The Whispers Blog
Arkansas' breaking business news blog, with news and commentary from the Arkansas Business staff.
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ValueWalk has notes from today's Bank of America Merill Lynch Consumer and Retail Conference, where Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CFO Charles Holley gave remarks. Among his comments: that the retailer has seen "very good sales" in recent weeks as the weather has improved.
Holley also said Wal-Mart will continue to expand its footprint using small stores. You'll be able to see a good example of that next week in Bentonville, when Wal-Mart marks the opening of its new convenience center format.
In short, construction delays on a $7.5 million renovation of the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge on Rich Mountain has so far cost $11.5 million in lost revenue there. The number comes from an Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism report commissioned by the joint House and Senate Committee of Governmental Affairs, which held a meeting on the delay in January.
Much of the blame for the delay has fallen on the project's former construction company, Wade Abernathy Inc. of Mount Ida (Montgomery County). Nabholz Construction is now working the project.
The Pulse report says the most recent projections from Parks and Tourism has the lodge re-opening in early 2015.
CBS News' "60 Minutes" aired a report Sunday on the data brokers who are mining the Internet for your personal information.
While Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock is named in the report, its executives declined to comment for the story. Led by reporter Steve Krofit, the story looked at how marketers like Acxiom and other firms compile data gleaned from websites -- including the CBS site -- about consumers buying habits and other personal information.
As the report notes, it's the type of stuff marketers have been doing for years, but the Internet has exponentially added to the universe of a data that's available, and most consumers are unaware of what information is being collected and how it's being used.
Bryan Kennedy, chairman and CEO of data broker Epsilon, did comment for the story. Kennedy sees a lot of political theater in Congress' recent hearings into his company, Acxiom and others.
"If there are abuses out there, we don't believe those happen within our company," he said. "And we would be the first to raise our hand and say if there are specific uses of data that are problematic, then the government should focus on those particular uses of data."
You can watch the complete segment above.
Despite not participating in the story, Acxiom has been sensitive to Congress' investigations and the possibility of regulation. Last year, it launched AboutTheData.com, a website that allows people to look up what information the company has collected on them. As of December, 500,000 people had accessed the site.
Eight billionaires with Arkansas ties find themselves on the most recent Forbes list of the world's 1,645 billionaires, released this week.
The Forbes 500 is led by Microsoft's Bill Gates, whose worth is estimated at $76 billion.
Six members of the Walton family made the list, along with Little Rock financier Warren Stephens and Johnelle Hunt, widow of trucking company founder J.B. Hunt of Lowell.
Christy Walton and her family came in at No. 9 with a net worth of $36.7 billion. Christy Walton, of Jackson, Wyo., is the widow of John Walton, son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Other members of the Walton family on the list:
• Jim Walton of Bentonville, youngest son of Sam Walton, No. 10, $34.7 billion
• Alice Walton of Millsap, Texas, daughter of Sam Walton and founder of Bentonville's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, No. 13, $34.3 billion
• S. Robson "Rob" Walton of Bentonville, oldest son of Sam Walton, No. 14, $34.2 billion
• Ann Walton Kroenke of Columbia, Mo., older daughter of Bud Walton, Sam's brother and early business partner, tied for No. 305, $4.8 billion
• Nancy Walton Laurie of Henderson, Nev., younger daughter of Bud Walton, tied for No. 367, $4.1 billion.
Stephens was part of a 43-way tie at No. 687 with estimated net worth of $2.5 billion. Hunt's net worth, estimated at $2.1 billion, put her at No. 828, in a tie with 40 other billionaires.
Later today, several thousand pages of records from the Clinton Administration previously withheld under special legal provisions will be made public, Politico reports.
The Clinton Presidential Library will make its first release on Friday of records that were previously withheld from the public under legal provisions that expired early last year, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said.
About 4,000 to 5,000 pages will be put online at [12 noon CST] Friday, with paper copies becoming simultaneously available at the library in Little Rock, the spokeswoman said. More releases are expected in the next couple of weeks.
POLITICO reported Tuesday that about 33,000 pages of records withheld as confidential advice to President Bill Clinton or information about candidates for appointments to federal office, were still unavailable to the public even though the legal basis to withhold them under the Presidential Records Act ran out in January 2013—12 years after Clinton left office. Some of the records come from then first lady Hillary Clinton's office and include advice given to her by aides.
More than 30,000 pages ultimately could be made available to the public.
The roughly 33,000 pages of still-secret records accumulated through early last year as records from the Clinton Library were requested under the Freedom of Information Act or processed as part of systematic efforts to disclose records of most interest to historians and the public. Archvists reviewing the records marked the pages involved as exempt, but with an eye to releasing them after the 12-year period ended.
It's still unclear precisely why the records were tied up for more than 13 additional months. The process requires the National Archives, which runs the library, to give notice to the former president and current president. Their representatives ordinarily have 30 days to clear the records for release or declare an intention to withhold them under executive privilege. However, that period can be extended.
Aides to Obama and Clinton said this week that no assertion of executive privilege was made for records in the cleared batch of 25,000 pages. No final decision appears to have been made on the remaining 8,000 pages.
Read the full Politico post here.
- Report: Wal-Mart CFO Claims 'Very Good Sales' Lately
- Report: Queen Wilhelmina Delays Cost $11.5M
- Watch The '60 Minutes' Report on Data Brokers Here
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