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Bankruptcy bill heads for Senate approval

The Senate voted Wednesday to cut off debate on a bill that would make it harder for people to erase their debts in bankruptcy, clearing the way for final Senate approval this week.

The 80-19 procedural vote came after the bill's mostly Republican sponsors managed to defeat Democratic amendments that would have limited the ability of lenders to give credit cards to people under 21.

Florida's senators, both Democrats, split on the motion, with Bob Graham voting to cut off debate and Bill Nelson voting to continue it.

The bill, which has been championed by credit card companies and banks and which appears to have overwhelming support in the Senate, has already been approved in the House, and President Bush has signaled that he will sign it after it clears a House-Senate conference committee.

The bill would overhaul the nation's century-old bankruptcy system and prevent many people from wiping out credit card bills and other unsecured loans by filing for bankruptcy. President Bill Clinton vetoed a similar bill last year, describing it as too harsh on debtors.

Tobacco ad spending

soared after state pact

Cigarette advertising and promotions increased significantly after states settled lawsuits with tobacco companies in 1997 and 1998, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

A 1998 agreement between 46 states and tobacco companies imposed phased-in advertising restrictions on cigarette manufacturers, including limits on the use of outdoor advertising and the distribution of free samples.

But those provisions did not immediately keep tobacco companies from advertising their product.

The FTC posted a document on its Web site this week stating that the five largest cigarette manufacturers spent $8.2 billion on advertising and promotions in 1999, a 22 percent increase from 1998.

The industry's total expenditures were the most ever reported to the commission in one year, according to the report. The agency has been tracking such figures since 1967, according to FTC attorney Michael Ostheimer.

Ostheimer said it was important to note that some of the advertising restrictions had not taken effect in 1999 or were enacted a few months into the year.

Study: More men than

women at high salaries

Although nearly as many women as men have college degrees, men still far outnumber women in higher-income jobs, new Census Bureau estimates show.

Thirteen percent of full-time, year-round working men age 15 and older, 7.5-million workers, earned more than $75,000 a year, compared with 4 percent of women, or 1.5-million, in the same category, according to census figures being released today.

The data in today's report were not from the 2000 census, but from a separate annual survey taken last March.

Altered corn prompts

recall of corn dogs

A vegetarian-foods subsidiary of the Kellogg Co. recalled all its meatless corn dogs this week after its tests confirmed some of them contained a variety of genetically engineered corn that isn't approved for human consumption.