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News Briefs

Lockheed Martin To Sell Divisions


Lockheed Martin Corp. said Monday that it will try to sell off businesses with about $1.8 billion in annual sales and 9,000 employees in an attempt to make the $26 billion aerospace contractor quicker and leaner.

Lockheed Chief Executive Vance D. Coffman said the company would cut its management support staff in suburban Bethesda, Md., by more than 100 positions.

“What we’re trying to get out is a message that says we’re going to focus on our customers and that will have benefits to our shareholders,” Coffman told securities analysts in a midmorning conference call.

Coffman’s moves, the result of a strategic review of Lockheed by an outside consulting firm, are designed to restore the company’s credibility with Wall Street and analysts and investors.

Chechen Refugees Flee as Russians Continue Bombing


Tens of thousands of refugees clogged the road from Chechnya to the neighboring Russian region of Ingushetia Monday, as Russian warplanes continued their strikes against Chechen industrial and military targets.

Moscow’s strategy in its budding war with Chechnya was starting to become clear -- mass troops at the border, bomb from the air, and wait for the “bandits” to give up. The Russians say they are only attacking legitimate targets, such as oil refineries, communications facilities and weapons depots. The Chechen government says 300 civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed in the raids.

And between 50,000 and 100,000 people, not so trusting in Russian intentions, have fled for their lives.

The government of Ingushetia, a constituent part of the Russian federation, Monday appealed directly to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for assistance in dealing with the flow of people, the Itar Tass agency reported. Zakre Sultygov, Ingush vice premier, said authorities there were incapable of providing shelter, food and clothing for so many.

$27 Billion Debt Relief Given to Poorest Countries


A plan to cancel up to $27 billion in debt owed by the world’s most desperately poor countries won key financial backing from major industrial governments Sunday, clearing the way for funds that now flow to foreign creditors to stay home instead to pay for schools and clinics.

Gordon Brown, Britain’s top finance official and chairman of an International Monetary Fund group overseeing the plan, said that enough funding pledges had arrived over the weekend to begin the program “not in years or months, but ... now.”

In the plan, “those to whom the world’s greatest wealth has been given are joined with those burdened down by the world’s greatest debt,” Brown said, calling the relief “historic.” Firm numbers for donor contributions will be announced this week.

International banks often are wary of letting borrowers walk away from signed obligations. This programs ranks among their most substantive efforts to date to bend the rules for countries such as Mozambique, Bolivia and Ivory Coast.