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Archive for Monday, October 29, 2001

Nation briefs

October 29, 2001

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Chicago

United Airlines CEO resigns amid turmoil

United Airlines replaced embattled chairman and chief executive James Goodwin on Sunday with board member John Creighton, the retired head of Weyerhaeuser Co., less than two weeks after Goodwin's warning that the carrier could "perish" next year.

Goodwin's departure ends a stormy 2 1/2 years as United CEO, including a failed merger with US Airways and labor turbulence that resulted in 26,000 canceled flights in the summer of 2000.

But what hastened his departure was a letter to employees which became public Oct. 16, in which he said the airline was hemorrhaging cash following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and could "perish" by next year.

Two unions representing United employees called for his resignation, saying he had panicked investors and employees without justification. The company's stock has fallen 25 percent since the letter went public.

California

Mars Odyssey delays photo shoot schedule

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has delayed its first photo shoot of the Red Planet until at least Tuesday after scientists decided to slow the spacecraft's entry into the atmosphere, a mission official said Sunday.

The slowing is not the result of any problems with the unmanned probe that reached Mars and entered orbit last Tuesday, said mission manager David A. Spencer of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"We're just being conservative," he said. "We've added a couple steps to the walk-in phase and are going at it more slowly."

Scientists are trying to avoid any problems caused by friction from Odyssey's descent into the atmosphere. Too much friction could hurt the winglike 75-square-foot solar array that powers Odyssey, although a catastrophic failure is unlikely, Spencer said.

The slowing means the spacecraft will take longer to tighten its orbit of Mars and reach an optimum altitude for the photos, which had been expected Sunday.

Alabama

Southern cities question FBI crime rankings

Southern cities dominated the FBI's latest per capita crime rankings, with Tuscaloosa, Ala., tops in overall crime, and Pine Bluff, Ark., Greenville, N.C., and Jackson, Tenn., among the leaders in violent and property offenses.

But does this mean Southerners should pack up and move to safer cities, or is it more of an image problem for Dixie chambers of commerce?

Depends on your perspective, say experts who have long questioned how much stock to put in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.

For starters, the reporting system is voluntary and far from uniform. That's because not all cities met the FBI's reporting criteria, and some simply missed the deadline.

"You have to be careful paying attention to these national crime rate figures, because it's not the best way of figuring out how safe a town is," said Bob Sigler, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama.

His hometown of Tuscaloosa is a perfect example, Sigler says, topping the overall crime index largely because of its number of thefts. The worst offenders? The nearly 5,000 people who drove off without paying for gas. Tuscaloosa police have a policy of reporting nearly every incident of illegal activity.

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