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Buying time: Milosevic still in power
■The Yugoslav president's
opposition said he is playing
tricks to avoid conceding defeat.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - In
an apparent attempt to buy time
for Slobodan Milosevic,
Yugoslavia’s highest court invali
dated parts of the presidential
election on Wednesday after thou
sands of opposition supporters
forced police to back off from seiz
ing a strikebound mine.
The constitutional court rul
ing, reported by the state news
agency Tanjug, came in a case
brought by the opposition - which
sought to have Vojislav Kostunica
declared the winner of last
Instead, the court, dominated
by loyal Milosevic supporters,
annulled “parts" of the election,
the agency said, adding details of
the ruling would be made public
Thursday. If die presidential vote
or even parts of it - must be
repeated, it means Milosevic
retains power longer.
“At first this may seem like a
concession by Slobodan
Milosevic, but I’m afraid this is a
big trap,” Kostunica said. “In any
case, I believe Milosevic is weaker
than ever before, which is clear
from the fact that he has to do var
ious tricks to gain time.”
The announcement was
issued after a stunning and swift
turn of events at the strikebound
Kolubara mine, the largest of the
protests that the opposition
launched to force Milosevic to
It began with riot police
swooping down on the com
pound. But they were forced to
back off when 10,000 townspeo
ple swarmed to the complex
to“defend" the strikers. The
turnout gave opposition forces
hope that the Milosevic regime
was mortally wounded.
“The battle for Serbia was won
here,” cried one jubilant opposi
tion leader, Dragan Kovacevic.
The independent Beta news
agency reported police left the
compound late Wednesday.
The confrontation at
Kolubara, one of the country’s
major mines with 7,000 workers,
was unprecedented in Yugoslavia,
a former communist nation with
no history of major worker upris
ings. It dramatically illustrated the
commitment of those seeking to
topple Milosevic’s regime
It caught even top opposition
figures off guard. They rushed to
join more than 10,000 protesters
at the mine and predicted
Milosevic’s quick demise.
The court announcement was
made on the eve of a planned
mass rally in Belgrade that the
opposition hoped would force
Milosevic to concede defeat, and
opposition leaders saw the ruling
as a desperate attempt to under
cut their campaign.
Kostunica finished first in a five
candidate field on Sept. 24 but
without a majority needed to
avoid a runoff Sunday. The oppo
“We have our elected president These are things
we can discuss, but my initial reaction is that
there can be no bargaining."
sition has rejected a runoff.
“He saw that he cannot push
through the second round against
the majority of the people/’ oppo
sition campaign manager Zoran
Djindjic told reporters. “His solu
tion is... to create a new situation
for totally new elections... (so) he
can stay in power for two or three
more months and then try to
organize new elections."
Opposition official Goran
Svilanovic said he believes the
opposition will also not agree to
take part in a rerun of the first
“We have our elected presi
dent,” he said. “These are things
we can discuss, but my initial reac
tion is that there can be no bar
The opposition, challenging
the official findings of the Federal
Electoral Commission, went to
Yugoslavia’s highest court earlier
Wednesday, appealing to the jus
tices to grant them victory in the
The court met in emergency
session Wednesday to hear com
plaints by the 18-party opposition
coalition, maintaining Milosevic’s
supporters manipulated election
results by using a sophisticated
Opposition leaders said they
had obtained a copy of the pro
gram and would use it to illustrate
how the vote was rigged to favor
Site a 'market'
for selling votes
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS'
CHICAGO - Mindful of the city’s history as a
place where elections have been bought, Chicago
officials are trying to shut down a Web site that
offers votes to die highest bidder.
The Board of Elections sent letters on Tuesday
to federal and state prosecutors, saying that the
site, www.voteauction.com, should be shut down.
"In Chicago we react strongly and quickly to
this type of activity - whether it’s tongue-in-cheek
or not - because we need to guard our reputation
here that this is a place where voting activity is
legal and above board and beyond reproach,”
board chairman Langdon Neal said.
Voteauction.com provides “a forum for cam
paign contributors and voters to come together in
a hoe market exchange,” according to the site.
Voteauction.com says it will collect absentee
ballots from voters, verify them, and then sell
them to the highest bidder who can "choose who
the group will vote for en masse.”
Sellers then receive money depending on how
much is bid.
So far, the site boasts that 8,313 voters nation
wide have signed up - 380 in Illinois. The price tag
thus far in Illinois, according to the Web site, is
$15.79 a vote or $6,000 for the state.
California, the national prize because of its 54
electoral college votes, has a high bid of $22,000
offered to make the choice for 1,230 voters. The
Web site notes that it is not valid in New York, after
that state questioned its legality.
Neal said there is no indication any money or
ballots have changed hands. Nor, he said, is there
any way to verify how many voters have signed up
or even contacted the Web site. But, he said, “we
don’t think it can work.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office has forwarded the
board’s letter to the Department of Justice in
Washington, and the state’s attorney's office would
only say it received the letter.
A New York graduate student, James
Baumgartner, launched the site this summer and
said it wasn’t really meant to work, at the time.
“It was more to mak;e a point that the cam
paign financing system operates as a business,” he
Neal said while others may think the site is
funny, “To us it is not, particularly because of the
history of Chicago.”
Stopping it, though, may be tough. The site has
been sold to a Vienna businessman, Hans
Bernhard who, Baumgartner said, is “in Austria
and the server is in Bulgaria, so he thinks he’s out
side the jurisdiction” of any American board of
Debate math messes up minds
■ Numbers flew through the air
Tuesday at the presidential showdown,
leaving those watching confused. .
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON - They swept into
viewers’ homes like brain Novocain - all
those numbers in the first presidential
A1 Gore said that for every dollar he’d
use for this thing, he’d use so many dol
lars for that George W. Bush talked in tril
lions. Baffling percentages flew between
them. There was no telling amid the
math mania whether average Americans
would be well served or sold down the
“I started to glaze over,” said Tom
Norman, a systems analyst in Grand
Rapids, Mich. “When Gore was flinging
those numbers all over, it’s like - take a
Gore issued a stiff challenge
Wednesday to voters confused by the
“They can add up the numbers for
themselves,” he said on CBS' “The Early
But after the statistical slugfest
Tuesday night, even the experts were
"I couldn't figure out what he was
saying,” said Bob Bixby of the Concord
Coalition, a nonpartisan group that
advocates deficit reduction, after watch
ing Bush try to explain where he gets the
money for partial Social Security privati
The numerical claims are bound to
intensify in the five weeks until the Nov. 7
election and more will be heard on Gore's
favorite device for slamming Bush’s pro
posed tax cuts - casting as many of the
benefits as possible in terms of how
much would be soaked up by the
nation’s “wealthiest 1 percent”
Bush was mostly on die defensive on
the numbers as his Democratic rival
attacked his across-the-board tax cuts,
as well as a prescription drug benefit for
the elderly that Gore says is too limited
and takes too long to help people.
Figures collided headlong.
Bush said he would spend one quar
ter of the projected surplus over the next
10 years on tax cuts. Gore insists the tax
package is more expensive than that
because money that could be used for
debt reduction is tied up in the tax plan,
making the government’s interest pay
Gore said the Republican governor
would give almost one half of the surplus
to that “wealthiest one percent”
Actually, Bush’s tax cuts - in total -
only consume 29 percent of the surplus,
making it a mathematical stretch to say
half of the surplus would go just to the
Gore also said the wealthiest one
percent would get 30 percent of Bush’s
In response, Bush complained about
Gore’s “fuzzy math” and pointed out, for
example, that middle-income and low
income Americans would see big gains
from his tax cuts, not just die rich.
Doctors'chicken scratch targeted
■ Physicians are being sent back to
school to improve their handwriting.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTIC CITY, N J. -He’s a veteran
physician who works as a trauma sur
geon. Just don't ask Dr. Sheldon Brotman
to write a legible prescription.
That’s why he’s here, sitting in a
handwriting class at Atlantic City
Medical Center, learning how to hold his
pen, position his paper and put a sharp
angle on his V so it doesn’t look like an
“My signature is always a problem
down at the pharmacy,” Brotman said.
Long winked at as a harmless pecca
dillo, poor penmanship among health
care providers is increasingly being diag
nosed as a threat to patients.
Now, some of them are being sent
back to school in hopes of eliminating
the illegible. Such chicken scratch can
become a prescription for tragedy.
Experts say up to 25 percent of med
ication errors may be related to illegible
handwriting: A pharmacist misreads an
illegible prescription, one drug is mixed
up with another.
Last year, a Texas jury ordered a doc
tor, drugstore and pharmacist to pay
$450,000 to the family of a man who died
after the pharmacist misread the doc
tor’s handwritten prescription.
Also last year the Institute of
Medicine, an arm o* the National
Academy of Sciences, reported that
medical mistakes overall - including
those stemming from unreadable notes
from doctors - may cause up to 98,000
deaths a year in the U.S.
Other researchers later termed those
numbers exaggerated, but the authors
stood by their report
“It’s no longer a laughing matter,”
handwriting expert Barbara Getty said.
“If an accountant makes a mistake,
someone loses some money. But with a
doctor, it can cost someone their life."
But experts say such training - while
a good idea - is no cure-all for errors.
“There will still be many prescrip
"My signature is always a
problem down at the
Dr. Sheldon Brotman
tions given over the phone or orally to a
nurse or pharmacist These will be mis
heard, misinterpreted, mistranscribed,”
said pharmacist Mike Cohen of the non
profit Institute for Safe Medication
Charles Inlander, president of the
nonprofit People’s Medical Society,
“It’s good they’re doing a seminar,
but I'm surprised they're not going with
automated bedside and hand-held com
puters, which cut the errors by up to 50
percent,” Inlander said. Such devices
require doctors and others to type orders
into a computer system.
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Economy slow, but steady
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WASHINGTON - Stronger demand
for airplanes and electronics helped
orders to American factories bounce
back in August after a record plunge.
Economists said the report is further evi
dence the economy is growing at a slower
but still healthy pace.
Factory orders rose a surprising two
percent in August to a seasonally adjust
ed $382.5 billion, the third increase in the
past four months, the Commerce
Department reported Wednesday.
“The pace of manufacturing activity
is sure but slowing,” said National
Association of Manufacturers’ economist
August's increase came on top of a
record 8.1 percent drop in factory orders
in July, an even sharper drop than the
government previously estimated.
The Federal Reserve has raised inter
est rates six times since June 1999 with
the goal of slowing the economy enough
to prevent inflation, but not raise rates so
high they push the country into a reces
Economists have described this as
trying to engineer a soft landing for the
Wednesday's report along with a slew
soft landing flight approach is unfold
ing,” said economist Ken Mayland of
On Tuesday, the Fed decided not to
raise rates for a seventh time but still held
open the door to further rate increases in
the future if inflation flares up.
In financial markets, blue-chip stocks
led Wall Street higher. The Dow Jones
industrial average closed up 64.74 points
at 10,784.48, after gaining as much as 120
points during the day.
August’s factory-orders performance
was stronger than many analysts were
expecting. They had predicted factory
orders would fall by 1.9 percent.
The advance was led by a 6.6 percent
increase in orders for transportation
equipment, mostly due to stronger
demand for airplanes and aircraft parts,
the government said. In July, transporta
tion orders fell by a record 32.6 percent.
Excluding the volatile transportation
category, factory orders rose 1.3 percent
in August, the fifth increase in the last
The transportation sector swings
widely from month to month because it
includes costly items such as airplanes,
ships and military equipment, including
The Associated Press
Safe radiation levels offer
relief to island residents
SAN JUAN - Radiation levels
on most of the Puerto Rican
island of Vieques are below nor
mal, a government study con
cluded, contradicting claims by
critics of Navy bombing activities
“Vieques is a paradise with
low levels of radiation” said Luis
Reyes, regional director of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
at a news conference Wednesday.
Spots of higher radiation
were found along the bombing
range, in an area where a jet acci
dentally fired 263 shells tipped
with depleted uranium in
February 1999, the NRC reported.
The Navy found only 116 of the
But there was no evidence
that radioactive particles had
blown or been carried by water to
civilian areas, about 10 miles
from the range, Reyes said.
Angry anti-Navy activists
interrupted the news conference
and contested the findings. They
say the military exercises have
caused health problems among
the island’s 9,400 residents,
including a high cancer rate.
■ Washington, D.C
Me<ficaid bill would reimburse
women for cancer treatments
Uninsured women who rely
on the government for breast or
cervical cancer screening could
get federally funded treatment
under a bill approved Wednesday
by the Senate.
The Breast and Cervical
Treatment Act, passed by a voice
vote, gives states the option of
providing Medicaid reimburse
ment for die treatments.
The bill returns to the House,
which passed its version in May.
Supporters hope for quick
In a written statement,
President Clinton said he would
be “proud” to sign the measure
and gave credit to his wife,
Hillary, the Democratic U.S.
Senate candidate from New York.
The treatment would be tied
to a Centers for Disease Control
program, approved in 1990, that
has enabled nearly 800,000
women without health insurance
to be screen for breast or cervical
cancer. The federal government
provides $3 for every $1 in state
money for screening.
■ Washington D.C
Same health risks found in
Anti-smoking groups said
Wednesday they want R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco Co. to stop
test-marketing its experimental
cigarette after an independent
study found that Eclipse, touted
as safer than ordinary cigarettes,
poses many of the same health
The company refused, said its
testing supports the claims and
questioned the conclusions of
the study commissioned by the
state of Mass., contending they
were drawn from limited data.
RJR says Eclipse, which heats
rather than bums tobacco, deliv
ers 80 percent fewer carcinogens
than typical “ultralight” cigarettes
and “may present less risk of can
cer associated with smoking.”
Several anti-smoking groups
said the claim was misleading
because some of the cigarettes
used for comparison are not
Bomb threat sends
elementary principal to prison
JOHNSON CITY, Kan. - An
elementary school principal
has been sentenced to nearly
three years in prison for threat
ening to blow up a school.
Steve Nelson, who was prin
cipal of Johnson Elementary
School, called in the bomb
threat Dec. 9 against Johnson
Middle School, prosecutors
All schools in the district
were evacuated, but no bomb
Nelson, 49, was convicted in
August of aggravated criminal
threat. He was sentenced
Nelson testified that he was
set up by the middle school
principal out of professional
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