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News Briefs

Century Products Issues Largest U.S. Stroller Recall Ever


A child strapped in a stroller in New York City suffered chipped teeth and scratched legs when the stroller suddenly folded and dumped the child on the sidewalk.

Another toddler was similarly injured when the child’s mother bumped the stroller on her other child’s foot and the device folded.

These two injuries were among 250 reported to Century Products Co., which Thursday recalled about 650,000 multi-use strollers in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It is the largest U.S. recall of strollers ever.

Under pressure, the stroller’s folding mechanism collapses, especially when a parent pushes down on the stroller to lift the front wheels onto a curb, said Ken Giles, a spokesman for the commission. This may cause the carrier seat to detach and flip forward, carrying the child with it, he said.

Century, based in Macedonia, Ohio, received 681 reports of such incidents. The most serious injuries were three concussions, two skull fractures and one fractured elbow.

Spreading Violence Augurs Unpleasant Summer for Algeria


ALGIERS, Algeria -- As a sweltering Mediterranean summer takes hold, social unrest is exploding in many parts of Algeria, fueled by high unemployment, a critical housing shortage, a stalled economy and a creaky, outdated political system that people see as both repressive and opaque.

In the Kabylie region east of here, security forces have shot dead as many as 80 people and wounded hundreds in a drive to quell seven weeks of antigovernment protests by members of the Berber minority. Elsewhere, Algerian journalists have rallied for press freedom and women have marched for an end to repression. Family members of the thousands of people who disappeared during Algeria’s decade-long civil war gather for weekly vigils.

Here in the capital, demonstrations demanding civil liberties and an end to corruption have been the largest in a decade. Hundreds of thousands of people paraded through the city Thursday, with riot police charging the protesters as they neared the presidential palace, the Associated Press reported. Two journalists were killed in the violence.

Bush Opens 40,000 Federal Workers’ Jobs to Competition


WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has ordered that more than 40,000 federal workers compete for their jobs with the private sector, a first step toward President Bush’s goal of making about 425,000 government jobs eligible for private contracting.

The move will swell the contract corps, a shadow-government workforce whose numbers are estimated to be more than three times the 1.8 million-strong civilian federal workforce.

The administration believes the competition will help make government agencies more businesslike and more responsive to taxpayers, while turning over work better handled by the private sector.

The White House Office of Management and Budget told all federal agencies in March to open these positions, considered “commercial” in nature, to competition with the private sector. After taking bids, the agencies will decide whether to keep the jobs in-house. The process must be completed by October 2002, which has unions fearing that agencies will merely outsource the jobs to meet the target.

As agencies begin the process, a congressionally recognized panel will conduct a hearing Monday to review the scope and efficacy of outsourcing. Chaired by Comptroller General David Walker, the panel will address fundamental questions: What is “inherently governmental” work? What tasks does the government need to do because it is unreasonable to expect the private sector to do them or because the private sector is unwilling to do them?