World and Nation

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With Vivendi Deal, GE Clears Path to Sale of NBC

General Electric has reached a tentative agreement that clears the way for the sale of NBC-Universal, including the flagship NBC network, to Comcast, according to people briefed on negotiations.

General Electric has reached a tentative agreement to buy Vivendi’s 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for about $5.8 billion, clearing the way for GE to sell control of the television and movie company to Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, in a deal that reflects the changing landscape of broadcast television.

While a deal between GE and Comcast still could hit a snag over price, it is considered highly likely because GE wants to sell NBC because of rising losses and Comcast wants to buy it so it can control more television programs and movies to offer viewers through its cable systems.

Woods Assumes Fault in Crash and Seeks Privacy

Tiger Woods said Sunday that the car accident that sent him to the hospital early Friday was his fault and “has become embarrassing” to him and his family.

“I’m human and I’m not perfect,” he said in a statement on, his Web site, before adding: “It’s a private matter, and I want to keep it that way.”

Woods and his lawyers again declined to talk to the Florida Highway Patrol about the car accident. But Woods, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, released the statement accepting responsibility for the accident around the same time that the police released a tape of a 911 call made Friday morning by a man who identified himself in the call as Woods’ neighbor.

In the statement, Woods took a contrite tone about the events that began at 2:25 a.m. Eastern on Friday and addressed the speculation — prompted by reports by The National Enquirer and others on gossip Web sites — about marital difficulties between Woods and his wife, Elin. On Friday, the Windermere, Fla., police chief, Daniel Saylor, said that Woods’ wife had used a golf club to break the rear window of the sport utility vehicle to help extricate Woods.

“Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible,” Woods said in the statement.

He added: “My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.”

Mammogram Safety Questioned For Young, High-Risk Women

For young women who have a high risk of breast cancer because of genetic mutations or family history, the radiation from yearly mammograms may make the risk even higher, researchers reported at a radiology conference on Monday.

The report is particularly troubling because it suggests that the very women who are told they need mammograms most may also be the most vulnerable to harm from them. Doctors routinely urge high-risk women to have mammograms earlier in life and more often than women judged to be at average risk.

Researchers caution that the new report is not conclusive, and that the issue needs more study.

High doses of radiation can increase the risk of breast cancer, especially in young women, but mammography uses a low dose. The American Cancer Society and many breast cancer experts say the benefits of screening far outweigh any theoretical risk from the radiation.

The findings come not from new research, but from an analysis of data from six earlier studies involving about 5,000 high-risk women in the United States and Europe, some who had breast cancer and some who did not. Their median age was 45.

After Dubai, Wondering Where The Next Debt Bombs Lurk

Like overstretched American homeowners, governments and companies across the globe are groaning under the weight of debts that, some fear, might never be fully paid back.

As Dubai, that one-time wonderland in the desert, struggles to pay its bills, a troubling question hangs over the financial world: Is this latest financial crisis an isolated event, or a harbinger of still more debt shocks?

For the moment, at least, global investors seem to be taking Dubai’s sinking fortunes in their stride.

But the travails of Dubai, a potent symbol of hyperwealth, nonetheless have some economists wondering where other debt bombs might be lurking — and just how dangerous they might turn out to be.

Big banks that have only just begun to recover from the financial shocks of last year are now nervously eyeing their potential exposure to highly indebted corporations and governments.

From the Baltics to the Mediterranean, the bills for an unprecedented borrowing binge are starting to fall due. In Russia and the former Soviet bloc, where high oil prices helped fuel blistering growth, a mountain of debt must be refinanced as short-term IOUs come due.

The numbers are startling. In Germany, long the bastion of fiscal rectitude in Europe, government debt is on the rise. There, the government debt outstanding is expected to increase to the equivalent of 77 percent of the nation’s economic output next year, from 60 percent in 2002. In Britain, that figure is expected to more than double over the same period, to more than 80 percent.