- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2008

Regional

Media General Inc., a Richmond newspaper publisher and television station operator, said it plans to sell network television stations in Florida and Louisiana to help reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet. The publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch said it signed agreements with Hoak Media Corp. to sell ABC station WMBB in Panama City, Fla., and NBC/CBS station KALB/NALB in Alexandria, La.

Navistar International Corp., BAE Systems PLC and Force Protection Inc., the largest makers of blast-resistant trucks for the U.S. military, won separate contracts with a combined value of $1.1 billion to build 2,243 more vehicles for the war in Iraq.

Giant Food, following a voluntary recall from Slade Gorton & Co., pulled from its shelves all one-pound packages of frozen langostinos because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes — a bacteria that can cause flu-like symptoms.

National

• Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein, a member of the group that dates business cycles in the U.S., said the nation has entered a recession that could be the worst since World War II. “I believe the U.S. economy is now in recession,” Mr. Feldstein, president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, told the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Fla.

• Moody’s Investors Service cut Washington Mutual Inc.’s credit rating and said the country’s largest savings and loan will need at least $4 billion more than it expected to cover bad mortgages in 2008. Investors sent WaMu’s shares down $1.54, or 12.7 percent, to close at $10.59.

Mortgage Lenders Network USA Inc., a bankrupt subprime lender that said “human error” contributed to its collapse, filed a liquidation plan that pays creditors owed $600 million as much as 15 cents on the dollar.

Climate legislation sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, could cost the U.S. economy as much as $2.9 trillion by 2050, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report. The costs are associated with developing technology to cut carbon emissions.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said nuclear power should be considered as an emissions-free energy source as the state attempts to reduce pollution linked to global warming. California law prevents new construction of nuclear power plants until the federal government approves a permanent repository for the waste

Microsoft Corp. reportedly met with Yahoo Inc. to discuss the software maker’s unsolicited takeover bid earlier this week, a breakthrough that could be the first step toward a friendly deal between the two rivals. The meeting occurred Monday near Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, according to a person familiar with the situation.

• The Food and Drug Administration ordered all imports of the blood thinner heparin, and its raw ingredient, stopped at the border for testing to detect a contaminant linked to 19 deaths. The FDA also said it received permission from the State Department to place eight staff members in China to help ensure that imported food and drugs are safe.

Friendly Ice Cream Corp. plans to eliminate artery-clogging trans fats from its more than 500 restaurants by this fall. The Wilbraham, Mass., chain issued a statement about its plans after the Center for Science in the Public Interest criticized Friendly’s for continuing to sell food with artificial trans fats.

• Credit woes that forced Dura Automotive Systems Inc. to slash its bankruptcy-exit financing are also taking a toll on the auto-parts supplier’s creditors, who can expect to recover far less on their claims than they expected. Dura said it expects its senior note holders to recover about 19 percent on their claims, down from the 55 percent they were promised earlier.

General Motors Corp. is recalling 207,542 Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix sedans over a risk they could catch fire, and warned their owners not to park the cars in garages until they are fixed. During hard braking, drops of oil can leak from the engine onto the exhaust manifold, and fires can start if the oil gets hot enough, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

Southwest Airlines Co., under fire for missing required aircraft inspections, dropped a plan to move some maintenance operations to El Salvador from the U.S.

US Airways Group Inc. rejected a request to begin talks on a separate contract with pilots who flew for the former America West Airlines before a 2005 merger.

Delta Air Lines‘ chief executive says the company will be overhauling its business plan to deal with soaring fuel prices. CEO Richard Anderson did not provide any details in a recorded message to employees.

• Lawyers for jailed former newspaper mogul Conrad Black appealed his case, saying federal prosecutors failed to muster adequate evidence that he defrauded anyone or tried to hide key documents. They told the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that the 62-year-old British baron should get his fraud and obstruction of justice convictions thrown out or at least get a new trial.

International

• The source of contaminants found in a German version of the blood-thinning drug heparin has been narrowed down to one possible supplier from China, manufacturer RotexMedica GmbH said. The German company, part of France’s Groupe Panpharma, recalled three batches of the drug last week after 80 dialysis patients were sickened.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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