Increasing pressure on gun manufacturers, a coalition of 28 cities and counties now will use collective buying power to give preference to companies that follow the lead of Smith & Wesson in signing an agreement to produce safer firearms and stick to a code of responsible conduct. In announcing the tactic, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said preferential buying would prod the rest of the industry to fall into line behind the deal because sales to law- enforcement agencies represent 20 to 30 percent of the US gun market. Two gunmakers, Glock Inc. and Browning, have said they will not sign.
The federal government agreed to pay $508 million, the largest award yet in an employment discrimination case, to settle a lawsuit by hundreds of women who said they were denied jobs and promotions at the US Information Agency and Voice of America. The agreement ends a 23-year battle that began after Carolee Brady applied for a job as a USIA magazine editor, but was told managers wanted a man. Her complaint ballooned into the class-action suit, with roughly 1,100 women alleging they also had lost opportunities because of gender bias. The settlement calls for the women to share the award equally.
The Justice Department reopened a grand jury probe to consider indicting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for a 1976 car bombing in Washington that killed two people, one of them ex-ambassador Orlando Letelier, the Washington Post reported. US investigators arrived in Santiago, Chile, for court proceedings involving 42 potential witnesses. The Post said prospects were slim that Pinochet would be extradited to the US, but an indictment would increase pressure on Chile to try Pinochet for human-rights abuses.
NASA, in trying to do more missions with less money and fewer people, made management mistakes that contributed to a string of recent failures in space, agency chief Daniel Goldin said. He told a Senate hearing on why NASA has encountered so many difficulties this year, including two lost probes to Mars, that the agency has reduced its work force from 25,000 to 18,500 over seven years while emphasizing a "faster, better, cheaper" philosophy that calls for less costly missions. But NASA will hire 2,000 new workers, and establish a formal training program for young engineers, among other plans, he said.
Georgia lawmakers voted to phase out the electric chair and make lethal injection the state's primary means of execution, two months after a similar move in neighboring Florida. If Gov. Roy Barnes (D) signs the measure, Alabama and Nebraska would be the only states still using electrocution exclusively.
The Army has replaced hundreds of Patriot missiles in the Mideast and South Korea after discovering a pattern of technical glitches in the air-defense system, the Pentagon said. The acknowledgement confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that flawed missiles were swapped with newer ones after "significant ... failures were found." Experts said the cause could be age-related.
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