Nation briefs 05/01/03
Thursday, May 1, 2003
Visa reaches tentative $2 billion settlement
NEW YORK -- Visa USA has reached a tentative $2 billion settlement with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and thousands of other retailers just before their multibillion-dollar lawsuit over the company's popular debit cards was set to go to trial, a source close to the talks said late Wednesday.
Terms of the tentative deal are similar to those agreed to between the retailers and MasterCard International on Monday, the source said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The retailers claim both big card companies have trapped them into paying high fees by demanding that stores that accept their credit cards also accept their debit cards. They also claim the companies have stifled competition.
Greenspan undercuts Bush case for tax cuts
WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan undercut President Bush's case for new tax cuts Wednesday, saying a provision the White House badly wants should be offset by either spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere.
Meanwhile, a key House Republican proposed lowering capital gains tax rates as an alternative to the top Bush priority -- eliminating taxes on stock dividends.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., told Republicans on his panel that the idea of treating dividends like capital gains -- and cutting capital gains taxes -- stands a better chance of approval than simply doing away with taxes on dividends, the most costly and most debated part of Bush's proposal.
Thomas said he was looking at lowering the 20 percent capital gains rate to 15 percent. Low-income taxpayers who currently pay a 10 percent rate would pay only 5 percent. Dividends would be taxed at those capital gains rates rather than the higher rates on earned income.
Greenspan said that while eliminating the tax investors pay on dividends would have long-term advantages for the economy, rising federal deficits require that such a move be offset by either spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere.
U.S. officials preparing for possible SARS spread
WASHINGTON -- Federal officials are stockpiling ventilators, training health workers and encouraging hospitals to create isolation wards in case the SARS virus spreads in the United States the way it has in China, Canada and elsewhere.
Some of these efforts were under way as part of the government's attempt to prepare for a possible bioterrorism attack, while others are a reaction to the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome.
So far, the country has done a good job preventing the spread of SARS in the United States, but many local officials would not be prepared if the virus took off in their communities, top officials at the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.
"I don't think there is any country, including our own, that is right now capable of massive infusion of individuals who are severely ill, requiring intensive care under isolation," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Michigan man finds gum in McDonald's salad
DETROIT -- A man is suing fast-food giant McDonald's after allegedly biting into a piece of already chewed gum in a salad.
In a lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, Joseph Taylor says the Feb. 26 incident has caused him "mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, and pain and suffering and loss of appetite." He has sought medical attention, according to the lawsuit.
Taylor also said he fears he may have contracted AIDS or hepatitis, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday.
McDonald's officials said its insurance company is handling the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states Taylor was eating a salad at a McDonald's on the Wayne State University campus when he "discovered a foreign object in his mouth that had already been chewed by someone else." He is seeking damages of more than $25,000.
-- From wire reports