Tidbits on June 10, 2005
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Fraud Updates ---
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Archives of Tidbits: Tidbits Directory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron" enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and other universities is at http://www.searchedu.com/.
Bob Jensen's home page is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/
Security threats and hoaxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/its/virus/
Music: For Erika If You Ever Leave Me --- http://www.jessiesweb.com/if.htm
Train of Life
(Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline)
The digital living room --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1212
Are Ashkenazi Jews smarter than the rest of us?
The idea that some ethnic groups may, on average, be more intelligent than others is one of those hypotheses that dare not speak its name. But Gregory Cochran, a noted scientific iconoclast, is prepared to say it anyway. He is that rare bird, a scientist who works independently of any institution. He helped popularise the idea that some diseases not previously thought to have a bacterial cause were actually infections, which ruffled many scientific feathers when it was first suggested. And more controversially still, he has suggested that homosexuality is caused by an infection. Even he, however, might tremble at the thought of what he is about to do. Together with Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending, of the University of Utah, he is publishing, in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Biosocial Science, a paper which not only suggests that one group of humanity is more intelligent than the others, but explains the process that has brought this about. The group in question are Ashkenazi Jews. The process is natural selection.
"Natural Genius," The Economist, June 2, 2005 --- http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4032638
Black and Latino enrollment would tank, while white enrollments would
hardly be affected
What if the Supreme Court had banned affirmative action? What if colleges moved away from the use of affirmative action on their own? A new study by two Princeton University researchers uses admissions data from elite colleges to portray what would happen in such a world without affirmative action. In short, black and Latino enrollment would tank, while white enrollments would hardly be affected. The big winners would be Asian applicants, who appear to face “disaffirmative action” right now. They would pick up about four out of five spots lost by black and Latino applicants. The study was conducted by Thomas Espenshade, a professor of sociology at Princeton, and Chang Chung, a senior staff member in the university’s Office of Population Research. The study will appear in the June issue of Social Science Quarterly.
Scott Jaschik, "Demographic Dislocation," Inside Higher Ed, June 7, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/06/07/affirm
I can go almost as fast when somebody yells out that dinner is ready
Scientists at the Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico have accelerated a small plate from zero to 76,000 mph in less than a second. The speed of the thrust was a new record for Sandia’s “Z Machine” – not only the fastest gun in the West, but in the world, too. The Z Machine is now able to propel small plates at 34 kilometers a second, faster than the 30 kilometers per second that Earth travels through space in its orbit about the Sun. That’s 50 times faster than a rifle bullet, and three times the velocity needed to...
"Gun Play: Inside Look at the Outer Planets," Space.com, June 7, 2005 --- http://www.space.com/astronotes/astronotes.html
Florida A&M receives a gift that keeps on taking
A Florida newspaper has revealed a highly unusual gift to Florida A&M University — in which the donor of an endowed chair ended up holding the position he paid to create. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Shirley Cunningham Jr., a Kentucky lawyer, gave Florida A&M $1 million to endow a chair in the law school in 2001. Under a state matching program, Florida then provided $750,000 for the chair. According to the newspaper, Cunningham was then hired to fill the chair and paid a salary of $100,000 a year — even though the newspaper said Florida A&M officials could find no evidence that Cunningham performed any work for the salary.
Scott Jaschik, "Donor Reportedly Endowed a Chair — and Filled It," Inside Higher Ed, June 8, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/06/08/famu
Advice about mortgages from Jane Bryant Quinn, Newsweek, June 6, 2005, Page 41.
For great tips on mortgages, visit Guttentag's (a professor at Wharton) site --- http://www.mtgprofessor.com/
For quick quotes, check eloan.com --- http://www.eloan.com/
Ignore the "cheap loan" promises in your e-mail . . . Spammers merely collect names to sell to lenders --- or worse, pry for personal information.
Bob Jensen's threads on Internet frauds are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on investing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob1.htm#Finance
Now you can easily share your expertise on the Web
The world is full of self-proclaimed experts, but not all of them are publishing online -- yet. A San Francisco-area entrepreneur hopes to change that with a new wiki that's open to the world.
Joanna Glassner, "Wiki Targets How-To Buffs," Wired News, June 8, 2005 --- http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,67765,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3
Bob Jensen's threads on Wiki's are at http://www.trinity.edu/~rjensen/245glosf.htm#Wiki
Microsoft, Lenovo unveil new pen-based Tablet PC
China's Lenovo Group Ltd. <0992.HK>, which bought IBM's personal computer business last month, unveiled its first pen-based computer on Monday, which runs Microsoft Corp.'s <MSFT.O> Tablet PC version of Windows. The world's largest software maker said that the debut of the laptop computer, the ThinkPad X41, will help to broaden the market for the portable computers to business users.
"Microsoft, Lenovo unveil new pen-based Tablet PC," Reuters, The Washington Post, June 7, 2005 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/07/AR2005060700120.html?referrer=email
His Decade of Chasing Skilling
A New York businessman wants to question Jeffrey Skilling under oath, insisting that the ex-Enron chief executive was at the center of a scheme that robbed him of hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1990s.
John Emshwiller, "His Decade of Chasing Skilling: Bernard Glatzer, From the Bronx, Dogs Enron Ex-CEO for Deposition; His Lawsuit Helps Raise Questions," The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2005; Page C1--- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111810792577952529,00.html?mod=todays_us_money_and_investing
Mental Illness Said to Affect One-Quarter of Americans
More Americans are seeking treatment for mental illnesses than ever before, but most of them fail to get adequate care, according to a major new government study. In the once-a-decade report funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that one-quarter of Americans had a psychiatric disorder in the year prior to the survey, and 40% of them sought treatment, up from just 25% who sought treatment in the previous report a decade ago. The report, which is intended to provide a national snapshot of the most commonly occurring mental illnesses, covered conditions ranging from obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder to depression and bipolar disorder. (Rarer conditions such as schizophrenia, which is believed to affect just 1% of the population, weren't included.)
Leila Abboud, "Mental Illness Said to Affect One-Quarter of Americans: NIH Report Cites Problems With Adequate Treatment; A Debate Over Definitions," The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2005; Page D1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111807563692851889,00.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Also see http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/106/108372.htm?z=1727_00000_5024_hv_03
Updates on diploma mills
Office of Postsecondary Education --- http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/index.html?src=mr
Bob Jensen's threads on diploma mills are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#DiplomaMill
Bristol-Myers to pay $300 million to settle an accounting scandal
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is expected to pay about $300 million to settle a criminal investigation by the Justice Department into its alleged accounting manipulations from several years ago, people familiar with the situation said. As part of the settlement, longtime board member James D. Robinson III is expected to become chairman, according to a person familiar with the situation. Current Chairman and Chief Executive Peter R. Dolan would retain the CEO title.
Paul Davies et al., "Bristol-Myers Expected to Pay $300 Million to Settle Probe," The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2005 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111801100540351254,00.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
The independent auditing firm of PwC insisted on an earnings restatement for the year 2002.
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Interactive Human Migration Map --- http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/realeve/interactive/migration.html
Human Migration Simulation
Early humans migrating from Africa carried small genetic differences like so much flotsam in an ocean current. Today’s studies give only a snapshot of where that genetic baggage came to rest without revealing the tides that brought it there. Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have devised a model for pinpointing where mutations first appeared, providing a new way to trace the migratory path of our earliest ancestors. The study was led by Luca Cavalli-Sforza, PhD, emeritus professor of genetics, who has spent most of his career tracking the evolution of modern humans. Much of his current work involves following mutations in the Y chromosome, which is passed exclusively from father to son, as humans migrated from Africa and spread to the rest of the world during the past 50,000 years. These mutations, most of which cause no physical change, tend to appear at a constant rate, providing a genetic timer. For example, if a population has 10 mutations after 50,000 years of evolution from the common ancestor in Africa, then the fifth mutation probably arose 25,000 years ago. But where was the population located at that time? Until now genetics hasn’t had an answer.
"HUMAN MIGRATION TRACKED IN STANFORD COMPUTER SIMULATION," January 21, 2004 --- http://mednews.stanford.edu/releases/2004/january/migration.htm
Insurance, Life Expectancy and the Cost of Firearm Deaths in the U.S.
While the U.S. operates the most expensive health care system in the world, its citizens are neither healthier nor live longer than citizens in other countries. In addition, while the U.S. is considered among the safest countries in the world, deaths from gunshot wounds are staggeringly high. In 2000, the U.S. recorded close to 11,000 firearm homicides. The European Union reported fewer than 1,300 firearm homicides for the same year. In Japan, the number was 22. Jean Lemaire, professor of insurance and actuarial science at Wharton, argues that these facts should be looked at in tandem. In a recent paper, Lemaire works through the medical and financial impact of firearms on American society.
Knowledge@Wharton, June 1-14, 2005 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/
The complete paper is at http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1214
What has been one of the most massive, if not these most massive, fraud in the history of the U.S.?
The attorney/physician rip off on phony asbestos health damage claims.
"Diagnosing for Dollars A court battle over silicosis shines a harsh light on mass medical screeners—the same people whose diagnoses have cost asbestos defendants billions," by Roger Parloff, Fortune, June 13, 2005, pp. 96-110 --- http://www.fortune.com/fortune/articles/0,15114,1066756,00.html
How, then, to account for this: Of 8,629 people diagnosed with silicosis now suing in federal court in Corpus Christi, 5,174—or 60%—are "asbestos retreads," i.e., people who have previously filed claims for asbestos-related disease.
That anomaly turns out to be just one of many in the Corpus Christi case that sorely challenge medical explanation. At a hearing in February, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack characterized the evidence before her as raising "great red flags of fraud," and a federal grand jury in Manhattan is now looking into the situation, according to two people who have been subpoenaed.
The real importance of those proceedings, however, is not what they reveal about possible fraud in silica litigation but what they suggest about a possible fraud of vastly greater dimensions. It's one that may have been afflicting asbestos litigation for almost 20 years, resulting in billions of dollars of payments to claimants who weren't sick and to the attorneys who represented them. Asbestos litigation—the original mass tort—has bankrupted more than 60 companies and is expected to eventually cost defendants and their insurers more than $200 billion, of which $70 billion has already been paid.
The odor around asbestosis diagnosis has been so foul for so long that by 1999, professor Lester Brickman of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was referring to asbestos litigation as a "massively fraudulent enterprise." At the request of his defamation lawyer, Brickman says, he toned that down to "massive, specious claiming"
Continued in the article
Bob Jensen's working paper on the history of fraud in the U.S. is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm
The Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) --- http://www.ihmc.us/index.php
The Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) was established in 1990 as an interdisciplinary research unit of the University of West Florida. Since that time, IHMC has grown into one of the nation's premier research institutes with more than 115 researchers and staff investigating a broad range of topics related to understanding cognition in both humans and machines with a particular emphasis on building computational tools to leverage and amplify human cognitive and perceptual capacities.
In a broader context, much of the research effort at IHMC is focused on what has become known as human-centered computing. This emerging concept represents a significant shift in thinking about intelligent machines and, indeed, about information technology in general. Human-centered computing embodies a “systems view,” in which human thought and action and technological systems are seen as inextricably linked and equally important aspects of analysis, design, and evaluation. This framework is focused less on stand-alone exemplars of mechanical cognitive talent, and is concerned more with computational aids designed to amplify human cognitive and perceptual abilities. Essentially these are cognitive prostheses, computational systems that leverage and extend human intellectual capacities, just as eyeglasses are a sort of ocular prosthesis. The prostheses metaphor implies the importance of designing systems that fit the human and machine components together in ways that synergistically exploit their respective strengths and mitigate their respective weaknesses.
Financial Aid Rules for College Change, and Families Pay More
Taken together, these changes, some based on overly optimistic predictions of inflation, have required families to count a greater share of their incomes and assets toward college expenses before becoming eligible for financial aid. As a consequence, tens of thousands of low-income students will no longer be eligible for federal grants; middle-class families are digging deeper into their savings; and some colleges are putting up their own money to make up the difference.
Greg Winter, "Financial Aid Rules for College Change, and Families Pay More," The New York Times, June 6, 2005 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/06/education/06aid.html?
Whatever Happened to Polio? http://americanhistory.si.edu/polio/
Better blue than red
Those who teach in the elementary schools now are cautioned to use colors other than red when grading papers, because according to these experts students find red marks on papers too stressful. In a recent CBS News report, Joseph Foriska, who is the principal of Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA said "the color is everything." "You could hold up a paper that says 'Great work!' and it won't even matter if it is written in red." Foriska apparently feels that messages written in red on a student's paper come across as somehow derogatory or demeaning. He is not alone in this movement towards a more politically correct hue for grading papers. These days teachers across the country are ditching their red pens in favor of blue or purple tones, which are perceived to be less threatening.
Mark Shapiro, "Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today," The Irascible Professor, June 4, 2005 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-06-04-05.htm
Multimedia Encyclopedia of Chicago History ---
Bob Jensen's history bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob2.htm#History
New public versus private debt?
Have you ever wondered why some firms issue convertible debt privately whereas other firms choose to issue their debt publicly? Well wonder no more! Devrim Yaman has answered at least the majority of our questions in her Bquest article. Information story explains public vs private choice and the answer? Where information asymmetry problems are great, firms choose private placements. Which is what I think we would have suspected, but now we also have some empirical evidence --- http://www.westga.edu/~bquest/2005/choice.pdf
As quoted from Jim Mahar's blog on June 7, 2005 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
Social responsibility investing at TIAA-CREF
TIAA-CREF announced last week that it had created a senior level position to oversee “socially responsible” investing and hired a well-respected official to fill it. The pension giant, which has faced a campaign from some of the academics who participate in its funds to use criteria of social and corporate responsibility to guide more of its investments, hired Amy Muska O’Brien as its director of social investing. She will both oversee the company’s Social Choice Account, which it created in 1990, and promote other kinds of socially conscious investing within TIAA-CREF.
Doug Lederman, "TIAA-CREF Gets Social," Inside Higher Ed, June 8, 2005 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/06/08/tiaa
Learning U.S. history with EASE from Michigan State University ---
EASE History is a rich learning environment that supports the learning of US history. Over 600 videos and photographs are currently available in EASE History.
EASE History has three entry points: Historical Events, Campaign Ads, and Core Values. Learn about US History through the prism of US presidential campaign ads, better understand the complexities of campaign issues and their historical context by looking at historical events, and explore the meanings of core values by examining how these values have been applied in both historical events and campaign ads. Three learning modes, single and multiple theme searches, and resources support the comparing and contrasting of historical cases. EASE History's goal is to support experience acceleration- to help learners think more like historians.
Bob Jensen's history bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob2.htm#History
June 9, 2005 message from L.J. Urbano - CityTownInfo.com [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I noticed that your web site links to useful reference resources so I am writing to let you know about a new reference site that may be of interest to you and your site visitors.
CityTownInfo.com ( http://www.citytowninfo.com/ ) is a collection of information on U.S. cities and towns. The site includes almanac-like reference data, property statistics, local weather reports, links to the official city web sites and maps for about 3500 cities. The site also includes a summary article on about 50 major cities.
The site will be continually improved. We have plans for adding info on local schools, airports, libraries, and places of worship over the coming weeks. We’re open to suggestion on other information you might find appropriate for this site.
If you believe that CityTownInfo.com may be valuable to those who visit your web site, then we ask that you consider adding a link from trinity.edu.
I added the above link to the following sites:
Sometimes biologists/etymologists have all the fun
I watched an ant climb a blade of grass this morning. When he reached the top, his weight bent the blade down to the ground. Then, twisting his thorax with insectile precision, he grabbed a hold of the next blade.
In this manner, he traveled across the lawn, covering as much distance vertically as he did horizontally, which both amused and delighted me.
And then, all at once, I had what is sometimes called an "epiphany"; a moment of heightened awareness in which every- thing becomes crystal clear.
Yes, hunched over that ant on my hands and knees, I suddenly knew what I had to do... Quit drinking before noon.
From The Nose on Your Face, June 3, 2005 --- http://www.thenoseonyourface.com/the_nose_on_your_face/2005/06/top_9_suggested.html
Top 9 Suggested Ann Coulter Book Titles
We here at The Nose On Your Face are big fans of best-selling conservative authoress Ann Coulter. As a friendly gesture to her, our staff have compiled a list of potential titles for any upcoming books she may be planning.
9. Ann Coulter's Guide To Self Defense Against Non-violent, Tolerant, Peace Protesters
8. Ted Kennedy Is To Politics What Ted Kennedy Is To Designated Drivers
7. Reasoning With Liberals, Stapling Jell-O To Your Shoe & Other Exercises In Futility
6. Barbara Boxer: The Unauthorized Biography
5. Harry Reid & The Filibuster of Azkaban
4. Republicans Are From Mars, Democrats Are From Uranus
3. The Liar, The Bitch & The Wardrobe: A comprehensive overview of the Clinton/Lewinsky affair
2. Letters From My Mom's Basement: A look at hippie contributions to society
1. Liberalism: Logic's Retarded Cousin
(Disclaimer: Any similarities between TNOYF's "Top 9" lists and other organizations "Top 10" lists are purely coincidental. As you can see, our lists have 9, theirs have 10. Way different.)
I added the following Tidbits collected by Debbie Bowling
TIDBITS MAY 6, 2005
Macromedia to Build Broader Platform
Macromedia Inc. said it is building a broader technology offering around its Web graphics and video software, highlighting the strategy behind the company's recent agreement to be acquired by Adobe Systems Inc. Macromedia, based in San Francisco, is expected to announce new capabilities of its Flash software, a multimedia "player" that is installed on most personal computers, as well as on many mobile phones and other devices. In addition, Macromedia is disclosing details of its expanding Flash "platform," a collection of products that already accounts for more than half of the company's revenue.
Dow Jones Newswires, "Macromedia to Build Broader Platform," The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2005; Page B2, http://snipurl.com/macro0606
For Morgan Stanley, Difficult Task Lies Ahead
Mr. Kempf's retirement, announced Friday, comes in the wake of a number of regulatory and legal dustups under the 68-year-old general counsel's watch since he arrived from Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 1999. The most recent black eye: a $1.45 billion judgment against Morgan Stanley in a Florida fraud case brought by billionaire financier Ronald Perelman.
Mr. Kempf's exit gives Morgan Stanley the chance to bring in a high-profile outsider. The company is focused on luring a high-level former regulator who could burnish Morgan Stanley's legal reputation. Already, Morgan Stanley in early May hired David Heleniak, a prominent corporate deals lawyer and gave him oversight of the general counsel's office, among other things. Morgan Stanley is expected to name a successor to Mr. Kempf in a matter of weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.
"Building a different culture is an extraordinarily difficult task and changing one person like Mr. Kempf may be a step in the right direction but it is not a fundamental reform," said Henry Hu, a corporate- and securities-law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Shoring up the legal group is just one of the challenges facing Morgan Stanley and its chief executive, Philip Purcell. Mr. Purcell is under attack from alumni shareholders who are calling for his ouster and a breakup of the company. The rancor followed a top-level management shuffling this year that irked many old and former Morgan Stanley hands.
The tumult at Morgan Stanley has surprised many on Wall Street. For years, Morgan Stanley, one of the world's most highly regarded securities firms, prided itself on stable leadership and orderly management successions. It avoided scandals and regulatory scraps that damaged a number of big rivals in the 1990s, including Salomon Brothers, Prudential Securities Inc. and Kidder Peabody & Co.
Mr. Kempf, a long-time friend of Mr. Purcell, established a hard-nosed legal reputation, reflecting his background as a fierce litigator. It is a style that sometimes didn't serve him on Wall Street, where companies often opt to quietly settle cases rather than fight with regulators.
Along with paying $125 million to settle charges of faulty stock research, Morgan Stanley was stung by regulators for other infractions. In 2002, Morgan Stanley, along with five others, paid regulators $8.25 million for violating rules requiring securities firms to retain emails for three years, in case the messages are needed for investigations or disputes. Last July, it was one of three companies fined $250,000 each for failing to hand over documents in cases involving investor complaints. Not long after, it agreed to pay $2.2 million to regulators for delays in disclosing 1,800 complaints and incidents of misconduct. The company didn't admit or deny wrongdoing in these actions. "Hands down they are the most combative firm on Wall Street," says Miami lawyer Mark Raymond, who has represented numerous investors against the company.
A Morgan Stanley spokesman said the company settled "many more" cases under Mr. Kempf than it has fought.
In recent years, Morgan Stanley has tried to mend fences with legal foes. In 2004, it brought in New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's former lieutenant, Eric Dinallo, to help in that effort.
But it was the Perelman case, more than rocky dealings with regulators, that spelled the end of Mr. Kempf's career. Mr. Perelman's lawsuit, which claimed Morgan Stanley had fraudulently misled him on a deal, was initially considered no more than a nuisance. Early in 2003, the legal department, headed by Mr. Kempf, suggested that the firm consider settling the suit for $20 million despite its view, which the investment banking division shared at the time, that the suit had no merit. On that basis, the investment banking division was reluctant to support a settlement.
In the end, the merits of the case didn't matter. Instead, Morgan Stanley's legal team, under Mr. Kempf, so badly botched the discovery process -- the production of documents important to the case -- that the trial judge became infuriated. The judge entered a default judgment, saying the jury had to assume that Morgan Stanley had defrauded Mr. Perelman when they advised on a deal involving one of Mr. Perelman's companies.
Mr. Kempf, who moved to Florida to deal with the fallout from the Perelman case, had dinner with Mr. Purcell Thursday night in New York to discuss his departure, according to a person familiar with the matter. He expected to stay around until the end of the year to ensure an orderly transition, this person said.
Life After Donaldson
The resignation of SEC Chairman William Donaldson and the nomination of Chris Cox as the new chairman could not come at a more propitious moment. We are also witnessing the imminent departure of influential pro-regulation Commissioner Harvey Goldschmid and the continued presence of the two commissioners who understand that too much, or wrongheaded, regulation can easily impede business efficiency and impoverish investors. Various efforts are now well underway to correct some of the profound errors of recent corporate legal history....continued in article.
HENRY MANNE, "Life After Donaldson," The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2005; Page A10, http://snipurl.com/don0606
The cash-and-stock transaction is the latest step in Washington Mutual's plans to rapidly expand its branch network outside the Pacific Northwest to more than 2,000 outlets across the country. It should also help expand and diversify its consumer banking offerings. Providian will become Washington Mutual's fourth major business unit and will operate under current management out of its San Francisco headquarters.
Washington Mutual, which is based in Seattle, said it expected the acquisition to add to its earnings within a year once the deal is completed by the end of 2005.
"The transaction provides Providian shareholders financially attractive terms while allowing us to take the card business to the next level," said Joseph Saunders, Providian's chairman and chief executive. "Washington Mutual's size and resources will allow us to operate with a lower cost structure and greater efficiency."
Under the terms of the agreement, Providian stockholders will receive 0.45 Washington Mutual shares for each of their Providian shares, paid 89 percent in stock and 11 percent in cash. Based on Friday's closing price, the implied per-share purchase price is $18.71, the company said.
Providian cardholders should expect no change in
their accounts, policies, or payment procedures, the companies said.
ERIC DASH "Washington Mutual to Buy Providian for $6.45 Billion," The New York Times, Published: June 6, 2005, http://snipurl.com/wamu0606
Apple Plans to Switch From I.B.M. to Intel for Chips
SAN FRANCISCO, June 5 - Steven P. Jobs is preparing to take an unprecedented gamble by abandoning Apple Computer's 14-year commitment to chips developed by I.B.M. and Motorola in favor of Intel processors for his Macintosh computers, industry executives informed of the decision said Sunday.
The move is a chesslike gambit in a broader industry turf war that pits the traditional personal computer industry against an emerging world of consumer electronics focused on the digital home.
"This is a seismic shift in the world of personal
computing and consumer electronics," said Richard Doherty, president of the
Envisioneering Group, a Seaford, N.Y., computer and consumer electronics
industry consulting firm. "It is bound to rock the industry, but it will also be
a phenomenal engineering challenge for Apple."...continued in article.
JOHN MARKOFF and STEVE LOHR "Apple Plans to Switch From I.B.M. to Intel for Chips," The New York Times, June 6, 2005, http://snipurl.com/apt0606
While online sales growth has slowed in categories traditionally dominated by male buyers, like computer hardware and software, sales of cosmetics, fragrances, home goods and other items typically aimed at female shoppers have soared.
"We've seen this trend coming for a few years, but now we're actually seeing the numbers come in," said Carrie Johnson, an analyst with Forrester Research and the author of a report on online sales that was issued late last month by Shop.org, an industry trade group.
According to the report, sales of cosmetics and fragrances grew 58 percent last year, while sales of health and beauty products and home goods jumped by more than 33 percent over the previous year. Sales of computer hardware and software grew just 13 percent. Over all, online commerce sales increased 24 percent.
Ms. Johnson and other analysts attribute the trend to the increasing online experience of women, who were slower than men to embrace the Internet but are now increasingly relying on it to buy goods. Additionally, online merchants are developing new features and services for women shoppers that would be difficult to replicate offline.
Take the Lands' End Swim Finder feature, introduced this spring. The service lets women choose swimsuits that "enhance or de-emphasize" certain body areas, allowing a shopper to see a version of the suit on a three-dimensional likeness of her body.
According to Ed Whitehead, the chief marketing officer of Lands' End, which is a division of Sears, the feature demonstrates how online retailers are changing the way they sell to women.
"This channel has always been very transactional," Mr. Whitehead said. "You can go online and check out, but it hasn't given you any kind of experience. We had a few tools like that, but we really didn't talk about them."
Mr. Whitehead said customer research helped the company understand just how much women hate shopping for swimsuits. "It's a horrifying experience," he said, citing problems such as "poorly lit rooms, children or husbands in tow" and a shortage of sales clerks in many stores.
Mr. Whitehead would not quantify how much the Swim Finder service has helped business, saying only that sales are "fantastic right now." Those sales, he added, have been followed by fewer returns and customer service calls than past swimsuit sales, because women are more likely to be satisfied with their purchases.
According to a report released last week by the research and consulting firms ForeSee Results and FGI Research, such online sales features could be making a difference with female shoppers.
The firms surveyed customers of the 40 most popular online retailers and found that on a 100-point scale, women were more satisfied than men with online shopping. Overall satisfaction scores were 85 for women and 80 for men in 2004.
According to Ms. Johnson, of Forrester, that satisfaction level does not extend to an important subset of women - those age 35 and younger. Ms. Johnson said that in a recent Forrester survey, of the 28 percent of North Americans who have not shopped online, those 35 and younger showed some of the strongest resistance to online shopping. Among other things, young women objected to high shipping costs and to waiting for items to be delivered. Also, 23 percent of the group did not have credit or debit cards - more than twice the online average.
Online retailers can ill afford to let young women stray, because women make a vast majority of purchasing decisions once they have families. "Most retailers focus on young men, but they're already sold on online shopping," Ms. Johnson said.
Ms. Johnson said that as retailers seek more efficient ways to sell, they risk losing sight of merchandising elements that women might appreciate. The Web is "not focused enough on the experience of shopping - nothing flashy, just engaging people in a way that makes them feel comfortable, loyal and satisfied," she said.
Felix Carbullido, who oversees Gap.com, said such an effort involved a delicate balance. "We're not walking away from convenience, but we definitely want to capture more of the emotional side of the shopping experience," he said.
To do that, Mr. Carbullido said Gap.com had more aggressively expanded its editorial features, including tips on dressing for various occasions. The site has also enhanced its swimsuit-assistant feature to allow women to see how a suit looks on a model, and from behind. In addition, the site last month upgraded a feature helping women choose the right bra to go with some clothing.
The prevalence of high-speed Internet connections also helps the site market to women more effectively, Mr. Carbullido said, because it can offer things like music downloads. In a recently completed promotion, Gap.com visitors could download a free song from the singer Joss Stone - a promotion that was particularly successful with the site's younger users.
For Amazon.com, whose practices are closely watched and often imitated, an emotionally engaging shopping experience is, simply enough, one that is convenient and cheap.
Among the site's most recent additions are categories aimed at women shoppers, like gourmet food and wedding merchandise. Ms. Johnson, of Forrester, pointed to the wedding category, in particular, as a departure for Amazon, in that it is rife with editorial features, video and photography aimed at appealing to women shoppers.
But according to Kathy Savitt, a vice president at Amazon, the wedding section is different from other Amazon categories because its users require more coaching about how to outfit a household, for instance, than other users, and not because the site is shifting its philosophy on how to reach women.
"We've tried to appeal to things we think both men
and women like, which are low prices, convenience and selection," Ms. Savitt
said. "Those are very gender-agnostic marketing points. Women prefer low prices
and great selection over marketing gimmicks any day."
BOB TEDESCHI (E-Commerce Report), "Women Are Keen to Shop Online. Merchants Are Eager to Oblige," The New York Times, June 6, 2005, http://snipurl.com/wmnsh0606
US couple fights Red Sea pirates (Yemeni pirates
successfully routed by middle-aged couple)
An American couple who fought off Yemenite pirates during a Red Sea crossing in March swaggered into Ashkelon this weekend bearing the story of their daring escape on the high seas.
Joseph L. Barry III's and Carol Martini's journey on their private yacht began in 1999 from their quiet, north Boston suburb. But the couple's swashbuckling skills were put to the test when they and another American couple found themselves the victims of modern-day pirates.
Over the past seven years, the Red Sea crossing has become dangerous for private boats. Yemenite pirates found they could loot and pillage the luxury yachts to their hearts content, due to a lax Coast Guard presence in the area, say Israeli authorities.
According to what the couple told Israeli
authorities on their arrival here, Barry and Martini had teamed up with another
American couple to make the trip across the Red Sea. On the evening of March 6,
the couples were making their way toward the coast of Yemen. It was sunset when
they approached two small, wooden fishing ships commonly used in the area.
Suddenly men with guns sprung up from the boats and began firing at
them....continued in article.
Sheera Claire Frankel, "US couple fights Red Sea pirates (Yemeni pirates successfully routed by middle-aged couple)," Free Republic, Posted on 06/06/2005 6:45:33 AM PDT by ToveL, http://snipurl.com/pirat0606
Choices at Harvard
This weekend saw signs of change at Harvard University — and evidence for why the president may well survive the controversy over his statements about women and science.
On Friday, the university named Theda Skocpol as the next dean of its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard, is a notable choice for several reasons. She has been a harsh critic of Lawrence H. Summers, the university’s president, on a number of issues, including his management style and Harvard’s treatment of women. And Skocpol is one of the few Harvard professors ever to win tenure and prominence at the university after first being denied tenure and having to go through a messy and sometimes public grievance process.
If Skocpol’s appointment is a sign that Harvard’s
leaders are reaching out to faculty critics, Summers also received welcome news
Saturday with the release of a poll of Harvard alumni indicating that most want
him to stay on as president — even if they disagree with what he said about
women....continued in article.
Scott Jaschik, "Choices at Harvard," Inside Higher Ed, June 6, 2005, http://snipurl.com/chhar0606
MAY 7 TIDBITS
J&J's New Device For Spine Surgery
Artificial Disk Aims to Help Body's Natural Movement; Some See Risk if It Slips
'Big Money Riding on This'
It sounds like an excellent answer for persistent back pain: an artificial disk, placed between the bones of the spine, that helps the body move naturally. After decades of research by doctors, Johnson & Johnson became the first to market an artificial disk in the U.S. last October, and surgeons are flocking to a J&J training center in Cincinnati to learn how to implant it.
Now a vigorous debate has emerged
among doctors about the durability of the J&J device and its effectiveness
compared with older "fusion" surgery, in which the bones of the spine are fused
together. Some surgeons are predicting that a wave of patients will suffer
complications over the next 10 to 15 years and need to have the device, called
Charité, removed. That's particularly worrisome because the surgery to take it
out can be dangerous -- more so, they say, than the repairs when fusion surgery
goes wrong....continued in article.
RHONDA L. RUNDLE and SCOTT HENSLEY, "J&J's New Device For Spine Surgery Raises Questions," The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2005; Page A1, http://snipurl.com/jj0607
Life on the Go Means Eating on the Run, And a Lot of Spilling
There, she often pays a price for all that convenient on-the-go food she has given little Luke. "The crumbs and jelly on his hands end up on my shoulder, and sometimes I don't even notice it until I'm at the office," she says.
A nation of snackers has become a nation of stainers. Americans are eating more and more of their meals outside the home, often while they're doing something else. The food industry has adapted to -- and helped create -- these new eating habits. One-handed snacks, like Yoplait's Go-Gurt and Campbell's Soup at Hand have given more choices to people eating in the car, at soccer practice and on the way to work. They have also created new ways to make a mess -- and new ways of coping, both homespun and commercial.
Resourceful consumers have adopted stain-avoidance tactics. To keep up with her hectic schedule, Ann Keeling, a public-relations executive in Cincinnati, occasionally eats in the car. To avoid dropping food on her clothes, she keeps a towel under the seat that she can throw across her lap to protect her suits. If she does get a stain on the way to a meeting, she puts some water on the towel and blots.
Thom McKee, a real-estate developer in Marriottsville, Md., has been more careful after one bad experience in which he showed up for a job interview with dried egg yolk on his tie. He had tried to eat an Egg McMuffin in the car on the way. He dabbed the stain with a napkin, but it didn't come out. Though he was offered the job anyway, "it made the whole thing a lot more stressful, and I ruined my tie."...continued in article.
A Better Robot, With Help From Roaches
Garnet Hertz, a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine has given a roach a car.
The idea, he says, is to take a novel approach to the problem of robotic navigation. In the past, robots have not been particularly adroit; getting from Point A to Point B can be arduous, and navigation systems cumbersome and complex.
Mr. Hertz, a Fulbright scholar from Canada, was inspired by robotics pioneers like Rodney Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have suggested that robot intelligence should resemble that of roaches and other insects that react quickly and instinctively to their environment.
Mr. Hertz said the project extended work in biological mimicry, but added: "It's a little bit of a joke. It's meant to say, 'If all this bio-inspired stuff is so great, why don't you just use the biology and cut to the chase?' "
He uses the Madagascar hissing cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa, which can grow as big as a mouse. In the summer of 2004, he built a three-wheeled cart that rises about knee high. Atop the aluminum structure sits a modified computer trackball pointer, with a Ping-Pong ball in place of the usual trackball, which is heavier.
The roach - he currently maintains a stable of four - rides on top of the trackball. As it scampers, the robot moves in the direction the roach would travel if it were on the ground; a Velcro patch and harness keep it in place.
Mr. Hertz also made use of the fact that roaches don't like light - something easily confirmed by turning on the kitchen light at 2 a.m. In the device, the insect is enclosed by a semicircle of lights. Individual lights turn on when the device approaches nearby objects; in theory, the roach, in trying to avoid light, avoids the obstacles, as well.
But biology is less predictable than technology. Sometimes a roach appears perfectly happy to sit motionless on the ball for minutes at a time. Some roaches ignore the lights. And once in a while some of them, he believes, seem to enjoy bumping the cart into walls.
Mr. Hertz orders his roaches online and feeds them organic lettuce and canned dog food.
It is not the first time that an artist has combined the biological with the mechanical. But Mr. Hertz's roaches seem to have an eerie appeal, and they have become geek heroes. He has displayed the roachmobile at technology conferences, and his roaches have been written up in a new do-it-yourself tech magazine, Make.
He said that Robo-roach was conceived as a project for his master's in fine arts thesis. He calls it "dialogical," a term for works created to spark discussion.
In an unpublished essay, Mr. Hertz said he hoped the project would inspire "discussion about the biological versus computational, fears about technology and nature, a future filled with biohybrid robots, and a recollection of the narrative of the cyborg."
As opposed to, simply, "Eeew."
JOHN SCHWARTZ "A Better Robot, With Help From Roaches," The New York Times, June 7, 2005, http://snipurl.com/roborch0607
Microsoft Ordered to Pay Inventor $8.9 Million in Patent Case
Microsoft was told by a jury to pay a Guatemalan inventor $8.96 million for infringing a patent that links its Access and Excel programs through a single spreadsheet.
The jury, in United States District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., ruled that Microsoft had used technology patented by Carlos Amado in some versions of Access, said Vincent Belusko, a lawyer for Mr. Amado.
A Microsoft spokeswoman, Stacy Drake, said the company was reviewing the verdict and considering an appeal.
"While today's verdict is disappointing, we are pleased that the jury rejected Mr. Amado's large damage claims," Ms. Drake said. "We continue to contend there was no infringement of any kind."
The verdict covers damages from March 1997 through July 31, 2003, Mr. Belusko said. Judge David Carter will next determine whether Microsoft owes further damages from Aug. 1, 2003, to the present. Mr. Amado had sought as much as $400 million.
Mr. Amado developed the program in 1990 and
approached Microsoft to sell the technology to the company in 1992. Microsoft
declined, and in 1995 came out with the application in its software programs,
Mr. Belusko said.
By BLOOMBERG NEWS, "Microsoft Ordered to Pay Inventor $8.9 Million in Patent Case," The New York Times, http://snipurl.com/ptcse0607
Stalking a Killer That Lurks a Few Feet Offshore
When people think about natural hazards, they usually think about tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes. But there is another natural hazard that takes more lives in an average year in the United States than any of those - rip currents.
Each year in American waters, rip currents pull
about 100 panicked swimmers to their deaths. According to the United States
Lifesaving Association, lifeguards pull out at least 70,000 Americans from the
surf each year, 80 percent from rip currents....continued in article.
CORNELIA DEAN "Stalking a Killer That Lurks a Few Feet Offshore," The New York Times, http://snipurl.com/tides0607
Five Words of Wisdom Each From the Web's Winning Sites
One of the more charming idiosyncrasies of the Webby Awards, the annual awards for achievement in Web creation, is that recipients get five words, and five words only, to make their acceptance speeches.
So after a night full of award innuendos and one-line haiku at Gotham Hall in Manhattan, the 550 people in attendance were wondering how Al Gore, the former vice president, would respond to his lifetime achievement award.
He did not disappoint.
"Please don't recount this vote," he said. The place
went nuts....continued in article.
DAVID CARR "Al Gore Receives Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement," Published: June 7, 2005, http://snipurl.com/alg0607
Some Immigrants Are Offering Social Security Numbers for Rent
TLALCHAPA, Mexico - Gerardo Luviano is looking for somebody to rent his Social Security number.
Mr. Luviano, 39, obtained legal residence in the United States almost 20 years ago. But these days, back in Mexico, teaching beekeeping at the local high school in this hot, dusty town in the southwestern part of the country, Mr. Luviano is not using his Social Security number. So he is looking for an illegal immigrant in the United States to use it for him - providing a little cash along the way.
"I've almost managed to contact somebody to lend my number to," Mr. Luviano said. "My brother in California has a friend who has crops and has people that need one."
Mr. Luviano's pending transaction is merely a blip
in a shadowy yet vibrant underground market. Virtually undetected by American
authorities, operating below the radar in immigrant communities from coast to
coast, a secondary trade in identities has emerged straddling both sides of the
Mexico-United States border....continued in article.
EDUARDO PORTER "Some Immigrants Are Offering Social Security Numbers for Rent," The New York Times, June 7, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/07/business/07immigrant.html
Johnson's Watergate (NRO)
Interesting read I thought we'd all enjoy. LBJ makes Nixon look like a saint. Johnson’s “Watergate” LBJ vs. Goldwater. By Lee Edwards
It was a political scandal of unprecedented proportions: the deliberate, systematic, and illegal misuse of the FBI and the CIA by the White House in a presidential campaign. The massive black-bag operations, bordering on the unconstitutional and therefore calling for impeachment, were personally approved by the president. They included planting a CIA spy in his opponent's campaign committee, wiretaps on his opponent's top political aides, illegal FBI checks, and the bugging of his opponent's campaign airplane.
The president? Lyndon B. Johnson. The target?
Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, the 1964 Republican presidential
candidate....continued in article.
slowhand520 "Johnson's Watergate," Free Republic, June 7, 2005, http://snipurl.com/joh0607
Pitt Drops Sponsorship of Semester at Sea
The University of Pittsburgh dropped its sponsorship of the Semester at Sea program, citing concerns about safety months after startled students were tossed around by a huge wave in the Pacific.
The nonprofit Institute for Shipboard Education, which operates the program, responded with a lawsuit against the university Friday, saying the pullout violates Pitt's contract and may cause irreparable harm to the floating, study-abroad program.
In January, a 50-foot wave temporarily disabled a
Semester at Sea ship, injuring two crew members and tossing hundreds of people
around. The ship, the Explorer, had 990 people aboard, including nearly 700
students. It later limped into Honolulu Harbor for repairs...continued in
Associated Press, "Pitt Drops Sponsorship of Semester at Sea," ABC News, June 7, 2005, http://snipurl.com/sas0607
TIDBITS MAY 8, 2005
Toshiba Develops Recordable High-Def DVDs
Toshiba Says It Has Developed the Technology to Mass-Produce Recordable High-Definition DVDs
Japan's Toshiba Corp. said Wednesday that it has developed the technology to mass-produce recordable high-definition DVDs.
The advance is the latest step in a heated global race to establish a world standard for the next-generation of optical disks, which are expected to offer sharper images than current DVDs.
Toshiba said the new technology, developed jointly with Mitsubishi Kagaku Media Co. and Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories Inc., will enable the manufacture of single-recording HD-DVD disks with 15-gigabyte storage capacity.
Disc manufacturers, currently producing recordable DVD disks, will only have to make minor modifications to be able to produce the new higher-definition kind, Toshiba said.
Optical disc makers Hitachi Maxell Ltd. and Mitsubishi Kagaku said they will market the new HD-DVD-R discs next spring, when Toshiba plans to launch HD-DVD recorders.
In the battle for a high-definition successor to DVDs, there are two technologies competing to become the world standard.
Toshiba leads a group that backs the HD-DVD format, while Sony Corp. leads a rival group promoting the Blu-ray Disc format.
Blu-ray have more capacity with 50 gigabytes
compared to 30 gigabytes for HD-DVD read-only disks, but proponents of HD-DVD
say their format is cheaper to make because the production method is similar to
The Associated Press, "Toshiba Develops Recordable High-Def DVDs," ABC News, June 8, 2005, http://snipurl.com/hidef0608
After Huge Wave, University Withdraws
From Semester at Sea
The University of Pittsburgh dropped its sponsorship of the Semester at Sea program, citing concerns about safety, months after students were tossed around by a huge wave in the Pacific Ocean.
The nonprofit Institute for Shipboard Education, which operates the program, responded with a suit against the university, saying the pullout violates the school's contract and may cause irreparable harm to the study-abroad program.
In January, a 50-foot wave temporarily disabled the Semester at Sea ship Explorer, injuring two crew members and tossing hundreds of people around. The ship had 990 people aboard, including nearly 700 students. It later limped into Honolulu Harbor for repairs.
In a letter to John Tymitz, the institute's chief executive, University of Pittsburgh Provost James Maher named several factors, including unresolved issues regarding the deaths of five participants in a bus accident during an India trip in 1996.
Mr. Maher also wrote that the university was concerned with the ship used in the winter voyage and the program's decision to visit Kenya this year despite a State Department travel advisory.
"We found ourselves in the position of a frustrated spouse who has tried to keep the marriage going but in the end has to accept that it's over," university spokesman Robert Hill said.
Mr. Tymitz didn't immediately return a call for comment yesterday.
Students from hundreds of colleges attend Semester at Sea, but the program has been sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh for more than 20 years, and the Institute for Shipboard Education is based there.
The program was founded in California
in 1963 as the University of the Seven Seas.
Copyright © 2005 Associated Press, "After Huge Wave, University Withdraws From Semester at Sea," The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2005; Page D12, http://snipurl.com/wave0608
That would have given students an unfair advantage on Virginia's standardized tests, which require youngsters to know how to make such conversions with pencil and paper.
At the request of the state education department two years ago, Texas Instruments had disabled the decimal-to-fraction key and left it blank on calculators intended for middle school students.
But in January, Dakota Brown, a 12-year-old at Carver Middle School in suburban Richmond's Chesterfield County, figured out that by pressing two other keys on his state-approved TI-30 Xa SE VA, he could change decimals into fractions anyway.
"His fellow students were so proud of him and congratulatory. They thought it was really, really cool. They didn't call him a nerd or anything," said Michael Bolling, a school official in Chesterfield County. The county had more than 11,000 of the calculators recalled.
Texas Instruments recalled the calculators and is replacing them. TI had no immediate comment Tuesday.
Initial estimates the company provided the state indicated 160,000 calculators were to be replaced, but the exact number is unclear, education department officials said,
Calls to the boy's school and his parents to arrange an interview with the
youngster were not immediately returned. But Chesterfield County school
officials held a low-key ceremony to honor him, and Texas Instruments sent him a
graphing calculator, "which he loved," said Lois Williams, the state
administrator in charge of middle-school math.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. "Student discovers calculator flaw," CNN.com, June 8, 2005, http://snipurl.com/calc0608
TIDBITS JUNE 9
Airliner dodges driver at
Cyprus international airport operations were disrupted when a man drove a car under parked planes and forced a taxiing airliner to change course to avoid a collision, authorities said.
A chase to catch the driver, identified as a 30-year-old Greek, disrupted airport traffic on Wednesday night.
Control tower workers raised the alarm after seeing a car speeding under parked aircraft at Larnaca airport on Cyprus's southeast coast.
A Cyprus Airways jet which had just landed had to change course to avoid collision. "The car was heading straight for us," the pilot said.
The man was being questioned by police, who suspect he was fleeing after
being caught taking biscuits from a nearby bakery.
Reuters, "Airliner dodges driver at Cyprus airport," IWon News, June 9, 2005, http://snipurl.com/alcr0609
You Don't Bother Me, Black Fly, Say Fans Of 'Jaws on Wings'
But in this Vermont village of about 400, black flies are a cause for celebration. Adamant's annual Black Fly Festival, held in early May in anticipation of the bugs' emergence, featured antenna-wearing children, a poet reading his verse about a "Taoist mountain recluse" smashing "the little black fly into the hairs on his dirty brown arm," and a "black-fly pie" baking contest. The winning entry had blood-red strawberry filling, a fly-mimicking sprinkling of chocolate chips, and pink sauce that looked like calamine lotion....continued in article.
Grant Thornton Battles Its Image
No. 5 Accounting Firm Struggles To Attract Major Audit Clients, Despite Misfortunes of Big Four
For the 373 partners of Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S.'s No. 5 accounting firm by revenue, these should be heady times. Revenue climbed about 30% last year to $635 million, and the firm picked up more than 1,000 new clients.
Only one thing is missing: large,
publicly held audit clients. For 2004, Grant Thornton served as the independent
auditor for just one Fortune 500 company, W.W. Grainger Inc. That's down
from two during 2003, before Countrywide Financial Corp. switched to KPMG
LLP, the smallest of the Big Four with $4.1 billion of revenue. Then, in March,
Grant Thornton Chief Executive Officer Ed Nusbaum got the bad news. Grainger was
switching to Ernst & Young LLP....continued in article.
DIYA GULLAPALLI, "Grant Thornton Battles Its Image," The Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2005; Page C1, http://snipurl.com/grnt0609
The Scramble to Protect Personal Data
Perhaps more than most corporations, Citigroup knows the perils of moving personal data.
In February last year, a magnetic tape with information on about 120,000 Japanese customers of its Citibank division disappeared while being shipped by truck from a data management center in Singapore. The tape held names, addresses, account numbers and balances. It has never turned up.
And this week the company revealed that it had
happened again - this time the loss of an entire box of tapes in the care of the
United Parcel Service,
with personal information on nearly four million American customers....continued
TOM ZELLER Jr., "The Scramble to Protect Personal Data," The New York Times, June 9, 2005, http://snipurl.com/prtdta0609
Another One Bites the Dust
Wayne State University’s Board of Governor’s voted unanimously Wednesday to close the College of Urban, Labor and Metroplitan Affairs — a move that critics say symbolizes a national trend of universities disengaging from low-income students.
The University of Minnesota is expected later this week to vote eliminate a
college that helps non-traditional students. And other urban institutions, like
Temple University and the University of Cincinnati, have recently raised
admissions standards that were once quite welcoming to students in local
areas...continued in article.
David Epstein "Another One Bites the Dust," Inside Higher Ed, June 9, 2005, http://snipurl.com/dst0609
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