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"Eastern North Carolina has not experienced destruction of this magnitude since the Civil War" -- Dr. H. David Bruton, Secretary of the North Carolina Health & Human Services Dept., describing the aftermath of FloydEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

E-Gambling on the Dow? Shocking!

Move over day-trading. There's a new game in town: Internet stock market gambling. A slew of new online casinos such as,, and let investors--er, gamblers--place Vegas-style bets on the direction of the market. At, a $100 winning bet on the Dow Jones industrial average's daily closing price returns $200. Lose, and it costs $110--the $10 extra is the vigorish. The sites also take bets on hot stocks such as Microsoft.

These sites represent the next big trend, says Anthony Sparango, president of Go Bet, a Los Angeles company that does marketing for and similar sites, which are all located offshore and also take bets on sports. There were three financial wagering sites in early 1999. Now there are at least 10.

Behavioral finance experts say the trend reflects gambling tendencies among an increasing number of investors. "People need to remember that this is entertainment, not investing," says Jeffrey Heisler, a Boston University finance professor. For some people, it's not always easy to tell the difference.By Marcia Vickers; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Send in the Clowns

The glitzy opening night at New York's Metropolitan Opera House on Sept. 27 will feature the tragedy Pagliacci. But the black-tie audience will get an eyeful of weeping clowns before setting foot in the hall, thanks to a bitter labor dispute.

Big Labor in the Big Apple wants to unionize the Met's food-service workers. So 3,800 operagoers, shelling out up to $2,250 for ticket and gala, will be greeted by 500 protesters, some dressed in Pagliacci gear, "crying" over workers' $6 to $8 an hour pay. "The top 5% of the value of the jewels worn on opening night will exceed the combined wages and benefits for the food-service workers for a year," says Henry Tamarin, president of Local 100 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE).

So far, the Met hasn't intervened in the dispute between HERE and Restaurant Associates, a unit of the publicly traded Compass Group. RA employs the Met's 95 restaurant workers, 76 of whom voted in February to unionize. RA wants a secret ballot. HERE charges worker intimidation; RA denies it. Sounds like a deadlock that even clowning around won't change.By Joan Oleck; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Make Mine a Porsche Lite

An international consortium of 35 steel companies is working with Porsche Engineering Services Inc. of Troy, Mich., a division of German auto maker Porsche, to develop a car that could revolutionize the automotive industry. The goal: use steel to make fuel-efficient, affordable automobiles that meet government guidelines.

The bodies of the proposed vehicles will be nearly 100% high-strength lightweight steel, weigh no more than 2,000 pounds, and be up to 85% stronger than any current model. And they'll be ecologically sound, getting 80 miles to the gallon and made of 40% recycled steel.

Best of all, these ultralight steel auto bodies won't cost more than regular autos. "The goal is to produce some very sexy-looking cars that are affordable," says E. Frank Walker, a British Steel engineer involved in the project.

One big remaining obstacle: safety. It isn't easy to make a car light and safe. Engineers plan to design the body using advanced computer programs that will optimize the whole vehicle rather than its separate parts. When will these wonder cars hit the road? Sometime after 2001, when the design is completed, the engineers hope.By Ellen Licking; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

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