Around the business world |

Around the business world

HOUSTON – Enron founder Kenneth Lay stepped down from the witness stand after six days of testimony during which he tried to convince jurors factors like negative press, short-sellers, a nervous market and a crooked finance chief – not any fraud of his own – sank the company. He said watching the company spiral into bankruptcy was the most painful experience of his life. Up next to testify are some famous Houstonians, including Astros owner Drayton McLane.

NEW YORK – Sex sells, yet the racy ads that introduced erectile dysfunction drugs were more successful at raising outrage than sales. Levitra and Viagra now have new campaigns that forego the provocative in favor of depicting erectile dysfunction as a medical condition, not simply a lifestyle concern. Sales have fallen short of expectations and growth was flat last year as two of the drugs makers cut back on ad spending while revising their messages.

WASHINGTON – A wave of resource nationalization is being driven by higher energy prices, souring the investment landscape for international oil companies and reshaping petropolitics for years to come. While it is anyone’s guess as to which energy-rich nation might be the next to assert tighter state control over its oil or natural gas, analysts say it is only a matter of time before the actions of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales inspire a copycat.

LOS ANGELES – Seven months after a Volkswagen successfully drove itself over the rugged desert, the Pentagon is sponsoring another challenge for self-driving vehicles that can weave through congested city traffic without causing an accident. The contest, to be held in November 2007, will test the vehicles’ ability to independently carry out a simulated military supply mission in a mock urban setting in less than six hours.Vail, Colorado

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