Microsoft has succeeded in staking its first claim over some of the intellectual property in Google’s Android operating system, potentially complicating the internet search company’s efforts to maintain the rapid pace of adoption of the software.
HTC, the Taiwanese handset maker, signed a licensing agreement with Microsoft that covered its use of Android in its own devices. HTC has been one of the biggest backers of Android since the launch of its first phone 18 months ago, helping to make Android the biggest challenger to Apple’s iPhone.
The agreement acknowledges Microsoft’s claim over parts of the Android software. Apple moved to assert its own claims over Android less than two months ago, filing a lawsuit against HTCalleging that the open-source software infringed some of its own patents.
The rival claims over Android reflect the intense competition that has broken out in touchscreen smartphones as technology companies from different backgrounds, each with a different portfolio of patents and other intellectual property, have converged on the market.
Microsoft indicated that it was seeking to press its Android claims further.
The company intends to make sure “competitors do not free-ride on our innovations”, said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel. “We have also consistently taken a pro-active approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform,” he said.
Microsoft’s effort to assert its rights over the intellectual property in Android echoes a similar battle it has fought for almost a decade over the Linux operating system, which it claims also infringes on its patents. That fight was a key part of Microsoft’s efforts to defend its Windows server operating system from an open-source rival.
Google refused to comment on Wednesday on the potential impact of the HTC licensing deal, but recent questions that have been raised over Android have not slowed its adoption.
HTC plans on Thursday to introduce its latest handset based on the software, called the Incredible, and Android device shipments have risen sharply since the turn of the year, reaching 60,000 a day in February from 30,000 a day in December, according to Google.
The broader impact of the Microsoft/HTC licensing deal is clouded by the close working relationship that already exists between the two companies, with HTC one of the main producers of smartphones based on the Windows operating system.
Also, the two did not disclose any details about the patents involved or the amount HTC will pay to the software company.
DOL Obtains Nearly $4 Million in Back Wages for N.J. Gas Station Employees
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) obtained a consent judgment against Raceway Petroleum and Nicholas Kambitsis to pay $3.9 million in unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages to more than 700 former and current employees, predominantly gas station attendants, the DOL announced April 21, 2010.
Raceway Petroleum Inc., a Piscataway company with gas stations located throughout central and southern New Jersey, along with its owner Nicholas Kambitsis, will also pay $100,000 in civil money penalties.
The consent judgment notes that the defendants will pay $1.95 million in overtime compensation and $1.95 million in liquidated damages to the employees. Training Required
In addition, training will be provided to all gas station attendants, station managers, district managers and all other gas station personnel on the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as employees’ rights under the FLSA and the terms of the consent judgment, including the payment of overtime and the rights of employees to engage in activities protected by the act without fear of retaliation.
The defendants will provide interpreters to enable the independent monitor of the consent judgment to provide the training in Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Turkish, English and any other languages understood by their employees. This training must be completed within 60 days of April 9, 2010, the day judgment was entered.
Training must continue to be provided to new employees every six months during the two-year period of service by the monitor. The defendants will complete installation of a mechanical or electronic timekeeping system to record accurately employees’ hours worked and breaks taken in each gas station within 45 days from the date of the judgment. The defendants will provide professional training for all employees on the proper use of the time clocks in languages understandable to the employees and will pay employees for that training time in compliance with the FLSA.
The consent judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by the department in 2006 that alleged that, between June 2002 and December 2009, Raceway and Kambitsis violated the FLSA by failing to pay their employees time and one-half their regular hourly rates when they worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek and by failing to keep accurate time and payroll records. More than 25 witnesses testified during three weeks of trial before a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Some employees described working as many as 100 hours a week. For part of the period covered by the lawsuit, Raceway deducted up to two hours of breaks daily. Many employee witnesses testified that they got less than one-half hour of break time each day.
“This action underscores the department’s commitment to pursue all available legal means to ensure that workers receive their proper wages,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a statement. “It should send the message that the Labor Department will not tolerate employers that do not comply with the law in violation of worker rights.”
Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Changes Bring Communications Challenges for Employers
Under the landmark health care reform law enacted in March 2010, over the counter (OTC) drugs will no longer be eligible flexible spending account (FSA) expenses in 2011 unless employees have a prescription. In addition, individuals will not be able to contribute more than $2,500 to an FSA starting in 2013.
Employers will be required to amend plan documents and communicate these changes to employees. And the new limits may lead more employees to consider coupling FSAs with health savings accounts (HSAs), if offered, in order to increase the total amount of pre-tax dollars that they can put aside for uncovered health-related expenses.
While the new FSA provisions won’t significantly impact most employees, as of 2013 “it will be more expensive for those needing maintenance care related to chronic conditions, and for those needing dental or vision care not covered by the medical plan,” if those expenses exceed $2,500 annually, explained Sara Taylor, health and welfare strategy leader at consultancy Hewitt Associates.
Regarding communications about FSA contribution limits, “there may be some confusion among employees, since for years, employers have promoted the use of FSAs for over-the-counter drugs, and now employees will need a doctor’s prescription for reimbursement,” Taylor pointed out.
When to Amend
"Indications are that most employers will wait until 2013 to amend their FSA plans, but there’s no reason why an employer has to wait to implement the reduced rates," Taylor said.
Prior to reform, there has been no statutory limit on individual FSA contributions, although plans have been free to impose their own limits or to have no limit. “Most large employers have allowed employees to contribute up to $5,000 or more to their FSAs,” Taylor said. “So there’s a fair number that are going to have to make a change to their plans. When they do make that change, I think almost all employers will cap their contribution limits up to the $2,500 maximum and then index that limit to inflation as the statute allows. I don’t think it’s likely that you’ll see many employers impose limits below the $2,500 ceiling.”
Combining FSAs and HSAs
"We may see additional movement toward health savings accounts (HSAs)" in the wake of the limit on FSA contributions, Taylor predicted. For 2010, for example, contribution limits for HSAs were $3,050 for individuals with annual increases tied to the inflation rate. It’s not permissible to offer employers a traditional health FSA and an HSA linked to a high-deductible health plan. But employers may offer employees an HSA and an FSA that is limited to vision and/or dental services, and this option will remain available despite health care reform.
Excluding the possibility of deflation, in 2013 using both an HSA and a dental/vision FSA would allow an employee to contribute over $5,550 in pretax dollars for allowable health-related expenses. However, contributions to FSAs will still be subject to an annual “use it or lose it” rule, while HSA contributions are employee-owned and, if unspent, continue growing from year to year.
"As health care reform plays out, one argument is that employers seeking to hold down their plan costs will introduce a high-deduction health plan if they haven’t already done so," Taylor said.
The reform law requires that small-group plan deductibles be capped, but at a still relatively high $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families, with an exception allowing higher deductible policies for people under age 30. If employers do introduce a high-deductible plan, Taylor said, then “providing access to an HSA funded with pretax dollars can help ease the transition.”
However, employers should be mindful that offering an HSA and a limited FSA together can be confusing for employees. “When employers offer both a health savings account and a flexible spending account, we get a lot more questions from employees trying to understand what the differences are between these multiple accounts that they now need to navigate,” Taylor said.
An April 2010 analysis by consultancy Hewitt Associates drew on the firm’s database of more than 220 U.S. employers covering more than 6 million employees. Among the findings:
Few employees currently contribute to FSA accounts:
Only 20 percent of U.S. employees contributed to an FSA in 2010, either because they were not offered by their employer, or in large part because of concerns over the “use it or lose it” rule requiring them to forfeit unspent contributions each year.
Employees who participate typically save between $250 and $640 each year in federal taxes.
Three-quarters of FSA expenses are for prescription drugs and medical treatments.
Most employees contribute significantly less than the upcoming $2,500 maximum limit:
Of those employees who contribute to an FSA, the average annual contribution is $1,441.
18 percent of workers contributed more than $2,500 and tended to be individuals earning more than $150,000 a year.
OTC drugs make up a small portion of overall FSA spending:
Around 7 percent of all FSA claims in 2009 were for OTC drugs.
Supreme Court Addresses Workplace Privacy in Texting Case
The U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments April 19, 2010, in City of Ontario v. Quon (No. 08-1332), addressing the question of whether a SWAT team member had a reasonable expectation of privacy in text messages transmitted on his city-owned pager. The case may have broad implications for both public and private employers regarding employee use of all types of employer-provided electronic communication devices, Katharine Parker, an attorney in Proskauer Rose’s New York office told SHRM Online in an interview.
“What’s at stake here is the computer-use policies that employers routinely implement and apply for all employees who use their computer systems,” she said. And, “while the Supreme Court might limit Quon to a specific factual situation,” they might also choose to “open the door to a reasonable expectation of privacy, even though it might be a limited one, in the communications an individual makes through social media devices,” said employment attorney Chris Parlo of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, also in New York
City Had No Official Texting Policy
The city of Ontario, Calif., distributed two-way pagers to employees in late 2001 or early 2002. The city had a written policy limiting the use of all city-owned computers and related equipment, software, programs and systems to city business and warning that the e-mail was not confidential, but had no official policy regarding text messaging.
At a meeting held in April 2002, a SWAT lieutenant, Steve Duke, told SWAT personnel, including Jeff Quon, that text messages using the pagers were considered the same as e-mail and that text messages were covered by the policy. However, the written policy was not amended to include pagers, and Duke carried out an informal policy of asking employees to pay the overage charges if they exceeded their allotment of 25,000 characters per month for text messaging. Duke told employees that he would not audit their text messages to see how many were not work-related if they agreed to pay for the overage. Quon went over the limit every three or four months and each time paid for the overage.
In August 2002, the police chief told Duke to request the transcripts of the text messages and audit them to determine whether the overages were caused by personal use of the pagers or whether the city needed to increase the character limit due to the volume of work-related messages. The city contacted the outside service provider, which produced transcripts of the text messages sent and received by certain pagers. Duke reviewed the transcripts and reported his findings to the chief, who in October 2002 asked the internal affairs unit to investigate whether officers were wasting city time by sending personal text messages. The investigation found that many of Quon’s messages were personal and sexually explicit.
Quon sued both the outside service provider and the city, alleging violations of the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA), the Fourth Amendment, and the privacy provision of Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution. The district court rejected the claims after a jury found that the police chief ordered the audit to determine the efficacy of the usage limit, not to seek out misconduct.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Quon reasonably relied on the informal policy articulated by Duke and that the search was unreasonable in scope because there were less intrusive ways to monitor text-messaging use. The appeals court also held that the outside service provided violated the SCA by giving the city the transcripts without obtaining the consent of the sender or the recipient. The Supreme Court granted review of the constitutional issue in December 2009.
Kent Richland of Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland in Los Angeles argued on behalf of Ontario. He stressed the existence of the written “no-privacy” policy, which he argued was broad enough to cover the text messaging pagers.
Representing Quon and several others with whom Quon traded sexually explicit text messages, Dieter Dammeier of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill in Upland, Calif., argued that the city’s written policy did not refer to pagers and text messages, and Duke’s oral statements established a department policy that gave Quon a reasonable expectation of privacy. Dammeier also argued that the review of the text messages was an unreasonable search because it was unjustified and too broad in scope.
Justices Sympathetic to City’s Position
“My sense is that it seemed that most of the justices were sympathetic to the employer’s arguments that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy here, given everything, or that the search was not unreasonable.” Parker said.
Nancy Thorington, an Oakland-based attorney at Meyers Nave, who represents public employers and drafted the friend of the court brief in this case on behalf of the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties, said that she was “cautiously optimistic about the outcome.”
The justices seemed to be grappling with the modern types of communications presented by the case, Thorington noted. “It was clear from some of their questions, that they were not that familiar with this technology,” she said. The first question that should be addressed is “How does an employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy apply in electronic situations?” she explained.
The Supreme Court must weigh “the scope of the employee’s privacy expectation in the face of a broad written policy purporting to destroy the employee’s privacy expectations” and contrary oral statements made by individual managers, Parker said. She added that employers need to be able to access and monitor communications on their computer equipment and devices for a lot of legitimate business reasons, including cost control, network maintenance, investigations of employee misconduct, discovery requests and other types of compliance reviews.
“The notion that some communications are walled off from review is somewhat unworkable,” she noted.
Employers Need Updated Policies
“What you see flowing through the 9th Circuit decision,” and may find its way into the Supreme Court opinion “is that, in today’s workplace, with the hours that people are working and the mechanisms that you have for communication, you will sometimes have a blurring of the business and the personal. Employers should try to find some way to separate the two, if they can,” Parlo said.
It’s not enough to have “your old Internet policy,” he noted. Any policy should deal with all types of communications that might be used by employees and draw clear lines as to what employers and employees can do with those methods of communication, he advised.
The Quon case makes it clear that it is not enough to have a policy. Courts will look at how and if the company adhered to the policy, Parlo added. “If the employer allows some amount of personal communication to go on through its devices, it opens the door up to finding the right to privacy.”
It is essential that “you talk to your staff-level people and make sure that they are aware of the policy and make sure that what they do day-to-day is in line with that policy,” Thorington suggested.
“The important thing to recognize is that the world is rapidly changing,” Parlo concluded. “This whole area is an open question. Employers must be careful whenever this type of question comes up. You can’t just make snap decisions based on your old view of the world.”
Many previous studies have shown through the use of neuroimaging that meditation can change the brain. But most of those studies have looked at medium to long-term meditators. Some looked at monks who had meditated for decades, and some looked at new meditators who had meditated daily for 6 to 8 weeks. At least this much meditation practice was thought to be necessary to create measurable changes in the brain.
Student volunteers were randomly assigned to either practice mindfulness meditation or listen to the reading of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, for 20 minutes a day, for four days. The groups were tested using behavioral tests of mood, memory, visual attention, attention processing, and vigilance. The meditative practice was a simple mindfulness technique. Participants were told to focus on their breath, and that when thoughts distracted them to notice the thought, and then refocus on the breathing.
What were the results? Both groups improved in mood, but only the meditation group improved in cognitive measures. In one challenging mental task, the meditation group did 10 times better than the reading group. It appeared that meditation improved the ability to sustain attention and vigilance.
This is an exciting study which hopefully will be replicated and expanded with their neuroimaging to see if there are functional or structural brain changes after brief meditation practice.
To summarize, it appears that a brief four-day practice of mindfulness meditation can significantly improve cognitive functioning that is related to attention and vigilance.
How lasting is this effect? Does it wear off in hours, days, etc.? What is the dose response ratio of meditation to cognitive functioning improvement? For instance, would eight days of meditation practice create even more cognitive improvement?
In any case, it’s worth practicing meditation at least briefly to see its effects on your mind and your emotions. Commit to 20 minutes a day for one week, and see what happens for you.
Do you want to know how HR can save your company money while improving your HR services?
We are offering free HR assessment to companies (start up, no HR or need help with HR). We will look at your current situation and find out what your business truly needs and what we can do to deliver those services cost effectively. We had saved companies time and money that they were able to reinvest back into their business.
Our full time clients get a dedicated team of at least 1 HR Manager, a Recruiter and an Account Executive for a cost normally lower than hiring 1 HR Manager. Our clients also get access to our HR Specialist i.e. Compensation, Labor Relations, Legal, M&A and more.
We also offer Customized Human Resources Service such as:
· Part time or one time need · Full time or on going services · Hourly or project based · HR audit to prepare for OSHA or OFCCP visits · Benefits or insurance planning · Labor Law questions · Workers Comp management · Unemployment management
We are you’re one stop HR shop. You need it, we have it.
Stop throwing money and call us for a HR assessment.
EW YORK (Reuters) - The Swiss bank UBS AG and the accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP have agreed to $250.5 million of settlements to resolve investor lawsuits over a fraud that nearly destroyed the hospital operator HealthSouth Corp.
UBS insurers will pay $117 million to HealthSouth shareholders and $100 million to bondholders, and Ernst & Young will pay $33.5 million to the bondholders, documents filed on Thursday with the federal court in Birmingham, Alabama show.
The settlements require approval by U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre. UBS and Ernst & Young denied wrongdoing, the court documents show.
Ernst & Young also had agreed in early 2009 to a $109 million settlement with HealthSouth shareholders.
UBS in 2008 separately agreed to pay HealthSouth $100 million to settle a lawsuit filed by shareholders on the company’s behalf.
The litigation stemmed from an estimated $2.7 billion accounting fraud at HealthSouth, a Birmingham-based operator of rehabilitation hospitals and surgical centers.
Fifteen former HealthSouth executives have pleaded guilty over a scheme to artificially inflate earnings and the company’s share price.
Richard Scrushy, HealthSouth’s longtime chief executive, was acquitted on criminal charges in 2005, but an Alabama state judge last June ordered him to pay $2.9 billion in a related civil case.
Scrushy, 57, was convicted in 2006 in a separate bribery case. He is serving his six-year, 10-month term in a Beaumont, Texasfederal prison, federal prison records show.
David Bronner, chief executive of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the lead bondholder plaintiff, in a statement called the bondholder settlements “substantial” and “a great result.”
UBS was not immediately available for comment.
Ernst & Young spokesman Charles Perkins said the latest settlement allows the accounting firm to avoid lengthy litigation.
The case is In re: HealthSouth Corp Securities Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District ofAlabama, No. 03-1500
Governor Jan Brewer said the Arizona police would not use racial profiling, even though the whole point of the immigration bill she signed into law yesterday is to racially profile and harass Hispanics. Brewer was expected to receive the endorsement of racist groups in Arizona and across the country, and the overwhelming support of those who post misspelled, incoherent gibberish on online message boards.
The bill appears to weaken the chance of Republicans ever attracting one Hispanic vote in this country, although they apparently hope it will appeal to Hispanics with low self-esteem who support being stopped by police for no apparent reason.
State Senator Russell Pearce is uniquely qualified to be the sponsor of the new law. When Pearce posed for a photo with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference, he said he didn’t know that the man was a neo-Nazi, although you would think the swastika might have been a tip-off. Arizona police did not say if they will use a German accent when they racially profile Hispanics and demand they “show us your papers!”.
Pearce helped burnish his credentials in 2006, when he praised a 1950’s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback that could open up the possibility of police deporting anyone who might be sweating on a lovely 110 degree day in Phoenix.
And Pearce once “inadvertently” sent an email to supporters with an attachment by a white supremacist group. The only person who could “inadvertently” attach a white supremacist document is someone who could pose with a neo-Nazi and not know he’s a neo-Nazi.
In a related move, Senator John McCain sold his soul to the devil. After a lifetime of fighting immigration measures like this, McCain supported the bill and answered the question of which John McCain he is now. Apparently, he’s the John McCain who voted against making Martin Luther King’s birthday a federal holiday in 1983.
The Arizona immigration bill signed into law yesterday almost makes the stupidity and vileness of the “Obama is a Socialist, Communist, Nazi Fascist” signs at Tea Party rallies, and the mind-blowingly vapid and mean ramblings of Michele Bachmann (“We have a gangster government in Washington”) pale in comparison. Those are just disgusting words. What Arizona has done is a disgusting deed.
So until Arizona repeals this un-American bill, the closest I’m going to get to the Grand Canyon is looking at a photo of it in an old National Geographic.
"There are several incorrect reports on Bret’s condition," the post reads. "Bret remains in critical condition at an undisclosed location. Further tests are being ran and information will be updated in the coming days."
TMZ reported late Friday that Michaels was “awake, in good spirits and talking” citing Ambre Lake, the season-two winner of Michaels’ “Rock of Love” reality show. The site reported that Lake has spoken with people close to Michaels who said he was “stabilized and conscious.” Lake’s status update on the 47-year-old hair-metal legend was said to coincide with another unidentified “Rock of Love” contestant who is in touch with the other members of Poison. Michaels was rushed to the hospital late Thursday evening, where doctors discovered he had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding at the base of his brain stem, a rep for the singer confirmed to MTV News.
"After several CAT scans, MRIs and an angiogram, [doctors] decided to keep Michaels in the ICU and are running several tests to determine the cause [of the hemorrhage]," a source told People magazine, in a report that Michaels’ rep said was accurate. “[It] will be touch and go for the next few days while he is under intense observation.”
Donald Trump of the NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice,” on which Michaels has been a competitor, told Entertainment Tonight on Friday that he was “deeply saddened” by Michaels’ affliction and added, “My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time. He’s a great competitor and champion and I hope he will be fine.
Sweeping financial legislation that would bring transparency and more oversight to the opaque, $450 trillion world of “derivatives” cleared a Senate panel today with the support of one key Republican.
The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the bill, 13-8, which will be rolled into a broader overhaul. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the only Republican to vote for it.
The measure would require that most so-called swaps be traded on regulated exchanges and pass through clearinghouses. Banks also would have to spin off their swap desks if they wanted to receive federal deposit insurance or have access to the Federal Reserve discount window.
Senate Democratic leaders plan to seek a key procedural vote tomorrow and hope for a final vote Monday, a senior Democratic aide told Reuters.
Health Reform's Coverage Requirements Expected to Drive Premiums Higher
New coverage mandates under the comprehensive health care reform measure enacted in March 2010 will add to upward pressures on premiums paid by employers and employees, Dr. Jeffrey Kang, chief medical officer at Cigna Healthcare, told SHRM Online.
During an April 13, 2010, interview at the 2010 World Health Care Congress, held near Washington, D.C., Kang said the immediate impact of health care reform on costs for employers would revolve around three big drivers: the move to cover dependents up to the age of 26, first-dollar coverage for all preventive care services, and elimination of lifetime maximums, each of which takes effect in 2011. Citing research by Cigna, one of the largest U.S. health care providers, Kang shared what he termed “hot off the presses” estimates for expected percentage increases for group plan premiums in addition to what the annual cost trend increases for employer-provided plans would otherwise be.
"If you’re an employer that is currently covering dependents up to age 23, which is what most employers do, we’re estimating the cost impact of covering dependents up to age 26 is roughly a 1.5 percent to 2 percent additional increase in premiums. If you are an employer that has previously had no coverage of preventive care, then it’s about a 3 to 4 percent increase on your premiums to introduce that benefit. If you are covering preventive services but you have some cost-sharing on those services, whether co-pays or deductibles, then eliminating that cost-sharing may amount to an additional 1 to 2 percent increase," Kang said.
In terms of eliminating lifetime maximums, Kang said that most companies with 100 or more employees are likely to have lifetime limits of $5 million to $10 million in place, “and very few people actually hit that lifetime maximum, so the cost impact for large employers is perhaps only an additional tenth of a percent to a half percent of total premiums.” However, he added, “for smaller employers with low lifetime maximums of $500,000 to $1 million, there could be a significant premium impact. I encourage those employers to consult with their insurance carriers for estimates of what the impact will be from a cost perspective.”
For 2010, costs for the most popular types of health care coverage were projected to increase again at double-digit rates, according to a survey of U.S. insurers and administrators by Buck Consultants. The expanded coverage requirements taking effect in January 2011 will make the cost trend’s upward trajectory that much steeper.
——————————————————————————- Expanded coverage requirements are expected to increase the cost trend’s upward trajectory. ——————————————————————————-
As to post-reform premium increases and the communications challenges they might pose during open enrollment season, “that actually depends on who is going to pick up those increases,” Kang observed. “If the employer picks them up, no communications problem. If they pass them along to the employees, it then becomes something of an issue.”
He advised explaining to employees the factors in the reform law driving larger premium increases. “They are all good things—100 percent first-dollar coverage of preventive services, elimination of lifetime maximums, increasing coverage to dependents up to 26 years old. It’s hard to argue with them. So I don’t think communications will be terribly difficult on those short-term design changes. As for longer-term cost pressures, it’s a little different.”
Long-Term Cost Factors
Over the mid- to long-term, other elements of the reform measure will take effect and add to employers’ costs, Kang explained. Among these, “there are three or four very large taxes in this bill, including taxes on medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health insurers. In additional, there is the expansion of the Medicare payroll tax for high earners. All of these will at some point, whether directly or indirectly, flow back to the employer and result in increased costs on a premium basis,” Kang predicted.
Another large cost driver, which is harder to estimate, he said, is the cost shift that occurs when the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs underpay doctors and hospitals, leading those service providers to then charge more to private-sector payers to make up the difference (see Report: Best, Worst U.S. Cities for Hospital Value). “About half of the 32 million uninsured that will be getting coverage under health care reform are going to receive Medicaid managed care services,” Kang stated. “This means that there will be 16 million more people in Medicaid managed care. … It’s been well-described that Medicaid definitely underpays providers, and those doctors and hospitals will then cost shift to employers and commercial health plans.”
Consumer-Driven Trend Seen Continuing
Despite some limits being placed on plans with extremely high deductibles, “the movement toward health care consumerism is well-entrenched and will continue over the next several years and decades,” Kang expects, regardless of health care reform. He noted that more employers are providing incentives to employees, “whether it’s through a high-deductible plan with a health savings account or even in a co-insurance plan, to focus on selecting the highest quality and most cost effective providers.” Relatedly, he noted, “there is a continued demand for us as payers to supply [cost and quality] information regarding doctors, hospitals, ambulatory surgery, high-tech radiology” and other health care services.
Regarding payments to service providers, Kang lamented that “we are paying for service and quantity, and the reality is we should be paying for quality and results. Unfortunately, the [health care reform law] does not do much in that area other than provide for a few demonstration or pilot programs. In the long term, innovation is going to have to come from the private sector, and in particular from thoughtful employers willing to work with their health plans to try to accelerate movement toward pay for results and performance.”
Partnering with Insurers
Kang advised employers to work more aggressively in a partnership with their insurers on benefit design issues, including “health and wellness initiatives to incent healthier behaviors and to create a ‘culture of health’ in the workplace.”
Another area where employers should partner with their health insurers, Kang said, is on network design. “Right now, employers often focus on providing access to the broadest network. They should begin to think about working with their health plan to define a network of doctors and hospitals that add value by providing services of the highest quality that are also cost effective.” To make use of these networks effective, Kang suggested larger differentials between in-network and out-of-network services. “In essence, the message should be, ‘this is your network, it’s a high quality network, and we’d like you to go see those doctors and hospitals.’”
Jobs Law Provides Tax Breaks to Companies that Hire Unemployed Workers
On March 28, 2010, President Obama signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, which contains more than $17 billion in tax credits aimed to stimulate employment, and includes $20 billion for highway and transit infrastructure programs. One of the most important provisions for businesses is a tax credit for hiring from the ranks of the unemployed.
Under the HIRE Act, the employer of a “qualified employee” is excused from paying the employer match for the 6.2 percent Social Security portion of that employee’s wages in 2010. A qualifying employee is one who is hired after Feb. 3, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2011; is not hired to replace another employee; is not related to the employer; and certifies under penalty of perjury that he or she has not been employed for more than 40 hours during the 60-day period ending on the date that employment begins with the new employer. This incentive can save the employer up to $6,621.60 for each qualified employee hired (6.2% of the maximum Social Security withholding for 2010), with increased savings for hiring qualified veterans, whose maximum Social Security withholding amount is higher.
Employers also can receive a tax credit on their 2011 return for each new employee hired and retained for 52 weeks under certain criteria; that credit is the lesser of $1,000 or 6.2 percent of the wages paid to the employee for those 52 weeks.
These tax incentives are meant to spur job creation, especially for small businesses who are undecided about whether to begin to ramp up company-building efforts in light of recent economic difficulties. In addition, the act includes a one-year extension of expensing thresholds so that small businesses may elect to write-off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures (subject to a phase-out once those expenditures exceed $800,000) in 2010 in lieu of depreciating those costs over time.
The goal of that provision is, of course, to provide an incentive to businesses to invest immediately in equipment and inventory to jump-start economic activity.
The act extends current federal aid for certain highway programs, saving existing jobs associated with that work. It also establishes a new Build America Bonds program that will provide an optional direct subsidy for bonds issued for certain school and energy projects.
One key revenue source for the act’s programs is a limitation on the ability of multinational corporations to shift assets among foreign institutions in order to minimize withholding tax. In 2004, Congress provided to certain taxpayers an election to take advantage of a rule for allocating interest expense between U.S. sources and foreign sources for purposes of determining that taxpayer’s foreign tax credit limitation. The phase-in of that rule previously was delayed a number of times. The HIRE Act further delays the implementation to 2021, which is estimated to raise nearly $10 billion over the next ten years.
Congressional leadership has called the HIRE Act the “first of several” laws intended to stimulate job creation. Employers should make themselves aware of the opportunities that are becoming codified in new laws, and should maximize on those opportunities for employing and re-employing qualified individuals. However, employers also must recognize that these new laws do not excuse employers from complying with existing anti-discrimination laws, and should be aware that increased hiring may call for increased diligence in compliance with those laws.
IRS Developed Form Affidavit for Qualified Employees Under HIRE Act
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has developed a form (Form W-11) for use by employers to confirm that an employee is a qualified employee under the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.
While it is acceptable to use a similar statement, such alternate statement will only be acknowledged by the IRS if it contains the information set forth in Form W-11, and if the employee signs it under penalties of perjury.
As set forth in the version of the act signed by President Barack Obama last month, an employer may not claim HIRE Act benefits, including the payroll tax exemption or the new hire retention credit, unless the newly hired employee completes and signs an affidavit or statement under penalties of perjury, and is otherwise a qualified employee.
According to the Employer Instructions that accompany Form W-11, a “qualified employee” is an employee who: • Begins employment with the employer after Feb. 3, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2011. • Certifies by signed affidavit, or similar statement under penalties of perjury, that he or she has not been employed for more than 40 hours during the 60-day period ending on the date the employee begins that employment. • Is not employed to replace another employee unless the other employee separated from employment voluntarily or for cause (including downsizing). • Is not related to the employer. An employee is considered to be “related” if he or she is the employer’s child or a descendent of the employer’s child, a sibling or stepsibling, a parent or an ancestor of a parent, a stepparent, niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, or in-law of the employer. An employee is related to the employer if he or she is related to anyone who owns more than 50 percent of the outstanding stock or capital and profits interest of the company, or is a dependent either of the employer or of anyone who owns more than 50 percent of the outstanding stock or capital and profits interest of the company.
The text of the IRS’ affidavit simply states: “I certify that I have been unemployed or have not worked for anyone for more than 40 hours during the 60-day period ending on the date I began employment with this employer.” The affidavit must be signed, dated and a Social Security number must be indicated, as well as the first date of employment. The signature line should follow a statement that “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this affidavit and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it is true, correct and complete.” The form is not submitted to the IRS, but must be kept by the employer to document the information.
As has been stated on other occasions, employers should realize that the HIRE Act does not excuse them from complying with existing anti-discrimination and employment-related laws, and should be aware that the increased hiring generated by the act also will require increased diligence in compliance with those existing laws.
Or in the words of one of the event promoters: this “is a chance for women who are looking for a guy who can provide their pre-30 retirement program…it’s all about rich guys and hot girls.”
The list of “Who’s Coming” given on the site includes a range of attendees from large Wall Street firms, including an asset manager at AIG, an “investment banker” from Citigroup, and a managing director from Barclays Capital. You can list your salary next to your position at the bank, which most guests declined to do.
But there are a few exceptions, such as “Ira” from Merrill, who lists his salary as “$300,000 +”, or “Jake” from J.P. Morgan Chase, who lists his salary as a range of “$100,000 to $149,000.” (We can’t vouch for the veracity of these names, though we wonder how firms such as Goldman Sachs Group would look upon its traders posting their names, firm and salaries on a dating site.)
Women on the list hail from companies such as Estee Lauder, Theory, Bloomingdales and Victoria Secret. The salaries appear lower than those on Wall Street, but not by that much. Apparently, the organizers take this fashion finance criteria seriously. “Kathleen” from Brooklyn College tried to attend, and it says on the Web site that she was “rejected.”
Last night’s event featured free vodka during the first hour and a runway for swimsuit modeling.
In a video on the event’s Web site, one of the promoters, Dan Reiger of Clientique Marketing, is asked whether the premise of the event is superficial. “I think New York in general is superficial,’’ Reiger says. “Everyone wants beauty, everyone wants money, everyone wants to be seen and wants to be heard and that is what we provide for them.”
Whoever said New York was one big bubble, separate from the rest of a country that is still wallowing in a recession?
Having sat through two conference calls with Goldman officials (one for the public and the other for the press) in the space of three hours, is there anything we know now about the Abacus CDO that we didn’t know before?
Here are five new takeaways.
Having sat through two conference calls with Goldman officials (one for the public and the other for the press) in the space of three hours, is there anything we know about the Abacus CDO that we didn’t know before?
Here are five new takeaways.
1) In its call with reporters, Goldman offered a defense of why it didn’t disclose the SEC investigation of the Abacus to investors before the agency filed its lawsuit last Friday. “We did not think it was material,’’ said co-general counsel Greg Palm. “It’s one CDO, and we thought we had a good case,’’ refuting the SEC’s allegations.
Asked whether Goldman now thinks withholding information about the SEC probe was a mistake–given that, if nothing else, the loss of $12 billion in market value after the charges were announced show that investors thought it was material–Palm responded that “we incorporate anything that happens into our thinking” about how to do things in the future.
2) The case, for now, appears only civil in nature, not criminal; Goldman said it hasn’t been contacted by the Department of Justice.
3) We knew IKB, the German bank that bet long on Abacus, also had a role in selecting collateral for the CDO, just as Paulson, who was shorting the deal, did. But when pressed by reporters, Palm said IKB made only “a few suggestions” about what went into the deal and had signed off on ACA Capital collateral section “The fact [that IKB] made less suggestions than Paulson suggests they were happy with the portfolio,’’ Palm said.
4) Palm offered this new reasoning in Goldman’s defense: In the end, it didn’t matter whether long or short investors selected the Abacus collateral. Most of the mortgages in the pool “were crushed” by the subprime market collapse, even those selected by the longs — ACA and IKB.
5) CEO Lloyd Blankfein has no plans to address the case publicly, Palm said.
Guru, one-half of influential hip-hop duo Gang Starr, died Tuesday morning at age 43 of cancer-related causes.
The rapper, whose real name was Keith Elam, suffered a heart attack in March and had been in a coma (though he had since woken up). He was 43 years old.
"The world has lost one of the best MCs and hip-hop icons of all-time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru," said longtime collaborator and friend Solar in a statement.
"This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius."
Houston-born DJ Premier was the second-half of Gang Starr alongside Guru, though the pair’s relationship soured over the last several years.
Guru left a letter for fans that said he had “exhausted all medical options.” He urged them to support Each One Counts, a nonprofit for chronically and terminally ill children.
The statement, provided by Solar, also indicates that Guru does not want Premier “to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death.”
"This letter is way outta hand Solar," Premier writes on his blog.
"Why the (expletive) did nobody stopped that dude??? I’m stuck with mix feelings, sorry. I can’t accept this. R.I.P. Guru, play his songs!! He will be remembered for ever and ever!!"
Gang Starr first came to national attention with 1989’s No More Mr. Nice Guy, but it was 1991’s Step In The Arena that made the duo hip-hop heavyweights. They were among the first to blend jazz and hip-hop. (1998 album Moment of Truth was their best-selling album and certified gold for sales of 500,000 units.)
The Supreme Court today invalidated a federal law that had criminalized the sale of certain depictions of animal cruelty, including violent dogfighting videos.
Is a law that bans the selling of depictions of animal cruelty unconstitutional?
An 8-1 majority on the Court said that the law was “substantially overbroad, and therefore invalid under the First Amendment,” affirming the right of free speech in the face of some government-imposed restrictions.
The government had argued that showing animals being mutilated, tortured or killed was so explicit that it should be banned. But today Chief Justice John Roberts , writing for the majority, said “We disagree.”
"The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs," Roberts said.
The ruling effectively throws out the conviction of 69-year-old Robert Stevens, a documentary film producer at the center of the case who had argued for the right to sell videos depicting dogfighting to educate the public about pit bulls.
"Mr. Stevens is pleased and extremely grateful for the Supreme Court’s thoughtful consideration of his case," said Stevens’ attorney Patricia Millett. "Acts of animal cruelty are abhorrent and rightly condemned. Laws banning such conduct remain fully protected, as they should. But we cannot forget how critical the free flow of information is to educating the public about the problems of animal cruelty and the need for legislative and prosecutorial action to combat it."
Stevens’ business, Dogs of Velvet and Steel, has been operated out of his rural Virginia home where he produced numerous videos about the animals.
n one video, Stevens, sitting in a rocking chair, talks about tapes shot in Japan in the early 1950s or 1960s. It is clear that Stevens is not taping the fight, but providing after-the-fact narration.
"I cannot emphasize enough that this video in no way promotes dogfighting or gambling," he said in one scene.
Stevens’ lawyers had argued he included the violent, but apparently bloodless, footage to represent what he sees as the admirable traits of the breed.
His narration does provide a play-by-play of the dogs fighting each other. At one point Stevens says, “You know who my pick is.”
He was convicted and sentenced to 37 months imprisonment for violating a 1999 federal law that prohibits “knowingly selling depictions of animal cruelty, with the intention of placing them in interstate commerce.” The law was passed to target the problem of animal cruelty.
A federal appeals court invalidated his sentence and the statute. Today the top court affirmed that ruling.
In his opinion Justice Roberts acknowledged that the First Amendment has “permitted restrictions upon the content of speech in a few limited areas” such as obscenity, defamation and fraud, but that the depictions of animal cruelty should not be added to the list.
"Maybe there are some categories of speech that have been historically unprotected, but have not yet been specifically identified or discussed as such in our case law," Roberts wrote, "but if so, there is no evidence that "depictions of animal cruelty" is among them."
The last time the Supreme Court addressed the issue was in 1982 when it carved out an exception to the First Amendment on the issue of child pornography.
In court briefs, the government links obscenity laws with animal cruelty and argues that neither merits protection from speech.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote, “Like obscenity, the depictions are of patently offensive conduct that appeals only to the basest instincts.”
But lawyers for Stevens argued that the case was not about dogfighting.
"What this case is about is whether Congress can create whole new categories of speech not protected by the First Amendment,” said Stevens’ lawyer Robert Corn-Revere. “It’s creating a whole new category that has never been recognized as unprotected by the First Amendment.”
Some First Amendment supporters have come to Stevens’ defense, worrying about restrictions the government can place on speech.
What about when that euphoric feeling is gone? According to Ted Huston at the University of Texas, the speed at which courtship progresses often determines the ultimate success of the relationship. What they found was that the longer the courtship, the stronger the long-term relationship.
The feelings of passionate love, however, do lose their strength over time. Studies have shown that passionate love fades quickly and is nearly gone after two or three years. The chemicals responsible for “that lovin’ feeling” (adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, etc.) dwindle. Suddenly your lover has faults. Why has he or she changed, you may wonder. Actually, your partner probably hasn’t changed at all; it’s just that you’re now able to see him or her rationally, rather than through the blinding hormones of infatuation and passionate love. At this stage, the relationship is either strong enough to endure, or the relationship ends.
If the relationship can advance, then other chemicals kick in. Endorphins, for example, are still providing a sense of well-being and security. Additionally, oxytocin is still released when you’re having sex, producing feelings of satisfaction and attachment. Vasopressin also continues to play a role in attachment.
Only three percent of mammals (aside from the human species) form “family” relationships like we do. The prairie vole is one such animal. This vole mates for life and prefers spending time with its mate over spending time with any other voles. Voles even go to the extreme of avoiding voles of the opposite sex.
When they have offspring, the couple works together to care for them. They spend hours grooming each other and just hanging out together. Studies have been done to try to determine the chemical makeup that might explain why the prairie vole forms this lifelong, monogamous relationship when its very close relative, the montane vole, does not.
According to studies by Larry Young, a social attachment researcher at Emory University, what happens is that when the prairie vole mates, like humans, the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are released. Because the prairie vole has the needed receptors in its brain for these hormones in the regions responsible for reward and reinforcement, it forms a bond with its mate. That bond is for that particular vole based on its smell — sort of like an imprint. As further reinforcement, dopamine is also released in the brain’s reward center when they have sex, making the experience enjoyable and ensuring that they want to do it again. And because of the oxytocin and vasopressin, they want to have sex with the same vole.
Because the montane vole does not have receptors for oxytocin or vasopressin in its brain, those chemicals have no effect, and they continue with their one-night stands. Other than those receptors, the two vole species are almost entirely the same in their physical makeup.
In romantic love, when two people have sex,oxytocin is released, which helps bond the relationship. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, the hormone oxytocin has been shown to be “associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people.” When it is released during orgasm, it begins creating an emotional bond — the more sex, the greater the bond. Oxytocin is also associated with mother/infant bonding, uterine contractions during labor in childbirth and the “let down” reflex necessary for breastfeeding.
Vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone, is another chemical that has been associated with the formation of long-term, monogamous relationships (see “Are We Alone in Love?”). Dr. Fisher believes that oxytocin and vasopressin interfere with the dopamine and norepinephrine pathways, which might explain whypassionate love fades as attachment grows.
Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, also play a key role in long-term relationships. They produce a general sense of well-being, including feeling soothed, peaceful and secure. Like dopamine and norepinephrine, endorphins are released during sex; they are also released during physical contact,exercise and other activities. According to Michel Odent of London’s Primal Health Research Center, endorphins induce a “drug-like dependency.”
There are a lot of chemicals racing around your brain and body when you’re in love. Researchers are gradually learning more and more about the roles they play both when we are falling in love and when we’re in long-term relationships. Of course, estrogen and testosterone play a role in the sex drive area (see How Sex Works). Without them, we might never venture into the “real love” arena.
That initial giddiness that comes when we’re first falling in love includes a racing heart, flushed skin and sweaty palms. Researchers say this is due to the dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine we’re releasing. Dopamine is thought to be the “pleasure chemical,” producing a feeling of bliss.Norepinephrine is similar to adrenaline and produces the racing heart and excitement. According to Helen Fisher, anthropologist and well-known love researcher from Rutgers University, together these two chemicals produce elation, intense energy, sleeplessness, craving, loss of appetite and focused attention. She also says, “The human body releases the cocktail of love rapture only when certain conditions are met and … men more readily produce it than women, because of their more visual nature.”
Researchers are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to watch people’s brains when they look at a photograph of their object of affection. According to Helen Fisher, a well-known love researcher and an anthropologist at Rutgers University, what they see in those scans during that “crazed, can’t-think-of-anything-but stage of romance” — the attraction stage — is the biological drive to focus on one person. The scans showed increased blood flow in areas of the brain with high concentrations of receptors for dopamine — associated with states of euphoria, craving and addiction. High levels of dopamine are also associated with norepinephrine, which heightens attention, short-term memory, hyperactivity, sleeplessness and goal-oriented behavior. In other words, couples in this stage of love focus intently on the relationship and often on little else.
Another possible explanation for the intense focus and idealizing view that occurs in the attraction stage comes from researchers at University College London. They discovered that people in love have lower levels of serotonin and also that neural circuits associated with the way we assess others are suppressed. These lower serotonin levels are the same as those found in people with obsessive-compulsive disorders, possibly explaining why those in love “obsess” about their partner
If you’ve ever been in love, you’ve probably at least considered classifying the feeling as an addiction. And guess what: You were right. As it turns out, scientists are discovering that the same chemical process that takes place with addiction takes place when we fall in love.
Love is a chemical state of mind that’s part of our genesand influenced by our upbringing. We are wired for romance in part because we are supposed to be loving parents who care diligently for our helpless babies.
In this article, we’ll find out what love really is and what happens in our bodies that makes us fall in love — and ensures we stay there. We’ll also look at what attracts us to someone in the first place. Is it their pheromones, or do they just fit the right “love template?”
What is Love?
Romantic love both exhilarates and motivates us. It is also critical to the continuation of our species. Without the attachment of romantic love, we would live in an entirely different society that more closely resembled some (but not all) of those social circles in the animal world. The chemicals that race around in our brain when we’re in love serve several purposes, and the primary goal is the continuation of our species. Those chemicals are what make us want to form families and have children. Once we have children, those chemicals change to encourage us to stay together to raise those children. So in a sense, love really is a chemical addiction that occurs to keep us reproducing
Regardless of the country or culture, romantic love plays an important part. While cultural differences in how that love is displayed vary greatly, the fact that romantic love exists is undisputed.
But let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What is it that makes us fall in love with someone in the first place?
What makes us fall in love?
We all have a template for the ideal partner buried somewhere in our subconscious. It is thislove map that decides which person in that crowded room catches our eye. But how is this template formed?
Appearance Many researchers have speculated that we tend to go for members of the opposite sex who remind us of our parents. Some have even found that we tend to be attracted to those who remind us ofourselves. In fact, cognitive psychologist David Perrett, at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, did an experiment in which he morphed a digitized photo of the subject’s own face into a face of the opposite sex. Then, he had the subject select from a series of photos which one he or she found most attractive. According to Dr. Perrett, his subjects always preferred the morphed version of their own face (and they didn’t recognize it as their own).
Personality Like appearance, we tend to form preferences for those who remind us of our parents (or others close to us through childhood) because of their personality, sense of humor, likes and dislikes, etc.
Pheromones The debated topic of human pheromones still carries some weight in the field of love research. The word “pheromone” comes from the Greek words pherein and hormone, meaning “excitement carrier”.
Staring Into Each Other’s Eyes Professor Arthur Aron, of the State University of New York at Stonybrook, has studied what happens when people fall in love and has found that simply staring into each other’s eyes has tremendous impact. In an experiment he conducted, Professor Aron put strangers of the opposite sex together for 90 minutes and had them discuss intimate details about themselves. He then had them stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes without talking. The results? Many of the subjects felt a deep attraction for their partner after the experiment, and two even ended up getting married six months later.
In the animal world, pheromones are individual scent “prints” found in urine or sweat that dictate sexual behavior and attract the opposite sex. They help animals identify each other and choose a mate with an immune system different enough from their own to ensure healthy offspring. They have a special organ in their noses called the vomeronasal organ(VNO) that detects this odorless chemical.
The existence of human pheromones was discovered in 1986 by scientists at the Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and its counterpart in France. They found these chemicals in human sweat. A human VNO has also been found in some, but not all, people. Even if the VNO isn’t present in all of us — and may not be working in those who do have it — there is still evidence that smell is an important aspect of love (note the booming perfume industry). An experiment was conducted where a group of females smelled the unwashed tee shirts of a group of sweaty males, and each had to select the one to whom she was most “attracted.” Just like in the animal world, the majority of the females chose a shirt from the male whose immune system was the most different from their own.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, aphrodisiacs are based in “folklore, not fact.” Still, people continue to believe in the love-inducing effects of certain foods, herbs and extracts. There are several common aphrodisiacs that may or may not have actual effects on your love life. Discovery Health listed some of these:
Asparagus: The vitamin E in this vegetable is said to stimulate sex hormones.
Chili peppers: Some researchers say that eating hot peppers makes us release endorphins, which might lead to “other things.”
Chocolate: This favorite for Valentine’s Day contains phenylethylamine, one of the chemicals your body produces naturally when you’re in love (see The Chemistry of Love).
Oysters: Oysters contain high levels of zinc, which reportedly increased the production of testosterone. Testosterone increases libido for both sexes.
Others include Ginkgo, Spanish fly (dead beetle parts) and Damiana.
Most of these are supposed to create the desire for sex or improve male sexual ability rather than attract a mate. But, if you’re stimulating hormones that make you more interested, then you’re more likely to meet someone and fall in love. And, even if they don’t actually work, some say that if you think it’s going to work, you’re halfway there.
Types/Stages of Love: Lust and Attraction
There are three distinct types or stages of “love”:
Lust, or erotic passion
Attraction, or romantic passion
Attachment, or commitment
When all three of these happen with the same person, you have a very strong bond. Sometimes, however, the one we lust after isn’t the one we’re actually in love with.
Lust When we’re teenagers, just after puberty, estrogen and testosterone become active in our bodies for the first time and create the desire to experience “love.” These desires, a.k.a. lust, play a big role both during puberty and throughout our lives. According to an article by Lisa Diamond, entitled “Love and Sexual Desire” (Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol 13 no. 3), lust and romantic love are two different things caused by different underlying substrates. Lust evolved for the purpose of sexual mating, while romantic love evolved because of the need for infant/child bonding. So even though we often experience lust for our romantic partner, sometimes we don’t — and that’s okay. Or, maybe we do, but we also lust after someone else. According to Dr. Diamond, that’s normal.
Sexologist John Money draws the line between love and lust in this way: “Love exists above the belt, lust below. Love is lyrical. Lust is lewd.”
Pheromones, looks and our own learned predispositions for what we look for in a mate play an important role in whom we lust after, as well. Without lust, we might never find that special someone. But, while lust keeps us “looking around,” it is our desire for romance that leads us to attraction.
Attraction While the initial feelings may (or may not) come from lust, what happens next — if the relationship is to progress — is attraction. When attraction, or romantic passion, comes into play, we often lose our ability to think rationally — at least when it comes to the object of our attraction. The old saying “love is blind” is really accurate in this stage. We are often oblivious to any flaws our partner might have. We idealize them and can’t get them off our minds. This overwhelming preoccupation and drive is part of our biology. We’ll go deeper into the chemicals involved in attraction in The Chemistry of Love.
In this stage, couples spend many hours getting to know each other. If this attraction remains strong and is felt by both of them, then they usually enter the third stage: attachment
The attachment, or commitment, stage is love for the duration. You’ve passed fantasy love and are entering into real love. This stage of love has to be strong enough to withstand many problems and distractions. Studies by University of Minnesota researcher Ellen Berscheid and others have shown that the more we idealize the one we love, the stronger the relationship during the attachment stage.
Psychologists at the University of Texas in Austin have come to the same conclusion. They found that idealization appears to keep people together and keep them happier in marriage. “Usually, this is a matter of one person putting a good spin on the partner, seeing the partner as more responsive than he or she really is,” says Ted Huston, the study’s lead investigator. “People who do that tend to stay in relationships longer than those who can’t or don’t.”
Playing a key role in this stage are oxytocin, vasopressin andendorphins, which are released when having sex (more on this later)
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else”—Chinese Proverb
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged on Goldman Sachs with fraud, accusing the financial firm of lying to investors, costing them an estimated $1 billion.
The commission says the company lied about securities related to the U.S. subprime mortgage market just as the housing market was beginning to falter.
Goldman Sachs says the claims against it are “unfounded” and is vowing to “vigorously contest” them in court. The company’s share prices feel sharply on the New York Stock Exchange after the lawsuit was made public.
The SEC says it will fine Goldman and force it to return any profits recieved the alleged securities fraud. The charges come as U.S. legislator are trying to crack down on Wall Street, by tightening up rules for similarly complex investments. Such risky investments are widely seen to have contributed to United States’ current financial crisis.
Over the past several years, it was not uncommon for large financial companies to package large numbers of mortgages and sell them as securities to investors seeking high returns with low risk.
But the SEC says Goldman did not tell investors that a hedge fund paid them millions of dollars for the right to select which mortgages would go into the securities. The fund allegedly then set up complex transactions that would pay them well if the securities defaulted.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when their right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust noone but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”—Marilyn Monroe
A Company’s Social Media Policy Can Make or Break it’s Reputation
Companies are realizing that people are talking about them whether they like it or not. As a result, they’re deciding whether they should consider having a social media presence, and hence, a policy. A social media policy outlines for employees the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world.
Social media is quickly moving from an emerging form of communication to the mainstream. So, just like in the old days when companies had to figure out how to deal with email, now they have to figure out how to deal with Facebook and all other new media venues. Let’s talk about the Five Ways to adopting a social media policy.
1. WHY do we need such a policy? As a human resources professional, I’m constantly accused of being all about policies. But besides the pre-disposition of my profession to policies, there are legitimate reasons to establish some guidelines for social media. Unfortunately, you have to contemplate what might happen if someone says or does something stupid (like employees doing gross things to food and posting it on YouTube). So I asked one of my attorney tweeps what companies should consider from a legal perspective in developing a social media policy. There are two important points:
a. Employers need to be upfront with employees that they have no right to privacy with respect to social networking. “Employers reserve the right to monitor employee use of social media regardless of location (i.e. at work on a company computer or on personal time with a home computer).”
b. Employees “should be made aware that company policies on anti-harassment, ethics and company loyalty extend to all forms of communication (including social media) both inside and outside the workplace.” People need to remember that bashing your organization/boss/co-workers online can lead to consequences at work.
2. WHAT can social media do for my organization? Shannon Seery Gude, VP of Digital for Bernard HODES Group, told me that forming a social policy should start with an understanding of how your employees are aligned with your company values. “It’s important that authenticity can exist without the need for what may be perceived as forced company morality.”
In addition, social media can strengthen your ‘brand’ not only as an employer but as a company. Take Dell for example. A recent report claims that Twitter has made Dell $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half. Further, Apple’s successful launch of the iPhone and iPad was due to the social media buzz pre-launch. So what are you waiting for?
3. WHO should the policy cover? Media is for everyone…not just your marketing department. So for it to really be effective consider expanding the policy to all employees, not just for a handful of people. One way to think of it is, while it’s called social media, it has a vibrant customer service component to it. You wouldn’t take the phone or email from your employees, so why take social media away from them.
“Companies have existing communications policies,” explains Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company, “directives that spell out the company’s expectation when employees use the phone or email.” Since the conversation has moved to the Web, “it’s important for organizations large and small to acknowledge that and extend heir existing communications policies to include online sites.”
4. WHERE should you let employees know about this policy? When you give all of your employees the ability to interact with the whole world…well, then you have to provide them with some training on how to use it properly and effectively. A great example is Zappos. They encourage all of their employees to have Twitter accounts so they can interact with current and potential customers. And, they actually train their employees on the proper use of Twitter during new-hire orientation.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says that their company uses Twitter in a big way. “We’ve found that it’s a great way to form more personal connections with both employees and customers.”
5. WHEN is the right time to implement a policy? The time to think about drafting a social media policy is now. Twitter is growing at a rate of 1,382%, and it’s just one of the many social networking applications in the market. Companies are using social media tools to establish value in terms of marketing and branding. Social media or new media is really media. Plain and simple. Many organizations with any kind of formal structure have a policy in place for working with media. You know, the policy that says any requests from the media need to be directed to the Corporate Director of XYZ for response. Add to that, the communication policies you have in place. The ones that say you won’t do anything illegal, immoral, unethical, etc. So this is really no different. Social media is merely an extension of what you currently have in place. Monty agrees. “If anything, existing policies should already be in place; amending them to include the changes to communications platforms and anticipating future changes – should occur ASAP.”
So it’s time for companies to start thinking about social media in the same context as all other forms of communication. The case has been made that common sense should be all that is needed, but when done right, formal policies can drive effective practices. That means developing guidelines for its use, training people to leverage the benefits, and proactively creating a positive social media presence for the organization.
The Barbelo Group has extensive resources available to companies looking into their social media policies, procedures, training and implementation. Learn more at www.barbelogroup.com or email questions at email@example.com It’s not too late to have social media working for you.
April 14 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. may have grounds to sue Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays Plc after they obtained assets from CME Group Inc. for less than half their value, bankruptcy examiner Anton Valukas said.
Goldman was the highest bidder for Lehman’s equity derivatives at CME, and took $445 million of those assets at a private auction in September 2008, according to previously censored details of Valukas’s March 11 report. Barclays was the highest bidder for Lehman’s energy derivatives and took $707 million in assets from CME.
DRW Trading was the highest bidder for Lehman’s foreign exchange, agricultural and interest-rate derivatives, Valukas said. As a result of the auction to the three successful bidders, Lehman lost $1.2 billion out of total deposits with the CME of $2 billion, Valukas said.
“The examiner concludes that an argument can be made that the transfers at issue were fraudulent,” Valukas said in the report. Under bankruptcy law, the auction may be able to be undone, he said.
Lehman received “less than reasonably equivalent value”, Valukas said in his partly censored March 11 report on the 2008 bankruptcy.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James M. Peck today agreed to allow previously redacted portions of the report to be unsealed to test the fairness of the auction process. CME had sought to keep the documents confidential.
“The claims of confidentiality are weak,” Peck said. “The arguments concerning potential future harm to events that may never occur are so speculative as to be discounted close to zero.”
Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy with debts of $613 billion, has had 66,000 claims for payment totaling $899 billion, lawyers told the judge at the hearing. Lehman has said allowable claims may be as low as $260 billion.
Peck asked Valukas why his report hadn’t mentioned Hudson Castle, a Lehman affiliate that allowed the investment bank to move $1 billion in risky investments off its balance sheet, according to the New York Times.
“Hudson Capital to our knowledge had become independent of Lehman as of 2004,” Valukas said. His 2,200-page report focused on 2006 forward, he said.
At the hearing, Peck approved Lehman’s settlement of disputes over payments on $600 million of swap agreements with Metavante Corp.
The case is In re Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., 08-13555, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Steve Blank has written another great post about the realities of tech entrepreneurship. In this case, he explains how entrepreneurs need to recognize the need to “pivot” their business models.
Here are three of his lessons about pivoting:
A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
Most startup business models are initially wrong.
The process of iteration in search of the successful business model is called the Pivot.
Steve’s blog is turning into the “The Big Picture” of entrepreneurship advice for Holy Kaw in the sense that we promote almost every photo essay of “The Big Picture” of Boston.com, we promote almost every Steve Blank blog post. Hat tip to @BillMeade for bringing Steve Blank to my attention.
Unless your business model is rocking, you need to read the full story about pivoting at Steve Blank.
WASHINGTON—In a 60-34 vote, Democratic senators on Monday overcame Republican opposition to an extension of unemployment benefits and health-insurance subsidies for jobless people.
Four Republican lawmakers sided with Democrats to reach the necessary 60-senator threshold in the procedural vote. The Republicans were Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio.
Led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), most Republicans have pressed the majority Democrats to find money from elsewhere in the federal budget to pay for the measures, citing the size of the federal government’s budget deficit.
The benefits and subsidies would be extended retroactively to last week, when they were allowed to expire.
On a conference call earlier Monday, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) said that about 212,000 long-term unemployed people had exhausted their benefits in the past week, and that by the end of the month nearly a million Americans would have done so.
The bill includes a continuation of a federal flood-insurance program and funds to offset a 21% reduction in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. The legislation’s cost stands at $9.2 billion.
The bill extends the federal jobless benefits until May 5, by which time Democrats hope to have a longer-term solution in place. Other measures in the bill are extended through April.
Democratic aides said that they expected complete consideration of the legislation to occupy the Senate for the rest of the week.
Democrats have argued that the benefits extend a vital lifeline to people who have been out of work for months, and that Congress has deemed this type of spending an emergency in the past, thereby excluding it from new budgetary rules.
Those rules state that for most initiatives, all new spending must be offset by increasing revenue or reducing spending elsewhere in the federal budget.
Mr. Coburn’s attempted blocking actions are the second time in consecutive months that Republicans have sought to obstruct extensions of the benefits unless they are paid for.
In pursuing that strategy, Republican lawmakers are hoping that Americans’ concerns about federal spending outweigh worries about the millions of unemployed people.
If the Senate Democrats are successful in passing the bill this week, they will face the potential of a third protracted political battle unless they can move a separate measure extending the jobless benefits again for the rest of the year.
That bill is held up over a disagreement between House and Senate Democrats over how the legislation’s provisions should be paid for, though both sides have expressed hope the matter can be resolved shortly.
It is wrapped into a larger bill that extends a number of popular tax credits aimed at businesses and individuals through this year.
"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Difference between Strategic and Tactical?
Tactical is all about ”doing things right”, while Strategic is ”doing the right things.” Tactical is management, and Strategic is leadership. Clearly both are needed to run a successful organization, but it’s important to make sure you are steering your ship where you want it to go rather than clinging desperately to the anchor chain as it drags you through the water. And while we’re on ship metaphors, we shouldn’t leave this topic without paying homage to that old adage about “arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” which so succinctly and poignantly points out the futility of perfect tactical implementation of a flawed strategic plan.
Tip #1: Practice a proactive leadership approach; concentrate on getting results at the “big picture” level.
Tip #2: Be sure to differentiate between short term symptoms and long term root causes when addressing issues and opportunities.
Tip #3: Create regular and recurring time with your team for strategic thinking and planning; it’s a good investment to take time to work “on” your business as well as “in” your business.
LOS ANGELES — Conan O’Brien is taking his shtick to cable.
After months of speculation that he would land at Fox, the former NBC late-night host caught Hollywood by surprise Monday by signing a deal with the Time Warner ( TWX - news - people ) cable channel TBS. His yet-to-be-named show, which will air four days a week, will roll out in November. Though no financial details were provided, the show will join comedian George Lopez’ late-night series, Lopez Tonight, which will move to midnight to accommodate O’Brien
"In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable," quipped O’Brien. "My plan is working perfectly."
The high-profile move from broadcast to cable speaks to a larger shift in the television industry. Kept under wraps and utterly unexpected (potential suitors in recent months included News Corp. ( NWS - news - people )-owned Fox, CBS ( CBS - news - people ) channels and Debmar Mercury), the deal has benefits for both parties.
For Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin, long a champion of cable’s rise (and broadcast’s fall), O’Brien brings with him a built-in, advertiser-friendly audience. He also offers the necessary cachet TBS needs to compete in late-night TV. Just as Kyra Sedgwick’s The Closer made sister network TNT a destination for Emmy-worthy drama, an O’Brien star vehicle could make TBS a destination for Emmy-worthy late-night laughs, and the revenue that comes with it.
After getting ousted from The Tonight Show, O’Brien will gain lower ratings expectations, greater flexibility and a younger demographic (the median age for Lopez’ show is 34). A TBS show also offers O’Brien an opportunity to reach viewers everywhere at the same time (not all of Fox’s affiliated stations were keen on giving up their lucrative reruns during the 11 p.m. hour).
What’s more, TBS can—and one has to believe will—provide heavy promotion on platforms like the NBA and Major League Baseball playoffs. And at 11 p.m. O’Brien will get a head start on his network rivals Jay Leno and David Letterman
Watch out, iPad: Google may be getting into the tablet game. In a move reminiscent of its recent step into mobile phone design, Google is reportedly working on its own custom Android-powered tablet.
Most of the specifics are still unknown — what features a Google tablet would include, for example, or who would manufacture it — but if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s with whom a Google-made tablet would compete.
Google Android Tablet: What We Know
The Google Android tablet news comes by way of a story published in The New York Times on Sunday. The story, a piece about upcoming competition to Apple’s iPad, states that Google is currently “exploring the idea” of creating its own tablet computing device. The gadget is described as “an e-reader that would function like a computer.”
The info, according to The Times, comes straight from the big dog’s mouth: Google CEO Eric Schmidt is said to have divulged the Google tablet scoop while chatting with friends at a recent party in L.A. Other insiders supposedly confirmed the concept.
"People with direct knowledge of the project — who did not want to be named because they said they were unauthorized to speak publicly about the device — said the company had been experimenting in ‘stealth mode’ with a few publishers to explore delivery of books, magazines and other content on a tablet," The Times reports.
Envisioning a Google Android Tablet
Knowing the principles of the Android operating system, one can make a few educated guesses about what a Google Android tablet could be and how it might compare to Apple’s iPad. First and foremost, it’d likely be a far more open device in terms of customization: While Apple tends to maintain a tight grip on its user experience, Android-based devices typically allow users to configure the interface to their likings and replace stock components as they choose.
The same principle applies to applications: Compared to Apple’s highly controlled approach to app development and approval, Google’s Android Market for apps allows anyone to submit and publish programs without scrutiny. Android-powered devices — with the exception of those that run on AT&T — also let users download apps from unofficial third-party sources. One would imagine these qualities would be among the basic tenets of a Google-made Android tablet.
Along those same lines, a Google Android tablet would likely provide support for Flash — something Apple has long forbidden on its mobile computing devices. The existence of an open app marketplace could also mean immediate support for tethering, as we’ve seen happen via third-party utilities on Android phones. And, of course, any Android tablet would presumably provide feature-rich apps for Google services such as Gmail and Google Voice, something Apple also does not permit.
As for the device’s form, Google has previously published conceptual images of how a Google-centric tablet might look. Those concepts, however, revolved around the idea of a Chrome OS-based tablet, so they may or may not apply to an Android-based design.
Google Android Tablet: A Reality Check
It’s fun to imagine what a Google Android tablet could do, but don’t let some of the headlines out there fool you: From what we know so far, there’s no reason to believe a Google-made Android tablet is an “imminent” or even a certain thing.
Read back over what the info provided by The New York Times actually states: Google is “exploring the idea” of building a tablet device. It is “experimenting” with possibilities. Despite some bloggers’ tendencies to fill in the blanks with big words, there’s no indication that this is a done deal, let alone something that’s likely to occur at any moment.
We do know, however, that a slew of new tablets is on the way for 2010, and many of them are expected to be powered by Android. So whether or not Google ends up building its own tablet, numerous new options will soon be headed our way. The iPad may have been the first serious contender, but it won’t be the only one for long.