Dispatches > The Buzz
- In a shakeup of its American division, DaimlerChrysler ousted Chrysler boss Jim Holden and replaced him with a German, Dieter Zetsche, after third-quarter earnings reports revealed hundreds of millions in losses at Chrysler. Company officials had touted the 1998 merger between the German Daimler and the American Chrysler as a marriage of equals. Analysts now worry about whether Chrysler workers will be loyal to their new chief if they see the move as evidence that the merger was actually a takeover.
- The liberal National Council of Churches passed a resolution calling for meetings with conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics in an effort to create a "new national expression of Christian life" that transcends doctrinal matters. Bill Merrill, the Southern Baptist Convention's vice president for convention relations, didn't take the bait. "We cooperate with others with various moral and social issues [on which] we find we have common ground, but we find that it is very problematic to work with many religious groups on theological grounds," he said.
- Amtrak, the government-subsidized perpetual money loser, has a new toy-a 150 mph European-style bullet train. The Acela Express debuted on Nov. 16 with a Washington-to-Boston run loaded with 300 VIP passengers. Amtrak plans for the train to begin regular service on Dec. 11 in the Northeast. Congress is considering legislation that would help Amtrak raise $10 billion over 10 years to build other high-speed corridors around the country.
- The rich get richer. A Chronicle of Higher Education survey found that salaries of private university presidents rose sharply in 1998-1999. According to the survey, the median compensation at 37 research universities was $393,288, a 3 percent increase from the previous year, and the median compensation at 44 other doctorate-granting institutions was $218,703, a 9 percent hike. Harry C. Payne, the former president of Williams College, topped the list, with $878,222 in salary and benefits.
- The Cambridge, Mass., City Council is considering lowering the city's voting age to 16. Officials at the Federal Elections Commission say that they know of no other communities in the country that allow 16-year-olds to vote. For the proposal to take effect, the state would have to amend its constitution, which requires voters for state offices to be at least 18.