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February 08, 2006 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-08

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 8, 2006 - 3

Conference to
focus on future
energy constraints
The William Davidson Institute
- a division of the Ross School of
Business that focuses on market
research and education - will part-
ner with the Business School to host a
one-day conference about the future
of energy in the United States and
China. Experts from academia, busi-
ness and government will discuss
China and U.S. involvement with
energy constraints. The conference
will take place today at 10 a.m. in
Davidson Hall.
* Band to perform
at Hill Auditorium
The University Concert Band will
perform at Hill Auditorium today at
8 p.m. Steven Davis will conduct the
band and the program will feature
works by composers including Hig-
don, Chance, Jacob, Schubert and
Hillel to start new
series titled "Torah
on Tap"
University Hillel will host the
first session of a new learning series
called "Torah on Tap." The kick-
off session will be held today at the
Heidelberg bar at 8 p.m. The title of
the first lecture is "Sex in the Texts:
Everything the Torah Says About S-
E-X that You Were Afraid to Ask."
Rabbi Jason Miller, associate director
of Hillel, is leading the event. The talk
is sponsored by Hillel's Jewish Learning
Center and Jewish Grads and Profes-
sionals. Interested participants must be
at least 21. Beer and other refreshments
will be provided.
Property swiped
from CCRB
A student's jacket and Mcard were
stolen from the CCRB, the Department
of Public Safety reported. There are
currently no suspects.
Malice suspected
0 in case of computer
A student reported that upon return-
ing to his laptop computer, which he left
unattended momentarily at the Execu-
tive Education Building, a BIOS lock -
a password-like code that will render a
computer useless - had been installed.
Police are currently investigating the
case, according to DPS.
Trespasser refuses
to leave Angell Hall

A trespasser refused to leave the com-
puting site at Angell Hall yesterday. But
upon arriving at the scene, the Police were
unable to locate the subject, DPS reported.
In Daily History
Russian exhibit
may be shown at
OSU instead of 'U'
Feb. 8, 1979 - The Soviet Union gov-
ernment is looking for a new museum to
house its "Russian Art, 1800-1850," exhibit
- which was originally scheduled to show
at the University - and Ohio State Univer-
sity may become the temporary owner.
Yesterday, Soviet officials visited OSU
to examine its museum facilities, but
they have not made a final decision.
University officials refused to
canceled a poetry reading by Joseph
Brodsky, a Soviet Union defector,
and to remove a quote by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn that ran in the brochure
for the Russian Arts Festival.
"The purpose of the festival is to
promote various aspects of Russian
art and culture. It is most appro-
priate that artists like Brodsky and

GM plans to
curb health care,
pension costs

0 Cuts will be part of
GM's North American
turnaround program
DETROIT (AP) - General Motors
Corp., which says a return to profitabil-
ity would require sacrifices from all
involved, announced plans yesterday to
rein in white-collar pension and health
care expenses, slash the dividend and
trim executive salaries - moves some
analysts say suggest it might seek ben-
efit cuts from union workers.
The cuts in health benefits for salaried
retirees, planned changes to its pension
plan for salaried U.S. workers and decision
to cut in half GM's dividend all support
the company's ongoing North American
turnaround efforts, which already include
plans to shed 30,000 hourly jobs and close
12 facilities by 2008.
GM has been under pressure from
one of its largest shareholders, billionaire
investor Kirk Kerkorian, to take more
aggressive steps to revive profitability.
"Everybody's got a piece of it," GM
Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said
at a news conference at GM's headquar-
ters. "What we're trying to do is look at
each piece and say, 'Where are we really
uncompetitive versus the people we run
against?' ... If we're out of line, that's
what we need to work on.
"So, it may not be exactly the same
sacrifice everywhere, but I think just
about everybody's got a piece of it."
The cut in its dividend alone will
reduce GM's yearly cash payout by about
$565 million. Cash savings from the
health care changes will grow to about
$200 million within five years, GM said,
and then continue to increase after that.
GM, which is suffering from declin-
ing U.S. market share at the hands of its
Asian competitors, lost $8.6 billion in
2005 amid high health, pension, labor
and materials costs. GM is counting on
its new lineup of SUVs to boost sales
this year, and is trying to wean itself
from the use of costly, confusing incen-

Analysts said yesterday's cuts could
help provide leverage for GM in con-
tract talks next year with the United
Auto Workers. And it could help GM
in talks with the union on a possible
bailout for hourly workers of Delphi
Corp., GM's former parts division,
which filed for bankruptcy last fall.
"The dividend cut ... is only a
modest step," credit ratings agency
Fitch Ratings said in a statement.
"The cuts in the dividend and in
management compensation could,
however, facilitate conversations
with the UAW."
Shares of GM closed down 53 cents,
or 2.3 percent, at $22.81 in regular trad-
ing on the New York Stock Exchange.
The announcement came a day after
Jerome York, a top aide to Kerkorian, was
elected to GM's board. It mirrored some
of the measures York previously proposed
- including cutting the yearly dividend
to $1 a share and cutting pay for Wagoner
and his senior leadership team - to help
invigorate GM's turnaround efforts.
York is a consultant to Tracinda Corp.,
Kerkorian's private equity firm, which
owns 9.9 percent of GM's common stock
and is GM's third-largest shareholder.
Wagoner said the company has long
been working on issues such as health
care and pension costs. And he said GM
didn't have plans to release profitability
goals, cut all white-collar salaries or drop
brands like Saab or Hummer, which were
among York's proposals.
Himanshu Patel, an auto analyst with
JPMorgan Chase, said that with the cap for
GM's health care contributions for salaried
retirees, GM is raising the issue of whether
hourly workers could see a similar cap.
Patel said such a change could slash GM's
long-term liability for health costs.
"While near-term cash savings from
the announced cost actions are mod-
est, the steps clearly follow Jerry York's
playbook calling for an 'equality of sacri-
fice indirectly aimed at extracting UAW
concessions, either as part of the ongoing
Delphi negotiations or in the 2007 nego-
tiations" Patel wrote in a research note.

Efforts to clean
waterways would
require more funding


Environmentalists met to
discuss 14 highly polluted
waterways in Michigan
ronmental policymakers are plan-
ning a stepped-up effort to clean
some of Michigan's dirtiest water-
ways, but coming up with the money
will remain a challenge, says Ken
DeBeaussaert, director of the state's
Office of the Great Lakes.
"The funding question is always
the one that tends to determine how
much progress we can make," he
said in a recent interview with The
Associated Press. "It will be a strug-
gle every year. But we're committed
to seeing that through."
DeBeaussaert, whose office is
part of the Department of Environ-
mental Quality, was keynote speaker
last week at a conference in Kalam-
azoo on restoring the health of 14
contaminated hot spots in Michigan
rivers, lakes and harbors.
They're among 43 "areas of con-
cern" in the eight states and two
Canadian provinces covered under
the Great Lakes Water Quality Agree-
ment. They were designated for spe-
cial attention in the late 1980s and
early 1990s because they were consid-
ered the region's most badly polluted.
Many were industrial dumping
grounds in the days before toxic
releases into the lakes and their
tributaries were regulated. The con-
tamination buildup went on for years
- decades in some cases - and the

cleanup isn't happening overnight.
Only two sites, both in Canada, have
been declared fully restored and
taken off the list.
But the DEQ hopes that's about to
change, DeBeaussaert said. One rea-
son: State and federal funding has
picked up after a lengthy dry spell.
"There was a period when prog-
ress stalled - back in the '90s
when some of those resources were
pulled back," he said. More recently,
"Michigan has gotten renewed sup-
port" from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, he said.
Federal funding for the Michigan
cleanups peaked at $1.4 million in
1994, then dropped steadily, bottom-
ing out at only $15,000 in 2002. At
the same time, the number of DEQ
staffers assigned to the program fell
from 16 to two.
But in 2002, Congress approved
the Great Lakes Legacy Act, autho-
rizing at least $50 million annually
over five years for removing contam-
inated sediments from the region's
waterways. Actual appropriations
have been lower - this year's was
only $30 million - but they have
President Bush's proposed budget
for fiscal 2006-07, released yester-
day, would fully fund the program
next year.
Additionally, the state has set
aside $25 million for the cleanups
from the Clean Michigan Initiative,
the 1998 bond issue that created
a pot of money for environmental

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