Searching for Recruits
The Pentagon hired a private marketing firm to help build a database of high school and college students who might be potential military recruits. The firm, BeNow Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., specializes in gathering and analyzing data to target potential customers based on their personal profiles. Among the students' data to be collected: Social Security numbers, birth dates, ethnicity, grade-point averages and fields of study. The Pentagon says the company's job is to provide an accurate list of possible contacts.
AMC Entertainment Inc., the nation's second-largest movie theater chain, is buying Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. -- a sign of continued industry consolidation. The merged company should be more competitive as it gains greater market share and lowers its overhead. But that may not be enough to draw in viewers who increasingly prefer to stay home and wait for the DVD, surf the Web or play video games. Movie ticket sales have fallen, compared with last year, for each of the past 17 weekends.
Ford Motor Co. again lowered its profit forecast for the year and said it will cut 5 percent of its white-collar jobs in North America largely because of slumping sales. That's 1,700 salaried positions in addition to the 1,000 previously slated to go. The company also is eliminating bonuses for white-collar managers. Ford's actions follow General Motors Corp.'s decision to slash 25,000 blue-collar jobs. Both of America's top two automakers are losing market share to imports and struggling with heavy overhead costs.
Sniffing Potential Fraud
The inspector general monitoring reconstruction in Iraq told Congress he has presented evidence of three potential fraud cases to federal prosecutors in Alexandria. The cases stem from an audit that found nearly $100 million intended for reconstruction projects in Iraq could not be properly accounted for. The inspector general did not identify the companies or provide details of the cases, which could set precedents in the largely untested legal area of crimes committed by U.S. civilians in Iraq.
Housing Still Bubbling
The nation's housing market remains super-hot but may be losing a little steam. The median sales price of existing homes soared 12.5 percent in May from a year earlier, down slightly from April's even-more-feverish 15.1 percent gain. And the median sales price of new homes dropped 6.5 percent in May. With mortgage rates still low and supplies tight in many markets, no serious cool-down seems imminent. Economists continue to predict, however, that eventually mortgage rates should rise enough to deflate the bubbles.