Prognostications and other thoughts

Friday, January 28, 2005

Phone Companies

Incredible that SBC may buy AT&T.

Here is a list of the history of the RBOCs (reg bell operating companies)-who they are/were, as well as top Cell providers. This is from Reuters' horribly formatted story found here.
http://yahoo.reuters.com/financeQuoteCompanyNewsArticle.jhtml?duid=mtfh53677_2005-01-28_13-25-26_n2789985_newsml

FACTBOX-Top U.S. phone companies by rank
Fri Jan 28, 2005 08:25 AM ET

CHICAGO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - In the wake of reported merger talks Thursday by SBC Communications Inc. (SBC.N: ) and AT&T Corp. (T.N: ) , the following is a list of U.S. phone and wireless service providers by rank. Statistics are those most recently provided by the companies.

--- TOP U.S. PHONE COMPANIES ---

VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. (VZ.N: ) , New York, New York -- Formed in 2000 when Bell Atlantic bought GTE, the telephone company is also parent to Verizon Wireless. -- CEO: Ivan Seidenberg -- Total access lines: 53 million -- Long distance lines: 17.7 million -- Annual revenues: $71.3 billion -- Market cap: $99.7 billion -- Employees: About 210,000 -- Deal strategy: Seidenberg said on Thursday Verizon would watch the market, but had chosen to grow its large corporate business "organically" and suggested it would keep doing

SBC COMMUNICATIONS INC. (SBC.N: ) , San Antonio, Texas -- The aggregate of several regional Bell companies, including Pacific Bell of California, Southwestern Bell of Texas, and Ameritech of Illinois. -- CEO: Edward Whitacre -- Total access lines: 52.4 million -- Long distance lines: 20.9 million -- Annual revenues: $40.8 billion -- Market cap: $81.1 billion -- Employees: About 162,700 -- Deal strategy: Reportedly in talks to acquire AT&T Corp. , a deal that would vault SBC to the top spot an estimated cost of some $15 billion.

BELLSOUTH CORP. (BLS.N: ) Atlanta, Georgia -- This southern Bell phone company is also a parent of Cingular Wireless -- CEO: Duane Ackerman -- Total access lines: 21.4 million -- Long distance lines: 6.1 million -- Annual revenues: $27.9 billion (including 40 pct stake in Cingular Wireless) -- Market Cap: $47.8 billion -- Employees: About 62,600 -- Deal strategy: Most conservative of the Baby Bells, has never made a major acquisition. Came close to buying AT&T in 2003, but backed out. AT&T CORP. (T.N: ) Bedminster, New Jersey -- Known for decades as Ma Bell, this is the oldest U.S. phone company, dating back to 1875 and Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone. Prior to deregulation, it was the of the U.S. monopoly known as the Bell System. -- CEO: David Dorman -- Long distance lines: 24 million -- Annual revenues: $30.5 billion -- Market cap: $14.8 billion -- Employees: About 47,000 -- Deal strategy: Considered to have been on the auction block since 2003, when a deal with BellSouth fell apart. Now reportedly in talks to be bought by SBC Communications Inc.

----TOP U.S. WIRELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS ----
CINGULAR WIRELESS LLC, Atlanta, Georgia -- The mobile venture of regional Bell companies BellSouth Corp. (BSL.N: ) and SBC Communications (SBC.N: ) -- CEO: Stanley Sigman -- Subscribers: 49.1 million -- Annual revenues: $32.2 billion (pro forma to assume Cingular had owned AT&T Wireless for all of 2004) -- Employees: About 70,000 (including AT&T wireless) -- Deal strategy: In October, Cingular completed a $41 billion purchase of AT&T Wireless, vaulting it past Verizon to the top spot.

VERIZON WIRELESS, Bedminster, New Jersey -- A joint venture of Verizon Communications (VZ.N: ) and British-based Vodafone (VOD.L: ) -- CEO: Denny Strigl -- Subscribers: 43.8 million -- Annual revenues: $27 billion -- Employees: About 49,500 -- Deal strategy: Verizon Wireless has not joined the current ste of mega mergers so far but it announced more than $4 billion worth of regional acquisitions last year that gave t additional wireless airwaves and new customers.

SPRINT CORP. (FON.N: ) , Overland Park, Kansas -- This mobile service provider also offers traditional phone srvices. -- CEO: Gary Forsee -- Subscribers: 23.2 million (17.3 million direct customers and nd 5.9 million from affiliates and wholesale partners) -- Annual revenues: $26.2 billion (2003) -- Market cap: $33.5 billion -- Employees: About 60,000 -- Deal strategy: In December, Sprint announced plans to buy ival Nextel Communications Inc. (NXTL.O: ) for about $35 bllion. The deal, now valued at about $33 billion, will re create a mobile provider with nearly 40 million subscribers.

T-MOBILE USA, Bellevue, Washington -- Owned by German-based Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE: ) -- CEO: Robert Dotson -- Subscribers: About 17.5 million -- Service revenue: $7.28 billion, (first 9 months of 2004) -- Employees: About 24,000 -- Deal strategy: T-Mobile USA will be less than half the size of next-biggest competitor Sprint, after the Nextel deal. T-Mobile has said it benefits from being part of Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile International, which has 69 million customers in six countries.

NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS INC. (NXTL.O: ) , Reston, Virginia -- This wireless company has differentiated itself by carving out a niche to businesses that use the walkie-talkie style feature of its service. -- CEO: Timothy Donahue -- Subscribers: 16.2 million, including 1.2 million customers in its Boost Mobile service. -- Revenue: $10.8 billion (2003) -- Market cap: $30.6 billion -- About 18,000 -- Deal strategy: In December, agreed to be bought by Sprint.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Transcript of George Bush's Inauguration Speech 2005

Wow, this was pretty impressive. Bush cited Lincoln -- as freeing slaves and giving them freedom. I think he wants to be rembered in the same way. Freeing the world.

Transcript of the president's speech
From the Nation/Politics section
Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:
On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.
At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.
We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.
We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.
We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:
From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.
A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.
All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.
America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.
In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.
In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Update on Yahoo and eBay

Hmmm, I posted this in my prognostications:

Ebay - EBAY. Perhaps the luckiest company in the world. They created the marketplace. But will they continue to grow at such a rapid rate? No way will ebay match the growth of last year. They are too focused on their treasured individual seller marketplace and too leery of creating a real marketplace for NEW products. Plus, consistent/reliable revenue increases are what drive the company (to avoid instability in the stock price). This means innovation is less important than measured growth. BORING. This being said, there must be hundreds of really bright employees feeding ideas that will become Ebay spin offs from either it’s internal R&D dept or from their founder, http://www.omidyar.net/.
Stock prediction: up 20% by year end.
Yahoo - YHOO. Being rightfully accused of being too conservative and “me too”. I am worried that the company is too big and diversified without enough focus on where to be #1 or innovation. That said, Yahoo is full of a lot of smart people and there will be some changes in the next 3 quarters. And, unlike Ebay, because so diversified, can afford to innovate without threatening stock performance. What Yahoo should do is leverage their “fun/trust” and “ease of use” by cobranding other services, as they did with SBC. Imagine Yahoo Loans (partner with Intuit or Lending Tree), Yahoo Insurance (Geico), Yahoo Movie Tickets (Fandango), Yahoo Movie Rental (Netflix or Block Buster), maybe even Yahoo Shopping using Yahoo Wallet, one way to buy from anyone.
Stock prediction, huge correction in Q2, down to the high 20’s, but will be up 30% by year end.

Let's see-looking at them both after Q1/Year over year, I have to say I am more hopeful about Yahoo and less so about eBay.

Yahoo has something that differentiates from Google (main threat w/respect to innovation). That is: BANNER ADS, aka "graphical media". Yahoo reported that their top 200 advertisers (aka, deep pockets) increased spending by 38% YOY. That's huge--and the pockets should continue to open. Yahoo is the MASS MARKET of the Internet; just need to make sure new users keep coming--which is where Google is taking pieces.

eBay-think they are getting greedy with their loyal installed base. Instead of upping user fees, I think they should open up their marketplace to NEW products from the big retailers. Huge oppty. But their culture of controlled growth (read: no innovation) is going to strangle them. I'm thinking their 12% drop in after hours is a bellweather. eBay will have their first real, significant correction.
Despite their stock split, I wouldn't buy for quite some time. By Q4, perhaps they will pick up again.

226,000 now dead

Global Tsunami Death Toll Tops 226,000
By Jerry Norton and Dean Yates

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - The global death toll from the Asian tsunami shot above 226,000 Wednesday after Indonesia's Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of tens of thousands of people previously listed as missing.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&e=3&u=/nm/20050119/ts_nm/quake_dc

Friday, January 14, 2005

Google Ad Sense

This blogging SW is from blogger.com, owned by Google. Part of the "install" process is an offer to ad Google ads to your website.
The process was incredibly easy-you set up a username and password then enter some site info. Google then evaluates your request. A few hours later, an email came with the "approval". You then fill out info for W-2 to claim taxes and submit it.
The controls for modifying your ads are fairly easy to understand.

Now for the magic. I assumed Google would give you an option to enter content-specific keywords to better target the ads on your site, but there is no option. Last night, ads were simply "extra inventory"-ads to promote fund raising for Tsunami victims.
This morning, the ads on the top of my website were contextual-bicyling ads for Performance Bikes. That's magic.
Check it out:
http://twainmein.com
Granted, "ads" on this page are a bit all over the map right now.

Analyst upgrade for Yahoo and Ask Jeeves

Raised YHOO target to $45 and ASKJ to $40.

UPDATE 1-Piper upgrades Ask Jeeves, Yahoo; shares rise
Fri Jan 14, 2005 10:00 AM ET

(Adds Yahoo upgrade, stock activity, details of report)
NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Ask Jeeves Inc. (ASKJ.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) are showing stronger-than-expected growth and gaining market share, a Piper Jaffray analyst said on Friday, sending the Internet search companies' shares up in morning trading.

The search market, which is powered by advertising linked to individual search terms, is one of the faster growing areas of the media business. Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) is the market leader, although the entrance of Microsoft is being closely watched.

Yahoo shares rose more than 2 percent, while Ask Jeeves was up more than 7 percent.

"Our latest research shows that the search market is much stronger than previously thought, possibly showing as much as 25 percent sequential revenue growth, well above the initial 15 percent estimate by the Street," said Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy.

Both Yahoo and Ask Jeeves gained market share in the fourth quarter, he said, and ad rates have been rising as demand outstrips available inventory.

He raised Yahoo's price target to $45 a share, which represents a multiple of 30 times expected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, a measure of cash flow. His previous target was $38 a share.

Yahoo shares were up 85 cents at $36.18 in early Nasdaq trade.

As for Ask Jeeves, Rashtchy disputed some assertions that the company to also-ran status, behind Google and Yahoo.

"Ask Jeeves is not only remaining a meaningful search alternative, but is gaining faster than most other players," he said.

He estimates the company's usage rates rose 18 percent from the third quarter, the highest increase for the sector. He upgraded his rating to "outperform" from "market perform" and raised his price target to $40, a multiple of 18 times estimated 2006 EBITDA. His previous target was $32.

Ask Jeeves stock was up $2 at $29.04.

On the other hand, LookSmart Ltd. (LOOK.O: Quote, Profile, Research) shares fell 34 cents, or 19 percent, to $1.47, a day after the company said earnings and revenue would fall short of its targets,

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ouch-Yahoo! Article

While I don't agree with the specifics of this article--I think Y! Desktop Search is vastly superior to Googles (it's a real desktop app, not a web search add-on), I do think the spirit of this article is distrubing. And shows that folks don't think Yahoo is innovating fast enough.

Yahoo! Says, "Me Too!" -- Again
http://www.fool.com/news/mft/2005/mft05011117.htm

Email this page
Format for printing
Become a Fool!
Reuse/Reprint
Discussion Boards
The Motley Fool Take
By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax) January 11, 2005
Ah, yes. It's another yawner -- Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) launched its desktop search application today in beta, as has become the customary way of search function launches. This word is no surprise whatsoever, given the historical progression of the search wars -- not to mention, Yahoo! had already made the promise.
Major rival Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) launched its own desktop search product quite some time ago. And then several other search players followed suit, including Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) MSN service and Ask Jeeves (Nasdaq: ASKJ). Rich Duprey didn't see anything too revolutionary about the trend last month.
With those things considered, today's desktop search news from Yahoo! seems barely worth the press release, other than the fact that those who are stalwart Yahoo! users know that they've now got the option.
On the other hand, Yahoo!'s product seems to do everything that the rivals' functions do, including desktop search of video and MP3 files. Other features including previewing of content before launch and allowing users to specify the content they don't want indexed for search.
However, there's an interesting aside -- Yahoo! seems to have relied on an outside entity called X1 Technologies (a company that's related to Idealab, a name that might ring a bell to many of you) to actually provide the technology for the product.
I personally got a little more excited about Yahoo!'s recent word that it was launching video search and real-time traffic reports, both of which seemed to up the ante in the struggle for Internet users' eyeballs and advertising dollars. It definitely catered to the idea that Yahoo! needs to not only provide what the other guy does but also come up with its own innovations as well.
At any rate, Yahoo!'s desktop search launch seems like a case of same story, different day, different search giant. In this arena, it seems to me that Google's still got powerful first-mover advantage on its side.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Recording MP3's

For some reason, I have been really hesitant to record CDs as MP3's on my computer. Part of it is due to some copy right guilt, but most of it is a perception that it's too complicated. It's really just being lazy.
I used to spend hours recording CD's or records to tape. Let's see, the steps are virtually the same:
Recording Tape:
- Buy tapes
- Sample recording level
- Decide Dolby B/C, etc
- Record - 1hour
- Label tape with songlist

Recording Digitally:
- "Rip" CD to computer (copy wav file) - 15 min
- Choose compression and format
- Burn to CD as MP3 or other format - 15 min
- Label new CD with songlist

Hmm. Probably less time and easier...

Monday, January 03, 2005

What are your prognostications for 2005?

This is what I think:
http://twainmein.com/pages/prog2005/
What about you?

What are the top websites you use?

I'm wondering how many sites do people go to on a regular basis. In my opinion, there are only a handful of sites that "everyone" goes to repeatedly. Yet if a business doesn't have a web site and robust functionality, their much less useful. These are my top sites:

My Yahoo
Yahoo Mail
Wells Fargo Bank
Ebay
Yahoo Shopping
Amazon
Roadbikereview.com
Cyclingnews.com

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Christmas around the world...

(Originally sent on Dec 28th, 2 days after the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean.)

Sorry for the catchy email line; really trying to get you all to donate to help with the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This is a really horrific natural disaster; I'd bet well over 100,000 people will be found dead before it's over. And the "six degrees of separation" will likely affect you in some way. I think 20 years ago, Kaui was hit by a huge Hurricane. Today, two big and popular hotels are still in ruins--right here in "America". Just imagine what the short and long term affects will be to these poor coastal communities. They are even wondering if they have enough coffins and mass graves are being used as an alternate. Talk about "the horror".

It's amazing how the news coverage here (on TV) isn't more pervasive, and ways to donate aren't made more readily available. On the flip side, some of you went to school with richard li from Hong Kong; his father just donated $3million to help out.

In any case, lord knows I am pretty damn selfish, but this seems like a good cause to put some of that Christmas bonus toward. Plus, it's tax deductible, just print out the receipt after your done.

https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp
International Response Fund:You can help those affected by the recent tsunamis in South Asia, the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and Chad, and countless other crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. This fund enables us to provide immediate and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance, and other support to those in need.
For perspective, a good wage in India is $5-8/hr US. I figure a little will go a long way there (hopefully red cross doesn't take out too much for overhead).

Yahoo has done a good job with the coverage; check out the slide shows and videos.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/fc?cid=34&tmpl=fc&in=Science&cat=Asia_Tsunami_Disaster

Sorry if this has been preachy.

-twain