Early Briefing: Cell Phone Spam

On Monday's we turn the Business section over to local news. Here's some of the stories in today's paper:

* The spam messages that have long plagued e-mail inboxes are now finding victims through a much more personal route: the cellphone.

Text messages are the latest tool for advertisers and scammers to target consumers, according to this story by staff writer Kim Hart. But unlike junk e-mail that can be deleted with the click of a button, text-message spam costs money for the person who receives it and chips away at the mobile phone's aura of privacy.

"It's so annoying because I get charged every time I get one," said Ryan Williams, 27, of Falls Church, who receives half a dozen spam messages on a daily basis. They ask him to download ring tones, visit questionable sites over his phone's Internet connection or urge him to subscribe to horoscopes or sports-score updates.

* There was a multi-house auction Sunday at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, fueled by the skyrocketing numbers of local foreclosures, and it fulfilled some hopes and deferred others, as more than 200 homes went on the block.

While tuxedo-clad auctioneer Mark Buleziuk chattered rapid-fire prices and the public address system blared the '80s hit "Living in America," several thousand people bid on ramblers, townhouses, condominiums, bungalows and McMansions in the District, Maryland and Virginia. See story.

Kettler plans to build a marina on this Prince William slice of the Potomac River. His partially developed Harbor Station project is stalled because of market disruptions in investment real estate. Photo Credit: Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post

* Speaking of the slowdown, developer Robert C. Kettler has not given up on his 4,000-home Harbor Place mega-development in Prince William County. But he's having trouble bringing others along, according to this story. He's still negotiating to sign a builder to put up the project's first rooftops. He's stuck in talks with Marriott to run a hotel and conference center that bears its name. He's working on bringing an upscale grocer.

One bright spot: He's secured public financing to build the Cherry Hill commuter rail station.

* Not your father's hot dog stand. Former Zipcar execGabe Klein, 37, and two friends have launched On the Fly, offering locally produced, good-for-you food in both mobile and bricks-and-mortar cafes -- "smartkarts" and "smartkafes" -- that are showing up in downtown Washington.

On the Fly says its target audience is the earth-loving, health-conscious, exercising, frugal-but-affluent urbanite who lives or works in downtown Washington. See story.

* Walgreens opened its first store in the District last week, marking the start of a major push into territory that has long been dominated by rival drugstore chain CVS.

Nationally, the two companies are locked in a battle for customers and their wallets. But in the Washington region, CVS clearly holds the upper hand. It has more than three times as many stores as Walgreens in Maryland and Virginia. It had 51 stores in the District to Walgreens' none.

Not anymore. Walgreens opened its store on 22nd and M streets NW, across the street from the Ritz-Carlton, luxury gym Sports Club/LA and -- yes -- a CVS. See story.

* In his Federal Diary column, Stephen Barr says the head of the Government Accountability Office is stepping down. On Wednesday, David M. Walker gives up his title as comptroller general of the United States to become the president and chief executive of a new foundation that will urge solutions to the nation's growing fiscal and demographic problems -- an issue he has been speaking out about, on national television and in "fiscal wake-up" tours, over the past three years.

* PBS chief executive Paula A. Kerger says more needs to be done to inform the public about the shift to digital television. See her commentary.

* Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, talks about his campaign to take on the buyout industry in this Q and A with staff writer Tom Heath.

Here's an excerpt:

The buyout industry is one of the most powerful forces in the economy today. Through their portfolio companies, buyout firms are five of our country's 10 largest private employers. After Wal-Mart, KKR is effectively the second largest U.S. employer. KKR has a responsibility to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who work at the companies it owns. We can't solve the economic problems we have in this country without taking on the buyout industry and urging it to play a more proactive, constructive role when it comes to workers.

* Former Anteon chief executive Joseph Kampf, who ran one of the region's largest government contractors before it was sold to General Dynamics for $2.1 billion, is back in the business.

This time, he's involved with A-T Solutions, a Fredericksburg company focused on combating the roadside bombs that have killed thousands in Iraq but have been difficult to defeat. See story.

By Dan Beyers  |  March 10, 2008; 5:57 AM ET
Previous: Early Briefing: Parenting Inc. | Next: The Social Threesome and Video Mash-ups


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Why is it KKR's responsibility to look after the lives of thousands of people. Surely in a free economy that is the role of the individual not the employer? In fact KKR is not an employer just an agent of change that drives economic value in the businesses it acquires, a close observer of firms that are undervalued or underperforming and can be restructured to drive value. Employer responsibility to improve lives smacks of the worst thinking behind the failed Soviet economic model.

Posted by: Steve O'Donnell | March 11, 2008 10:23 PM

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