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Citing Controversy of Return, Magic Johnson Retires Again

Los Angeles Times

INGLEWOOD, Calif.

In a last twist in his unprecedented saga, Magic Johnson retired again from basketball Monday, suddenly, unexpectedly and, he says, finally.

Johnson announced his decision in a prepared release, issued through the Los Angeles Lakers, who will open the season Friday night against the cross-town Los Angeles Clippers.

Johnson's physician, Michael Mellman, said there had been no recent change in the player's medical status and that health was not a factor in his decision.

"Earvin Johnson's health has not changed since the day he returned to basketball," Mellman said at a Forum press conference.

"It was not a medical decision. I have not advised him to not play, based on any factors that I have perceived."

Johnson was unavailable for comment. He made no public appearances Monday, nor did he contact Laker owner Jerry Buss, team officials or his teammates.

His agent, Lon Rosen, called Laker general manager Jerry West Sunday night and told him of Johnson's decision.

"After much thought and talking it over with Cookie (his wife) and my family, I've decided that I will retire -- for good -- from the Lakers," Johnson said in his statement.

"It has become obvious that the various controversies surrounding my return are taking away from both basketball as a sport and the larger issue of living with HIV, for me and the many people affected."

Johnson retired last Nov. 7, shortly after learning that he had tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.

However, he soon began planning a comeback, playing in the NBA All-Star game last February, then in the Olympics, and finally announcing a return to the Lakers Sept. 29.

GM Overhauls Its Top Management, Halves Dividend

The Washington Post

General Motors Corp., with its president acknowledging that the company's "mark of excellence has faded," Monday remodeled its top management structure, slashed its dividend and promised American consumers it would start building better cars.

The GM board of directors named retired Procter & Gamble Co. chairman John G. Smale as chairman and gave the duties of chief executive to GM President John F. Smith Jr., the man it picked last April to run the day-to-day operations of the company. The two men replace former chairman Robert C. Stempel, who resigned last week under pressure from the board.

Smith immediately announced in a nationwide video broadcast to GM employees that he was now firmly in charge of the company. With Smale sitting at his side, Smith said, "He will not run the company, I will."

Smith has over the past six months developed a strategy to streamline GM's money-losing manufacturing operations and reduce the number of overlapping, look-alike car models sold by the company's five car divisions. Each GM division is expected to reduce the number of models it offers in an effort to stop competing with itself for a dwindling share of the sales market.

The board's halving of the dividend, to 20 cents a share per quarter, is another move that will save the company money, as much as $1 billion a year.

Nissan Shows First Loss, Will Skip Dividend

Los Angeles Times

TOKYO

In its first negative financial report in 41 years as a public concern, Nissan Motor Co. said Monday it lost $178 million in the first half of its current fiscal year, and, for the first time ever, will not pay a mid-year dividend to shareholders.

The loss underscores the difficulties Japanese car companies are having in coping with declining auto sales at home, a sluggish world market and a shrinking gap between it and its U.S. rivals in cost and quality.

Nissan has fared worst than its Japanese rivals in holding on to market share and is additionally burdened by heavy investments in new factories at home and abroad.

"The results are a disappointment to management and to investors," Nissan Executive Vice President Atsushi Muramatsu. He blamed the loss on sluggish markets worldwide.

Muramatsu promised a turnaround by next summer, but the company projected that its annual loss would equal about $163 million when the fiscal year ends next April. The company also said that the first half loss might be larger when results from subsidiary companies are included.

Weather

A Vote for Change

national weather service

Today: Periods of rain during the morning, remaining mostly cloudy during the afternoon. High 45-50F (7-10C). Wind becoming south 10-20 mph (6-12 kph). Chance of rain 90 percent.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, patchy fog. Low around 45F (7C).

Wednesday: Partly sunny with a chance of showers, high 60-65F (16-18C). Chance of rain 40 percent.