Consumer confidence index at 7 1/2-year low

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

NEW YORK -- Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level in 7 1/2 years as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and anthrax fears sapped Americans' optimism about job security and the economy.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index had dropped to 85.5 from 97 in September, well below the 96 analysts had predicted.

The index, based on a monthly survey of some 5,000 U.S. households, is closely watched because consumer confidence drives consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.

N.C. medical board says doctor mishandled Cipro

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A doctor who prescribed the anthrax treatment Cipro through an Internet company was charged with writing prescriptions for patients he didn't see.

The North Carolina Medical Board issued the charges Monday against Dr. Michael Reiff Ross for writing Cipro prescriptions through the Morrisville-based Virtual Medical Group. A hearing was set for Jan. 25.

The board, which said it would charge other doctors as well, can revoke a doctor's license or issue a reprimand if it determines there was unprofessional conduct.

Two men charged in 1969 race riot killing

YORK, Pa. -- Two black men were charged with murder Tuesday in the 1969 shooting death of a white police officer during race riots in this central Pennsylvania city.

Stephen Freeland, 49, and Leon Wright, 53, were charged with first- and second-degree murder following a day of deliberations by a grand jury. They are accused of killing Officer Henry Schaad the night of July 18, 1969.

Three days later, a black woman was killed by gunfire from a white mob. Nine men, including Mayor Charlie Robertson, who was a police officer at the time of the riots, were recently charged with her murder.

Education secretary says finances improving

WASHINGTON -- Using a government database of people who have just found jobs, the Education Department has collected $153 million against defaulted loans since last spring, Education Secretary Rod Paige said.

The collections are part of a wider reform detailed by Paige. Congress has criticized the department as wasteful, saying it does a poor job managing its multi-billion-dollar budget.

In the final three years of the Clinton administration, the Education Department lost track of $450 million, the department's chief inspector said last spring, prompting one Republican lawmaker to liken the agency's financial practices to those of "a Third World republic."

MTV cuts 450 jobs amid advertising slowdown

NEW YORK -- MTV Networks is laying off 450 employees, or about 9 percent of its work force, amid a worsening downturn in advertising.

The cuts, detailed in a memo to the staff Monday from chief executive Tom Freston, will affect all parts of MTV Networks, which in addition to the MTV music-video channel also includes Nickelodeon, VH1 and TNN.

Freston said the reorganization was motivated by a need for changes in MTV Networks' structure as well as by the poor advertising market.

--From wire reports

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