Crime rate:Violent crimes increased at a 10 percent pace...

Newswatch ...on last week in review

May 06, 1991

Crime rate:

Violent crimes increased at a 10 percent pace across the nation last year, preliminary figures for the FBI's annual uniform crime reports show.

In Baltimore, the increase in violent crime outstripped the national average but was consistent with other large cities.

* City police conducting a series of drug sweeps in East Baltimore arrested 12 adults and two juveniles, including an 11-year-old boy described as a cocaine runner. He was charged with delinquency and sent home.

Fewer jobless:

The unemployment rate nationwide dropped to 6.6 percent in April from 6.8 percent in March, the first monthly decline in nearly a year. Figures for Maryland, a month behind, fell to 6 percent in March, compared with 6.5 percent in February.

Disaster toll:

The death toll alone from the first surges of a typhoon that hit southeastern Bangladesh last Tuesday was about 100,000, but officials fear that ensuing disease and starvation may double the death toll.

* Earthquakes struck Soviet Georgia on Monday and Friday, leaving about 85 people dead and causing widespread devastation. The strong quakes registered about 7 on the Richter scale.

Gulf report:

Allied forces are doubling their secure zone in northern Iraq and speeding up plans for a second tent city with the hope of drawing Kurdish refugees down from squalid mountain camps.

Oil sale

The United Nations is considering Iraq's request to sell nearly $1 billion worth of oil and have $1 billion of its assets unfrozen so it may finance imports of food and other necessities.

Ireland talks:

Talks on new political arrangements for Northern Ireland are beginning in an atmosphere of cautious hope that a basis for peace in the troubled British province can be found. Heads of the major Protestant and Roman Catholic political parties have initially given themselves until July 16 to reach agreement, or at least to achieve enough to warrant more talks.

Tax repealed:

The City Council Monday night repealed the controversial beverage container tax but delayed action on legislation that would impose a surcharge on fees charged to remove solid waste from commercial establishments.

The 16-month-old container tax, at least in its current form, will end May 31.

Peace talks:

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli war hero and champion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza, says the Bush administration is going at peacemaking in the Middle East the wrong way.

"The first thing that should be done is to bring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the table of negotiations and sign with them a peace agreement," Sharon said Wednesday.

Rates lowered:

The Federal Reserve Tuesday lowered two key interest rates in a manner that emphasized the central bank's resolve to fight the recession.

The central bank first announced that it was cutting the discount rate, the interest it charges to make loans to commercial banks, from 6 percent to 5.5 percent. Later, it added reserves to the banking system as a way of pushing the federal funds rate down to a target of 5.75 percent.

* The nation's biggest banks cut their prime lending rates Wednesday by half a percentage point to 8.5 percent, following the Federal Reserve in trying to lower borrowing costs and stimulate the economy.

* Maryland's economy may be nearing the bottom of the recession and preparing to turn around, local experts predicted after reviewing the Index of Leading Indicators, released Wednesday. The federal government's chief economic forecasting gauge rose 0.5 percent in March, its second consecutive monthly advance, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

* MNC Financial Inc., parent company of Maryland National Bank, announced plans to lay off several hundred workers in the next few months. USF&G Corp., the Baltimore insurance giant, reported a first-quarter loss of $55 million.

Red tape:

The red tape generated by a plethora of American insurance companies will waste more than $135 billion in medical expenses this year that could be saved under a national health system such as Canada's, according to two new reports.

The need to file insurance claims with some 1,500 different companies -- each with separate forms and requirements -- has forced doctors, hospitals and nursing homes to spend an inordinate amount of money and effort on administrative functions, says a study published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Kuwait pact:

Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the ambassador of Kuwait signed an agreement Friday that gives Maryland companies preferred consideration in supplying goods and services to rebuild Kuwait. The pact could result in the shipment of thousands of tons of cargo through the Port of Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Hospital death rates:

Federal officials have named 161 hospitals, including two in the Baltimore area, with higher than expected death rates for Medicare patients.

Rail runs:

The Maryland Rail Commuter service put the Susquehanna Flyer in operation Wednesday between Baltimore and Perryville. The weekday schedule has three trains leaving from the Cecil County town in the morning and four returning in the evening.

Baseball toppers:

Two record performances in baseball occurred on the same night, Wednesday, as Nolan Ryan, 44, of the Texas Rangers, threw his seventh career no-hitter, three more than anybody, and Ricky Henderson of the Oakland A's stole his 939th base, breaking Lou Brock's career record.

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