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"Some of you have practiced 21 years of whining and getting your way" -- Bill Cosby, giving the commencement speech at Colgate UniversityEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Is Merrill Guilty of "Schwabizing"?

In public, Charles Schwab co-CEO David Pottruck is all sweetness and light when he talks about Merrill Lynch's entry into the online trading business. "I think they can be very successful," he said June 24 during a roundtable discussion at the Forbes CEO Forum in Atlanta. "I have great respect for Merrill Lynch."

But on his own turf, the cattiness erupts. Soon after Merrill announced its online trading plans on June 1, Pottruck proceeded to dis the securities giant in a big way. "They're `Schwabizing' themselves," he said in an E-mail circulated to Schwab's 15,000 employees. Pottruck wrote that an old-line firm like Merrill doesn't have the team spirit to make it in cyberspace. "Can you imagine Merrill Lynch doing something like Vision Quest? Not likely," he stated, referring to Schwab's recent big employee pep rally in San Francisco. "Merrill is just not oriented to the importance of putting that much energy" into teamwork, wrote Pottruck.

A Merrill spokeswoman declined to comment on the memo's specifics. But she discounted the idea that Merrill is `Schwabizing.' And she was confident about Merrill's prospects: "Ultimately, the clients will decide."By Louise Lee; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Why Satellite Deals May Not Fly

The latest buzz in parts of the aerospace industry is that profits may soon nosedive because of a recent piece of legislation. Companies such as Lockheed Martin, Loral, and Hughes Electronics are worried that far-reaching new rules meant to prevent the transfer of sensitive technology to China will end up badly hurting satellite sales to other countries, too.

Last fall, Congress gave the State Dept., rather than the more trade-oriented Commerce Dept., the power to grant export licenses on satellite sales. Congressional investigators say that Hughes and Loral indirectly aided China's military by cooperating in China's probes of launch failures carrying the companies' satellites.

The 1998 law, however, covers all satellite exports, not just ones to China. That has caused delays and uncertainty that give foreign competitors an edge. Lockheed Martin says some customers now say they may use French satellites, and the Aerospace Industries Assn. reports that satellite makers have already lost $1 billion in sales. The State Dept. says the situation may improve with more funds to speed license reviews. For satellite makers, that can't happen soon enough.By Stan Crock; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Cross-Dressing, Def Con-Style

For years, hackers at Def Con, the nation's premier hackers convention, have had fun playing "Spot the fed." It's a good-natured game where hackers try to spot the FBI, CIA, and other federal computer specialists checking out possible threats to the national security. This year, however, winning may not be so easy.

It wasn't hard to spot the feds in years past, says Jeff Moss, a show organizer. "There was the military haircut, the penny loafers, the big athletic build. And if you engaged them in conversation, they'd answer `Affirmative' and `Negative."' The word is out that at this year's show, which starts July 9 in Las Vegas, the feds will try harder to blend in. Many are expected to show up in hackers' garb--which can be anything from T-shirts and jeans to evening gowns. To compound the confusion--or add to the fun--more hackers are expected to attend in suits.

During the conclave, attendees will vote on whether a suspect is indeed a fed. The agent might even confess. The winner will get an "I spotted the fed" T-Shirt. The agent will get--what else?--a T-shirt saying "I am the fed."By Roy Furchgott; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

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