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"We'll have to make judgments about what constitutes a satisfactory accounting for the use of past funds." -- Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who said further U.S. support of IMF credits for Russia is in doubtEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Washington's Sulfurous Feud

When President Clinton announced a sweeping plan to cut air pollution by, among other things, reducing sulfur content in gasoline, the reaction was predictable. Auto makers and oil refiners complained to the Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Carol M. Browner. But what's this? The Administration's own Energy Dept. is also opposing the President's plan.

Energy, headed by Bill Richardson, has submitted a harsh 11-page analysis that objects to the EPA's May 1 proposal for low-sulfur gas. Quietly filed on July 13 as part of a routine public comment period, Energy's letter asserts that the technology for making low-sulfur gas is unproven and that efforts to mandate it could lead to gas shortages.

One EPA official dismissed Energy's qualms as a mere technical matter that won't undermine the Administration's clean-air goals. But enviros are worried. "To find a cabinet agency raising strenuous objections is very surprising," says Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, an advocacy group. The EPA says it wants the issue settled before December. Otherwise, Congress may step in to settle the bureaucratic bickering.By Lorraine Woellert; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Preventing Tragedy in the Sky

U.S. Army helicopters are apparently not all they can be. The Navy is buying ground collision-avoidance systems for its copters, and the Air Force will follow suit. At the Army, however, only Apache attack gunships--25% of its fleet of 3,000 advanced choppers--will have high-tech protection. Army Blackhawks and Chinook transports and Kiowa Warrior scouts will continue using older radar.

In the 11 months ended Sept. 1, 19 GIs have been killed in mishaps where there has been no mechanical failure or pilot loss of control. The radar used now only tells a pilot's present position, not what territory is approaching. An Army study of accidents from 1988 through 1997 says that warning systems could have halved the 103 fatalities and $428.5 million in damages.

The Army says it can't afford the equipment. But Cubic Defense Systems, a maker of the gear, claims that Army figures are outdated. The price over a decade for new hardware has fallen from the $100,000-per-aircraft Army estimate to $50,000. That would total about $110 million for the non-Apache fleet, or 25% of the monetary losses over the past decade. And many lives would presumably be saved.By Stan Crock; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Sloan's Online Orientation

When the Sloan School of Management at MIT required candidates for the class of 2001 to apply electronically, they were just trying to streamline the process. They got more than they bargained for.

Some of the lucky 15% who got in formed a twice-weekly online chat room before arriving on campus on Aug. 30. Eventually, about 300 incoming students--75% of the class--joined in to find friends, roommates, and teammates for school projects. Some even managed to hook up with like-minded entrepreneurs to pursue business plans.

As a result of the community-building, Sloan may scrap part of its weeklong orientation for new students next year. "It's too early to tell whether it has changed the nature of the class, but it certainly has moved the timetable forward," says Rod Garcia, Sloan's Director of Admissions.

All has not been sweetness and virtual light, however, for the class of 2001, apparently the first required by a B-school to apply online. The admissions office computer crashed the night before the E-applications were due. Sloan, says a sheepish Garcia, made allowances for the late filings.By Paul C. Judge; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

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