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ANR: What’s the Verdict on Sarbanes-Oxley After 10 Years?; Expect More Non-progress on Taxes; The Grad School Risk | 07.25.12

Has Sarbanes-Oxley Failed? [Room for Debate/NYT]
Sunday will mark 10 years since the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting law was enacted, after the scandals at Enron, WorldCom and elsewhere. Many in the business world said complying with the law would be expensive and burdensome, and others called it ineffective. Indeed, since those crises other huge corporations have imploded, like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Has Sarbanes-Oxley failed? After a decade, are there aspects that seem too onerous or too weak?

Audit reforms could lead to less protection, say firms [Accountancy Age]
The FRC'S audit reforms could lead to higher costs, less scrutiny and reduced protection, according to a survey of accountancy firms. As part of the proposed reforms, the FRC is calling for companies to put their audit out to tender every ten years to create greater transparency. However, 63% of firms believe the change could lead to less protection for investors and the public, according to a survey of the Top 100 firms by accountancy IT provider CaseWare. The survey, which was carried out in June, found although many accountants understood the FRC reforms hope to increase competition among firms, more than half felt the measure would lead to less thorough audits.

Weatherford International Revenue Jumps, Sees Continued Accounting Problems [DJ]
Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT) said its second-quarter revenue jumped 24% on continued strength in North America. But the oilfield-services company said unresolved accounting problems are preventing it from reporting its net income. The company said previously disclosed weakness in its internal control over financial reporting for income taxes haven't been resolved. The company is currently conducting a review of accounts, and expects to restate its previous reports for 2011, and the first quarter of 2012. Weatherford has grown revenue in recent quarters as the North American oil-and-gas development industry has also improved, though the company's bottom line has lagged rivals' due to accounting errors, charges and slow growth in international operations.

Tax fight heating up between the parties [The Hill]
The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on proceeding with President Obama’s proposal to extend, for one year, Bush-era tax rates on family income up to $250,000. The Democratic bill includes a host of other tax provisions, such as language to raise the top rates on dividends and capital gains to 20 percent. Some of those proposals dovetail with Obama’s tax plan, but others do not.  The measure is not expected to win the 60 votes necessary to clear the procedural hurdle, since Republicans are pushing to extend all the current rates on income, capital gains, dividends and the estate tax for a year. But top Democrats say they are confident the vote will show a majority of senators support the Obama tax proposal. 

Can A Master's Hurt Your Job Prospects? [Forbes]
Graduate schools lure in prey by promising career advancement. But not all degrees deliver. Graduate degrees in information technology, computer programming and engineering have proven value. So do medical degrees. MBAs may, or may not, pay off. The humanities? Sometimes, it seems an advanced degree in the humanities can actually hinder a career (unless you’re going into something like public school teaching, where those with an advanced degree are automatically paid more.) Fellow classmates report they’ve faced the same problem. Those in charge of hiring worry an  “over educated” candidate will demand too much pay or be dissatisfied with what’s being offered. In fact, a sense of resentment has formed towards those who hold a master’s. “I didn’t ask you to get a master’s. You’re overqualified” (What does that even mean? I’ll be too good at this job?) “Grad students have a sense of entitlement,’’ one manager told me, adding that those with such degrees seemed to think they should have his job.

A Silence Hangs Over Gay CEOs [WSJ]
For nearly two decades, Ernst & Young executive Beth Brooke navigated the office like it was a minefield, dodging water-cooler chatter for fear that someone might corner her with a personal question. Her colleagues whispered that she was a "loner," she said, scarred from her divorce or perhaps just reclusive by nature. But Ms. Brooke was growing tired of hiding, particularly after being tapped to head the company's diversity and inclusion efforts. So last year, while preaching openness in a company-sponsored video for the "It Gets Better" campaign, she rewrote the script. "I'm gay," she said, looking straight into the camera. "And I've struggled with that for many years."

Thomson man sets head on fire during bar bet [Fox54]
Richmond Co. Sheriff's Office investigators say 36 year old William Bonner of Thomson was highly intoxicated late Friday night, and had a friend pour a shot of high-proof alcohol, Bacardi 151, over his head, then another friend set him ablaze. […] "He actually bet the people he was with that he could do this," says RCSO Investigator Lt. Blaise Dresser. It happened near the bar's darts area, and witnesses say when they realized what was actually going on, the ordeal was over. "Pretty much confusion," says Adam Harden as he describes the scene. "I mean, not knowing what's going on, what's going to happen, what are we going to do. Then somebody drenched him out." Bonner was on fire for 10 full seconds before the flames were extinguished. "It was the longest ten seconds you could think of," says Harden, who stood just feet away when the flames erupted. As Bonner burned, everyone in the crowded bar watched in stunned silence. "All of us just stopped," says Harden. "Everybody just kind of completely froze and had no idea what to do," says Birmingham. Bonner ran around, trying to pat out the flames. After the fire was out, he walked out of the bar. "His face was red, real glistening almost," says Birmingham. "It had the consistency of melted plastic. It didn't look good at all."

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