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2003-09-01 05:23PDT (02:23EDT) (06:23GMT)
Mariko Ando _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo's Nikkei rallies, yen strong
"Tokyo's key stock index rallied more than 2% to hover near a 14-month high on Monday as growing economic optimism fueled gains for technology issues while exporters also jumped despite the yen's advance against the dollar... The Nikkei Average jumped 258.66 points, or 2.5%, to 10,602.21 by late afternoon, trading above 10,500 for the first time since July 18 last year. The broader TOPIX advanced 2% to 1,022.39."
2003-09-01 00:38PDT (03:38EDT) (07:38GMT)
Alexander G. Higgins _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Study: Americans Are the Most Productive Workers per Year, But Not per Hour
"The U.S. worker is the most productive in the world, boosted by the use of new information and communication technologies, according to a study released Monday by the United Nations labor agency. However, American employees also work longer hours, and 3 European countries -- Norway, France and Belgium -- beat the Americans in productivity per hour, the International Labor Organization said in its new issue of Key Indicators of the Labor Market. The output per U.S. worker last year was $60,728, the report said. Belgium, the highest-scoring European Union member, had an output of $54,333 per worker... 'U.S. workers put in an average of 1,825 hours in 2002.' Japanese worked about the same number of hours as Americans, but in major European economies the average ranged from 1,300 to 1,800 hours, it said... Norwegians lead the world with an output of $38 per hour worked last year. French workers were in second place, averaging $35 an hour, the report said. Belgians were third at $34, followed by Americans at $32... The first is that the U.S. economy provides an environment for widespread use of information and communications technology. The second is that it has had more growth of wholesale and retail trade and financial securities using the technology."
2003-09-01 04:48PDT (07:48EDT) (11:48GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US worker loyalty falls: set to jump ship when job market improves
"Only 30% of employees are 'truly loyal', the report from Walker Information says. Loyal employees are those who would consistently recommend their business as a good place to work, limit their search for other jobs and do things above and beyond the call of duty for the benefit of the company... The loyalty measurement is actually up from 24% in 1999 and 2001. But the percentage of high-risk employees, those most likely to leave their current employer within the next 2 years, has remained constant at 34%... 'when you look at those who say they will stay, only half want to stay. The other half say they have to stay... either because they don't feel they have the skills for another job or because there aren't other jobs available.'... While 88% of employees say they have well defined jobs and 79% express day-to-day satisfaction with what they do, only about half of all workers agree or strongly disagree with a number of other statements that help determine loyalty. For instance, 44% do not agree they are given enough resources to do their jobs and 44% think their compensation is unfair. 52% think communication is bad and 52% disagree that their company shows care and concern for its workers. And, most telling, just 34% agree that their company thinks of employees as its most important asset... human resources professionals and employees surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management and CareerJournal.com 83% of employees said it was extremely likely or somewhat likely that they would actively seek new employment once the job market and economy improve... Employees cited the following three top reasons they would begin searching for a new job: 53% said better compensation and benefits, 35% cited dissatisfaction with potential career development and 32% were ready for a new experience. Human resources professionals say the retention programs they most commonly use to counter job flight are tuition reimbursement, 62%, competitive vacation and holiday benefits, 60%, and competitive salary, 59%... When asked to identify the one factor most motivating them to seek different jobs, more than half (56%) of respondents in an Accenture [Andersen Consulting] survey cited better pay or benefits. Others cited better conditions or job prospects (12%), better training and development opportunities (8%), lack of prospects or advancement at their current jobs (8%), dislike of their current jobs (7%) and dislike of their bosses (6%)... Towers Perrin, found employees mostly are in a mode of 'rational endurance' -- doing what's required to help keep both themselves and their companies afloat in a tough environment... 42% of workers say senior management has a sincere interest in their well being. Among other important factors: 53% say their company provides challenging work, 61% say they have appropriate decision-making authority, 34% say they have excellent career opportunities, 55% say their company has a reputation as a good employer, 58% have the resources needed to perform their jobs in a high-quality way and 45% say senior management communicates clear vision for long-term success."
2003-09-01 13:18PST (16:18EDT) (21:18UK) (20:18GMT)
Worker productivity comparisons
"The average Norwegian worker is almost 20% more productive than his US counterpart, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has calculated, exploding the image of American efficiency. French and Belgian workers, too, produce more economic value for every hour worked than do Americans. But the same figures showed that US had the edge overall, since workers there put in more time than Europeans. As a result of short holidays and long hours, the average US worker produced $60,728, compared with just $54,333 in the EU. Americans now work the same hours on average - 1,825 during last year - as the Japanese, who used to have an unrivalled reputation for industriousness."
2003-09-01 16:29PDT (19:29EDT) (23:29GMT)
Paul Erdman _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Will Red China revalue the renminbi? There are good reasons why it won't.
"Most of the chatter is coming from politicians catering to the vested interests of powerful constituents with big stakes in the manufacturing sector of our economy, ranging from executives of textile companies in the south to labor union leaders in Chicago. Their common beef: the under-valuation of the renminbi has led to a $100G a year trade deficit with [Red China] which translates into huge jobs losses by U.S. manufacturers unable to compete with cheap [Red Chinese] goods. Their solution: force Beijing to revalue its currency by as much as 40%. It won't happen. And even if [Red China] did agree to revalue by even half that much, it might well do more harm than good... in a large percentage of cases these incoming '[Red Chinese]' products that are 'under-mining' American-made goods are coming from manufacturing facilities that were financed by and are wholly or jointly owned by American companies... [And what is supposed to be good about American firms cutting back investment in America and increasing investment in Red China?] The fact that [Red China] is currently exporting $125G a year in goods to us while importing only $19G a year from us means that they are ending up with over $100G of IOUs known as dollars. What do they do with these dollars? Buy U.S. Treasuries. Were they not doing so on a massive and continuing basis, the prices of Treasuries would be substantially lower than they are now... There is also the real possibility that a massive revaluation of the renminbi could lead to serious deflation in [Red China] -- it is already just on the edge of it -- which could seriously undermine an already fragile [Red Chinese] banking system and kill off growth in what is today the world's most dynamic economy. That could, in turn, threaten the [Red Chinese] political leadership and destabilize what is now the second most powerful nation on earth. [Sounds good, to me.] while China is running this huge bilateral trade surplus with the United States, it is actually running a trade deficit with the rest of the world to the tune of $75G a year... For the past 9 years China has operated a managed float under which it intervenes in the market to keep the renminbi between 8.276 and 8.280 to the dollar."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Looks Like a Recovery, Feels Like a Depression
"American workers are feeling stressed and shaky this Labor Day because the nation continues to register month after month of job losses and wages are rising more slowly than inflation. One factor above all has fueled the insecurity: the nation has lost 2.7M jobs over the last three years. The recovery has been so weak since the recession ended in 2001 November that the nation's pay-rolls are down 1M jobs from when economic growth resumed. Indeed, the current economic expansion is the worst on record in terms of job growth. The average length of unemployment, more than 19 weeks, spiked this summer to its highest level in two decades... In August, a Gallup poll found that 81% of Americans thought now was a bad time to find a quality job, tying March for the highest percentage since Gallup began regularly asking the question two years ago. A new survey by the University of Michigan found that while workers were showing somewhat less fear about unemployment, they were voicing concern that their wage increases were shrinking... A survey of 1,015 adults conducted by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers in June found that 18% of all American workers reported being laid off in the last 3 years... Largely because of problems in manufacturing, the number of Americans unemployed for more than 26 weeks has soared to nearly 2M, triple the level when the recession ended... Spurred by the down-turn in the information technology and financial sectors, the jobless rate for college graduates is up 1.5 percentage points from early 2001, compared with a 2 percentage point increase for those without a high school diploma... A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that for low-wage workers (those in the 10th percentile) real hourly wages dropped by 0.7% in the first half of this year, for workers in the middle (50th percentile) wages fell 0.1%, and for workers near the top (90th percentile) wages fell by 1%."
S. Srinivasan _San Jose Mercury News_/_The Daily Herald_/_AP_
Tech revolution in Bangalore leaves out the people
India's iffy infra-structure: Pot-holes, power outages plague "Silicon Valley of India"
"From Bill Gates to Tony Blair, most of India's celebrity visitors make a stop at the country's high-technology crown, the once-sleepy garden city of Bangalore. During those visits, the government of southern Karbnataka state regulates traffic and keeps the power running in its capital city. Bangalore runs smoothly enough to win more investment and jobs. But when the guests are gone, Bangalore's highly skilled workers navigate potholed roads and idle through hours of traffic to reach homes that lack enough water to cook and bathe. When power goes out, evenings pass with no computers or even fans to drive off mosquitoes... For a software industry that has brought $2G a year in revenue to the city of 5.5M people, poor roads mean delays and lost productivity. Technologists see their earning potential vanish in the traffic. Though most companies have their own generators to keep operating during power outages, buying and fueling them eat into profits. One company, Wipro, has given up on expanding its out-sourcing businesses in Bangalore... Bangalore's population grew 42% from 1981 to 2001... With a population of 53M, Karnataka state has only about 6G watts of power generation capacity, or 1.2G watts less than what it needs. Karnataka depends on hydroelectric power stations, which don't have enough water in the summer."
Joseph Kahn _NY Times_
Red China Seen Ready to Make Concessions on Trade & Jobs (with graph)
"[Red China] is preparing to reduce incentives for exporters, increase purchases of Treasury bonds and loosen controls on foreign currency holdings to blunt mounting pressure from the United States, where its growing trade surplus has come under heavy political scrutiny, [Red Chinese] officials and analysts say. The steps are expected to be among concessions Chinese leaders offer Treasury Secretary John W. Snow on his visit to Beijing this week, although they fall well short of meeting Mr. Snow's demand that China begin allowing market forces to set the value of its currency, the yuan. With Democratic presidential candidates, influential American manufacturers and even Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, pressing China to overhaul its currency system, officials here are eager to head off trade tensions. But they are also determined to maintain the current exchange rate, set at roughly 8.3 yuan to the dollar, for some time to come... [Red China] passed Japan last year as the country with the largest trade surplus with the United States, at $103G... Yet [Red China's] economy now is more open to foreign investment than Japan's was then, and multinational companies like Dell and Wal-Mart influence [Red China's] low-cost production as big employers and purchasers. [Red China's] leaders know this makes it less likely that they would face heavy trade sanctions, as any penalties would raise the price American consumers pay for goods as diverse as socks and laptop computers, analysts say."
Dexter Filkins _NY Times_
Iraqi Council Picks a Cabinet to Run Key State Affairs
"The Iraqi Governing Council appointed a 25-member cabinet today to begin taking over day-to-day control of the government, as tension grew between American officials and the council over steps taken to protect its members against assassination. The formation of an Iraqi cabinet is regarded an important first step in the effort to transfer authority to the Iraqis from the Americans, who have been intimately involved in running the country since Saddam Hussein's government collapsed in April. The Iraqi ministers appointed today are to take over important portfolios like foreign affairs, finance, internal security and oil. The group largely reflects the ethnic and religious makeup of the country, with a majority of cabinet posts going to Shiite Muslims, the largest religious group."
Christopher Koch _CIO_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Back-Lash
"A CIO at a famous Fortune 100 manufacturer has a recurring nightmare: As he continues to lay off American IT workers and move their jobs off-shore to places such as India, never to return, American public opinion suddenly swings violently against globalization. He and his company are demonized, and Americans boycott his company's products... 'We don't want a situation where the public sees us as a malevolent force and takes it out on our products.' [Too late!]... 'Do you want to do business with companies that take away jobs for U.S. citizens by out-sourcing work to foreign countries?', asks The Organization for the Rights of American Workers (Toraw), a group of displaced, angry American workers laid off by Connecticut insurance and financial services companies. In 2002 June, dozens from Toraw and similar groups from across the country held a 2-day demonstration outside the Strategic Out-Sourcing Conference at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. The same month, other laid-off workers demonstrated outside an out-sourcing conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston... TRW began moving IT development work off-shore to India four years ago, mostly through attrition and shifting contract work over-seas... Morale plummeted, and there was a lot of grumbling and dissatisfaction among the staff... Technology professionals will face the same kind of wage drop, and the work could go off-shore much faster than manufacturing did, according to Matthew Slaughter, Dartmouth College's associate professor of business administration... While pointing out that their group [TORAW] does not oppose immigrants or immigration, they rip into the H-1B and L-1 visa laws, saying both programs are being abused and have created a rise in illegal immigration... According to a 2003 May survey by _CIO_, 68%of the more than 100 IT executives who responded said their off-shore contracts will increase this year. Only 30% foresaw no change... IOW, this isn't like the old days, when the local factory used to lay off workers during a lean spring and hire them back in the fall when demand picked up again. The IT jobs that are going off-shore are going there for good. It's what economists call a structural, as opposed to cyclical, change in the labor market. And if costs in India -- the primary center of off-shore IT work today -- begin to rise, the work will move to other cheap off-shore locations, such as [Red China]. The trend toward off-shore out-sourcing has only just begun. Indeed, in the CIO survey, 67% of respondents did not begin off-shore out-sourcing until after 2000... Experts don't see a 'white knight' industry that will come along to do for IT workers what the services sector did for displaced manufacturing workers. Other high-skilled fields are also under pressure from international competitionóaccounting, engineering and architecture are already feeling the same kind of pressure as IT. As competition for skilled service jobs in the United States increases and low-cost options increase off-shore, white-collar wages could begin to drop across the board. Economic statistics show that when people change jobs because of global competition, it usually involves a decline in wages, at least initially... This is not to say that CIOs don't have ethical qualms about what they see going on inside their departments. The CIO from the previously mentioned Fortune 100 manufacturer sounds as angry as the displaced workers at the Toraw meeting when the discussion turns to temporary work visas. He says Indian contractors consistently abuse the requirement that they first look for a suitable American to fill the job before bringing in an Indian on a visa... That CIO feels guilty, but he is insulated from the ethical and legal implications of the visa issue, indeed from the entire transition to off-shore -- as is his company. Its executives simply are not involved, except to make the decision in the first place. They hire an out-sourcing company, and the out-sourcing company takes care of all the messy immigration and work transition issues. Nor is there the kind of visible drama to the IT move off-shore that there was during the manufacturing transition, when major plant closings made the news. The movement of IT jobs off-shore is happening quietly, almost imperceptibly."
Christopher Koch _CIO_
The Visa War: Government restrictions on temporary work visas might slow the stampede to off-shore out-sourcing but would not curtail it altogether
"temporary worker visas known as L-1 and H-1B. Foreign out-sourcing companies [ab]use these visa programs to bring employees into the United States to coordinate work back home. And that has critics in a fury. 'This is not a natural economic process.', says Ron Hira, chairman of the R&D policy committee with the U.S. branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a non-profit research and advocacy group. 'Much of the off-shore out-sourcing going on today is based on U.S. government regulations that encourage it.'... Undoubtedly, when Congress approved these visas, it did not envision that they would pave the way for off-shore out-sourcing. Yet that's exactly what they do. Foreign out-sourcing companies -- today, mostly Indian companies -- establish a local U.S. presence and apply for H-1B and or L-1 visas to bring employees into their offices. Most are immediately farmed out to U.S. out-sourcing clients where they are trained in the jobs they will do before returning home, according to Hira. Others -- typically 10% to 30% of the total staff -- remain here for a longer term and act as liaisons between the U.S. client and the employees doing the coding back in the foreign country. If those liaisons are brought in on L-1 visas, they can be paid prevailing wages for an IT project manager back home, which in India can be anywhere from $10K to $25K, according to various estimates... Last May, for example, President Bush signed a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore, a small but growing IT out-sourcing destination, that would allow workers from Singapore to work in the United States without salary restrictions or limitations on the length of time they could remain here."
Ben Worthen _CIO_
No Americans Need Apply
"Chevron Texaco... had a lot of workers on H-1B and L-1 visas, and every day their ranks seemed to grow. Meanwhile S and his fellow consultants weren't training Chevron Texaco employees, but visa candidates and off-shore personnel. The American employees and contract workers were slowly being let go, 20 every 2 weeks or so. With 1K cubicles spread out over two floors, the changes were hard to notice... No one he knew could find a job. At one point he had a lead on a job in Texas. The company wanted to hire him, but it had signed a contract with a consultancy -- Tata [cross-border bodyshop TCS]. Still, the company arranged an interview for S. '[The interviewer] hung up on me after 15 seconds.', says S. He started making inquiries. His friends told him that Tata only interviewed Americans to be in compliance with the equal opportunity employment commission, and that no Americans were ever hired... [He] went to his first meeting of an unemployed tech workers group called No More H-1B -- a bold step for someone who never thought of himself as particularly political. He now attends meetings at least every other week with Programmers Guild and Communications Workers of America. For the past 2 months he has been handing out fliers in downtown San Francisco, writing letters to his elected officials and trying to get proposals into the state legislature that would make it illegal for state contracts to go to companies that off-shore work. Every day Soong makes the rounds of employment agencies. When he is lucky he gets a temporary job answering phones or testing video games, nothing that ever pays more than $10 an hour. Most days he doesn't work."
The Radicalization of Mike Emmons (pdf)
Ben Worthen _CIO_
Growing Back-Lash against Cross-Border Body Shopping and Off-Shoring of Computer-Related Jobs
Bush Makes Push for Manufacturing Jobs: In Labor Day Visit to Ohio, Bush Says He's Creating Post to Address Vanishing Manufacturing Jobs
"Bush said he had directed Commerce Secretary Don Evans to establish an assistant position to focus 'on the needs of manufacturers'. Keeping factory jobs is critical to a broader economic recovery, the president said, his out-door venue ringed by cranes, back-hoes and bull-dozers... Of the 2.7M jobs the U.S. economy has lost since the recession began in early 2001, 2.4M were in manufacturing. The down-turn has eliminated more than 1 in 10 of the nation's factory jobs. The president attributed the erosion to productivity gains and to jobs flowing to cheaper labor markets overseas. He suggested that jobs moving to foreign shores was his primary reason for creating the new manufacturing czar. 'One way to make sure that the manufacturing sector does well is to send a message over-seas, (to) say, look, we expect there to be a fair playing field when it comes to trade.', Bush said. 'See, we in America believe we can compete with anybody, just so long as the rules are fair, and we intend to keep the rules fair.', Bush said, his audience of workers and supporters cheering... Bush administration officials believe one way to spark the economy and deal with the bloated trade deficit is for other countries to remove trade barriers. That would allow U.S. companies to more freely do business in overseas markets, boosting America's global competitiveness. The nation's trade deficit ran at an annual rate of $488.5G for the first 6 months of this year, heading for another record... Ohio lost 185K jobs during the recession from 2001 through last March, nearly two-thirds in manufacturing, according to a study released Sunday by a private economic think tank."
Shirleen Holt _Seattle Times_
Tech jobs may take a decade to recover
"Washington's technology industry has stopped bleeding jobs, but it may take 9 years or longer to regain the employment levels of 2000, according to a report released today. Plans by tech companies to send more jobs over-seas could further slow the industry's job growth, which economists peg at 1% to 3% a year, a dramatic decline from the double-digit increases in the late 1990s. The study by researchers at the University of Illinois said at the current rate a full recovery in the technology sector is unlikely to come before 2012... Forrester Research projects that 3.3Mwhite-collar jobs, many in technology and mathematics, will move off-shore by 2015. The Puget Sound area lost nearly 10K tech jobs between 2001 February and 2002 April, pushing unemployment among computer programmers and data processors to 10.6%, well above the overall statewide unemployment rate of 6.4% for the year, according to the study paid for by the Ford Foundation. Tech employment in the Seattle area rose an average of 19% a year between 1996 and 2000, when it peaked at around 66K jobs."
Dot-Commers still trying to find work (with graphs)
"The dot-com bubble burst more than 3 years ago, but local tech workers are still struggling with high unemployment rates and cloudy prospects, a new report said. The jobless rate among Washington information technology workers stood at 10.6% last year, far higher than the 7.3% rate for the entire state during that time period, according to the report, sponsored by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, or WashTech, an advocacy group for high-tech workers. The ranks of data processing workers around Seattle have also thinned since peaking at 66,109 in 2001, though they are apparently stabilizing around 56K and remain above 1999 levels, according to the study, conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Urban Economic Development... In 2002, the average age of Washington IT workers was 35.6, compared with the overall average of 39.5 in Seattle. Seattle tech firms also continue to hire a large number of temporary or contract workers, with contingent workers averaging nearly 11% of the region's tech workers from 1995 to 2001, the report found... Average monthly cuts were 80,858 jobs from September through December for those years [1995-2002], compared with 64,914 jobs in the preceding 8 months."
Robert Bartolo _Science Policy Network_
Debunking work-force shortage predictions: A promising new "alternative career"
Protest outside Bank of India office where dumped tech worker committed suicide
2003-09-01 20:29PDT (23:29EDT) (2003-09-02 03:29GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Robots popular in japan
"On the third floor of Tokyo's new National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Asimo guides visitors through the various displays, answers their questions and bows to the guests as they leave. Asimo is the perfect employee, never flubbing lines, never complaining, and never getting paid. Asimo is also not human. Asimo is a 4-foot tall, 100-pound humanoid robot designed by Honda."
2003-09-02 07:11PDT (10:11EDT) (14:11GMT)
_San Diego Union-Tribune_/_Reuters_
Planned lay-offs at US firms slip in August
"Planned lay-offs at U.S. firms slipped 6% to 79,925 in August from 85,117 in July, job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. The year's announced job cuts so far total 795,574, still high, but 15% lower than the total for the first 8 months of 2002."
2003-09-02 13:44PDT (16:44EDT) (20:44GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end with heady gains: Dow, S&P at 15-month highs
"The renowned Stock Trader's Almanac notes that both the Dow and the S&P posted their biggest percentage losses in September over the past 52 years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sprinted 107.45 points, or 1.1%, to 9,523.27, bolstered by Eastman Kodak, IBM, General Motors and General Electric. All but 2 of the index's 30 components ended in the plus column. The Nasdaq Composite ascended 31.03 points, or 1.7%, to 1,841.48 and the Nasdaq 100 Index ran up 19.89 points, or 1.5%, to 1,361.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index headed 1.4% higher while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks climbed 2%... Volume totaled 1.43G on the NYSE and 1.77G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Advancers smashed decliners by 24 to 9 on the NYSE and by 22 to 10 on the Nasdaq."
James Gorman _NY Times_
Yosemite & the Invention of Wilderness
"Lake Tenaya is her kind of place -- 11 acres of cool water in a glacier-carved bowl just off the main park road here and surrounded by granite domes, pine forest and intellectual history... If you look into the murkier waters of written history you find other old stumps with powerful roots, like the notion of nature as pure and untouched, virgin, in the common metaphor of the 19th century. Lake Tenaya is one of those places, Ms. Solnit says, where the American idea of pristine wilderness was formed. And that idea, she argues, is a powerful, profoundly mistaken fantasy that has left a mark on everything from landscape photography to forest management. Only in recent years has it begun to fade, she says, to be replaced by a more complex and realistic view of the natural world... When white Americans first encountered Yosemite, it was a well-peopled landscape. It took soldiers to un-people it. The Yosemite Valley and the area near Lake Tenaya were home to the Ahwahneechee Indians. But the gold rush was on, the future beckoned, and Indians did not fit in. In 1851, the Mariposa brigade drove them away, killing some and relocating the rest. In an act that Ms. Solnit finds astonishing, the soldiers named the lake after the chief at the very moment they were removing him from the land. They informed him of the name change as a kind of honor. He replied, Ms. Solnit writes, drawing on Lafayette Bunnell's _Discovery of the Yosemite and the Indian War of 1851 Which Led to That Event_, that the lake already had a name, Py-we-ack... As Ms. Solnit recounts, the Indians of Yosemite were not, in fact, exterminated. They continued to live in and around the park. They did, however, become invisible for a variety of reasons, one being that the land was easier to celebrate without them... Photography, Mr. Klett said, tells stories. And the story of humanity-free nature was a very appealing one. Even when photographers reacted against it by showing ugliness that more romantic photographers had over-looked -- what Ms. Solnit calls 'bull-dozers in paradise' -- the message was still the same, said Mr. Klett. Nature is good. People are bad. The problem was that the nature that inspired Muir, Muybridge, Adams and others was partly created by people. As ecologists, botanists and others studied the nature of some of the California wood-lands, they found that in the Yosemite Valley the Indians had used fire to burn away brush and saplings, to the benefit of mature black oaks. A result was a healthy crop of acorns and a remarkable almost parklike landscape that appealed mightily to the European-American sensibility. This western Eden may have seemed like the creator's gift to an expanding nation, but it was, inconveniently, the work of the unwelcome Indians."
Paul Krugman _NY Times_
Another Friday Outrage
"Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, announced settlements with energy companies accused of manipulating markets during the California energy crisis... Most independent experts now believe that during 2000-2001, price manipulation by energy companies, mainly taking the form of 'economic withholding' -- keeping capacity offline to drive up prices -- added billions of dollars to California's electricity bills. A March FERC report concluded that there had been extensive manipulation of prices in both the natural gas and electricity markets. Using methods widely accepted among economists, the California Independent System Operator -- which operates the power grid -- estimated that withholding by electricity companies had cost the state $8.9G. This estimate doesn't include the continuing cost of long-term contracts the state signed, at inflated prices, to keep the lights on during the crisis. Yet the charges energy companies agreed to added up to only a bit more than $1M. That is, the average Californian was bilked of more than $250, but the state will receive compensation of about 3 cents."
Joseph Anthony _bCentral_
7 traits of an entrepreneur: not everyone has them
"1. You come from a line of people who couldn't work for someone else... 2. You're a lousy employee... Think of it as the market-place telling you that the only person who can effectively motivate and manage you is yourself. 3. You see more than one definition of 'job security'. [Relying on multiple 'customers' instead of one.] 4. You've gone as far as you can go, or you're not going anywhere at all... 5. You've done the market research already... 'cool' doesn't necessarily translate into 'profitable'... 6. You've got the support of your family... 7. You know you cannot do it alone. You might excel at promoting a business. Maybe you love running the financial end of the enterprise. You could be someone who starts a business because you have unique creative or technical know-how to create a product. Any of the above is possible, but it's unlikely that you are going to excel at all of these tasks -- or at all of the tasks involved in running any business. Forget all that 'lone wolf' stuff. No matter how 'go-it-alone' your philosophy is, you're going to need some help sometime. The willingness to get that help -- having employees, partners or consultants for those areas in which you are not an expert -- is one indicator of likely future success."
Robert Pear _NY Times_
Emergency Rooms Get Eased Rules on Mandatory Patient Care
"Under the new rule, which takes effect on November 10, patients might find it more difficult to obtain certain types of emergency care at some hospitals or clinics that hospitals own and operate. The new rule makes clear that hospitals need not have specialists 'on call' around the clock. Some patients might have more difficulty winning damages in court for injuries caused by violations of the federal standards... the old standards... encouraged people to seek free care in emergency rooms... The new rule limits the scope of a law from 1986 that defines [re-defined] hospital obligations... hospital duties under the 1986 law had grown because of court decisions and the 'layering of regulation on regulation'... The 1986 law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or Emtala, applies to all hospitals that participate in Medicare and offer emergency services. Under the law, if any person -- not just a Medicare beneficiary -- goes to the emergency department of a hospital for treatment, the hospital has to provide a 'medical screening examination' [a.k.a. triage]. If the examination shows an emergency medical condition, the hospital has to provide treatment to stabilize the patient's condition. Alternatively, the hospital can have the patient transferred to another institution if the expected benefits outweigh the risks... The old rules applied to all hospital departments, even those not at the main hospital site. The new rule applies to an 'off-campus' site only if it is specifically licensed as an emergency room, if the site is held out to the public as a place that provides emergency care or if emergency cases accounted for at least one-third of all outpatient visits in the prior year. The old rules provided protection to anyone seeking care on hospital property, meaning 'the entire main hospital campus'. The new rule makes clear that the law does not apply to doctors' offices, rural health clinics, nursing homes or other 'non-hospital entities', even if they are adjacent to the main hospital building and are owned or operated by the hospital."
Lynette Clemetson _NY Times_
Census Shows Ranks of Poor Rose by 1.3M in 2002
"The report indicated that the total percentage of people in poverty increased to 12.4% from 12.1% in 2001 and totaled 34.8M. At the same time, the number of families living in poverty went up by more than 300K in 2002 to 7M from 6.6M in 2001. The number of children in poverty rose by more than 600K during the same period to 12.2M. The rate of increase in children under age 5 jumped a full percentage point to 19.8% living below the poverty line from 18.8% a year earlier... The new data, some analysts say, may raise the level of scrutiny on a variety of federal programs like welfare reform and the recently enacted increases in child tax credits, which excluded about 6.5M low-income working families with children... The adjusted poverty line figures for 2002 have yet to be released. But in 2001, a family of two adults and two children would have to have made less than $17,960 a year to be ranked as living below the poverty level. For a single person under the age of 65 the poverty line in 2001 was roughly $9,200 a year."
Linda Rosencrance _ComputerWorld_
Telecomm sector posts most job cuts in August: 18,739
"The summer slow-down in job cutting continued in the U.S. in August, as employers announced 79,925 cuts, 6% fewer than the 85,117 job cuts posted in July, according to Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The tele-communications sector was the top job-cutting sector for the first time since 2002 December, announcing 18,739 job cuts -- the highest number of industry cuts since the 33,801 posted in 2002 November. The computer industry posted 4,378 job cuts in August, while the electronics industry announced 2,001. August was the fourth consecutive month with fewer than 100K announced job cuts; this was the first such four-month period since 2000. The number of cuts announced in August was 32% lower than the 118,067 job cuts announced in the same month last year, according to Challenger. Employers have announced 795,574 job cuts through the first 8 months of the year, down 15% from the 934,560 job cuts announced through 2002 August."
2003-09-03 09:15PDT (12:15EDT) (16:15GMT)
Steve Goldstein _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tech-led Europe hits 1-year highs
"The German DAX Xetra 30 index (DE:1876534: news, chart, profile) improved 2% to 3,638, and the French CAC 40 index gained 1.8% to 3,422. Both indices are at a 52-week high... The euro rose to $1.0847 vs. the U.S. dollar. On the economic front, the Reuters/NTC Research services purchasing managers index in Germany rose to 51.8 in August from 50.2, a better-than-expected result and the second month in a row of expansion."
2003-09-03 14:04PDT (17:05EDT) (21:05GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow, S&P end at new 15-month highs: Technology buyers push Nasdaq to 17-month peak
"Volume on the NYSE was the heaviest in 1.5 months while the Nasdaq Stock Market saw the liveliest trading activity in 3 months. A total of 1.64G shares were exchanged on the NYSE and 2.33G traded on the Nasdaq... The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 45.19 points, or 0.5%, to 9,568.46. Among the index's 30 components, Alcoa, Boeing and Wal-Mart pierced fresh 52-week highs. The Nasdaq Composite rallied 11.42 points, or 0.6%, to 1,852.90 and the Nasdaq 100 Index shed 0.90 point, or 0.1%, to 1,360.19... The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.4% while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks gained 0.6%. Advancers raced past decliners by 20 to 12 on the NYSE and by 19 to 14 on the Nasdaq."
Sara Rimer _NY Times_
A Campus Fad That's Being Copied: Internet Plagiarism
"38% of the under-graduate students surveyed said that in the last year they had engaged in 1 or more instances of 'cut-and-paste' plagiarism involving the Internet, paraphrasing or copying anywhere from a few sentences to a full paragraph from the Web without citing the source. Almost half the students said they considered such behavior trivial or not cheating at all. Only 10% of students had acknowledged such cheating in a similar, but much smaller survey 3 years ago. This year's study, organized by Donald L. McCabe, a management professor at Rutgers University, surveyed more than 18K students, 2,600 faculty members and 650 teaching assistants at large public universities and small private colleges nationwide. No Ivy League schools were included... 49% of students acknowledged plagiarizing written sources in the last year. As with the Internet cheating, about half the students considered this sort of plagiarism trivial... 22% of under-graduates acknowledged cheating in a 'serious' way in the past year -- copying from another student on a test, using unauthorized notes or helping someone else to cheat on a test."
Keith Bradsher _NY Times_
Economic Worries in Red China as Companies Pile Up Debt
"the worry in [Red China] is that the economy is over-heating. This is a particular worry in sectors that involve investments in new buildings and equipment. Mr. Snow and his [Red Chinese] counterparts agreed today that [Red China] should eventually allow the yuan to be traded freely on world markets, but the [Red Chinese] reject calls to move quickly in that direction. [Red China's] central bank expresses growing alarm that reckless bank lending, reminiscent of the pattern that preceded the American savings and loan collapse in the late 1980s [actually the S&L collapse started in the late 1970s and ran through the end of the 1980s], may be causing an unsustainable boom that could end badly. In a rare statement on August 23, the central bank said its economic policy units 'unanimously think that the loans right now are increasing too fast'. [Red Chinese] banks issued more new loans in the first seven months of this year than in all of last year, and the pace is still accelerating. Yet in a sign that [Red China] remains stuck halfway between Communism and capitalism, the central bank has found itself with curiously little power to stop the runaway lending... The government owns [Red China's] banking industry except for minority stakes in a few small and mid-size institutions in the larger cities. While the banks might some day earn profits or sell stock to cover some losses, most of the costs of reckless lending are ultimately borne by tax-payers."
Juan Forero _Global Policy Forum_/_NY Times_
As Red China Gallops Mexico Sees Factory Jobs Slip Away
"At the Gicsa Corporation, workers hunched over bulky sewing machines, busily producing stacks of blue jeans for stores like Target and American Eagle Outfitters in the United States. But while the company still owns 10 factories filling orders for American clients in this lush swath southeast of Mexico City, all is not right in this and the 180 or so other low-wage textile plants packed into this region... Mexico...is fast being supplanted by [Red China] and its hundreds of millions of low-wage workers. The competition from [Red China] is no doubt hitting American manufacturers as well, particularly in textiles. But perhaps nowhere are the effects being felt more keenly than here in Mexico, where the toll in jobs is mounting at a staggering pace... In all, 500 of Mexico's 3,700 maquiladoras have shut down since 2001, at a cost of 218K jobs, the Mexican government says. As for Gicsa (pronounced HEEK-suh), a Mexican company that now produces a third fewer jeans than it did 2 years ago, its work force has shrunk by 30%, to 2,500 employees. Company officials say they are pondering what was once unthinkable: moving to El Salvador, where labor is 22% cheaper and regulations are less stringent... Mexico's $67G worth of exports to the United States in the first half of 2003 still top [Red China's], but just barely."
2003-09-04 05:57PDT (08:57EDT) (12:57GMT)
Productivity surges in Q2: Gains are biggest in more than a year as businesses increased output with fewer workers
"The productivity of U.S. businesses surged in the second quarter, allowing firms to boost output while reducing the overall number of hours worked, the government said on Thursday. U.S. non-farm productivity climbed at a 6.8% annual rate during the second quarter, well above the previously reported 5.7% clip, the Labor Department said... Unit labor costs, a closely monitored gauge of potential wage pressures, fell a revised 2.8%, a good sign for firms struggling to shore up profitability. The department had initially said unit labor costs fell a less dramatic 2.1%. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 6.2% gain in productivity and a 2.7% drop in unit labor costs."
2003-09-04 06:45PDT (09:45EDT) (13:45GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims above 400K: US labor market remains in weak shape
"The average number of first-time claims over the past 4 weeks increased to 401,500 in the week ended August 30, up from 397,250 a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday. In the most recent week, initial claims rose by 15K to 413K -- the highest level since mid-July. In a separate report, the Labor Department estimated the U.S. economy's second-quarter productivity growth at 6.8%, up from the 5.7% estimate issued a month ago... The average number of workers collecting state checks over the past 4 weeks rose to 3.64M in the week ended August 23, the highest such reading in 5 weeks. The nation's insured unemployment rate remained at 2.9%. The continuing claims figures don't include some 825K workers receiving extended federal benefits, which can be claimed once state benefits are exhausted after six months. More than 2M of the nation's 9M unemployed have been out of work longer than 6 months."
2003-09-04 06:47PDT (09:47EDT) (13:47GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Productivity grows 6.8% in Q2
see also definitions and methods
and this FAQ
"The cost-cutting equation is working for U.S. businesses: More output with fewer workers equals higher profits. Productivity in the non-farm business sector soared at an annual rate of 6.8% in the second quarter, the Labor Department estimated Thursday. A month ago, the department estimated productivity growth at 5.7%. Over the past 4 quarters, output per hour worked increased 4.1%. In the non-farm sector, output rose 3.4% in the second quarter while hours worked fell 2.2%. Unit labor costs (the cost of the labor used to make one 'thing') fell 2.8%. Real compensation (inflation adjusted wages) rose 3.2%, the most in 3 years. In the non-financial sector, productivity increased 8.1%, with unit labor costs falling 3.8% and unit profits soaring 55.5%. Productivity is up 4.8% in the past four quarters in the non-financial sector. Unit labor costs are down 2%, while unit profits are up 16.2%. Real hourly compensation is up 1.5%. In manufacturing, productivity grew 3.7%, with unit labor costs rising 1.5% and real compensation up 4.6%... Because of productivity growth, it now takes just 90 workers to produce what 100 workers produced at the start of the recession in 2001 March... The number of hours worked is down 0.9% in the past year..."
Amy Harmon _NY Times_
Universal to Cut Prices of Its CDs
"Battered by on-line piracy, the Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, said yesterday that it would cut prices on compact discs by as much as 30% in an aggressive attempt to lure consumers back into record stores. The deep price cut -- the only one to apply to new CDs since the format was introduced in the early 1980s -- represents a gamble by Universal that more consumers will buy more CDs once the price dips below $13. It also reflects the profound degree to which Internet file-trading has managed to undermine the music business, Universal executives said... Under the new pricing scheme, Universal would lower its wholesale price on a CD to $9.09 from $12.02. The company said it expected retail stores to lower CD prices to $12.98, from the $16.98 to $18.98 they now charge, and perhaps to as low as $10. When CDs first arrived on the market they cost $15.98, and have climbed from there... The labels have also begun licensing their music to on-line music services like iTunes of Apple Computer, which allows songs to be down-loaded for 99 cents each... Hal Vogel, author of _Entertainment Industry Economics_ (Cambridge University Press, 1998). Mr. Vogel said that some estimates indicate that the record industry's revenues worldwide had declined to $30G from $40G a year in the late 1990s. 'The cuts are going to put a squeeze on profit margins but it will allow them to start building a relationship with the public again.', he said."
Katie Hafner & Michael Falcone _NY Times_
Heart of Darkness on a Desk-Top
"After many hours of computer forensic work performed by a friend, it turned out that a virus program called Klez was sapping the computer of 90% of its processing power. Adding to the burden was a host of strangely named files discovered on the list of programs installed on the hard drive. All of them had entered the machine from the Internet, producing a blizzard of pop-up ads. The Kiblers' experience is hardly a rarity. More and more PC owners are discovering software lurking on their computers that they had no idea was there -- software that can snoop, destroy or simply reproduce itself in droves... 'Both SoBig and Blaster have components that are actively trying to communicate or reach out to master servers without the knowledge of the user.', said Vincent Weafer, a senior director at Symantec Security Response, part of the software company that makes Norton AntiVirus. The alien programs extend well beyond viruses and worms -- so named because of the way they spread, as the most familiar carriers of malicious code -- to new categories known as spyware and adware. Indeed, the number of home PC's that are infested with alien software that comes in over the Internet and installs itself without the knowledge or consent of the PC user is increasing at an alarming rate. Richard M. Smith, a computer security expert in Brookline, MA, estimates that 1 in every 2 Windows computers has unsolicited software lurking within... Spyware programs are easier to create than a virus, Mr. Gordon says, and some Web sites even offer spyware and adware tool-kits."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
Sick and Suspicious at IBM
"While I.B.M. officials deny it, evidence is being offered by stricken employees that unusually large numbers of men and women who worked for the giant computer corporation over the past few decades have been dying prematurely. I.B.M. employees, and relatives of employees who have died, are claiming in a series of very bitter lawsuits that I.B.M. workers have contracted cancer and other serious illnesses from chemicals they were exposed to in semiconductor and disk-drive manufacturing, laboratory work and other very basic industrial operations. Dr. Richard Clapp, a respected epidemiologist from Boston University who was hired by a group of 40 plaintiffs in San Jose, said statistical analyses he has run from data provided by the company have shown troubling elevations of breast cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and brain cancer among I.B.M. employees. He also said the cancers appeared to be occurring in I.B.M. employees at ages younger than the U.S. average."
Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Lag of Data to Grid Operators May Be a Key to Black-Out
"The president of the consortium, the Midwest Independent System Operator, known as Miso, confirmed in later testimony today that his organization had difficulty determining what was happening in the time just before the black-out... When a transmission line or a generating station goes out of service, power flows on the grid shift in ways that can cause over-loads elsewhere in the system... Charles E. Jones, [FirstEnergy's] senior vice president for energy delivery and customer service, said in a telephone interview that if the 'epicenter' of the event was northern Ohio, then systems in that region would have been expected to fail. But, he said, the neighboring systems, including American Electric Power, Dusquesne Light and the Pennsylvania-Jersey-Maryland independent system operator, were not seriously affected, and three-quarters of FirstEnergy's own customers were not affected... And while many witnesses said they would prefer a stronger grid, Eugene R. McGrath, the chairman of Consolidated Edison, said that the system was usually less expensive and more reliable if generating stations were close to load centers. For instance, New York State, seeking to increase reliability, requires that 80% of New York City's load be generated within the 5 boroughs."
"OutSourceWorld New York is the USA's best networking opportunity for out-sourcing companies looking to break into or expand their client base in the USA..."
Diane Stafford _Kansas City Star_
Economic reports paint bleak picture of job market
"Human resource professionals are pessimistic about job market improvement. Among Society for Human Resource Management members, 23% say hiring will ramp up in 3 to 6 months; 42% say next year; and 34% say it will take more than a year. The Economic Policy Institute's _Labor Market Left Behind_ report states: 'In terms of employment growth, the current recovery is the worst on record since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking employment in 1939. Employment is down over 1M since the recovery began...and the decline in employment opportunities has actually been greater for college graduates than for high school dropouts.' The report says median worker real wages stopped growing in 2002 and have fallen by about 1% for many earners since then. The Employment Policy Foundation's _American WorkPlace 2003_ report, taking a different stance from the Economic Policy Institute, says unemployment during and after the 2001 recession was lower than in comparable periods. 'At the 26-month mark following the start of the 2001 recession, the employment rate was 6.1%, compared to 7.6% and 9.5% following the 1990 and 1981 recessions.', the report states, noting, 'In 2003 July, employment was 99.8% of its 2001 March peak.' The National Association of Manufacturers' _Annual Labor Day Report_ predicts the unemployment rate will 'stabilize at about 6% by the end of 2003 and decline to about 5.5% in 2004'... The American Society for Training and Development focuses on a longer term _Human Capital Challenge_. Employers see a dearth of trained, skilled employees as their biggest barrier to growth, it says."
2003-09-04 21:46PDT (2003-09-05 00:46EDT) (2003-09-05 04:46GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Car protection racket rates rise but victims less unhappy than they had been
"Auto-insurance rates will rise again next year, continuing 3 years of price increases driven by rising medical and car-repair costs, as well as lower interest rates and declining investment returns, a trade group said... Auto rates are expected to rise 6% next year, on top of the 8.5% rise seen this year, according to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group which pegs next year's annual average cost per car at $898, up $51 from this year's average rate. The average premium paid by household, which may include coverage for more than one car, is $1,190 this year, up $140 from the average of $1,050 last year, according to a survey of almost 15K consumers by market-research firm J.D. Power and Associates. After declining or staying flat through the late 1990s, premiums have jumped 32% on average since 2000, according to J.D. Power. While consumers continue to pay more for the same product, insurers' customer-service practices have improved, leading to a 'stabilization' of consumer satisfaction this year, after 2 years of steep drops, said Jeremy Bowler, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power... Charles Titterton, director at Standard & Poor's, a credit-rating firm...'The whole industry had an operating loss in 2001 because of price cutting.'... [And it's about time!!]"
2003-09-05 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US August non-farm pay-rolls fall by 93K
"The U.S. economy lost pay-roll jobs in August for the seventh month in a row even as the un-employment rate dipped to 6.1%, the Labor Department reported Friday."
2003-09-05 06:00PDT (09:00EDT) (13:00GMT)
Randall Mikkelson _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
"Big Government" Getting Bigger Under GWBush
"A report released on Friday by the [left-leaning] Brookings Institution think tank and New York University said the 'true size' of the federal work force -- which includes employees for federal contractors and grant recipients -- grew by more than 1M, to 12.1M, from 1999 October to 2002 October. The increase was linked to the war on terrorism that Bush launched after the 2001 September 11 attacks on the United States, as well as to growth at the Department of Health and Human Services and other domestic agencies, the report said. The growth represents a roughly 75% rebound from federal work force declines linked to the post-Cold War 'peace dividend'... The civil service declined by 46K jobs from 1999 to 2002, while the number of jobs at federal contractors grew by 727K and at grant recipients by 333K. Although the military added only 70K people in uniform, the government created about 500K new defense-related jobs, starting late in Clinton's presidency."
2003-09-05 07:47PDT (10:47EDT) (14:47GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US economy loses 93K jobs: Un-employment rate falls to 6.1% in August
"Non-farm pay-rolls shrank by 93K for the month, bringing the total job losses to 595K since January. The decrease in payrolls was the largest since March. Read the full BLS report... Manufacturing firms cut 44K jobs, government axed 26K and professional services eliminated 28K jobs. Helping offset those declines, health services added 25K jobs, construction added 19K and temporary help services added 7K jobs. Manufacturing firms have cut 2.7M jobs over the past 3 years, including 431K this year... The average work-week for August held steady at a record low 33.6 hours, with the manufacturing workweek steady at 40.1 hours. The total number of hours worked in the economy fell by 0.1%. Average hourly wages rose by 2 cents, or 0.1%, to $15.45 an hour. Hourly wages are up 2.9% in the past year. Weekly wages rose 0.1% to $519.12. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed fell to 8.9M last month from 9.06M. About a fifth have been out of work longer than 6 months and half of them have been out of work longer than a year."
2003-09-05 13:44PDT (16:44EDT) (20:44GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end in the red on soft data: S&P breaks 8-day winning stretch
"U.S. stocks ended in the red Friday as news that the economy shed more jobs last month put a damper on investors' recent enthusiasm. The S&P broke an 8-day winning streak and the Nasdaq a 7-day stretch of gains... The Dow Jones Industrial Average shaved 84.56 points, or 0.9%, to 9,503.34, stalled by the likes of Wal-Mart, Boeing and Hewlett-Packard. The Nasdaq Composite relinquished 10.73 points, or 0.6%, to stand at 1,858.24 after rising earlier by as much as 11 points. The Nasdaq 100 Index of larger-capitalization stocks gave up 11.36 points, or 0.8%, to 1,361.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 0.6%, and the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks dropped 0.7%... Volume totaled 1.44G on the NYSE and 1.95G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Losers outnumbered winners by 18 to 15 on the NYSE and by 18 to 14 on the Nasdaq."
Grant Gross _IDG_/_Computer World_
Government agencies wary of off-shore out-sourcing
"Some governmental bodies in the U.S. hope to out-source certain IT functions to private vendors in the coming years but are concerned about the political fall-out if out-sourced jobs go over-seas... Driven by a stagnant U.S. economy and concerns about the security of IT products created over-seas, a handful of state legislatures across the U.S. have considered bills this year that would prohibit offshore out-sourcing of government contracts... Asked if off-shore out-sourcing is out of the question, Newstrom answered, 'I think the political climate is very adverse. Today, the climate doesn't exist in government to say off-shore out loud.'"
Gene Callahan _Lew Rockwell_
Fair Trade or Foul? part 1
Pay-Roll Dive Stunned Economists but Not Employers
93K Lost Jobs
2003-09-06 01:16PDT (04:16EDT) (08:16GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks extendly weekly positive streaks: S&P latest index to break out to new yearly high
"the Dow tacked on 0.9% over the past 4 trading days [week] while the technology-drenched Nasdaq put on a heady 2.7% and the S&P 500 advanced 1.3%... improving economic activity is finally translating into revenue growth in the technology sector. But doubters question whether those improvements are being felt across a wide swath of tech companies or whether just a select few are benefiting. The market's broad rally certainly suggests that investors are banking on a pervasive earnings recovery."
Jonathan D. Glater _NY Times_
Suits on Silica Being Compared to Asbestos (Silicate) Cases
"Lawyers who are veterans of the wave of asbestos litigation have begun to file more and more lawsuits contending that their clients are suffering from exposure to silica. But while the lawyers say they are zeroing in on another potentially lethal substance, their opponents counter that there is no medical crisis... A coalition of insurance companies is trying to draw attention to the potential costs of the silicosis lawsuits, which are dwarfed in number by the roughly 600K asbestos-related claims that have been filed. The insurers, along with manufacturers that have used silica -- mindful of the 60 or more companies that have filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of asbestos litigation -- would like to see the courts deal summarily with the lawsuits before they become a problem as broad as asbestos. Silica -- for the most part, highly purified quartz -- is used to make glass, fiberglass, paints and ceramics, as well as in foundry casting. Because of silica's wide use, the potential for lawsuits is great, said Bob Glenn, president of the National Industrial Sand Association, whose members mine and process industrial sand, which is is derived from quartz."
A Win for Freedom
"Hong Kong's chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa... deferred to the clearly expressed majority will in Hong Kong and withdrew legislation for a repressive new security law he was trying to impose... He is an authoritarian businessman appointed by [Red China] to run Hong Kong... His retreat in the face of huge, peaceful demonstrations of opposition is plainly tactical, not principled. It came only after consultation with top [Red Chinese] leaders in Beijing. Still, it is a modestly encouraging sign that [Red China] has not yet abandoned its promises to respect Hong Kong's distinctive freedoms. The security bill was the gravest threat those freedoms had yet faced. Couched as merely an updating of the colonial legal code, it incorporated many of the tools Beijing uses to intimidate and punish dissent on the mainland."
Gene A. Nelson
High Tech Visa Glut (pdf)
Stephen Dinan _Washington Times_
Democrats embrace amnesty for illegal aliens
"All 8 of the Democratic presidential contenders at Thursday's debate embraced amnesty for illegal aliens now in the United States, pushing the issue onto the national stage for the presidential contest."
Na Jeong-ju _Korea Times_
South Korean Activists Depart for Anti-WTO Rally in Mexico
"A delegation of 40 activists left for Mexico yesterday to join a multi-national rally opposing the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks aimed at accelerating the member countries' signings of free trade pacts by abolishing trade barriers. 'Rich countries will become richer and poor countries will be subject to more starvation under the WTO system.', the delegation said in a statement issued at Incheon International Airport... About 180 members from civic groups such as the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Democratic Labor Party are expected to leave the country by tomorrow to take part in the rally, delegation members said. On Saturday, about 100 people assembled at a park in Seoul to protest the countryís move to sign a free trade agreement with Chile and bilateral trade negotiations with the United States to open more local markets."
George W. Bush (quoted in Elisabeth Bumiller _NY Times_
Bush Seeks $87G & UN Aid for War Effort
"Yet we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our own nation more secure... There is more at work in these attacks than blind rage. The terrorists have a strategic goal. They want us to leave Iraq before our work is done. They want to shake the will of the civilized world... From the outset, I have expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi people to govern themselves. Now they must rise to the responsibilities of a free people, and secure the blessings of their own liberty... The attacks you have heard and read about in the last few weeks have occurred predominately in the central region of Iraq, between Baghdad and Tikrit -- Saddam Hussein's former stronghold... We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. [The] surest way [to avoid attacks on Americans] is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans [so that] we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities."
Laura M. Holson _NY Times_
Warner Brothers' Chamber of Secrets
"Barry M. Meyer, and the president, Alan Horn... took over the entertainment unit in 1999 after Terry Semel and Robert A. Daly left at the end of a successful 19-year run. Under Mr. Horn, Warner Brothers Pictures has continued to dominate Hollywood... The division had its best year in 2001, with $1.3G at the domestic box office. And the past 2 years have been among its most profitable... According to people who work there, the atmosphere is more open, with diverse story suggestions sought and heard. When the studio was deciding which of 2 'Superman' scripts to make into a movie last year, Mr. Horn asked for suggestions from all departments -- marketing, production, even consumer products -- something unheard of 3 years ago. Different opinions are tolerated, and conversations are more polite... Horn has also managed to keep his employees motivated, even though many of their stock options are now nearly worthless. And he deftly handled the situation after Castle Rock Entertainment, of which he was a co-founder, produced a series of box-office bombs... In 1987, Mr. Horn, who attended Harvard Business School and was also a captain in the Air Force, helped start Castle Rock... Castle Rock was sold in 1993 to the Turner Broadcasting System, which was acquired by Warner 3 years later... a strategy to make about 25 movies a year, 4 or 5 of them big-budget event movies... About a third of the 25 would be financed solely by Warner. Another third would be financed with a partner, often Village Roadshow Pictures. The remaining would be rent-a-studio deals in which a production company would pay Warner a fee to market and distribute its movies... Bruce Berman, who was president of production at Warner Brothers Pictures from 1984 to 1989 and now runs Village Roadshow."
Claudia H. Deutsch & Kevin R. Daley _NY Times_
It's Not What You Say but How It Sounds
"Kevin R. Daley, a co-founder of Communispond, has long studied the effects of a person's appearance, sound and behavior on his or her ability to get ahead. And by now, ensuring that his garb, his behavior and the ambience are all seamlessly meshed comes naturally to him... know your subject, do not read woodenly from notes, hold important lunches at restaurants where past tipping has made you a favored customer... Hands out of those pockets! Elbows unglued from those sides! Distribute weight evenly on both legs, and stop moving around so much! Do not keep opening and closing your hands, and, for goodness' sake, try not to stare at your shoes!... Gesture with one hand... Speak up. Focus on one member of the audience to keep your eyes from darting around. But change to another person often, so you don't stare. Don't ever be in total darkness, even if that means audience members must squint at visuals. You want them riveted on you, not on the slides. Apply the same rules to one-on-one meetings as to keynote speeches, but just tone them down. 'Make the gestures smaller and the voice more modulated, but never forget that an animated person is more interesting.'... as long as you are not announcing a cure for cancer, more than 90% of the impact of communication rests on how you look and sound, not on what you say. 'Information by itself, unless it's genuinely startling, is boring. Conveying it through stories and gestures and analogies makes it interesting.'... Time and again, he sees his colleagues win or lose business based on the verve of their presentations to clients, not on the validity of their ideas. 'I realized that decisions are made on feelings about facts, not on facts themselves.'... success in selling a product, giving a speech or seeking a promotion rises and falls on the ability to hold the listeners' interest and, just as often, to convince them that they are holding yours."
Jon Gertner _NY Times_
The Futile Pursuit of Happiness (6 pages)
"when it comes to predicting exactly how you will feel in the future, you are most likely wrong... A professor in Harvard's department of psychology, [Daniel] Gilbert...along with the psychologist Tim Wilson of the University of Virginia, the economist George Loewenstein of Carnegie-Mellon and the psychologist (and Nobel laureate in economics) Daniel Kahneman of Princeton -- has taken the lead in studying a specific type of emotional and behavioral prediction. In the past few years, these 4 men have begun to question the decision-making process that shapes our sense of well-being: how do we predict what will make us happy or unhappy -- and then how do we feel after the actual experience?... According to this small corps of academics, almost all actions are based on our predictions of the emotional consequences of these events... we over-estimate the intensity and the duration of our emotional reactions -- our 'affect' -- to future events... On average, bad events proved less intense and more transient than test participants predicted. Good events proved less intense and briefer as well... [They] call the gap between what we predict and what we ultimately experience the 'impact bias' -- 'impact' meaning the errors we make in estimating both the intensity and duration of our emotions and 'bias' our tendency to err... You may have high hopes, but the impact bias suggests that it will almost certainly be less cool, and in a shorter time, than you imagine. Worse, Gilbert has noted that these mistakes of expectation can lead directly to mistakes in choosing what we think will give us pleasure. He calls this 'miswanting'... 'We're studying the thing that all human action is directed toward.'... those who had time to change their minds were less pleased with their decisions than those whose choices were irrevocable... 'When really bad things happen to us, we defend against them.'... we're happier with closure... we tend to err in estimating our regret over missed opportunities. The 'things not so bad' work shows our failure to imagine how grievously irritations compromise our satisfaction... George Loewenstein sums up this human capacity as follows: 'Happiness is a signal that our brains use to motivate us to do certain things. And in the same way that our eye adapts to different levels of illumination, we're designed to kind of go back to the happiness set point. Our brains are not trying to be happy. Our brains are trying to regulate us.'. In this respect, the tendency toward adaptation suggests why the impact bias is so pervasive... But Wilson and Gilbert and others have shown that we seem unable to predict that we will adapt... This sounds like a goof, but it gets at the fundamental difference between how we behave in 'hot' states (those of anxiety, courage, fear, drug craving, sexual excitation and the like) and 'cold' states of rational calm. This empathy gap in thought and behavior -- we cannot seem to predict how we will behave in a hot state when we are in a cold state -- affects happiness in an important but somewhat less consistent way than the impact bias... 'These kinds of states have the ability to change us so profoundly that we're more different from ourselves in different states than we are from another person.', Loewenstein says."
Jeff May _Times-Picayune_
As tech goes south jobs go over-seas: Workers abandoning once-bright industry
same story, different link 2003-Aug-31
"Almost 560K tech jobs were lost from 2001 through the end of last year, according to the American Electronics Association [AeA]. And the pressure to cut costs continues. As many as 1 out of 10 technology jobs in the United States is expected to go over-seas by next year, estimates Gartner, a consulting firm in Stamford, CT..."
Protesters gather ahead of WTO talks in Cancun
"The tangle of union members, Zapatista rebel sympathizers, anarchists, environmentalists and farmers cannot agree on protest tactics against the WTO, which they consider a mouthpiece for powerful nations and wealthy corporations... Jessica Pupovac of the Washington-based Rights Action, a human rights group... The 146-member WTO is striving to complete a new treaty meant to boost the world economy by further reducing barriers to trade."
_St. Petersburg, Florida Times_
"A consultant who studies the retirement home market tells BusinessWeek he figures that 3.5% of the 5.5M people expected to retire this decade will opt for $1M-plus trophy homes with spas, exercise rooms and home theaters... Lay-offs are more likely in the final third of the year. The culprit is next-year planning, when tweaking budgets and business plans often dictates staffing levels, according to a review of job-cutting data from 1995 through 2002 by Chicago out-placement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas... The witty executive gets bigger bonuses and better performance ratings, Harvard Business Review says."
2003-09-08 13:30PDT (16:30EDT) (20:30GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq ends at 18-month high: Analyst up-grades benefit technology sector
"The S&P 500 scored a new 15-month high... The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 82.95 points, or 0.9%, to 9,586.29. The Nasdaq Composite heaped on 30.41 points, or 1.6%, to 1,888.65 and the Nasdaq 100 Index rallied 24.88 points, or 1.8%, to 1,386.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index reaped a gain of 1%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks piled on 1.6%... Volume amounted to 1.30G on the NYSE and to 2.02G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners pounced on losers by 23 to 9 on the NYSE and by 22 to 11 on the Nasdaq."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Some Older Workers Are Thriving Despite Recent Hard Times (with graphs)
"older workers -- the ones seemingly left behind by the dot.com boom -- are turning out to be the only group thriving in the jobless recovery. Even as younger workers have lost ground, a higher percentage of those aged 55 to 64 hold jobs today than when the economy plunged into hard times in early 2001. Their success has shifted the composition of the work force: older people now make up 12% of the nation's workers, up from 10.2% in 2000... Since March 2001, when the last recession began, the percentage of working people in the population of 55- to 64-year-olds has steadily risen, reaching a peak of 60% in the spring, or 16.4M men and women, up from 58.1% and 14.5M workers. While that gain appears to have tapered off this summer, the older workers were still the only age group to improve their lot in the recession and jobless recovery... Reflecting this success, the average weekly wage of the 55- to 64-year-olds, adjusted for inflation, reached $673 by the end of last year, up 4.5% from the $644 in 2000. That is a faster pace than the wage gains of any other age group, according to the Economic Policy Institute, which analyzed the bureau's wage data. Only the 25- to 34-year-olds, earning $590 in 2002, came close, increasing their average wage by 2.7% over the same period... Some of the 55- to 64-year-olds postponed retirement when their nest eggs were depleted in the stock market decline. Or they simply do not have enough savings to retire. In 2001, 53.4% of the men and women 55 to 64 who headed families had only their 401(k) savings and similar 'defined contribution' plans to finance their retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. That was up from 33.4% in 1992, when many more older workers -- 43.8% of all heads of families -- looked forward to company-financed defined-benefit pensions featuring guaranteed monthly amounts. A proliferation of early-retirement packages helped thin the ranks of workers before they entered the 55-to-64 age group. Rather than resort to lay-offs, many companies sweetened their defined-benefit plans in the 1990s to get workers to retire early on full pensions... In manufacturing, seniority and union membership helped older blue-collar workers escape the relentless lay-offs in that sector, which have accounted for most of the nation's job losses over the last 30 months. Older workers, as a result, now represent 12.2% of those employed in manufacturing, up from 11%, on average, in 2000... But women have been the heavy lifters, taking jobs or staying in the labor force as they have grown older. Without them, the rate of job growth as a percentage of the 27.5M people in this country who are 55 to 64 would have been roughly zero since 2001."
William Safire _NY Times_
"In Cairo today, the Arab League considers whether to invite Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurd recently appointed foreign minister by Iraq's Governing Council, to provisionally occupy Iraq's seat. He is eager to make the 3-hour flight to regional legitimacy. What's in it for Arab dictators who want no part of a democratic experiment in their region? Apparently the recent exercise of U.S. will and power has been taken to heart; to accommodate reality, the Arab nations are likely to play ball with post-Saddam Iraqis, expecting (1) to continue Iraq in the OPEC cartel, (2) to ensure Iraq's support of Palestinians against Israel and (3) to prevent export of anti-Sunni zealotry."
Adam Geller _Arizona Daily Star_/_AP_
Many forced into survival jobs: Skilled laid-off workers grabbing low-pay positions
"Since early 2001, the economy has shed about 2.7M jobs, stranding workers from the stricken information technology and telecommunications sectors and the broad ranks of middle management thinned by corporate cost-cutting. In the 1990s, those jobs were the prizes of the 'new economy', offering substantial paychecks, stock options and generous benefits, along with the promise of hopscotching to something even better... about 4.7M people who want to work full time have settled for part-time jobs because of economic conditions, nearly a 50% increase from three years ago... More than 20% of jobless workers - about 2M people - have been out of work longer than 6 months."
Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
Western Farmers Fear Third-World Challenge to Subsidies
"CV, the last sheep farmer in his small commune north of here, is wondering whether his pastoral life in the LubÈron mountains is about to end. Halfway across the world, DA, who raises corn and soy beans on nearly 2K acres of land once cultivated by his father and grand-father outside Denison, Iowa, has the same worries. CV grazes his flock on 36 acres of pasture and sends them off in the summer to wild mountain meadows, a land-intensive and expensive method underwritten by checks from the European Union and the French government. His lamb is never sold outside the region, much less over-seas... [DA] considers himself modern and efficient. He... receives more than $336K from the government every 4 years and sells his grain in the global market-place... The world's wealthiest nations give more than $300G of subsidies to their farmers every year, more than the gross national product of sub-Saharan Africa... In the past decade, the top quarter of farmers in the developed world have steadily gained most of the subsidies -- 70% in Europe and 90% in the United States, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Those payments allow industrial-size farms to produce many more acres of crops than are needed for domestic consumption, and they are sold overseas at low, subsidized prices. Farmers in developing markets cannot compete with the cheap imports. They lose out in their own markets and have little chance of exporting... In 1995, the top 10% of American farmers received 55% of government subsidies; in 2002 their share rose to 65%, according the Environmental Working Group... Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, boasts that 1 out of every 3 acres in the United States is planted for export... Political contributions from agribusiness jumped from $37M in 1992 to $53M in 2002...according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics... President Bush signed into law last year a new farm policy that increases permanent subsidies by $40G a year... Phillipe Mauguin, director of the French government's Institute of Appellations of Origin, said the government hoped that 20% of French produce would eventually besold under a specialty labeling. France already sells $18G in products protected by appellations of origin. 'Without such labeling, there is zero protection for local people, zero protection for local culture.', said Mr. Mauguin... When Denison's boomers were born in 1945, Iowa's farmers grew 17 commercial crops, including potatoes, cherries, peaches, plums, pears, strawberries, raspberries and wheat. Farmers sold vegetables from their truck gardens at harvest time. Now the commercial crops are down to 4 -- feed corn, soy beans, hay and oats -- and Denison has a hard time filling a farmer's market one afternoon a week."
Art Pine _Seattle Post Intelligencer_/_Bloomberg_
World job market still depressed as lay-offs out-pace hiring
"For every company that talks of adding a few hundred workers to fill rising orders, more are cutting positions by the thousands to eliminate costs and boost profits... In August, U.S. companies announced plans to eliminate 79,925 positions, 6% fewer jobs than they announced they would cut in July, according to a monthly survey released last by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago-based placement firm... Washington state, mired in recession through last December, has added more than 11,500 jobs since January, according the to latest figures of the Washington State Employment Security Department... Challenger, Gray & Christmas... found that 98% of 110 companies in an August survey plan to increase their employees' wages this year and 72% plan to issue year-end bonuses."
Kelly Quigly _Chicago Business_
Job market still feeling 2001/09/11 effects
"The US job market has yet to fully rebound from the economic shock of the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a new report that shows job search times have expanded, lay-offs have soared and salaries have dropped over the past two years. The report by Chicago-based out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said the terrorist events that traumatized the economy continue to influence decision making among employers and workers... In the 7-quarter period since 2001 October 1, average job search times expanded to 3.7 months from 2.8 months prior to the attacks. And those who find jobs are less likely to win the same or better salaries. The percentage of out-of-work people who are offered better pay at their new job increased slightly over the past year to 80%, but the figure is still far from the 89% average prior to 2001/09/11. Since 2001/09/11, employers have announced plans to eliminate 3.1M jobs, 62% more than the 1.9M cuts in the two years before the tragedy. Many of the lay-offs have been in the air-line, hospitality and retail sectors... A recent Challenger survey revealed 78% say family is more of a priority since the attacks, and relocating for a job is less frequent. To gather its data, Challenger survey[ed] 3K discharged managers and executives from all over the US."
Gene Callahan _Lew Rockwell_
Free Trade or Foul? part 2
_Seattle 24 x 7_
Uncertain Futures: The Real Impact of the High-Tech Boom & Bust on Seattle's IT workers
"The IT work-force that bore the brunt of this down-turn, shedding 10K jobs in just one year, has continued to search for footing and face the realities of today's IT labor market. A new report produced by WashTech, a local affiliate of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) founded in 1998 to address problems faced in today's high-tech workplaces, examines the present and future prospects of this class of workers... With more than 56K employees at last count, the high-tech sector still employs more workers today than it did in the [alleged] boom year of 1999... There are significant barriers to re-employment for Seattle's current high-tech work-force... An overwhelming 96% of IT contingent workers surveyed in metro Seattle said they would prefer a standard, full-time job. Between 1995 and 2001, 10.8% of the Seattle-area IT work-force consisted of contingent workers. Beyond the problem of job instability, contingent employment required most of these workers to direct a portion of their take-home pay toward basic fringe benefits. In 2001, just 10.7% of metro Seattle's contingent IT workers received employer-sponsored health insurance."
2003-09-08 21:07PDT (2003-09-09 00:07EDT) (2003-09-09 04:07GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
The new age of spaghetti throwing: This time more of it may actually stick
"Last week, Friendster.com raised $1M from private investors including Tim Koogle, former Yahoo! CEO, and Peter Thiel, who founded PayPal. Friendster is part of the so-called social networking trend, a movement towards aggregating a critical mass of eye-balls by connecting people through their circle of friends... Jupiter Research estimates that classified advertising, which includes auctions and items for sale, real estate, automotive and recruiting will reach $1.6G this year. The advertising revenue that went to Internet yellow page companies was $344M, according to The Kelsey Group, which tracks the yellow page industry. The overall online classified market is estimated to reach to $3.3G in 2008, with auctions and items for sale expected to be the fastest-growing component growing at a 20% compounded annual growth rate through 2008... Knight Ridder Digital is seeing fast growth as help-wanted ads, and other classified advertisements that once typically appeared in local newspapers, increasingly go online. In its latest reported quarter in mid-July, Knight Ridder grew total ad sales by less than 1% while KRD grew sales by 35% to $19.3M, or 3.4% of Knight Ridder's total revenue. KRD also turned in a profit of $3.4M. It lost money a year ago. Part of the reason KRD is improving is due to its growing audience. 'Traffic on our site is growing faster than it ever has with 8.9M unique visitors across the 28 sites, up 47% from last year.', said Lambert. The local content attracts the audience, which in turn attracts the local advertisers."
2003-09-09 02:15PDT (05:15EDT) (09:15GMT)
Dale Kasler _Sacramento Bee_
State economy better than many may think
"Runaway workers' compensation costs. High electricity bills. Too much red tape... the state is becoming an increasingly lousy place to do business, thanks to the workers' comp crisis, high taxes and so on... the all-important tech industry...has been out-sourcing jobs to Asia and elsewhere for several years... California spent heavily on new programs during the boom years, relying heavily on tax revenue generated by capital gains and stock options. That money dried up when the stock market tumbled in 2000 April, depriving the treasury of billions... Some businesses may go overseas, particularly tech firms. Consultant Forrester Research estimates that U.S. companies will out-source 80K tech jobs between 2000 and 2005 to India, Russia and elsewhere."
2003-09-09 02:54PDT (05:54EDT) (09:54GMT)
Tim Richardson _The Register_
What do we want? System Developers! When do we want them? Now!
"System developers are the most sought after IT contractors in the UK, according to somewhat dated stats from the CWJobs UK Quarterly IT Skills Index. There were more than 3K vacancies advertised for system developer contractors in both Q1 and Q2 of this year - accounting for 1 in 4 of the total number of contract vacancies advertised."
2003-09-09 09:18PDT (11:18EDT) (15:18GMT)
Irwin Kellner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Economy still isn't creating any jobs
"A recovery without new jobs won't be a recovery for long. By now, employment gains should have taken over from low mortgage rates as the chief driver of the economic recovery. Long-term interest rates are rising as they usually do at this point in the cycle (see my column of May 20), but job creation is not... It is also a fact that business spending on capital goods -- especially technology -- appears to be picking up. Economists had been looking to plant and equipment spending to give the economy a second-stage lift. The problem is that capital spending makes up only about 12% of the economy, while consumer spending accounts for nearly 70%. Moreover, just about all of today's outlays by business is for equipment; hardly any money is being spent on structures. This does little to help job creation. For one thing, it does not take as many workers to build machinery, computers, and other types of equipment as it does to build a factory, warehouse or office building. In addition, lots of this equipment comes from off-shore. Finally, to the extent that this new equipment boosts productivity, it hurts, rather than helps, job growth in the U.S. Productivity is great for profits and for those with a job."
2003-09-09 10:41PDT (13:41EDT) (17:41GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
December delivery gold contracts reach $384.80, and at 7-year high
2003-09-09 13:48PDT (16:48EDT) (20:48GMT)
Jeanne Sahadi _CNN_/_Money_
Who gets paid six figures?: Six-figure jobs aren't always easy to come by but they're out there. (with table)
"Only 4.2% of U.S. workers with earnings reported making $100K or more in 2001, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. The median annual wage, meanwhile, was $26,002... General merchandise manager... Hair and makeup artist, advertising and commercial film... Cargo pilot... Consultant, retail home fashions... Senior VP for communications [i.e. PR hack]..."
_Sify News India_
Case brought against US firm for exploiting Indians
"A US company exploited and abused workers brought to here from India, their lawyers said in the first phase of a labour trafficking trial. Dozens of Indian immigrants appeared in a courtroom in Tulsa to face their former employer, John Pickle. The workers claim their former boss promised them permanent jobs with high wages at the John Pickle Company. Instead, they say they were confined to a dormitory factory and paid below minimum wage The 52 workers, who were recruited in India, came to work as welders, fitters and electricians at the John Pickle Co., which made specialised equipment for the oil industry."
Steve Maich _Canada National Post_
Analysts try to justify latest Internet stock rise: Is it a boom or a bubble?
"Since North American stocks hit a bottom 6 months ago, technology stocks have led the market's sharp resurgence. And within the broad universe of tech, nothing has been hotter than the dot-coms... Since the beginning of March, the broad Standard & Poor's 500 index has gained 23%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index has galloped ahead 42%. The Dow Jones composite Internet index, which tracks 40 of the biggest dot-com and networking equipment stocks, has surged an astounding 69% over the same period. All but 6 of the stocks in the index have risen at least 20% this year. Many of the stocks leading the gains are the same ones that made day traders into overnight millionaires in the late 1990s, and then destroyed fortunes just as quickly in 2000... In 2000 and 2001, 784 Internet companies went out of business according to Webmergers Inc., an industry consulting service. In those 2 years 143,440 workers in the Internet industry lost their jobs, according to Chicago-based recruitment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas."
Kimberly Trone _Palm Springs Desert Sun_
Wages and housing costs are out of sync: County residents need to earn $14.02/hour to afford a modest apartment
"A full-time worker in California must earn $21.18 an hour to afford the state's fair market rent of $1,101 a month for a 2-bedroom apartment, according to an annual study released Monday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition... An employee earning California's minimum wage of $6.75 an hour can afford monthly rent of no more than $351, according to the study... While Monday's report -- which showed a 7.59% increase over last year's state housing wage -- said workers in Riverside County needed to earn $14.02 an hour to afford a 2-bedroom apartment, industry experts say rental units for the corresponding price of $729 a month are tough to find in today's market-place."
Dean Baker _Center for Economic and Policy Research_
Professional Protectionists: The Gains from Free Trade in Highly Paid Professional Services (pdf)
Middle Class Families Are Going Broke
"There were over 1.6M bankruptcy filings last year, up 7.4% from the previous year. And according to a new book, more people will end up in bankruptcy this year than will suffer a heart attack, than will be diagnosed with cancer or graduate from college, and itís not who you would think... Cutting back was hard to do because they werenít really spenders in the first place. Most of their money went for the basics -- the mortgage, car payments, day care, and food on the table. They hadn't realized just how tight their budget really was until they missed a mortgage payment 3 months after James lost his job. Both had been raised to pay their bills... But they held on to the belief that their situation was temporary... the dance of financial ruin starts slowly but picks up speed quickly... it is hard to grasp the breadth or depth of financial distress sweeping through ordinary suburbs, small towns, and nice city neighborhoods... In 1981, about 69K women had filed for bankruptcy. The data on my print-out indicated that by 1999 that figure had jumped to nearly 500K"
2003-09-10 09:51PDT (12:51EDT) (16:51GMT)
Former Enron Treasurer Ben Glison goes to prison
"After switching his plea to guilty Wednesday, former Enron treasurer Ben Glisan became the first former employee to go to prison in connection with the scandal that brought down one of America's highest flying companies. Glisan switched his plea to guilty Wednesday and was immediately taken into custody to begin a 5-year prison sentence... Andersen, Enron's outside auditor, was found guilty of obstruction of justice in 2002 June. Dave Duncan, the Andersen partner in charge of the Enron audit, pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation into Enron [but has not been sent to prison]."
Milt Freudenheim _NY Times_
Employees Paying Ever-Bigger Share for Health Care
"People in employer-sponsored health plans are paying 48% more out of their own pockets for care than they did 3 years ago, according to a new study... Out-of-pocket spending for insurance premiums, deductibles and drug co-payments rose to $2,790 this year for a typical employee with family coverage, from $1,890 in 2000, Mr. Altman said. Over all, according to the Kaiser study, health care premiums rose 13.9% this year, the biggest increase since 1990, outpacing the 11% rise in spending for hospitals and doctors, and far ahead of the 2.4% increase in manufacturers' prices. The increase was 15.6% for small employers with fewer than 300 workers... Employers' health plans cover 175M people, including 160M workers and their families and 15M retirees. According to the new study, 65% of employers increased the amount that employees pay for health insurance this year, 47% raised employees' payments for prescription drugs, 34% increased deductibles and 34% raised co-payments for doctor visits."
David M. Halbfinger _NY Times_
Alabama Voters Crush Extortion Plan Sought by Governor
"Alabama voters resoundingly rejected a $1.2G tax increase that would have closed a budget deficit and aided schools."
William Safire _NY Times_
Baudelaire's Bird: Arab League Accepted New Iraqi Delegate
"Comes now the Arab League, that association of 22 monarchies, dictatorships and oligarchies, to cut through the leftist cacophony making obeisance to terrorism's power. In a pragmatic decision made in Cairo this week, the states of the Middle East directly affected by Saddam's over-throw invited the new foreign minister appointed by the Iraqi Governing Council -- its members selected by the U.S.-led coalition -- to occupy Iraq's seat in the Arab League. As noted in this space 2 days ago, the Arab potentates have practical reasons to welcome Hoshyar Zebari: they want a piece of the political action in the new Iraq. Led by U.S.-dependent Egypt and Jordan, and supported by Saudis eager to maintain Iraq's membership in the oil cartel, the Arabs, over Libya's protest, clasped Zebari (a Kurd, of all people) to their bosom."
Red China's development "'They are demanding we sign the papers to move. They said they have to build offices here.', G said. 'But this home was handed down to us by our ancestors. My grand-father, who was a Manchu official, lived here. We are private property owners. They should respect our rights.'"
Rachel Konrad _AP_/_San Diego Union-Tribune_ Security hole that became apparent during primary highlights dangers of electronic voting
"The strange case of an election tally that appears to have popped up on the Internet hours before polls closed is casting new doubts about the trustworthiness of electronic voting machines. During San Luis Obispo County's 2002 March primary, absentee vote tallies were apparently sent to an Internet site operated by Diebold Election Systems Inc., the maker of the voting machines used in the election... Silicon Valley computer experts have long criticized touch-screen voting machines, which do not normally provide a paper receipt and which send digital votes directly to a computer server. Programmers say software bugs, power outages or clever hackers could easily delete or alter data -- and recounts would prove impossible without paper backups."
Ron Paul _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Pillars of Prosperity: GSEs increase likelihood of crash
"One of the major government privileges granted to GSEs is a line of credit with the United States Treasury. According to some estimates, the line of credit may be worth over $2G. This explicit promise by the Treasury to bail out GSEs in times of economic difficulty helps the GSEs attract investors who are willing to settle for lower yields than they would demand in the absence of the subsidy. Thus, the line of credit distorts the allocation of capital. More importantly, the line of credit is a promise on behalf of the government to engage in a huge unconstitutional and immoral income transfer from working Americans to holders of GSE debt. The connection between the GSEs and the government helps isolate the GSE management from market discipline. This isolation from market discipline is the root cause of the recent reports of mismanagement occurring at Fannie and Freddie. After all, if Fannie and Freddie were not underwritten by the federal government, investors would demand Fannie and Freddie provide assurance that they follow accepted management and accounting practices. Ironically, by transferring the risk of a widespread mortgage default, the government increases the likelihood of a painful crash in the housing market."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
fake documents, real drivers licenses
|"The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety & soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see." --- Barney Frank 2003-09-10 (Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe, Steve Burguiere, Dan Andros, Brian Sack, Alan Bura, Pat Gray, David Harsanyi, Carol Lynne, Carl Williott, Claire Calzonetti, Evan Cutler, Joseph Kerry, Kelly Thompson, R.J. Pestritto, Tyler Grimm, Darran Foster, John Bobey, Paul Starke & Paul E. Nunn 2009 _Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government_ pg180)|
2003-09-10 21:01PDT (2003-09-11 00:01EDT) (2003-09-11 04:01GMT)
Steve Kerch _CBS.MarketWatch.com_ The wages of housing grow higher: It takes $15.21 an hour to afford an average US apartment
"The National Low Income Housing Coalition this week said that its 'national housing wage' for 2003 is $15.21 an hour, or $31,637 a year. That is the income that a family must earn in order to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at the average fair-market rent in the United States, while paying no more than 30% of income in rent. That figure is almost 3 times as high as the federal minimum wage, meaning that even a dual-income couple working in low-paying jobs would be unable to comfortably afford the rent... The average income earned by families with extremely low incomes (those at 30% or below of their area's median income) is $8.34 an hour, yet there is no state in which an extremely low income household can afford the fair-market rent on a two-bedroom home, the study says. The study, _Out of Reach: 2003_, calculates the housing wage for every state, region and county in the U.S. Among its other findings: Housing costs continue to rise faster than wages and the cost of other goods. The national housing wage increased by 3.7% between 2002 and 2003, while inflation was 2.1%. According to the Economic Policy Institute, real median earnings have fallen throughout much of 2002 and 2003, the study pointed out. The housing wage has increased 37% since 1999, when a person had to earn $11.08 an hour to afford the national fair-market rent. The federal minimum wage has remained at $5.15 an hour since 1997. The housing wage has risen every year since 1999. Renter households in 40 states -- home to almost 90% of all renter households in the nation -- face a housing wage of more than twice the prevailing minimum wage. Eleven states have housing wages more than 3 times the minimum wage. The fair-market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment used to calculate the housing wages ranged from $452 per month in West Virginia to $1,165 per month in Massachusetts... Here are the states with the highest housing wage in 2003:
2003-09-10 21:21PDT (2003-09-11 00:21EDT) (2003-09-11 04:21GMT)
Stephanie Armour _USA Today_
Many workers ready to quit once job market heals
"Workers burned out by productivity demands and paltry raises are poised to start quitting once the economy turns around, new research shows. The only problem is that the end of the recession hasn't brought new jobs. The August unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 6.1%... Who's feeling the strain: High performers. High performers are 32% more likely than lower performers to say they'll be looking for a job in the next year. That's because many of them feel under-rewarded and under-appreciated, according to the survey of more than 1,100 full-time employees by New York-based Sibson Consulting... 53% say they are unhappy with pay, up from 44% in 2002, according to a poll by CareerBuilder.com. And 45% are unhappy with career advancement opportunities, up from 36% in 2002."
2003-09-11 02:00PDT (05:00EDT) (09:00GMT)
Joanna Glasner _Wired_
IT Workers: Fewer Jobs, More Money
"According to the Sage/SANS/BigAdmin Annual Salary Survey, published Wednesday, the average IT worker surveyed earned $65K in 2002, an increase of about 8% from the year before. System administrators in the United States earned, on average, nearly $68K a year, with mean salary increases ranging from 5% to 11% in the largest metropolitan areas... Workers in the San Francisco, New York and Boston metropolitan areas topped the list of high earners, with mean salaries of $87K, $85K and $77K, respectively. Canadian IT workers were the worst paid, with respondents in Vancouver and Montreal both reporting average annual wages around $44K (in U.S. dollars)... The things IT workers disliked most about their jobs were management's propensity to make bad decisions, and the burden of corporate bureaucracy. Respondents were also unusually nervous about job security, Kolstad said. Many mentioned out-sourcing as a major cause of concern, particularly the movement of jobs to India and other countries with comparatively low IT salaries. Tech workers were also worried about the possibility that advancements in software for automating network administration would make their jobs obsolete... About 15% of respondents reported they were out of work at least one week in 2002."
2003-09-11 07:33PDT (10:33EDT) (14:33GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment compensation insurance claims climb higher: 4-week average moves to highest it's been in 6 weeks at 407,250
"The average number of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits over the past 4 weeks rose by 4,500 to 407,250, the highest level in 6 weeks. Read the full release. The number of new claims in the week ended September 6 rose by 3K to 422K, the most in 2 months. Initial claims had fallen throughout July and early August before turning higher... The average number of workers collecting state unemployment checks rose by 11K to 3.64M, a 3-week high. The continuing claims figures don't include some 830K workers receiving federal benefits, which are available to those who exhaust their state benefits before finding work, typically after 26 weeks. While about 4.5M people were collecting some jobless benefits, an equal number were out of work with no assistance. In August, the government says, 8.9M were classified as unemployed [and actively seeking work], including 1.9M who had been out of work for more than 6 months. An additional 5M people want a job but are not classified as unemployed because they aren't actively searching."
2003-09-11 07:44PDT (10:44EDT) (14:44GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US trade deficit widened in July: Imports reach send highest level on record br>"The increase, led by imports of oil, industrial supplies and consumer goods, was the highest import level since 2000 September and is the second highest on record. Exports rose 2% to $86.1G, the highest level since 2001 May... Overall, the trade deficit rose 0.7% in July to $40.32G, with oil a major component. Excluding petroleum, the deficit narrowed 0.6% to $33.5G. The July petroleum deficit widened 7% to $10.7G. The average price per barrel of crude petroleum rose to $26.70 in July from $25.50 in June. This is the highest level since March. Imports climbed 1.6% in July to $126.5G. The U.S. surplus in services remained unchanged at $5.04G... The June trade deficit was revised up to $40G from the initial reading last month of $39.5G. For the first 7 months of the year, the U.S. trade deficit totaled $285.5G, up 24.7% from the same period last year. The U.S. trade deficit with China widened to a record $11.3G in July. Imports from [Red China] totaled a record $13.4G. In Western Europe, the U.S. gap widened to a record $11.2G. The trade deficit with Japan widened to $5.9G in July."
2003-09-11 11:19PDT (14:19EDT) (18:19GMT)
Andy McCue _ZD_/_Silicon.com_
India's new out-sourcing rival -- Romania?
"The rising costs for U.K. companies that provide and use Indian off-shore information technology services could drive businesses to cheaper locations, such as Eastern Europe, according to a new report. A report by Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) says that Romania and other Eastern European countries are virtually ignored by U.K. companies but are predominantly the first out-sourcing choice for the rest of Western Europe. The report, _Off-Shore Romania 2003_... The report reveals that the mid-range price for offshore software development in Romania is about $160 (100 pounds) per person, per day, and that the cost of employing a recently qualified graduate from an approved specialist university is approximately $6,500 a year. Experienced project managers can also be recruited for between $21,500 and $32K a year."
David Pogue _NY Times_
Cellular phones That Reach Alter Egos
"Whenever you slip your [cellular] phone into the FastForward cradle, it automatically routes incoming... calls to your home or office phone."
David Williams _Hispanic Business_
US Unemployment Compensation Insurance Claims Grow: "True" Unemployment rate 9.1%
"The number of first-time jobless benefit claimants in the week ended September 6 rose 3K to a 2-month record 422K, following a 22K-strong leap the previous week, seasonally adjusted Labor Department data showed... The [seasonally adjusted] unemployment rate was 6.1% in August, it said. But the 'true' unemployment rate was more like 9.1%, according to an analysis of the August data by international outplacement agency Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. 'Most only see the government statistic of the unemployed -- 8.9M in August -- but there are 4.8M who are not working but want jobs.', the agency report said. 'Because they did not actively seek employment during the last month, they were not counted by the government as part of the unemployed labor force.', it added. If those people were counted, the unemployment rate was 9.1% in August, Challenger, Gray and Christmas said."
Mark Gruenberg _Press Associates_/_TechsUnite_
AFL-CIO to launch national pro-jobs drive
"The moves, announced by federation President John J. Sweeney in a September 3 speech to the Detroit Economic Club, are designed to push politicians into real job-creation measures during what he called a 'national crisis', and to increase organized labor's clout in its campaign for social and economic justice. The federation's drive to put jobs at the top of the political agenda will start, Sweeney said, at the Detroit LaborFest September 13. It will move to rallies and town hall meetings nationwide, starting in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Ohio, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rochester, NY, Seattle and St. Louis. He did not give dates for those events... Those politicians...aided and abetted what Sweeney called 'a global economy [with] no rules, no standards of human rights (or) workers' rights [that encourages companies] to trek the world in search of cheaper and cheaper labor.' The result: 'A mindless race to the bottom no one wins.', he said."
Christine van Dusen _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_
Jobs with meaning
"The 2001 September 11 attacks led many Americans to take stock of their work lives and consider making massive changes: joining the Peace Corps, becoming a teacher, taking a pay cut for a bigger emotional pay-off. It sounded romantic then. But in the 2 years since, the job market has soured, shedding about 3.1M workers. 'Getting a job that gives employees meaning has to take second place to survival, a job that can pay the bills.', said Rick Cobb, executive vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which tracks work-place trends... C has a corner office now, but it's cramped and has no windows -- very different from the corner office in which she worked 70 hours a week at her last job, as a marketing executive at a local employment agency."
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Visas vs. Jobs
"Labor groups, lobbyists and legions of unemployed tech workers have taken to the Internet and the air-waves to protest what they see as employer abuse of the visa system. They say the program keeps a lid on wage growth, subjects non-citizen workers to sub-standard working conditions and keeps U.S. citizens unemployed. 'At a time of high unemployment, the high-tech industry is flooding the labor market by importing workers who are willing to work more cheaply than American high-tech workers.', the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington lobbying group, wrote in an August report called 'Deleting American Workers'."
Joseph B. Treaster _NY Times_
Insurer Agrees to Pay Penalty in Fraud Case
"The American International Group [AIG] agreed to a $10M S.E.C. settlement for helping a cellular phone distributor cover up millions in losses."
Cristina Breen Bollin _Charlotte Observer_
Many say immigration is too easy
"Nearly 80% of respondents to the 2003 Carolinas Poll said they believe it's too easy to immigrate to the United States. And 61% of the poll's 908 respondents said U.S. immigration laws are ineffective. The poll was taken in August for The Observer and NBC6."
|"These 2 entities -- Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis." --- Barney Frank 2003-09-11 (Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe, Steve Burguiere, Dan Andros, Brian Sack, Alan Bura, Pat Gray, David Harsanyi, Carol Lynne, Carl Williott, Claire Calzonetti, Evan Cutler, Joseph Kerry, Kelly Thompson, R.J. Pestritto, Tyler Grimm, Darran Foster, John Bobey, Paul Starke & Paul E. Nunn 2009 _Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government_ pg176)|
2003-09-12 05:31PDT (08:31EDT) (12:31GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail sales up
"August, driving up retail sales in the month by 0.6% on purchases of autos, gasoline, electronics and household goods, the Commerce Department said Friday... Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.7%. Excluding both autos and gas, sales rose 0.4%... Sales rose a hefty 1.3% in July, revised down from the 1.4% previously reported."
2003-09-12 14:26PDT (17:26EDT) (21:26GMT)
Julie Rannazzisi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end with gains: Investors brush off soft economic news
"Stocks broke their weekly winning streaks, but barely: The Dow and S&P both ended off a mere 0.3% over the past 5 trading days while the Nasdaq fell 0.2%. The Dow snapped a 5-week winning stretch and the Nasdaq and S&P a 4-week stretch. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 11.79 points, or 0.1%, to 9,471.55 after sliding as much as 79 points intraday. The Nasdaq Composite added 8.94 points, or 0.5%, to 1,855.03 and the Nasdaq 100 Index inched up 6.83 points, or 0.5%, to 1,357.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 0.2%, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-capitalization stocks added 0.3%... Volume totaled 1.23G on the NYSE and 1.70G on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Winners bested losers by 19 to 13 on the NYSE and by 18 to 14 on the Nasdaq... Additionally, the August producer price index gained 0.4%, a touch more than projections for a 0.3% rise. The core rate -- which strips out the often-volatile food and energy components -- edged up 0.1% vs. forecasts for a flat reading."
2003-09-12 16:23PDT (19:23EDT) (23:23GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Which comes first? Profits or Jobs? Economy has everything it needs except job creation.
"Consumer spending, fueled by tax cuts and mountains of cash extracted from home equity, remains healthy. Business investment, at least in some areas, is surging. Inventories are as tight as they've ever been. And Washington is opening the fiscal spigot even more, hoping to fight terrorism and boost the economy in one stroke... Slow growth, lack of jobs and deflationary pressures are linked in the minds of most Fed policy-makers. Bernanke argued a week ago that slack in the labor market in particular creates such powerful deflationary forces that the Fed should consider lowering rates even more if the economy can't begin to create jobs... Hiring of temporary workers is up. Self-employment is up. Lay-offs are down... After falling sharply in 2000 and 2001, after-tax profits are up nearly 18% year-over-year... Pay-rolls are down 2.8M since the peak 30 months ago. It now takes just 90 workers to do what 100 did at the beginning of the recession. Unit labor costs are down 1% in the past year. Productivity gains of 4% or more are fattening the bottom line of U.S. corporations... But all the cost-cutting has a down side as well, as 9M unemployed [nearly 10M unemployed and still actively seeking work, another 5M unemployed who have fallen out of the labor force] workers know. And for those 94% [of the labor force] who have a job, wages are barely rising. Over the past year, real weekly wages (adjusted for inflation) are up just 0.5%."
Satellite Tracking of Suspects Requires a Warrant, Court Rules
"The police cannot attach a Global Positioning System tracker to a suspect's vehicle without a warrant, the Washington Supreme Court said in the first such ruling in the nation."
Michael Lind _NY Times_
The Cancun Delusion
"The new cause is the campaign to reduce or eliminate agricultural subsidies in the United States, Europe and Japan, to make room for agricultural exports from poor nations. The alliance between idealists of the left, third world producers and traditional conservative promoters of free trade is equally unprecedented... Agricultural subsidies in the advanced industrial nations ought to be reduced -- but for reasons that have little to do with their impact on developing countries. Created to promote a rural middle class when much of the population still worked in the farm sector, most subsidies are anachronistic now that agribusiness in the advanced countries employs only a tiny percentage of the population. Farm subsidy programs exploit consumers and tax-payers... Many of the inner-city poor of the United States descend from farm laborers and tenant farmers displaced by the mechanization of agriculture in the South a few generations ago. Those who joined the middle class did so because they were able to find work in the expanding industrial and service sectors. But such opportunities are scarce in the developing world."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
As Factory & Tech Jobs Disappear Workers Have Few Options
"In 3 years, Ohio has lost more than 160K factory jobs, representing one-sixth of its total. That is but a small fraction of the 2.7M manufacturing jobs lost nationwide in those 3 years, many of them because of imports. Some economists say that even with a boom all those jobs are not likely to return... In the last 3 years, Stark County, which includes Canton, has lost 3,500 factory jobs, more than 10% of the total. Two years ago in Massillon, just west of Canton, the lone rubber glove factory in the nation shut, moving production to Malaysia and India and throwing 200 people out of work. Last year, Hess Management of Austin, TX, shut the Danner Press printing plant, costing 325 workers their jobs, and 700 steel-workers at Republic Technologies on the east end of town lost their jobs when Republic filed for bankruptcy. This year, an automobile parts company laid off 150 workers, and Hoover, a division of Maytag, 200. Last week, the largest employer in the region, Timken, warned 1,300 workers at 3 ball-bearing plants here that their jobs were in danger unless costs were reduced... Many workers embraced protectionism, with some suggesting a law to bar the United States from importing more goods than it exports. Thomas Briatico, president of Hoover Floorcare, based in North Canton, said all of Hoover's major competitors but one were buying their vacuum cleaners from Asia and Mexico. That foreign competition, Mr. Briatico said, has forced the average retail price of cleaners to drop 10% in 2 years. 'It's put us at a little bit of a competitive disadvantage.', he said. 'In [Red China], they pay their workers 55 cents an hour, and the easiest decision for me would be to go out-source in [Red China]. The tough decision is to stay here. I'm personally concerned about jobs leaving this country.'... W.R. Timken Jr., chairman of Timken, with 5K workers here, is often praised for doing his utmost to keep jobs in Ohio. But he said fierce foreign competition was forcing the company to weigh the future of the 3 ball-bearing plants. 'The truth is unless we can do something with these plants, they won't be globally competitive.', said Mr. Timken, who recently stepped down as chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers... the price of manufacturing goods in the United States has fallen 4% in the last 10 years as the price of other goods has increased 18%... 'If you eliminate manufacturing, which accounts for 65% of private sector R & D, then innovation will decline, and you will see a nation in decline.'..."
Patrice Hill _Washington Times_
August continued retail revival
"last month, boosting retail sales by 0.6% and adding to the strong summer economic revival. But a decline in confidence in recent weeks suggests that consumers are getting spooked by growing joblessness... Worries about jobs are affecting consumer confidence, as shown in a measure of sentiment published by the University of Michigan yesterday... Consumers are flush with cash partly because of $30G in tax cuts that went into effect during the summer quarter and another $88G coming on line next year, he said. They also have stowed away a record $3.1T in savings deposits, some of which was derived from cash-out mortgage refinancings, creating a mountain of reserves that is available to spend, he said... Few businesses say they intend to take on new staff in recent surveys of corporate hiring plans for the fall quarter ó only 12% in a Morgan Stanley business conditions index released this week... 'These geniuses who run corporate America think they'll continue to have an endless supply of free-spending consumers, while at the same time endlessly laying off employees.', said an out-of-work technology employee who dubbed himself the 'endless job searcher' on a Monster.com chat board yesterday."
Norm Matloff _H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring e-News-Letter_
Absurd Fed study of H-1B
"The article mentions the FAIR paper which I cited a few days ago, and newly-released papers by the American Immigration Lawyers Assocation and by Madeline Zavodny at the Atlanta branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. I will not bother here with the AILA paper, since it is so obviously self-serving. It uses the old arguments, e.g. there must be no big problem with H-1B because the Dept. of Labor gets so few complaints. Once again, for the record, in addition to the fact that most potential complainers would not do so, out of fear of retribution or black-listing, complaints to DoL are useless, because DoL's hands are tied, due to the gaping loop-holes in the law. Most under-payment of H-1Bs is FULLY LEGAL. It is NOT an enforcement issue. Hence no complaints. The AILA (actually AILF) also innocently points out that under-paying the H-1Bs is against the law -- when it isn't. So, I will focus here on the Fed study.
I should point out first that the Fed has been a strong, public promoter of the H-1B program. For example, an economist at the Dallas branch wrote an op-ed in support of the 2000 H-1B expansion, and the Boston branch has also been supportive. As many of you know, Fed chair Greenspan has been very supportive of H-1B.
Zavodny's study consists of a statistical regression analysis relating IT wage levels in a given region to the concentration of H-1Bs in that region. Other covariates, such as level of education, age (and even number of Indian immigrants!) are included as explanatory variables as well...
First, if the main issue is whether H-1Bs are under-paid (which Zavodny's remarks in the paper indicate), then one must ask what the point is of doing an INDIRECT, HARD-TO-INTERPRET study like Zavodny's, when there are already so many DIRECT, EASILY-INTERPRETED studies which clearly answer the question of under-payment... We already have a more than ample number of studies on the question of under-payment of H-1Bs. These studies directly answer the question, by actually looking at H-1B salaries and American salaries. This is very direct, and very interpretable. I've cited the main ones before: the UCLA study; my own study; the Cornell study; the INS data; and the National Research Council report. (That last one is about as direct as you can get -- they actually asked employers whether they paid H-1Bs less!) Thus the fact that Zavodny resorted to such a screwy way to study the problem, while ignoring (and not citing!) the direct studies, makes me wonder whether the Fed has a political motivation here...
Second, I am deeply disturbed by the data that Zavodny chose to analyze. She says that the average wage in California for 'computer-related' jobs is $1,300 per week! This right away totally invalidates her study, so it's important to look at how she comes up with that figure. She is using the Current Population Survey data, and the occupation titles she chose from that survey were, according to Zavodny's Table 4, 'computer system analysts and scientists', plus workers in operations research, which is a completely unrelated field. What Zavodny did NOT include was another CPS occupation code -- computer programmers! IOW, she left out the MAIN occupational group. As I said, that alone completely invalidates her study, quite apart from the problems of indirectness and interpretability I cited earlier. (Even inclusion of programmers would still not solve some severe problems)...
her study also found that regions of the country with more H-1Bs had higher IT unemployment rates... employers are admitting that they are having the laid-off Americans train their foreign replacements..."
Madeline Zavodny: The H-1B Program and Its Effects on Information Technology Workers
Eric Lipton, Richard Perez-Pena & Matthew L. Wald _NY Times_
Grid Over-Seers Missed Big Picture as Failures Led to Black-Out
"Twenty-two minutes before North America's biggest black-out, officials at two agencies charged with ensuring the safe and steady flow of power across the Midwest conferred by telephone... Now, weeks after the vast power failure, the significance of that exchange, at 15:48 on August 14, has become clearer. While the 2 agencies charged with monitoring the grid and warding off huge problems were discussing the loss of 2 power lines, there were, in fact, 8 lines down, and others headed for failure... nearly 10 minutes after the black-out had swept from Michigan to Connecticut, monitoring officials in the Midwest were just starting to grasp how far the crisis had spread... In the 65 minutes that a sequence of power line failures built up to a cascading black-out across the Midwest, the Northeast and parts of Canada, these 2 regional agencies took no active steps to stop the progression, largely because they were unable to see the full extent of it... The transcripts show that from 12:22 until at least 15:31, just 39 minutes before the black-out, the attention of Midwest I.S.O.'s monitors was consumed mostly by Cinergy's concerns. Cinergy had lost the use of two major transmission lines south of Indianapolis. The solution, the company and the Midwest I.S.O. agreed, was to take the strain off the remaining lines by shifting power output from one part of the state to another... The first overt sign of trouble in eastern Ohio came at 13:31, when a 597Mwatt unit at FirstEnergy's Eastlake power plant, in the northeast corner of the state, shut down for reasons that are still not known."
Cancun Targets Cotton
"FranÁois Traore, the head of Burkina Faso's National Cotton Producers Union, has been positively beaming, and at center stage, at the World Trade Organization's meeting in Canc˙n. He is part of the West African delegation that has managed, much to the chagrin of United States trade negotiators, to make cotton a test case of the WTO's commitment to a level playing field for trade in agricultural goods... The fact that cotton is the only commodity to be singled out by the WTO at Canc˙n may -- as Washington certainly believes -- have to do with the fact that Europeans grow very little cotton. The United States is the principal culprit, and there is an element of ganging up on Uncle Sam at play... America's lavish hand-outs to its cotton farmers, which can reach $3G a year, hurt some of the world's poorest nations by driving world cotton prices below the cost of production."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
Bush Seeks to Expand Access to Private Data
"For months, President Bush's advisers have assured a skittish public that law-abiding Americans have no reason to fear the long reach of the anti-terrorism law known as the Patriot Act because its most intrusive measures would require a judge's sign-off [despite centuries-long record of judges issuing warrants on mere suspicion rather than PROBABLE cause]. But in a plan announced this week to expand counter-terrorism powers, President Bush adopted a very different tack. In a 3-point presidential plan that critics are already dubbing Patriot Act II, Mr. Bush is seeking broad new authority to allow federal agents -- without the approval of a judge or even a federal prosecutor -- to demand private records and compel testimony. Mr. Bush also wants to expand the use of the death penalty in crimes like terrorist financing, and he wants to make it tougher for defendants in such cases to be freed on bail before trial... The Justice Department used administrative sub poenas more than 3,900 times in a variety of cases in 2001, the last year for which data was available. The sub poenas are already authorized in more than 300 kinds of investigations, Mr. Corallo said."
2003-09-14 09:24PDT (11:24EDT) (15:25GMT)
WTO talks running out of time
"The trade talks on Mexico's Caribbean coast have been hit by a North-South split on issues ranging from rich nations' massive farm subsidies to many developing countries' refusal to negotiate new foreign investment..."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Good Economy. Bad Job Market. Huh?
"We waited for years for productivity to accelerate, and now... that day has finally arrived. Productivity is soaring, holding out the promise of rising prosperity. Unfortunately, now we're waiting for the prosperity to kick in... Normally, a spike in productivity is accompanied by an even greater spike in demand. Simply put, productivity rises when workers produce more and sell more each year, and do so without putting in extra hours. The production part is working just fine. The demand, however, is lacking. That, in turn, is having nasty repercussions for jobs and incomes. The increase in productivity has allowed many employers to cut pay-rolls or workers' hours... the nation's private-sector employers are behaving as if they were caught in a recession, which they very well may be if they continue to act this way. Unable to sell all they can produce, they have reduced by 1.1% the total number of hours worked since the start of the recovery in 2001 November [uhh, the end of the recession that started 2001 March, and troughed 2001 April, according to NBER], and they have put a lid on raises for most of the nation's 108M job-holders. Wages are rising, but hours are disappearing and the combination leaves weekly pay barely keeping up with inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics... The productivity drought ended in 1995, and over the next 8 years, the average annual productivity growth rate doubled, really surging in the current recovery. Surges are normal in recoveries. As demand rises, employers hold back on hiring, squeezing more work from their existing staffs until they feel confident that the demand will last and strengthen. This time, they are holding back more than ever, still haunted by the collapse of the bubble economy and full of doubts about the sustainability of demand... Rarely in the past has productivity held up in the absence of robust business investment, which is certainly absent now. What saves the day are the delayed productivity gains from constantly devising new ways to use the huge earlier investment in technology, says Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 'It is as if thousands of invisible factories were built all over America, not made of bricks and mortar but of business processes.', he said. 'Now these factories are being pressed into action.'"
Amy Kover _NY Times_
L-3 Wins Big in the War on Terror
"United States Customs and Border Protection officials estimate that of the 16M containers that flow through United States ports annually, fewer than 10% are X-rayed or opened by hand... To improve the process, L-3 has introduced an X-ray device that sells for $1.2M and can run over the tops of cargo trucks to detect explosives buried inside... The company can also provide airports or ports with a conveyor belt that takes three-dimensional images of materials in each container. If a bomb is detected, the system can run algorithms to determine the type of explosive... But according to Booz Allen [Hamilton], port owners, which include city and state authorities and private companies, remain hesitant to invest large sums in security systems that would slow the flow of cargo and cut profits. Federal government financing is limited, too. Nearly 200 private company and state and local governments must share $170M in port security grant money from the T.S.A. this year. (By contrast, officials at Los Angeles International Airport have been told by the federal government that it will receive $264M to update security over 3 or 4 years.)... L-3's total investment, excluding outlays related to the T.S.A. contract, has been less than $70M."
Stephen S. Hall _NY Times_
Is Buddhism Good for Your Health? (4 pages)
"In the Spring of 1992, out of the blue, the fax machine in Richard Davidson's office at the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison spit out a letter from Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Davidson, a Harvard-trained neuro-scientist, was making a name for himself studying the nature of positive emotion, and word of his accomplishments had made it to northern India. The exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists was writing to offer the minds of his monks -- in particular, their meditative prowess -- for scientific research... Over the past 10 years, a number of Buddhist monks, led by Matthieu Ricard, a French-born monk with a Ph.D. in molecular biology, have made a series of visits from northern India and other South Asian countries to Davidson's lab in Madison. Ricard and his peers have worn a Medusa-like tangle of 256-electrode EEG nets while sitting on the floor of a little booth and responding to visual stimuli. They have spent two to 3 hours at a time in a magnetic resonance imaging machine, trying to meditate amid the clatter and thrum of the brain-imaging machinery... Davidson noted in passing that in one visiting monk, activation in several regions of his left prefrontal cortex -- an area of the brain just behind the forehead that recent research has associated with positive emotion -- was the most intense seen in about 175 experimental subjects... Paul Ekman of the University of California at San Francisco and Stephen Kosslyn of Harvard have begun their own studies of the mental capabilities of monks... Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who has pioneered work in the health benefits of meditation... meditation reduces markers of stress like heart rate and perspiration. This research became the basis for the 'relaxation response' popularized by Prof. Herbert Benson of Harvard in the 1970's. Buddhist practice, however, emphasizes enduring changes in mental activity, not just short-term results... Jonathan D. Cohen, an expert on attention and cognitive control at Princeton, has been intrigued by reports that certain Buddhist adepts can maintain focus for extended periods. 'Our experience -- and the laboratory evidence is abundant -- is that humans have a limited capacity for attention.', he says. 'When we try to sustain attention for longer periods of time, like air-traffic controllers have to do, we consider it incredibly effortful and stressful. Buddhism is all about the ability to direct attention flexibly, and they talk about this state of sustained and focused attention that is pleasant, no longer stressful.'... [Meeting] Participants include main-stream scientists like Eric Lander, a leader of the human genome project; Cohen, a prominent researcher into the neural mechanisms of moral and economic decision-making; and Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel-Prize-winning Princeton economist who has pioneered research into the psychology of financial decision-making... Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser, researchers at Ohio State University, for example, have done a series of studies showing that stress typically impairs immune function... Matthieu Ricard explained...'the Buddha always said that one should not accept his teachings simply out of respect for him, but rediscover their truth through our own experience...'... Davidson hypothesizes that a component of a person's emotional makeup reflects the relative strength, or asymmetry, of activity between two sides of the prefrontal cortex -- the left side, which Davidson's work argues is associated with positive emotion, and the right side, where heightened activity has been associated with anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. His research group has conducted experiments on infants and the elderly, amateur meditators and Eastern adepts, in an attempt to define a complex neural circuit that connects the prefrontal cortex to other brain structures like the amygdala, which is the seat of fear, and the anterior cingulate, which is associated with 'conflict-monitoring'. Some experiments have also shown that greater left-sided prefrontal activation is associated with enhanced immunological activity by natural killer cells and other immune markers... the meditators who showed the greatest increase in prefrontal activity after training showed a correspondingly more robust ability to churn out antibodies in response to receiving a flu vaccine."
John Pomfret _Washington Post_
Chinese Fight a New Kind of Land War
"Today, only the state owns the land, but peasants and city residents have [government granted privileges] to own buildings and lease land. These limited property rights have become a flash point at which people are confronting authorities, as well as a platform for unprecedented civic activism. Citizens groups are accusing local governments and government-backed developers of expropriating farmland to enrich themselves, failing to offer a fair market price for buildings and homes they condemn and routinely violating contracts on the size and quality of new apartments."
Laura Secor _Boston Globe_
That sinking feeling: The view that America is on the skids i son the rise. But does the new declinism tell us anything about how we live?
"At present, both impulses -- triumphalist and pessimistic, chest-beating and self-lacerating -- are on the upsurge. So too, then, declinism... But barely had Kennedy published _The Rise and Fall_ when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Japanese economy entered a terminal recession, and the United States emerged stronger than ever..."
Dale Buss _Detroit Michigan News_
Metro Detroit businesses fight government property grabs: Michigan tests limits of using condemnation
"Condemnation trends * The Michigan Supreme Court's 1981 ruling in the Poletown case set a precedent cited all over the country for allowing homes and businesses to be taken by the government solely for the benefit of another business. Property in Detroit was taken to make way for a General Motors plant. * Some Michigan appellate and trial courts have since criticized government takings of property for private parties, while others have upheld such actions. * A 2002 Michigan law strengthens the ability of local governments and redevelopment agencies to condemn land designated as blighted and sell it to private developers. It exempts industrial, farm and rail-road properties. * For many years, courts rubber-stamped any use of eminent domain. But from 1998-2002, courts rejected condemnations for private use or overturned blight designations 37 out of 91 times (40%)... Paul Smoke's family built the northern bridge to Grosse Ile over the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River in 1912, when his great-great grandfather, an early competitor of Stroh Brewery, began raising draft horses on a farm on the island's northern tip. The family has owned and operated the bridge ever since, with barely a murmur of public objection. Now, however, Grosse Ile Bridge Co. faces a threat from local government officials who are determined to use their power of eminent domain to take over the bridge. They say the grab is defensive, meant to protect the Township of Grosse Ile while the free county-owned bridge to the south undergoes 2 years of repairs -- and to pre-empt other scenarios that might close the Smokes' right-of-way, 1 of 2 bridges to the island... For example, while Dearborn is proposing $27,500 for Price's fixtures and moving costs, the actual cost of re-fixturing and moving to a new space -- even right across Michigan Avenue -- would run to more than $300,000, he says... Some drivers were angered when the company raised the one-way toll by 25 cents in 1999 to $1.25 (though the price is as low as 75 cents through volume purchase of tokens). And errant freighters wiped out a span or two in 1965 and again in 1992. The 3K-foot-long bridge is more convenient for commuters to Detroit than its county-owned counterpart to the south, and substantial emergency traffic uses Smoke's bridge. He also has been preparing to boost service on the bridge, which carries about one-third of the island's traffic, when the county begins to repair its bridge next year. 'I've had plans to build a temporary 4-lane plaza.', Smoke says. 'We did the same thing the last time the county repaired its bridge in 1995.'"
2003-09-15 06:19PDT (09:19EDT) (13:19GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US August industrial production up 0.1%
"Industrial production in the United States rose 0.1% in August, boosted by a 1.9% increase in utility output, the Federal Reserve reported Monday. Capacity utilization of the nation's mines, utilities and factories rose 0.1 percentage point to 74.6%... Production of high technology products surged 2.3%."
2003-09-15 07:04PDT (10:04EDT) (14:04GMT)
Industrial production inched higher in August
"Industrial production edged up just 0.1% in August, restrained by weakness in manufacturing, especially for big-ticket goods such as automobiles. The Federal Reserve said Monday the small increase in industrial activity came after a revised 0.7% advance in July, even stronger than the 0.5% first reported... The percentage of production capacity in use held steady at 74.6%, the Fed said."
Elizabeth Becker _NY Times_
Poorer Countries Pull Out of Talks Over World Trade
"delegates from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia walked out, accusing wealthy nations of failing to offer sufficient compromises on agriculture and other issues... Wealthy nations had hoped an agreement at the five-day talks in this resort city would help fend off a new wave of protectionism, especially in the United States, where manufacturing jobs have been disappearing by the tens of thousands. Already, questions about the benefits of unfettered world trade have infected the presidential campaign. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the director general of the W.T.O... American negotiators agreed to accept a proposal they had rejected last December to give the world's poorest countries access to life-saving medicines. That agreement -- which is unaffected by the setback today -- breathed life into the trade negotiations and demonstrated that the United States would join Europe in working out a compromise over initial objections from their pharmaceutical firms. [Those 2 sentences say more by what they don't explicitly say.]... If a new agreement is reached, the World Bank has estimated, global incomes would increase by as much as $520G by 2015, and 144M people would be lifted out of poverty... Several delegates said they walked out today rather than negotiate new trade rules covering investment or government procurement, in part because they feared the new rules would be too intrusive and limit a country's freedom to regulate the environment or workers' rights in the face of international trade laws protecting foreign investors. [That is yet another sentence that stops short of telling the story clearly.]..."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
Hollywood Faces On-Line Piracy, but It Looks Like an Inside Job
"The film cost Universal $150M to make and distribute, but anyone with a fast Internet connection, a big hard drive and plenty of time could see it free. Hollywood is desperately worried that it will soon face the widespread illegal copying... According to a new study published by AT&T Labs [Lorrie Cranor, Patrick McDaniel, Simon Byers & Dave Kormann, and Eric Cronin of the University of Pennsylvania], the prime source of unauthorized copies of new movies on file-sharing networks appears to be movie industry insiders, not consumers... Nearly 80% of some 300 copies of popular movies found by the researchers on on-line file sharing networks 'appeared to have been leaked by industry insiders', and nearly all showed up on-line before their official consumer DVD release date, suggesting that consumer DVD copying represents a relatively minor factor compared with insider leaks... The insiders might be workers in production or promotion, or even Academy Awards screeners, to whom the studios send thousands of advance copies of DVDs each year... In a recent survey of 12- to 20-year-olds published by [Forrester Research], 20% said that they had down-loaded a feature film... Solid figures are hard to come by, but estimates in recent studies put the daily movie down-loads between 350K and 400K... The person who put ["Hulk"] on-line, Kerry Gonzalez, had received an early copy from a friend at an advertising agency. He pleaded guilty to copyright infringement in June."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
IBM Families Suffer Birth Defects
"They were born with the disease, epidermolysis bullosa. Its appalling effect has been comparable to being burned every day of one's life... There is a long list of young people and children who have suffered tragic birth defects -- spina bifida, missing or deformed limbs, a missing kidney, a missing vagina, blindness -- whose parents (in some cases both parents) worked for I.B.M. and are now suing. Plaintiffs' lawyers contend there are higher than normal rates of birth defects among I.B.M. employees who have worked with the toxic chemicals that are common to semiconductor manufacturing."
Pankaj Mishra _NY Times_
India's Muslim Time Bomb
"the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party routinely describes India as besieged by Muslim terrorists backed by Pakistan and based there or in the disputed valley of Kashmir, where Indian security forces have fought a Muslim insurgency for more than a decade. This time, however, Mr. Advani's accusation was swiftly contradicted by the Bombay police. The 4 people arrested this month in connection with the attacks were Indian Muslims, part of a new group called the Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force. They may have received logistical support from a Pakistani militant outfit with links to Al Qaeda, but they were Indian citizens... The radical Islamist movements that spread so quickly in the last decade in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had heretofore left untouched India's 140M Muslims, even as the Hindu nationalists rose to power in India... they comprise just 13% of India's population..."
Michael Schrage _CIO_
Don't Trust Your Code to Strangers: If you really want an effective implementation, don't out-source software development.
"XP's champions embraced their heresies only after painful failures with status quo development practices. They care enormously about implementation. I like XP because it represents a gutsy and rigorous alternative to the academic development pap I was exposed to in school and the desperate, ad hoc and the why-don't-you-please-shut-up-and-follow-the-process managerial perversions I observed in the 'real world'... This difficulty in cheating or gaming XP is, I think, one of the main reasons why so many software development organizations resist it. The methodology is almost too demanding and too transparent; there's little room for developers or -- just as important, their clients -- to hide... Out-sourcing software development effectively means you don't give a damn about the methodology: You just want to get what you ordered with the right features and functionality at the right price and schedule... The economics of out-sourcing preclude the iterative interactions that give developers the knowledge -- and empathy -- of real user needs as opposed to what users say they need. This creates the double-barreled problem of software that not only lacks essential functionality but... becomes both more difficult and more expensive to deploy."
Eric Freeman _Center for Economic & Policy Research_
Barriers to Foreign Professionals Working in the United States
Pamela M. Prah _StateLine_
Contracting Out IT Jobs Vexes States
"While farming out high-tech work may be cheaper and more efficient, state officials are leery of possible voter anger about losing state jobs to foreign companies, industry and government officials said at a recent Washington D.C. luncheon... State government IT market amounts to about $50G a year... Law-makers in nearly a dozen states have introduced legislation that would restrict state agencies from using foreign companies for IT... George Newstrom, secretary of technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia [said] 'We have political leaders right now that have great angst about any out-sourcing whatsoever in state government.'..."
2003-09-16 09:12PDT (12:12EDT) (16:12GMT)
Steve Goldstein _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
German sentiment & US stocks lift
"European markets were trending higher on Tuesday, boosted by a stronger-than-predicted indicator of sentiment in Germany, the eurozone's largest economy, and gains in the U.S. market. The German DAX Xetra 30 index rose 1.3% to 3,560 and the French CAC 40 index gained 1.2% to 3,386. The FTSE 100 in London was also higher, boosted by strong Tesco earnings... The euro slumped to $1.1168 vs. the U.S. dollar and plummeted vs. the yen to 129.85 yen amid yen strength around the world... Germany was boosted after the ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany rose to +60.9 points in September, up from 52.5 in August and ahead of expectations for a reading near 58. The ZEW measures 307 analysts and institutional investor expectations on medium-range expectations concerning economic activity and capital markets."
2003-09-16 09:41PDT (12:41EDT) (16:41GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US CPI up 0.3% for August
Read the full report
CPI home page for access to historical data, etc.
"Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the so-called core CPI rate was up 0.1% on the month after a 0.2% gain in July."
Ben Feller _AP_/_Tallahassee Democrat_
US #1 in School Spending but Not Results
"The United States spends more public and private money on education than other major countries, but its performance doesn't measure up in areas ranging from high-school graduation rates to test scores in math, reading and science, a new report shows... Barry McGaw, education director for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which produced the annual review of industrialized nations. The United States spent $10,240 per student from elementary school through college in 2000, according to the report. The average was $6,361 among more than 25 nations. The range stretched from less than $3K per student in Turkey, Mexico, the Slovak Republic and Poland to more than $8K per student in Denmark, Norway, Austria and Switzerland. The report cited Australia, Finland, Ireland, Korea and the United Kingdom as examples of OECD nations that have moderate spending on primary and lower secondary education but high levels of performance by 15-year-olds in key subject areas... Federal education spending has grown by $11G since President Bush took office, Paige said, but that includes spending beyond the first 12 grades."
Penelope Patsuris _Forbes_/_abc News_
Best Places to Go to Prison
"Eglin is the original 'Club Fed', nicknamed as such back in the 1980s when prisoners were allowed to wear their own clothes and even go home to have dinner with their families... Nellis is one camp that is often requested by white-collar criminals because it's the only minimum-security facility on the West Coast that's freestanding -- or, in other words, that isn't located alongside a higher-security prison... Perched amid the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, Morgantown is one of the most picturesque camps in the system... Otisville was designed primarily with the Orthodox Jewish community in mind, although it is not officially designated as a Jewish facility."
Audrey Hudson _Washington Times_
Administrative sub poena proposal faces strong resistance
_Kansas City Star_
Quad Cities Times
"Representative Tom Feeney, Florida Republican and the bill's author... Critics say the measure would remove judicial oversight, and bypass judges and grand juries. 'To just start allowing government to do these things on its own, you've removed a very important safe-guard from absolute exercise of power by the government -- it's a very fundamental change.', said former representative Bob Barr, Georgia Republican... David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said the government has been given too many powers under the original USA Patriot Act, and that this proposal will lead to even greater intrusion on civil liberties... 'As extensive as the laundry list of powers in the Patriot Act is, they still have a long list they are going after, and they will bring these things out piecemeal.', Mr. Barr said. 'They think the chances of securing passage are better if they do it by bits and pieces than if by one omnibus bill.'"
Don van Natta & Timothy L. O'Brien _NY Times_
Flow of Saudis' Cash to Hamas Is Scrutinized
"Nearly a year ago, Khalid Mishaal, a senior leader of Hamas, the militant Palestinian organization, attended a charitable fund-raising conference [in Riyadh] where he talked at length with Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto Saudi ruler. According to a summary of the meeting written by a Hamas official, Mr. Mishaal and other Hamas representatives thanked their Saudi hosts for continuing 'to send aid to the people through the civilian and popular channels, despite all the American pressures exerted on them'... At least 50% of Hamas's current operating budget of about $10M a year comes from people in Saudi Arabia, according to estimates by American law enforcement officials, American diplomats in the Middle East and Israeli officials... hundreds of millions of dollars...flow into Saudi charities each year, officials said... Saudi officials say their government's support for Palestinian causes goes solely to the Palestinian Authority, about $80M to $100M a year."
Eric Schmitt _NY Times_
Soft Economy Aids Army Recruiting Effort
"The slumping American economy has proved to be a boon to the Army's efforts to recruit the 100K enlisted soldiers it says it needs this year to fill its active-duty and reserve ranks, senior Army officials say, so far relieving concerns that the turmoil in Iraq could crimp new enlistments... the Army recruits more active-duty and Reserve troops than all the other services combined -- 73,800 active-duty and 26,400 Reserve soldiers this year -- and it is now fielding about 90% of the 180K troops in Iraq and Kuwait... The Army has raised signing bonuses to as much as $20K for badly needed positions like intelligence analysts. It has also increased college aid. And it has nearly doubled its advertising budget, to $227M, in the last 4 years... Next month it is rolling out a 15-month enlistment option (the current minimum length for a tour is two years) aimed at college students, an increasingly important target group... the Army needs more than 70K new recruits a year to replenish its ranks... Army National Guard officials said this week that the Guard would probably fall short of its goal of recruiting 62K soldiers this year. But because fewer Guard forces will leave this year than had been anticipated, the Guard still expects to maintain its overall troop level at 350K."
_Sacramento Business Journal_
"Next in line for promotion" may be next out the door
_Dayton Business Journal_
_San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal_
"Challenger Gray says job-cutting employers are increasingly targeting managers and executives who have less than 24 months on the job. It is a strategy that could lead to weakened succession, higher long-term costs resulting from increased recruiting cost, disruptions in customer service and a disconcerted work force, said John Challenger, CEO of the out-placement firm."
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
former Bank of India broker accused of making illegal trades
"Now, meanwhile, the investigation continues into mutual fund abuses. New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer announced civil and criminal charges against Theodore Sihpol, a former broker at Bank of America, for allegedly helping a hedge fund make illegal trades. New York and federal officials say his arrest is just the beginning in this matter, Lou. And the NASD fined Morgan Stanley $2M for sales contests among its brokers to sell Morgan Stanley's own mutual funds --Lou..."
2003-09-16 17:45PDT (20:45EDT) (2003-09-17 00:45GMT)
Allen Wen _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo's Nikkei cracks 11K level for 1st time in 14 months
"The Nikkei Average rose 179 points, or 1.7%, to 11,066.35 in early trade, while the broader Topix jumped 1.8% to 1,080."
2003-09-17 06:49PDT (09:49EDT) (13:49GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Housing starts down 4% to 1.82M: Construction stays strong
"Construction of new houses fell about 4% in August, pulling back from a 17-year high in July, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Housing starts eased to an annualized pace of 1.82M last month from a revised 1.89M in July, the government agency said."
census bureau report (pdf)
2003-09-17 11:47PDT (14:47EDT) (18:47GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
A controversial trend in the IT industry makes its presence known at New York's PC Expo
"Though it's on the out-skirts of New York's massive PC Expo, it takes up nearly a third of the expo's total floor space at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, a metaphor for its growing impact on the IT industry. It's OutsourceWorld, and it's only getting bigger... Needless to say, this development is unwelcome news for [hundreds of] thousands of U.S. IT workers, who blame off-shore out-sourcing for a nagging lack of IT jobs and stalling wage growth... acknowledged that the flow of jobs off-shore was causing real pain to thousands of workers in the short term... 'The problem is figuring out how to take displaced workers and help them to do something more valuable for the economy.', Montgomery said."
2003-09-17 13:47PDT (16:47EDT) (20:47GMT)
Ex-Merrill bankers surrender to FBI, charged with fraud in Enron deals
"Robert Furst, Daniel Bayly and James Brown -- were indicted on allegations that Merrill helped Enron artificially boost its year-end 1999 financial status by agreeing to serve as a temporary buyer of electricity-generating barges moored off the coast of Nigeria. The deal also gave executives 'unwarranted bonuses', the indictment claims... '[They allegedly] participated in this illegal scheme, along with co-conspirators Andrew S. Fastow, Enron's then-chief financial officer, and Daniel Boyle, then-vice president of Global Finance at Enron.', according to a statement from the Justice Department."
Milt Freudenheim _NY Times_
Many California Employers Face Health Care Mandate
"19% of Californians are uninsured, compared with 15% nationally, according to federal census figures. [The national rate in 1940 was 90%.] State business groups said the measure would cost their members billions of dollars, undermine jobs and economic recovery, and drive some companies out of the state. The new measure, coming on top of recent increases in health care premiums and workers' compensation costs, adds up to 'a train wreck of circumstances that is forcing small businesses to make choices such as moving to Arizona or Nevada where these costs are comparatively low', said Martyn B. Hopper, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business... The California Chamber of Commerce said the measure would cost $7.2G annually, with employers paying 80%, or $5.7G, and employees contributing $1.5G."
Tom Shanker _NY Times_
US Is Speeding Up Plan for Creating a New Iraqi Army
"plans for 40K troops in the field by next year in a program that brings back and retrains mid-level officers from the old army to run boot camps for recruits... But the European Union, which accounts for 20% of the world's wealth, has offered only $250M..."
Kurt Eichenwald _NY Times_
Merrill Reaches Deal with US Prosecutors in Enron Scams
"Merrill Lynch & Company, in an agreement with prosecutors that let it avoid criminal charges over its role in the Enron debacle, promised today not to engage in business deals -- even ones that appear legal -- that it believes might be used to mislead investors about a company's financial condition. The Wall Street firm also agreed to allow the government to monitor portions of its business for the next 18 months."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
Study: IT worker unemployment at unprecedented levels: about 150K IT positions were lost in 2001 and 2002
high-lights of report
full report (pdf)
"Unemployment for IT workers reached 6% this year... foreign-born workers now account for a fifth of all IT employees in the U.S. The report also found that the percentage of laid-off foreign-born IT workers is slightly higher than for U.S.-born workers. The study, which was presented at a congressional forum today by the Washington-based non-profit group Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST)... IT unemployment rates were as low as 1.2% in 1997, shooting up to 4.3% in 2002... The IT labor force grew from 719K jobs in 1983 to 2.5M at its peak in 2000."
William Safire _NY Times_
The Senate Says No to Increased Media Consolidation
"The Senate answered this arrogance yesterday by voting, 55 to 40, for Senator Byron Dorgan's resolution to disapprove the FCC's green light for power-grabbing. Though a House majority would agree, the GOP leadership there declared the Senate bill 'dead on arrival' and will block a vote... But thanks to the canny Alaskan Ted Stevens, the roll-back of the Powell abomination will appear in the Senate appropriations bill for the Commerce, Justice and State Departments. It is already in the House bill funding those departments, and Democrats will not let it be stripped out behind closed doors in conference. Thus even restraint of cross-ownership of news-papers and TV -- which those of us in diversity's ranks thought a lost cause -- may be carried along in the wave of resentment against the 45%-of-TV-audience penetrators."
Justin Bachman _San Jose Mercury News_/_AP_
Business Water Cooler Stories
"August numbers from the Labor Department found a 6.1% unemployment rate, or abour 8.9M people out of work. But in its analysis of other monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. found the real unemployment rate was 9.1%, including those who want work but have stopped looking. Also, the BLS found a surge in August - to 232K - of people who called themselves self-employed."
Lee Davidson _Deseret News_
Orrin Hatch says foreigners didn't take US jobs, that high-tech jobs are hard to fill: joblessness is high
"Three years ago, senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT, persuaded Congress to open the flood-gates to foreign workers seeking high-tech jobs. On Tuesday, he urged Americans not to blame them for recent high unemployment rates in such fields. But the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE-USA] did anyway, in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Hatch chairs. 'The current levels of engineering unemployment (which reached a record 7% in the first quarter)... are being exacerbated by the continuing reliance of many employers on foreign-born professionals admitted under the H-1B and other temporary work-permit programs.', said IEEE president-elect John Steadman."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
IT worker unemployment at unprecedented levels: about 150K positions were lost in 2001 & 2002, about two-thirds of them in programming
"Unemployment for IT workers reached 6% this year, an 'unprecedented' level for a profession that was once a sure path to a well-paying job, according to a new study that also found that foreign-born workers now account for a fifth of all IT employees in the U.S. The report also found that the percentage of laid-off foreign-born IT workers is slightly higher than for U.S.-born workers. The study, which was presented at a congressional forum today by the Washington-based nonprofit group Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST), affirms what IT managers have seen in response to help-wanted ads... IT unemployment rates were as low as 1.2% in 1997, shooting up to 4.3% in 2002. But the overall number of IT jobs has seen remarkable growth, tripling in the past 20 years, according to the CPST, which conducts labor force and educational research for a range of scientific organizations and companies. The IT labor force grew from 719K jobs in 1983 to 2.5M at its peak in 2000."
2003-09-17 18:21PDT (2003-09-17 21:21EDT) (2003-09-18 00:21GMT)
David Callaway _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
NYSE board now needs to finish cleaning house after Grasso resignation
"Now that Dick Grasso has been sacrificed on the altar of executive pay reform, the New York Stock Exchange's board of directors has some serious explaining to do... Grasso's $140M pay package... How much money Grasso is due to walk into the sunset with is nowhere near as important as how he was allowed to make it... Grasso will surely be remembered over the next few days as a major force for good at the exchange during his 36 years working there and his 8 years at the helm... But long-term, history will peg him as one of the lasting images of the greed and corruption..."
2003-09-18 03:01PDT (06:01EDT) (10:01GMT)
Margaret Steen _San Jose Mercury News_
Tech's abuse of H-1B visas falls 75% in 2002
"The number of H-1B visas issued to workers in the technology industry dropped nearly 75% from 2001 to 2002, according to a new government report... The number of H-1B visas for initial employment in technology industries fell from 105,692 in 2001 to 27,199 in 2002, according to an annual report on the program released this month by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics. The percentage of all H-1B visas issued to tech workers also declined, from 52.5% in 2001 to 26.3% in 2002."
2003-09-18 05:34PDT (08:34EDT) (12:34GMT)
Mike Maynard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Averaged US unemployment compensation insurance claims at 2-month high
"The 4-week average for first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose for a fourth straight week, climbing by 2K to 410,750... Initial claims in the most recent week fell by 29K to 399K after rising in each of the previous 4 weeks. Continuing claims also rose to the highest level since mid-July at 3.64M."
2003-09-18 06:44PDT (09:44EDT) (13:44GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims inch higher
"The 4-week average for continuing claims gained 11,250 to 3.64M. The insured unemployment rate - the percentage of covered workers receiving unemployment checks - stayed at 2.9%... The continuing claims figures do not include some 800K workers receiving federal benefits, which are available to workers who have exhausted their state benefits, typically after 6 months."
2003-09-18 10:18PDT (13:18EDT) (17:18GMT)
Alorie Gilbert _ZDnet_/_CNET_
Labor activists picket out-sourcing event
"A group of about 50 labor organizers and out-of-work techies gathered at 08:30PDT on Tuesday in front of the Hyatt Regency hotel here, where conference organizer Brain-storm Group [don't they call that epilepsy?] is holding its Nearshore and Off-shore Out-sourcing Conference this week. The one-hour demonstration was organized by a chapter of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, based in San Jose... About 250 local business-people are attending the conference this week, which is double the number from 2 years ago..."
2003-09-18 10:52PDT (13:52EDT) (17:52GMT)
Luisa Beltran _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Warner Time board drops AOL from Name
US Job Satisfaction Hits Record Low
"Less than half of all Americans say they are satisfied with their jobs -- the highest level of discontent since the survey was first conducted in 1995. The decline in job satisfaction is found among workers of all ages, across all income brackets and regions... The survey is based on a representative sample of 5K U.S. households, conducted in 2003 July for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup. NFO is one of TNS group of companies... only about 1 in 3 is content with wages... The largest decline in overall job satisfaction - from 60.9% in 1995 to 47.2% today - occurred among householders aged 35-44. This age group was once the most satisfied, but is now second to last. The second largest decline took place among householders age 45-54, with the satisfaction level dropping from 57.3% to 46.1%... With only 43.2% of householders claiming to be satisfied with their current job versus 59.7% in 1995, residents of the West South Central region are among the least satisfied in the nation... Only 20.0% claimed they were satisfied [with promotion policies], down from 23.4% in 1995... Only 20.1% claimed to be satisfied with their company's [bonus] policies... Only 29.3% claimed to be satisfied with [educational & job training programs]."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Senate Panel Votes to Let Companies Cut Pension Investments
"Senate Finance Committee voted yesterday to give companies a break on their pension requirements, which would save them about $60G over the next 3 years, according to a new government analysis. America's pension funds now have a total deficit of about $400G -- a record -- and unless the rules governing pension financing are eased, many companies will have to start making large contributions to close the gap... A far more modest pension bill, which would last two years and save companies an estimated $25.5G, was introduced yesterday in House committee... This year, companies are expected to pay $65.5G into their pension funds, compared with $6.4G in 2000, as contributions covered by stock market gains in the 1990's were wiped out. Next year, without legislative relief, the companies will have to pay about $125.3G, according to the analysis. If the Senate bill becomes law, companies would still have to pay $103.5G next year to keep their pension plans legal... For 3 years, it would allow companies to alter a crucial interest rate used in their calculations; the new rate would make the pension values look smaller. That, in turn, would lead to smaller pension contributions... Steven Kandarian, executive director for the agency that did the projections, said he feared that by easing the demands on companies, the bill would put pension plans at risk."
Katie Hafner _NY Times_
"Theirs is a down-loading culture. A few clicks of a mouse bring them not just music, but movies, games, and instant communication as well. Legality seems beside the point as they click their way through licensing agreements, impatient for the software at the other end."
The Gateses Get Something Right for a Change: Smaller Schools
"The small-schools movement got a big boost yesterday, when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would provide 7 non-profit organizations across the city with $51.2M, with the aim of creating 67 new schools along those lines... National data on small schools shows that they tend to be quieter and safer, with fewer drop-outs and higher graduation rates."
Stanley Fish _NY Times_
"what percentage of the university's operating costs do you guess are covered by public funds?... the figure is just 25% and heading downward -- and add that in some states the figure has dipped below 10%... tuition covers only 26%."
Catherine Valenti _Hispanic Business_/_abc News_
Would $3K Help You Find a Job?
"The plan, as it's proposed now, would work like this: Individuals who are receiving unemployment [compensation insurance benefits] and are identified by their state as likely to exhaust those benefits would be able to get up to $3K to help purchase services such as job training and employment counseling or support services like child care, transportation or housing assistance. People whose unemployment benefits had expired within the previous 180 days would also be eligible for such an account..."
Malcomb Daniels _Birmingham Alabama News_
City layers deny land grab is for Wal-Mart
"Lawyer Greg Morris on Wednesday filed a 31-page motion asking a judge to dismiss a federal law-suit that seeks to block the city from using eminent domain to acquire residential land that the city says needs redeveloping because of blight. The 9 parcels in question, amounting to about 10 acres, are part of a 400-acre site near Interstate 65 and U.S. 31 where Colonial Properties Trust plans to build an 800K-square-foot shopping center anchored by WM."
1999 June & 2003-09-18
Alexander Cockburn & Jeffrey St. Clair _CounterPunch_
The Fire Last Time: Wesley Clark & Waco
"Anne Richards asked to consult with knowledgeable military personnel. Her request went to the US Army base at Fort Hood, where the commanding officer of the US Army's III corps referred her to the Cavalry Division of the III Corps, whose commander at the time was Wesley Clark. Subsequent congressional enquiry records that Richards met with Wesley Clark's number two, the assistant division commander, who advised her on military equipment that might be used in a subsequent raid. Clark's man, at Richard's request, also met with the head of the Texas National Guard. Two senior Army officers subsequently travelled to a crucial April 14 meeting in Washington, DC with Attorney General Janet Reno and Justice Department and FBI officials in which the impending April 19 attack on the compound was reviewed... Ultimately tanks from Fort Hood were used in the final catastrophic assault... on April 19. [The federal government continues to contend that Clark had nothing to do with the plot to murder the Davidians.]"
2003-09-18 22:00PDT (2003-09-19 01:00EDT) (2003-09-19 05:00GMT)
Joseph Farah _World Net Daily_
Why Wesley Clark is dangerous
"Clark is raw ambition personified... It was Clark, once again, at the center of the Waco massacre. He was in charge at Fort Hood and was only too happy to cooperate with Attorney General Janet Reno in providing the armor and personnel needed for the military-style assault on the Branch Davidian church."
2003-09-19 13:44PDT (16:44EDT) (21:44GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks soften on triple-witch Friday: Indices pause at highs but hold onto weekly gains
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 14 points Friday, or 0.1%, to 9,644. For the week, the index rose 173 points, or 1.8%, from 9,471. The Nasdaq fell 3.8 points, or 0.2%, to 1,905. The tech-heavy index rose 50 points on the week, or 2.7% from last Friday's close of 1,855. The S&P 500 dropped 3, or 0.3%, to 1,036. It was up 18 points, or 1.8%, over its 1,018 level from last week... Volume was about average, with 1.45G shares changing hands on the NYSE and 1.84G on the Nasdaq."
Lawrence K. Altman _NY Times_
Testing Finds Blood Donors Across the USA Are Carrying West Nile Virus
"A new test has detected the West Nile virus in more than 600 blood donors across the country this summer, preventing transfusions of the contaminated blood, federal health officials said yesterday... scientists do not know what proportion of the recipients of...contaminated blood became ill, the officials said... The first West Nile case in the Western Hemisphere was detected in 1999, in New York City... This year, 4,137 human cases of West Nile fever have been reported nationwide. Colorado has reported the most cases, 1,542, followed by South Dakota, 580; Nebraska, 554; Wyoming, 282; and Texas, 276."
Patrick French _NY Times_
"I first met the Dalai Lama almost 20 years ago when I was a teen-ager studying at a college run by Roman Catholic monks. He had come to see a Christian monastery in action. Although the Dalai Lama was not a globally famous figure at that time, I was captivated immediately by his charisma, and by the tragic plight of the Tibetan people. I visited China and Tibet 2 years later, in 1986, and later became a director of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign. During his current tour of the United States, the Dalai Lama has confirmed his status as the world's No. 1 feel-good guru, reaching across boundaries of culture and religion... In reality, Tibetan Buddhism is not a values-free system oriented around smiles and a warm heart. It is a religion with tough ethical under-pinnings that sometimes get lost in translation."
Suzanne Gamboa _Salt Lake Tribune_
Treasury Department to keep rules allowing Mexican ID kkkards
"The Treasury Department said Thursday it will leave in place rules that allow financial institutions to accept Mexican identification cards, called matricula consular, which are often used by undocumented immigrants to open bank accounts... Opponents say the cards are too fraud-prone and pose a risk to homeland security. Immigration opponents also have said the card acts as de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants."
Charlotte Denny & Larry Elliott _The Guardian_
IMF warns trade gap & devaluing of dollar could send it tumbling
"The International Monetary Fund yesterday warned that the colossal United States trade deficit was a noose around the neck of the economy, emphasising that the once mighty dollar could collapse at any moment. Arguing that the world's big economies were already too dependent on the willingness of American consumers to live beyond their means... The report was highly critical of Europe's stagnating economies, blaming governments for failing to embrace deep structural reforms of their labour markets and welfare states."
Philip Shenon _NY Times_
JetBlue Gave Defense Firm Files Containing Personal Private Information on Passengers
"JetBlue Airways acknowledged publicly today that it had provided a Pentagon contractor with information on more than 1M of its passengers as part of a program to track down terrorists and other 'high risk' passengers. That data, which was turned over in violation of the airline's own privacy policies, was then used to identify the passengers' Social Security numbers, financial histories and occupations... providing the records last year to Torch Concepts, an Army contractor in Huntsville, AL, for a research project on 'airline passenger risk assessment'... The airline said it had provided Torch Concepts with records on about 5M individual itineraries, reflecting the travels of about 1.1M passengers in 2001 and 2002. The records, it said, would have included the passengers' names, addresses and phone numbers but not credit card numbers or government identification numbers commonly collected from travelers like passport numbers... Torch Concepts, which describes itself in promotional material as a 'content-management and information-mining' company, was hired by the Army more than 3 years ago to determine how information from public and private records might be analyzed to help defend military bases from attack by terrorists and other adversaries."
Steve Tanner _Silicon Valley Biz Ink_
Jobless techies struggle to cope in survival mode
"Santa Clara County's jobless rate declined to 7.9% in August from 8.5% in July, according to the Employment Development Department... But as a tech professional in his late-50s and nearing retirement age, the task of finding work is that much more pressing. He even got a degree in software engineering in 1995 to broaden his skill set, but now he's paying off student loans as he watches these jobs go off-shore... Stephen Levy, director and senior economist for the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy, doubts the stated intentions of tech companies to turn off-shoring into new local jobs will materialize soon."
Management being laid off to cut costs
"Statistics compiled by Challenger, Gray & Christmas show from 2001 April 1, through 2003 June 30, an average of 24% of discharged managers and executives spent less than 2 years with their former employers. During the last recession, from 1990 July to 1991 March, 9.5% of those discharged had tenures under two years -- 61% below current levels, Chief Executive Officer John A. Challenger said. The strategy of cutting management could lead to weakened succession, higher long-term costs resulting from increased recruiting costs, disruptions in customer service and a disconcerted work-force, Challenger said Tuesday."
_Economic Times of India_
"The IITs, which are completely funded by the government, are able to recover only 35%-40% of costs from fees. The average IIT under-graduate student pays anywhere between Rs 10,000 [$220.604] and 16,000 [$352.967] per semester: about Rs 40,000 [$882.417] a year. While the cost incurred for an average under-graduate student-degree year is, at the very least, Rs 1 lakh [$2206.40]."
John Tierney _NY Times_
In Iraq Demand Makes Security a Growth Industry
"Some Iraqis have turned to political militias and private companies for their own protection having already given up on the Americans."
Robert F. Kennedy & Eric Schaeffer _NY Times_
An Ill Wind from Factory Farms
"For decades, the agribusiness lobby in Washington has invoked the small family farmer in its campaign to expand subsidies and fend off regulation, but it's mainly big producers that benefit. In 1998, the top 4 producers marketed 57% of all hogs in the country, and large corporations have cornered the market for chickens, cattle and dairy products as well. Much of this production is handled through contract farms whose corporate owners dictate how animals will be raised, housed and fed while disclaiming any environmental responsibility -- and living far away from the consequences. These operations pollute the air with the gases released from huge barns and waste lagoons and by processes that 'air out' manure before it is applied to fields. Under the Clinton administration, the E.P.A. began ordering farms to measure emissions and apply for Clean Air Act permits just as factories do."
Kurt Eichenwald _NY Times_
In String of Corporate Troubles Critics Focus in Boards' Failings
"All can be traced to a failure on the part of a board of directors to handle its responsibilities, legal and financial experts said. 'Corporate governance' -- the system of controlling and directing a business -- is one of those 5-dollar business terms that make most investors' eyes glaze over. It draws up images of staid board-rooms where directors, top-rank professionals who have been elected by share-holders or other owners, pore through corporate strategies, challenging managers on every detail to protect the interests of investors, employees and the community. But often, the reality is far different... Boards themselves are frequently packed with the chairman's friends and associates, who are unlikely to be rabble-rousers. In the end, such directors, corporate governance experts said, are likely to trust their friends and approve management's ideas with few objections... such problems are common throughout the business world."
Patrick McGeehan _NY Times_
Quick. What's the Boss Making?
"Directors of big companies, already under pressure to demonstrate independence from management, are now worried that they will be blamed for failing to explain not only how much but how they pay chief executives."
Gary Strauss _USA Today_/_Detroit News_
Corporate lay-offs hurt US economy
"Rising corporate lay-offs are beginning to undermine the nation's economic recovery, labor experts and economists say... Economists have characterized the economic recovery as a jobless expansion. But if job growth doesn't rebound soon, consumer confidence is likely to slide."
2003-09-22 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles _CNN_
Exporting American Jobs Over-Seas
"Corporations, business consultants and foreign governments conspire to send American jobs over-seas. Identify crisis: Illegal aliens are using foreign identity cards to open U.S. bank accounts and obtain state driver's licenses, with the federal government's approval... An update now on the number of service men and women killed and wounded in Iraq. Central Command reports, 304 Americans have been killed by hostile fire and accidents since the war against Saddam Hussein began in March, 191 deaths in combat, 113 by accident. Another 1,616 have been wounded, all but 320 of them by hostile fire... More than 600 al Qaeda and Taliban members and supporters are being held at the [US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay]... cheap labor... [Red China]: Our labor is cheaper than India's... In the United States, jobs are scarce, but giving them away is a thriving business. When CIO magazine surveyed information technology executives, 89% said they've shipped some work to India... Fran Karamouzis [said], 'There's a huge amount of companies where, from the top, from the board-room level, the CEO level, have sort of dictated to many of their I.T. managers or application managers or CIOs, their technology group in general, you will send X amount of dollars or people off-shore. Now, that's kind of not spoken about openly in a public press.'... Oracle announced it will double employment in India to 6K people... But here is the leap of faith, the thought that, somehow, the American economy is so resilient and so full of innovation, we can come up with better jobs. But the data does show, people who lose their job because of this generally don't get another job that pays as much."
Rex Nutting & Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
G7 gets its wish for a lower dollar: Yen surges to 3-year high; euro also benefits
"The unanimous G7 statement suggested that Japan would forgo its effort to keep the yen at about 115 to the dollar through massive intervention in exchange markets. Some analysts estimate that Japanese authorities have spent as much as $100G on dollar-based assets this year to keep the yen weak to help Japanese exporters. [Red China], South Korea and Taiwan have also amassed tremendous reserves of dollars... Japan's Nikkei dropped 4.2% as investors sold export-related stocks."
Jeff Horwich _Minnesota Socialist Radio_
Lawson Software announced lay-offs and moving jobs to India
"Kate Rubin is president of the Minnesota High Technology Association."
Patrick Thobodeau _Computer World_
IT UnEmployment Hits UnPrecedented Level
"Unemployment in the IT profession reached 6% this year... That's the finding of a new study [conducted by the Washington-based non-profit group Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST)] that also determined that foreign-born workers now account for a fifth of all IT employees in the U.S... Several IT managers, some requesting that their names not be used, told of off-shore out-sourcing plans or data center consolidations that led to lay-offs... The IT labor force, which under CPST's definition includes computer scientists, systems analysts, software engineers and programmers, grew from 719K jobs in 1983 to 2.5M at its peak in 2000. It has since declined by 150K, with about two-thirds of those lost jobs in programming, according to the organization."
2003-09-23 09:57PDT (12:57EDT) (16:57GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Financial, drug firms top Working Mother's 100-best list
"Despite a tough economic climate, Working Mother found that companies haven't cut back on benefits such as child care and prepared take-home food -- and some even added such offerings... Top scores went to the following companies, in alphabetical order: Abbott Laboratories -- pharmaceutical and hospital products maker in Abbott Park, IL. Booz Allen Hamilton -- McLean, VA, consulting firm. Bristol-Myers Squibb -- New York, NY pharmaceutical company. Eli Lilly and Company -- drugmaker in Indianapolis, IN... Working Mother rated the companies on 5 points: advancement of women, support for child care, paid maternity and paternity leave, flexibility such as telecommuting and compressed work weeks and presence of a family-friendly culture."
2003-09-23 13:31PDT (16:31EDT) (20:31GMT)
Emily Church & Rachel Koning _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dollar stable after 3-year yen low
"The U.S. dollar clawed back to trade little changed against its Japanese counterpart Tuesday having earlier hit a 3-year yen low... Against the yen, the dollar was recently steady at 112.20 yen. It had been down more than 1% on the day, piercing another mile-stone at 111 yen and falling to a low on the day at 110.94... Earlier Tuesday, the euro surpassed an 8-week high against the dollar to as much as $1.1527 before erasing that gain. The single currency was last down 0.1%, at $1.1442. The British pound was recently up 0.2% at $1.6511. The green-back gained marginally against the Swiss currency at 1.3584 Swiss francs. The euro gave back its early gains vs. the yen and was more recently down 0.1% at 128.47 yen."
2003-09-23 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Jan Hopkins _CNN_
"Federal Reserve economists say these jobs aren't going to come back when the economy does. Richard Deits, Federal Reserve Bank of NY [said], 'During this recession, we have seen a lot of change in employment that's been more structural, rather than cyclical. So a lot of the losses are going to be permanent.'... The United States is now running a huge trade deficit in cars and car parts. You might expect that, with countries such as Germany and Japan, that deficit to be huge. But there is also a deficit with Mexico, with Brazil and Taiwan."
Eric Schmitt _NY Times_
Airman Is Charged as Spy for Syria at Guantanamo
"The translator, senior airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, faces more than 30 criminal charges, including accusations that he tried to slip prison maps, cell-block information, names of prisoners and messages from them to an agent of the Syrian government."
John Shinal _San Francisco Chronicle_
No quick fix for Silicon Valley: Study predicts jobs won't return to boom-era levels for years
"commissioned by the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, whose member companies employ 1 in 5 valley workers. Economic growth in the valley will lag the rest of the nation through 2005 and employment won't return to its boom-era level until 2010, according the report, Silicon Valley 2004... roughly 200K Silicon Valley workers who have lost their jobs in the past 3 [and 3 quarters] years... 'When a world-class engineer can't afford to live here, or has to commute two hours each way, we can't be competitive.', [Carl Guardino] said."
2003-09-23 20:37PDT (23:37EDT) (2003-09-24 03:37GMT)
State Department Background Check Computers Shut Down by Virus
"The virus crippled the department's Consular Lookout and Support System, known as CLASS, which contains more than 12.8M records from the FBI, the State Department and U.S. immigration, drug-enforcement and intelligence agencies. Among the names are those of at least 78K suspected terrorists."
2003-09-24 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
"A visa program helps hundreds of thousands of foreigners take jobs from Americans... tens of thousands of foreigners take jobs in this country every year, under special visa programs. Incredibly, some American workers are training those foreigners to take their own jobs... After lobbying by the high-tech industry [executives], Congress expanded the H1-B visa program to bring over-seas skilled workers into the country. Workers are supposed to be paid at the same rate as Americans and the company must say that no American was available for the job, conditions experts say are not consistently enforced. The quota of visas, normally set at 65K, a year was raised by Congress during the high-tech boom to 115K in 1998, then 195K in 2000. Because of the high-tech bust, the numbers of visa applications have been dropping, and the quota is expected to drop back to 65K this year. But experts say, in this economy that is still too high... Another visa, the L-1, used within a company to transfer over-seas managers to this country for temporary assignment, has also generated an influx of workers... Now the first solution is to enforce the rules of equal pay. And the second, and Congress is in the process of doing this, is to decide just how many so-called specialists are required from over-seas... Tom Tancredo [said], 'Well, what happened -- you're absolutely right. We have had the H1-B visa program for many years. It just wasn't really used very much until -- until a couple of things happened. Of course, there was a high-tech boom, and at that time, employers started to figure out that they could actually displace American workers, higher-paid workers, by bringing cheaper labor into this country... the majority abuse this dramatically and have actually brought in now about 800K people right here, right now, on H1-B visas.' And another 400K on the L-1 visa for... 'the most recent numbers, given to me show the visas issued in 2002, 79,100... 59K have been issued so far this year, another 15K in the pipe-line...'... Harris Miller [said], 'The 79K the congressman referred to -- again, those include health care workers, those include fashion models, those include short order chefs. Of those 79K, 25K, according to the Department of Homeland Security are in IT.'... The estimated holders of H1-B Visa in this country right now is 856K, L-1 Visa holders, 325K... 'A man willing to work and unable to find work is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune's inequality exhibits under this sun.' That from author Thomas Carlyle."
The Senate Tries an Odd Experiment: Public Debate
"Big topics resound all about the cloak-rooms and lobbying halls of Capitol Hill, but seldom on the floor, where the risk of constituents noticing is greatest."
Laura M. Holson _NY Times_
Studios Moving to Block Piracy of Films On-Line
"This summer, night-vision goggles became a familiar fashion accessory for security guards at movie premieres as they searched for people in the audience carrying banned video recorders... Studios are aggressively putting electronic watermarks on movie prints so they can determine who is abetting the file sharing..."
Abbi F. Perets _Tech Republic_
What do the proposed restrictions on the L-1 visas mean?
"In several recent highly publicized cases, American workers were forced to train their L-1 replacements before being fired -- or forfeit their severance packages. Public out-cry led representative John Mica (R-FL) to introduce HR2154, which he said would close the 'loop-hole' in the current law by preventing employers from contracting employees out to other firms once they arrive in the United States. Mica's proposed restrictions, however, garnered little support -- critics said he was too lenient and that the new law would do nothing to protect American jobs. And in late July, representative Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) sent HR2849 and S1452 to the House and Senate, respectively -- the USA Jobs Protection Act of 2003."
Dinesh C. Sharma _ZDNet_
Indian Government Banned Yahoo! Discussion Group
"The Indian government has banned a Yahoo group, alleging that it has anti-India content. The offending Web site was found to promote antinational news, the government's Department of Telecommunications said in a statement Monday. The Web site contained material regarding the federal government and the local government of Meghalaya, a state in northeast India. Many insurgent groups are active in the region. The department said it ordered the site blocked after Yahoo officials in India declined to comply with a request to remove the material from the Web site."
2003-09-25 05:41PDT (08:41EDT) (12:41GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims fall by 19K to 381K
"The average number of workers filing initial claims over the past four weeks fell a slight 4K to 407K... Also, the insured unemployment rate remained at 2.9% in the week ended September 13."
2003-09-25 07:53PDT (10:53EDT) (14:53GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
M$ is a security threat
"In a statement, 7 experts put their name on a paper that said M$'s software is flawed, unacceptably complex, lacking adequate security, and used by nearly everyone. The Computer and Communications Industry Association..."
2003-09-25 08:01PDT (11:01EDT) (15:01GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US home sales rose in August: New home sales second-highest ever
"Sales of new homes rose about 3.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.15M from July's revised 1.11M pace, the Commerce Department said. It was the second-highest sales rate ever after June's record 1.18M rate. Meanwhile, sales of existing homes jumped about 5.5% in August to a record 6.47M, the National Association of Realtors said in a separate report. July's sales were revised higher to 6.13M, the previous record... The median price of a new home was $184,500, up 3% from last August , but down about 1.6% from the 2002 median price. The median sales price of an existing home was $177,500 in August, up 9.8% from the previous year."
2003-09-25 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Waverly Person & Bill Tucker _CNN_
Massive Earth-Quake Strikes Japan: Exporting America
"The magnitude-8 earthquake hit the island of Hokkaido... an hour after the main shock, we had a magnitude 6 after-shock. And we do expect after-shocks to continue for some time... these waves can travel up to 600 miles per hour... As much as 60, 70 or 80 feet [high]... Central Command today reported 306 Americans have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the war against Saddam Hussein, 191 killed of those in action, 115 in accidents. The number of wounded has risen to 1,644, wounded and injured, all but 322 of them, in combat... From 1985 through 2000, the [semiconductor] industry's share of manufacturing production rose dramatically, from half-a-percent to more than 6%. That huge growth created tens of thousands of new jobs. But now many of those jobs are being exported out of America... Incentive packages which include tax breaks on capital spending to an industry where one plant can cost $3G, tax-free periods of up to 5 years after profitability. And [Red China] is the most aggressive suitor. It's implemented a value-added tax, a tax that makes it much more attractive to make semis in [Red China] than to bring them in from out of the country... This November, the investigative arm of Congress will launch a comprehensive study into the exporting of American jobs. This study will examine the costs and risks associated with massive outsourcing, especially in the area of information technology and its long-term impact on the American economy... Congressman Adam Smith [said], 'it's important to know exactly which jobs are going over-seas and what the future is for jobs here in the US... The more important issue, to me, is the amount of money we spend on education and job training and the amount of money we spend on subsidies, either direct or through tax breaks for various corporations. We need to know, first of all, if the job training and education dollars are going to train people for jobs that are actually going to be here. And second of all, if the companies that were subsidizing are actually creating jobs here in the US... if there are American citizens who can do those jobs, then that does not meet the H-1B visa requirement.'... we can give you case after case that has flowed into this broadcast showing abuses of the H-1B visa program. [Smith], 'Look, we have had a 90% decrease in the last years of foreign investment in the US.'... it's somewhat more complicated when you think about those high-paying technology jobs that are being exported and some of those low-paying jobs for which we're thinking about educating and training those who have just lost those higher training jobs."
Michael Erard _NY Times_
"Michael Everson's largest project to date - a contribution to a new version of Unicode 4.0, an international standard for computerizing text..."
GoVideo Moves Customer Service from Over-Seas to USA
"GoVideo today announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art Customer Support Call Center in its Scottsdale, Arizona head-quarters to enhance the GoVideo customer experience. The location of the new call center reflects the company's continued commitment to provide the finest product ownership experience to millions of GoVideo product owners throughout the United States."
Out-Sourcing Is the Fastest Growing Federal IT segment
"With a compound annual growth rate of 13%, out-sourcing is the fastest growing IT segment within the federal government... U.S. Federal Government spending on out-sourcing will increase from $8.5G in fiscal year 2003 to over $15.5G in FY 2008... the military services spend more on outsourcing, but civilian agencies are catching up... Business Process Out-Sourcing (BPO) is... growing at a rate of almost 19% over the 5 year forecast horizon. "
Mark Landler _NY Times_
US Is Only the Tip of Pirated Music Ice Berg
"Sales of recorded music have plunged more steeply in several European and Asian countries than in the United States because of a combination of file sharing, home CD burning and the mass production of knock-off disks. In Germany, Europe's largest and hardest-hit market, sales have fallen by a third in the last 5 years. They are projected to decline another 20% this year, compared with a 12% first-half decline in the United States. A survey by the market research concern GfK estimates that Germans bought 500M blank CDs last year. That compares with sales of 160M pre-recorded CDs. (In the United States, about 1.8G blank CDs were sold last year versus 800M recorded CDs.)... 9 out of 10 recordings in [Red China] are pirated, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, an umbrella group for 46 national industry organizations. Because of [Red China's] vast size and a deeply rooted culture of counterfeiting, the music industry tends to put the country in its own category when it comes to combatting piracy over-seas."
Paul Craig Roberts _USA-Red China Economic and Security Review Commission_
the job losses that we are experiencing are not the result of the normal workings of free trade
_Levi Strauss & Co._
Levi Strauss & Co. To Close Its North American Manufacturing & Finishing Plants
"Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&CO.) today announced that it will close its remaining manufacturing and finishing plants in North America as part of the shift away from owned-and-operated manufacturing that the company began several years ago. The company plans to close its sewing and finishing operations in San Antonio by year-end, displacing approximately 800 workers. Its 3 Canadian facilities -- 2 sewing plants in Edmonton, Alberta and Stoney Creek, Ontario, and a finishing center in Brantford, Ontario -- are expected to close in 2004 March, displacing approximately 1,180 employees."
"I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing." --- Barney Frank 2003-09-25 (Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe, Steve Burguiere, Dan Andros, Brian Sack, Alan Bura, Pat Gray, David Harsanyi, Carol Lynne, Carl Williott, Claire Calzonetti, Evan Cutler, Joseph Kerry, Kelly Thompson, R.J. Pestritto, Tyler Grimm, Darran Foster, John Bobey, Paul Starke & Paul E. Nunn 2009 _Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government_ pg181)
"I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential un-safety & un-soundness [of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac] than, in fact, exists." --- Barney Frank 2003-09-25 (Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe, Steve Burguiere, Dan Andros, Brian Sack, Alan Bura, Pat Gray, David Harsanyi, Carol Lynne, Carl Williott, Claire Calzonetti, Evan Cutler, Joseph Kerry, Kelly Thompson, R.J. Pestritto, Tyler Grimm, Darran Foster, John Bobey, Paul Starke & Paul E. Nunn 2009 _Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government_ pg184)
2003-09-26 07:40PDT (10:40EDT) (14:40GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
UMich consumer sentiment index fades again: Skepticism grows about US economic recovery
"The consumer sentiment index fell to 87.7 in September from 89.3 in August and the 88.2 preliminary September reading... The current conditions index fell to 98.4 in September from 99.7 in August and 98.9 in early September. The expectations index fell to 80.8 from 82.5 in August and 81.3 in early September. The expectations index is one of 10 components in the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators."
2003-09-26 08:26PDT (11:26EDT) (15:26GMT)
Genaro C. Armas _AP_/_San Diego Union-Tribune_
Census reports poverty rate up and median income down for 2nd straight year
"Median household income declined 1.1% between 2001 and 2002 to $42,409, after accounting for inflation..."
Rob Sanchez _Job Destruction News-Letter_
CNN canceled interview of Mike Emmons
2003-09-26 14:49PDT (17:49EDT) (21:49GMT)
Greg Morcroft _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks end rocky week in decline
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU: news, chart, profile) slipped 30.88, or 0.3%, to 9313.08 and the Nasdaq ($COMPQ: news, chart, profile ) traded down 25.14, or 1.4%, to 1,792.10. The S&P 500 index fell 6.42 points, or 0.6%, to 996.85, its first close under 1,000 since August 18. The Dow fell 3.5% for the week and the Nasdaq was off about 5.5%."
2003-09-26 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
American Jobs Flooding Over-Seas
"The start of a new year, Rosh Hashanah, for the Jewish people, a new year, but, surprise, no new Middle East peace agreement... a clothing manufacturer in Maryland...pays his workers $10.50 an hour. A worker in [Red China] might get 50 cents an hour. [He says], 'I can beat delivery, hands down. But I cannot beat price.'... One bill would give income tax credits to companies to keep jobs here. Buy-America legislation would require the Pentagon to use more domestic suppliers. Another would limit the number of visas issued to foreign workers. And yet another threatens to [raise] tariff levels against [Red China]... Grant Aldonas, under-secretary of commerce for international trade [said], 'It's a problem more for the individuals who are caught in that competitive vice than it is for the economy as a whole.'..."
2003-09-26 16:07PDT (19:07EDT) (23:07GMT)
Genaro C. Armas & Justin Pritchard _AP_/_Sarasota Herald-Tribune_
Poverty rate rises for 2nd straight year; median income down
"Median household income declined 1.1% between 2001 and 2002 to $42,409, after accounting for inflation... California ranked in the top quarter among states in terms of median annual income at $48K, even though it dropped by about $700 since 2000."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Immigrants Travel to DC to Rally for Greater Power, Respect
"Eager to support his girl-friend and infant son, he moved to Arizona and took a job as a roofer, attracted to the relatively high pay by immigrant standards: $9.50 an hour. But the work was grueling, 10-hour days in 100-degree heat. He soon learned there could be a price for protesting harsh conditions. 'They tell me this is the country of freedom.', said Mr. Gonz·lez, a passenger in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, a caravan of buses heading to Washington from 10 cities nationwide to campaign for immigrants' rights. 'You're supposed to have the right to speak. But immigrants don't have the right to speak out on the job because they get fired.'... The trip, by 900 riders on 18 buses...are pushing for legalizing the status of illegal immigrants, increasing visas for family reunification and stepping up protections for immigrant workers... When he pushed to form a labor union to improve wages and conditions, he said, his employer dismissed him, suddenly telling him that his papers were not valid, even though his papers had long been accepted."
Brett Martel _AP_/_Baton Rouge, Louisiana Advocate_
Louisiana income up slightly but so is poverty rate
"Louisiana had among the lowest median incomes in the country at about $33,312 and among the highest poverty rates at 16.9%. Nationally, the poverty rate was 12.1% last year, up from 11.7% in 2001. Median household income declined 1.1% between 2001 and 2002 to $42,409, after accounting for inflation. That means half of all households in the United States earned more than that amount, and half earned less. Statistically, Louisiana seems to be in far better shape than in the mid-1990s, when the state's poverty rate hovered around 20%."
2003-09-27 09:00PDT (11:00EDT) (15:00GMT)
Paul Recer _Space_/_AP_
Two X Prize Teams Poised for Manned Space-Flight
"In a race to achieve the first privately funded manned spaceflight, rocket engineers are poised to compete for the $10M X Prize by launching people to the edge of space and bringing them back safely twice within a 2-week period... The X Prize contest calls for launching a manned craft to 62 miles, generally considered the cusp of space, and returning it safely to Earth. And then doing it again within 14 days. The craft must be able to carry 3 people, although the contest rules permit contestants to use one pilot accompanied by equipment equal to the weight of two people... FAA officials said that although applications have been filed and are being considered, formal approvals have yet to be issued for either the airport or the rocket teams."
David Cay Johnston _NY Times_
Top Percentile of Income Earners Is Lower, but Taxes Also Lower
"The incomes of the top 1% of Americans fell 18% in 2001, as did their income taxes, shaving $66G off revenues and showing how dependent the federal government has become on its wealthiest citizens. Over all, Americans had 2.8% less income in 2001 than in the previous year. But federal tax revenues fell 9.4%... The top 1% reported $1.09T of income, down from $1.34T in 2000, according to data posted by the Internal Revenue Service on the Internet yesterday without announcement. The minimum income to reach the top 1% was $293K last year, down from $313,500 in 2000, but almost identical to the threshold in 1999."
David Brooks _NY Times_
Lonely Campus Voices
"'This is one of the most difficult things.', says Alan Kors, a rare conservative at Penn. 'One is desperate to see people of independent mind willing to enter the academic world. OTOH, it is simply the case they will be entering hostile and discriminatory territory.' 'Here's what I'm thinking when an outstanding kid comes in.', says George, of Princeton. 'If the kid applies to one of the top graduate schools, he's likely to be not admitted. Say he gets past that first screen. He's going to face pressure to conform, or he'll be the victim of discrimination. It's a lot harder to hide then than it was as an under-grad. But say he gets through. He's going to run into intense discrimination trying to find a job. But say he lands a tenure-track job. He'll run into even more intense discrimination because the establishment gets more concerned the closer you get to the golden ring. By the time you come up for tenure, you're in your mid-30s with a spouse and a couple of kids. It's the worst time to be uncertain about your career. Can I really take the responsibility of advising a kid to take these kinds of risks?' The most common advice [non-leftist] students get is to keep their views in the closet."
_St. Petersburg Times_
More Floridians fall below poverty level
"The state's poverty rate from 2001 to 2002 increased 0.8 percentage points to 12.6%. That means more than 2M of Florida's 16.7M residents live in poverty. The state's median household income, the level at which half of Floridians earn more money and half earn less, dropped 3.3%, or about $1,276, to $37,512."
Cheryl Wetzstein _Washington Times_
Poverty rises while income drops, Census Bureau says
"The poverty rate for 2002 was 12.1%, up from 11.7% in 2001, the bureau said yesterday in its annual poverty and income reports. The number of people living in poverty rose 1.7M from 32.9M to 34.6M. The poverty threshold for a family of four in 2002 was $18,392. Median household income fell $491, from $42,900 in 2001 to $42,409 last year. Republicans credited the 1996 welfare law for raising women's earnings and preventing more children from falling into poverty. The 2002 child poverty rate of 16.7% was statistically unchanged from 16.3% in 2001, noted Rep. Wally Herger, California Republican. Census data also show that median earnings for women who work full time rose 11.6% in 2002, said Mr. Herger. This is significantly faster than the 7.5% rise in earnings for men who work full time. Moreover, female-headed households with no husband present -- a group that represents many welfare recipients -- saw their median real money income increase from $28,590 in 2001 to $29,001 in 2002, said Mr. Herger."
Eric Lichtblau _NY Times_
US Government Abuses Terror Law to Pursue Drugs, Swindlers
"such use of the law is evidence the administration is using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda... For instance, the ability to secure nationwide warrants to obtain e-mail and electronic evidence 'has proved invaluable in several sensitive non-terrorism investigations', including the tracking of an unidentified fugitive and an investigation into a computer hacker who stole a company's trade secrets, the report said. Justice Department officials said the cases cited in the report represent only a small sampling of the many hundreds of non-terrorism cases pursued under the law."
Karen W. Arenson _NY Times_
Investment Gains Lift Endowments at Leading Colleges
"Better financial markets helped push endowments at Harvard, Princeton, Yale and some other colleges to record levels this year... Harvard, whose endowment was already the largest in the country, earned a 12.5% return on its investments in the 2003 fiscal year (which ended June 30) helping its endowment climb to $19.3G. Investment experts said the gain was not only one of the highest among colleges, but also among large financial funds generally."
Jack Hitt _NY Times_
"His name is Richard Colbert. On the ROKSO, or Register of Known Spam Operations (a kind of Most Wanted List for the Internet posted on an anti-spam Web site called spamhaus.org)... Fort Lauderdale, FL... According to SL, who maintains the ROKSO list, there's a good reason that so many spammers wind up on Spam Beach: 'Boca Raton is where they used to run those pump-and-dump investment scams and where the telemarketing sweat-shops are.' The phone scammers and infomercial wannabes of the 80s and 90s -- who themselves supplanted the land speculators who established Florida's earliest cities upon shifting sand and sinking swamps -- have been pushed aside by the new boys on the block, the bulk e-mailers of the Internet... bowieltd.com, one of Colbert's Web sites... Colbert used those profiles to turn AOL into a rich and easy source of contacts. He would limit his search by typing in 'business opportunity' or 'multi-level marketing' in order to find the sort of small-time sales folks who might be receptive to his offer, then he would spam them all with his pitch... this one search for spam clients could yield Colbert as much as $14K. Colbert describes how he would set his computers for 'send' with millions of e-mail messages queued up, then go to sleep and let the machinery make the money for him. 'I used to have 9 computers bound over 5 DSL lines on a 10 meg pipe feeding 500K per second per computer.', Colbert says. 'That's a million e-mails an hour per computer, 9M an hour on a good day.'"
George Fisher _NY Times_
Plea Bargaining in the American Injustice System
"By the end of the century, 87% of all cases adjudicated in the Massachusetts felony courts ended with guilty pleas... Last year 95% of criminal cases adjudicated in federal courts ended with pleas of guilty or no contest. To try even one-quarter of all cases would mean 5 times as many trials, with a comparable increase in public expense."
Michael Lewis _NY Times_
California gubernatorial aspirants don't fit New Yorker's expectations (11 pages)
"Here is another clue to the mystery of California democracy: a lot of Californians clearly believe that, to run this state, they don't need political experience... Among them are maybe 40 practical people -- doctors, engineers, small-business owners -- who suffer from what might be called the Ueberroth syndrome: when they look in the mirror they see the best person they know to fix things that are broken... lesser-known candidates like himself weren't getting a fair hearing... The first meeting he arranged drew in 12 candidates and attracted little attention. The next one, on an air-craft carrier in Oakland, pulled in more than 40, along with some press. Sixty candidates were invited to the third meeting, which must count as the largest such assemblage in American history. They gather one Sunday morning in early September at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, observed by reporters and several TV cameras. Zellhoefer opens the proceedings by saying a few words about how he hopes the group, which ranges from socialists to libertarians, will 'come up with a unified strategy that we can all accept'... it's less about any one issue, or even any broad agenda, than it is about the way in which professional political people conduct their affairs."
Rebecca Cook _AP_/_Seattle Times_
Income & poverty hold steady in Washington
"Front-line social-service workers said the flat poverty rate doesn't match the steadily increasing need and desperation at Washington food banks and homeless shelters... The Census Bureau reports income and poverty data for states based on a two-year average. For 2001-02, Washington's median household income was $44,174 and the poverty rate was 10.8%, essentially unchanged from 2000-01... the number of people seeking help increased from 9,500 in 1999 May to 16K in 2003 May... For a single person younger than 65 in 2002, living in poverty meant living on $9,359 or less, according to the Census Bureau; for a household of 3, including one child, the poverty threshold was $14,480."
Christopher Boyd & Barry Flynn _Orlando Sentinel_
Job hunters find anxiety
"More than 8M unemployed Americans are slogging through the longest-running slump in job growth since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The 2001 recession lasted just 8 months. Yet even now, nearly 2 years after it came to an end, the economy still is not adding jobs. Instead, almost 1.1M jobs have disappeared since the economy officially turned the corner in 2001 November. (Florida's job base has resumed growing, but at an anemic pace.) Some of those 1.1M missing jobs are likely to return as businesses grow bolder, but others will never be back, victims of productivity gains, cheaper over-seas labor and other structural changes in the economy... Many of the 50 job seekers who attended Friday morning's ProNet meeting in Casselberry are middle-aged cast-offs of the technology industry."
2003-09-28 21:01PDT (2003-09-29 00:01EDT) (2003-09-29 04:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Pushed out to pasture: Age-discrimination claims rise 40% during down-turn
"As generally happens during tough economic times, age-discrimination claims have sky-rocketed in recent years, rising more than 40% in 3 years, to close to 20K claims filed in 2002 from 14K in 1999... Race claims rose 3.8% to about 29,900, and sex-based claims rose 6.8% to about 25,500... Still, executive-search firms say age discrimination is rampant among U.S. companies. At least 80% of his clients 50 & older were laid off involuntarily, said Jim Riddel, president of GreyHawk Advisors, based in Chicago, which connects former senior executives with consulting work at a variety of companies... When he started his firm 13 years ago 'the bar was set at about 50.', said Raoul Despres, president of Despres & Associates, an executive-search and sales-management-training firm based in Barrington, IL... The bar has gone down since then. It's now more mid-40s.', Despres said..."
more AARP info
2003-09-29 02:15PDT (05:15EDT) (09:15GMT)
Dan Walters _Sacramento Bee_
pending bills: off-shoring
"Consumer protection measures, such as the ones cracking down on e-mail spam and protecting financial privacy, and environmental bills are being given especially lavish treatment to garner maximum media attention... SB640...purports to crack down on "expatriate corporations" that set up shop in offshore tax havens but continue to function as if they were American companies, by denying them the right to contract with state agencies and is part of state Treasurer Phil Angelides' crusade on corporate responsibility. There is, however, a passage in the fine print of SB 640 that could protect from sanctions a managing consulting firm called Accenture, which is one of the poster children for expatriate operations. Accenture has contributed handsomely to Democratic campaign treasuries, including Davis' war chest; it gave $25K to Davis' anti-recall drive in August, as SB 640 was nearing legislative approval. And Accenture retained some very well-connected lobbyists, including Darius Anderson, a top Davis fund-raiser. Accenture used to be called Andersen Consulting... Accenture is incorporated in Bermuda but operates out of Chicago, and is one of the 18 major expatriate corporations cited by critics. It has also been a major holder of state contracts on computer projects and other matters, so it has a big stake in the legislation. In June, with lobbyists for Accenture and the other 17 firms working the Capitol, Angelides and the bill's author, Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, agreed to exempt from sanctions any corporation that adopted certain corporate governance standards and the 'worldwide combined reporting' method of taxation. Taxation is the key factor determining which firms are affected and Accenture may be the only one on the expatriate list that could easily qualify for the exemption since it already uses the specified method."
2003-09-29 06:01PDT (09:01EDT) (13:01GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Consumer spending slows in August
"Real consumer spending (adjusted for inflation) increased 0.5% in August, the fourth straight robust month of spending after a slight pause in the spring. Real spending rose 0.7% in July. See the full release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Nominal spending (in current dollars) rose 0.8% compared with 0.9% in July. Spending matched Wall Street's expectations. Meanwhile, real disposable incomes increased 0.6%, less than half the 1.3% gain in July, when many consumers received a tax-rebate check. Disposable income is essentially income minus taxes... The savings rate (which is merely real disposable income minus spending) rose to 3.8% of disposable income from 3.6%, matching the high of the year."
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Immigration Exploding in America
"More than 33M people live in the United States who are immigrants. 1M of those entered the country legally last year. An estimated 500K to 700K illegal aliens also entered the country last year... Eduardo Aguirre, director of US Citizenship & Immigration Services [said], 'We had a large number of Indians and Chinese coming for programming during the technology boost. Of course, when we talk about agriculture workers, many of them are coming from south of the border, either Mexico or Central America. We're getting a lot of people from the Philippines. Many of them are coming here for health care industry issues.'... 63% of all legal immigrants last year were sponsored by a family member... experts say 70% of the illegal immigrants sneak across the border and the rest just overstay their work permits or their visas... Aguirre [said], 'We're naturalizing in the neighborhood of 700K. And my goal is to naturalize really as many as 1M new citizens a year, provided that we can process them effectively, make sure that the background checks are done in an efficient manner, and make sure that we don't cut any corners, but, at the same time, be stream-lining the process better.'"
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
M$ InSecurity from Software Flaws
"The CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, which monitors rogue computer programs, reported 76,404 attack incidents in the first half of this year, approaching the total of 82,094 for all of last year. And the 2002 incident count was nearly four times the total in 2000. If anything, the CERT statistics may understate the problem, because the organization counts all related attacks as a single incident."
Jonathan Nicholson _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Personal Spending and Income Rose in August
"The Commerce Department said spending grew 0.8% in August after an upwardly revised 0.9% increase in July. Personal income, propelled by a large tax cut enacted by Congress in the spring, gained 0.2% in August... In late July and early August, the government mailed out 22.8M tax credit checks worth a total of $13.7G."
Kevin Corcoran _Indianapolis Star_
State job agency hires Indian firm: No Indiana company sought the contract to up-grade computers for Work-Force Office
"The Department of Work-Force Development is supposed to help out-of-work Hoosiers find jobs. But when the agency needed $15.2M worth of computer upgrades to speed handling of unemployment [compensation insurance] claims, it hired a company based in India... In 2002, Indiana paid $872.7M in benefits to 272,554 jobless Hoosiers... The firm won the state contract over 2 US-based companies -- Accenture LLP and Deloitte Consulting LP -- with a proposal that came in $8.1M to $23.3M lower."
2003-09-29 21:01PDT (2003-09-30 00:01EDT) (2003-09-30 04:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Women's average hourly pay closes in on men's
"Women's annual salaries still lag, couples are working longer hours, and more employees say it's now difficult to balance family and work, according to the latest National Study of the Changing Work-Force. It's conducted every 5 years by the Families and Work Institute, a non-profit research group... Women's average hourly wage is $19.16, not far off men's $22.29, according to the telephone survey of 3,500 working Americans of all income levels, aged 18 years or older. Compare that to the $15.05 average hourly garnered by women versus the $21.38 earned by men in 1997... 39% of women hold managerial or professional positions, up from 24% in 1977. The jobs range from chief executive to convenience store manager. In contrast, the portion of men in these jobs has held steady, at 30%, across that time span... Women earn $36,716 on average each year compared with $52,908 for men, according to the study... 24% of women work a part-time job, compared with 9% of men, and overall, women work an average of about 40 hours a week to men's 46 hours... 43% of workers say they have some flexibility periodically to change their start and ending times, up from 29% in 1992. And 23% say they can set their start and quit times each day, up from 18% in 1992. Also, employees with access to elder-care resources and referrals rose to 24% from 11% in those years. Yet, 45% of married workers, with children or not, reported some or a lot of interference between their work and family lives, up from 34% in 1977."
2003-09-30 08:58PDT (11:58EDT) (15:58GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Q3 tech ad spending will be weak
"At least from technology companies, it appears spending growth will be flat to slightly up in the third quarter. This is a bit below past recoveries, according to a just-released report by Sanford Bernstein tech strategist Vadim Zlotnikov, one of the more insightful tech strategists... During 2002, technology companies spent about $23G on media advertising, or about 2% of sales. As a percentage of sales, the top three spenders are in the Internet sector. According to Zlotnikov's findings, Internet companies spent 5.7% of their sales on advertising. This was followed by consumer electronic companies, which spent 5.4% of sales on advertising."
_Ft. Wayne IN Journal-Gazette_
Labor Agency Tapped Firm in India for State Project
2003-09-30 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Jan Hopkins _CNN_
Exporting America: CAFTA
"they call this deal CAFTA, the son of NAFTA. It has been a stated goal of this president for 18 months now to expand NAFTA south to at least 5 nations of Central America... It's clear U.S. companies see Costa Rica as a factory. According to national action plan under CAFTA, quote, 'the bulk of foreign direct investment flowing into Costa Rica is originated in the United States. It is export-oriented, mainly to the U.S. market.' Which begs the question, what is in this deal for American workers? Alan Tonelson of the US Business and Industry Council [said], 'These markets are so small and so poor and so broke that there is nothing in this trade agreement for the American worker, except lost jobs...'... Dan Griswold is the associate director of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies. [He says], 'We have 8M [illegal aliens working] here in the United States...and this is after 15 years of pretty vigorous enforcement... I think it would be better to have these workers here with documents, so we know who's here, so they can have full worker rights and protections, rather than 8M people living in a kind of legal twilight zone. That's not good for anybody.'... This economy loses an estimated $200G a year because of ideas and products that are simply stolen... Eastman Machine did win one battle. U.S. Customs officers banned Chinese copies from coming into this country because the [Red Chinese] also stole the product manual. That's a copyright violation. But with few remaining customers in this country, it was a shallow victory"
2003-09-30 14:07PDT (17:07EDT) (21:07GMT)
Mark Gongloff _CNN_/_Money_
Consumer Confidence Dropped
"The Conference Board, a business research group based in New York, said its closely watched index of consumer confidence fell to 76.8 from a revised 81.7 in August... In the Conference Board survey, the percentage of people expecting job-market improvement in the next 6 months fell to 16.7% from 18.0% in August. The percentage reporting jobs are 'hard to get' rose to 35.3% from 34.1%."
2003-09-30 21:01PDT (2003-10-01 00:01EDT) (2003-10-01 04:01GMT)
Ray Martin _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
10 creative ways to cut expenses when income falls
"The number of married-couple families in which both spouses were employed declined sharply in 2002. The drop of 368K is the first recorded since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting income characteristics of families in 1993, according to Challenger, Grey & Christmas Inc. an out-placement firm... the median income of single-income households was $34,517 in 2001, almost half that of dual-earner households at $66,151, according to U.S. Census Bureau data."
"Most of the candidates are selling decidedly protectionist messages... Clinton was one of the most committed free traders ever to serve in the White House, fighting for passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and presiding over creation of the World Trade Organization and [Red China's] entry into that body."
Saritha Rai _NY Times_
Cap on US Temporary Guest-Worker Visas May Reduce Indian Body Shopping
"H-1B visas are given each year to foreign workers whose specialized skills are sought by American companies. During the technology boom, the H-1B visa program, which allows foreigners to work in the United States for up to 6 years, provided a gateway for thousands of Indians who came to work in the United States, especially in Silicon Valley. More recently, the number of visa applications has dropped. Last year, petitions for H-1B visas dropped by 75%, to 26,659, according to the American Electronics Association, a trade group that represents technology companies... The L-1 visa has grown in [ab]use, rising nearly 40%, to 57,700, last year from 1999, and some say technology employers are switching to this type of visa. According to an estimate by the American Immigration Lawyers' Association, there are some 900K H-1B employees in the United States, 35% to 45% of them from India."
Barbara Card Atkinson _Christian Science Monitor_
Under-Employed: a euphemism for violent life-style change
"My husband and I are 2 of the almost 1M 'under-employed' in this country - a demure label for a violent life-style change. We, with our college degrees and previous incarnations as latte-swilling yuppies, are now attempting -- and failing badly -- to keep our family of 4 afloat on an average combined income of substantially less than $1K a month."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
open door for Saudi terrorists -- startling new revelation
Characteristics of Specialty Occupation Workers (H-1B) FY 2002
GAO-03-883: Foreign Workers: Better Tracking Needed of H-1Bs (pdf)
Madeline Zavodny _Federal Reserve Board Atlanta_
The H-1B Program and Its Effects on Information Technology Workers
Matloff analysis of Zavodny study
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