THE WEATHER: The Icy Grip Tightens

Never before in this century had the nation been so much at the mercy of its weather. Man, animal and machine in many parts of the country were immobilized under a heavy blanket of snow and ice. A dire shortage of natural gas —long predicted and long ignored —forced the closing of hundreds of schools and businesses and drove tens of thousands of people out of their unheated homes.

Economists estimate that millions have been laid off—in some cases only briefly—because of plant shutdowns. Just on the verge of recovering from its...

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