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GM closing 9 plants, cut payroll by 30,000

DETROIT, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- General Motors Corp., the world's biggest carmaker, is cutting its payroll by 30,000 and shutting nine major plants to stop a financial hemorrhage.


So far this year GM has lost nearly $4 billion as its market share collapses and the costs of a generous healthcare and pension plan drain its coffers. GM's cash on hand is collapsing. One year ago it had $24 billion; today it has $19 billion.

Besides the nine major plants, GM said Monday it will close three service and parts facilities. In all, GM will cease production at plants in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennesse, Missouri and Ontario. Closure dates range from 2006 through 2008.

Some payroll reductions will come through attrition and early retirement.

The moves aim to cut $7 billion in costs by the end of next year.


The company's pension and healthcare liabilities add $3,500 to the price of each vehicle, far more than its main rival, Toyota Motor Corp., has.

The company's troubles have trashed its share price: It now has a market value of $12 billion compared with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s $204 billion.

New Iraqi army looks like old one

BAGHDAD, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The new Iraqi security force, under U.S. supervision, has drawn heavily from the ranks of Saddam Hussein's disbanded force.

The disbanding of the Hussein's nearly 400,000-strong army when there were not enough U.S. troops is seen by many critics today as one of the gravest miscalculations by the United States in Iraq, The Washington Post reports.

Critics say that effort left the borders open, allowing the insurgency to flourish and encouraging the growth of private militias.

But since then, Iraq and the United States have brought in Hussein-era soldiers, many from the ruling Baath Party, to rebuild Iraq's military.

The Iraqi defense ministry has even begun bringing in recruits from among junior officers in Hussein's military, says the report.

U.S. officials say they must leave behind an Iraqi army capable of fighting the insurgency. The Hussein-era officers are seen as having the officer training, combat experience and staff and leadership skills to fight the insurgents.


Many of the critics of the U.S. invasion now give U.S. military officials credit for their latest work.

CIA chief says interrogation methods legal

LANGLEY, Va., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- CIA Director Porter Goss says interrogation techniques used on terror suspects are legal and do not include torture, because it isn't effective.

In an interview with USA Today, Goss was emphatic in denying recent allegations detainees were tortured by agents or others under their supervision.

"This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work," Goss said. "We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information, and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture."

Goss said the unconventional methods used in modern terror networks also posed new challenges for intelligence-gathering.

"An enemy that's working in an amorphous network that doesn't have to worry about a bunch of regulations, chain of command, rule of law or anything else has got a huge advantage over a stultified, slow-moving, bureaucratic, by-the-book" organization, Goss said.

Mall gunner wanted world to feel his anger

SEATTLE, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The 20-year-old suspect in a Seattle shopping mall shooting spree and hostage-taking told friends via text messaging he wanted the world to feel his anger.


Dominick Maldonado was being held Monday on six counts of assault and three counts of kidnapping, in lieu of $450,000 bail after the incident midday Sunday.

Of the six shooting victims, one was listed in critical condition at Tacoma General Hospital suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, the Seattle Times reported.

A man wearing a dress shirt and tie walked into the Tacoma Mall firing at least 20 shots randomly with an assault-style rifle. He then took four hostages in a music store for four hours, but released a 9-year-old boy.

Mary Simon, the mother of Maldonado's ex-girlfriend, said her daughter got a text message from Maldonado minutes before the shooting started.

"It was lengthy, six or seven sentences, but the upshot was, 'The world is going to feel my pain,'" Simon said.

Survey: Newton, Mass. safest U.S. city

LAWRENCE, Kan., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- An annual survey of crime rates in 369 U.S. cities published Monday has determined Newton, Mass., to be the safest, with no murders reported in 2004.

All cities with populations above 75,000 that reported crime data to the FBI for the six crime categories were included in the rankings by the Kansas-based Morgan Quitno statistical firm.


The rankings are based on a city's per capita rate for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.

Following Newton for safety were Clarkstown, N.Y.; Amherst, N.Y.; Mission Viejo, Calif., and Brick Township, N.J.

The agency said the five most dangerous cities were Camden, N.J.; Detroit; St. Louis; Flint, Mich., and Richmond, Va.

A statement by the company said the FBI, police and many criminologists caution against rankings according to crime rates because of such variables as population density and climate. However, it defended its rankings, saying ignoring statistics would "be somewhat akin to deciding not to compare athletes on their speed in the 100-yard dash because of physical or training differences."

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