Nation digest 11/05/02

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Factory orders drop 2.3 percent in September

WASHINGTON -- The nation's wobbly manufacturing sector saw orders to factories drop by 2.3 percent in September, the second straight monthly decline.

The industry, hardest hit by last year's recession, has been recently struggling to keep its balance. Manufacturing has been the weakest link for the sputtering national economic recovery, which many analysts say is losing momentum in the current October-December quarter.

Although the 2.3 percent drop in factory orders reported by the Commerce Department on Monday marked a better performance than the 3 percent decline analysts were predicting, more forward-looking data suggest a more somber outlook for the manufacturing sector of the economy.

NBC to buy Bravo cable network for $1.25 billion

NEW YORK -- NBC has agreed to buy the Bravo cable entertainment network from Cablevision Systems Corp. in a $1.25 billion cash and stock deal expected to expand the network's cable presence and shore up Cablevision's finances.

The deal, announced Monday, helps reduce debt at Cablevision, which has been under increasing pressure to improve its balance sheet.

The acquisition of Bravo gives NBC a third national cable property. It already owns MSNBC and CNBC, in addition to minority stakes in ValueVision (ShopNBC), the A&E Network and the History Channel. Bravo reaches more than 68 million households nationwide.

Winona Ryder shoplifting case goes to the jury

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Actress Winona Ryder's case went to the jury Monday after the prosecution and defense presented opposing portraits of her as a shoplifter out for thrills and as a victim of Saks Fifth Avenue and lying security guards.

The jury was to begin deliberations today.

Ryder, 31, is charged with grand theft, burglary and vandalism for allegedly stealing $5,570 worth of merchandise from the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store on Dec. 12, 2001. The charges carry up to three years in prison.

"She came, she stole, she left. End of story," Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle said in her closing argument.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos charged that witnesses changed their stories and, in one case, taped over a security videotape that might have contained important evidence.

Exec steps down over false claim in resume

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The chairman and chief executive of the financial services firm MCG Capital resigned as chairman Monday after a disclosure that he falsely claimed that he had graduated from Syracuse University.

Bryan J. Mitchell will stay on as CEO but will repay his 2001 bonus and forfeit his 2002 bonus, the company said.

In 2001, Mitchell received a $350,000 bonus, along with a $293,000 salary and a $6.2 million award of stock that replaced the company's previous stock option plan, according to a company statement.

"I should never have allowed this inaccurate representation to occur. There is no excuse for the inexcusable. I intend to do everything possible to affirm the trust that the board has placed in me," said Mitchell, 41, who offered to resign from the company entirely.

The company's board issued a statement saying it believes no further sanctions against Mitchell are warranted.

California diocese posts $14 million loss

ORANGE, Calif. -- A slumping stock market coupled with a series of settlements in priest sex abuse cases has caused the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to post a $14.3 million loss, church officials said.

It's the second straight loss for the diocese, which reported a $14 million drop last year.

"It's very frustrating," Bishop Tod D. Brown said. "It makes me more reliant on God."

The diocese is one of the nation's largest, with roughly 1 million Catholics and 60 worship centers.

The diocese has also suffered because of a decline in charitable contributions.

-- From wire reports

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