An ultimatum:President Bush says Secretary of State James...

Newswatch... on last week in review

December 03, 1990

An ultimatum:

President Bush says Secretary of State James Baker 3rd will go to Iraq to discuss all aspects of the Persian Gulf crisis. Bush's announcement came Friday, a day after the United Nations Security Council gave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein six weeks to pull his troops out of Kuwait before the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf are free to launch a military strike. Iraq scoffed at the ultimatum.

Nominated as drug czar:

President Bush on Friday rejected advice to pick "a Washington insider" as his next drug czar and instead nominated Florida Gov. Bob Martinez to lead the nation's crusade against illegal drugs.

The president turned to a friend and political ally with 12 years of government experience in a state that has grappled with the drug problem for more than two decades. Martinez, 55, has developed a lengthy record of combating illegal drugs during his four years as governor and eight years as mayor of Tampa.

If confirmed by the Senate, Martinez would succeed William Bennett, who stepped down as drug czar Friday to seek the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

Martinez, who was defeated for re-election last month, would not take over the position until after he leaves the governor's office in January. The Senate Judiciary Committee is not expected to hold confirmation hearings on the nomination until at least late January. Seventy-five percent of the nation's top economic forecasters contend the nation has sunk into a recession, although two-thirds expect it to be mild and to end by April. As if to confirm the forecast, the government's main gauge of economic health, the Index of Leading Indicators, dropped for the fourth straight month in October, according to figures released Friday.

* The gross national product -- the nation's total output of goods and services -- grew at a weak 1.7 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the government reported Wednesday.

* Orders to U.S. factories for "big-ticket" durable goods jumped 3.6 percent in October, driven by a 14.6 percent gain in the transportation sector, the government said Wednesday. But excluding transportation, orders fell 0.4 percent.

* The U.S. trade deficit swelled to $29.75 billion in the July-September quarter, the highest imbalance in a year.

Raises in peril:

Maryland's continuing budget woes could mean that the state's 75,000 employees will have to go without a general salary increase for the first time since 1984, it was reported Tuesday.

Layoffs:

General Motors announced Tuesday that, because of sinking sales, it will be making fewer minivans in Baltimore in 1991 and that it will indefinitely lay off 300 of the 3,500 workers at the Broening Highway plant here, starting Jan. 22.

* Forty state employees, including five physicians, at the Rosewood Hospital Center in Owings Mills, have received layoff notices. The notices were made public Thursday.

Strike averted:

Dockworkers and waterfront management at the Port of Baltimore reached a tentative contract agreement Friday, averting a threatened midnight strike. The Baltimore District Council of the International Longshoremen's Association voted Friday to submit the proposed settlement to a ratification vote by members today.

Secret pay boosts:

Large pay raises planned for Maryland's court clerks and registers of wills were kept secret until after the Nov. 6 election, so incumbents wouldn't be challenged, according to state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein.

The Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously approved the 25 percent raises Wednesday. Goldstein recommended the increases and said the incumbents had asked that their raises not be made public until after the general election so the extra pay wouldn't lure new opponents.

New top man at USF&G:

Norman P. Blake, 49, chairman and chief executive officer of Heller International Corp. of Chicago, was named last Monday as head of Baltimore insurance company USF&G.

Matsushita buying MCA:

The Hollywood entertainment giant, MCA Inc., said last Monday that it would be bought by Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. in a deal valued at $6.5 billion, the biggest-ever takeover by a Japanese company in the United States.

Shake-up:

Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced Tuesday that former Baltimore planner Robert Perciasepe is succeeding Martin Walsh as Maryland's environment secretary.

Walsh, the agency's only secretary since the department was created in 1987, is moving over to head the Department of General Services with the resignation of Earl F. Seboda.

The moves are the latest in Schaefer's Cabinet reorganization, an effort that started three weeks ago when he ordered his entire Cabinet and hundreds of top appointed officials to submit letters of resignation.

Light rail, heavy cost:

It was reported last week that the cost of the Baltimore metropolitan area's controversial light-rail project, already a calamity of overruns, has risen again -- by an estimated $43 million because of restructured bond payments.

New prime minister:

John Major, 47, chancellor of the exchequer, took office Wednesday as Britain's prime minister, succeeding Margaret Thatcher. Major, 47, is Britain's 18th prime minister and the youngest this century.

For the record:

About 1,300 people attended Friday's Baltimore Summit on Race Relations, which was held in two sessions at the Convention Center.

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