The Journal, and the experts it consulted, attribute these gilded coincidences to the backdating of option grants. In theory, it is legal to grant options below market price if agreed to by the board of directors and reported to the SEC as executive compensation—i.e., a cost against earnings. But in almost all cases the stockholders, directors, and SEC are left in the dark. More importantly, the paper notes, backdating undermines the stated purpose of granting options. If executives are guaranteed a profit on their options from Day 1, they have that much less incentive to increase the company's market value. (Kudos to the Journal for explaining their methodology.)
The LAT fronts an investigation of Slobodan Milosevic's final days and hours in prison, revealing that he had chest pains while playing cards with a friend a few hours before he died. (Apparently he went to bed without informing his jailers of the incident.) According to autopsy results released yesterday, Milosevic was not poisoned, nor did he have traces of an allegedly smuggled antibiotic in his system.
Props to the NYT for an excellent front-page St. Paddy's Day picture.
The Post fronts an amusing feature on the dumbing down of recipe vocabulary to compensate for the nearly absent cooking skills of those under age 40. Companies like Kraft, Betty Crocker, and Pillsbury have discovered that you can't assume people know how to sauté vegetables, cream butter and sugar, or dredge chicken in flour. Instead, it's "cook the vegetables on the stovetop," "mix the butter and sugar with an electric mixer," and "coat the chicken with flour."
At a conference … [an] executive of General Mills Inc. … described the kind of e-mails and calls the company gets asking for cooking advice: the person who didn't have any eggs for baking and asked if a peach would do instead, for example; and the man who railed about the fire that resulted when he thought he was following instructions to grease the bottom of the pan—the outside of the pan.
You Say Potayto, I say Potahto:
"U.S. is Denied Google Queries" (LAT online)
"Google Ordered to Submit Data for Child Pornography Study" (NYT online)
And the TP Award for Most Labored Pun by a Lobbyist goes to…
Irish eyes are surely smiling—and we all will be breathing easier—with this green court ruling on St. Patrick's Day.
—John Walke, Natural Resources Defense Council