- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008

Regional

U A post-September 11 program to provide special identification cards to every worker with access to seaports could face more delays because workers are not getting help when they apply. The contractor, Bethesda-based, is taking 16 minutes to answer calls to the help desk instead of the three-minute standard the government requires, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

repeated to shareholders its interest in growing its business in other tobacco categories as domestic cigarette sales continue to decline because of concerns about health, smoking bans and price increases. Chief Executive Michael Szymanczyk assured shareholders that Altria’s Richmond-based Philip Morris unit will still be able to build market share in the declining cigarette business.

National

U One of the biggest corporate casualties of the global credit crisis, , is about to vanish into history. The company brought to the verge of bankruptcy amid heavy mortgage-related losses is expected to become part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. after a vote today by Bear Stearns shareholders.

U says one of its own executives will run its consumer real estate business after it acquires mortgage lender . As part of the changes, current Countrywide President David Sambol will retire and BofA plans to have Barbara Desoer, who has been its chief technology and operations officer, oversee its home lending business.

U Light, sweet crude for July delivery rose $2.18 to settle at $131.03 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as threats against Nigerian oil facilities led investors to set aside concerns about falling U.S. gas demand. At the pump, meanwhile, rose to a record over $3.94 a gallon.

U will leave at the end of August and return to teaching at Columbia University. His departure leaves the Fed with just four of its seven board seats filled.

U announced plans to cut its water consumption by one-fifth by 2012 as part of its companywide conservation program, called “ecomagination,” begun in 2005. The company also raised its goal of selling environmentally friendlier products to $25 billion by 2010, a 25 percent rise from its projection three years ago.

U said it will cut more than half of its U.S. hourly work force, or 2,000 jobs, through early retirement and buyout offers, plant closures and layoffs.

U A federal jury awarded $250 million in a patent dispute with medical device rival A jury in Marshall, Texas, found that Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific infringed on three Medtronic patents covering technology to implant heart stents used in artery-clearing surgery.

U An experimental drug from does not significantly lower bleeding in patients with a rare blood disorder, according to the Food and Drug Administration. British drug maker Glaxo is seeking approval for Promacta to treat a disorder that prevents patients’ blood from clotting.

U unveiled a prototype of an in-store kiosk for downloading movies at its annual meeting, part of its plan to transform into more than just a DVD rental chain. The company is also working on allowing customers to download movies through set-top boxes or Internet Protocol television, or IPTV.

U Delivery giant said it would cut 1,500 to 1,800 jobs and shrink its package-sorting operation by more than one third. The company also said it was discussing a deal with rival to handle air transport for its express and international business.

U A federal appeals court in New Orleans revived lawsuits against military contractors filed by relatives of civilian truck drivers killed in Iraq. Truckers and their families sued and its former subsidiary,, over a deadly ambush in 2004 that killed six KBR drivers and wounded others. A federal judge in Houston threw out the lawsuits, saying the judiciary can’t second-guess the military’s battlefield decisions.

U Fliers, let go of the pretzels and peanuts. In what could be the ultimate cost-cutting move by airlines buffeted by rising fuel prices, said it will eliminate free snacks in coach class on all its domestic flights starting June 1. The airline is still providing complimentary soft drinks.

International

U suspended grain exports and relaunched road blockades nationwide, trying to overturn export taxes that have sparked waves of protests. Argentina is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of beef and the third-largest exporter of soy.

U China will cut on pork and some types of animal feed and cooking oil, the government said, in an apparent move to increase food supplies and cool stubbornly high inflation. The move adds to mounting government efforts to rein in food prices that surged 22.1 percent in April, threatening to fuel possible unrest ahead of this summer’s Beijing Olympics.

U is set to slow this year as government policies discourage investment, Alberto Ramos, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., wrote in a report. The country’s growth may slow to a range of 5 percent to 5.5 percent this year, down from an 8.4 percent pace in 2007, Mr. Ramos said.

U was fined $16.2 million for fixing the price of aspirin and other over-the-counter medications in Germany. Bayer Vital, a subsidiary of the ompany, made illegal deals with more than half of Germany’s 21,000 pharmacies, Germany’s cartel office said.

U Italian airline posted a 2007 loss of about $780 million for 2007 and appealed for new capital to keep flying. The airline attributed the losses were due to the rising cost of fuel, competition from low-cost carriers, labor tensions that deter passengers and a devaluation of its fleet.

U said it will not shift its remaining long-haul flights to Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 until after the busy summer period. Heathrow owner BAA revealed it had spent $47.5 million opening the problem-plagued terminal.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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