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Week in Review

TOP 10 STORIES: Nov. 13-17

November 19, 2000

1 Coke Reaches Largest-Ever Racial-Bias Settlement: Coca-Cola Co. agreed to pay $192.5 million--the largest racial-discrimination settlement in U.S. history--to end a class-action lawsuit filed by about 2,200 African American employees. The workers, who said they were routinely discriminated against in pay, promotions and job evaluations, will receive an average of $40,000, depending on their years of service. The settlement also calls for Coke's employment and hiring practices to be monitored for the next four years by a seven-member task force selected by management and plaintiff attorneys. Both sides said the settlement benefited both management and workers. "The message it sends is that discrimination should not be tolerated," said Pam Coukos, an attorney for the workers. (Davan Maharaj)

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2 New Net Addresses Cleared: The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers voted to add seven new suffixes to the ubiquitous .com. The Los Angeles-based nonprofit group, which oversees the Net's critical addressing system, selected .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .museum, .aero and .coop to join .com and its brethren--.net, .org, .edu, .gov and .mil--at its annual meeting in Marina del Rey. Some of the suffixes are more targeted than .com. For instance, .pro is meant to be used by professionals such as doctors and lawyers, and .aero is reserved for those associated with the air transport industry. The companies selected to administer addresses ending in the new suffixes expect to make them available by the spring. (Karen Kaplan)

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3 Fed Maintains Rates and Stance: The Federal Reserve left U.S. borrowing costs unchanged Wednesday, signaling that it thinks too much growth and inflation, rather than too little, is still the biggest economic danger facing the nation. The central bank left the so-called federal funds rate--the rate off which virtually every other interest charge in the country is set--at a comparatively high 6.5%. And policymakers would not suggest when they might change direction and begin lowering rates. The decision disappointed investors, who sent stock prices tumbling from sharp gains earlier in the day. The Dow plunged from its climb of 118 points to close up just 26.54 points at 10,707.60 on Wednesday. The Nasdaq, which had jumped more than 70 points, closed up 27.22 points at 3,165.49. The Dow ended the week at 10,629.87, and Nasdaq closed at 3,027.19. (Peter G. Gosselin)

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4 Chrysler Chief Ousted: On the second anniversary of its first day in business, DaimlerChrysler sacked its U.S. president, James P. Holden, and put to rest any doubts that the once-heralded "merger of equals" has gone awry. Holden's ouster came just weeks after the once-profitable Chrysler Group posted a $512-million quarterly loss. In his place, the company's German-based supervisory board installed Daimler-Benz veterans as president and chief operating officer, charged with trying to get the U.S. group back in the black. It won't be easy. Analysts project another loss, about $50 million, in the fourth quarter. (A Times staff writer)

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5 AT&T Decides to Spin Off Liberty: Weeks after announcing a major restructuring, AT&T Corp. said it will spin off its Liberty Media arm--owner of stakes in such cable programmers as USA Networks--that it acquired as part of its purchase of Tele-Communications Inc. last year. The decision would free cable mogul John Malone, who controls Liberty, to pursue acquisitions without worrying about conflicts of interest with AT&T. The spinoff, which requires IRS approval, also would help AT&T comply with regulatory conditions imposed on its purchase of cable company Media One Group.

(Sallie Hofmeister)

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6 Power Shortages Threaten Christmas Twinkle: State power officials are concerned that holiday lights could strain the state's electricity grid, which unexpectedly ran short of electricity several times in the last week. Holiday lights add about 1,000 megawatts of usage, equal to the output of a nuclear power plant, according to the California Independent System Operator, which runs the electricity grid for about 75% of the state. (The L.A. Department of Water and Power is not included in the Cal-ISO grid and has more than enough electricity to meet its customers' needs.) A combination of cold weather and power plant outages caused Cal-ISO to declare several emergencies last week and to call on all electricity users to conserve energy, with some large users curtailing energy use. If the same events were to occur in December, holiday lighting would be an obvious target for conservation and people could be asked to turn on their lights later in the evening.

(Nancy Rivera Brooks)

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