The Labor Department reported July 28 that workers' wages, salaries, and benefits rose 3.6 percent in the fiscal year ended June 30, the smallest increase in more than four years. Analysts say it proves a sluggish economy curbs inflation. This could ease concerns of the Federal Reserve and give it more leeway to lower interest rates further to bolster economic recovery.... American Honda July 27 announced plans to cut production of Ohio-built Accords by about 10 percent because of slowing sales and great er competition. No layoffs will result. EUROPE
In Italy, police set up roadblocks and conducted house-to-house searches July 28 in their hunt for gunmen who killed Mafia investigator Giovanni Lizzio July 27. Lizzio led an investigation into Mafia extortion of merchants and businessmen in eastern Sicily. He is the third anti-Mafia official to be killed in two months.... Italy's month-old government, battling with a severe economic crisis, said July 28 the vote on its emergency budget package in the lower house of parliament would be a confidence issue . The decision means the government would have to resign if defeated in the vote.... Romania's exiled former King Michael has turned down an offer to stand in presidential elections due in September, a Romanian newspaper said July 28. ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Thailand's cabinet approved plans July 28 for up to five new private television networks to break the military's power to censor news broadcasts. State-controlled television blacked out coverage of pro-democracy street protests in May and of the Army's shooting of demonstrators. The move sparked public outcry.