The week that was: Snake eyes

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Ed Fasulo, the big kahuna at the underperforming Rivers Casino on the North Shore, has announced that he'll be leaving his job at the end of the year. He was in semiretirement, living in California, when he accepted the job.

Good news, bad news

Bad news: Unemployment is still at 1 in 10 nationally. Good news: That's actually less than it was a month ago. The national unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point, to 10 percent, in November, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's down from October's high-water mark of 10.2 percent, the highest share of unemployed since April 1983.

Good news, bad news, redux

Bad news: More Americans, including Pennsylvanians, are relying on "food stamps" to help make ends meet and pay for groceries. There were 1.3 million Pennsylvanians using the federal food assistance program during the first 10 months of this year, with 136,563 of those residents of Allegheny County, record highs for both the state and county.

Good news: "Whole Foods had guarded its upscale image until recently, being unable to resist the buying power of about 37 million people receiving food stamps," reports the PG's Tim Grant.

Plain old good news

West Penn Allegheny Health System reported a net profit of $4.3 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, its second reported quarterly profit in a row. A year ago, during the first quarter of fiscal year 2009, the health system posted a $16 million loss.

Plain old good news, redux

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended October at 9,712.43. By the end of November, it was up to 10,344.84, and it closed Friday at 10,388.90. The S&P 500 Index price was at 1,036.18 on Oct. 30; by Nov. 30, the price had risen to 1,095.63, and it has hovered around 1,100 in December's early days.

There's a patch for that

While Apple's iPhone and Verizon's Droid sling barbs, Microsoft spent the week trying to figure out what causes the "black screen of death" that's been afflicting PCs that run Vista and Windows 7. The black screen -- which appears when users attempt to boot up and log on -- has been happening sporadically for months. A week ago, a British security firm called Prevx released a "patch" for the problem, suggesting the incidents were widespread and being caused by a recently released Microsoft security update.

Last week, Microsoft denied its updates were causing a new "crop" of black screens, meaning Prevx had scared PC users for no good reason: "We've investigated these reports, and found that our November security updates are not making changes to the system that these reports say are responsible for these issues."


Bill Toland can be reached at btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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