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updated: 2013-07-08
2004 December
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2004 December

  "[C]hanges in campaign finance policy have consistently tended to dampen electoral competition, thus favoring the very people who do the legislating." --- Gary C. Jacobson 1980 _Money in Congressional Elections_ pg xviii  


Dice Report: 57,988 job ads

body shop26,518

2004-12-01 07:05PST (10:05EST) (15:05GMT)
Greg Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
ISM Manufacturing index rose from 56.8% in October to 57.8% in November

2004-12-01 07:41PST (10:41EST) (15:41GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US personal income up only 0.6% in October: Spending up 0.7%
BEA report

2004-12-01 10:20PST (13:20EST) (18:20GMT)
Chuck Jaffe _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Be Prepared for Lay-Off
"Roy from Rowley, MA called my radio show Monday, a few days after being laid off.   A regular saver, Roy's concern wasn't so much the day-to-day expenses, but how he should decide which mutual funds he should continue plugging money into each month.   After the show, however, one of my colleagues at WBIX notes that Roy was lucky, in that he was certain he could hold out without a job for months before the job loss would wreak long-term financial havoc.   By comparison, my co-worker felt that a lay-off would become an almost immediate issue, with the bills piling up badly once severance runs out.   On Tuesday, that worker and everyone else at the radio station were laid off."

_Federal Reserve Board_
Beige Book
"Conditions in the high-tech sector also were mixed.   The Boston District reported a considerable softening of orders for semiconductors and related equipment in the third quarter.   In the San Francisco District, sales and orders were unchanged for semiconductors and other high-tech products, which led to rising chip inventories and a slight drop in capacity utilization.   In contrast, the Dallas District noted continued growth in production and orders for high-tech products...   Demand for workers at temporary employment agencies picked up in the Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Richmond and New York Districts.   Shortages of temporary workers were reported in the Boston and New York Districts, and the Boston, Chicago, and Dallas Districts reported an increase in the number of temporary workers obtaining more permanent positions.   Business activity sped up at software and information technology services firms in the Boston District, while demand for legal and accounting services was reported as strong in the Dallas District...   Labor markets continued to improve over the past few weeks, with numerous reports of hiring.   The Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis and New York Districts reported increased hiring or improved labor markets.   Contacts in several Districts noted difficulty finding workers for specific occupations, such as accounting, construction and skilled professionals in the energy industry.   There continued to be little wage pressure in most Districts, although a few Districts noted that higher benefit costs are pushing up total compensation.   Only the Chicago District reported that overall wages increased at a slightly faster pace.   [Body shoppers] in the Boston and Dallas Districts expressed concerns about cost increases, particularly for medical, worker's compensation and state unemployment insurance, and said they were attempting to pass these cost increases on to customers...   Boston: ...   Most manufacturers are holding their U.S. head-counts fairly flat except for acquisitions.   Contacts with rapidly growing sales are adding employees, while those in the semiconductor and furniture industries are laying off.   Pay increases in 2005 are expected to remain [depressed] in the 3% to 4% range, but engineering pay is rising more rapidly.   Respondents report difficulties in finding skilled technical and accounting professionals, as well as skilled machinists and tool-makers."

2004-12-01 13:49PST (16:49EST) (21:49GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks cheer slide in petroleum prices
"Blue chips posted a triple-digit gain to end at a 9-month high Wednesday and the Nasdaq rose to its best level since January, buoyed by a more than 7% drop in oil prices and better than expected manufacturing and consumer spending data.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at its high for the session, rising 162.20 points, or 1.6%, to 10,590.22...   The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed to its best level in more than 10 months, surging 41.42 points, to 2,138.23.   Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index was up 17.55 points, or 1.5%, at 1,191.37."

Alokananda Ghosh _India Telegraph_
NASSCOM has announced plans to issue phony quality cerfificates to off-shoring firms

Debbie Young _Electronic Business_
Is hiring of top management on the up-swing?
"After a 2-year slump, executive hiring in the technology sector is on the rise.   But C-level managers aren't exactly storming the corner offices.   Although some tech sectors are hot, demand is far from increasing across the board.   And, with memories of high-profile cases of executive misconduct and the industry downturn still fresh, executives and companies are courting each other very cautiously...   'Certain areas in the technology sector are thriving.', says John Challenger, CEO of out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.   'Demand is high for those who specialize in network and IT security.   Tech support is another area in which companies are looking for people.'...   In Silicon Valley, there's growing demand for executives willing to shepherd start-ups...   Given the current economic climate, poaching can be an effective strategy.   'Because we went through four years of a dramatic downturn in the market, many outstanding C-level managers stayed in positions they were not especially happy with.', observes John Ferneborg, founder of executive search firm Ferneborg & Associates."

_Akron Beacon Journal_
Temp worker bargaining ruled against by NLRB
"Temporary workers will no longer be able to bargain for job benefits as part of a unit with permanent employees, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled, reversing a Clinton-era precedent."


2004-12-01 16:30PST (19:30EST) (2004-12-02 00:30GMT)
Alistair Barr _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Share-holder activism likely to be lost with exit of CalPers chief Sean Harrigan
"The ouster of Sean Harrigan, president of the largest U.S. pension fund, is a set-back for share-holder activism and corporate governance, according to an expert in the field.   Harrigan, who used his position as head of the California Public Employees' Retirement System to push corporate reform, was voted off the $178G pension fund's board Wednesday.   Calpers has been one of the most vocal institutions pressing companies to resolve corporate governance problems such as auditor independence, executive pay and board structure."

2004-12-02 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 320,435 in the week ending November 27, a decrease of 36,286 from the previous week.   There were 357,811 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003.   The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.8% during the week ending November 20, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the prior week.   The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,335,927, a decrease of 192,760 from the preceding week.   A year earlier, the rate was 2.3% and the volume was 2,949,992."

2004-12-02 07:30PST (10:30EST) (15:30GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted unemployment insurance claims jump 25K to 349K
"The 4-week moving average of new claims rose by 4,250 to 336,500.   In the previous week, jobless claims fell a revised 11K to 324K...   The number of former workers continuing to receive state unemployment benefits fell by 20K to 2.72M in the week ended November 20, the lowest level since 2001 April.   The 4-week average of continuing claims fell by 17,500 to 2.76M, the lowest level since 2001 May."

Seth Schiesel _NY Times_
I Want My Moscow TV
"A lone inventor with a colorful past has come up with a way to let you tap into your home TV reception anywhere in the world."

2004-12-02 09:17PST (12:17EST) (17:17GMT)
Jennifer Waters _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Retail sales are feeble
"The specter of Scrooge haunted U.S. retailers in November as the country's largest chain stores delivered decidedly lack-luster sales results.   'Dismal' is a good word.', said Mike Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers.   With 66 chain retailers having reported their tallies, sales at stores open longer than a year -- an industry bench-mark known as same-store sales -- rose a meager 1.7%."

2004-12-02 12:58PST (15:58EST) (20:58GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Crude petroleum under $44 per barrel
"Crude-oil futures closed under $44 [per] barrel Thursday, returning to their mid-September levels, as higher U.S. distillate inventories and near-term forecasts for mild weather throughout much of the nation eased heating-fuel concern.   At the same time, natural-gas futures dropped 8% to mark a 4-session losing streak...   Crude for January delivery fell to a low of $42.50 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange before closing at $43.25 a barrel, down $2.24, or 4.9%, for the session and at its lowest settlement level since September 16.   On Wednesday, prices dropped 7.4%, the biggest one-day hit in three-and-a-half years, according to Alaron Trading.   In Thursday's trading, January heating oil fell 7.21 cents, or 5.4%, to close at $1.2572 a gallon.   January unleaded gas lost 5.98 cents, or 5%, to end at $1.1414 a gallon."

Brier Dudley _Seattle Times_
Washington State's Tech Leaders Look Ahead
"University research programs are strong and have helped create numerous companies, but money for under-graduate education has steadily declined over those 12 years, he said...   high minimum wage, regulatory structure and worker costs...   Yesterday's 'policy forum' was a sort of Northwest debut for TechNet, a Silicon Valley-based industry group [for tech executives] that hosted the event along with the Technology Alliance, a state organization formed in 1996 by William H. Gates, father of the M$ chairman.   TechNet had similar events earlier this fall in Texas, Massachusetts and California.   One motivation for the forums was angst about out-sourcing and concerns that 'some of these jobs are going to go off-shore'...   Yesterday's gathering was also a preview of the high profile the tech industry is expected to have in the Legislature and in Congress next year.   The industry's state priorities include improving higher-education spending and improving transportation...   Last year, 44% of workers in the state were employed by technology-based companies, and their average income was more than $91K, according to a study UW researchers prepared for the Technology Alliance.   The state's education system needs to produce more computer-science graduates, said Jim Allchin, head of M$'s platform group.   He noted that M$ has to recruit outside the U.S., 'looking for every individual we can get' [only not looking very hard in the USA]."

Sam Francis _V Dare_
Why not enforce laws against illegal immigration and leave innocent Americans alone?
"the horror to which we have all become so habituated that nobody even notices it -- that perfectly innocent, law-abiding Americans are stopped, their time consumed, and their property pawed over by government parasites who have no better way to justify their presence at the public trough...   The issue of illegal immigration is rapidly gathering political force in places like Suffolk because such places have not enjoyed all the glories of mass immigration the Open Borders Lobby has promised them for so long.   The issue will come to many, many more such places as those glories fail to arrive there either...   The problem is [illegal] immigration and the refusal of public authority at any level in the countryófrom the White House to the county copsóto deal with it...   if you make it a few miles over the border, you need have no fear of being busted for violating federal immigration statutes because the authorities don't even try to enforce them.   The horror is that despite the obvious harm of mass immigration on the daily life of American communities, authorities are not willing to take any even elementary steps to control or check it.   Their reluctance obviously doesn't extend to snooping around law-abiding Americans who have to put up with random 'bomb searches'."


2004-12-03 13:11PST (16:11EST) (21:11GMT)
Rex Crum _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Red China's Lenovo lining up to buy Ill-Begotton Monstrosities' PeeeCeee division
"Its name certainly doesn't carry the recognition of Dell, Hewlett-Packard or Apple Computer, but [Red China's] Lenovo Group could climb up the personal-computer food chain if it ends up buying IBM's PC business.   Lenovo, which sells low-margin PCs in [Red China] under the Legend brand, is reportedly negotiating for IBM's PC business for as much as $2G.   IBM officials declined to comment.   Lenovo's Legend line is still relatively unknown outside of [Red China], and research firm Gartner Group pegs the company's share of worldwide PC shipments at 2%, placing it in 9th place between Gateway Inc. and Apple.   IBM holds third place, behind Dell and H-P, with a 5.6% market share.   But Lenovo has made strides in the PC market, mostly through its strength in [Red China], and is expected to boost its worldwide 2004 shipments by more than 30% from 2003, to 3.7M units, according to Gartner.   Lenovo is expected to increase shipments faster than the 25% rate forecast for Dell Inc...   IBM's personal systems group, for example, reported a pre-tax operating profit of $70M on $9.4G in revenue for the first nine months of 2004, but the division lost $127M on revenue of $8G during the same period in 2003."

2004-12-03 15:26PST (18:26EST) (23:26GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks notch solid gains on drop in petroleum prices but falling dollar & weak employment data cast a pall
"U.S. stocks ended higher Friday, wrapping up a week of solid gains sparked by a 14% drop in crude-oil prices.   However, new lows for the dollar and a weaker-than-expected November employment report fueled concern about the outlook for the U.S. economy.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 7.09 points, at 10,592.21, putting in a 0.7% gain for the week...   The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.39 points at 2,147.96, rising 2.2% on the week.   The tech-rich index reached a new intraday high for the year of 2,164, surpassing the previous high of 2,153 hit on January 26.   The S&P 500 Index edged up 0.84 points, to 1,191.17.   It was up 0.7% for the week."

Susan Ashworth _Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal_
Controversy accompanies new cap on tech visas
"Although new federal legislation raising the cap on specialized work visas should help satisfy Silicon Valley companies' call for more high-tech immigrant workers, critics say the increase will hurt U.S. citizens...   Some professional IT trade organizations, like the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), oppose the increase, saying 'these programs have been used to displace higher-paid U.S. workers and replace them with lower-paid, often less-qualified, foreign temporary workers.   This legislation... may result in the filling of some electrical/electronics engineering positions by lesser-experienced engineers than would otherwise be the case.', says Al Gray, NSPE's executive director.   'The evidence indicates that there is currently no shortage of engineers for positions in the high-tech industry, and the need for 20K additional temporary visas is questionable.   As these H-1B technical professionals locate in Silicon Valley, they will bring further employment pressures on the high-tech engineering professionals.', Mr. Gray says.   According to IEEE-USA, a professional technical society, statistics indicate that engineering professionals in the United States have indeed benefited from a limited cap on H-1B visas...   'Plenty of U.S. citizens are still available for U.S. companies to hire.', Mr. Steadman explains.   'Until we have put more (U.S. technical professionals) back to work, (there was) no reason to add another exemption to the H-1B cap.'"


Linda Greenhouse _NY Times_
Supreme Court to Hear Case on Cable as Internet Carrier
"The Supreme Court stepped into one of the most heated debates over the future of the Internet: how to classify Internet cable service for purposes of federal regulation."

_NY Times_
Stop the Stadium in Its Tracks
"We don't believe that a hulking football stadium, built with millions in public money, is the way to develop the West Side of Manhattan."

2004-12-04 14:58PST (17:58EST) (22:58GMT)
Jennifer Waters _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
What happened to the middle class?: Some moving up while others face tougher times
"For the third straight month, manufacturing -- the bread and butter of the middle- to lower-middle class -- lost jobs, exclusively in the higher-paying computer product and auto production segments.   After significant job gains from February through May, manufacturing employment has not moved, according to the Labor Department.   As disconcerting was the loss of 16K retail jobs last month -- a time when retailers are typically staffing up for the holiday shopping period.   But average hourly earnings rose 1 cent to $15.83 in November, making for an annual increase of 2.4%, while the average work week dwindled for the first time since August.   'We're seeing a small percentage of the population getting a larger percentage of the income.', Northern Trust's Chief Economist Paul Kasriel said.   The 'real incomes' of the WM demographic 'are not growing', he said.   John Challenger, whose name is on the door of job specialists Challenger, Gray and Christmas, agreed.   'The jobs that are growing are more skilled jobs.', he said, such as in health care.   'What we've seen is that the un-skilled to semi-skilled jobs that used to pay much more money no longer do.   For the middle-class, where there were once many jobs for the semi-skilled, they have become few and far between.'"

Norm Matloff _H1-B/L-1/Off-Shoring News-Letter_
Exemption of those with advanced degrees from H-1B limits
Regarding weak limits on L-1 visas
Regarding the additional 20K H-1B limit exemption for those with higher degrees
"a CW editor whom I met at the ITAA/DoC 'convocation' mentioned that the Boston papers were screaming about a teacher 'shortage' at the time, yet his teacher wife couldn't get a job.   That helped him see the deceptive nature of the claims of a techie labor shortage, and from then on, CW has given balanced coverage to these issues...   the INS [USCIS] data show that the median salary for computer-related H-1Bs was $50K in 2001 (_Report on Characteristics of Specialty Occupation Workers (H-1B): Fiscal Year 2001_, 2002 July)."

Jerome R. Stockfisch _Tampa Tribune_
Work for Florida Jobs Agency Has Been Sent Over-Seas
"The state agency charged with finding jobs for Floridians has itself contracted for work that is being performed in India...   State senator Walter 'Skip' Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale, has been pressing state agencies and the companies they contract with for information on those deals.   Records obtained by the senator indicate that the Agency for Work-Force Innovation, formerly the state's Labor Department, contracted in 2001 with what is now HCL Technologies Ltd.'s MA operation to establish a one-stop computer system, consolidating and stream-lining older systems.   In a letter to Campbell, HCL said work on the $6.6M contract takes place at the agency site in Tallahassee with 'some coding' done at HCL's off-shore center at Mumbai, India.   The letter did not detail the extent of that work, and Rajiv Shesh, president of HCL Technologies (MA) Inc. wouldn't provide additional detail Friday.   The volume is not an issue to Campbell.   'It's the total anti-thesis of what they're supposed to be doing.', Campbell said...   Bush said he was unaware of the contract.   He has stated that Florida should not out-source state jobs to foreign companies...   Campbell has become the Senate's watchdog on privatization and out-sourcing.   In October, he discovered that BearingPoint Inc., another state technology contractor, had subcontracted work in a deal with the Department of Financial Services to a company that also performed work in India...   Florida spends $23G on services from the private sector.   That's about 40% of the $57G state budget.   There are about 116K full- time state employees, down about 10,400 from when Bush became governor in 1998."


Mireya Navarro _NY Times_
For Younger Latinas, a Shift to Smaller Families
"Latina women are resisting the social pressures that shaped the Hispanic tradition of big families."

Rob Walker _NY Times_
The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders
"Why would regular people volunteer to turn their daily interactions into marketing moments?"

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin _NY Times_
"'For people who have always been very competent, forgetting brings a disturbing sense of the loss of control and mastery.' [said Oliver Sacks]."

Lawrence Downes _NY Times_
A Soldier's Story: The Curious Transformation of a Son of Dynasty
"Mayor Richard Daley's 29-year-old son was a managing partner at Companion Capital.   By next month, he'll be a grunt in the United States Army."

Marshall Loeb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_/_State College Centre Daily_
Stick to the truth when writing resume
NY Daily News
"An estimated 10% to 30% of job applicants lie on their resumes, according to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consulting company. And those fudging aren't just young, inexperienced workers: Top-level executives are resume fraudsters, too."


Louis Uchitelle _NY Times_
Consumer spending
"As consumption has risen in America, absorbing 80% of national income now, the production of goods and services has migrated over-seas.   That is the polar opposite of the post-World War II experience.   Then, Americans consumed what they also produced; income from production paid for consumption.   Today, in contrast, 21% of what consumers purchase comes from abroad, and the figure has risen by a percentage point every two years since 1990, according to Commerce Department data.   The figures do not include gasoline or fuel oil.   The imports are purchased on credit -- consumer credit -- and therein lies the stress...   Foreigners are helping to make the indebtedness possible by subsidizing consumer credit through more than $600G a year in loans to the United States...   By all the rules of international economics, Mr. Roach's prognosis of impending crisis is accurate.   Americans cannot endlessly purchase more than they can pay for, while the producing countries, particularly [Red China], provide endless credit to cover the short-fall.   That willingness to lend props up the dollar's value -- until the day comes that Chinese consumers purchase more of their own country's output, and the pressure to export and to finance the exports declines."

Tom Zeller _NY Times_
Beijing Loves the Web Until the Web Talks Back
"[Red China's] government has strategically deployed the Internet to economic advantage, while clamping down on undesirable content and use."

David P. Willis _Asbury Park NJ Press_
Security fears cause parents to do fund raising from home or office for their children
"Some companies don't have any policy against it.   At Lucent Technologies, such sales are not obtrusive and only happen about once a year, spokesman John Skalko said.   'It is generally dealt with within a work group.   These are people you have to work with all the time, so you don't abuse it.', Skalko said.   'People are expected to be reasonable and they are.'   John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of the job placement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. in Chicago, said it's appropriate to ask to your boss what's allowed.   'I think where it is particularly a problem is when it gets out of hand.', Challenger said.   'I think that most companies do look the other way until it becomes onerous.'   Fellow employees also have a way of letting the sellers know when it becomes too much, Challenger said.   'People will self-correct.   If people begin to feel put upon, they will begin to say no.'"

2004-12-06 03:57PST (06:57EST) (11:57GMT)
John Oates & Nathan McCourtney & Walter Nodelman _Register_
on off-shoring
"Connecticut only... H-1B Temporary Workers year 1997 2,979 H-1B Temporary Workers year 1998 2,979 H-1B Temporary Workers year 1999 3,826 H-1B Temporary Workers year 2000 4,310 H-1B Temporary Workers year 2001 4,663 H-1B Temporary Workers year 2002 4,835 Six Years Total 23,592.   L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 1997 5,711 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 1998 5,711 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 1999 6,708 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 2000 7,918 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 2001 8,693 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 2002 8,609 Six Years Total 43,350 Grand Total Connecticut Jobs Lost 66,942 NBC 30 reported Connecticut Jobs Lost 70K Difference (overstatement) 3,058.   This 66,942 only represents those jobs which were stolen from us by foreign workers who arrived here to work.   The number does not count jobs taken by spouses or young adult children of that visa holder.   Multiplied by 50 states, that calculates out to 3,347,100 jobs lost across my country.   Not 400K which is UBS's fictional numbers.   In addition to these 66,942 stolen jobs, there are the OFF-SHORING situations where the USA job itself was sent to India or elsewhere, rather than bringing the foreign worker to Connecticut."

2004-12-06 10:49PST (13:49EST) (18:49GMT)
Stan Gibson _Yahoo!_/_eWeek_
Job Market Is Expected to Remain Depressed
"Another force applying downward pressure to U.S. IT wages is the increase by Congress, just before the ThanksGiving break, of 20K to the current H-1B visa limit of 65K.   The catch: The 20K visas must go to foreign nationals who have earned advanced degrees at U.S. universities.   Exempting the cream of the crop from the cap relieves pressure at lower skill levels, an executive at an out-sourcer noted.   'It frees up some number of other people.', said Marc Hebert, executive vice president at Sierra Atlantic, an out-sourcing company [cross-border body shop and off-shoring outfit] with offices in Hyderabad, India, and Fremont, CA."

Aaron Bernstein _Business Week_
The Red China Price: Shaking Up Trade Theory: details details
"True, [Red China] is emerging as a global power-house, realigning many economic relationships.   But in the long run a more disruptive trend may be the fast-rising tide of white-collar jobs shifting to cheap-labor countries.   The fact that programming, engineering, and other high-skilled jobs are jumping to places such as [Red China] and India seems to conflict head-on with the 200-year-old doctrine of comparative advantage.   With these countries now graduating more college students than the U.S. every year, economists are increasingly uncertain about just where the U.S. has an advantage anymore -- or whether the standard framework for understanding globalization still applies in the face of so-called white-collar off-shoring.   'Now we've got trade patterns that challenge the common view of trade theory, which might not be so true anymore.', says Gary C. Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics (IIE), a Washington (DC) think tank.   A leading advocate of free-trade pacts, he still thinks white-collar job shifts are good for the U.S.   The great debate percolating among the country's top trade economists gained new prominence with a recent article by Nobel laureate Paul A. Samuelson in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP).   In the piece, the 89-year-old professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology... questions whether rising skills in [Red China] and India necessarily will benefit the U.S...   Consultant Forrester Research Inc. (FORR ) in Cambridge, Mass., was among the first to spot the white-collar job shifts and has done the most detailed projections so far.   It sees the pace of U.S. job flows abroad averaging 300K a year through 2015.   This is probably conservative since Forrester has also found that the number of U.S. companies among the 1K largest that engage in some level of white-collar off-shoring will rise sharply -- from 37% today to 54% by 2008.   Already, some 14M white-collar jobs involve work that can be shipped electronically and thus in theory could be moved off-shore, according to a study by economists Ashok D. Bardhan and Cynthia A. Kroll at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business.   The hit to wages could be powerful if that happens.   Forrester analyst John C. McCarthy identified 242 service jobs as likely to be affected among the 500-plus major occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).   He ranked each by the share of jobs employers are likely to shift abroad by 2015.   His conclusion: The cumulative job outflow will total 3.4M over that period.   That comes to 6% of the 57M people who work in these 242 occupations today.   If that's in the ballpark, U.S. white-collar wages would get whacked, says Harvard University labor economist Lawrence F. Katz.   Every 1% drop in employment due to imports or factories gone abroad shaves 0.5% off pay for remaining workers, he found in a study with Harvard colleagues Richard B. Freeman and George J. Borjas.   So if job losses rise to 6% of the white-collar total, these workers' pay could be depressed by 2% to 3% through 2015, figures Katz.   While a few percentage points over a decade or so may not sound dire, it's roughly as much as blue-collar workers lost to globalization in recent decades.   'White-collar workers have a right to be scared.', says Katz...   just 30% of laid-off workers earn the same or more after three years, according to a study of 22 years of BLS data by economics professor Lori G. Kletzer of the University of California at Santa Cruz.   Only 68% even hold a job at that point, while the rest are unemployed, retired, or perhaps at home with children.   On average, those reemployed earn 10% less than before, Kletzer found."

2004-12-06 10:01PST (13:01EST) (18:01GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Off-Shoring Study a Welcome Surprise in Budget Bill: But will industry bias continue to plague efforts to gather the information
"So far, the government has simply lacked the data to determine off-shore out-sourcing's impact on the U.S. work force, said Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia.   Wolf initiated the measure to grant $2M to the independent, non-partisan National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) for the study.   The new study will provide a break-down of how many jobs have gone abroad and from which industries.   That analysis could have huge implications for future job creation, wage growth and the plight of the middle class... One prominent national study, from the U.S.-[Red China] Economic and Security Review Commission, estimated that 406K U.S. jobs will be shifted off-shore this year, a number well above the Labor Department's estimate. The number is likely even higher, the report's authors suggested, given that companies are reluctant to publicize job shifts abroad."


2004-12-06 16:15PST (19:15EST) (2004-12-07 00:15GMT)
4 Enter Pleas to Filing Hundreds of Bogus Visa Applications
"A local Iranian media personality and 3 other Southland residents pleaded not guilty Monday to filing bogus employment visa applications on behalf of hundreds of foreign nationals seeking U.S. entry.   The 4, who were arrested last month, allegedly charged their clients -- mostly Iranian nationals -- $8K-$30K for the fraudulent documents, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.   Henry Hossein Haghighi Heguman, a 59-year-old West Hills resident and businessman who appears regularly on local Iranian television and radio, is the alleged leader of the scheme.   Heguman is charged along with Bita Hoffman, 39, of Carlsbad, a partner in the law firm Hoffman, Rahmaty & Associates in Van Nuys; Farideh Mir, 58, of Sherman Oaks, an employee of Hoffman's firm; and Grace Houra Shahraz Edison, a 49-year-old Canoga Park businesswoman."

2004-12-07 08:40PST (11:40EST) (16:40GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Lay-off announcements top 100K for 3rd straight month (graph)
alternate link
"U.S. corporations announced plans to eliminate 104,530 jobs in November, the third consecutive month that planned lay-offs exceeded 100K, according to a tally kept by out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.   Announced jobs cuts increased 2.6% in November from October's 101,840, and were up 5.1% from 2003 November's 99,452, the firm said Tuesday...   Through the first 11 months of 2004, announced lay-offs totaled 930,690, down 19% year-to-date.   It's likely that announced job cuts will exceed 1M for a fourth straight year in 2004...   The 12-month average of announced job cuts rose to 85,309 from 84,886 in October...   Robert Brusca said the trend in the data is worsening...   According to Brusca, in the 7 years before the 2001 recession, lay-offs averaged about 46K during November.   In 2001, 2002 and 2003, November lay-offs averaged about 158K...   So far in 2004, telecom firms have cut 96,696 jobs, nearly equaling 2003's 102,602.   Financial firms have announced plans to eliminate 91,572 jobs so far in 2004...   On Tuesday, Colgate-Palmolive announced job reductions of 4,400, or 12% of its global work-force...   According to government data, there were 1.76M lay-offs and involuntary discharges during September, the most recent data available.   Other government statistics show that 7.31M jobs were destroyed in the first quarter of the year, while 7.75M jobs were created."

R. Craig Hogan quoted in _NY Times_
E-writing Well
"E-mail is a party to which English teachers have not been invited.   It has companies tearing their hair out."

Floyd Norris _NY Times_
U.S. Students Fare Badly in International Survey of Math Skills
John Taylor Gatto
"The U.S. finished in the bottom half of 40 surveyed countries in a new international comparison of mathematical skills."

Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
3 California Grocery Chains Agree in Suit Over Janitors' Wages and Hours
"Three California super-market chains have settled a suit filed by immigrant janitors who said they often earned below minimum wage and were never paid over-time."

Dennis Overbye _NY Times_
String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not)
"String theorists agree that it has been a long, strange trip, but they still have faith that they will complete the journey."

Danielle Ofri _NY Times_
Sometimes, Doctors Find Answers Far Off the Charts
"Sometimes, it is only when the patient is halfway out the door that important information spills out."

Jonathan Yaden
"In 1994-04-12 spam first entered the Internet world in the form of an unsolicited usenet advertisement, sometimes referred to as the 'green card lottery' posting [or 'green mail']."

Daniel Griswold _Center for Trade Policy Studies Cato Institute_
Immigration: Beyond the Barbed Wire
"His re-election provides a mandate to push ahead with changes that will help the many people who want to work in the United States and, if history is any guide, alleviate the very real problem of illegal immigration...   Today an estimated 9M [8M to 16M] people are living in the United States illegally, with the number growing by an estimated net 350K [per] year [750K to 800K per year].   Simply throwing more money and man-power at the problem hasn't worked.   Since the early 1990s, we've quintupled spending and tripled personnel at the Mexican border.   We've built 3-tiered walls for 60 miles into the desert.   We've imposed sanctions on employers for the first time in U.S. history...   Our economy continues to produce opportunities for low-skilled workers in important sectors of our economy such as retail, services, construction, and tourism."

2004-12-07 05:00PST (08:00EST) (13:00GMT)
Anthony Mitchell _eCommerce Times_
American Woman Follows Her Job to India
"In 2003, Tara was working in the U.S. as a trainer of customer service representatives for Earthlink, an Internet service provider.   It was her fourth year with Earthlink and she was asked to go to India twice to train her replacements.   Earthlink sent her to Hyderabad to help set up Earthlink's new support center in that South Indian city.   These trips familiarized her with living conditions there.   They also gave her the confidence to accept a job offer as the chief trainer and head of client relations from an InternationalStaff.net contract facility in Hyderabad after her position with Earthlink was eliminated in 2003 October...   lack of mutual understanding lengthens the learning curve when people from one part of the world seek to work in another part of the world, even when that work is conducted remotely."

2004-12-07 07:39PST (10:39EST) (15:39GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Productivity growth revised lower to 1.8%
BLS report
"Output per hour worked in the non-farm business sector rose by an annualized 1.8% in the July-September quarter, down from a 1.9% estimate released a month ago...   Productivity rose 3.9% in the second quarter and 3.7% in the first quarter...   There were signs of increasing inflationary pressures from the labor market.   Unit labor costs -- a key gauge of inflation and profit pressures -- increased at a revised 1.8% annual rate in the third quarter, up from the earlier estimate of 1.5%.   In addition, unit labor costs in the second quarter were revised to a 1.9% gain from the previous estimate of a 1.0% gain.   This is the highest level of labor costs since the second quarter of 2002.   Over the past four quarter, unit labor costs rose 0.8%.   This is the largest annual increase since the third quarter of 2001."

_PR News Wire_
Former Tufts U Medical Student Convicted of Visa Violations, Loan & Scholarship Fraud
"Arijit Kumar Chowdhury, a.k.a. Steve Valdez, a.k.a. Dale Barber, age 36, formerly of Somerville, MA, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro to a 3-count indictment charging him with fraud in connection with obtaining Federally Guaranteed Stafford Loans totaling approximately $98,865; fraud in obtaining a half-tuition scholarship from Tufts University; and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in obtaining a $36,666 scholarship under the Department's Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program...   Chowdhury entered the United States from his native India in the late 1980s, on a student visa.   After spending 2 years at Texas A&M University, Chowdhury left college and his visa expired.   Chowdhury remained in the United States, however, using the name Steven Valdez and a social security number taken from an individual with a similar name.   Using the name Valdez, Chowdhury falsely claimed to be a United States citizen, falsely claimed to be of Hispanic ethnic background, and falsely claimed to be an orphan.   Based on these false representations, Chowdhury was admitted to Oberlin College and later to Tufts Medical School, financing his education with scholarships that were ear-marked for students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as student loans that were available only to U.S. citizens."

Rick Smith _Local Tech Wire_
Off-Shoring Continues To Accelerate (more shortage propaganda)
Duke university report
Techs Unite
"'Less than 5% post-poned off-shoring plans due to political back-lash.'...   A study released in September by the Center for Urban Economic Development found that 400K IT sector jobs have been lost since 2001...   93% said cutting costs was the main decision driver..."

E.J. Mundell _Springfield MO News-Leader_
DHEA may help older adults shed belly fat
"Preliminary evidence suggests that increased levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a natural hormone secreted by the adrenal gland, might also help older people keep diabetes at bay.   'The replacement of DHEA, at doses of 50 milligrams per day, brought back DHEA levels in older persons to the range seen in youth.   This resulted in a reduction in abdominal fat that was accompanied by an improvement in insulin action.', explained study co-researcher Dr. Dennis T. Villareal, an assistant professor of geriatrics and nutritional science at Washington University in St. Louis.   The findings appeared in the November 10 issue of the _Journal of the American Medical Association_ [JAMA]...   Doctors have long known that belly fat tends to accumulate with aging, just as DHEA levels begin to fall.   'DHEA declines progressively with age', Villareal said, 'so that when we're 70 years old we only have about 20% of the DHEA we had when we were young.'...   DHEA supplements might even be harmful for people with a history of hormone-sensitive cancers, such as tumors of the breast or prostate.   Anding pointed out that participants in the St. Louis study who took DHEA supplements experienced a 'significant' rise in blood levels of estradiol (an estrogen-like hormone) and testosterone, hormones commonly connected to breast and prostate cancers, respectively."


Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, signed into law today, exempts up to 20K individuals that have received a master's or doctor's degree from a US university from the other H-1B caps.

2004-12-08 10:51PST (13:51EST) (18:51GMT)
August Cole & Jennifer Inez Ward _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Red China's Lenovo buys Ill-Begotten Monstrosities PeeeCeee unit for $1.75G
"Lenovo Group Ltd., [Red China's] top computer maker, will buy IBM's personal computing business for $1.75G in stock and cash in a transaction that signals a dramatic shift in the global PC market.   Under terms of the deal, which is set to close in the second quarter of 2005, IBM will get $650M in cash and $600M in Lenovo stock, according to the companies.   Lenovo is expected to assume $500M in balance sheet liabilities, as well."

Jim Yardley _NY Times_
Farmers Being Moved Aside by Red China's Real Estate Boom
"A two-tiered property system favors city dwellers while handicapping the farmers once at the core of Chinese society."

2004-12-08 02:46PST (05:46EST) (10:46GMT)
Karin Rives _Raleigh News Observer_
Higher guest-worker visa limit gets mixed reception
"A list of foreign labor certifications that Raleigh employers filed with the U.S. Department of Labor in the past year shows the breadth of the skills that companies hire for.   Their foreign-born employees work as elementary school teachers, university researchers, management consultants, engineers, scientists, chefs, architects and physicians and a host of other positions, although a disproportionate share of the jobs are in the information technology field.   The certifications must be filed as part of the H-1B visa application or when an H-1B employee changes status or needs to renew the visa.   Anwar Sareef, CEO of Raleigh's Alpha-Gamma Technologies, has had to tap into the global work force for years...   But Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild, a Summit, NJ-based group opposing the new visa extension, isn't so sure.   He worries that companies hire foreign workers to prepare them to handle the jobs when they later are shipped over-seas...   JM, 25, a software programmer from Cary, doesn't think the 20K additional visas will make much of a difference for job seekers like himself.   But he wishes employers were a little less picky about whom they hire.   'They just don't want to spend any time training anyone.', he said.   'They take it too far.'"

2004-12-08 08:24PST (11:24EST) (16:24GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
ISM says purchasing managers optimistic but hesitant to buy in 2005 but are starting to think about hiring
"U.S. corporate purchasing managers expect business to improve in 2005, the Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday.   Both manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors are more optimistic about the coming year than they were a year ago, the ISM said in its semiannual outlook.   Both sectors expect strong top-line growth in revenues, much slower capital spending and much stronger job growth.   Inflation and energy costs are the top concerns of the executives.   And, despite their optimism about their own firms, the executives are also worried about a weak U.S. economy next year.   Benefit costs and geopolitical problems are the other top concerns of the executives...   Employment is expected to rise 1.6%, compared with 0.3% in the past year...   Employment in non-manufacturing is expected to grow a healthy 3.1%, up from 1.6% this year."

Paul Brubaker _Montclair NJ Times_
Pascrell spear-heads bill limiting guest-worker abuse
"Nearly a year ago, Montclair resident Sona Shah was one of many citizens who called on representative Bill Pascrell jr., D-8, to take legislative action against companies that abuse guest-worker visa programs by hiring technically skilled foreign workers far below the prevailing wages of their American counterparts...   His legislation, the 'Defend the American Dream Act of 2004', is specifically aimed at abuses of the H1-B visa program.   This program had been introduced under the Clinton administration to aid the nation's technology sector that, in the 1990s, was believed to be experiencing a shortage of skilled workers.   Since then, however, businesses have used the program as a loop-hole to increase their profit margins by hiring skilled foreign workers for comparatively low wages.   The foreign workers are often schooled in the business' procedures and culture by the American workers they later displace...   Pascrell's legislation [does the following]:

... The bill falls short of providing something that Shah and other displaced workers have been calling for: an annual cap on the number of [L-1] visas issued."

Trigaux _St. Petersburg Times_
104,530 planned lay-offs
"U.S. employers in November announced plans to reduce their work forces by 104,530.   That's the third straight month in which planned job lay-offs surpassed 100K, putting the nation on pace to have 1M lay-offs for 2004, according to job tracker Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago."

Paul Brubaker _Montclair NJ Times_
Pascrell spear-heads bill limiting guest-worker visas: Proposal follows year of dialogue concerning the issue with local resident
"Nearly a year ago, Montclair resident Sona Shah was one of many citizens who called on representative Bill Pascrell jr, D-8, to take legislative action against companies that abuse 'guest-worker' visa programs by hiring technically skilled foreign workers far below the prevailing wages of their American counterparts...   businesses have used the program as a loophole to increase their profit margins by hiring skilled foreign workers for comparatively low wages.   The foreign workers are often schooled in the business' procedures and culture by the American workers they later displace.   'They have to train these people and they lose their job.', Pascrell said...   SS, who became a naturalized citizen after arriving in the United States from India at the age of 3, lost her job as a program analyst for ADP Wilco in 1998.   Last February, Shah testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations and out-lined ADP Wilco's system of bringing programmers from India to replace American programmers.   She said that the Indian recruits would become disgruntled once they understood that they were severely under-paid compared to their U.S. counterparts and were restricted by their visas from seeking better employment at other companies...   Pascrell's legislation, which he said would be reintroduced when Congress reconvenes next month, provides for the following reforms: Requiring employers of H1-B visa holders to pay the prevailing wage.   Requiring employers to prove they have actively recruited U.S. workers.   Centralizing enforcement in the Department of Labor by giving it the power to audit employers and investigate potential abuses of the H1-B program.   Establishing an H1-B visa fee to fund science and technology training grants for U.S. workers.   Establishing a private right of action, which would allow employees to bring private lawsuits to claim mistreat-ment.   'No one is trying to shut down H1-B.', Pascrell said.   'What we're trying to shut down is the immoral and pretentious and expedient implementation of H1-B...   Just before Congress recessed for Thanksgiving, a revision was made to the Senate's Omnibus Appropriations bill that expanded the number foreign workers admitted under the H1-B visa program from 65K to 85K."


Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
Unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 467,554 in the week ending December 4, an increase of 147,256 from the previous week.   There were 486,202 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003.   The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3% during the week ending November 27, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from the prior week.   The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,888,190, an increase of 567,228 from the preceding week.   A year earlier, the rate was 2.7% and the volume was 3,397,952."

Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted unemployment insurance claims up: 4-week average up a seasonally adjusted 4,750 to 341,250
"The [seasonally adjusted] number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time rose unexpectedly by 8K to 357K last week, the Labor Department said Thursday...   The number of former workers continuing to receive state unemployment benefits rose by 91K to 2.8M in the week ended December 4.   The [seasonally adjusted] 4-week average of continuing claims fell by 3K to 2.76M, the lowest level since 2001 May."

2004-12-09 09:54PST (12:54EST) (17:54GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Household debt rose 9.1% in Q3
report from the Federal Reserve Board
"Debt levels of U.S. households increased at a 9.1% annual rate in the third quarter to $9.95T, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.   Household net worth increased about half as fast, rising $545G to $46.7T, the Fed said in its quarterly flow of funds report."

Chris O'Brien _San Jose Mercury News_
Lean times linger for valley firms
"almost [5] years after the down-turn in technology spending began, high-tech companies still find themselves clawing for any sale they can get...   All over the region, companies that sell technology are being forced to slash costs, look for more business over-seas, try to buy competitors, revamp marketing strategies and keep a tight lid on jobs in the United States...   This is bad news if you're a long-suffering job hunter.   It's good news if you're a Fortune 500 company like FedEx...   tech spending will grow only modestly over the next 12 months...   At the same time, the forecast projects improvement will only translate into job growth in the Bay Area of 1% to 2% in 2005.   Steve Cochrane, an economist at Economy.com, projects growth in tech spending will slow from 14% in 2004 to 9% in the first quarter of 2005 and 5% in the second quarter.   Cochrane said there are no compelling innovations emerging to spur larger spending...   Gartner is projecting that tech spending will only grow about 5% to 7% in 2005...   For 2005, Thompson Financial predicts only a [huge] 15% increase in tech profits compared to a projected 40% increase for 2004...   Meta Group, a technology market-research firm, projects total tech spending in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region will surpass North America in 2005, and spending in the Asia-Pacific region, while smaller, is growing faster.   Juniper Networks of Sunnyvale has seen its revenues grow 83% in the first 9 months of 2004 compared with the same period in 2003.   Almost 50% of the revenue in 2004 came from over-seas, compared with about 30% in 2001."

Phillip Robinson _SeaCoastOnLine_
Out-Sourcing the CEO Could Save Thousands of Jobs
"When an American programmer makes $60K and a Ph.D.-holding, English-speaking Indian programmer $6K, that's hard for companies to resist.   Add in the pensions you can skip here by laying off older Americans in favor of young Indians.   You can also use special visas to bring some of those foreign workers here to push down wage rates for the jobs that remain in the United States.   And you can stop paying for health-care benefits because they're covered by government in many other countries.   The savings just get bigger and bigger.   And you'll move to the lower U.S. tax bracket for over-seas operations.   Plus you'll pocket the tax subsidies given by other countries to attract off-shoring work.   And if those Indians get uppity and start raising their rates, you'll just threaten to move the jobs to [Red China], with even more millions desperate for work, willing to work for less and less...   Why doesn't this out-sourcing analysis apply to the CEO and other top execs?...   Talk about over-paid: American CEOs used to make 30 times as much as the average worker.   Now they make 400 times as much.   Add in the stock options, mega-pensions, corporate jets, club memberships, loans that don't have to be paid back, and the CEO total take is even richer.   There's the fat to cut, the waste to eliminate.   Other countries get fine executives for a fraction of what we pay here.   Many big European and Japanese corporations, those same outfits American companies cite when pleading that out-sourcing is a necessity to stay competitive, pay the top bosses only $250K to $400K or so, and with minimal extra benefits and stock options.   And most of them already speak English...   Or, maybe, just maybe, there are some Americans able to guide large companies while being paid only $250 to $400K a year.   That means out-sourcing one CEO could save as much money as killing a thousand programming jobs."

Norm Matloff _H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring e-News-Letter_
Pascrell proposed bill regarding H-1B visas


2004-12-09 16:14PST (19:14EST) (2004-12-10 00:14GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _ZD Net_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Set for a Big Year
"By 2008, spending on IT services delivered through 'lobal sourcing' ill reach about 7% of a $728G total market -- or roughly $50G A more bullish view came Thursday from NeoIT, a consulting firm that advises clients about off-shore projects.   NeoIT 'foresees a big year for off-shore out-sourcing growth in 2005' and predicts that more than '80% of the Global 2K will have an off-shore presence by the end of the year.'   Although the studies do not necessarily contradict one another, their differing tones reflect a broader set of conflicting opinions about the hot-button topic.   Comprehensive information about the scale and impact of off-shoring has been lacking, but Congress recently passed a bill that would set aside $2M to study the issue."

Neil MacFarquhar _NY Times_
Muslim Scholars Increasingly Debate Unholy War
"The debate over violence in Islamic cultures is swelling, with suggestions that the problem lies in the way Islam is being interpreted."

2004-12-10 06:43PST (09:43EST) (14:43GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
PPI up only 0.5% in November
BLS data

2004-12-10 09:13PST (12:13EST) (17:13GMT)
Padraic Cassidy & Shawn Langlois _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Auto parts maker Delphi to cut 8,500 jobs

2004-12-10 07:48PST (10:48EST) (15:48GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
UMich consumer sentiment rose from 92.8 in November to 95.7 in early December

Jack Davis _Empire Page_
Hewlett-Packard's Global Strategy Is To Keep Americans Off the Pay-Roll
Save American Jobs
"Not only is Hewlett-Packard one of the country's leading job exporters, it is also a leading importer of H-1B workers from foreign countries.   The company successfully lobbied Congress to increase the H-1B quota to 20K.   It appears that HP wants anybody but Americans.   But the company's outrageous behavior doesn't end here.   HP is looking to shift its call center and software development tasks to at least 9 countries in Europe and Asia, including out-sourcing leader India.   In fact, HP has been moving jobs to off-shore locations for years, and is only too glad to cash in on its experience to show other companies how to take jobs away from Americans -- and charge big fees for it...   her company lobbyists continually work the halls of Congress, pressuring law makers for huge tax breaks on over-seas profits."

2004-12-10 05:00PST (08:00EST) (13:00GMT)
What are the chances of your job being out-sourced?
"The out-sourcing boom persists.   Reuters continued its out-sourcing push Thursday, saying it will increase its editorial staff in Bangalore, India [so it's really off-shoring, not just out-sourcing].   The move is part of a relocation of 100 jobs..."

2004-12-10 12:02PST (15:02EST) (20:02GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Crude petroleum futures close under $41 for first time in 4 months
"Crude [petroleum] futures closed under $41 a barrel for the first time in four months following an expected decision by OPEC members to cut 1M barrels per day off actual production starting in January...   January crude closed at $40.71, down $1.82 for the session.   It lost 4.3% for the week."

2004-12-10 13:40PST (16:40EST) (21:40GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks fell slightly this week
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.6 points, to 10,543.22, dropping 0.5% on the week...   The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.94 points, at 2,128.07, giving up 0.9% on the week.   The S&P 500 Index dipped 1.24 points, to 1,188.00.   The broad gauge slipped 0.25% on the week."


Steven Greenhouse _NY Times_
Unions Plan Big Drive for Better Pay at Mostly Non-Union WM
"The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and other unions are planning an unusual -- and unusually expensive -- campaign to pressure the world's largest retailer to improve its wages and benefits."


Ron Paul _Ron Paul Library_
Amnesty and Culture

Dave Gershman _Ann Arbor News_
U of Michigan health system off-shores clerical work
"Thousands of times a day, doctors working for the University of Michigan Health System dictate notes about their patients for transcription into medical records, a laborious process that cost the health system more than $9M last year.   The task has grown so big in the last decade that the health system, since 1995, has sought help by hiring outside companies to supplement the work of its in-house transcribers.   The outside companies have always sent a portion of the work over-seas...   now about 60% of all medical transcriptions are performed by workers in India...   The health system isn't trying to cut its workforce, said Rosanne Whitehouse, associate hospitals administrator and director of medical information services.   It still employs 42 of its own full- and part-time transcriptionists, a number that has stayed about the same in recent years.   Last year, it paid $2.45M, plus benefits, to its own employees.   Meanwhile, it was paying more than $6M to the outside companies that use both U.S. and foreign workers.   Transcription demand has increased by 10% - 20% annually as the health system has expanded and as health insurance companies and the government demanded more information before paying up, Whitehouse said...   Over-seas out-sourcing is becoming more politically sensitive, especially in Michigan...   sending medical transcription work to India is enough to raise questions from the public...   PT of Ypsilanti, who heard about U-M's out-sourcing from a relative, said she's outraged.   Three of her family members work at Visteon Corp. in Ypsilanti, which is considering closing a factory in Michigan because of competition from [Red China].   Two of her friends recently lost their jobs at Compuware Corporation to workers in India, she said...   SAB of Lansing said she overheard U-M doctors talking about the medical transcription outsourcing during a recent doctor's appointment.   She said she was appalled.   U-M has a responsibility, because of its affiliation with the state, to hire local people...   Workers in India are paid differently and there is no direct comparison available for how their annual pay compares to U.S. workers, but Whitehouse said medical transcribing is considered good work there."


2004-12-13 05:41PST (08:41EST) (13:41GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US retail sales were up 0.1% in November & October was better than previously estimated
"Retail sales have moved up 7.2% in the past 12 months, while ex-auto sales are up 8.6%."

Steve Lohr _NY Times_
I.B.M. Sought a Partnership with Red China, Not Just a Sale

2004-12-13 09:05PST (12:05EST) (17:05GMT)
Ron Rowland _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Technology is back: But Gold & energy are out
"Gold and oil stocks took a tumble last week.   While there are many reasons to remain long-term bullish on the natural resource sectors, for now there's a new trend in town: Technology."

2004-12-13 13:49PST (16:49EST) (21:49GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
stocks rallied on retail sales report
"The Dow rose 95.10 points, to 10,638.32, its highest close since March 1...   The S&P 500 Index, meanwhile, rose 10.68 points to 1,198.68, moving closer to breaking the key 1,200 barrier, which it last did in 2001 July.   The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 20.43 points to close at 2,148.50...   December has been the second-best month of the year for stocks on average, since 1950, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac.   The Dow usually gains about 1.7%, the Nasdaq 2.1%, and the S&P 500 about 1.6%."

Tom Sullivan _Info World_
Gartner predicts significant drop in IT jobs
"the pinch will be felt both within enterprise IT shops and among external service providers...   This glut is coming within the next two to 10 years, Gartner said...   we can definitely expect both utility computing and off-shore out-sourcing to eliminate IT jobs."

Improvements Needed in H-1B
"Program's rules need changing to protect visa holders from exploitation and to prevent discrimination against citizens...   the H-1B program [is] a flood-gate for diluting the U.S. labor market with [marginally] skilled, low-wage workers."

John Soat _Information Week_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing, Tax Dollars, Trouble: Could we call it something else, like replacement therapy?
Tekrati: Out-Sourcing to Top Federal IT Spending through 2009 says INPUT
Federal Computer Week
"Out-sourcing will be one of the fastest-growing federal technology initiatives over the next 5 years, according to a report last week from Input, a government market-research firm.   Government spending on IT outsourcing will have a compound annual growth rate of 8.3%, from $11.7G this year to $17.4G in 2009, according to Input.   And what's the most significant factor driving the growth in federal out-sourcing?   A shortage of IT workers, because a significant percentage -- as much as a third -- of federal IT personnel will reach retirement age by 2006.   There's no hotter hot button than out-sourcing; add in tax-payer dollars and foreign programming talent, and you've got the potential for a political fire-storm, no matter how compelling the numbers are.   So far, the feds have kept the lid on.   'While off-shoring IT services is a growing concern, thus far it remains a minimal part of the total spent on federal IT out-sourcing services.', said Chris Campbell, senior analyst, federal market analysis at Input, in a statement."


2004-12-13 21:05PST (2004-12-14 00:05EST) (05:05GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Body Shopper manPOWER Says More Companies Planning to Hire
"21% of employers plan to hire in the first quarter of 2005, up from 20% in the fourth quarter and up from 14% a year ago...   But even without seasonal adjustments, the first quarter outlook this year is stronger than last year: 14% vs. 7%...   Other industries are flat: 23% of firms in wholesale and retail trade plan to hire, up from 22% in the previous quarter; 20% of non-durables manufacturers will hire, down from 22%; 23% of durables manufacturers, flat from 23% a quarter ago; and 21% of firms in the services sector, down from 20% [sic]..."

2004-12-14 06:04PST (09:04EST) (14:04GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Trade gap widened in October: US purchases of European goods second highest on record
"The U.S. trade deficit widened by a sharp 8.9% in October to a record $55.5G, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, showing that it is going to take more than a strong euro to stop the nation's runaway trade gap...   The trade gap in September was revised lower to $50.9G from the initial estimate of $51.6G.   Despite the stronger euro, the U.S. imported $24.7G in goods from the European Union in October, the second highest total on record...   Imports of goods and services rose 3.4% to a record $153.5G.   This is the largest monthly increase in imports since 2002 November.   Exports of goods and services rose a slim 0.6% to a record $98.1G...   The October non-petroleum deficit rose to $42.6G, the second highest level on record...   For the first ten months of the year, the U.S. trade deficit widened to $500.5G, already larger than the record annual deficit of $496.5G set in 2003.   Imports of goods alone rose 4.0% to a record $128.7G.   The U.S. imported record amounts of industrial supplies and consumer goods in October.   Imports of capital goods were the highest since 2000 December.   Exports of goods alone rose 0.3% to a record $70.3G...   The U.S. trade deficit with [Red China] widened to a record $16.8G in October behind record imports of $19.7G."

2004-12-14 14:05PST (17:05EST) (22:05GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
S&P 500 & Nasdaq rally to new highs: But Fed continues to crush job market by raising rate to 2.25%
"U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting multi-year highs, as the Federal Reserve accompanied its widely anticipated quarter point increase in its key lending rate with soothing comments on the outlook for the economy...   The Nasdaq Composite Index added 11.34 points, to 2,159.84, its highest closing level since 2001-06-29.   Strength in semiconductor and Internet stocks buoyed the tech-rich index.   The S&P 500 Index gained 4.70 points, to 1,203.38, the first time the broad gauge has climbed over the key 1,200 barrier since 2001 August.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average meanwhile rose 38.13 points, to 10,676.45."
Fed FOMC raised rate to 2.25%
Fed FOMC press release

2004-12-14 15:51PST (18:51EST) (23:51GMT)
Michael Paige _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Bill Gates joined Berkshire Hathaway board: Has long been an investor and friend of Warren Buffet: So much for their reputations

_The Electric New Paper_
Few Big US Firms to Bring Cash Home: Planned tax break could boost economy & create more jobs
"Most big US multi-national companies don't bring their off-shore earnings home, where taxes are steep.   Instead they hoard them in, among other places, Singapore and the Irish Republic, where corporate tax rates are lower.   Quite a lot of those funds are expected to be brought back to the US soon, though, thanks to a one-off tax break, enacted just before the presidential election...   American multinational companies taking advantage of this tax break could bring home up to $350G in foreign earnings."

Stephen Swoyer _Enterprise Systems Journal_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Failures Boost Some IT Salaries
"Foote Partners, LLC... found premium pay tied specifically to information technology skills was also boosted by employers concerned about retaining skilled employees -- and staving off... competition for top IT... talent."

Frosty Wooldridge _Before It's News_
Immigration's Destruction of America's Middle Class
News with Views
"'You Americans have lived an artificially high standard of living for a long time.', a man working one our jobs outsourced to India wrote me.   'It's time you Americans drop to the poverty levels of the rest of the Third World.'   American jobs are off-shored, in-sourced [via guest-work visas] and out-sourced [both domestically and off-shore] at such blinding speed that millions of American citizens stand in unemployment lines every morning while the rest of us go to work, that is, if we still have jobs...   Congress upped the H-1B visas by another 20K again last year year.   That quota rise spits in the face of thousands of American IT workers standing in unemployment lines.   'Our' Congress gave out nearly 1M H-1B visas in the past decade...   You just re-elected most of them back into Congress.   Cannon, Kennedy, McCain, Udall, Degette, Pelosi, Allard, Dillon, Kyle, Kolbe, Flake and the list continues.   Paul Hamilton wrote his story, 'You have to work in the Silicon Valley for a while to really understand what it is like to be a white male in the IT business now days.   I've worked for the Chinese, Iranians and Indians.   I could tell you some horror stories... HORROR stories!   My career went to [Red China] and India a long time ago though.   Today, I am a plumber.   I started a new career and things are that tough here in California.   I was lucky enough to get on with Marina Plumbing which is a huge Corporation that does the plumbing on new construction... think BIG housing sub-divisions.   I look around on the job site and I am the only white male in a sea of Mexicans.   Few of these Mexicans speak English.   There are usually several boom boxes blaring Mariachi music all day long.   The Mexicans OWN ALL THE TRADES!   The concrete workers, the framers, the heavy equipment operators, the roofers and even the truck drivers delivering building materials -- all are Mexicans.   President Obama is 100% off the mark, or he is crazy... or?   I was the leading channel rep in the Silicone Valley for high end CISCO switches.   For a year and a half I have been in IBM's Presidents club before.'...   Over 300K illegal aliens swarm the Colorado job market.   They displace Denver pavers, roofers, landscapers, beef processing plants, framers, dry wallers and virtually have taken over all fast food restaurants...   Meanwhile, profits soar for [executives]."


2004-12-14 23:01PST (2004-12-15 02:01EST) (07:01GMT)
Rick Smith _Local Tech Wire_
Off-Shoring & Out-Sourcing Generate Debate
"the CED is sponsoring a panel discussion on out-sourcing at Duke.   The new out-sourcing study released by Duke and research firm Archstone Consulting has added plenty of fuel to the debate.   After we posted a story about the study, Local Tech Wire invited an executive on each side to have their say."

2004-12-15 07:36PST (10:36EST) (15:36GMT)
William J. Golz _National Academy of Engineering_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing - The New Tea Tax
"what happened to the spirit of the American electorate...?...   is the same American electorate willing to endlessly sustain publicly funded universities as those universities flagrantly use American tax dollars to accelerate the recruitment of foreign nationals by sending university representatives to countries to which America is losing the greatest number of jobs?...   American universities, which are supported almost entirely by American tax-payer dollars, are operating as multi-national corporations.   As the anonymous author of that comment notes, much of the out-sourcing boom in India and [Red China] is supported by Chinese and Indian engineers trained at American universities.   As the faculty member also points out, nearly all foreign students receive subsidized or free tuition as part of their graduate research assistantship, and most foreign students are paid graduate research assistants, earning a higher salary here than they would at home as mid-career professionals, all at American [tax-victim] expense.   As the anonymous faculty member goes on to say, the university presidents, many of whom now earn about $500K per year, and college deans, most of whom earn well in excess of $100K per year, have raised their salaries by fueling the myth of a scientific labor shortage.   A myth which has allowed these university administrators to lobby federal and state government for more funding to boost student enrollments in science and engineering to the point that we now have a glut of trained scientists and engineers.   With this current university-supported glut of highly trained workers, salaries for scientists and engineers in America and abroad are in a downward spiral.   This glut is, however, invaluable to multi-national corporations in a number of ways.   It keeps labor costs down both here and abroad and feeds the ever-increasing need for foreign nationals whom share a culture and a language with the countries that are outsourcing the bulk of American jobs.   Multi-national corporations are therefore happy to lobby congress to have applied research done at universities rather than at government agencies [anything rather than pay the costs for their own research], most of which require American citizenship as a condition of employment."

2004-12-15 13:39PST (16:39EST) (21:39GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Petroleum futures at 2-week highs
"U.S. distillate inventories failed to increase last week and Russian oil giant Yukos has filed for bankruptcy, combining to stoke supply concerns Wednesday as wintry weather starts to set in and lifting petroleum futures to their highest levels in 2 weeks.   'This is like triple bad news for the oil markets -- the supply data shows it could be a long winter, the much, much colder temperatures across the country and the bankruptcy of Yukos -- all are contributing to the rise in prices.', said Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.   Heating oil for January delivery rose 8.39 cents, or 6.4%, to close at $1.3884 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its steepest ending level since November 30.   January crude closed at $44.19 a barrel, up $2.37, or 5.7%.   Similarly, January unleaded gas tacked on 5.18 cents, or 4.7%, to close at $1.1617 a gallon."

2004-12-15 08:20PST (11:20EST) (16:20GMT)
Madeleine Acey & Jeffry Bartash _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Sprint to buy Nextel for $35G, spin off local monopolies into separate unit

2004-12-15 13:37PST (16:37EST) (21:37GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks rallied into close
"Session gains came amid a spike in oil prices and a fresh slide for the dollar.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 15 points, at 10,691.45, after climbing as high as 10,706.16, its best level intraday since February...   The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 2.71 points to 2,162.55, while the S&P 500 Index climbed 2.34 points to end at 1,205.72."

2004-12-15 14:35PST (17:35EST) (22:35GMT)
Michael Paige _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Software stocks buoyed by M & A talk: Oracle's PeopleSoft buy, Symantec-Veritas talk fuel hopes for the dark side of the software business

James R. Edwards _Human Events_
Congress, Hooked on Foreign IT Workers, Slipped Deal into Huge Spending Bill
"Evidently, going cold turkey on foreign workers and letting the labor market work wasn't an option.   Multi-nationals in this sector have become so addicted to cheap foreign labor that they exhausted the entire fiscal year's quota of 65K H-1B visas on the first day of the fiscal year, October 1...   Their timing betrayed their true motivation.   The Washington Post ran a front-page story November 9 documenting the plight of American tech workers.   The sub-head-line read, 'IT Unemployment Now Exceeds Overall Jobless Rate'.   Common sense tells you that it doesn't benefit skilled, unemployed Americans to bring in more foreign workers to fill jobs they could do.   The truth is these companies want to displace or over-look qualified American technology workers for cheap foreign labor...   They included a measure senator Ted Kennedy insisted on for manipulating the way 'prevailing wage' is calculated; it allows corporations to drive down tech-sector pay so fewer Americans can afford to take those jobs.   The deal also contained a figleaf provision to reduce one of the many abuses of L-1, or intracompany transfer, visas...   The U.S. IT work-force declined to 5.93M in 2003, falling successively each year from the peak in 2000 of 6.47M...   Consulting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said 16% of all U.S. jobs cut this year were with high-tech firms...   'those same employers who claim such a shortage are laying off programmers and engineers with graduate degrees in droves.', says Matloff...   Harvard economist George Borjas has found, '[T]he immigrant influx of the 1980s and 1990s lowered the wages of most native workers, particularly those workers at the bottom and top of the education distribution.   The wage fell by... 3.6% for college graduates...   [In 2000] the typical male college graduate earned $73K, implying that immigration reduced this worker's wage by nearly $2,600.'...   Conservative economist Thomas Sowell has written, 'The argument that immigrants take jobs that other Americans don't want leaves out the crucial factor of pay.'"

Shirleen Holt _Seattle Times_
Jobs & joblessness climb (graphs)
"Washington gained 3,200 jobs in November, coming within just a few thousand of the state's job count before the recession.   Meanwhile, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.7% from 5.6% in October, a sign that discouraged workers have resumed their job search.   Although job growth remains relatively weak in the Seattle area -- it has recovered about a third of the jobs it lost -- the statewide economy is just 4,400 jobs short of recouping the 81,400 lost between 2001 January and 2003 June...   Like others, the recession thrust Stern into ill-fitting jobs out of economic necessity.   Her husband had lost his technology job, forcing Stern to go wherever the opportunities were...   There are signs tech workers are considering greener pastures, too.   The devastating down-turn hit [Washington] technology the hardest in 2002, forcing programmers, systems analysts and the like to take jobs below their skills and salary expectations."

Douglas Tallman _Gazette_
Out-Sourcing a losing fight to some officials
"Although union, business and government officials do not like it, 3 words emerge often in discussions of state money going over-seas for public projects: 'fact of life'.   'My gut reaction says none of that work should go over-seas.', said Mike Galiazzo, executive director of the Regional Manufacturing Institute, a Hunt Valley organization that supports MD businesses...   Two weeks ago, the Montgomery County Conference Center officially opened in North Bethesda, paid for with $40M from the state and county.   The general contractor spent $2M of that on wood-working created in [Red China]."


Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 371,400 in the week ending December 11, a decrease of 101,003 from the previous week.   There were 412,627 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003.   The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.1% during the week ending December 4, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the prior week.   The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,684,771, a decrease of 193,954 from the preceding week.   A year earlier, the rate was 2.6% and the volume was 3,287,681."

Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US unemployment insurance claims fell: Biggest weekly decline in 3 years
"The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level seen since July, the Labor Department said Thursday.   Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 43K to 317K in the week ended December 11...   Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said volatility in claims around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays made it hard to discern any true trend in claims.   He said claims should be viewed with caution until sometime in January...   Claims in the previous week were revised to a gain of 10K to 360K compared with the initial estimate of an 8K-claim rise to 357K.   The 4-week moving average of new claims fell by 4,500 to 337,750.   The Labor Department also said that the number of former workers receiving state unemployment checks fell by 50K to 2.74M in the week ended December 4."

2004-12-16 06:26PST (09:26EST) (16:26GMT)
Millions to lose textile jobs
"Millions of the world's poorest textile trade workers will lose their jobs under new trade rules to be introduced in the new year, a charity has warned.   The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is to end its Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) at midnight on December 31...   Many countries originally supported the WTO policy but are now fearful that [Red China], which became a WTO member in 2001, will overwhelm the market.   [Red China] now accounts for about 17% of global textile sales, but some experts believe this could rise to 50%.   Christian Aid has warned that millions of jobs will be lost, in a new report called 'Rags To Riches To Rags'...   European producers believe a fully liberalised market could benefit them but only if [Red China] and other countries scrap current trade barriers."

2004-12-16 13:03PST (16:03EST) (21:03GMT)
Illegal Immigrant Driver's License Bill Re-Introduced
"There's a renewed push to get the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to pass legislation allowing [illegal] immigrants to receive driver's licenses.   Law-makers have put a new bill on the table, which is identical to the one that has already been vetoed by Schwarzenegger...   The governor wants immigrant licenses to have a 'distinguishing mark' that shows they may not be reliable identification documents."

2004-12-16 13:06PST (16:06EST) (21:06GMT)
William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Inflation rears ugly head as job market remains stagnant: Hershey raises prices

2004-12-16 13:19PST (16:19EST) (21:19GMT)
Mark Cotton _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Blue chips rose on Johnson & Johnson - Guidant merger deal
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 14.19 points, to 10,705.64...   The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 16.40 points at 2,146.15, while the S&P 500 Index fell 2.52 points, to 1,203.20.   On the broader market for equities, decliners out-paced advancers by nearly 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, and by a 19 to 12 score on the Nasdaq.   Volume was heavy with nearly 1.8G shares exchanging hands on the Big Board, while 2.35G shares were traded on the Nasdaq.   Boosting volume was Friday's expiration of contracts for stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures, known as quadruple witching."

2004-12-16 13:25PST (16:25EST) (21:25GMT)
Robert Schroeder _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stock options expensing rules to take effect in June: Compensation costs must be deducted
"Public companies are required to apply the new rule as of the annual reporting period beginning 2005-06-15, according to the unanimous decision by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.   Companies that file as small business issuers, meanwhile, are required to apply the rules after 2005-12-15."

David Batstone & David Chandler _Sojourners Mail_
Advent Economics & the WM Way: Ford vs. WM: A Tale of 2 Companies
"The AFL-CIO has launched a major campaign to draw attention to the business practices of WM.   'The biggest corporation in America today has a business plan that lowers standards, first among its own employees and ultimately for all Americans.', says John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO...   WM, with over $250G in annual sales, is more often praised for its streamlined business model.   Its inventory system and distribution network are beyond compare in the retail industry.   WM's recipe for success, however, does depend as well on squeezing labor costs.   The majority of its hourly workers earn less than $8.50 an hour, which means that a full-time sales clerk at WM falls under the official U.S. poverty level for a family of 4.   Nearly a century ago, Henry Ford planned for his employees to be his best customers.   Challenging the conventional wisdom that the best way to maximize profits was to tailor your product to the wealthiest segment of society, Ford decided to market his black Model T as 'America's Everyman car'.   For Ford, mass production went hand-in-hand with mass consumption.   He established a simple benchmark for worker compensation: His workers should be able to buy the product they were making.   Ford promised a $5-a-day minimum wage for all his workers - twice the prevailing automobile industry average.   Doing so, Ford created a virtuous circle...   The company flourished on these twin pillars - a desirable product and a highly motivated employee base.   By the time production of the Model T ceased in 1927, Ford had sold more than 15M cars - half the world's output...   While Ford's business model helped lay the foundation for a rising middle class in America, the WM model reinforces downward mobility.   WM today is the largest commercial employer of labor in the United States.   In 2002, 82% of American households bought something at WM.   Americans must love to shop at WM; on the other hand, maybe they have no choice.   A sizeable percentage of WM's sales come from low-income households.   The effort to minimize production costs is a legitimate business strategy; no argument there.   But does WM realize that the employees whose wages they squeeze are often the customers upon whom they rely to fuel their business? While Ford created demand and wealth with a new and innovative product, WM displaces existing demand - siphoning consumption from elsewhere by under-cutting prices...   For every WM super-center that opens in the next 5 years, 2 other super-markets will close."

Andy McCue _Silicon.com_
High-profile out-sourcing failures predicted in 2005: Rushed cost-cutting deals will come back to bite
"High-profile outsourcing failures are expected to be a feature of 2005 with rushed cost-cutting deals of the last few years coming back to bite some businesses, according to new research from Gartner...   Gartner figures showing 'considerably less than half' of CIOs have a business background, and just 20% -- a figure that has steadily dropped over the last few years -- have a seat on the board as a trusted adviser to the CEO [while less than 25% of CEOs have a background in science or engineering]."

Lea Featherstone _Radical Leftist Nation_
Down & Out in WM Land
"Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff in Dukes v. WM, the landmark sex-discrimination case against the company, points out that WM takes out ads in her local paper the same day the community's poorest citizens collect their welfare checks.   'They are promoting themselves to low-income people.', she says.   'That's who they lure.   They don't lure the rich...   They understand the economy of America.   They know the haves and have-nots.   They don't put WM in Piedmonts.   They don't put WM in those high-end parts of the community.   They plant themselves right in the middle of Poorville.'   Betty Dukes is right.   A 2000 study by Andrew Franklin, then an economist at the University of CT, showed that WM operated primarily in poor and working-class communities, finding, in the bone-dry language of his discipline, 'a significant negative relationship between median household income and WM's presence in the market'...   Only 6% of WM shoppers have annual family incomes of more than $100K.   A 2003 study found that 23% of WM Supercenter customers live on incomes of less than $25K a year.   More than 20% of WM shoppers have no bank account, long considered a sign of dire poverty.   And while almost half of WM Supercenter customers are blue-collar workers and their families, 20% are unemployed or elderly...   Al Zack [a retired UFCW VP said], 'The only problem with the business model is that it really needs to create more poverty to grow.'   That problem is cleverly solved by creating more bad jobs worldwide.   In a chilling reversal of Henry Ford's strategy, which was to pay his workers amply so they could buy Ford cars, WM's stingy compensation policies -- workers make, on average, just over $8 an hour, and if they want health insurance, they must pay more than a third of the premium -- contribute to an economy in which, increasingly, workers can only afford to shop at WM.   To make this model work, WM must keep labor costs down.   It does this by making corporate crime an integral part of its business strategy.   WM routinely violates laws protecting workers' organizing rights (workers have even been fired for union activity).   It is a repeat offender on overtime laws; in more than thirty states, workers have brought wage-and-hour class-action suits against the retailer.   In some cases, workers say, managers encouraged them to clock out and keep working; in others, managers locked the doors and would not let employees go home at the end of their shifts.   And it's often women who suffer most from WM's labor practices."


2004-12-17 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:40GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US November CPI up 0.2%
dollar gains in wake of CPI report
longer report
BLS report

2004-12-17 13:28PST (16:28EST) (21:28GMT)
David B. Wilkerson _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
MGM share-holders OK sale to Sony-led group
"Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. share-holders on Friday approved the sale of the company for $4.8G to a Sony-led consortium, MGM said...   The consortium includes Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, as well as Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, a unit of Credit Suisse Group."

2004-12-17 13:52PST (16:52EST) (21:52GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks strained by pharmaceutical woes
"Blue chips snagged a 4-day winning streak to close lower Friday, pressured by a fresh spike in crude prices and negative developments in the drug sector, including findings of cardiovascular risk in Pfizer Inc.'s Celebrex drug.   The decline was not sharp enough to erase the week's gains, however.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 55 points, or 0.5%, at 10,649, but was up 1% from a week ago.   Pfizer was the biggest decliner on the benchmark index, losing 11% on fears for one of its blockbuster drugs.   Merck & Co., which withdrew its similar drug Vioxx three months ago, ended down 0.6%.   The Nasdaq Composite Index ended down 11 points, or 0.5%, at 2,135, hit by a string of disappointing announcements, including PalmOne Inc.'s warnings that third-quarter earnings will fall short of estimates.   The index carved out a 0.3% gain for the week.   The S&P 500 lost 9 points, or 0.8%, to 1,194.   The index gained 0.5% on the week.   Also dampening sentiment was a jump in crude-oil prices back above the $46-[per]-barrel mark.   January crude futures ended up $1.50 to $45.68 [per] barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after trading as high as $46.20."

2004-12-17 15:40:52PST (18:40:25EST) (23:40:25GMT)
Norm Matloff _H-1B/L-1/off-shoring e-news-letter_
"His call for 'more data' on off-shoring is a tried-and-true method for deflecting attention from the central problems.   And once Congress does get more data, it ignores the data.   For instance, in employer surveys in 2 congressionally-commissioned studies (NRC, 2000 and GAO, 2003) the employers actually admitted paying H-1Bs less than comparable Americans."
senator Joseph Lieberman's press release
Lieberman's report
Norm Matloff's analysis of the press release

Michael R. Triplett _Daily Labor Report_/_Bureau of National Affairs_
US court of international trade says DoL failed to show that information technology products was not an "article" under terms of the Trade Act
"The Labor Department's determination that former information technology workers did not produce an 'article' for purposes of trade adjustment assistance eligibility was based on improper analysis, the U.S. Court of International Trade ruled December 1, remanding the case to DOL for further review (Former Employees of Elec. Data Sys. Corp. v. United States Dep't of Labor, Ct. Int'l Trade, No. 03-00373, 2004/12/01 [released 2004/12/09]).   While stopping short of ruling that information technology was an 'article' under the Trade Act, the trade court said there were strong arguments that the information technology created by former Electronic Data Systems employees -- whose jobs ended when their work was shifted to Mexico in 2002 December -- was an 'article' and that the Labor Department needs to reevaluate its legal findings.   The trade court faulted DOL for relying on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States... when deciding whether computer applications are 'articles' for purposes of TAA coverage...   The workers lost their jobs at EDS's Fairborn, Ohio, facility in 2002 and filed a petition for TAA benefits in late December 2002.   They alleged in their petition that products used to provide computer application creation and support had been moved from the Ohio facility to Juarez, Mexico.   The products included computer programs, job control language, data-base support and documentation, and other computer documentation."

Sarah D. Scalet _CIO_
The Off-Shore Sniff Test: When it comes to off-shore out-sourcing, the real privacy problem is what companies are keeping secret
"Nobody ever asked me whether I wanted my financial information sent outside the United States.   After all, I might have said no.   There's a tremendous amount of concern right now about the risks of having personal information, especially financial information, shipped over-seas and processed by the lowest bidder.   Sending data off-shore introduces cultural, geographical and most of all legal complexities to keeping the information secure and private.   But the real problem, it turns out, isn't that having your data sent off-shore is intrinsically any less safe than keeping it in the United States.   It's that companies feel the explicit need not to tell you what they're doing.   The privacy they're most worried about protecting is their own...   89% of [E-Loan] customers have taken the bait [trading away marginally greater privacy of having their applications processed in the USA to get faster turn-around via India]...   the question we should be asking from a privacy perspective is not whether information should go over-seas.   It's which companies will best protect sensitive information, regardless of their location."


2004-12-17 16:45:35PST (19:45:35EST) (2004-12-18 00:45:35GMT)
Norm Matloff _H-1B/L-1/off-shoring e-news-letter_
Norm Matloff's related _Michigan Journal of Law_ article
"There is no requirement that one be of outstanding ability in order to get a student visa (F-1).   All that one needs is to be accepted by a U.S. school.   That school doesn't have to be Harvard or MIT.   Choose your favorite low-level, non-selective college, and it qualifies.   In fact, research shows that the foreign students who get PhDs at American universities are disproportionately enrolled in the academically weaker schools:
department qualityPct of PhD students
foreign born
highest quarter37.2%
second quarter44.5%
third quarter47.5%
lowest quarter50.6%
(See David S. North 1995 _Soothing the Establishment: The Impact of Foreign-Born Scientists and Engineers on America_ University Press of America, pg 48.)"

Ron Harris & Steve Bolhafner _St. Louis Post-Dispatch_
Food stamp use is on the rise across the USA
"Since 2000, Gray and more than 6M other Americans have joined the ranks of the families who find it increasingly difficult to perform a most basic function -- to put food on their tables.   The economic indicators are numerous.   After a 7-year decline, the number of Americans on food stamps has shot up 39% since 2000, according to federal statistics.   Every state, except Hawaii, has felt the impact.   In Arizona, food stamp rolls have increased 104%, in Nevada, 97%; Oregon, 79%; South Carolina, 68%; Missouri, 65%.   Texas has added nearly 1M people to its food stamp rolls in only 4 years...   Illinois has seen a 31% increase in the number of people on food stamps since 2000...   Meanwhile, the nation's network of food banks and food pantries say they are under intense pressure to meet the demand of hungry families, nearly half of them working...   Metro Caring, a Denver food pantry that last year served 34,000 people, half of whom were children.   At the Circle of Concern in Valley Park, executive director Glen Koenen said that last month, the pantry served more than 1,200 families, far beyond the pantry's capacity of 750 it established two years ago.   America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest private network of food providers, served 23 million Americans in 2001, 6 million more than the federal food stamp program, according to an independent study.   With demand increasing at food pantries around the country as much as 10%, 20%, even 40% annually, the network is still probably serving more than the federal government, said Doug O'Brien, vice president for public policy and research for the organization...   many Americans... are still reeling from the recession that began in 2000 and was further exacerbated by the terrorist attacks on September 11 the following year...   Even with the recent economic recovery, the country remains 585K jobs short of where it was in 2001, economists say...   Across the country, there are signs that millions of Americans are still feeling the result of the recession, which peaked last year...   It's one thing to lose your job and maybe have 3 months of pay in the bank.   But when you're unemployed for a year or two and you no longer have the money in the bank, once you get a new job your income may not have declined, but your assets have...   millions of workers have been left on the sidelines or in jobs that pay much lower than their previous positions...   The third trend, economists say, is that with housing, medical and home fuel costs rising much faster than the nation's salaries, many families, particularly low-income and the working poor, find themselves pushed onto an even lower economic rung.   Consequently, what were once considered emergency services, such as food pantries and food stamps, have become vital everyday needs."

2004-12-18 04:00PST (07:00EST) (12:00GMT)
Matt Frei _BBC_
Fortress America's problem at the border
"Illegal immigration has become a major problem in much of the developed world.   The US believes 1.5M immigrants cross its borders illegally every year.   The majority of them do not come through its tightly-controlled airports -- they wander in across the long and porous border which separates the US from its southern neighbour, Mexico...   In the distance you could see a huge white building.   The locals call it the Taj Mahal.   It is the border post between the US and Mexico.   It graces a pristine, asphalted road, the legal route between the 2 countries.   It was completed after 9/11 and hardly anyone ever uses it...   But on either side of this monument to futility, the flimsy barbed wire that separates the First World and the Third has been prised open.   The churned-up sand shows a veritable stampede of migrants.   In the high season, which starts after Epiphany, as many as 6K Mexicans and other Hispanics will sneak across the border.   Only 1 in 3 gets caught...   Our brand new Humvee patrol vehicle got a flat tyre and the helicopter was '10-7'...   It looked like a municipal rubbish dump, strewn with precious personal belongings.   Rucksacks containing documents, family photographs, medication...   Agent Neubauer shook his head.   'You wonder how desperate or tired some people are to ditch the few precious personal things that they have taken on this trek.'...   Every year about 600 migrants die, mainly from thirst.   In the summer, the temperatures in Arizona often soar to 40-45C (104-113F)."

Russell Pearce _American Patrol_
Arizona Deputies Shot by Illegal Aliens
East Valley Tribune
Arizona Republic


Chua Chin Hon _Singapore Straits Times_
In a reversal of an old mind-set, 9 in 10 say they will go home where opportunities abound
"As a testimony to the growing economic allure of [Red China], nearly 9 in 10 main-land Chinese who have studied over-seas said they would return home to search for better opportunities, according to a new survey.   Results of the survey, widely carried in the [Red Chinese] media yesterday, illustrate the reversal of a decades-old mindset where many Chinese students see an over-seas education as a ticket out of the country for good.   [Red China's] booming economy has been the main driver for this change in attitude, with seven in 10 respondents saying they decided to go home chiefly because there are 'bright economic prospects ahead and the opportunities abound'.   Interviews with Chinese professionals who completed their studies at foreign universities recently suggested that the trend had picked up pace since 2000 and become much more obvious in the past 2 years...   The survey, conducted by the Chinese Youth Federation and 2 news-papers here, polled 3,097 people between October and November this year.   Those selected for the survey included 1,031 students who have returned to [Red China] and 1,420 who are still abroad.   The rest are main-land Chinese who live over-seas and students who have changed their nationality.   Overall, 95% of respondents have studied over-seas.   Among the 87.7% of respondents who said they would return to [Red China], 34.5% said they would do so immediately upon graduation, while 53.2% said they would get some work experience before going home.   Only... 9.5%, felt that it was not an 'inevitable trend' that they would return.   For those who chose not to go back to China, the main reasons they cited were: the complex web of guanxi, or social connections, required to get ahead at work (71.2 per cent), an inadequate legal system (68.8%) and poor living conditions (56.3%).   The survey said that some 700K Chinese have studied over-seas in the past 2 decades."


Diana Coulter _Christian Science Monitor_
25% of India's teachers are absent on any given day: 34% of the world's illiterate people live in India
"the extent of teacher truancy has been unclear until recently when a team of economists from Harvard University and the World Bank scrutinized it in detail.   They hired research firms to make 3 surprise visits to 3,700 randomly selected government primary schools, largely in rural areas, in 20 Indian states.   The study concluded that, at any time, 25% of the teachers were absent from schools.   In a one-room school, that often meant an empty, padlocked building.   Studies conducted in other countries showed India to be one of the worst cases.   Bangladesh's teacher-truancy rate was 16%.   Zambia's was 17%.   Only Uganda was worse, with 27%.   In the US, the rate as of 1993-94 was between 5% and 6%.   This research came on the heels of another telling report.   UNESCO released its 2005 Global Education Monitoring Report revealing that India is home to 34% of the world's illiterate people.   The country performed poorly even when compared with other developing countries with large populations like [Red China], which comes in second at 11% of the global total...   'We combine classes so there are sometimes 70 or 80 students for one to supervise.'...   Hammer's findings reinforce those from a 1999 school survey of 188 government primary facilities in northern India...   Surveyed teachers were largely content with salary (68%) and leave entitlements (86%).   'The most common complaint is that schools are under-equipped, under-funded, under-staffed, and over-crowded.', the report said.   More than half had a leaking roof, 89% lacked functioning toilets, and half had no water supply.   Some school buildings were misused as cattle sheds, police camps, teacher residences, or for drying cow-dung cakes."

Adam Lolawa _ComputerWorld_
Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Is a Real Danger to You
"Reports of IT job losses and out-sourcing trends have been in the head-lines for several years now, so it's no surprise that even the most experienced and talented IT professionals have started to worry whether their jobs will be the next to go over-seas.   There's no doubt that more IT professionals will lose their jobs to [off-shore] out-sourcing."

Judy Olian _TeleComm Careers_/_Scripps Howard News_
The Good, Bad & Ugly of Out-Sourcing
"The debate over the impact of global out-sourcing continues to rage, with Nobel Prize winner Paul Samuelson and Columbia professor Jagdish Bhagwati coming down on opposite sides of the issue.   These 2 'mega' economists disagree over whether short-term job losses brought on by out-sourcing are mitigated in the long run by gains to American workers from free trade and consumption growth in low-wage countries.   Samuelson, still going strong at 89, argues that the loss of competitive advantage to low-wage countries like [Red China] and India is permanent.   He maintains that the American economy and worker lose forever...   So who benefits from out-sourcing?   Certainly U.S. share-holders, investors, and American consumers derive benefits, although sometimes at the expense of American wage earners.   A report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that global out-sourcing returns 45% to 55% in net savings to corporations, with added profits from the sale of American products (especially IT) to run the off-shore operations.   Out-sourcing also results in cheaper imports.   Catherine Mann of the Institute of International Economics concludes that the price of personal computers dropped in the early 1990s because U.S. chip manufacturers moved off-shore and reduced chip prices by about 10% to 30%...   Lori Kletzer of University of California Santa Cruz examined manufacturing job losses between 1979 and 1999 in labor-intensive industries like clothing, foot-wear, leather, and textiles.   About one third of displaced workers failed to find reemployment within a three-year period, and among those who did, about half experienced a substantial wage cut of at least 15%.   A recent _BusinessWeek_ report adds that it's not just manufacturing workers who are at risk, but a substantial portion of the 57M U.S. white collar and professional employees who face real global competition as a portion of these jobs can be readily out-sourced...   How realistic is it to expect professionals to morph into something else midway through their careers?   Pretty unrealistic unless there's a fundamental shift in our support of education and re-training.   The news is not good on that front."

John O'Brien _Computer Business Review_
Off-Shore Panacea?
"How can the IT professional be confident that off-shoring BPO will deliver anything more than negative publicity and customer dissatisfaction?...   According to Gartner, the off-shore business process out-sourcing (BPO) market is set to grow 65% in 2004, bringing the market to $3G, or 2.3% of the $150G worldwide BPO market...   Given these draw-backs, why are so many organisations potentially putting cost-cutting before the immediate needs of their customers, and what has been the response to this?   MORI research commissioned by LloydsTSB Group Union in 2004 April, shows how negatively customers view off-shoring in the banking sector.   MORI found that 45% of bank customers would consider leaving if their accounts were managed in India, and for LloydsTSB customers, this was slightly higher at 49%.   It made no difference for 40% of those interviewed, but only 2% said that off-shoring these services would encourage them to stay with their existing bank...   The pursuit of higher corporate profits is not something that sticks too well with those losing their jobs as a result...   Another critical concern for the customer is data protection, and Rod Flavell, CEO of UK services company FDM Group, says that companies are taking the issue too lightly: 'There are no laws in India for data protection.   Most major corporations can take information off-shore without impunity even though they shouldn't.   However, there is nothing that can fundamentally stop them.'...   One of the perceived advantages of off-shoring BPO is the favourable tax breaks that geographies like India offer.   However, in India there is a lack of clarity on how this works because the law states that foreign companies are taxable on their income if the core revenue-generating business has been carried out off-shore in India, and only when the BPO unit has created a 'permanent establishment' in India.   No tax is charged when services are considered to be 'incidental business processes', such as an Indian call centre answering calls for a European client.   The problem arises when western companies are seen to be permanently settled in India and using BPO services to deliver 'core' business...   The Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, argues that inequities are rife in off-shoring.   The Institute found that the CEOs of the 50 largest US-based out-sourcers of services jobs were profiting personally from the increased profits that off-shoring generated.   Between them, the average salary was $10.4M in 2003, 28% higher than the average large company CEO, who has seen a pay increase of 9% over the year.   The report found that between 2001 and 2003, the 50 top CEOs made $2.2G in salaries, while off-shoring some 200K jobs.   Sanford Weill, CEO of Citigroup, had the biggest pay packet in 2003 earning $54.1M in salary and options, up 305% on 2002.   Citigroup is also one of the biggest spenders globally on off-shore BPO services, with 8K employees in India, including 40 in Mumbai working in investment banking, equities and research.   Citigroup sources a broad range of back-office functions from Eserve International, which employs 5K employees and provides transaction processing, technology and call centre services...   EquaTerra's [Cliff] Justice says that a huge amount of off-shore work goes on below the radar.   'A lot of companies are doing this.', he says.   'Out of the Fortune 500, approximately 40% to 50% of companies have operations off-shore.'..."

Katie Fisher, Winton Pitcoff, Danilo Pelletiere, Sheila Crowley, Mark Treskon & Cushing N. Dolbeare _Out of Reach 2004_/_National Low Income Housing Coalition_
one-third of US households rent
"Despite the emphasis on home ownership and the marginalization of renters, renter households still make up fully one-third of the households in the United States -- nearly 36M households.   Out of Reach is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), combined non-metropolitan area and state in the United States...   Today, the national Housing Wage for a 2 bed-room unit is $15.37.   The median hourly wage in the United States is only about $14.00 and more than a quarter of the population earns less than $10.00 an hour...   Once again, this year there is not a single jurisdiction in the country where a person working full time earning the prevailing minimum wage can afford a two bedroom rental home.   Moreover, there are only 4 counties in the country -- Wayne, Crawford, and Lawrence counties in IL and Washington wounty, FL -- where a person or a household working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at the prevailing minimum wage can afford even a one bed-room apartment."
2004 November: John Ruser, Adrienne Pilot & Charles Nelson: BLS & BEA: Alternative Measures of Household Income: BEA Personal Income, CPS Money Income, and Beyond (pdf)

Sol Jose Vanzi _Philippine Head-Line News_
DOLE Denies US Stopped Issuing Visas to Foreign Workers
"Labor and Employment Acting Secretary Manuel Imson Sunday clarified that the United States has not stopped issuing H1-B visas to foreign workers including Filipino nurses, contrary to news reports that came out recently.   Citing a report from the Philippine Over-seas Employment Administration (POEA), Imson said the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) will not stop the issuance of H1-B visas per se but will merely no longer accept petitions for new H-1B visas for fiscal year 2004 October - 2005 October...   According to him, Filipino nurses are allowed to enter the US for employment purposes under the H visa and EB3 visa schemes.   Data from the US Embassy in Manila showed that the embassy has issued 2,644 H visas for Filipino workers for FY2003-2004.   Aside from this, 3,471 visas were also issued under the EB3 (immigrant-based employment visa).   Current reports cited a great demand of US employers for nurses and teachers category of workers due to [alleged] labor shortage.   Previously, foreign nurses enter the US for temporary employment under the H1A visa under the US Immigration Nursing Relief Act of 1966."

Robert Westervelt _SearchOracle_
Employer/Employee Loyalty Slipping
"'In general it's abusive to take employer-paid training classes, then immediately accept employment elsewhere.', JM said.   'The original employer has made an investment in the employee, and it's only fair to give the employer a chance to benefit from the investment.'   But employee loyalty does come with a price.   JM said other factors are involved in determining whether to quit a job for a better one.   'The employee must also take into consideration the business practices of the employer.', JM said.   'Does the employer lay people off without notice?   Do heads roll as soon as a project is completed?   An employer can't reasonably expect better treatment from its employees than it gives to them.'..   [JK said], 'Loyalty to your employer is always a two-way street.   As long as the employer is providing a great learning environment and challenging the employee, there should never be a loyalty issue.   Keep the employee happy, and he's not going to leave.'...   Starting his first technology job at Amoco nearly 30 years ago, MM said the company's veterans were willing to work and train young employees.   And, in return, it was anticipated that employees would be with a company until they retired, he said.   'You got opportunities to excel, but understood, in those days, that you had to get experience over time.', MM said.   'You would grow into the job and get more responsibility in the future.'   MM said he sensed a change in the early 1980s when foreign competition forced companies to cut costs and improve efficiencies.   Those in the IT world scrambled to gain new skills and find more secure jobs.   'We were told that our jobs would be more challenging and that in our careers, you will likely change jobs five to six times.', MM said.   'For those of us that were in our 10- to 15-year careers, this was an unwelcome shock.'   Today, nearly all IT employees feel they could be laid off, even if they are doing a good job, he added...   An employer should protect themselves with a contract sometimes referred to as a 'training bond', said Keith Falconer, a managing consultant at [a body shop]...   MH said some companies hold training reimbursement from employees for up to several months after the training to protect themselves...   Other contracts give partial reimbursement for employee training to employees, depending on the amount of time they have served with the company."


2004-12-20 19:34PST (22:34EST) (2004-12-21 03:34GMT)
World celebrates made-in-Red-China Christmas
"Father Christmas's grotto is not an icy cave in Lapland but the economic heart of southern [Red China], where almost two-thirds of the world's Christmas trees and decorations are made.   In factories staffed by predominantly Buddhist workers who have scarcely any idea of the meaning of Christmas, the baubles, Santas, lights and tinsel that mark the West's biggest festival are churned out at a relentless pace...   According to Customs figures, [Red China] exported $1.6G worth of Christmas products in 2003, of which more than half went to the United States -- including seven artificial trees erected in the White House.   [Red China's] export of Christmas-related goods in the first nine months of 2004 amounted to $850M.   More than half of that -- $510M worth -- came from South China's Guangdong province, the country's major exporter and the heart-land of its manufacturing boom.   In the United States alone, unless your family purchased a natural tree, you would have had a 70% chance of celebrating your Christmas with an artificial tree manufactured in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong."

2004-12-21 13:36PST (16:36EST) (21:36GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Blue chip stocks soared to 3.5 year high
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 97.83 points, or 0.9% to 10,759.43, its highest close in 3.5 years.   The Nasdaq Composite Index, meanwhile, lifted 23.06 points, or 1.1%, to 2,150.91 and the S&P 500 added 10.78 points, or 0.9%, to 1,205.43.   Advancers led decliners by 24 to 9 on the New York Stock Exchange and by 20 to 11 on the Nasdaq.   Volume was about 1.48G shares on the Big Board and 1.97G on the Nasdaq."


2004-12-21 21:01PST (2004-12-22 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
John Shinal _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Over-seas tech firms to lead 2005 growth
"When M$ Chief Executive Steve Ballmer traveled to Bangalore in mid-November to announce partnerships with India's largest technology out-sourcing firms, his trip marked a water-shed moment for the tech industry.   Not long ago, when the world's largest software company wanted to cement deals with the world's fastest-growing tech up-starts, its executives would have hopped a quick flight from Washington to Silicon Valley.   But the valley is no longer the exclusive home of the world's fastest-growing publicly traded tech firms.   As Ballmer recognized, the young companies with the fastest-growing sales and highest-flying stocks are now based outside the U.S...   [Cisco Systems & its CEO John Chambers] faces an emerging threat in Asia from Huawei Technologies, a fast-growing [Red Chinese] up-start that Cisco sued in 2003, alleging that Huawei used stolen intellectual property in its lower-cost gear.   The suit -- which was settled in July after Huawei agreed to stop selling products that used the disputed technology -- showed how seriously big U.S. tech firms view the threat from the East.   But it's not primarily a fear of un-authorized knock-offs that have U.S. tech firms taking notice.   Aided by a deep pool of technical talent -- India and [Red China] are churning out more than 10 times as many engineers as the U.S. every year -- young firms in those countries are competing and winning on [an uneven] playing field."

2004-12-22 07:04PST (10:04EST) (15:04GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Q3's GDP revised a tick higher to 4.0% growth: Growth has averaged a strong 4% rate over the past year.
BEA report

2004-12-22 11:41PST (14:41EST) (19:41GMT)
Dan Burrows & Mike Maynard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Holiday shopping gains late momentum
"Holiday shopping is showing signs of picking up in the critical final days before Christmas, the International Council of Shopping Centers said Tuesday.   U.S. retail chains saw their same-store sales rise 3.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ended December 18 versus the same week last year, according to the latest index tracking shopping activity compiled by the industry group and by investment firm UBS.   This followed a week-to-week gain of 1.2% that retailers registered in the December 11 week...   For the holiday season, ICSC affirmed that it foresees sales growth of 2.5% to 3.0% on a year-over-year basis, according to Niemira...   Late Monday, ShopperTrak said total sales for Saturday and Sunday combined declined 3.3% compared to the prior-year period.   ShopperTrak compiles sales at 30K stores in its survey.   The National Retail Federation maintained its forecast that sales for the November-to-December holiday shopping season will grow 4.5% over the same period last year.   Meanwhile, Consumer Growth Partners, an industry consultant, stood out with the most optimistic forecast.   'Based on government statistics for the first half of the holiday shopping season -- and store and parking-lot checks from November through this weekend -- this year has confounded the pundits by turning in what may be the strongest Christmas retail season since 1999's 9.3% growth.', the firm told clients in a note."

2004-12-22 13:41PST (16:41EST) (21:41GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks rose to new highs as petroleum fell
"Bolstered by a drop in crude-oil prices to a one-week low on news of a surprise rise in inventories, stocks climbed to fresh multi-year highs Wednesday in an extension of their pre-holiday rally...   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 56.46 points, or 0.5%, at 10,815.89 while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 6.12 points, or 0.3%, to 2,157 and the S&P 500 rose 4.12 points, or 0.3%, to 1,209.57.   The gains come on the back of a rally Tuesday that saw blue chips close at their best level since 2001 June."

2004-12-22 15:45PST (18:45EST) (23:45GMT)
EU court ordered M$ to divulge compatibility info and separate media player from OS
"The ruling thwarts the software giant's attempt to delay implementation of an EU anti-trust decision designed to have a deeper impact than M$'s settlement with the U.S. government.   M$ said it would restrict its compliance to the European market [while continuing its dishonest ways in the USA & elsewhere], and analysts said the financial impact would be minimal...   In a 91-page ruling on Wednesday, presiding Judge Bo Vesterdorf of the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance found that M$ 'has not shown that it might suffer serious and irreparable damage' if the March decision were immediately implemented...   After the March EU ruling that M$ abusively wielded its Windows monopoly and locked competitors out of the server software market, M$ settled with 4 of the 5 major interveners in the EU's case.   M$ paid $536M to Novell and a smaller amount to the Computer and Communications Industry Association, leading both to pull out of the case.   The company also spent $2.4G to settle claims by Time Warner Inc. and Sun."

Bobby Eberle _Men's News Daily_
Congress-critter Tancredo mocked parrot arrests
"Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) issued a statement on Tuesday contrasting the government's zeal in preventing parrots from Mexico from illegally entering the country with their efforts to stop illegal immigration in general.   Under the head-line 'Apparently There Are No Jobs Available That American Parrots Won't Do', Tancredo said he was surprised to learn of the 'incredible success that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers enjoyed in apprehending smugglers attempting to illegally smuggle 150 Lilac Crowned and Mexican Redhead Amazon Parrots into the United States.'   The statement points out that ICE, however, has not had the same luck in preventing an estimated 3M illegal alien human beings from swarming into the U.S. annually unchecked."

_Information Week_
Stay-at-home representatives stem off-shore out-sourcing, but the end -- lower total compensation -- remains the same
"Rather than out-source customer service to foreign firms in places like India, said Loynd, some U.S. corporations are letting call reps work from home...   IDC estimated that there are currently about 100K home-based phone representatives in the United States."

Andy McCue _Silicon.com_
Re: Viewing 2004: Out-Sourcing & Off-Shoring
"The year started with the prediction that the off-shoring of IT and call centre work to cheap over-seas locations such as India would cost the UK £5.7G and 250K jobs by 2010...   It became clear early on that off-shoring would be a big issue as a backlash to job losses started in the US, followed by UK trade unions warning of strike action if the big British firms started moving thousands of jobs over-seas...   Off-shoring looks set to become a bigger business and IT issue during 2005, along with 'near-shoring', which was one of the emerging trends we saw in 2004 where businesses look to off-shore services to locations in Eastern Europe such as the Czech Republic."

Grant Gross _Standard_
IT salaries were down last year

Chris McManes _IEEE USA_
Income of Technical Professionals Decline
American Economic Alert
MC Press
" Median incomes from primary sources -- base pay plus any self-employment income, commissions, or bonuses -- for U.S. IEEE members working full-time in their area of professional competence decreased from $101K in 2002 to $99,500 in 2003.   This $1,500 drop (1.49%) is the first time the median salary has not risen since the survey was originally conducted in 1972.   Median salaries had shown substantial gains since 1994's median of $67K.   The medians were $72K in 1996; $82K in 1998; and $93,100 in 2000.   When accounting for inflation and stated in constant 2004 dollars, 2003 purchasing power fell to $102,501 from $106,418 in 2002, a decrease of 3.68%.   The 2003 figure is only slightly above the $102,480 reported in 2000, and is the first purchasing power decline in 15 years."

Nicholas Petreley _ComputerWorld_
Nightmare Before Christmas

Richard Jensen _U of IL at Chicago_
"No Irish Need Apply": a myth of victimization


Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 376,611 in the week ending December 18, an increase of 6,213 from the previous week.   There were 424,192 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003.   The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2% during the week ending December 11, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week.   The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,816,257, an increase of 138,461 from the preceding week.   A year earlier, the rate was 2.7% and the volume was 3,393,846."

Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Seasonally adjusted unemployment insurance claims rebounded
"First-time claims for state unemployment benefits rebounded after chalking up the largest weekly decline seen in three years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.   The number of initial claims filed in the week ended December 18 rose 17K, reaching 333K...   Claims in the previous week were revised to a decrease of 45K to 316K, compared with a fall of 43K to 317K that was initially estimated.   This was the largest decline in claims since 2001 December.   Meanwhile, the [seasonally adjusted] 4-week average of initial claims rose to 340K, up by 2,250."

2004-12-23 07:14PST (10:14EST) (15:14GMT)
Gregory Robb _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
UMich consumer sentiment index rose from 95.7 earlier in the month to 97.1 in late December
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis
Federal Reserve Board St. Louis

2004-12-23 08:45PST (11:45EST) (16:45GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US new home sales fell in November
census bureau report
"Sales of new housing units in the United States fell in November at the sharpest pace in more than a decade after October's increase was revised higher, the Commerce Department said Thursday.   The number of new homes sold in November fell 12% to 1.125M units, the lowest level since July, after sales rose 4.2% in October...   The number of new homes for sale in November increased to 418K from a revised 409K.   The November inventory is the highest since 1979 and represents a 4.5-month supply based on the November sales pace, up from a revised 3.9 months in October."

2004-12-23 08:48PST (11:48EST) (16:48GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Durable goods orders were up 1.5% in November
census bureau report
"Excluding defense, new orders rose 3.7% in November after declining 2% in the prior month.   Orders for capital goods rose 1.6% in November after falling 0.4% in the prior month.   Over the past year, total durable goods orders have risen 11.1%, but the growth rate has weakened since March, when year-over-year orders were up by 15.9%.   Shipments of durable goods fell 0.2% in November and have risen 10.4% in the past year...   Orders for computers and electronics fell 4.2% in November, while communications equipment fell 35%.   Orders for machinery fell 3.3% in November, while primary metals orders rose 3.9%."

2004-12-23 09:19PST (12:19EST) (17:19GMT)
Corbett B. Daly _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
November's income out-paced spending
BEA press release
"U.S. consumer spending rose 0.2% in November, out-paced slightly by a 0.3% rise in personal income, the Commerce Department said Thursday.   Personal savings more than doubled to $22.2G in November from $10.2G in the prior month.   The savings rate rose to 0.3% in the month from 0.1% in October...   Disposable personal income rose 0.3% in November, down from growth of 0.6% seen in October.   Real disposable income, adjusted for inflation, rose 0.2% for the second consecutive month."

2004-12-23 13:36PST (16:36EST) (21:36GMT)
Susan Lerner CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks made modest pre-holiday gains
"U.S. stocks ended the abbreviated-trading week with small gains Thursday but that was enough to push blue chips to new multi-year highs for the third straight day.   The dollar, meanwhile, tumbled to new lows against the euro as fresh government data showed mixed results for the nation's economy.   The dollar fell 0.9% against the euro to $1.3509 after trading as low as $1.3516, eclipsing the greenback's previous low of $1.3469.   The dollar was down 0.6% versus the Japanese yen at 103.56.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 11.23 points, or 0.1%, at 10,827.12, after rising as high as 10,864 in earlier trade while the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 3.59 points, or 0.2%, to 2,160.62 and the S&P 500 added 0.56 points to 1,210.13.   For the week, the Dow industrials gained 1.7%; the Nasdaq lifted 1.2%; and the S&P added 1.3%."

Frosty Wooldridge _News with Views_
Growing Anger Over Illegal Immigration
"Millions of Americans scream at the faÁade Congress and Bush slam into our faces daily.   Rather, Jennings and Williams report the consequences, but, like prisoners in the 'politically correct' jail cell, they offer nothing to stop it.   They won't report the underlying destruction of our country.   If it weren't for the Internet, you'd think the USS Titanic of America would steam into New York harbor without a care in the world.   Wrong!"

John McKay _Tech Central Station_
Out-Sourcing: Separating Fact from Hysteria
"similar charges of reckless corporate behavior have been made in Britain, the EU countries, Australia and elsewhere.   In Japan, Korea and Taiwan a lively debate is raging about the supposed 'hollowing out' of these economies as jobs are exported to [Red China] in particular."

Grant Gross _IDG_/_ComputerWorld_
IT salaries were down last year: IEEE found 1.5% decrease in income from 2002 to 2003
"The median income of IEEE-USA members surveyed fell from $101K for a full-time worker in 2002 to $99,500 in 2003.   Until now, respondents' salaries increased, even during the first years after the 2000 dot-com bust.   The median income of survey respondents rose from $82K in 1998 to $93,100 in 2000, before topping out at $101K in 2002.   The Internet survey is based on actual tax forms, and the IEEE-USA will conduct a 2004 salary survey in 2005...   The drop in income could be due to a variety of factors, including a sluggish U.S. economy, an offshore outsourcing trend among technology companies and competition from foreign workers using immigrant worker H-1B visas to get U.S. jobs, said IEEE-USA spokesman Chris McManes.   Rising health insurance costs and general competition from overseas workers may have contributed to the salary decrease, IEEE-USA officials said...   An ITAA survey released in March estimated that 104K U.S. software and services jobs were moved over-seas in 2003, but that's a small number compared with the estimated 10.5M IT jobs in the U.S., [Bob] Cohen said...   The Internet-based survey of the IEEE's U.S. membership was conducted in late 2004.   It is based on 2003 data from 12,584 respondents, the highest response rate IEEE-USA has recorded.   The vast majority of respondents, 11,182, were full-time workers."

Daniel J. Ikenson _Cato Institute_
The Emperor's Same Old Clothes
"One of the first acts of the first congress of the United States was to impose tariffs on imported gloves, hats and clothing. That was in 1789...   Today, the average U.S. tariff on clothing and shoes is 11%, almost 6 times... the average tariff on everything else."


2004-12-23 17:33PST (20:33EST) (2004-12-24 01:33GMT)
Stolen passports often work: Law-maker calls for better co-ordination amongst agencies
"Non-residents applying for admission to the United States using stolen passports have little reason to fear being caught and are usually admitted, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General said in a report issued Thursday...   Of those who did not have notices posted on the look-out system for their stolen passports, 81% were admitted.   Of the second group, which had notices posted for their stolen passports prior to their attempted entries, 73% were admitted.   Though 39 non-residents from the second group were referred to secondary inspections for more intensive interviews, 18 were subsequently admitted...   when Customs and Border Protection agents receive reports of stolen passports, they do not routinely review records to determine whether the passports have already been used to gain admission.   And, even if such a procedure existed, there is no protocol for informing ICE about the use of stolen passports, the report found.   Though the reviewers acknowledged that the 136 successful entries using stolen passports is a small number compared with the millions of legal entries each year, they deemed it significant...   Law enforcement agencies did not pursue any of the cases once it was recognized that an illegal entry had occurred."

2004-12-23 23:16PST (2004-12-24 02:16EST) (07:16GMT)
_USA Today_/_Reuters_
Off-shoring zapping electrical engineers' wages
"Electrical engineers have come in for a shock: for the first time in more than 3 decades of technological innovation, their salaries are dropping.   The median salary of an electrical engineer working in the United States fell $1,500 in 2003, according to a survey released this week by the IEEE-USA, a membership organization of 225K engineers.   It was the first drop since the group started tallying data in 1972...   Ten years ago, the median salary was $67K.   By 2002, that had grown to $101K.   In 2003, the median wage dropped to $99,500."

Robert P. Murphy _Ludwig von Mises Institute_
Can trade bring poverty?



Crystal Yednak _Chicago Tribune_
Work visa caps may stymie employers
"More and more companies are relying on the H-2B program to secure visas for temporary foreign workers in non-agricultural positions -- which includes loggers in Maine, hotel workers in Florida, and landscapers in Illinois.   Employers must prove that they can't find any Americans to take the job by running ads in newspapers and having the U.S. Department of Labor certify that there is a need."

Colin McNickle _Pittsburgh Live_
You're wrong, Mr. President
"President Bush says he wants to revamp an immigration system that is 'not working' and is 'not compassionate' through a program that can't work and would be anything but 'compassionate' to Americans forced to pick up the tab.   During his end-of-the-year news conference, the president formally revived his expanded 'guest worker' proposal first laid out as a set of 'principles' a year ago.   But the Bush plan is quite unprincipled and, by any other name, another in a long line of amnesty programs...   Mr. Bush wants to allow illegal aliens -- up to 8M if not more -- to hold jobs here 'legally' by issuing 'temporary worker cards'...   Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-CO, the former junior high teacher and president of the Independence Institute, recently posed a dozen critical questions about the Bush plan.   Allow me to paraphrase and quote from some of them: How is forgiving an unlawful act without penalty not amnesty?   With no penalty, what prevents even more illegals from streaming into our country?..."

2004-12-26 11:34PST (14:34EST) (19:34GMT)
Carl Limbacher _NewsMax_
Senate & Environmentalists Are Blocking National Security Fence
"Succumbing to pressure from the environmental lobby, the U.S. Senate is blocking legislation already passed by the House that would erect an impenetrable national security fence across the U.S.-Mexican border.   First proposed by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, way back in 1996, the new border fence was supposed to be an improvement on a temporary structure that was already credited with substantial success...   Meanwhile, California's southern border remains vulnerable to al-Qaida terrorists, who, when captured, have told U.S. interrogators they intend to exploit lax border security to smuggle a nuclear bomb into the country."


Tsunami death toll surpassed 22K
"The death toll climbed Monday to more than 22K, mostly in South and Southeast Asia, following a series of tidal waves unleashed by the biggest earth-quake in 4 decades, according to the Associated Press...   The 9.0 quake, the most powerful in 40 years, struck deep beneath the Indian Ocean, off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.   The quake triggered waves up to 20 feet high that traveled thousands of miles before crashing into the coasts of 8 Asian nations.   On Africa's eastern coast, more than 3K miles from the quake's epicenter, Somalia reported hundreds of deaths from tidal waves."

2004-12-27 07:54PST (10:54EST) (15:54GMT)
_Yahoo!_/_Renaissance Institute_
Renaissance Week-End's 24th Year Brings National Leaders to Charleston
"Renaissance Week-End, the family retreat for innovative leaders from diverse fields, convenes December 28th - January 1st in Charleston, SC.   More than 1,200 'movers-and-shakers' from across the nation will exchange views in 400 lectures, seminars, panel discussions and workshops from 08:00 till mid-night each day.   The non-partisan gathering encourages divergent views among leaders in business and finance, education, religion, law and medicine, government, the media, science and technology, sports, non-profits, and the arts...   Lader is now Chairman of WPP Group, the global communications firm that includes J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller, and offices in 103 countries...   Panels will consider 'How Has the World Really Fared in the War Against Terrorism?', 'A 21st Century Perspective on the 7 Deadly Sins', 'When John Met George -- How the Presidential Race Was Won', 'Why's Academia Stuck to the Left?', 'Euro-skepticism -- the Realities of E.U. Expansion', 'Why American's Don't Do Science', 'Sex & the Suburbs -- Has Hollywood Gone Too Far?', 'High-impact Philanthropy', 'What Works with that Sometimes Seemingly Alien Life-form Called Teens', 'What Campaign 2004 Truly Taught Us About Values', 'The Coming Nano-technology Age', 'The Wholly Spirit -- Spirituality in Everyday Life', 'Black-Board Brain-Drain -- What Can Be Done About Teacher Recruiting and Retention', 'The Advantages and Menace of Off-Shore Out-Sourcing', and 'What I've Learned about Love'.   Eight half-day Renaissance Academies will be led by authorities on subjects including 'Is America Now Safer or More Vulnerable?', 'President Bush's Second-term Use of Political Capital', 'Has Spitzer Gone Too Far? -- Or, How Could We Not Have Known about the Chicanery He's Unearthed?', 'The iPod Economy -- Smart Companies of the Digital Era', and 'What's Right? -- An Honest Discussion of Eternal Truths, Hypocrisy & the Stances Dividing Americans'."

2004-12-27 09:45PST (12:45EST) (17:45GMT)
Myra P. Saefong _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Crude petroleum futures fell 6%: Prices at 2-week low - under $42 per barrel in NY
"Crude-oil futures fell as much as 6% Monday to trade under $42 [per] barrel for the first time in 2 weeks, pressured by expectations for milder winter weather in the United States and growing domestic inventories."

2004-12-27 13:23PST (16:23EST) (21:23GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks ended on a sour note
"Oil futures dropped almost 7%, sending the bench-mark contract to its lowest level in nearly 4 months.   Crude for February delivery ended down $2.86 at $41.32 a barrel.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 50.99 points, at 10,776.13 after rising as high as 10,868 in early trades, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 6.4 points, or 0.3%, to 2,154.22 and the S&P 500 slipped 5.2 points, or 0.4%, to 1,204.92.   The dollar was off 0.7% vs. the euro at $1.3615, after setting a new record low of $1.3638 in earlier trades.   The dollar was last down 0.5% against the Japanese yen at 103.01.   Bonds followed the dollar lower.   The bench-mark 10-year note plunged 18/32 to 99 22/32 to yield 4.29%...   Decliners out-numbered advancers by a 19 to 12 margin on the New York Stock Exchange and 17 to 13 on the Nasdaq.   Volume was a slim 918M shares on the Big Board and 1.5G on the Nasdaq...   Gold futures shot up $3.30 to close at $446.20 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- their best close since December 7."

David Colker _Chicago Tribune_
Embedded GPS is an additional means of privacy violation
"Developed originally as a military tool, GPS is used widely by drivers, hikers and boaters to figure out where they are.   A new generation of relatively cheap GPS-equipped devices can tell others too -- allowing people for the first time to keep constant tabs on [others]...   Cellular phones entered the picture in 2001, when the [evil] Federal Communications Commission [unconstitutionally] ordered mobile telephone carriers to add technology to hand-sets that pin-point their location."

2004-12-27 09:33PST (12:33EST) (17:33GMT)
Off-Shoring Promoter Gartner Bought Rival Research Firm Meta Group
"IT research giant Gartner said Monday that it will buy rival research firm Meta Group for $162M in cash and close the deal in the second quarter of 2005.   Stamford, CT-based Gartner had revenues of $858M in 2003, almost 7 times the $122M posted that year by Meta Group, which is headquartered in the same city."

Richard Read _Oregonian_/_Newhouse News_
Not All Out-Sourced Jobs Are Lost For Ever
"Three years ago, Epson Portland laid off 850 employees -- three-quarters of its work force -- as printer assembly moved to Asia.   The Hillsboro company put its newest building up for sale, succumbing to the powerful riptide carrying manufacturing jobs to countries with cheap labor.   Epson appeared poised to vanish from Oregon like other big Japanese manufacturers.   Its pay-roll plunged from 2,400 in 1998, when the state's manufacturing employment peaked, to 250.   But the factory is back, defying out-sourcing's centrifugal force.   Its pay-roll has ballooned to 600.   It churns out record numbers of printer cartridges.   Productivity is up.   Defects are down.   The factory spits out 5 times as many cartridges per worker as a sister plant in [Red China]...   As the branch of a Japanese company, Epson Portland was an out-sourcing venture when it opened in 1986.   The parent firm, Seiko Epson Corp., is a giant that makes everything from watches to computer chips."


2004-12-27 19:48PST (22:48EST) (2004-12-28 03:48GMT)
Jonathan Turley _USA Today_
And it's all "legal"
"You can make more in a single stock trade than in a life-time of public service.   Congress has excluded investment income, such as stocks, from ethics limitations on income.   The result is that members routinely make killings in the market in areas where they legislate.   One study by the University of Memphis found that 75% of randomly selected members had 'stock transactions that directly coincided with (their) legislative activity'.   Members have the unique ability to predict or even manipulate stock prices.   Another recent study by Alan J. Ziobrowski of Georgia State University and 3 colleagues showed that U.S. senators beat the market handily by 12 percentage points in their investments -- out-performing 'corporate insiders' by 8 points from 1993 to 1998.   This may have less to do with their market skills than their knowledge of upcoming bills or regulations benefiting certain companies...   It is better to keep profiteering on a strictly quid pro quo basis: The member gets government contracts or legislative deals for a lobbyist, and the lobbyist delivers windfall investments for the member...   One way to reap the benefits of public service is for lobbyists to employ your spouse or children at huge salaries -- despite their lack of experience...   While ethics rules prohibit gifts and speaking fees, members routinely accept thousands of dollars in expenses and travel from lobbyists and business associations.   These paid vacations are billed as 'educational' for members of Congress, and they are clearly eager to learn..."

2004-12-27 21:01PST (2004-12-28 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Hiring in 2005 set to improve
"If the economists and survey-takers are right, job seekers should have an easier time finding work next year.   And the work won't all be in low-paying service jobs, some say...   James F. Smith, an economist and professor of finance at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School... forecasts the national unemployment rate to drop to 4.5% in 2005, from the current 5.4%.   But the jobs may not be at big companies, Smith said.   [And smaller companies pay lower compensation.]...   Companies are likely to inch the number of jobs higher, to about 200K new jobs per month next year, according to Economy.com, compared with the 185K on average per month through November this year...   21% of employers plan to hire in the first quarter of 2005, up from 20% in the fourth quarter and 14% a year ago, according to the quarterly survey of 16K firms by Manpower, the [body shop].   And out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts strong growth in hiring...   some are noting a slight down-turn in employer optimism.   In November, 37% of executives worldwide said they intended to hire, down from 43% in July, according to the McKinsey Quarterly survey of 16K executives.   McKinsey & Company is a management consulting firm.   McKinsey's Global Optimism Index, which measures executives' out-look for the economy, their industry and their company, is down 12% since [2004] January."

2004-12-28 01:27PST (04:27EST) (09:27GMT)
_USA Today_/_Reuters_
WM on track to roll-out privacy violating RFID system
Spy Chips
"some suppliers would be tagging as little as 2% of their products, but others would be tagging 100%, which averaged out to about 65%...   'we want to get up to 100%.', [WM spokes-clone Gus Whitcomb] said."

2004-12-28 07:34PST (10:34EST) (15:34GMT)
Tsunami death toll passes 44K: Red Cross sees disease threat

2004-12-28 12:08PST (14:08CST) (15:08EST) (20:08GMT)
Andi Djatmiko _AP_/_Chicago Tribune_
Tsunami Death Toll Climbed to 52K

2004-12-28 14:47PST (17:47EST) (22:47GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Stocks continue up
"U.S. stocks were back in rally mode Tuesday, with all three of the major indexes marking fresh 42-month highs on news of a surge in consumer confidence to its best levels since July...   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at session highs, up 78.41 points, or 0.7%, at 10,854.54, while the Nasdaq Composite Index popped 22.97 points, or 1.1%, to 2,177.19 and the S&P 500 rose 8.62 points, or 0.7%, to 1,213.54.   For the Dow and Nasdaq, they were the highest closes since 2001 June; for the S&P, it was the best close dating back to 2001 August."

2004-12-28 11:57PST (14:57EST) (19:57GMT)
Dan Burrows _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
The verdict's not yet in on retail sales
"On Tuesday, the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS released their weekly chain-store sales survey, which indicated a rush of holiday shopping in the week leading up to Christmas.   The index, which rose 2.7% for the week ended December 25, was the strongest weekly sales gain since 2001-12-22.   Moreover, on a year-over-year basis, sales advanced 4.3% -- their best showing since posting a 4.4% rise for the week ended 2004-07-03...   Among industry associations, the ICSC forecasts total holiday sales growth of 2.5% to 3% and the National Retail Federation sees a gain of 4.5%.   But neither of those projections includes on-line sales.   Consumer Growth Partners, which takes a broader view of sales into account, forecasts a rise of 6.5% to 6.9%.   In the most optimistic view, MasterCard's consulting and research arm, SpendingPulse, said holiday spending shot up 8.1% over last year, when returns from on-line sales and gift cards are included.   As a matter of fact, gift cards, which the NRF estimates will account for more than $17G, or 8% of total holiday sales, are the great unknown."

Eric Chabrow _Information Week_
Growth Continues in On- & Off-Shore Out-Sourcing by Local & State Governments
"State and local government saw [an] up-tick in money spent on IT out-sourcing this year, reaching $11.3G, according to the government IT market-research firm Input in a report issued Tuesday...   Annualized growth rates in government IT outsourcing expenditures will be a [huge] 3% a year through 2009 when spending by state and local governments for out-sourcing will hit $17.7G, Input estimates."

_UPI_/_Washington Times_
Census Bureau estimated Tuesday that the United States would have a 2005-01-01 population of 295,160,302 -- nearly 3M more people than on 2004-01-01
"there is one birth every 8 seconds and one death every 13 seconds...   net international immigration results in the country adding a person every 26 seconds.   The result is an increase of one person in the total U.S. population every 12 seconds"

James Pilcher _Cincinnati Enquirer_
US to probe Comair shut-down
"Comair officials declined Monday to discuss the mounting costs of recovering from last week's snow storm and the resulting computer crash, saying that would be parent Delta Air Lines' responsibility.   Delta has lost more than $6G in the last 3 years...   Between losing some revenue due to the shut-down, shelling out for hotel rooms for stranded passengers and crew members, and hiring shipping companies to return luggage, the bill for the events could reach well into the millions...   Still, Comair's dilemma raised questions about the airline industry's reliance on sophisticated computer systems.   Failures similar to the one at Comair have caused problems at several other airlines...   Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert in Mountain View, CA, said the issue boils down to cost versus benefit.   Financially strapped airlines probably can't afford upgrades or backups, he said.   'My guess is it is cheaper for the airline to absorb this loss, which doesn't happen often, than to fix the problem.', Schneier said.   Comair is replacing its existing 15-year-old system, which was manufactured by New York-based Boeing subsidiary SBS International.   SBS did not return calls for comment.   [A web search on SBS International turned up the following: Raj Sekhon, Site Lead - Tier II, Deployment & Infastructure; Antonio Wing, P.M.O. Manager; Pinder Sekhon, Software Engineer Manager; Andrew Lyons, Systems Engineer Manager; Debbie Semel, Human Resources Manager]"

Jim Wagner _Internet News_
Feds to Probe Comair after Computer Outage
"The Comair crew flight scheduling software in question was developed by SBS International, a division within the commercial aviation group at aviation information systems provider Jeppesen, which is a subsidiary of airline industry giant Boeing.   Jeppesen and SBS, both Boeing subsidiaries, integrated their software suites earlier this year.   According to Mike Pound, a Jeppesen spokesman, Comair has been using a crew flight management software application called Track since it first penned a contract with SBS in 1986.   The Track software application, Pound said, has long since been replaced (and is no longer available for sale) by SBS' latest line of crew flight scheduling software, Maestro.   Until this month, Comair hasn't been affected by any limitations in the Track software, notably the fact the system can only accommodate 32K changes a month.   But the many flight cancellations, caused by a severe winter storm front that tore through the Midwest last week, and the subsequent rescheduled flights soon swamped the dated software and caused the crash."


2004-12-28 17:36PST (20:36EST) (2004-12-29 01:38GMT)
David J. Lynch _USA Today_
Red Chinese exporters expect tax on clothing won't hurt them
"A new [Red Chinese] tariff on clothing exports, which Beijing unveiled this week to avert threatened U.S. trade barriers, is unlikely to save U.S. manufacturers from dramatic advances by their [Red Chinese] rivals...   The World Trade Organization estimates that [Red China's] share of the U.S. clothing market could jump to 50% from 16% today...   Embattled U.S. textile and garment companies, which have lost 355K jobs since 2001 January, expect to lose many of their remaining 691K jobs under the pressure of Chinese competition.   But the modest amount of the surcharge suggests it was intended as a political gesture, analysts say.   For men's cotton shirts, Guangdong Yida Textile's main product, the levy will be 0.2 yuan, or 2.5 cents.   That will mean a price increase of about 1% on the 20 to 25 yuan Guangdong Yida charges its U.S. customers for each shirt, says Li...   Profit margins for many [Red Chinese] suppliers are around 5%..."

2004-12-29 04:10PST (07:10EST) (12:10GMT)
_AP_/_USA Today_
Quake & tsunami deaths top 76K

2004-12-29 08:00PST (11:00EST) (16:00GMT)
Rex Nutting _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
US existing home sales hit record 6.94M units in November, up 2.7%
National Association of Realtors data
"The median sales price of an existing home rose 10.4% on a year-over-year basis to $188,200, marking the highest price appreciation seen in 17 years...   Meanwhile, the NAR also revised higher October's sales, from 6.75M existing homes to 6.76M.   November sales were up 13.2% from 2003 November.   The inventory of homes for sale rose 2.1% to 2.48M, equating to a 4.3-month supply at the November sales rate."

2004-12-29 09:09:46pst (12:09:46EST) (17:09:46GMT)
_American Economic Alert_/_Press-Telegram_
Good luck finding gifts made in the USA
"If America is to remain strong, it must maintain its manufacturing base, and to do that it must compete in a global economy, create incentives to invest in equipment and technology, and expand high-tech worker training.   The U.S. imported $152G worth of goods from [Red China] last year, and is expected to import $190G this year.   The trade gap with [Red China], as anyone can see from the volume of containers coming into the Port of Long Beach vs. the volume going out, is huge: $160G and growing."

2004-12-29 13:30PST (16:30EST) (21:30GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Major US stock indices take a pause
"The broader market ended little changed Wednesday despite a big spike in crude-oil prices and a steep decline in Boeing stock after [Red China] reportedly will not approve new aircraft purchases next year.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 25.35 points, or 0.2%, at 10,829 while the Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.19 points to 2,177 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.09 points to 1,213.45...   Crude futures, meanwhile, spiked after a car bomb exploded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.   February crude futures jumped $1.87 to close at $43.64 [per] barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange..."

2004-12-29 14:50PST (17:50EST) (22:50GMT)
John C. Dvorak _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Tsunami warning systems
"The distance from the epicenter to the eventual land-fall of the giant waves was such that there was over an hour of lead time in many cases.   This was more than enough time to evacuate the beaches where most of the people were killed.   According to reports from many seismologists within 15 minutes of the deep earthquake the calculations of the tsunamis were made and the directions of the waves as well as the expected time of impact were calculated.   The main group involved in this sort of activity is the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii and the West Coast Tsunami Warning Center.   They had the disaster well predicted but had nobody to call.   There was no network of contacts in South Asia and no international system in place.   In a pathetic story reported in Sweden, bureaucratic meteorologists in Thailand actually had enough information to issue a warning within an hour of the first wave but decided against it.   They managed to rationalize that the wave wouldn't actually hit Thailand.   'We finally decided not to do anything because the tourist season was in full swing.   The hotels were 100% booked.   What if we issued a warning, which would have led to an evacuation, and nothing had happened.   What would be the outcome?   The tourist industry would be immediately hurt.   Our department would not be able to endure a law-suit.'"

John Steele _London Telegraph_
Over-Seas "students" are cheating the system by staying in Britain
"Large-scale abuse of the immigration system involving bogus students and colleges has been disclosed in a study of Government statistics.   According to the analysis by Migrationwatch, an independent think-tank, thousands of people who entered the country as students are being granted extensions to stay -- far more than the number of official college places...   In the case of Jamaica, figures for 2001-2003 show that 1,690 students were admitted to the UK but 27,525 others were given permission to extend their stays.   Over the same period, 4,270 Zimbabwean students were allowed entry but 25,420 other 'students' were granted extensions of stays.   By contrast, for the United States -- the largest source of foreign students -- 195,500 were allowed entry over the 3 years, while 3,210 were granted extensions...   'For Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, Russia, Czech Republic and Cyprus extensions were less than 25% of student admissions over the same period.   For the USA, only 2% sought extensions.'   By contrast, extensions were close to 100% of admissions for countries such as Lithuania, Ukraine, Trinidad, Ghana, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Sri Lanka."

John Gallagher _Detroit Free Press_
Age Discrimination & the Baby Boomers
"Lawyers involved in age discrimination law-suits say we're more likely to see a rise in the number of discrimination complaints and, at the very least, more hard feelings among older workers.   That's because companies, including those in the automotive industry that form the backbone of Michigan's economy, long have made it a practice to target older workers for buy-outs and early retirement as a way to slim their work-forces.   Some older workers might be happy to take the money and run.   But many feel betrayed, angry and devalued...   At the heart of such action, Pitt contends, is a belief that older workers are not as technologically savvy as younger workers...   Lawyers who represent employers agree that a mythical golden age for older workers most likely never will materialize...   complaints about alleged age discrimination filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been trending upward since 1999.   Age-related complaints to the EEOC were more than 19K during 2003, up more than a third since 1999's level...   [Rightly or wrongly] usually half or more of initial complaints are dismissed as unfounded...   age discrimination cases tend to be more costly than other discrimination cases.   When deciding what damages to award to a worker, courts look at a plaintiff's salary and at the likelihood he or she can find another good-paying job to offset the loss of the old one.   Generally, the greater the economic damage caused by discriminatory behavior, the greater the monetary awards granted by the courts."


Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 453,654 in the week ending December 25, an increase of 79,058 from the previous week.   There were 516,493 initial claims in the comparable week in 2003.   The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.2% during the week ending December 18, unchanged from the prior week.   The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,721,778, a decrease of 99,217 from the preceding week.   A year earlier, the rate was 2.6% and the volume was 3,247,595."

2004-12-30 10:46PST (13:46EST) (18:46GMT)
Jin Jelter _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Crude petroleum closed out the year above $43 per barrel, a 33.7% increase over last year
"The February crude oil contract ended the day at $43.45 a barrel, up from an early session low of $42.52 but still 19 cents less than Wednesday's $43.64 settlement."

2004-12-30 13:06PST (16:06EST) (21:06GMT)
Mike Maynard _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Gold futures close out 2004 with 5.4% gain
"Gold futures extended early gains on the year's final day of trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, winning back some of the ground lost in Wednesday's sharp sell-off.   Gold for February delivery added $1.40 to close at $438.40 an ounce.   Trading in metals futures ended early on the exchange, which will reopen for business on January 3."

2004-12-30 13:08PST (16:08EST) (21:08GMT)
Padraic Cassidy _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Steel stocks fall as Red China becomes net exporter
"Investment bank UBS estimates [Red China's] domestic steel production would grow 22% in 2004 and 14% next year, according to a report Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.   At the same time, the newspaper reported, [Red China's] demand for steel is slowing.   Previously, the Asian nation's voracious steel consumption had sparked concern over a global shortage...   UBS predicted China would produce 268M metric tons this year and 205M tons in 2005, according to the report.   Earlier this year, the China Iron and Steel Association estimated the country would produce 260M metric tons in 2004.   With that high production level and control comes pricing power -- and a worry that steel prices and profits for U.S. producers would fall.   Meanwhile, Beijing, fearful the steel sector has become overheated, is working to cool the industry's expansion by tightening bank loan and land use policies."

2004-12-30 16:30EST) (21:30GMT)
Closing levels on US market indices from MarketWatch
S&P 5001,213.55+0.10
10-Year U.S. T-Bond4.26%-0.059

2004-12-30 14:16PST (17:16EST) (22:16GMT)
Padraic Cassidy & William Spain _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
USDA opens door for import of Canadian cattle
"The designation of Canada as the first "minimal risk" region by the USDA late Wednesday means imports of live cows less than 30 months old can resume on March 7. Cattle imports from Canada were halted in 2003 May; in 2003 December a cow in Washington state, traced to a herd in Canada, tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy..."

2004-12-30 14:51PST (17:51EST) (22:51GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Blue chip stocks down, Crude petroleum retreated, unemployment compensation insurance claims mixed
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 28.89 points, or 0.3%, at 10,800.30, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 1.34 points to 2,178.34 and the S&P 500 edged up 0.10 of a point to 1,213.55...   Advancers led decliners by a 19 to 13 margin on the New York Stock Exchange and 17 to 14 on the Nasdaq in thin trade.   About 826.6M shares changed hands on the Big Board, while nearly 1.4G were traded on the Nasdaq...   chip designer ESS Technology said fourth-quarter earnings, revenue and gross margins were expected to be below the company's earlier forecast as a result of higher operating costs and continued slow demand for video products.   The stock slumped 9%...   The Chicago Purchasing Managers index was 61.2% in December, below the 63.1% average [expected] in a CBS MarketWatch survey.   The employment sub-index showed contraction, falling to 49.1%."


Dawn C. Chmielewski _San Jose Mercury News_
$499 Apple computer predicted
"With the approach of the Macworld Expo in San Francisco... Current speculation among the Mac-obsessed is that Apple Computer will unveil a new, inexpensive Macintosh computer for $499 at its annual trade show. The new computer, described as a compact box as slender as 1.73 inches high, would ship without a monitor, according to the buzz."

John Boudreau & K. Oanh Ha & Steve Johnson & Therese Poletti _San Jose Mercury News_
Starting Over
"Sayeed Ahmed knew he was on his own as he climbed the roof of his San Jose ice cream store to investigate why the air conditioning had stopped.   Just 3 months earlier, Ahmed and his wife Farah Hasnat -- 2 laid-off tech workers -- celebrated the opening of their first business venture, a Baskin-Robbins shop.   Up on the roof that hot August day, Ahmed's tech back-ground came in handy.   He quickly discovered that a circuit breaker had slipped and switched it back into place...   Between the pair, they had logged 13 years in tech.   He worked in interactive television as a project manager, while she was a software programmer at NASA.   He felt secure in his job, and her group was singled out for a NASA award for its work on the next generation of super-computers.   Before the end of 2002 Spring, both husband and wife were laid off...   75% of clients looking to buy franchises with the help of FranNet of the Bay Area, a franchise consulting group, are former tech workers, said President Joan Young...   The pair don't want to disclose exactly how much they spent, but they said it costs between $150K and $250K to build and open a new Baskin-Robbins store, as they did.   They funded the venture with savings, 401(k) plans, a home-equity loan and a $25K loan from non-profit Lenders for Community Development (LCD)...   Starting over: Have dog treats, will travel.   Laid off from sales job, woman counsels canines.   When she was laid off earlier this year, CS turned to therapy -- dog therapy, that is.   She launched her own business in which she counsels dogs in behavioral changes.   Hey, dogs have issues, too.


Jonathan Krim & Griff Witte _Washington Post_
Average-Wage Earners Fall Behind: New Job Market Makes More Demands but Fewer Promises
Detroit News
"She makes $2 an hour less than before; to have a chance at higher pay, she will need to continually train herself in new areas.   G is at the leading edge of changes that herald a new era for millions of people earning around the national average, $17 an hour.   This new era requires that workers shoulder more responsibility and risk on the way to financial security, economists say.   It also demands that they be nimble in an increasingly fluid job market.   Those who don't obtain some combination of specialized skills, higher education and professional status that can be constantly adapted will be in danger of sliding down the economic ladder to low-paying service jobs, usually without benefits.   Meanwhile, those who secure the middle-class jobs of the 21st century will have to make $17 an hour stretch further than ever as they pay more for health care or risk doing without insurance and assume much or all of the burden for their retirement.   In the lively debate about the future of U.S. jobs, many economists and scholars acknowledge that the changes wrought by technology and global economic forces will be painful at first.   But they say the new structure ultimately will create many kinds of jobs as yet unimagined, in fields such as education, health care and science."

2004-12-31 13:53PST (16:53EST) (21:53GMT)
Susan Lerner _CBS.MarketWatch.com_
Nasdaq, S&P 500 out-shine Dow 30: Dow up 3.3% over last year, Nasdaq up 8.6%, S&P 500 up 9%
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.1% in 2004...   The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index gained 8.6% in 2004 with retailer Kmart Holding shining as top performer, up 312% on the year.   Synopsys Inc.'s 42% decline made it the weakest performer in the Nasdaq 100.   The S&P 500 ended the year up 9%.   In 2003, the Dow surged 25%, the S&P climbed 26% and the Nasdaq rocketed 50%.   The U.S. dollar's decline stood at 7.6% in 2004 -- the third year in a row of losses for the benchmark currency."

2004 December

2004 December
William A. Wulf _Engineering Times_
Preparing Engineers for an Out-Sourced World
alternate link
"I realized that there is an elephant in the living room and I had better not ignore it.   I am referring to the out-sourcing (or off-shoring) of engineering jobs to places like India and [Red China]...   First, everyone who has looked at this problem agrees that the data stinks!   Last year we hosted a 'summit' on the topic of work-force and an incredible range of opinions were expressed -- from shortage to over-supply of U.S. engineers...   First, I know that the plural of anecdote is not data!...   there are conflicting definitions of 'engineer' by the National Science Foundation and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   Selective sampling of the two sources is possible, and that greatly confuses the situation.   In addition, computer science, which is in neither data set, confuses things even more...   Third, much of the hard data lags by at least two years, and that really matters in the current context because of the 'dot com' boom/bust.   Fourth, I know that U.S. production of engineers declined from about 80K (in 1985) to about 65K but is back up to about 75K in the latest data.   For context, however, the production of 'engineers' is over 200K per year in each of [Red China] and India.   Fifth, I know we were importing engineers on H-1B visas...   Sixth, I know we are creating engineering jobs in India and [Red China]; one only need drive down the road in Bangalore to see that, but the question is to what extent these are replacing jobs in the U.S...   Seventh, starting salaries for fresh B.S. engineers are neither significantly moving up (ergo indicating a shortage), nor significantly declining (ergo indicating an over-supply)...   Eighth, I know that engineering unemployment is up from 0.5% to around 6%óat least in some fields.   a) That's comparable to the rate for the rest of the work-force, which is unusual and worrisome since historically engineering unemployment has been lower than that of the workforce as a whole!...   we need to keep perspective.   6% of the engineering work-force is around 120K individuals.   As compared to these 120K engineers out of work, 500K Americans lose their job each week...   The U.S.'s prosperity, security, and health depend on technology created by engineers.   The nation's dependency on engineering should fundamentally change the nature of the debate about out-sourcing from empathy for the individual to concern for our economy, our security, our health, our environment, etc...   we cannot retain our security and our quality of life without a vibrant engineering work-force...   22% of Fortune 200 CEOs have a B.S. in engineering.   In fact, engineering is the most common under-graduate degree among the Fortune 200 CEOs."

2004 December
George F. McClure _Today's Engineer_
Converting Millions of Illegal Aliens to Blue Card Guest Workers
"Of the estimated 8M to [16M] illegal aliens from Mexico in the United States today, about 40% are here because they over-stayed their non-resident visas.   Few have a high-tech education.   They came north and stayed because they could get better jobs here than are available in Mexico.   At the same time, their U.S. employers receive cheap labor.   Calls for better enforcement by the Border Patrol have been met with the response that the problem is bigger than the Border Patrol and that effective enforcement is not feasible.   Several years ago, California voters passed Proposition 187, which denied health care and schooling to illegal aliens, but the [state] courts struck it down."

2004 December
Alan Deutschman & Adept Vormgeving _Fast Company_
Off-Shoring Creativity: Look at the high-tech firms & markets in Red China & India, and worry about the emigration of innovation
"India and [Red China] are launching high-tech companies that will innovate brilliantly -- and will bring their creations first to consumers in their own lands, often bypassing our shores entirely...   In September, the Silicon Valley Bank, which lends to tech startups, opened a branch in Bangalore, India.   The bank has led two delegations, each of two-dozen top venture capitalists, on week-long tours of India and [Red China]...   They found a nascent entrepreneurial culture inspired by their own, peopled by Chinese nationals -- educated in the United States and once employed by big American companies -- who have returned home to launch tech start-ups...   (Intel, one of the biggest venture investors in Silicon Valley, has already invested some $200M in 50 Chinese start-ups.)   As new funding fuels innovation, Silicon Valley insiders see India and [Red China] ultimately eclipsing America as technology markets -- with local companies dominating."

William P. Butz, Terrence K. Kelly, David M. Adamson, Gabrielle A. Bloom, Donna Fossum, and E. Mihal Gross _RAND Corporation_
There is no clear evidence that the federal government faces impending shortages of scientific and technical personnel

_Economic Policy Institute_
Under-Employment Rate and its components (pdf)

David Dooley & JoAnn Prause _Cambridge University Press_
_The Social Costs of Under-Employment: Inadequate Employment as Disguised UnEmployment_

2004 October-December
G. Gitanjali _Journal of Post-Graduate Medicine_
Academic dishonesty widespread in India
"Unfortunately there is evidence on hand that academic dishonesty is widely prevalent in many Indian medical colleges and that a proportion of students seem to think that there is nothing wrong in participating in such acts...   I recently found that some of my students had copied from each other during one of their assessment tests...   When I interviewed them the next day, they told me that this is routine and it happens in most tests.   What is more disturbing is that they said the practice started in school where they had the blessings of the principal to copy during the board examinations and it is done with the connivance of the teachers!...   A study conducted by Sheriff et al. reported that 88% of students of medical and paramedical branches revealed that cheating occurred at examinations but only 1%-5% [admitted] having indulged in it.   Sivagnanam et al. [Sivagnanam G, Rajasekaran M, Thirumalaikolundusubramanian P, Fathima AS, Kumar A, Karthikeyan A. 'Medical students and misconduct - a gender-wise comparison' The Meducator 2002;2:18-22.] surveyed 259 medical students from 2 government colleges in South India and reported 32% of students admitted to have copied at the university examinations.   What is rather worrying is the fact that 20% believed that there was nothing wrong in doing so and 33% said they would consider doing so in future, too.   This is in marked contrast to the behaviour of medical students from the UK wherein only 2% confessed to having copied at the degree examinations and 98% considered this behaviour as wrong.   A survey conducted in the USA among medical students from 31 schools [Baldwin Jr DC, Daugherty SR, Rowley BD, Schwarz MD. Cheating in medical school: A survey of second-year students at 31 schools. Acad Med 1996;71:267-73.] revealed that 66.5% of medical students reported hearing of such misdemeanours, 39% said that they witnessed acts of cheating amongst their class-mates and 4.7% admitted to cheating."

_Graduate Institute of International Studies_
Small Arms Survey 2004: Rights at Risk

William J. Golz Articles & Discussions on the Scientific Labor Market

_BigCharts.com_ S&P Retail Index
Note the signs of weakness shown in the dip from 1998 July through November, relatively flat 1999, and the drop all through 2000.

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Batman Begins

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