National | Business

Issue: "Iraq: What went wrong?," May 15, 2004

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Have you ever honked at a car when it

suddenly veered into your lane? For some new-car owners this fall, it will no longer take another driver to alert him of his bad driving.

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Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will outfit some of its 2005 and 2006 Infiniti models with a new Lane Departure Warning System designed by auto-parts makers Valeo SA and Iteris Inc. The 2005 Infiniti FX sports utility vehicle and the 2006 MX45 luxury sedan will allow buyers the option of adding the new safety feature.

Employing a small camera, speed sensor, and warning buzzer, the system is designed to alert drivers of unintentional movement out of a designated traffic lane by tracking the visible lane markings from the rearview mirror. The alarm is temporarily disabled when the vehicle's turn signals are engaged. And the feature can be turned off with a manual switch.

A similar warning system has been used in the commercial trucking industry in Europe and the United States, but the new device will be a first for passenger cars. And it's one more step toward Valeo's goal of achieving a complete 360-degree surveillance of a vehicle's immediate environment to control safety, driving efficiency, and comfort.

Shedding jobs

U.S. consumers are showing confidence in

the economic recovery, but thousands of workers nationwide continued to receive pink slips last month.

On Friday, the Commerce Department reported consumer spending was up 0.4 percent in March. Incomes also rose by 0.4 percent. With the economy gaining traction and inflation picking up, however, some economists believe the Federal Reserve will begin raising short-term interest rates in August.

Meanwhile, however, major corporations continue to cut jobs. In Jacksonville, Fla., Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. plans to cut 10,000 jobs from its payroll by closing or selling 156 stores and three distribution centers throughout the Southeast and Midwest.

In San Diego, new Gateway CEO Wayne Inouye will cut another 1,500 jobs. This announcement came less than a month after the computer giant closed all 188 retail stores nationwide, eliminating 2,500 positions.

And in Detroit, Dow Chemical Co. plans to cut 3,000 jobs worldwide this year as part of a streamlining initiative begun after disappointing results in 2001 and 2002. More than 3,500 jobs were cut last year, helping Dow return to profitability.

Balance Sheet

The government's first criminal case under a new law outlawing some types of spam e-mails tracked defendants by purchasing a weight-loss product for $59.95 and then waiting to see who collected the money. "We buy the product and see who charges our credit card," said Howard Beales, director of the consumer protection bureau at the Federal Trade Commission. "It's virtually impossible to trace the e-mail itself."

Eli Lilly and Co. plans to begin clinical trials for five weight-loss drugs this year. If the drugs make it to market, they would be Lilly's first entry in the highly competitive weight-loss market. In 2001, nearly 21 percent of Americans were considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

A group of International Dairy Queen franchise owners is protesting restaurant upgrades and has erected a billboard in Omaha to chide company owner and billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The DQ Grill & Chill concept features menus beyond soft-serve ice cream and hamburgers, which some franchise owners say will put them out of business.


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