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2003-12-01 07:07PST (10:07EST) (15:07GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
ISM index reaches 20-year high in November
"fastest pace since 1983 December, the Institute for Supply Management reported. The ISM index rose to 62.8% in November from 57.0% in October."
2003-12-01 13:56PST (16:56EST) (21:56GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow racks up more gains: Strong economic, holiday sales data lift buying spirit
"U.S. stock indexes surged to new 52-week highs Monday as better-than-expected economic news and strong holiday sales data kept investors in a merry mood. The Dow charged up 117 points, or 1.2%, to finish at 9,899, stretching its winning streak to 6 sessions [trading days]. This level marks the index's highest close in a year and a half. The S&P 500 shot up 12 points, or 1.1%, to end the day at 1,070, the highest level seen since early 2001 June. The Nasdaq Composite surged 30 points, or 1.5%, to 1,990, the tech-friendly index's best close since 2002 January... December is historically a strong month for stocks. Since 1950, the month is the year's best for the S&P 500 Index -- which happened to reach a new yearly high in intraday trading -- and the second best for the Dow Jones Industrials Average, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac... In the broad market, advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 24 to 9 margin on the NYSE and by a 20 to 12 score on the Nasdaq exchange. Volume was a respectable 1.3G shares on the Big Board and 1.8G shares on the Nasdaq."
2003-12-01 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Walter Rodgers & Lisa Sylvester & Kitty Pilgrim & Christine Romans _CNN_
steel tariffs, illegal aliens
"The estimates range between 46 to 54 Iraqi dead. Body counts are an imprecise science. Only 5 Americans were injured. And 4 of those Americans are now back serving with their units. Here is what happened. Two groups of Iraqi guerrillas, between 30 and 40 guerrillas in each group, set an ambush in Samarra, a town which is known for its loyalties to Saddam Hussein, set the ambush for two U.S. convoys, logistical and supply, bringing money to two banks up there... They were actually using a mosque to hide their RPGs and their automatic weapons... The U.S. intelligence was pretty spot on in this incident in Samarra. The Americans knew. They even sensed -- one of the soldiers said, when he didn't see many civilians on the street, he knew there was an ambush. Remember, the U.S. forces had brought money to that town four times in the last 3 weeks. Each of the times, they came in for small-arms fire. So the Americans were not deceived. It wasn't really what you call a particularly embarrassing ambush for the Americans, because the Americans rolled into Samarra with 4 main battle tanks... Thousands of French diplomats all around the world went on strike today, but the rest of the globe seemed to hardly notice. The diplomats stopped work for the day to protest budget cuts by the French Foreign Ministry... Back in 2001 and 2002, the FDA banned cantaloupes from Mexico after a salmonella out-break. Controls were tightened. And only just now, after the Mexican government began a certification program, are Mexican cantaloupes being allowed back into the country again. Back in 1997, strawberries from Mexico caused a hepatitis out-break. No new cases have been reported since November 21. And the current outbreak seems to be contained. But 615 people were stricken with hepatitis A after eating at a Chi-Chi's restaurant near Pittsburgh. Three died. Victims of the outbreaks are suing four American distributors or suppliers of the onions, Castellini Company of Kentucky, NewStar Fresh Food of California, Apio Fresh LLC of California, and Boskovich Farms of California... Michael Cutler: 'President Jimmy Carter. A memo came out that was disseminated to all field agents and all personnel that, if we used the term illegal alien, that they would actually discipline us... Half of the illegal aliens currently living inside our country today didn't run the border. They were admitted through ports of entry by our inspectors, as did the 19 terrorists who wreaked havoc on us. So the bottom line is, what we need to understand is that immigration and law enforcement has to stand on 3 legs. We hear about the border patrol. We're aware of inspectors, but the third leg that keeps on getting neglected and ignored is interior enforcement that the special agents do.'... The newly formed Progress Media says it will buy radio stations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston... Wilbur Ross of International Steel Group: 'The fact is we are more productive than they are. Our company takes less than one man hour to make a ton of steel. The Europeans average 2.6. The Chinese average 6.' The position being, then, that they're dumping. And the American steel worker, there are now 150K people who have their jobs invested in that industry... Wilbur Ross: 'We have 31 steel companies in bankruptcy with around 35K active employees and 100K retirees who will be left with no health benefits if those companies go down the drain.'"
Customers to Retailers: Take Us Seriously (Privacy advocates turn up the pressure.)
"People, Albrecht maintains, ought to have a say in whether they want their items tagged, and they should definitely be informed of the presence of readers. About 78% of people polled by the Auto-ID Center at MIT agreed with Albrecht."
Anne d'Innocenzio _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Solid Gains Start Holiday Shopping Season
"a shopper's own job security is often the greatest factor in how much he or she spends... Total retail sales for Friday were up 4.8% to $7.2G from the Friday after Thanksgiving a year ago, after posting a 6.8% gain last year over 2001 results, according to ShopperTrak, which tallies sales at 30K retail outlets. For Friday and Saturday combined, total sales were up 5.4%, totaling $12.4G, ShopperTrak said Monday. Niemira said he still forecasts a sales gain of 4.5% for the November-December period, the best performance since 1999, when sales rose 5.4%. He based the estimate on sales from stores open at least a year, considered the best indicator of a retailer's health. Last holiday season's results were unchanged from 2001."
Tracie Rozhon _NY Times_
Early Sales Appear Modest as holiday Season Begins
"Marshal Cohen, senior analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm, more generously estimated the sales total for Friday and the weekend at 3% to 4% higher than last year's, but that rate of growth was still far below one widely quoted estimate for last year's 3-day shopping weekend of more than 12% growth over 2001... At J.C. Penney, results were 'strong, and foot traffic was definitely better than last year', said Vanessa Castagna, chairman and chief executive of the Penney stores... At Saks Fifth Avenue's 62 stores, traffic was brisk for the weekend, said Jaqui Lividini, the chain's senior vice president for fashion. She said that the best-sellers were luxury goods or things with a lot of color, especially 'anything pink, or lavender, or light green'."
Dan Verton _ComputerWorld_
Vendor-backed Lobbying Groups Cozy Up to Department of HomeLand Security: Organizations' self-serving agendas raise concerns that security burden will fall to users
"The DHS is hosting the event in collaboration with IT vendor organizations whose lobbying activities are coming under increased scrutiny for pushing an agenda that would place the burden of security on the government and users rather than on the vendors that sell the products. Co-sponsoring the event, to be held in Santa Clara, are the Information Technology Association of America, the Business Software Alliance, the TechNet alliance of CEOs and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A Computerworld review of the public policy statements of these groups found nothing to indicate that they have ever taken a position that calls on IT vendors to improve the security and quality of their products. Moreover, the vendor groups partnering with the DHS this week appear to share an agenda aimed at frustrating legislation that would require companies to conduct third-party security benchmarks and report the results each year in their annual reports. All of those organizations played a role in blocking a bill with such goals last month, according to officials involved in drafting the legislation who spoke on condition of anonymity."
2003-12-01 16:20PST (19:20EST) (2003-12-02 00:20GMT)
Irwin Kellner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Capital spending is up, but it's not structural
"The bad news is that it not only won't do much to create new jobs here in the United States -- it might even lead to more lay-offs... After having fallen in 9 of the previous 11 calendar quarters, companies increased their fixed investments at a 14% annual rate in the third quarter, the most in 3 years. In particular, investments in equipment and software shot up at an 18.4% annual rate... While this is benefiting some U.S. companies, mainly those in the primary metals, electronics and transportation industries, it's more of a help to firms based over-seas. This is because most of the equipment that U.S. companies buy these days -- especially computers -- is built, at least in part, off-shore. Another point to ponder: this new equipment is being purchased in order for companies to be more productive. And while increased productivity helps the corporate bottom line, it usually reduces the need for workers... Architects allow only about 250 square feet per office worker today -- down from 400 square feet as recently as a dozen years ago, so companies still have plenty of space available. Labor benefits when firms put up buildings, since these are built on site, using local labor and local materials. After all, you can't import a building -- at least, not yet."
2003-12-02 05:12PST (08:12EST) (13:12GMT)
Michael B. Laskoff _Business Week_/_Yahoo!_
All I Want for Christmas Is a Job
"Holiday greeting cards: The calling card of the unemployed... Holiday cards are an excellent way to communicate directly with people in even the most rarified corporate ranks. Believe it or not, busy executives often open such mail themselves and are far more likely to read the contents. As a result, you have a terrific opportunity to bring your existing network as well as more elusive targets up-to-speed regarding your search. Don't over-do it, though. Remember, you're sending a holiday card, which should offer seasonally appropriate salutations and wishes... Many continue to work every day, even while their subordinates and co-workers take time off. As a result, the latter half of December can be the best time to schedule a meeting with someone who's generally so busy that getting on his or her calendar would be all but impossible."
2003-12-02 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & David Ensor & Kenneth Pollack & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
"thanks to the Terminator. Illegal aliens will no long be able to obtain California driver's licenses... the president's brother, Neil Bush, has a $200M consulting contract with a [Red Chinese] semiconductor firm... Tonight: The United States has warned North Korea and Iran that materials for weapons of mass destruction will be seized on the high seas... The biggest problem for them is the lawlessness and the crime in their society. That is the greatest impediment to the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq... With bipartisan support, the California Assembly voted 64-9 to repeal an unpopular new law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to sign that repeal within days. That law's background and identity checks were widely viewed as simply too lax... Exporting technology and the jobs critical to supporting technology in the minds of some threatens our national security. So does the inability of this country to preserve a vigorous steel industry. And energy, of course, is also critical... In fact, foreign ownership of gasoline retailers has almost doubled in the past 6 years. A new Lundberg survey finds foreigners own or control the brands of almost half, 42%, of all gasoline stations in the country. In 1997, they owned 22%. Royal/Dutch Shell controls the most, almost 16% of all gasoline stations in the country. British Petroleum is next, 11.5%. Citgo controls almost 10.5%. Foreign-owned brands, such as Fina, Getty, and Circle K make up the remaining 4%. This report comes as the dollar today slid to a new record low again the euro. And that lifted gold prices to a 7 1/2-year high. At a time when the trade deficit with [Red China] is exploding and technology jobs are being threatened by out-sourcing to [Red China] and India and countries... Neil Bush divorced his wife of 2 decades in April. Among the documents revealed in the divorce case was a contract agreement between the president's brother and a [Red Chinese] company, Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation. The contract, dated 2002, promises 1M shares of stock... According to a report last month from the American Electronics Association, 48 states lost high-tech workers last year. [Red China] has been accused of siphoning jobs from various U.S. sectors, including textiles, furniture and the electronics industry... In the 1980s, Neil Bush was a director of Silverado Banking, Savings & Loan that had to be bailed out by the federal government at a cost of $1G... Ron Brownstein of the _Los Angeles Times_: 'There is this issue of whether Democratic groups are trying to evade the spirit of the McCain/Feingold law. Most people do not realize the Democratic party was more dependent than the Republican party on the unregulated soft money contributions. And with those gone, the Democratic National Committee is unable to raise the money to fund the advertising the get out the vote activities it used to undertake. So what you see is, Karen said, outside groups setting themselves up as a repository for the same kind of donors to provide the same kind of funds they used to give the DNC to do the same things but only under a different label.'... Karen Tumulty of _Time_: 'That's a big difference. It's going to be harder to trace now where that money is coming from than it was even under the bad old system.'... Over the past 4 years, government spending by their [Heritage Foundation] estimate has jumped from $16K to $20K for everyone American household... The Census Bureau says only 41% of single mothers were working a decade ago. Now that number has climbed to more than half. And the number of those mothers on welfare has declined and declined dramatically, from 26% to just 6% in the past 10 years. Teen-age pregnancy is also improving. It has declined by a third over the past decade. That reverses a significant spike in the late 1980s. Teen-age pregnancies cost this country at least $7G a year, and of course, has immense social impact... Well, one thing they're teaching them is economics, $18M for a bowl game and they talk about this as amateur athletics, student athletes. These people are in very big business... The most high profile indictment, that of former Enron's chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow. He's scheduled to go to trial next April. The 2 biggest Enron bankers, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan, settled with regulators for $300M. Enron's audit firm, Arthur Andersen, didn't get off quite so easily. The government successfully prosecuted Andersen for obstruction of justice, destroyed the firm, and 85K jobs while doing so. [Hardly destroyed; its Accenture division is still pulling the same old scams and thriving.]..."
Laura M. Holson _NY Times_
2nd Member of Disney Board Resigns, Calls for Eisner's Removal
"Stanley P. Gold - the investment adviser to Roy E. Disney, the nephew of the company's founder Walt Disney who resigned Sunday - severed histies with the company on Monday by delivering a five-page, single-spaced letter to the board. While Mr. Disney's resignation aimed its barbs at Mr. Eisner's leadership, Mr. Gold's criticized the other directors for serving as a rubber stamp for management, saying they enacted policies that muzzled dissenters and shielded Mr. Eisner 'from criticism and accountability'."
Peter T. Kilborn _NY Times_
In Kansas, a Growing Phone Company Helps Keep a Small Prairie Town Alive
"Through decades of population decline in the Great Plains, rural communities sought remedies from government and courted outside corporations to send them factories and offices. The corporations sent pig-feeding and meatpacking plants, telemarketing and data entry shops, and paid the minimum wage... But in scattered small towns of the prairie, one vigorous little enterprise -- a hotel, a store, a propane dealer, a software writer -- can make the difference between dissolution and survival... Rural Telephone, however, helps with telecommunications. As it grows, it is lacing this region with technologies like digital cable television, wireless and high-speed Internet connections and fiber-optic cables instead of copper wire, which lubricate other pioneers' attempts to expand... Some come from vanishing family farms. Web page designers, software writers and computer technicians have come back from Denver, Omaha and Silicon Valley. Some are new immigrants."
Erwin V. Cohen _NY Times_
Same Text Books, New Look
"A study recently released by Senator Charles E. Schumer found that the average New York college freshman spends more than $900 a year on text-books. Considering that most full-time students take about eight courses per year, that averages to more than $100 per course for books. Publishers say that college textbook prices are so high because they have to cover production costs... Publishers release new editions of successful text-books every few years...to discourage the sales of used books by making them seem obsolete... Thousands of dollars go into producing the new text-book - for design, art-work and type-setting - and for creating ancillary materials like study guides and computer programs in an effort to out-do the competition and impress book selection committees at universities... A good, appealing text-book can be published for a modest price if the book has a market of more than 15K copies."
Susan Salisbury _Palm Beach Florida Post_
Country-of-origin labeling possibly delayed
"Florida fruit and vegetable industry leaders said Monday they are dismayed by what they called a 'back-room deal' that could delay the implementation of country-of-origin labeling until 2006. The country-of-origin labeling law, known as COOL, which was passed as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, sets a September 30 dead-line for labeling imported fruits and vegetables, beef, pork, lamb, seafood and peanuts. But a provision that would delay the law for 2 more years has been inserted into an omnibus spending bill that the U.S. House will vote on Monday, followed by the Senate on December 9 or in January... Ray Gilmer, spokesman for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Orlando, called the delay a 'coup' by retailers and food processors... Florida has had a produce-only labeling law since 1979, and Florida growers have pushed for national legislation since then."
2003-12-03 05:27PST (08:27EST) (13:27GMT)
David E. Gumpert _Business Week_/_Yahoo!_
US Programmers at Over-Seas Salaries
"How do we replace the hundreds of thousands of information-technology, call-center, para-legal, and other jobs rapidly exiting the U.S. for India, Russia, and other low-wage countries? The main answer that the so-called experts put forth, without a lot of conviction, is that we'll create new 'high-value' jobs to replace those leaving the U.S. What are those jobs? No one seems to know... What if other companies begin taking the same approach -- offering Indian-style wages to American workers? On the positive site, we could begin to solve our job-creation problems. But on the negative side, America's standard of living would inevitably decline."
2003-12-03 12:47PST (15:47EST) (20:47GMT)
Robert Powell _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"But those born after 1946 have grown up in a world of uncertainty, a world in which there are no social contracts between employers and employees or government and citizens. In fact, studies show baby boomers, who out-number retirees by a 2-1 ratio, favor changes to Medicare and don't believe Social Security will even exist to provide retirement income."
2003-12-03 13:26PST (16:26EST) (21:26GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq peaks over 2000
"Technology-sector strength helped the Nasdaq Composite reach the 2,000 level for the first time in nearly 2 years before sellers took hold late in the session."
2003-12-03 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & Bill Tucker _CNN_
electronic voting machines
"the federal government wants to construct an addition to a 40-mile fence that lies south of San Diego that has been successful in blocking illegal aliens from entering the country. California environmentalists, however, are trying to block the 14-mile addition. They say it would cause soil erosion and endanger plants and rare birds and a nature preserve along the border... As of the week ending November 22, 3,337 had been officially reported, influenza being suffered on a widespread basis, the number showing a jump of 78% from the previous week. But those numbers from the CDC are two weeks old. And more recent numbers from Colorado show a much bigger problem. The state reports 6,300 cases alone... Millions of Europeans have already fallen ill from the flu. In France, there are almost 2M cases of the flu already. In Spain, there are more than 20 times the number of flu cases normally seen at this time of year... Today, the Food and Drug Administration announced, U.S. Customs officers will now help investigate food imports to prevent bio-terrorist attack... Eugene Hickok, Under-Secretary of Educationism: 'I think the American taxpayer is more than generous with regard to public education, upwards of $470G this year alone, a 60% increase at federal level since President Bush took office on just elementary and secondary education.'... Congressman Holt has introduced a bill that has bipartisan support that would require all voting systems produce a paper record that maintains anonymity but that can be used in a manual recount... Accenture, the technology consulting firm that based in Bermuda [a division of Andersen Consulting] says it could more than double its staff in India in the next year to 10K. Accenture has already tripled its Indian work-force over the past 2 years..."
Tom van Riper _NY Daily News_
Job cuts declining
"Planned lay-offs fell 42% in November from the previous month to 99,452 positions, according to a survey released yesterday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas..."
Christine van Dusen _Atlanta Georgia Journal-Constitution_
Steep drop in lay-off announcements spurs hope
"Lay-offs announced in November dropped 42% from a 12-month high in October -- good news, experts say, but not necessarily a sign that companies are done cutting. Or that they're ready to hire... About 37% fewer lay-offs were announced in November than during the same month a year ago, according to Challenger's monthly report. Challenger tracks all lay-off announcements, even those that won't occur for many more months. So far this year, employers have announced 1.1M job cuts, 17% fewer than at this point last year... In Georgia, 7 employers announced a total of 801 lay-offs in November. That's down from October, when 11 employers announced 1,099 lay-offs... The majority of November's downsizing announcements took place in the telecommunications sector, with 18,183 planned lay-offs announced during the month, according to the Challenger report. For the 11-month period, government and non-profit employers made the most lay-off announcements, with 169,924 planned job cuts."
_San Diego California Union-Tribune_
Planned lay-offs drop in November
"The number of job cuts announced by U.S. employers fell 42% in a holiday-shortened November after hitting a 12-month high in October, according to job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Planned lay-offs fell to 99,452 jobs in November from 171,874 in October."
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Lay-offs drop below 100K in November
"Lay-off announcements fell 42% to 99,452 in November from a 12-month high of 171,874 in October. The survey results are not seasonally adjusted... November's total was the fifth highest of the year and just below the average of 104K job cuts announced per month this year. For the year so far, 1.1M job cuts have been announced, down 17% from the year-to-date total of 1.4M a year ago."
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Productivity jumps to 20-year high: Revision shows profits soaring and unit labor costs sinking
"Non-farm productivity rose at a 9.4% annual rate in the June-to-September quarter, up from the 8.1% estimate given a month ago. Productivity had risen at a 7% rate in the second quarter. Read the full release... Unit labor costs fell at the fastest rate in 20 years, dropping 5.8%, rather than the 4.6% decline originally estimated. Unit non-labor costs (including profits) rose at a 14.2% rate. Over the past 4 quarters, productivity has risen 5%, with unit labor costs falling 2.2%. Strong productivity is the foundation of economic growth and rising living standards. With greater productivity, firms can increase both profitability and wages without raising prices. Productivity growth is the key factor keeping inflation low and labor markets weak... Profits are soaring, but real hourly compensation rose at just 0.7% annually in the quarter. Over the past 4 quarters, real compensation is up 0.5%, reflecting the weak position of labor... In the non-financial sector, productivity rose 9.2% on an 8.9% rise in output and a 0.2% drop in hours during the third quarter. Unit profits surged at a 60.9% annual rate in the quarter. Over the past 4 quarters, productivity is up 6.2%, unit labor costs are down 2.7% and unit profits are up 36.4%. In manufacturing, productivity rose 9% annually, with unit labor costs falling 4.5%. Real hourly compensation for factory workers rose at a 1.7% pace."
Jeannine Aversa _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Companies' Productivity Soars 9.4%
"Productivity of U.S. companies rocketed at a 9.4% annual rate in the third quarter, the best showing in 20 years... The increase in productivity - the amount an employee produces per hour of work - reported by the Labor Department on Wednesday was even stronger than the 8.1% pace initially estimated for the July-to-September quarter a month ago. It was up from a 7% growth rate posted in the second quarter... the strongest performance since the second quarter of 1983, when productivity grew at a blistering 9.7% rate."
US tech companies wary of anti-off-shoring legislation
"A committee of the Indiana State Senate reviewed the law on Monday but decided not to pass it until it was revised, senator Jeff Drozda told Reuters on Tuesday. The technology industry is closely watching the state legislation as it evaluates responses to criticisms that USA computer services companies [domestic bodyshops] are shipping white-collar jobs over-seas while Indian competitors [cross-border bodyshops] bring in poorly paid nationals to handle USA contracts... Next week, the Information Technology Institute, a [group which lobbies for tech executives], will convene a half-day meeting in Washington to respond. Speakers include the labor specialist of the National Governors Association; the legal director of Intel Corp., the world's No. 1 chip-maker; and representatives of the AFL-CIO, the biggest USA labor organization. Besides 'off-shoring', participants on December 11 will also discuss special visas used by companies such as IBM, Intel and Tata [subsidiary TCS] to import non-USA citizens to work on technology projects here. Previously, representatives of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National Association of Computer Consultant Business asked the USA congress to sharply curtail these visas. The IEEE estimates nearly 7% of its 235K USA members are unemployed, 5 times the rate of 2000."
John Ribeiro _IDG_/_IT World_
Accenture to double India staff to 10K by next December
"The company, [a spin-off of Andersen Consulting] based in Bermuda, currently employs 4,300 professionals in India for services such as consulting, system integration and business process out-sourcing (BPO) for functions such as human resources management and financial accounting. The company also runs call centers in India... Accenture started operations in India in 1987 with the consulting business and by 2001 it had about 1K staff in Mumbai offering consulting and IT services. The BPO services were introduced in April this year, and the call center was started in June this year."
Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop _UPI_/_IT ToolBox_
IT Job Sector Faces Big Drop
"The next wave of technology will cause a massive disruption in the IT work-force, with jobs losses resulting from productivity gains, replacement or reduction of entire industries and relocation of jobs to lower cost centers as part of the out-sourcing trend. Over the next 2 years, over 50% of technology suppliers will be eliminated from the competitive landscape, resulting in many job losses along the way, warns leading research and analyst firm Gartner Inc. 'There are currently more than 2,300 publicly traded software companies in the world, that's about 50% to 60% too many and that's without counting all the privately-owned companies.', Ian Bertram, vice president at Gartner Asia Pacific, told reporters while presenting the company's top 10 trends for 2004."
Sharon Gaudin _Datamation_/_IT Management_
Job Prospects Improve For Some Older IT Workers
"The IT worker is over 50 -- maybe even over 60. And hiring managers don't look at him and see experience and know-how. They look at him and think that managing him will be like trying to manage their father... older IT workers are struggling to find work, despite their qualifications... Shouldn't the over-30, over-40, over-50 sets be ushered back in to save the high-tech day? That is what's happening, according to analysts at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an international out-placement firm based in Chicago. The company recently released a report saying that older IT workers are becoming a hot commodity, with the median job search time for unemployed managers and executives 50 and older dropping 10 times faster than that of younger job seekers. 'A few years ago, it was a young person's game.', says John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 'Certainly, in the dot-coms, the stereotypes of age discrimination were in full force. The environment was kind of like living in a college dorm. If you were over 40, you weren't going to get in. You just weren't going to be there.' But Challenger says that is no longer the case. Job search times have fallen for all age groups since the fourth quarter of 2002, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But the drop in over-50 search times was much steeper, dropping 19% from 4.9 months in the fourth quarter of last year to 4 months at the end of the third quarter in 2003. During the same time period, job seekers under 50 saw their search times drop by just 1.8%. With the dramatic over-50 decline, that puts older workers in a virtual dead heat with those under 50, whose median search time is now 3.8 months."
New York Times
"France is home to around 600K Jews the world's largest Jewish population except for that of Israel and the United States, but also has as many as 10 times that number of Muslims of Arab origin the largest such population in Europe, many of them young, poor and unemployed."
Jimbo Wales's WikiPedia on Ant-Semitism in Europe
2003-12-04 04:33PST (06:33EST) (11:33GMT)
Carrie Coolidge _Forbes_
Sell Cheap or Die
"In November Nasdaq-traded Pennichuck Corp. received a written offer from the city of Nashua (pop. 86,600) to purchase the assets of the company and its subsidiaries for $121M in cash. If the company refuses to accept the offer, Nashua is threatening to take it over by using an eminent domain proceeding -- in which the government claims the right to take over a private property for public use. These days the trend is for towns to go the other way, privatizing their water utilities to cut costs... The battle between Nashua and 151-year-old Pennichuck began in 2002 April after the company got a buyout offer of $10M (including assumed debt) from Philadelphia Suburban Corp., the largest U.S.-based publicly traded water company. Not wanting an out-of-town company to take control of the local water utility, Nashua's Republican Mayor Bernard A. Streeter got a referendum passed in 2003 January authorizing the city to acquire the company's waterworks system. Pennichuck's merger negotiations, which to that point had cost the company $2M in legal and banking fees, were abruptly called off. Streeter didn't return calls for comment."
2003-12-04 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment compensation insurance claims rise slightly
"The average number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits over the previous 4 weeks rose by 3K to 362,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. In the most recent week, initial claims rose by 11K to 365K. The number of workers still collecting benefits also increased slightly in the last week to 3.385M. The figure does not include some 810K Americans receiving extended federal benefits..."
2003-12-04 08:20PST (11:20EST) (16:20GMT) (18:20 Jerusalem)
Dinesh C. Sharma _CNET_/_Ziff Davis_/_CBS_
Accenture bodyshop on hiring spree in India
"Marty Cole, managing partner of outsourcing business, said the new additions would occur over the next 12 to 14 months. Based on current trends, the company expects it will have the 10K people on board by 2004 December. Accenture currently employs 4,300 in Bangalore and Mumbai, and it already more than tripled the size of its work force in India over the past 2 years... Other companies broadening their work force in India include Oracle, which in July said it intends to double its staff at two research centers in India to 6K. Storage maker EMC in November said it plans to invest $100M in its development center in India over the next 5 years."
2003-12-04 10:40PST (13:40EST) (18:40GMT)
Jonathan Burton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Mutual fund scandal score-card
"Securities regulators are plowing ahead with investigations of fraudulent and sometimes illegal trading abuses throughout the $7T mutual fund industry... Trading of funds after the New York stock markets' regular 16:00 closing time is a clear violation of federal securities laws. Market timing, in contrast, isn't necessarily illegal, but can hurt long-term fund shareholders. These trades can be fraudulent if a fund company officially prohibits the practice but allows privileged customers and employees to engage in it..."
2003-12-04 11:29PST (14:29EST) (19:29GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bush relents, scraps steel tariffs
"Under pressure from global trading partners and the domestic steel-consuming industries, President Bush Thursday announced that he would abandon punitive tariffs on imported steel he imposed in 2002 March to fight a flood of cheap imports onto the U.S. markets... Bush said changing economic circumstances, not outside pressure, had driven his decision to drop the tariffs altogether, effective at midnight Thursday. The tariffs were designed to expire in 2005."
2003-12-04 13:20PST (16:20EST) (21:20GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US manufacturing still alive and well
"After a 2-year [3 years, actually] slow-down, the sector is again in expansion mode amid its greatest single-month rebound since the 1983 recovery took hold... Industrial production has grown at an average 3.6% rate over the last 10 years, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Reserve. This compares with a 2.0% annual average in the 1970s... Manufacturing contributed 16% to total U.S. GDP growth in 2002, roughly the same level as in 1987, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Economists agree that the U.S. remains the world's top manufacturer although the last comprehensive data is from 2001. That World Bank report showed the U.S. in first place with $1.7T in manufacturing output. That's nearly as much as Japan and Germany combined, both a distant second at $900G each. All of the hand-wringing about the U.S. manufacturing sector is not about output, but about the loss of jobs. The U.S. had been steadily losing factory employment since its most recent peak of 17.64M in 1998 March. Since then, the factory sector has shed 3.1M jobs, or 17.6% of its work force."
2003-12-04 13:37PST (16:37EST) (21:37GMT)
David Kirkpatrick _Fortune_/_CNN_
The Real Technology Boom
"We may be entering the second great technology boom. The first [alleged] one, of the late 1990s, was a boom in expectations, which pushed up stock valuations and investor enthusiasm in the belief that the new technologies born of the Internet would fundamentally transform the economy. It's starting to look like investors were right, just off slightly in timing and targets. I'm no economist, but I am a true believer in the transformative power of technology, and a close observer of just how many places such transformation is happening. So I get ideas when I hear things like yesterday's report that manufacturing blossomed last quarter at the fastest pace in two decades, only a week after we learned that the overall economy, measured by growth in gross domestic product, also grew at a rate faster than it has in 20 years."
2003-12-04 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Don Ensor & Bill Tucker & Christine Romans _CNN_
"As U.S. intelligence showed off at a recent trade fair, America's spy satellites were critical in Iraq and Afghanistan. Keeping and improving the strategic advantage they provide could be crucial. But critics, including the Pentagon's own Defense Science Board, warned that the program to field the next generation of satellites is behind schedule, over budget and, as the board said, bluntly -- quote -- 'not executable'... pushing back deadlines, lowering some capability requirements, and shifting what is reportedly another $4G tax-payer from other government programs... Under pressure from the European Union, President Bush today lifted tariffs on imported steel. The president imposed those tariffs 20 months ago, trying to help the struggling steel industry, trying to save tens of thousands of jobs... The steel leaders that I have talked with, the CEOs of U.S. steel companies, tell me that they're more productive, in point of fact, than most of our foreign competitors, but cannot compete against dumping, which is a charge we've heard from this industry, as you well know, for two decades. Will this administration reimpose tariffs if these steel companies bring evidence before the ITC, before the administration, and demonstrate dumping?... Henry George: 'To introduce a tariff bill into Congress or Parliament is like throwing a banana into a cage of monkeys. No sooner is it proposed to protect one industry than all of the industries that are capable of protection begin to screech and scramble for it.'... under mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, as it's called, bulk peanuts have to be labeled, but walnuts and almonds don't. A bag of frozen peas or a bag of carrots have to be labeled, but a bag of carrots and peas doesn't. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers of America all oppose... The opposition points to the USDA's estimate of $4G to implement the program. However, they don't point to the low-end figure of $585 million. And for supporters of country-of-origin labeling, it comes down to a very simple issue. John Lockie: 'What really comes down to a consumer-right-to-know issue on this is that the consumer does not have the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.'... mandatory country-of-origin labeling... will be implemented in September of next year... The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention say, during an average flu season, more than 100K Americans are hospitalized and 36K die from flu-related problems. That number is expected to double... Melissa Hart: 'the jobs that were lost in the steel industry, significant number, were lost before these tariffs were even put into place. The job count, according to the ITC report, isn't clear as to whether steel consumers even had a problem as far as jobs after the tariffs were put into place.'... we have a $90G trade deficit with the European Union... Adam Smith: 'consumption is the sole end and purpose of production. And the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.'... Managers of socially responsible investment funds have never been busier. In addition to their historical concerns about pollution, political oppression and even sin, these managers now are on the lookout for corporate corruption and the exporting of American jobs and know-how abroad... these managers screen out polluters, bombmakers, tobacco companies, bad safety reports, and now companies that underpay their workers, have crooked boards, overpaid CEOs, conflicts of interests, or who swap out American labor for cheap foreign workers who can't be protected. Calvert Funds has ramped up its corporate governance screening, as has industry veteran Domini Social Investments."
David Pogue _NY Times_
Checking Your Bill for a New Charge Called 'Oops'
"As nickel-and-dime errors show up with increasing frequency on their phone bills and in other accounts, some customers wonder whether the mistakes are in fact company policy... a Cingular spokeswoman told me that the industry-average cost per customer-service call is about $7."
David R. Francis _Christian Science Monitor_
Breaking the silence on immigration
"Immigration is an issue those in power are reluctant to address. It provides cheap labor for rich nations. It pumps huge flows of money into the developing world. And usually it's the politically disadvantaged, lower-income workers who get hurt most... On a worldwide basis, the remittances sent home by foreign workers in the US and other countries amount to about $100G a year. That's twice the amount of foreign aid that rich nations and various development institutions dole out to poorer countries... Mexico alone receives about $10G a year from Mexican-Americans and Mexicans living in the US... Here in the US, for example, the number of foreign-born adults holding a job has grown by 1.7M since 2000, while the number of working native-born Americans has fallen by 800K, points out Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. Estimates of total immigration to the US vary. Mr. Camarota figures it's running at 1.2M to 1.3M a year on a net basis (taking account of those who have died or gone back home). The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), another Washington group interested in restraining immigration, pegs the number a bit higher - a net 1.4M. That's well above the 1.13M average annual inflow during the 1990s."
2003-12-05 13:18PST (16:18EST) (21:18GMT)
Tomi Kilgore _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks tipped up by jobs data, end week well above last week's closing
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 68 points, or 0.7%, to 9,863... The technology-friendly NASDAQ Composite was knocked 31 points, or 1.6% lower, to 1,938. The S&P 500 Index shed 9 points, or 0.8%, to 1,062. The indexes closed last week at 1,960 and 1,058, respectively... Commerce Department said factory orders rose a faster-than-expected 2.2% in October... In the broad market, 18 stocks fell for every 13 stocks that rose. On the Nasdaq exchange, decliners out-numbered advancers by a 21 to 10 margin. Volume slowed down due to the New York area snow storm, with 805M shares changing hands on the Big Board and 1.1G shares moving on the Nasdaq."
2003-12-05 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Peter Viles _CNN_
"Aventis and Chiron produced a total of 80M flu shots this season. But the two companies say the early, rapidly spreading out-break of flu this year is simply too much to keep up with. The companies say it will take four months to make more flu shots. By then, of course, the flu season will have ended. The flu outbreak has now killed at least 11 children in the Western United States, at least 6 of them in the state of Colorado. More than 6,300 people in Colorado have been infected with the flu... Employment usually increases at a much faster rate after a slow-down. And the number of new jobs is not even enough now to keep up with the growing population... Silvia calls this the first post-NAFTA, post-WTO recovery and estimates that out-sourcing, combined with rising productivity, is costing the economy 100K jobs a month. John Silvia of Wachovia Securities: 'What's happening is, you're reallocating production between domestic to foreign production. And, as a result, we've got good domestic demand, but a lot of the production is happening in other countries.'... We've got 4M doses, about, nationally for [MedImmunie] FluMist [live inhalable] vaccine... a parasitic skin disease that is affecting dozens of our troops deployed in Iraq. 150 troops are reported to are contracted the disease from sand flies. Hundreds of more troops could be infected without knowing it. Soldiers in Iraq call the disease Baghdad Boil. It causes skin lesions that can take years to heal if left untreated. Doctors quoted by _USA Today_ say the disease has an incubation period of 6 months... 19 states... have contracted with Citigroup to provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture food stamp recipients with electronic bank transfer cards. Now these cards, which are after all funded by tax-payers, are used just like debit cards by some of our poorest citizens, many of them unemployed. But Citigroup has out-sourced its customer service over-seas for English speakers India, Spanish speakers, Mexico..."
Mike Cassidy _San Jose California Mercury News_
Company talks of "dignity" then shows workers the door
"The workers were union members and, says the union representing them, entitled to bargaining rights. Black Box refused to negotiate and the situation blew up. The Communication Workers of America charged unfair labor practices. The employees circulated a petition to reaffirm their union status. And Black Box said, 'Union? What union?' (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Newspaper Guild, a CWA affiliate.) Within 2 months, seven workers who had signed the petition were laid off while brand-new hires were kept on, according to three of the laid-off workers. Nearly everyone's pay was cut, they say. All this despite Black Box's initial promise to keep everyone on at full pay for 90 days, the workers say. The regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed the union's claim that workers were laid off because of their union activity. And the CWA has withdrawn its charges that Black Box illegally ignored the union in return for the company's promise to meet. Black Box still has not agreed to a date for that meeting... Company executives announced the lay-offs 2 days after being presented with the union petition and a month before the 90 days expired."
Tracie Rozhon _NY Times_
Retail Sales Up But Don't Reach Inflated Expectations
"Retail sales in November, including the bellwether Thanksgiving weekend, failed to rise to analysts' expectations, suggesting that the Christmas season may not be as good as some retailers hoped a month or two ago. But for luxury retailers, the season still looks upbeat. Shoppers tended to buy higher-priced, higher-profit items last month, even at discount stores."
Tim Weiner _NY Times_
WM Invades and Mexico Surrenders
"The company that ate America is now swallowing Mexico. WM, the biggest corporation in the United States, is already the biggest private employer in Mexico, with 100,164 workers on its pay-roll here as of last week. Last year, when it gained its No. 1 status in employment, it created about 8K new positions - nearly half the permanent new jobs in this struggling country. WM's power is changing Mexico in the same way it changed the economic landscape of the United States, and with the same formula: cut prices relentlessly, pump up productivity, pay low wages, ban unions, give suppliers the tightest possible profit margins and sell everything under the sun for less than the guy next door... In the United States and Western Europe, WM has been accused of driving down wages, introducing cut-throat business practices and bankrupting local companies... Though it came to this country only 12 years ago, WM is doing more business - closing in on $11G a year - than the entire tourism industry. WM sells $6G worth of food a year, more than anyone else in Mexico. In fact, it sells more of almost everything than almost anyone. Economists say its price cuts actually drive down the country's rate of inflation. Last year, 585M people - nearly 6 times the population of Mexico - passed through its check-out lanes. With 633 outlets, WM's Mexican operations are by far the biggest outside the United States. Its sales represent about 2% of Mexico's gross domestic product - almost the same as in the United States. Analysts say it now controls something approaching 30% of all super-market food sales in Mexico, and about 6% of all retail sales -- also about the same as in the United States. Though WM is not the only game in town, it is the biggest, and its bigness is crushing its super-market competitors."
Susan Salisbury _Palm Beach Florida Post_
Experts warn of decreasing competition in food supply
"The world's food supply is being controlled by fewer and fewer entities without any global laws to police the massive consolidation, an industry expert said Thursday. The globalization is a win for large corporations, but the power imbalance is ultimately a loss for food producers such as cattle ranchers, and for consumers, C. Robert Taylor said at a conference in Naples sponsored by the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Taylor, an Auburn University professor and author of _Where's the Beef?: Monopoly and Monopsony Power in the Beef Industry_, said the meat-packing industry is a good example. Just 3 companies -- Tyson, ConAgra and Cargill -- control about 85% of the world's meat production, he said... the wholesale price the meat-packers sell it for to retailers has continued to increase. From 1990 to 1998, the spread averaged $26.80 per 100 pounds. This year so far, it's averaging $41.87, he said. Profits are going to packers and retailers, Taylor said, but not to cattle ranchers, whose numbers are dwindling... Late Wednesday, state Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said his department would reprise a successful produce marketing campaign. In the 2002-03 season, the department's 'Fresh from Florida' labeling campaign moved $173M in Florida produce in 12 weeks, he said."
2003-12-06 03:20PST (06:20EST) (11:20GMT)
Steve Gelsi _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
HDTV reaches main-stream: Prices drop as TV buyers move toward slightly sharper image
"A top-of-the-line plasma flat-screen TV with HDTV resolution is still pricey at $10K or more, but overall costs have come down about 50% in the past couple of years. It's possible nowadays to buy an HDTV set for as little as $500, but average prices are usually in the low $1Ks... The result is a TV picture that's [less than 10 times as sharp as the best analog TVs that had a little over 500 scan-lines]."
Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Employers Balk at New Hiring Despite Growth
"November was the second anniversary of the recovery from the 2001 recession, and for most of the period, jobs disappeared at an alarming rate - nearly 1.1M in all through last July. In the turn-around since then, employers have added back 328K jobs, mostly in the lower-wage service sector. Higher-wage manufacturing jobs have continued to disappear, although at a slower rate than in the spring and summer..."
Floyd Norris _NY Times_
Grasping at the Statistics on the Self-Employed
"Some people who say they are self-employed may really be out of work and trying to bring in money as consultants or freelance workers. Others may be doing very well, living a dream of boss-free success. In any case, the government reported that the number of self-employed workers rose by 156K last month, to 9.2M... the establishment survey...That number shows 328K more jobs last month than in July, when employment hit its recent low. Even with those increases, there are now 2.26M fewer jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, then there were in 2001 January... the household survey...there are now 757K more people working than in 2001 January, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That survey shows a seasonally adjusted gain over the last 2 months of 1M people working, the largest 2-month move since the first 2 months of 2000, at the peak of the economic boom [or at the start of the crash, depending on how you look at it]... The increase of 156K self-employed workers means they now account for 6.6% of the people in the household survey who say they are working, up from 6.1% when President Bush took office."
Alan Cowell & Elizabeth Becker & Richard W. Stevenson _NY Times_
Despite Steel Concession European Governments Still Plan to Press for Punitive Tariffs against USA
"One day after President Bush abandoned American protective tariffs on imported steel to avert a trade war with Europe, Pascal Lamy, the European trade commissioner, said he would use the same tactics again in another long-running trade dispute with the United States. Mr. Lamy said the European Union would press ahead with punitive tariffs on some $4G worth of goods from politically pivotal regions of the United States if Washington did not end tax breaks for American corporations' off-shore operations. The tax breaks have already been found by the World Trade Organization to be an illegal export subsidy... In the off-shore tax-break dispute, the European Union has said it will begin to impose progressive tariffs starting next March on up to $4G worth of goods, beginning with a 5% tariff and increasing 1 percentage point each month to a total of 17%. Again, the targets of the tariff have been chosen for their potential political effect."
Dave Murphy _San Francisco Chronicle_
New-hires need to negotiate
"When economics Professor Linda Babcock examined the starting salaries of people who graduated with master's degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she found that men earned nearly $4K per year more than women with comparable majors... Babcock discovered that 57% of the men didn't immediately accept the starting salary offered for that first job. They negotiated. But among the female graduates -- and this was in 2002, not the 1950s -- only 7% negotiated for more money."
Joseph Kahn _NY Times_
Red Chinese Workers' Hidden Woe
"Workers at Kin Ki Industrial, a leading Chinese toy maker, make a decent salary, rarely work nights or weekends... They all have work contracts, pensions and medical benefits. The factory canteen offers tasty food. The dormitories are comfortable. These are the official working conditions at Kin Ki as they are described on paper - crib sheets - handed to workers just before inspections... Real-world Kin Ki employees, mostly teen-age migrants from internal provinces, say they work many more hours and earn about 40% less than the company claims. They sleep head-to-toe in tiny rooms. They staged two strikes recently demanding they get paid closer to the legal minimum wage. Most do not have pensions, medical insurance or work contracts. The company's crib sheet recommends if inspectors press to see such documents, workers should 'intentionally waste time and then say they can't find them', according to company memos provided to The New York Times by employees... [Red China] now makes 80% of the toys sold in America, according to United States government figures... [Red China] alone has 8K toy makers competing fiercely for contracts by shaving pennies off production costs. Kin Ki stays competitive, workers say, by paying them 24 cents an hour in Shenzhen, where the legal minimum wage is 33 cents. When the Etch A Sketch line shut down in Ohio just after the Christmas rush in 2000, wages for the unionized work force there had reached $9 an hour. [Red Chinese] workers say the company also denies them legally required nonsalary benefits and compels them to work 84 hours a week, far more than the legal maximum, without required over-time pay... [The Etch A Sketch] sold for $3.99 when it was introduced. If it had kept pace with the consumer price index over its 43 years, it would retail for $23.69 today instead of $9.99... An Etch A Sketch made in [Red China] and delivered to the company's warehouse in Bryan was found to cost 20% to 30% less than making it in Bryan. Moving the full line to [Red China] meant laying off about 100 people... a work week consists of seven 12-hour days."
Alex Markels _NY Times_
Protestors Carry the Fight to Executives' Homes
"A group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty had sent the hearse, and it had also posted the woman's name, home address and phone number on its Internet site, along with those of three other company executives... protesters fed up with conventional methods of dissent have carried out increasingly intrusive incursions into the homes, neighborhoods and the private lives of businesspeople. Such 'home demo' protests, most of which are legal, according to the FBI, have succeeded in intimidating executives at dozens of companies into [reforms]... Such success is increasingly touted by activists eager to find ways to stop things like abusive labor and free-trade practices and the cutting of old-growth forests."
Alan Feuer _NY Times_
Homeless Electronics Repair-Man Mixes High Tech with Low Over-Head
"[He] is homeless, works on 43rd Street - literally - repairing lap-tops, hard drives, key-boards, scanners, monitors and whatever other detritus of the digital age he can scavenge from the trash. He is a common sight amid the pedestrians in Midtown, who might encounter him at 08:00 on a week-day sitting in a swivel chair, hunched over a stubborn piece of computer hardware plugged into the base of a public light pole. Working curb-side with a fully stocked tool-box, he claims to sell his products to wholesale buyers and bargain hunters for as little as $60 to $80 apiece.... [He] has been earning his keep in just this fashion for at least 8 years... he is mentally retarded and admits to suffering from a delusional mental illness. [He] clearly bears the scars, in psyche and in body, from years of living on the streets... he says employers are usually unwilling to overlook his homelessness. A man with skills but without a roof, he says, gets nowhere."
Christine Evans, John Lantigua, Christine Stapleton & Jane Daugherty _Palm Beach Florida Post_
Smuggled migrants are dying trying to get to Florida. Those who make it cost US tax-payers.
"A destitute minority in a wealthy, well-fed society, they are packed like prisoners into unfit housing, ferried to work in unsafe vehicles and compelled to labor long hours -- under fake names and numbers -- for substandard wages. Enslaved by debt from the very moment they arrive, they contribute mightily to Florida's $62G agricultural industry, yet they earn little in return... Some farmers have taken great care in recent decades to make sure they pay and treat workers fairly, but their efforts are easily eclipsed by the stunning abuses that still occur. _The Palm Beach Post_, in a 9-month investigation, interviewed farm workers who reported being locked up, raped, struck by lightning, sickened by pesticides and shorted on pay to the point they could barely exist. Primarily Mexican but also Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran, they are part of an eager and oppressed work force that allows Americans to purchase a half-gallon of fresh orange juice for $3.39 and a pound of tomatoes for $1.29... Fully half of the 14 members of the House Agriculture Committee have strong ties to the industry, including the committee chairwoman, representative Marty Bowen, R-Winter Haven. It was Bowen, who has interests in three groves, who allowed a pesticide protection bill to die in committee this year. She also was instrumental in stalling a proposed 'anti-slavery bill' that would have given workers the right to sue growers in state court for the misdeeds of their contractors... In Palm Beach County, official migrant housing exists for only 6,635 workers, not enough to accommodate the 20K to 45K laborers who need a place to live during the season."
_Palm Beach Florida Post_
5 recent slavery cases ended in convictions
"On 2002 June 29, the Ramoses were convicted of involuntary servitude. Ramiro and his brother, Juan, 35, were sentenced in Fort Pierce last November to 12 years; and their cousin, Jose Luis Ramos, 46, to 10 years. They also were ordered to forfeit $3M in money and property amassed through their crimes."
Mildred L. Culp _Knoxville News_
Under-Employment for "Good Causes"
2003-12-07 16:51:03PST (19:51:03EST) (2003-12-08 00:51:03GMT)
Lay-offs hit M$NBC
"Free-lancers and per-diems are receiving early Christmas presents at all-news cable channel M$NBC -- after lay-off slips are quietly passed around the network's offices!"
2003-12-08 08:02PST (11:02EST) (16:02GMT)
Leslie Haggin Geary _CNN_/_Money_
Jobs for grads rising: A new study paints an increasingly optimistic picture for college kids in the coming year
"she has something almost as valuable as a jackpot: a paying job waiting for her when she graduates from college this spring... according to a study released Monday by National Association of Colleges and Employers. Specifically, employers plan to hire 12.7% more grads during the 2003-2004 academic year than they did 12 months ago, and they've got plans to offer more interns full-time staff positions. In the coming year, 43% of employers will offer their interns full-time jobs... This year, employers say the students they want the most have degrees in accounting, electrical and mechanical engineering, business administration, economics, computer science and management information systems, marketing, information sciences and computer engineering."
2003-12-08 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & John King & Louise Schiavone & Peter Viles & Holly Firfer & Christine Romans _CNN_
unemployment, off-shore out-sourcing, federal spending
"The number of Americans out of work for 6 months or longer is at the highest level in 2 decades, as more American companies out-source jobs over-seas... President Bush today signed the new Medicare bill into law. It is a law that will give seniors a prescription drug benefit for the first time ever. The White House hopes this Medicare law will help win the presidential win next year's presidential election. The government says the bill will cost $400G over the first 10 years. But some critics say the cost could rise to $2T over the next 20 years... Tom Delay (R-TX): 'that we have held the growth of discretionary spending to 3% is a titanic achievement in fiscal restraint.'... 2M people have been out of work 6 months or longer. And, increasingly, economists believe the out-sourcing of jobs to cheap labor markets, notably [Red China], is causing unusually high levels of long-term unemployment... The estimates here range from 300K to 100K jobs, in point of fact, being exported every month... You have sort of two categories here. One is jobs that have been lost in the past. The other is jobs that are not being created right now because they're being created somewhere else. The estimate we heard last week, 100K jobs per month not being created in this economy, partly because of outsourcing, partly because of higher productivity... In a typical year, 70M to 75M Americans get flu shots. This year, 83M doses were produced, but have all been used [or at least distributed]... If you are between the ages of 6 and 49 and in good health, you can get the FluMist vaccine. Adults don't need a doctor's prescription. Just see your pharmacist... the House of Representatives says American consumers must wait 2 years before we are entitled to know the country of origin of imported food we consume. Grocers and food-makers won't have to label meat, fruits and vegetables until 2006, the 2-year delay part of the $370G so-called omnibus spending bill that would fund government agencies... Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado called upon the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to help him squash what Tancredo calls the misguided efforts of a handful of so-called environmental groups. As we reported last week, several groups oppose the extension of a security fence at California's border with Mexico because of environmental concerns... [Iraq] is a country of 25M people. A work-force that is some estimates range as high as 60% of them still unemployed... Tom Foley, coalition provisional authority head of private sector development: 'We think that the actual unemployment rates more likely in the 20s, maybe as high as 30%.'... A recent survey shows these ultra high net worth investors -- these are people who have $5M or more to invest -- they're seeking higher returns in hedge funds, real estate, reducing their traditional mutual fund holdings to just 6% of their assets. Lou, here is what the average rich portfolio looks like. A quarter in managed accounts, a fifth in individual stocks, 10% in bonds, then 9% in alternative investments like hedge funds. And that's been growing. IRAs and cash each also getting 9%. Mutual funds, only 6%. Restricted stock options, 3%. That leaves about 8% left over for futures, collectibles, charity foundations, other investments. The survey showing growing distrust of brokers and the investment community, and among those rich investors. Yet 67% plan to invest directly into the stock market next year."
2003-12-08 13:36PST (16:36EST) (21:36GMT)
Michael Baron _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Dow, Nasdaq build to a green close
"The technology stocks that comprise much of the Nasdaq's benchmark rebounded after investors digested a Gartner/Soundview survey that forecast modest 1.6% growth in capital spending on information technology next year... 'For the largest companies, the budget outlook for 2004 appears to be flat to down.', said a statement released along with the survey."
Manjeet Kripalani & Pete Engardio & Steve Hamm _Business Week_
The Rise of India
"Quietly but with breath-taking speed, India and its millions of world-class engineering, business, and medical graduates are becoming enmeshed in America's New Economy in ways most of us barely imagine... Many see India's digital workers as bearers of new prosperity to a deserving nation and vital partners of Corporate America. Others see them as shock troops in the final assault on good-paying jobs. Howard Rubin, executive vice-president of Meta Group Inc., a Stamford (Conn.) information-technology consultant, notes that big U.S. companies are shedding 500 to 2K IT staffers at a time... As hiring explodes in India, the jobless rate among U.S. software engineers has more than doubled, to 4.6%, in three years. The rate is 6.7% for electrical engineers and 7.7% for network administrators. In all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 234K IT professionals are unemployed... By some estimates, there are more IT engineers in Bangalore (150K) than in Silicon Valley (120K). Meta figures at least one-third of new IT development work for big U.S. companies is done over-seas, with India the biggest site. And India could start grabbing jobs from other sectors. A.T. Kearney Inc. predicts that 500K financial-services jobs will go off-shore by 2008... Rajat Gupta, an IIT-Delhi grad and senior partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. [which helped wreck Control Data Corporation in the late 1980s]... By 2008, forecasts McKinsey, IT services and back-office work in India will swell fivefold, to a $57G annual export industry employing 4M people and accounting for 7% of India's gross domestic product. That growth is inspiring more of the best and brightest to stay home rather than migrate... For all its R&D labs, India remains visibly Third World. IT service exports employ less than 1% of the work-force. Per-capita income is just $460, and 300M Indians subsist on $1 a day or less. Lethargic courts can take 20 years to resolve contract disputes. And what pass for highways in Bombay are choked, crumbling roads lined with slums, garbage heaps, and homeless migrants sleeping on bare pavement. More than a third of India's 1G citizens are illiterate, and just 60% of homes have electricity. Most bureaucracies are bloated, corrupt, and dysfunctional. The government's 10% budget deficit is alarming. Tensions between Hindus and Muslims always seem poised to explode, and the risk of war with nuclear-armed Pakistan is ever-present... A study by McKinsey Global Institute, which believes off-shore out-sourcing is good, also notes that only 36% of Americans displaced in the previous two decades found jobs at the same or higher pay. The incomes of a quarter of them dropped 30% or more... India produces 3.1M college graduates a year, but that's expected to double by 2010. The number of engineering colleges is slated to grow 50%, to nearly 1,600, in 4 years. Of course, not all are good enough to produce the world-class grads of elite schools like the IITs, which accepted just 3,500 of 178K applicants last year."
Steven Lee Myers _NY Times_
Russia's Voting for Parliament Bolsters Putin
"Russians voted for a party loyal to President Vladimir V. Putin, expanding his already dominant political control."
Laurie J. Flynn _NY Times_
Learning Lessons about Over-Seas Customer Service
"companies with customer support operations over-seas are having to tread a fine line with their clients, some of whom are still surprised to talk to technicians on a different continent... Indian technical support workers relied too heavily on scripted answers and were unable to handle more complex computer problems... Analysts say that along with skill considerations, some companies may be worried about criticism from labor groups and some customers who object to sending jobs over-seas. Governments are under particular pressure. This year, half a dozen states are considering that workers hired under state contracts be American citizens or documented workers [new-speak for foreigners legally in the USA]... According to a new survey by IDC, a market research company, nearly a quarter of information technology services will be sent off-shore by 2007, sharply higher than the 5% of technology services being handled off-shore this year."
Nicholas Stein _Fortune_
Inside Operation Boris: the Big Organized Russian Insurance Scam
"And the driver, who had done this many times before, was insisting on a 'regular guy'. No cars with families or 'foreign' license plates. Just a lone male driver with New York plates. There would be fewer complications with the insurance company, the driver had explained... In mid-August, a grand jury indicted 567 individuals and corporations in what could turn out to be the biggest insurance-fraud scam in U.S. history. So far investigators have connected the ring to more than 1K staged car accidents in the New York area and believe its members bilked some of the biggest names in the insurance industry out of $500M... Only 240 of the indictments have been made available to the public. The rest, along with many of the facts in the case, remain under seal... Last year an estimated $30G, about $300 of every American's auto insurance bill, went to cover the cost of fraud."
John Lantigua _Palm Beach Florida Post_
Where so many illegal immigrants die
"Eight men and one woman who wanted work in the US... had traveled by bus some 1,500 miles from southern Mexico. But the next 50 miles they had to walk, and it would be, by far, the most difficult and dangerous leg of their journey."
Pete Siris _NY Daily News_
Without jobs the economy will suffer
"When the weekly job numbers came out on Friday, the economists scratched their heads, blaming everything from a supermarket strike in California to storms in the Midwest. But I think something far more serious is going on. With improved communications and better education in many lesser developed countries, service jobs are moving over-seas. And this move may be permanent."
Ben Scott _Denver Colorado Post_
Protest blasts Arvada's plan to take lake for Wal-Mart
"Steve Steffke and his family have been walking their dogs around an 8-acre lake off Wadsworth Boulevard for six generations. Now, although trees dot the shoreline and wildlife calls it home, the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority has condemned the lake. The commission wants to drain it and fill a quarter of it with concrete to build a delivery-truck lane for a Wal-Mart Super-center."
Dr. Reginald Shareef _Roanoke.com_
"Here is what does happen. Municipalities cut 'sweetheart' deals with cable companies giving them exclusive rights to broadcast within a certain locality. In turn, the cable companies are able to raise rates with impunity. Locally, Cox provides the only cable service in Roanoke while Adelphia offers the only service in Salem and Blacksburg... most so-called natural monopolies turn out to be self-filling prophecies. Once a governmental agency has determined an industry is a natural monopoly, it is within the municipality's power to limit entry into the market to a single producer. Such is the case with cable television. Furthermore, if cable television was a natural monopoly and regulation was needed to prevent wasteful duplication, does it make sense to award a local franchise to one company (for example, Cox in Roanoke) while another has already invested large amounts of capital in an adjacent community (for instance, Adelphia in Salem)? Yet, such 'wasteful duplication', redundancy, and cost inefficiencies are the norm for the cable franchise system administered by local public administrators. Monopoly power gives Cox, Adelphia or Comcast the ability to raise rates above costs or to engage in inefficient operations without fear of a competitive response or lost customers. This is exactly why Cox can float the idea of making ESPN a premium channel -- its subscribers nationwide can't choose service from a competitor that will maintain the sports channel as a basic service. Monopoly power is also the reason that Cox and other cable providers 'bundle' unwanted channels in the basic package to justify rate increases... Just the threat of competition triggers better service and rate stability. If the market is open to all (there is no exclusive franchise), the continual threat of being supplanted can effectively check the dysfunctions of monopoly power. American Electric Power in our region provides a good example. With consumers able to choose other electric power providers, AEP's historically good service has improved and rates have remained constant. Consequently, relatively few of its customers have switched to other electric suppliers."
2003-12-09 07:38PST (10:38EST) (15:38GMT)
Irwin Kellner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Winter storm crimps holiday shopping
2003-12-09 11:15PST (14:15EST) (19:15GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Fed renews vow for "considerable period" of low rates by leaving them unchanged
"As expected, the FOMC kept its target interest rate steady at 1%. The vote was unanimous."
2003-12-09 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Jamie McIntyre & Suzanne Malveaux & Peter Viles & Bill Tucker & Casey Wian & Christine Romans _CNN_
Red China, illegal aliens
"The U.S. trade deficit with [Red China] could rise to a record $130G this year, as Chinese imports flood into this country... [In a few months] Some 120K troops will return home, requiring rest and retraining. And coming home with them will be about 650 helicopters, 5,700 tanks, about 46K wheeled vehicles, and all of these in need of maintenance and repair... Now, the Pentagon argues that, with an active-duty force of 1.4M and reserves up to 800K, it has, altogether, some 2.2M troops to draw on and that only 250K troops are either coming from or going to Iraq... The Pentagon today said the United States will not be awarding any major reconstruction contracts in Iraq to countries such as France and Germany that failed to support the war against Saddam Hussein... Recently, Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, announced a March referendum calling for [Red China] to withdrawal its ballistic missiles aimed at the island... Why is this man smiling? Because he's paying a visit to one of his best customers, the kind of customer who loves to spend money and also loves to borrow it. Of course, Premier Wen Jiabao says China does not want a trade war with the United States. What kind of businessman would fight with his best customer? Thea Lee, AFL-CIO: 'This is really a partnership between U.S. multinational corporations and the [Red Chinese] government and some Chinese business elites. They're all doing fine. They're laughing all the way to the bank. The profits are great for U.S. companies that can produce in [Red China], pay dirt-low wages, and bring the goods back and sell them to American consumers.' American multi-nationals are investing heavily in [Red China], financing an economic revolution. In a generation, [Red China] has built the world's sixth largest economy... [Red China] runs a trade surplus with United States of $2G a week and loans a lot of the money right back to Washington to finance our huge budget deficits. [Red China's] trade surplus with the U.S. will top $400G over the 4 years ending this month. And [Red China's] Central Bank holds at least $122G in U.S. treasuries... more than 3 out of every 4 artificial Christmas trees sold in this country are...made in [Red China]. So are nearly 75% of all Christmas tree ornaments, lights, and wreaths... the flu in this country alone costs us $70G a year... 9G people on the planet by 2300, pretty amazing when you consider there are 6G of us here already... up to 104 and 108 years of age in Japan. More than 30% of the population will be older than 60 and the medium age will be 50. The bad news is, we'll probably be working until after we're 80. But hold on. During the past 100 years, the global population more than doubled, from 1.6G to just over 6G... Peter Kostmayer, president of Population Connection: 'the world is growing by another New York City every 6 weeks, that by this year, 2300, which is a long way off, the population of this country will be 2G. The world will be 134T, just if things keep happening as they are.'... We want to salute tonight State Representative Andrew Meisner of Michigan. He recently introduced legislation that would require that state to divest itself from companies that incorporate off-shore to avoid paying taxes. His legislation would also ban state contracts with those companies. Michigan currently has an $11M contract with Accenture... Peter Nunez, former assistant secretary of the treasury: 'Well, they have both been captured by special interests now for at least the last 25 years, the Democrats by the ethnic and immigrant communities, the Republicans, to some degree, by the business community, who want cheap labor... the Border Patrol has been trying valiantly for many years to do the best they can. But they have been overwhelmed and outmanned. And we did make -- we doubled the size of the Border Patrol during the '90s, but that clearly wasn't enough. It helped places like San Diego and El Paso, but it just moved illegal immigration to other spots on the border that are still pretty much wide open... what the people of the state, the people of this country have always wanted is an effective immigration policy. They do not want illegal immigration in any way. They don't want to harbor illegal aliens. They don't want to give them any benefits.'... experts forecast overall advertising sales growth of 5% to 8% next year. Industry watcher Jack Myers sits at 5.8% and expects TV ad sales up slightly less... John D. Rockefeller: 'I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand, that the world owes no man a living, but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.'"
Jane Daugherty _Palm Beach Florida Post_
Huge hidden costs of cheap labor are borne by tax-payers
"Cheap labor puts fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice on millions of American breakfast tables every morning. Cheap labor picks the giant crimson Plant City strawberries, glossy bell peppers and juicy melons, not to mention the picture-perfect Indian River grapefruit so popular in Japan and Europe. But cheap labor also generates significant hidden costs, costs that one national labor expert says are so staggering that an 8-ounce glass of fresh orange juice that retails for 42 cents from the carton really costs Florida taxpayers a whole lot more. The migrants who pick Florida's oranges are generally paid only 3.5 cents per half-gallon of fresh juice typically selling for $3.39 in supermarkets. Growers contend they can't pay more because of narrow profit margins and competition from Brazil, where pickers, including children, are paid even less... Florida is among 6 states that receive the most immigrants, along with New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois and the No. 1 immigrant destination, California, where the National Academy of Sciences has estimated that immigrants' use of social services and schools costs every California household $1,200 a year in additional taxes. The academy projected the total cost to U.S. tax-payers for services to immigrants at $15G to $20G a year, while their economic contribution is pegged at $10G."
Paul McDougall _Information Week_
Legal Research and Back-Office Work to Go Off-Shore Next
"According to a recent study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, legal assistants and paralegals working in India on behalf of U.S. law firms earn, on average, between $6 and $8 per hour. That's about one-third of what their counterparts in the United States are paid."
2003-12-10 08:04PST (11:04EST) (16:04GMT)
Joyce M. Rosenberg _San Diego California North County Times_
Tech hiring timidly returning?
"Now O'Connor, who was forced to freeze her hiring for the past 3 years, is taking on new staff again, joining small business owners across the country who are leading the rebound in the job market. They're replacing workers lost through lay-offs and attrition, and cautiously thinking about further expansion. Small companies tend to be pioneers of sorts in economic recoveries because they are the ones largely responsible for job growth. But because companies tend to hire only after business has already started to improve, job creation tends to be a lagging indicator of how the overall economy is doing. O'Connor's firm, which also has offices in San Francisco and outside of Seattle, specializes in working with high-tech businesses and was hurt more by the collapse of the telecom industry rather than the dot-coms. Through attrition the company went from a staff of about 47 in 1999 to 29 earlier this year. Now the pay-roll is back up to 34, and O'Connor's hoping to get back to 37... A survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 12% plan to expand their total employment in the coming months, a number that William Dunkelberg, the advocacy's group's chief economist, considers healthy because it indicates that business owners are being conservative."
2003-12-10 12:46PST (15:46EST) (20:46GMT)
Auto parts supplier warns of looming steel shortage
"A severe shortage of steel looms next year, due to the demands of [Red China's] rapidly growing economy, the head of Delphi Corp., the world's largest automotive supplier and a major user of steel, said on Wednesday... Battenberg said following a speech to the Women's Economic Club of Detroit that booming new car and truck sales in [Red China], which has passed Germany this year to become the third largest car market in the world behind Japan and the United States, has contributed to the looming steel shortage."
2003-12-10 13:02PST (16:02EST) (21:02GMT)
Robert Powell _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Old hands on deck: Jobs should be there for older Americans who want them
"Work-place experts say there will be plenty of jobs for the gray heads of today and tomorrow who may want or need to keep working... An AARP survey in 2002, for instance, says the 50-plus crowd also plans to keep working to stay mentally and physically active, to satisfy the desire to remain productive and to do something fun and enjoyable. In fact, nearly 7 in 10 Americans over age 50 never expect to retire... According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most dramatic job gains were among those 55 and older during the period from 2001 January to 2003 November. More than 3.2M older Americans were employed during what many consider to be the depths of the most recent recession. According to the bureau, the 55-plus crowd represents one-third of all those employed or seeking work today... Employers may once have viewed seniors as too costly in terms of increased absenteeism and higher health-insurance cost... He [John Challenger] says seniors take no more sick days than younger counterparts and may, in fact, take fewer days."
2003-12-10 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Jamie McIntyre & Louise Schiavone & Lisa Sylvester & Mike Chinoy _CNN_
Red China, Federal Contracts for Iraq
"The White House tonight is standing firm in the face of mounting anger among a number of governments about the Pentagon's decision to restrict Iraqi reconstruction contracts to only coalition partners. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the decision is totally appropriate. McClellan said countries such as France and Germany could still participate in the reconstruction of Iraq, but only if they join the coalition... But deliberately left off by the Bush administration, those who most fiercely opposed the war in Iraq, France Russia, Germany, even Canada, which sent troops early into Afghanistan and is now promising reconstruction money in Iraq... Manufacturing jobs lost since employment's peak in 2001 March account for roughly 90% of all job losses... 55K jobs were lost in fabricated metal products. Apparel-makers lost 45K. And the U.S. computer and electronics industry lost 89K jobs... But with an estimated 750K American jobs lost to over-seas manufacturers and outsourcing in general since 2001, labor and business groups are not as optimistic... For the first nine months of this year, the United States' goods deficit with [Red China] was $89.7G. The overall U.S. goods deficit, $396.5G... Over the past 4 years, almost 30% of American jobs in that industry [furniture] have been shipped over-seas... 27 manufacturers and five labor unions accuse the Chinese of illegal dumping, pricing the furniture well below production cost... Imports from China of household wood furniture -- that includes bedroom furniture -- climbed from $1.67G in 2000 to over $3G last year, an 81% increase. At the same time, U.S. domestic production fell, from $12.12G to $10.67G... Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says the millions of illegal aliens in this country should be granted legal status... Howard Berman: 'We allow a reasonable, generous amount of immigration through the legal system, based on family relationships, specific skills, and in keeping with the tradition of home for refugees and people who are fleeing from persecution.'... Tom Tancredo: 'Mr. Ridge. You are the secretary of homeland security. Your job is to enforce the law. That's what you're supposed to do. Don't ask questions about it. Enforce it. If you can't do it, find somebody who will. Find somebody else who can.'... Chen Shui-Bian, president of the Republic of China/Taiwan: 'Referendum is a normal practice in democratic countries and a basic right of the people that they cannot be deprived of.'... Hsiao Bi-Khim, legislator of the Republic of China/Taiwan: 'We also find it very hard to comprehend why an action to maintain peace and to maintain the status quo would be seen as provocative, while [Red Chinese] missiles are taken for granted and not condemned.'... Gordon Chang: 'I think that there are some economic forces at work. But also, I think that [Red China] essentially does not want to comply with WTO. What we have seen over the last two years is foot-dragging on many of its promises. But the most important thing, though, is not just the specific promises that [Red China] made to join the WTO, but really the subsidies that [Red China] gives to its state-owned enterprises and to the banks. Those are an integral part of the system. And I don't think that they -- certainly, they're not compliant with WTO. And, certainly, the [Red Chinese] government can't get rid of them... They have openly said they want to reduce American influence, not only in Asia, and around the world. You've got to remember that they still have relationships with bad regimes. And they are the king of proliferation. So we don't need to use emotionally-laden termed. We just have to point to the facts.'..."
Sherri Day _NY Times_
Restaurant Hiring My Lead the Way to Wider Job Gains (with graphs)
"The restaurant industry has gone on a hiring spree over the last 4 months, suggesting that broader gains in the job market could be on the way. Since the beginning of August, the restaurant business, which includes everything from McDonald's to corner bars to 4-star restaurants, has accounted for 18% of the 300K jobs created in the nation... The restaurant business, which has about $420G in annual sales in the United States, accounts for 6.6% of economic activity and has 11.7M workers, according to the National Restaurant Association... Worldwide, Starbucks opens an average of three restaurants every day. It hires 200 employees a day, offering health benefits and stock options to many of them in the United States. So far in 2003, Dunkin' Donuts has opened about 500 restaurants, mostly in the United States, adding some 15K workers to its pay-roll... According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages of hourly restaurant workers rose in October to about $7.74 an hour, or 1.6%, from the month a year earlier."
Egypt and Human Rights
"Last month, in a welcome surprise, Egypt freed hundreds of political prisoners. Unfortunately, thousands remain behind bars. One of them, Ashraf Ibrahim, an engineer who opposed the American-led war in Iraq, is being tried in one of Egypt's infamous emergency security courts. Among the charges is 'sending false information to foreign human rights organizations'... What is needed is a vigorous defense of human rights, support for civil society... "
Commerce Department Posts Revised Negative GDP Growth for 2000 Q3
"Based on new data, the Commerce Department said that the Gross Domestic Product -- the country's total output of goods and services -- shrank by 0.5% at an annual rate in the July-September quarter of 2000. Previously, the government had said GDP was rising at a weak annual rate of 0.6% during that quarter. The GDP returned to positive territory in the October-December quarter of 2000, rising at an annual rate of 2.1%, before slipping back into negative territory in the first quarter of 2001. The first, second and third quarters of 2001 all experienced falling GDP as the country slogged through its first recession since 1990-1991... For 2002, GDP growth is now listed at 2.2%, down from the previously reported 2.4%. Growth in 2001 is now put at 0.5%, an upward revision from the 0.3% previous estimate. For the period from 1992 through 2002, the average annual GDP growth rate remained 3.2% although the composition of growth changed slightly... During the last recession, U.S. output fell by 0.5%, slightly less than the 0.6% previously estimated, still making the 2001 recession one of the mildest on record in terms of lost output."
Education needed to feed IT boom in Asia
"information technology leaders have stressed the need to ramp up their education infrastructure to keep the information technology boom going. They told an Asia Tech summit here that the IT industry was growing at a rapid rate with newer and newer technologies and warned the work-force had to be adequately trained to carry this forward... 'By 2005, we will need 80K people in the industry but we now have just 30K people.', he said, adding that even though 50K students were studying software, this still was not enough... Kiran Karnik, president of NASSCOM... said the government's resource constraints and the limitations of the traditional university system of education would prove to be key challenges in supplying the man-power needs of the dynamic industry."
2003-12-11 07:13PST (10:13EST) (15:13GMT)
Retail sales jump in November
"The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.9% to $322.4G after being flat in October. Excluding volatile automobile sales, retail sales rose 0.4% after rising a revised 0.4% in October... Separately, the Labor Department reported that weekly claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week to their highest level in 6 weeks."
2003-12-11 07:55PST (10:55EST) (15:55GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims rise
"In the latest week, claims rose 13K to 378K, the highest level since October. The 4-week average rose by 2,250 to 364,750... Read the full report... The number of workers still collecting benefits also rose slightly in the last week to 3.3M. The 4-week moving average fell to 3.4M, the lowest since February. The insured unemployment rate remained at 2.6%. In separate reports, the Labor Department said prices of imported goods and services rose 0.4% in November led by a 1.1% rise in oil prices."
2003-12-11 08:16PST (11:16EST) (16:16GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail sales take off again in November: Consumers return to the stores after 2-month pause
"Auto sales rebounded in November, helping to propel U.S. retail sales higher by 0.9%, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Excluding the 2.6% jump in auto sales, retail sales rose 0.4% for the second month in a row. Nominal sales are up 6.9% in the past year."
2003-12-11 10:07PST (13:07EST) (18:07GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Greenspan says open trade is messy but beneficial
"Global capitalism is often messy and uncivil, but it's the only system that leads to greater freedom and higher living standards, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday. In a speech before the World Affairs Council of Greater Dallas, Greenspan enthusiastically defended market capitalism against its critics, who have charged that unfair competition exploits the most vulnerable humans on the planet, including workers in the United States... Greenspan argued that efforts to protect U.S. jobs from competition from abroad would only lead to fewer jobs and lower standards of living here... 'The ultimate arbiter of an economy's ethics is, or should be, the material welfare of the individuals in a society.', Greenspan said. 'Vigorous economic competition over the years has produced a significant rise in the quality of life for the vast majority of the population in market-oriented economies, including those at the bottom of the income distribution... One would be hard-pressed to cite examples of free and prosperous societies that suppressed the market-place.'"
2003-12-11 13:36:17PST (16:36:17EST) (21:36:17GMT)
Vivian Chu _Reuters_/_CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks rally on Fed comments: Dow tops 10K for first time in nearly 19 months
"Stocks rallied on Thursday, driving the blue-chip Dow to close above 10K for the first time in nearly 19 months, as comments from the Federal Reserve indicating that inflation would remain low over the next year reassured investors that the central bank would not lift interest rates any time soon. Positive reports on retail sales and upbeat forecasts from a few semiconductor companies also fueled investor optimism that the U.S. economy is steadily improving... The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 86.30 points, or 0.87%, at 10,008.16, its highest close since 2002 May 24. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 12.16 points, or 1.15%, to 1,071.21, its highest finish since 2002 May 28. The technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 37.67 points, or 1.98%, to 1,942.32, based on the latest data."
2003-12-11 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & John King & Casey Wian & Peter Viles & Bill Tucker & Mike Chinoy _CNN_
ReBuilding Iraq, Red Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao
"President Bush today strongly reaffirmed his decision to restrict billions of dollars of Iraqi reconstruction contracts to coalition partners. President Bush said the issue is very simple -- quote -- 'Our people risked their lives.', he said. The U.S. decision has angered countries such as France, Germany and Russia, countries that had been excluded from the reconstruction effort, but President Bush said those countries can still help rebuild Iraq and they should begin by writing off the tens of billions of dollars in Iraqi debt... Lawrence Eagleburger: 'I don't really much care if all those countries are miffed. What do they expect? They did nothing to support us in the Iraq war. Why should they now expect that we will turn over contracts to them. How big a strain is it?'... Greg Poland of Mayo Clinic: 'we are starting to see a few cases of pneumonia, staphylococcal pneumonia, and even encephalitis after influenza.'... The White House was discussing amnesty for Mexican illegal aliens before 2001 September 11. And several amnesty or guest worker bills have been introduced in Congress... a reported plan by the FDIC in 35 Chicago-area banks to offer mortgages to people without Social Security numbers, making it easier for illegal aliens to buy a home. Then there are the discussions between the Social Security Administration and Mexico that would give some legal Mexican immigrants access to more U.S. Social Security benefits and do the same for U.S. workers in Mexico... Some 400K food suppliers have to register with the FDA by the end of this week and begin providing notice any time they send a shipment to the United States... Unlike the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has had the authority to inspect foreign plants and facilities since 1914, the FDA cannot go into a foreign plant or farm unless invited... Wen Jaibao: 'We both believe that the China-U.S. bilateral relationship is the most important state-to-state relationship in our world.'... Chen Shui-Bian, president of Taiwan, the Republic of China: 'We demand that the People's Republic of China immediately withdraw the missiles targeting Taiwan and also publicly renounce the use of force against Taiwan. This message is very clear. And it certainly has no bearings on the unification or independence issues.'..."
Carolyn Said _San Francisco California Chronicle_
Win for bottom-line: SF mayor-elect brings commercial smarts to his job
"Nathan Nayman, executive director of the Committee on Jobs, which represents 40 of San Francisco's largest employers, with a combined local pay-roll of almost 200K workers, said his group was thrilled to see Newsom win... With an unemployment rate approaching 7%, the city has lost an estimated 60K jobs since early 2001... Currently, the 1.5% tax is levied on all concerns with a pay-roll over $167K a year... The hotel tax -- a 14% surcharge on room rates -- generated $135M for the fiscal year ended in 2002 July, down from $198M the previous year, he said. The city's budgetary short-fall 'is greatly attributed to the (decline) of the hotel tax'."
Jo Napolitano _NY Times_
Cities Restrict Abuse of CameraPhones
"Accordingly, as early as December 17, the Chicago City Council is to vote on a proposal by Mr. Burke to ban the use of camera phones in public bath-rooms, locker rooms and showers... The Chicago proposal, setting a fine of $5 to $500 for offenders, echoes restrictions adopted in several smaller jurisdictions. What remains to be seen is how and when such laws will be enforced. While privacy experts, municipalities and the American Civil Liberties Union agree that photos should not be taken without consent in public bathrooms and showers, there is no consensus on the best method of balancing the camera owner's rights with those of the unsuspecting citizen."
2003-12-11 16:43PST (19:43EST) (2003-12-12 00:43GMT)
Martin Crutsinger _Seattle Times_/_AP_
Greenspan Says Yuan's Rise Won't Affect US
"But Greenspan, in a speech to the World Affairs Council of Greater Dallas, called the belief that U.S. jobs could be created with a stronger Chinese currency 'conventional wisdom' that over-simplified the economic issues involved. Greenspan said that if [Red China] did allow the value of its currency to float and the currency rose in value, as U.S. manufacturers expect, it might cut Chinese exports of such goods as textiles to the United States. But he said rather than boosting production of textiles in the United States, it was 'far more likely' that U.S. imports from other low-wage countries in Asia would simply replace the Chinese textiles. He said the rise in the value of [Red China's] currency 'would be unlikely to have much, if any, effect on aggregate employment in the United States'... He also challenged concerns that some of the 2.8M manufacturing jobs lost over the past 3 years may be gone forever. He said that throughout history, the U.S. economy has been able to create jobs in new industries and that this process would continue."
2003-12-11 22:00PST (2003-12-12 01:00EST) (06:00GMT)
Ilana Mercer _WorldNetDaily_
"Exporting" High-Tech Jobs
Author's web site
"If, moreover, productivity were the sole deciding factor in employment, then it would make sense to employ Americans in the high-tech endeavors now using Chinese workers. An American worker will generally still perform the task faster and better than his foreign equivalent. But the price of wages and the cost of living in [Red China] and India are so very low that a team of Chinese can be hired for the price of one American. There's no doubt that the best and the brightest Americans will remain employed in their fields of expertise in the United States. But if American engineers were being freed up to perform ever more fantastic feats, then the IEEE-USA would not be reporting that, while the unemployment rate for all workers has fallen slightly in the third quarter, it has continued to move in the opposite direction for U.S. electrical and electronics engineers. Moreover, there has been a sharp decline in the demand for these professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms the trend, reporting that 230K U.S. workers in 12 engineering and computer job classifications were unemployed in the second quarter."
2003-12-12 05:06PST (08:06EST) (13:06GMT)
Emily Church _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unsold inventory building up for retailers
"Sales were slower than expected for department stores in November too, the British Retail Consortium said in its sales update, released this week. Overall, November was the slowest month since 1998 for British retail, the trade association said... Same-store sales were estimated to have gained 0.9% against 2002 November..."
2003-12-12 05:35PST (08:35EST) (13:35GMT)
Maggie McNeil _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US trade gap widened in October
"Imports rose 2.1% to a record $129.7G, exports rose 2.6% to $88.0G. The trade deficit is on track to set a new record this year. For the first 10 months of the year, the trade gap totalled $409G, up 21.3% from the same period a year ago. The U.S. trade deficit with [Red China] widened to a record $13.6G in October, easily beating the previous record of $12.7G set only last month."
2003-12-12 06:43PST (09:43EST) (14:43GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
PPI down 0.3% in November: Core PPI down 0.1% on falling car prices
"Prices of crude goods rose 0.2%... The PPI is up 3.4% in the past 12 months, while the core rate is up just 0.5%. And while crude materials prices have soared 18.3% year-over-year, the intermediate core rate is up just 1.8%, an indication that firms have little ability to pass on the higher costs of raw materials and commodities to their customers."
2003-12-12 06:48PST (09:48EST) (14:48GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
UMich Consumer Sentiment Sinks in Early December
"The consumer sentiment index fell to 89.6 from 93.7 in November... The current conditions index fell to 93.6 in December from 102.5 in November. The consumer expectations index fell to 87.1 in December from 88.1 in the previous month."
2003-12-12 07:11PST (10:11EST) (15:11GMT)
Taking phone pix without permission illegal in Hungary
"Hungary moved on Thursday to stop users of new camera mobile phones from taking and sending snapshots of people without their permission. Hungary's data protection ombudsman ruled that mobile users transmitting pictures of people who are unaware of being photographed could be liable to prosecution -- as could the mobile service providers. Ombudsman Attila Peterfalvi said he started an investigation... Mobile phones with small cameras used in multimedia messaging (MMS) are selling fast in Hungary, where mobile penetration is a high 75.2%. 'Taking and transmitting recordings without legal or personal accord is unlawful data handling and can lead to civil, or in some cases penal, responsibility.', Peterfalvi said. Regulators around the world are trying to get to grips with the spread of camera phones and their invasion of privacy."
2003-12-12 13:40PST (16:40EST) (21:40GMT)
Michael Baron _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bulls carry the day: 2nd close above 10K
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 34 points, or 0.3%, to close at 10,042.16, while the NASDAQ Composite added almost 7 points, or 0.3%, to finish at 1,949. The S&P 500 index edged 0.3% higher to 1,074.14, while the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks added 0.9% at 547.59... Volume totaled 1.21G on the New York Stock Exchange, and 1.45G on the NASDAQ. Breadth was positive in the broad market with advancers out-pacing decliners, 21 to 12 on the Big Board, and 19 to 12 on the Nasdaq."
2003-12-12 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Miguel Marquez & Casey Wian & Suzanne Malveaux & Peter Viles & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
Driver Licenses for Illegal Aliens, Trade Imbalances & the Economy
"Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has suggested, as many as 12M illegal aliens might be given some form of legal status in this country... senior administration officials...flat out say that this administration is not debating, they're not considering amnesty for illegal immigrants, that it's not on the table. What is on the table, what they are debating is some sort of way to determine who is a threat in this country and who is not... In California today, protests and rallies against the repeal of a law that allowed illegal aliens in that state to obtain California driver's licenses. Critics said the law would have given illegal aliens many of the benefits and privileges of U.S. citizens. Those critics also say the law could have led to identity fraud and could have hindered the fight against terrorism... The groups that organized today's protests wield huge and disproportionate power in California's already muddled and confusing political world. Those groups are using that power without question to intimidate California politicians into silence on the critically important issue of illegal aliens. And those politicians are downright scared... California Latino boycott organizers are no strangers to controversy. They're led by Nativo Lopez's Mexican American political association and include groups such as MEChA [Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan], which advocates a Mexico homeland in the American Southwest... He was born Larry Lopez. He changed his name at age 17... Well, we invited Nativo Lopez, president of the American Mexico Political Association, one of the sponsors of today's protests in California, to join us on the broadcast tonight. He refused. His reason: He said he didn't want to appear with me because I use the term illegal alien instead of undocumented worker. Mr. Lopez also said that, beginning tonight, his organization will boycott any organization that uses the term illegal alien... Many European countries require every resident to register and to carry a national ID card. They are required to carry those cards. And failure to produce cards to police when asked can result in arrest. The commitment to enforcement can be seen in the numbers of officers. The United States has a couple of hundred officers committed to work-place enforcement, while, in Germany, for example, there are 5K... the amnesty in 1986; 2.5M to 3M illegal aliens at that point were given amnesty, with the hope and the expectation that it would solve the illegal immigration problem in this country... The U.S. trade deficit with [Red China] hit an all-time high in the month of October, the deficit expected to reach $130G this year. In spite of this alarming trend, a trend that has contributed to the loss of nearly 3M American jobs, Treasury Secretary John Snow today went shopping for toys. And buying American apparently was not a priority, nor even necessarily a possibility... He picked up a pink poodle purse made in China, also a Swan Lake Barbie, made in Indonesia, and this flip-over Darby Dog made in [Red China]. Finally, we had to ask him, well, what about toys made in America?... This is the Top-no-sis, the world's longest spinning top... The toy is made in Upstate New York by its inventor, Ed Rubin... Other toys we found that are made in America, good old Crayola crayons. They are made in Pennsylvania. And my favorite today, the American edition of the Monopoly game, a special edition, this made in America... And toys are not a small business, $30G-plus at retail in the United States... Duncan Hunter: ' And it's true that, if you look into the budget in the next year and you add another two divisions, that's $10G... we cut the Army from 18 divisions in 1991 to 10 divisions when Bill Clinton walked out of the White House. We also cut the Air Force from 24 air wings to only 13 and the Navy from 546 ships to only 300 ships... That means in-strength increases in the SEALs, the special operators, special forces, the U.S. Army Rangers, and the maybe the other division a heavy division, with lots of air-lift. But there's lots of places where we need to spend money. And if you're constrained by this 3.5% of gross national product that we're now spending on defense, that's the $400G budget with a little more for next year, you're not going to get there. I think we have to go up to about 4.5% of gross national product being dedicated to national defense... we have now 19 brigades of our 33 combat brigades committed around the world... John Kennedy spent 9% of GDP on defense. Ronald Reagan spent 6% of GDP on defense. We're spending about 3.5% right now. I think it's good insurance to go to about 4% or 4.5%... [George H.W. Bush] took the forces from 18 Army divisions, for example, down to 14 or 15.'... American families often see no other way to survive than to have both parents work. But my next guest's best-selling book says the idea is a con. It's left millions in or near bankruptcy, _The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke_. Amelia Warren Tyagi wrote it with her mother, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren... Carpenters like Pete say they would not want to exchange places with someone who works behind a desk. They find it very satisfying building something with their hands. Peter Ganginis: 'I'm kind of dreading when there will come a point where I can't climb the ladders or the roofs anymore. But it's very joyful to do this.'..."
Nicholas Wade _NY Times_
Comparing Genomes Shows Split Between Chimps & People
"They include genes for hearing and speech, genes that wire the developing brain, genes for detecting odors and genes that shape bone structure. The comparison, reported yesterday in Science, was undertaken by Dr. Michele Cargill and colleagues at Celera Diagnostics in Alameda, CA, who decoded most of the genes in the chimp's genome, and Dr. Andrew G. Clark and colleagues at Cornell, who made the analysis... Humans and chimps shared a joint ancestor as recently as 5M years ago... Because the sequence of DNA units in the 2 genomes is 98.8% identical, it seemed that just a handful of genes might define the essence of humanity. The project received a lift 2 years ago when a large London family with barely intelligible speech was found to have mutations in a gene called FOXP2. Chimpanzees also have a FOXP2 gene, but it is significantly different. The human version shows signs of accelerated evolutionary change in the last 100K years, suggesting that the gene acquired a new function that helped confer the gift of speech... Of particular interest is SEMA3B, which helps guide growing nerve axons to the proper regions in the brain."
Judy Blunt _NY Times_
"Western attitudes about speed limits have always been misconstrued: we do not encourage deviant behavior so much as personal responsibility. It's an antiquated stance, this resistance to limiting individual freedom... We can hold individuals accountable for bad choices without limiting everyone's freedom."
Maureen Feighan _Detroit Michigan News_
Clothier fights condemnation: Price's to appeal ruling letting Dearborn tear down its property for $50M project
"The owners of an up-scale men's clothing store in downtown Dearborn will fight a court ruling allowing the city to condemn their property to make way for a $50M development at the former Jacobson's store. Jerome Pesick, an attorney for Frank and Jim Manchell, co-owners of Price's Men's Wear, said he'll file an appeal next week with the Michigan Court of Appeals after Wayne Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny ruled that the city can claim the store through eminent domain... But Pesick argues eminent domain should've never been applied in this case because a private developer, Burton-Katzman Development Co. of Bingham Farms, plans to build on the site. The project would include condominiums, a hotel, restaurants and office space."
Mike Leidermann _Honolulu Advertiser_
H-1 FreeWay Widening Delayed Again Due to Steel Shortage
"The Transportation Department's largest construction project of the year, a planned $65M widening of the H-1 FreeWay near Waimalu, is being delayed again - this time because of a nationwide steel shortage."
Norm Matloff _University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform_
On the Need for Reform of the H-1B Non-Immigrant Work Visa in Computer-Related Occupations
Dean E. Murphy _NY Times_
Schwarzenegger Gains Approval for a Fiscal Plan for California
"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed the biggest victory of his young political career after legislators approved the fiscal plan."
Simon Romero _NY Times_
Natural Gas Prices Surge and Fingers are Pointing
"The prices have increased nearly 50% since Thanksgiving despite an apparent lack of events that normally create such spikes... Companies in the chemical, fertilizer and ammonia industries that depend on natural gas as an essential ingredient for their products have been among the most vocal in their complaints about gas prices, which have soared to their highest level since February... High natural gas prices, if they are sustained, could cascade through the economy and result in higher heating and electricity costs for consumers, because gas is used by many power plants as the main fuel, analysts said. Natural gas, which has remained relatively expensive over the last year, rose 9% in the futures markets on Friday, to $7.22 per million British thermal units, compared with $4.93 at the end of November."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
Coffee, Tea, or Freedom in Red China?
"That was censored. I tried again, posting a more subdued version - and, again, it was censored. So my third version was milder yet: 'Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to America has been very successful, but I wonder if perhaps he is wasting too much time abroad instead of focusing on our own important problems like unemployment.' That turned out to be what Chinese journalists call a cabianqiu, after the term for a Ping-Pong ball that just nicks the corner of the table: legal by a whisker. The censors didn't intervene, and I successfully posted that comment in 3 chat rooms. So that's the frontier of free speech in [Red China] in the information age, and it reflects real progress. Sure, the thought police toss Internet dissidents in prison, with 66 Chinese journalists and Web scribblers currently behind bars, some facing torture and beatings. Still, this is pretty much the first time since the 1980s that the Chinese have had public forums in which they can (very delicately) criticize top national leaders by name. [Red China's] new emperor, President Hu Jintao, is presiding over this twilight zone and trying hard - rather successfully - to convince the population that he's a new kind of leader. Most Chinese I talk to are very impressed by Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen, who project a humility and compassion very different from the pomposity of the former emperor, Jiang Zemin. My guess is that Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen would win a free election if it was offered. Mr. Hu and Mr. Wen are relentlessly photographed feeling the pain of the poor and the under-dog... China has always operated to some degree on fear, and that fear is now eroding. Chinese don't protest when they are most upset, but when they think they can get away with it: that has been true of every upheaval from the 1956 Hundred Flowers out-pouring of complaints all the way to the Tiananmen Square democracy movement of 1989."
David Brooks _NY Times_
Allowing Honesty & Candor Seep into the World of International Affairs
2003-12-14 04:22PST (07:22EST) (12:22GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo Stocks Jump on News of Saddam Hussein's Capture
"The Nikkei Average jumped 273 points to 10,443.34. The greenback traded up at 108.11 yen in early Tokyo from the late Friday New York level of 107.90 yen."
2003-12-14 04:32PST (07:42EST) (12:42GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Saddam Hussein Captured
"Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was captured without bloodshed in raid near his home-town of Tikrit Saturday night, U.S. and Iraqi officials said in a press conference in Baghdad. Saddam was found hiding in a hole, officials said."
2003-12-14 08:29PST (11:29EST) (16:29GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Saddam Hussein in jail, but US not out of woods
"Despite the Americans' overwhelming victory over Saddam's military in March and April, the President had been dogged by failures in his war against terrorists, notably the failure to find Saddam, Osama bin Laden... his ability to remain free may have encouraged and inspired those who have fought back against the United States by any means available to them. The circumstances of Saddam's capture could help the U.S. cause. Rather than the bloody shootout that led to the deaths of Saddam's two sons, Saddam himself was taken without a struggle, although he was armed with a pistol, according to a U.S. Army spokesman... Saddam's fate can now be decided by the Iraqi people in a judicial proceeding, not by his American pursuers."
2003-12-14 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Saddam Hussein Has Been Captured
"George W. Bush: 'Now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions.'"
John Tagliabue _NY Times_
European Union Can't Reach Deal on Constitution
"The European Union ended its summit divided over how to apportion power among large and small states."
Adam Liptak _NY Times_
Suits Multiply in the US but Fewer Get to Trial (with graphs)
"In 1962, the study says, 11.5% of all civil cases in federal court went to trial. By last year, that number had dropped to 1.8%. And even though there are 5 times as many law-suits today, the raw number of civil trials has dropped, too. They peaked in 1985 at 12,529. Last year, 4,569 civil cases were tried in federal court... The percentage of federal criminal prosecutions resolved by trials also declined, to less than 5% last year from 15% in 1962. The number of prosecutions more than doubled in the last 4 decades, but the number of criminal trials fell, to 3,574 last year from 5,097 in 1962. The study, based on data compiled by the federal court system, was prepared by Marc Galanter, who teaches law at the University of Wisconsin and the London School of Economics, for the American Bar Association... Among the possible explanations for what the meeting's organizers call 'the vanishing trial' is a growing antagonism to trials by lawyers and judges, who consider them costly and risky. They prefer negotiated settlements and pre-trial determinations by judges based only on paper submissions... Paul Butler, a law professor at George Washington University, disagreed. He said the loss of this form of dispute resolution was a devastating one. 'Nobody does trials like Americans.', Professor Butler said. 'We made it an art form. It's almost as fundamental a part of our culture as jazz or rock 'n' roll.'... In 1962, the average federal judge conducted 39 trials a year, including both civil and criminal cases. These days, that number has fallen to 13. Judges spend the rest of their time doing such things as supervising the exchange of information between parties, deciding pre-trial motions and urging or approving settlements and plea bargains. The dearth of trials has resulted in a sort of vicious circle. Many lawyers who call themselves litigators have little trial experience, which may in turn make them wary of taking cases to trial... Injury and contract cases, which represented 74% of all federal civil trials in 1962, accounted for 38% last year, according to Professor Galanter. Those categories of cases, he said, have largely been replaced by employment discrimination and other civil rights cases, which now represent a third of all federal civil trials... By contrast, she continued, 'non-trial adjudications' - written decisions by judges typically based only on papers submitted by the parties - have risen to 50% from 32% since 1970."
Ken Belson _NY Times_
Has WM Met Its Match in Japanese Economy? Hopefully
"WM has spent $513M for a chunk of Seiyu, whose name still adorns its 400 stores... The retail market here is dominated by powerful manufacturers and wholesalers whose high prices have made the country an inhospitable place for foreign discounters. And Japanese consumers are famously finicky - as other American retailers who have simply imported goods with little regard for local tastes have learned the hard way... Japan's dense supplier network and expensive labor and land give the American discounter a chance to cut costs and bolster profitability... To that end, Wal-Mart has unveiled a 5-year plan to reduce the hours worked by full-time staff members by about 40%, partly through early retirement and by increasing the percentage of part-time workers to 85% from 70%... For WM to get that far, the company will have to... introduce Western-style pricing and smash entrenched and often costly corporate relationships."
Leslie Wayne _NY Times_
Political Pull Gets US Flags on Foreign Ship
"For the first time in 50 years, a cruise ship flying the American flag will soon be sailing the seas. There will be no mistaking it for anything but an all-American vessel. It will be named Pride of America. Red and white stripes, blue stars and a huge bald eagle will decorate its hull. Its public rooms will strike a patriotic theme: the Liberty restaurant, the Capitol Atrium, Jefferson's Bistro, the John Adams Coffee Bar. As an American-flagged vessel in an industry dominated by foreign lines, Pride of America will qualify under United States law for a special privilege: permission to cruise lucrative routes solely between American ports, mainly in the Hawaiian islands, that are off limits to foreign vessels. But the Pride of America is not what it seems. The ship is actually being built in a German ship-yard and is owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Star Cruises, which has its head-quarters in Hong Kong and is run out of its offices in Malaysia; Star Cruises is in turn a unit of Genting Berhad, a holding company in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia... With platoons of lobbyists, including a former senator from Washington State, and contributions to important members of Congress, Norwegian Cruise persuaded Congress to approve its entry into a protected American market in the fine print of a big appropriations bill passed this year. The company's competitors, long eager for the privileges, are fuming."
Andres Martinez _NY Times_
Nowadays Owning a Professional Sports Team Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry
"There are 2 other important forces transforming football into a customer-satisfaction business. The first is the league's socialist structure. Unlike in baseball, NFL teams share the big TV money equally, and everything from the salary cap to the college draft and scheduling is meant to help the laggards catch up. The NFL's parity promises to remove the chronic pain that makes sports fandom so bitter-sweet. No one is condemned to rooting for a perennially doomed team. To say there's always next season is no longer an insincere form of consolation. Your losing team really can win the Super Bowl next year. Another reason old-school team owners are increasingly talking like corporate executives hired to deliver a reliable product is that many of their franchises essentially went public in the 1990s. No, they didn't have IPOs and issue shares, but they did raise hundreds of millions of dollars from [tax-victims] -- some $5G across the country -- to help them build new stadiums."
Mary Vanac _Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer_
"Off-shoring is becoming the villain of labor in much the same way foreign steel making was in the 1990s and Japanese auto production was in the decade before. But numbers that could show information technology jobs in the United States being lost to foreign workers aren't available yet [and will never be if executives have their way]."
Mary Vanac _Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer_
Economy and global competition force tough changes in industry
"employers told him the jobs disappeared because of 'lack of work' caused by trends ranging from the dot-com bust to recession to a drought in corporate IT spending. The Richmond Heights resident suspects, though, that his last job went to lower-paid workers in India as part of an emerging practice called 'off-shoring'... Since 2000, when employment peaked in the domestic information technology industry, about 135K jobs have been lost nationwide and 1,710 in the Cleveland area, according to estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages, which also peaked in 2000, have been flat or down... Jobs tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics include programmer, applications software engineer, support specialist, systems analyst, databases administrator and network systems or data communications analyst... 'All of that came to a crashing halt when Y2K was done.', said Jeff Perry, an executive vice president for Antares Management Solutions, the IT out-sourcing arm of Cleveland health insurer Medical Mutual of Ohio. The bubble created by billions of dollars in technology investment and the commercial promise of the Internet burst in mid-2000. The stock market and then the economy fell. Corporations put technology spending and hiring on hold. Consulting firms saw their contracts dry up. Of the jobs tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, programmers lost the most jobs in 2001 and 2002 - nearly 73,500 nationwide, or 14%... For instance, the cost of storing a megabyte of information has fallen from $4.68 to 4 cents in the past 5 years, he said."
Chris Seper _Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer_
Firms sending work off-shore sometimes find it costly
"After missing the dead-line by a year and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Julka was so shell-shocked he didn't try over-seas work again until [4 years later]. Sending technology work to places such as India, [Red China] and Eastern Europe, commonly known as off-shoring, won't automatically cut costs or boost a company's bottom line. While labor costs drop when you send work over-seas, other factors -- cultural chasms, communications issues, shoddy work, poor management and unforeseen costs that include bribery in some countries -- can quickly eat away at potential profit... 78% of companies in a DiamondCluster survey said they ended at least one out-sourcing job early. Off-shoring countries have the technical know-how to do high-tech work. But many over-seas companies lack the business, organizational and management skills to deliver on what they promise, according to a report by the PA Consulting Group... technology and communications issues caused those projects to fail... For example, firms should in many instances set aside 1.5% to 3% of their over-seas budgets for bribery... Mays can quickly tick off a laundry list of expenses many companies don't think of. Getting secure, consistent phone lines ('Over-seas phones can be a party line') and scheduling regular trips to measure progress are rarely in the budget of a company considering off-shoring for the first time. Sometimes the tax on bringing in foreign currency is so high that it's wise to set up accounts in a third country, he said. There are problems unique to every nation. [Red China], for one, has notoriously lax intellectual property laws. William Lewis, an international liaison for Lexis Nexis in Dayton, tells companies not to send any software work to China they don't want copied 500 times... Businesses incorrectly think they will save up to 70% by sending a project overseas. Those margins are actually more likely 10% to 30% if a project is managed correctly, according to consultants."
2003-12-14 21:01PST (2003-12-15 00:01EST) (2003-12-15 05:01GMT)
Tim Rostan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
MarketWatch's Top Stories of 2003
"Through the eyes of history, those 1999 fears of a Y2K crisis weren't far off. Instead of hitting computers, it hit Wall Street and the American economy."
2003-12-15 00:00PST (03:00EST) (08:00GMT)
Rachel Konrad _Oregon Live_/_AP_
Start-up fever dulled by preference for over-seas programmers
"After launching 5 start-ups, Solidcore chief executive Rosen Sharma says he would never build a company without out-sourcing the relatively expensive and highly skilled tech jobs to low-paid contractors or local hires in developing countries... Three years later, Silicon Valley investors are pressuring entrepreneurs to shrink personnel costs by as much as 60% by sending jobs over-seas. Within the past year, start-ups have taken the out-sourcing trend to extreme lengths, migrating entire development teams to India, [Red China] and Russia and leaving only skeletal crews in Silicon Valley and tech hubs such as Boston and Seattle... But the rapid escalation of out-sourcing worries some economists and venture capitalists... Out-sourcing start-up work could have disastrous long-term consequences, critics say, depriving Americans of unique business experience and minimizing the likelihood that the next [big firm will get its start in an American garage]... Gartner Inc. predicts at least 1 out of 10 technology jobs in the United States will move over-seas by the end of 2004. According to research firm IDC, foreign workers performed about 5% of information technology services for American companies this year, but by 2007, that share will grow to 23%... Before dot-com investors turned stingy, a typical software start-up might have received an initial funding round of up to $15M, which was expected to last about a year. Many entrepreneurs today receive $3M or less, and rarely more than $10M, to finance a similar operation. That means founders can burn as little as $250K per month. Venture firms now sponsor how-to out-sourcing clinics for companies in their portfolio, and more entrepreneurs are pitching business proposals that already include detailed off-shore strategies. How 'off-shoreable' a project is can determine whether a venture firm will endorse a company with an initial funding round."
2003-12-15 04:59PST (07:59EST) (12:59GMT)
Shoe Plant Gives Big Holiday Bonuses
"Workers at a shoe plant were feeling more than a little tickled when they got their Christmas bonuses that, for some, totaled nearly $20K. Instead of receiving typical end-of-year frozen turkeys, the 200 employees of the SAS Shoemakers plant here were handed envelopes when they were called together Friday afternoon... The company this year awarded its employees with bonuses of $1K for every year worked at the company. Even those who had worked less than a year got $500 each..."
2003-12-15 09:35PST (12:35EST) (17:35GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
The trade school industry grows up but is it serving students?
"They're called career colleges now, and they're churning out graduates -- and pumping up revenues -- at a record pace as an increasing number of unemployed and under-employed Americans seek new ways of boosting their income. About 1.5M students at for-profit colleges nationwide helped push industry revenues to $11.6G in 2002, from $10.3G a year earlier, according to Eduventures, an education market research firm based in Boston. About half of those students are minorities, industry experts estimate. 'Everybody that's in the doctor's office when you walk in for your annual has probably been trained at a career college. The nurses assistants, the insurance adjusters, receptionists, everybody except the doctor.', said Nick Glakas, president of the Career College Association, an industry trade group. The new generation of trade schools offers certificate and degree programs in hundreds of fields ranging from automotive repair and travel booking to information technology and business. About half of trade-school students enroll in short-term certificate programs, one-third in two-year courses and the rest attend 4-year for-profit educational institutions... At ITT Technical Institute , with 76 campuses nationwide, fees run $368 an hour or about $35,300 for an associates' degree and $66,240 for a bachelor's, said spokeswoman Nancy Brown... At Apollo College...a 9-month certificate program costs $8,700 and an associate's degree program runs $18K, said spokeswoman Cindy Nestor... a 70% chance, or better, of landing a job after graduation... For instance, while the tech slump pushed ITT Technical Institute's job-placement rate down to 73% last year from 90% in 2000, that still exceeds rates at most traditional public schools. At Apollo College, the job-placement rate is between 85% and 87%."
2003-12-15 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Bill Tucker & Peter Viles & John King & Rod Nordland & Lisa Sylvester & Kitty Pilgrim _CNN_
Guest-Workers, Driver Licensing
"President Bush says there will be no blanket amnesty for illegal aliens. But in California, the issue is whether they should be allowed the privilege of driver's licenses. Tonight, in 'Broken Borders', 2 of California's most influential legislators join us with very different views. 'Exporting America' -- IBM apparently wants to export jobs in a big way, planning to send thousands of high-paying American jobs over-seas in one of the largest out-sourcing programs ever... George W. Bush: 'The Iraqis need to be very much involved. He was a person that -- they were the people that were brutalized by this man. He murdered them. He gassed them. He tortured them. He had rape rooms. And they need to be very much involved in the process. And we'll work with Iraqis to develop a process [to try Saddam Hussein].'... Partly this is not just a developing country and a third world country. It's also a country with great riches, and Iraqis are aware of that. So when we come in with developmental aid and reconstruction aid and so on, they feel like, Well, that's all going be paid for from our oil wealth, and so on. But it's still a little bit hard to understand, for instance, when you have soldiers being paid $50 a month, quitting their jobs for higher pay, when that's 25 times more pay than they earned during Saddam's time... Marcus Courtney of WashTech: 'Companies are doing this because they only see employees as costs to be cut, and they want to boost short- term profits over long-term economic gain. This is about a short-run strategy and not about a long-run strategy.'... it sounds like it's all about just cheapening the price of labor... The ACLU is upset that a local minister dressed as Santa and then asked school children the meaning of Christmas... Christmas carols... were at the heart of a controversy in Albert County, CO, where [some] parents and the ACLU tried to stop a school concert... its concert... included 6 Christmas carols and 2 Hanukkah songs... You can acknowledge Christmas as a cultural event, even a religious event, as long as you acknowledge other religious holidays [holidays of other religions]... Samuel Johnson: 'No government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny that will keep us safe under every form of government.'... there's a movement in Congress to officially recognize illegal aliens who are already settled here. Senator Orrin Hatch has proposed giving legal status to high school students of illegal aliens. And Senator John McCain wants to offer temporary visas for low skilled workers... Gil Cedillo: ' We want to make sure that the 22 million motorists who take to the highways every day know that we've done all that we can to make sure that every motorist is licensed, inspected and insured.'... Tom McClintock: 'California already accepts a valid foreign driver's license as proof of competence to operate a motor vehicle in California. So this is not a safety issue. It's not an insurance issue either. A foreign national can obtain insurance in their own country with extend coverage into the United States. There's one purpose of this measure and only one purpose. It's to place valid state identification documents in the hands of illegal immigrants. And the only reason for doing that is to undermine the enforcement of our immigration laws.'... Ellen Tauscher: 'I propose that we lift the floor of the minimum number allowed into the military by eight percent over the next 5 years, specifically for the Army, the Air Force and the Marines... it looks like it will cost about $3G to $4G over 5 years.'... Germans take, on average, 6 weeks vacation a year, compared to just 2 weeks taken by the average American."
Ian Fisher _NY Times_
4 New Iraqi Leaders Pay Saddam Hussein a Visit
"What came next in the Sunday afternoon meeting, according to people in the room, was an extraordinary 30 minutes, in which 4 new leaders of Iraq pointedly questioned the nation's deposed and now captured leader about his tyrannical rule. Mr. Hussein, they said, was defiant and unrepentant but very much defeated. 'The world is crazy.', said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a Governing Council member in the room on Sunday after Mr. Hussein was captured near his home-town, Tikrit. 'I was in his torture chamber in 1979, and now he was sitting there, powerless in front of me without anybody stopping me from doing anything to him. Just imagine. We were arguing, and he was using very foul language.'... Asked about the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in the northern Iraqi town of Halabja in 1988, in which an estimated 5K people were killed, Mr. Hussein said, according to his visitors, that this was the work of Iran, at war with Iraq at the time. Asked about the mass graves of tens of thousands of Iraqis uncovered since Mr. Hussein was toppled from power in the American-led offensive this spring, Mr. Rubaie said Mr. Hussein answered: 'Ask their relatives. They were thieves, and they ran away from the battle-fields with Iran and from the battlefields of Kuwait.' Asked why he invaded Kuwait in 1990, provoking the American-led assault on Iraq the next year, he said Kuwait was rightfully a part of Iraq."
Matt Richtel _NY Times_
Spread of Telephone Service Over Internet Promises Competition, Revives Talk of Regulation
"Politicians have worked hard to keep access to Internet connections and many forms of Internet communication free from regulation and taxation. But the debate over how government treats the Internet is likely to reach a new level of intensity now that Internet technology is colliding with one of the nation's most lucrative businesses, telephone service. Last week AT&T and Time Warner Cable announced that they intended to make Internet-based phone service available to millions of consumers next year, allowing those consumers to bypass traditional phone companies. Those moves signaled the start of a technological shift that could change one of the biggest and most important industries in the American economy. Central to that shift is whether and how Internet phone service should be regulated, a question that the Federal Communications Commission started to explore in hearings two weeks ago."
Saritha Rai _NY Times_
In India, a High-Tech Outpost for U.S. Patents
"The work of these engineers is generating significant amounts of intellectual property for American companies like Cisco Systems, General Electric, I.B.M., Intel, Motorola and Texas Instruments - whose various Indian units have filed more than 1K patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Some applications, with patents already granted, date to the early 1990s. But most applications from India have been filed in the last 2 years and still await decisions by the patent examiners in Washington. For American technology companies, under pressure to generate quick breakthroughs and develop products while curbing costs, India's big draw is its low-cost, deep pool of well-educated technical talent."
A Fight Against National Government Corruption
"Former presidents of small, corrupt nations do not, lamentably, have many bad weeks. But last week was one of them. Nicaragua's former president, Arnoldo Alem·n, was given a 20-year jail term for corruption. And in Zambia, the corruption trial of Frederick Chiluba began - a rare attempt in Africa to prosecute a former head of state for a crime that is all too endemic... The police officer shaking down drivers or the bureaucrat demanding a cut of a government contract may not be deterred by seeing a former president on trial. The solution is not to abandon prosecutions, but to work to prevent corruption... Many countries have cleaned up government contracting by establishing Internet bidding, with the winning offers made public. A driver's license bureau [an extortion and privacy violation scam in itself] that clearly posts the required documents and the steps in the process gives officials less opportunity to extort. If public servants must declare their wealth annually, and can be fired if caught lying, they are deterred from buying a Mercedes or a beach house."
_Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal_
Bay area new home prices fell
"A sharp fall in new home prices in several Bay Area counties may be the long-awaited signal that the price appreciation boom in California homes may come to an end next year, says Foreclosures.com of Fair Oaks, a privately held company which tracks foreclosure activity in 18 California counties as well as the metro areas of Phoenix, Chicago, New York City, and all of New Jersey. The steepest drop was in Alameda County where median new home prices fell 25.9% to $453,250 in 2003 Octobercompared to the same period a year ago, says Alexis McGee, president of Foreclosures.com. Prices of new homes fell 15.5% in San Mateo County, 14.1% in San Francisco, and 11.2% in Santa Clara County year over year."
Pete Engardio _Business Week_
Corporate America's Silent Partner: India: Businesses are off-shoring more & more white-collar jobs there, though you won't hear them talk about it much in an election year
"The shift of skilled work to India is becoming one of Corporate America's worst-kept secrets. Almost daily, India's newspapers carry items on new plans by U.S. software, finance, or pharmaceutical companies to open or expand call centers and research labs... Yet it's still very hard to get these companies to talk in the U.S. about the increasingly important role India is playing in their business models. For BusinessWeek's December 8 cover story,
The Rise of India only a few BW 1,000 corporations were brave enough to grant on-the-record interviews about their R&D and back-office operations... dozens of America's biggest investors in India... simply refused to talk... In the current political climate, politicians, pundits, and angry laid-off workers are hunting for scapegoats for America's largely jobless recovery. You can't find better targets than [Red China] and India, both of whom undeniably are gaining from the sweeping restructuring of American technology, financial services, and telecom companies... I suspect companies will be more open about white-collar off-shoring not long after next year's U.S. Presidential election. By then, foment in Washington for protectionist policies will likely abate."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
Union Urges IBM Workers to Fight Plan to Move Jobs Off-Shore
"The labor union representing a small but growing number of IBM employees is considering taking action against the company's reported plan to move nearly 5K jobs off-shore, including asking employees to refuse to train their replacement workers. 'We are working with our members to organize to fight this anyway we can.', said Linda Guyer, president of Alliance@IBM, an Endicott, NY-based union of roughly 6K IBM workers (up by more than 1K members since this past spring)... IBM plans to move up to 4,730 programming jobs from the U.S. to India, [Red China] and other countries, according to a report published this morning in the online edition of _The Wall Street Journal_... IBM employs some 150K people in the U.S. and more than 315K worldwide."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
Law-Makers Pushing to Hinder Off-Shore Out-Sourcing
"Federal and state law-makers are accelerating efforts to stem off-shore out-sourcing, chiefly by setting restrictions on the use of foreign labor in government contracting... For instance, senator John Kerry (D-MA), who's seeking the Democratic nomination, introduced legislation last month requiring call center employees to disclose their location at the commencement of each call... There are at least nine bills pending in the U.S. Congress aimed at barring foreign workers from government contracts, and 4 states -- North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan and Indiana -- are considering similar legislation, according to a study of pending bills assembled by Stuart Anderson, executive director of the recently formed _National Foundation for Anti-USA Policy_ in Arlington, VA... In addition to setting restrictions on call centers, some bills seek to make it mandatory for government contracts to be awarded only to U.S. citizens, and others aim to set limits on the use of visas such as the L-1, which is used by companies to transfer employees from other countries into the U.S... More than 500K jobs, by some estimates, have been moved to India."
Maryfran Johnson _ComputerWorld_
Colliding with Customers
"When Dell yanked its corporate PC tech support out of India and brought it back to U.S. soil recently, the move snapped a lot of people to attention. And no wonder. Here's one of the industry's most hyper-efficient, cost-conscious vendors abandoning -- at least for now -- a cheaper off-shore alternative because of customer complaints about poor service... But if the customer pain meter keeps moving in the wrong direction -- and users start walking away over service issues -- those off-shore savings could look a lot less compelling in the long run. So far, of course, the vendors know better than to redirect their high-end customers over-seas for support. A M$ VP made the point in our story that no 'premier support' contracts will be serviced out of the company's new shop in Bangalore. In theory, the location of technical support people shouldn't matter as long as the service quality is kept high and language barriers are kept low. In reality, the user experience isn't so idyllic. The rapid growth of India's multi-billion-dollar out-sourcing industry has made skilled IT workers harder to find and keep, especially in the call centers, where attrition rates can reach 35% a year."
Stephanie Overby _CIO_
The Future of Jobs & Innovation
"By 2008, the IT work-force situated in the United States will be 25% smaller than it is today, according to Gartner. But the workers who remain will be more important to the business than ever. They'll be working on architecture, strategy, project management and business processes, predicts Lance Travis, vice president of out-sourcing strategics for AMR Research... Sun Microsystems... CIO H. William Howard says, rattling off cities from Bangalore to Beijing where his IT staff resides... Howard employs about 75% of the IT staff he used to. By 2010, he expects to outsource 50% of non-core activities... Diane Morello, a vice president and research director at Gartner, predicts that those who remain in the field will become 'IT versatilists, equally at ease with technical and business issues'. Travis of AMR Research calls them 50/50 professionals... Despite downward pressure on U.S. IT salaries (the average compensation for tech workers grew just 1.7% from 2001 to 2002, while inflation was 2.2%, according to the Economic Policy Institute), experts expect wages to stabilize... Once the number of jobs available to skilled U.S. IT workers dips below a certain level and the salaries being offered hit rock bottom, 'Americans just aren't going to go into the profession anymore.', Matloff says. And that bodes ill for CIOs' ability to get the job done at their companies and for their own future clout in corporate America. Wholesale off-shore out-sourcing would also be a disaster for America's leadership in IT innovation."
2003-12-15 21:13PST (2003-12-16 00:13EST) (2003-12-16 05:13GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Yew Year Hiring Out-Look More Cheery
"More employers intend to add jobs in the first three months of 2004, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey. The expected net employment gain of 13% would top the 10% projected for this fourth quarter. And it'll be the first time in 5 years that the first-quarter outlook exceeds fourth-quarter hiring plans, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Manpower [one of the top 3 US bodyshops] surveys almost 16K U.S. companies on their hiring plans each quarter. The seasonally adjusted net employment figure is derived from the percentage of employers planning job increases minus those intending decreases. While the current net employment outlook is still far from the 24% cited for the first quarter of 2001, it's also much improved over the 7% out-look of the first quarter 2002. The current outlook almost equals employers' intentions for first-quarter 2003, when the net employment out-look was 14%... And on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, hiring plans dropped slightly, with 20% of employers planning job increases for the first quarter of 2004, compared with 22% who expected to add jobs for the fourth quarter 2003. 13% of employers planned to cut jobs in the first quarter, up from 11% in the fourth quarter, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis... Meanwhile, LaborReady, another [body shop], reported a strong hiring outlook for temporary manual laborers."
2003-12-15 22:15PST (2003-12-16 01:15EST) (2003-12-16 06:15GMT)
Australian Astronomers Discover Gaseous Border to Milky Way
"CSIRO scientist Naomi McClure-Griffiths said the gas border is 6,500 light years thick, showed the Milky Way had a structure similar to those of most other galaxies, which have gassy spiral arms extending beyond the more central stellar spiral arms. Astronomers believe the Milky Way has about 4 arms made up of hydrogen gas, dust and stars spiraling out from its center. McClure-Griffiths said the newly discovered gas border is about 60K light years from the center of the Milky Way. A light year is the distance that light travels in a year, which is about 6T miles."
2003-12-16 05:33PST (08:33EST) (13:33GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US CPI down 0.2% in November
"Prices for consumer goods fell 0.2%, the largest drop since April, in November after remaining unchanged in the prior month, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The so-called core rate of inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, fell 0.1% in November, following a 0.2% increase the prior month. This is the first decline in the core rate since December 1982."
2003-12-16 06:15PST (09:15EST) (14:15GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US Industrial Production Increases 0.9% in November
"the fastest pace in four years, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. Capacity utilization rose to 75.7% from 75.1%, the highest in more than a year. Utility output rose 1.4% while manufacturing output rose 0.9%. Business equipment output rose 1.7%, led by machinery and information technology equipment. Output of consumer goods rose 0.4% despite a 0.1% drop in automobile production."
2003-12-16 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Casey Wians _CNN_
Should illegal aliens be able to vote?
"The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center has released a study laying out a road map for securing voting rights for non-citizens, including illegal aliens. Voting rights attorney and UCLA law school lecturer Joaquin Avila wrote the paper... Avila points out that non-citizens are the majority in a dozen California cities and more than a quarter of the population in 85."
Officials at Foundry Face Health & Safety Charges
"Senior managers of a New Jersey foundry owned by McWane Inc., the nation's largest manufacturer of cast-iron pipe, conspired for years to violate workplace safety and environmental laws and then obstructed repeated government inquiries by lying, intimidating workers into silence and systematically altering accident scenes, according to a sweeping federal indictment unsealed here on Monday... When one worker, Alfred E. Coxe, was struck and killed by a fork-lift with a history of brake problems, the indictment stated, the McWane managers 'took steps to conceal facts' and instructed one employee to 'provide a misleading account' to hide the plant's faulty forklifts from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The managers took other steps to evade regulators, the indictment asserted. They falsified injury logs, submitted false pollution monitoring reports and burned incriminating evidence in the foundry's cupola, a furnace that turns scrap metal into molten iron."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Congress to Consider Nationalizing Pension Funds
"About 35M Americans are covered by traditional pension plans paid for by a single company, and about 9.5M people participate in these multi-employer plans. When one company in such a [multi-employer] plan goes out of business, the surviving companies have to make good on its pension promises. In trucking, many companies have disappeared since the industry was deregulated in 1980... the Central States pension fund, owed $31G to about 460K workers and retirees at the end of 2002. It had just $18.5G in assets. UPS, which had $31G in sales last year, is the fourth-largest employer in the private sector in the United States, trailing Wal-Mart, General Motors and McDonald's... The government guarantees pensions up to about $44K a year when a single-employer plan fails."
Jennifer Alsever _Denver Colorado Post_
Jobs exiled from US give rise to activism: Grass-roots campaign presses congress to act (with graph)
"A Denver computer programmer, Armstrong has been laid off 3 times and each time replaced by foreign workers. Outraged that U.S. companies move more jobs and then create them in such countries as India and [Red China], Armstrong started organizing. Now, 100K people are writing members of Congress, urging them to do something to stem the tide of exported jobs... Corporate executives, meanwhile, fear the stumping by politicians will lead to knee-jerk protectionist legislation penalizing companies that [abuse] off-shore workers... Jeff Lande, spokesman for the Information Technology Association of America. His group is lobbying Congress aggressively on the issue for such companies as M$ Corp. and IBM, both of which use off-shore workers."
_Standard-Times_/_Dallas Texas Morning News_/_South Coast Today_
Experts debating future of IT careers
"'The industry has been hollering about a shortage of high-tech people for half a century, and that's not an exaggeration.', said Richard Ellis, who worked on an engineering work-force commission in the 1950s and is now head of Ellis Research Services in Pennsylvania. Ellis and others contend that demand for information technology workers has been permanently reduced, because more companies are sending entry- and mid-level tech jobs over-seas... Technology may become more pervasive, but there are already more than enough people available to create that technology, Ellis said. He [along with B. Lindsay Lowell] recently released the latest in a series of reports over the last several years on the IT work force (http://www.cpst.org/ITWF_Report.cfm). [Their] report notes that IT employment, which more than tripled from 1983 to 2.5M jobs in 2000, has since fallen by 150K. And a Gartner Inc. study shows that 10% of professional IT jobs in tech firms and 5% in non-tech firms will be sent over-seas by the end of 2004. 'The United States does not lack -- either now or in the foreseeable future -- sufficient numbers of capable people who would like to work in IT.', Ellis wrote. 'But those people may not be willing to conclude that long-run demands for their services will be good enough to support IT as a sensible career choice.' Paul Kostek, past president of IEEE-USA and 2003 chairman of the American Association of Engineering Societies, says the future of IT employment is cloudy. 'As an engineer who has had to reinvent myself a dozen times during a 24-year career in order to stay competitive, I have to ask myself if an over-seas competitor in Belarus, Beijing or Bangalore possesses the same skills that I do. And if proximity isn't important and if they'll work for $800 a month, then why hire me at $8K a month?', Kostek wrote in the October issue of The IEEE Monitor."
2003-12-16 20:15PST (23:15EST) (2003-12-17 04:15GMT)
Alex Veiga _AP_/_St. Louis Missouri Post-Dispatch_
Unions Want Boycott for Grocery Clerks
San Jose California Mercury News
"Union leaders plan to urge members to boycott North American stores owned by Safeway Inc. in support of 70K grocery clerks who've been on strike for two months in Southern California. 'We want to empty those stores.', said Doug Dority, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, on Tuesday. 'We want to make sure these cash registers are empty.' Safeway, Albertsons Inc. and Kroger Co. are locked in the dispute with their Southern California workers over the cost of health care coverage and other issues. Union leaders have said they consider Safeway the leader of the management side. In some cases, the UFCW also planned to extend picket lines to Safeway stores outside the region in an attempt to keep employees from reporting to work, said UFCW national spokesman Greg Denier."
2003-12-17 14:51PST (17:51EST) (22:51GMT)
Matt Andrejczak & Chris Kraeuter _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Former Micron Exec Pleads Guilty of Obstruction
"A former executive for Micron Technology agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a grand-jury investigation into suspected price-fixing in the memory chip market, the Justice Department said Wednesday. Alfred Censullo, a former regional sales manager for Micron, was charged in a San Francisco federal court with altering and concealing documents about competitor pricing information for dynamic random access memory products, or DRAMs."
2003-12-17 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Kelly Arena & Peter Viles & Bill Tucker & Lisa Sylvester _CNN_
assassin, out-sourcing, off-shoring
"Tonight, a judge said John Hinckley, the man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981 can make unsupervised visits to see his parents, but the judge said Hinckley will not be allowed to stay with his parents overnight and he must remain within 50 miles of Washington... the Secret Service will be alerted when he leaves hospital grounds... Marcus Courtney of WashTech: 'It makes absolutely no sense that our state government is using tax-payer dollars to create high-tech jobs in India when high-tech workers not only in Washington State but throughout the country face double-digit unemployment.' The Washington State deal is a small disaster. It's 5 months behind schedule. The winning bid was so low that Health Axis is now telling investors it will lose money on the deal... Officially, Danbury's home to 175K people and unofficially to another 15K illegal aliens. They were drawn by a strong economy and plentiful demand for cheap labor, word of which is talked about in communities as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil. But the large number of illegal aliens is creating problems for the city and its tax-payers. Mayor Mark Broughton: 'It's a large health issue. Many of the young children that come here have not been immunized. We had -- we've had in years past cases of tuberculosis, cases of sort of third-world diseases that have -- people have not been inoculized against when they've come here to Connecticut, and we've had to deal with those... I do think that the federal government has got to deal with this issue. In a post-9/11 world, it's critical to know who's among us. If 400 residents from a small town in Ecuador can come to Danbury, undocumented, unaccounted for and not tracked, think about how easy it can be for members of al Qaeda and terrorist cells to come into Danbury or any other community in the United States.' There is a lack of affordable housing for low-income workers, some people in town taking advantage of those workers by renting out their garages for $1,500 a month off the books. One of the places that the strain is the most evident is here in the city schools... Growers, those hiring illegal aliens in the Southwest, are really saying to the taxpayer, You take care of the health benefits. You take care of the police burdens and education burdens. We're going to have cheap labor, and we're going to exploit the situation... Roy Beck of NumbersUSA: 'We've got 18M Americans who cannot find a full-time job right now. The economy has adjusted to the fact that these 8M to 10M to 12M illegal workers and their families are in the country, but it's been something that's been harmful for the economy as a whole.'... U.S. trade negotiators are quite pleased. They managed to hammer out a deal that they say will open new Central American markets to American businesses... Under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, duties on more than 80% of consumer and industrial products will be eliminated... Large multi-national corporations stand to gain, but textile groups say CAFTA will cost them hundreds of thousands of jobs and could be catastrophic to their industries. One provision, for instance, allows some of the Central American countries to buy yarn from [Red China] and other Asian countries at rock-bottom prices and sell the finished products in the United States. The union of Needle Trades, Industrial and Textile Workers say they'll be shut out of the United States, their own market... Sugar beet farmers are also bracing for a flood of imports. The Central American countries turn out 2M tons of sugar annually, more than the U.S. is currently importing... today marks the 100th anniversary of Wilbur and Orville Wright's historic flight manned flight from the beaches of Kittyhawk, NC."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
Red China's Labor Problems
"I've been searching for the limits of freedom on this visit to [Red China], and I found them here on Saturday - when the authorities detained me. '[Red China] is a country of laws.', explained one of the 3 government officials who accosted me here outside the home of Yao Fuxin, an imprisoned labor leader. 'We must go somewhere else to talk.'... I had come to this gritty industrial city, 375 miles northeast of Beijing, to investigate labor unrest, potentially one of [Red China's] biggest challenges. Last year, thousands of workers from 20 factories took to the streets in Liaoyang, protesting official corruption and demanding unemployment payments, pensions and back pay. Last May, the authorities sentenced Mr. Yao to seven years, and another protest leader, Xiao Yunliang, to four years. Presumably because of beatings, Mr. Xiao appeared to be blind at the sentencing and was unable to recognize family members... 'So your interviews must go through State Council rules and local officials. You must go through the procedures for this to be legal. So interviews now are impossible. But you are welcome to come back to Liaoyang any time as a tourist.'... they put one goon in my taxi and sent another carload to escort us to the Shenyang airport and wait there until we boarded a plane to Shanghai. My son was tailed in the airport as he went to get an ice cream... Americans are resentful about job losses that they blame on the Chinese export behemoth, but [Red China] is also full of millions of laid-off workers - and they are getting angrier and bolder. Last month alone, according to China Labor Bulletin, 1K taxi drivers took to the streets in the city of Dazhou, protesting the cancellation of taxi permits; some 10K workers blocked roads and rail lines in Xiangfan to protest job losses arising from privatization; and 2K teachers in Suizhou rallied to demand salary increases... It will have to learn that strikes and protests can be a sign of a country's strength and freedom, not weakness and chaos... But a great power cannot go around crushing peaceful protests and torturing labor leaders. It is disgraceful that 'People's China' goes around locking up people like Mr. Xiao and beating his wife unconscious at his sentencing hearing - and holding family members of labor leaders incommunicado."
2003-12-17 15:02PST (18:02EST) (23:02GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bogus on-line ads put job seekers at risk
"She checked the company's Web site and exchanged e-mails with its chief executive, who offered details on how the business operated. She was told she could open shipments to repack them, which assured her she could keep an eye on the contents, so when the company faxed an employment contract, she accepted the position. All went well, until 30 days passed and she wasn't paid, despite company e-mails assuring her a check would arrive. That prompted her to investigate. An e-mail message to a law enforcement agency in Latvia, where the company was based, revealed that hers was the fifth inquiry seeking information on fake businesses at the same address. When she learned the destination for the packages -- Minsk, Belarus -- was a country threatened with U.S. trade sanctions because of human rights abuses, and that the nation's leader had reportedly offered refuge to Saddam Hussein in the days before the Iraq war, she wasn't just angry... The boxes she shipped contained laptops, global positioning systems, and a mapping device containing geographical details of the U.S. (Against the company's instructions, she detailed the boxes' contents on shipping labels, and U.S. customs returned them. She has since given them to the police.)"
2003-12-18 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Thomas Stengle _Department of Labor_
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 411,081 in the week ending December 13, a decrease of 75,048 from the previous week. There were 486,258 initial claims in the comparable week in 2002. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6% during the week ending December 6, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,319,014, a decrease of 75,254 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.8% and the volume was 3,543,993. Extended benefits were available in Alaska, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington during the week ending November 29. 53 states reported that 807,763 individuals filed continued claims under the Federal Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program during the week ending November 29. Initial claims for UI benefits by former Federal civilian employees totaled 2,517 in the week ending December 6, an increase of 1,249 from the prior week. There were 2,371 initial claims by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 1,359 from the preceding week. There were 23,384 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending November 29, an increase of 4,029 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 25,188, an increase of 2,848 from the prior week. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending November 29 were in Alaska (6.3%), Puerto Rico (4.7), Oregon (4.3), Washington (4.1), Wisconsin (3.8), Idaho (3.7), Michigan (3.7), Pennsylvania (3.6), Arkansas (3.4), and California (3.4). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 6 were in Pennsylvania (+19,492), California (+16,565), North Carolina (+14,790), New York (+11,322), and Georgia (+10,155), while the largest decreases were in Wisconsin (-8,757), Texas (-3,084), Idaho (-1,016), Louisiana (-841), and Arkansas (-456)."
2003-12-18 05:48PST (08:48EST) (13:48GMT)
_San Diego Daily Transcript_/_Yahoo!_
Centre City Development Corp asks developer for hotel design changes
"GRH Inc., a local developer, is asking the city to flex its power of eminent domain to free up a 5,104-square-foot parcel on the corners of Fifth Avenue and J Streets for the construction of a 40,104-square-foot Renaissance Hotel."
2003-12-18 06:23PST (09:23EST) (14:23GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Weekly unemployment compensation insurance claims drop
"The average number of people filing for unemployment insurance for the first time fell 2,250 to 361,750 over the last 4 weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday. In the latest week, the number of people filing for initial claims dropped 22K to 353K... Read the full report... he average total number of workers over the past 4 weeks still collecting jobless benefits fell 34K to 3.33M, the lowest number since 2001 September... The insured unemployment remained unchanged at 2.6%."
2003-12-18 07:59:33PST (10:59:33EST) (15:59:33GMT)
Stephanie Armour _USA Today_
US workers feel burn of long hours and less leisure
"A back-lash is building against America's work epidemic. More employees are resisting companies' demands for longer hours on the job, the 24/7 pace of business that means operations never cease, and the surrender of leisure time to work because of new technology such as cell phones and e-mail... Some workers... are suing their companies over alleged over-time violations. In fiscal 2003, the Labor Department collected $212M in back wages, which include overtime violations. That's a 21% increase over the record-setting amount collected in 2002. Some economists also believe that many productivity gains of the 1990s can be attributed to longer work hours rather than the efficiency of new technology... U.S. workers put in an average of 1,815 hours in 2002. In major European economies, hours worked ranged from about 1,300 to 1,800, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Hours were about the same in the USA as in Japan. Combined weekly work hours for dual-earning couples with children rose 10 hours per week, from 81 hours in 1977 to 91 hours in 2002, according to a new study by the New York-based Families and Work Institute... A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that mandatory over-time costs industry as much as $300G a year in stress- and fatigue-related problems... Government data on hours worked don't capture time put in off the job, such as during weekends, or after-hours work that many salaried employees do on lap-tops, cell phones and e-mail... Employees are handing companies more than $21G in unused vacation days each year, according to a study by Expedia.com."
2003-12-18 09:40PST (12:40EST) (17:40GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Factory orders up in Philadelphia region
"The Philly Fed's business activity index soared to 32.1 in December from 25.9 in November, much higher than the 27.3 expected by economists surveyed by CBS MarketWatch... This is the strongest reading of the business activity index since 1993 December, the bank said... The new orders index jumped to 41.8 in December, the highest level in 23 years. Shipments rose to 41.1 in December from 26.8 in November... The employment index rose to 21.9 in December from 3.3 in November. Manufacturing executives are less optimistic about the longer term. The expectations index fell to 52.3 from 63.4 in November."
2003-12-18 10:32PST (13:32EST) (18:32GMT)
Leslie Haggin Geary _CNN_/_Money_
Vanishing Jobs: Structural change in the economy means many jobs are never going to come back
"Computer programmers and software engineers employed today: 905,370; will be employed in 2015: 669974... Since 2001, some 2.9M private sector jobs have been lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics... By 2015, 26% of those [programming] jobs will be gone, says McCarthy... In Washington, for example, the state's Health Care Authority recently awarded a $3M job to contractor Health Access, which out-sourced computer-programming jobs to India. The HCA needed to upgrade a computer system used to track participant's in the state's insurance program. It wanted $5.4M to get the job done but state law-makers granted a budget of $3.6M for the task, said agency spokesman Dave Wasser... Of the 2.9M private-sector jobs that have been lost since 1991, a full 2.56M are from manufacturing... One out of every 3 textile jobs, like those at Pillowtex, that were filled back in 1997 ñ when some 656K workers were employed by the industry ñ is now gone, according to Labor Department figures. This year alone, the industry shed 49,500 jobs... Since 1994, the apparel industry has shrunk by 35% -- from 848,800 jobs to 550,900 jobs today, Labor Department figures show."
2003-12-18 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Deborah Feyerick & Casey Wian & Bill Tucker _CNN_
broken borders, exporting america
"law-makers want local police to help enforce immigration laws. Police chiefs say the federal government must first secure the country's borders... Authorities formally charged the singer Michael Jackson with seven counts of child molestation... The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said the Bush administration does not have power to detain terror suspect Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber... In the 2-1 decision, the justices found that the president does not have the constitutional power, in their words, to detain, as an enemy combatant, an American citizen seized on American soil outside a zone of combat... The fear: If cops start acting as immigration agents, immigrants will stop cooperating in criminal investigations. The proposed CLEAR Act would deny federal money to local law enforcement agencies who, in the course of their normal duties, fail to enforce immigration laws. It calls for $1G a year in aid to local departments complying with the law and allows them to keep half the assets seized from illegal aliens. It also provides money to deport criminal aliens in local jails, like Orange County's, where illegal aliens are 14% of the jail population... In March of 2001, the manufacturing sector employed 13% of working Americans. As of last month, it employed 11%. And as the manufacturing sector has declined, American workers across the board have seen real wages decline. The average hourly wage of $8.85 in 1973 fell to an average hourly wage of $8.30 this year, adjusted for inflation... over the past 30 years, while this country has been listening to people talk, economists, CEOs, whomever, talk about productivity, we've actually seen earnings decline for workers in this country... NAFTA has cost us 700K jobs lost in the last decade."
Frank Green _San Diego California Union-Tribune_
Boycott becomes "shop-out" for technical legal reasons
"'It's not a boycott, we're just urging people not to shop at Safeway.', said United Food and Commercial Workers Union spokeswoman Ellen Anreder. 'The word boycott has a whole slew of legal problems.' On Tuesday, the UFCW announced a 'shop-out' against the Pleasanton-based chain's 1,480 stores in the United States and 215 outlets in western Canada... Many labor agreements have language that forbids members from engaging in strikes or boycotts during the term of the contract, said Ted Scott, a lawyer with Luce Forward Hamilton and Scripps in San Diego who specializes in labor law. Safeway could contend that a boycott violated those provisions and file grievance actions or a breach of contract law-suit against the union locals, Scott said... Besides relying on all of organized labor's 16M U.S. members, the UFCW also would have to mobilize a wide base of consumers in order to exert effective pressure, analysts said... Albertsons said December 5 that it lost an estimated $132M in sales during the first 19 days of the dispute. Kroger recently announced that its third-quarter earnings fell 57 percent as many Southern California consumers defected to rivals... Kroger's worse-than-expected results came despite a spike in sales at regional Ralphs stores after the UFCW pulled picket lines at the chain October 31 in a divide-and-conquer tactic... In letters to the companies, CalPERS official Rob Feckner called on the chains to negotiate in good faith with the UFCW to provide health benefits to enhance both employee productivity and shareholder value. CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund, has a $77M investment stake in Safeway, a $71M investment in Kroger, and a $31M holding in Albertsons. Analysts noted that Safeway alone is capitalized to the tune of $9G and that CalPERS' stake in the chain is relatively small."
Jeff Nachtigal _WashTech_
Law-Suit Raises Questions About New Jersey Politicians
"A 5-year wait for 2 software programmers who were granted federal class-action status in their law-suit against a software company with ties to a U.S. Senator may be nearing a close. Sona Shah and Kai Barrett allege that Wilco Systems, Inc., a financial services company based in New York, discriminated against its employees based on their citizenship and immigration status. Shah and Barrett say they filed the law-suit on behalf of U.S. workers who are discriminated against in favor of foreign workers, and on behalf of foreign H-1B visa workers who are paid less than the prevailing wage for U.S. workers with similar qualifications... The case also casts a shadow over 4-term U.S. senator Frank L. Lautenberg (D-NJ), founder and former board member of Advanced Data Processing, Inc., the parent company of Wilco. In 2002 ADP, Inc. reported over $7G in revenue. Sen. Lautenberg's alleged inaction on H-1B and L-1 visa issues, combined with the steady out-sourcing of jobs to foreign countries from his state, have frustrated New Jersey 'IT' workers, who have seen their state gutted by the out-sourcing of high-tech jobs over the past five years."
Ron Hira _Northern Virginia Technology Council_
Shifting IT Resources Off-Shore
"Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM, is the co-Chair of the Council on Competitiveness' New Initiative on Innovation (NII). At the kick-off of the NII, Mr. Palmisano announced that IBM was setting aside $200M to re-train 100K of its workers. Sounds like a lot of money until you do the math and figure out that it is $2K per trainee, about the cost of a college course. My sense is that proponents of education and retraining are vastly under-estimating the cost and more importantly the difficulty in re-training... This process of exploiting the lax visa regulations has actually accelerated the process of off-shoring and off-shore out-sourcing. Many of the off-shore out-sourcing and off-shoring business models rely very heavily on H-1Bs and L-1s. It is long over-due for Congress to align the law and enforcement to its and the American people's intent on guest-worker visas. The visas should be used as a last resort, not a first choice for cheap labor. With current IT and engineering unemployment rates, it is unfathomable that industry is likely to use up its quota of H-1Bs for FY 2004 and are lobbying for a higher quota and laxer regulations... The current H-1B and L-1 system is tantamount to dumping, defined by the U.S. International Trade Commission as, 'the sale or likely sale of goods at less than fair value'. In this case, companies are bringing in labor from abroad and selling it at below fair value."
2003-12-19 04:55PST (07:55EST) (12:55GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
"More Americans are taking working vacations, but they're not getting paid. Instead, they're laboring as unpaid volunteers."
2003-12-19 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs & Lisa Sylvester & Bill Tucker & Peter Viles _CNN_
Libya pledges to dismangle WMD program
"Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, has publicly announced he will disclose and dismantle all of his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs... The University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, is saddled with $6 million to $10 million a year in unpaid bills for treatments ranging from delivering babies to trauma. By law, the hospital cannot turn away anyone who is in need of emergency services. But what administrators have started to do is to send a letter to immigration authorities when a non-citizen tries to skip out of paying a bill... As part of the Medicare bill, Congress appropriated $1G to hospitals to help pay for uninsured immigrants for the next four years. But this money is just a drop in the bucket. When you take into account legal and illegal noncitizens who don't intend to leave the United States, the cost sky-rockets to $4G to $8G a year... University Medical Center has several programs in Mexico to help train physicians to improve health care there, so non-citizens won't have to cross the border. But one of these training programs, Lou, has been going on for 18 years and the hospital is still facing the same problem... America's population now growing at almost 8K people per day, nearly half of them immigrants, both legal and illegal, those estimates from the Census Bureau, which show the nation's population growing at 1 percent per year... the population grew by 2.8M people in the year ending last July, now stands at 290.8M. Allowing for those immigrants who left the country, net immigration, estimated at 1.3M in the year. In the 1990s, the Census Bureau estimated net immigration at 820K per year, those estimates now known to be far too low. Many see the United States as a crowded nation already, noting urban sprawl, traffic problems in countless large cities and believe the nation's population growth is simply too high for a developed country... States with the highest rate of population growth from immigration, California, immigrants adding eight-tenths of a percentage point in population growth in one year, New York and New Jersey, seven-tenths, Florida, six-tenths of a percentage point growth... Americans are actually moving out of those states; 94K people moved out of California last year; 170K moved out of New York..."
2003-12-19 15:09PST (18:09EST) (23:09GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks closed mixed, Dow higher
"U.S. stocks closed mixed Friday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to close at a new high for 2003... The Dow ended up 30 points at 10,278, its highest level of the year and up 23% since January. The NASDAQ Composite Index slid 5 points, to 1,951, and the S&P 500 fell less than a point to 1,089... [Thursday] the Dow closed above 10,200 for the first time since 2002 mid-May... Advancing issues topped decliners by a 17 to 16 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange, while decliners out-paced gainers on Nasdaq 17 to 15. More than 1.5G shares had changed hands on the Big Board, while volume stood at just about 1.75G shares on the NASDAQ."
Bob Roser _Working Wounded_/_Booz Allen Hamilton_
CEOs Losing Job Security
"70% more CEOs lost their jobs in 2002 than in the previous year. 39% of CEO departures were involuntary last year, compared to 25% in the previous year. North America led the world with 48% of all sucessions."
Neil A. Lewis & William Glaberson _NY Times_
US Courts Reject Detention Policy in 2 Terror Cases
"A divided federal appeals court in New York ruled yesterday that President Bush lacked the authority to detain indefinitely a United States citizen arrested on American soil on suspicion of terrorism simply by declaring him 'an enemy combatant'. Within hours, a second federal appeals court, based in San Francisco, also in a divided ruling, declared that the administration's policy of imprisoning some 660 noncitizens captured in the Afghan war on a naval base in Guant·namo Bay, Cuba, without access to United States legal protections was unconstitutional as well as a violation of international law."
David Brancaccio & Sylvia Chase & Dan Klein & Bill Moyers _National Socialist Television_
Is WM using your tax dollars to subsidize its costs?
"[W<] gets 100M shoppers a week... Its stuff is cheap because the company takes a tough line on what it pays its suppliers for their goods and its employees for their labor... Some super-market chains - girding for the new competition - have asked their workers for give-backs. The result has been a bitter strike involving 70K grocery workers, now coming into its third month... the corporation shifts financial burdens to tax-payers. Health care is one of them. Consider this contrast: Unionized super-market workers pay little or nothing [out of take-home pay] for their health plans and have an average hourly wage of $10.35 per hour. WM workers earn about 25% less... a reported $8.23 per hour... its not enough to afford the roughly $250 it costs each month for WM's family medical plan... Without insurance, many end up at the county hospital... According to the Institute for Labor and Employment at the University of California/Berkeley, in 2002, Wal-Mart workers in California relied on 50% more taxpayer funded health care per employee than those at other large retail companies. Put another way, tax-payers subsidized $20.5M-worth of medical care for WM in California alone... 'A' is appealing his dismissal from WM at the National Labor Relations Board. He says Wal-Mart accuses him of insubordination, violation of company policy and solicitation for the union. The United Food and Commercial Workers has also recruited many former Wal-Mart managers, representing decades of insider information about the company... WM puts that figure [per cent of WM employees who get health insurance benefits from the company] at closer to 50%, but Fortune also says that WM viewed health care as just another item in the budget that had to be cut... So putting it in plain language you had to get rid of some workers. You had to replace them with part-time workers. You had to keep your workers un-eligible for health insurance coverage... managers were expected to refer employees to seek public assistance. It's policy, he says, he was taught at company head-quarters... this flyer was in his WM pay envelope. Labelled 'Instructions for associates', it provides step by step instructions to employees applying for social services and lists a Web site and 1-800 number... In Contra Costa County, supervisors were in the drafting phase of an ordinance to ban stores that big when the Board of Supervisors Chairman, Mark DeSaulnier received a visit at his restaurant from WM's lobbyist... WM would go over the heads of elected officials and drive bargain-conscious shoppers to the ballot box. They paid an estimated $100K for a Sacramento firm, professional signature gatherers. In short order, Wal-Mart had made it onto the 2004 March ballot. It's a tactic that works... MD: 'So it's creating more pressure on our local infrastructure. And that's why just as a good planning tool, we don't think we should have these. They can't, from a business model, pay for the impacts they have on the community.' Retail Forward, a research firm that includes Wal-Mart among its clients, predicts that every new super-center will drive 2 local supermarkets out of business. Another study says that in Southern California alone, such failures could result in an annual loss of $500M or more in wages and benefits... But just as Cathedral City made good on its end of the $1.8M deal with Wal-Mart came a rude surprise: Wal-Mart is closing in Cathedral City and opening 3 new stores down the road."
_Fort Wayne Indiana News-Sentinel_/_Miami Florida Herald_
Fort Wayne, IN, Continues Efforts to Buy Mall Property
"Fort Wayne, as it continued efforts to buy Southtown Mall through eminent domain, met a Thursday court deadline to submit appraisal proposals. The city wants to pay $2.75M for the mall property."
John M. Broder _NY Times_
Schwarzenegger Continues to Up-Set "Government As Usual"
"The rapid-fire actions and the abrupt change in the governor's tone left heads spinning in Sacramento, particularly among Democrats who are used to having their way in the capital... Other people with less of a stake in the battles find Mr. Schwarzenegger's brawny approach refreshing after 5 years of Mr. Davis..."
Nicholas D. Kristof _NY Times_
The Red China Threat
"No, what troubles me, as one who loves China and is rooting for it to succeed, is the growing nationalism that the government has cultivated among young people... The reasons for rising Chinese nationalism are complex and include a justified anger at Japan's reluctance to apologize for war atrocities. But one factor is the way the Chinese government has been pushing nationalist buttons in an effort to create a new national glue to hold the country together as ideology dissolves. By constantly excoriating the Japanese nationalists of the 1930s, they are emulating them."
David Brooks _NY Times_
The Ownership Society
"He said things were going well. Orders were up. He'd revamped his I.T. system, and he'd re-engineered his production process so he'd been able to reduce his work force to 7,200 from 9,800... The economy is doing well, but because of enormous productivity gains, it is not yet producing enough jobs to sharply reduce unemployment and ensure President Bush's re-election... Back in the early 1990s, economists [according to Okun's Law] expected that the economy had to grow faster than 2.6% to create jobs. Today, because of productivity gains, growth rates have to be much higher... This is a bundle of proposals that treat workers as self-reliant pioneers who rise through several employers and careers. To thrive, these pioneers need survival tools. They need to own their own capital reserves, their own retraining programs, their own pensions and their own health insurance [and a steady stream of clients]."
2003-12-20 21:01PST (2003-12-21 00:01EST) (2003-12-21 05:01GMT)
Chuck Jaffe _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
8th Annual Lump of Coal Awards
"Lumps of Coal are given to managers, executives, industry watchdogs for attitude, performance, action or behavior that is offensive, disingenuous, reprehensible, or just plain stupid. It takes more than wretched performance to earn a bituminous bangle and, this year, it takes more than being named in the latest scandal, although all of the scandalized firms are deserving... Me (It's my first Lump of Coal), for my worst bit of writing at precisely the wrong time. Three days before New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer fired the first Howitzer in the current scandals, I wrote a column critical of the industry's disclosure standards. In an otherwise-fine column, I included a line that said 'The fund industry has been virtually devoid of scandal through its nearly 80-year history.' Shame on me for publishing that bit of industry rhetoric. You deserved better... Being touched by legal woes is not enough to earn coal (scorn and permanent ridicule, maybe); in fact, the supposed good guys earned their share of carbon."
2003-12-21 11:19PST (14:19EST) (19:19GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US terror alert level raised to "high"/orange: Intelligence experts cite increased "chatter"
"The U.S. government Sunday raised its "terror alert" to orange, the second-highest level, amid concerns about potential attacks during the holiday season. Just a few days ago, American security officials indicated the level probably wouldn't be raised. They now say increased 'chatter' among followers of Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists, as gleaned by U.S. intelligence, raised concerns about possible fresh attacks. 'Information indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating near-term attacks that they believe will rival or exceed the scope and impact of those we experienced in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania more than 2 years ago.', Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on Sunday."
2003-12-21 15:07PST (18:07EST) (23:07GMT)
Joshua Robin _NewsDay_
Neighborhood Activists Protest Brooklyn Arena Plan
"A coalition of Brooklyn residents opposed to a proposed Nets stadium in the borough said Sunday that arena developers low-balled the number of families that would be displaced in the construction. Instead of 100 people being relocated, about 1K would see their homes razed, coalition members said in asking city officials to scrap support for the $2.5G complex... 'We have done a census.', said City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene), flanked by about 100 people at a City Hall news conference. 'These are the children whose lives will be drastically affected by the abuse of eminent domain.'... The arena plans include a proposal for the building of 4,500 affordable residential units, covering 4.4 million square feet. Officials said the complex would not require public financing, but tax revenues could be pumped back into the arena. Critics have argued that local residents wouldn't see the proceeds."
Amy Harmon _NY Times_
Lost? Hiding? Your Cellular Phone Is Keeping Tabs for Big Bro
"families and employers are adopting surveillance technology once used mostly to track soldiers and prisoners. New electronic services with names like uLocate and Wherify Wireless make a very personal piece of information for cell-phone users - physical location - harder to mask. But privacy advocates say the lack of legal clarity about who can gain access to location information poses a serious risk. And some users say the technology threatens an everyday autonomy that is largely taken for granted. The devices, they say, promote the scrutiny of small decisions - where to have lunch, when to take a break, how fast to drive - rather than general accountability... cellular phones are increasingly coming with a built-in tether. A federal mandate that wireless carriers be able to locate callers who dial 911 automatically by late 2005 means that millions of phones already keep track of their owners' whereabouts. Analysts predict that as many as 42M Americans will be using some form of 'location-aware' technology in 2005."
Stephanie Strom _NY Times_
A Deficit of $100M Is Confronting the NRA
"Costly legal and political battles in the last decade have left the organization with the deficit and reopened a bitter debate within the group about how to manage its money... Shalom L. Kohn, a legal expert on non-profits and bankruptcy, agreed that the deficit was of no consequence. 'It sounds like these deficits are a book figure representing all their memberships.', he said. 'It doesn't really mean anything.'... NRA officials refused to say what those initiatives have cost. 'Not as much as The New York Times and other media spent promoting McCain-Feingold.', said Bill Powers, a spokesman."
Timothy Ferris _NY Times_
A New Path-Way to the Stars
"Thirty-three years after the Wright brothers flew, paying customers were snoozing in berths aboard commercial airliners; 33 years after that, men walked on the Moon. Yet today, a third of a century after NASA's lunar triumph, we're down to a fleet of three grounded space shuttles and a low-orbit space station serviced by aging Russian rockets. It's time either to get moving again or to cash in our chips and leave human space exploration to other nations."
2003-12-22 09:26PST (12:26EST) (17:26GMT)
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Settles Enron Fraud Charges
"The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agreed to pay $80M to settle charges it helped fallen energy trader Enron Corp. in accounting fraud. The SEC also said it had sued 3 current and former CIBC executives -- 2 of whom were settling and will pay a total of more than $600K -- in connection with the Enron case... [Enron] went under with about $67G in debt."
2003-12-22 12:27PST (15:27EST) (20:27GMT)
_AP_/_San Diego California Union-Tribune_
"An earth-quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 rocked the California coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco on Monday, but initial reports indicated a few unspecified injuries, a structure collapse and otherwise mostly minor damage. The main shock at 11:16PST was centered 10.7 miles north of Cambria and was immediately followed by at least five aftershocks of magnitude larger than 3.3. The largest, an estimated magnitude - 4.7, hit at 11:26PST, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey."
2003-12-22 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Lou Dobbs & Charles Feldman _CNN_
earth-quake in central California, economy
"the earth-quake occurred about 11:15 Pacific time. And it happened -- its epicenter was about 6 miles northeast of the town of San Simeon... 6.5 quake... Bill Ellsworth of USGS: 'At the present time, we have been recording a large number of earth-quakes in the magnitude 3 to 4 range.'... Greg Mankiw, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors: 'There's still too many Americans looking for work... He inherited a series of shocks, the end of a high-tech bubble, corporate governance scandals, and terrorist attacks. All were sort of negatives, contractionary shocks in the economy... a growing economy means more revenue.'"
Zeev Klein _Globes: Israel's Business Arena_
Retail sales up 1.4%, food sales down 2% in November; Sales by retain chains & stores fell 2.4% for January to November & sales of perishable goods fell by 1.4%
"Sales of principle consumer items fell sharply in 2003 January-November, compared with the corresponding period in 2002, as follows: New car sales were down 11.8%. Sales of durable goods (appliances) were down 22.5%. Sales of housewares and kitchenware were down 24.1%. Sales of textile and clothing products were down 9.1%. Only sales of fuel and energy products rose by 2.7%"
2003-12-22 04:00PST (07:00EST) (12:00GMT)
Jim Hu & Evan Hansen _CNET_
AOL QUIETLY takes passage to India
"America Online is quietly laying the ground-work to hire software engineers in Bangalore, India -- a decision that is sparking some pointed criticism... AOL's plans slipped out on its Web site in a December 10 job posting seeking a global program manager to 'coordinate software development teams' in the United States, Dublin, Ireland, and Bangalore. The posting bothered some people because it appeared at the same time AOL announced it was laying off hundreds of software engineers at its Netscape Communications unit in Mountain View, CA, as well as other West Coast offices... higher-ups at AOL allowed Netscape to falter... The company already operates a call center in Bangalore and has relied on software engineers in India previously through an alliance with Sun Microsystems... More than eight in 10 software companies are exporting their work off-shore this year or next, according to a July study by research firm Sand Hill Group... Gartner predicted that one out of every 10 jobs at U.S. information technology companies will be shuttled abroad by the end of next year. IDC recently estimated that by 2007, 23% of all IT services jobs will be off-shore, up from 5% this year. The figures refer to IT work done for U.S.-based companies."
Mexico: Was NAFTA Worth It
"In the years since NAFTA lowered trade and investment barriers, Delphi has expanded its presence in the country. Today it employs 70K Mexicans, who every day receive up to 70M US-made components to assemble into parts. The wages are not princely by US standards -- an assembly line worker with two years' experience earns about $1.90 an hour. But that's triple Mexico's minimum wage, and Delphi jobs are among the most coveted in Ju·rez... [NAFTA] encompasses 421M people... Mexico's per capita income rose 24%, to just over $4K -- which is roughly 10 times [Red China's]... In an October survey by a leading pollster, only 45% of Mexicans said NAFTA had benefited their economy. That's down from the 68% who in November, 1993, saw the pact as a strong plus... Mexicans also feel shortchanged by globalization. They thought they would be America's biggest workshop. That honor now belongs to [Red China], whose workers often earn a fraction of what Mexicans do... No one feels the China threat more keenly than Daniel Romero, president of the National Council of the Maquiladora Export Industry. Mexico's maquiladora industry, which assembles goods for export using imported parts and components, had been around since the mid-1960s. But it blossomed under NAFTA, with the number of plants rising 67%, to 3,655 in just 7 years. Yet more than 850 factories have shut down since 2000 -- some due to decreased demand for their products in the US, others because companies have relocated production to cheaper spots, especially [Red China]. Maquila employment is down more than 20% from its 2000 October, peak of 1.3M workers. Romero and a group of maquiladora managers traveled to [Red China] last year. They came away dispirited."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
Another State Looks Off-Shore: Sighing of low bidder faces scrutiny in Washington
"A decision by the Washington State Health Care Authority to use off-shore labor for a major IT project was based in part on some pretty simple arithmetic: The contractor's bid was about $3M below the next lowest bid. But the project hasn't worked out as planned. It's running over budget, and an internal state document written in October warns of a "significant risk" that it won't meet the agency's requirements. The project has also prompted state legislation that would effectively bar state agencies from future use of off-shore contractors... But Stan Lepeak, an analyst at Stamford, CT-based Meta Group Inc., said concern about the business knowledge of offshore companies is a common complaint, especially as off-shore firms increasingly take on more complex projects."
Meeting To Be Held To Repeal Issue 47
"The city was counting on Issue 47 to buy more than 50 homes and businesses through eminent domain in order to make room for an up-scale housing and retail development project."
Dwayne Campbell _Philadelphia Pennsylvania Inquirer_
Zoning dispute coming to a head: Owner of golf course wants to sell to developer but Council may be ready to condemn site
"Albert Bader, owner of the Bensalem Country Club, has told the Township Council that he is prepared to sell the property to developers if the township will not agree to a fair price. It could take years - and possibly a court fight - before houses start sprouting from the golf course. The land, in a quiet woodsy section of town, is zoned for recreational use. The township hopes to keep it that way. Tonight, council members are expected to consider condemning the property through eminent domain."
David Barstow _NY Times_
Federal Government Rarely Seeks Charges for Deaths in Work-Place
"Workers decapitated on assembly lines, shredded in machinery, burned beyond recognition, electrocuted, buried alive - all of them killed, investigators concluded, because their employers willfully violated work-place safety laws. These deaths represent the very worst in the American work-place, acts of intentional wrong-doing or plain indifference that kill about 100 workers each year. They were not accidents. They happened because a boss removed a safety device to speed up production, or because a company ignored explicit safety warnings, or because a worker was denied proper protective gear. And for years, in news releases and Congressional testimony, senior officials at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have described these cases as intolerable outrages, 'horror stories' that demanded the agency's strongest response. They have repeatedly pledged to press wherever possible for criminal charges against those responsible. These promises have not been kept. Over a span of 2 decades, from 1982 to 2002, OSHA investigated 1,242 of these horror stories - instances in which the agency itself concluded that workers had died because of their employer's 'willful' safety violations. Yet in 93% of those cases, OSHA declined to seek prosecution, an 8-month examination of workplace deaths by The New York Times has found. What is more, having avoided prosecution once, at least 70 employers willfully violated safety laws again, resulting in scores of additional deaths. Even these repeat violators were rarely prosecuted... OSHA officials... described a bureaucracy that fails to reward, and sometimes penalizes, those who push too hard for prosecution, where aggressive enforcement is suffocated by endless layers of review, where victims' families are frozen out but companies adeptly work the rules in their favor... Since 1990, the agency has quietly down-graded 202 fatality cases from 'willful' to 'unclassified', a vague term favored by defense lawyers in part because it virtually forecloses the possibility of prosecution... For those 2,197 deaths, employers faced $106M in civil OSHA fines and jail sentences totaling less than 30 years, The Times found. Twenty of those years were from one case, a chicken-plant fire in North Carolina that killed 25 workers in 1991. By contrast, one company, WorldCom, recently paid $750M in civil fines for misleading investors."
Steve Lohr _NY Times_
Off-Shoring of Technology Jobs: Opportunity or Threat?
"Walter F. Mondale [asked]: 'What are our kids supposed to do? Sweep up around Japanese computers and sell McDonald's hamburgers the rest of their lives?'... Even in good years, a lot of jobs are lost through lay-offs and business closings - 2.5M jobs in 1999, for example... A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that every dollar of costs that United States companies move off-shore yields a benefit of $1.12 to $1.14 to the American economy, mainly from cost savings and steering workers toward jobs that add more value than those replaced."
_NorthWest Indiana Times_
sales fail to materialize
"The nation's retailers spent a glum weekend before Christmas after a much-hoped for sales bonanza failed to materialize, though business at discounters and luxury stores appeared to be brisk, according to analysts."
Kelly Quigley _Crane's Chicago Illinois Business_
Holiday shoppers cheer Chicago retailers
"Following reports that national retailers were disappointed with last week-end's shopping turn-out, Chicago-area retailers on Monday offered up a healthy dose of optimism, albeit minus specific sales data... Weekend sales results from the mall's major retailers, including Marshall Field's, Nordstrom Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., won't be released until the end of the week, but if mall traffic is any indication, shoppers are buying more than they did last year, Mr. Strich said."
Another Disappointing Week-End for Retailers
"The nation's retailers spent a glum weekend before Christmas after a much-hoped for sales bonanza failed to materialize, though business at discounters and luxury stores appeared to be brisk, according to analysts... Analysts said anecdotal reports suggested traffic and business was heavy over the weekend at discounters and luxury stores. But at mid-priced department stores and mall-based apparel chains, which deepened price cuts on sweaters, jewelry and other items, sales were uneven, continuing the trend seen throughout the season, said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, based in Charleston, SC... In 2002, the last week before Christmas accounted for 41 percent of holiday sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (search). This year, consumers appear to be waiting longer. According to the association's survey, conducted from December 4-10, 10% of the approximate 6,800 consumers polled had completed their shopping, compared with 15% during the same time a year ago."
Thomas Hoffman _Business Week_
Researcher Says Off-Shore Moves Don't Lead to Big US Job Losses
"Nitin Joglekar, an assistant professor of operations and technology management at BU's School of Management, estimated that 15% to 20% of IT workers typically are dismissed when their positions are sent over-seas. But the remainder are given other responsibilities... But Joglekar's findings are based on in-depth statistical analyses of just 5 companies..."
2003-12-23 03:04PST (06:04EST) (11:04GMT)
Christopher Bodeen _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Red China Cracks Down on Unapproved Worship... Again
"Chinese, few of whom are Christians, adopt the holiday as a festive time to shop. But for members of [Red China's] unofficial Christian congregations, this is a season of fear as communist authorities crack down on unauthorized worship, detaining activists and bull-dozing churches... The contrast between the crackdown and the Christmas celebrations highlights Chinese authorities' desire to isolate religious dissenters while exploiting the holiday's commercial potential... [Red China's] government allows worship only in government-monitored churches, temples and mosques. But tens of millions of believers belong to unauthorized churches, where clergy and members are frequently harassed and detained. Official controls on religion stem from government unease that churches could act as a rallying point for opposition and threaten communist rule... outside Hangzhou, about 90 miles southwest of Shanghai. About a dozen churches have been destroyed here since the summer, along with scores of Buddhist temples and Taoist shrines, according to activists and human rights monitors. Three church activists have been arrested on charges of revealing state secrets for talking about the crack-down, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy."
2003-12-23 06:56PST (09:56EST) (14:56GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
UMich Consumer Sentiment Up
"The consumer sentiment index rose to 92.6 in late December from 89.6 in the preliminary December reading, media sources said. The index reached 93.7 in November, its highest level since 2002 May... The current conditions index rose to 97.0 in late December from 93.6 in early December. This is below the 102.5 level in November. The expectations index rose to 89.8 in late December from 87.1 in early December. The expectations index was 88.1 in November."
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
2003-12-23 14:26PST (17:26EST) (22:26GMT)
Matt Andrejczak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Jean-Marie Messier to return $27M as Vivendi Universal settles SEC case
"Vivendi Universal, S.A. has settled civil fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $50M. Former CEO Jean-Marie Messier also agreed to relinquish his $25M severance package and pay $2M in penalties. Former CFO Guillaume Hannezo also settled and will pay a small fine."
2003-12-23 14:32PST (17:32EST) (22:32GMT)
David Zielenziger _Reuters_/_Yahoo!_
US Companies Moving More Jobs Over-Seas, Quietly
"U.S. corporations are picking up the pace in shifting well-paid technology jobs to India, [Red China] and other low-cost centers, but they are keeping quiet for fear of a back-lash, industry professionals said. Morgan Stanley estimates the number of U.S. jobs out-sourced to India will double to about 150K in the next 3 years. Analysts predict as many as 2M U.S. white-collar jobs such as programmers, software engineers and applications designers will shift to low cost centers by 2014... When Accenture Ltd. [subsidiary of Enron fraud participant Arthur Andersen Consulting] executives in India this month announced plans to double their staff to 10K next year, they triggered a flood of calls to the company's U.S. offices about U.S. job losses. Off-shoring companies 'are paying [Red Chinese] wages and selling at U.S. prices', said Alan Tonelson, of the U.S. Business and Industrial Council, a trade group for small business. 'They're not creating better living standards for America.' The U.S. sales director for one of India's top computer services providers said his company has won business from customers such as Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc.'s CNN and the Fox division of News Corp. -- none of which want public disclosure. In India, some technology companies have recently adopted lower profiles. M$ Corp. has been removing its name from minibuses used to ferry engineers on over-night shifts. Major Indian beneficiaries of U.S. business such as Infosys Technologies Ltd., Wipro Ltd. and Satyam Computer Services Ltd. have stopped identifying new customers... as many as 40K of IBM's 160K U.S. jobs will be transferred over-seas by 2005..."
2003-12-23 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Christy Feig & Peter Viles & Frank Buckley & Mike Chinoy & Christine Romans & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
mad cow, anthrax vaccinations
"Mad cow disease was first discovered in England in 1986. The British effort to eradicate the disease led to the slaughter of millions of animals, cost billions of dollars, and devastated Britain's cattle industry... Admitting they had been caught off guard by a judge's rebuke, Pentagon officials lined up to defend their anthrax vaccination program, calling the vaccine safe and effective... Six people sued the Pentagon and the FDA anonymously, arguing the vaccine, effective in fighting anthrax skin infections, has never been formally approved for use against anthrax in the lungs. And thus, service people should have the choice of whether or not to take it. In a sharply worded ruling Monday, federal Judge Emmet Sullivan [said:] 'The United States cannot demand that members of the armed forces also serve as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.'... Congressman Christopher Shays says more than 150 service members face court-martial for refusing the vaccine, which requires 6 injections and produces side-effects in up to 35% of those who take it... Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'These buildings may have crumpled under the pressure of the quake, but I know for sure that the people will not buckle that easily.'... An early estimate on damage right now is $65M to the down-town area [of Paso Robles] alone... With its swimming pools, manicured streets and comfortable villas, it looks more like Southern California. But this is overseas VietNamese village in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, home to people like Larry Vo, one of thousands of VietNamese Americans who have returned to the country they fled at the end of the war... He never thought he'd return, until VietNam's communist authorities began implementing market reforms a decade ago, welcoming ex-refugees, known as Viet-Que (ph) and their money and expertise... Now he runs a computer software company here... The United States supplies about 25% of all of the beef in the world. It's a $3.4G export market... Almost 97M cattle in the United States..."
David Barstow _NY Times_
California Leads in Making Employers Pay for On-the-Job Deaths
"Roy J. Hubert Jr. has made [this edge of the San Joaquin Valley] his battle-ground... He is part of a small team of circuit-riding prosecutors who are crusading to transform the Wild West mores of rural California, a culture they regard as far too tolerant of death on the job... With permission from local district attorneys, they bring high-profile criminal cases against employers who kill workers by violating work-place safety laws... In January, in a place where dairy is king, he methodically assembled enough evidence to persuade a grand jury in nearby Merced to indict the farm's general manager and its herdsman for involuntary manslaughter and other felonies. Just like that, both men were looking at nearly five years in prison... 'These are not evil people.', he said. 'They are not people who hurt for the sake of hurting. They are not bad people. This is good ol' Pat, good ol' volunteer fireman Pat. He feels terrible. He's devastated. I get a lot of that. Well, good. So are the widow and the mother and the father and sister and brother. Just imagine the incredible despair and anguish as you're drowning in manure.'... Under federal law, it is a misdemeanor to commit safety violations that kill workers. The maximum penalty is six months in jail and a $500K fine. But after a deadly refinery explosion in 1999, California adopted one of the nation's first laws making that same offense a felony. In California, conviction carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $1.5M fine."
Constance L. Hays, Anne Berryman, Matthew Preusch & David Wethe _NY Times_
When Pay-Check Is Low Discount Retailers Have Pull
"Living from pay-check to pay-check is the norm in the United States, economists say... For more than a year, the retailer says, it has detected spikes in sales twice a month, around the 1st and the 15th, which is about the time that many people are paid... Though there are some signs that the economy is healing - in the form of bigger Wall Street bonuses, for example, and increasing corporate profits - income has remained mostly flat for many workers, leading to a discrepancy between gift-giving ambitions and what people can actually afford to give... This year it began cashing payroll checks and government-issued checks for a fee, in a program that has already spread to 20 states and is expected to be available nationwide by next year... 'we are aware that we have some customers who don't have bank accounts.'... Edward Wolff, a professor of economics at New York University, said the shift to discount stores 'reflects the growing financial strain on families'... 'Part of the growth in...discount stores in general is being generated by the stagnation in wages [they help perpetuate].'"
Cade Metz _PC Magazine_/_abc News_
Tech Support: To Out-Source or Not?
"At a time when so many companies offer technical support through third-party, often off-shore, facilities, MPC is moving its entire technical support operation in-house. All support duties will be handled by MPC employees working at the company's Nampa, Idaho headquarters... many of our readers criticized major manufacturers... for moving their support operations over-seas... MPC has gone one step further, giving all its support reps the added advantage of working alongside the people who design and build the company's products."
Raghuvir Badrinath _Business Standard_
"India needs to aggressively spruce up its competencies or it might soon witness an export of information technology jobs, according to emerging trends. This is because Indian IT labour is becoming expensive compared to Russia and [Red China]."
Bank Activities Reform Commission Spying
"The International Bank Activities Reform Commission is revealing to the general public in the United States that Chat rooms, Bulletin Boards and Message Boards run by Lycos, M$, and Yahoo! such as Raging Bull and others are being used by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Bank, the FBI, the CIA, Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security to spy on Americans without their knowledge. Government agents have used the boards for counter intelligence operations in an attempt to discredit information being posted by whistle blowers who have been ferreting out government crimes and wrong-doing..."
Robert Greenslade _The Price of Liberty_
Socialist Insecurity Tax and Hand-Out Scheme
2003-12-24 05:32PST (08:32EST) (13:32GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
November durable goods orders fall 3.1%
"Orders had risen 4 of the past 5 months. Orders for core capital investment goods fell 5.9%, the biggest drop since 2002 March. Shipments of durable goods rose 0.1% in November. Shipments of core capital goods fell 0.4%. October's durable goods orders were revised higher to a 4% gain. Orders for computers and other electronics sank 10.8%, including a 40% drop in communication equipment orders."
2003-12-24 08:03PST (11:03EST) (16:03GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Mad cow disease: Asian countries slam doors to US beef
"While the European Union said its existing safe-guards would suffice for the moment, Japan -- America's biggest beef-export market -- barred all imports, along with South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and Russia... Cattle futures, which were at year-long highs coming into the session, fell hard and fast before curbs halted trading. Live-stock futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange traded nearly 2% lower after Japan's move. February live cattle futures were down 1.5 cents, or 1.7%, at 89.175 cents a pound. January feeder cattle was down 1.5 cents, or 1.6%, at 93.725 cents a pound. In the U.S., officials said the disease -- formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE -- was found in an adult Holstein cow at a dairy farm in the state of Washington earlier this month. The Department of Agriculture is continuing to investigate but believes there is no threat to public health. Read full report... [The disease has a latency period of 4-5 years.] The Asian import restrictions will be a huge blow to the U.S. beef industry, whose overall exports totaled $3.2G last year, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Japan alone imported $842M worth of U.S. beef in 2002, or a third of the total, industry body data showed. South Korea imported 186K tons last year... The U.S. exports about 9% of its total beef production."
2003-12-24 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Holly Firfer & Lisa Sylvester & Kelly Wallace & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
"Tonight airports are on high alert after Air France canceled three flights to the United States for security reasons... In 'Broken Borders', the Bush White House is preparing a massive shake-up in immigration laws. Millions of illegal aliens might be allowed to work legally in the United States. Former INS Center special agent will join us... The USDA is telling us the infected cow was a four-year-old dairy cow injured while giving birth. And generally, injured cows are sent to slaughter. But as a rule, they are tested first for a whole host of diseases and that's how they discovered that this cow had Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE. Now the cow in question was purchased by the Washington State Farm in October of 2000... There are only 139 reported cases of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease worldwide. And that's the disease you could get from mad cow... Last year Japan imported U.S. beef worth $842M. South Korea imported beef valued at $610M. And Mexico imported $595M worth. The total value of U.S. beef exports last year was $2.5G... As many as 12M [8M to 15M] illegal aliens live in the United States. About 700K additional illegal aliens enter this country every year... officials did confirm the administration is drawing up plans to help some illegal aliens find work legally in the United States. That plan could include a new type of temporary work visa. It could also include an Internet based job registry to enable U.S. employers to post jobs for American workers, and prospective immigrants. And to help sell the plan, the administration is also considering stricter entry controls, including more technology at the border and better enforcement of existing immigration rules... Michael Cutler, former INS agent: 'No. I'm very, very skeptical. We've seen this in the past. Then you look at the fraud rate within the exams program. The GAO said it was running as high as 90%. And we still have a visa waiver program for 57 countries around the world, meaning that we don't even know who we're still admitting into the United States, even while we're at a heightened alert level. So, all of these things as a former agent I find very disturbing, as do many of my colleagues... And right now, we have roughly 2K agents chasing 12M potential suspects... But we also have to stop the visa waiver program and we need to have enough people out there who can do a credible job of enforcing the laws to discourage people from coming here with the hope that ultimately they will get the benefit.'... In the last 30 years, the candidate who raised the most the year before the election, generally won his party's nomination... If anything has been learned from the McCain-Feingold act, it's that money is like water. It's going to find its way through the cracks in the system... He [John Kerry] just finalized a $6.4M mortgage on his Boston home, this after loaning the campaign $850K of his own money just a few days ago... Andre Gide: 'One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.'..."
Jennifer 8. Lee _NY Times_
Vivendi Pays $50M in Settlement With S.E.C.
"Jean-Marie Messier, who transformed the company from a water utility into an ill-fated media empire, agreed to pay a penalty of $1M... Vivendi Universal agreed yesterday to pay $50M to settle accusations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it misled investors in its news releases and financial statements."
Corrupt Judges in New York
"Now we have a few of the borough's jurists admitting that they had been given a list of lawyers approved for them by the local Democratic machine. The lawyers, party favorites, would be prime candidates for the most lucrative legal work handed out from the bench. The worst part is that this is probably legal unless somebody involved was actually dumb enough to verbalize the link between the party's work in electing judges and the judges' work in giving out favors to party regulars. Brooklyn is a bill-board for the need for judicial reform, but the Democrats do not hold a monopoly on judicial disgrace. Upstate, where Republicans are in charge, The Times has documented a number of cases in which party leaders have handed over their judgeships as patronage for their faithful supporters and long-time friends."
"Farmers in the Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe have hit on a novel way to keep elephants from trampling their fields. They surround their crops with rows of chili peppers, whose smell is noxious to elephants. The peppers prevent battles that have harmed both man and animal, save crops and give farmers a lucrative new product to export. The elephant pepper is one of 47 ideas for social change in poor countries that the World Bank recently financed through its Development Market-Place. The bank's grants for these ideas - the farmers got $108K - fall a few zeroes short of what the bank usually spends on its projects. But this venture-capital approach is a useful way of looking at social change. It is also a good investment, spurring innovations for very little money. Some of the market-place's winners are projects with global promise. Researchers in Tanzania are training rats to detect tuberculosis. Turkish engineers are helping people who live in substandard housing in earthquake zones to fortify their walls using discarded tires. South Africa's Playpump project provides free clean drinking water by installing wells - each powered by a merry-go-round - in play-grounds or at primary schools. As children make the merry-go-round spin, water is pumped into a tank decorated with messages about AIDS prevention, as well as with commercial ads that are sold to maintain the well. South Africa has already installed 500 Playpumps, which are more efficient, easier to use and cheaper to run than wells with hand pumps."
Mike Allen _Washington Post_/_Chicago Tribune_
Immigration plan would ease job rules
San Jose Mercury News
"President Bush plans to kick off his re-election year by proposing a program that would make it easier for immigrants to work legally in the United States, in what would constitute the most significant changes to immigration law in 18 years, Republican officials said Tuesday. Lobbyists working with the White House said Bush is developing a plan that would allow immigrants to cross the border legally if jobs are waiting for them... Bush will try to make the plan more palatable to conservatives by including stricter entry controls, including increased use of technology at the border, and steps toward better enforcement of current visa restrictions and reporting requirements, sources said."
_Lakeland Florida Ledger_/_Miami Herald_
3 Indicted in Immigration Scam
"A grand jury indicted a federal immigration worker and 2 community 'recruiters' on charges they concocted a scheme to sell phony work permits -- costing a minimum of $5,500 apiece -- to more than 200 illegal immigrants. Isidro Guerrero Fernandez, 32, of Miami, used his position at the Citizenship and Immigration Service building to sell hundreds of work permit cards, according to the indictment released Monday. He and his alleged accomplices, Miguel Raggio, 50, and Vivian Ciarrochi, 38, both of Miami, were charged with conspiring to transfer identification documents, unlawfully obtaining the documents and soliciting and accepting bribes while being a public official... Authorities said the trio offered to obtain the work permits for $5,500 to $12K. The permits typically cost about $110."
_Palm Beach Florida Post_
New immigration laws, better security
"The administration cringed over the secretary's willingness to describe a political taboo: amnesty, the dreaded A-word. President Bush tried to defuse Mr. Ridge's remarks by expressing support for policy that matches U.S. employers with foreign workers and goes no further. But coming from the man charged with protecting Americans from terrorism, Mr. Ridge's correlation of security and sweeping immigration reform was impossible to ignore. He correctly acknowledged that ending dishonest treatment of foreign workers and allowing them to participate in a legal, open system actually would enhance homeland security, not undermine it. Senator Bob Graham, D-FL, and 48 of his colleagues -- 24 of them Republicans -- have reached the same conclusion. They are co-sponsoring a bill called the AgJOBS Act, which over time would make millions of migrant workers eligible for legal residency. The legislation also could improve guest-worker programs to guard against smuggling and abusive conditions out-lined in The Post's recent series on migrant farm-workers. Other guest-worker proposals in Congress would expand the program beyond agriculture. Migrants and illegal immigrants who can prove they have worked for a specified time for a U.S. employer eventually could apply for legal status."
Class Action Law Suit Filed Against US Immigration Service Challenging Speed of Processing
"On 2003 December 22, ImmigrationPortal.Com, an on-line community and others have filed a law suit against United States Immigration and Citizenship Services [USCIS]... Under INA, the employment-based category is divided into 5 preferences or groupings. 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b). The highest priority goes to first employment-based 'priority workers' who consist of: a) Aliens with extraordinary ability; b) Outstanding professors and researchers; and c) Certain multi-national executives and managers subject to international transfer to the United States. The second employment-based preferences include professionals holding advanced degrees or their equivalent or who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States. The third employment-based preference include certain professional, skilled and unskilled workers, where qualified workers are not available in the United States. The fourth employment-based preference includes certain special immigrants, including ministers of religion. The fifth employment-based category includes alien investors who create or maintain at least 10 jobs in USA, none of which can be for their own family members. All of the above categories of workers are severely affected by the inordinate delays in processing and have accordingly filed the instant law suit."
Meg Richards _San Jose California Mercury News_
Dow Closes Down 36 after Mad Cow News
"The nation's first case of mad cow disease sent stocks moderately lower Wednesday in a quiet and abbreviated session on Wall Street. A government report that raised concerns about the recovery of the manufacturing sector contributed to the decline... The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 36.07, or 0.4 percent, at 10,305.19. Trading ended at 13:00EST... The Nasdaq composite index closed down 5.55, or 0.3%, at 1,969.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 1.98, or 0.2%, at 1,094.04... Claims for unemployment benefits slipped last week by a seasonally adjusted 1K to 353K, in line with expectations... The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, closed down 2.68, or 0.5%, at 552.35. Over-seas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished 0.01% lower Wednesday. In Europe, France's CAC-40 gained 0.3% and Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1%. The German stock market was closed."
FDA: Too Costly to Legalize Prescription Drug Imports
"As millions of Americans turn to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs, the Food and Drug Administration's top pharmacist said Tuesday that it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to set up a legal, safe program to import the medicines. And despite growing pressure from Congress, he insisted the FDA would never rely on Canada's safety assurances for the drugs shipped out of that country, many of them made in the United States. Tom McGinnis, FDA's pharmacy affairs director, said the FDA would not piggyback its inspections on the Canadian system because the United States inspects drug manufacturers around the world, while Health Canada often relies on inspections done by the drug maker's host country."
Jeff Johnson _Cybercast News Service_
Immigration Reform Advocates Criticize White House Proposal
"Advocates for tougher enforcement of U.S. Immigration laws say the White House has put 'a lump of coal in the stockings of American workers' with a Christmas Eve proposal to allow more foreign workers to enter the country and amnesty for some workers who have already entered illegally... Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, scoffed at the proposal... 'In addition to legalizing millions of illegal aliens and countless additional family members, the guest-worker provision of this proposal will sound the death knell of the American middle class. Employers will never again have to compete for workers by offering better pay or benefits. They will simply have to look across the border, or across the ocean to find an unlimited supply of workers willing to accept whatever they are willing to pay. Upward mobility, for most American workers, will become something they study about in history class... There are several critical pieces of legislation that would enhance our immigration enforcement capability, improve our antiquated documentation system, and protect American workers, all introduced by congressional Republicans that the Administration should be championing instead of capitulating to the illegal immigration lobby.'"
Peter Brieger _Financial Post_/_Canada National Post_
Not much cheer in an ailing steel industry
"Take a moment to pity the steel industry. The past year saw Slater Steel Inc. and Ivaco Inc. dive into bankruptcy protection. It saw profits at Dofasco Inc., the nation's largest steel producer, drop by half. And investors worried that Stelco Inc., the country's number two player, might implode. All were victims of a stronger Canadian dollar, higher raw material and labour costs, cheap imports and lacklustre demand. Then, in October, Ottawa capped a year of grim news by killing hopes for steel duties, which producers wanted to stem the flow of cheap imports and give the industry time to catch its breath and emerge stronger. Indeed, the United States recently lifted its protectionist measures -- but during the life of those duties U.S. steel producers reorganized their battered sector, which had seen more than 30 steel-makers go bankrupt over the past few years [34 in the last 6 years]."
David Martin _San Antonio Texas Current_
With a Whisper, Not a Bang: Bush stealthily signs parts of Patriot 2 into law
"On December 13, when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush not only celebrated with his national security team, but also pulled out his pen and signed into law a bill that grants the FBI sweeping new powers... the last time Bush signed a bill into law on a Saturday happened more than a year ago - on a spending bill that the President needed to sign, to prevent shutting down the federal government the following Monday... the FBI had just obtained the power to probe their financial records, even if the feds don't suspect their involvement in crime or terrorism... tucked away these new executive powers in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, a legislative behemoth that funds all the intelligence activities of the federal government. The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of 'financial institution', which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business 'whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters'... Congress passed the legislation around Thanksgiving... The Senate passed it with a voice vote to avoid individual accountability."
Bob Powell _Exponential Improvement_/_Continuous Improvement Associates_
A Systems Thinking Perspective on Manufacturing & Trade Policy (pdf): No magic wall exists between "innovation & design" and "manufacturing"
2003-12-24 16:28PST (19:28EST) (2003-12-25 00:28GMT)
Mark Sherman _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Congress Scuttled Meat Protection Measure Earlier This Month
"Legislation to keep meat from downed animals off American kitchen tables was scuttled - for the second time in as many years - as Congress labored unsuccessfully earlier this month to pass a catch-all agency spending bill. Now, in the wake of the apparent discovery of the first mad-cow case in the United States, the author of the House version of the cattle provision wants to press the issue anew when Congress returns January 20 from its winter recess. The massive, $373G spending bill covering several government agencies is still pending in the Senate."
2003-12-25 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Red China Pirates Car Design
"And [Red China's] most ambitious counterfeit yet, the copy car is costing billions to the manufacturers of the real thing. George W. Bush: 'Today in Tripoli, the leader of Libya, Colonel Moammar al Gadhafi, publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs in his country.'... Last year the flu cost the United States' economy more than $70G... Around the world, tuberculosis kills 2M people a year, malaria, more than a million. And then there is AIDS. Shereen el Feki: 'It afflicts 40M people around the world.'... The disease [AIDS] has claimed 3M worldwide... 2004 will be the year of the copied car, at least in [Red China]. From Beijing to Shanghai, copy cars are crowding the roads and dealerships. Chinese fans of the Chevrolet Spark and now by the QQ. It is far cheaper. It looks and drives just like the real thing. Knockoff Toyotas and Mercedes are pouring off Chinese assembly lines faster than you can say rip-off. [Red China] is the home of counterfeits, copying DVD's and videos and computers and all sorts of software. The FBI estimates that American businesses lose $200G to $250G each year to counterfeiting. Graeme Maxton, director of Autopolis: 'Why [Red China]? Well, this has been part of the economic model they've adopted. I mean they don't really see this as theft... The application of the rule of law in [Red China] is not the same as it is elsewhere. If you're going to go invest in [Red China] and you're going to expect the rule of law to protect you, protect your technology, then you're dreaming... [Red China] will take your technology.'... The Chinese counterfeit car industry is already moving into high gear with copies of Volkswagens, Toyotas and General Motors cars filling the roads. Jili is one of [Red China's] top private car-makers. Jili has produced 3 different vehicles remarkably similar to Toyotas at half the price. Timothy Trainer of the International Anti-Counterfeit Coalition: 'What makes it possible as far as counterfeiting cars is the fact that you now have foreign manufacturers in [Red China]. So clearly, the know-how exists today, much more so than it did 7 or 8 years ago.'... The [Red Chinese] government began encouraging automobile technology transfer from western joint venture partners as early as 1994. But industry experts like Volkswagen's Martin Post (ph) miscalculated about how far the [Red Chinese] would go... car-makers seem to fear that if they complain too loudly, they may well find themselves locked out of the world's fastest growing car market."
Mark Sherman _AP_/_Yahoo!_
UK Lab Confirms Mad Cos Case in US
"Scientists at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, England, told the Agriculture Department they concur with the reading of tests on the stricken Holstein cow that led U.S. officials to conclude the animal had the brain-wasting disease, U.S. officials said."
2003-12-25 17:46PST (20:46EST) (2003-12-26 01:46GMT)
_Dow Jones News_
Japan's November Large-Scale Retails Sales Off 5.6% On Year
"Japanese retail sales fell 3.3% on year in November, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday, marking a turnaround from October's 0.2% rise, which was the first rise in 31 months... The government said earlier Friday that unemployment remained steady at 5.2% in November. Sales at large-scale retailers fell 5.6% on year, after adjustment for the change in the number of stores, after eking out a 0.3% on-year rise in October."
2003-12-25 22:00PST (2003-12-26 01:00EST) (2003-12-26 06:00GMT)
Ilana Mercer _WorldNetDaily_
Out-Sourcing American Lives
Author's web site
"When a high-tech corporation hires McKinsey Global's consultants - or ghouls with a similar mission - the writing is on the wall, at least for the company's creative core: its engineers and programmers. McKinsey typically recommends 'exporting' jobs to locations offering cheap labor. And when McKinsey gets going, it's not call centers on the chopping block, but CAD centers. Execrable chief executives complement the McKinsey strategy by importing cheap labor through hustling H-1B and L-1 visas... The individuals leading corporate America do not stand outside the culture like Ayn Rand's heroes, but are an extension of it. The trends that have infected American society contaminate the captains of industry just the same. For the corporate clients who court it, McKinsey fosters a short-term stock surge ñ but it does so by plowing under their rising talent, destroying the intellectual seed capital that ensures sustainable long-term business... IEEE-USA...reports 'the highest level of member unemployment ever recorded, more than double the levels reached in the recession periods of the mid-1970s and early 1990s'. Since U.S. IEEE members were far less likely to be out of work than their non-IEEE counterparts, these estimates are probably optimistic."
2003-12-25 20:56PST (23:56EST) (2003-12-26 04:56GMT)
Barbara Hagenbaugh _USA Today_
Eating will require a fatter wallet in 2004
"U.S. households could see their annual food bills jump more than $270 on average in 2004 after a similar gain this year, government and private economists' forecasts suggest. When putting together their predictions this month for consumer prices in 2004, private economists anticipated food prices will rise about 3% or more. That's twice the expected rate of inflation and follows a year of escalating food costs... Inflation for food and beverages during the 6 months that ended in November was 4 times the overall inflation rate and even exceeded gains in medical care costs... U.S. households on average spent more than $9K for food at home and in restaurants in 2002, the third-biggest expenditure after housing and medical care, which also have risen substantially."
2003-12-26 06:08PST (09:08EST) (14:08GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retailers see mixed holiday picture: retail sales up more for specialty stores than for discounters
"Early indications suggest so-so results for discounters but stronger sales for on-line and specialty firms... Yet Amazon.com, the bellwether for online retail sales, said it experienced its 'busiest' holiday season ever. In the past month, the company said it set a single-day record for items ordered: 2.1M. On the day before Christmas, according to Amazon, 70K gift certificates were ordered... full results for the holiday season won't be known for several weeks. Most retailers will report their December sales on January 8."
2003-12-26 07:22PST (10:22EST) (15:22GMT)
Frank Barnako _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Spam costs $20G
"Unsolicited junk e-mail accounted for almost $20G in lost productivity over the past year, according to Basex, a New York management and consulting firm... Basex's free report on spam and its impact on technology spending and productivity can be down-loaded [requires registration]."
2003-12-26 10:23PST (13:23EST) (18:23GMT)
Tomi Kilgore & Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks up a little
"The Dow Jones Industrials Average gained 19 points, or 0.2%, to 10,325, off its best level for the day of 10,343. On the first trading session after the Christmas holiday, the Dow has gained ground in 9 of the last 11 years, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac. Over the week, the benchmark index gained 47 points or 0.4%. Of the blue chip barometer's 30 components, 21 enjoyed gains. The S&P 500 Index rose 1.9 points, or 0.2%, to 1,096, and reached a 19-month high of 1,098 earlier in the session. Over the week, the S&P gained 6 points. The Nasdaq Composite tacked on 4 points, or 0.2%, to 1,973. The tech-rich index added 22 points over the last week. In the broad market, advancing stocks dominated decliners by a 19 to 10 margin on the NYSE and by a 17 to 12 score on the Nasdaq. Total volume was modest at 354M shares on the Big Board and 529M shares on the Nasdaq."
2003-12-26 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Charles Feldman & Shirzad Bozorgmehr & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
earth-quake kills tens of thousands in Iran; mud-slides in Southern California
"Tonight, rescuers search for survivors, after an earthquake kills as many as 20K people in Iran. The United States says it will send emergency assistance as soon as possible... In California, a new disaster in an area devastated by wildfires just 2 months ago. Mud-slides kill holiday campers. About a dozen other people are missing... the heavy rain, some 3.5 inches of rain in a very short period of time, produced these mud-slides, some creating as much as 12 feet of mud, a wall 12 feet high... In Iran today, a powerful earthquake killed at least 5K people in a historic city in the southeast of the country. And authorities says the death toll could rise to as many as 20K. The 6.7- magnitude quake struck in the city of Bam while residents were asleep... Iranian officials say at least 30K people were injured in the quake... the huge quake in 1990 that killed nearly 40K people... President Musharraf was not injured in the attack, the second attempt on his life in less than 2 weeks. But 15 people were killed and nearly 50 wounded. The president, a close ally of the United States in the war on terror, blamed radical Islamists for the attack. Police in Turkey have broken up an al Qaeda cell responsible for a series of bomb attacks in Istanbul that killed more than 60 people... In [Red China], officials today revealed the full extent of the disaster caused by the release of a massive cloud of toxic gas. Nearly 200 people were killed and about 9K injured in a remote area of southwest China. Authorities told about 40K people to evacuate their homes."
Micheline Maynard _NY Times_
Pentagon's War Needs Are a Lifeline for Airlines
"The Pentagon spent more than $1.2G this year to fly troops and supplies to Iraq on commercial aircraft."
Perves Musharraf president of Pakistan, after escaping a second assassination attempt in 11 days
"This is a targeted action; I am the target."
Tracie Rozhon _NY Times_
Retail Sales Results Mixed, Await a Final Burst of Shopping
"Shoppers are expected to make today the most lucrative day after Christmas in history, retailers and analysts say. At some stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue, it is expected to be the biggest day of the year. Retailers are hoping for good news because this holiday season has been disappointing to many. Although most analysts expect sales at stores over all to be 3% to 6% higher than last year's dismal holiday numbers, in September retailers were gleefully predicting double-digit growth... gift cards now make up $17G, or about 8%, of holiday retail spending, according to [National Retail Federation] estimates... This year, retailers tried - and in many cases, succeeded - in halting the cutthroat [sic] competition that had caused ever-rising discounts in the last 5 years, starting before Thanks-Giving... The National Retail Federation is standing firm with its holiday season prediction of a 5.7% sales gain over last year. That number encompasses November and all of December... Gap reduced the number of items it offered by 30%... This will be the best Christmas for Nordstrom in 10 to 20 years, Ms. Black said."
The Farm Land Bubble
"[The family farm] has been used by special interests to justify policies that cost tax-payers hundreds of billions of dollars for subsidies that do little to aid real small farmers. It has been hijacked as an excuse to betray America's free-market values and hurt developing countries... The real small farmers' opportunities are limited by high land costs. The stream of subsidy dollars flowing from the federal Treasury - about $20G last year - has a way of turning arable acres into welfare tickets. That's why in 2001, despite low commodity prices and an ongoing exodus from rural America, farmland values in places like Iowa were hitting all-time highs. Subsidies inflate the price of land by an estimated 25%. According to an Environmental Working Group analysis of federal data, the subsidies of the past eight years were equivalent to a fifth of the total value (land and buildings) of all the farms in the nation's 100 most-subsidized counties... One of the reasons American farmers feel that they are constantly struggling to break even is the amount they have to pay to buy or rent overpriced farm land in parts of the country where the prices of virtually everything else are among the cheapest in the nation."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
Bracing for the Blow from Off-Shore Out-Sourcing
"The company has not made any announcements, and the employees do not know who will be affected, or when. The uncertainty about whose jobs may be sent to India or [Red China], the two main countries in the current plans, has raised workers' anxiety in some cases to an excruciating level... Referring to employees who may be affected by the plans, he said, 'We deal with them as they need to know.' 'Off-shoring' and 'out-sourcing' are two of the favored euphemisms for shipping work overseas. I.B.M. prefers the term 'global sourcing'. Whatever you call it, the expansion of this practice from manufacturing to the higher-paying technical and white-collar levels is the latest big threat to employment in the U.S. Years ago, when concern was being expressed about the shipment of factory jobs to places with slave wages, hideous working conditions and even prison labor, proponents said there was nothing to worry about. Exporting labor-intensive jobs would make U.S. companies more competitive, leading to increased growth and employment, and higher living standards. They advised U.S. workers to adjust, to become better educated and skillful enough to thrive in a new world of employment, where technology and the ability to process information were crucial components. Well, the workers whose jobs are now threatened...are well educated and absolute whizzes at processing information... accelerate its efforts to move white-collar jobs over-seas. They acknowledged the danger of a political back-lash, but said it was essential to step up the practice."
Earth-Quake in Iran Kills 4K
"An earth-quake devastated the southeastern Iranian city of Bam on Friday, leveling more than half the city's houses and its historic mud-brick fortress... The 6.7-magnitude earth-quake struck at about 05:30, collapsing buildings, severing power lines and shutting down water service. President Mohammad Khatami urged the entire country to help the victims of the quake, calling it a 'national tragedy'... Authorities in Bam, 630 miles southeast of the capital Tehran, put out a call for blood donations."
Stuart Silverstein, Miguel Bustillo & Lance Pugmire _LA Times_
10 Believed Missing in Mud-Slides in Recently-Charred Areas of Southern California
"Christmas Day rains triggered mud-slides that engulfed and trapped about 24 campers in San Bernardino County's Waterman Canyon... on what was, for much of Southern California, the first rainy Christmas in 20 years... In Los Angeles County, flood-waters around the fire-scarred hills near Claremont entered four homes, requiring fire-fighters to help a pregnant woman to safety. Teams of fire-fighters put down sand-bags to help protect neighborhoods. In Malibu, rock-slides closed Malibu Canyon Road... A California Highway Patrol spokesman said that in Los Angeles County, the agency received reports of 1,204 traffic accidents between midnight and 20:30 Christmas Day on freeways and other areas it patrols. During the same hours the previous Thursday, when the weather was dry, the CHP received 918 accident reports."
2003-12-27 14:11PST (17:11EST) (22:11GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
iPods take center stage for Apple: Pushing low prices and new devices at MacWorld
"The Cupertino, CA-based personal computer maker has such a hit on its hands with its iPod digital music player that the devices -- which store up to 10K songs -- were strong sellers and many retailers and Apple company stores reportedly ran out of the iconic iPod before Christmas. There were more than enough willing buyers, but not enough iPods on the shelves to meet the needs of many Christmas wish lists. And only recently has Apple begun a battery-replacement program for the iPod after coming under consumer fire for the difficulties involved in getting repairs for the popular music player beyond its one-year warranty... For the 12 months ending in October, Apple said it sold 939K iPods, up from 381K in the year-ago period."
Nazila Fathi _NY Times_
Quake in Iran Kills Thousands and Ravages an Ancient City
"The provincial governor general put the initial number of dead at 5K to 6K, but said the toll was expected to rise as high as 20K."
Search Called Off in Utah Avalanche
"An avalanche swept at least 5 snow-boarders down a rugged northern Utah canyon hit by a heavy snow-storm Friday."
Tim Weiner, Elizabeth Becker & Clifford Krauss _NY Times_
NAFTA Is 10 Years Old: Growing Pains Are Clear
"Though the United States' trade deficit with Canada and Mexico grew 9-fold to nearly $90G, total trade among the 3 nations grew by 109%... 'We lost our health care, our living wages. The winners are the corporate executives who don't even live here and can locate their factories wherever they find the cheapest labor.'... 'We've traded high-skill jobs for low-skill jobs, and the trend has worsened over the last 4 years.', said Bill Johnson... The increasing competition from cheap labor abroad has deepened a decades-old trend toward depressed wages, as has another unexpected impact of Nafta - the arrival here of hundreds of Mexican migrants looking for work... The maquiladoras produced $78G in exports during 2002, nearly two-thirds of that sum from American parts assembled in Mexico and re-exported to the United States... Of the 700K new maquiladora jobs generated in Nafta's first 7 years, 300K have been eliminated since 2000... It [Canada] had a separate 1988 free-trade accord with the United States, 5 years before Nafta. Those years were a cold shower for Canada: from 1989 to 1991, 450K manufacturing jobs, roughly 1 in 5, were lost... Today Canada's businesses are far more export-oriented than a generation ago. They created 500K jobs last year, even as they, too, feel growing Chinese competition. Exports to the United States more than doubled and now represent more than a third of Canada's economy."
Nazila Fathi _NY Times_
Iran Quake Toll Rises to 25K; Injured Fill Hospitals, and Streets
"Dozens of international relief flights and supply shipments sped on their way, transporting skilled rescue workers."
Darren W. Victory _Poynter_
Employee Retention: Flip the Pyramid: Instead of giving reporters small comforts to keep them from leaving, why not foster loyalty by helping their careers?
Jennifer 8. Lee _NY Times_
We Hate Spam, Congress Says (Except When It's Sent by Us)
"Hundreds of thousands of unsolicited messages are sent to constituents although Congress approved a law aimed at reducing the flow of junk e-mail... Even as Congress was unanimously approving a law aimed at reducing the flow of junk e-mail, members were sending out hundreds of thousands of unsolicited messages to constituents. The spasm of activity is aimed at attracting voluntary subscribers to the law-makers' e-mail lists, which would not be subject to House rules that normally impose a 90-day black-out before an election for tax-payer-supported Congressional mass communications."
John Kimelman _NY Times_
How Internet Banks Have Inched Ahead on Rates
"But while many investors are resigned to getting 0.7% or 1% a year on a money market fund tied to a brokerage account... receiving 2.2% a year on close to $100K in money market deposits at the Bank of Internet USA, a bank in Del Mar, CA, with a single, 6K-square-foot office and only 20 employees... With inflation running at close to 2%, investors who can earn that much on their cash are at least keeping up with the cost of living."
Megan Garvey, Jack Leonard, Christine Hanley & Stuart Pfeifer _LA Times_
Night of Fire: The deadly Cedar blaze's speed & ferocity repeatedly surprised officials (photos, maps)
Panorama of Scripps Ranch
John Gibbins _San Diego Union-Tribune_ fire line approaching Scripps Ranch homes
2003-12-28 18:00PST (21:00EST) (2003-12-29 02:00GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tips to prepare for a job change in 2004
"Renewed hiring already is under way and should accelerate as the year progresses, labor market experts said. Jobs likely will flow to the hard-hit travel, trade and financial sectors from construction and housing, which have been going gang-busters on low interest rates and tax cuts, said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, a consulting firm in St. Louis... A nationwide shortage of pharmacists and nurses... The first half of 2004 likely will bring net job growth of 100K to 150K new jobs a month, up from the current 80K monthly job additions, [Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute] said. The number should rise to 150K to 200K a month in the second half of next year. Bernstein and Prakken forecast an unemployment rate of 5.4% a year from now... [Bernstein said,] 'we're going to be hard-pressed to create enough employment to provide jobs for everyone who needs one.'"
2003-12-29 07:13MST (06:13PST) (09:13EST) (14:13GMT)
Susan Wells _KUSA Denver_
More than 500 homes lost to foreclosure this year
"Lending agencies foreclosed on nearly 500 homes in Boulder County this year. That's a 67% increase over last year, when those lenders repossessed 291 homes."
2003-12-29 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Kelli Arena & Lisa Sylvester & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Borders, Mad Cow, Meningitis
"The U.S. now wants armed air marshals on international flights that may pose a terror threat. If airlines do not comply, they could be denied U.S. landing [privileges]... The infected cow was born in Canada, before the United States and Canada banned certain animal tissue from cattle feed... The cow's age is significant, because it means it was infected before the United States tightened rules to keep mad cow disease, or BSE, from coming into the country... hospitals in New Hampshire have been told to be 'hypervigilant' in diagnosing bacterial meningitis; 18-year-old Rachael P died Saturday from meningitis. And 4 other New Hampshire teens have been hospitalized... William Marshall, infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic: 'Usually, when people develop meningitis, they become ill very quickly and manifest with the symptoms you described earlier of fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and maybe confusion.'... Asa Hutchinson, under-secretary for transportation & border security in the Department of Home-Land Security: 'We put trained federal air marshals on domestic flights, our U.S. carriers that fly over-seas and into our country, but it is also a necessity we have that capability on international carriers from other countries that come into the United States when we have specific intelligence that there might be a problem. So we put out this emergency measure asking for that cooperation, really requiring it whenever we provide information that there could be a particular flight that might be targeted.'..."
Out-Sourcing: Look Who's Out of Sorts: Strapped government agencies are making budget & time demands on their contractors
"When Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) blew a December 1 dead-line to turn on a new Medicaid claims-processing system in Tennessee, state officials decided to fight back. They had out-sourced such work to EDS for nearly a decade without a blip. But now the budget had tightened, Medicaid costs were sky-rocketing, and the creaky main-frames EDS was supposed to replace were partly to blame. Besides, state officials say, EDS was already 2 months behind schedule. So for each day of delay, Tennessee is levying a $32K fine."
Joseph Kahn _NY Times_
When Red Chinese Workers Unite, the Bosses Often Run the Union
"Mr. Liu's struggle to unionize workers at Neil Pryde, a leading maker of sailing and wind-surfing gear sold globally under its own name and for brands like Quiksilver and Billabong, is emblematic of the battle workers are waging to earn basic rights in China's fast-growing export industries. China's socialist laws theoretically protect workers even as the country embraces capitalist ways. But the police crush efforts to set up independent unions as threats to the Communist Party... Some 20 years after it began attracting billions of dollars in foreign investment, Shenzhen and the surrounding province of Guangdong have become the world's largest and most dynamic manufacturing center, making everything from shoes to Sony PlayStations. But the region's success depends on an endless turn-over of migrants from the hinter-land, who rarely become full local residents and are effectively prohibited from bargaining for a share of the profits... Most migrants live behind high factory walls in crowded dormitories. They often work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Local recruitment centers are packed with workers who quit jobs in exhaustion or were fired when their employer had a dip in orders. Though Guangdong has maintained a double-digit rate of economic growth during the past decade, wages for migrant workers, adjusted for inflation, have fallen during the same period, according to research by the Institute of Contemporary Observation in Shenzhen. Base pay often falls below legal minimums, and over-time hours often greatly exceed regulated maximums... Neil Pryde is run by a New Zealander of the same name, a sailing enthusiast whose Hong Kong-based company has made yacht sails and sports gear in [Red China] since 1989. The company's 2 Shenzhen plants employ about 2K workers... Mr. Liu and many other workers interviewed described the working conditions as comparatively decent. All of them said they had legal contracts, assuring steady employment during the contract term. The pay generally meets minimum wage. But workers say some departments operate 100 hours a week with one shift of employees, leading to burn-out. Pension benefits and annual bonuses were scaled back recently to cut costs, workers said. Each dorm room houses 10 workers in five bunks, 18 rooms to a floor, 180 workers to a bath-room, leading to long lines - and sometimes to fights - at the end of the evening shift."
John Schwartz _NY Times_
Cars that Talk, Spy on Their Occupants
"Any gadget that can track a car-jacker, he reasons, can just as readily be used to track him... the rise of the automotive technologies, including electronic toll areas, location-tracking devices, 'black box' data recorders like those found on air-planes and even tiny radio ID tags in tires, are changing the nature of Americans' relationship with their cars... Electronic toll systems are convenient for commuters, but the information is increasingly being used to track movements... The privacy concerns can be minimized, he said, by applying the technology to commercial vehicles and fleets... Surveillance technologies are easy to buy and even easier to abuse, privacy experts say... Progressive Auto Insurance, has already tested policies in Texas that tied insurance rates to car usage as monitored by global positioning... This year, Michelin began implanting match-head-sized chips in tires that can be read remotely... Aviel D. Rubin, the technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said that every new technology with the potential to invade privacy was introduced with pledges that it would be used responsibly. But over time, he said, the desire of law enforcement and business to use the data over-took the early promises. 'The only way to get real privacy', he said, 'is not to collect the information in the first place.'"
Ken Belson _NY Times_
Heavy-Weights Are Choosing Sides in Battle Over Next DVD Format
"a fight to the finish over whose format will be used in the next generation of DVD's. The discs, which have been under development for several years, will hold four to five times more digital video and audio data than those now on the market. They are needed because broadcasters and movie studios are planning to take advantage of the spread of high-definition television screens to produce more digital programming with multitrack sound and much better resolution. The new discs and their players will not be widely available until at least 2005, but already the world's largest electronics, computer and entertainment companies are embroiled in a multi-billion-dollar fight over whose technology will become an industry standard... NEC and Toshiba have formed a group that has developed the HD (high definition) DVD, a disc that is 0.6 millimeter thick and made with machinery similar to that used for today's DVD's. On the other side is the 10-company Blu-ray Group, led by Sony and Matsushita, whose best-known brands are Panasonic and JVC. That group has developed a disc only 0.1mm thick that can hold more data but needs additional investment to be produced. Information on the discs can be overwritten after it is recorded, something that is not possible with the HD DVD's now. At 12cm in diameter, both discs are similar to today's offerings, though Sony's discs are protected from finger-prints, dust and scratches by square plastic cartridges when not in use. The HD DVD group has developed a single lens that emits red and blue rays to read both current and next-generation discs. The Blu-ray machines require two separate lenses... In April, Sony started selling Blu-ray DVD recorders in Japan, where they cost 378K yen, or $3,500, and take discs that sell for 3K yen, or about $27. Sony does not release sales figures, but industry sources said only a few hundred players had been sold so far. Mr. Yamada said Toshiba wanted to introduce DVD recorders in 2005 that cost less than $2K and players priced below $1K."
Bob Herbert _NY Times_
The White-Collar Blues
"It might be a good idea to explore the implications of globalization for the long-term economy and the American standard of living."
David Streitfeld _LA Times_
Unemployment Rate Doesn't Tell the Whole Story: Rate hits 9.7% when under-employed and discouraged are added
"The nation's official [unemployment] rate is 5.9%, a relatively benign level by historical standards. But economists say that figure paints only a partial - and artificially rosy - picture of the labor market. To begin with, there are the 8.7M unemployed, defined as those without a job who are actively looking for work. But lurking behind that group are 4.9M part-time workers such as Gluskin who say they would rather be working full time - the highest number in a decade. There are also the 1.5M people who want a job but didn't look for one in the last month... Officially termed 'discouraged', their number has surged 20% in a year... True to form, the percentage of adult Americans with jobs dropped from a high of 64.8% in 2000 April, just as the stock market was cresting, to 62% in September - the lowest level in a decade. If past recessions are any guide, those 5M people who found themselves jobless should have driven the unemployment rate up to about 8%. Instead, the rate never went much above 6%... From 1983 to 2000, economists David Autor and Mark Duggan wrote in a recent study, the number of non-elderly adults receiving government disability payments doubled from 3.8M to 7.7M... it has been prompted by liberalized screening policies, which make it possible to claim disabled status for, say, several small impairments as opposed to one big injury... There are 9.6M people who say they are self-employed full time, a number that rose 118K last month... Erica Groshen, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 'If you plot job losses versus gains on a chart, it's shocking.', she says. Losses are running at about the same rate they were in 1997 and 1998, 2 [allegedly] good years for the economy. But job creation in the first quarter of 2003 - the most recent period available - was only 7.4M, the lowest since 1993."
2003-12-29 22:28PST (2003-12-30 01:28EST) (2003-12-30 06:28GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
WebEx Cashes in on Off-Shore Out-Sourcing to India
"The trend of out-sourcing to India is creating global opportunities for WebEx and other small U.S. companies that are following multi-nationals... Earlier this month, the Nasdaq-listed Web conferencing firm acquired the biggest player of its type in India. The $4M acquisition of Cyberbazaar, which has annual revenues of around $2.7M and around 120 employees, doesn't sound like much. But for a company that has had to weather the dot-com bust as well as recent forays by M$ and Cisco into the fast-growing market, the deal represents a break-through in its attempt to become the global leader in Web conferencing."
2003-12-29 23:09PST (2003-12-30 02:09EST) (2003-12-30 07:09GMT)
Allen Wan _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tokyo's Nikkei ends 2003 up 23%
"Tokyo's key benchmark rallied to an 8-week high Tuesday as investors poured into technology and banking stocks on the last trading day of the year. The Nikkei gained 1.7%, or 176 points, to end at 10,676.64, while the broader Topix rose 1.7% to 1,043. The Nikkei gained 23% for the year, marking the end of a bear market that started in 2000. The Topix climbed 24%. Japanese stocks rallied across the board following gains on Wall Street as the Nasdaq surged past the 2K level for the first time in almost 2 years... Most Asian markets were also closing out the year with a bang. South Korea rose 2.3%, Hong Kong ascended 1.3%, Singapore climbed 1.1%, Taiwan surged 1.1%, Shanghai rose 1% and Sydney gained 0.5%. On Wall Street, the Nasdaq gained 1.7% to 2,006 -- the highest close since 2002 January. The Dow, meanwhile, rose 1.2% as investors poured into stocks on expectations for better earnings in 2004."
2003-12-30 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Peter Viles & Bill Tucker & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
FDA bans ephedra
"A Rand Corporation study released in February found 16K reports of adverse reactions to ephedra, including 2 deaths, 4 heart attacks, 9 strokes, 1 seizure and 5 psychiatric cases [as a result of hundreds of millions of doses consumed].... The U.S. government has never before blocked the sale of over-the-counter dietary supplements... The many pills, powders and herbal remedies taken by millions of Americans is an $18G-a-year business... Todd Schlifstein of NYU Medical: 'A lot of the research that is out there is on 20 healthy subjects by the company who were 20 years old and took it for 2 weeks and they were fine. Well, of course they were. We need more scientific-based research and not research by the companies themselves that produce these supplements.'... The American Medical Association applauded the Bush administration's ban on ephedra, but wants more... Now, sales of products containing ephedra have already dropped sharply, from roughly $1.4G a couple of years ago to an estimated $500G this year. And this is all before the ban has even gone into place... This is Mike Retzer of Strohwig Tool & Die. He's co-founder of a grass-roots group of manufacturers, Save American Manufacturing Now. The group held its first meeting in Wisconsin this past June, expecting 200 people would attend; 1K showed up... SAMNow has members in 16 states. There's also Mad in USA, which is a manufacturing group based in Connecticut. It represents companies that employ 500K workers. And there are grass-roots groups like the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition... Labor unions are also a part of the growing coalition. Upset with the loss of jobs, jobs that typically pay $40K a year and include benefits..."
Sue Cant _f2_/_smh_
Crack-down on IT guest-worker sponsors
"The Department of Immigration is forcing IT companies to take more responsibility for the sponsorship of workers... The Information Technology Contract Recruitment Association expects that about 5 companies with dodgy sponsorship practices may be forced to close. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has given IT recruitment companies, which were out-sourcing visa sponsorship to the contract companies, a 2-month dead-line to become sponsors for about 2K IT workers. The department has audited 10 contract companies, of which about half may be forced to close down... some of the suspect companies were forging documents... The usual practice by recruiters is to outsource the sponsorship of the workers to other contract companies in the same way they would out-source pay-roll and other non-core business functions. But DIMIA regards the recruitment companies, and not the contract companies, as the employer. Under new DIMIA policy no other labour hire or recruitment company can be an intermediary between the sponsor and the client company... ITCRA figures show that 33.2% of successful IT jobs come from the data-bases of recruitment companies. There are about 2800 jobs advertised for IT professionals at any one time, according to ITCRA."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
A U.S. Component Is Added to an Italian Scandal
"The Securities and Exchange Commission said the Italian dairy and food giant Parmalat engaged in 'one of the largest and most brazen corporate financial frauds in history'."
"SES International Corp., is headed by a cousin of Syria's autocratic leader, Bashar Assad, and is controlled by other members of Assad's Baath Party and Alawite clan. Syria's government assisted SES in importing at least one shipment destined for Iraq's military, the Iraqi documents indicate, and Western intelligence reports allege that senior Syrian officials were involved in other illicit transfers. Iraqi records show that SES signed more than 50 contracts to supply tens of millions of dollars' worth of arms and equipment to Iraq's military shortly before the U.S.-led invasion in March. They reveal Iraq's increasingly desperate search in at least a dozen countries for ballistic missiles, antiaircraft missiles, artillery, spare parts for MIG fighter jets and battle tanks, gunpowder, radar systems, nerve agent antidotes and more." --- Bob Drogin & Jeffrey Fleishman _LA Times_
Banned Arms Flowed Through Syrian Firm to Iraq: Files found in Baghdad describe deals violating U.N. sanctions and offer a glimpse into the murky world of weapons smuggling and the ties between 'rogue states'.
Paul Pringle _LA Times_
"Pregnant" San Andreas Fault Could Be Ready to Deliver SE of Los Angeles
"Many scientists say the Coachella Valley is where the 750-mile San Andreas seems most prone for an epic earth-quake, a monster that would be enormously more powerful than the recent temblors in San Simeon, CA, and Bam, Iran... Doug Yule, a geologist at Cal State Northridge, which was badly damaged in the 1994 January 17 disaster. 'The San Andreas will produce the largest earth-quakes.' Yule and his colleagues have dug trenches along the southern section of the fault to carbon-date its buried fissures in hopes of determining just how 'pregnant' it is. Their best guess: The San Andreas, from the Salton Sea to San Bernardino, is at term."
2003-12-31 09:25PST (12:25EST) (17:25GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Unemployment compensation insurance claims fall near 3-year low
"The closely watched 4-week average also fell to a level not seen since early in 2001. The [seasonally adjusted] 4-week moving average of benefits claims filed fell 6,500 to 355,750, the Labor Department reported... For just the week ended last Saturday, new enrollees in state unemployment programs totaled 339K, a decrease of 15K. Weekly claims are at their lowest level since 2001 January 20, and the 4-week average is at the lowest since early February of that year, Labor officials said. However, the number of Americans who continue to collect jobless benefits rose by 81K to 3.32M."
2003-12-31 11:21PST (14:21EST) (19:21GMT)
Jenny Spitz _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Asian & European Stocks Post Best Year Since 1999
"U.S. shares of European and Asian companies had their best performance in 4 years in 2003, and traders say Chinese stock offerings and European mergers could make 2004 as good or better. Sparked by a Latin American recovery and new investment opportunities in Taiwan, China and South Korea, the Bank of New York's Composite ADR Index climbed 33% in 2003, reversing 3 years of declines and achieving its biggest increase since it rose 46% in 1999. Some 33G depositary receipts, valued at $614G, traded in 2003, the bank said. That's a 3% rise in volume from 2002."
2003-12-31 14:33PST (17:33EST) (22:33GMT)
Michael Baron _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US stocks close stellar 2003
"gains not seen since the turn of the millennium. It was an impressive year across the board as the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 2003 with a gain of more than 2,000 points, or 25%. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped an eye-popping 50% to finish above 2,000, returning to that level for the first time in almost two years. And the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the small-cap Russell 2000 Index each soared 26%. On Wednesday the Dow added 29 points, or 0.3%, to finish the year at 10,453.92 while the Nasdaq fell 6.51 points to 2003.37... The Dow's climb represents an increase of 45% over the index's near-term low of 7,197.49 in 2002 October. At its nadir for 2003, the blue-chip barometer fell as low as 7,416.64 in mid-March. The broad S&P 500 index rallied a respectable 26.5% for 2003 with its finish at 1,111.92. Its low for year was 788.90 in mid-March... The Nasdaq Composite rose 50% to close at 2,003.37. This represents a 96% jump off a near-term low of 1,108.49 in mid-October of 2002, and a gain of 60% off its 52-week low of 1,253.22 in mid-March. The Russell 2000 index surged 46% to finish 2003 at 557. Its low for the year was 343.06 also in mid-March."
2003-12-31 15:00PST (18:00EST) (23:00GMT)
John King & Lisa Sylvester & Lou Dobbs _CNN_
USVISIT & national security
"U.S.-VISIT goes into effect Monday at 113 air-ports and 14 sea-ports. Foreign visitors requiring visas will be photographed and finger-printed. When they leave the country, they are required to formally check out. People who overstay their visas will have a harder time returning to the United States in the future. But there are limitations. The program only applies to people required to have visas. That excludes visitors from 28 countries, including Canada, and most of Europe... Richard Norton of the National Biometrics Security Project: 'Probably over 80% of all of our tourists come from visa waiver countries. But they won't have to go through that process.'... And getting people to check out when they leave the country by land is a little tricky. Right now there are checkpoints when people drive into the country. But there are no procedures to stop people when they drive out."
Mary Williams Walsh _NY Times_
Pensions Remain Under-Funded Despite Stock Rally
"This year's stock market rally has added more than $100G to corporate America's depleted pension funds, but even that has not been enough to offset forces that continue to weaken the funds. If all of America's 500 largest companies had to make good on their promises to workers and retirees immediately, they would have to plug a $259G gap in their pension funds, according to a study by Standard & Poor's which will be published soon. A year ago, even though stock prices were lower, the same companies were considerably closer to meeting their obligations, being only $212G short... Most retirees continue to get their pension checks, to be sure. The pension system is not out of money, nor is it expected to run out in the foreseeable future. But over all, companies' pension assets are slipping further behind their obligations, renewing questions about whether enough money will be there for all of the 44M Americans who have been promised pensions sooner or later."
6 Companies Get Federal Telecom Contracts
"Six companies were awarded 4 contracts worth at least $400M by the United States government to build a global network with optical and data networking gear, according to a statement distributed by an arm of the military. Contracts were awarded to the Ciena Corporation, Sprint, Sycamore Networks, Juniper Networks, Qwest Communications International and Cisco Systems, according to a release from the Defense Information Systems Agency."
Paula E. Stephan & Sharon Levin
IT Work-Force: Retention of Women & Minorities
Getting Back on Our Feet: Healing a "Job-Loss" Recovery
"After growing 2.6% in 2001, the rate of economic growth is on a path to exceed 4% in 2003. Yet, despite continued output growth since the official end of the recession in 2001 November, the daily drumbeat of business layoffs continues. Over the 2-year period since the recession ended, 1.8M jobs have been lost during the 'job-loss' recovery."
Dan McGraw _Prism_
My job lies over the ocean
Jack Martin _WebSphere Journal_
"Over 70% of all IT projects fail in some way. Three-quarters go over budget, are delivered late, fail to meet functional requirements, or become financial black holes with no hope of ever recouping the money invested... 40% of IT projects fail to achieve their business case within 1 year. Over 30% of all IT projects will be canceled before completion. Only 16% of all software projects are completed on time and on budget. As off-shoring gains momentum, these statistics can only worsen due to a lack of hands-on control... The problem is that the people who make the decisions at major corporations know next to nothing about IT - and have no desire to learn. The guy running a Fortune 500 company - who thinks that learning to send e-mail and use a browser is a major intellectual accomplishment - is the same guy who approves $100M infra-structure deals... M$'s operating system and Office products are riddled with security flaws and coding mistakes. Considering that they currently have about $48G in the bank, you have to wonder what happened. What happened? Profit -- not quality -- was the Number 1 priority. M$ can afford this because they don't absorb the true cost of ownership of their products, their end users do..."
Diane Ravitch _Hoover Institution_
The Test of Time
"The rhetoric of education-as-panacea was continued during the Depression, World War II, the atomic age, and in the wake of the Soviets' launch of Sputnik. With new funds and pedagogical changes, educators promised, the schools would solve the crisis of the day."
_The California Wellness Foundation_
"Since the 1970s, there has been a move toward contingent employment where employees work more on a project by-project basis. Contingent workers tend to earn lower wages and are less likely to get health insurance and pensions from their work-places."
Catherine C. Candland _CEO Refresher_
Talent Shortage Propaganda
_Iowa Work-Force Development Community Work-Force Research & Development Unit_
Many unemployed and under-employed are willing to go the extra 20 miles
"Many are willing to commute long distances to the Technology Corridor for employment opportunities... 81.3% of unemployed are willing to re-enter work-force... Trained and educated employed work-force (68.1% have education/training beyond high school); 35.4% have under-graduate degree; 15.5% have post-graduate/ professional degree... This group of available labor in the Technology Corridor is comprised of those individuals who are under-employed due to inadequate hours (those working less than 35 hours/week but desiring more hours; 3.6%), low income (those working at wages equal to or less than the national poverty level; 2.4%), and mismatch of skills (those who are working in positions that do not meet their skill or education levels or worked for higher wages at a previous employment; 73.6% have education/ training beyond high school, 33.5% having obtained an under-graduate degree, and 13.1% possess a graduate/ professional degree. Willing to commute 24 miles one way. The under-employed in the Technology Corridor area represent an under-utilized segment of the work-force population that tend to be higher educated and possess a greater desire to change employment (59.1% willing to change employment)."
Compare to 2005 report.
Deborah Woo _UCSC_
University, Industry, and Government Alliances: Escalating Conflicts with the Public Interest
Ron Starner _Site Selection_
Laboring to Find the Right Mix of/in Employees
"The fictional Peter [in 'Office Space'] could just as easily have been speaking for millions of under-employed Americans who daily toil at jobs they don't like for less money than they think they should earn... 'We have a huge, under-employed work force, especially in the high-tech sectors.', says Matt Szuhaj, senior manager for facility and location strategy for Deloitte & Touche Tohmatsu in San Francisco. 'In places like Denver, you have people with Ph.D.s serving coffee. We are certainly at the bottom of the market in terms of labor availability and pay.'... The number of under-employed workers throughout the United States has swelled by 15% since late 1998. Since then, under-employment has increased from 15% of the work force to 17.24%, according to The Pathfinders, a Dallas-based consulting firm that specializes in tracking the under-employed... In the case of the Gateway Commerce Center, Pathfinders found that the area's labor shed of 5 surrounding counties had 59,700 people who were under-employed."
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