"How Harvard Lost Russia" was published in the January issue of Institutional Investor magazine, a subscription-only publication, about a month and a half before Dr. Summers's resignation, which he announced last Tuesday. The move came just two weeks after a Feb. 7 meeting when the president was challenged on several issues, including his reaction to events described in Mr. McClintick's article.
Dual Covenant Theology: Thanks to the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio Jews Can Now Get Into Heaven
An evangelical pastor and an Orthodox rabbi, both from Texas, have apparently persuaded leading Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell that Jews can get to heaven without being converted to Christianity. Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are based in San Antonio, told The Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted Hagee's innovative belief in what Christians refer to as "dual covenant" theology.
Ilan Chaim, Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2006 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment: This must be a huge relief to Jewish faithfuls.
Late Breaking Good News and Bad News About Heaven
Evidence" allegedly "proves" that heaven truly exists
But a new documentary, "The Evidence for Heaven," available exclusively through WND's ShopNetDaily online store, offers scientific evidence for the afterlife.
"New scientific evidence heaven really exists: Blockbuster DVD includes astounding back-from-dead testimonialsWorld," WorldDailyNet, March 2, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49060
Us Texans will be down where there are more barbeque events. We will, however, look up to you folks drifting about overhead while nibbling on cold manna.
Really bad news for Jews now
that it's a scientific fact that heaven does exist
Reverend Falwell denies that he ever once believed that Jews can get into heaven
Evangelist Jerry Falwell has a beef with the Jerusalem Post after the newspaper published an article suggesting he's changed his beliefs about salvation, now thinking Jews can get to heaven without becoming Christians first. "Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, whose Cornerstone Church and Rodfei Sholom congregations are based in San Antonio, told the Jerusalem Post that Falwell had adopted Hagee's innovative belief in what Christians refer to as 'dual covenant' theology. This creed, which runs counter to mainstream evangelism, maintains that the Jewish people have a special relationship to God through the revelation at Sinai and therefore do not need 'to go through Christ or the Cross' to get to heaven."
"Falwell: Jerusalem Post 'fabricated' story on me Newspaper claimed Christian evangelist had new tune on how Jews get to heaven," WorldDailyNet, March 1, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49063
Pastors John Hagee
and Jerry Falwell have both denied a report in The Jerusalem Post earlier
this week that they embrace the "dual covenant" theology, which holds that
Jews are saved through a special relationship with God and so need not
become Christians to get to heaven.
"Hagee, Falwell deny endorsing 'dual covenant'," Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2006 --- http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1139395523403&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Just goes to show you what might happen to evangelism if just anybody can pass through the Pearly Gates. Authorities are moving quickly to Plains, Georgia to have Jimmy Carter settle this matter once and for all --- --- Click Here
March 2, 2006 reply from a Jewish friend who is also an accounting professor
This little tempest isn't sitting so great with the JPost readers. One writes (in talkback to the article for which you provide the url:2. Explain 24 gates and 24 elders
David - Israel
Falwell should read his N. Testament. Revelations where John sees 24 elders before the throne representing 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles. Hmmmm, no replacement theology there. And the new J-town has 24 gates; twelve for the tribes and 12 Apostles. Hmmmmm. Sounds like God can dual anything He wants. And who said you can't meet Jesus and receive your faith in Jesus after your dead? N. Test verses make case for that. And every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. I don't know how you force someone to do that? Sorry Christians God is up to something far greater than just saving you. Far greater.
So Bob, I guess my day is still OK?
Driver carries no cash. He's married.
All I ask is
the chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
Vote Democrat — it's easier than working!
Vote Republican — it's easier than thinking!
George W. Bush is about to fritter away his
party's last advantage. What Republicans have had going for them is that
they aren't Democrats.
Wesley Pruden, "Taking a chance on love for sale," The Washington Times, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.washtimes.com/national/pruden.htm
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great
ones to public office.
Around me, if a woman don't wear mink, she don't
Big Boy Caprice in the 1001 movie Dick Tracie Directed by Warren Beatty, screenplay by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr
There are three kinds of death in this world.
There's heart death, there's brain death, and there's being off the network.
117 documents match your query. Search
Amazon.com for top-selling titles about +dwarf +"pubic hair".
The number one problem in our country is apathy
... But who cares?
Advice not heeded by Bob Jensen
Ignorance of your profession is best concealed by solemnity and silence, which pass for profound knowledge upon the generality of mankind.
"Advice to Officers of the British Army", 1783
I have learned from an early age to abjure the use
of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of
animals as they now look upon the murder of men.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
The was (possibly still is) a billboard outside of Saskatoon showing a feeding moose. The sign read as follows:
There's plenty of room for all God's creatures,
Right beside the mashed potatoes.
A teacher who castrated a live pig in front of
her high school class is the target of protests by animal rights activists
throughout the country. The protests began after People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals posted information about the incident at Rosamond High
School on its Web site last month. The posting does not say when the
castration occurred. "We're concerned not only because animals suffer during
these routine castrations but also because of the message it sends to
students who are still forming opinions about treatment of animals in our
society," said Stephanie Bell, a PETA cruelty case worker.
"Castration of live pig at Central Calif. school ignites protests," Modbee, February 22, 2006 --- http://www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/11834713p-12549652c.html
Japan Warns U.N. of Funding Cut If widespread
fraud and waste at the United Nations is not stopped, Japan says it may cut
its funding for the scandal-ridden international organization.
NewsMax, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/24/223452.shtml
Remember This One? (turn your speakers up)
Do Your Own Damn Taxes Video (music from Frank Sinatra) --- http://www.doyourdamntaxes.com/
University of Michigan may extend time to tenure to 10 years
In part to try to make the academy family friendly, the University of Michigan is currently mulling over changes to the process it uses to promote professors, which would include extending the maximum time to receive tenure from 8 to 10 years. Higher education experts have increasingly been saying that, as baby boomers age and require more attention, and as more women flood academe, a bit of flexibility is in order.
David Epstein, "Slowing Down Tenure Time," Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/28/michigan
Atheists and Agnostics Need Not Apply for Work at the University of Charleston
Edwin H. Welch, president of the University of Charleston, is investigating the legal ramifications of an advertisement that states that applicants must believe in God — an apparent violation of federal anti-bias laws. . . . The ad says that prospective candidates must have earned a doctorate and expertise in ethics, have had faculty development experience and “must embrace a belief in God and present moral and ethical values from a God-centered perspective.” The unusual job requirement was noted on Brian Leiter’s blog.
Rob Capriccioso, "Divinely Inspired Bias?" Inside Higher Ed, March 1, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/01/charleston
In an attempt to avoid violating civil rights
laws, the University of Charleston has made
changes to a
oversial job requirement the stated that applicants for the Herchiel and Elizabeth Sims “In God We Trust” Chair in Ethics must believe in God.
Rob Capriccioso, "Charleston Ends Illegal Job Requirement," Inside Higher Ed, March 2, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/02/charleston
What's really behind epidemic of teacher-student sex?
The seemingly endless stream of reports of female school teachers having sex with their underage male students – a storyline titillating to some but profoundly disturbing to most – is one of today's most sensational news stories. In fact, a recent, federally funded study concludes the problem of school teachers molesting students dwarfs in magnitude the clergy sex-abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church. Now, in a groundbreaking investigation, the newest edition of WND's elite monthly Whistleblower magazine – titled "PREDATORS: What's really behind today's epidemic of teacher-student sex?" – unveils what's really behind this troubling new phase in the "sexual revolution."
"PREDATORS: What's really behind today's epidemic of teacher-student sex?" Whistleblower Magazine, March 1, 2006 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49049
On average, what is the increase in technology spending expected for higher education?
Technology spending by colleges and universities
is expected to increase by 35 percent, to $6.9 billion, in 2006, according
to a report by Market Data Retrieval. The report found increases in all
sectors of higher education. Hardware purchases represent about half of all
Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/28/qt
Listening to Student Voices on Technology
March 1, 2006 message from Bob Blystone
You might find the referred to 21 page report concerning student use of computers very interesting. It concerns high school students primarily.
I had trouble with the link because of the way it truncated in Bob's message.
The link is http://www.educationevolving.org/studentvoices/pdf/tech_savy_students.pdf
I snipped it to http://snipurl.com/StudentVoices
The "Oops" List (includes photographs of crashed airplanes and other
"Oops" happenings --- http://www.micom.net/oops/
Many of the photographs and cartoons on the “Oops” list will be familiar.
You may not have seen some of these images, some of which are hilarious.
The "Oops" List (some links are video links) --- http://www.micom.net/oops/
The "Oops" impact of labor unions of California politics: Some Cities and Counties Will Declare Bankruptcy
"Chickens Roosting: At Home Legislative slaves of public employee unions," by Ray Haynes, CaliforniaRepublic.org, February 27, 2006 --- http://www.californiarepublic.org/archives/Columns/Haynes/20060227HaynesRoosting.html
From 1999 through 2002, I was the Vice Chair of the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee. During that time, a number of bills presented to the committee increased pension and retirement benefits for state and local government employees. Every single one of these bills were passed and signed by Governor Davis.
At the hearing on each of these bills, the lobbyists for the government employee unions showed up and begged the committee members to vote for the bill. In addition, the representative for the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) told the committee that the retirement system could afford the increases because it had a $60 billion surplus. The surplus was so big that the state did not have to pay any money to the CalPERS fund, and CalPERS told us we would never have to pay into the retirement system ever again, even with the benefit increases. Of course, the government employee unions control the CalPERS board. The state was experiencing record budget surpluses, so everyone thought that the good times would last forever.
I kept trying to explain to my legislative colleagues that we were being foolish. No one can increase benefits without some cost. At some point, I said, these pension chickens were going to come home to roost in our budget. My colleagues called me Chicken Little telling me “the sky is not falling.” They said the pension was sound and the budget could absorb the cost.
The chickens have come home to roost. The City of San Diego is going bankrupt from generous pension benefits. Orange County is talking seriously about filing bankruptcy again to get out from underneath their pension requirements. The state’s contribution to CalPERS is estimated to be $3.5 billion this year, and even higher next year. This is from nothing in 1999.
And this week, the Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report that the cost of retiree health benefits will be “in the range of $40 billion to $70 billion, and perhaps more.” The report identifies two reasons for this increased cost; (a) increased health care costs; and (b) legislatively mandated increased health benefits.
Health care costs have increased significantly in the last six years for one reason: legislatively mandated minimum requirements for health care. From 1999 to 2000, the Legislature passed over 30 different mandates on health insurers, and as a result, costs increased over 40%.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on the economic disasters of entitlement programs are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm
Another "oops" of Congress allows the rich to get tax benefits not intended for the rich
"New Definition Of a 'Child' Causes Outcry: Congress's Move to Simplify The Tax Code Creates Loophole For Some Wealthy Families," by Tom Harman, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2006; Page D1--- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114117473531185968.html?mod=todays_us_personal_journal
Defining the term "child" sounds simple -- except at tax time.
There are at least five different tax breaks tied to children and until recently, the tax code had a separate test for each. Recognizing the absurdity and inefficiency of that, Congress enacted legislation in late 2004 streamlining the definition of a child. The new system took effect for 2005 tax returns, which people are preparing now.
But the new law has ended up creating loopholes allowing some high-income families to get tax benefits that weren't intended for them -- such as the earned-income tax credit, which is intended for low-income workers. At the same time, some low-income families are finding themselves unable to claim benefits that they should be getting.
Continued in article
March 1, 2006 reply from Linda C Pfingst CPA [lcpfingst@EARTHLINK.NET]
In the example cited:Francis Degen, president of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, which represents about 40,000 private-sector tax specialists, offered this example: A couple with two children living at home -- a 14-year-old daughter and a 22-year-old son -- file a joint return with adjusted gross income of $400,000. At that level of income, the parents don't get any tax benefit from claiming the daughter as a dependent. On the other hand, the son, who has $15,000 in wages and isn't a full-time student, can claim his sister, enabling him to receive the child-tax credit and earned-income tax credit. Assuming he had no tax withheld, this turns what would have been a balance due of $683 on his return to a federal income-tax refund of $3,158.I don't see how the son can claim his sister as a dependent when he must fail "test to be a qualifying relative part 4 - you must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year." I have a 16 year old son, who in no way would give his hard earned bucks (he pumps gas) to his sister! See IRS Pub 17 page 25 chapter 3.What am missing something here?
How much more is the cost of a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise versus the vice versa?
It takes hard work to drive anyone away from
California's sunshine and scenic vistas, but politicians in Sacramento have
been up to the task. The latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005,
239,416 more native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California
is also on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this
year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to
move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090--or some eight times more
than the cost of moving in the opposite direction. What's gone wrong? A big
part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most
productive businesses and workers as if they were ATMs. The cost to
businesses of complying with California's rules, regulations and paperwork
is more than twice as high as in other Western states. But the worst growth
killer may well be California's tax system. The business tax rate of 8.8% is
the highest in the West, and its steeply "progressive" personal income tax
has an effective top marginal rate of 10.3%, or second highest in the
nation. CalTax, the state's taxpayer advocacy group, reports that the
richest 10% of earners pay almost 75% of the entire income-tax revenue in
the state, and most of these are small0business owners, i.e., the people who
"Meathead Economics: Hollywood liberals drive productive Californians to leave the state," The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2006 --- http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008026
What is the impact of low fat diets on older women?
Hint: It "won't cut their risk of cancer or heart disease." (with calorie intake held constant)
Older women who reduce the amount of total fat
in their diets won't cut their risk of cancer or heart disease, but some
women might benefit from lowered fat intake. So says a School of Medicine
researcher who helped direct the much-publicized Women's Health Initiative,
which followed test subjects for 15 years . . . But a School of Medicine
researcher who helped direct the WHI work said the study showed a modest
reduction in breast cancer among the women who started with the highest fat
intake before cutting back. And the findings also suggested a health benefit
for women who reduced their consumption of saturated and trans fats. "Just
switching to low-fat foods is not likely to yield much health benefit in
most women," said Marcia Stefanick, PhD, professor of medicine at the
Stanford Prevention Research Center and chair of the WHI steering committee.
"Rather than trying to eat 'low-fat,' women should focus on reducing
saturated fats and trans fats." She also recommended that women eat more
vegetables, in particular dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables,
though the trial did not specifically study these foods.
Susan Ipaktchian, "Low-fat diet no panacea for preventing cancer for women But some adjustments in fat intake may benefit certain women, study author says," Stanford University News Service, February 8, 2006 ---
Do you have health questions?
In particular check out Alice's archives?
"Will WebMD's Healthy Glow Last?" by Arlene Weintraub, Business Week, February 23, 2006
The Net health-care concern has been a hit on the Street since being spun off last year. Now its numbers have to back up the optimism
Just days after Google (GOOG) raised a staggering $4 billion in a September secondary stock offering, another brand-name dot-com made a much quieter, but equally impressive splash on Wall Street. Health-information provider WebMD Health (WBMD) spun out from its parent company on Oct. 4, raising $129 million. Shares of its stock have nearly doubled to $34.92 since then (as of the market close on Feb. 22).
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on March 1, 2006
Why aren't physicists as rich as Warren Buffet?
On Monday, October 19, 1987 – infamously known as “black Monday” – the Dow fell 508 points, or 22.9%, marking the largest crash in history. Using an analytical approach similar to the one applied to explore heart rate, physicists have discovered some unusual events preceding the crash. These findings may help economists in risk analysis and in predicting inevitable future crashes.
"Physicists Predict Stock Market Crashes," PhysOrg, February 24, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news11164.html
If physicists can predict market crashes, why aren't they short selling at the right moments to become as rich as Warren Buffet? The problem in all time series models of stock market prices lies in evaluating the false positives and negatives. I always tell my students that the Wizard can predict every stock market crash because the Wizard is always predicting stock market crashes. The studies cited above, however, are much more scholarly and worth reading.
Fraud at Harvard
In a legal settlement reached last summer, Harvard agreed to pay $26.5 million
Did fraud by a Harvard professor ultimately sink its President Summers?
"Did an Exposé Help Sink Harvard's President?" by Sara Ivry, The New York Times, February 27, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/27/business/media/27mclintick.html
"I was surprised that he was gone by February of '06," said Mr. McClintick, and "that it happened as rapidly as it did."
In roughly 18,500 words, (22,007 including sidebars), Mr. McClintick chronicled financial improprieties by those in charge of Harvard's Russia project, including Andrei Shleifer, a professor of economics who is a friend and protégé of Dr. Summers's, and Jonathan Hay, a Harvard-trained lawyer. The two men were accused of making personal investments in Russia at a time when they were working under contract to establish capitalism in the former Soviet nation.
Their behavior led the United States government to file civil charges against Harvard, Mr. Shleifer and Mr. Hay for fraud, breach of contract and making false claims. In a settlement reached last summer, Harvard agreed to pay $26.5 million. Mr. Hay was ordered to pay a fine based on his future earnings and Mr. Shleifer agreed to pay $2 million, though none of the parties admitted wrongdoing. Mr. Shleifer has not been subjected to any disciplinary action from Harvard.
Some Harvard watchers attribute that to Dr. Summers's influence, though he formally recused himself from the matter, and they see the entire affair, assiduously detailed by Mr. McClintick, as an indelible stain on Harvard's reputation.
Mr. McClintick, 65, a 1962 graduate of Harvard, is a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the author of several books, including "Indecent Exposure," which investigated financial scandal at Columbia Pictures. That book was a finalist for the National Book Award and helped solidify Mr. McClintick's reputation as a meticulous investigator.
Continued in article
Update on March 8, 2006|
Harvard University's faculty-ethics board is investigating Andrei Shleifer, a star in its economics department star who was caught up along with the school in a scandal that involved investing in Russia, according to a person familiar with the matter. Prof. Shleifer and Harvard last year paid nearly $30 million to settle a civil suit brought by the U.S. government alleging that Prof. Shleifer violated federal conflict-of-interest rules by investing in Russia. The case dates back a decade when Mr. Shleifer headed a U.S.-government-funded Harvard project to help Russia develop financial markets
John Hechinger, "Harvard Investigates Conduct Of a Star Economics Professor," The Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2006; Page A6
Bob Jensen's threads on the Harvard fracture are at
Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Whenever you wanted Internet access, you wouldn't have to hunt for a
wireless coffee shop
or pay $24 a night to your hotel.
"Wi-Fi to Go: The Hot Spot in a Box," by David Pogue, The New York Times, February 23, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/23/technology/circuits/23pogue.html
YOU know what would be so cool? A portable Wi-Fi hot spot. Whenever you wanted Internet access, you wouldn't have to hunt for a wireless coffee shop or pay $24 a night to your hotel.
Instead, you'd travel with a little box. Plug it into a power outlet — or even your car's cigarette lighter — and boom, you and everyone within 200 feet could get onto the Internet at high speed, without wires.
Actually, such boxes exist. They come from companies like Kyocera, Junxion and Top Global, and they're every bit as awesome as they sound. (Unfortunately, the category is so new that it has no agreed-upon name. "Portable hot spot" is descriptive but unwieldy. "Cellular gateway" is a bit cryptic. Kyocera's term, "mobile router," may be as good as any.)
Before you start thinking that you've died and gone to Internet heaven, however, you should know that these boxes don't work alone. Each requires the insertion of a PC laptop card provided by a cellular carrier like Verizon, Sprint or Cingular. The card provides the Internet connection, courtesy of those companies' 3G ("third generation") high-speed cellular data networks. The box just rebroadcasts that connection as a Wi-Fi signal so that all nearby computers — not just one privileged laptop — can go online.
With those PC cards, you can go online anywhere there's a cellular signal: in a taxi, on a bus, in a waiting room or wherever. In major cities, the speed is delightful, like a D.S.L. or slowish cable modem (400 to 700 kilobits a second). In other areas, you can still go online, but only slightly faster than with a dial-up modem. (Also note that uploading is far slower than downloading.)
Continued in article
WiFi Internet Access Across All of London
The service is expected to go live within the next few months, and the entire city will be covered within six months, according to the network's provider.
K.C. Jones, "Wi-Fi Moving To London," InformationWeek, February 23, 2006 --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=180206231
From The Washington Post on February 24,
A university in what city banned campus-wide Wi-Fi?
Meanwhile broadband is not so great in the United States
The laissez faire approach taken by the United States in developing the nation's broadband network has failed. Not only have we fallen since 2000 from number three to number 16 in the number of high-speed Internet subscribers per capita, but there's a good chance we'll fall out of the top 20 this year. The reason is our government's failure to oversee the building of the broadband infrastructure and to provide the subsidies needed to get as many people online as possible. Unlike other developed nations, we haven't taken an approach that would reflect a belief that universal access to the high-speed Internet is a critical component of a competitive economy.
Antone Gonsalves, InternetWeek Newsletter, February 23, 2006
How to Spot a She Nerd
"Anatomy of a Nerd ," Wired News, Marchj 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.03/play.html?pg=3
From Walt Mossberg's Mailbox, The Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2006; Page B4 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/mossberg_mailbox.html
Q: Can I convert my home videos so they will play on a video iPod? If so, how?
A: Probably, though it depends on whether they are in one of the formats that can be easily converted, and it can be hard to tell in advance. You'll need conversion software to do it. One option, for both Windows and Mac users, is to spend $30 to upgrade Apple's free QuickTime media player to the pro version, which can convert numerous video file types to an iPod-compatible format.
Another option is to download one of many free conversion utilities that appeared on the Web after the video-capable iPod was released. For Windows users, there are numerous choices. One example is Free iPod Video Converter, at www.ipod-video-converter.org. If you use a Mac, one such program is iSquint, at www.isquint.org. I haven't tested either.
Q: I like to visit about 50 news sites every morning but don't want an RSS feed only. I like to see the entire site. Is there a way to open all of them at the same time, without having to click on each bookmark one by one?
A: Certainly. All you need to do is switch to a tabbed Web browser, like Firefox or Opera for Windows or Mac; or Safari or Camino, for the Mac only. These browsers can open multiple Web sites, in the same window, marking each site with a tab bearing its name. And they allow users to open these multiple sites with a single click. Though each differs slightly, all have a command -- usually called "Open in Tabs" -- that will open a list or folder full of bookmarks with one click. For instance, every morning I open about 20 technology-related Web sites in Firefox or Safari with one click.
Q: I would like to purchase a laptop computer in the U.S. but use it for extended periods in Europe. Is there anything I have to modify because of the difference in the electrical power supply?
A: Most laptops I have tested in recent years have power adaptors that can handle both U.S. and European electrical standards. Just make sure the one you choose is similarly equipped. The only thing you'd have to buy is a cheap plug adapter -- not a transformer -- to physically fit the plug into the sockets used in the European countries where the laptop will be used.
Using microbes to create alternative fuels
"Craig Venter's Next Little Thing: The man who mapped the human genome has a new focus: using microbes to create alternative fuels," by Michael S. Rosenwald, The Washington Post, February 27, 2006 --- Click Here
"The Methanol Economy Forget about the hydrogen economy: Methanol is the key to weaning the world off oil. George Olah tells us how to do it," by Kevin Bullis, MIT's Technology Review, March 2, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16466,296,p1.html
This is a huge book of statistical data that will probably attract your interest and be of great value within reach of your desk.
"A Book for People Who Love Numbers," by Sam Roberts, The New York Times, February 22, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/22/books/22stats.html
For starters, it weighs 29 pounds. It has five volumes. And it's densely packed with more than a million numbers that measure America in mind-boggling detail, from the average annual precipitation in Sweet Springs, Mo., to the wholesale price of rice in Charleston S.C., in 1707
. . .
Professors Sutch and Carter, who are married and both teach at the University of California at Riverside, are editors in chief of Historical Statistics of the United States, an ambitious expansion of previous compilations that were published by the United States Census Bureau in 1949, 1960 and 1975. This "Millennial Edition" is a privatized version, authorized by the Census Bureau but published by Cambridge University Press.
Since the last edition, the editors write, they have tried to rationalize the "phenomenal growth of the American quantitative record," which is why Historical Statistics has proliferated to more than 5,000 pages, from 1,235 in the last version, and includes new chapters on slavery, poverty, American Indians, the Confederacy and the nation's territories overseas.
"As time goes on, the statisticians and the bureaucrats who produce a lot of these numbers for the government keep producing new data," Professor Sutch said. "The other thing is that scholars have really jumped into the field. They are going back and trying to reconsider all sorts of issues with new perspectives, and one of those perspectives is a quantitative one."
The new edition, which sells for $825 and is also available in an online version, is a gold mine for scholars, students and assorted nerds and numbers crunchers, although, as with a gold mine, exposing the veins and nuggets can be challenging. Some tables are not comparable, many do not include percentages, and some contemporary tables are current only to 1990.
"The whole project was designed to present data in raw form rather than highly manipulated," Professor Sutch said. "That makes it more difficult. You have to do a little work to use this."
The couple have been working on the revised collection for 11 years, although they estimate that more than half that time was spent in fund-raising. (Cambridge says the book cost more than $1 million to produce.) What statistics surprised them?
"We're the wrong people to ask about what's surprising," Professor Carter said. "We've been working on it so long."
Historical Statistics of the United States is a product of collaborative scholarship. Introductory essays by contributors provide context and some navigational tools, and hint at trends.
Professors Charles Hirschman, Reynolds Farley and Richard Alba point out in their essay, for instance, that while only 1.9 percent of Americans 18 and older claim two or more racial identities, 4 percent of those younger than 18 do.
A discriminating browser can also learn, or be reminded, that:
Fewer than 1 in 10 black children under 5 live with both parents; workers with the highest hourly wages now work the longest hours; there are more religious workers (also bartenders, gardeners and authors) than ever recorded, and more shoemakers than at any other time since the Civil War; only half of Americans have access to fluoridated water; a growing share of poor people live in the suburbs; philanthropy compared with the gross domestic product has been declining since 1960; more Protestants and Jews say they attended religious services within the last week than at any time in the last 50 years; the nation is producing record amounts of broccoli; it took four days on average to travel between New York and Boston in 1800; attendance at horse-racing tracks peaked in 1976, but rodeo attendance is at an all-time high; and the proportion of people who have no opinion in presidential approval polls is the lowest in a half century.
"It's not just a data dump," Professor Carter said. "Believe it or not, we've been really highly selective."
The editors write that research for the new edition "exposed many lacunas in the statistical record." For example, Professor Sutch said, "On immigration we have a lot of good data on how many people arrived, but very bad data on how many left."
The couple do their own taxes and balance their own checking account, but they were not trained as statisticians. Professor Sutch, 63, and Professor Carter, 58, are both economic historians.
"Readers may be surprised that the critical skill that's more required than formal statistics is more like literary criticism," Professor Carter said. "You look at a number and don't say that's a fact. You want to say where did it come from, who generated it, why, is it consistent with what we would get from looking at other sources, does it make sense? What sort of insight can the quantitative record give to the qualitative one?"
Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition, 5 Volume Set, Susan Carter (Editor), Michael R. Haines, Scott Sigmund Gartner, Gavin Wright (Editor), Susan B. Carter (Editor) --- Click Here
Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#EconStatistics
Will it ever be possible to audit Pentagon spending?
"Pentagon Bookkeeping Stops Auditors," AccountingWeb, February 20,
The Department of Defense (DOD) has failed its audit to the extent that auditors have stopped wasting money trying to audit their books, according to Black Enterprise. Problems with the Pentagon books has allowed the DOD to pay troops, civilian workers, and contractors the wrong amounts; to lose track of equipment, such as planes and tanks; and to document trillions of dollars in transactions improperly, according to Black Enterprise. Gregory D. Kutz, managing director of the General Accounting Office (GAO), told Congress last summer that these accounting problems would cost taxpayers $13 billion in 2005. The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.
The “clean audit” of DOD books scheduled for 2007 is not in sight, according to Black Enterprise. The DOD has received a “clean opinion” on only 16 percent of its assets and 49 percent of its liabilities as of June 2005, according to Thomas B. Modly, deputy undersecretary of defense for financial management. Black Enterprise reported that Modly said the DOD hopes to settle their balance sheet on 47 percent of assets and 49 percent of liabilities by 2007. It might help to understand the problem by understanding the size of Pentagon operations. Black Enterprise reports it had in fiscal year 2005:
- $1.3 trillion in assets
- $1.9 trillion in liabilities
- 3 million in personnel
- $635 billion in operational costs
- 2,569 facilities in the country and 807 outside of the United States
One of the other problems cited is that DOD has about 5.2 million items in its inventory, according to Modly. Wal-Mart only has 11,000 and Home Depot only has 50,000 inventory items, according to Black Enterprise. Another problem is the gridlock of some 4,150 different business operations, including 713 different human resources systems.
Jack Minnery, a Defense Finance and Accounting Service accountant, told Black Enterprise, “The Pentagon wasn’t in the business of making money, so they never needed an income statement. They expensed their assets like planes and buildings and such. They dished money out, and they never kept track of what they owned.” Minnery continued, “That’s one of the main reasons I don’t believe they’ll ever have a clean [audit].” Minnery complained about missing money in 2002 to earn his label as a whistle-blower.
Minnery told Black Enterprise, “Their systems can’t keep track of who they’ve sold stuff to, who owes them, who they owe.” Concerning the inter-service gaggle of ordering codes, Minnery said, “The Navy has a set of [codes], the Army has a set, the Air Force has a set. They don’t have the same number of digits, and they don’t match each other.”
In 1990, the GAO started assigning some government agencies to a “high risk” list. DOD’s supply chain and weapon systems acquisitions have remained on this list since that time and six other defense divisions made the list in 2005. Danielle Brian, executive director of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, told Black Enterprise, “Nothing’s gotten better. It keeps getting worse.” Knoxstudio.com reports that Jeffrey Steinhoff, GAO’s managing director for financial management and assurance, said, “They’re not close to the finish line. They have a long way to go.”
Untangling the mess has seemed elusive except “by making the business process support the war-fighter more effectively, we are seeing a significant amount of momentum,” according to Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense for business transformation. Effective might be an overly optimistic opinion as Black Enterprise reports that the government spent $179 million on two automation systems meant to resolve disbursement problems that failed, according to the GAO.
Winslow T. Wheeler, director of a military reform project at the Center for Defense Information (CDI), told Black Enterprise, “We don’t know how badly managed it is. It’s not that DOD flunks audits, it’s that DOD’s books cannot be audited. DOD aspires for the position where it flunks an audit. If this were a public company, it would have gone belly up before World War II.” CDI is an independent monitor of the military.
In more wasteful news, Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told Political Gateway that $8.8 billion is unaccounted for due to inadequate oversight from Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that “was relatively nonexistent.” Bowen is in charge of tracing the funds.
Frank Willis, the former number two official at the CPA transportation ministry, told Political Gateway that the CPA kept billions in cash to pay for its projects because Iraq is without the financial infrastructure that would support the use of checks or money orders. Willis said, “I would describe (the accounting system) as nonexistent.” Willis told a CBS interviewer, “Fresh, new, crisp, unspent, just-printed 100-dollar bills. It was the Wild West.”
In other wasteful news, the GAO has released a report finding that the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts over two and a half years, according to the California Chronicle. Congressman Henry A. Waxman, (D-Calif.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), and Congressmen George Miller, (D-Calif.), and Elijah E. Cummings, (D-Md.), with other senior Democrats, released the report.
More bad news is continued at http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=101798
Army to Pay Halliburton Unit Most Costs Disputed by Audi
The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified. The Army said in response to questions on Friday that questionable business practices by the subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, had in some cases driven up the company's costs. But in the haste and peril of war, it had largely done as well as could be expected, the Army said, and aside from a few penalties, the government was compelled to reimburse the company for its costs. Under the type of contract awarded to the company, "the contractor is not required to perform perfectly to be entitled to reimbursement," said Rhonda James, a spokeswoman for the southwestern division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, based in Dallas, where the contract is administered.
James Glanz, "Army to Pay Halliburton Unit Most Costs Disputed by Audit," The New York Times, February 27, 2006 ---
Interactive simulation of how sensitive the Federal Budget is to changes in military spending --- http://www.nathannewman.org/nbs/shortbudget04.html
What has been one of the most massive, if not the most massive, fraud in the history of the U.S. (aside from Department of Defense ongoing fraud discussed above)?
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
Bob Jensen's updates on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Why Cancer Strikes Some
It's a conundrum that puzzles doctors and patients alike: one person smokes a few cigarettes per week in college and contracts lung cancer in middle age, while another person smokes a pack a day his whole life -- and lives to age 90. A new program announced last week by the National Institutes of Health aims to unravel such mysteries by precisely measuring the role that environmental agents, such as pesticides and solvents, play in common diseases, including cancer, asthma, and autism. A major part of the program will fund the development of technologies to monitor personal environmental exposures and to determine how those exposures interact with an individual's genetic makeup to increase the risk for disease. Scientists hope these technologies will allow doctors to determine who is at risk early on, and thus be able to intervene.
Emily Singer, "Why Cancer Strikes Some: New ways to gauge an individual's response to environmental toxins will help scientists understand susceptibility to disease," MIT's Technology Review, February 16, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_16348,304,p1.html
So who are usually the master chefs cooking the accounting books and what is their main reason?
Answer: The executives wanting fat bonuses
What is the typical ploy?
Get the fat bonus and then issue revised financial statements. Who ever heard of executives having to give back the cash bonuses received after the financial statements are revised?
Besides Enron, look at big fat Fannie Mae
Investigators have uncovered new evidence that senior executives of Fannie Mae, the nation's largest buyer of home mortgages, manipulated its accounting in the 1990's to meet earnings projections so that top executives could receive more than $25 million in bonuses. In a 2,600-page report that was made public today, former Senator Warren Rudman and a team of lawyers and investigators concluded after an 18-month investigation that Fannie Mae's accounting practices "in virtually all of the areas that we reviewed were not consistent with" generally accepted accounting principles.
Stephen Labaton and Eric Dash, "Report on Fannie Mae Cites Manipulation to Secure Bonuses," The New York Times, February 23, 2006 --- Click Here
Report protects the fannies of
Fannie's Board of Directors: But executives are hit hard
They said the report criticizes Timothy Howard, the company's former chief financial officer, and Leanne G. Spencer, the former controller, for their roles in setting accounting policies. They added that the report focuses less criticism on Franklin D. Raines, the former chief executive, but says the company's management didn't keep the board adequately informed about accounting problems. (See related article)
James R. Hagerty, "Fannie Report On Accounting Shields Board," February 23, 2006; Page A2 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114066161292580888.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Mark Twain --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain
The Culture of Corruption Runs Deep and Wide in Both
U.S. Political Parties: Few if any are uncorrupted
Committee members have shown no appetite for taking up all those cases and are considering an amnesty for reporting violations, although not for serious matters such as accepting a trip from a lobbyist, which House rules forbid. The data firm PoliticalMoneyLine calculates that members of Congress have received more than $18 million in travel from private organizations in the past five years, with Democrats taking 3,458 trips and Republicans taking 2,666. . . But of course, there are those who deem the American People dumb as stones and will approach this bi-partisan scandal accordingly. Enter Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, complete with talking points for her minion, that are sure to come back and bite her .... “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filed delinquent reports Friday for three trips she accepted from outside sponsors that were worth $8,580 and occurred as long as seven years ago, according to copies of the documents.
Bob Parks, "Will Nancy Pelosi's Words Come Back to Bite Her?" The National Ledger, January 6, 2006 --- http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_27262498.shtml
February 24, 2006 reply from Ramsey, Donald [dramsey@UDC.EDU]
Someone said that Martha Stewart did not cook the books. They did think she might sauté the books.
February 23, 2006 reply from Bender, Ruth [r.bender@CRANFIELD.AC.UK]
Doesn't S.304 of Sarbanes-Oxley say that they have to give the bonuses back?
I'm not being picky, it's a serious question. I'm currently doing some research for a client comparing SOX with the European 8th Directive, and so have just had the joy of reading the full text of both. My reading of SOX is that Fannie Mae's CEO and CFO would have to pay back the bonuses.
If that's NOT the case, would someone mind emailing me to point out my error please! Take it offline - firstname.lastname@example.org
February 24, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
You may be right about this Ruth, although I don’t know of this ever happening before SOX. Also, if bonuses of given throughout a company, it may be hard to collect money back that’s already spent. Also it would get sticky if the accounting mistakes were truly accidents.
It would be far better if Congressional representatives had to give their take back in the case of Fannie Mae.
The findings come as Fannie Mae's regulator
considers whether to force some former executives to return bonuses. And the
report will not be the final word on the scandal: the Justice Department and
Securities and Exchange Commission are still investigating former
executives. Fannie Mae was run with "an attitude of arrogance," according to
the report, which catalogs how the company violated accounting principles
repeatedly to show stable earnings and less volatility. But the most
troubling finding was that the company, rattled by falling interest rates in
1998, improperly delayed taking nearly $200 million in expenses.
Stephen Labaton and Eric Dash, "Loan Buyer Accounting Is Faulted," The New York Times, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/24/business/24fannie.html
February 24, 2006 reply from Linda Kidwell, University of Wyoming [lkidwell@UWYO.EDU]
Section 304 requires CEOs and CFOs to reimburse their companies for bonuses or other incentives earned as a result of statements later restated as a result of misconduct. Quoting from Robert Prentice's "Student Guide to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act" (page 28):
"Among several unanswered questions about this provision is how 'misconduct' should be construed. Does it require fraudulent intent or just recklessness or even some lesser wrong? . . . is the misconduct of underlings that the CEO and CFO are unaware of sufficient to require disgorgement?"
I suppose we'll have to let the courts interpret this one as time goes on.
February 24, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Thank you for the direct quotes. I suspect only very stupid executives will actually have to pay back any bonuses.
One can imagine all sorts of moral hazards here. For example, suppose CEO Jones (having a salary of $12 million per year) conspires with Green Eyeshade Lotus (having a salary of $21,000 per year) to fudge a journal entry resulting in a $500 million overstatement of earnings. Both secretly split Jones' bonus of $20 million. Of course the G.E. Lotus $10 million "gift" from his boss is deposited in a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands.
They're both in tall cotton unless the error gets detected and requires revision of the company's financial statements. If caught, Jones claims no knowledge of the mistake, and G.E. Lotus readily confesses that he very accidentally slipped a few digits. Of course he got no bonus so there's nothing to pay back. Jones announces to the media that G.E. Lotus has been fired. But that doesn't matter much to G.E., because he's soon eating lotus leaves in Tahiti. Jones keeps his half of the take because he is not even accused of misconduct.
Even if Jones had never met his employee G.E. prior to auditor discovery of the accounting error, Jones might seek out G.E. to take the fall ex post (for a$10 million gift). The problem with these kinds of deals in modern times is that the amount of money involved is so staggering.
Someday you may want to read one of my favorite short stories by Somerset Maugham. It's entitled "The Lotus Eater" --- http://shortstory.byethost6.com/maughamlotus.html
I'm a bit worried about a long life now that now that I'm retiring.
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
W. Somerset Maugham
February 24, 2006 reply from Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU]
All I want to know is, in my many years in corporate accounting before I joined academe, where were the people who were supposed to offer ME deals like this? What, do I look like a Goody-Two-Shoes or something?
February 24, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
The reason is that CEOs don't make such deals to people like you Pat who spout quotations like the one below"
"In a house of gold, the hours are lead."
The CEO will always scout out a naïve bookkeeper who daydreams that a life nibbling on lotus leaves in a gold house is more fun over the long haul hour by hour day after day.
Put in another way, those are the bookkeepers, unlike you, who take Glen Gray to heart when Glen tried to convince a judge that the best jobs entail never having to wear anything but pajamas. I read somewhere (certainly it could not have been in Playboy Magazine) that Hugh Hefner has over 300 pairs of pajamas in his Playboy Mansion.
But I think that's because "He Don't Look Good Naked Anymore" in his house of gold or so he says (turn up the speakers) ---
"Fannie's Funny Business," The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2006; Page A12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114074960505582168.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
The stock market seemed relieved yesterday when Warren Rudman's 2,652-page report into Fannie Mae's accounting troubles didn't report major new discrepancies in the mortgage giant's books. That news was enough to put the stock up about 2% on the day after a nearly 4% rise Wednesday ahead of the report's release.
And we suppose it is good news of a sort that Fannie Mae's accounting restatement, for which the world has been waiting for more than a year, won't grow from the $10.8 billion figure already estimated. But $10.8 billion is big enough as it is; WorldCom's fraud came to "only" $11 billion. The report's main findings paint the picture of a company that routinely flouted both the rules and law. Some conclusions from the executive summary give a flavor:
• "[M]anagement's accounting practices in virtually all of the areas that we reviewed were not consistent with GAAP, and, in many areas, management was aware of the departures from GAAP" (emphasis added).
• "[E]mployees who occupied critical accounting, financial reporting, and audit functions at the Company were either unqualified for their positions, did not understand their roles, or failed to carry out their roles properly."
• "[T]he information that management provided to the Board of Directors with respect to accounting, financial reporting, and internal audit issues generally was incomplete and, at times, misleading."
• "[T]he Company's accounting systems were grossly inadequate."
The report also identified one case, in 1998, where earnings were manipulated specifically to meet a bonus target. That one instance was a doozy, however; a $199 million amortization expense that went unreported in order to make sure management got its lush payday.
If Fannie Mae were a normal private company, it would be tarred and feathered faster than you can say "Enron." But Fannie Mae is not just another private company. It has a federal charter and an implicit guarantee from the government (read: taxpayers) of its debt. Which makes it all the more vital that Congress reduce the risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to our financial system and the federal fisc.
One of the Rudman report's more worrisome findings was that Fannie's derivatives accounting was wrong because Fannie claimed that its hedges exactly matched its risk exposure when it did not. Fannie has long claimed it is capable of perfectly hedging the interest-rate and prepayment risks in its $800 billion portfolio of mortgage-backed securities. The Rudman report found that that often was not true. But the report only looked at the accounting issues posed by derivatives and hedging, so the public still knows precious little about the extent of the portfolio risk.
The report lets former CEO Franklin Raines off lightly, blaming him mainly for a "culture" that tolerated the accounting abuses. But the core of that culture was a belief that critics -- including us -- could be dismissed and assailed because the company knew it had Congress bought and paid for. And judging by the laughably weak reform that Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley passed through the House, it still does. If Republicans on Capitol Hill want to know why voters think they've gone native, the failure to rein in Fannie even after a $10.8 billion accounting scandal is Exhibit A.
Fannie Mae fired the KPMG auditing firm and is now spending over $140 million just to restate past financial statements. Most of the troubles center on FAS 133 rules for reporting derivative financial instrument hedges.
See Question 1 of Bob Jensen's Enron Quiz ---
Bob Jensen's threads on portfolio hedge accounting are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#M-Terms
For a running account on Fanny Mae's accounting problems with FAS 133 see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/caseans/000index.htm
How to anticipate problems in the fast-growing market of credit
Risk does not evaporate: After all the market diffusion of risk, somebody must end up bearing the risk
"The size of gross exposures and the extraordinarily large number of contracts suggest the scale of the unwinding challenge the market would confront in the event of the exit of a major counterparty," Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Fed observed in a speech yesterday. Mr. Geithner added that the 10 largest U.S. banks have about $600 billion in net potential credit exposure in the derivatives market, and that exposure represents about 20% of their total credit exposure. Banks have increased their exposure to the credit-derivatives markets by about 15% relative to their capital over the past five years.
Henny Sender, "Concerns Dog Credit Derivatives: Industry-Group Symposium Explores Market Imbalances Bankruptcies," The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2006; Page C3 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on credit derivatives are under the C-terms at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#C-Terms
The Wall Street Journal Flashback, March 1, 1995
After a one-day flurry of nervousness surrounding the collapse of Barings PLC, financial markets returned to a nominal calm. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 22.48 to 4011.05, shy of its record high of 4011.74 reached Friday.
The settlements announced today, including the largest penalties ever imposed on individual auditors, reflect the seriousness with which the SEC regards the responsibilities of gatekeepers."
It took forever, but KPMG partners finally settle with the SEC on the
really old Xerox accounting fraud
The Commission (SEC) has announced on February 22, 2006 that all four remaining defendants in an action brought against them and KPMG LLP by the agency in connection with a $1.2 billion fraudulent earnings manipulation scheme by the Xerox Corporation from 1997 through 2000 have agreed to settle the charges against them. Three partners agreed to permanent injunctions, payment of record civil penalties and suspensions from practice before the Commission with rights to reapply in from one to three years. The fourth partner agreed to be censured by the Commission. "This case represents the SEC's willingness to litigate important accounting fraud allegations against major accounting firms and their audit partners, even where the accounting was complex," said Linda Chatman Thomsen, the SEC's Director of Enforcement. "The settlements announced today, including the largest penalties ever imposed on individual auditors, reflect the seriousness with which the SEC regards the responsibilities of gatekeepers."
Andrew Priest, "FOUR CURRENT OR FORMER KPMG PARTNERS SETTLE SEC LITIGATION RELATING TO XEROX AUDITS," Accounting Education News, February 23, 2006 ---
You can read more about the Xerox case and other KPMG woes at
Faculty Ambivalence: Debates on Unionization of Faculty and Graduate Assistants
K.C. Johnson, "The Perils of Academic Unions," Inside Higher Ed, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/02/24/johnson
Novel explored sexual politics among college students
Tom Wolfe, whose last novel explored sexual politics among college students, was named Thursday by the National Endowment for the Humanities to deliver this year’s Jefferson Lecture. Being selected for the talk is considered a top honor by the federal government for intellectual achievement. Wolfe’s campus-based novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, was published in 2004. He is best known for earlier works, including The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Inside Higher Ed, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/24/qt
Debates on Size: Pomona College, Amherst, Rice, and Some Other Small
Colleges Plan to Grow in Size
Pomona College, a Claremont McKenna neighbor, is planning to increase enrollment — currently 1,500 — by 10 percent. Amherst College has just unveiled a plan to increase the size of each entering class, currently 410-425 students, by another 15-25 students. Bryn Mawr College (total enrollment just over 1,200) is currently conducting a feasibility study about its enrollment size. Grinnell College last year decided to grow on-campus enrollments by about 150 students, to 1,500. And these moves — all of which involve creating faculty slots as well — follow shifts involving even larger numbers of students at places like Middlebury and Gettysburg Colleges. Other colleges have resisted the trend. The president of Haverford College set off an intense discussion on the campus last year with his suggestion that the institution consider expansion. Plans circulated to add several hundred students. With many students and professors opposed to the idea, Haverford is staying put at 1,150.
Scott Jaschik, "Size Matters," Inside Higher Ed, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/02/24/libarts
February 24, 2006 reply from Susan Baker
In case you have not heard, Rice U is proposing an increase of up to 30% in its undergraduate student body.
Wright said he does not fully agree with the
suggestion that Dartmouth is less visible. Still, he acknowledged that the
College's size and location might present challenges that its larger, urban
peers do not face. "We compete very well because we stay focused on what we
do," Wright said. "We understand that our niche is to provide an exceptional
undergraduate education -- the strongest in the country." Wright said bigger
institutions are not necessarily better and that there was a particular
"magic" about Dartmouth. He added that the College has name recognition "for
those people who count a lot" -- potential students and parents and faculty.
Dax Tejera, "Wright looks to future, $1.3 billion in fundraising," The Dartmouth, March 3, 2005 --- http://www.thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=2005030301020
When you start the college search, there are a
lot of different qualities to look into when trying to find the ever elusive
"perfect school." You debate on the college's size, strong majors and
departments, location, and guy/girl ratio (something I should have taken
more careful notice to). But who looks into the "unofficial campus day of
nakedness?" I know I sure didn't. It was definitely a surprise to me, coming
in as a wide-eyed freshman, when I was approached by a few smug
upperclassmen, asking me if I was going to participate in May Day. May Day?
Who cares about May Day? It's just another weird holiday marked down in my
planner book. I never got off from school for it; why should it be
significant to me? And when they further explained this phenomenon that
seems to happen only in Chestertown (well, at least in terms of college
campuses), I was pretty shocked. How did it start? Where did the idea come
from? And why is getting naked a factor in this whole crazy day? I decided
to go to the most reliable source in order to find the answer to my
questions: a giant mass blitz to all four grades. Surely somebody had to
know something; there had to be some knowledge to be passed on. Only moments
later, I started getting my first responses back; after a couple of hours, I
had a little over a dozen. The answer? "Talk to Professor Lamond."
Sara Wuillermin, The Collegian, May 2002 --- http://collegian.washcoll.edu/may02/may.html
The above piece by Sara Wuillermin is also interesting from the standpoint of her poetry class and nudity events on campus.
And just because I love my readers so much (yes, all five of you are very special to me) I took the next step and approached the founding father who gave us a day of freedom from synthetic fabrics and itchy clothes. After my afternoon chat with the good professor, my eyes were opened to all things May Day.
It began in 1968 in a 10:30am Forms of Lit. and Comp. class. Spring had found its way to Chestertown, and it was the perfect time for Professor Lamond's class to study "Carpe Diem" poems-Herrick's "Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May," "Corrina's Gone A Maying," Hopkins's "Spring." Who knows if it was the poetry that inspired one of Lamond's students or if it was the whole idea of seizing the day, but, at any rate, Peter Hellar seized the opportunity (horrible pun intended) to ask the question that changed Washington College forever: "Instead of just reading about these poems, why don't we do these poems?"
So Lamond made his way to Fox's Five and Dime to buy crepe paper in order to decorate the first May Pole. The students helped in the preparations as well. One student brought his guitar to provide music, while another walked throughout Chestertown and picked a single flower from every lawn. And when the time came, the class made their way to the site where the May Pole stood, a spot that was not directly on campus at the time, where the CAC and Fine Arts center now are. There were strawberries, there were Chips Ahoy cookies, there were beverages, but was there nudity? Not unless you count bare feet.
I know, I know you're waiting for the "good parts" (aren't I the ultimate jokester with the puns?) when May Day got crazy and became the foundation for students today who like to bare all and be free. But that wasn't in the agenda on this first celebration on campus. It happened the second time around, but not during Lamond's class time frolic. We can thank for the nakedness a half dozen guys who decided to show more than their free spirits after the official festivities were over.
When Lamond's class was done May Daying it up, they decided to leave their May Pole standing, as a symbol of their celebration. Plus it looked too damn nice to tear down. Hours later, a group of males students decided to transport the pole to the front of Hodson Hall, where they stripped down to their bare nothingness and showed their own appreciation of the rejuvenation of spring. (There's still speculation as to whether or not these gentlemen were Sigs ...) Ever since this point, the spirit of this liberating tradition seems to ring true through many of the students of WAC. It wasn't until the mid-70s that the women finally started participating in the event, and, as always, the ladies made sure to show up the men's efforts. Jaime Lang remembered hearing, "a girl rode down what used to be the old caterwalk naked, on a motorcycle, with her friend, arms outstretched on the back" Lamond confirmed the story, noting, "They revved their way right up".
Nicole Mancini recalls how she first heard about the day: "I think I originally heard about May Day's origin freshmen year. A bunch of us were sitting around in the Dining Hall (back when we actually liked the food) talking about it ... I remember hearing stories of the 'Naked Games' and things like that."
And her thoughts about the modern day attempts? "Now it seems that a lot of the fun has disappeared due to so many lacking the confidence to 'strut' their stuff. But the craziest May Day happening? When that naked guy fell down the flagpole and had to be rushed to the hospital. Talk about ... uhh ... entertainment!"
Stephanie Coomer was skeptical when she first heard about the event: "My dad went to WAC, too, and he was the first person to tell me about May Day. I didn't really believe him 'cause he tends to be a fibber, but when I was a sophomore, I finally realized the truth about May Day (I was sleeping out for HFS festival tickets freshman year). The first thing I saw when I walked out of the dorm was a naked Jay Maschas ... That's when I knew it was real."
Catherine Dowling praises the grand spring event: "May Day is great. I lived in Kent, the dorm which I feel best captures the spirit of May Day every day. Anyone who has lived there knows what I'm talking about: Kent is like its own country. And May Day is the national holiday. The Kent people usually didn't feel weird about doing May Day because it was a part of life there."
But Dowling has some pet peeves about the day as well: "My least favorite part of May Day is all the people who come to the flagpole just to watch. I understand that the naked people have it coming because, let's be honest, who wouldn't be curious about such a spectacle? But it is still kind of creepy to have that huge sea of people just standing there staring. C'mon, put down those cameras, and join in! Don't be afraid, let loose and enjoy one of the few moments in life when you can run around buck ass naked and not get arrested. I know some people hate May Day, but it is not meant to offend. It's all in fun, and it's just about doing something crazy and a little naughty before you get out in the real world, where I hear they don't condone public nudity."
Our Kent correspondent also recalls some May Day legend: "The craziest story I've heard is that one year a naked guy made the mistake of being naked in the street and got arrested. Apparently his friends surrounded the police station, yelling "free naked guy!" until the police let him go. I don't know how much of this is true, but I like the happy ending."
Well Catherine, it is true. The boy was known as Miami, and while trying to cross Washington Avenue, a car swerved to miss his nakedness. Miami was charged for his public display of nudity and for causing the accident, and was taken in, still completely in the buff. Upon hearing the news, one of the Deans went down and gave the boy his sweater, which did everything but cover up what needed to be. Soon, a fully- clothed group of students followed the Dean to the station and screamed to the officers, "Free Miami!" But the story doesn't end there The Kent County News heard of the protest and ran a story in the paper about the naked rioting in Chestertown. Suddenly, wires were sent all over, and not only did this whole community learn of the incident, but it reached Chestertowners vacationing in Ireland and even the local Catholic priest who was in Hawaii at the time (If only I could think of some sort of witty quip to comment on this, but for once, I'm at a loss, as I'm sure the good Father was).
But, I hope with this new background to this day, my fellow WAC chums will realize this magical day is not just about seeing fellow students in a whole new light, but it's also a celebration of life, love, and seizing the day. So before you go out and strut you stuff, find a couple minutes, read "Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May" and appreciate its meaning then go rent "8 minute abs."
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Beware of Employees Downloading ("Slurping") Confidential Data Into an iPod
Claire taught me about slurping on February 24, 2006
"Beware the 'pod slurping' employee," Will Sturgeon, C|Net News, February 15, 2006 --- http://news.com.com/Beware+the+pod+slurping+employee/2100-1029_3-6039926.html
A U.S. security expert who devised an application that can fill an iPod with business-critical data in a matter of minutes is urging companies to address the very real threat of data theft.
Abe Usher, a 10-year veteran of the security industry, created an application that runs on an iPod and can search corporate networks for files likely to contain business-critical data. At a rate of about 100MB every couple minutes, it can scan and download the files onto the portable storage units in a process dubbed "pod slurping."
To the naked eye, somebody doing this would look like any other employee listening to their iPod at their desk. Alternatively, the person stealing data need not even have access to a keyboard but can simply plug into a USB port on any active machine.
Bob Jensen's threads on Phishing , Pharming, Slurping, and Spoofing are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Phishing
What's the "Rubber Room" in Detroit?
Hint: It has nothing to do with tires.
"Detroit's Symbol of Dysfunction: Paying Employees Not to Work: Cost Tops $1.4 Billion a Year As Layoffs Fill 'Jobs Bank'; A Dismal Facility in Flint Mr. Mellon Takes a Long Nap," by Jeffrey McCracken, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114118143005186163.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
In his 34 years working for General Motors Corp., one of Jerry Mellon's toughest assignments came this January. He spent a week in what workers call the "rubber room."
The room is a windowless old storage shed for engine parts. It is filled with long tables, Mr. Mellon says, and has space for about 400 employees. They must arrive at 6 a.m. each day and stay until 2:30 p.m., with 45 minutes off for lunch. A supervisor roams the aisles, signing people out when they want to use the bathroom.
Their job: to do nothing.
This is the "Jobs Bank," a two-decade-old program under which nearly 15,000 auto workers continue to get paid after their companies stop needing them. To earn wages and benefits that often top $100,000 a year, the workers must perform some company-approved activity. Many do volunteer jobs or go back to school. The rest must clock time in the rubber room or something like it.
It is called the rubber room, Mr. Mellon says, because "a few days in there makes you go crazy."
The Jobs Bank at GM and other U.S. auto companies including Ford Motor Co. is likely to cost around $1.4 billion to $2 billion this year. The programs, which are up for renewal next year when union contracts expire, have become a symbol of why Detroit struggles even as Japanese auto makers with big U.S. operations prosper.
While GM often blames "legacy costs" such as retiree health care and pensions for its troubles, its Job Bank shows that the company has inflicted some wounds on itself. Documents show that GM itself helped originate the Jobs Bank idea in 1984 and agreed to expand it in 1990, seeing it as a stopgap until times got better and workers could go back to the factories.
"The bank was designed for a different time, a time when we were growing," says Pete Pestillo, a former Ford executive who oversaw union talks. The Jobs Bank has failed to stop the outflow of jobs at Detroit's unionized auto makers. Since 1990, GM's union payroll including former subsidiary Delphi Corp. has fallen to about 137,000 from 358,000. Many have retired, died or found other jobs. The rest are in the Jobs Bank.
Mr. Mellon, a 55-year-old father of two, was born in Flint. He joined GM in 1972, following his grandfather and his father, a plant foreman who spent 37 years at GM. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Mellon held jobs designing electronic systems for vehicle prototypes. In 2000, GM merged two engineering divisions, and he wasn't needed anymore.
Since then, except for a period in 2001 when he worked on a military-truck project, GM has paid him his full salary for not working. That is currently $31 an hour, or about $64,500 a year, plus health care and other benefits.
Continued in article
German businesses are profiting from cost-cutting measures, an improved global outlook and better sentiment at home. But the fundamental problems remain the same as in Gerhard Schröder's seven years at the helm. Labor laws are too rigid, though firing rules were relaxed for the first two years of employment. Taxes rates are high and complicated, the bureaucracy onerous, the schools and universities subpar and health-care and pension costs exploding. For all the current optimism, Germany looks more like GM than Toyota or Porsche. In the next 100 days, if she is serious about fixing her country's deeper problems, Ms. Merkel will need to shift into higher gear.
"GMermany," The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2006 ---
"Reality Takes The 'Hit' From These Confessions," by Sebastian Mallaby, The Washington Post via The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114116303425385738.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
Last week I appeared on a radio show with an author named John Perkins. This man is a frothing conspiracy theorist, a vainglorious peddler of nonsense, and yet his book, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," is a runaway best seller.
The world, says Mr. Perkins, is governed by a shadowy "corporatocracy," an invisible empire of wealth and greed that deploys a combination of bribes, assassins and seductive women to enslave the poorest countries. Mr. Perkins served this empire as an "economic hit man," a consultant who bamboozled unsuspecting Asians and Latin Americans into borrowing too much, so puncturing their sovereignty. The loans financed lucrative contracts for American construction firms. Needless to say, Mr. Perkins is certain that they did not help poor people.
Even if you believe the stories of seducers and assassins, which other journalists have questioned, Mr. Perkins's basic contentions are flat wrong. Sure, developing countries (like rich countries) borrow too much sometimes. But the poor don't always lose. Nor are corporations all-powerful.
Mr. Perkins likes to invoke Indonesia, the scene of his first hit-man assignment. The way he tells it, the development economists who persuaded Indonesia to borrow money around 1970 were peddling a ludicrous idea -- that Indonesia's economy could spring from the dark age to the modern age in a mere generation. Well, Indonesia's infant mortality and adult illiteracy rates each fell by two-thirds over the next three decades, and life expectancy shot up by 19 years.
The same point holds for the developing world generally. The adult illiteracy rate in the poor world was halved between 1970 and 2000, and since 1980 the number of people living on less than $1 a day has fallen by about 200 million, even as the world's population has expanded rapidly. That is a stunning achievement given that the ranks of the poor had previously been swelling steadily, at least since 1820.
The poor have made these gains because Mr. Perkins's second contention is equally wrong: The corporatocracy is neither evil nor omnipotent. Survey after survey has shown that the multinational companies vilified by Mr. Perkins pay better wages than their local rivals in poor countries: One study of 20,000 Indonesian manufacturing plants found that the average pay in foreign-owned factories was 50% higher than in local ones -- and also that foreign competition pushed local wages upward. As Martin Wolf remarks in his book, "Why Globalization Works," multinational firms induce a race to the top more than a race to the bottom.
Mr. Perkins has tapped into a widespread fear. Thanks to the Bush administration, the mere mention of Halliburton is enough to prove the anticorporate case to many bookshop audiences. But the truth is that corporations do not rule the world, and intensifying global competition has rendered them more vulnerable.
"Ernst & Young fails to disclose high-profile data loss: Sun CEO's social security number exposed," by Ashlee Vance, The Register, February 25, 2006 --- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/02/25/ernst_young_mcnealy/
Ernst and Young should go ahead and pony up for its own suite of transparency services. The accounting firm failed to disclose a high profile loss of customer data until being confronted by The Register.
Ernst and Young has lost a laptop containing data such as the social security numbers of its customers. One of the people affected by the data loss appears to be Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, who was notified that his social security number and personal information have been compromised. While pushing all out transparency for its customers, Ernst and Young failed to cop to the security breach until contacted by us.
"We deeply regret that a laptop containing confidential client information was stolen, in what appears to be a random act, from the locked car of one of our employees," said Ernst and Young spokesman Charles Perkins. "The security and confidentiality of our client information is of critical importance to us. The computer was password-protected, and we have no reason to believe the data itself was targeted or that the information was accessed by anyone. We are notifying those clients whose information was contained on the computer."
Ernst and Young declined to comment on whether or not McNealy was affected.
However, at lat week's RSA security conference, McNealy noted that he received an e-mail from an "anonymous partner" detailing a loss of his private data. "We determined that your name and social security number were among the data (lost)," the partner wrote to McNealy.
"This is an organization that we spend an enormous amount of money on to determine whether we are Sarbanes-Oxley compliant," McNealy said.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on E&Y are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#Ernst
"Six Reasons to Kill Farm Subsidies and Trade Barriers: A no-nonsense reform strategy," by Daniel Griswold, Stephen Slivinski, and Christopher Preble, Reason Magazine, February 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/0602/fe.dg.six.shtml
America’s agricultural policies have remained fundamentally unchanged for nearly three-quarters of a century. The U.S. government continues to subsidize the production of rice, milk, sugar, cotton, peanuts, tobacco, and other commodities, while restricting imports to maintain artificially high domestic prices. The competition and innovation that have changed the face of the planet have been effectively locked out of America’s farm economy by politicians who fear farm voters more than the dispersed consumers who subsidize them.
The time is ripe for unilaterally removing those distorting trade policies. In 2006 Congress will begin to write a new farm bill to replace the protectionist and subsidy-laden 2002 legislation that is set to expire in 2007. Meanwhile, the Bush administration will be negotiating with 147 other members of the World Trade Organization to conclude the Doha Round before the president’s trade promotion authority expires in mid-2007. Congress and the administration should seize the opportunity to do ourselves a big favor by eliminating farm subsidies and trade barriers, a change that would benefit all Americans in six important ways.
Continued in article
Remedial Math for the President
The administration's reductions in tax rates have been a success, so the first part of that claim is fine. After that, it goes downhill. President Bush's previous budgets increased spending by a dramatic 48.7 percent in six years. Defense spending increased by 67 percent while non-defense spending increased by 49 percent. It sometimes seems as if things are getting worse with each passing year. This year, total spending is increasing by 9.6 percent and has reached 20.8 percent as a percentage of GDP, up from 18.4 percent when President Clinton left office—that's a $909 billion increase in six years. The administration has been arguing that much of the increase in non-defense spending stemmed from higher homeland-security spending. However, the fact is that over half of all new spending in the past two years is from areas unrelated to defense and homeland security.
Véronique de Rugy, "Remedial Math for the President The only thing missing from the 2007 budget is fiscal responsibility," Reason Magazine, February 7, 2006 --- http://www.reason.com/hod/vdr020706.shtml
Scholar's Dictionary Of Aztec Language May Take a Lifetime
An American anthropologist has made it his life's work to create perhaps the most extensive archive of Nahuatl, the language spoken by Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest . . . Word by word, Mr. Amith is creating an extensive archive of Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs at the time of the 16th century Spanish conquest and now the first language of 1.5 million Mexican Indians. He records fables and personal histories, collects plants and insects, and keeps up a nonstop patter with locals, searching for information to add to a Web site he is building that is part dictionary, part encyclopedia and part storybook.
Bob Davis, "Scholar's Dictionary Of Aztec Language May Take a Lifetime: To Find the Words, Mr. Amith Collects Bugs, Folk Tales, Endures Village Rivalries," The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114075216418482236.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
A Girl in Science: High school student finds new protein
A 16-year-old Glenelg, Md., high school student has received a patent for a protein that reportedly might help fight one of the world's deadliest diseases. Serena Fasano, a junior at Glenelg High School, told the Baltimore Sun the patent officially is owned by the University of Maryland, but she will be allowed to name it, although she's not allowed to call the protein Serena, or name it after any of her friends. Instead, it will need a scientific name indicating it is a probiotic -- a beneficial protein. A 16-year-old Glenelg, Md., high school student has received a patent for a protein that reportedly might help fight one of the world's deadliest diseases.
"High school student finds new protein," PhysOrg, February 22, 2006 --- http://www.physorg.com/news11114.html
From the University of Illinois Scholarly Communication blog on February 21, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
Globe Goes Digital
As the pace of
modernization accelerates around the globe, so too has computer usage and
access to the internet. The latest Pew Global Attitudes poll found
substantially more people using a computer and going online now than in
2002. And it is not just the young who are increasing their use of
technology; in many countries computer use has accelerated most rapidly
among people over 50. In each of the 13 countries for which historical
comparisons can be made, more people now use computers at home, school or
work than in 2002. The rise is dramatic in Turkey, Russia, India and Poland,
where the number of those who say they use a computer at least occasionally
has risen by 13 percent to 16 percent in the three years between surveys.
Great Britain has seen the largest increase in computer use, up 17 percent
since 2002. More modest gains have been made in the U.S. and the rest of
Western Europe, where majorities already reported using computers in 2002
although even in these countries the use of such technology has increased
significantly. Internet use is also on the rise in both industrialized
societies and developing countries, with the greatest increases among the
British, Poles and French. However, there is a stark divide between those
countries with high rates of internet use and those with less access to this
technology. Read the full report at
Pew Research 2/21/06
February 23, 2006 message from Aaron Konstam
TO PUT THE OIL PRICE INTO PERSPECTIVE:
COST BELOW ARE FOR A BARREL..... (42 GALLONS)
Crude Oil: $60
Coca Cola: $78.73
Evian Water: $189.90
Orange Juice $251.16
Snapple Juice: $267.12
Perrier Water: $328.67
Lemon Oil: $390.88
Crisco Oil: $435.12
Scope Mouthwash: $826.65
Sunflower Oil: $971.04
Olive Oil: $1,324.38
Real maple Syrup: $1,787.52
Sesame Oil: $2,535.61
Jack Daniels Bourbon: $4,133.26 (Oh No!)
Tannin Oil: $4,290.05
Visine Eye Drops: $32,202.24 (and most of that is inert filler)
Flonase Prescription Nasal Spray: $238,133.21 (and most of that is inert filler)
Glenn Kroger replied: Inkjet inks (based on typical HP 10 ml black cartridge) $178,000
And gasoline costing $2.39 at the pump comes to slightly over $100 for 42 gallons after being extracted from crude and shipped to the corner gas station. Of course oil companies also extract many other valuable commodities out of that $60 barrel of crude oil.
Turn Off File Sharing In Google Desktop
Tech research firm Gartner Inc. is recommending that enterprises turn off the file-sharing feature in Google Inc.'s desktop software. In a research posting on its site, Gartner said businesses allowing employees to use Google Desktop 3 Beta, which was released Feb. 9, should start using the enterprise version of the software immediately. In addition, it said businesses should disable the Search Across Computers feature.
Antone Gonsalves, "Gartner: Turn Off File Sharing In Google Desktop," InformationWeek, February 17, 2006 --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=180204161
"Fulfilling Technology's Broken Promise: A Perspective on Educational
by Robert Bilyk, co-founder of lodeStar Learning Inc. and Cyber Village Academy, T.H.E. Journal, February 2006 ---
The Broken Promise of Technology
The one inarguable difference between now and then has been the promise that technology holds for the classroom teacher. In the early 1980s, I worked with stand-alone machines that could render stick figures on the screen and display text and numbers. The state of the art in audio was a few timely beeps. Nevertheless, I could envision the promise and began creating things that I could use in the classroom to help kids.
Over the course of time, more and more educators have turned to technology to help kids—but only to be disappointed time and again. Computers were expensive, they broke or became obsolete, they didn’t talk to one another, and they divided teachers’ allegiance through the great schism of Macs vs. PCs. Then there was the software that sat in shrink-wrapped packages unused. Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) were also expensive and inflexible. If a teacher didn’t like the pedagogy or content of a particular lesson, she could do little to change, add, or delete content. Teachers had to accept the bad with the good: ILS perpetuated the existence of the stick figure; computers threatened the existence of the teacher. At least, that was a common apprehension.
And despite the greater use of technology, studies such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study from the National Center for Education Statistics have shown that our students still weren’t achieving well in math and science compared to their European and Asian counterparts. Fortunately, today’s educators are on the cusp of a tremendous realization: The promise that computers held for increased student achievement are finally being realized.
The New Promise of Technology
A teacher today who dares to imagine the possibilities that current technology affords won’t be disappointed: The total cost of ownership of a computer continues to decrease. Software is cheap and oftentimes free. Access to the Internet and all of the educational content that it holds is practically ubiquitous in American schools. Standards permit dissimilar computers to communicate with one another, and for educational content to be searched and shared. Therefore, technology needs to be met halfway. Lead teachers, mentor teachers, curriculum directors and administrators—teachers in general—must dare to dream again. Schools must place networked computers in classrooms, libraries, lobbies, and wherever else they can be safely accessed. Accessibility to computers is essential. Teachers need to be trained—not once but often. Professional development is also essential because teachers need to support each another. Ideally, teachers from common disciplines would network with one another. The use of instructional technology by teachers to improve student achievement must become habitual. And finally, all roads must lead to the teacher. That is, all student performance data must flow effortlessly to the teacher.
To fulfill the promise, computer use by teachers must become habitual, and computer use to improve student achievement must become habitual. The advent of learning management systems like Microsoft Class Server, Blackboard and Desire2Learn has enabled teachers to manage the student online learning experience. Often, school districts direct this usage to the exception—offering activities to children who are ill, replacing snow days with online days, and providing a class to a home-schooled child.
The snow day example was my favorite. The online snow day was designed by well-intentioned educators, but it had its flaws. In this example, the school trained its entire staff on an LMS so that one day, when it snowed, students could access their courses online. On the day it snowed, the untested system failed; staff were out of practice in creating, assigning, and grading; and students could hardly remember how to log on. This example might seem a little extraordinary, yet variations on this same theme are commonplace. Rather than integrating online curriculum into the example, schools flirt with technology at the edges, addressing the “unusual situation” so that the business of integrating the class with technology does not become “habitual” and second nature for teachers.
Continued in article
February 24, 2006 reply from Robert Holmes Glendale College [rcholmes@GLENDALE.CC.CA.US]
I have spent time in these classes reflecting on the role of the teacher. (I am mostly retired and teach one accounting class online.) The most effective classes are those that invlove two way communication with the students. Technology and lectures are poor substitutes for this dialogue. The electricity that sparks in the classes as the students offer ideas, the instructor says give me more, other students say "I never thought about that" is something to behold. I feel sorry for those (including my students) who have to try to get an education without this kind of enriching excitement.
Bob Jensen's threads on the promises education technology and its dark side are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm
How to be a gentleman (but not always politically correct with
A Practical Guide to the 19th Century American Male --- http://www.lahacal.org/gentleman/ladies.html
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust --- http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/people/people.htm
Holocaust Memorial Museum --- http://www.ushmm.org/
Not Politically Correct: Media Outlets Ignore Saddam's Uranium Bombshell
Tape recordings released over the weekend show that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program at least as recently as 2000 - but the press has decided the bombshell development isn't newsworthy. Speaking at the Intelligence Group Summit in Arlington, Va., Saddam tapes translator Bill Tierney revealed that in one recorded conversation, the Iraqi dictator can be heard discussing a plan to enrich uranium using a technique known as plasma separation. Though U.S. weapons inspectors found that 1.8 tons of Saddam's 500 ton uranium stockpile had been partially enriched, they failed to turn up any evidence of an ongoing enrichment program.
Carl Limbacher, "Media Ignore Saddam's Uranium Bombshell," NewsMax, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/20/85636.shtml?s=ic
Graduation Rates Unacceptably Low
More than a third of high school students in the state scheduled to graduate last June failed to do so, State Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills said yesterday, calling the figure "unacceptable." Among boys, the numbers were even worse, Mr. Mills said, calling them "particularly disturbing." Statewide, 59.4 percent of boys graduated on time in 2005, compared with 69.2 percent of girls. In New York City, the gap was more pronounced, with 37.3 percent of boys and 49.8 percent of girls graduating on time last year.
Elissa Gootman, "High School Graduation Rates Unacceptably Low, State Says," The New York Times, February 14, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/14/nyregion/14graduates.html?ex=1140757200&en=cb082ee38532272b&ei=5070
Are young women really drinking more alcohol?
Therefore, we were disappointed to see that you based your page-one article "Mixed Company: As Young Women Drink More, Alcohol Sales, Concerns Rise" (Feb. 15) on a Datamonitor study that purports to show an increase of 33% in consumption of alcoholic drinks by volume among young women aged 21 to 24. That would be big news in an industry that measures market share progress in 1% upticks and downticks over the years.The Datamonitor study inexplicably measured "liquid" volume, not "alcohol" volume, an invented statistic used, to the best of our knowledge, by neither government nor industry in the U.S. Put simply, under the Datamonitor scenario, if an ounce of alcohol was added to five ounces of orange juice, they counted this as six ounces of alcohol, a false and completely meaningless measure of alcohol consumption. There is no 33% alcohol volume increase in the U.S.; in fact, drinking by women aged 18 to 25 has been flat in recent years, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And, of course, drinking by young adults aged 18 to 21 years is illegal.
Francine I. Katz, "Young Women Are Not Drinking More," The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2006; Page A13 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114075292613582249.html?mod=todays_us_opinion
Can Sony make the iPod of electronic books?
See "Curling Up With a Good eBook," Business Week, December 29, 2005 --- http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051229_155542.htm?link_position=link1
The Renewed Upward Trend in Portable Electronic Books
Richard D. Warren, a 58-year-old lawyer in California, is halfway through Ken Follett's novel Jackdaws. But he doesn't bother carrying around the book itself. Instead, he has a digital version of Follett he reads on his Palm Treo each morning as he commutes by train to San Francisco from his home in Berkeley. He's a big fan of such digital books. Usually, there are around seven titles on his Treo, and he buys at least two new ones each month. "It's just so versatile," he says. "I've tried to convert some friends to this, but they think it's kind of geeky." Geeky? For now, maybe, but not for much longer. Many experts are convinced that digital books, after plenty of false starts, are finally ready for takeoff. "Every other form of media has gone digital -- music, newspapers, movies," says Joni Evans, a top literary agent who just left the William Morris Agency to start her own company that will focus on books and technology. "We're the only industry that hasn't lived up to the pace of technology. A revolution is around the corner."
"Digital Books: Start A New Chapter Lighter devices, better displays, and the iPod craze could make them best-sellers," Business Week, February 27, 2006 --- Click Here
There are some points to take into consideration about "free textbooks" such as the ones that I list at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
1. Many of these "free" books are books that have been dropped by publishing firms or were never accepted by publishing firms in the first place. If they were dropped, they have met a rigorous reviewing process and may have made money for the authors. In fact they might have been dropped simply due to the all-to-frequent process of publishing company mergers that left publisher oligopolists with too many textbooks on a given topic.
2. Whereas the end consumer makes many choices about whether to use a product with advertising (e.g., magazine subscriptions, newspaper purchases, Google searches, etc.), the choice of a textbook is usually in the hands of instructors rather than end user students. In general, students are ceteris paribus grateful for free textbooks even if they must endure a certain amount of advertising. It's the "ceteris paribus" part that's a problem. Those new textbooks costing students $90 or more (without advertising) provide incentives for authors to make careful revised editions. Also publishing firms have the revenues to provide improved supplements (most of which really need improving in the accounting textbook market sector). As of yet free textbooks, with or without advertising, provide little monetary incentive to authors or free-book publishing firms to constantly improve the product.
3. Free textbooks are not available in hard copy. Some electronic publishers offer hard copy versions, usually at prices cheaper than photocopying entire books would cost. Many of us, and I mean me especially, prefer a hard copy version to read and an electronic version to search. Good electronic versions also provide convenient hypertext links and possibly even some multimedia. Although Cybertext does not offer free textbooks, I like the Cybertext option to also buy a hardcopy version. And I like the hot links in the electronic versions and the option to take quizzes online with results being graded and sent to instructors --- http://www.cybertext.com/
Publishers of free textbooks are never likely to offer such services unless advertising revenues become very successful. I don't think any of them are at that point yet.
4. We should all be grateful that free textbooks exist even if we do not ourselves adopt them for our courses. In this age of price gouging by publisher oligopolies, the free textbook alternatives may be about the only serious competition that publishers face, especially when, not if, textbook publishers finally invent a way to eliminate the used textbook market in their own books.
February 14, 2006 message from a distributor of free textbooks (that do have advertising)
To date our free textbooks have been made possible by a combination of angel investor money and by the principals in the company, who have invested both their time and money. We have some advertisers (download a book and you'll see) and seek more. We are actively pursuing sponsorships. More investment has been promised. Authors receive a percentage of our revenues -- "net receipts"-- per book. They sign on because of their confidence in our business model and in us.
We sell the paperback copies pretty much at cost. Regardless, those monies are very limited, inasmuch as only about 5 percent of students, thus far, end up buying the print book.
What propels our business is the widespread perception that text prices are unreasonable. We are addressing this situation in an innovative way. Moreover, we do not skimp on instructor support; all our titles come with ancillaries available to adopters.
In this case, "free" really does mean free. This is not the proper forum, but I can provide testimonials and contact information for many people who already have benefited from this service.
Best wishes to all concerned!
Latest Trend in Textbooks: Textbooks With Advertising are Free Online
From the University of Illinois Issues in Scholarly Communication Blog, February 7, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
Publisher Launches Ad-Supported Online Text HarperCollins has announced a new program that will make book content available free online, supported by advertiser links that share the page with the text. Officials from the publisher said the Harper program will focus on nonfiction and reference books, noting that advertisers are likely not as interested in paying to support literary fiction. The first book offered in the program, "Go It Alone! The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own" by Bruce Judson, was published in 2004 and later released in paperback. One test of the program will be whether ad sales offset lost sales, according to Murray, group president of HarperCollins. Despite the ongoing squabbles over online access to books, supporters of the idea still believe it has potential. Author M.J. Rose said that no one wants to read an entire book online but that if they have easy access to a text on the Web and they like it, they will be encouraged to buy a copy. Associated Press, 6 February 2006 Edupage, February 06, 2006 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060206/ap_en_bu/publishing_free_text
For examples of free textbooks see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
Bob Jensen's threads on the fits and starts of portable electronic books are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ebooks.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on electronic literature (mostly downloaded to PCs and Macs) are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm
From the Wharton School blog at the University of Pennsylvania:
Where's Adobe Headed?
With its acquisition of Macromedia on December 3, 2005, Adobe Systems has become the fifth largest software company in the world. It currently controls two of the dominant formats for electronic content -- the Adobe Acrobat PDF format for electronic documents and the Flash SWF format for interactive web content. Looking ahead, CEO Bruce Chizen's goal is to have Adobe provide the interface for any device with a screen -- "from a refrigerator to an automobile to a video game to a computer to a mobile phone." Such ambitions put Adobe squarely in the sites of Microsoft, which currently dominates desktop software development. In a recent interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Chizen spoke about the Macromedia acquisition, his plans for developing the next-generation application platform and his views on the challenges presented by Microsoft.
"After Acquiring Macromedia, What's Next for Adobe? Ask Bruce Chizen," Knowledge@Wharton, February 2006 --- http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewArticle&id=1399
There's just no limit on what Bush will agree to spend
America's largest companies expect the federal government to pay them about $4 billion over the next four years to help keep their retiree health plans alive at a time when such benefits are increasingly on the chopping block, according to a new study by Credit Suisse First Boston. The money is due to start flowing to employers this month as part of Medicare's new prescription drug benefit. When Congress authorized the Medicare drug benefit, it also agreed to start subsidizing the drug component of employers' retiree health plans, to keep them from shifting their retirees into the government program.
Mary Williams Walsh, "U.S. to Pay Big Employers Billions Not to End Their Retiree Health Plans," The New York Times, February 24, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/24/business/24retire.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
From Wharton (with audio): A Million Little Embellishments: Truth and
Trust in Advertising and Publishing
The disclosure that author James Frey lied in his best-selling book, A Million Little Pieces, and the furor that followed raise numerous questions about truth in advertising, trust between sellers and buyers, brand image and reputation, as well as two themes that Frey himself focused on in his now-discredited memoir of recovery from substance abuse -- suffering and redemption. How widespread is deception, when is stretching the truth acceptable, how jaded are consumers towards the claims made by advertisers, and how credible was Oprah's response to the Frey incident? Wharton experts offer their views on truth and fiction.
"A Million Little Embellishments: Truth and Trust in Advertising and Publishing " Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton , February 20, 2006 ---
Television host Oprah Winfrey did a commendable job redeeming herself and repairing her damaged personal brand by apologizing to her audience for continuing to endorse the book after it was learned that it contained fabrications, according to Wharton faculty members who specialize in marketing, trust and ethics. Although Frey suffered when Winfrey used her TV show to scold him for embarrassing her by writing a book laden with falsehoods, he came off ill-prepared and less than forthcoming. He has tried to salvage his reputation by offering a written explanation for his actions, which his publisher is now distributing with new copies of his book. In the author's note Frey acknowledges that he "embellished many details about my past experiences" and that he wanted to create "the tension that all great stories require." But Frey's statement may be too little, too late. It remains uncertain whether he has fully redeemed himself and whether many readers will buy future non-fiction books written by him, the Wharton experts say.
Frey's publisher, Doubleday, and Winfrey are not entirely out of the woods yet, either. Each must take additional steps if they wish to restore entirely the trust that existed between them and readers before "The Smoking Gun" website posted an article on January 8 that debunked many of the statements made in Frey's book. Several Wharton faculty members suggest that Oprah, Doubleday and other publishers wishing to avoid Doubleday's fate establish fact-checking procedures or take other measures to ensure that claims made by memoirists are valid prior to marketing or endorsing such books in the future.
Maurice E. Schweitzer, professor of operations and information management, says there is simply no question that writers of memoirs must stick to the facts because that is what readers expect. To do otherwise risks an erosion of trust between buyers and sellers similar to what happened after the reporting scandals at the New York Times (Jayson Blair in 2003) and the Washington Post (Janet Cooke in 1980) as well as any number of similar controversies over the last 30 years. These include article fabrications in the 1990s by Stephen Glass, a writer for The New Republic magazine; Alex Haley's admission that he fictionalized parts of his 1970s bestseller Roots; a phony biography of billionaire recluse Howard Hughes by Clifford Irving in the 1970s that landed Irving in jail; controversy over "historical" films by director Oliver Stone; and the recent disclosure that Hwang Woo-suk, a Korean scientist, had completely fabricated data in a research paper on stem cells.
"People want to read The New York Times because they want to get an accurate representation of what's going on around them," says Schweitzer, who has written about trust and unethical behavior. "People want to read memoirs because they seek guidance about what an individual can or can't do, and they want to be inspired by that. There are clear benefits if something is true."
In Schweitzer's view, Winfrey made two mistakes. First, she endorsed A Million Little Pieces to members of Oprah's Book Club in 2005 without checking its veracity. She later made a bigger error in defending her choice of the book in a telephone call to "Larry King Live" following "The Smoking Gun" revelations. Winfrey told King that the controversy was "much ado about nothing" because "the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me, and I know it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book."
But Schweitzer says Winfrey made a "fantastic" recovery from these missteps on a subsequent program, aired January 26, 2006, on which Frey and his publisher, Nan A. Talese, appeared. Winfrey apologized to viewers and posed hard-hitting questions to Frey and Talese about the whole affair. Frey admitted to extensive fabrications.
"If you could write a script for trying to recover from those mistakes, she followed it," says Schweitzer. Frey, however, "gets no marks for being forthcoming. At no point in this process did he initiate an apology. It seemed the very point at which he recanted he was prompted by somebody else. He didn't take the initiative in promoting the truth. He comes off looking like a very untrustworthy person. I don't see how he can recover from that."
According to marketing professor Barbara Kahn, the controversy represented a "branding crisis" for Winfrey. Winfrey "violated the trust with her audience by saying the truth didn't matter when she called the Larry King show. It was a violation of a contract she had with her audience. If you think of the brand 'Oprah,' the reason people put trust in it is she has the resources to ensure something is true. That was violated."
Kahn adds that Winfrey had more to lose than Frey as a result of the controversy, in part because he had already reaped a fortune from the book's sales of some two million copies. Says Kahn: "She is a brand name. She made a guarantee [by initially endorsing the book] and her reputation was more at stake. The cost was greater to her than to him."
The Right Way to Frame the Issue
Katherine A. Nelson, a Philadelphia-area ethics consultant who teaches in Wharton Executive Education programs, believes that Winfrey was not at fault for taking an author's word about the truth of his book because the publisher ostensibly had already done so. However, after doubts had been raised, Winfrey "should not have called Larry King without doing some fact-checking of her own. But once she learned more about Frey and the 'facts' of the book, she did the right thing and made lemonade out of the lemons she was handed by Frey. And she was right to give him a few lemons of her own when she confronted him on her show."
Wharton ethics professor Thomas W. Dunfee says Winfrey's mistake in phoning Larry King was similar to errors made by managers in many businesses: She did not see an ethical problem because she did not "frame" the issue in the right way. As a result, she missed seeing the larger issue and its risks.
Continued in article
From Wharton (with audio): Carl Icahn's Take on Time Warner and
Carl Icahn's battle for Time Warner has just intensified. Icahn, the corporate takeover specialist attempting to win control of the media giant, held a press conference yesterday to announce a plan to break Time Warner into four separate companies and buy back $20 billion in stock -- all part of his crusade to oust management for the benefit of shareholders. His press conference followed a speech last week at the 2006 Wharton Economic Summit in which he denied that he is an "imperial shareholder" out to rip companies apart for quick gains. Icahn was responding to remarks made earlier at the Summit by corporate lawyer Martin Lipton, who argued that a new breed of aggressive shareholder is pressuring companies to produce short-term gains at the expense of long-term growth.
"'If He Ruled the World': Carl Icahn's Take on Time Warner and Corporate America," Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Knowledge@Wharton , February 20, 2006 ---
Google's Brilliant Philanthropist
Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have tapped Dr. Larry Brilliant to spend up to $1.1 billion of the outfit's money on what ails the world
Business Week, February 22, 2006 --- Click Here
"Brilliant's Wish: Disease Alert," by Kim Zetter, Wired News,
February 22, 2006 ---
From NPR: Hedge Fund HedgeHogging (with audio)
The hedge fund industry is one of the fastest growing corners of the investment world. Now Wall Street insider Barton Biggs has exposed the industry's cast of characters to scrutiny in the book HedgeHogging.
Jim Zaroli, "Barton Biggs Shines a Light on Hedge Funds," NPR, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5221329
Bob Jensen's threads on hedge funds are under the H-terms at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5341/speakers/133glosf.htm#H-Terms
How far will your broker go to protect you against ID theft and fraud?
"Charles Schwab To Cover All Fraud Losses," by Greg Keizer, InformationWeek, February 23, 2006 --- http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=180206408
Online broker Charles Schwab Wednesday issued a guarantee against any and all losses from unauthorized account access, the latest online trader to calm customers' jitters about phishing scams and identity theft.
As of Wednesday, all Schwab customers are 100 percent covered against loss, the San Francisco-based company said. They need take no action unless they suspect that their account has been accessed without their permission or knowledge, Schwab added.
"It has always been our practice to make clients whole in cases of unauthorized account activity. Our new security guarantee turns that historic practice into a public promise," said chief executive Charles Schwab in a statement. "Given rising public concerns over identity theft and cyber-fraud, we think adding a clear and simple guarantee will contribute to even greater peace of mind for our clients."
Schwab follows rivals in posting a guarantee; in January, New York-based ETrade launched what it called "Complete Protection Guarantee" to cover all losses originating from fraud.
Banks, online brokers, and other financial institutions have been worried of late about fraud in general and identity theft in particular, as online users have turned skittish in reaction to a rise in e-fraud. Several polls taken in 2005, for example, noted that U.S. consumers were becoming less likely to conduct financial transactions over the Internet.
Even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has expressed concern about the trend. In September, it issued a guide on the dangers that identity thieves posed to online brokerage accounts.
Bob Jensen's threads on ID theft are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#IdentityTheft
Historical Census Browser --- http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/collections/stats/histcensus/
From the U.S. Census Bureau --- http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income.html
- The Effects of Government Taxes and Transfers on Income and Poverty: 2004
- Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004 (P60-229)[PDF]
- Income, Earnings, and Poverty from the 2004 American Community Survey (ACS-01)
- Alternative Income Estimates in the United States: 2003 (P60-228) [PDF]
- State Median Family Income
- Income Statistics
Bob Jensen's bookmarks for economic statistics are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#EconStatistics
From then on, neither the U.S.S.R. and its satellites nor the world communist movement were ever the same. Mao and other unrepentant Stalinists saw Khrushchev as an arch-revisionist and a renegade, the gravedigger of communism, though it took another few decades for it to die. In his speech, Khrushchev denounced Stalin's "cult of personality," which was a euphemism for the horrors inflicted on his country and region during the three decades that the Georgian stayed in power. His audience was dumbfounded. Many felt liberated, others betrayed and offended. The four-hour discourse documented Stalin's "grave abuse of power," his murderous persecution of the party elite, his leading role in the Great Terror, the ferocious treatment of major party personalities, and his failures as a military commander. Khrushchev declared the worshipped leader, in life and in death, guilty of the destruction of so many human lives, the brutal deportations of whole ethnic groups, the absurd agricultural schemes that starved millions in Ukraine and other rural regions to death, and his "loathsome adulation" masquerading as "party history."
Validimir Tismaneanu, "Stalin's Executioner," The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114072888526881720.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
International Accounting Database Statistics
We have updated our Database of Statistics that, we believe, provide clear evidence of the globalisation of the world's capital markets and of the need for global financial reporting standards. Updates include latest data about cross-border listings on the World Federation of Exchange member exchanges, London, NYSE, and NASDAQ, and some data on cross-border lending.
IASPlus, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
From the University of Illinois Issues in Scholarly Communication Blog, February 15, 2006 --- http://www.library.uiuc.edu/blog/scholcomm/
Piracy Losses Put at $606 Million
As part of its annual report to the U.S. Trade Representative, the International Intellectual Property Alliance estimated that illegal copying of books abroad cost the book industry about $606 million in 2005, roughly the same level as 2004. Losses for all copyrighted intellectual property to piracy topped $15.8 billion last year, the IIPA estimated. AAP president Pat Schroeder said that while progress has been made in fighting book piracy abroad, more work needs to be done. Asia continues to be a piracy hot spot, even though enforcement has improved in such places as Hong Kong and Taiwan, Schroeder said. "Even where enforcement is at least partially effective," Schroeder noted, "court delays remain, especially in countries such as India and the Philippines.Legal developments in Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea and elsewhere continue to deny effective protection to book publishers, and enforcement mechanisms so effective for other industries in countries such as Pakistan have not yet been employed against book pirates." Schroeder further observed that market access barriers continue to make it difficult for publishers "to make genuine product available in relevant markets such as China." PW 2/14/06 www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6307509.html?display=breaking
China's Accounting Standards in Line with IFRS
In our news story of 16 February 2006, we reported that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) of the People's Republic of China has announced that it has adopted a new basic standard and 38 new Chinese Accounting Standards that are substantially in line with IFRSs. MOF has also adopted new auditing standards that are substantially in line with International Standards on Auditing (ISAs). The MOF has issued a Press Release (PDF 17k) elaborating on the new accounting and auditing standards. In December 2005, the Chinese Auditing Standards Board (CASB) and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) had released a joint statement in which the CASB states that the fundamental principle of drafting Chinese auditing standards is to improve the Chinese auditing standards system and to accelerate its convergence with the IAASB's ISAs. Click for China-IAASB Joint Statement (PDF 988k)), which we had reported in our news story of 23 December 2005.
IASPlus, February 20, 2006 --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
"Waterworld: how life on Earth will look 1,000 years from now," by Nigel Hawkes, The London Times, February 7, 2006 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2044465,00.html
By the year 3000, the report says:
Global warming could have more than quadrupled, with temperature rises of as much as 15C, if we continue burning fossil fuels
Sea levels will still be rising at the end of this millennium and the total increase could reach 11.4 metres. This dwarfs estimates made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that sea levels will rise by between 16cm and 69cm by the 2080s
Anything more than a two-metre rise would flood large areas of Bangladesh, Florida and many low-lying cities, and displace hundreds of millions of people
Abrupt climate changes are possible even after emissions cease because changes may be set in motion that cannot be stopped
The acidity of the oceans will fall significantly, posing a threat to marine organisms such as corals and plankton. That, in turn, would affect the whole marine ecosystem
The changes could be even greater than this if the climate turns out to be more sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions than the study assumes
Continued in article
Terrorists Increasingly Turn to the Internet:
The Internet is increasingly being exploited by terrorist groups, who are using the medium to multiply the effectiveness of their planning, recruitment, and propaganda, says an Israeli researcher. For instance, such groups have become sophisticated enough to build sites "narrowcasted" to women and children. Dr. Gabriel Weimann, professor of communication at the University of Haifa, Israel, has done empirical research into the evolving nature of terrorist use of the medium, which he describes in a forthcoming book, Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the New Challenges. And some of his findings may surprise Americans.
David Talbot, "Terrorists Increasingly Turn to the Internet: Terrorist groups are using the Internet with more success, according to studies by an Israeli researcher," InternetWeek, February 21, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16385,258,p1.html
February 20, 2006 message from Linda Kidwell, University of Wyoming [lkidwell@UWYO.EDU]
In my endless pursuit of interesting audit reports to use with my classes, I came across a treasure trove last week. Credit Acceptance Corporation has had an interesting set of reports in the recent weeks. If you look them up in Edgar, here's some of what you'll find:
1) an 8-K dismissing Deloitte over accounting disagreements an internal control report with a material weakness
2) unqualified opinions on the financials from Grant Thornton with an explanatory paragraph over restatements resulting from the DT dispute
3) a change in GAAP application insisted upon by DT, after consultation with the SEC, despite DT having issued an unqualified opinion in the past on that prior treatment
4) a disclaimer by GT on the internal control report over a scope limitation
It is a fun case for use with audit classes as they try to piece together this puzzle.
Bob Jensen's threads on the saga of auditor professionalism and independence are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud001.htm#Professionalism
Why not actor George Clooney for the next President of the United States?
"The Clooney left: If only George Clooney would run for president. John Patterson sizes up the star's political prospects," The Guardian, February 25, 2006 --- http://film.guardian.co.uk/patterson/story/0,,1717051,00.html
Clooney has one divorce in his background, but no scandal beyond clipping David O Russell round the ear on the set of Three Kings, which is the kind of thing that plays well in the Red states - much like shooting lawyers in the face. His youthful indiscretions pale against the current incumbent's binge-drinking, DUI convictions, perpetual bailings-out, not to mention draft-dodging. Clooney might merely be expected to apologise for Revenge Of The Killer Tomatoes and for his never-released debut movie, co-starring the louchely Kennedyesque Charlie Sheen. He'd be the first single president, well, since Michael Douglas in The American President, which would make him a bit like the skirt-hound Kennedy, though Clooney appears not to be the almost neurotic priapist JFK was. One of Kennedy's more famous conquests was Angie Dickinson ("the most unforgettable 60 seconds of my life," was her post-coital verdict), better known as the original Mrs Danny Ocean, so there's a whiff of that retro-Camelot glamour for you right there. Like Reagan, Kennedy and Clinton, he'd probably be a grating presence to a good half of the American electorate, but it didn't kill them and it wouldn't kill him.
Politically, a Clooney presidency would probably strive to return sanity to the national debate. The American right has long smeared Clooney as just another loopy Hollywood liberal, but there's no evidence that he's anything but an old-fashioned American centrist. His political movies, particularly this Friday's Syriana and Good Night, And Good Luck, are hardly radical agitprop. They (and Three Kings and Clooney's TV remake of Fail Safe) may have the slightly worthy air of civics lessons, but they certainly suggest the guy is engaged with his times. A good-looking, independently minded, lapsed-Catholic, clean-and-sober actor versus a bought-and-paid-for, dry-drunk fundamentalist and four-decade failure of a human glove-puppet?
Voters, the choice is clear!
Clooney is not asking for an endorsement from Michael Moore. Below is a tidbit from the February 13 edition of Tidbits.
"'I've learned how to fight' ," The Guardian, February 10, 2006 --- http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,,1706303,00.html