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WARNING ISSUED ON RECHARGING BATTERIES: As a warning against overcharging toys with lithium batteries, a government safety agency said Tuesday there have been dozens of recent reports of remote-controlled helicopters catching fire while being charged. Rechargeable lithium batteries are increasingly used in toys, but overcharging the batteries, which hold lots of energy in a small package, can result in overheating, fire or an explosion, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. Citing incidents of minor burns and minor property damage, the agency said there have been 26 reports since November of remote-controlled helicopters igniting while being charged and one report of a toy helicopter igniting during flight.The agency is asking consumers to follow manufacturers' instructions when charging toys with rechargeable lithium batteries. It also gives some safety recommendations:

Do not leave the toy unattended while charging it.

Charge the device on a nonflammable surface, and keep it away from flammable items.

Turn the charger off when the toy's battery is charged, and always unplug it from the toy.

Disconnect AC wall chargers from outlets when not in use.

On the Net: For more information, go to the commission's Web site,

www.cpsc.gov

LEVIS POSTS BEST YEAR IN DECADE: Levi Strauss & Co. shook off a sales slowdown in the United States late last year to boost its profit for the ninth-straight quarter and cap the jeans maker's best year in more than a decade. The San Francisco-based company said Tuesday that it earned $267 million during its fiscal fourth quarter ended Nov. 25, more than double the $96 million profit for the same time in 2006. Although it's privately owned by the descendants of its founder, Levi Strauss releases its financial results because some of its debt is publicly traded. Most of Levi's fourth-quarter earnings gain stemmed from changes in the company's tax accounting, driven by its improving performance and revisions made after discussions with the Internal Revenue Service.

UPGRADE KNOCKS OUT BLACKBERRY E-MAIL: The company behind the BlackBerry smart phones said a three-hour e-mail outage Monday was caused by an upgrade designed to increase capacity. Research in Motion Ltd. Tuesday said the upgrade was part of "routine and ongoing efforts," and that similar upgrades in the past had caused no problems. The outage, which started about 12:30 p.m., annoyed subscribers who are used to checking and writing e-mail whenever they're in cellular coverage and able to make voice calls. It affected only some of the BlackBerry users in North America. For others, the service kept working fully. It was the second major outage for the service in less than a year. In April, a software upgrade crashed the system. An outage in September also was caused by a software glitch.

BEE NEWS SERVICES

Figuratively Speaking

94.1: Percentage of executives in the United States who report current or impending shortages of quality leadership talent, according to a survey conducted by Stanton Chase International and Birkman International.

90.4: Percentage who perceive a gap in talent between baby boomers (current corporate leaders) and the younger generations.

48: Percentage who say this shortage critically or significantly affects their organizations' senior management level.

29: Percentage of a movie theater's revenue that is generated though concession stands, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

66: Percentage that is generated through ticket sales.

JOHN MacINTYRE,

UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

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