Nation digest 02/04/03

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

WorldCom to eliminate another 5,000 jobs

CLINTON, Miss. -- WorldCom Inc. announced $2.5 billion in cuts Monday, including the elimination of 5,000 jobs, as part of the telecommunication company's plan to emerge from bankruptcy in April.

The cuts, which include 8 percent of WorldCom's workforce, are the first major moves by new chairman and CEO Michael Capellas. Details on which jobs will be cut were not released.

WorldCom, which is losing about $200 million a month, has about 60,000 employees after cutting 20,700 positions last year following the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history amid a $9 billion accounting scandal.

Record producer arrested in homicide investigation

ALHAMBRA, Calif. -- Phil Spector, the legendary record producer whose work changed the sound of pop music in the 1960s, was arrested Monday for investigation of homicide after the body of a woman was found at a mansion in suburban Los Angeles, authorities said.

Spector, 62, was arrested at the home around 5 a.m., sheriff's Sgt. Joe Efflandt said. He was taken to the Alhambra Police Department.

Authorities did not immediately release details about the victim.

Spector is famous for creating the "Wall of Sound" effect that involved overdubbing scores of musicians to create a full, dramatic sound. The technique changed the way pop records were produced, while bringing fame to singing groups like the Ronettes and the Crystals.

In his career, Spector produced records for Elvis Presley, Ike and Tina Turner and the Beatles.

N.J. doctors protest insurance premiums

NEPTUNE, N.J. -- More than 1,300 New Jersey doctors rallied or went home early Monday to protest rising medical malpractice insurance premiums and pressure state government to help them.

Many hospitals reported twice the usual number of patients coming into their emergency departments, mostly with minor injuries, flu and fever. But no major disruptions were reported as the three-day slowdown began and some events were canceled or scaled back because of the space shuttle disaster.

It was not clear how many of the state's 22,000 doctors participated.

Dr. Alan Zaccaria, president of the Monmouth County Medical Society, asked the governor and Legislature to enact a $250,000 cap on damage awards for pain and suffering, which doctors say is crucial for reining in premiums.

Manufacturing grows, though pace is slowed

NEW YORK -- U.S. manufacturing activity grew for the third straight month in January, though the pace slowed, according to a private industry group.

The Institute for Supply Management's index of manufacturing activity slipped to 53.9, unable to sustain December's momentum when the index jumped to a revised 55.2. Analysts were expecting a reading of 53 for January. A level above 50 indicates the manufacturing sector is expanding; below 50 means it's contracting.

The ISM's index is based on a survey of executives who buy the raw materials for manufacturing at more than 350 companies.

March with donkey part of vandalism apology

FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio -- A man and woman who vandalized a baby Jesus statue in a church's outdoor nativity marched through town with a donkey to apologize.

Jessica Lange and Brian Patrick, both 19, were ordered by a judge to make Sunday's march through this northeast Ohio town after they admitted defacing a statue at St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church on Christmas Eve.

Small groups of residents watched as the two walked and asked forgiveness. They led a donkey provided by a petting zoo through the streets carrying a sign that said, "Sorry for the jackass offense."

The procession allowed Lane and Patrick to avoid a longer jail sentence for stabbing the statue and defacing it with Satanic symbols.

After the 30-minute march, the two were taken by police to jail to serve 45-day sentences.

-- From wire reports

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