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DiCaprio set to play Enron whistle-blower
Leonardo DiCaprio apparently can't resist a flick about a sinking ship.
The "Titanic" star, who has since featured such films as "The Departed" and "Blood Diamond," reportedly shook hands with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. last week, agreeing to help produce and act in a new movie chronicling the collapse of energy giant Enron Corp.
The actor's character reportedly is a new hire to the company who discovers--and eventually blows the whistle on--the corruption and fraudulent accounting practices that drove the Houston-based Enron to file for bankruptcy in 2001.
The movie is expected to be based on "Conspiracy of Fools," a best-selling book detailing the Enron scandal by The New York Times' Kurt Eichenwald.
Houston Mayor Bill White, reacting to media questions about the movie and its star, said, "Most of our guys look a lot better than that, but otherwise it would be good casting for the movie."
Travelers regains iconic umbrella
Citigroup Inc.'s decision to fold up its red umbrella exposes a challenge for the icon's new and previous owner: possibly arranging travel for a nearly 3-ton, 16-by-20 foot steel umbrella perched in front of a Lower Manhattan Citigroup office tower.
St. Paul Travelers Cos. Inc. last week said it will reacquire the red umbrella trademark from Citigroup as both companies rebrand.
Citigroup will operate as "Citi," even though it will retain its official name, and drop the red umbrella icon. St. Paul Travelers will pick up the umbrella and eliminate the hometown name from its brand to become The Travelers Cos.
"We're pleased to be bringing the reassuring red umbrella back home to Travelers, as part of our focused efforts to continue building the Travelers brand for home, auto and business insurance customers," said Jay Fishman, St. Paul's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.
But whether the 5,300 pound sculpture makes the 1,188-mile trek from New York to St. Paul's headquarters remains to be determined. The companies were negotiating the sculpture's fate, spokespeople for both confirmed.
If St. Paul Travelers does acquire it, the sculpture could travel to either Minnesota or Hartford, Conn., where the insurer also has operations, a spokeswoman said.
Citigroup had used the umbrella since its 1998 merger with Travelers.
But now Citigroup, which said it found that people identified the red umbrella more with insurance than banking, said it will use a stylized arc over the name Citi.
Mouse in the soup tops Hall of Shame fraud list
Carla Patterson was cooking up a good one.
Too bad it didn't have soup in its lungs and wasn't actually cooked.
That's what investigators examining a dead mouse concluded after the Newport News, Va., woman tried to extort $500,000 from Cracker Barrel after claiming she found a dead mouse in her vegetable soup at one of its restaurants in 2004.
The woman, 36, and her son, Ricky Lee, 20, each received a sentence of one year in prison for their 2006 conviction and the No. 1 spot in the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud's Hall of Shame, the insurance advocacy group's annual list of insurance fraud schemes that made headlines.
Also among the nine cases inducted into the Hall of Shame in 2006 is that of Tramesha Lashon Fox, a 32-year-old Houston high school chemistry teacher who was tired of making payments on her Chevy Malibu and gave some of her failing students passing grades for stealing and torching her car in 2005. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail in February 2006.
The coalition's list is published on its Web site, www.insurancefraud.org, each year to draw attention to the results of insurance fraud, a crime that costs the insurance industry $80 billion annually, the coalition reports.
A spokesman said the list aims to tell the stories behind the crimes.
"Many people believe insurance is a faceless crime," said the spokesman. "The Hall of Shame tries to put a face on fraud."
Fight heart disease with on-the-job siestas
Employers intent on improving their employees' health and well-being might consider putting a few cots in the break room, according to researchers at the University of Athens.
A six-year study of nearly 24,000 Greek adults found that those who took 30-minute naps at least three times a week reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 37%.
The study also showed that occasional nappers were less likely to die from heart problems than those who did not nap at all, and that employed men showed the most benefit from a daily snooze.
Of those participating in the study, 792 died, including 133 who succumbed to heart disease. About half of the total subjects took naps. None of the subjects, who ranged in age from 20 to 86, suffered from illness at the beginning of the study.
An "afternoon siesta in a healthy individual may act as a stress-releasing habit," researchers wrote in a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study did not determine, however, whether such catnaps would cure sleep deprivation, a pervasive condition among U.S. workers that researchers at Cornell University found is costing employers $150 billion a year in reduced job productivity and fatigue-related accidents.
Contributing: Roberto Ceniceros, Louise Esola, Rupal Parekh, Joanne Wojcik