Four at Four

  1. The Wall Street Journal reports Wall Street firms are considering limits on compensation after public outcry.

    In a sign that Wall Street is waking up to the political tempest over billions of dollars in year-end bonuses likely to be paid out at securities firms lining up for government infusions, top executives are in discussions to possibly cap their own compensation, according to people familiar with the situation.

    While the discussions remain fluid and many details still must be agreed to, the talks underscore an emerging consensus among some of the securities industry’s most powerful executives that the escalating pay controversy is creating yet another public-relations mess for Wall Street…

    And as Wall Street firms examine their pay and bonuses, distinctions are being made between the highest-ranking executives and lower-level traders and investment bankers who aren’t widely known beyond Wall Street but could get plucked away by rival firms if compensation practices are significantly altered.

    As a result, the most likely scenario in the firm-by-firm discussions is a sharp decline in compensation for chief executive officers, but fewer changes in how bonuses are paid to most employees, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Four at Four continues with an Iraq update, evidence of climate change on every continent, and an update on the North American bat die-off.

  1. McClatchy Newspapers wonders if this is “Another success?” as an Iraqi mayor Bush once hailed flees to U.S..

    Two years ago, President Bush hailed Najim al Jabouri as a symbol of success in the battle to curb Iraq’s sectarian violence. Today, Jabouri is a symbol of how uncertain that success is.

    Last month, Jabouri quietly left Tal Afar, an ancient city near Iraq’s desert border with Syria where he was the police chief and the mayor, collected his wife and four children and flew to safety in the United States.

    “There was no other choice,” Jabouri, 52, a retired Iraqi army lieutenant general, said in a recent interview that was translated by his eldest son, Omar, 21. “I had been serving my homeland, the Iraqi people and Iraqi soil my whole life. I decided I had to do something for my own family. I saw that their lives were in great danger.”

    Meanwhile, ProPublica reports of an U.S. government audit that shows the U.S. fails in tracking cost of Iraq contractors.

    The U.S. has spent about $6 billion on private security contractors and related services in Iraq, although the real tally remains unknown because the government has failed to track security costs, according to an audit from Iraq released Thursday.

    Since the war began, the U.S has hired some 77 private security firms to provide armed guards to protect U.S. and Iraqi government officials, supplies and buildings in the middle of the war zone, said the audit by the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

    Another 230 companies have provided related “security services” that range from intelligence gathering for private corporations in Iraq to protecting computer networks from hackers, according to the audit and interviews.

    In addition, The Guardian adds Gen. David Petraeus takes charge of US Central Command. General “Surge” will now “head American military operations in the Middle East and central Asia.” His first priority will likely be nuclear-armed Pakistan.

  2. The Guardian reports a study has found that Manmade global warming is evident on every continent.

    No corner of the Earth is immune from the effects of global warming, according to a new study that confirms manmade temperature rises in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Temperature records over the last century show that warming in the planet’s coldest and most remote wildernesses is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

    The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, is the first to find the fingerprints of manmade global warming on the Antarctic, where a shortage of data makes it hard to be sure. Last year’s report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said human influence could be detected on every continent, except Antarctica. Climate sceptics have exploited this omission to question the science of global warming.

    In the new study, Nathan Gillett, then working at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, though now at Environment Canada, compiled, with colleagues, climate data across the Arctic and Antarctic regions since 1900, and compared the patterns with those produced by computer simulations with and without human activity.

    They say only the models that included human influences – such as emissions of carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – were able to reproduce the observed temperature trends.

  3. The LA Times reports the Die-off of bats is linked to new fungus.

    Researchers have found a clue in the mysterious die-off of bats that has struck the Northeast — a new fungus that so far seems to be present only in bats and in caves where the die-off has occurred.

    “The fungus is in some way involved in causing the bats to starve to death,” said biologist Thomas Tomasi of Missouri State University in Springfield. “They are burning up too many calories, at a rate faster than they can sustain.”

    Bat experts are not yet sure, however, whether the fungus is the cause of the widespread deaths or is simply an opportunistic microorganism infecting animals that have already been weakened by some unknown threat.

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    • RiaD on October 31, 2008 at 9:33 pm
  1. WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A rare reptile with lineage dating back to the dinosaur age has been found nesting on the New Zealand mainland for the first time in about 200 years, officials said Friday.

    Four leathery, white eggs from an indigenous tuatara were found by staff at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in the capital, Wellington, during routine maintenance work Friday, conservation manager Rouen Epson said.

    Tuatara, dragon-like reptiles that grow to up to 32 inches, are the last descendants of a species that walked the earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

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