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On the Net

By CHRIS H. SIEROTY, UPI Technology Correspondent

HOUSE BILL TARGETS ELECTRONIC WASTE

Rep. Mike Thompson has introduced a bill intended to address the increasing volumes of obsolete computers. The Computer Hazardous-Waste Infrastructure Program Act would require the Environmental Protection Agency to administer a grant program to help establish computer recycling across the United States. The program would be funded by a fee of up to $10 on all retail sales of desktop and laptop PCs and computer monitors. "We can't afford to continue endangering our health and our environment and filling our landfills by ignoring the problems created by computer waste," said Thompson, D-Calif., in a statement. The bill is the first such legislation to be introduced on the federal level. Experts estimate more than 41 million personal computers will become obsolete in the U.S. this year. The electronic waste generated from this trash contains hazardous materials including lead, mercury and PVC plastics. "Seventy-five percent of obsolete computers are in storage awaiting disposal," Thompson said. "It's an e-waste nightmare." In an effort to stave off both federal and state legislation regulating the disposal of e-waste, The Electronic Industries Alliance, a trade group, has set up a grant program to study the disposal of household electronics.

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WORLD-INFAMOUS KPIG SHUTS DOWN

The first commercial radio station to stream its programming over the Internet has suspended its Web-based simulcasts, saying it cannot afford to pay music royalty fees. In a statement posted on its Web site, the station said, "KPIG's owners have decided that they have no choice but to suspend KPIG's live Web cast in the face of the fees that would be due under the most recent Copyright Office ruling. We're definitely hoping that this is just temporary, and that a reasonable solution can be found soon." KPIG will continue to stream a mix of live recordings made at its Watsonville, Calif., studio and at station-sponsored concerts -- music that is not subject to royalty fees. Bill Goldsmith, who operates KPIG's online station, told the San Jose Mercury News the royalty fees total around $3,000 a month, which is a large bill for a small-market radio station.


SLATE NAMES NEW PUBLISHER

A one-time producer for CNN's "Larry King Live" was named publisher of Microsoft's Slate.com. Cyrus Krohn had been associate publisher at the online magazine since February 1999. The move comes about three months after Slate named a new editor in the wake of the resignation of its founder, Michael Kinsley. Krohn also worked in the White House for Vice President Dan Quayle in the Office of Administration and Special Projects from 1991-92. "From its beginning, Slate has benefited from the advantage of talented leadership, and I consider it my job going forward to build on this successful business model," Krohn said in a statement.

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M&A ACTIVITY INCREASES SLIGHTLY IN 2ND QTR

Merger and acquisition activity increased slightly in the second quarter of 2002 over the first quarter, according to a survey by VentureWire. A total of 172 deals were announced in the three months ended June 30, involving at least one venture-backed company. This was a small increase over the first quarter, when 166 deals were announced, but significantly lower than the same period a year ago, when 300 deals were announced. "Nothing as spectacular as the Pfizer-Pharmacia or eBay-PayPal hit the venture scene in the second quarter," said Ken Andersen, editor of VentureWire. "But the numbers held steady and there were signs of traditional buyers returning to the market." Cisco Systems, which had cut back its M&A activity drastically in 2001, re-emerged last quarter with the acquisition of Hammerhead Networks of Billerica, Mass., a developer of software for the delivery of multiple IP service features. The largest acquisition of the quarter was online brokerage firm Ameritrade Holding's bid for Datek Online Holdings in a stock deal worth $1.2 billion. "The majority of M&A activity in the second quarter involved asset sales and defense mergers," Andersen said.


SURVEY: DOCTORS USE INTERNET FOR WORK

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More than three-quarters of the nation's doctors now use the Internet and nearly half of them say it has had a major impact on how they practice, according to a new survey. The survey, by the American Medical Association, found about one-third of doctors operate their own Web sites, mostly to promote their practices and for patient information. Of the 977 physicians interviewed for the survey, 78 percent said they used the Internet for work. Of these, two-thirds said they go online every day, the AMA found. The organizations represents about one-third of the nation's doctors. "In 2001, 65 percent of physicians 60 years of age or older used the Web, compared with 43 percent in 2000," the AMA said in a statement.


WEBMETHODS 1ST QTR REVENUES FALL 14 PERCENT

Software maker webMethods Inc. said its first quarter net loss narrowed but its revenues fell 14 percent as a number of key deals slipped out at the end of the quarter. For the quarter ended June 30, webMethods had a net loss of $3.1 million, or 6 cents a share, compared to $19.9 million or 41 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. The Fairfax, Va., company's software enables businesses to stitch different computer systems together. It said revenues fell to $47.7 million from $55.4 million in the prior year. Excluding amortization of stock and warrant charges, webMethods had a loss of $2 million, or 4 cents a share, vs. a loss of $4.4 million, or 9 cents a share, last year. The results were in line with a financial warning issued by webMethods on July 5.

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FAIRFAX COUNTY ENJOYS MODEST JOB GROWTH

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority reports 15 companies announced in June that 1,170 jobs -- most in the information technology fields -- were or will be added to the Virginia county's economy. The companies include several defense and government contractors, software and high-speed network providers. FCEDA spokesman Alan Fogg said typically, every new job in the primary economy spins off about two to three jobs in the secondary economy. So far in 2002, Fairfax County has created more than 4,900 jobs.


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