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Trend Letter: February 2007 [Briefings Publications]

Trendspotters by Hope Katz Gibbs
Volume 26, Number 2
Trend Letter

TRENDSPOTTERS / February 2007

A report released on World AIDS Day last Dec. 1 predicts a bleak future for Asian countries. According to the most recent United Nations AIDS Epidemic Update, in 2006 the region experienced more than 630,000 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, up from 520,000 in 2005. The report blames the failure of governments to address the role played by homosexual intercourse among males and the impact of injection drugs. Outbreaks appear to be the worst in Cambodia, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan,
Vietnam and Thailand. And while the number of people receiving treatment has increased since 2003, only 16% of those suffering with the virus are receiving antiretroviral therapy. Only Thailand is providing treatment to at least 50% of the people who need it. More: www.rfa.org.

As technology becomes increasingly omnipresent in the business world, more colleges and universities are offering degree programs that combine business and technology studies. Example: Virginia’s George Mason University has created an innovative undergrad program that offers students IT skills they can use to make sound business decisions. Core to the curriculum are classes in how computers work, database fundamentals, network essentials, human-computer inter-action and computer graphics.
The program began as a minor, with 700 students signing up in its first year. It became so popular that GMU created an undergraduate degree program that incorporates IT, computer science and business. Currently, the program enrolls more than 900 Students.
“The degree prepares graduates to apply information technology to support business processes,” explains Lloyd Griffiths, dean of GMU’s Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering, and that is especially useful to students who are employed by day and attend GN4U at night. He reports that those students tell him that they are already using skills they learn in class. More: www.gmu.edu.

Russian authorities recently changed their tune about not wanting Russian organizations to invest abroad, according to the Russian Gazette. “Liberal foreign currency and tax legislation created conditions for keeping the money in Russia [in the 1990s], but today Russian firms are taking their money abroad for investing in real assets,” says Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
In September 2006, the state-controlled Vneshtorgbank acquired a 5% stake in the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company for nearly $l billion. And in October, Russian aluminum giants Russia and Sual merged with Swiss raw materials supplier Glencore to form Russian Aluminum, which aims to become the biggest aluminum producer in the world. In fact, $15.5 billion of Russian money was invested throughout the world in the first half of 2006—13% more than the year before—according to the Federal State Statistics Service.
Concerns abound, especially from Europeans who worry that business is a more effective instrument than politics for Russians to use to take control of the global economy. Of course. experts say investment could also play a major
role in easing tensions between Russia and the West. More: www.en.rian.ru.

The more disabling a disease, the more likely the care-giving spouse will experience sickness or death, according to research by Paul Allison, a professor and chair of the sociology department at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University. Their study looked at more than half a million elderly couples and found the greatest risk for “interpersonal health risks” comes during the first month after the onset of illness. However, the risk of death remains elevated for up to two years.
“What surprised us was that diseases that are highly lethal, like lung cancer or pancreatic cancer, had very little impact on the partner’s mortality rise,” Allison explains. “On the other hand, dementia and other psychiatric diseases showed substantial increases—10% to 32%—in the risk of death for both husbands and wives.” The reason? Researchers attribute it to the bond that develops between longtime couples. More: www.sas.upenn.edu.


More Trend Letter / Briefings Articles

"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.