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News Briefs, part 1

SEC Orders Companies to Clarify Executive Compensation Plans

Los Angeles Time

Washington

The Securities and Exchange Commission ordered corporations Thursday to provide shareholders with easy-to-understand reports on the compensation of top executives and opened the door for easier challenges to management policies.

The new rules, adopted after more than two years of study, are a significant expansion of shareholder rights. The measures take effect against a backdrop of public revulsion at excessive executive pay and complaints of entrenched corporate managements.

"These sweeping reforms pave the way for shareholders to take back their companies," said Ralph V. Whitworth, president of the United Shareholders Association, a stockholder-rights group based in Washington.

A rising chorus of complaints about huge salaries, bonuses and stock options provided to managers of corporations -- often poorly performing ones -- led the SEC's approval of the directive to make better disclosure of the pay, bonuses and other compensation of top executives.

The SEC, embracing the philosophy that informed shareholders are the best judges of corporate conduct, stopped short of granting stockholders the privilege of approving executive compensation. But it is making it much easier for stockholders to learn about it.

Firing of Sessions Aide Recommended

The Washington Post

Washington

The Justice Department's ethics office has recommended that Sarah Munford, a top aide to FBI Director William S. Sessions, be fired for misusing her position, administration officials said Wednesday.

The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) made the recommendation directly to Deputy Attorney General George J. Terwilliger III, who is expected to make a decision soon. In a letter Tuesday to Sessions, Terwilliger asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to comment on the Office of Professional Responsibility's recommendation.

Munford is accused of making numerous personal long-distance calls on FBI telephone lines, trying to use her FBI credentials to avoid a traffic ticket for her son and lying to Texas state officials about her car registration to avoid paying higher automobile insurance rates.

NSF Blasts Standardized Math and Science Tests

The Washington Post

Washington

The National Science Foundation Thursday issued a scathing indictment of the mathematics and science tests used to evaluate most American students, saying they distort the way those subjects are taught, stress almost none of the subject areas thought by educational experts to be most important, and may have adverse impact on the development of minority students.

The study, funded by NSF and conducted by the Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy at Boston College, consisted of two parts. Among the key findings:

--Tests often neglect key subject areas. In math, for example, number systems and number theory were overemphasized, while probability, measurement, algebraic thinking and geometry were underemphasized. In science, physics was "serious(ly) neglected."

--Tests stress the wrong kind of thinking. In mathematics, only 3 percent of the items on both standardized and textbook-based tests sampled what the researchers called "high level conceptual knowledge." The rest, they said, emphasize rote recall of information, basic computation and use of formulas in routine problems.

Weather

The First Chill

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

The coldest air of the season will follow in wake of a vigorous cold front that is scheduled to cross our area early on Saturday. With the winds and rain the curtain will be drawn on both the foliage viewing and the Fall in general: the snowcapped peaks of the mountain ranges to our north and west will be a reminder of a season to come.

The outlook for the Sunday regatta on the Charles and early next week: cold and crisp under a huge high pressure system that will dominate the weather in the Northeast for the first half of next week.

Today: Partly cloudy, quite windy and warm. High 68F (20C). Winds 15-25 mph (24-40 kph).

Tonight: Considerable cloudiness, scattered showers with some thunder mixed in. Continued windy and mild. Low of 54F (12C).

Tomorrow: Morning showers moving eastward; clearing from the west. Early high of 65F (18C), falling through the 50s throughout the afternoon. Winds shifting to northwest.

Tomorrow night: Windy and cold with lows around 40F (5C) in the city, 30s to the north and west.

Sunday: Fair and quite cold with highs touching 50F (10C).