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Friday news round up
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ATLANTA (Atlanta Business Chronicle) - The Chronicle released its annual list of Atlanta's 100 most influential people, as selected by the paper's editors.

Newcomers to the list include Stockbridge resident Herman Cain, "who is shaking up the 2012 presidential campaign," and Mark Elgart of AdvancED, "which is ensuring metro Atlanta's schools make the grade."

Others include Gov. Nathan Deal, Paul Bowers of Georgia Power and Tom Fanning of Southern Co., Dean of the Consular Corps Lutz Görgens, Donna Hyland of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Mexican Consul General Salvador de Lara, new Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee, new Atlanta airport chief Louis Miller, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, new Gwinnett County Chair Charlotte Nash, Carol Tomé of Home Depot and Paula Wallace of Savannah College of Art and Design.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The 2007-2009 recession, already in the record books as the worst in the 66 years since the end of World War II, was even worse than previously thought.

From the start of the recession at the end of 2007 to the end in June of 2009, the U.S. economy shrank 5.1 percent. That is 1 percentage point worse than the previous estimate that the recession reduced total output during that period by 4.1 percent.

The new estimates emerged from the annual revision of economic data prepared by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis and released Friday.

Among the previous 10 postwar recessions, output in only two dropped by more 3 percent. In the 1957-58 recession, the economy contracted 3.7 percent. And during the 1973-1975 downturn, the economy fell 3.2 percent from the start of the recession to the end.

The government attributed the bigger declines in output in part to weaker consumer spending and business investment than previously estimated.


ATLANTA (AP) - Public health officials say an outbreak of salmonella involving papayas has sickened four people in Gwinnett County and four more in other Georgia counties.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the state Department of Public Health says that besides the Gwinnett cases, two have been reported in Cherokee County and one each in Fulton and Dawson counties.

The federal Food and Drug Administration issued a recall Saturday for papayas from Agromod, a Texas-based company.

State health officials said they're working with the state Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on the produce recall in Georgia.

Health officials say those infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.


ATLANTA (Atlanta Journal Constitution, By D. Aileen Dodd and Ty Tagami) - "The signs of a slightly recovering economy can be seen in local public education as metro Atlanta districts prepare for classes to resume. Enrollment is growing in some districts, and so are job opportunities.

Districts are seeking to fill hundreds of jobs for teachers that are still available even as the last month of summer vacation dwindles for kids. Districts that have been laying off staff or saddling them with pay cuts are now beefing up thinning ranks in a wave of hiring that will continue through Labor Day. The news is especially good for math, science and special education teachers, who are traditionally in demand."

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ATLANTA (AP) - Utility regulators appeared poised Thursday to drop a plan that would have cut Georgia Power's profits if the utility exceeded its budget while building the first in a new wave of nuclear power plants.

Two members of the Georgia Public Service Commission praised an agreement reached this month between the subsidiary of the Southern Co., one of the nation's largest electricity generators, and PSC staffers. That deal could end three years of debate over how much financial exposure the state-regulated utility should face if it breaks its approved $6.1 billion construction budget.

The issue is potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Under state law, Georgia Power passes along its construction costs to its 2.4 million customers, meaning state residents will pay for the new plant even if it goes over budget. The state's elected utility regulators, who typically approve agreements struck between its staff and the power company, plan an Aug. 2 vote on whether to accept the deal.

"It's a fair and reasonable resolution to an issue that you've had before you for a long time," said Jeffrey Stair, a PSC attorney, during a committee meeting.

Georgia Watch, a consumer advocacy group, urged the commissioners to reject the agreement because it said Georgia Power would bear too little financial risk compared to the liabilities its customers might face. Cost overruns were endemic when utilities built the existing fleet of nuclear plants. For example, Georgia Power originally estimated it would cost $660 million to build the existing reactors at Plant Vogtle. When they finally started operating in the late 1980s, the final bill approached $9 billion.

"There's nothing about this stipulation that is good for ratepayers, let alone best for them," said Georgia Watch attorney Clare McGuire.


ATLANTA (AP) -The president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Rev. Howard Creecy Jr., has died seven months after taking office, the venerable civil rights group said Thursday.


SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A military jury has convicted a Georgia soldier who argued that he killed a superior in the Army Reserve because he was delirious from a crash diet. The jury of five fellow soldiers convicted 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Rashad Valmont on Thursday of premeditated murder in the June 2010 slaying of Master Sgt. Pedro Mercado. Both men served at Fort Gillem outside Atlanta, but Valmont's court-martial was moved to Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia. By Russ Bynum.

U.S. stocks are plunging after a dismal report on economic growth added to traders' fears about a stalemate over raising the country's borrowing limit.

The government said early Friday that economic growth in the first half of the year slowed to its weakest pace since the recession ended. High gas prices and government cutbacks dragged on the economy.

Concerns about Congress' failure to increase the nation's borrowing ability increased as House Republicans tried for the third straight day to round up votes for a bill that is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Shortly after the opening bell, the S&P 500 is down 14, or 1.1 percent, at 1,286. The Dow is down 120, or 1 percent, at 12,120. The Nasdaq is down 34, or 1.2 percent, at 2,732.