The collapse of Enron Corp. was "the result of failures at many levels and by many people," an internal report released Saturday said. The 217-page report, by a three-member panel of the Houston-based energy giant's board, said Enron inflated profits by almost $1 billion and allowed executives to make undeserved millions through "fundamentally flawed" partnerships. It also took to task the company's professional advisers, accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP and law firm Vinson & Elkins, saying they should have been "more objective and more critical" regarding financial disclosures. In a statement, Andersen called the findings "extremely self-serving." Former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay is slated to testify before Congress today in the first of four days of hearings. (Related story, page 1.)
Security in New Orleans was extremely tight for Super Bowl XXXVI as the Monitor went to press. The football championship game was designated a National Security Special Event, with hundreds of Secret Service and FBI agents, as well as National Guard troops (above, outside the Louisiana Superdome) were assisting local police. Ticketholders and players alike had to pass through metal detectors, and bomb-sniffing dogs were checking bags. The St. Louis Rams were heavily favored to win against the New England Patriots. Meanwhile, the price of a 30-second commercial during the telecast, on the Fox network, was just under $2 million - a slight drop from the previous two years.
The sale of the Atlanta Falcons was approved, meanwhile, by team owners with the National Football League at a meeting in New Orleans. Arthur Blank, retired cofounder of Atlanta-based home improvement giant Home Depot, has agreed to pay $545 million for the team.
President Bush's handling of the counterterrorism war won praise from business and political leaders attending this year's World Economic Forum at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Weekend panels discussed issues from corporate security to the peace process in Northern Ireland to Internet access for impoverished areas. Outside, large rallies for causes ranging from antiglobalization to Palestinian statehood to racial profiling by police were mostly peaceful Saturday. Police reported 38 arrests and said three officers received minor injuries. The five-day annual gathering concludes today.
A record crowd of more than 40,000 people was on hand for the annual Groundhog Day observance at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Continuing a 116-year-old tradition, a team of top-hat-clad handlers known as the Inner Circle awakened the groundhog nicknamed Punxsutawney Phil at dawn Saturday. It saw its shadow, supposedly an indication of six more weeks of winter.