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Family members have shown no incidence of brain tumors so hereditary factors were ruled out. Genetic mutations were detected in the cancer cells but not in other cells of the childs body. The researchers stated these chromosome abnormalities are detected in about 50% of all gliosarcomas and that heptachlor has tested positive for mutagenic properties. The researchers also quoted another study appearing in the journal CANCER, 48:774, 1981, which found high levels of chlordane and heptachlor in the blood of 13 childhood cancer cases. William Chadduck, M. D.
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In order to satisfy Moodys and Standard and Poors credit rating agencies, Enron had to make sure the companys leverage ratios were within acceptable ranges. Fastow continually lobbied the ratings agencies to raise Enrons credit rating, apparently to no avail. That notwithstanding, there were other ways to lower the companys debt ratio. Reducing hard assets while earning increasing paper profits served to increase Enrons return on assets ROA and reduce its debt to total assets ratio, making the company more attractive to credit rating agencies and investors. Enron, like many other companies, used special purpose entities SPEs to access capital or hedge risk. By using SPEs such as limited partnerships with outside parties, a company is permitted to increase leverage and ROA without having to report debt on its balance sheet. The company contributes hard assets and related debt to an SPE in exchange for an interest. The SPE then borrows large sums of money from a financial institution to purchase assets or conduct other business without the debt or assets showing up on the companys financial statements. The company can also sell leveraged assets to the SPE and book a profit. To avoid classification of the SPE as a subsidiary thereby forcing the entity to include the SPEs financial position and results of operations in its financial statements, FASB guidelines require that only 3% of the SPE be owned by an outside investor. Under Fastows leadership, Enron took the use of SPEs to new heights of complexity and sophistication, capitalizing them with not only a variety of hard assets and liabilities, but also extremely complex derivative financial instruments, its own restricted stock, rights to acquire its stock and related liabilities. As its financial dealings became more complicated, the company apparently also used SPEs to park troubled assets that were falling in value, such as certain overseas energy facilities, the broadband operation or stock in companies that had been spun off to the public. Transferring these assets to SPEs meant their losses would be kept off Enrons books. To compensate partnership investors for downside risk, Enron promised issuance of additional shares of its stock. As the value of the assets in these partnerships fell, Enron began to incur larger and larger obligations to issue its own stock later down the road. Compounding the problem toward the end was the precipitous fall in the value of Enron stock. Enron conducted business through thousands of SPEs. The most controversial of them were LJM Cayman LP and LJM2 Co Investment LP, run by Fastow himself. From 1999 through July 2001, these entities paid Fastow more than $30 million in management fees, far more than his Enron salary, supposedly with the approval of top management and Enrons board of directors. In turn, the LJM partnerships invested in another group of SPEs, known as the Raptor vehicles, which were designed in part to hedge an Enron investment in a bankrupt broadband company, Rhythm NetConnections. As part of the capitalization of the Raptor entities, Enron issued common stock in exchange for a note receivable of $1. 2 billion. Enron increased notes receivable and shareholders equity to reflect this transaction, which appears to violate generally accepted accounting principles. Additionally, Enron failed to consolidate the LJM and Raptor SPEs into their financial statements when subsequent information revealed they should have been consolidated. A very confusing footnote in Enrons 2000 financial statements described the above transactions. Douglas Carmichael, the Wollman Distinguished Professor of Accounting at Baruch College in New York City, told the Wall Street Journal in November of 2001 that most people would be hard pressed to understand the effects of these disclosures on the financial statements, casting doubt on both the quality of the companys earnings as well as the business purpose of the transaction. By April 2001 other skeptics arrived on the scene. A number of analysts questioned the lack of transparency of Enrons disclosures. One analyst was quoted as saying, The notes just dont make sense, and we read notes for a living. Skilling was very quick to reply with arrogant comments and, in one case, even called an analyst a derogatory name. What Skilling and Fastow apparently underestimated was that, because of such actions, the market was beginning to perceive the company with greater and greater skepticism, thus eroding its trust and the companys reputation. In February 2001 Lay announced his retirement and named Skilling president and CEO of Enron. In February Skilling held the companys annual conference with analysts, bragging that the stock then valued around $80 should be trading at around $126 per share. In March Enron and Blockbuster announced the cancellation of their video on demand deal. By that time the stock had fallen to the mid $60s. Throughout the spring and summer, risky deals Enron had made in underperforming investments of various kinds began to unravel, causing it to suffer a huge cash shortfall.