Tuesday AM June 10th, 2008

Nearly 250 teachers from 18 area school districts are job shadowing at more than 70 Houston businesses this week. Teacher Externship Week is a collaboration between Houston A+ Challenge, the Greater Houston Partnership and Taking Education to Work. This is the sixth year of the program, which pairs teachers with professionals in similar fields. The program is sponsored by Shell Oil. The hope is that students can learn things that are more relevant to the workplace.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says the way for nations to fight rising oil prices is to cut subsidies and invest in energy. Speaking in Japan, Bodman said oil-producing countries need to ramp up output and divulge more information about how much they produce. Bodman was attending two days of meetings in northern Japan with energy chiefs from the group of eight industrialized countries and other top economies. Bodman says the surge in world oil prices is largely a simple problem of supply and demand. He says production has stalled since 2005 at 85 million barrels a day, while economic growth, particularly in China and India, has pushed demand ever higher.

President Bush has signed an executive order requiring contractors and others who do business with the federal government to make sure their employees are working in the country legally. Bush signed the order Friday and the White House announced the order on Monday. The order says federal departments and agencies must require contractors to use an electronic system to verify that the workers are eligible to work in the U.S. The order comes as a worker verification bill has stalled in Congress.

Emerging markets such as China have been lucrative regions to invest in over the past several years. Now, their cities are becoming some of the world's major centers of commerce. According to Mastercard's annual index, London and New York are still the top two global centers of commerce. But Asian cities are gaining ground--and not just Tokyo, which ranks third. The city posting the most notable jump was Shanghai, which advanced to number 24 from number 32 on last year's list. Other Chinese cities comprising the top 75 global centers of commerce are Beijing, as well as Shenzen, Chengdu, and Chonqing. Another Asian city climbing up the ranks was Singapore, which rose to number four from number six, joining Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul among the Asian cities in the top ten. Some U.S. cities that dipped in the rankings include Los Angeles, to number 17 from number ten; Boston, to number 21 from number 13; Atlanta, to number 25 from number 20; San Francisco, to number 28 from number 18; and Miami, to number 29 from number 21.

Some 31,430 attendees will spend more than $30.6 million during 29 conventions, trade shows and events in July, according to the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Conventions include Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference July 7th through the 10th at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Toyota Center. More than 10,000 are expected to attend that event, with an economic impact of $9.7 million. The USA National Karate-Do Federation's National Championships will be held July 18th through the 20th at the Brown Convention Center. And the American Association of Physicists in Medicine hold their annual meeting there July 27th through the 31st.

The Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau has won a 2008 Bronze Anvil Award of Commendation its documentary "One Day in Houston." The bureau, along with video partner Zen Film of Houston, received the award in the External Video category from the Public Relations Society of America.

McDonald's says it has stopped serving sliced tomatoes in its restaurants over concerns about salmonella food poisoning linked to uncooked tomatoes. Spokeswoman Danya Proud said Monday the world's largest hamburger chain has stopped serving sliced tomatoes on all of its sandwiches in the United States as a precaution until the source of the salmonella is known. Proud says McDonald's will continue to serve grape tomatoes in its salads because no problems have been linked to that variety. The source of the tomatoes responsible for the illnesses in at least 16 states has not been pinpointed. The centers for disease control and prevention has said at least 23 people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Schlumberger has acquired IES Integrated Exploration Systems. The German supplier of petroleum systems modeling software specializes in technology used to estimate undiscovered hydrocarbons.

The president of the Screen Actors Guild has encouraged a vote against a proposed contract deal between a smaller union and Hollywood studios. The move came as SAG tries to reach its own deal with producers. The guild previously asked the American Federation of Television and Radio Performers to delay a membership vote on its proposed agreement with studios, but AFTRA has refused. SAG President Alan Rosenberg said at a union rally Monday it's essential to vote down the AFTRA deal. SAG says that would help it negotiate a better agreement.

Apple has unveiled an upgraded iPhone with a faster Internet connection and GPS capabilities. Analysts have said apple needed to upgrade the iPhone's Internet connection to work over so-called 3G, or third generation, wireless networks to hit its target of selling ten million of the devices by the end of 2008. An eight gigabyte model is to sell for $199 starting July 11th. The addition of global positioning technology improves the iPhone's accuracy in locating users. Current versions use a combination of cell phone towers and wi-fi locations to do the same thing. Chief Executive Steve Jobs showed off the phone at Apple's worldwide developers' conference in San Francisco. AT&T will be the exclusive provider.

Liverpool's American owners incurred large net losses and expenses at the start of their involvement with the Liverpool Soccer Club in England's Premier League. That's according to newly released accounts. Dallas businessman Tom Hicks is still trying to raise private equity to buy out estranged partner George Gillett, Jr. But Gillett has vowed never to sell to the owner of baseball's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars. In March 2007, Hicks and Gillett gained full control of Liverpool. They posted net losses of $67 million on July 31st, including administrative expenses. Seven months after a holding company was set up to buy the team in December 2006, Hicks and Gillett had $3.1 million in personal expenses, including travel costs and legal fees. A total of $21 million was written off when plans for a new stadium were ditched so Hicks could employ architects from Texas. The American sports tycoons in January completed a $682 million refinancing package on the loan used to purchase English soccer's most decorated club. The holding company's accounts reveal that this credit facility ends next January 24th, although it could be extended by six months.


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