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"I have lost everything I have...God take me quickly" -- An ethnic Albanian woman, separated from her family, quoted in USA TodayEDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

Yep, It Still Feels Like Sand


As the millennium nears, companies are trying to ensure that their vendors sell Y2K-compliant wares. Richard Lipp at List & Clark Construction in Overland Park, Kan., sells sand. Sand, you might well think, is an uncomplicated, technologically simple product. Evidently, not everybody thinks so. One of Lipp's customers recently sent him a survey demanding to know if his sand would be immune to the Y2K computer bug. "The questions were all about whether my product would be Y2K compliant, so I couldn't resist," says Lipp. "I dutifully filled out the survey--and noted that our engineers have assured me that our sand will continue to function as specified on and after Jan. 1, 2000." The last that Lipp heard? The customer was satisfied.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

Gore: A Lack of Foresite?

WHEN IT COMES TO THE INTERNET, AL GORE CAN'T GET A BREAK. He was ridiculed for claiming to have invented the thing. He lagged behind every other major candidate setting up his campaign Web site, Now, Gore is under fire from one backer for not registering potential Gore-plus-running-mate sites.

That's a major goof, says Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco communications consultant, who proceeded to register some domain names that link Gore with potential running mates. Among them: and,, and

Weinstein says he did not buy the URLs to resell at a profit, but out of fear they'd be bought by Gore's foes to spread bogus info about him. But now he's so worried over Gore's "amateurism" in using the Web that he is rethinking his support. Buying potentially desirable domain names, or "cyber-squatting," is an art form in the online world, says Weinstein.

The Gore campaign has registered some names, such as But none pairs Gore with a running mate. "If we started registering names like that, it would lead to speculation," says a Gore spokesman. Speculation? In Washington?EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

A Minority Firm Hits the Major Leagues

IT WAS THE BIGGEST BOND DEAL IN HISTORY: $8 billion in debt floated by AT&T. Merrill Lynch and Salomon Smith Barney co-led the deal. The co-managers included biggies such as Chase Securities, First Chicago Capital Markets, J.P. Morgan, Lehman Brothers, NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, and Blaylock & Partners. But wait a minute here. What's this guppie, one of the few minority-owned businesses on Wall Street, doing swimming among these sharks?

Turns out that the decision to include Blaylock came straight from AT&T CEO C. Michael Armstrong himself. "What AT&T is doing is giving a minority firm the opportunity to earn its right to be on the playing field," says Ronald Blaylock, chairman of the firm and a former PaineWebber senior manager. "They feel we're adding value in attracting downstream middle-tier [institutional] investors, and that helps the overall syndicate process."

That process should yield Blaylock & Partners about $1.4 million on its 2.5% share of the bonds, at an average 3/8 gross spread. Good as that sounds, it's no first. Blaylock's 50-employee firm, just since December, has closed 17 transactions with the likes of Pepsi Bottling Group, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and GTE California. So the AT&T deal was not its first. But it was the biggest.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

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