Here's a way you can drastically cut your auto insurance rates from major insurance companies --- register your car easily in North Carolina --- http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/15877350.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
Generation of online libraries is born ---
Hackers are having success in looting online stock accounts: Guess
where these high tech thieves live?
Hackers have been breaking into customer accounts at large online brokerages in the United States and making unauthorized trades worth millions of dollars as part of a fast-growing new form of online fraud under investigation by federal authorities. E-Trade Financial Corp., the nation's fourth-largest online broker, said last week that "concerted rings" in Eastern Europe and Thailand caused their customers $18 million in losses in the third quarter alone.
Ellen Nakashima, "Hackers Zero In on Online Stock Accounts," The Washington Post, October 24, 2006 --- Click Here
Bob Jensen's threads on computing and network security are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection
Investors never seem to grow weary of being screwed by mutual fund
The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation of 27 mutual-fund companies that the agency says have accepted kickbacks totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. The investigation centers on alleged arrangements in which independent contractors agreed to pay rebates to mutual-fund companies in order to win lucrative contracts for jobs like producing shareholder reports and prospectuses. The probe stems from a $21.4 million settlement the SEC reached last month with Bisys Fund Services Inc., an administrative-services provider owned by Bisys Group Inc.
Tom Lauricella, "SEC Probes Mutual-Fund Firms After Settlement in Kickback Case," The Wall Street Journal, Page A1, October 26, 2006 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116183087038004278.html?mod=todays_us_page_one
Why are mutual funds still rotten to the core?
"The Soft Dollar Scandal," by Benn Steil, The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2006; Page A15 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115068121938383835.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
The SEC will shortly issue its long-awaited final "interpretive release" on a brokerage industry practice that would make Tony Soprano blush. Known as "soft dollars," the practice involves a broker charging a fund manager commission fees five to 10 times the market rate for a trade execution, in return for which the broker kicks back a substantial portion in the form of "investment-related services" to the manager. Magazines, online services, accounting services, proxy services, office administration, computers, monitors, printers, cables, software, network support, maintenance agreements, entrance fees for resort conferences -- all these things are bought through brokers with soft dollars. And in one of the industry's loveliest ironies, fund managers even pay inflated commissions in return for trading cost measurement services which invariably tell them that their brokers cost too much.
Why do the fund managers do it? Why don't they buy items directly from their suppliers, and then choose brokers on the basis of lowest trading cost? The reason is clear. If the fund manager buys items directly from the suppliers, he pays with his firm's cash. If he buys them through brokers when executing trades, however, the law, or the SEC, lets him use his clients' cash.
How widespread is the practice? Some 95% of institutional brokers receive soft dollars, about a third of which were found by the SEC in the late 1990s to be providing illegal services to fund managers, well outside the scope of "investment-related." Surveys find that fund managers routinely choose brokers based on criteria having nothing to do with trade execution.
How much does this practice cost investors? My own analysis suggests that the cost in bad trading alone amounts to about 70 basis points a year, or about 14 times the estimated cost of the market timing abuses that dominated headlines in 2004.
The Senate Banking Committee held hearings on soft dollars in March 2004. Chairman Richard Shelby indicated at the time that the SEC would "get more than a nudge" to eliminate clear abuses, defined as services which could not reasonably be held to constitute "research." So what has our champion of investor rights decided to do for us? Punt the ball back to Congress. In its initial guidance last October, expected to be substantially reiterated in the forthcoming final verdict, the commission's long-awaited crack down amounted to little more than a memorandum to fund managers instructing them to read the law, cut out a few egregious abuses (office furniture is a no-no, though resort conferences are still fine), and pay only "reasonable" commissions.
How does the "reasonable" commission regime work in practice? Put simply, the higher the price tag on the soft-dollar goodies, the more trading the fund manager does with the broker to acquire them, which is clearly antithetical to investor protection.
To his credit, freshman SEC Chairman Christopher Cox issued a thoughtful statement in advance of last October's guidance, diplomatically describing soft dollars as an "anachronism" -- referring to the politics of unfixing fixed commissions 30 years ago, and Congress's insertion of the Section 28(e) safe harbor into the Exchange Act, allowing client trading commissions to pay for research. But it was under the SEC's watch that the safe harbor ballooned into a safe coastal resort, in which client-financed commission payments have become so generous that a broker for one of the nation's largest fund management companies made the headlines in 2003 by thanking the funds' traders with a lavish dwarf-chucking bachelor party. It is therefore time for Congress and the SEC to stop punting the ball back and forth, and for Congress finally to abolish the "anachronism."
As a Wall Street Journal reader in good standing, I'm not calling for more rules and market intervention. Quite the opposite. It is in the nature of a government-sanctioned kickback scheme that serial interventions by regulators will be required to pacify the fleeced. This is a simple property rights issue, and treating it sensibly as such would require less government intervention in the future.
The solution is simple. If a fund manager wants to buy $10,000 worth of research, let him write a check to the provider. That's how you and I would buy it -- we wouldn't expect to get it by making a thousand phone calls through Verizon at 10 times the normal price. There is a legitimate debate over whether the cost of research should be charged to the fund manager, which would then recoup it transparently through the management fee, or deducted directly from the clients' assets.
The first option was recommended by former Gartmore chairman Paul Myners in his famous 2001 report to the U.K. Treasury. The second would, in any case, be a dramatic improvement on the status quo. If the government did not force funds to buy research through brokers in order to pass the cost on to clients, the SEC's "best execution" requirements, meaningless in a soft-dollar environment, would actually become part of a fund manager's DNA. No longer forced to choose between soft dollars for his firm or good trades for his client, he will finally have an incentive to seek out value-for-money in both research and trading, as it will benefit both his firm and his client.
What do mutual fund traders think? At a November conference, I surveyed 35 of them anonymously. The majority, 46%, said that fund managers should buy independent research with "hard dollars," out of their own assets rather than those of the investors; 37% backed option two above, paying the providers directly rather than through commissions, which the SEC currently prohibits. A mere 17% supported the status quo, soft dollars. The problem is that fund managers have no incentive to move away from soft dollars while their competitors are legally using them to inflate profits.
So who actually loses from Congress correcting its mistake? Brokers. But shed no tears for them. Middlemen always lose when kickback schemes are ended.
Mr. Steil is director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
Open Sharing Catching on Outside the United States
Britain’s Open University today formally begins its effort to put its course materials and other content online for all the world to use. With its effort, OpenLearn, which is expected to cost $10.6 million and is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the university joins Massachusetts Institute of Technology and institutions in several other countries in trying to put tools for learning within the reach of otherwise difficult to reach populations.
Inside Higher Ed, October 25, 2006
Bob Jensen's threads on open
sharing are at
Google's Free Download Center (Google Pack Beta) and the New
Mozilla released a new version of its Firefox web browser that has gained popularity as a free alternative to Microsoft's ubiquitous Internet Explorer software. In the two years since its release by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, the Firefox browser has won millions of devotees worldwide.
The Firefox Two browser made available for download on Tuesday was heralded by the Mountain View, California, organization as a "major update" developed by an "an international community of contributors." "Firefox 2 delivers the best possible online experience for people today," said Mozilla chief executive Mitchell Baker. "The improvements Mozilla has made to the ease of use, performance, and security in Firefox 2 reflect our ongoing, singular focus on meeting the needs of Web users all over the world." Localized versions of the browser were available in 35 languages and tailored to work with Windows, Macintosh or Linux computer operating systems, according to Mozilla. The browsers could be downloaded at the website http://www.getfirefox.com.
I use Firefox and like it (except for the slow downloads of media files). In my new computer I downloaded Firefox using Google's Free Download Center (Google Pack Beta) (that I highly recommend for downloading software) --- http://pack.google.com/intl/en/pack_installer_new.html?ciNum=6
A Tale of Two Web Browsers
A couple of the year's most-anticipated releases -- new versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox -- arrive within a week of one another. So which one is best?
Michael Calore, "A Tale of Two Web Browsers," Wired News, October 26, 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72003-0.html?tw=wn_index_2
Fortunately it's not an either-or type choice. I prefer to start with Firefox since it is less of interest to Hackers and has more security mainly because of that fact. But when Firefox does not work well, I simply paste the link into IE. It's like having both a sail and a motor for your search boat.
Updated and improved, Firefox remains excellent but
breaks little new ground.
John Borland, "Firefox 2.0: The Honda Civic of Web Browsers: Updated and improved, Firefox remains excellent but breaks little new ground," MIT's Technology Review, October 27, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17667&ch=biztech
A weakness has been discovered in Internet Explorer, which can be
exploited by malicious people to conduct phishing attacks.
The problem is that it's possible to display a popup with a somewhat spoofed address bar where a number of special characters have been appended to the URL. This makes it possible to only display a part of the address bar, which may trick users into performing certain unintended actions. Secunia has constructed a demonstration, which is available at http://secunia.com/internet_explorer_7_popup_address_bar_spoofing_test/
The weakness is confirmed in Internet Explorer 7 on a fully patched Windows XP SP2 system. Solution: Do not follow links from untrusted sources.
"Internet Explorer 7 Popup Address Bar Spoofing Weakness," Secunia (Link forwarded by Richard Campbell) --- http://secunia.com/advisories/22542/
Richard Campbell forwarded this link and says it remains a problem in IE 7.
"A First Look at Windows Vista: Microsoft plans to introduce its new
operating system to consumers in January. Is it worth upgrading?" by Erika
Jonietz, MIT's Technology Review, October 20, 2006 ---
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
It's a tired saw, quoted in articles on topics from interviewing for jobs to designing websites. But it concisely conveys a basic truth of human nature: we draw conclusions about new experiences, new people, and new things very quickly. My first encounter with Microsoft's new Windows Vista was no exception.
Last week, I installed the "RC1" version of Vista--officially post-beta but still not yet ready for prime time--on two computers. My experiences on the two machines were quite different, but my overall impression was the same: Microsoft has a long way to go in the next three months if it hopes Vista will revive its image the way that Mac OS X revitalized Apple's.
Installing Vista on two computers might seem a bit excessive, but the Windows operating system is made for two different kinds of processors: 32-bit and 64-bit. By working with bigger chunks of data, the newer 64-bit processors can better handle intensive tasks such as video editing and playing advanced games. But most desktop and laptop computers in use--and plenty of those on store shelves--have older 32-bit processors, so Microsoft built two versions of Vista.
I started by installing the 32-bit version of Vista on an older Dell Latitude laptop. While it's possible to upgrade from Windows XP to 32-bit Vista--leaving all of your programs and data intact--I elected to do a clean install. Downloading Vista and burning a bootable DVD was simple, and the installation went smoothly.
My first reaction: Vista looks slick. The old squared-off windows now have rounded corners. The rectangular "start" button in the lower-left corner of the screen has been supplanted by a spiffy circle with the Windows logo. A transparent rectangle, called the Sidebar, runs down the right side of the screen. The Sidebar holds "gadgets," mini-applications that provide quick access to frequently needed information and tools. Vista comes with 11 such gadgets, 3 of which load the first time you start up: an analog-style clock, a slideshow viewer, and a newsreader with a collection of headlines from MSNBC.com and Microsoft. It's all unquestionably reminiscent of the Dashboard and Widgets in Apple's Mac OS X Tiger.
Of all the Sidebar applications, the Feed Headlines gadget--which can be customized with your favorite RSS feeds--stands out. Although Apple and the Mac community have created more than 2,300 Widgets to date, I have yet to find an RSS newsreader as flexible as Vista's.
The new Instant Search feature is also handy but, again, reminiscent of OS X. As with Apple's Spotlight, search boxes appear at the top of every window, making it easy to hunt down the file you're seeking. And searching with Instant Search is both faster and more effective than searching in Windows XP. After copying files from my personal PC to the test laptop, I typed "DNA sequencing" into the search box.
Continued in article
October 20, 2006 reply from Scott Bonacker [cpas-l@BONACKER.US]
Accountant's should be aware that Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 are not friendly with versions of QuickBooks (and Quicken) prior to 2007.
for some additional information.
Scott Bonacker, CPA
Inside Teaching from the Carnegie Foundation --- http://gallery.carnegiefoundation.org/insideteaching
Welcome to Inside Teaching. This website is designed to support a community of learning, which includes teachers, professional developers, and other educators interested in learning and in teaching.
Visitof multimedia records of teaching practice. Learn from others' on using records of practice for teacher learning. your own teaching and learning experiences and materials and resources that reflect the larger context of the work featured here. This site itself is an environment of learning, a "living archive" that relies upon the contributions of visitors in order to grow and to thrive.
This is another reminder for accounting students and/or educators to send in their nominations for the the recipient of the 2007 Innovation in Accounting Education Award. Simple instructions are provided a the American Accounting Association site at --- http://aaahq.org/awards/award6.htm
Given the shortage of accounting faculty, increasingly accountants from
industry are being hired on tenure tracks
Teaching is once again a career opportunity for practicing accountants
Business schools are facing a shortage of accounting faculty. While it's a recognized problem -- the AICPA recently granted $25,000 to a program that provides financial aid for senior business leaders who want to transition to university teaching -- there are several misconceptions about what constitutes an academic career. The accounting faculty job market is quite strong and finding a position should not be a problem, according to Gerald DeBusk, CPA, CMA, an assistant professor of accounting at Appalachian State University who entered academia after 17 years of public accounting and industry experience. In this week's Quick Tip, he outlines the general steps that are required to make the move, and debunks the myth that work as a college professor equates to less hours or stress. "The truth is that college professors work hard," says DeBusk, later adding, "There are rewards for teaching that are priceless ... it is a pleasure to be associated with young men and women.
Gerald K. DeBusk, "Hitting the Books: Transitioning Into Academia," SmartPros, October 2006 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x55210.xml
In the 1960s, new AACSB accreditation rules made it necessary for most accounting faculty to have doctoral degrees. The traditional MBA-CPA credential was not considered "terminally qualified" after these new AACSB rules went into effect. Now in 2006 under more flexible AACSB rules regarding accreditation, we are to some extent returning full circle. Doctoral programs cannot attract enough candidates to meet the shortage of accounting faculty. The Masters-CPA/CMA credential is regaining steam, especially in critical shortage areas of auditing, tax, and AIS. You can read more about the history of this saga at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm
October 24, 2006 reply from Stokes, Len [stokes@SIENA.EDU]
Maybe as a discipline, we should also consider such a thing as a Clinical Doctorate, which many of the professional sciences are approaching. This type of doctorate could still contain some research framework but not be as time consuming as the Ph.D.
October 26, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Shortages of faculty have become so critical in the field of Business Administration that the AACSB initiated a "Bridge Program" to encourage and provide financial aid for business practitioners to enter into doctoral studies --- http://www.aacsb.edu/bridge/default.asp
Special efforts are being made to recruit women and minority students.
There are a few business administration doctoral programs (probably not widely known) that are somewhat clinical in nature.
For example see Pace University's executive doctoral program in business at --- http://appserv.pace.edu/execute/page.cfm?doc_id=14293
It is more common in fields outside of business to have "Executive Doctoral Programs," especially in Schools of Education, IT, and Medicine.
It is even common to have separate tenure tracks in "Practice." For example, the University of Pennsylvania has Practice Professors of Education --- http://www.gse.upenn.edu/faculty/vissa.html
October 26, 2006 reply from Mesa, William B. [wmesa@CCU.EDU]
Case Western Reserve University also has an Executive Doctoral Program where the research framework is Action Research than the traditional positivist approach.
Bill Mesa, D.M., CPA
Assistant Professor of Management & Accounting
School of Business and Leadership
Colorado Christian University Faculty in Organizational Strategy Leadership
Enterprise in Asian Development Institute Eastern University
October 24, 2006 message from Dan Ward [dward@LOUISIANA.EDU]
Have any of you faced the decision of hiring an individual with one of the on-line doctorates from a foreign university. The university in question is in France and has AACSB accreditation through the Masters level.
Many of the faculty are very concerned over the fact that no classes are required - just "research" and a dissertation. In short, we don't feel that the degree is really and earned doctorate in the traditional meaning of the term.
I would appreciate any feedback you could provide.
October 24, 2006 message from CPAS-L@LISTSERV.LOYOLA.EDU
I recall reading that Fridtjof Nansen received his doctorate based on research.
> Many of the faculty are very concerned over the fact that no classes
> are required - just "research" and a dissertation. In short, we don't
> feel that the degree is really and earned doctorate in the traditional > meaning of the term.
October 25, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Interestingly, the AACSB that accredits undergraduate and masters degree programs in business and accounting does not accredit doctoral programs. To my knowledge there are no doctoral program accrediting agencies, at least none that are respected in the United States.
Doctoral programs are forced to ride on their reputations, reputations that in turn depend heavily upon the reputations of the universities that grant the doctoral degrees. It is generally assumed that a respected university will not jeopardize its reputation with any diploma mill doctoral program.
Although most traditional doctoral programs have some required courses (usually from top research professors) and some elective courses, virtually all traditional doctoral programs have qualification exams that test on scholarship and research skills considered essential by the institution granting the degree.
If a program waives all coursework and qualifying examinations, much depends upon the research qualifications and reputations of the major professors who must sign off on the candidate's dissertation. If these major professors have no notable reputations for research themselves, the graduates of their doctoral programs will find it difficult to obtain tenure track positions in credible universities.
There are many diploma mills around the world that will sell doctoral degrees without any effort whatsoever other than coming up with the money to buy the doctorate. It is recommended that job applicants never even mention that they have purchased such phony credentials.
Those who want phony doctorates from diploma mills can find alternatives at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#DiplomaMill
Islamic Accounting --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_accounting
The Differences of Conventional and Islamic Accounting ---
Click Here (coloring makes this version hard to read)
The Power Point Version (easier to read) --- http://www.bus.osaka-cu.ac.jp/ja/research/events/seminar040205/sofyan.ppt
"Islamic Accounting: Challenges, Opportunities and Terror," AccountingWeb, October 5, 2006 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=102651
Recent events, from the start of Ramadan, to the Pope’s controversial remarks about Islam, to the discovery of a new tape by two of the September 11 attackers, to the release of Bob Woodward’s latest book, have once more made Islam a topic of conversation. Beyond the headlines, however, exists a complex religious and social system that affects far more people than just Muslims. Islamic finance, particularly Islamic banking, insurance and accounting, is playing a growing role around the globe, especially in the business world.
Islamic accounting is generally defined as an alternative accounting system which aims to provide users with information enabling them to operate businesses and organizations according to Shariah, or Islamic law. With little doubt, the greatest challenges to Islamic accounting and finance in the United States stem from a lack of knowledge and understanding of Islam and the intricacies of its financial laws and concerns regarding terrorism, combined with the U.S. regulatory framework and guiding principles of American business. The Muslim and Islamic financial markets within the U.S. and around the world, currently represent an enormous opportunity for those willing to overcome these challenges.
Islam & Islamic Financial Laws
“To professional accountants who have been brought-up on the idea of accounting as an ‘objective’, technical and value-free discipline, the idea of attaching a religious adjective to accounting may seem embarrassing, unprofessional and even dangerous,” Dr. Shahul Hameed bin Mohamed Ibrahim says in Islamic Accounting – A Primer.
Both conventional and Islamic accounting provide information and define how that information is measured, valued, recorded and communicated. Conventional accounting provides information about economic events and transactions, measuring resources in terms of assets and liabilities, and communicating that information through financial statements users, typically investors, rely on to make decisions regarding their investments. Islamic accounting, however, identifies socio-economic events and transactions measured in both financial and non-financial terms and the information is used to ensure Islamic organizations of all types adhere to Shariah and achieve the socio-economic objectives promoted by Islam. This is not to say, or imply, Islamic accounting is not concerned with money, rather it is not concerned only with money.
Islamic accounting, in many ways, is more holistic. Shariah prohibits interest-based income or usury and also gambling, so part of what Islamic accounting does is help ensure companies do not harm others while making money and achieve an equitable allocation and distribution of wealth, not just among shareholders of a specific corporation but also among society in general. Of course, as with conventional accounting, this is not always achieved in practice, as an examination of the wide variances in wealth among the populations of Arab nations, particularly those with majority Muslim populations shows.
In addition, because a significant part of operating within Shariah means delivering on Islam’s socio-economic objectives, Islamic organizations have far wider interests and engage in more diverse activities than their non-Islamic counterparts.
Concerns About Terrorism
The diverse activities and interests organizations pursue under Shariah is a cause for concern when applying conventional accounting to Islamic organizations. After all, conventional accounting can be used to disguise unethical and even illegal activities within the very organizations they were intended to provide information about. Imagine how easy it is to overlook or just not identify such information when employing an accounting system not designed for use with the type of organization it is being applied to.
In the past, the issues raised by this mismatch focused on the ability of users beyond the Muslim world to make appropriate decisions regarding investments. Since September 11, 2001, however, the concern has changed from the potential loss of investment to the possibility of supporting terrorism.
This concern is particularly significant for non-profit organizations involved in providing humanitarian relief outside the U.S.. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (DoT) has issued updated Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-based Charities (Guidelines).
“The abuse of charities by terrorist organizations is a serious and urgent matter, and the Guidelines reinforce the need for the U.S. Government and the charitable sector alike, to keep this challenge at the forefront of our complementary efforts,” Pat O’Brien, Assistant Secretary for the Treasury’s Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crime, said in a statement announcing the updated guidelines. The Treasury Department is committed to protecting and enabling legitimate and vital charity worldwide, and will continue to work with the sector to advance our mutual goals.”
The Guidelines urge charities to take a proactive, risk-based approach to protecting against illicit abuse and are intended to be applied by those charities vulnerable to such abuse, in a manner commensurate with the risks they face and the resources with which they work. At the request of the charitable sector, the Guidelines contain extensive anti-terrorist financing guidance, as well as guidance on sound governance and financial practices that helps prevent the exploitation of charities.
The regulatory environment Islamic individuals and organizations are most concerned with, considering the current political climate, are those relating to anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering. Yet the tensions arising from regulatory requirements within the U.S. related to American business practices often prove more difficult to resolve.
It is in trying to balance the expectations of distinct business cultures that the differences between conventional and Islamic accounting are most notable. For instance, depending upon the type of transactions the organizations are engaged in, the roles, responsibilities and rights assigned to each party can be contradictory and even in direct conflict. In some situations, such as transactions involving private equity, venture capital, profit sharing and liquidations, organizations and individuals employing conventional accounting may actually find they prefer Islamic accounting. Other issues, such as those related to taxation, require significant effort to resolve. The inherent flexibility of Shariah is a benefit under these circumstances, since the complexity of the American tax code is highly inflexible.
The number of Muslim consumers, investors and business owners has grown along with the Muslim American population which is currently estimated to be between six and seven million. Although demand for Islamic financial products and services has increased, both the supply and the number of providers remain insufficient. It should also be noted that Islamic orthodoxy, expressed as the desire to implement Shariah as the sole legal foundation of a nation, is actually associated with progressive economic principles, including increasing government for the poor, reducing income inequality and increasing government ownership of industries and industries, especially in the poorer nations of the Muslim world.
“While it is common to associate traditional religious beliefs with conservative political stances on a wide range of issues, this is only partly true,” said Robert V. Robinson, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of Indiana University’s Department of Sociology. “The Islamic orthodox are more conservative on issues having to do with gender, sexuality and the family, but more liberal or left on economic issues.
Islamic Accounting Web --- http://www.iiu.edu.my/iaw/
The Islamic Accounting Website is a project of the Department of Accounting, Kulliyah of Economics and Management Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. This project is under the direction of Dr. Shahul Hameed bin Mohamed Ibrahim, Assistant Professor and the current Head of the Department. The philosophy of the University is to Islamize knowledge to solve the crisis in Muslim thinking brought about by the secularization of knowledge and furthermore contributing as a centre of educational excellence to revive the dynamism of the Muslim Ummah in knowledge, learning and the professions. The Department of Accounting is fully committed to this vision and strives to Islamicise Accounting.
"ISLAMIC ACCOUNTING STANDARDS," by Shadia Rahman --- http://islamic-finance.net/islamic-accounting/acctg5.html
Sharing site of Dr Shahul Hameed Bin Hj Mohamed Ibrahim --- http://islamic-finance.net/islamic-accounting/
articles by the author
articles by other scholars
Shari'ate Accounting: An Ethical Construction Of Accounting Knowledge: Triyuwono, Iwan & M. Gaffikin
Islamic Accounting Standards : Shadia Rahman
October 20 reply from Adnan Bakather [bakther@YAHOO.COM]
Dear Prof. Jensen ,
What is your perception of Islamic accounting ? . Do you think that Islamic accounting may compete with the conventional one ? . Regarding the terror , do think that the link between Islamic accounting and terror can be established ? .
October 21 reply from Bob Jensen
I'm no expert on either Islamic Accounting or terror. Hence my answers should not be viewed as authoritative.
Islamic Accounting is closer to what we term "stakeholder accounting" in which attempts are made to "account for" impacts of an entity upon various stakeholders in society, including but not limited to investors and creditors. Stakeholder accounting is grand in concept but very difficult to put into practice due to the many intangibles that defy measurement or even analysis qualitatively. I discussed many of these problems years ago in a monograph called Phantasmagoric Accounting, Studies in Accounting Research Volume 14, American Accounting Association --- http://aaahq.org/market/display.cfm?catID=5
In other words, stakeholder accounting is grand in purpose but very difficult to put into practice. I suspect that Islamic Accounting is also grand in purpose but very difficult to implement in a global economic world. One of the main problems is breadth of purpose that exceeds the tools and information needed to meaningfully account to each stakeholder group. For example, trying to account for the cost of pollution or global warming of one factory upon society is virtually impossible to measure if there are millions of interacting factories, vehicles, natural phenomenon (such as methane bubbling up from the oceans and tundras), homes, and even burps from cattle (no joke) contributing to the same global pollution. There are also many interactions (called externalities in economic theory) of causes that greatly complicate the accounting.
At the financial level, Islamic Accounting has not addressed the thousands upon thousands of contracts that take place daily. Hence we cannot go to Islamic Accounting for answers on how to account for derivative financial instruments and hedge accounting, structured financing, synthetic and other complex leases, and intangibles. Islamic Accounting has not addressed the complex world of financial contracting to the extent that it has been addressed over centuries of conventional accounting. Islamic Accounting developed in a much simpler world of finance.
Perhaps the world should return to a simpler world of contracting that would make Islamic Accounting more suited to the world of finance. It is, however, naïve to assume that any accounting and reporting practices are going to magically overcome the really complex and intractable issues of stakeholder accounting in a complex world of externalities and interacting causal factors of individual persons and firms in the global aggregation of such causal factors.
As far as terrorism goes, I suspect the problem of tracing terrorist funding is one of having the appropriate internal controls in place all along the funding trail. This would seem to be a problem for any type of accounting system, although some accounting systems may work under more difficult constraints than others, e.g., systems that attempt to protect privacy greatly constrain accountability in law and finance. Accountancy and law are much more unrestrained in Big Brother's system conceived by George Orwell --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother
Terror on a global scale will lead us closer and closer to an Orwellian way of life out of desperation. The issue is not one of Islamic versus Conventional Accounting. The issue is one of Privacy versus Transparency Controls in all behavior, including financial contracting. At the moment no accounting system works very well against governmental or private sector corruption. The question is whether we want Big Brother to move in to end the corruption. In the United States we cannot even get campaign financing reform because the foxes in Washington DC are guarding both the hen houses and cold cash freezers.
But our accounting systems are good enough to force our elected officials to hide their stolen loot in their freezers. That's why we call it cold cash. By the way, the first thing Big Brother would do to end corruption, money laundering, and terrorism financing is to do away with all cash and anything resembling cash such as bearer bonds. If all financing leaves electronic tracks, Big Brother can put internal controls in place to virtually end corruption, money laundering, and terrorism financing. However, in the U.S., hell will freeze over before Congress votes to eliminate cash.
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen//theory/00overview/theory01.htm
From Scientific American: Politicians caught on Internet
"Armey: 'Parochial' GOP Has 'Compromised' Agenda," NPR, October
16, 2006 ---
October 17, 2006 message from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]
Now that Bob Jensen is a rural-dweller, I figured he and others ought to be aware of this danger.
I figure it's only a matter of time until a new FASB exposure draft is issued covering the accounting treatment for these losses. Given that it might be impacting national security, even Congress might get involved. Only one question remains: Why hasn't the Wall Street Journal picked up on this yet? Maybe they are losing their touch. This certainly tops most of their front page stories, both in factuality and importance.
After running the video, scroll through the 9+ pages of supplemental evidence and come to your own conclusion.
Neighbor of a cattle farm
October 20, 2006 reply from Bob Jensen
Up here we still hang cow and horse thieves with trials.
My neighbor down the road has some cute little shaggy Scottish cows.
Shoplifters Go High Tech: Theft Rings Alter Bar Codes
Just as technology has given a big boost to the retail industry, making it more efficient and productive, it has also transformed retail crime. Using sophisticated tactics such as bar-code forgery and fraudulent gift cards, criminals are stealing larger amounts, and it has gotten harder to catch them. Law-enforcement officers say many of the high-tech thieves belong to organized-crime rings that have turned retail theft into big business. And the Internet has made it easier for them to find buyers for the loot. Retail crime rose to about $37 billion in 2005 from $31 billion in 2003, according to a study conducted by the University of Florida, increasing almost twice as fast as retail sales over that period. Store employees, who have access to merchandise and familiarity with antitheft systems, account for 48% of retail-crime losses, according to the 2005 study. But professional thieves, many of them using sophisticated new methods, also are responsible for a big part, says Joseph LaRocca, vice president of loss prevention at the National Retail Federation, a trade group.
Ann Zimmerman, "As Shoplifters Use High-Tech Scams, Retail Losses Rise: Theft Rings Alter Bar Codes, Work Gift-Card Swindles; Fencing the Loot Online Target Snares a Lego Bandit," The Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2006; Page A1 ---
Pivot Tables on the Web
The problem with downloading Excel charts with pivot tables is the risk of
macro viruses. Cyril Carter forwarded this link on how to put Excel interactive
pivot tables on the Web without macro viruses ---
"'Every Reason to Be Proud'," by Lawrence B. Lindsey, The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2006; Page A12 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116070411623591483.html?mod=opinion&ojcontent=otep
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the FY 2002 revenue loss of the first Bush tax cut was $38 billion and $51 billion from the second Bush tax cut -- $89 billion in all. This leaves $268 billion of the shortfall to be attributed to the effects of the collapse of the 1990s bubble, the attacks on 9/11, and other economic drags. Swings in economic activity, not discretionary tax changes, drive the great majority of the swings in federal revenues, and were the cause of the deficits of the early part of the decade. Since then, it has been a matter of fiscal "catch-up."
The data suggest that process of "catch-up" has been far more successful than official estimates thought possible. In August 2003 the non-partisan CBO forecast tax revenue in FY 2006 at $2.276 trillion (which excluded $53 billion of tax relief passed subsequently). That forecast included the effects of the slowdown, a return to more rapid growth, and the 2003 tax cuts. But the data just released showed FY 2006 revenues of $2.407 trillion, $131 billion higher than CBO projected after the tax cuts were accelerated and $624 billion higher than the FY 2003 revenues. For perspective on that $131 billion of extra revenues, the total 2006 revenue loss from all of the president's tax cuts was only $193 billion.
There were two reasons for the revenue feedback. First, after the tax cuts were passed the economy expanded more rapidly than most projected at the time. Second, more taxes were collected from each dollar of GDP than expected. When an economy of a given size produces higher-than-expected revenue after a tax change, it must mean that the tax code has become a more efficient revenue generator. Lower tax rates, particularly on dividends and entrepreneurial income, provide incentives for people to give up some of their previous -- economically distorting but tax-efficient -- behavior.
This response is underscored by the distribution of receipts, which have shifted decidedly up the income scale. Although critics endlessly call the Bush measures tax cuts for the rich, the share of income taxes paid by the top 1%, 5% and 10% of taxpayers has moved up. These people were most affected by higher rates of the past, and have the greatest ability to reorient their economic behavior when rates are reduced.
While economists will argue about how to divide up the extra revenue between the demand-side and supply-side responses, the more interesting question is what would have happened without an aggressive fiscal policy response. In Japan, five years after its bubble burst, tax receipts were still 14% below their peak because the economy was so weak; in the U.S. they are 19% higher than in 2000. Evidence suggests that monetary policy, though helpful, was not the lone cause of the recovery. Consumption spending turned up sharply in the third quarter of 2003, coincident with reduced tax withholding in paychecks. Nearly every important macroeconomic variable, including the unemployment rate, started improving noticeably in the second half of 2003, the first time the full impact of the tax cuts hit the economy. Moreover, consumption spending turned up in advance of the housing boom, whereas in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. the increase in home prices clearly led an acceleration in consumption growth.
Mr. Bush has every reason to be proud of his tax cuts. Granted, he shouldn't expect a chorus of bipartisan praise based on the numbers just released. But he should rest assured that economic historians will credit the tax cuts as having been a model of the successful application of economic theory to the real world.
Mr. Lindsey, president and CEO of the Lindsey Group, was President Bush's chief economic adviser from 2001 to 2002.
Be that as it may, President Bush has allowed the U.S. Congress to be a spendthrift by promoting entitlement programs that jeopardize younger generations and doom the U.S. economy --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm
Admission Hypocrisy: Elite schools abandon early admission (except for
Most faculty are clueless and voiceless about admissions operations at their colleges.
"Where Is the Faculty in the Admissions Debates?" by Andrew Delbanco, Inside Higher Ed, October 12, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/10/12/delbanco
But what role do faculty play in developing the policies on which the admissions office acts? At most, a minor one — which is particularly disturbing when it comes to tenured faculty, whose job security should encourage frank participation in university governance without fear of demotion or reprisal. Yes, the scale of the admissions process has become daunting. In some cases, tens of thousands of applications must be evaluated, so it would be hardly more than symbolic for faculty to read — as we once did at Columbia — a few distinctive folders. And yes, some administrators regard faculty as potential meddlers and prefer using catch-words such as “diversity” and “excellence” to asking hard questions about what these terms actually mean.
But, if admissions policy has been reduced to slogans, blaming the administrators is finally an evasion of faculty responsibility. Most faculty are simply not interested and therefore uninformed. Any discussion of, say, the distinction between need-based aid and merit aid, or about principle versus practice in “need-blind” admissions, or the correlation between SAT scores and family income, or about the case for or against increasing the numbers of international students, is likely to elicit a perplexed stare even from those who hold confident opinions about many other matters outside their field of expertise. Faculty who normally regard all authorities with suspicion, and who are quick to proclaim the sanctity of such values as academic freedom, are strangely inert and indifferent with regard to how their own institutions decide whom to let in and whom to keep out.
Some of this detachment is understandable, since college admissions have become a large-scale business whose intricacies require specialized knowledge. But the cost of disengagement is high. Faculty testimonials of devotion to the values of equity and democracy in America and the world can smell of hypocrisy when we ignore the attrition of these values on our own campuses. (Sometimes one hears muttering about too many “legacy” admits, but I haven’t heard much complaining about preferential treatment for faculty children.) Some of the very colleges where faculties tend to be most vehement on behalf of left-liberal causes are slipping out of reach for students from families with modest means.
Over the last decade, for example, the percentage of students admitted early in the Ivy League has risen to roughly half the entering class — even in the face of studies suggesting that early applicants tend to be academically weaker and economically stronger than students who apply later in the year. Since most early applicants must promise to attend if admitted, they have to be willing to forgo the chance to compare financial aid offers from multiple colleges, and they come disproportionately from private or affluent suburban schools with savvy college counselors. Yet how many faculty have paid attention to what James Fallows, writing five years ago in The Atlantic, called “the early decision racket”?
It’s not that the issues are simple. Even the case of early admissions, on which Harvard has now reversed itself, is not entirely straightforward. Pros and cons vary from institution to institution. Although the negative effects of early admissions are increasingly clear, there are positive arguments, some better than others, in favor of such programs, on which some colleges have come to depend. Students accepted early tend to arrive on campus pleased to be attending their first (and only) choice. Early admissions programs allow admissions officers to lock in much of the class — notably the athletes needed to field competitive teams — before Christmas, and then to use the regular applicant pool and waiting lists to balance and refine the composition of the full class. And, lamentably enough, early admissions allow institutions to inflate their yield rate, which figures in the widely-read rankings published in U.S. News & World Report.
These issues should be debated with both idealism and realism not just by administrators in closed-door meetings but by informed faculty in open session. Yet in watching and commenting on all the maneuvering and grandstanding, students have been more alert to the nuances than faculty — as in a recent Harvard Crimson article pointing out that despite Harvard’s announcement, up to 100 athlete-applicants will still receive “likely admit” letters each year as early as October 1.
In short, admissions policies have consequences for students, for society, and for the functionality of the college or university that enacts them. They certainly have effects on faculty. Since most institutions depend heavily on tuition revenue, the “discount rate” — the amount of financial aid subsidy offered to students — affects the availability of funds for other purposes, including faculty salary increments and new or substitutional hiring lines. Abandoning early admissions would strain the operating budget on many campuses — though not at Harvard or Princeton, where yield rates will remain high and income from their huge endowments will meet the increased demand for financial aid that will likely follow their recent actions. At some institutions, a cut in the rate of “legacy” admits might even jeopardize the institution’s long-term financial viability.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
"Robbing Parents to Pay Teachers," Alan Caruba, ED News, October 2006 --- http://www.ednews.org/articles/2481/1/Robbing-Parents-to-Pay-Teachers/Page1.html
It is an act of thievery to take money to provide goods or services and then fail to do so. Our nation's schools have become a great criminal conspiracy, promising to educate our children, but more often producing "graduates" without even the most basic skills, let alone a useful, wider body of knowledge.
"My daughter is now 20 years old," one mother wrote to me recently. "After graduating from high school in June 2005, she enrolled at the local community college. It was necessary for her to take a placement test and it was determined she needed to take Basic Skills Math and English before she could take [college level courses.] After failing both classes twice, she will not be returning. It breaks my heart to see that she can't pass basic math or English class. How did she graduate high school?"
The answer is that her parents were heavily levied with property taxes, the vast portion of which was then given to the local school system to pay teachers and administrators salaries, along with all the other costs of operation. They, in turn, passed her daughter along, unmindful and indifferent to whether she learned anything. "She has been robbed of a basic education and we have been robbed of our tax dollars for 19 years."
Early in his first term, President Bush embraced the "No Child Left Behind" legislation that has since been found wanting for its one-size-fits-all approach to education, its over-emphasis on testing, and its punishment of "under-performing" schools. The result has been to expose most schools as inadequate and to encourage every form of administrative cheating necessary for a school to meet the standards set by the law.
The idea was to force some improvement on a system everyone already knew was failing students. Laws, however, do not educate students. Teachers are expected to do that and it is no surprise that the National Education Association—a union—hated the idea of improvement. Indeed, from the 1960s to the present day, the NEA has done its best to undermine, if not destroy, a system of education that served previous generations of Americans quite well.
In the July/August edition of The American Enterprise, Jay Greene, wrote "Education Myths: Debunking the fictions that obstruct school reform." The article was based on Greene's book of the same name. Here are just a few examples of how schools rob parents to pay teachers who are producing students deliberately rendered ignorant.
The standard answer to any question about the quality of our schools is the demand for more funding. The truth, however, is that "spending per student has been growing steadily for 50 years." It has doubled and then doubled again. What did not occur, however, was any significant improvement in test scores, particularly since the introduction in the 1970s of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Okay, we may be spending more on schools, but isn't it true that teachers still aren't paid enough? No, if the poorly educated students they produce are the standard, they are vastly over-paid. "The average teacher's salary does seem modest at first glace", wrote Greene, "about $44,600 in 2002 for all teachers."However, teachers only work nine months a year. A nurse making the same salary works twelve months with two week's vacation and perhaps ten paid holidays. The statistics are damning evidence they are paid well for far less actual work than comparable jobs.
Another favorite myth is "that schools are helpless in the face of social problems is not supported by hard evidence," wrote Greene. "The truth is that certain schools do a strikingly better job than others at overcoming challenges in the culture." There is a reason why parents clamor for school choice, vouchers, when they know that some schools do a better job. Competition and incentives for the better schools would raise the standards for all schools.
Class size is yet another myth. Greene notes, "Research suggests there may be some advantages to smaller classes—though, if so, the benefits are modest and come at a very high price tag." There is ample evidence that reducing class sizes is costly to the point of taking money from the purchase of books, equipment, and other reforms that would benefit students.
In most professions and trade, certification is regarded as a reliable sign that practitioners have demonstrated a reasonable level of expertise. "One of the strongest and most consistent findings in the entire body of research on teacher quality is that teaching certificates and master's degrees in education are irrelevant to classroom performance."
When the teacher corps is drawn from those college graduates who enter the profession for a lack of aptitude that would give them access to other, presumably better paying jobs, you end up with classrooms filled with people who may know barely more than their students. Or worse, are teaching classes on subjects for which they have no real skill, nor knowledge.
"According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average private school charged $4,689 per student in tuition for the 1999-2000 school years. That same year, the average public school spent $8,032 per pupil." Somehow, private schools are able to out-perform public schools when it comes to imparting knowledge and skills despite the fact their students have less than half as much funding as public school students and the success of home-schooled students over their contemporaries is already legendary.
The entire education establishment, frequently advocating the teaching of values at odds with those held by parents, has ruined our nation's schools and are defrauding taxpayers by failing to truly educate the children placed in their care.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com . His new book, "Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy" has been published by Merril Press.
Parents are not saving nearly enough to finance the education of their
A major theme of the report is that parents could do more to save, regardless of their income levels. Of parents in the survey, 58 percent say that they spent more on dining out or take-out food in the last year than on saving for college. In other categories of spending, 49 percent report that they spent more on vacations, 38 percent more on electronics, and 31 percent more on their children’s allowance than on saving for college. Such figures may explain why only 27 percent of parents in the survey believe that they will meet their goal for college savings.
Scott Jaschik, "Poor Grades for Saving," Inside Higher Ed, October 16, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/16/savings
Parents of outstanding students who are not saving enough should know that, unless they have low incomes, the opportunities for merit scholarships are declining --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#FinancialAidChanges
Understating Campus Crime?
An analysis published today in The Wall Street Journal suggests that the crime data colleges report to the Education Department — and share with applicants — understate the extent of campus crime. The analysis compares that data with less publicized statistics reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which tend to suggest a far greater frequency of crime.
Inside Higher Ed, October 23, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/23/qt
University of Vermont Scientist Admits to Cheating
On a rainy afternoon in June, Eric Poehlman stood before a federal judge in the United States District Court in downtown Burlington, Vt. His sentencing hearing had dragged on for more than four hours, and Poehlman, dressed in a black suit, remained silent while the lawyers argued over the appropriate sentence for his transgressions. Now was his chance to speak. A year earlier, in the same courthouse, Poehlman pleaded guilty to lying on a federal grant application and admitted to fabricating more than a decade’s worth of scientific data on obesity, menopause and aging, much of it while conducting clinical research as a tenured faculty member at the University of Vermont. He presented fraudulent data in lectures and in published papers, and he used this data to obtain millions of dollars in federal grants from the National Institutes of Health — a crime subject to as many as five years in federal prison. Poehlman’s admission of guilt came after more than five years during which he denied the charges against him, lied under oath and tried to discredit his accusers. By the time Poehlman came clean, his case had grown into one of the most expansive cases of scientific fraud in U.S. history.
Jeneen Interlandi, "An Unwelcome Discovery," The New York Times, October 22, 2006 --- Click Here
Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm
Amid Rising Costs and Criticism, Some Colleges Cut Back Merit Aid
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on October 13, 2006
TITLE: Amid Rising Costs and Criticism, Some Colleges Cut Back Merit Aid
REPORTER: Robert Tomsho
DATE: Oct 11, 2006
TOPICS: Accounting, Governmental Accounting
SUMMARY: 'A small but growing number of schools and university systems are to trying to reduce their merit offerings." Questions relate to understanding university financial operations as well as personal interest of the students in the topic.
1.) What is merit aid to college and university students? How does it differ from need-based aid?
2.) How has the level of merit aid changed in the last 10 years? From where is this information gathered?
3.) What are the major sources of revenue to colleges and universities? Describe how these sources differ by type of institution, from large research-oriented universities to small liberal arts colleges.
4.) How does offering financial aid impact college and universities' finances? Express your answer in terms of both cost to the institution and in terms of "discounting" tuition revenue.
5.) Given the financial picture described in answer to questions 3 and 4, why do you think that colleges and universities offer a significant amount of merit aid?
6.) Does the use of merit aid conflict with or support U.S. public policy on higher education? In your answer, identify what you think is U.S. public policy and then support your position on this question.
Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
"Amid Rising Costs and Criticism, Some Colleges Cut Back Merit Aid," by Robert Tomsho, The Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116052998822488903.html?mod=djem_jiewr_ac
As colleges and universities consider whether to join Harvard and Princeton in abandoning early-admissions programs, some are also trying to roll back another popular recruiting tool: merit aid.
Colleges offer merit aid, which is typically awarded on the basis of grades, class rank and test scores, to students who ordinarily wouldn't qualify for financial help. Because merit aid can be a deciding factor in these students' choice of schools, it has become a major weapon in the bidding wars among colleges for high achievers who can help boost their national rankings.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators says merit awards accounted for $7.3 billion, or 16%, of all college financial-aid grants in the U.S. for the 2003-2004 academic year, the latest for which data are available. That's up sharply from $1.2 billion, or 6% of the total, in 1993-1994.
But the cost of such programs has mounted as their use has expanded and tuition has risen. Meanwhile, criticism has grown that they disproportionately benefit students from wealthier communities with better school systems, siphoning resources away from lower-income students with greater financial need. In some cases, students who qualify for neither need- nor merit-based aid end up paying even more to cover a college's costs. As a result, a small but growing number of schools and university systems are trying to reduce their merit offerings.
The University of Florida recently slashed the value of its four-year scholarships for in-state scholars who qualified under the National Merit program by 79% to a total of $5,000.
Last year, Illinois eliminated funding for a statewide merit program. Since 2004, the state of Maryland has been phasing out one merit program and flat-funding another while nearly doubling need-based college aid, to about $83.3 million a year.
Many highly selective private schools like Harvard and Stanford universities don't offer merit aid, but some colleges that do are paring back sharply.
Allegheny College, in Meadville, Pa., where annual tuition and fees total about $28,300, gave its $15,000-a-year merit scholarships to 15% of this year's freshmen, down from about 33% three years ago. To free up funding for more need-based aid, Rhode Island's Providence College scuttled its smaller merit scholarships and raised the eligibility requirements for its larger ones: A grade-point average of about 3.7 on a 4.0 scale used to be good enough; now it takes around a 3.83. Providence's merit scholarships can run as high as full tuition, which is $26,780 this year.
Private-college associations in Pennsylvania and Minnesota are also taking early steps that could lead to broader cutbacks. They have been gathering data and weighing whether to ask the Justice Department for an antitrust exemption so their members can discuss joint action to reduce merit aid. With many colleges fearful that unilateral cuts will drive talented applicants into the hands of competitors, "it's going to take a group effort," says David Laird, president of the Minnesota Private College Council.
But many college administrators fear that even discussing collective action will trigger an expensive repeat of 1991, when the Justice Department sued the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and eight Ivy League schools, charging them with antitrust violations for agreeing to adjust their financial aid offers so that a family's out-of-pocket price would be the same at every school. The suit was eventually settled, and a subsequent federal law permits 28 elite universities to agree on standards for granting financial aid but bars them from trading data on individuals.
Efforts to cut back on merit aid also risk setting off a backlash from middle- and upper-income families who don't qualify for need-based aid but are finding the rising cost of a college to be a daunting stretch. "Family income isn't keeping pace with the things driving higher-education costs," says Jim Scannell, a partner at Scannell & Kurz Inc., a Pittsford, N.Y., consulting firm that works with colleges on enrollment issues.
Some high-achieving applicants target schools that have merit-aid programs, hoping to win a tuition break. With tuition and fees at many private schools surpassing $40,000 a year, small private liberal-arts colleges that lack the cachet of the Ivy League but whose tuitions far exceed those of state colleges could have the most to lose from any cutbacks in merit aid.
For many parents, merit aid "has become more of an expectation," says David Hawkins, public policy director for the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. James Boyle, president of College Parents of America, an advocacy group, adds that, "From a political standpoint, its difficult to take away."
Indeed, efforts to contain the cost of statewide merit programs have sparked legislative battles in Georgia and other states. Despite the rising costs of aid, Georgia and Michigan have bet on merit-based scholarship programs as an economic-development tool, hoping to attract and keep academic talent and ultimately to spur research and innovation.
Many institutions have no intention of cutting back on merit aid. Baylor University, a Baptist college in Waco, Texas, recently increased the value of the merit awards it gives to all incoming freshmen who score at least 1,300 points out of a possible 1,600 on SAT reading and math exams. The awards, which rise in value in tandem with a student's SAT scores, range from $2,000 to $4,000 a year.
Jackie Diaz, Baylor's assistant vice president for student financial services, says the average SAT score for this fall's freshmen was 1,213, up from 1,196 a year ago. "I certainly think the financial-aid awarding has something to do with that," says Ms. Diaz, whose university gave merit packages valued at an average of $6,880 a year to about a third of last year's freshmen class.
For some smaller schools, merit aid is less about boosting rankings than adding revenue by swelling enrollment. In most cases, students are still paying substantial sums for tuition even after receiving a scholarship. "I think in many cases it's misleading to call it merit aid," says Michael McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation, a Chicago-based educational research group. "It's 'get 'em in the door' aid."
At private Wilkes University, Wilkes Barre, Pa., where tuition and fees are about $23,000 a year, only 81 of this year's 580 incoming freshmen didn't get merit aid. To land a scholarship, which starts at $6,000 a year, students have to have graduated in the top half of their high-school class and to have scored a combined total of at least a 900 on the SAT reading and math exams, not much above average.
Mike Frantz, Wilkes's vice president for enrollment and marketing, concedes that the school's minimum requirement for merit aid "isn't incredibly high" but says the offers are necessary to persuade many cost-conscious students to seriously consider Wilkes.
Most institutions, meanwhile, have shied away from cutting athletic scholarships, which often come out of a separate pocket. The University of Florida, for example, while downsizing the value of its National Merit scholarships, hasn't tinkered with its athletic awards. University officials say the $6.9 million in athletic scholarships it awarded last year were entirely funded by private donations and that revenue generated by the athletic program contributed more than $1 million to Florida's budget for need-based aid last year. Athletic scholarships at many schools are funded at least in part by private donors.
Continued in article
"New Approach to Aid," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 13, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/13/aid
The University of Washington is putting a different twist on a growing movement to stop charging low-income students to enroll at leading public universities.
Unlike many institutions that have started such programs in recent years, Washington is covering only tuition and fees, not room and board (although other student aid may well be available for that). But the university is offering its “Husky Promise” to those from families with incomes of up to 65 percent of the state median income, which would currently be about 235 percent of the federal poverty level ($46,500 for a family of four).
That’s a much higher income level than the other public university programs. And because Washington already has a better record than most research universities at enrolling students from low-income backgrounds, the university is projecting that about 5,000 students a year will be in the program as it starts, or about 20 percent of all undergraduates. If the program encourages more eligible students to enroll — as officials at the university hope — Washington says it is possible that it could eventually have up to 30 percent of its undergraduates eligible, a proportion of low-income students that is almost unheard of at highly competitive universities.
“This program is sending a very important message,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior fellow at the Century Foundation and author of America’s Untapped Resource: Low-Income Students in Higher Education. “This recognizes that the problems with access extend beyond the lowest income students to the working class.”
Ana Mari Cauce, executive vice provost at Washington, said that the institution wanted to cover students at the income levels it selected because focus groups indicated that many of them have false impressions about how much the university would cost them and about their ability to enroll. “We were hearing from an awful lot of people who thought tuition was $10,000 a year,” she said (about twice the reality).
“I was sitting down with these people, many of whom I know would qualify for every aid program on the planet, but they have no idea. They think ‘I want to go to college, but you guys are too expensive,’ ” Cauce said. A psychologist who studies adolescents, Cauce said that research shows that these attitudes and expectations take hold early and can be hard to adjust, so the university wanted to do something dramatic to shake up those expectations and reach “the eighth grader trying to decide” whether it’s worth it to study hard, she said.
Similar ideas have prompted a number of leading public universities to tell low-income students that they will not need to borrow to pay for college. The Carolina Covenant — at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — kicked off the movement in 2003. That program started with an eligibility level of 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and was raised to 200 percent, the level used by a program at the University of Virginia. Some of the institutions that have started programs since have used lower levels. In July, Michigan State University started a program for students at or below the poverty level.
None of these programs have reached as high into the student body demographics as will the University of Washington (although some private institutions exceed that level). As a result of the higher cutoff level — and the fact that Washington is starting with a higher percentage of low-income students — a much larger share of undergraduates will be covered by the program. For example, 9 percent of Chapel Hill undergraduates meet that institution’s income level cutoff, compared to Washington’s 20 percent.
The flip side, however, is that Washington won’t be covering room and board through this program. Cauce noted that many of these students will receive other aid for room and board, and she stressed that covering tuition and fees was only the minimum commitment and should in no way be viewed as a ceiling.
The university’s demographics and location may also suggest that it has taken the right approach in covering more people, while not covering everything. “This is a university that has always had seriousness about serving low-income kids,” said Thomas G. Mortenson, a senior scholar for the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. Add in the fact that the university in located in Seattle, making commuting a possibility for many students, and putting the emphasis on reaching more students with tuition aid makes sense, he said. “I’m not sure I would suggest this for Washington State University,” he said, given its more remote location.
Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation said that in a perfect world, he would love to combine “the generosity of the Carolina approach with the cutoff of the Washington approach.”
He said another plus to Washington’s including more income levels was that it would build the political base for student aid. “You have a much larger constituency,” he said.
Robert Shireman, founder of the Project on Student Debt, said that he wasn’t sure which approach (more people eligible or larger grants) would be the best over time. “A blanket offer like the University of Washington’s can help deliver the message to more students in a simple way,” he said. North Carolina’s approach has the benefit of covering more needs for those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, Shireman said. He said that there was no doubt that students do need to hear the kind of message Washington is now going to deliver.
One of those pleased to see the Washington effort is Shirley A. Ort, associate provost and director of scholarships and financial aid at Chapel Hill, who led the efforts to create the Carolina Covenant and has encouraged other institutions to follow suit, including organizing a conference on such programs last month. Ort said that she thinks there is increasingly “a little peer pressure at work” in top universities trying to come up with new approaches to student aid. “I think there’s a lot more discussion about demographics and how they relate to institutional mission,” she said.
Indeed, in announcing the new program, Mark Emmert, Washington’s president, said that one of the messages he wanted to send was that while his university had high standards and aspirations, it would never seek to be “elitist,” adding “it’s not in our DNA.”
To the extent Washington is going about it in a different way than North Carolina did, Ort said that she wants to see different universities try different approaches, with the idea that they will learn from one another. This is a “let a thousand flowers bloom” kind of issue, she said.
Mortenson of the Pell Institute also said he was pleased to see new approaches tried. His only caution was that most universities don’t have the resources of a major flagship to provide the aid that is needed, and government officials aren’t engaged in the issue. “One of the very positive things is that these institutions are not waiting for the government to address affordability problems. I think they are almost shaming the government,” he said.
Added Mortenson: “I admire the commitment where I see it, but it really doesn’t get at all the unmet need out there.”
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
The American Sociological Association criticizes the teaching of
The American Sociological Association has released a statement backing the teaching of evolution in public schools and criticizing the teaching of creationism and intelligent design. The latter theories, the statement said, are “empirically un-testable,” unlike evolution, the statement said. It added that the association “respects the right of people to hold diverse religious beliefs,” including those that reject evolution, but that such beliefs “should not be promulgated by science educators in the classroom.”
Inside Higher Ed, October 20, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/20/qt
The Genographic Project --- https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/index.html
From the University of Virginia
Miller Center of Public Affairs --- http://www.millercenter.virginia.edu/
Barnard Center for Research on Women (social justice studies) --- http://www.barnard.edu/bcrw/
To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering --- http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11624.html
National First Ladies’ Library --- http://www.firstladies.org/index.htm
Does the author of this article needs more formal education in statistical analysis?
"Suffering Schools Gladly," by George C. Leef, Tech Central Station, October 13, 2006 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1718666/posts
Last year's National Assessment of Adult Literacy showed that just 31 percent of college graduates could be regarded as "proficient" in their ability to read prose. When the NAAL was done in 1992, the figure was 40 percent, which seems to support the widespread anecdotal evidence that academic standards have been declining under the pressure to retain students who don't have much interest or ability in academic pursuits. The NAAL also shows weakness among college graduates in their ability to do simple math problems and the 2003 report of the National Commission on Writing found widespread dissatisfaction among employers with the writing skills of graduates.
So are Americans "less prepared" just because they have fewer college degrees -- or because there has been an erosion of academic standards deep into our entire educational system? More to the point, though, just how much does it matter to our national economy that our "educational attainment" is sliding?
So far, it is hard to see that it has any adverse impact. The U.S. economy remains one of the world's most robust, outpacing nations where the percentage of people with college degrees is rising. Canada and Japan, the two nations at the top of the list for college degrees among younger people, have 2005 GDP growth rates of 2.9 percent and 2.7 percent respectively. For the U.S., it's 3.5 percent. Barely behind the U.S. in the percentage of college degrees held by younger workers is France, which has a very anemic 1.4 percent growth rate. If there is any connection between college degrees and economic performance, it's a very loose one.
Continued in article
Millions of variables impact economic performance of a nation across a given year. It is misleading to single out any small subset of variables (such as academic literacy or math proficiency of recent graduates) and conclude that they are important or unimportant in and of themselves. There is also the matter of time. Executives making current decisions went to school in a different generation, perhaps one in which academic standards were higher. Even if future executives come graduate from schools with lowered standards, the rise to the top for these executives filter out most (not all) of the dummies. One thing is certain --- each new crop of executives if proficient in math to an extent they know who to manipulate the numbers to give themselves outrageous compensation. They're no dummies in the executive suites!
Professor Quits Amid Charge of Improper Relationship
An assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis who gained renown for helping to discover a new dinosaur species has resigned amid allegations of an improper relationship with a student . . . The issue surfaced this summer, when the university received information that was shared with Smith, according to M. Frederic Volkmann, vice chancellor for public affairs at Washington. Smith left the university over the summer, after the woman with whom he was alleged to have had a consensual relationship came forward, said a university official who wanted to remain anonymous. The student’s identity is not being revealed by Washington administrators. The university’s policy is that a faculty member is restricted from engaging in a consensual relationship with a student when the professor has a professional “position of authority” with respect to the student.
Elia Powers, "Professor Quits Amid Charge of Improper Relationship," Inside Higher Ed, October 11, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/11/washu
Has the University of Michigan been circumventing the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action?
"New Salvos on Affirmative Action," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, October 17, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/17/mich
With Michigan voters weeks away from a vote on whether to ban affirmative action, critics of the practice are releasing admissions statistics that they say show the extent of the gap between black and white applicants admitted to the University of Michigan.
The data reveal large differences in grades and standardized test scores, and indicate that black applicants are much more likely to be admitted, even with lower grades and test scores. These are the sort of data that have been influential in other states that have considered — and passed — statewide bans on affirmative action. “The people of Michigan have a right to know the extent to which discrimination is taking place,” said Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which is releasing the data today and planning a series of events in Michigan to publicize the figures.
David Waymire, a spokesman for One United Michigan, which is leading the fight against the referendum, said that the data being released were “worthless” because they did not include breakdowns by economic class. He said that he believed the gaps in scores were largely driven by class, not race and ethnicity, and that this was just “the usual half-assed job” from the Center for Equal Opportunity.
The data came from the University of Michigan, which had to release the figures in response to the center’s Freedom of Information Act requests. Among the findings:
- The SAT median for black students admitted to Michigan’s main undergraduate college was 1160 in 2005, compared to 1260 for Hispanics, 1350 for whites and 1400 for Asians. High school grade point averages were 3.4 for black applicants, 3.6 for Hispanics, 3.8 for Asians, and 3.9 for whites.
- Black and Hispanic applicants in 2005 with a 1240 SAT and a 3.2 GPA had a 9 in 10 chance of getting in — while white and Asian applicants with the same scores had a 1 in 10 chance of getting in.
- For undergraduates in the most recent year for which data are available (2004), 28 percent of black students had been on academic probation at some point in their Michigan careers, compared to 23 percent of Hispanic students, 8 percent of Asian students, and 5 percent of white students.
- Similar patterns hold for law and medical school admissions. In the latter, for example, the data indicate that of applicants with an MCAT total of 41 and a GPA of 3.6 in college science courses, admit rates were 74 percent for black applicants, 43 percent for Hispanic applicants, 12 percent for white applicants and 6 percent for Asian applicants.
The debate in the weeks ahead is likely to be over what these numbers mean. To foes of affirmative action, they are the smoking gun about the use of racial preferences in admissions. To the University of Michigan, these are numbers without context or much significance at all (except perhaps politically).
Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity said that these data suggest that the university is paying more attention now to race and ethnicity that it was before two landmark decisions by the Supreme Court in 2003. Those decisions — one about the system used by Michigan to admit undergraduates and one about its law school — effectively said that colleges could continue to use affirmative action, but couldn’t have separate systems in which extra points were awarded across the board specifically for race and ethnicity. Clegg’s group was hoping at the time for the court to completely bar affirmative action, but he said that the data show that Michigan is violating the ruling that was handed down.
What the Supreme Court upheld was the use of race in a “limited and nuanced way,” he said, which is inconsistent with the wide gaps shown in the data his group is releasing.
Julie Peterson, a spokeswoman for the University of Michigan, released a statement in which she took issue with Clegg’s analysis, which she called “flawed and shallow,” noting that expert witnesses in the affirmative action cases had found that such comparisons are oversimplified to the point of being misleading.
The center’s analysis ignored key factors, she said, such as “the rigor of the student’s high school or undergraduate curriculum, extracurricular activities, essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, and socioeconomic status.” By ignoring these qualities about applicants, she said, “CEO attempts to reduce human beings to a couple of simplistic numbers. No top university admits students solely on the basis of grades and test scores. We consider many factors in order to admit a group of students who have diverse talents, who are highly motivated and who have the potential to succeed at Michigan and make a contribution to the learning environment.”
Peterson noted that after the Supreme Court rulings, the university revised its undergraduate admissions process to gain more information about students. “It is just plain wrong to imply that race somehow carries a greater amount of weight than it has in the past, or than the Supreme Court allowed.”
If there was one area on which Peterson and Clegg agreed, it was that the political stakes are high right now for data like the figures being released.
“It is no coincidence that CEO has released this report in the weeks leading up to a ballot proposal that would outlaw public affirmative action in the state of Michigan,” Peterson said. “This is a politicized attempt by CEO to narrow the focus of the debate to college admissions at a single institution, rather than acknowledging the broader potential impact on state employment and contracting, K-12 schools and public universities and community colleges, potentially affecting financial aid, outreach, pre-college and other programs that consider race, gender and national origin.”
For his part, Clegg said that he hopes the data will persuade Michigan voters to bar affirmative action. If they don’t, he said that the data could be helpful to others who may want to sue the university. And if you aren’t in Michigan, Clegg said that his group — which previously did a series of studies like the Michigan one — is planning another series.
Saga of affirmative action at the University of Michigan --- http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/affirm.html
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm
Situational Ethics in Practice
October 12, 2006 message from Scott Bonacker [aecm@BONACKER.US]
It was really the second of these two articles that caught my eye. The point being, in any case, that teaching ethical behavior is not just an issue for accountancy.
10-04-2006 Security's Rotten Apples http://www.darkreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=105282
"if you're working with at least two other IT/security professionals, and you're not breaking any rules, look around -- there's a good chance one of them is.
That's the net result of Dark Reading's "Security Scruples" reader survey, which tested the attitudes and ethics of some 648 IT and security pros over the last two weeks.
The survey, which asked IT people about their beliefs and behavior in both real and hypothetical security situations, suggests that about two thirds of them agree on the conventions for proper conduct -- and the other third might be doing anything from peeking at colleagues' personal data to actively stealing information from the company."
10-11-2006 Corporate Ethics are 'Situational' http://www.darkreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=107203
"Officially, corporations never fail to report suspected security violations, never pay ransoms to hackers, and never allow employees to use company IT systems for personal reasons.
Unofficially, they do all of those things.
According to Dark Reading's "Security Scruples" survey, which concluded today, many enterprises operate differently in private than they say they do in public. And those differences cause some concerns for IT security professionals, whose jobs are on the line."
Bob Jensen's threads on ethics and accounting education are at
From the Scout Report on October 20, 2006
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 7.1.4 ---
Lurking around just about every virtual corner are viruses, waiting to bother high-functioning operating systems who are minding their own business. Interested parties will breathe a sigh of relief as they learn about this application, which provides a tool for scanning hard drives and email quickly and effectively. While the interface isn’t the most visually stunning, it is easy to use. Additional features include a real-time shield which is designed to prevent recurrent infections. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP.
OpenOffice 2.0.4 --- http://www.openoffice.org/
Designed as an open-source alternative to some of the mainline commercial office suite programs, the OpenOffice application contains a full-featured word processor (known as “Writer”), a spreadsheet tool, and an application for creating multimedia presentations. Additionally, visitors can also open and save documents in a number of formats, ensuring maximum compatibility with other programs. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP.
Jumping online to social networking sites brings rewards and risks for politicians Some profiles on MySpace.com not what they seem [Free registration required]http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/10/16/some_profiles_on_myspacecom_not_what_they_seem/
Politicians caught on Internet candid cameras
Politicians Try Out MySpace --- Click Here
2006 Politics Online Conference Magazinehttp://ipdi.org/uploadedfiles/Politics Online 2006 Conference Magazine.pdf
Declare Yourself ---http://www.myspace.com/declareyourself
Herblock’s Gift ---http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/hbgift/
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on October 23, 2006
- Screening Up, Colon Cancer Rates Down
- Hemorrhoids: Surgery Beats Stapling
- Seroquel OK'd for Bipolar Depression
- Neck Surgery Less Risky Than Stents
- 1 in 8 Show 'Problematic' Internet Use
- This Week's Top Stories
- Listening to the Sounds of Cancer
- Study Links Bread, Kidney Cancer Risk
- New Guidelines on Hospital Infections
- RSS WebMD Health News
Latest Headlines on October 25, 2006
- Michael J. Fox Ad: Parkinson's Debate
- Premature Menopause Seen More in Twins
- FDA Approves New Drug for Hay Fever
- Light Test Illuminates Diabetes Woes
- Study: Flu Vaccine Looks Safe for Tots
- Exercise Helps Smokers Quit
- New Treatment May Ace Tennis Elbow
- Airway Zapper Improves Asthma
- Red Wine vs. Colon Cancer
- RSS WebMD Health News
Latest Headlines on October 26, 2006
- Coffee May Protect Against Diabetes
- HPV, Rotavirus Join Childhood Vaccines
- CT Screening Finds Lung Cancers Early
- Shingles Vaccine to Be Routine at 60
- New Warning on Effexor Overdoses
- Women & Sex – Not Just About Hormones
- Viagra: Treatment for Lung Disease?
- Michael J. Fox Ad: Parkinson's Debate
- Twins Have More Premature Menopause
- RSS WebMD Health News
To talk to your woman for hours on a cell phone or father her child, that
is the question (Hamlet had no such choice)
A study debuted in New Orleans has suggested that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones may have an effect on a man's sperm count.
"Study: Cell phones reduce sperm counts," PhysOrg, October 24, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news80925300.html
Drugs to Curb Alzheimer’s Agitation Are Said to Be Ineffective
The drugs most commonly used to soothe agitation and aggression in people with Alzheimer’s disease are no more effective than placebos for most patients, and put them at risk of serious side effects, including confusion, sleepiness and Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, researchers are reporting today.
Benedict Carey, "Drugs to Curb Agitation Are Said to Be Ineffective for Alzheimer’s," The New York Times, October 13, 2006 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/12/health/12dementia.html
"A New Alzheimer's Vaccine: New approaches to immunizing patients against the harmful protein buildup characteristic of Alzheimer's disease offer hope for safer treatments," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, October 19, 2006 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17634&ch=biotech
Vaccination against Alzheimer's disease is one of the most promising treatment strategies. But safety concerns arising after initial human trials have slowed clinical development of such vaccines. Now new research that aims to bring the benefits of vaccines without the harmful side effects are raising hopes once again for this largely untreatable disease.
"There is tremendous interest in this approach," says Neil Buckholtz, chief of the dementias of aging branch at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), in Bethesda, MD. "People believe this could be a promising therapeutic, but they are proceeding slowly because of safety concerns."
Alzheimer's vaccines work by preventing or clearing the buildup of a protein, known as beta-amyloid, which clogs the brains of Alzheimer's patients. A patient can be injected with either an active or passive vaccine. Active vaccines contain the protein itself, triggering the body's immune response to produce protein-specific antibodies that tag the protein for clearance. Passive vaccines, on the other hand, contain antibodies to the protein and therefore may not require an active immune response.
Animal tests of both approaches have been promising: animals given the vaccines showed less buildup of the toxic protein and better performance on cognitive tests. But an early clinical trial of an active vaccine, sponsored by the Ireland-based Elan Corporation, was stopped in 2002 after four patients developed encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Later, autopsies of these patients' brains showed that despite the inflammation, the vaccine did clear the toxic protein from the brain.
"The challenge now is, are there other ways to use the immunotherapy approach to get the benefits without the adverse effects?" says Richard J. Hodes, director of the NIA.
The NIA is sponsoring a new trial, announced earlier this week at the Society for Neurosciences conference, in Atlanta, of a different type of antibody therapy: intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), a blood product used to treat immune disorders. IVIg contains a mix of different antibodies, including one against amyloid. Because the product has already been used to treat thousands of people with immune disease, scientists say it is unlikely to cause the inflammatory problems seen in the first Elan trial. "We have a good understanding of the side effects and how to avoid them," says Hodes.
Elan is also testing a passive vaccine, currently in clinical trials.
Naturally occurring enzyme can break down key part of Alzheimer's plaques
Scientists have identified a naturally occurring enzyme that can break down a key component of the brain plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. The finding may provide researchers with new opportunities to understand what goes wrong in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and could one day help them seek new therapies.
"Naturally occurring enzyme can break down key part of Alzheimer's plaques," PhysOrg, October 24, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news80933254.html
Scientists identify memory gene
An international study led by U.S. geneticists has discovered a gene -- called Kibra -- that is associated with memory performance in humans. The researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix say their findings may be used to develop new medicines for diseases affecting memory, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, by providing a better understanding of how memory works at the molecular level.
"Scientists identify memory gene," PhysOrg, October 20, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news80569444.html
Cancer Killing Virus
South Korean scientists said Thursday they have developed a new genetically altered strain of virus which is highly efficient in targeting and killing cancer cells.
"SKorean scientists say cancer-killing virus developed," PhysOrg, October 19, 2006 --- http://physorg.com/news80448743.html
National Collegiate EMS Foundation --- http://www.ncemsf.org/
It's perfect on a cracker. Almost too perfect. Explore the secrets of Easy
Cheese, one of the world's most unnatural foods.
Patrick Di Justo, "What's Inside: Squirt-On Cheese?" Wired Magazine, October 2006 --- http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.10/start.html?pg=4
It's perfect on a cracker. Almost too perfect. Explore the secrets of one of the world's most unnatural foods.
• Whey: The cheese-making process removes 80 to 90 percent of milk's moisture, some of which is in the form of liquidy whey proteins. This byproduct is usually thrown out, but Kraft plows it back into Easy Cheese to increase volume (filler!) – and passes the savings along to you.
• Canola oil: Keeps the cheese from solidifying.
• Salt: Increases the osmotic transport of moisture, speeding up the cheese-drying process. It also inhibits bacterial growth – in other words, it's a preservative. Easy Cheese has twice the sodium of typical organic cheddar.
• Sodium citrate: The sodium in this compound exchanges ions with the calcium in the milk and "softens" the water-soluble portion of the cheese, enabling it to mix thoroughly with the fat-soluble component. That's called emulsification. The citric acid-derived citrate boosts the sour "bite" of cheddar.
• Sodium phosphate: Degreaser, preservative, urine acidifier, enema ingredient – is there anything Na3PO4 can't do? Here, it's another emulsifying agent. Proponents of natural cheese cited this additive when lobbying to have Kraft's products regulated as "embalmed cheese." The Feds settled on the less-mortifying "process cheese."
• Calcium phosphate: Sodium phosphate tends to make calcium unavailable to the body. So it's possible that calcium phosphate has to be added to make Easy Cheese healthier. It also makes it legal for Kraft to label every can "an excellent source of calcium."
• Lactic acid: Bacteria, either found naturally in milk or added in the cheese-making process, digest the milk sugar lactose and produce lactic acid. It tastes a little sour, because that's how your taste buds interpret hydrogen ions, a key component of every acid.
• Sodium alginate: Every good processed food has seaweed extract, and Easy Cheese is no exception. Alginate, a gum found in the cell walls of brown algae, is flavorless but increases viscosity.
• Apocarotenal: This yellow-orange pigment, found in spinach and citrus fruits, enhances the color of processed cheese.
• The can: Easy Cheese is not a true aerosol – the food never comes in contact with propellant. The can has two sections: The bottom is filled with nitrogen gas, and the top with cheese. Press the nozzle and the nitrogen pressure pushes the cheese out of the can. The nozzle is notched for two reasons: To produce those pretty little floret patterns when the cheese is released, and to ensure that the tasty condiment comes out even if the end of the nozzle is pushed right up against the cracker.
Johns Hopkins Medicine Podcasts --- http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/mediaII/Podcasts.html
"Medicine In Conflict: There is more concern than ever that doctors are blurring the lines between objective science and financial gain," by Arlene Weintraub and Amy Barrett, Business Week, October 23, 2006 --- Click Here
On Oct. 22, some 5,000 physicians will convene in Washington for five days of discussions about high-tech heart treatments. Representatives of more than 160 medical- device companies also will be there to promote their valves, catheters, and stents. This annual confluence of medicine and commerce is carefully choreographed, but still, things don't always go as planned.
In September, 2004, with thousands of doctors at the conference watching live by satellite on giant screens, a cardiologist in Milan inserted an experimental heart valve into a gravely ill patient. Suddenly the patient's heart began to fail. For 45 minutes the stunned audience watched a series of desperate life-saving attempts, until finally the satellite transmission was cut. The patient died later that day. "It was harrowing," says Dr. Martin B. Leon, the New York heart specialist who started the influential conference 18 years ago. "That was a very difficult thing for us."
Leon's anguish over the incident remains palpable, but he also had a financial interest in seeing the valve work. He co-founded the small company that invented the device. That company was sold to Edwards LifesciencesEdwards Lifesciences llcEW just a few months before the device was used in the televised procedure. The deal netted Leon $6 million in cash, plus the chance to earn an additional $1.5 million if the product achieved certain milestones, one of which related to the number of patients successfully treated.
Did Leon's financial stake in the experimental device play a role in its being promoted at an important conference where he is the most prominent figure? "Absolutely not," Leon says. The question, he adds, "borders on being offensive." Nevertheless, he now wonders whether the technology was refined enough to be ready for prime time.
As Leon prepares for this year's conference, he does so amid renewed anxiety over the mixing of medical and corporate interests. Spurred by widespread concern that industry money has too much influence on patient care, the nation's leading medical institutions are reining in doctors. In May, the Cleveland Clinic tightened its conflict-of- interest procedures after ties between device companies and prominent doctors there came to light. Several top academic medical centers have ordered physicians not to accept even trivial company giveaways. "We don't think about whose pen we're holding or who bought us that last pizza, but it creates influence," says Dr. P.J. Brennan, chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Leon's career illustrates the potential conflicts that have become commonplace and are prompting the new rules. The doctor, who traces his choice of profession to the day his grandmother died in his arms after a heart attack, is chairman of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation in New York. The foundation uses donations and fees from medical device companies to stage Leon's annual conference, called Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT). A professor of medicine at Columbia University, he has helped start a handful of cardiac device companies through a corporate "incubator" he co-founded. He also has served as a paid scientific adviser for several other startups. Over the years, companies to which he has had close ties have been featured prominently at TCT, creating at minimum a perception that the companies' products are favored for reasons other than medical merit.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's threads on potential conflicts of interest in academic research are at --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ResearchIndependence
"Living With Love, Chaos and Haley," by Pam Belluck, The New York
Times, October 22, 2006 ---
At least six million American children have difficulties that are diagnosed as serious mental disorders, according to government surveys — a number that has tripled since the early 1990’s. Most are treated with psychiatric medications and therapy. The children sometimes attend special schools.
But while these measures can help, they often do not help enough, and the families of such children are left on their own to sort through a cacophony of conflicting advice.
The illness, and sometimes the treatment, can strain marriages, jobs, finances. Parents must monitor medications, navigate therapy sessions, arrange special school services. Some families must switch neighborhoods or schools to escape unhealthy situations or to find support and services. Some keep friends and relatives away.
Parents can feel guilt, anger, helplessness. Siblings can feel neglected, resentful or pressure to be problem-free themselves.
“It kind of ricochets to other family members,” said Dr. Robert L. Hendren, president-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “I see so many parents who just hurt badly for their children and then, in a sense, start hurting for themselves.”
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