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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert KilbornLance Carden, and Ross Atkin / October 1, 1999



MR. MANNERS "I was," said Robbie Crawford, "one of the worst." But then the British computer consultant realized that giving in to road rage when he was at the wheel of his car accomplished nothing. So he has reformed - by designing an electronic display panel for rear windshields. It's programmed to flash such messages as "SORRY" and "THANK YOU" in response to the actions of other drivers. Crawford has invested his savings in the manufacture of the panels, which have won the backing of various automobile clubs and buyer interest from as far away as the US and New Zealand.

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AND WE'D LIKE IT IN LUMP-SUM At least Frank Radella could laugh about his August bill from Montana Power Co. "I let the bank know I might be severely overdrawn this month," he joked. That's because the Roscoe resident's payment is automatically deducted from his account. The utility sought $50 billion, although he'd used just $36 worth of electricity. Oops, Montana Power said, blaming a computer error. Then it sent letters of apology to customers who also were overcharged - although none as heavily as Radella.

Number of state executions quadrupled during 1990s Some 3,565 prison inmates are currently on death row across the nation. Seventy-six people had been executed in the US as of an Associated Press survey last week, bringing to 456 the total for the decade. Only 117 people were put to death during the 1980s - and only 576 convicted killers have been executed since the US Supreme Court ended a four-year nationwide ban on capital punishment in 1976. The year-by-year total of state executions during the past decade:

1990 23

1991 14

1992 31

1993 38

1994 31

1995 56

1996 45

1997 74

1998 68

1999(so far this year) 76

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society