GM official: Auto prices could rise in the U.S.

DETROIT

U.S. automobile prices could rise significantly in the near future because of industry restructuring and rising raw material and regulatory costs, General Motors Corp.’s chief financial officer said yesterday.

Fritz Henderson said the industry has less manufacturing capacity than in the past and therefore less pressure to sell vehicles cheaply just to move inventory.

It also faces higher raw materials costs, rising technology costs and increased costs from fuel economy and other government regulations, he said.

While the U.S. market still is competitive, “you could potentially see a significant change from what we’ve seen in the last eight or 10 years,” Henderson said during a speech to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

WASHINGTON

Economic stimulus bill passes in House

The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy’s slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package yesterday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers.

The plan, approved 385-35 after little debate, would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.

It faced a murky future in the Senate, though, where Democrats and some Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples.

WASHINGTON

Troops may stay in Iraq longer than expected

The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in Iraq will slow or stop altogether this summer, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq.

The indications of a likely slowdown reflect concern by U.S. commanders that the improvement in security in Iraq since June – to a degree few had predicted when President Bush ordered five more Army brigades to Iraq a year ago – is tenuous and could be reversed if the extra troops come out too soon.

One of those extra brigades left in December and the other four are due to come out by July, leaving 15 brigades, or roughly 130,000 to 135,000 troops – the same number as before Bush sent the reinforcements.

ANN ARBOR

Ann Arbor man on trial for 1983 rape

Thanks to advances in DNA testing, an imprisoned sex offender is on trial in Ann Arbor in the May 23, 1983, rape-slaying of an Eastern Michigan University student.

Forty-nine-year-old Jimmy E. Green is accused of attacking and stabbing 26-year-old Laura McBride, a nutrition student and Air Force veteran who was walking to class.

Twenty years later, investigators recovered DNA, and prosecutors say it matches Green’s. Public defender Gina Jacobs says finding Green’s DNA doesn’t prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Green’s already serving life for a 1995 rape.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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