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February 07, 2001 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-07

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 7, 2001
Layoff woes boost

NATION/WORLD

support
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With
layoff notices mounting and con-
sumer confidence plunging, the
promise of President Bush's tax cut
may be coming in the nick of time
to avert a full-blown recession,
economists said yesterday.
Analysts said the activity surround-
ing Bush's rollout of his $1.6 trillion
plan and the favorable comments tax
relief is generating in Congress should
give an immediate, badly needed boost
to sagging consumer confidence even
before any votes.
"We have gone from fighting
about who will be president, which
played a role in deflating consumer
confidence, to talking about how
large the tax cuts will be and when
they will come," said Mark Zandi,
head of Economy.com, a Pennsyl-
vania forecasting firm. "That is a
refreshing change that should help
boost confidence."
There is no doubt that the once high-
flying economyis in need of a boost.
The government rep'orted last week
that the overall economy had skidded
to a barely discernible 1.4 percent
growth rate in the fourth quarter last
year. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan

or tax cut
Greenspan has warned that growth in
the current quarter could be "very
close to zero."
Consumer confidence has fallen
for four straight months, the unem-
ployment rate in January crept up
to a 16-month high and some of
America's biggest companies are
announcing even more layoffs.
For January, the number of layoff'
notices shot up to 142,208, the highest
total in the past eight years, Challenger,
Gray & Christmas, a private Chicago
placement firm that tracks layoff
notices, said yesterday.
Since a recession is usually
defined as two consecutive negative
quarters for the gross domestic
product, analysts said the talk about
impending tax cuts could be
enough to lift consumers' moods
before a weak winter is turned into
a negative spring.
"Right now, things are too close
for comfort. When you get down to
these low levels of growth, it
doesn't take much to turn economic
weakness into an actual recession."
said David Wyss. chief economist
at Standard & Poor's Corp. in New
York.

A Firestone tire on a wrecked Ford Explorer sits in a warehouse in Corpus Christi,
Texas, until it will be used in a lawsuit against Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone.
" ",
26 d mo'e fat1ltes

NEWS IN BRIEF ;$x'<
Media begin inspecting Florida ballots
In many ways, the scene that unfolded in the Miami-Dade County elections
office had the all-too-familiar look of the event that transfixed and bored millions
of Americans late last year when the Florida presidential vote recount was in f
swing: squinty-eyed workers staring at disputed ballots.
But this time, there was no mention of candidates' names. There was no con-
sulting among workers. None were allowed to touch a ballot. Indeed, they were
not referred to as counters at all, but as "coders."
Yesterday was opening day of the "Florida Ballots Project;" an undertaking spon-
sored by a group of eight major media organizations, including The Washington
Post, the New York Times and CNN, and carried out by the National Opinion
Research Center, a nonprofit corporation affiliated with the University of Chicago.
During the next couple of months, workers overseen by.NORC will code the
disputed "undervote" and "overvote" ballots in Florida's 67 counties in the presi-
dential and Senate races - about 180,000 ballots in all. An undervote is a ballot
on which the counting machine did not detect a mark. An. overvote is one
which the machine detected two or more marks.4W
In Miami-Dade. the coders will examine about 10,500 undervotes and about
19,000 overvotes.
CHICAGO
New campaign aims to cut AIDS epidemic
A government campaign intended to "break the back" of the AIDS epidemic
will try to cut the number of new infections in half by 2005, largely by identify-
ing Americans who carry 1IV' but do not know it.
The effort, announced yesterday by the Centers for Disease and Preventior
based on the idea that most AIDS infections are spread by outwardly healthy
people who do not realize they have IIV.
The agency believes that if these people knew they were infected, they would
be more careful to protect others, and they would also take AIDS drugs that
would probably make them less likely to transmit the virus.
The CDC already spends about S600 million a year on AIDS prevention,
mostly to try to keep uninfected people from catching the virus.
"We have been dealing with half of the equation." said the CDC's Dr. Robert
Janssen. "Now it's time to look at all of it."
Officials said the campaign would cost an additional $300 million annual-

WAS] IINGTON (AP) -- Twenty-six
more deaths from traffic accidents
involving Firestone tires have been
reported to federal investigators, whose
inquiry now is expected to last until at
least summer.
The National Hihway Traffic Safety
Administration has collected reports of
174 fatalities and more than 700 injuries
among more than 6,000 complaints cit-
ing tread separations, blowouts and
other problems with certain Firestone
tires.
That's up fi'om 148 deaths and more
than 525 injuries when NIITSA last
updated its figures three months ago.
The agency is examining whether
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s August
recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and
Wilderness AT tires is suf'ficient or
needs to be expanded to include other
models that may have problems. The
tire maker maintains that its recall cov-
ers all defective tires.
None of the deaths reported in the lat-
est update occurred since the recall.
An Associated Press analysis of
NIITSA's complaint data found at least
11 of the deaths involved Firestone tires

i

Adults between the ages of 22 and 39 (non-undergraduates, please)
needed for a study on self-monitoring of blood sugar.
You will be paid $100 total for 3-weeks of daily blood sugar self-
monitoring and two brief lab visits.
Lab visits take place at the institute for Social Research (one block
from the Michigan Union) on the University of Michigan campus.
Email glucosestudy@umich.edu for more information.

A look at the
underside of U of M
www.universitysecrets.con

WHERE SPRING BREAk BEGINS;
p fn t o pr rolg , $taj at th Ramada Inn F4sor1 Marina1
AnSnd More Mone On FUN!

not included in the recall.
Former NIITSA Administrator Sue
Bailey, a Clinton appointee who left
the post last month when President
B3ush took office, made the investiga-
tion her top priority and had said she
hoped it would be completed during
her tenure.
But a NIITSA official who did not
want to be identified said yesterday that
her prediction was "overly optimistic"
and that the investigation would proba-
bly take as long as an average inquiry.
wrapping up sometime in the next six to
12 months.
"We expect it will be at least the sum-
mer before it is wrapped up, if not
longer," the official said. "It's a very
complex investigation and we want to
be very thorough."
Bridgestone/Firestone and a universi-
ty professor hired by the tire company to
examine what caused some tires to fail
reached similar conclusions. They say it
is a combination of faulty design, manu-
facturing processes at the company's
Decatur, Ill.. plant and outside factors
such as hot weather and overweight
vehicles.
Stamp
"
pnces
may ris
"
again
WASHINGTON (AP) Just a
month after higher stamp prices took
ef'fect the U.S. Postal Service. facing
massive losses, is considering another
rate boost that could result in highcr
prices early next year.
The post office is reportedly facing
losses of tip to S2 billion this year
despite the price increase that took
effect Jan. 7, which included raising a
first-class stamp a penny to 34 cents.
While approving that increase, the
independent Postal Rate Commission
rejected or scaled back several other
requested price hikes, cutting expected
income by some SI billion. Mail vol-
ume has dropped because of the poor
economy, further reducing anticipated
income.
The postal board of governors
ordered the agency's management yes-
terday "to begin preparing a rate case
as soon as possible to ensure the con-
tinued financial viability of the Postal
Service." board Chairman Robert F.
Rider said after a board meetin in San
Antonio. Texas.
Rider's statement said the governors
"unanimously voiced disappointment"
at the commission action and noted the
board asked the independent commis-
sion to reconsider.
The postal governors can overrule
the commission and institute higher
rates on their own, but only if they
vote unanimously to do so. Senior offi-
cials could not be reached for com-
ment on whether the governors may
try to overrule the commission.
In addition to preparing to file a
request for another rate increase, Rider
said the board had ordered manage-
ment to review all programs and pro-
jects, curtail or eliminate all
nonessential activities and evaluate the
Postal Service's long-term ratemaking
needs.
I e said the agency will cut capital
spending this fiscal year from S3.6 bil-
lion to S2.6 billion.
The complex process of increasing

postal rates can take nearly a year and
postal officials have long criticized
delays that prevent them from
responding quickly to market pres-
sures and competitors' price changes.
Given the increasing competition
f'rom electronic communications, the
ability to change postal prices quickly
has become vital, agency officials say.
and they hope Congress will change

ly. Tile CDC already has S 100 rmillion +
rest.
VRANJE, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia responds
to Albanian attack
Yugoslavia's government adopted
what it described as a peace plan for
the troubled southern part of' the coun-
try, offering a place in local govern-
ments to moderate ethnic Albanians in
hopes of'deflating tensions.
The move came hours after ethnic
Albanian militants launched an attack
against Yugoslav positions in the trou-
bled region yesterday.
The plans architects see it as a
pow~er-sharing deal. to appease ethnic
Albanians living in the tense boundary
area between the province of Kosovo
and the rest of' Serbia. Yugoslavia's
larger republic. Militant groups seek-
ing independence have been fighting
Yugoslav authorities in the area.
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostu-
nica presided at the government ses-
sion which discussed the situation in
the three-mile boundary zone near
Kosovo.
Analysts: Recession
pen'ng in Japan
Barely a week after Japanese Prime
Minister Yoshiro Mori boasted to finan-
cial elites in Davos, Switzerland, that his
nation was ready to reclaim its place
"on the leading edge of' the world econ-
omy," analysts and investors are warning
that Japan appears to be sliding into its
second recession in 18 months and may
be teetering on the brink of another
bankinu crisis.

W

of this and hopes to get funding for the
Mori spoke confidently of revival at
the mountain conclave, conparing Japan
to a climber who is "80percent up" the
path to the summit and "at the stage of a
final push." But a flurry of disappointing
data released since Mori's return to
Tokyo suggest an alternative alpine
metaphor: downhill racer. The Japanese
government reported last week te
industrial output - regarded by many
analysts as a key indicator of future
growth -- ground to a near-standstill in
the final three months of'2000.
NEW YORK
Gore teaches first
class at Columbia
Former Vice President Al Gore
taught his first class at one of
nation's premier journalism schools
yesterday - but only off the record.
With security officers keeping
news media at bay, Gore delivered
his first lecture at Columbia Uni-
versity's Graduate School of Jour-
nalisnm in a class titled "Covering
National Affairs in the InFormation
Age."
"As I understand it, the nor{
policy is that the classes are usua y
off the record," Gore said later. "I
would have had the option to do it
on the record, but I think the stu-
dents will get more out of it, if it's
as much as possible a normal class-
room experience."
University spokeswoman Suzanne
Trimel called the class a learning
experience for students. "not a news
event."
Conpiled fro ntDailt' wire repor .

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4'-'

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