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News Briefs

Regulators Issue New Recalls On Firestone Tires

The New York Times -- DETROIT

Auto safety regulators said Thursday that Bridgestone/Firestone North America had begun the first tire recall since the government started using a new early warning system created in the wake of the rollover problems of Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires in the late 1990s.

The latest recall again involves both Firestone and the Ford Motor Co. About 290,000 Firestone tires will be replaced on Ford Excursion sport utility vehicles after accidents that have been linked to five deaths. A Ford official said the tires, made at a plant in Joliette, Quebec, were used on about 80,000 Ford Excursions, including 2000, 2001, 2002 and some early 2003 models. The tires are Steeltex Radial A/T tires in size LT265/75R16, Load Range D.

While the size of the recall is small in comparison with the millions of Wilderness tires recalled by Ford and Firestone in 2000 and 2001, it raised fresh questions about Bridgestone/Firestone North America.

Curses! Fans Destroy Symbol Of Cubs’ Futility

The New York Times -- CHICAGO

One baseball -- one ordinary, slightly scuffed baseball -- did something Thursday night that few movie stars or politicians can ever pull off in this city. It shut down a busy downtown street, lured camera crews from around the world, and drew a mob of Chicagoans to stand, transfixed, for hours in the chill.

They came not so much to see the little ball as to see it blown up. Or crushed, stomped or ripped to smithereens. The form of demolition, a subject of hype and speculation here for weeks, seemed to matter less than the promise that the hated ball, and all it meant, would be gone forever.

This was the ball from Game 6 of the NLCS last October, the one that a Chicago Cubs outfielder stretched up to catch just as a fan, Steve Bartman, reached for it, too. With that bobbled play, the Cubs, who had been just five outs from winning a trip to the World Series for the first time since 1945, collapsed. They lost that game and the next to the Florida Marlins, who went on to win the pennant and the World Series.

At precisely 7:31 p.m., Harry Caray’s widow, Dutchie, gently led the crowd singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” When they were done, a row of police officers pushed people away from the ball, which awaited its doom in a clear, floodlit box hooked up with wires and explosives.

There were flashes, sparks and a series of bangs, and then poof: The ball was just a shaggy heap of cork, rubber and yarn. The room smelled like gunpowder, and somebody said, “The ball is dead.”