By Patricia ZengerleLAS VEGAS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Participants in Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate will take part in a classic American political ritual, where the questions are closely vetted for fairness and even the pens and bottled water are regulated.Good debate performances can boost or break a candidate’s White House chances so staffers fret over every detail — not just whether their candidate is ready for tough questions but also which tie will look best against the backdrop.When they take the stage at a Las Vegas casino hotel, seven Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election will be at identical podiums, placed to correspond precisely to their standing in national opinion polls.The candidates with the highest average percentages in public opinion surveys since Sept. 1 will be in the center and the laggards in the polls will speak from the ends of the line. Their audience will be 1,200 delegates to the Western Republican Leadership Conference, the debate co-sponsor with CNN.”The candidates will have at their podium a pad of paper supplied by CNN, a pen supplied by CNN, a bottle of water supplied by CNN and an empty glass provided by CNN,” said Sam Feist, executive producer of the Las Vegas debate for CNN.”At all of our debates we ask the candidates not to bring any notes into the debate hall but they’re welcome to write anything they like on their pads of paper and all the podiums are set up in exactly the same way,” he said.The questions, which will come from journalists and voters, have been pored over by the network’s political team. Candidates pick their own outfits, CNN the makeup artists.Each debater is meant to get same number of questions. But front-runners tend to spend more time on the air, because they are more often the subject of attacks by their competitors. Some candidates also just choose to speak more than others.GAFFES ‘REPLAYED AND REPLAYED’Candidates are quick to point fingers if they feel they do not receive their fair share of attention. Supporters of Texas congressman Ron Paul lashed out after earlier debates for what they deem deliberate neglect.”Clearly he’s not getting his fair share,” said Jesse Benton, national chairman of Paul’s campaign. “You’re looking at a guy who is number three in polling and he’s dead last in air time. And that’s a travesty.”Few events on the U.S. political calendar are as fraught as televised debates, starting with the first between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon back in 1960. Radio listeners thought the vice president defeated Kennedy but television viewers said the handsome young senator won.”Press coverage and talk about (debates) is entirely influential,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. “There’s a press consensus after each debate of who did and did not do well and if you’ve done something that is foolish or inept, it’s replayed and replayed and replayed.”This year, Texas Governor Rick Perry’s poll numbers slumped after a string of unimpressive debates. Conversely, businessman Herman Cain, an experienced radio host, leaped in the polls after strong debate performances.Candidates prepare differently. Some hire coaches and hold mock debates with staffers. Paul, 76, always exercises. “He’ll get in a bike ride tomorrow,” Benton said.Preparation consumes an enormous amount of time and distracts from more traditional campaign activity like formulating policy proposals, said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, a veteran of John McCain’s 2008 campaign.This year, with so many debates, the final “winner” might merely be the last man standing, not necessarily the best candidate to defeat Obama, he said.”It has really become politics’ version of the reality TV show ‘Survivor,’” O’Connell said.


This chart was put together by Jialan Wang, and it shows the degree to which companies’ reported assets and revenues deviate from a Benford’s Law prediction over time. (If you want some good background on Benford’s Law and how it can uncover dodgy numbers from eg the Greek government, Tim Harford had a great column last month on the subject.) Writes Wang: Deviations from Benford’s law have increased substantially over time, such that today the empirical distribution of each digit is about 3 percentage points off from what Benford’s law would predict. The deviation increased sharply between 1982-1986 before leveling off, then zoomed up again from 1998 to 2002. Notably, the deviation from Benford dropped off very slightly in 2003-2004 after the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley accounting reform act in 2002, but this was very tiny and the deviation resumed its increase up to an all-time peak in 2009. So according to Benford’s law, accounting statements are getting less and less representative of what’s really going on inside of companies. The major reform that was passed after Enron and other major accounting standards barely made a dent. This doesn’t necessarily mean fraud, per se; it could just be a chart of the degree to which companies are managing and massaging their quarterly figures over time. The kind of fraud that’s so respectable, Jack Welch got lionized for it. Once you start down that road, it’s easy to go further and further forwards, while it’s almost impossible to reverse course. So I can easily see how the natural tendency in this chart would be up and to the right. Still, it’s worrying; all the more so because I can’t think of any way of reversing the trend. If Sarbox can’t do it, nothing will.


Other licensees are Rocksource with 20 percent, Front Exploration with 20 percent, North Enrgy with 20 percent and Repsol with 10 percent, according to the directorate.


Following are key dates in this battle for patents.Aug 17 - Wi-LAN makes unsolicited all-cash offer for Mosaid for about C$480 million.Aug 18 - Wi-LAN says a deal with Mosaid would make it easier to extract lucrative licensing deals from tech giants.Aug 25 - Mosaid says will finish review of Wi-LAN’s bid by Sept. 7, asks shareholders to take no action before then. Says preliminary review finds Wi-LAN’s offer opportunistic and undervalued.Sept 1 - Mosaid says to acquire about 2,000 Nokia and Microsoft wireless patents.Sept 7 - Mosaid asks shareholders to reject Wi-LAN bid.Sept 9 - Wi-LAN says Mosaid’s inclusion of penalty in case of an ownership change of patents it recently acquired was designed to thwart its bid.Sept 12 - Mosaid says talking to other potential suitors.Sept 14 - Mosaid says it sold some non-core patents for $11 million to an unnamed buyer.Sept 22 - Mosaid shareholders vote to retain a ‘poison pill’ defense.Sept 26 - Mosaid asks shareholders not to tender shares into Wi-LAN’s unsolicited offer.Sept 28 - Wi-LAN extends deadline for hostile bid to Oct. 14.Mosaid names Google as the buyer of 5 non-strategic patent families it sold 2 weeks ago.Oct 4 - Wi-LAN says its proposed Mosaid buy has U.S. and Canadian regulatory nods.Oct 12 - Mosaid says received a “meaningfully stronger” expression of interest from private equity.Oct 13 - Mosaid says regulator says it can extend its shareholder rights plan to Nov. 1. Wi-LAN says regulator grants ‘cease trade’ on Mosaid’s poison pill, effective Nov. 1.


* Magna stock down nearly 6 pct in Toronto, New York* Probe expected to have little material impact on MagnaOct 13 (Reuters) - Shares of Magna International sagged nearly 6 percent on Thursday after the auto-parts maker said it was co-operating with a U.S. antitrust investigation into the automobile tooling industry.Analysts said the Department of Justice investigation was likely part of a broader antitrust probe into the auto-parts sector, which has been underway for at least 18 months, and did not expect the outcome to have a material impact on Magna, one of the world’s largest auto-parts makers.Magna said the DOJ had requested documents related to various tooling bids, including a program for which a subsidiary within its Cosma International unit acted as tier 1 tooling supplier.As the investigation is related to tooling program bids, “any potential impact would likely be limited as tooling is a small part of Cosma’s overall business,” said CIBC analyst Michael Willemse.Tooling, which is the equipment used to make auto parts, makes up about 8 percent of Magna’s sales and a smaller portion of its profits, CanaccordGenuity analyst David Tyerman said.”It seems unlikely that any fine would be large enough to materially impact the company, given that it has $1.7 billion in cash currently,” Tyerman said.Other autoparts manufacturers that are being investigated for possible antitrust activities by the DOJ include TRW Automotive Holdings Corp and Autoliv Inc .Magna’s shares were down C$2.21 at C$36.75 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday morning. In New York, the stock was down $2.50 at $35.84.


"The 747-8 Freighter will be a driver of profitable growth for Cargolux," Frank Reimen Chief Executive of Cargolux said on Wednesday.The head of Qatar Airways, one of Cargolux’s major shareholders, had said that the European freight carrier would take delivery of the plane on around Oct. 12 after a tentative agreement but this was subject to board approval.