REGION



REGION
AT & amp;T Broadbandincreases cable rates
PITTSBURGH -- More than 600,000 AT & amp;T Broadband cable customers in western Pennsylvania will see their bills increase about 7 percent beginning next month.
Brian Jeter, a spokesman for AT & amp;T Broadband, said the rate increases are intended to offset a 15-percent jump in programming costs and are not related to the $29.2 billion merger of AT & amp;T and Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp.
Most of the increases for basic cable average about $2 a month while digital cable rates will increase from $4 to $7, Jeter said.
NRC watchdog: Plantshutdown was delayed
CLEVELAND -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission could have shut down a nuclear power plant several months before an acid leak was discovered but wanted to avoid hurting the plant owner financially, according to a report by the agency's watchdog.
The NRC's Office of Inspector General says top agency safety officials had "strong justification" to order the Davis-Besse plant shut down early due to concerns over public safety,
Inspectors discovered in March that leaking acid had nearly eaten through the 6-inch thick steel cap that covers the plant's reactor vessel. It was the most extensive corrosion ever at a U.S. nuclear reactor.
The damage was discovered during a maintenance shutdown, and the plant, near Toledo, has remained closed.
NATION
GM offers rebates
DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. has announced a new round of rebates on most 2003 models.
Effective Friday and continuing through Feb. 28, the world's largest automaker is offering rebates of up to $3,000 cash on most '03 Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models.
GM also is offering zero-percent financing on most '03 passenger car models. Excluded are Cadillac, Hummer, Saab and the Chevy Corvette.
Bush drops reportsof massive layoffs
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has dropped the government's monthly report on mass layoffs, which also had been eliminated when President Bush's father was in office.
The report by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded layoffs of 50 or more workers regardless of duration.
The program had been revived in 1995 under President Clinton.
The last report was issued Christmas Eve with November's figures showing that U.S. companies laid off more than 240,000 workers in 2,150 mass layoffs.
WORLD
Ikea founder worries
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- The founder of Swedish furniture giant Ikea is worried the company is expanding too fast.
Ingvar Kamprad, 76, the privately held company's honorary chairman, said he used to champion quick expansion, but has become increasingly concerned about having to close stores during an economic downturn.
"I was somewhat of an engine before. But the last 10 years I have in that way become an unhappy man," Kamprad told Swedish daily newspaper Smaalandsposten for a story published Friday. "I see the responsibility and what the consequences can be. It's not fun to sit and feel this responsibility."
Kamprad opened the first Ikea store in Aelmhult in 1958. The company operates 154 stores with 70,000 workers in 22 countries.
Vindicator staff and wire reports

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