Marketplace PM for February 24, 2005

Episode Description 

Big Brother?

By now you've heard about the ChoicePoint affair. ChoicePoint buys and sells personal information. Names, social security numbers, addresses, credit records, you get the idea. Criminals tapped into ChoicePoint's databank and accessed the personal files of almost 150,000 Americans.Or, so says the company. Some officials suspect the records of as many as half a million Americans may have been compromised. In Washington today, a House Committee promised to look into how the the databank was breached. Commentator Amelia Warren Tyagi wants Congress to promise much more.

Culture wars

Next Monday in Portland Oregon: a suicide prevention conference. Not exactly subject matter for a program about money like Marketplace. Or so we thought. Until our own reporter, Scott Tong, told us that federal money is involved. And so are questions about the meeting's real agenda.

Where is Russia headed?

President Bush met his Russian counterpart in Slovakia today. The U.S. has been critical of Russia's recent roll-back of several democratic reforms. At a joint news conference, Vladimir Putin said his country has made its choice in favor of democracy... 'there is no way back'. But free markets? A few months ago, Russia effectively re-nationalised its biggest oil company, Yukos. Neil Buckley, Financial Times Correspondent in Moscow, says that was just the start of what now appears a pattern.

Award shows and power trips

Ready for the big awards show? Tonight from Miami, its the Latin music awards on Univision. Ok, so it's not the Oscars... but there is plenty of drama.When tonight's show gets underway, 23 scheduled celebrities will be missing. We're talking about some of the biggest celebrities in Spanish language TV. Soap stars. They've been told by Mexico's Televisa TV network to stay away. Televisa owns a minority stake in Univision. And it is hungry for more control. Univision's board is not going for it. From WLRN in Miami, Marketplace Americas correspondent Dan Grech reports.

Improving on perfection?

Today we learned fourth quarter profit grew 19 percent at Staples. The nation's largest retailer of office products is named after... those famous little metal things. Those little wire machines that fasten paper. Not much about the staple or the stapler has changed since the 1700's. Well... there was the electric stapler in 1956, but since then it's been a little quiet on the stapler front. And that's been a problem for a company whose name you probably grew up with. From Chicago, Sandy Hausman reports on how the company plans to come back swinging.

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