A Mother's Day Nightmare

Article excerpt

MIAMI (AP) -- After months of watching their profit margins slashed by rising fuel and energy costs, some in the flower business are gearing up for brisk Mother's Day sales. But they warn it won't be coming up roses for consumers who may see higher prices.

"Flowers from Ecuador and Colombia are flown up here, and we're seeing increases in the cost of that," said Peter J. Moran, executive vice president and chief executive of the Society of American Florists. "Once they hit Miami they're either flown or trucked, and those fuel costs have definitely impacted the industry."

Last year, 365 million pounds of fresh cut flowers came into the United States, with 85 percent of them coming through Miami, said Bunny Schreiber, a Miami International Airport spokeswoman.

The sense now among some in the industry is that consumers, if they haven't already, may soon see those higher transportation costs passed on to them in the form of higher prices. "We're sharing the increase of fuel costs with our customers and they know it," said Morey Moss, owner of Berkeley Florist Supply Co. in Miami. He said that in the past it cost him about 6 cents for each rose he imported, but now that's doubled. He said it costs about $1.30 per 2.5 pounds of flowers to ship them out of Quito, Ecuador. Several months ago he was paying 80 cents for the same flowers. "It's a nightmare," Moss said.

Cheering chess

NEW YORK (AP) -- The boys of summer are finally slugging, catching and pitching again. The hoopsters and hockey players are gunning for their championships. But as the jocks take center stage on the small screen, it's a very different kind of sport -- chess -- that's about to get a jolt from Hollywood.

The Luzhin Defence puts chess front and center in a major motion picture for the first time since Searching for Bobby Fisher sparked a renewed interest in kings, queens and pawns. "Chess has this reputation, when it comes to film, which it doesn't deserve," says Marleen Gorris, the movie's director. "It works just as well as any other sport in a film."

The movie comes at an opportune time. Sometimes considered the domain of college brainiacs and the high school pocket-protector crowd, chess seems to be enjoying a more widespread revival of late. The United States Chess Federation, a not-for-profit membership organization, reached an all-time high of 90,367 members in March -- an increase of more than 1,500 from the previous high of 88,834 in March 2000. Much of that is due to a rise in interest from young people, like the more than 4,000 elementary, junior high and high school students from 46 states who competed in last weekend's Super- Nationals II in Kansas City.

"It seems to be a challenge that young people are taking on," says Steven Schwartz, general manager of the New York-based Your Move Chess & Games, which bills itself as the nation's largest chess store.

The chess federation also counts celebrities among its ranks, including Nicolas Cage, Ringo Starr, Chevy Chase, Rosie O'Donnell and Will Smith. Even jocks are playing chess -- members of the New York Yankees and Mets have showed their interest, as have New York Knicks Larry Johnson, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston and Kurt Thomas.

And that's the way it was

NEW YORK (AP) -- Today is the 123rd day of 2001. There are 242 days left in the year. Here are some business and legal highlights from this date in history:

On May 3, 1802, Washington D.C. was incorporated as a city.

In 1921, West Virginia imposed the first state sales tax.

In 1937, Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Gone With the Wind.

In 1944, U.S. wartime rationing of most grades of meats ended.

In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that covenants prohibiting the sale of real estate to blacks or members of other racial groups were legally unenforceable. …