Kilts told the crowd of executives, directors, corporate-governance gurus and others. Today's boards look very different. Lipton was hired to improve. He said if executives had executed the plan properly, the bank's losses would have been less. SIX Financial Information a does not make any express or implied warranties of any kind regarding the data, including, without limitation, any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or use; and b shall not be liable for any errors, incompleteness, interruption or delay, action taken in reliance on any data, or for any damages resulting therefrom.
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Sonsini's firm has grown strained. Perkins of discussing internal Hewlett-Packard deliberations with others last month. The lawyer went on to demand that he name those he spoke to and what documents he gave them. Perkins's response was just as rough. Dinh … accused the law firm of conflicts of interest. He accused the company of 'sanitizing' the minutes of the board meeting in which Mr.
He told the company that Mr. Perkins was a victim of possible fraud, identity theft and misappropriation of personal records. Sometimes, CEOs make consensual Directors disappear. Hollinger International … did that late last year.
Shareholders like president of hedge fund Providence Capital, Herbert Denton … wanted three of the firms' directors to step down. ACS Chairman Darwin Deason , a flamboyant entrepreneur who built the company, teamed up with Cerberus Capital Management LP during the buyout frenzy earlier this year to take the company private. But such a bid never materialized, and earlier this week Cerberus pulled its offer, citing turmoil in credit markets.
ACS management along with some of its biggest shareholders, including Oppenheimer Funds, blamed the independent directors for allowing the deal to slip out of their hands -- by refusing to set a vote on the bid before pursuing alternatives. The directors say they had a duty to look for other potential bidders, given that Cerberus's proposed deal included the participation of ACS's chief insider: The dispute is all the more extraordinary given the close, even cozy, relations Mr.
Deason once enjoyed with a number of the independent directors -- Robert B. Livingston Kosberg, Frank A. Several of them enjoyed business or personal ties with Mr. Deason in past years. The confrontation began Tuesday during a six-hour board meeting, when Mr. Deason demanded the directors resign immediately.
He threatened to nominate a new slate of independent directors for election at the next shareholder meeting, in May, if they refused He also said he would issue a news release accusing them of neglecting their duties if they didn't comply by yesterday, these people said. The directors responded in their own sharply worded letter: Late yesterday, the independent directors filed a lawsuit against Mr. Deason and other ACS executives in Delaware Chancery Court asking for a declaratory judgment that they haven't breached their fiduciary duties.
The resignations came during a closed-door session in which the bloc sought to replace Chief Executive Alan Armstrong , who they felt was ill-suited to lead an independent Williams as it sets out a new course, the people said. Chairman Frank MacInnis was among those who resigned, as were a pair of activist hedge-fund investors, Keith Meister and Eric Mandelblatt , who joined the member board following a public campaign in , the people said. All three had championed the merger with Energy Transfer, which Mr.
Armstrong had opposed and continued to oppose even after it was agreed. The discussion turned to whether Mr. Armstrong was the best person to remain at the helm. The directors not including Mr. Armstrong were split evenly, with six supporting Mr. Armstrong and six opposed. MacInnis, who had been Williams ' s chairman since , was opposed to Mr.
Armstrong remaining as CEO, but resigned largely for personal reasons…. All three had been supportive of the merger. Did the newly departed leave with some benefits? Does one hand wash the other? Do CEOs and Directors say to one another, in substance, "I won't tell on you to Shareholders , if you don't tell on me"?
A conflict of interests arises when Directors set their own compensation, e. It is just another conflict of interest for which there is no real accountability. Corporate governance watchdogs fret that CEOs use lucrative pay packages to co-opt board members. Still, that's not bad for a part-time job that requires attending a handful of meetings a year. And because boards seem reluctant to rein in compensation, some critics conclude that the system is irreparably broken.
Sinegal of Costco Wholesale pay package seems a throwback to another era, especially when compared with the lavish compensation of Henry R. Sinegal's compensation is skinny, then corpulent is the word that comes to mind when considering the pay bestowed on Mr.
Silverman, the chairman and chief executive of Cendant, the travel, real estate and direct marketing concern. The fear, of course, is that corporate executives, who have oodles to gain from mergers, have too much say about the terms, structure and consummation of the transactions.
When management is at the controls, as often seems to be the case, directors are asked mostly to rubber-stamp the deals. Melican , president of Proxy Governance. Melican, an executive vice president at International Paper from to , was involved in many of that company's mergers.
And because there are going to be shareholder lawsuits, you can pretty much assume you'll be in depositions for many years. Melican said, when executives of the acquired company are promised high-ranking jobs at the combined entity, postmerger.
Melican says, boards have to get in early. But hey, that's what being a fiduciary means. Anyone Tell the Board? Where there is a will, there is a way! CalPERS is "concerned by the timing of a decision in May by PacificCare 's board to boost payout that executives would get if the company was sold. Typically a board would know whether high-level merger talks had been occurring for months Upon what need for change was it based? What are the odds that the BOD's decision was based upon a "fairness" or consultant's opinion, which issued by someone who was well-paid by Management?
Steven Milloy … claimed that Goldman's policies are … designed to advance Mr. He objected to Goldman's gift of , acres in Chile to the Wildlife Conservation Society , calling it a conflict of interest because Mr. Paulson is chairman of the Nature Conservancy, which works with the society, and has a daughter, Merritt, who sits on the society's board of advisors. Paulson batted away the charges with a simple defense: The board did it, not me.
He was not even part of the discussions of the Chilean land deal. Paulson's involvement with the conservancy or his advocacy of environmental causes. No one who makes it into the board room of a place like Goldman is unfamiliar with the time-honored strategy of gaining influence by showing interest in the CEO's interests, be they golf or global warming. Why wouldn't directors rubber-stamp Mr. There are no studies to prove this, of course.
But the society pages hold a clue: It's the CEO who is toasted at benefits and photographed for posterity. How often is the source of the funds -- the pockets of shareholders -- even mentioned? The Free Enterprise Action Fund , a tiny mutual fund with a conservative political bent, says the gift hasn't benefited Chile or Goldman shareholders.
The fund petitioned the Wall Street firm on Friday to have its board review the gift as part of a broader study of Goldman projects supporting environmental causes, and seeks a shareholder vote on the proposal. Treasury Secretary, defended the donation at Goldman's annual meeting on March 31, saying it was something 'Goldman Sachs wanted to do.
Paulson's son, Henry Merritt Paulson. At the meeting, Mr. Paulson said he knew of the deal but recused himself from the decision, leaving it to the board. Paulson's underlying assumption is that whatever Goldman wants is proper. Now the country's most important court for corporate law has raised questions about some deals.
I n recent back-to-back opinions, the Delaware Court of Chancery criticized two publicly listed companies that have agreed to sell themselves to private investors. The rulings expressed concern that Topps Co. The author of both opinions, year-old Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine faulted the company's board for letting Chief Executive Robert E.
Rossiter negotiate the deal with Mr. Icahn on his own. The Delaware court's increased scrutiny of possible conflicts comes amid rising complaints, and more lawsuits, criticizing buyout deals for allegedly enriching corporate executives at the expense of the shareholders. In the current buyout craze, many buyout firms retain the management by offering rich pay packages and a stake in the newly private entity. These deals are being challenged in the courts by shareholders who allege that they are getting a meager payout for the company.
They say boards are accepting deals based on factors other than the best-available price. In addition, shareholders are accusing boards of running into the friendly arms of private-equity buyers to escape activist hedge funds, who are trying to oust them through proxy battles.
In the case of Topps, the New York producer of trading cards, collectibles and candy, shareholders have accused the board of breaching its duties to get the highest price for the company Strine warned in his Topps opinion. Not only do CEOs get theirs, but , when they do wrong, Shareholders foot the bill.
Once again, shareholders are shouldering the costs of unethical behavior they had nothing to do with. Hill and Richard W. Painter, professors at the University of Minnesota Law School.
In 'Better Bankers, Better Banks,' they argue for making financial executives personally liable for a portion of any fines and fraud-based judgments a bank enters into, including legal settlements. Hill said in an interview. If that's the case, bad CEOs are able to hang on to their jobs long after they should be driven out.
In a new study titled Pay for Failure: Few of the plans, for example, required that the company's performance be measured against its industry peers.
It's a matter of mutual back-scratching, as another recent study confirmed. The authors are John K. They found that companies paying CEOs excessive amounts also pay directors excessive amounts. Companies that pay too much also tend to perform worse than their peers. Kozlowski was exceptionally extravagant with company money, Mr. Campriello showed jurors an expense report Mr.
John Fort submitted for his attendance at a single three-day board meeting. Campriello asked 'This is the way we traveled,' Mr. Permitting extravagant expenses is the morale equivalent of bribery.
Raines received salary, bonus and other compensation last year However, Fannie Mae is not a person. The Broadcom Corporation … shareholders are being asked to vote on a company proposal to increase by 12 million the number of shares authorized for grants under its stock incentive plan. In addition, a 'yes' vote will expand the types of stock awards that the company can offer executives and employees, as well as grant the compensation committee the right to reprice underwater options at any time.
This objectionable repricing practice removes the risk for executives and employees that outside shareholders incur when their stock falls. Had the proposed plan been in place last year, it would have cost shareholders an amount equal to about 75 percent of the company's revenue, the firm said. Berman had until 29 February been affiliated with a law firm that served as outside counsel to the Company and had since 1 March been engaged by the Company to render legal, regulatory and other professional services.
Berman was a director of Tyco until December 5, From March 1, through July 31, , Mr. Berman was engaged to render legal and other services. During this period, Tyco compensated Mr. Berman with health benefits, secretarial assistance, a cell phone and electronic security services for his homes.
Weingarten said the two clashed over several issues, including the amount of Tyco business sent to Kramer Levin for which Berman received referral fees. Dennis Kozlowski , Tyco's former chief executive, and were not approved by the board or disclosed in filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. He also has drawn fire from critics for having business ties to Disney in the past while sitting on the board. Those payments ended two years ago amid an outcry from corporate governance experts.
Independence of new chairman, who had sided with Eisner, is called into question. Mitchell, 70, … who has little business experience, said … yesterday that he had no desire to play the corporate strategist, as many chairmen do. Instead, he sees his main job as negotiating among factions of unhappy investors, other board members and Michael D.
Eisner, the chief executive who lost the chairman's title in the wake of a resounding no-confidence vote at the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday. Mitchell's appointment is not sitting well with many of the investors … nor with corporate governance experts.
They complained that not only does Mr. Mitchell have negligible corporate experience, but they say he is too closely allied to Mr. Eisner and his appointment does little to address investor discontent with Mr.
Eisner's management of the company. Mitchell takes umbrage at the notion he is beholden to Mr. He said he had only had three social dinners with Mr. Eisner actually approached Mr. Mitchell in to gauge his interest in joining Disney as president. Mitchell said because the decision was made only on Wednesday, the duties of the job had not been completely defined. But he said the setup and his lack of business experience should not impede his ability to oversee Mr.
The most beholden Directors may live in states of denial. And that has prompted some governance experts and investment fund officials to question his sincerity toward reform and sensitivity to appearances.
Their concern is that directors may have competing loyalties between the shareholders they are supposed to serve and the executives who put them on the payroll. Sidhu has … become a national force in community banking by repeatedly triumphing over rebellious directors and shareholders. Sidhu has excluded directors from important deal deliberations or waits until the last minute to brief them. Some investors say his public statements about acquisition plans are misleading.
Sidhu has a board of supportive directors who have scant banking experience, are compensated unusually well and, in some cases, enjoy access to Sovereign loans and business opportunities.
While that's more than directors at similar banks get, Sovereign justifies the pay by noting that its directors meet 14 times a year, five more times than its peer average. Sovereign has had business dealings with and made increasing loans to its directors in recent years. Sovereign added that the Troilo leases all have been at market rates. Troilo didn't return calls.
Troilo so he could buy a Lawrenceville, N. To help secure the loan, Mr. Troilo used another Sovereign-mortgaged property, in Pennsylvania , that he also rented to the bank. The Monday filing said Mr.
Troilo's bid was better because it included 'no financing, inspection or due diligence' conditions. Was Sovereign concerned that its building could not withstand "inspection or due diligence"? Upon what objective criteria was that decision made and by whom? But, after all, it is just another instance of Shareholder assets being considered as chump change! The bank offers no relevant disclosure about the loans, including terms, interest rates or performance. Relational Investors discovered the full extent of them only by cross-referencing Sovereign's Securities and Exchange Commission filings with records at the Office of Thrift Supervision.
Sovereign says the SEC filings excluded credit extensions that haven't been drawn down. Since , however, Sovereign's filings have included no specific figures, just vague reassurances. Wall Street is skeptical that a three-year turnaround plan will work, and Fitch has cut its bond rating to triple C, which is low even for junk bonds. So far this year it is down another 27 percent.
But there is little pain at the top. But there is no mention of internal equity -- of the justice of paying a lot to bosses when workers and investors are suffering.
Perhaps board members think they deserve an increase because their past stock grants keep losing value. They face tricky choices in deciding how much to challenge year-old Mr.
Mozilo, who co-founded the company 38 years ago. Countrywide's nonemployee directors collect fees, shares that they must hold for at least a year, and perks that include health insurance and spousal travel, according to the latest proxy statement. The pay range is above median total compensation for directors of the largest U. Countrywide said directors review their compensation annually with the help of an independent pay consultant Countrywide rewards board members so well that 'at some point, you cross the line between paying for services provided and a very lucrative thing where board members aren't going to challenge management,' says Mark Reilly, a partner at 3C, Compensation Consulting Consortium.
Corporate Library has long argued that Countrywide's board has done a poor job of designing Mr. Mozilo's pay package, guaranteeing him too much compensation regardless of performance.
The consultants urged directors to slim his hefty contract, partly by revamping his annual bonus formula Directors kept the formula and decided to replace the consultancy Snyder , 75, is Countrywide's lead director. Institutional shareholders who have tried to engage the Countrywide board on issues like Mr.
Mozilo's pay say that Mr. Snyder, who has been a board member since , prevents such dialogues from occurring.
One complaint was that he does not share letters from stockholders with other members of the board. Charles Prince , for instance, who stepped down under fire as Citigroup Inc. The rules are in place to allow boards to retain an appropriate mix of retired and active executives and push out members who no longer have the time for outside directorships because of more demanding new jobs. Still, many governance watchers and veteran directors say boards rarely accept a resignation after a member loses a CEO spot—no matter the reason.
Another former chief who kept a directorship is Richard Syron , ousted as head of Freddie Mac in when the U. He recently received a warning that he may face civil action from the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of its investigation into whether Freddie Mac properly disclosed its exposure to subprime loans.
Syron held a board seat, rejected his offer to resign. Syron didn't have to defend his actions to fellow board members. To be sure, boards occasionally drop a member after leaving a CEO post under fire. Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
AMD declined to comment. I just could not resist the temptation. The devil made me do it. The other dude done it. It was my poor upbringing. Then, there is reciprocal back scratching. It would be so embarrassing at the country club to encounter a removed former fellow Director. Additional conflicts of interest are caused by the existence of a Director clique. No one wants a wild card. It's not surprising that their objective is to get along.
Statistical analyses can go just so far in detecting links between Directors. For directors, it is simply bad form to nitpick over a couple of million dollars with another member of the club, particularly one who helps set director fees or serves on the compensation committee of other corporations. Even legendary investor Warren E. Buffett was not immune to the collegiality. He recently wrote to the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
A certain social atmosphere presides in boardrooms where it becomes impolitic to challenge the chief executive, he wrote. Buffett is reputed to be the best of the best! Thus, Shareholders have no reason to expect better representation from any other Director. Buffet, the best of the best, found it necessary to ask a subordinate multiple times about a sizable transaction and walked away without getting the "details.
Was he suspicious when he had to ask a second time? What about the third time? Did the subordinate still retain his job? Is there a letter of reprimand in the file?
What does the subordinate say he communicated to Buffet? Why was the questioning of Buffet not done under oath? Well, since he was questioned by regulators, if the truth not be told, there is always the obstruction of justice route.
Hopefully, Buffet does better where he serves in the capacity of a corporate Director. After his talk with Mr. Ferguson wrote an e-mail to Joseph Brandon, then General Re executive vice president, describing the conversation with Mr. Buffet, saying that he asked Mr. Buffet whether the deal was proper. Ferguson reported that Mr. Buffet said the deal was proper, but not by a large margin.
Buffet told regulators that didn't happen. Buffet told regulators that he asked Mr. Brandon several times whether General Re's accounting on the deal was okay, but didn't learn details. Did Ferguson want to know? If not, why not? Was a copy of the email transmitted to Buffet when it was written? Did Buffet read it and not respond? When did Buffet first question Brandon? What triggered the question? If Brandon was not answering Buffet, perhaps Buffet could have asked his external auditors?
On the other hand, if one is suspicious, why alert the external auditors to look carefully at what might be a minefield? Perhaps the issue of a Director's fiduciary duty to Shareholders was lost in an ethical haze? He stated, in part, "I've sat on enough boards and audit committees to understand the kind of culture of seduction that characterizes many boards. It's a game that many CEOs played and played well by seducing their boards with perks and private attention and contributions to favorite philanthropies, and meetings that were short on substance and long on fluff.
The boards became willing accomplices. And it's part of the American personality to go along and become more fraternal rather than more vigilant. Levitt did all that board sitting before From to , as Chairman of the SEC, what did he do or attempt to do to cure the specific problem?
Also, it appears that Mr. Levitt is claiming that it would be un-American to require Directors to be vigilant on behalf of Shareholders. Directors who served at failed companies may rate a red badge of courage and additional opportunities to employ their varied talents.
In some cases, however, companies have stopped passing on this information in proxy materials distributed to shareholders…. But what about the directors of companies like Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia Communications, Global Crossing, Waste Management, Tyco International and others who oversaw the implosion of hundreds of billions in market capitalization? In many cases, they got better jobs. But many companies don't make it easy for shareholders to find out where their directors have been.
Sprint Nextel 's biography for William E. Conway , for instance, mentions nothing about his stint at Enron. Thornton of Goldman Sachs Group Ford's, someone with whom he shares several friends and even more interests.
Thornton was appointed to the Ford board at the recommendation of the company's chief executive and chairman The lawsuit … said the chief executive and chairman, William Clay Ford Jr. The suit said Mr. Ford's acceptance of the shares was a 'usurpation of an opportunity that belonged to the company' After shareholders complained in late , the company formed a committee that concluded that Mr. Ford had not acted improperly.
Ford's purchase in May of , shares of Goldman Sachs, the largest allocation to an individual, drew attention after a lawyer for Ford shareholders wrote to the company's board, demanding an investigation. The shareholders demanded that Mr.
Ford return any profits and pay damages to the company for the lost investment opportunity. Ford bought the shares, Goldman's co-chief operating officer, John Thornton, sat on Ford's board. Ford had no significant say in the awarding of investment banking business. They also said … that Mr. Ford had a long personal banking relationship with the firm. Ford probably claimed a tax deduction for his charitable donation. And, how does one determine that "no wrongdoing had occurred"? Ford did not violate the non-existent policy.
Therefore, "no wrongdoing had occurred. In some cases, 10 percent or more of all donations went to these organizations. Companies, directors and non-profits routinely stress the importance of philanthropy and say the donations don't affect board members' independence. Critics, however, say big donations can create a clubby atmosphere that may make directors less likely to aggressively challenge management.
Although foundations detail their donations in annual tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service, companies are not required to disclose most non-profit affiliations of their directors, making it problematic for investors to know the full extent of such connections. Farmer , the 87 year old chairman of the company Farmers, who are members of the board, along with other directors The coming-together will be at a town in Georgia where the main attraction is a 'gentleman's club' exclusive enough to garner members by invitation only.
Augusta National Golf Club, which openly and proudly discriminates against women, will produce its Masters Golf Tournament with considerable help from the masters of corporate America. It also makes a mockery of board independence, now required to protect stockholders and the public from cronyism in financial dealings. The cronyism that perpetuates gender bias against employees is every bit as harmful, and ought to be stopped just as forcefully. At nearly all other companies, a simple majority will do.
Purcell will color their judgment in any way. Indeed, Morgan Stanley bankers, not to mention the dissident executives, have accused the board of coddling him. It is packed with former chief executives, many from the Chicago area, where Mr. Some have golfed together; others have worked for one another. First, there is the Kraft connection.
Miles, the chairman of the nominating committee and … recruited two former executives who worked for him at Kraft in the mid's: Then there is the McKinsey connection. Four directors were partners at McKinsey, the management consulting firm, as was Mr. And finally, there is the fact that a number of directors, notably Mr.
Miles, serve together on boards at other companies. Miles, for example, serves on six boards, including that of the AMR Corporation, where he serves alongside Mr. Brennan also serves on six boards, and Charles F. Brennan during his battle with shareholders.
Miles and Kraft on its merger with Philip Morris, and he is now advising the independent directors at Morgan Stanley on a range of matters, including their strategy for dealing with their antagonists. One point made by the retired executives is that until recently, no director - including Mr. Purcell - had ever operated a line of business for a securities firm. That set Morgan Stanley apart from nearly every other Wall Street firm. Partners have fiduciary duties to one another.
So much for the concept that BODs have undivided loyalty to represent the interests of Shareholders! Who is watching the supposed watchdogs of Management? Do conflicts of interest disappear if they are disclosed to Shareholders who have no effective means to remedy the situation?
Purcell, their first call for help when to the superlawyer Martin Lipton. Lipton quickly donned a number of other legal hats - advising the board, Mr.
Purcell and the company itself on tactics, legalities and, most controversially, severance pay to departing executives. Purcell stepped down, a compensation specialist at Wachtell, Adam D. Chinn, in tandem with the board's compensation committee, draft the controversial severance packages that awarded Mr.
Chinn's reputation for cobbling together generous severance awards for departing chief executives is such that the contracts are known as Chinn-ups. As a result of these payouts, the board has been sued by shareholders and received irate letters from institutional investors who have decried the packages as a violation of the very governance practices Mr.
Lipton was hired to improve. Purcell's leadership, many Morgan Stanley executives were never quite clear about Mr. Several said they frequently asked each other: Was he advising the board? The answer, people close to the board said, is that Mr. Lipton was, first and foremost, an adviser to the board. When it became clear that Mr. Purcell would depart, he hired his own lawyer to negotiate. While the very best governance practices would argue for the hiring of separate counsel on the compensation packages, time and confidentiality considerations led the board to stick with Wachtell.
Lipton for being an apologist for corporate management, that assertion misses the point - that Mr. Lipton's fiduciary responsibility is to best represent and advocate in support of his client's interests. If Lipton represented only the BOD and, thus, the Shareholders, his fiduciary duty was to get the executive to leave for the lowest amount.
It is fair to assume that he, at the least, did not discourage the BOD from appointing Chinn while knowing that he Chinn does Chinn-ups. Lipton and Chinn are members of the same law firm. Lipton probably benefits from each fee Chinn earns for the firm. The BOD tries to justify its act of hiring Chinn by claiming "time and confidentiality" considerations. If an option expires unexercised, the holder no longer has any of the rights granted in the contract. In addition, the holder loses the premium that was paid for the option, along with any commissions and fees related to its purchase.
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