Tidbits on April 4, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University 

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What the people want is very simple - they want an America as good as its promise.
Barbara Jordan

I don't want to know what the law is, I want to know who the judge is.
Roy Cohn




Many college students hope to go to law school.  What is it really like afterwards in terms of job opportunities, salaries, and life style as a lawyer?  I found Gina Rowsam's slightly dated plenary address to be quite informative.  What is quoted below is only a small part of the summary by Gail Dyer.
Rowsam also discussed trends related to lawyer dissatisfaction, tenuous job security and increased accountability measures. Lawyer stress, often associated with pressure to produce significant billable hours (1800 to 2200 hours per year is a common requirement), is at an all-time high. Citing the example of the "overnight" demise of some large San Francisco firms, she noted that new lawyers must be "quick and nimble," rather than relying on an expectation of job security. In addition, clients are more closely scrutinizing high compensation awarded to partners and associates. Likewise, the role of general counsel is drawing scrutiny, as is the role of lawyers in conflict, such as the "unhealthy partnering" exposed by the Enron and Arthur Andersen scandals which led to new federal regulations aimed at reigning in unethical and errant behavior within the corporate power base. How might aspiring lawyers improve their chances for a satisfying journey and what skills should they sharpen along the way? Based on NALP's query of law firms across the country, Rowsam reported. that firms note an overall dearth of new law graduates with the following skills deemed necessary for success: "smart/savvy (in law and business); adaptable; flexible; resilient; team player; goal-oriented; strong interpersonal skills; and leadership capacity." Law firms also reported that increasingly the legal job market will demand that new graduates and junior associates be scrutinized with respect to the following capabilities: perform complex work; satisfy high performance measures; evolve as necessary; focus on the client; fixate on the bottom line; know about global issues; and apply non-traditional ideas and concepts. In summary, the opportunities for success and happiness still abound.; however, prospective. applicants, law students and new lawyers bear the ultimate responsibility for discovering and navigating their own path.
Gail Dyer, "The Legal Job Market in a Tight Economy," January 13, 2004 ---  http://abacus.bates.edu/career/grad/LAWII/prosp.html

Not surprisingly, graduating students looking for that first job with a large, nationally-established law firm maximized their chances of landing that job by graduating near the top of the class at a top-tier law school; these large firms hired about 10% (more than 3,000) of nationwide graduates. Of course, 90 percent of new lawyers were hired despite not graduating in top 10 percent of their class. Indeed, most graduates-60 percent-joined small or mid-sized firms, and many of them had substantial or compelling life and/or work experience before beginning law school.

With respect to types of jobs and placement trends, most graduates (58.1. percent) chose private practice. Employment in business was 10.7 percent. Public service jobs, including military (1.4 percent) and other government jobs (13.1 percent), judicial clerkships (11.4 percent), public interest (2.9 percent) and academic positions (1.7 percent), accounted for 31.2 percent taken by employed graduates. The top states/areas in terms of total reported jobs taken by law graduates have remained the same in recent

. . .

With respect to starting salaries (numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand), for all full time jobs-legal and. other types-the mean and median starting salary was $72,000 and $60,000, respectively. Of course, salaries varied by geographic region: for example, the mean ranged from $83,000 in the mid atlantic to $51,000 in the east south central region. In private practice, the mean/median was $87,000/ $90,000. Generally, level of compensation correlated with the size of the firm: median salaries ranged from $45,000 in firms of 2-10 attorneys, to $80,000 in firms of 51-100 attorneys, to $125,000 in firms of more than 251 attorneys. In other areas, mean/median salaries were as follows: business $69,000/$60,000; academic $47,000/$40,000; government $44,000/$42,000; judicial clerkship $41.,000/$42,000; and public interest $38,000/$36,000.


Discontent is rightfully rising over CEO pay versus performance
In fact, the boss enjoyed a hefty raise last year. The chief executives at 179 large companies that had filed proxies by last Tuesday - and had not changed leaders since last year - were paid about $9.84 million, on average, up 12 percent from 2003, according to Pearl Meyer & Partners, the compensation consultants. Surely, chief executives must have done something spectacular to justify all that, right? Well, that's not so clear. The link between rising pay and performance remained muddy - at best. Profits and stock prices are up, but at many companies they seem to reflect an improving economy rather than managerial expertise. Regardless, the better numbers set off sizable incentive payouts for bosses. With investors still smarting from the bursting of the tech bubble, the swift rebound in executive pay is touching some nerves. "The disconnect between pay and performance keeps getting worse," said Christianna Wood, senior investment officer for global equity at Calpers, the California pension fund. "Investors were really mad when pay did not come down during the three-year bear market, and we are not happy now, when companies reward executives when the stock goes up $2."
Claudia H. Deutsch, "My Big Fat C.E.O. Paycheck," The New York Times, April 3, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/business/yourmoney/03pay.html?
Bob Jensen's threads on corporate fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud.htm
Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraudUpdates.htm


Seems that every one wants to blast Wal-Mart except the giant's customers
Led by Wal-Mart's longtime opponents in organized labor, a new coalition of about 50 groups - including environmentalists, community organizations, state lawmakers and academics - is planning the first coordinated assault intended to press the company to change the way it does business.  In the next few months, those critics will speak with one voice in print advertising, videos and books attacking the company, they say. They also plan to put forward an association of disenchanted Wal-Mart employees, current and former, to complain about what they call poverty-level wages and stingy benefits.
Steven Greenhouse, Opponents of Wal-Mart to Coordinate Efforts," The New York Times, April 3, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/business/03walmart.html


How close is the A.I.G. fraud of today to the Enron fraud of yesterday?
There are, however, some disturbing similarities between A.I.G. and Enron: Asleep-at-the-switch auditors. Secretive off-balance-sheet entities that should have been included on the company's financial statements but weren't. A management team willing to try any number of accounting tricks to make the company's results appear better than they actually were. And one more likeness: As A.I.G.'s shares have plummeted, the financial position of one of the company's
Gretchen Morgenson, "A.I.G.: Whiter Shade of Enron," The New York Times, March 3, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/business/yourmoney/03gret.html
Bob Jensen's threads on the A.I.G. fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#InvestmentBanking


Working for Wal-Mart may be better than working for the airlines
Not even close. While roughly 150,000 full- and part-time jobs have been lost at the network carriers in four years, government statistics show, low-cost airlines have added fewer than 10,000 workers. Part of this can be chalked up to post-Sept. 11 cuts, to fewer pilots as old jumbo jets are scrapped, to fewer flight attendants and to Internet booking and check-in. But the airlines still need people to fly planes, pass out peanuts and check the oil. The bottom line: 150,000 people were, basically, replaced by 10,000, and it often shows.
Robert B. Herring, "The Incredible Disappearing Airline Worker," The New York Times, April 3, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/business/yourmoney/03count.html


When can your visit your spouse and family and deduct every day of your visit as a "business expense" including tax deductions for rent, food, laundry and various other "normal" living expenses?  Actually, our representatives in Congress wrote this part of the tax code to suit themselves, so a per diem can be deducted even if there are no supporting receipts.

I begin with the tidbit that inspired Chuck Pier to respond.

If you live and "work" in one state, you may have to pay income tax in a state you don't set foot in during the year
In a case that could have wide implications for the growing practice of telecommuting, New York's highest court ruled that a man who lives out of state and works by computer for a New York firm must pay New York state tax on his full income.  The New York Court of Appeals said computer programmer Thomas Huckaby, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., owed New York income tax for his full salary, not just the time he spent working at his employer's New York offices.  Mr. Huckaby, whose home state doesn't have an income tax, paid New York state tax on about 25% of his income over two years for the time he spent working there for the National Organization of Industrial Trade Unions.  The court upheld a state tax-department ruling that all his income should be taxed. That amounts to $4 ,387 plus interest. However, the ruling could lead to much greater income for the state as it is applied to the growing field of telecommuting.
 "New York Court Puts Tax Bite On Telecommuting," The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111211594999192054,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal

Jensen Questions: 
Suppose a CPA telecommutes to an office in Manhattan, lives in Nevada, and telecommutes entirely to her firm's clients in California.  Where is she supposed to pay a state income tax on her full salary? 

How can she work it so a per diem for working on California clients from her home is deductible?    

Would it be worthwhile to resign from her NY firm and simply start outsourcing? 

Or would she owe a California income tax even if she's now telecommuting out of her own firm in Nevada?

Would she be entitled to moving expenses if she moved closer to her clients but only telecommuted the same as before she moved?  Are the tax rules for moving expenses technologically obsolete?

April 1, 2005 reply from Chuck Pier [texcap@HOTMAIL.COM

This touches on the "tax home" question and I use it in my individual tax class when we discuss the deductibility of business travel expenses and the definition of a tax home.

Before getting my PhD I was a nuclear engineer on submarines in the US Navy. One of the submarines that I was assigned to was the USS Daniel Boone, which was (it has since been decommissioned) a ballistic missile submarine (abbreviated SSBN). In order to keep the missiles at sea for longer periods of time, the SSBNs had two different crews ("Blue" and "Gold") assigned to them. The "Blue" crew would take the boat to sea for three months while the "Gold" crew trained and took leave and vacations, etc. After the "Blue" crew's three month cruise, the "Gold" crew would take over the sub and the "Blue" crew would have the next three months to train and take vacations, etc.

Section 162(a)(2) allows for the deduction of all ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in performing a trade or business while traveling away from home. The code and various court cases have defined a taxpayer's "home" for purposes of Sec 162(a)(2) to generally be the area or vicinity of the person's principle place of employment. Since my principle place of employment was the submarine, when the other crew had the boat out at sea, and I was in my home with my family I was, in the view of the IRS, on a business trip. I was therefore afforded a deduction of my share of rent, food, laundry and various other "normal" living expenses. The establishment of a ship as the taxpayer's home for navy personnel is found in Rev. Rul. 67-438, 1967-2 CB 82. Further in a subsequent tax case (Griffen TC-Memo 1992-186) the IRS conceded that they have consistently allowed this so called "Boomer" (the slang name for a missile submarine for obvious reasons) deduction for the 3 months that the crew is on shore duty under Rev. Rul. 67-438.

This little story always hits home with the students and they never forget where a taxpayer's home (in the eyes of the IRS) is located.

Chuck

Charles A. Pier, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Accounting Walker College of Business
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608 email:
pierca@appstate.edu 


Girls Are Closing Gap With Boys
The English record goes against theories that boys are innately destined to dominate math and science -- a view that caused a firestorm after recent remarks by Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers. In discussing the preponderance of men in elite university science and engineering positions, Mr. Summers said "issues of intrinsic aptitude" might explain why more males than females score at the highest levels on measures of mathematical and scientific ability. Elaborating in the ensuing debate over his comments, however, Mr. Summers said in a letter to the Harvard faculty that his "January remarks substantially understated the impact of socialization and discrimination, including implicit attitudes." He added that his remarks about why more boys than girls score at the extremes on math tests and other assessments "went beyond what the research has established." The English experience with math education suggests that gender differences, even those that seem innate and based in biology, do not lead inevitably to any particular outcome. That view fits into a broader current sweeping over how scientists think of genetics. Many now believe that traits that seem intrinsic -- meaning those grounded in the brain or shaped by a gene -- are subject to cultural and social forces, and that these forces determine how a biological trait actually manifests itself in a person's behavior or abilities. An "intrinsic" trait, in other words, does not mean an inevitable outcome, as many scientists had long thought. "What's now in play is the question of what it means for a trait to be innate," says Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia. In 2003, a study led by Prof. Turkheimer found that the influence of genes on intelligence varies with social class: In well-off children, genes seem to explain most IQ differences, but in disadvantaged minority children environmental influences have a greater impact.
Jeanne Whalen, and Sharon Begley, "In England, Girls Are Closing Gap With Boys in Math: Making Class Interactive Has Side Effect: Females Thrive; Echoes of Harvard Debate What It Means to Be 'Innate'," The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2005; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111213497906192393,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one


Censorship in Fort Worth:  You must go elsewhere to see a great IMAX movie
Dean describes an interview with Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History: "the museum decided not to offer the movie (Volcanoes of the Deep) after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of IMAX theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous." In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don’t agree with their presentation of human existence." Apparently, the decision to show or not to show an IMAX film is a marketing-driven decision based upon anti-evolutionary reactions rather on whether the films portray valid scientific principles, discoveries, and explorations.
Edna Devore, "Censoring Science: IMAX and Evolution," Live Science, March 31, 2005 --- http://www.space.com/searchforlife/seti_censorship_050331.html

Added April 5, 2005:  Barbara Scofield informed that this censorship was reversed after all the bad publicity ---
http://www.fwmuseum.org/omni.html


Sounds like a win, win strategy
Investing in socially responsible companies delivers better returns over the long term, a new study claims. Fund manager AMP Capital Investors tested whether putting money into such companies gave attractive returns for investors, by focusing on Australia's top 300 listed companies over 10 years. It found that more responsible companies outperformed by 4.8 per cent over four years and 3 per cent over 10 years. AMP Capital Investors' head of sustainable funds, Michael Anderson, said the research, like international studies, supported claims that socially responsible criteria could help identify corporate performers.
Leon Gettler, "Study shows ethics deliver," Sydney Morning Herald, March 31, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/03/30/1111862462471.html


That's a princely sum being questioned by auditors
The Treasury will next week curb a so-called creative accounting fiddle which has allowed Prince Charles to receive up to £1.2m in "back door" payments from the Duchy of Cornwall estate to cover his personal expenses, according to documents obtained by the Guardian. The new agreement, which comes into force two days before the prince marries Camilla Parker Bowles on Friday week, will halve the money he can borrow from the estate's capital funds in the next two years. The prince is entitled to the revenue from the Duchy of Cornwall - currently nearly £12m a year - but is not supposed to touch the capital. But under a 1982 act of parliament, the capital account was allowed to lend the revenue account an additional £1.4m - allowing the prince access to extra cash. Under the new deal the amount he can borrow from the Duchy will be cut from £1.2m to £950,000 next Wednesday, falling to £750,000 in April next year and to £600,000 in April 2007. Further moves could see it abolished altogether.
David Hencke, "Treasury curbs prince's accounting 'fiddle' ," The Guardian, March 30, 2005 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/monarchy/story/0,2763,1447929,00.html


The New Enrons
But as the markets and the bankruptcy criminal courts sorted out the Enron mess, Wall Street firms began to reconstruct the strategy at which Enron and others failed. They hired many of the good, non-crooked traders who were cut loose en masse in 2001, and they snapped up utility assets on the cheap. This list of power plants bought and sold in 2003 and 2004 shows Goldman, Bear Stearns, and private equity firms have helped distressed power companies downsize. In October 2003, Goldman bought all of Cogentrix, a company that owns several electricity generating facilities. Last September, it paid $656 million to buy stakes in 12 power plants and a natural gas pipeline from bankrupt National Energy & Gas Transmission. This week's purchase of the wind-energy company is simply the latest step.
Daniel Gross, "The New Enrons: And we mean that in a good way," Slate, March 23, 2005 --- http://www.slate.com/id/2115217/


Race and Medicine
The problem, say critics of BiDil, is that while genetic patterns are related to a population’s shared ancestries and geographic histories, what are conventionally called races are socially constructed categories that have little basis in biology or genetics. Marketing BiDil only to black patients “is a bad idea,” says Charles Rotimi, an epidemiologist and acting director of the National Human Genome Center at Howard University in Washington, DC. The problem, he says, “is in using a social label that we know is not directly related to genetics” to categorize responses to a drug. That practice, says Rotimi, ignores the complexities and subtleties of population genomics, conflating genetics and race. Making the debate over BiDil even more contentious is the convincing evidence that the drug is, for many heart failure patients, a lifesaver. Of the five million Americans suffering from heart failure, about 725,000 are African American. And there is evidence that, as a group, African Americans tend not to respond as well to some conventional heart failure drugs, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. By nearly all accounts, BiDil could help a significant portion of these African-American patients.
David Rotman, "Race and Medicine," MIT's Technology Review, March 31, 2005 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/04/issue/feature_medicine.asp?trk=nl


A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
Robert Frost. as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-03-31-05.htm

The Princeton Review ranks George Mason University Number 1 in the United States in terms of having a "diverse" student population --- http://www.princetonreview.com/college/research/rankings/rankingDetails.asp?categoryID=3&topicID=20

Why then did George Mason try to rescind a $35,000   Michael Moore speaking invitation?
A short time ago I read with no small amusement about the plight of George Mason University. It seems that somebody in the administration had signed a contract with Michael Moore, the man who has made "controversy" his middle name. On Mr. Moore's side of the deal, he was to appear on campus and give a lecture; on George Mason University's side, they were to hand him a $35,000 check before he hopped into his stretch limo and roared off. The rub came when the president, who had been on a trip to China, returned to the campus, found out about the Moore invitation, and tried his best to rescind the contract. His reason was simple enough: George Mason just couldn't afford it.
Sanford Pinsker, "I Know How Much it Costs to Hear the Caged Bird Sing," The Irascible Professor, March 31, 2005 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-03-31-05.htm
Jensen Comment:  This article has more to say about colleges paying absurd fees for speakers than it does about the cancellation of Michael Moore's speech at George Mason University.  Actually that cancellation had more to do with politics than not being able to afford $35,000 on a one time basis.  What was at stake was future funding of the entire university --- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/01/entertainment/main646871.shtml


The latest huge Enron-type scandal:  Where was the external auditor, PwC, when all this was going on?
Among AIG's admissions: It used insurers in Bermuda and Barbados that were secretly under its control to bolster its financial results, including shifting some liabilities off its books. Amid the wave of financial scandals that have toppled corporate executives in recent years, AIG's woes stand out. Unlike Enron, WorldCom and HealthSouth -- all highfliers that rose to prominence in the 1990s -- AIG has been a solid blue-chip for decades. Its stock is in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and its longtime chief, Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, was a globe-trotting icon of American business. Civil and criminal probes already have forced the departure of the 79-year-old Mr. Greenberg after nearly four decades at AIG's helm. Investigators are closely examining the actions of Mr. Greenberg and several other top AIG officials who have quit or been ousted in recent days, including its former chief financial officer; the architect of its offshore operations in Bermuda; and its reinsurance operations chief. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission could eventually bring civil-fraud charges against the company or executives.
Ian McDonald, Theo Francis, and Deborah Solomon, "AIG Admits 'Improper' Accounting :  Broad Range of Problems Could Cut $1.77 Billion Of Insurer's Net Worth A Widening Criminal Probe," The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2005; Page A1--- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111218569681893050,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Underwriting losses: AIG said it improperly characterized losses on insurance policies -- known as underwriting losses -- as another type of loss, through a series of transactions with Capco Reinsurance Co. of Barbados. It said Capco should have been treated as a subsidiary of AIG, a change that will force AIG to restate $200 million of the other losses as underwriting losses from its auto-warranty business. AIG long has prided itself on having among the lowest underwriting losses in the industry -- a closely watched figure.

• Investment income: Through a string of transactions with unnamed outside companies, AIG said it booked a total of $300 million in gains on its bond portfolio from 2001 through 2003 without actually selling the bonds. If it had waited to book the income until it sold the bonds, the income would have come later and been counted as "realized capital gains." That category of income is sometimes treated suspiciously by investors because insurance companies have considerable discretion over when they sell securities in their portfolio.

• Bad debts: The company suggested that money owed to AIG by other companies for property-casualty insurance policies might not be collectible. The company said that could result in an after-tax charge of $300 million.

• Commission costs: Potential problems with AIG's accounting for the up-front commissions it pays to insurance agents and similar items might force it to take an after-tax charge of up to $370 million, the company said.

• Compensation costs: AIG also will begin recording an expense on its books for compensation paid to its employees by Starr International, the private company run by current and former executives. Starr has spent tens of millions of dollars on a deferred-compensation program for a hand-picked group of AIG employees in recent years.

The probe that spurred the AIG admissions stemmed from a broader investigation of "nontraditional insurance," an industry niche that had grown rapidly in the 1990s. In particular, regulators have been concerned about a product called "finite-risk reinsurance."

Reinsurance is a decades-old business that sells insurance to insurance companies to cover bigger-than-expected claims, thereby spreading the losses for policies they sell to individuals and companies. Finite-risk reinsurance blends elements of insurance and loans.

Regulators had become concerned that some insurers were using the policies to improperly bolster their financial results. Their concern: For a contract to count as insurance, it has to transfer risk to the insurer selling the policy. Some finite-risk policies appeared to be more akin to loans than insurance policies -- yet the buyers used favorable insurance accounting.

In December, the SEC opened a broad probe into at least 12 insurance and reinsurance companies, including General Re, ACE Ltd., Chubb Corp. and Swiss Reinsurance Co. All four companies have said they are cooperating with the inquiry.

Key to the inquiry is how the finite-risk transactions were structured and treated on the financial statements of the companies or their clients, these people said. Following the SEC request for information, General Re lawyers combed through their finite-risk insurance deals and turned up roughly a dozen transactions where it wasn't clear that enough risk had been transferred to treat them as insurance. Among those deals was the AIG deal. General Re lawyers quickly alerted the SEC and the New York attorney general's office, which resulted in the current probe.

The catalogue of problems AIG unveiled yesterday was detailed to law-enforcement and regulatory authorities in meetings with the company's outside lawyers in recent days. The company also has fired three senior executives for refusing to cooperate with investigators, including former chief financial officer Howard I. Smith and Michael Murphy, a Bermuda-based AIG executive.

Given its level of cooperation so far, the company almost certainly will be able to reach a civil settlement with authorities, people familiar with the probes said. One of these people compared AIG's cooperation to the approach taken by Michael Cherkasky, the chief executive of Marsh & McLennan Cos. After Mr. Spitzer accused Marsh's insurance brokerage of bid-rigging, its board forced out then-CEO Jeffrey Greenberg, Mr. Greenberg's son and a former AIG executive. Mr. Cherkasky, the head of Marsh's investigative unit, became the new chief.

When he came in, a criminal indictment of the company remained a possibility. But Mr. Cherkasky cleaned house among the company's high ranks, then made sure the firm's internal investigation and cooperation with regulators were the top priority. He often personally participated in talks with regulators.

Bob Jensen's threads on insurance company scandals are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#MutualFunds

Bob Jensen's threads on PwC woes are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#PwC


Blowing the whistle on the top whistle blower cop
Some government workers want to blow the whistle on the U.S. Office of Special Counsel -- the agency that is supposed to protect federal whistle-blowers. The independent agency, created by Congress in the wake of the Watergate scandal, is charged with protecting federal employees and deciding whether their complaints merit full-scale investigation -- a first line of defense against fraud and mismanagement in government. But current and former staffers as well as lawyers who practice before the agency say it is in turmoil following a series of actions by its chief, Special Counsel Scott Bloch.
John R. Wilke, "Crying Foul at Whistle-Blower Protector:  Some Staff From U.S. Office of Special Counsel Claim Wrongdoing by the Agency's Chief ," The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2005; Page A4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111222969400193774,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Bob Jensen's threads on whistle blowing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#WhistleBlowing


If you are leaving the U.S. this summer, you should know about this new credit card fee in addition to the base 3% fee you probably are paying now.  You might check to see if each purchase is costing you an added 6.5%
After Saturday, however, Visa USA Inc. plans to levy instead a 1% fee on every charge that's made outside the cardholder's home country, even on those where customers have paid in their native currency. MasterCard International Inc., so far, isn't matching Visa's fee increase. Banks that issue Visa cards have a choice as to whether to pass the increase along to customers. MBNA Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co., HSBC Holdings PLC's HSBC Bank USA and Capital One Financial Corp., among others, will be making customers pay fees when charging in U.S. dollars while abroad. The banks that aren't passing the fee along include Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. In cases where issuers are passing along Visa's expanded fee, consumers could get hit with multiple fees for the same transaction abroad. A first fee comes from merchants, since those that let people charge in dollars often levy their own conversion fee. Their fee typically ranges from 2% to 3.5%, according to David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, a trade newsletter. Then, once they get the bill, cardholders might see fees from Visa or MasterCard coupled with those from their issuing bank. All together, these fees could equal 6.5% of the purchase.
Jennifer Saranow, "More Credit-Card Fees Loom Abroad :  Visa to Lead Move to Raise Currency-Conversion Levies On Purchases Outside U.S.," The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2005; Page D2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111223526282193919,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Bob Jensen's threads on "Dirty Secrets of Credit Card Companies" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


Fired White Workers Are Awarded $1.9 Million
A federal jury said Wednesday that Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan, the first African-American to be elected the city's chief prosecutor, discriminated against 43 white employees when he fired them in 2003. Jurors awarded the plaintiffs about $1.9 million in back pay and other damages, a figure equal to about 20 percent of Jordan's annual budget of $10 million. Jordan said his office could not afford such a payment and that he would appeal the verdict.
Gwen Filosa, "Fired White Workers Are Awarded $1.9 Million:  Jury finds DA liable in discrimination suit," The Times-Picayune, March 31, 2005 --- http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-3/111225255336540.xml


CEOs live in a world of gold:  A golden hello on the way in and a golden parachute on the way out (even in failure)
Mark V. Hurd, who takes over tomorrow as chief executive of troubled computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard Co., is widely viewed as the antithesis of the celebrity chief executive, a nuts-and-bolts manager with little interest in grabbing headlines for himself. But judging by his new employment agreement, HP's board appears to view Hurd as a superstar at least on par with the firm's formerly highflying chief executive, Carly Fiorina. The board forced Fiorina out in February for not fixing the company as quickly as it wanted.
Ben White, "HP Giving Hurd $20 Million 'Golden Hello'," Washington Post, March 31, 2005, Page E01 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14484-2005Mar30.html?referrer=email


Leader with Unique Political Caliber
A booklet "Leader with Unique Political Caliber" was published by the Group of Dialectical Materialists of Italy on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the election of leader Kim Jong Il as chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission. The booklet praised Kim Jong Il as the great leader who created a peculiar political mode with his unique political philosophy. His political philosophy is the Juche philosophy and his politics enjoys absolute support and trust from all the Korean people, it noted, and continued: His Songun politics occupies a distinguished place in his political mode. Under his wise leadership the DPRK has become a political power which stands undeterred by any political turmoil in the world. Kim Jong Il has rare organizing capability, indefatigable practical ability and distinguished creative ingenuity. The booklet referred in detail to the fact that he has consolidated the single-minded unity of the whole society and wisely led the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation. It concluded that the army and the people of the DPRK led by Kim Jong Il possessed of unique political caliber will always emerge victorious.
"Booklet Praising Kim Jong Il Published in Italy," North Korean News, March 31, 2005 --- http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2005/200503/news03/31.htm#3


Could DNA information be used against us?
Yes. We don’t have adequate protections right now for DNA testing. If you took a DNA test, and it showed you should go on an anti-breast-cancer drug right now, right away your disability insurance and maybe your job could be imperiled because it will become known through your medical records that you have a higher-than-average risk of getting a genetic disease like breast cancer. You might find it hard to change your job. If someone did a genetic test on your child and showed they were at high risk of getting diabetes or depression, maybe they wouldn’t hire you because they wouldn’t want the high cost of covering your family. The laws aren’t in place yet.
Karen Springen, "Personalized Health," Newsweek, March 29, 2005 --- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7327285/site/newsweek/


Executive order requiring drugstores to fill prescriptions for contraceptives
Responding to complaints about a Chicago pharmacist who refused to dispense birth control pills, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Friday issued an executive order requiring drugstores to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. The policy, the first of its kind in the U.S., requires pharmacies that carry contraceptives to fill prescriptions without delay. "No hassles, no lecture, just fill the prescription," Blagojevich said. If an individual pharmacist will not provide birth control pills because of moral or religious beliefs, the drugstore must have a plan to ensure that the patient receives the pills promptly.
Stepenie Simon, "Illinois Drugstores Required to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions," LA Times, April 2, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/LAtimesApril2 


Yawn:  Watch for Dan near the bull ring at the rodeo:  He's looking for proof he should've had in the first place.  If he succeeds, he might actually prevent George W. Bush from being re-elected in 2008
Dan Rather, making his first TV appearance since leaving the CBS Evening News, said on the April first edition of 60 Minutes/Wednesday, “Finally, a personal note. Partisan political operatives drove me from my rightful place as anchor of the CBS Evening News, alleging, without proof, that our story on President Bush’s evasion of his National Guard service was somehow based on quote, ‘fraudulent,’ unquote, memos. Following in the footsteps of O.J. Simpson, I am committing to you here tonight that I will go to any rodeo, to any part of the Earth, to track down proof of the authenticity of the memos. No matter what you’ve heard from fanatics on the right, I still stand by the accuracy of the story.”
Liberal Lunacy, April  2, 2005 --- http://www.liberallunacy.net/


An interesting news bite
A MARSUPIAL lion that roamed Australia during the Ice Age had the most powerful bite of any known animal in the world, living or extinct, an Australian and Canadian research team has discovered. More closely related to a wombat than an African lion, the 100 kilo marsupial lion known as Thylacoleo carnifex could out bite the sabre-toothed tiger, the bone-cracking spotted hyena and the Tasmanian Devil.
"Aussie lion beats all in bite test," News.com, April 2, 2005 ---
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,12729760-29277,00.html


One has to wonder if his original support to make her a senator was just to get her out of Texas.  Or is it that he just has friends already in high places in Austin?
Entrepreneur Clayton Williams, who spent millions of his personal fortune in an unsuccessful 1990 bid for governor of Texas, has vowed to stop Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison if she runs, as expected, against Gov. Rick Perry next year. Williams has told friends he supported Hutchison only for the Senate, not to be governor.
The New Republic
, April 2, 2005 --- http://tnr.com/


Some compartments have their own wading pools
A California woman and her son have sued cruise operator Holland America Line for unspecified damages after getting sick on a cruise where they said toilets overflowed and crew members were seen with prostitutes at ports of call. Bernice Oltman, 81, and her son, Jack Oltman, whose age was not given, said they took a trip on Holland America Line's cruise ship Amsterdam from Valparaiso, Chile to San Diego, California, in March 2004, where they said they encountered unprofessional staff and unsanitary conditions. "Not long into the cruise, the toilets on lower decks overflowed several times," the Oltmans said in their lawsuit, filed in King County District Court in Washington state on Wednesday. The Oltmans, who paid $4,642.06 for the cruise, said it took crew members 15 hours to clean up the mess, which "created incredibly unsanitary conditions on board, separate and apart from a piercing stench."
"Cruise Line Sued for 'Unsanitary' Cruise," Reuters, April 1, 2005 --- http://snipurl.com/WadingApril1


Is Moore's Law dead after forty years?
No, though various analysts and executives have incorrectly predicted its demise. It will, however, likely begin to slow down to a three-year cycle in the next decade and require companies to adopt alternative technologies. Some people, such as Stan Williams and Phil Kuekes of HP Labs, say the ability to shrink transistors will start to become problematic by around 2010. That should prompt manufacturers to adopt alternatives, such as HP's crossbar switches, to control electrical signals. Others, such as Intel's director of technology strategy, Paolo Gargini, paint a more gradual picture. Around 2015, they say, manufacturers will start to move toward hybrid chips, which combine elements of traditional transistors with newfangled technology such as nanowires. A full conversion to new types of chips may not occur until the 2020s. From a theoretical point of view, silicon transistors could continue to be shrunk until about the 4-nanometer manufacturing generation, which could appear about 2023. At that point, the source and the drain, which are separated by the transistor gate and gate oxide, will be so close
Michael Kanellos, "FAQ: Forty years of Moore's LawBy , ZDNet News: April 1, 2005 --- http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-5647824.html




Clarence Darrow Quotations --- http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/clarence_darrow.html

As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.

Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails.

Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to? 

History repeats itself. That's one of the things wrong with history.

I am a friend of the working man, and I would rather be his friend, than be one.

I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of.

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure - that is all that agnosticism means.

I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure - that is all that agnosticism means.

I don't like spinach, and I'm glad I don't, because if I liked it I'd eat it, and I just hate it.

I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.

I never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary notices I have read with pleasure.

If a man is happy in America, it is considered he is doing something wrong.

If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.

Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.

No other offense has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.

Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away.

The first half of our lives are ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.

The pursuit of truth will set you free; even if you never catch up with it.

The trouble with law is lawyers.

There is no such thing as justice - in or out of court.

To think is to differ.

True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.

With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men.

You can only be free if I am free.

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom.



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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Business Administration
Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
Voice: 210-999-7347 Fax: 210-999-8134  Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu  

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