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MIDSIZED CARS IMPROVE IN CRASH TESTS: Several midsized cars have made strides in protecting motorists in side crashes through standard air bags and improved designs, the insurance industry reports. Crash test results released today by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave top scores in front-end and side-impact crashes to the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, Dodge Avenger, Nissan Altima, Infiniti G35 and Mitsubishi Galant. The 2008 Kia Optima received the highest score in front-end tests and the second-highest score in the side test. David Zuby, the institute's senior vice president, said 10 similar vehicles tested in 2004 without side air bags received the lowest rating of "poor" in the side tests. In rear-end testing, the results were mixed. The Optima was the only vehicle tested to receive a top rating, followed by the Avenger, which received the second-highest score of "acceptable." Four of the vehicles -- G35, Altima, Malibu and Aura -- received the second-lowest score of "marginal" and the Galant received the lowest rating of "poor." For more information, go to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Web site at www.iihs.org

HALF-MILLION TOYOTA VEHICLES RECALLED: Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 539,500 Corolla and Matrix passenger cars because the bolts in the power window system can become loose and ultimately cause the windows to shatter. Toyota said Wednesday that it had received reports of 143 such problems, but there were no injuries. The recall involves 2003-04 model year Corolla and Matrix vehicles equipped with power windows. Vehicles with manual windows are not part of the recall. Toyota will notify owners of the recall late this month. For more information, owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or go to the company's Web site at www.toyota.com.

GOOGLE TO USE AD SPACE ON YAHOO: Yahoo Inc. will surrender some of its advertising space to Internet search leader Google Inc. in a test that appears designed to frustrate Yahoo's unsolicited suitor, Microsoft Corp. The experiment announced Wednesday will allow Google to place ads tied to about 3 percent of the queries made in the United States through Yahoo's search engine -- the Internet's second-largest after Google. Without specifying a start date, Yahoo said the Google tests will last for as long as two weeks. The Sunnyvale-based company said it hasn't decided to join the thousands of other Web sites that rely on Google to handle most text-based advertising tied to search requests or other content. The possibility of Yahoo working with the Internet's most profitable company throws a twist into its efforts to evade Microsoft or extract a higher offer. Yahoo insists that it's worth more than the initial bid of $44.6 billion, or $31 per share, that Microsoft made more than two months ago. But Microsoft hasn't budged.

EMERGENCY TEXT MESSAGE ALERTS IN THE WORKS: Federal regulators Wednesday approved a plan to create a nationwide emergency alert system using text messages delivered to cell phones. The plan stems from the Warning Alert and Response Network Act, a 2006 federal law that requires upgrades to the nation's emergency alert system. Participation in the alert system by carriers is voluntary, but it has received solid support from the wireless industry. Cell phone subscribers would be able to opt out of the program. They also may not be charged for receiving alerts. There would be three types of messages, according to the rules. The first would be a national alert from the president, likely involving a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The second would involve "imminent threats," which could include natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes or even university shootings. The third would be reserved for child abduction emergencies, so-called Amber Alerts. The alerts would be delivered with a unique audio signature or "vibration cadence." The service could be in place by 2010.

BEE NEWS SERVICES

Figuratively Speaking

70: Percentage of American white-collar workers who say they feel "inundated with information" at their workplace, according to a survey conducted by LexisNexis

41: Percentage who say they feel they are headed for an information "breaking point"

68: Percentage who say they wish they could spend less time organizing information and more time using what information comes their way

85: Percentage who say that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a "huge time-waster"

JOHN MacINTYRE,

UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

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