In the past eight days, Mayor Mick Cornett has met with both Ellen DeGeneres and President George W. Bush.
The biggest difference between the two?
“Well, the President wasn’t wearing his pajamas,” Cornett said.
Cornett is in Washington, D.C., this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Thursday morning, Cornett was in a group of 10 mayors who met with Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez in the White House.
About 15 or 20 minutes into the meeting, Bush came through the door. Cornett said Bush talked with the group for about 40 minutes.
“He talked about Iraq,” Cornett said. “He talked about Iran. He talked about immigration.”
Cornett said he asked Bush about a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its regulations and how it might affect cities.
“He specifically asked me how things were going in Oklahoma City, how the economy is doing,” Cornett said. “It was refreshing to see him take such an interest in what’s going on in our specific cities.”
Cornett said Bush didn’t ask him about his weight loss plan, which was the purpose of Cornett’s visit to the “Ellen” show. But Cornett said he did compliment the President on his physical fitness.
“He said he’d been working out,” Cornett said.
Bryan Dean, staff writer
With most of the geek world squealing with excitement over Apple’s iPhone in the wake of its debut last June, the real purpose of the tech-gadget was sort of forgotten.
And no, that purpose had nothing to do with advancing touch-screen technology or unifying a wireless phone with an mp3 music player or even giving us Internet access with a legitimate browser.
The iPhone was created to generate sales and fatten the bottom line for Apple and its wireless partner in the deal, AT&T. And it definitely has done its job.
In fact, the telecommunications giant now claims 70.1 million wireless subscribers. That means that AT&T claims about a quarter of the nation’s population as wireless subscribers.
That’s a gain of 2.7 million in the fourth quarter, which is in addition to the 1.7 million subscribers the company gained in its acquisition of Oklahoma City-based Dobson Communications Corp., which closed in November.
AT&T revealed that it had just under 2 million iPhone users at the end of December.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs told a Macworld Expo audience last week that Apple had sold almost 4 million iPhones, which makes me wonder how much of that number were hacked by their owners to use with other wireless carriers.
So, now the world awaits the release of a so-called 3G iPhone, which would speed up all of its wireless features over the 2G model in the hands of subscribers today. When the 3G model hits, I predict the geek lovefest will begin anew.
Maybe it should happen on Valentine’s Day.
Business News Reporter
Martin Luther King Jr. said America’s most segregated major institution is the church.
“At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation,” King said in 1963. “This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this.”
In noting today’s national holiday, ABC News on Sunday ran a feature about an Ohio church that is trying to break down the voluntary segregation of most churches. The church members regularly visit Sunday worship services at predominantly white churches. Sometimes they tell the church they’re coming; other times they drop in unexpectedly. The pastor is trying to break down barriers between Christians.
“We are all brothers and sisters in Christ,” the Rev. Cliff Biggers told ABC News. “If there’s one Lord, one faith, one baptism, then we ought to be able to worship together.”
In a small way, my family did that on Sunday. Our predominantly white Edmond church for the past four years has with predominantly black Holy Temple Baptist Church staged a joint Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at one chuch or the other. Since this year’s service was scheduled to be at our church on Sunday night, we decided to worship at Holy Temple in the morning.
The members couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. As you might expect, the service was considerably different than what we experience at our church. It was longer, louder and more participatory than what we’re accustomed to. But the central message was a familiar one, and the experience was in all ways positive.
Unlike Biggers’ concept, our attendance at Holy Temple was not part of any broad-based plan to tear down walls that separate black and white — it was an opportunity for us to get out of our spiritual comfort zone. We’re the kind of people who sit in a different pew just to meet folks and stir the pot. It also is part of an effort to help my children experience diversity, and to grow up as someone who evaluates people by the content of their character. But frankly, we did it mainly because we thought we would enjoy it, and we did.
Only 7 percent of America’s churches are racially mixed. On June 29, Biggers is planning a nationwide Mission Sunday. He hopes to organize 1,000 churches across the United States to visit churches that “look different from one another.”
Can I get an “Amen?”
It’s time to see how much attention you’ve been paying to the news in the past week or so. From The Oklahoman’s news copy editors and designers, here’s a quiz.
1. After a previous battle over same-sex civil unions, lawmakers in which state are debating whether to legalize gay marriage?
a) New York.
2. State Rep. Joe Dorman is pushing a bill to make Oklahoma the 23rd state to require:
a) Smoke-free college campuses.
b) Fire-safe cigarettes.
c) Fire-safe mattresses.
3. A 12-panel display that traveled the state during 2007 is now available for loan from OU. What is the subject of the display?
a) Oklahoma’s first 100 years in Congress.
b) Oklahoma’s centenarians.
c) Oklahoma’s colleges and universities.
4. Which former Oklahoma State player made an interception to seal a win against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL playoffs?
a) Kevin Williams.
b) Tatum Bell.
c) R.W. McQuarters.
5. What is Mayor Mick Cornett doing after urging the city to go on a diet?
a) He is fielding inquiries from national and international media including an appearance on “Ellen.”
b) He is giving up on the idea because people should be happy with their weight.
c) He is offering a $5,000 reward for the biggest loser.
6. In a trade dedicated to maintaining comfort in motion, business has grown lately for those who offer it because the number of competing craftsmen is shrinking. What is it?
a) Shoe repair.
b) Auto re-upholstery.
c) Tire manufacturing.
7. After losing to this team, OU basketball coach Jeff Capel said, “This is the best team we’ve played, and we’ve played some really good teams.” What team was he talking about?
a) The University of Missouri Tigers.
b) The University of Kansas Jayhawks.
c) The University of Texas Longhorns.
8. How did Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister react to President Bush’s plea for more oil output?
a) He immediately agreed and boosted output 15 percent.
b) He suggested Bush go back to Texas and drill it himself.
c) He said Saudi Arabia is doing all it can.
9. The super-slim new MacBook Air laptop that Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled at the Macworld trade show has no built-in drive for reading CDs or DVDs. Why?
a) New technology allows the discs to be scanned by placing them on the laptop’s screen for five minutes.
b) Customers are expected to download music and movies, and use other computers to install new software.
c) Thanks to the laptop’s fusion-powered flux capacitor, CDs and DVDs are a thing of the past.
10. Muskogee wide receiver Jameel Owens and defensive lineman Stacy McGee have decided to play for what team?
a) The OSU Cowboys.
b) The OU Sooners.
c) The Missouri Tigers.
11. At the conclusion of the ceremony dedicating the Centennial Waterfall at State Fair Park, participants threw what into the waterfall’s pond?
a) Little goldfish.
b) Small rocks as part of a rock-skipping contest.
c) Silver dollars and $100 in quarters.
12. In December, state revenues were up markedly from December 2006 because …
a) The ice and cold increased production tax from oil and gas.
b) The ice and cold increased sales tax income.
c) Income tax receipts took a sharp increase.
13. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, endorsed which presidential candidate?
a) John McCain.
b) Mike Huckabee.
c) Mitt Romney.
14. An Army unit at Fort Sill and an Air Force unit at Tinker Air Force Base began training together this month for what reason?
a) So the service people can get acquainted with one another before being deployed.
b) Because no other military groups wanted to work with either unit.
c) To work out any problems that normally wouldn’t be found until they were in hostile territory.
15. According to a long-term Air Force plan, Tinker Air Force Base and Altus Air Force Base are candidates as possible homes for what type of future Air Force plane?
16. Why is the Oklahoma State University Cowboys football team thinking about moving its Oct. 4 home game with Texas A&M to Oct. 2, a weekday?
a) ESPN has asked OSU to move the game up for a national broadcast.
b) The arena will be under construction on Oct. 4.
c) The team wants to see whether a weeknight game will get more fans to attend.
17. Harold Smith, a businessman at Will Rogers World Airport, supplies something important to many air travelers. What is it?
b) Magazines and newspapers.
c) Shiny footwear.
18. A well-known politician will campaign in Oklahoma on Jan. 30 for a Democratic presidential candidate. Who is he?
a) Al Gore.
b) Jimmy Carter.
c) Bill Clinton.
19. Oklahoma’s Department of Commerce said it is working with which company to bring in 611 new jobs between now and 2018?
a) Devon Energy Corp.
b) Chesapeake Energy.
c) Garver Engineers.
20. State schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett announced that teachers in 63 schools across the state will receive bonuses between $500 and $3,000 for what achievement?
a) On-time completion of training.
b) Zero absences by students.
c) High or improved student scores.
How did you do on the quiz? Here are the correct answers:
1-B; 2-B; 3-A; 4-C; 5-A; 6-A; 7-B; 8-C; 9-B; 10-B; 11-C; 12-B; 13-A; 14-C; 15-A; 16-A; 17-C; 18-C; 19-A; 20-C.
Sometimes it’s easy to miss an event, so here’s a look back at the past week or so to help bring you up to date.
The Internet has revolutionized much of our world, including the way reporters cover public companies. This week, I wrote stories about two Oklahoma companies that are going public, which means they are issuing shares for the first time to be traded on a major stock exchange.
Although we already knew both companies — Oklahoma City’s OGE Enogex Partners and Tulsa’s Williams Pipeline Partners – were planning initial public offerings, this week’s newsworthy events each occurred late in the day. Typically companies about to issue stock for the first time refuse to make public comments to the media citing the so-called “quiet period” (although many business reporters think the executives are demonstrating an abundance of caution.)
That sent me scrambling to the Web site of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to read the companies’ updated registration forms that describe the IPOs in great detail. And that level of detail provides its own problems. For instance, OGE Enogex Partners’ filing is about 400 pages long, and is written as if a corporate lawyer was seeking to maximize billable hours. Here’s a quick example from page 11:
Our general partner has the right, at a time when there are no subordinated units outstanding and it has received incentive distributions at the highest level to which it is entitled (48%) for each of the prior four consecutive quarters, to reset the initial cash target distribution levels at higher levels based on the distribution at the time of the exercise of the reset election. Following a reset election by our general partner, the minimum quarterly distribution amount will be reset to an amount equal to the average cash distribution amount per common unit for the two quarters immediately preceding the reset election, referred to herein as the “reset minimum quarterly distribution,” and the target distribution levels will be reset to correspondingly higher levels based on the same percentage increases above the reset minimum quarterly distribution amount as in our current target distribution levels.
Don’t bother reading it again; it makes about as much sense the second time through. I generally have about an hour to digest such jargon and produce a story. Of course, one learns which sections of the filings tend to generate the kind of facts needed to write a news story. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m a little bit of an SEC filing wonk.
But if you’re interested in being a business journalist (long hours! free coffee!), speed reading is a marketable skill.
Not that anyone needs another reason to root against the New England Patriots as they seek to complete their perfect season, but here’s one you may not have been aware of: your wallet.
There is a strong correlation between the Super Bowl champion and the annual performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index, the oldest, most prestigious stock index. When a team that was an original member of the American Football League wins the big game, the Dow slumps. When a member of the original National Football League wins, the Dow surges. It works about 80 percent of the time, a success rate the envy of any stock picker. Most recently, it worked last year when the Indianapolis Colts, an original NFL franchise, took the championaship and the Dow gained 6.4 percent.
So if you’re not already swayed by the Patriots’ cheating, slovenly, Machiavellian despot of a coach, their cheating (girlfriend, not football) quarterback or their cheating (drug policy violation) defensive back, then just vote your pocketbook. (And their uniforms are ugly.)
Back the Pack. Your portfolio will thank you.
Events often drive stock prices. Earnings, resignations, scandal and economic data can move shares up or down. But hype can affect stock prices as well.
Blogger Matt Haughey decided to see how much the much-hyped announcements of Apple Inc. at Macworld each January moved the computer and software company’s shares. Haughey evaluated how much a hypothetical $10,000 investment in AAPL on the day before the announcements would return if sold the day after.
Tuesday’s announcements of an ultra-slim, ultra-light laptop along with the ability to rent movies from iTunes apparently didn’t impress traders. Apple stock slipped about 7 percent on Tuesday, and this morning was continuing to trend downward.
But Haughey’s Web site clearly demonstrates the benefits of a buy-and-hold strategy. Although the returns in each of the past two years have been remarkable, $10,000 invested in Apple in 1997 would be worth about $500,000 today.
The average temperature in 2007 for the contiguous United States was the 10th warmest ever recorded, the National Climatic Data Center reported. The global surface temperature last year was the firth warmest ever recorded.
The National Climatic Data Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based on Asheville, N.C., released on Tuesday “Climate of 2007 — In Historical Perspective Annual Report.”
— The average temperature in the United States last year was 54.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the mean temperature of the 20th century.
— Last year in Alaska was the 15th warmest ever since the state began record keeping in 1918.
— The mean temperature in the United States in December 2007 was 33.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average temperature of the 20th century.
— The combined global land and ocean surface temperature in December 2007 was the 13th warmest since record keeping began in 1890.
“Climate of 2007 — December in Historical Perspective” was also released on Tuesday.
Sometimes we business writers toss around corporate earnings numbers without providing the necessary context. For example, markets are reacting today with a shudder to the news that financial behemoth Citigroup lost nearly $10 billion in the last 90 days of 2007. The multinational giant also reduced the value of its mortgage loan portfolio by more than $18 billion.
Clearly, that’s a lot of money. But how much? Well, in Oklahoma terms, Citibank lost enough money in three months to buy every share of stock of OGE and ONEOK with enough left over to devour Sonic Corp. for dessert.
And the write-down of its portfolio is nearly enough to buy each and every share of Chesapeake Energy Corp.
In case you’re wondering just how big the subprime meltdown is, it’s huge and appears to be spreading.
There’s no way to spin this kind of news, as evidenced by Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit’s statement:
“Our financial results this quarter are clearly unacceptable. Our poor performance was driven primarily by two factors – significant write-downs and losses on our sub-prime direct exposures in fixed income markets, and a large increase in credit costs in our U.S. consumer loan portfolio. ”