Table On-Topic Summary - 21-Sep-2002
A compilation of this board's financial/economic posts From 42350 to 42404

Post  42350  by  abveldeh       Reply
lkorrow I just clicked safe target as and had no warning whatsoever but I have a Vigor Draytek 2200 E in between. I am sorry if it caused you trouble

Post  42351  by  abveldeh       Reply
lkorrow I posted this before and it is virus free. Give you a very good idea why the Palestines are so mad. As long as the US supports this situation with a serial mass killer like Sharon dealing the cards with GWD there will always be war. Even in a hundred years although the USA supports the politic "ausradieren" ( exterminate) Some German politician compared GWB to Hitler and Sharon the same. He might just be right about the genocidal part of the business. Americans have a hang for ethnic cleansing and genocide.

As I understand from George Carlin USA people ar warmongers. BTW, I have noticed 80 % of RB posters are outright fascists, supporting the action. Always makes me think of Pete Seegers song: "Little Boxes". Sad to see such a great nation inhabited merely by brainwashed robots.

And of course it is good for the war and oilindustrie. (Carlyle, HalliBurton)

Post  42352  by  nacl01       OT: abveldeh
Post  42353  by  maniati       OT: Decomposed: This is a very trivial question, s
Post  42354  by  lkorrow       OT: That's ok abveldeh, it seems to be alright. It
Post  42355  by  pacemakernj       OT: Roof, RE: Japan is a collapse coming? This fro

Post  42356  by  lkorrow       Reply
abveldeh, you are getting the wrong idea about Americans, it just isn't so. I haven't seen him in years, but as I recall, George Carlin is an off-color comedian. He distorts things on purpose to be funny (to some). You should look elsewhere, like TV and online magazines and ordinary newspapers to find out what we are about! Where are you from? The majority of people support our action against Iraq because we were attacked first and terrorists have sworn to destroy us. Sadam is a lunatic with weapons of mass destruction that could kill the entire world, including the Middle East. It is impossible to stop such things from spreading worldwide. He is an aggressor that has attacked his neighboring countries with the intent to take them over. One Arab nation, is everyone happy with that concept? Pretty good incentives, don't you think, to take action against him? And against terrorists, wherever they are. It surprises me that you or anyone could defend such terrible actions. The U. S. does not want to be cast in the role of policeman in the Middle East, but we are forced to act by the continued threat against us. The vast majority of Americans would rather all of this didn't happen, I assure you. But we can't change events now that we know what is at stake. Everybody just better be peaceful. I don't think anyone wants drastic action, aka WMD, to be taken anywhere in the world. I assure you we have better things to spend our money on than this, like curing cancer and populating space so civilization doesn't die when the next asteroid hits. We have been forced into this unfortunate position by the terrorists. It still amazes me that Middle Easterners haven't gotten rid of their terrorists. No good can come of it.

I remember the maps. On your second diagram, can you tell me what the gray and orange circles represent? I can't read the key, even with magnification.

Post  42357  by  Userisme       Reply
motordavid: I was wondering where you had got to. I've always been a heavy do-it-yourselfer. Spent a lot of money at HD in the past, don't go there now. Formerly they employed electricians in the electrical dept, plumbers in the plumbing dept and so on. Now if you want to know anything about a product you get a disinterested girl who, if you're lucky, goes off to find someone who knows, and generally that's the last you'll see of her or anyone else. Even if you call a store where I live in Florida, you get a call center in Tampa, and the only thing the person who answers you knows about building is what's on the screen in front of them. But I have done extremely well this last few months shorting HD. Are you still long in that pharmaceutical we frequented?

Post  42358  by  supreme-apg       Reply
Telecoms! -- You thought you had it bad?
"...What's worse, Lucent and Nortel rely on equipment sales to the large phone companies, but they've been buying less and less new gear. Capital spending in 2002 could fall as much as two-third below the level of spending ($90 billion) just two years ago.
The above excerpt from a Sept 21 article. You would think that everyone would have gotten it by now. Apparently not!
The business environment is bad enough, competition and the 'capacity glut' are in every piece of bad news, as if they were oracles. (No pun intended, but if the shoe fits...) Broadly brushed with a smirk reminiscent of a teen-aged hooligan spray painting the school walls, reporters and editors alike have consistently failed to acknowledge the truth -AND- have perpetuated the awful news.
Does anyone remember Y2K? Seems not the case. The above comparison of capital spending for Telecom equipment giants Lucent and Nortel to that of two years ago is ludicrous. EVERYONE in Telecom and computer anything were well aware of the Y2K problems dating back to 1985. Back then it was one of those things 'we could handle' by the time the Year2000 rolled around. Gosh, it was fifteen years until it became a real problem.
Slowly through 1997, programmers, including those genius groups that wrote Fortran, COBOL, Assembly, ADA or other such power-languages, began to recognize the underlying problems for the changeover. Many older and retired workers were recalled to re-write the elaborate compilers and other sub-routines to handle the date issue.
Chip manufacturers were on board by 1994 to redesign the memory registers to accept the four-digit date factor. Thier work was most impressive and laudible.
Until of course they had to capitalize on the expense incurred. Somewhere in here, around 1997, the trail of truth became lost and Y2K was touted as the 'Beast' that will topple the computer industry and all the users.
Well, all those companies and the U.S. Gov't with the help of DEC, IBM and HP handily planned and solved nearly all the Y2K problems. By 1999, if you weren't done yet, you had only one year left. For those huge enterprises with much at stake it was not a problem at all. The United States' biggest problem was handling all those old-model cruise missles and a few retro-fits to GPS and other satellites. The Balkan war took care of the few remaining older, non-Y2K cruise missiles. One reprecussion was to increase the contract to Raytheon for replacements. Ah, but those were Y2K ready and the additional cost was 'well worth it' ( Or ... Well,... worth it ).
The Financial people took it seriously and placed huge orders to REPLACE all the old equipment rather than take the time to test and replace only those pieces necessary. Those that tested tried to sell the knowledge, the price too high. Much too high.
Telecom salespeople helpes spread the burden by threatening every buyer with Y2K woes, should they not purchase new equipment. Well, that worked, but it was late 1998 just in time for the 1999 budgets. Nearly every IT consultant was recommending replacement rather than testing, retro-fit and upgrade. There was a complete lack of faith in Microsoft to fix the any-problems with Windows. Panic was worldwide.
But the Telecom industry was booming as a result. By Jan 1999, orders for new equipment were pouring in by accident. Telecom equipment and chip salespeople were spending more time opening thier fat bonus checks than they were trying to sell new gear to clients. And then in late 1999, when all that money was spent to literally 'beat the clock', the 2000 annual budgets reflected the surpluses and the cuts began.
It was then that the orders for new gear went belly up and that continues today. So where is the truth or parity? How can anyone judge the telecom sector by orders between 1999-2000 against any other year? Well you witnessed the CFO's pitcth to lenders showing marvelous numbers, huge increases in revenue(s), enormous growth. With that pitch, those fat heads on WallStreet, who knew absolutely nothing about telecom or IT (and neither did the brainless half-brother they hired to head thier IT department) were throwing money in response.
Had they only knowledge and vision. Indeed.
Comparing any company's balance sheets with 1996 or 1997 to today's will reflect 'business as usual'. Flat or slightly increased roughly 3-4%/year. That is the way it should be. Cut out the 1998-2000 highs and you will see it is just fine... except for the competition spawned by the Y2K-Madness.
Now the sector suffers. Great companies falter on lower and lower revenues all attributed to Y2K inflated capital orders -AND- the wonderful prices they were charging for doing nothing at all.
Today, the deregulated phone sector is suffering under the weight of competition. Yeah, right! SBC, Verizon, USWest, PacTel, NYNEX (Verizon predecessor with BellAtlantic) were busy slashing prices to allow (permit if you would) increased competition. License access and the like were priced so low that every Tom, Dick and Harry were able to buy and install a switch to sell time at a discount.
Where was the vision then? Now?
Ok, so you've heard it all before, with one exception. The blame-laying started with poor planning. The poor planning was a scare tactic used to boost sales and revenues. Tom, Dick and Harry will be paying lawyers under BankRuptcy proceedings for years to come. Consolidation is a good thing, especially here. The poor-planning can be directly tied to Y2K capital expenditures. The results of actually believing themselves is 'capacity glut' (which doesn't exist except in financial circles), and poor valuations.
The bonus checks were cashed. Options were exercised, the stock sold and the cash banked. Done deal. Telecom equipment has a life expectancy of five to seven years where maintenence and upgrade often costs more over time than replacement. Start counting from 1998 and you begin 're-juvenating' the equipment side beginning in 2003. It should snowball into something small but steady by 2005. Don't expect explosive growth, but do accept the mediocre news as 'business as usual'. Ignore the robust Y2K-related peak as you would dismiss the 1929 Crash.
Don't forget them, just don't use them as a basis for comparison. I'm done. Thanks for listening.

Post  42359  by  maldinero       OT: manitai This does not answer your question d
Post  42360  by  pmcw       ot: lk, There are two kinds of people. Those who

Post  42361  by  jcl22192       Reply
PACE; That is certainly true of plumbing supplies and by the same manufacturer carried by HD. I've done 6 houses in the past few years and quickly learned to go to the distributor--not only was the quality better but they would throw in a discount, automatically, and with only a wee bit of grovelling, throw in even more. An upgrade in quality with a minimum increase in price.
Their stores are a disgrace in this area, clogged isles, poor stocking and as another poster mentioned, no experts. At one point awhile back, I couldn't get sales help for $10G worth of cabinets-and they knew what I was spending. Went to a wholesaler on that one too, better variety and quicker turnaround.

Post  42362  by  motordavid       OT: PGriz:
Post  42363  by  motordavid       OT: Userisme: yes,
Post  42364  by  lkorrow       OT: pmcw, it's unfortunate some people are not hee

Post  42365  by  Tampathom       Reply

Linda, that's a pretty broad brush you're using to paint a cross-cultural region. You're beginning to sound like right-wing radio!

Post  42366  by  Tampathom       OT: Sorry, got to remember to use OT.
Post  42367  by  Decomposed       OT: Table ON TOPIC SUMMARY Sep 20, 2002

Post  42368  by  lkorrow       Reply
supreme-apg, yes, telecom's certainly a mess. VZ said recently it will only be spending $8B on capex, vs. $14B last year. Even VZ posted a loss and their what I had thought was one of the more solvent telcos. Now when I look at them, I see their debt/equity ration is over 2! Tehy do have $3B in the bank. Well I guess it's good they're still spending, maybe the cut in capex will put them back on the map next quarter, but I wonder.

pmcw has mentioned the Telecom Act as being the root of much evil. I haven't studied its origins, although I read it (all two or three inches of it), but I suspect it was meant to spur competition between the major local carriers and the IXCs -- resale until facilities based local service could displace it. Perhaps an unintended consequence was the mom and pop telcos that have sapped revenues.

I don't know that I agree with the premise that telcos will need to spend as equipment lasts 5-7 years. This could prove to be the case in things like PCs, but telco equipment is built to a higher standard to last much longer, sometimes 20 years or more. Some equipment, like corporate routers, might fall inbetween. They are sometimes expensed rather than capitalized these days too. I think it's more likely that the capital spending will come more out of te last mile and backbone expansion where it makes business sense. jmho.

p. s. y2k spending is why I got out of the market in March 2000. I assumed there was leftover spending from 1999 and the realization that the party was over might come around then. February would have been better. I think we're still winding down, world-wide. Makes you wonder which photonics, etc., companies might survive yet another spending cutback and how many will remain.

Post  42369  by  lkorrow       Reply
Tampa, yes, I guess you're right on the broad brush, but "right-wing radio?" :-)

I guess I'd have to say I have viewed prior situations as individual countries, distinctly different, although from the news over the years, not a history class. But this religious furvor seems to span countries, so it is getting too easy to view the region more as "the Arabs," as if they are of one mind. Yes, that's not warranted, but is a concern, I'd say.

Post  42370  by  pmcw       OT: Tampa, What are the leaders of these countries
Post  42371  by  clo       OT: Tampathom, I pose this question to you since y

Post  42372  by  Tampathom       Reply

I believe you are mirror-imaging, i.e., "What is good for America must be good for the rest of the world." I'm afraid there are few universal truths where cultures are concerned, e.g., the protected status of women in Islamic societies. Who are we to say that our cultural standard is superior and therefore must be adopted by all others?

As a demonstration, let's take a look at a small issue in our own culture. Women are not permitted to be ministers or priests among Southern Baptists or Catholics. Do you therefore condemn anyone who is a member of these churches?

[It appears to me that they are appeasing "tribal leaders" who rule via fundamentalism and creating external enemies to misdirect anguish so that it is not focused on their domestic failures.]

That's been a political tactic used by leaders the world over. One might wonder if President Bush is using it today.

[As one who I feel portrays liberal thought, how would you react if you were captive to fundamental Islamic rule?]

Liberal?! I'm probably somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun! But I am not asking anyone to accept intolerance...only to be circumspect and not be intolerant themselves. Hence, the criticism of Linda's broad brush.

I think you may find an abundance of western-educated Arabs that share many of the values you hold dear.

And lets not forget that radical Islam extends well beyond Arabs, or even Persians for that matter. Question: What country has the largest Islamic population?

Post  42373  by  lkorrow       OT: Tampa, I would guess the U. S.
Post  42374  by  Tampathom       OT: Clo-
Post  42375  by  Decomposed       ot: viruses
Post  42376  by  Decomposed       ot: Maniati,
Post  42377  by  pmcw       OT: Tampa, Your question is easy since I considere

Post  42378  by  srudek       Reply
nac101 re HomeDepot&lousy service -

I'm a pretty big commercial customer of Home Depot. I used to prefer to buy there, instead of alternatives such as Home Base or Lumberjack, because the selection and, especially, the service was much better. I used to tell my people to drive an extra distance to go there and I used to recommend them to everyone I knew.

In the last few years, Lumberjack and then Home Base were driven out of business by Home Depot. Since then, I've had one ridiculous incident of poor service after another from Home Depot. Yesterday I had another at the Madison / Manzanita branch in Sacramento.

What's particularly disturbing is that when I have a problem with a H.D. clerk (usually because the clerk is telling me they "can't do" something which could be easily done) and ask to speak with a manager, I generally find that the H.D. manager not only won't help me, but doesn't care that I am upset. The managers generally just shrug their shoulders and walk away.

Here's a specific example: About six months ago I went in to buy a new toilet. I wasn't "shopping"; I was there to pick one up. Unfortunately, all the toilets were sitting on a shelf about 15 feet over my head and there was no access so I could actually look at them straight on or from the top. No clerks could help me, so I asked to see a manager. I explained I was a commercial customer and was there to buy a toilet up to $250; I just wanted to see what I was buying. I explained that the current display was ridiculous as you could only see the base of the toilet from the floor and people don't select toilets based on how they look with your head on the floor next to the toilet. The manager told me that ALL Home Depot stores displayed toilets this way and they sold a lot of toilets. I told him they'd sell a lot more if people could get a decent look at them and that if I couldn't see one straight on I was going to buy elsewhere. He repeated that that was how all the Home Depot stores displayed toilets and turned and walked away. I bought elsewhere. Not an isolated incident. Apparently, not even isolated to my local store.

I also have never ending problems with their accounts receivable "department" -- which has been farmed out to G.E. Capital Management. I don't think it's so much a problem with G.E. as it is with H.D.'s interface to G.E.

Yesterday I had a problem because they were declining my people credit saying that my account was overdrawn, even though the G.E. automated system said my payment had been received days previously and I had plenty of credit. The G.E. number said they were closed for the weekend. I called the local store and asked them to verify that if I sent a workman down to buy materials that the account would be okay. Two H.D. clerks and then a manager told me they couldn't verify my account for me. I suggested they just pretend I was in the store buying something and tell me what the system said. They said they couldn't do that. I told them that was ridiculous. The manager put me on hold for 15 minutes and then said a clerk would call G.E with me in a conference call. The clerk at first said she hadn't gotten instruction from the manager. Then the clerk put me on hold and came back minutes later and said G.E. wouldn't talk to her. I told her I was supposed to have been in the "conference". She refused to call them back and said I could call them myself -- that they were still open and she gave me the number. I called the number, fought with their phone tree, and got the message again that I was calling after credit department hours.

I'd say H.D. has a BIG, BIG problem emerging. Give this attitude three years to spread within the company and I think you'll see them take a dramatic dive in sales and earnings and lose their number one position. That's how Montgomery Ward went. If I owned shares of H.D. I'd drop them pronto for service reasons alone.

Everyone I know who has been to a Lowes is saying Lowes is much better. I'm hoping a Lowe's will open close by, soon.

Post  42379  by  Decomposed       Reply
re: HD

Then there was my incident, six months ago, when I bought a washer at HD, came home with it and found that the turn dial on its console came detached on the first use and spun freely. I tinkered with it and got it reattached, but my wife's next load caused it to happen again. (My wife was unable to reattach it at all, btw.)

So, I took it back to HD five days later (Saturday)... receipt in hand... and told the returns department I wanted an exchange. They called their appliance department manager, who listened to my story and then SCRUTINIZED my receipt. (He SERIOUSLY examined it.) Then he said, "No. It's been used." My jaw must have hit the floor. He explained that the washer came with a service guarantee, and if I called the 800 number, G.E. would send someone out to fix the appliance at my house. I told him that that was pretty lousy -- since I had spent the money for a NEW washer, not a REPAIRED washer.

I also told him I'd never heard of such a thing as no returns. He responded, "Well, if you bought an automobile, you wouldn't be able to return THAT." Interesting that he had that response already prepared. Almost like he'd gone through this discussion before.

My wife saved the day. "Actually," she said, "most of the better car lots around here DO let you return a car within 30 days of purchase."

I think she caught him off guard. He waffled and said that my model of washer had been clearanced anyway, which was why I'd gotten such a good deal on it. I responded, "Some deal!" Then my wife said she had been walking around the store before he'd arrived, and H.D. had another of the same model on the floor right now!

He asked us to wait, then came back. He said he could do us the "big favor" of letting us exchange our washer for the display model. We took him up on it, of course. As we left, he asked if we were going to do a load of laundry that night. (It was already late.) I said "Yes." He said "Good" -- which struck me as very peculiar.

Then it got interesting.

The replacement washer didn't work. Not at all. When turned on, water never went into the chamber! And by now, the store was closed.

In the morning, my wife called the store back. The fellow we'd talked to that night was off, so she asked for the store manager. Unlike the other fellow, HE was *extremely* polite. He assured her that we could exchange the second washer, and even asked her if she had a way to bring it in. (Implying that HD would be willing to come get it.)

We got his name, and I boxed up the second washer. In the process, I noticed something fascinating: Written on the back of bad Washer #2, in magic marker, was "DEF".

Hmm. Wonder what that might stand for!

We took it back... my wife waited in line... and I wandered the store. Lo and behold, in the washer department, there is ANOTHER floor model of "our" washer! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Not a chance. I tried the dial on the washer, and it spun freely.

When the store manager showed up at the returns department, we gave him the full story. Then I asked him what the "DEF" written on the back of our washer meant, and... funny... but he didn't know!

Then I told him that I'd just seen our first return sitting with the floor models in the appliance department... and isn't that odd, since our model had been clearanced and was now sold out?

Needless to say, he didn't try to pull anything on us. He upgraded us to a model that was more than $100 more expensve. When I brought it home, it worked -- and has, ever since.

Do I condemn Home Depot due to this experience? Well, no. It ended well enough! And I have to say that as the issue started to escalate, the store manager (at least) was smart enough to nip it in the bud and not lose a customer. I'd have been an expensive loss, too. I've spent thousands at HD over the years.

But it is, perhaps, one more "cheenk" (sp!) in the armor. I never problem escalate that far when I dealt with Home Base... and I think the Appliance Manager I first spoke to was one of the rudest service people I've ever met. (Someone really needs to explain to him that when you stare at a customer's week old receipt for sixty seconds, it is rather insulting.)

Oh: btw, srudek: It was a GE washer! I've since been told by a friend who bought at Sears that virtually all washer brands these days are regarded as high quality -- EXCEPT for G.E.! Home Depot might not be the only high flier with a quality control problem.

Post  42380  by  pmcw       Reply
OPLK, Anyone follow this company? Their market cap is half their net cash balance sheet value. Put it in a box by the curb and it's worth twice the stock price. Too good to be true?????????? Wait, is Benhamou involved with OPLK? Is there a Kerbango in their future? Something has to be up. Regards, pmcw

Post  42381  by  duabe       Reply

Post  42382  by  lkorrow       OT: Decomposed, thanks for the virus info. I wonde
Post  42383  by  StockmanI7       OT: Tampa, removing the settlements
Post  42384  by  StockmanI7       OT: Lkorrow: armistice lines and rhetoric
Post  42385  by  lkorrow       OT: Decomposed, you were right, I tried it again a
Post  42386  by  lkorrow       OT: Thanks, Stockman. Your last post was great too
Post  42387  by  danking_70       OT: Tampa

Post  42388  by  Arkural       Reply
U.S. Leads Oil Boom in 'Other Gulf'

Associated Press Writer

September 19, 2002, 3:57 PM EDT

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea -- In the run-up to a possible U.S.-led offensive on Iraq, U.S. oil companies and strategic planners have their sights on another gulf -- West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, a booming backwater surpassing Saudi Arabia in oil exports to the United States.

Giant U.S. oil rigs and tankers offshore, and American oil roustabouts sporting coveralls and the flat drawls of Oklahoma and Texas onshore, are vanguards of a U.S.-led oil boom in the region. It's one the United States is acknowledging as a strategic interest to be safeguarded militarily.

"It's like the Persian Gulf in the 1960s," said Paul Michael Wihbey, a resource specialist who has led Washington- and Jerusalem-based lobby groups in urging the United States to turn from Mideast to West African oil.

Washington and the oil-hungry Asian economies "are starting to recognize that there are serious problems in the Persian Gulf and they have to diversify supplies. And one of the most attractive areas is West Africa," Wihbey said.

West Africa, led by Nigeria, already supplies the United States with 15 percent of its oil -- approximating Saudi Arabia's share of the U.S. market.

The U.S. National Intelligence Council projects U.S. oil supplies from West Africa will swell to 25 percent by 2015 -- more than from the Persian Gulf.

Nowhere is the Africa boom more dramatic than in the torpid former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea -- suddenly, one of the world's fastest-growing economies, at a staggering 65 percent a year.

A palm-fringed enclave run for two decades by a single dictator, Equatorial Guinea's Spanish-style capital is lit night and day by U.S. oil companies' ghostly orange flare.

The flame is natural gas, burnoff from a U.S. methanol plant. The plant and a petroleum pipeline now inching its way across West Africa's Cameroon make up the two largest U.S. capital investments ever in sub-Saharan Africa.

Large oil companies have snapped up promising fields from Morocco and Western Sahara down the Atlantic coast to Angola.

ExxonMobil expects to triple its Africa production over the next years, said Leigh A. Evans, spokeswoman for the oil giant.

ExxonMobil "has a major and growing commitment to West Africa, a region significant to U.S. interests and ExxonMobil's long-term future," Evans said.

Amid the boom, U.S. views of Africa's importance have changed.

Then-presidential candidate George W. Bush declared in 2000 that Africa "doesn't fit into the national strategic interests as far as I can see them."

This year, however, Walter Kansteiner, U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, called it "undeniable ... that African oil has become of national strategic interest to us."

Why the interest in African oil now?

It's high quality, for one. For the eastern United States, shipping distance is half that of oil from the Persian Gulf. Additionally, the key West African wells are offshore, away from any social or political troubles.

And ever more crucially, the Gulf of Guinea is far from the turbulence of the Persian Gulf or problematic Central Asian pipelines.

West African supply already is enough to help ease the impact of any cutoff of Iraqi production in the event of a U.S.-led attack. In coming years, it could offset U.S. dependence on production in the Mideast as a whole, proponents say.

"It's clearly in our interest to diversify our energy supply, especially in turbulent times," said Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who is chairman of the House Africa subcommittee.

That includes even those nations the United States has shunned, like Equatorial Guinea and its coup-installed leader, Teodoro Obiang, whose government's torture and incarceration of the opposition has been labeled "ruthless" by the U.S. government.

West African governments have welcomed foreign oil companies. They insist the oil wealth will be shared for the betterment by all.

"Due to the fact money from the oil has been received, Equatorial Guinea will be able to realize its projects as a government," said Alfonso Nsue Mokuy, vice minister for radio, TV and newspapers. Pressed, however, he was able to point to only one specific project -- a paved road from the airport to the capital, standard investment for African leaders wishing to impress visitors.

British-based watch group Global Witness, however, says the profits, like the oil, are offshore -- in foreign bank accounts, with virtually none returning to West Africa. Rights groups say the oil wealth to date has funded chiefly its leaders' excesses and regional wars. They urge the United States to press the governments for reforms.

Increasingly, as well, the U.S. military is being encouraged to help protect the U.S. oil stake in West Africa.

Royce cited what he called "common security interests," and also noted: "Africa is a growing interest to the United States as we combat terrorism."

This year, the State Department quietly approved the U.S.-based Military Professional Resources Inc., a private firm run by Pentagon retirees, to train those protecting Equatorial Guinea's coast and offshore oil wells.

African oil evangelists like Wihbey urge Washington to establish an Atlantic military command on the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe to safeguard the region.

In July, U.S. Gen. Carlton Fulford, deputy commander in chief of the European Command, visited Sao Tome for what were called planning talks on security in the Gulf of Guinea.

A month later, Sao Tome's president announced his country had agreed to stationing of a U.S. naval base. The U.S. State Department denied that.

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press,3773616).story?coll=sns%2Dap%2Dbusiness%2Dheadlines

Post  42389  by  Arkural       Reply
Aside~Companies develop replacement for rechargeable batteries

Associated Press Writer

September 20, 2002, 1:18 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Cell phones free from nightly recharges. Laptop computers that run and run without needing an outlet. Pocket TVs with enough power to show a Ken Burns documentary.

Portable gadgets are demanding more and more juice. A viable alternative to rechargeable batteries isn't here yet, but when it comes, it might work like the device about the size and weight of a deck of cards in William Acker's hand.

It's a micro fuel cell.

The prototype created by Acker's company, MTI Micro Fuel Cells Inc., relies on a minute flow of methanol to generate electricity. MTI Micro aims to shrink the prototype and begin selling its first commercial fuel cell product in 2004.

The idea is to tap into the ever-expanding personal electronics market and provide a power source for the millions of people talking, computing and checking e-mail on the go.

MTI Micro is in a crowd of companies including Motorola and Casio trying to develop a commercial micro fuel cell.

"The market application potential is huge," said Kelly Nash, an analyst with McDonald Investments Inc. "I'm sure you have had issues with your cell phone battery. I know I have."

A fuel cell makes electricity in a chemical reaction. Larger fuel cells tend to rely on propane or natural gas. In the fuel cell being developed by MTI Micro, methanol is introduced to a catalyst to produce electrons, protons and carbon dioxide.

The protons go through a membrane. Electrons, which cannot go through the membrane, instead flow through wires as electricity. The reaction's byproducts are a tiny amount of carbon dioxide and water _ about a drop a day, which evaporates away.

Methanol is flammable, but company officials say the unit is safely sealed.

Some hospitals, credit card processors and other businesses already use fuel cells. Residential units are being developed and prototype fuel cell cars are already rolling, although most automakers do not expect to mass market them before 2010.

But those fuel cell units are big _ some the size of a washing machine, others as large as a trailer. Creating a fuel cell that can be stuffed into a pocket and jostled around has proved difficult.

MTI Micro was created in 2001 as a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology Inc. to solve those problems. Based in Albany, MTI Micro has about 45 employees including president and chief executive officer Acker, who also is the parent company's president.

The company has produced three progressively smaller working prototypes, the latest unveiled in August. Acker can power his combination cell phone/personal digital assistant with the prototype. But it's still too big to click on the back of the device.

Engineers are working on packing the pieces of the fuel cell tighter. Acker said it's likely MTI Micro's first product will not be a direct replacement for batteries but rather a slightly larger accessory _ for instance, a portable charger.

Micro fuel cells are expected to get smaller.

"In the long run, just about anywhere where high-end batteries are the right answer, these devices should be a better answer," Acker said.

Micro fuel cells are supposed to have several advantages over rechargeable batteries. Once fully developed, micro fuel cells should last 10 times as long as the current generation of batteries, Acker said.

And no more recharges. When a fuel cell runs out of methanol, just snap on a replacement fuel cartridge.

Also, fuel cells can provide more power.

The potential for a lucrative market has drawn a mix of start-ups and big names.

Nash cites Motorola, Toshiba and Casio, which has developed a fuel cell it intends to sell commercially in 2004.

Smart Fuel Cell, a German company, recently introduced a device fueled by a 2.5 liter methanol cartridge that can be used with outdoor equipment.

A recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan said the next generation of high-bandwidth mobile technology devices will likely require more power than current rechargeable batteries can provide.

Already, so-called smartphones that combine cellular telephony with personal digital assistants are hobbled by the necessity to recharge them every day or so.

According to the report: "Fuel cells for laptop computers and cellular phones definitely have one thing going for them that fuel cells for automobiles and stationary power plants do not: strong consumer demand."

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press

[posted similar article few months back-can't findit]


MTI Micro Fuel Cells Poised for Commercialization

August 8, 2002- In another significant move toward the development of commercially viable micro fuel cells to power a variety of handheld devices, MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc. (MTI Micro), a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology Inc. has demonstrated a breakthrough in micro fuel cell design and system architecture.

The company unveiled a simple direct methanol micro fuel cell prototype system that can be scaled to applications ranging from chargers to battery replacements, for a wide range of portable devices.

"Our simple system design eliminates the need for multiple pumps and water collection external to the cell, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture, while still allowing the use of more concentrated fuel," said Dr. William Acker, president and chief executive officer, MTI MicroFuel Cells, Inc


Mti Microfuel Cells shows signifciant advancements towards commercialization of micro fuel cells


Post  42390  by  Tampathom       OT: PMCW
Post  42391  by  Tampathom       OT: Dan
Post  42392  by  danking_70       OT: Tampa
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Post  42394  by  danking_70       OT: Tampa re Europe
Post  42395  by  Tampathom       OT: Dan
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Post  42397  by  pmcw       OT: Tampa, I don't know that everyone will apprec
Post  42398  by  Tampathom       OT: PMCW
Post  42399  by  pmcw       OT: Dan, I think we could really make some progres
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Post  42404  by  srudek       Reply
de re ge :-) GE used to be a world-class manufacturing company. Now they are a finance company, primarily, and my experience has been that their manufactured goods are pretty uniformly poor. Shameful.

Take my microwave (please!). It broke just after expiration of its one year warranty, but due to a technicality the Sears repairman was able to cover it anyway. Turns out the heart of the machine was fried and the repairman wasn't surprised at all. He said that "many" of the GE microwaves had that defective part and without a warranty the repair would have cost as much as a new microwave. So...feeling a little nervous about GE quality I did something I seldom do: I bought a year extension on the warranty. Lucky thing: about 6 months later we noticed that the front panel and handle had numerous hairline cracks running through it. The Sears man said that was real common on GE microwaves, too: he said the plastic they used cracked when exposed to heat. Well, this was a "range hood" type microwave, made to sit right over the stove -- and GE was using plastic that couldn't withstand heat?

But what REALLY disturbs me about GE products isn't the quality of the manufacture, it's the stupidity of the engineering. GE obviously can't be bothered to spend even a little time and money testing products with real people before launching them into the world.

Any time our microwave has a power failure for even a second, we are FORCED to reset the time, am/pm, day, month, and year BEFORE it will allow us to cook anything. Does THAT make sense to anyone with even half a brain? It's bad enough that the machine can't hold time during a power failure for even a few seconds. Beyond that, since ALL of the microwave cooking is based on elapsed time: so why should GE REQUIRE me to program time, am/pm, day, month, and year before it will allow me to cook anything? I've notice this stupidity in a lot of GE products.

My slogan for G.E. these days is "G.E., we bring stupid things to life!" I expect GE to fall a long way from here; they "re-engineered" themselves to be a leader in the Ponzi "new era" of the 90's and I don't think their cleverness in finance is going to serve them in good stead going forward.

By the way, just so you don't think I only complain: I've been very pleased with Sears (Kenmore) and Maytag appliances and with Sears maintenance service. Sears seems to be gaining ground.

Another good candidate to sell short.

(Voluntary Disclosure: Position- No Position; ST Rating- Sell; LT Rating- Sell)