers seemed in no mood to lay down their arms. Army Apache helicopters attacked and destroyed up to 15 armored vehicles of a Republican Guard division in central Iraq but were driven back by a ferocious hail of small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Virtually all the Apaches were hit, and one went down."
Denise Grady & Lawrence Altman _NY Times_
Experts See Gains and Gaps in Planning Defense Against Terror Attacks
"The United States now has enough smallpox vaccine to inoculate the entire population, and, Dr. O'Toole said, vaccinating military personnel and health workers has helped doctors learn how to conduct immunization programs. The government has also stock-piled antibiotics, treatments for burn and blast victims, and antidotes to chemical weapons and nerve gases. A federal program called the Strategic National Stock-pile, part of the Department of Homeland Security, says it has enough medicine to treat 12M people exposed to anthrax, 100M exposed to plague and 50M exposed to tularemia, a bacterial infection. The program says it can deliver the drugs anywhere in the country in 12 hours or less... By March 14, only 21,698 health workers had been inoculated... [The federal government] has provided more than $900M to states for bio-terror preparedness, but experts say more will be needed."
Richard Engel _abc News_
Life in Baghdad goes on amidst daily bombing of military targets
"In Baghdad, you'd never know U.S. and British forces are closing in on the city... A week of bombings, which have not caused many civilian casualties, seem to have given Iraqis what could be a false sense of security. I was in a restaurant today having a lunch of rice and mutton. The restaurant was crowded, and the meal cost the same as it would have a week ago."
Dramatic Images of War in Iraq Play Out on Television, Viewers Weigh How Much to Watch
"Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University said the 24-hour coverage of the war may have made people lose interest in the war more quickly and could reduce public support for a long conflict. 'If you've got people after 4 and a half days saying they've had enough of the war, think of the magnitude of that statement.', Thompson said. 'World War 2 took 4 years.'. Richard Wald, a former news executive at both NBC and ABC and now a professor at Columbia University School of Journalism, said that for news executives, the need to inform the public has to be balanced against how much the public will actually watch."
2003-03-25 18:28PST (21:28EST) (2003-03-26 02:28GMT)
Dolphins Help Spot Mines in Iraq
"Qatar - Coalition forces have brought in two specially trained bottle-nosed Atlantic dolphins to help ferret out mines in the approaches of the port of Umm Qasr, major general Victor Renuart of the Central Command said Tuesday. The dolphins will help clear the way for the shipment of humanitarian aid to allied-held southern Iraq..."
2003-03-26 10:42PST (13:42EST) (18:42GMT)
Joe Brockmeier _Yahoo!_/_NewsFactor_
Can IT Still Attract the Best and Brightest?
"The information technology field has advanced rapidly in past decades, largely because some of the world's most intelligent and creative people have been attracted to the IT industry. But IT is not the most attractive field these days. Wages are 'trending downward', and companies have been cutting jobs like there is no tomorrow. (For some companies, there really isn't a tomorrow.)... John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told NewsFactor that the honey-moon for IT careers is over. 'I think a lot of students coming out now are seeing IT jobs are not the panacea to having a smooth career that perhaps for a while people thought it might offer.' Despite the fact that IT jobs are no guarantee of employment, students are still showing an interest in IT. Elizabeth Reed, director of career services at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told NewsFactor that there has not been a massive movement away from IT-related fields of study, though she noted that interest in other areas is picking up... Gomolski added that although the IT job crunch has not driven away people with a high-tech mindset, it may discourage others... Both Challenger and Gomolski believe the job situation is likely to get even worse with the increase in over-seas out-sourcing of IT jobs."
2003-03-26 14:22PST (17:22EST) (22:22GMT)
Gregg Keizer _Yahoo!_/_Information Week_
Out-Sourcing: A 50-50 Proposition
"Half of this year's IT out-sourcing projects will be tagged as losers by senior decision makers for not delivering on bottom-line promises, Gartner says. Out-sourcing is prone to failure because of break-downs in communications between out-sourcing providers and their clients, the research firm adds."
2003-03-26 15:30PST (18:30EST) (23:30GMT)
Credit Card Delinquencies at a New High
"Mounting U.S. job losses pushed up credit card delinquencies in the fourth quarter of 2002 to the highest level since the American Bankers Association began tracking the data in 1990, the group said on Wednesday. Credit card delinquencies climbed to 4.07% of all accounts in the quarter, up from 4% in the third quarter of 2002, which was the previous high... A composite index of consumer loans including auto and home equity loans rose to 2.16% of all accounts from 2.06% in the third quarter, the ABA said. Delinquencies on home equity loans rose to 1.64%."
Patrick McDowell _AP_/_Yahoo!_
First Major Relief Convoy Reaches Iraq
"Three days after President Bush promised 'massive amounts' of humanitarian aid, 7 large, battered tractor-trailers entered Umm Qasr carrying food and water donated by Kuwaitis. The convoy was escorted by U.S. soldiers. 'We planned for 30 trucks but we only got seven loaded because of the severe sandstorm.', said E.J. Russell of the Humanitarian Operations Center, a joint U.S.-Kuwaiti agency. The storm cut visibility to about 100 yards. Hundreds of cases of water were stacked on 3 of the semis. The rest carried boxes of tuna, crackers, sweets and other food... Plans to bring supplies to Iraqi civilians had been on hold for days because of fighting across southern Iraq. On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that the United States is legally responsible for providing relief aid. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer blamed Saddam Hussein's regime for slowing the flow of $105M in U.S. aid by placing mines in the port of Umm Qasr."
2003-03-26 07:00PST (10:00EST) (15:00GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Weather drives down February new home sales
"Sales of new homes fell 8.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 854K, after a revised 929K sales rate in January, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Sales were the thinnest since 2000 August. The decline follows a 12.6% drop in January."
2003-03-26 13:26PST (16:26EST) (21:26GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks end in pull-back mode: Elimination of double tax on dividends in doubt
"The major market indexes were in pull-back mode Wednesday as a blow to President Bush's bid to eliminate the double taxation of dividends gave buyers reason to 'pause'... The Dow Jones Industrials Average lost 50 points, or 0.6%, to 8,230, after running up 10% over the past 10 sessions, and the S&P 500 Index slipped 5 points, or 0.5%, to 870. After fighting to hold above the flat line for most of the session, a late trip-up sent the Nasdaq Composite down 4 points, or 0.4%, to 1,387."
2003-03-26 15:54PST (18:54EST) (23:54GMT)
Myra P Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
FERC affirms manipulation order: US regulators award California government about $3.3G
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined that there had been widespread manipulation of California's electricity and natural gas markets during the state's energy crisis of 2000 to 2001, upholding an earlier ruling by an administrative law judge... California Gov. Gray Davis is seeking $9G refunds for California from companies such as Reliant Resources, Dynegy, Mirant and bankrupt Enron Corp., all of which sold electricity into the state during the crisis... Following Wednesday's ruling, FERC will consider placing limits on the profits of power marketers Enron Power Marketing, Enron Energy Services, Reliant Energy Services and BP Energy Co., according to commission Chairman Pat Wood. FERC's also deciding whether to ban Bridgeline Gas Marketing, Citrus Trading Corp., ENA Upstream Co. and 5 Enron subsidiaries from selling natural gas in California, he said."
Peter Fisher _Financial Times_
America must plan prudently for the future
"While budget deficits matter, total obligations for future spending matter much more... A more accurate measure of the government's fiscal position would take account of all future obligations, calculating costs and revenues as they accrue, regardless of when they must be paid... The concept of net present value, or NPV, is similar to accrual accounting. It sums the current value of all expected revenues and costs and denominates that total in today's dollars. NPV is used everywhere in finance except political discussion of fiscal policy."
John F. Burns _NY Times_
Baghdad Empties, but Fills with Foreboding
"For 30 years, Mr. Hussein has worked to make himself unchallengeable in Iraq. The war with Iran, the occupation of Kuwait, United Nations economic sanctions, the squaring off against America, the relentless purges of all potential challengers and critics, the astonishing hagiography of the monuments, the statues, the biographies, the adoring songs ó all have been, as many Iraqis see it, an outgrowth of the drive of an impoverished, fatherless, barefoot boy from a village on the Tigris to become, as official Iraqi publications describe him, Saddam the Great. But in the days since American forces crossed the border from Kuwait, and especially now that they are in the early stages of mounting a siege of Baghdad, Mr. Hussein has been confronted with the worst nightmare any absolute ruler can confront -- a physical force greater than his own."
Otto Pohl _NY Times_
Universities Exporting MBA Programs via the Internet
"Driven by the mantra of globalization and enabled by Internet-based technologies, M.B.A. programs in the United States are expanding rapidly into new markets over-seas. The schools are looking for full-time, on-campus students seeking an international M.B.A. degree as well as part-timers... who want to learn from afar while they continue working... The M.B.A. is an American creation. More than 100K students are enrolled in M.B.A. programs in the United States, and now tens of thousands more are enrolled over-seas... Most of the online universities are hoping to emulate the success of the University of Phoenix, whose growth is one of the most remarkable stories in for-profit academia. The university, with 140K students, has become the largest university in the country in terms of enrollment. About 60K of those students attend classes online and 4K are over-seas. The stock of Apollo Group, which owns the university, has kept pace, rising 500% since 2000 January."
The Mesopotamia campaign of WW1
Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
WTO Rules Against USA on Steel Tariff
"In Congressional hearings today, steel officials and union representatives praised the tariffs. Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers of America, told lawmakers that they should not forget the history that led to the president's decision to impose the steel tariffs. For several years, he said, the domestic steel industry was 'under attack from foreign producers, aided and abetted by foreign governments through subsidies and other market manipulations'."
Tony Blankley _Washington Times_
"The American personality might be characterized as an easy-going, sentimental, fair-minded ruthlessness... Americans consider it a compliment to be called a cow-boy."
James McNair _Cincinnati Enquirer_
Rising unemployment affects every tech sector
"For all the promise of careers in technology, 10% of the jobs that these supposed occupations of the future provided 2 years ago no longer exist, a new report concludes. According to the American Electronics Association [AeA], about 560K high-technology jobs disappeared between 2001 January and 2002 December, leaving U.S. high-tech employment at about 5.1M... 'It's pretty bad.', said Johnathan Holifield, executive director of CincyTechUSA, the technology arm of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce... Using Labor Department data, Obey also said Ohio has lost 118K jobs since 2001 January."
2003-03-26 21:01PST (2003-03-27 00:01EST) (2003-03-27 05:01GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"More than 68% of Americans own their homes today, up from 64% in 1990. Initiatives announced by the president and subscribed to by mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aim to move that number to 70% or more in the next decade... M. Leanne Lachman...authored a new report called 'Homeownership: Too Much of a Good Thing?'. She argues that owning a home is not necessarily the best shelter solution for every household. Even with today's low interest rates, homeownership poses challenges for families with limited financial reserves... Although mortgage delinquencies have fallen for two quarters, the number of mortgages in foreclosure is at an all-time high. In Indiana and Ohio, the states with the highest foreclosure rates, unemployment among two-income households and tumbling overtime earnings have forced many from their homes, the report points out. That's particularly disturbing because Indiana and Ohio have above-average homeownership rates and relatively low median home prices. Home prices that have been rising... But home-price gains are slowing... Income growth...has recently fallen behind... Mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable income, which peaked in late 2001, is still at 6.24% , higher than at any time during the 1990s... In 2001, nearly 10% of American homeowners, 22.6M, spent 50% or more of their income on house payments. That's up from 17.4M households, representing 7.8% of all homeowners, in 1997... According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, 116K U.S. households filed for Chapter 13 protection in the fourth quarter, up 5% from the fourth quarter of 2001. Nationwide, 750K homeowners are in bankruptcy proceedings, up from 450K 5 years ago."
2003-03-27 06:52PST (09:52EST) (14:57GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
4th quarter 2002 GDP increased 1.4% after inflation: Corporate profits rose 3.2%, 1st increase in 4 quarters
"After-tax profits rose 3.1% in the quarter and were down 10.5% from the quarter a year ago... Inflation was slightly stronger than previously estimated. The personal consumption expenditure price index - the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation measure - rose at a 1.8% annual rate, not 1.6% as previously estimated. The core PCE index rose at 1.5% rate, not 1.3%. Incomes were slightly weaker than previously estimated. Disposable personal incomes rose at a 2.4% annual pace in the fourth quarter, not the 2.7% estimated a month ago. Incomes were growing from a lower base as well. Third-quarter disposable incomes were revised to 1.8% growth from 3.1% based on more complete data on wages and salaries."
2003-03-27 07:46PST (10:46EST) (15:46GMT)
Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Jobless claims 4-week average fell: Still above 400K mark
"The 4-week moving average of new jobless claims fell 4K to 422,500, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It was the first decline in the average since the last week in January... For the week ending March 22, new unemployment filings totaled 402,000, a decrease of 25K from the previous week's revised 427K. Weekly claims hadn't been this low since February 8, Labor Department officials said... The number of Americans who continue to collect jobless benefits fell 7K to 3.52M. But after a few weeks of significant increases, the four-week average remains elevated. The average jumped by 45K to 3.5M in the latest report -- the highest in about 4 months. The insured unemployment rate held at 2.8%... Meanwhile, the Conference Board reported Thursday its monthly index of help-wanted ads in the nation's major newspapers fell in February to 40 from 41 in January. The latest reading compares to 46 a year ago."
2003-03-27 09:22PST (12:22EST) (17:22GMT)
Justin Lahart _CNN_/_Money_
Slogging through depression
2003-03-27 12:09PST (15:09EST) (20:09GMT)
"In its latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the Labor Department said 2.774M jobs were available in January, down from 2.915M a year earlier. Total private-sector job openings stood at 2.374M in January, compared with 2.488M a year ago. Construction, manufacturing and transportation/public utilities openings rose from the year-ago month... the pace of hiring was unchanged from 2002 January at 2.7%. Total separations, or the work force turnover rate, rose to 3.2% in January from 3.1% a year ago."
Don Kirk _NY Times_
South Korea Announces Sweeping Economic Reforms
"The government announced sweeping economic reforms today designed to entice investment into fields ranging from golf courses to factories to car dealerships amid rising fears of a second economic crisis. At a time of a declining economic growth rate, the cabinet approved a broad program of deregulation after President Roh Moo Hyun's new financial team decided that further delays would endanger the economy... publicly backtracked on the president's avowed aim to curb the excesses of the chaebol, or conglomerates that have weathered the 1997-1998 economic crisis and remain the bedrock of Korean business. Mr. Roh and his advisers, some of them viewed as liberal reformers who would like to reduce the power of the chaebol over the economy... One aim of the reforms is to remove restrictions that prevented investment in new factories..."
Virginia Postrel _NY Times_
Is War a Generator of Expenses or an Economic Stimulus?
"the Bush administration this week asked Congress for nearly $75G to cover the costs of the Iraq war through the end of September... From the stagflation of the 1970s to the [supposed] prosperity of the 1990s, experience has mostly reversed these popular perceptions. The 1990s boom demonstrated that a strong economy can persist not only amid budget surpluses but also after substantial post-cold-war military cuts. As for the war in Iraq, it is tiny compared with previous wars... The budget question is whether the security benefits of war justify the costs or, perhaps, whether alternative strategies would cost more. Three economists at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business recently compared the costs of the Iraq war with the costs of an alternative strategy of containment. (Their paper is available at http://gsbwww .uchicago.edu/fac/steven.davis/research.)... They use a generous estimate of $125G for the direct costs of the war and peg the cost of containment at $13G a year for troops and equipment... Assuming a 3% chance that the Iraqi regime 'morphs from malign to benign in any given year', an estimate based on the persistence of other 'contained' repressive regimes, containment would last 33 years, they estimated."
J.D. Biersdorfer _NY Times_
"Spyware includes 'adware' programs that track your web surfing habits and use your Internet connection to report the results back to a data-collection server. Spyware can also litter your screen with pop-up advertisements and take up so much memory that it interferes with the functioning of other programs. The more sinister forms include Trojan horses and programs that secretly monitor your computer system for unethical or illegal purposes."
Thomas J. Fitzgerald _NY Times_
A Trail of Cookies? Cover Your Tracks
"There are several ways to mask your IP address when you are on-line, like using services like Anonymizer Private Surfing (http://www.anonymizer.com), which filters your web activity through buffers known as proxy servers. Anonymizer users surf with an IP address provided by anonymizer.com, which has about a million users, according to Lance Cottrell, the president, and outsiders cannot trace your activities back to you. 'That information is never saved to disk.', he said... But cookies do more than allow access. They can be programmed to track your steps, not only at the current site but as you surf from site to site, yielding information to advertisers and marketers."
Douglas Jehl _NY Times_
After Weeks on Stand-By, another Army Division Will Finally Join the War
"For long, anxious weeks, the 16,500 soldiers of the Army's Fourth Infantry Division have been in limbo, stranded at bases in Texas and Colorado while their tanks and armored vehicles bobbed on the high seas, their fate in the hands of a Turkish government that ultimately denied them a port. It has been 66 days since the division received its deployment orders, and more than 6 weeks since the soldiers loaded 14K pieces of gear onto trains to Corpus Christi and then onto 36 Navy ships heading for Turkey. It has been more than a month since the division was to have landed in Turkey itself, to meet its equipment, road-march across the country and begin an invasion of Iraq from the north... the Fourth Infantry's men and machines are due to marry up in Kuwait beginning in the first week of April. There, they will meet another big unit, the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, to form Task Force Ironhorse, which will add more than 30K more soldiers to Iraq to join in the fighting or in a postwar peace."
Dan Richman _Seattle Post-Intelligencer_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing: Speakers extol its virtues; pickets see it as vice
"And at the same breakfast meeting, sponsored by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, several Seattle-area out-sourcers -- which make money sending the computer-programming and other tasks of local companies to other, more specialized companies, often over-seas -- said business here is booming. But outside Rainier Tower, pickets presented another side of the issue, arguing that although out-sourcing may save a company money, it disregards such considerations as a company's obligations to build its community and to benefit local workers. And in time, out-sourcing can sap a company of its technical strength and expertise by handing too much control and knowledge to foreigners, one consultant warned... This year, 60% of companies are out-sourcing, and that number will increase by 50% in the next two years, Cast said, citing figures from industry analysts The Gartner Group... Israel, Singapore and Ireland offer higher-quality work but at higher prices, he said, and the Philippines, Hungary and [Red China] offer lower prices but lower quality... More than 22K people have been laid off from Washington high-tech jobs in the past 3 years..."
Therese Poletti _San Jose Mercury News_
Red Chinese Cisco rival admits copying
"Huawei's admission is part of its opposition to Cisco's request that the court block the sale of Huawei's Quidway router in the United States."
Bob Brewin _ComnputerWorld_
US Army awarded contracts to Russian GPS jammer vendor
"The U.S. Army awarded $192K in contracts in 2002 to a Russian company identified in news reports as a supplier of Global Positioning System (GPS) jamming equipment to Iraq. Moscow-based Aviaconversiya Ltd. has denied selling the jamming equipment to Iraq, according to the news reports... 'We have destroyed all six of those jammers in the last two nights' airstrikes. I'm pleased to say they had no effect on us.', Air Force major general Victor Renuart, of the U.S. Central Command, said yesterday."
2003-03-28 09:29EST (14:29GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumer spending off for 2nd month: US real disposable incomes sank 0.2% in February
"Real personal consumption expenditures fell by 0.4%, the biggest decline in 5 months. Real spending fell 0.2% in January. February's prices rose 0.4%, largely as a result of higher energy costs. The core rate of inflation, adjusted to exclude food and energy, rose 0.1%."
2003-03-28 13:02PST (16:02EST) (21:02GMT)
Jenny Spitz _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
War is boon for tech stocks
"Technology stocks, which have spent the past month in the doldrums, leaped to the top of the performance list this week. Leading the jump were some of the best-known names in the battered down Internet sector, which reversed course after the U.S. launched the war in Iraq last week and, in many cases, leaped to new 52-week highs. The Dow Jones Internet Services Index was the top gaining index of the week, rising nearly 6%."
Stephen Labaton _NY Times_
Adviser to US Aided Maker of Satellites
"While he led an influential Pentagon advisory board, Richard N. Perle advised a major American satellite maker, Loral Space and Communications, as it faced government accusations that it improperly transferred rocket technology to [Red China], administration officials said today... At the time, Mr. Bloomfield, who heads the State Department's bureau of political-military affairs, and other officials were investigating accusations that Loral turned over expertise that significantly improved the reliability of [Red China's] nuclear missiles."
New Sprint Chief to Be Paid $2.75M
"Gary Forsee, the new chief executive of Sprint, will be paid at least $2.75M in salary and bonuses this year, according to a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The base salary of Mr. Forsee, 52, will be $1.1M a year under his contract, which runs through 2007 December 2. Mr. Forsee made $713K last year at BellSouth, where he was vice chairman and head of domestic operations... his predecessor, William T. Esrey... was forced out over concerns about his use of a questionable tax shelter. Mr. Esrey's salary and bonuses increased 57% last year, a year in which the company's stock price fell sharply. In 2002, Mr. Esrey, 63, received a salary and bonus package worth $2.01M , compared with $1.28M the year before."
Joe Guzzardi _V Dare_
NY Times's big like about population growth
"the consensus among labor economists, as established by the National Research Council's 1997 report 'The New Americans', is that immigration does not add significantly to Americans' wealth -- and is a significant cost in some states, because of transfer payments like education, emergency room care and welfare."
Barnaby J. Feder _NY Times_
Struggling to Regain Technological Buzz After Bubble's Burst
"The Media Lab [at MIT] still has plenty of corporate fans. More than 75% of this year's $40M budget comes from 120 companies, which share access to the technology developed at the lab. But attracting cash has been a struggle in recent years, leading the lab to turn increasingly to governments and foundations -- sources that it once ignored. Foreign governments account for most of the budgets of the sister labs overseas, and the $13.75M grant from the National Science Foundation in late 2001 to set up the Center for Bits and Atoms far exceeded any previous contribution from Washington."
Bob Fernandez _Philadelphia Inquirer_
Military-supply shortage alleged to be developing
"Some shortages in desert-camouflage fatigues, tents, hot-weather boots, and chemical suits are developing as the war in Iraq continues and more troops are activated for duty, according to military-supply officials in Philadelphia... Meanwhile, the military is constrained in what it can do about supplies by 'Buy American' rules. Military products must be made in the United States and contain U.S. raw materials. During the last decade, many apparel companies and other manufacturers closed in the United States and moved production to places such as China and Mexico, complicating military procurement. The owner of an Alabama company that produces desert-camouflage jackets and dark-green woodland-style jackets said yesterday that it had been easier in the 1991 Persian Gulf War to quickly expand the production volume of fatigues because there were more factories around. Companies that made clothing for department stores or other non-military buyers switched to military production easily."
Frank Rich _NY Times_
Iraq Around the Clock
"These pictures, declared contraband by the Pentagon after their initial showing on CBS's 'Face the Nation' last Sunday, contained one element that the antiseptic, depopulated Baghdad pyrotechnics could not deliver -- the human face of people visibly mauled by war. For the first time we could smell blood, American blood, and while that was shocking, it was far from awesome... there are 2 conflicts raging -- the fight between the antagonists themselves and the pitched battle between journalism and the imperatives of show business... TV news can never be utterly innocent of showbiz..."
Diane E. Lewis _Boston Globe_
Program helps laid-off IT workers refresh, learn new skills
"a free weekly class where information technology professionals could learn the latest new tool for writing software, develop a web site for a non-profit, and update their resumes in the process. Called the Schoolhouse, the weekly class began in 2002 January in a room donated by Daniel Webster College in Nashua. The grass-roots effort sprang from discussions between Bogart and several software engineers who were concerned that laid-off technology workers were not finding jobs or updating their skills. Since then, the Schoolhouse has grown from 10 to 46 members, many of them unemployed. But 20 former participants have dropped out because they landed new jobs... At a time when the IT jobless rate is believed to be nearly 4.8% in New Hampshire, higher than the state's overall unemployment rate of 4.3%, the pilot programs are too small to make real inroads. In all, 16K IT workers lost jobs in 2001 May alone, the last date for which such figures are available. Since then, lay-offs have mounted, said James McKim, chairman of the Software Association of New Hampshire, a trade group with 250 corporate members. The pilot programs will train only 30 IT professionals..."
John Epperheimer _San Jose Mercury News_
Developing job skills in tight-budget times
"Analyze key meetings and major projects to see what you could have done better... Combine learning and networking. I had a conversation recently with a manager whom I hadn't seen in several years. In the course of our catching up, he asked what business books I had recently read, and whether I would recommend them. We are now trading reading lists... Seek informal help... Ask for developmental assignments."
2003-03-30 21:02PST (2003-03-31 00:02EST) (2003-03-31 05:02GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Body shopped: temping continues to worsen
"The Labor Department's tallied 8.5M independent contractors in 2001 February, 57% in white-collar jobs. Temporary agency workers numbered 1.1M , with 61% in white-collar jobs and 21% in clerical jobs 2 years ago. 1 in 10 U.S. workers identified themselves as independent contractors, temporary-agency workers or contract company workers... While it's customary for these workers to charge high hourly rates to cover down time and the cost of benefits they have to buy on their own, many are taking significant pay cuts due to competitive pressure from other laid off workers bidding down the price of their services, Challenger said... 'The idea of the steady job is gone.', [Robert Reich] said. 'Your bills have to be paid, but your earnings stream is going up and down.'... Most workers prefer the structure of traditional, regular employment, but about 15% to 20% of workers thrive on going gig to gig, said Smooch Reynolds, chief executive of TRRG Inc, an executive search firm in Pasadena, CA. Like Challenger, Reynolds discourages most people from seeking contract work because of its financial insecurity..."
2003-03-31 01:38PST (04:38EST) (09:38GMT)
Iraq War Will Produce '100 bin Ladens' Says Hosni Mubarak
2003-03-31 11:93PST (14:03EST) (19:03GMT)
UAW chief warns of job loss to Red China: Gettelfinger says the loss of jobs threatens the very standard of living that supported auto sales.
"He said [Red China] posed the greatest risk to the UAW's membership, with wages of 60 cents an hour and no environmental or worker safety protection... Several auto-makers and suppliers have opened joint ventures in [Red China], and a few already are shipping parts back to the United States."
2003-03-31 13:51PST (16:51EST) (21:51GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow ends quarter with triple-digit loss: War woes, economic gloom cast shadow
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 153 points, or 1.9%, to 7,992. The index is down 349 points, or 4.18%, year-to-date... The Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 28 points, or 2.1%, to 1,340. The tech-heavy market gauge at one point in the session stood near this year's starting level of 1,335, but it's still up a narrow 0.37% so far in 2003. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 15 points, or 1.8%, to 848. The index of blue chips is off 31 points, or 3.53% for the year. The latest U.S. economic data did little to reassure investors. The Chicago-area purchasing managers index of manufacturing activity fell from 62.4% in February to 49.1% in March... Computer software shed 2.4%, Internet stocks gave up 4.1% and semiconductor stocks fell 4.3%. Gold tacked on 1.2%."
Patrick E. Tyler _NY Times_
Infantry Attacks Baghdad with First Probes
"American Marine and Army infantry units arrayed along a broad front south of Baghdad on Sunday made their first probing attacks against the Republican Guard division at Karbala, about 65 miles from the capital, after a week of heavy aerial bombardment on the Iraqi forces that guard the approaches to Saddam Hussein's stronghold."
John Schwartz & Geraldine Fabrikant _NY Times_
War Puts Radio Giant on the Defensive: Critics of Clear Channel Communications accuse the radio broadcaster of drumming up support for the war while muzzling musicians who oppose it.
"Clear Channel Communications has long been the company that the music industry loves to loathe, so aggressively dominant as the nation's biggest radio broadcaster that some critics refer to it as the M$ of music. Now, though, Clear Channel finds itself fending off a new set of accusations: that the company is using its considerable market power to drum up support for the war in Iraq, while muzzling musicians who oppose it. [So, it's bad for a media company to support the war, but good for a media company like the NY Times to oppose it?] The company's executives insist they have no political agenda, and even some of its most outspoken business antagonists say many of the latest accusations do not stand up to scrutiny. But the criticism has grown sufficiently loud that Clear Channel hired a crisis communications firm last week to help it handle the uproar... One former Clear Channel executive said that the company's rapid rise ó from 43 radio stations only eight years ago to more than 1,200 now -- had not prepared it for the bruising life at the top of the industry... The critics, whose views have been expressed in newspaper articles and columns, and on Salon.com and other web sites, cite an unusual series of pro-military rallies drummed up by Glenn Beck, whose talk show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, a Clear Channel subsidiary. He has convened the rallies in part to counter antiwar comments by celebrities. The company's critics also point out that some Clear Channel country music stations stopped playing the Dixie Chicks earlier this month..."
Geraldine Fabrikant _NY Times_
Suit by Liberty Media Draws 'Stunned' Response by Vivendi
"In a move that surprised analysts, the Liberty Media Corporation, controlled by John C. Malone, has filed a law-suit against Vivendi Universal, accusing it of concealing financial problems before using Vivendi stock in late 2001 to buy most of Liberty's stake in USA Networks. Since that deal, valued around $10.3G in 2001 December, Vivendi's shares have plummeted -- to a closing price in New York on Friday of $14.25 from $52.10 at the time. The Liberty suit, filed on Friday in United States District Court in Manhattan, argues that Vivendi's former chief executive, Jean-Marie Messier, failed to disclose Vivendi's cash shortage and rising indebtedness. It seeks unspecified damages and a court order voiding the transaction."
Paul Berman _NY Times_
Learning Not to Love Saddam
"The report states flatly, 'The practice of politics in Iraq has been dead for 35 years.'. There have been no political parties apart from the Arab Baath Socialist Party. There have been no organized opposition groups inside the country, no public dissenters, not even a well-known persecuted dissident. Many ordinary people have been implicated in some way with the crimes of the regime. Totalitarianism in Iraq has been, in short, of the darkest hue. Thus the report recommends that, after the fall of the Baathists, Iraq ought to undergo a process similar to the de-Nazification of Germany after World War II -- a process of 'de-Baathification'."
Tracie Rozhon _NY Times_
War's Effect on Retailers Mixed
"Shoppers -- buoyed by the spring weather and, analysts say, exhausted by wall-to-wall coverage of the war -- have taken to the nation's malls in surprising numbers. The question is whether they are buying."
Greg Myre _NY Times_
In Israel, Opposition Rises to Netanyahu's Economic Moves
"With Israel in its third year of recession, the new Finance Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has moved swiftly to enact budget reductions, lay-offs and salary cuts that are encountering stiff resistance... The show-down is the first major test for Mr. Netanyahu, who says he wants to use tax cuts and other incentives to bolster private business. He has his sights on the large public sector and a broad array of social programs long sacrosanct in a country founded on socialist principles... The Cabinet last week approved Mr. Netanyahu's plan, which includes slashing the overall budget by 11G shekels (around $2.3G), dismissing 10K civil servants, including teachers. While that represents an overall cut of 4%, most government ministries face reductions of 10% because proposed trims at the Defense Ministry, which accounts for a major portion of government spending, will be modest."
Margaret Steen _San Jose Mercury News_
Networking challenge: Many find this a tough time to connect
"But with money tight, many are thinking twice about spending money on professional associations. Some groups are retooling their programs and cutting fees to attract and keep members. Although some organizations -- especially new ones and those for the unemployed -- are growing rapidly, a number of groups have struggled to keep their members during the down-turn. Some members are leaving the area altogether."
Carol J. Loomis _Fortune_
Executives Don't Suffer: A fired CEO leaves with millions; the rank and file get 4 weeks' severance
"So, terminated 'without cause', Brown is collecting $37M in severance, including retirement benefits with a present value of about $20M that the board said should vest early. Also vesting are all Brown's stock options. Now for the ordinary employee: In late 2001, Brown directed that the severance pay of terminated EDS employees -- and thousands have since been axed -- be cut from a maximum of 26 weeks to 4."
Mary Hayes & Paul McDougall _Information Week_
India has had an edge in IT out-sourcing which it plans to keep, but it's facing new competition in the US and abroad
76% of Americans would prefer immigration below current levels (about 1.5 per year); 58% of Americans favor fewer than 300K per year
_US Dept of State_
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Dice Report: 25,329 job ads
Phillip Longman _Business 2.0_
What Are You Worth?: As a job holder, more than you might think. Odds are, your salary has risen steadily since the bubble burst. And, believe it or not, there's more where that came from.
"Recession. Terrorism. Lay-offs. What wage earner or job seeker in this economy wouldn't want a return to 'Morning in America'?... The year was 1984, and Ronald Reagan was running for reelection under that slogan, declaring that the long night of Carter-era economic stagnation had ended. Americans agreed so overwhelmingly that Reagan won majorities in 49 states. Yet the very month of Reagan's land-slide, the unemployment rate stood at a painful 7.2%... Or how about 'The DownSizing of America'? That was the title of a much-discussed collection of _New York Times_ articles... beginning in 1996 March... Nationwide, most workers who held on to their jobs have actually seen steady raises since the bubble burst, and their odds of staying employed are higher now than in the aftermath of previous recessions. Yes, the unemployment rate reached 6% last spring and has hovered at that level ever since... Since 2001 January, US companies have laid off 3.3M people. That's more than were let go in the previous 5 years combined and nearly quadruple the number cut loose during the early 1990s recession. Last year construction employment declined by 1.3%, transportation and public utilities jobs shrank by 2.8%, and manufacturing employment slipped by 3.5%. The pain was particularly intense in Silicon Valley, where 127K jobs have disappeared and the average salary has dropped 22% -- from $79,800 at its 2000 peak to $62,500 in 2002. That takes the average tech worker's pay-check close to 1998 levels. In contrast to previous down-turns, there is no region of the country where the economy is really cooking... But there's no region in America where anything like a boom is going on -- indeed, no region in the world... The concern, says Kevin Hoover, an economist at the University of California at Davis, is based on the misapprehension that if our wages are high and other people's are low, all our jobs will be exported. 'It turns out we are more efficient than the people we are competing with.', he adds. outside of a few rough spots like Silicon Valley, the price of labor has risen. Indeed, the average salary jumped 3.7% in 2002... Yes, even during the Great Depression, prices fell much faster than wages, so many workers actually saw an increase in their real income. From 1929 August to 1932 March, factory workers still on the job saw their real income jump by an annualized rate of 4.3%, which was 2 and a half times the rate of increase they enjoyed during the Roaring '20s."
_SUNY SB_ CSE114/214 OO Sample Proficiency Exam (pdf)
Gene Nelson _NY Times_ LTE
daily labor report
"A recent study shows that in just 2 years, over 3,225 H-1B visas were issued to the top 40 NASA shuttle sub-contractors listed by The New York Times on 2003 February 9. That means over 3K American citizens permanently displaced by NASA sub-contractors."
Tatiana Zerjal, Yali Xue, Chris Tyler-Smith et al. _American Journal of Human Genetics_/_NIH_
genetic legacy of the Mongols
descent from Genghis Khan (wikipedia)
list of haplogroups believed to be associated with historically notable people (wikipedia)
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