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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
2003-09-30 22:00PDT (2003-10-01 01:00EDT) (2003-10-01 05:00GMT)
Patrick J. Buchanan _World Net Daily_
"In 2002, median household income in the United States fell for the second year in a row, from $42,900 to $42,409. The national decline was 1.1%, but among Hispanics, the fall-off was 2.9%. The poverty rate ñ below $18,392 for a family of 4 ñ rose from 11.7% to 12.1%. But, among African-Americans, poverty rose from 22.7% to 24.1% of the population... But there are mega-trends in society that have been working for decades to keep the poverty numbers high and median incomes low. And though they feed the endless expansion of Big Government and prevent any down-sizing of the Welfare State, these trends have been endorsed by a GOP Establishment that seems to be committing suicide in broad day-light. The mega-trends are two: the deindustrialization of America, the direct result of a globalism... The immigrant population from South Asia rose by 141%, and from sub-Sahara Africa by 174%... Under President Bush, perhaps 2.5M immigrants, legal and illegal, entered the United States, as an identical number of factory jobs vanished... In 1960, when America was 97% native born, scholastic test scores rose every year."
2003-09-30 21:49PDT (2003-10-01 00:49EDT) (2003-10-01 04:49GMT)
Sue Kirchhoff & Barbara Hagenbaugh _USA Today_
Economy races ahead leaving jobs in the dust
"Businesses have cut about 3M jobs since 2001. More than a million of the lay-offs have occurred since 2001 November, the month the National Bureau of Economics Research, the arbiter of such things, says the recession ended. Consumer confidence plunged in September, due to rising worries about the job market, the Conference Board said Tuesday. Despite improvement in unemployment benefit claims, the number of major lay-offs was higher this August than a year ago. The length and breadth of joblessness are the worst in decades... The Congressional Budget Office projects the unemployment rate, which was 6.1% in August, will average 6.2% in 2004. The Federal Reserve expects a 5.5% to 6% jobless rate at the end of 2004... Planned lay-offs at U.S. firms slipped to 76,506 in September from 79,925 in August, job placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said. Companies have announced 872,080 job cuts so far this year, still high but 16% lower than the total for the first 9 months of 2002... if factories had not relied on over-time by current workers, they could have retained nearly 18% of those laid off in the first year of the recovery, or about 71K people... a widening gap between the Labor Department's monthly survey of about 60K households, which shows 1.4M jobs have been created since 2001 November, and its survey of 400K businesses, which indicates 1.1M have been lost... A Goldman Sachs study estimates 300K to 500K jobs were lost in the past 3 years to foreign relocations. As many as 6M jobs could move over-seas in the next decade."
2003-10-01 07:09PDT (10:09EDT) (14:09GMT)
US lay-off plans ease in September
"Planned lay-offs at U.S. firms slipped to 76,506 in September from 79,925 in August, job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. Companies have announced 872,080 job cuts so far this year, still high but 16% lower than the total for the first nine months of 2002."
Dice Report: 29,195 job ads
2003-10-01 08:35PDT (11:35EDT) (15:35GMT)
Wayne Cole _Reuters_
US industry still sheds jobs even as output rises
"The Institute [for Supply Management]'s national manufacturing barometer slipped to 53.7 in September from 54.7 in August. Analysts had expected a slight gain to 55.0... The employment measure of the report dipped further, to 45.7 in September from an already low 45.9 in August. Employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported planned lay-offs at U.S. firms slipped only slightly in September, to 76,506 from 79,925 in August. That came on top of 872,080 job cuts so far this year."
2003-10-01 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Jan Hopkins & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Jobless in America
Lou Dobbs tonight transcripts
"The numbers are not pretty: 8.9M Americans unemployed. Another 5M say they want to work, but are not counted as unemployed because they're not actively looking for work; 503K of that group are counted as -- quote -- 'discouraged', not working and not looking because they believe no jobs are available. The job losses by industry continue to add up: 459K jobs lost in the information sector, 232K lost in computer systems design [so at least 691K IT job losses], 423 lost in wholesale trade. Behind those numbers, ruthless corporate cost-cutting, rising worker productivity, and a wild card that was never a factor in previous down-turns, global out-sourcing."
2003-10-01 07:17PDT (10:17EDT) (14:17GMT)
Anshuman Daga _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_/_CNN_
Jobs abound in India's booming tech sector
"Companies are slashing pay-rolls in the United States and Europe to cut costs, moving software work off-shore and creating thousands of jobs for India's low-cost engineers. [Job search times are down to 2 weeks.], said Gautam Sinha, chief executive at TVA Infotech, which is placing about 90 software workers a month, double the number from the start of the year... India's software sector, including the back-office services industry, added 130K -- nearly 25% -- to its workforce in the year to March, taking the sector to 650K. Wage costs are rising but are not yet a threat for a nation that churns out about 200K engineers per year, analysts say. Software workers with two years of experience are paid about 25K rupees ($545) a month, roughly one sixth of what their U.S. counterparts earn but a princely wage in a country with an average per capita income of $480 a year... India's software services exports rose to $9.5G in the past year to March and are forecast to grow 26% this year."
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Slowing Stream of New Jobs Helps to Explain Continued Depression (with graph)
BLS Business Employment Dynamics report
"Even as unemployment continued to mount last year, the number of jobs being eliminated fell below the level in the late 1990s, according to a new government report. But the number of jobs that businesses created in 2002 dropped to its lowest level since 1995... In the last 3 months of 2002, 7.8M jobs were eliminated, while 7.7M were created, according to company records studied by the bureau... The average length of unemployment has jumped to about 19 weeks from roughly 13 weeks during the late 1990's, according to the Labor Department. The number of applications to law school and medical school has soared as college graduates have struggled to find work. The rare businesses that are adding to their pay-rolls have been inundated with applications."
Diana Jean Schemo _NY Times_
UNCCH to Cover All Costs for Needy Students
"Recent studies have shown that the average student now graduates from college with more than $17K in loans, double the amount of a decade ago, with the debt scaring away many potential first-generation college students... the university is pledging to provide aid to cover the full cost of an education for students whose parents earn less than 150% of the poverty level, or $28K for a family of 4. The students must agree to work on campus in state and federal work-study programs 10 to 12 hours a week, a level that is widely considered manageable. The estimated cost of an education at the Chapel Hill campus runs $13,088 for North Carolina residents, of which $4,072 is for tuition and fees. The cost for out-of-state students runs $25,436, $15,920 of that for tuition and fees. When fully operational, the policy is expected to cost $1.38M a year, with a least half of that offset by work study and federal and state grants. University officials hope to raise the rest of the money through private donations."
2003-10-01 21:05PDT (2003-10-02 00:05EDT) (2003-10-02 04:05GMT)
Paul Erdman _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
California Recall Is Wake-Up Call for US Elites
"Governor Gray Davis is toast. Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to win in a land-slide. This has become obvious to most people who live in California. The exception has been the press -- 'reporters' and analysts alike. On both their front pages and their editorial pages, every major news-paper in California, with the exception of the San Diego [Union-Tribune], has been blatantly supportive of Davis and totally disdainful of Schwarzenegger... Leaving aside the fact that the Golden State has moved from massive surplus to massive deficit during his tenure -- after all, so have the federal government and most other states -- Davis' total mismanagement of the energy crisis here cost the voters of this state $20G at a minimum, reason enough to get rid of him. But what has really put Californians off is his lack of principles arising from his desperate desire to retain the trappings of power... But [direct democracy is] the purest form of democracy. And it can produce basic change despite the opposition to change by the entrenched political establishment... Recalls are an integral part of democratic systems of government, and not just as a means for removing politicians guilty of criminal behavior."
2003-10-02 05:31PDT (08:31EDT) (12:31GMT)
Louis Lavelle _Business Week_/_Yahoo!_
A War for Talent is Coming
"It has been 3 long years [close to 4, actually] of doubled-up work-loads, minuscule raises, and ungrateful bosses -- and American workers are fed up. In the late 1990s, when even modest performers could drum up multiple job offers, such treatment would have led to a mass exodus... Sibson Consulting says 1 out of 6 is ready to bolt. Walker Information says its survey of 2,400 employees found that 34% were at high risk for departure... In 2003, pay raises for salaried employees have averaged 3.4%, down from 3.6% in 2002 and 4.3% in 2000 and 2001, says Hewitt Associates LLC... Replacement costs for professional employees can be staggering -- 18 months pay, according to Hay Group, not including lost sales and productivity."
2003-10-02 07:12EDT (10:12EDT) (14:12GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims rise 13K to 399K
"The 4-week average of claims in the week ended September 27 fell 5K to 403,500, marking the fifth straight week above 400K... Continuing claims rose to their highest level since June. The 4-week average for continuing claims rose by 62K to 3.67M in the week ended September 20... And the insured unemployment rate, the percentage of covered workers receiving unemployment checks, stayed at 2.9%."
2003-10-02 11:58PDT (14:58EDT) (18:58GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
After 2 years of frozen salaries, higher costs & no bonuses, outlook is expected to improve for some in 2004
"according to a survey of nearly 400 companies of all sizes across a variety of industries. The survey was conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a human resources consulting firm based in Washington... While 56% of firms shifted at least some costs of health benefits onto employees' shoulders this year, only 18% intend to do so next year. This year, 45% of employers reduced their pay-raise budget, but 12% plan to next year. Meanwhile, 16% of them cut bonuses this year, while 5% will pare down next year... 12% of firms found it necessary to cut benefits this year, but 6% plan to next year, and 14% reduced stock-option grants this year, but that drops to 3% next year. 4% of companies pushed an early-retirement program, but 0.3% will next year; 15% divested unprofitable units, while 5% will next year; and 8% outsourced "significant" operations, while 6% will next year... 28% plan to hire 'critical-skill' employees aggressively next year, up from 21% this year... 7% plan to lay-off some of their critical-skill workers next year, down from 12% this year, but 31% plan to reduce their non-critical-skill work-force next year, declining from the 44% who did so this year."
2003-10-02 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bill Tucker _CNN_
Lou Dobbs tonight transcripts
"But for almost 2 years now, jobs have not been created. They have been lost. Part of the reason for that is the out-sourcing of jobs over-seas. It has become a quick fix for much of corporate America... Joseph Lieberman [said], 'this is the largest challenge our economy is facing in the years ahead. And that is the movement of jobs over-seas. Some of that is happening because of foreign nations not playing by the rules...stealing our patented, copyrighted goods, fixing their currency so they have a price advantage when they send in manufactured goods... The government [should invest] in innovation and research and development that will create the new industries, that will create the hundreds of thousands of new jobs. And then you provide the workers with life-time opportunities for retraining so they can qualify for those new jobs. You can't put a wall around America and grow the American economy. What we've got to do is to get better at what we're doing and knock down trade barriers abroad to sell American-made goods there.' No walls around America, but our borders are not in any way stopping illegal aliens from entering this country. Now, estimates range between 7M and 10M illegal aliens in the country... 7 states currently offer illegal aliens in-state tuition prices at state colleges; 15 more states are considering similar legislation... Dan Stein [said], 'Educating the children of illegal immigrants is costing U.S. tax-payers $7.5G a year -- $7.5G a year.'... In California, for example, the Federation for Americans for Immigrants Reform statements that the state spends more than $2G each year educating illegal aliens. That's 20% of the state's budget deficit where, by the way, they are making budget cuts in education... An astonishing threat from Europe tonight over a Congressional proposal to force the Pentagon to buy essential weapons components in this country. The European Union is reportedly threatening legal action against the United States if the Buy America proposal becomes law. Foreign companies are heavily involved in U.S. military projects such as the joint strike fighter. But the House of Representatives says the Pentagon has become too dependent on foreign contractors and lawmakers are concerned those companies may cut off supplies if their governments disagree with U.S. policy."
Seth Schiesel _NY Times_
Government Access to Your Information
"The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 said that before the government could obtain cable television records, it had to go to court to show 'clear and convincing evidence' that the subject of the request was reasonably suspected of criminal activity. Moreover, the customer was entitled to a hearing to contest the disclosure... The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 says that copyright holders may issue subpoenas signed only by a court clerk - not a judge - that require Internet providers to turn over personal information about their subscribers. The law does not require the subscribers to be notified... Definitive numbers are difficult to come by, but executives at several large telecommunications and media companies said that they process hundreds of requests for customers' personal information each year. Since the enactment of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, which essentially removed many of the most stringent privacy protections, including those in the cable act that supported Cox's case with the I.R.S., those demands have increased significantly, they said... she has seen an explosion in requests for customer information from the government over the last 2 years."
Kristi Arellano _Denver Post_
Denver metro-area foreclosures jump 46% from 2002 (with table)
"In 2002, the number of foreclosures was the highest since 1991... The Mortgage Bankers Association of America reported in September that 3.39% of the state's mortgages were at least delinquent. That was up from 3.16% in the first quarter and 3.1% a year ago."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Senate Panel Backs Bill to Give Companies Break on Deferred Taxes from Over-Seas Profits
"'The company that left Louisiana is going to pay a 5% tax on the widgets they make over-seas, and the company that stayed in Louisiana is going to pay a 35% tax.', said Senator John B. Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana. 'If that isn't an incentive to leave, I don't know what is.'"
2003-10-02 through 2003-10-04
John S. McClenahen _Industry Week_
Manufacturing Still Grows But More Slowly
"The closely watched index of manufacturing activity compiled by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), Tempe, AZ, was 53.7% last month, a full percentage point less than its 54.7% mark in August. A figure above 50% means the manufacturing economy generally is expanding; a number below 50% signals contraction. Among key components of the index, new orders grew faster in September than in August (60.4% vs. 59.6%) while production grew more slowly (57.3% vs. 61.6%)... FactSet Mergerstat LLC...As of September 26 some 1,837 transactions with an aggregate deal value of $108.4G had been reported in the third quarter, down from 1,983 in the second quarter and 1,899 in the third quarter of 2002. The aggregate value of deals announced in the third quarter of 2002 was $157.1G... Workers in the industrial goods industry were hardest hit, with 19,224 lay-offs announced, followed by those in the computer industry with 7,172 lay-offs and the automotive sector with 5,847."
2003-10-03 06:41PDT (09:41EDT) (13:41GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted 57K jobs added, unemployment rate remains at 6.1%
"August's pay-roll loss was revised to 41K from 93K. Counting all the revisions, pay-rolls were 116K stronger over the past 2 months than expected... Within professional services, 33K temporary help jobs were added"
2003-10-03 13:39PDT (16:39EDT) (20:39GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks surge on jobs report
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 85.51 points, or 0.9%, at 9,572.31, paring gains after rising as much as 175 points earlier in the day. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 44.35 points, or 2.4% to close at 1,880.57. The S&P 500, which came within fractions of a 16-month high intra-day earlier in the session, finished up 9.61 points, or 0.9%, at 1,029.85..."
2003-10-03 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Jan Hopkins _CNN_
Private Info Going Over-Seas
Lou Dobbs tonight
"The privacy of millions of Americans now partly in the hands of foreign workers and foreign governments... American companies say they have had their product secrets stolen, copied and resold to the tune of $20G a year right now in [Red China]... Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute [said], 'We all talk about manufacturing employment as the real hemorrhaging story in this labor market. That's down 14% since the recession began. I.T. employment is right behind it, down 12%.'... 23% of those out of work have been without a job for at least 6 months..."
Grant Gross _IDG_/_ComputerWorld_
H-1B cap dead-line passes but debate is not over
"Intel Corp. will continue to press for a higher cap and to have engineers with advanced degrees exempted from the cap, said Tracy Koon, a company spokeswoman... 'A cap of 65K is going to be insufficient.' Close to 80K H1-B visas were granted in fiscal 2003, and fiscal 2004 started with a back-log of close to 30K applications, Koon said."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
Data management problems thwart GAO effort to count H-1Bs: Better tracking of foreign workers needed
GAO-03-883: Foreign Workers: Better Tracking Needed of H-1Bs (pdf)
"The GAO said its effort to study the matter was hindered on 2 fronts. First, key data is missing. One system tracks entries and departures of H-1B holders, and another system monitors changes in a visa holder's status, such as loss of employment. But because these systems aren't integrated, the government doesn't know how many visa holders are in the U.S.A., the GAO said. Second, the GAO contacted 145 companies to discuss their H-1B use, but only 36 agreed to interviews... Salaries listed on approved H-1B petitions for either electrical/electronic engineers or systems analyst/programmer analysts who were between 31 and 50 years of age were lower by about $11K to $22K than the salaries reported by U.S. citizens. But the salaries [stated on petitions for H-1B visas but not necessarily paid to] H-1B workers 18 to 30 years old were as much as $10K higher than those of their U.S. counterparts, which may mean that there are more hires in this age group with advanced degrees."
Norm Matloff _H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring e-News-Letter_
Critique of recent GAO report on H-1B visa program
Paul Craig Roberts _NewsMax_
America Is for Aliens
"Not to worry about being caught crossing the border. Sen. Robert Byrd's amendment to the homeland security appropriations to provide $125M to put 1,300 customs inspectors to help patrol our borders was rejected by the Bush administration as 'too expensive'. The same day President Bush made an 'emergency request' for $150M to pay for 'border inspections personnel' on Iraq's borders."
2003-10-04 12:42PDT (15:42EDT) (19:42GMT)
Andrea Hopkins _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Factory Closures Devastate US Towns
"The loss of 2.5M manufacturing jobs since 2001 January has devastated factory towns across middle America, where once-dominant local employers are pulling up stakes and heading to Mexico or Asia in search of lower costs and cheaper labor... Manufacturing pays an average $45,580 in annual wages -- about 17% higher than the average U.S. job, according to the National Association of Manufacturers."
Felicia R. Lee _NY Times_
Are More People Cheating?
"'You have almost an acceptance that humankind cannot resist the pressure to cheat...', said Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that works with schools and businesses to advocate ethical behavior... A number of historians and ethicists say there is simply not enough data on cheating to draw conclusions; nor is there any way to make empirical comparisons about cheating over time."
Gregg Fields _Miami Herald_
More jobs, more hopes for an economic rebound
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
A Missing Statistic: US Jobs That Went Over-Seas
"By these initial estimates, at least 15% of the 2.81M jobs lost in America since the decline began have reappeared over-seas. Productivity improvements at home -- sustaining output with fewer workers -- account for the great bulk of the job loss. But the estimates being made suggest that the work sent over-seas has been enough to raise the unemployment rate by four-tenths of a percentage point or more, to the present [seasonally adjusted] 6.1%... The trade-off in jobs is not 1 for 1. The work done here by 1 person often requires 2 or 3 less-efficient workers over-seas... the nation's management consultants...are encouraging their corporate clients to take advantage of the multiplying opportunities over-seas... Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com... calculates that 995K jobs have been lost over-seas since the last recession began in 2001 March. That is 35% of the total decline in employment since then. While most of the loss is in manufacturing, about 15% is among college-trained professionals... Near the low end of the job-loss estimates sit John McCarthy, research analyst at Forrester Research Inc., and Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insights. For them the loss is 500K to [800K] jobs over the past 30 months, again mostly in manufacturing..."
2003-10-06 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
Exporting America continued
Lou Dobbs tonight transcripts
"Central Command today said 318 American troops have now been killed in Iraq since the start of the war against Saddam Hussein; 199 Americans have been killed in action, 119 in accidents. And the number of wounded or injured troops has risen to 1,743, more than 1,400 of them wounded of them in action... When the world needs money, the United States writes a check, the largest financial contributor to the U.N. since it began in 1945. Last year, the United States still was giving more to the U.N. in money and food than any other country, half the World Food Program and 22% of World Health. But it is not just U.N. programs. It's also the World Trade Organization and others... Texas has a 1,200 mile border with Mexico. It has the second largest population of illegal aliens... Bernie Sanders [said], 'We have $120G trade deficit with China, which is costing us approximately 1M jobs.'... 'The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered. And assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt.' That from...Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero... Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles offers nurses a choice of a signing bonus up $7K, a new car lease, or trips. This is on top of an average starting salary as high as $65K a year... In the last decade, there has been an exodus of nurses, fueled by burnout and more career choices being offered to women. In 1996, 438K licensed nurses were no longer working in the profession. By the year 2000 that number jumped 12% with 494K outside the field. The American Nurses Association says its existing nurses were taking advantage of the bonuses, hopping from hospital to hospital. But the overall pool has not increased."
Stan Gibson _eWeek_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Continues
"ITAA, located in the Washington, DC, area, represents the interests of some 400 IT companies [executives]. Absent from the discussion were speakers who may have suffered from the trend to import foreign technology workers under the H-1B visa program or to export technology jobs through off-shore out-sourcing."
Marianne Kolbasuk McGee _Information Week_
Avoiding the Hot Skills Chase
Lynne Finnerty _American Farm Bureau_
Negotiation 101: It Requires Give and Take
"It's disingenuous to criticize subsidies the United States has already offered to slash when developing countries aren't willing to reciprocate with tariff cuts, which are important to U.S. farmers, or negotiations on rules on corruption and foreign investment, which are important to the European Union... India's average agricultural tariff is 114% compared to the average U.S. tariff of 12%. The recalcitrance of India, [Red China] and Brazil is unfortunate, because they dragged along for the ride several smaller, poorer developing countries in Africa and Asia that could benefit from trade reform."
2003-10-07 06:00PDT (09:00EDT) (13:00GMT)
Allen Kenney _CBS.MarketWatch.com_/_Medill News Service_
Middle class avoided stock market boom & bust: Average Americans saving more, planning better
"A study of Federal Reserve data and independent surveys by the Consumer Federation of America and Providian Financial shows that while many investors scoured the market for the latest Internet fads, middle-income families salted their money away in their homes. As a result, households with annual incomes between $20K and $80K -- three-fifths of all American households -- were spared the nightmares of the most recent market slump... According to data from the Fed, the median net wealth of middle-income households rose from $60K in 1995 to $74K in 2001, a 23% gain. 53% of such households owned stocks with a median value of just $17,500 - less than one-fourth of their net wealth, the study found... Wealthy Americans, in contrast, put approximately 30% of their wealth in the stock market and less than 30% in home equity..."
Lou Dobbs & Frank Buckley & Bill Tucker _CNN_
Great American Give-Away
Lou Dobbs tonight transcripts
"Terrorists killed another 3 American soldiers in the past 24 hours; 321 American troops have now been killed since the start of the war against Saddam Hussein; 202 were killed in combat, 119 in accidents. Another 1,749 have been wounded in Iraq, most of them by hostile fire. Three soldiers were today wounded in Tikrit as well when a bomb exploded under their Humvee... Statewide, we're told that at least they're expecting a 60% turn-out, perhaps as much as a 65% turn-out... 'Always vote for principle. Though you may vote alone, and you may cherish that your vote is never lost.' That from John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States... The United States sends more than $14G of medical aid and care around the world every year. Some of that from the government, even more from private sources... The United States spends more money to help the world's sick than any other country. This year, that means $3G and that's just the government's side of the story. Officials in the U.S. Agency for International Development estimate that American businesses, foundations, faith-based groups and individuals will give another $11G this year alone... USAID for global health program is a 1.5G. The Department of Health and Human Services will distribute $752M. And U.S. government funding for international organizations has a budget of $617M. Part of that money to fund the World Health Organization where we're the biggest donor. We're also the biggest sponsor of the International Red Cross another $150M there... the pharmaceutical industry which from 1998 to 2001 gave nearly $2G in drugs and cash donations to the developing countries..."
Nicholas Wade _NY Times_
American & Briton Win Nobel for Improving & Applying NMR to Medical Imaging
"by last year, 22K M.R.I. cameras were in use worldwide, and more than 60M scans had been performed. Magnetic resonance imaging is based on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. When the medical imaging use of the technique was developed, the word 'nuclear' was dropped, for purely cosmetic reasons, for fear that the public might think 'nuclear' implied radioactive. In fact, it refers not to the disintegration of atomic nuclei, but to their harmless behavior in the presence of a magnetic field. Certain nuclei like those of hydrogen, which is ubiquitous in the water molecules in the body, absorb and emit radio waves of precise frequency when they are aligned in a strong magnetic field. It is these signals that are used to build an image of the tissues."
Sandra Blakeslee _NY Times_
A Pregnant Mother's Diet May Turn the Genes Around
"The research is a milestone in the relatively new science of epigenetics, the study of how environmental factors like diet, stress and maternal nutrition can change gene function without altering the DNA sequence in any way... For answers, epigeneticists are looking at biological mechanisms other than mutation that affect how genes function. One, called methylation, acts like a gas pedal or brake. It can turn gene expression up or down, on or off, depending on how much of it is around and what part of the genetic machinery it affects. During methylation, a quartet of atoms called a methyl group attaches to a gene at a specific point and induces changes in the way the gene is expressed. The process often inactivates genes not needed by a cell. The genes on one of the two X chromosomes in each female cell are silenced by methylation. Methyl groups and other small molecules may sometimes attach to certain spots on chromosomes, helping to relax tightly coiled strands of DNA so that genes can be expressed. Sometimes the coils are made tighter so that active genes are inactivated. Methyl groups also inactivate remnants of past viral infections, called transposons. 40% of the human genome is made up of parasitic transposons. Finally, methyl groups play a critical role in controlling genes involved in prenatal and postnatal development, including some 80 genes inherited from only one parent. Because these so-called imprinted genes must be methylated to function, they are vulnerable to diet and other environmental factors... Methylation is nature's way of allowing environmental factors to tweak gene expression without making permanent mutations, Dr. Jirtle said. Fleeting exposure to anything that influences methylation patterns during development can change the animal or person for a life-time... the researchers fed the animals a rich supply of methyl groups in supplements of vitamin B12, folic acid, choline and betaine from sugar beets just before they got pregnant and through the time of weaning their pups. The methyl groups silenced the transposon... Abnormal methylation patterns are a hallmark of most cancers, including colon, lung, prostate and breast cancer, said Dr. Peter Laird, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine... Methylation that occurs after birth may also shape such behavioral traits as fearfulness and confidence, said Dr. Michael Meaney, a professor of medicine and the director of the program for the study of behavior, genes and environment at McGill University in Montreal... Pups that are licked show decreased methylation patterns in an area of the brain that helps them handle stress. Faced with challenges later in life, they tend to be more confident and less fearful."
Saritha Rai _NY Times_
India Inc. Advertising Supplement: As it Continues to Cost Cut Wall Street Still Looks to India
"Both teams will consist of junior-level analysts collecting data, analyzing balance sheets and working on basic financial models... is seen by many experts as yet another phase in the latest drift of jobs to low-cost countries that began in the early 1990's with Silicon Valley companies... [Red China], India, the Philippines and Russia are expected to gain most of the work. And many people expect India to snare much of the highly prized jobs, like the kind Wall Street is starting to export... India's low real estate costs and salaries... Still, the average entry-level salary for graduates [of the Indian Institute of Management] last year was just 600K rupees, or $13,226, for jobs in India."
Anne Fisher _Fortune_
More Labor Shortage Propaganda
Sharon Gaudin _CyberAtlas_
"Worst is Over" for High-Tech Lay-Offs
"With a 50% reduction in high-tech job cuts from the same time last year, one industry observer says it looks like the worst is over. Technology-related job losses have taken a big dive. There were 47,998 job cuts announced for the third-quarter of this year, bringing the 2003 total so far to 145,997, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., an international out-placement firm based in Chicago. That is 56% fewer lay-offs than the 334,650 that slammed the already beleaguered industry between 2002 January and September... The out-placement firm reports that the telecommunications sector is still taking a hit, largely accounting for the fact that the third quarter saw about 9K more job losses than the second quarter. In this past quarter, telecommunications job cuts surged 73% from a 6-month total of 36,025 to a 9-month total of 62,389... In the first 9 months of 2002, 1-in-3 announced job cuts came in the high-tech field. In 2003, tech accounts for only 17% of the 872,080 job cuts... a survey done by the Information Technology Association of America that found that 493,400 IT positions will need to be filled by 2004 May."
Dick Morris & Eileen McGann _Cagle Post_
Popular Up-Rising Against the Political Class
"Each event is part of a popular uprising against the political class that governs America. Voters realize, correctly, that our nation's politicians are a self-serving, self-perpetuating oligarchy that rules us with scant regard for our concerns and interests... The reapportionment of 2002 designed congressional districts that favored incumbents of both parties, leaving virtually no room for challengers to be elected. Of 435 members of the House of Representatives, only 4 incumbents lost to nonincumbents of the other party. In all, 96% of incumbents were re-elected. (It was only 90% in 1992 and 1982 after the previous reapportionments.)"
Bruce Bartlett _National Review_
Lump of labor pains
"Economists call this the 'lump of labor' fallacy. It is wrong because work is not homogeneous, either geographically or in terms of skills. Nor is the demand for labor fixed. Most important, it is a function of the price. If unions raise the wage rate above the market-clearing level, then unemployment is going to rise. Similarly, if government mandates a rise in wage rates, as France did by reducing hours at the same weekly wage, then you are also going to see higher unemployment."
2003-10-08 09:17PDT (12:17EDT) (16:17GMT)
cell membrane channel research wins Nobel prize
"Peter Agre, a medical professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, was cited 'for the discovery of water channels' in human cells, according to the Nobel Web site. Roderick MacKinnon, a professor of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics at The Rockefeller University in NY, received the honor 'for structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels'."
2003-10-08 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bill Tucker _CNN_
Lou Dobbs tonight transcripts
"Defying the odds, history, trash politics, charges of sexual misconduct, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now governor-elect of California. And Schwarzenegger won big. He took half the votes of women, a third of the votes of Latinos. Schwarzenegger won by an impressive 16% over his nearest challenger... The United States maintains a military presence in more than two-thirds of the countries on this planet. Our defense budget is more than that of all of the other NATO members combined, $370G a year... According to a new Gallup poll, 45% of Americans surveyed say the news media is too liberal. Only 14% say the media is too conservative. Those numbers remain pretty much unchanged over the past 3 years... Walt Hunter, KYW correspondent: 'Rising tide of voices here in Philadelphia tonight, calling on the FBI of their Philadelphia office behind me to break their silence. Among the voices calling for the FBI to come forward and explain the bugs, none other than Arlen Specter, our state Senator, our U.S. Senator and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell.'... Randy Graf: 'the federal government is very lax in controlling the border. The numbers coming across on an annual basis are far more than the number just given of 200K or 300K. We have more than that coming across in the Tucson sector alone.'... Now the results of our poll question tonight, 'should the United States adjust its military presence around the world?'. 83% of you said reduce military presence, 18% said raise it and 9% said maintain the status quo."
2003-10-09 07:48PDT (10:48EDT) (14:48GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims fall to 8-month low
"The seasonally adjusted four-week average of initial claims sank by 11,500 to 393,500 in the week ending October 4, the lowest since early February. The 4-week average is down by nearly 20K in the past 4 weeks. Read the full release. Meanwhile, initial claims in the most recent week fell 23K to 382K, also the lowest since early February. The 4-week average is considered a better gauge of the health of the labor market than the volatile weekly number, which is subject to revisions... While lay-offs may be slowing, hiring still hasn't picked up steam. The 4-week average for continuing claims for state unemployment benefits eased by 2K to 3.63M after peaking at 3.73M in June. Continuing claims have been between 3.4M and 3.8M for nearly 2 years. The figures do not include some 832K workers receiving federal benefits, which are available once state benefits are exhausted, typically after 26 weeks. Including federal benefits, about twice as many people are receiving unemployment checks now than did in the late 1990s."
2003-10-09 09:04PDT (12:04EDT) (16:04GMT)
Jennifer Waters _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retailers' robust sales sail past September expectations
"An early tally of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's chain-store index of the nation's largest retailers showed an aggregate 5.9% jump in sales at stores open longer than a year -- the industry benchmark known as comparable-store sales. That's stronger than the 5.1% performance seen in August and well ahead of expectations for 4.5% growth. All in all, the September results marked the strongest showing since 2002 March."
2003-10-09 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Lou Dobbs tonight transcripts
"A soldier died of his wounds today after his convoy was attacked north of Baghdad; 323 American troops have now been killed in Iraq, 203 in combat, 120 in accidents. Another 1,781 Americans have been wounded or injured. In Baghdad today, terrorists exploded a car bomb at an Iraqi police station. 8 people were killed; 32 others were wounded. That attack was the latest in a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad since August... Walt Hunter, KYW reporter: 'The high-rise just to the right of city hall is the Center Square Building. CBS-3 has learned the FBI initially hoped to install a sophisticated listening device in one of the offices there. On a direct line of sight to the mayor's window, it would have allowed agents to listen in without having to physically install a bug inside the office.'... Joseph Siegle, CFR: 'The Peace Corps budget's about $300M a year currently.'... Border Patrol officials in Laredo, Texas, released dozens of illegal aliens from a detention center yesterday. The reason, they said, a lack of space and a lack of money. The illegal aliens will be assigned dates for deportation hearings, but federal officials admit they have no way to guarantee those individuals will actually show up for the hearings... Elizabeth Flores, mayor of Laredo, TX: 'They detained them, just to find out that the deportation offices didn't have enough money to detain them or to deport them... these were all South and Central Americans we know nothing about... They actually paid for these people to make a phone call to their friends and neighbors that are already in the United States and they got a free ticket to many of these places within the United States.'... Bill Richardson: 'our trade with Mexico for the first time has decreased from 23 to $22G per year.'... Mexico is a nation of 100M people. The United States by most estimates right now is absorbing one-half of the natural population growth of Mexico and some of it legal, most of it illegal immigration... From Dallas, Texas, 'Since the Mexican government has taken upon itself the issuing of an identity card called matricula consular to illegal immigrants, why don't we pass a [law] which would allow these cards to be presented to hospitals and medical providers as a Mexican Medicare card through which we could bill the Mexican government for services provided. The same procdedure could be used when enrolling illegal children in our schools.' That from Bob Wilson."
David Leonhardt _NY Times_
Econometrics Collaborators Win Nobel Prize
"An American and a Briton have won this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for developing statistical methods that allow researchers, policy makers and Wall Street traders to better analyze stock prices and other long-running series of data... Robert F. Engle... and Clive W. J. Granger... spent much of their career working together at the University of California at San Diego... Before the two published their work, economists often had to assume that a variable was no more likely to move in one direction than the other, even when the evidence -- such as the rise in stocks over the last 200 years -- showed otherwise... In the late 1970s, however, Professor Granger developed ways to analyze the relationship between 2 statistics that had both a long-term trend and an element of randomness. The month-to-month fluctuation in consumer spending, even as driven more broadly by changes in household wealth, is one example. Professor Engle's primary work improved the understanding of volatility, particularly in the stock market, and enabled economists to make more accurate forecasts."
Illinois Charges Bernard Haldane Company With Deceiving Job-Seekers
"Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit against a career counseling company that allegedly deceived its clients to obtain advance fees for its services. Madigan's suit charges two corporations operating under the name Bernard Haldane and Associates with charging job-seekers hefty up-front fees for access to a supposed 'secret job market' which in fact does not exist."
Paul McDougall _Information Week_
Indiana senator pushes for anti-out-sourcing measure
"State senator Jeff Drozda is working on a bill that would restrict off-shore 'IT' out-sourcing by state agencies or the use of vendors whose USA staff is mostly visa workers... Tata [TCS], which was hired by the state's Department of Workforce Development, has a long track record of replacing American high-tech workers with lower-paid L-1 visa immigrants... it's particularly outrageous that the Department of Workforce Development has tapped an off-shore firm, given that its mission is to 'create 200K new high-wage, high-skill jobs' in Indiana."
2003-10-10 00:17PDT (03:17EDT) (07:17GMT)
Ted Lang _Sierra Times_
On Socialism: Lessons of California
"The California elections and official party platform statement of the Republican National Committee confirm that big government safety and security is in for Amerika, and a free market economy and individual freedom are out... Item 1. Abolition of private property ñ state property taxes, liberal interpretation of eminent domain which allows confiscation of the lands of lesser real estate tax-payers transferring them to higher property tax-payers, such as shopping malls and Costco; asset forfeiture by federal, state and local police based only upon the accusation of criminal wrong-doing."
2003-10-10 05:30PDT (08:30EDT) (12:30GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US September PPI up 0.3% on higher food prices
"the core rate of inflation was flat for finished goods ready for sale at retail... At the intermediate level of processing, prices fell 0.1%, with the core rate up 0.1%."
2003-10-10 12:17PDT (15:17EDT) (20:17GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Analysts doubt M$ vow to improve software security
"Analysts were doubtful Friday that M$ would be able to uphold a pledge to prevent e-mail attacks and make software security a 'No. 1 priority'. 'Security requires such fundamental changes that it's hard to make real progress quickly.', said George Gilbert, former CSFB analyst and co-founder of the research firm Tech Strategy Group."
2003-10-10 10:18PDT (13:18EDT) (17:18GMT)
Jonathan Krim _Forbes_
Andy Grove Says US Is Losing Edge in Tech Sector Due to Off-Shoring
"Grove, 67, singled out [Red China] and India as key threats. India's booming software industry, which is increasingly doing work for U.S. companies, could surpass the United States in software and tech service jobs by 2010, he said... Grove also said the country lags dangerously behind in popular use of high-speed Internet connections, funding for science and technology research, and education."
2003-10-10 13:40PDT (16:40EDT) (20:40GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks diverge, Dow ends down (with graph)
"Major U.S. stock indexes diverged Friday, as the Nasdaq celebrated the first birthday of a new bull market with a modest gain... The Dow Jones Industrials Average slipped 5 points to close at 9,675, erasing earlier gains of as much as 32 points, as 18 of 30 components traded lower... The Nasdaq Composite tacked on 3 points to end at 1,915 and the S&P 500 Index was flat at 1,038. On 2002 October 10, the Dow had hit a 6-year low of 7,197 in intra-day trading, and has since gained 34%. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 hit their respective bear market bottoms of 1,108 and 769 on the same day, and have gained 72% and 35% in the last year."
2003-10-10 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Great American Give-Away: Food Aid
"This country spends more than $1G a year to deliver food to hungry people all over the globe. That amounts to about two-thirds of all international food aid... The United States provided more than 70% of financial commodity donations last year... USAID has been boosting food donations over the years, from $835M worth in 2001 to some $1.2G next year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also sends food aid, some $600M worth last year... More than 430M worth of food was channeled through U.N. agencies... The United States' trade deficit with [Red China] widened to a record $11.7G in August. So far this year, the trade deficit with [Red China] is running more than 20% higher than a year ago. Imports from [Red China] continue to rise, as we've reported extensively on this show. And American jobs are continuing to be exported over-seas. My guest says the exportation of labor over-seas can help, however, the U.S. economy. Diana Farrell is the director of the McKinsey Global Institute..."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
Snoop Software Gains Power & Continues to Increase Privacy Concerns
"Marc Rotenberg, who heads the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, contended that selling software that can tap people's communications without their knowledge violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. 'I don't think there's any question that they are violating the federal law.', he said. The disclaimers, he said, 'fail the straight-face test'. Law enforcement officials seem to agree. According to Chris Johnson, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, the F.B.I. recently began an investigation in California into the maker of one program, LoverSpy, that advertises heavily via junk e-mail, or spam."
Fox Butterfield _NY Times_
Ex-F.B.I. Agent Is Charged in a 1981 Gangland Killing
"A former F.B.I. agent was charged with helping to arrange the execution of a wealthy Tulsa, OK, businessman."
Bugging Philadelphia's Mayor
"The voters in Philadelphia deserve a better explanation of why their incumbent mayor's office was bugged by federal investigators."
Heather Fleming Phillips _San Jose Mercury News_
Andy Grove warns of US software down-fall
"The U.S. software industry is about to lose jobs and market share to foreign competitors unless the government acts quickly to fight [for] protectionist trade policies and double U.S. productivity, he said... He predicted that the software and services industry is about to travel the well-worn path of the steel and semiconductor industries. Steel's market share dropped from about 50% to 10% in a few decades. U.S. chip companies saw theirs shrink from 90% to about 50% today. Now the writing is on the wall that software could suffer the same fate, said Grove, whose 1996 bestseller was titled _Only the Paranoid Survive_... he was speaking on National Depression Day."
Arnold Kling _Corante Tech News_
Et tu, Andrew Grove?
"'Intel Corp. co-founder and chairman Andrew S. Grove said that the software and technology service [bodyshopping] businesses are under siege by countries taking advantage of cheap labor costs and strong incentives for new financial investment.' What do you propose, Andy? tariffs on chips? Anti-dumping laws against Indian software developers?... We're in a frustrating period of high unemployment and slack capacity. But that's a problem to be solved by time and by monetary policy. Anything else that is done in the name of 'saving jobs' will be counterproductive. Oh -- and Grove thinks that expensing stock options would kill capitalism."
Landon Thomas _NY Times_
The disclosures under-score how the New York Stock Exchange has paid all its senior executives on a scale equivalent to some of Wall Street's top bankers.
"Two months after disclosing that its chairman was owed nearly $200M, the New York Stock Exchange said yesterday that its other top executives were due $133M in retirement payments... the exchange reported a profit of $28M last year, a small figure compared with the numbers reported by the securities firms that it regulates."
Dinitia Smith _NY Times_
Listening to Patients
"said Dr. Jerry Vannatta, former dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. 'It is easy to lose sight of the fact that still, in the 21st century, it is believed that 80% to 85% of the diagnosis is in the patient's story.' Yet medical educators say that doctors are insufficiently trained to listen to those stories. After all, there is no reimbursement category on insurance forms for it."
Paran Balakrishnan _Business Standard_
The Terminator and the jobless
"What's the link between the election of Terminator turned Gubernator Arnold Schwarzenegger and the great outsourcing debate taking place in the United States? The answer is one word: jobs... joblessness is at extraordinary highs in a state that is used to prosperity. It at an overall level of 6% and has even hit 8% in some districts."
Motoko Rich _NY Times_
Staying in the Family Home May Mean Takin Others In
"For a growing number of people, the ideal of a family home -- a house with a yard and a garage -- now involves sharing it with a stranger... Some 65K to 300K granny flats are springing up in cities and suburbs every year, with or without local sanction, according to a study sponsored by AARP. Self-contained, with private entrances, kitchens and baths, they can be built into a garage or tucked into a basement, or they can stand as a cottage in the back yard... Granny flats were once an American tradition. In some urban neighborhoods of the late 19th and early 20th century, architects included two or three units in town houses to accommodate extended families. Wealthy families in rural communities built separate apartments in their homes or back yard carriage houses for their help."
Amy Harmon _NY Times_
What Price Music, Movies?
"When CD's debuted in the mid-1980's, record labels sold the shiny discs for $18, more than double the price of what they charged for the same music on LP's and cassettes that cost more to manufacture... Ninety-nine cents is only slightly less than the cost of a song on a CD (given the usual price, around $14, and the usual number of tracks, around 12). And adjusting for inflation, it is about 10 times more than 45-r.p.m. singles cost during their heyday in the 1950s... In practical terms, record companies would have to slash the wholesale price they charge on-line retailers (which at present is 70 or 80 cents a track). That would mean accepting a slimmer profit margin for on-line sales than for CD's, which they currently seem intent on resisting."
Jim Rendon _NY Times_
Solar Electricity Starting to Make Economic Sense
"Solar power cannot yet provide that; the average commercial installation is expected to pay for itself in 5 to 9 years... Since the 1990's, the market for products that capture electricity from the sun has grown about 20% a year, In the last 3 years, the growth has accelerated to about 33% a year... BP Solar had $300M in revenue in 2002, compared with BP's total of $178.7G... In 1999, grid-connected systems in the United States produced 4M watts of power. By the end of 2003, Ms. Frantzis estimates, they will account for 65M watts of electricity... The 15 states that offer rebates for renewable energy projects have pledged $4.4G to them from 1998 to 2012... There are fewer than 5K grid-connected solar setups in the United States, compared with 40K systems in Japan, most of them residential, said Glenn Hamer, executive director of the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington."
Christopher Stewart _NY Times_
Long-Term UnEmployed Say Networking Has Run Dry
"network burn-out or network fatigue -- appears to be a natural consequence of too many job seekers asking for too many favors. And many people in a position to hire are getting tired of it."
Joel Mowbray _Town Hall_
"nuking" the State Department
"State Department spokesman Richard Boucher threw a tantrum Thursday. The cause of his ire? Not foreign dictators or nuclear-armed tyrants. Boucher's wrath was [aimed] at Pat Robertson..."
2003-10-13 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & William Schneider & Peter Viles & Kitty Pilgrim & Miguel Marquez _CNN_
DREAM AG JOBS for illegal immigrants
"The U.S. military says terrorists killed 3 U.S. troopers over the past 24 hours. The latest deaths mean that 331 Americans have now been killed in the war against Saddam Hussein; 211 killed in combat, 120 more killed in accidents. Another 1,831 Americans have been wounded or injured, nearly 1,500 of them by hostile fire... the rebound was concentrated among higher income Americans, those earning more than $75K a year. Those are people who keep a close eye on the stock market... Who goes to bat for illegal aliens? Not just protesters, but this fall, members of Congress, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, along with 35 of his colleagues, pushing the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, the DREAM Act -- get it? It provides permanent resident status, college aid to illegal aliens who came to this country when they were 16 or younger, have been here at least five years and graduated high school. [In the] Mean-time, [leftist] Democrat Ted Kennedy, with some Republican support pushing the Agriculture Jobs Opportunity Benefits and Security Act, AG JOBS -- get it? It would grant guest worker status to illegal aliens who have worked on farms over the past 18 months and agree to continue for the next six years. They could then apply for permanent resident status... growers and the farm unions...want the illegal aliens to continue working on the farms... The United States is growing by more than 3M people each year... 120M more people are living in the country than 40 years ago... Carl Haub, Population Reference Bureau [said], 'In about 2 to 3 years, we will hit that 300M mark...'... there are more than 53M students in k-12 today... William Frey, U of Mich [said], 'Somewhere between half and three-quarters of our population growth can be attributed to the combined effects of immigration and natural increase. And of course, immigration contributes to that natural increase, because immigrants have higher than average fertility.'... 70K workers from San Diego to Santa Barbara at Von's, Ralph's and Albertson's stores here in Southern California. The union struck against 1 store, and the other 2 chains locked their employees out. In St. Louis, about 10K grocery workers on the picket line, and in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, the union there has OKayed a strike against 44 Kroger's stores, and company officials there have decided to simply close all of them until the strike ends... They want employees to pay a piece of their coverage. Of course, the unions say the companies want to cap spending, effectively cutting their benefits by 50%."
2003-10-13 14:45PDT (17:45EDT) (21:45GMT)
Elliot Spagat _AP_
Scripps Research Institute and Florida law-makers detail plans for bio-tech center in Palm Beach county
"Scripps president Dr. Richard Lerner told Florida Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and 13 law-makers that the center works to achieve scientific breakthroughs and license its discoveries to drug companies. He spoke in front of a map that showed major drug companies that have established operations next to Scripps' facilities, including Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co... Florida governor John E. Bush, aiming to make Florida a major player in bio-technology, last week unveiled a plan to have the nonprofit research organization open a branch in Palm Beach County. He called law-makers into a special session on October 20 to consider the proposal. Monday's tour in the sea-side district of La Jolla was in effect a sales pitch for law-makers to approve $310M in federal funding to provide seed money for the project. Palm Beach County would offer an additional $140M for a new 360K-square-foot research unit."
Eric Taub _NY Times_
Economics of Digital Movies from Studio to Screen
"economics and industry politics, as well as continued disagreements over technical formats, have delayed the long-predicted digital revolution in movie theaters. A big sticking point is the standoff between theater owners and Hollywood studios over who will pay to update the nation's 35K projection booths... In all, fewer than 80 cinemas in the United States have movie-quality digital projectors... Throughout the world, fewer than 200 cinemas in some two dozen countries are using digital projectors to show movies - with most of the machines paid for by the manufacturers for test-marketing purposes... Aesthetics aside, the exhibitors say that the cost-benefit analysis comes down too much in favor of the studios, which could save a couple of million dollars on each movie they release if they could send it to theaters as digital files - whether by satellite, or high-speed network lines, or on hard drives - rather than shipping film copies that can cost $1,200 each. At that rate, a 2K-print domestic release, common for a typical feature film, costs about $2.4M in duplication costs, according to Screen Digest, a British research firm, which estimated that the movie studios spend a total of $1.36G a year to produce and distribute prints worldwide. The way the theater owners see it, the costs would not offset any benefits. A typical 35mm projector, they say, costs $30K and lasts up to 30 years. But a feature-film-grade digital projector is expected to cost as much as $150K, at least initially. And because it is a new technology, its effective life is unknown. Beyond the price of the projector would be the cost of the satellite dishes or high-speed transmission lines needed to receive the digital file, as well as an investment in the automated theater management systems to connect and control the entire operation... '[But] It still takes from 4 to 10 hours to prepare and test the digital print prior to its first screening.'... And the film studios plan to use various forms of scrambling software - encryption - to keep the movies unviewable by anyone not possessing keys to the digital code... 'With only 35K screens in the U.S., and an additional 115K in the rest of the world', Mr. Fithian of the theater owners' trade group said, 'the economies of scale are not there to create lower prices.'"
Ted Sickinger _Oregonian_
Clamor rises against work visas: Tech workers' worries about foreign labor intensify as jobs and wages decline
"The reason, in part at least, he contends, is at least partly that techies imported from Asia on visas known as H-1Bs and L-1s are crowding U.S. engineers and programmers out of a tight job market... U.S. tech workers have long bashed the H-1B visa program, intended to enable U.S. employers to hire foreigners with specialized skills. Critics complained the industry-touted worker shortage of the 1990s was a myth engineered by tech employers in search of cheap workers. But the rhetoric has gathered new steam with the down-turn, and its focus has recently been broadened to include L-1 visas, which let multi-national corporations relocate foreign employees with specialized knowledge of their companies' products and services to the United States. Now, critics claim say abuse of both visa programs has aggravated high-tech unemployment during the recent down-turn. Moreover, white-collar workers, who once felt immune to global forces, fear that by enabling companies to train foreign nationals who can then return home, the programs are helping U.S. companies export high-wage jobs to lower-cost over-seas operations."
Tech workers say work visa abuse is aggravating unemployment
"Critics complained the industry-touted worker shortage of the 1990s was a myth engineered by tech employers in search of cheap workers. But the rhetoric has gathered new steam with the down-turn, and its focus has recently been broadened to include L-1 visas, which let multi-national corporations relocate foreign employees with specialized knowledge of their companies' products and services to the United States. Now, critics say abuse of both visa programs has aggravated high-tech unemployment during the recent down-turn... Reformers want to place a permanent cap on H-1Bs and require all employers to recruit U.S. workers before filling jobs with guest workers. They would like to add annual caps, wage requirements and anti-lay-off provisions to the L-1 program and bar companies from contracting out L-1 workers to other employers."
John M. Broder _NY Times_
California Grocery Strike Deters Shoppers
"Picket lines were set up outside hundreds of super-markets starting Saturday night as members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union walked off the job here for the first time in 25 years. The strike was called against the Vons and Pavilions chains, which are operated by Safeway Inc. The owners of their chief competitors, Albertson's and Ralphs, locked out U.F.C.W. workers as part of a joint negotiating strategy. The action affects 859 stores and 70K workers... For now, the companies appear willing to accept the strike as a step toward lowering labor costs and becoming more competitive with Wal-Mart and other 'big box' stores. The companies began planning for a strike months ago and training replacement workers this summer... Eric Garcetti, a member of the Los Angeles City Council, expressed sympathy for supermarket owners trying to keep costs down to compete against giants like Wal-Mart. He has introduced an ordinance intended to slow the Wal-Mart expansion and protect neighborhood markets. But Mr. Garcetti also said workers were being asked to sacrifice too much to protect their employers' profits. 'This is bigger than California and bigger than the grocery business.', said Mr. Garcetti, the grandson of two U.F.C.W. members. 'Throughout America, we're seeing a race to the bottom on benefits. The idea of Wal-Mart coming has employers so scared they want to negotiate away employee benefits. At what point do workers say enough is enough?'"
Stephanie Paterik _Arizona Republic_
Cities forced to account for land use: County assessor seeking un-tapped revenue sources
"The county is dusting off the books, studying aerial photographs and asking cities one by one to submit detailed lists of land they own and what it is used for. Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert have completed the audit, and Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe are next. Phoenix will be served a request for information this month, Ross said... An eminent domain case involving Bailey Brake Service in Mesa garnered national attention this month after the city unsuccessfully tried to condemn it as part of a redevelopment."
Mike Schneider _AP_/_Lexington Kentucky Herald-Leader_
Many New Positions Fall Into Florida's Low-Wage Category
"Two-fifths of the private-sector jobs Florida gained during the last year fell into job sectors in which the average annual pay was less than $24,297, according to a review of labor statistics. The 39K jobs in those sectors pay less than 75% of Florida's average annual pay of $32,397. Bruce Nissen, director of research at Florida International University in Miami's Center for Labor Research and Studies, said he isn't surprised that low-paying jobs dominate the new positions... The rest of the newly created jobs in Florida were split between sectors considered middling on the pay scale and higher-paying jobs. Less than a third of the jobs (30,800 positions) fell into sectors that paid between $24,297 and $40,496, and more than a quarter of the jobs (27,800 positions) fell into sectors that had an average annual pay higher than $40,496, or 125 percent of the state's average annual pay, according to the review. Florida had a net gain of 90,500 jobs in the past year; more than 127K jobs were created, while about 36,500 jobs were lost... Leading Florida's job growth in the past year were job-placement services (average annual pay of $21,511), local government (average annual pay of $38,280) and construction specialty-trade contractors (average annual pay of $30,131). Florida's population growth of about 1K people a day has contributed to the boom in construction."
2003-10-14 05:00PDT (08:00EDT) (12:00GMT)
Kate Evans-Correia _Search400_
Lower H-1B quota seen as still too many, decreased too late
"'It's certainly a move in the right direction.', said Rick Nashleanas, principal and founder of the IT head-hunter firm Monarch Technology Management LLC, based in Colorado Springs, CO. 'But it's not going to have the impact that was hoped for. People were looking for a way to hire [American] again. It's OK, but it's not helping in terms of preventing the technical jobs from going over-seas. It's a finger in the dike.'... 'My contention is that, from fairly early on, it became more and more apparent that it was never about a skills shortage -- it was about cheap labor.', said Nate Viall, president of Nate Viall and Associates, a Des Moines, Iowa-based iSeries research and recruiting firm. 'It wasn't that we didn't have technical staff to do C++ or Visual Basic. It was that we didn't have people with degrees and 3 years' experience with Java [which has only existed since the mid-1990s] to work in San Jose for $25K -- that was the shortage. The point is, the fact that they're still using H-1B when there's all [these] bodies out there just reinforces that it's about cheap labor and not shortages.'...
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 200K U.S. workers who fall into the engineering and computer job sectors that are out of work. The unemployment rate hovers at about 6%... The fact is, Nashleanas said, the real drain in U.S. jobs now isn't the result of H-1B visas -- it's from shipping jobs over-seas."
2003-10-14 10:32PDT (13:32EDT) (17:32GMT)
"For $750 a month, an executive gets 2 hours of training, 2 one-hour phone calls and e-mail support... GC, a Gainesville, FL, consultant who offers confidential, $50-an-hour technology training to executives."
John Ribeiro _IDG_
Restoration of H-1B limits won't have a big effect
"'The cut in H-1B visas will not affect offshore service companies, as there are already a large number of H-1B visas issued, and these are valid for 3 years, and are renewable for another three years.', said John McCarthy, group director for research at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, MA. U.S. customers of off-shore service providers are not worried about the cuts either, he said... A congressional cap on the number of foreign workers allowed to come into the U.S. on H-1B visas reverted on October 1, the start of the federal fiscal year, to pre-dot-com boom levels of 65K visas... Marcus Courtney, president and organizer of the Seattle-based Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), said of existing H-1B law. 'The law needs to be reformed so that it strengthens prevailing wage protections, ensures that all employers attest that they cannot find qualified U.S. employees to fill positions, and provides stronger protections for guest workers that come into the U.S. under the program.'"
2003-10-14 21:05PDT (2003-10-15 00:15EDT) (2003-10-15 05:15GMT)
Mike Tarsala _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Simple questions suggest tech froth is back
"The largest U.S. companies boosted directors' pay an average of 15% in 2002 to $158,562 according to a recent Aon Consulting study. That in a year when stocks had an historically poor year, and companies were cutting jobs at every opportunity. And since Oracle boosted sales only slightly in fiscal 2003 and it posted unexpectedly weak fiscal-first quarter sales, it's not clear how giving more to directors will help turn things around... far too many share-holders haven't the foggiest idea how to find quality investment information, and really wouldn't know what to do with it even if they had it."
2003-10-15 07:51PDT (10:51EDT) (14:51GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail sales slow in September
full report on Advance Monthly Sales for Retail Trade & Food Services
"After 3 months of robust sales, U.S. seasonally adjusted retail sales fell 0.2% in September, the first decline since April, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Although September's sales were soft, the government revised its estimates for July and August sales much higher... Auto sales tumbled 1.6% in September... Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.3%, the worst gain since May. Total sales rose 1.2% in August, much stronger than the 0.6% originally reported. Sales grew by 1.4% in July (revised from 1.3%) and by 0.9% in June."
2003-10-15 11:11PDT (14:11EDT) (18:11GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Fed's Beige Book Report Says Economy Is Improving
Beige Book Report
"A few districts reported a temporary boost to sales from recent tax cuts. Manufacturing is also strengthening in most regions, while capital spending was said to be 'mixed'. Several districts reported 'significant improvement in a wide variety of industries', including machine tools in Atlanta and Chicago, semiconductors in San Francisco, high-tech in Dallas and aerospace in St. Louis. 'Labor markets generally remain slack.'"
2004-10-15 11:40PDT (14:40EDT) (18:40GMT)
Kimberly Hill _CIO Today_/_NewsFactor_
Too Many IT Workers, Too Few Tech Jobs
"many skilled IT workers now find themselves in a group of hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of candidates for any particular job... 'I know one recruiter for a large insurance company who is receiving 10K resumes through the Web per month.', John Challenger, CEO of staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas , told NewsFactor... For some time, large companies have been using software to scan and categorize resumes, Challenger said... For the first cut, screeners tend to slice and dice the candidate data-base using particular key terms, such as geographic locations, degrees and acronyms attached to particular skills. More recently, makers of resource planning (ERP) and CRM software have been introducing more sophisticated modules, designed specifically to address the communication problems faced by IT recruiters and the managers they serve."
2003-10-15 14:58PDT (17:58EDT) (21:58GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Apple Q4 profit reaches $44M: Macintosh maker sees Q1 profits & sales increasing
"Apple posted a net profit of $44M, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $1.72G. Excluding $15M in after-tax gains, accounting transition adjustments and stock-repurchase settlements, Apple earned $29M, or 8 cents a share, to beat the estimates of Wall Street analysts for earnings of 7 cents a share, on sales of $1.67G... In the year-earlier quarter, Apple posted a net loss of $45M, or 13 cents a share, with sales of $1.4G. The personal computer maker said it shipped 787K of its Macintoshes during the quarter, up 7% from a year earlier, and 336K of its IPod digital music players, a 140% increase from last year's fourth quarter. For the full year, Apple said it earned $69M, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $6.21G."
2003-10-15 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Christine Romans _CNN_
Tech execs throwing away US lead
"Intel, by the way, has invested a quarter of a billion [$250G] in manufacturing plants in [Red China]. And in recent comments, Chairman Andy Grove warned that the United States is on the verge of losing its dominance in technology to other countries, thanks, he says, in large part to the outsourcing of jobs over-seas. Intel, incidentally, will have exported more than 3K of those jobs over the course of the next 2 years... The Goddard Space Flight Center says Russia has now about 1,300 satellites in orbit, the United States 700, [Red China], just about 21, all told, an estimated 2,500 functioning satellites orbiting the Earth... In the first half of the year, CEO base pay grew 4.3%. But cash bonuses surged 26%. And among the CEOs getting restricted stock, that payout surged 73%. That more than offsets any drop in the value of options granted. The median restricted stock pay-out, Lou, $2.3M for American CEOs... In 2 decades, we will be able to produce only enough food to feed ourselves at our present rate of population growth."
Ed Levine _NY Times_
Hey, Po' Boy, Meet Some Real Heroes
"We are a city of heroes. The rest of the country may clamor for po' boys and hoagies, grinders, subs, wedges or torpedoes, but New York knows what really constitutes a gigantic sandwich, and what raises the hero above those pretenders; what makes it gastronomic royalty."
William Safire _NY Times_
On Bashing Bashar
"Bashar al-Assad of Syria is clearly fostering terrorism, and we need to change his regime's behavior without regime change."
Rosemary Ellis _NY Times_
A public smoking ban in Helena, MT, caused the number of cardiac arrests to plummet by 58% in only 6 months.
Leonida Zurita-Vargas _NY Times_
"The US attack on coca production in Bolivia has only succeeded in impoverishing and angering the population."
Dan Chapman _Atlanta Journal-Constitution_
Revenge of the unemployed
"Upset with the loss of U.S. jobs to India, Russia and beyond, a group of unemployed white-collar Atlantans vowed this week to target Georgia politicians, governments and businesses they deem responsible for sending jobs over-seas... One of their targets: the state of Georgia, which employs an out-sourcing firm to handle calls from the state's food stamp recipients... Public opinion polls register what appears to be a rising wave of protests nationwide. 54% of Americans say free trade isn't worth the massive amount of lost jobs it engenders, according to a recent M$NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll. 35% say it is. Politicians, warns U.S. representative Donald Manzullo (R-IL), ignore the anti-globalization, anti-trade fervor at their own peril. 'This thing is so big [and] it shows the angst and the unemployment that's going on across the country.', said Manzullo, who chairs the powerful House Small Business Committee. Southern [off-shore] out-sourcing began more than a decade ago with the exodus of blue-collar textile and apparel workers. The trend has accelerated... The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which represents 80K scientists and engineers, approved a resolution recently to fight the out-sourcing of jobs."
Kevin Maney _USA Today_
That giant sucking sound could be US software jobs heading over-seas
"Lately, alarms have been going off in response to news that IBM, Oracle and other tech companies are moving programming jobs over-seas, especially to India. People in this country get ticked off when American jobs move off-shore during a time of rising unemployment here... As the industrial age waned, Grove told attendees, the U.S. share of steel production fell from 50% to 10%. In the 1980s, he said, the U.S. share of semiconductor manufacturing dove from 90% to 40%, before a major government and corporate effort -- including the Sematech consortium -- helped hold it there. Now, it seems to be software's turn, Grove said. He showed a chart extrapolating trends in software and tech services jobs. The U.S. line heads down; the over-seas line climbs. In 2010, the lines cross."
Ted Plafker _International Herald Tribune_
In Red China there is a flood of fake diplomas: Cheating on international exams also said to be wide-spread
"Ever since it launched market-oriented reforms of its socialist educational system in the 1990s, the Chinese government has struggled to wean college students from their long-standing expectations of subsidized schooling, and persuade them instead that an advanced degree was worth paying for. For better or worse, that effort has succeeded. The good news is that today's Chinese students are gladly willing to shell out their own money in pursuit of diplomas. The bad news is that hundreds of thousands of them have opted to hit the streets and buy fake ones on the black market, rather than hit the books and earn real ones in the halls of academe. In the bookshops, cafes and back streets of university districts in Beijing and many other cities, hawkers offer high quality fake diplomas for as little as 200 yuan, or about $25."
2003-10-15 22:22PDT (2003-10-16 01:22EDT) (2003-10-16 05:22GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Red China also decreases manufacturing jobs
"While the U.S. factory sector lost 2M jobs in the 1995-2002 period as companies moved over-seas to cut costs, [Red China's] manufacturing employment plunged by a staggering 15M over the same time frame, Carson said. The U.S. lost manufacturing jobs at a rate of 11% on average -- worse than the global average of 7% of the 20 major economies surveyed -- but better than [Red China's] manufacturing employment decline of 15%, he said. The loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs has become a hot political issue because of a sluggish economic recovery at home, presidential elections next year and a perception that [Red China] is responsible for the loss of American jobs by not allowing its yuan currency to appreciate. It appears that the yuan, which has been fixed at around 8.3 to the dollar for the past decade, has been a boon for exports but that hasn't necessarily translated into more manufacturing jobs for the Chinese. The under-valued yuan may even be losing its beneficial effects for the [Red Chinese] economy, given recent data showing imports growing faster than exports in the world's sixth-biggest economy."
2003-10-16 05:31PDT (08:31EDT) (12:31GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment Compensation Insurance claims fall to 8-month low
"The seasonally adjusted 4-week average of initial claims fell by 4,250 to 390,750 in the week ending October 11, the lowest since early February... Initial claims in the most recent week fell 4K to 384K, also the lowest since early February. The 4-week average for continuing claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 58K to 3.67M. This is the highest level since June."
2003-10-16 06:12PDT (09:12EDT) (13:12GMT)
Anna Willard _Reuters_
Unemployment Compensation Insurance Claims Fall: Inflation Stays Low
"Under-lying inflation, stripping out volatile food and energy costs rose 0.1% in September, in line with expectations. Over the last 12 months, the core CPI has risen just 1.2%, the smallest increase since February 1966, the department said... First-time filings for state unemployment aid fell 4K last week to 384K from the previous week. The number was broadly in line with analysts' expectations that claims would be 388K... 4-week moving average of initial filings...fell 4,250 to 390,750, also the lowest since early February... For the week ended October 4, the number of Americans claiming benefits after filing an initial claim climbed 58K to 3.67M."
2003-10-16 10:03PDT (13:03EDT) (17:03GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Federal Reserve of Philadelphia factory index hits 7-year high of 28.0
"The Philly Fed's business activity index rose to a 7-year high 28.0 in October from 14.6 in September... Following Wednesday's Beige Book release, expectations for a strong Philly Fed number increased, but the 28 mark was ahead of even the whisper numbers. The New York Fed's Empire State index was also surprisingly strong in October, rising to a record 33.7... In September, output in the manufacturing sector increased 0.7%, the biggest gain in more than three years, the Federal Reserve reported earlier Thursday. Auto production surged 6.6%... The new orders index jumped to an eight-year high of 29, while shipments rose to 28.8, the highest since late 1999. The employment index rose to 5.5, the highest in five years. The average work-week also increased to 13.5, the highest since 2000 March."
2003-10-16 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim & Peter Viles _CNN_
UN Resolution on Iraq: National Food Crisis Looming
"The Security Council voted unanimously to support a resolution that encourages other nations to send troops and money to Iraq... Syria's been on the list of states that sponsor terrorism for more than two decades. But tensions have been mounting since the war in Iraq... Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair-woman on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East, says Syria supports terrorism and it's time to act... Because of our population growth and other factors, including far too much commercial fishing, to the overdevelopment of our farmland, this nation is clearly headed for trouble... Commercial fishing is now so ruthlessly effective that 86 different stocks monitored by the federal government are so depleted, so threatened, the government classifies them as overfished, including haddock, cod, Atlantic sea scallops, and bluefish. Researches believe the ocean looked like this 40 years ago, and now this, after too much fishing. That excessive fishing and pollution have created giant dead zones in the ocean... It takes an acre, slightly more of crop-land, to feed one person per year. But from 1982 to 2001, crop-land available to feed Americans declined, from 420M acres to 370M, while the nation's population rose by 60M. That means the point at which America can no longer feed its population is fast approaching. Ralph Grossi, American FarmLand Trust [said], We have been losing about 1.2M acres of farm-land each year. And much of this is the very best, most productive land near our metropolitan areas...'... Farm-land has been disappearing most rapidly on the far edges of sprawling cities, in Texas, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and Illinois... But those countries who are taking over $50G of our food-stuffs now, their populations are also rising dramatically... Well, it's [the Indiana Department of Work-Force Development has] just awarded a 4-year, $15M contract to a company [Tata subsidiary TCS, based in Mumbai] to update its computers... The majority of Indiana's 65 newest workers come from India on L-1 visas. The commissioner of the department defended his decision, saying, the contract will save Indiana tax-payers millions of dollars. We assume he will have fun telling that to the 160K unemployed Hoosiers... Well, there are 37K [American troops] in Korea. They're 112K in Europe. We're in 120 countries around the [world]..."
Neela Banerjee _NY Times_
2 Democrats Question Halliburton's Fuel Prices in Iraq
"According to the 2 [congress-critters], Halliburton has charged the government $1.62 to $1.70 a gallon for gasoline that could be bought wholesale in the Persian Gulf region for about 71 cents and transported to Iraq for no more than 25 cents. The fuel was sold in Iraq for 4 cents to 15 cents a gallon, the letter said... Iraq, which has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, is producing at roughly half its prewar level of about 2.5M barrels a day. Its refineries have been stymied by power failures, pipe-line sabotage and the general degradation of the oil industry after more than a decade of United Nations sanctions."
Lisa Guernsey _NY Times_
"Text-mining programs go further, categorizing information, making links between otherwise unconnected documents and providing visual maps (some look like tree branches or spokes on a wheel) to lead users down new pathways that they might not have been aware of. Currently these programs are used by academic researchers and companies, but information scientists expect that to change. Lower-cost text-mining tools eventually will be offered to ordinary people who want to dig into medical or political issues using public documents. Madan Pandit, an expert in text analysis in Bangalore, India, who runs a Web site called K-Praxis (k-praxis.com), has suggested that text mining could help people make sense of voluminous documents that are already on the Web... In most cases, text-mining software is built upon the foundations of data mining, which uses statistical analysis to pull information out of structured data-bases like product inventories and customer demographics. But text mining starts with information that doesn't come in neat rows and columns."
Kenneth M. Pollack _NY Times_
Saudi Arabia's Big Leap into Elections
"Saudi Arabia's announcement on Monday that within a year it will hold elections for municipal councils could be the first tremor in a slow-moving Middle Eastern earthquake."
Raymond Bonner & Ian Fisher _NY Times_
At Iraqi Depot Missiles Galore & No Guards
"there is a very nice 15-foot-long missile, in mint condition, there for the taking, at one of Saddam Hussein's defense factories a few miles west of here. The missile, along with a dozen ready-to-fire 107mm anti-tank rounds, just a few feet away... On Thursday in Baghdad, an American brigadier general, Robert L. Davis, acknowledged the scope of the problem, saying that there are 105 large ammunition dumps as well as scores of smaller sites, not all of them guarded regularly... In the past 3 weeks alone, he said, recently deployed private civilian contractors have destroyed more than 2.5M pounds of ammunition, whereas American soldiers were able to destroy only aM pounds in the last 6 months... Two Exocet missiles -- clearly labeled as such and stamped 'AEROSPATIALE' -- lie on the ground several hundred yards away... Outside in the rubble was a shoulder-fired SA-7, a Russian-made surface-to-air missile, caked with dirt... Soldiers are finding more dumps every day. General Davis said that in one military zone in northern Iraq, commanders first reported 730 weapons caches. More recently, the number climbed to 1,089, though General Davis said all but 12 had been destroyed."
Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
Pact in West Will Send Farms' Water to Cities
"The agreement ends one of the West's longest-running water wars by requiring California, the nation's thirstiest state, to gradually reduce its dependence on the Colorado River, which acts as a huge spigot for snow melt from the Rocky Mountains for more than 25M people from Denver to Los Angeles... The deal calls for the largest movement of farm water to municipal users in the nation and will be in effect for at least 35 years. As compensation, farmers, some of whom might need to plant less, will be paid handsomely for water they get for a very small cost from the federal government... The last time a water deal of this significance was reached on the Colorado, the federal government was represented by Herbert Hoover, who was then secretary of commerce under President Warren G. Harding. That deal, the Colorado River Compact, was signed on 1922 November 24, and led to the construction of the Hoover Dam and California's commitment to limit its Colorado River water use to 4.4M acre-feet. In recent years, the state has been taking closer to 5.2M acre-feet. An acre-foot is 326K gallons, or enough on average to provide for 2 households for a year... The San Diego district will pay market prices for the water, or about $258 per acre-foot at the outset. The farmers typically pay only delivery fees for their water, which amount to $15 or $20 per acre-foot."
Jim Mullin _Miami New Times_
Miami Still America's Poorest City
"Last year about this time we published a special report on the City of Miami, which had recently earned the dubious distinction of being named America's poorest big city. The award was bestowed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which calculated that a greater percentage of Miami's residents were living in poverty than any other U.S. city with a population over 250K... If the federal government were to apply a realistic threshold for measuring the requirements of basic survival instead of the antiquated and inaccurate formula it's used for decades, the number of people deemed to be living in poverty would sky-rocket."
2003-10-17 05:59PDT (08:59EDT) (12:59GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Housing heated up in September
Commerce Department report
"Starts of new homes rose about 3.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.89M in September from a revised 1.83M in August, matching July's blistering 17-year high, the government said... So far in 2003, 1.37M homes have been started, about 5.4% more than at this time last year. In all of 2002, 1.70M homes were started."
2003-10-17 06:38PDT (09:38EDT) (13:38GMT)
Emily Church & Steve Goldstein _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
German law-makers back key slate of tax and labor market reforms
"The opposition-controlled upper house of parliament backed the health reforms. An overwhelming majority in the Bundesrat approved the law, which aims to reduce public insurance deficit, AFX reported from Berlin... Law-makers passed 2 bills to make labor markets more flexible. They also backed a plan to move up income tax cuts worth 15.6G euros ($18G) to next year from 2005. As expected, they backed a bill to allow insurers to deduct stock market losses..."
2003-10-17 13:46PDT (16:46EDT) (20:46GMT)
Ron Word & Alison Kepner _AP_/_Sarasota Herald-Tribune_/_South Florida News-Press_
Height advantage more than physical: Short people get less money and respect
Short people paid less than tall people
"'Height matters for career success.', said Timothy Judge, a UF management professor whose research is scheduled to be published in the spring issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology... The average height of Americans is about 5 feet 9 inches for men, about 5 feet 4 inches for women... Judge and Daniel Cable, a business professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill, analyzed the results of three studies in the United States and one in Great Britain that followed thousands of participants from childhood to adulthood, examining details of their work and personal lives... Every inch of height amounted to about $789 more a year in pay. A person who is 6 feet tall, versus 5 feet 5 inches, could be expected to earn about $5,525 more each year. That could mean a huge difference over 30 years of work, he said. Height was associated with subjective ratings of work performance, such as supervisorsí evaluations of how effective someone is on the job. Being tall may have the effect of boosting employeesí self-confidence, helping to make them more successful, as well as prompting people to ascribe more status and respect to a tall person, he said. The relationship between height and earnings was particularly strong in sales and management positions, Judge said. The research showed that height was even more important than gender in determining income, and its significance does not decline as a person ages."
2003-10-17 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles & Kitty Pilgrim & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
Urban Sprawl and Illegal Immigration
"The truth is, though, that corporate income taxes in this country have been declining sharply as a source of federal revenue, now roughly 8% of federal revenue, Lou. That is down from 26% 50 years ago... While American companies continue to export jobs, American universities are seeing an enormous influx in foreign students. The result is simply a global brain drain on American resources, some of our most precious resources, the exportation, in effect, of our intellectual capital. For example, more than half of the doctoral and master's degrees in engineering in this country are now being granted to foreign students... Industry studies find about half the master's students and doctoral students studying engineering are foreign nationals. The most students came from India, up 22% last year. That was the first time it beat [Red China], previously the lead country sending students to the United States. Korea is the third, followed by Japan. Many of those students stay in the states and take jobs here. The National Science Board found, in 1999, half the computer scientists with Ph.Ds were foreign born. Among engineers, it was more than half... Foreign students contributed $12G to the U.S. economy in terms of tuition and living expenses last year... The Agriculture Department says this country loses more than 2M acres of farm-land and natural habitat each and every year. Most of that land is developed into urban sprawl to accommodate our rapidly growing population. This loss of land is having a lasting impact on our quality of life in this country... Every year, the American population increases by about 3.5M people. More than half of that growth is due to the arrival of legal immigrants and illegal aliens..."
Wayne Arnold & Carlos H. Conde _NY Times_
Cellular Phone Company in Philippines Gains by Thinking Small
"more than 100K mobile phone users... re-sell Smart's cellular services through a new prepaid service called Smart Buddy e-Load. With a special, $20 chip for her mobile phone, [they] can transfer bits of air time to [others'] phones - as little as 30 pesos worth (about 55 cents). For every 1K pesos she sells, [they] collects 150 pesos in commissions... Smart says 700K new customers started using its network in July and August, helping bring its total customer base to 11M, half of them in rural areas, in a country of just 76M people. Smart's growth is especially good news for its heavily indebted parent, Philippine Long Distance Telephone, or P.L.D.T. Smart contributed 6.1G pesos ($111M) to P.L.D.T.'s bottom line in the first half of this year... In a nation where the average annual income is less than $1K, most Filipinos rely instead on cheaper text messaging."
Liz Pulliam Weston _CNBC_
Is a degree worth a million bucks?: How to determine what piece of paper will really pay off
"The College Board tells us that 4 years' worth of tuition, fees, books and supplies at a public university currently cost about $20K, while the private version will set you back $80K. Add in room, board, transportation and other costs, and the total tab spirals to about $50K for public schools and $110K for private."
2003-10-17 17:31PDT (20:31EDT) (2003-10-18 00:31GMT)
The Week's Top News & Commentary
"For the week the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 9,721, up 47 points, or 0.4% from its week-ago close of 9,674. The Nasdaq wrapped up the latest week at 1,912, down 3 points, or less than 0.1%, from its week-ago close of 1,915. The S&P 500 concluded the week at 1,039, up 1 point from its week-ago close of 1,038."
"It is hard to know what is more alarming -- a toxic statement of hatred of Jews by the Malaysian prime minister at an Islamic summit meeting this week or the unanimous applause it engendered from the kings, presidents and emirs in the audience. The words uttered by the prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in a speech to the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference on Thursday were sadly familiar: Jews, he asserted, may be few in number, but they seek to run the world... Perhaps the saddest element is just how impotent the representatives of the world's 1.3G Muslims feel... Sympathy for the Muslims' plight must not be confused with the acceptance of racism. Most Muslims have indeed been shoddily treated -- by their own leaders, who gather at feckless summit meetings instead of offering their people what they most need: human rights, education and democracy."
When factories cut jobs now they're gone for good
"More than 3,100 pairs a day, 3 seconds under the needle for each pair -- Judy Peavler was good at her job, stitching the fly and zipper into Wrangler jeans. At roughly $9.50 an hour, plus benefits, the job was good to Peavler, too. So when VF Corp. cut hours at its Okmulgee, OK, jeans factory a few years ago, Peavler waited 3 months for business to bounce back. Now, though, she's certain the job is gone for good... In many cases, companies are cutting jobs and limiting hiring because of structural changes in their businesses and the broader economy. Some of it is beyond companies' control, as demand for certain products and services dries up permanently. But employers also are limiting or cutting jobs by squeezing more productivity out of existing workers, sometimes by using additional technology. Many companies have cut jobs by out-sourcing work to firms and facilities over-seas... But since 2001, VF has been closing U.S. plants and focusing production in Central America amid lagging demand for its jeans and stiff price competition. The company has closed plants in Coalgate and Prague, OK... Later this fall, VF will close plants in Seminole and Ada, OK, bringing to nearly 1,300 the number of jobs it has eliminated across the state."
The Fabric of Lubbock's Life
"But the cotton farms that give Lubbock much of its identity thrive from huge government subsidies that drain the federal treasury and shelter the industry from the discipline of the market... grows some of the most coveted cotton in the world on a 2,500-acre high-tech farm. But most years his costs exceed the global price, which is why he has relied on nearly a half-million dollars of subsidies since 1995... The 2002 farm bill's complex cotton subsidies will continue at least until 2007, giving farmers the right to a direct payment of 6 cents for every pound of upland cotton, plus loans pegged at 52 cents a pound. Besides helping growers pay off their loans if the price dips below that, Uncle Sam then makes what are known as counter-cyclical payments to allow farmers to obtain a lofty 'target price' of 72 cents a pound. All told, with this web of federal supports -- which can exceed $3G in some years ó American taxpayers often end up footing as much as two-thirds of the cost of growing America's exported cotton... If all protectionism disappeared tomorrow, the poor farmers of the world would not all benefit. Small corn or wheat growers abroad might not be able to compete against the huge, efficient farms of the fertile American Midwest. Peasants with tiny plots of land would inevitably give way to bigger agricultural enterprises... the United States has no business growing 16M bales of cotton a year."
Jennifer Beauprez _Denver Post_
Colorado tech foundations cracking: Despite signs of an industry turn-around students pursue other subjects
"Enrollment in information technology programs at some Colorado community colleges and universities has dropped by as much as 50% over the past 3 years, as many students go after more general educations and stay away from technology. Educational leaders fear the lack of tech education ultimately could lead to a technology brain drain nationwide and yet another worker shortage 4 or 5 years from now... The decline comes as companies increasingly shift new tech jobs over-seas in search of cheap labor and as frustrated, laid-off workers leave the sector in pursuit of jobs in the mortgage industry, employment staffing, retail, manufacturing, banking and the liquor business... At Colorado State University in Fort Collins, enrollment in computer information sciences has dropped 58% in the last 3 years... Two-thirds of the lay-offs in Colorado over the past few years came from telecommunications and technology firms. And in August, 141,300 Coloradans were looking for jobs... CU's Denver campus has a record 170 master's students enrolled in computer science this semester... One-third of CU-Denver's 16 Ph.D. students are concentrating on computational biology, he said."
2003-10-19 17:14PDT (20:14EDT) (2003-10-20 00:14GMT)
Rachel Konrad _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Judge to hear motions in Silicon Valley economic espionage case
"In 2001 November, 2 men were arrested at San Francisco International Airport with tickets to [Red China] and, prosecutors allege, suit-cases packed with trade secrets swiped from high-tech companies. On Monday, in San Jose, California. U.S. District Judge James Ware is scheduled to hear pretrial motions in the case against Fei Ye and Ming Zhong, who are charged with stealing corporate secrets and conspiracy. Moveover, prosecutors allege they stole the secrets to help their [Red China]-based company -- a violation of the 1996 Economic Espionage Act. The Act comprises two broad criminal categories -- trade secret theft, which is generally acknowledged to be rampant, and economic espionage, which is more difficult to prosecute because it requires federal authorities to find evidence that a foreign government was involved in the theft. The indictments do not name the [Red Chinese] government, but they do allege Ye and Zhong's company was at least partially funded by the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Prosecutors also say the men were seeking funding through a [Red Chinese] government research and development program."
2003-10-20 07:00PDT (10:00EDT) (14:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US leading economic indicators off 0.2% in September
"The U.S. index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2% in September after 4 months of gains, the Conference Board said Monday... Economists at the Conference Board said the reading didn't mean the U.S. recovery was off track."
more Conference Board data
2003-10-20 07:36PDT (10:36EDT) (14:36GMT)
_South Florida Business Journal_
Florida reaches 19th month of job growth
"The latest state unemployment numbers show a 0.2% decrease in the number of [unemployment compensation insurance] claims, and 18 consecutive months of positive job growth in Florida. For the 12 months ended September 30, the state said employers created 97K jobs in Florida. The unemployment rate, at 5.2%, is 0.9% below the national rate of 6.1%. September was the 19th straight month Florida's unemployment rate was below the national average... According to the statistics released by the Agency for Workforce Innovation, for the year ended in August, the latest period for which data are available from other states, Florida continued to rank No. 1 in total employment growth. The positive job news comes one week after Bush said the Scripps Research Institute has decided to build a research facility in Palm Beach County. The biotech/biomed research and innovation facility, the government said, will create 6,500 jobs, generate about $1.6G in additional income to Floridians and boost the state's gross domestic product by $3.2G in the next 15 years. The state has also predicted biotech/pharma industry clustering will add 44K more jobs around the Scripps Florida nucleus. Among other work on behalf of the economy, the state said Bush has also prioritized securing the permanent secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Miami, which the state has suggested could create 90K new jobs in Florida."
2003-10-20 10:06PDT (13:06EDT) (17:06GMT)
Jonathan Burton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Pension plan short-falls concern execs
"Three out of every 4 U.S. company pension plans are under-funded due to stock market losses and interest-rate declines, and corporate executives are increasingly concerned about pension-plan investment returns, management consultants Towers Perrin reported on Monday. The average pension plan in the U.S. was 77.5% underfunded at the end of 2002, following 2 [nearly 4] consecutive years of investment declines, versus 120% over-funded at the end of 1999 when the stock market was soaring, according to a survey of 300 chief financial officers at Fortune 1000 companies with defined benefit pension plans... Indeed, pension plan financial performance has become a board-level issue for almost 90% of major U.S. companies, the survey found, largely because pension-funding problems pose a serious threat to corporate income... Pension plan contributions as a percentage of cash flows more than doubled in 2002, to 7.3% from 3.4%."
2003-10-20 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Sludge and Young Genius
"A surprising decision by the Environmental Protection Agency over what is becoming an increasingly common fertilizer and a suspected cancer-causing chemical. The EPA now says it will not monitor sewage sludge for various forms of dioxin, because it says the health risk associated are so low... Nancy Stoner, Natural Resources Defense Council said, 'The current cancer risk is estimated to be about one in 10K. EPA usually regulates at one in a million. So we already have 100 times too much cancer risk from dioxin. The dioxin in sewage sludge is the second largest source of dioxin in the United States.'... the $86G [for Iraq] was approved by Congress... He was reading at the age of 2. His preschool I.Q. test was beyond measure... Schools couldn't keep up with him, so his mother devoted her days to home schooling him with the sister... But soon his mom couldn't keep up... Sho went to college when most children are finishing grade school. Then on to medical school, age 12."
Yogesh Samat the chief executive of Barista, a chain of 125 coffee bars in India (quoted in Amy Waldman _NY Times_)
"Consumerism as a term is no longer seen as a bad word and the acquisition of material things is no longer seen as going against Indian traits."
Amy Waldman _NY Times_
Despite Wide-Spread Poverty a Consumer Class Emerges in India
"Much of India is still mired in poverty, but just over a decade after the Indian economy began shaking off its statist shackles and opening to the outside world, it is booming... After growing just 4.3% last year, India's economy, the second fastest growing in the world, after China, is widely expected to grow close to 7% this year. The growth of the past decade has put more money in the pockets of an expanding middle class, 250M to 300M strong, and more choices in front of them... Indians are buying about 10K motor-cycles a day. Banks are now making $15G a year in home loans, with the lowest interest rates in decades helping to spur the spending, building and borrowing. Credit and debit cards are slowly gaining. The potential for even more market growth is enormous, a fact recognized by multinationals and Indian companies alike. In 2001, according to census figures, only 31.6% of India's 192M households had a television, and only 2.5% a car, jeep or van. Foreign institutional investors have poured nearly $5G into the Indian market this year, already more than 6 times last year's total. The Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensitive Index has risen by more than 50% since April, hitting a 3-year high. Foreign exchange reserves are at a record $90G. After huffing and puffing in place for 8 or 9 years, 'the train has left the station', C. K. Prahalad, a professor at the University of Michigan Business School, said of the Indian economy... Companies that stumbled in the face of recession and new competitive pressures in the 1990s have increased productivity and are showing record profits. India is slowly making a name not just for software exports and service outsourcing, but also as an exporter of autos, auto parts and motorcycles."
Robert D. McFadden _NY Times_
Day in Court for Suspect in Breaches of Security
"College student Nathaniel T. Heatwole was expected in federal court in Baltimore Monday. But it was not clear what criminal charges, if any, he might face [for his demonstration of weakness of air-line security]... Investigators apparently traced Mr. Heatwole through a data-base that linked the small plastic bags of contraband found on the 2 jets with an e-mail message sent to the government last month warning that such items would be left on a half-dozen airliners -- it provided dates and locations -- as acts of civil disobedience and to demonstrate weaknesses in airport security procedures. Notes found with the banned items cited similar motives, Southwest Airlines said. Each note detailed precise information on when and where the items were placed aboard the jet-liners, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press."
John Markoff _NY Times_
Electronic Memory Research Dwarfed by Silicon Chips
"In the new field, known as molecular electronics, the researchers have succeeded in creating tiny switches from molecules and atoms. They are now searching for ways to assemble the vast arrays of the switches to serve both as memory and computing devices... So far, the researchers have created circuits that are about 10 times as dense as silicon chips, though they switch on and off far more slowly, Mr. Tour said."
Jacqueline Newmyer _NY Times_
Red Chinese Control Freaks in Space
"Communist governments are willing to invest heavily in assets that can be centrally controlled. In the autocrat's calculus, rocketing a man into orbit is less risky than sending a pilot up in an armed fighter or bomber plane, because while a pilot might defect or turn his weapons toward home, an astronaut has little to no control over the vessel in which he travels. The [Red Chinese] government's obsession with control extends beyond the mission itself: it also limits information about the program... The contrast is stark between the relatively open space program of the United States -- it is cooperating with 15 countries on the International Space Station -- and [Red China's] clandestine approach."
Cole Gunther _Chron Watch_
More Job Destruction: Will the Main-Stream Media Cover the Story Now?
"Groups trying to stop the destruction of America's jobs have worked for years to get the U.S. Congress to stop the corporate insanity of importing cheap foreign labor into the U.S. using the American non-immigrant visa programs including the H-1B and L-1 visas. By whatever strange combination of letters and numbers, the 'non-immigrant visas' are the official documents foreign citizens must carry to come to the U.S. legally as 'non-immigrants' to take our jobs... It is more than fair to say that the majority of the main-stream media give only piecemeal or lip-service attention to the people, the job-destruction issues, and the lack of response by Congress to the jobless emergency faced by millions of unemployed Americans."
Ron Hira _House Committee on Small Business_/_IEEE-USA_
On The Off-Shoring of High-Skilled Jobs
Linda Kleindienst & Mark Hollis & Mike Clary _Florida Sun-Sentinel_
Scripps-Florida plan on verge of approval
"With hardly any of the anxiety that might be expected, Florida legislators this week are ready to spend $310M of federal money to get a biotechnology research center to Palm Beach County. The only obstacle to approval has nothing to do with the Scripps-Florida plan. It's just that legislators are feeling queasy about giving Gov. Jeb Bush an almost free hand to spend another $190M on an assortment of other economic development projects... The governor's analysis predicts that within 15 years, a cluster of bio-technology firms will sprout up around the Scripps center, creating 6,500 high paying jobs, generating $1.6G in additional income and boosting the state's gross domestic product by $3.3G."
2003-10-21 01:23PDT (04:23EDT) (08:23GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
2004 tech mergers & acquisitions getting back to 1998 levels
"After a 2-year drought in the wake of the Nasdaq correction in 2000, deals are on the rise in the tech and telecom arena, said David Leslie, who conducted the survey of completed and announced transactions for consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 'If you compare the number of deals now versus 1998-99, we're broadly around the same kind of level...', he said. The deals, particularly in the telecom sector, were getting bigger by value in 2003, and more international deals were taking place as American companies stepped up buying European companies. Both trends show an increase in confidence in tech sector growth, he said. North American firms were behind 33 deals valued at $13G to the first half of 2003. European firms were behind 28 deals valued at $2.7G in North America, he said. Around 20% of North American deals were outside the region vs. 14% in 2002... Software and IT services deals accounted for 50% of total technology deals by number and 32% by value in the first half of the year."
2003-10-21 10:14PDT (13:14EDT) (17:14GMT)
Chris Plummer _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Height joins list of work-place biases
"A new study shows tall people [are paid] a steep pay premium, like ones already found for people with the genetic advantages of being attractive and svelte. The study conducted by University of Florida professor Timothy Judge and University of North Carolina professor Daniel Cable revealed that people in the U.S. and U.K. earn an extra $789 a year in pay, per inch of height. IOW, someone 6-foot-tall could expect to earn about $5,525 more than someone of the same sex standing 5-foot-5... if managers reward employees for such factors as height, looks and body shape, is there any doubt they also do so based on skin color and an X or Y chromosome? Tally up the biases, and a short, unattractive, chubby minority woman has five strikes against her before she's even seen a pitch. Self-confidence certainly may play a part in why tall, good-looking and shapely people earn more... Judge notes that not since William McKinley in 1896 has the United States we elected a president shorter than the average U.S. male. And critics ridiculed McKinley -- at a still fairly sizable 5-foot-7 -- as a 'little boy'. Yet the study also showed a height advantage in pay for employees in less social occupations, such as engineering, accounting, computer programming and clerical work."
2003-10-21 12:38PDT (15:38EDT) (19:38GMT)
Eric Auchard _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Intel CEO Says California Has Lost Its Luster
"'California has to treat business as something it has to attract and nurture.', the Intel executive and foe of excessive government regulation said... 'All this talk of off-shoring (moving high-tech jobs to low-cost countries) is interesting, but it's a microcosm of the larger issue of how the U.S. will compete' in a global economy, Barrett told an audience of 6K corporate technology buyers. Intel, the world's largest chip manufacturer, operates plants that stretch from Sacramento, California to Arizona to Israel and [Red China]... Intel employed about 78,700 people worldwide last year... India, [Red China] and Russia alone now have somewhere between 250M and 500M highly educated knowledge workers between them, Barrett estimated, surpassing not just the population of California, but that of the entire United States."
2003-10-21 14:49PDT (17:49EDT) (21:49GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US government vows to pressure Red China on trade
"Next week, [Grant] Aldonas and Commerce Secretary Don Evans will travel to Beijing for talks preparing for premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming visit to the United States in December... For instance, he said, [Red China] could eliminate its export tax rebate on textiles, which has already been lowered... Another step would be for Beijing to make sure that all the software that the government uses is purchased legally, a nod to U.S. industry efforts to combat piracy."
2003-10-21 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Jonathan Karl & Kris Osborn & Lisa Sylvester & David Ensor & Peter Viles _CNN_
On Med Hold
"These soldiers are among roughly 400 National Guard and Reserve troops back from war in Iraq on what's called med hold, deemed not deployable for medical reasons. They say that since returning from the war, they're being treated as second-class citizens, pushed aside, while their active-duty comrades receive priority care. Their principal complaint, it takes too long for them to get an appointment to see a doctor... Meanwhile, in Iraq, coalition troops and Iraqi police arrested nearly 50 people in predawn raids in Karbala. A coalition military spokesman said the raids targeted a group that was involved in armed clashes with rival Shiite factions... The Air Force wants to lease 100 Boeing 767s as refueling tankers at a cost of more than $20G, even though it would cost almost $6G more to lease the planes than to buy them... officials say they don't have the additional $14G up front to replace the aging planes... Most of what's on offer here is software designed to mine the vast quantities of top-secret satellite pictures and intercepts gathered by U.S. spy satellites or aircraft, manned and unmanned. A key new factor, too, are the new private satellite companies that are now getting permission to take pictures of ever-better resolution, which makes all the difference... You've got this rising anger -- Congress is hearing it -- about jobs lost to Asia. And then in the middle of hearing on this subject, you had a Commerce Department official telling Congress how important is it for American companies to turn a profit in Asia... Behind the anger, a ballooning trade deficit with [Red China], $83G in 2001, $103G last year, estimated at $130G this year... My guest is Congressman Don Manzullo. He's chairman of the House Small Business Committee, which has held hearings on the exporting of American jobs... Unemployment in the congressional district that I represent [is] 11% [or] 12%. Effectively, it's probably 16% [or] 17%, because the people have gone off the unemployment rolls.'... In some instances, major U.S. cities are leasing their infrastructure for cash from corporations, who then receive large tax breaks in return... Senator Charles Grassley said, ' You've got the Berlin subway being built by Berlin [tax-victims], leased to the -- some corporation in America. There's no risk. It will never be the property of the corporation. And they get the tax benefits. Indirectly, you're having American taxpayers pay for the infrastructure of Europe. But it's even happening in the United States. We had testimony here about the subway in Washington, DC, as an example.'... Jordan Urbach: 'I will analyze the transformation geometry behind the symmetries transformation and tessellations apparent in Escher's drawings.'"
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Pension Scams Continue
"In February, the air-line argued in bankruptcy court that the plan was bleeding it dry and that the only way for the company to survive was to abandon it. The judge agreed, the government took over the plan, and some pilots had their benefits cut. Now the airline is out of bankruptcy but back in court, arguing that the plan was not so very sick after all. If the air-line wins this time, the government will receive a smaller equity stake in the air-line. That, in turn, will reduce the amount available for the pilots' pensions, and some pilots will lose out again."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Secretary of the Treasury Sees a Jobs Boom but Most Don't
"Treasury Secretary John W. Snow has predicted that the American economy will add 2M new jobs before next year's elections. In an interview with The Times of London on Monday, Mr. Snow predicted that the economy would grow at an annual rate of nearly 4% over the next year and add about 200K jobs a month."
_Health Daily News_/_Yahoo!_
Coffee May Protect Against Colon Cancer
"German researchers say they've found a highly active compound, called methylpyridinium, in coffee that may prevent colon cancer. In studies with animals, this potent anti-oxidant compound appears to boost the activity of phase II enzymes, which are believed to protect against colon cancer. The study results appear in the November 5 issue of the _Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry_... He notes that espresso-type coffee contains about 2 to 3 times more of the anti-cancer compound than a medium roast coffee. Methylpyridinium is found almost exclusively in coffee and coffee products. It's not present in raw coffee beans. It's formed during the roasting process from its chemical precursor, trigonellin. The anti-cancer compound is present in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and is even found in instant coffee."
Gavin McCormick _AP_/_Montana Forum_
Low Wal-Mart compensation plays role in grocery strikes
"Officials at... the nation's... dominant super-market chains... cite competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other box stores moving into the grocery business as a reason to hold the line on labor costs. Those costs include health care benefits that are the sticking point in United Food and & Commercial Workers strikes of 3,300 workers at 44 Kroger stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio; 70K workers at 3 southern California chains; and 10K workers at 3 chains in Missouri. Similar struggles are expected within the next 6 months as UFCW contracts expire in the Phoenix and Washington, DC, areas... But analysts say in just 10 years it has become the biggest player in the grocery business, last year capturing anywhere from 5% to 15% of the industryís $680G pie. Traditional super-market sales have dropped about 3% in the past year, estimates The Food Institute, a New Jersey-based trade group... Including pension and health benefits, Kroger estimates it pays workers on average $6 an hour more in West Virginia than Wal-Mart. Burt Flickinger, managing partner of Strategic Resource Group in New York, says the difference in other parts of the country runs as high as $10 to $14 an hour for full-time workers. At the Cross Lanes Kroger, striking UFCW workers say Wal-Martís opening 5 years ago cost their store $100K in weekly receipts ñ between a third and a half of the store's income. In response, workers say, Kroger has slashed the store's pay-roll from 86 to 45 full- and part-time workers."
Patti Bond _Atlanta Georgia Journal Constitution_
Home-owners fight city hall in Alabaster, AL
_Rocky Mount North Carolina Telegram_
"Then WM started sniffing around for land... 'We just want to be left alone, but I don't think that's going to happen now.' As she's finding out, there isn't much you can do once city officials decide to wield eminent domain, which allows governments to forcibly buy private land and redevelop it for public purposes. Some Alabaster residents say the city-sanctioned 'urban renewal' plan looks a lot like a giant shopping center. The Halls and a handful of neighbors are sitting on the final sliver of a 400-acre swath of land that the city says is 'under-utilized'. Just off I-65 about 20 miles south of Birmingham, the location is prime for a supersized Wal-Mart, a movie theater and chain restaurants... The concept of eminent domain has pitted property owners against local authorities since kings ruled in the Middle Ages. In its modern context, government routinely takes private property for public use such as highways and prisons, but the intent has turned more commercial over the years. Eminent domain, for example, cleared the way for the World Trade Center. Forty years ago, what's now ground zero was a neighborhood of small electronics shops known as 'Radio Row', until local authorities seized the area to make room for the twin towers, which was interpreted then as a 'public use'. Public use has been justified for automobile plants, office complexes and other seemingly private ventures if it might stimulate the local economy, experts say... City officials are 'acting more like real estate agents than public servants', said Dana Berliner, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, a non-profit group in Washington that helps land-owners fight condemnations. Berliner said her group has documented 10K cases of eminent domain abuse in the past 5 years, in which government has taken property from one private party and handed it over to another... The city of Riviera Beach, Fla., condemned more than 1,700 homes and businesses and uprooted more than 5K residents to make room for a yachting and shopping complex. It's considered one of the largest eminent domain endeavors in the country. In Merriam, KS, city officials condemned a used-car business so a neighboring BMW dealership could expand. City officials in Cypress, CA, condemned property owned by a church for a Costco store. The New York Times is building its new headquarters near Times Square, after a group of small businesses were condemned for the project."
Economic state of Missoula
"On Monday at the Missoula Area Economic Forum, Center for the Rocky Mountain West economist Larry Swanson... In truth, we live in a region where personal income is up, the number of jobs is up and taxes in real dollars are only 7.8% of our incomes, slightly down. In the 1990s, at least 57K new people joined us, many of them bringing outside income and resources. We have tremendous growth and vitality. We fall into our old trap by looking at 'Montana' as an economy. There is no 'Montana economy', Swanson argues. The state has 3 regions so disparate that lumping them together presents a false picture of all of them... growth and economic development in the mountain region of western Montana ñ 21 counties ñ and the same in the stateís urban centers. 80% to 90% of the economic growth in the past decade has been in these 7 centers, the cities and their surrounding areas. Growth in population, personal income and employment has been greatest in Missoula and Billings. Employment has grown stoutly in the Bozeman and Kalispell areas, grown some in the Helena area and grown a little in the Great Falls and Butte regions. During the 1990s, growth in the 7 regional centers and the counties linked closely with them accounted for 96% of all the income growth in the state. And total employment in the centers grew by 92K jobs and by 28K jobs in the closely connected counties. The entire rest of the state grew by only 5,700 jobs... In Missoula County between 1990 and 2000, the business of health care grew a whopping 72%, or just more than $100M."
Jim Abrams _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Congress OKs Partial Birth Abortion Ban
"The 64-34 vote came 3 weeks after the House passed the same measure by 281-142."
Zachary Coile _San Francisco Chronicle_
UC hires leader in battle to keep Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos labs as contract is up for renewal
"UC President Robert Dynes said Monday that retired Adm. S. Robert Foley would become the university's vice president for laboratory management, with direct responsibility for the three national labs UC runs for the federal government: Los Alamos in New Mexico, its sister nuclear weapons lab, Lawrence Livermore, and Lawrence Berkeley, the energy research center... Foley, who will take over the position November 1, will be paid $350,900 per year -- an unusually high salary for a university official, particularly at a time when UC is raising tuition and cutting programs. By comparison, Dynes is paid $395K annually. But UC spokesman Chris Harrington said Foley will be paid out of management fees from the Energy Department earmarked specifically for oversight of the labs and his salary 'does not affect the student fee issue'."
Grant Gross _IDG_/_IT World_
Congress looks for ways to slow off-shore hiring
"The U.S. government should stop buying foreign products and the U.S. Congress should enact other policies encouraging U.S. IT and other companies to stop sending jobs off-shore, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee said Monday."
Carl F. Horowitz _Cato Institute_
Keeping the Poor Poor: The Dark Side of the Living Wage (pdf)
"We have a right and responsibility to see Congress established the first federal minimum wage in 1938, as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and has raised it 19 times since. More than 80 studies have demonstrated a link between an increase in the minimum wage and subsequent job loss, especially among teen-agers and unskilled adults, the workers with the least skills, experience, and education. The more employers have to pay such workers, the less likely they are to employ them... In 1977 Congress created a Minimum Wage Study Commission. Economists on the commission surveyed a broad range of studies and estimated that a 10% increase in the minimum wage decreased teen employment by about 1% to 3%. One skeptical researcher not on the commission replicated the earlier studyís methodology and found a teen job loss of 0.6%... A Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed that in 2000 only 3.5% of all household heads who worked full-time 27 weeks or more over the course of the year fell below the poverty line. By contrast, this figure was 10.2% for household heads who worked less than 27 weeks... David Macpherson of Florida State University looked at the effects of New Jerseyís 1992 minimum wage hike from $4.25 to $5.05 an hour. He found that the majority of persons who took minimum wage jobs after the increase were young, single, or well above the federal poverty threshold... Florida State University economist David Macpherson has conducted three separate studies for the Employment Policies Institute (website: www.epionline.org), each concluding that a living wage would produce serious negative consequences. Two of Macpherson's studies examined what would happen if Florida and California, respectively, enacted a statewide minimum wage at a 'living' level. In Floridaís case the wage would be raised to $8.81 an hour, or $10.09 without benefits, levels corresponding to MiamiñDade County's law, enacted in 1999. He concluded that the policy would reduce employment by 131K to 222K jobs statewide and force employers to pay higher wage costs in the range of $4.9G to $8.8G."
2003-10-21 19:20PDT (2003-10-21 22:20EDT) (2003-10-22 02:20GMT)
Alorie Gilbert _CNET News_
Tech panel sees IT jobs returning to US
"Executives from Borland Software, BearingPoint and Infosys, and an official from the U.S. Department of Commerce expressed confidence that U.S. companies will eventually reinvest money saved from farming out IT tasks to foreign workers and expand operations at home. That, in turn, will lead to American job growth down the road, the panelists agreed... Although the panelists defended the merits of off-shore out-sourcing, they acknowledged some problems. One is whether foreign companies and workers can be trusted with intellectual property and other sensitive information handed over to them by U.S. clients."
2003-10-22 06:47PDT (08:47CDT) (09:47EDT) (13:47GMT)
Oakland, CA Bans WM Super-Centers
"The Oakland City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday night to approve a measure to limit the size of 'big-box' grocery stores allowed in the city. The ordinance bars discount retail stores with full-service super-markets that exceed 100K square feet, or about 2.5 acres. The measure targets WM Super-Centers -- gigantic shopping centers that average 187K square feet, about twice the size of the typical WM store."
2003-10-22 08:51:50PST (11:51:50EDT) (15:51:50GMT)
Michelle Maitre _Tri-Valley Herald_/_AP_
College costs rise 40% in decade
"Officials at California's public colleges have said state budget cuts were to blame for tuition hikes that send fees at California State University and University of California campuses up 40% in the last 2 years. Fees at California community colleges increased 64% this year. The increases were the first in California in 8 years... Using inflation-adjusted dollars, the average cost of tuition and fees at state-supported 4-years schools [sic] is now 47% higher than it was 10 years ago, the study said. The average cost of tuition and fees at private colleges and universities, also adjusted for inflation, has grown by 42% over the same period. The College Board, a non-profit that owns the SAT, said tuition for in-state students at four-year public campuses jumped 14.1% to $4,694 this fall. However, a dip in the price of room and board -- assessed separately from tuition and fees -- means that students living in residence halls are actually paying $10,636, only 9.8% more than they did in 2002-2003. CSU's annual tuition -- excluding room and board -- now averages about $2,544 a year -- up from $1,924 last fall. UC fees are $4,984, up from $3,429 at the beginning of last school year... The study found that the average tuition and fees assessed by public 2-year colleges went up by 13.8% to $1,905. In California, community college fees went up 64% -- from $11 per unit to $18 per unit. Most classes are 3 or 4 units. And it now costs an average of$26,854 to attend a 4-year, private school, including tuition, fees, room and board, which is up 5.7% from last year. The report said that 60% of under-graduates are using financial aid packages to help pay for college. While student loans comprise a large portion of the aid, over $40G in state and federal grants that do not have to be repaid were distributed in 2002-03."
2003-10-22 07:40PDT (10:40EDT) (14:40GMT)
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Warner Time Turner earns $541M
"Before the bell Wednesday, Time Warner reported third-quarter earnings of $541M, or 12 cents a share. That is up sharply from $57M and a penny a share in the same period a year ago -- and above the 9-cent consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson First Call... Total revenue rose 3.7% to $10.3G, with growth in cable business and TV networks helping to offset declines at its AOL and filmed entertainment units."
2003-10-22 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & David Ensor _CNN_
Illegal Aliens Paying In-State Tuition
"states are required by law to provide an elementary and a high school education to illegal aliens... There are 64K student enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College. School officials estimate, as many as 100 are not legal residents. For Virginia's attorney general, that's 100 too many. He's issued a rule advising all state colleges and universities to deny admission to people who cannot prove their immigration status... Illegal immigrants are eligible for in-state tuition in 8 states. As many as 20 others are considering doing the same... Dianne Feinstein: 'this Chilean-Singaporean trade agreement which essentially provided that nearly 7K people, not necessarily from those two countries, but working for companies owned by either Singaporean people or Chilean people could come here under what's called an L visa... There are apparently 73K people that have come in under NAFTA in this same way. We have a big H-1B workers program, a big L-visa program... in San Jose, which is the heart of Silicon Valley, you have 7% unemployment, you have 70K high-tech workers without a job. And what happens is, the company will hire an H-1B foreign worker at a third the cost, and that American worker hits the bricks... two things are going on: One is down-sizing, and the other is [off-shore] out-sourcing.'... But critics, including the Pentagon's own Defense Science Board, warn that the program to field the next generation of satellites is behind schedule, over budget and as the board said bluntly, quote, 'not executable'... Once the future imagery architecture satellites do finally go up over the next 6 to 8 years, according to sources, the nation will have more and better eyes and ears in space, and it will be able to spy on more of the globe simultaneously, much more of the time..."
_TechWeb News_/_Information Week_
Apple Debuts Lower-Priced iBooks: The new G4-powered lap-tops are priced as low as $1099
"Priced beginning at $1,099 with a 12.1-inch LCD, and starting at $1,299 for those equipped with a 14.1-inch display, the iBooks include Apple's latest operating system, Mac OS X 10.3, dubbed 'Panther'; 256 Mbytes of memory; support for Apple's Wi-Fi implementation, called AirPort Extreme; and built-in Ethernet, USB 2.0, and FireWire ports. The new iBooks have PowerPC G4 processors running at speeds from 800 MHz to 1GHz."
Robert L. Steinback _Miami Herald_
Public tuition costs steadily growing
Tuition Levels Rise but Many Students Pay Significantly Less than Published Rates
Trends in College Pricing 2003 (pdf)
Trends in Student Aid 2003 (pdf)
"The annual cost of attending the nation's public 4-year universities increased 47% over the last decade, easily outpacing inflation due mostly to states' funding not keeping up with growth, according to a study released Tuesday. At private universities, costs increased 42% in the last decade, compared to a 27% increase in cost-of-living. The good news: Financial aid appears to have kept pace with the tuition increases. But students aren't benefiting the same as in the past, as a smaller share is tied to financial need and more comes in the form of loans that must be repaid... Public-school tuition jumped 13% last year, the sharpest increase in three decades, according to The College Board... The College Board also reported that tuition at 2-year public colleges, such as Florida's community colleges, increased $231, or 13.8%, to $1,905 for the current year... Tuition at Florida's public universities has increased 23.2% during the last three years. And at a meeting in Tallahassee today, the system's Board of Governors will consider whether to seek a tuition hike again in 2004-2005... The cost of under-graduate tuition and fees at those 27 private Florida colleges was $14,561 for 2002-2003, an increase of $891 over the previous year... The College Board reported a national average of $19,710 for private college tuition and fees alone, a $1,214 increase over the previous year. At the University of Miami, more than 85% of students receive financial aid, a spokesman said. The average full-time under-graduate paid $35,545 in tuition, room, board and fees, while receiving $22,053 in financial aid."
Kim McCoy Vann _Tallahassee Democrat_
Florida's college students pay less than their peers in most other states (fees may be another matter)
"Florida under-graduates pay an average of $2,874 year, according to the state's Department of Education. Nationwide, only Nevada's average tuition and fees - $2,370 - ranked lower... They're paying 8.5% more for tuition this year."
Shweta Govindarajan & Nick Anderson & Rebecca Trounson _Los Angeles Times_/_Baltimore Sun_
College costs rose 40% in 10 years: state aid, endowments, fund-raising declining
"The cost of higher education across the United States has risen more than 40% over the past 10 years, according to a study released yesterday by the College Board. The annual report, _Trends in College Pricing_, said declines in state funding, endowments and fund raising contributed to soaring tuition costs at 4-year public and private universities... College Board officials said more than $40G in state and federal grants, which students are not required to repay, were distributed this year. More than 60% of under-graduates at private institutions received some form of aid, the study said... The average cost of attending a 4-year private college, including tuition, room and board, is $26,854, an increase of more than 5% from last year, the study found..."
Fox Butterfield _NY Times_
Study Finds Hundreds of Thousands of Inmates Mentally Ill
US Prisons & Offenders with Mental Illness
"As many as 1 in 5 of the 2.1M Americans in prison are seriously mentally ill, according to a comprehensive study... There are now fewer than 80K people in mental hospitals, and the number is continuing to fall... A study in Washington found that while mentally ill inmates constituted 18.7% of the state's prison population, they accounted for 41% of infractions."
Milt Freudenheim _NY Times_
Workers Feel Pinch of Rising Health Costs
"As health care costs rise, employers are shifting a growing share of the burden onto people who make the heaviest use of medical services."
David Lazarus _San Francisco Chronicle_
Tough Lesson on Medical Privacy: Pakistani TranScriber Threatens UCSF Over Back Pay
"A woman in Pakistan doing cut-rate clerical work for UCSF Medical Center threatened to post patients' confidential files on the Internet unless she was paid more money. To show she was serious, the woman sent UCSF an e-mail earlier this month with actual patients' records attached. The violation of medical privacy - apparently the first of its kind - highlights the danger of 'off-shoring' work that involves sensitive materials, an increasing trend among budget-conscious U.S. companies and institutions. U.S. laws maintain strict standards to protect patients' medical data. But those laws are virtually unenforceable over-seas, where much of the labor-intensive transcribing of dictated medical notes to written form is being exported. [The work had been contracted and sub-contracted from SF to Sausalito to Florida to Texas to Karachi.]"
Pamela Hamilton _AP_/_Columbia State_
USC professor says economy is improving despite rash of lay-offs
"Hiring is on the rise in some industry sectors, personal income is growing and the housing sector continues to do well - all signs the state is 'slowly starting to turn the corner' of recovery, University of South Carolina economist Don Schunk said Wednesday. But that line of thinking may be a tough sell to more than 15K South Carolina workers who've been laid off from their jobs this year or lost them as a result of plant closings."
2003-10-22 17:17PDT (20:17EDT) (2003-10-23 00:17GMT)
_WIS TV, Columbia, SC_
USC professor says economy improving despite rash of lay-offs
"University of South Carolina economist Don Schunk says hiring is on the rise in some industry sectors... This week alone 3 manufacturers have announced plans to lay off more than 1100 people..."
2003-10-22 21:26PDT (23:26EDT) (2003-11-23 03:26GMT)
Stephanie Armour _USA Today_
Laid-off try to find survival jobs
"Nearly 5M people who want full-time jobs have settled for part-time work because of economic conditions, up roughly 30% from 3M in 2000 July, according to September unemployment data from the Department of Labor. Of job seekers ages 25 to 40 who are considering an hourly job as a temporary replacement for a career job, nearly 1 in 3 -- 27% -- investigate hourly work less than 1 month after their career jobs end, according to a poll by on-line employment site SnagAJob. With the unemployment rate at 6.1% in September, managers and professionals with college degrees are competing with high school students for entry-level jobs... They often deplete savings quickly. The proportion of disposable personal income that Americans put into savings is less than 4% today, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis, down from about 8% in the 1970s... In September, 2.1M people -- representing 23% of job seekers -- had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, according to the Department of Labor. That's up from 1.9M in August."
2003-10-23 00:47PDT (03:47EDT) (07:47GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo stocks fall
"The Nikkei Average tumbled 554 points, or 5.1%, to end at 10,335.16 -- the biggest point drop since 2001 September 12, when the index plunged 682 points... The broader Topix sank 5.3% to 1,017... South Korea's Kopsi sank 3.2% to 754, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 4.1% to11,737 after AFX Asia reported that Morgan Stanley downgraded Hong Kong equities to 'under-weight' from 'over-weight'. Bourses in Taipei, Sydney, Shanghai and Singapore also sank. Bangkok rose."
2003-10-23 07:14PDT (10:14EDT) (14:14GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Initial unemployment compensation insurance claims hold steady
"The average number of seasonally adjusted initial [unemployment insurance] claims over the past 4 weeks was unchanged at 392,250, the department said. The 4-week average had declined by 19K in the previous 4 weeks to an 8-month low. Read the full release. In the week ending October 18, new claims dropped by 4K to 386K, equaling an 8-month low set 4 weeks earlier... Meanwhile, the number of Americans collecting state benefits fell 84K to a 6-month low of 3.54M in the week ending October 11... The insured unemployment rate - the percentage of all eligible workers who received benefit checks - dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 2.8%, a 6-week low. In addition, about 840K workers are receiving extended federal benefits, which are available to workers who have exhausted their state benefits, typically after 26 weeks. The federal program is set to expire at the end of the year. In September, 2.1M Americans had been out of work longer than 6 months, 23.2% of the 9M who are officially classified as unemployed."
2003-10-23 09:24PDT (12:24EDT) (16:24GMT)
_Reuters_/_Wired_/_abc News_/_WTVG Toledo OH_/_AP_...
Feds Arrest 300 Illegal Alien Employees at 61 WMs
Macon, GA area on-line
Suzanne Gamboa _AP_/_San Francisco Chronicle_
Dayton Ohio Daily News
"the investigation, known as 'Operation Rollback', involved allegations the contractor had recruited illegal immigrants, mainly Eastern European nationals, to work on cleaning crews at the stores for the world's largest retailer. A federal law enforcement official said some Wal-Mart executives had direct knowledge of the scheme, based on recorded conversations that have been made, surveillance and monitoring... federal grand jury sub poenas have been issued for the Wal-Mart executives to testify... The states where arrests were made are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia."
2003-10-23 11:49PDT (14:49EDT) (18:49GMT)
_World Net Daily_
Congress-critters raise own pay for 5th straight year
"Assuming the legislation is signed into law, members of the 100-member body will be pulling in about $158K next year, the Associated Press reports. The House of Representatives OKd the [unconstitutional] 2.2% cost-of-living increase for all members of Congress last month... [An] amendment to kill the raise was rejected by a vote of 60-34 [in the Senate]... wages among all non-government workers rose an average 2.7% from 2002 July through 2003 June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 2.2% increase also applies to the vice president, congressional leaders and Supreme Court justices, but not to the president."
2003-10-23 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bill Tucker & David Ensor _CNN_
WM faces federal crack-down on illegal workers
"Law enforcement sources say some WM executives and store managers knew that members of the cleaning crews were illegal aliens. Federal agents also searched the headquarters of WM in Arkansas. These raids go to the heart of a problem that we've been reporting on here for months, the huge influx of illegal aliens into this country, which now number some 10M... low-cost goods made in overseas shops on the shelves and illegal aliens working inside the stores -- Wal-Mart says it didn't know. The feds say otherwise... The WM case is reminiscent of the Tyson Foods, case where Tyson was charged with conspiring to smuggle in illegal aliens to work in its plants. [Tyson] and its executives were acquitted of all of those charges in March of this year... A surveillance camera on the [Red Chinese] orbital module that remains in space will watch targets on Earth, U.S. officials say, for the next 6 to 8 months... From telephones to television to bank transfers, the American economy relies heavily on space satellites. And they gave the U.S. military and intelligence a critical technological edge, both in Afghanistan and in Iraq... Senators rejected a proposal that would have blocked them from receiving an automatic cost of living increase for next year. The senators' salary goes next year $3,400 higher. They'll be making $158K a year. The salary has increased the past 5 years by a total of $21K."
Kirk Semple _NY Times_
Panel Faults U.N. on Lax Security for Iraq Office
"An independent panel said that security breaches, inadequate security analysis and poor management left the U.N. vulnerable to attack."
David Pogue _NY Times_
Apple releases Mac OS 10.3 "Panther"
"In any case, Apple has lost no time in exploiting the public's fears of computer insecurity. For example, a new feature called FileVault can encrypt your entire 'Home folder' - files, Web bookmarks, e-mail and all - and then decode them automatically and invisibly when you log in. If, say, your laptop is stolen, your sensitive stuff is secure and safe. (FileVault uses an encoding scheme so thorough, Apple says, that a password-guessing computer would need 149 trillion years to break it. Just enough time for Apple to reach Mac OS X 11.) Mac OS X can also sign you out of your account automatically after a certain period... Secure Empty Trash command doesn't just delete files; it actually overwrites their parking places on the hard drive with invisible gibberish... ExposÈ. When you press a certain keystroke (of your choosing), all windows in all programs visibly shrink and array themselves across the screen like non-overlapping tiles. You just click the one you want to bring it forward at full size."
2003-10-24 13:31PDT (16:31EDT) (20:31GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks close off day's lows
"The Dow closed off 30.67, or 0.3% at 9,582.46, well above the 9,500 level after languishing below if for most of the day. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell a steeper 1.1%, or 19.92 points to end at 1,865.59, off its low of 1,841.62. The S&P 500 slid 4.86 points, to 1,028.91."
2003-10-24 15:00PDT (18:00EDT) (22:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bill Tucker _CNN_
Wild-Fires Threaten Southern California: Solar Storm Bombards Earth This Week
"Tonight, nearly 1,500 fire-fighters are struggling to contain a huge wild-fire in Southern California, a wild-fire that is threatening to engulf a heavily populated suburb of Los Angeles. The fire has already destroyed 4K acres of the San Bernardino National Forest. Officials say that fire is also threatening now power lines that supply 25% of the electricity to Los Angeles County, an area with a population of [over] 10M people... As many as 1 in 3 American troops in Iraq now doesn't have the latest bullet-proof vest, vests that can stop bullets from assault rifles used by terrorists and insurgents... Lou, when it comes to the body vests, the interceptor body armor has no peer, which is why everybody wants it, as a matter of fact. But 45K American troops don't have them. And now comes word our own Department of Defense is issuing it to foreign troops before our own... The Army says it's on top of the situation now, seven months after going to war, 6 months after Congress approved $310M to purchase interceptor vests. But, still, one-third of our troops in Iraq don't have state-of-the-art combat protect. But, by December 3, the Army's now saying our troops will have interceptor body armor. In addition to the 3 original contractors, another 3 have been added to increase production to a maximum of 25K vests a month... Bill Baldwin, editor, _Forbes_: 'WM's whole business model is built around getting cheap labor. Most of it is legitimate, its [Red Chinese] labor making American apparel. So this is just maybe part and parcel of that, lower your costs, look the other way.'... Jim Ellis: 'Wal-Mart is responsible for about 10% of all of our current account deficit with [Red China].'... A solar storm sparked by a giant explosion of gas and particles on the Sun struck the Earth this morning."
2003-10-24 15:43PDT (18:43EDT) (22:43GMT)
Pelosi opposes arrests of illegal immigrant Wal-Mart workers
Seth Faison _NY Times_
Chaing Kai-shek's Widow Died Yesterday at 105
"Madame Chiang was the most famous member of one of modern China's most remarkable families, the Soongs, who dominated Chinese politics and finance in the first half of the century. Yet in China it was her American background and life-style that distinguished Soong Mei-ling, her maiden name... A devout Christian, Madame Chiang spoke fluent English tinted with the Southern accent she acquired as a school girl in Georgia, and presented a civilized and humane image of a courageous China battling a Japanese invasion and Communist subversion. Yet historians have documented the murderous path that Chiang Kai-shek led in his efforts to win, then keep, and ultimately lose power. It also became clear in later years that the Chiang family had pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid intended for the war."
Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
House Leaders Are Pushing to Cut Corporate Taxes
"intended to save corporations some [$14G per year]... Phases in tax-rate reductions of up to 3 percentage points: For domestic manufacturing & production income at all companies. For all income at smaller companies in America. Expands favorable rules for depreciation deductions. Makes a variety of technical changes favorable to [American multi-national] companies that earn time abroad. Exempts many more companies from the alternative minimum tax... would gradually reduce the corporate tax rate for most companies from 35% to 32%... Bill Thomas also dropped a provision that would have extended through 2007 a tax credit for research and development, which was supposed to expire."
2003-10-25 11:55:30PDT (14:55:30EDT) (18:55:30GMT)
Larry Monus _Coeur d'Alene Press_
"California" growth is not wanted
"Growth done the California way will benefit Silverwood and land-sharks looking only to pump up their bottom line, while destroying the existing businesses and confiscating property. Such is the fate of property owners around Alabaster, Alabama, who were told growth was coming, like it or not, by an Alabaster City Councilman. The city invoked eminent domain so a developer could put in a parking lot for a Wal-Mart. Eminent domain may only be used legally for the common good, not for a mall developer's parking lot. The Alabaster city council, however, knows what's good for the city's tax base and will not be deterred by mere legalities and will proceed with the confiscation of the needed property."
Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Cleaner at Wal-Mart Tells of Few Breaks and Low Pay
"Federal officials noted that 102 illegal immigrants working for Wal-Mart cleaning contractors had been arrested in 1998 and 2001 and that 13 Wal-Mart cleaning contractors had pleaded guilty after those arrests. Those pleas remain under court seal... 10 immigrants arrested on Thursday in Arizona and Kentucky were employed directly by Wal-Mart. Company officials said they had brought these workers in-house after certain stores phased out the use of the contractors for whom the immigrants had worked... Federal officials said yesterday that the leading nation of origin for the janitors caught in Thursday's raids was Mexico, with 90. The Czech Republic was second with 35, followed by Mongolia with 22, Brazil with 20. Uzbekistan, Poland, Russia, Georgia and Lithuania each had about a dozen."
High-Priced College Text Books
"These hard-pressed students were understandably vexed by the news that publishers who charge $120 for a text-book in this country sell the same book at half that price abroad... The publishers also assert that they have to lower prices abroad to sell any books there at all... publishers are driving up text-book costs wherever they can, often with the help of colleges and professors. For example, book-stores now sell bundled academic products that include a main text-book and as many as five supplements -- including study guides and CD-ROM's -- that are rarely sold separately."
Japan Succumbs to Its Own Pork in Agricultural Policies
"Japan's determination to protect its farmers at all costs helps reinforce the international status quo, in which rich countries demand that poor countries open markets to manufactured goods even as the rich nations throw up barriers to imported farm products... The Japanese government got cold feet and backed out under intense pressure from domestic pork and orange juice producers, which worried about having to compete with Mexican imports... Japan's automobile manufacturers compete at a terrible disadvantage within Mexico, given that country's free trade deals with the United States and the European Union... Japan owes its prosperity to others' willingness to import its manufactured goods."
2003-10-26 12:55PST (15:55EST) (20:55GMT)
California forest fire images from NOAA
Valley Center California photo
Yilu Zhao _NY Times_
A Very Few Jobs Move from Red China to America
"[In Camden, SC] one of [Red China's] best-known companies, the Haier Group, is churning out refrigerators at a factory staffed by American workers... Haier argues that the plant saves transportation costs. To the company, which had $8.5G in revenue last year, the plant is at the core of its vision to expand in the United States. The factory, completed in 2000 at a cost of $40M, is designed to respond nimbly to American retailers, who stock little inventory but want to replenish supplies quickly when products run out, said David Parks, a senior vice president of Haier's American unit. Shipping refrigerators from Asia can take up to 6 weeks... The [Red Chinese] government's objective is to catapult at least 50 Chinese companies onto the Fortune Global 500 list, according to its official media, up from the current 11... Haier, partially owned by the government of the northern city of Qingdao, where it is based, has made some headway in small American market niches. It had a third of the market for compact refrigerators last year, three years after it began selling them here, and it captured half the market for refrigerated wine cabinets in about a year, according to a report by McKinsey, the management consulting firm... The careers of top managers at companies like Haier that are entirely or partially state-owned are heavily directed by the government. 'Ultimately, the managers are accountable to the political leaders.', said Zhiwu Chen, a finance professor at the Yale School of Management. 'They are not accountable to the share-holders.'"
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
As Silicon Valley ReBoots, the Geeks Take Charge
"The valley is populated with people of various talents, but its essence begins with the software and hardware engineers. They create technology tools that then find investors and users in the market-place. It is, first and foremost, a high-tech tool shop. That fundamental truth was forgotten in the boom years. The short-lived dot-coms were just marketing plans lashed to the Internet. They had no technology edge; they were run by marketers and MBAs. But most of the young companies that survived the crash - and the start-ups that have risen since - are based on innovation and are run by people with deep technical skills... Some day, bio-technology or nano-technology or something else may drive the nation's high-tech economy. But for now, information technology - which represents more than half of all business capital investment - will remain the engine. And judging from what's going on in the valley, there seems to be plenty of fuel left... For the largest call centers, analysts estimate, an increase of one percentage point in automation generates a savings of $5M a year... The marketing plan, business model and sometimes the company itself die, but good technology tends to live on."
Lisa Belkin _NY Times_
How to Make Your TeleCommute Work
"The term 'telecommuter' has been part of the language for more than 20 years, and in that time the category of people it describes has exploded. The number of workers whose only office is at home has doubled over the last 3 years, according to the META Group, a technology consulting firm based in Stamford, CT. The International Teleworkers Association estimates that there are 28M workers who fit that description and predicts that this will increase by 6M over the next 3 years."
Clive Thompson _NY Times_
Brain Scans and Marketing
"He assembled a group of test subjects and, while monitoring their brain activity with an NMR machine, recreated the Pepsi Challenge. His results confirmed those of the TV campaign: Pepsi tended to produce a stronger response than Coke in the brain's ventral putamen, a region thought to process feelings of reward. (Monkeys, for instance, exhibit activity in the ventral putamen when they receive food for completing a task.) Indeed, in people who preferred Pepsi, the ventral putamen was five times as active when drinking Pepsi than that of Coke fans when drinking Coke. In the real world, of course, taste is not everything. So Montague tried to gauge the appeal of Coke's image, its 'brand influence', by repeating the experiment with a small variation: this time, he announced which of the sample tastes were Coke. The outcome was remarkable: almost all the subjects said they preferred Coke. What's more, the brain activity of the subjects was now different. There was also activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that scientists say governs high-level cognitive powers. Apparently, the subjects were meditating in a more sophisticated way on the taste of Coke, allowing memories and other impressions of the drink -- in a word, its brand -- to shape their preference. Pepsi, crucially, couldn't achieve the same effect... When [Clint] Kilts looked at the images of their brains, he was struck by one particular result: whenever a subject saw a product he had identified as one he truly loved -- something that might prompt him to say, 'That's just so me!' -- his brain would show increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. Kilts was excited, for he knew that this region of the brain is commonly associated with our sense of self... He pointed to a bright yellow spot on the right side, in the somatosensory cortex, an area that shows activity when you emulate sensory experience... If a marketer finds that his product is producing a response in this region of the brain, he can conclude that he has not made the immediate, instinctive sell: even if a consumer has a positive attitude toward the product, if he has to mentally 'try it out', he isn't instantly identifying with it... If [the medial pre-frontal cortex] is firing, a consumer isn't deliberating, he said: he's itching to buy... Marketers in the United States spent more than $1G last year on focus groups, the results of which guided about $120G in advertising."
Joan Axelrod-Contrada _Boston Globe_
Tough times for skeleton crews: Under-staffing leaves many more employees over-worked to the bone
"46% of senior executives at public companies say their company is under-staffed, according to a poll by Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm based in Cleveland. And it isn't likely that companies will treat workers to an expansion in hiring any time soon. Locally, a majority of Massachusetts CEOs - 53% - told the Globe in a survey earlier this year that they expect no change in their hiring plans... 40% of employees surveyed by the Discovery Group, a Sharon-based consulting firm, say that their work-load is unreasonable... Under-staffing is also driving many nurses out of the field. A survey of 600 registered nurses in Massachusetts conducted by the Opinion Dynamics Corp. found that 65% of RNs currently working in non-bedside conditions would consider returning to a job providing direct patient care in a hospital if a law were passed regulating RN-to-patient ratios. Such a bill is currently pending in the Massachusetts Legislature."
Davis Bushnell _Boston Globe_
Retirement is a dirty word for many older workers
"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 4.4M individuals age 65 or older working full or part time in the US work force. A recent survey of workers between 50 and 70 years of age revealed that 53% of the respondents defined retirement as 'working for enjoyment, not money', according to AARP, an advocacy group for older Americans."
Lou Dobbs _NY Daily News_
Working more, living less
"But now that the recovery is in full swing, and the country's jobless situation has only begun to improve, some are beginning to question how these productivity gains were achieved and what effects they will have [are having] on the labor force, unemployed workers and the overall economy... Barry Bluestone, a political economy professor at Northeastern University, disagree. Bluestone told me: 'We'll be very lucky if we break even or have a little bit of job growth over the next year. With productivity continuing to grow at 4% to 5% per year, and the economy growing at best at 3.5%, that would mean that employment would basically hold steady without much growth at all.'... Only 87% of U.S. companies are now providing paid vacations, down from 95% in 1999. The American worker takes an average of just 10.2 vacation days per year, while our counterparts in France and Germany enjoy more than 30... Corporate profits are up nearly 21% and Wall Street is expecting third-quarter GDP growth of more than 5%. [Will companies] shed their reluctance to hire additional staff... will they resist reasonable wages with reasonable hours?"
2003-10-26 16:22PST (19:22EST) (2003-10-27 00:22GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Computer games treat phobias
"Inexpensive computer games provide virtual environments that may be helpful in treating people with phobias, according to an article in the 2003 October issue of CyberPsychology & Behavior, a peer-reviewed journal. More than 11M Americans suffer from phobias at any given time. Games such as Half-Life and Unreal Tournament safely and gradually induced high anxiety among 13 phobic patients, who were then treated with conventional therapy, the study said... computer-game therapy works for about 90% of phobia patients and 98% of those who fear flying specifically..."
2003-10-26 20:19PST (23:19EST) (2003-10-27 04:19GMT)
Gasoline prices keep falling
"The Lundberg Survey of gas prices for the 2 weeks ending October 24 found the weighted average retail gasoline price for all grades fell to $1.59, down from 1.61 in Lundberg's October 10 survey... As of Friday, self-serve regular gasoline showed an average weighted price of $1.56 a gallon, with mid-grade at $1.66 and premium at $1.75. All the prices include taxes."
2003-10-27 12:27PST (15:27EST) (20:27GMT)
California forest fire image from NOAA
2003-10-27 12:44PST (14:44EST) (20:44GMT)
California forest fire images from NOAA
2003-10-27 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Dave Mattingly & Ben Wedeman & Louise Schiavone & Peter Viles _CNN_
California Wild-Fires Continue
"Tonight, in Southern California, wild-fires continue to rage. At least 13 people are dead. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes and hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned. The fires are the deadliest in California in a decade. Tonight, President Bush declared a major disaster in four California counties. Those fires have burned more than 400K acres from the Simi Valley north of Los Angeles to San Diego County in the south, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air. Authorities say powerful Santa Ana winds are fueling the fires. Those winds have gusts of up to 45 miles an hour... The fires have burned more than 1K homes... San Diego is reeling from the worst fires seen here since 1970; 11 people were killed in two separate fires last night, those fires also destroying hundreds of homes, 180 houses, in fact, destroyed in a single neighborhood... a van with Red Crescent markings and packed with explosives crashed into a barrier outside the Red Cross. The blast killed at least 10 people and wounded more than two dozen, all of them Iraqis... The Washington metro system, clean, efficient and paid for by American taxpayers not once, but twice, through a sophisticated tax shelter. Corporations pay cash up front to lease items like subway cars and take huge tax write-offs. Cash-starved local governments offer no apologies... Some of the most fertile grounds for these deals are in Europe, with big corporations taking U.S. tax breaks on everything from the Paris subway to the Berlin subway to railroad tracks, power plants and town halls... Grassley estimates that, over the past 10 years, the U.S. treasury has lost $84G through the leasing schemes and other tax shelters... critics say, the law against hiring illegals is weak and government efforts to enforce it even weaker... Other recent high-profile cases, earlier this summer, the lumber company Trussway, fined $300K for hiring illegals in Kentucky. In 1998, ConAgra was fined $223K for hiring illegals at a poultry plant, also in Kentucky..."
2003-10-27 16:00PST (19:00EST) (00:00GMT)
Allen Kenney _Medill News Service_/_CBS.MarketWatch.com_
When government aid falls short more students tap private loans to meet college costs
"As total college costs rise, students are finding government aid covers an increasingly smaller percentage of the cost of tuition, room and board. The Stafford loan program -- which makes up more than 45% of all federal loans -- hasn't re-adjusted its borrowing limits since the 1992-93 year. Consequently, private sources of funding are gaining popularity among needy students. In 2002, non-government borrowing for college climbed to $7.5G, a 41% increase over 2001. This form of borrowing, which comes mainly from banks and other private lenders, has grown from 6% of all education loans in 1997 to 13% in the last year."
Dexter Filkins & Raymond Bonner _NY Times_
Series of Blasts Across Baghdad Kill at Least 15
"A series of blasts shook Baghdad early Monday, including a suicide attack on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross."
Stephen Sisk _Birmingham Alabama Post-Herald_
Alabaster land dispute heads to court room
"[November 20 is] when Shelby County Probate Judge Patricia Fuhrmeister will decide if the city can rightfully take -- through condemnation -- the land of several residents who have refused to sell their property to developers. The land in question is included in a plan by Colonial Properties Trust, which wants to build an 800K-square-foot shopping center."
David Leonhardt & Edmund L. Andrews _NY Times_
Gains in Wages Expected to Give Economy a Lift (with graphs)
"Hourly wages have already surprised most economists by growing more quickly than inflation since 2001 in spite of the worst decline in employment in 20 years... According to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington research group, hourly wages have increased more sharply than at any time since early 2002 -- more than 2%, after being adjusted for inflation -- for a median of about $14 an hour. Another government survey suggests that wage growth is falling but remains above the annual inflation rate, which is roughly 2%. Wage increases trailed inflation for long periods during the 1980s and early 1990s. 'What seems to be happening is that companies that are staying in business want to hold onto the people they have.', Stephen R. Sleigh, director of strategic resources at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which has negotiated annual pay increases of more than 3% on most recent contracts... With the jobless rate at 6.1% last month, compared with a peak of almost 11% during the 1980s, companies also have less bargaining power than they had during other periods of slow economic growth. A survey of employers by Watson Wyatt, a consulting firm, found that they plan to pay average salary increases of 3.4% next year, up from 3.2% this year. SAS, a software maker based in Cary, NC, has reduced the amount of money it pays to employees from its profit-sharing plan as business has weakened in the last 2 years. But SAS has increased salaries 4% to 5% a year on average, with most of the raises going to the employees whom executives fear losing the most, said Jeff Chambers, vice president of human resources at the company, which employs 5K people in this country... Other significant pay increases this year have included raises of almost 10% for public school teachers and administrators in Washington and, at Tenet HealthCare, raises of almost 30% for nurses, who are still in high demand nationwide..."
Pam Belluck _NY Times_
Libertarians Pursue New Goal: State of Their Own
"The Free State Project aims to recruit libertarians from across the country to move to New Hampshire to make the state a laboratory for libertarian politics."
Olga Kharif _Business Week_/_eCommerce Times_/_IT Tool Box_
The Hidden Costs of IT Off-Shore Out-Sourcing
IT Tool Box
"Just last year, ESS, which specializes in developing applications...for Web services, earned $500K in revenues from fixing buggy software written in India. It took ESS five months to repair a glitch-filled application for a Web portal. Most pages on the site weren't connected, turning updating into a nightmare. Some code was missing. The shoddy work didn't come cheap, either: The Indian out-sourcer went $1M over budget. Franklin says he could have done the project for less than $900K -- right here in the U.S... when you parse it all out, the total cost of off-shoring a given IT job is generally comparable to getting the work done domestically, says Tom Weakland, a partner at management consultancy DiamondCluster... As Empowered Software has discovered, programs developed by off-shore out-sourcers are also often buggier than software programmed domestically -- usually 35% to 40% more so, estimates Mah."
Stephen Labaton _NY Times_
Critics Press Case on TV Copyright Rules
"Protecting the copyrights of digital television programs is becoming increasingly relevant as more free, over-the-air stations have begun digital broadcasting. The new rules would not affect cable or satellite television, whose digital programming is protected by encryption technology. The FCC reported in May that more than 1K broadcast television stations were transmitting digital programming, and every major market is now served by at least one digital station. The programming carries some important benefits - better picture and sound quality and more efficient use of the already crowded air-waves. But it also requires consumers to buy more expensive television sets and new DVD players if they wish to record digital programs in the digital format... The rules would permit the producers of movies and television programs to insert a special 'broadcast flag' or digital marker, into the data bit stream that is transmitted over the air-waves. The flag, which could be read by new equipment in ways intended to prevent piracy, would be invisible to viewers and would not interfere with the picture or sound. And it would have no effect on any current equipment, an FCC official and industry lobbyists insisted last week. 'The broadcast flag will not obsolete the some 50M DVD play-back devices currently in consumer homes.', Jack Valenti, the president and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America, wrote in a letter last Wednesday to Michael K. Powell, the FCC chairman."
Tony Smith _NY Times_
Brazil Is a CyberCrime Laboratory
"With a told-you-so grin, Marcos Flavio Assuno reads out 4 digits -- an Internet banking password -- that he has just intercepted as a reporter communicates via lap-top with a bank's supposedly secure web site. 'It wouldn't matter if you were on the other side of the world in Malaysia.', said Mr. Assuno, a confident 22-year-old. 'I could still steal your password.'... The country is becoming a laboratory for cyber-crime, with hackers -- able to collaborate with relative impunity -- specializing in identity and data theft, credit card fraud and piracy, as well as on-line vandalism... So far this year, nearly 96K overt Internet attacks -- ones that are reported, validated or witnessed -- have been traced to Brazil. That was more than 6 times the number of attacks traced to the runner-up, Turkey, mi2g reported last month."
Michael Schroeder _Wall Street Journal_
US May Ease Entry for High-Tech Workers: Senators Seek to Circumvent Cap on Temporary Visas Amid Corporate Pressure
"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is pushing a plan to circumvent the 65K cap on so-called H-1B temporary worker visas by expanding exemptions, according to Senate aides familiar with the discussions... his effort paves the way for a full airing of visa-over-haul legislation that has already been introduced and will likely be considered after January 1... any plan would include some added protections for U.S. workers, including reinstating a $1K fee for each visa that would be used to pay for retraining American workers -- a strategy aimed at gaining Democratic agreement. So far, an idea being pressed by Intel Corp., the giant computer chip maker, is getting the most attention. It would exempt from the visa cap foreign students with graduate technical degrees. Under the current rules, only foreign H-1B holders who work at universities or non-profit research and development organizations don't count against the cap. More than 30K such visa holders the past 2 years qualified... Paul Zulkie, a Chicago immigration lawyer and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, claims that the 2004 cap is closer to 35K because more than 22K applications from last year are likely to be approved this fiscal year and nearly 7K [6,800] H-1B visas have been set aside for applicants from Chile and Singapore under free-trade pacts... India's National Association of Software and Service Companies, a New Delhi trade group representing 850 international companies, which hired lobbying firm Hill & Knowlton, is advocating a cap of between 120K and 130K."
Rob Sanchez _eWeek_
Global Labor Auction
"The year 1990 marked a radical departure in philosophy as professional white-collar workers using nonimmigrant work visas such as H-1B and L-1 were allowed to work in the United States. These visas were inserted into the General Agreement on Trade and Services as part of the World Trade Organization plan to globalize the labor market. Corporate lobbyists ran an expensive campaign to coerce Congress to pass nonimmigrant visa legislation. The cornerstone of their marketing campaign was the creation of the myth of a shortage of U.S. high-tech workers... These pandering politicians were wined and dined in Mumbai while they pledged to sacrifice U.S. jobs by moving them to India."
Geoffrey Colvin _Fortune_
Worrying about Jobs Isn't Productive: Yes, the US is losing factory jobs and so is the rest of the world
"The U.S. economic expansion, officially underway for 20 months, has somehow managed to destroy rather than create net new jobs... the world's 20 largest economies lost 22M manufacturing jobs from 1995 to 2002. Even [Red China], which is supposed to be where most of our factory jobs are going, lost 15M jobs in that period, vs. America's loss of just 2M... human desires and human ingenuity are boundless. No matter how much we have, we always want more... Result: Instead of working less because we're so productive, we must work more in order to compete."
photo of Scripps Ranch results of the Cedar fire by AP photographer Denis Poroy
Brian Skoloff _AP_/_Knox News_ 17 killed in West Coast fires: more than 1100 Southern California homes lost
California fire images from NASA Earth Observatory
USDA Forest Service Pacific SouthWest Research Cedar Fire maps
David Udovic at U of Oregon
map and photo of southern California fires
_AP_ photo near Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and I-15
2003-10-27 21:01PST (2003-10-28 00:01EST) (2003-10-28 05:01GMT)
Bambi Francisco _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
IPOs require right motivation
"The problem with the IPO process during the boom years was that companies weren't really conducting IPOs to raise capital, but rather to provide an exit strategy for insiders. If the motivation behind an IPO is to raise capital, the company will seek to find the best way to make the distribution process equitable and the price fair. If the motivation behind the IPO is to be an exit strategy for insiders, then the only incentive for the sellers is to get the highest price possible."
2003-10-27 23:31PST (2003-10-28 02:31EST) (2003-10-28 07:31GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Sony to cut 20K jobs
"Japan's Sony confirmed Tuesday that it will cut its work-force by 20K people over the next 3 years, set up a financial holding company to house its fast-growing insurance and banking units and establish a $2G joint venture with South Korean rival Samsung Electronics... Sony said in a statement that it plans to reduce its work-force by 20K employees over the next 3 years, including 7K workers in Japan."
2003-10-28 08:36PST (11:36EST) (16:36GMT)
Consumer Confidence Rose (graph)
"The Conference Board, a business research group based in New York, said its closely watched index of consumer confidence rose to 81.1 from a revised 77 in September... As for perceptions of the job market, the percentage of consumers saying jobs are 'hard to get' fell to 33.8 from a revised 35.1 in September."
2003-10-28 10:17PST (13:17EST) (18:17GMT)
California fire images from NOAA
2003-10-28 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & Peter Viles _CNN_
California Wild-Fires, Lease-Tax Deals, CEO Pay & Solar Flares
"the largest solar flare for the past century has left the surface of the sun hurtling towards Earth... The fires have now killed at least 16 people and burned more than 600K acres, an area almost the size of the state of Rhode Island. There are now 13 major fires burning. They stretch from the Simi Valley to the Mexican border... There are 3 major fires burning tonight in San Diego County. The largest of those fires has now burned more than 300K acres along a 45-mile front. The so-called cedar fire is believed to be the largest fire ever in the history of California... American government hand-outs to major farming corporations are making it almost impossible for the family farmer to compete. But those farm subsidies also cost the American taxpayer more than $100G over the past 8 years... Since 1995, 10% of the largest American farms collected 71% of all farm subsidies, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data... The Fortune 500 companies raking in the most include the Archer Daniels Midland Corporation and some unexpected names, Chevron, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, DuPont, and Caterpillar. American consumers get hit twice. It's their tax dollars paying for these subsidies. And subsidizing large agribusinesses means American families pay more for products like corn, rice, wheat and sugar... small family farmers say the subsidies are hurting them. They've watched their share of the subsidy pie shrink in the same few years, at the same time large agribusinesses have been gobbling up more of their small farms... Buffett's calculations, there's roughly $50T of wealth in the United States right now. But because of chronic trade deficits, foreigners own $2.5T of it, or 5% of our national wealth, and because of trade deficits, are gaining roughly half-a-trillion a year... Now, Buffett does have a plan to fix this, very simple: Let U.S. exporters sell the right to import goods into this country... more than 600K acres have been destroyed [by the fires]... 20 years ago, the average CEO made 42 times more than the average employee. Today, the average CEO makes 400 times more... Americans are losing their confidence in and patience with CEOs. A poll last year revealed only 23% of Americans trusted the bosses of large corporations... Derek Bok: 'After World War II, when American had perhaps its most remarkable period of sustained growth, compensation of CEOs actually went up less rapidly than the compensation of blue collar workers. Then suddenly, in the 1970s, the CEO compensation began to take off. Now why did that happen? The growth of television.'... David Wirtschafter, executive vice president of the William Morris Agency: 'A movie star is judged ultimately by how many people buy the product, how many people go to the movies.'... a recent Harvard Business School study found that over 20 years, CEO performance explained only 14% of overall firm profitability. 'You know, the easy part of pay for performance is high pay for high performance. You know, CEOs absorb that in their mother's milk. They know how to do that. But the hard part is low pay for low performance. Well, we won't take very much of a raise. But perish the thought that you should actually cut your pay. I mean, that's for the little people.'... Charles Liu: 'it is the third most powerful storm ever measured on the sun, based on its X-ray flux.'"
_Baltimore Sun_/_AP_/_Miami Herald_
Bethlehem Steel pensioners face broken promises, payments back into fund
"The retirees have long known their pensions would shrink as the company that once was based in Bethlehem, Pa., withered into bankruptcy. Now, they may be forced into an installment pay-back plan with Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., or PBGC, which has been overseeing Bethlehem Steel's pension plan since April. About 7K retirees may be affected, including 1,300 in Baltimore. Those who will need to pay the money back include workers whose pension checks were increasing as part of a collective bargaining agreement, those who exceed the PBGC's caps on pension checks and those who have been receiving an extra $400 a month to supplement their income until they turn 62 and become eligible for Social Security benefits."
Julie Connelly _NY Times_
Job Market Realities
"workers are often viewed as demanding, self-absorbed and presumptuous, but also as ambitious, free-thinking and eager to learn. They form 'a dramatically different labor market that is changing not just the way people are hired and fired, but also how they view their jobs, their employers and their careers.', said Peter Cappelli, the author of _The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market-Driven Work-Force_ and a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Because of an unsettled economy and an employment market that has not been kind to these workers, they think there is no reward for loyalty and are reluctant to make long-term commitments. Though they have been called disloyal and unwilling to pay their dues, the reality is that they are adapting to a work-place in which 'corporations broke the old arrangement unilaterally', Professor Cappelli said. 'They've seen what's gone on with their parents' generation, and a lack of trust in the corporation is a perfectly rational response to that.'... As of 2003 September, the national unemployment rate was 6.1%, but it was 10.9% for those 20 to 24 and 6.3% for those 25 to 34, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jeff Taylor, the chairman and founder of the Internet bulletin board Monster.com, said that 'of the college class of 2003, 93% are still looking for full-time employment'... On October 21, an on-line poll of 4,570 visitors to the site revealed that when finding a job, 71% planned to stay put, 14% expected to move on within 2 months and 14% planned to leave within 6 months... though leery of company loyalty, they long for a stable and comfortable work environment... Complicating life for many employers is that...everything is apparently open for negotiation. 'This is a generation that is used to asserting itself.', said Jeff Chambers, the vice president for human resources at SAS, a software company in Cary, NC."
satellite image of Rancho Cucamonga California fire area from _AP_/_DigitalGlobe_
2003-10-28 10:23PST (13:23EST) (18:23GMT)
Madison J. Gray _Seattle Post-Intelligencer_/_AP_
P. Diddy accused of abusing sweat-shop labor
"The director of the anti-sweatshop National Labor Committee, Charles Kernaghan, released a report Tuesday detailing poor working conditions at the Southeast Textiles factory in Choloma, Honduras, where Sean John clothes are made... Workers are subjected to daily body searches, contaminated drinking water and 11- to 12-hour daily shifts, the report said. In exchange, they are paid 24 cents for each $50 Sean John sweat shirt they sew."
2003-10-28 14:13PST (17:13EST) (22:13GMT)
California fire images from NOAA
Allan Hoffman _Monster_
College Enrollments in Computer Science Decline Nationwide
"Informal surveys suggest enrollments of students majoring in computer science have declined 20% from the height of the boom, say faculty leaders... 'Most faculty would say, Yippee!', says Maria Klawe, dean of engineering and applied science at Princeton University and president of the ACM, a leading professional organization for computing. Computer science departments were stretched thin by many IT wannabes who, according to their teachers, were drawn to the industry for the glitz of dot-coms and the potential for stock-option riches. They were not necessarily interested in computing as a profession... Ohio State, for instance, hiked the major's GPA cut-off to 3.2 -- it's now 2.8. Class sizes increased dramatically at some institutions, while others attempted to hire new faculty and graduate assistants... The 2001-2002 Taulbee Survey of computer science enrollments, from the Computing Research Association [CRA], indicates 'the period of explosive growth in enrollments in bachelor's programs is over'... At Big Ten universities, such as Ohio State, the drop-off ranges from 10% to 30%, Zweben says."
2003-10-29 02:37PST (05:37EST) (10:37GMT)
B & W images of California fires with over-laid map including inter-state high-ways, from NOAA
2003-10-29 14:01PST (17:01EST) (22:01GMT)
image of California fires from NOAA
Lou Dobbs & Adrian Baschuk & Peter Viles _CNN_
18 dead in California fires; terrorism continues in Iraq
"The dead include a fire-fighter who was killed in San Diego County. He is the first fire-fighter to be killed since those fires started. The fires have destroyed 2K homes, from the Simi Valley near Los Angeles, to the Mexican border, and scorched 600K acres, an area (almost) the size of Rhode Island... We are just being told that, in the last hour one fire-fighter has unfortunately died -- that is confirmed -- and 2 others hurt. That brings the death toll here in San Diego to 13... 10 people were burned alive in their cars... The death toll [in Iraq] since May 1 has risen to 117... the U.S. government financing college tuition for illegal aliens? It's a proposal working its way through Congress right now... With strong support from Chairman Orrin Hatch, the Judiciary Committee vote was 16-3 for the so-called Dream Act, which would let states offer in-state college tuition rates to illegal aliens who finish high school and would protect them from deportation... Senators there voted to keep illegal aliens ineligible for federal Pell grants. Well, why did they do that? Because the federal government would have had to pay for it. It would have cost nearly $200M a year by one estimate. This bill wouldn't cost the federal government much. It will cost the states... The third largest solar flare in history, 5M mile an hour particle interests yesterday's powerful solar flare hit earth early this morning, earlier than had been expected. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration says reports show the power grids in the northern United States and Canada have been feeling the effects... The positive side of these geomagnetic storms, beautiful, colorful, auroras in the sky. And we are told by astrophysicists and astronomers they will be visible as far south as Texas and Florida."
Defective Pell Grant Program
"The maximum award of the federal Pell Grant program, created to encourage low- and middle-income students to attend college, covered more than 80% of public-college tuition a quarter-century ago but covers only about 40% today. Faced with high tuition, up to 25% of the low-income students with grades and scores that make them prime college material no longer even apply."
William Safire _NY Times_
The Pollyanna Conspiracy in Economics
"The first sign of PC's nefarious plot came 2 weeks ago, when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office was forced to downwardly depart from its ever-higher projections of deficits. It dropped the $401G red-ink estimate for the fiscal year ending last month down to $374G. The White House Budget Office agreed, reducing its estimate of the 2003 deficit from $455G to $380G. Horrified at the healthy trend, the Schopenhauer Left came up with excuses... the ecstasy index is soaring over 12%... Are the incipient good times to be a 'jobless recovery', with companies getting leaner and meaner, needing fewer workers, and out-sourcing future labor needs to [Red China] and India?... Tax revenues from increased profits should shrink the deficit and bring about budget balance in our time. Join the Pollyanna Conspiracy. To self-fulfill its prophecy, bring along my old friend, Rosy Scenario."
Douglas Jehl _NY Times_
Conviction of Ex-CIA Employee Over-Turned
"A federal judge in Texas has thrown out the 1983 conviction there of Edwin P. Wilson, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, for selling tons of explosives to Libya, ruling that prosecutors knowingly used false testimony to undermine his defense... The order, made public in Texas on Tuesday, vacates Mr. Wilson's conviction for selling 20 tons of plastic explosives to the Libyan government of colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi in the 1970s... Mr. Wilson, now 75, has spent more than 20 years in prison, where he is serving 52 years on convictions in three separate cases. The other two include convictions for attempted murder and the illegal export of arms, with the sentences to run consecutively... Mr. Wilson, who retired from the C.I.A. in 1971, defended himself against the charges by saying he had acted, at least implicitly, under the direction and authority of the agency."
Eric Hellweg _Business 2.0_
City Hall Turns to Body Shops: State and local government IT bodyshopping is set to expand
"One concept currently gaining favor among state and local governments is IT out-sourcing... Last week, government technology research firm Input announced that non-federal spending on IT out-sourcing will grow by more than 130% during the next 5 years, reaching $23G by fiscal 2008... According to Input, the leading company in the state and local government IT-outsourcing market is the relatively small (with about $3.1G in annual revenue vs. IBM's nearly $90G) Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services, which has a 29% market share of state and local government IT-out-sourcing contracts. Rounding out the top 5, according to Input, are EDS, Unisys, Accenture, and IBM."
Ashok Deo Bardhan & Cynthia Kroll _UC Berkeley_
Study assesses potential impacts of "second wave" of off-shore out-sourcing of jobs from USA
full report "The New Wave of Out-Sourcing"
"They point to the rate of [off-shore] out-sourcing over the past few years to India -- 25K to 30K jobs in 2003 June alone.... Total in Out-Sourcing Risk Occupations 14,063,130 in 2001."
Allan H. Meltzer _AEI_
"frequent announcements tell us that a company reduced its work force by 1K or 3K employees or perhaps one-third of its workforce. How could a private, profit-seeking firm... survive... with so many redundant employees? The answer is: It couldn't and it didn't really happen. What many companies have done is out-source some services previously performed in house. For example, cafeterias become independent enterprises. Often the same people report to work at the same places, but they now work for a different employer, perhaps a start-up. They may receive fewer benefits and perhaps lower wages. The company is able to reduce costs without reducing services. It now has fewer employees and the same output of manufactured goods, so it reports that labor productivity -- output per person employed -- has increased, in some cases dramatically."
Mike Schaffer _Dearborn Michigan News-Herald_
Steeling jobs? Russian's purchase of Rouge Steel poses many questions
"The Russians are taking over Rouge Steel, an icon of the American automotive industry since 1923. And while nobody is quite sure what the future holds for the plant and its 2,600 workers, change at the world's No. 5 steel-maker is certainly on the horizon. Rouge Industries Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week and has arranged for $120M in debtor-in-possession financing, as well as a $30M term loan at 15% interest pursuant to an agreement in principle with Severstal, which will purchase the struggling steelmaker out of bankruptcy court... The company employs 176K workers and last year earned $178M on revenue of $1.9G... In announcing the deal, Rouge Steel officials said the United Auto Workers union, which represents about 1,900 employees at the company, has agreed to discuss renegotiating its contract. But labor concessions alone might not be enough to save Rouge employees and retirees from the same fate that faced National Steel's 38K workers and retirees when that company filed for bankruptcy last year. 'When National Steel (filed for bankruptcy), the retirees lost their health care and their pensions were cut in half.' Lester said."
David Lazarus _San Francisco Chronicle_
Bank of India to send tech work and customers' personal private data to India
2003-10-30 01:10PST (04:10EST) (09:10GMT)
Steve Giegerich _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Academics Make Case to End "Credit Hour"
Institute for Higher Education Policy
"'Having time- and space-bound measures that equate learning with a certain place and a certain time is clearly out-moded. And yet it is the DNA embedded in both the academic and funding system.', said Jane Wellman, coeditor with Thomas Ehrlich of _How the Student Credit Hour Shapes Higher Education_, a recently released collection of essays on the credit hour... More students are developing their own programs of study. An increasing number take courses on-line and away from the traditional classroom. And, unlike a time when students generally enrolled and graduated from the same institution, nearly two-thirds of all under-graduate degrees today are awarded to transfer students. Experts say such factors have created a need for more flexibility in measuring students' work. 'Let's assess what the students have actually learned.', said Clara Lovett, the president of the Washington-based American Association for Higher Education."
2003-10-30 06:36PST (09:36EST) (14:36GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US employment costs rose in Q3: Initial weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims declined
"The Employment Cost Index for all civilian workers rose 1.0% in the quarter, the Labor Department said Thursday. Almost 40% of the increase came from the rise in benefit costs... Wages and salaries were up 0.7% in the quarter, while benefits costs shot 1.5% higher after rising 1.4% in the second quarter. Private-industry compensation rose 1.0%, after rising 0.8% in the second quarter. Benefits accounted for over one-third of the increase, the department said. Private wages rose 0.9%, while benefits costs were up 1.4% in the third quarter... Over the last 12 months, civilian compensation accelerated to a 3.9% rise, up from a 3.7% rise in the same period last year. This is down from the 4.1% growth seen two years earlier. But benefits costs surged 6.5% over the past 12 months. Separately, the government said initial weekly jobless claims for the week ended October 25 totaled 386K, down 5K from a revised figure of 391K in the previous week. This is the lowest level of claims since the week ended September 20... The 4-week moving average for claims was 388,750, a decline of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average of 393,500... Despite the reduction in lay-offs, there is still no sign of hiring. Continuing claims rose 57K to 3.57M in the week ended October 18, the highest level since the week ended October 4."
2003-10-30 07:07PST (10:07EST) (15:07GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
GDP surges 7.2%, fastest in 19 years
"Powered by tax cuts and low interest rates, the U.S. economy expanded at a 7.2% annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest growth in more than 19 years, the Commerce Department said Thursday... [GDP] grew 3.3% in the 2nd quarter... nominal GDP [before inflation adjustment] increased 9% to $11.04T... In separate reports, the Labor Department said employment costs rose 1% in the third quarter, including a 1.5% increase in benefit costs. Higher health care costs are drag on job creation. Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the average number of initial claims for unemployment benefits over the past 4 weeks fell by 4,750 to 388,750, the lowest since February. See full story... Investments in equipment and software rose 15.4%, the biggest swing in capital spending since the first quarter of 2000... Government spending increased 1.3%, with equal contributions from the federal government and state and local governments. Defense spending was flat."
2003-10-30 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Casey Wian & Peter Viles & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
California Fires, 14M Jobs Going Over-Seas
"[Fire-fighters in Southern California] hope that cooler temperatures and light rain will help dampen the flames. Those fires have now killed at least 20 people, including one fire-fighter, more than 650K acres scorched... The fires have also destroyed more than 2,600 homes; 13K fire-fighters are battling those blazes in 5 counties, from Ventura County in the north, to San Diego County in the south... Twenty-six hundred families have lost their homes and thousands more are still unable to return to them... Illegal aliens cost the Yuma Sheriff's Department alone $3.2M , more than half its annual budget. A 2002 congressional study found that 28 counties along the U.S. border with Mexico spend about $125M a year on illegal aliens who commit crimes... Last year, Yuma County received $650K in federal reimbursements, less than 15% of its costs... The U.S. Customs and Border Protection budget is $6.7 billion, which also funds anti- terrorism, drug enforcement and other programs. The 9K-agent strong Border Patrol apprehends about a million people a year trying to enter the United States illegally. About a million others evade capture. The Urban institute says more than half of those come from Mexico. That's about a third of Mexico's annual population growth. This year, the Homeland Security Department will increase spending by $41M for 570 additional Border Patrol agents, $48M for air surveillance of the Canadian border, and $330M on new technology to identify visitors who overstay their visas... Most of the millions of illegal aliens in this country are hard-working. But among them are a large number of sex offenders who have been prosecuted, who have been released, and who have subsequently disappeared from U.S. law enforcement records. Now a massive effort is under way to track sex offenders down and to deport them... 14M jobs in jeopardy of being exported. Cynthia Kroll is the [co-]author of a new study from the University of California, Berkeley... That's 11% of the U.S. work force. Average annual salary in those jobs, a shade under $40K. The biggest group at risk, 8.6M in office support... It really doesn't matter how hard Americans work or how productive they become. These are the average salaries for programmers, $60K to $80K in the U.S., $23K to $34K in Ireland, just under $9K in China, even cheaper in India. And watch out, India, cheaper yet in Poland and Hungary. Now, whether these jobs at risk are actually sent over-seas or not, the very threat of out-sourcing can have negative consequences. Chief among them, it does tend to drive down wages in those jobs, Lou, here in the United States... A study in the quarterly Journal of Economics found immigration in the last two decades pushed down wages for the average American worker by 3%. For high school drop-outs, wages fell by nearly 9%... But researchers at the National Academy of Science concluded that while the gains to the U.S. economy due to immigration could be as high as $10G, the cost is higher -- as much as $20G."
2003-10-30 15:28PST (18:28EST) (23:28GMT)
Worries grow over voting machines' reliability and security
"Doubts about the trustworthiness of electronic voting machines are growing among election officials and computer scientists, complicating efforts to safeguard elections... Other doubters say the solution would be 'voter verifiable paper trails' -- a paper receipt that voters can see to be confident of their choice, that can then be securely stored, and that election officials can rely on for recounts."
Deborah Lagomarsino _Yahoo!_/_Dow Jones_
US GDP Grew 7.2% in 3Q, Fastest Pace in 20 Years
"Third-quarter gross domestic product, a measure of all the goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a sizzling 7.2% annual rate, more than double the 3.3% rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department (news - web sites) said Thursday. The economy grew at a 1.4% pace in the first quarter. The third-quarter growth pace was the fastest since the first quarter of 1984, when the economy grew at a heady 9% pace... Business spending, or nonresidential investment, rose 11.1%, its fastest pace since the first quarter of 2000, after rising 7.3% in the second quarter. Business spending fell 4.4% in the first quarter. Within business spending, spending on computers and equipment surged 15.4% in the third quarter, up sharply from the 8.3% rise in the second quarter. Business spending on structures declined 2.4% in the third quarter after rising 4.2% the previous quarter."
Chris Kahn _AP_/_Yahoo!_
House Cats, Ferrets Can Get SARS
"'You might want to quarantine the pets as well as the people' in the event of an out-break, suggested Dr. Robert Shope, an expert on emerging diseases at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. 'If it's been shown that the virus can transmit from cat to cat, it doesn't take much of a leap of faith that it will transmit to humans.'"
Thomas L. Friedman _NY Times_
Resistance to Permanent Change in Iraq
"What the people who blew up the Red Cross and the Iraqi police fear is not that we're going to permanently occupy Iraq. They fear that we're going to permanently change Iraq. The great irony is that the Baathists and Arab dictators are opposing the U.S. in Iraq because -- unlike many leftists -- they understand exactly what this war is about... They understand that this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched -- a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world."
George Avalos _Contra Costa Times_
Venture capital drought
"The East Bay slump in venture financing is so severe that the Alameda County-Contra Costa County region turned in its worst performance in at least 6 years, according to data supplied by Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association. Privately held companies raised a paltry $127M in the third quarter, the weakest 3-month result since at least the beginning of 1997. The $127M in funding in the third quarter in the East Bay was 45% below the funding totals of the second quarter and 39% below the financing levels of the third quarter of 2002, the data showed. Things weren't much better in the nine-county Bay Area. In the July-September period, private companies in the Bay Area raised $1.38G. The Bay Area totals in the third quarter were down 7% from the second quarter of 2003. But they were nearly 2% higher than the financing amassed in the third quarter of a year ago."
Ellen Lee _Contra Costa Times_
Over-seas job-shifts could continue to hit Bay Area
"Up to 14M jobs, many of them in the Bay Area, are at risk of being shipped over-seas, 2 UC Berkeley economists said Wednesday in a research report. They range from computer programmers to clerks who input data, from medical transcriptionists to paralegals, and are not concentrated solely in the high-tech market, said Ashok Deo Bardhan and Cynthia Kroll, economists at UC Berkeley's Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics... The report also said that many of the jobs that were lost during the down-turn will not return. During the dot-com frenzy, businesses that had difficulty finding high-tech savvy workers turned to out-sourcing, or contracting jobs to workers outside of the company. Many of the contracted workers were based outside the United States, in places such as Canada, Ireland, Russia, [Red China] and India, where the wages of educated workers are fractions of those of their U.S. counterparts... That hasn't been good news for U.S. employees in telecommunications, accounting, telephone call centers, data processing and other sectors that are more easily out-sourced than others. In the past 2 years, employment in those sectors fell 15.5% in the United States and 21% in California, totaling more than 1M lost jobs in the United States and 200K in California, according to the report... more than 14M jobs at an average annual salary of $39,600 could potentially be sent over-seas..."
Shannon Pettypiece _Miami Today_
Supporters say FTAA will create jobs, opponents say cost would be too high
"The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas would affect all 800M residents of its 34 Western Hemisphere nations if it is created. But that idea may be all that supporters and opponents agree about. Next month, Miami will host the eighth round of trade negotiations among representatives of all North, Central and South American countries and the Caribbean except Cuba. The goal is to craft a common market by 2005 that would rival the European Union. Supporters say nearly 90K jobs eventually would be come to the region if Miami can permanently host the proposed FTAA headquarters. But FTAA opponents say a trade pact would hurt South Florida's economy in the long run. Voices from both sides of the debate went head-to-head last week at a forum hosted by the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board. 'They promise the FTAA will create 90K jobs.', said Gihan Perera, exective director of the Miami Workers Center. 'Our question is: How many jobs will we lose? The FTAA will only make poverty and inequality worse.' An advocate for Miami-Dade County's low-income and unemployed residents, Mr. Perera said a promise of more service-sector jobs in Miami should FTAA head-quarters, called a secretariat, land here would be off-set by a loss of agricultural and manufacturing jobs caused by a trade agreement."
GEOMAC image/map of San Diego, Califorina area fires
Map of SD area fires
2003-10-31 13:32PST (16:32EST) (21:32GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks rise on economic data: Dow breaks 9800 again as October wraps up
"The U.S. consumer sentiment index rose to 89.6 in October from 87.7 in September and the 89.4 preliminary October reading, according to the University of Michigan survey. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index was at 55 compared to 51.2 in September... The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14 points, or 0.1%, to 9,801, its highest level since June, 2002 outside of this month. The storied index has gained about 400 points in a sprint upward in October... The Nasdaq ended fractionally lower at 1,932 and the S&P 500 gained 3, or 0.4%, to 1,050. Advancers out-paced decliners by 18 to 14 on the NYSE. On the Nasdaq, decliners edged out advancers by 16 to 15. Volume was average, with 1.4G shares changing hands on the NYSE and 1.6G on the Nasdaq... Real personal consumption expenditures, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.6% in September after rising an upwardly revised 0.8% in both July and August..."
2003-10-31 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles _CNN_
California Fires Calm, Cost of Illegal Aliens
"Here's a factor in that California budget crisis that Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot fix, the huge cost of providing services and education to illegal aliens and their children, an estimated $2G a year for education in California alone. Nationally, the costs are mounting: $1.4G a year in emergency health care; $1.5G in incarceration costs; $5G to $6G a year in welfare costs, including food stamps, and $7.5G in education costs... They pay sales taxes, property taxes and, in many cases, income tax, but not enough to cover the services that they use. Steven Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies: 'They're poor because some 80 or 90 percent lack even a high school education. And people who lack high school education make little money and thus pay a little bit in taxes, but often receive a lot in services.' Cities and towns have no choice in much of this. Public schools must accept illegal aliens because of a landmark 1982 Supreme Court ruling, Plyler v. Doe, in which Justice William Brennan wrote that barring illegals from school would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment... they are barred, under that ruling, from even asking questions about the status of these students. The only question legally that they can ask of a student is, do you live in this school district?... Russell Pearce: ' The U.S. Census Bureau admits there's 11M to 15M in this country illegally. And I suspect it's much larger than that. The Border Patrol apprehended about 430K illegals crossing the border in 2001. They admit -- they admit -- 3 to 5 get by for every 1 they apprehend.'..."
2003-10-31 15:55PST (18:55EST) (23:55GMT)
Wei Gu _My Way_/_Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
Out-sourcing over-seas has down-sides
"Even though most other U.S. technology companies are eyeing low-cost off-shore centers as a way to boost profits, he said the problems presented by [India] are not worth the benefits -- given his company's large computer networks... Indeed, 66% of companies surveyed were disappointed with their out-sourcing contracts, said PA Consulting Group. The survey shows only 39% of the companies would renew contracts with their existing outsourcing suppliers, and 15% planned to bring services back in-house... Dave Lakhani, president of business consulting firm Bold Approach Inc. said only 40% of the out-sourcing projects are successful. Pit-falls include security hazards, cultural differences, and logistics nightmares... Security is another reason some companies pass on off-shore out-sourcing, particularly if they are dealing with sensitive financial information."
Kurt Eichenwald _NY Times_
Former Enron Executive Pleads Guilty
"A former chief of 2 divisions of Enron pleaded guilty to insider trading, admitting to selling millions of dollars of stock in the company when he knew its financial performance was being manipulated."
"As free-market advocates, we're deeply troubled by Wheat Ridge's eagerness to use public power to favor one private business over competing private enterprises by pushing for a new Walgreens store on Sheridan Boulevard. Note well that Wheat Ridge isn't alone among metro-area cities in concocting deals favoring some businesses over others. Denver plans to provide Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, a $10M boost for a super-store on the site of the Alameda Square shopping center. And Aurora proposed an untenable 'amortization' scheme that could have left property owners near the Fitzsimons medical campus empty-handed."
Scripps Ranch/Miramar Fire photo
2003-10-20 and after
animation of fires and burn areas in Southern California
2003-10-20 and after
slides and multi-media
Surf Wax news bits and links
_UCSC Office of International Education, International Scholar & Student Services_
Time-Line for H-1B Petitions for Professor and Researcher Positions (M$Word doc)
Namas Chandra, Christian O'Connor, Michael Erhardt, Adam Spieker, Tom Tracy & RJ Rampersad
Globalization (M$Word doc)
"The jobs that are transferred to underdeveloped countries are at the expense of American workers. The loss of American jobs is a great concern for many experts. Workers who are laid off when their companies transfer jobs to underdeveloped countries are returning to college to get up to date with today's technology, while some are getting their real-estate licenses. Many experts believe that the transferring of routine engineering tasks will allow American engineers to focus on cutting edge research and development. Some workers will not be able to find work in their own field and those that do may not earn the same income as before... the main reasoning behind most of their decisions is money... in developed countries like the US, high tech jobs pay well and there are cultural and economical norms of salaries and workplace conditions as well as minimum wages, unions, and taxes that can dictate how much the company spends to produce goods... These hi-tech jobs are not luxuries that we can allow to be nonchalantly discarded. They are critically important, as are many of the low-tech jobs exported to foreign lands in recent years. We will have little hope of prosperity if we allow our nation to depend on competitors or outright adversaries for basic parts, supplies, technologies, and resources."
Michael S. Teitelbaum _Alfred P. Sloan Foundation_/_Public Interest_
Do We Need More Scientists? (pdf)
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