- - Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DETROIT — Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that the throttles can stick on Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and cause them to crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents that the investigation includes 730,000 Escapes and Tributes from the 2001 to 2004 model years. The recalled SUVs all have six-cylinder engines.

The safety agency says it has received 99 complaints about the problem. The agency says there were 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death.

The throttles on the SUVs can fail to return to idle when the driver takes his foot off the gas pedal. The agency is investigating whether some of the complaints stem from repairs made on a previous recall.

AIRLINES

United pilots vote to authorize strike

CHICAGO — Pilots at United Airlines say they could go on strike after two years of failed negotiations on a new contract at the airline formed through a combination with Continental.

The Air Line Pilots Association said Tuesday that of the pilots who voted, 99 percent authorized a strike.

Federal law includes many obstacles to strikes among airline workers, and the vote doesn’t mean pilots will be walking off the job anytime soon.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the airline expected a strike vote, which is “not uncommon at this point in negotiations.”

The National Mediation Board has not declared an impasse in negotiations, a necessary precursor to a legal strike. If the board, which has been mediating the negotiations, determines talks are deadlocked, it could start a 30-day countdown toward a legal strike or lockout. The pilots’ union has asked the board to take that step.

Even if the board cleared the way for a strike, Congress or the president could block it to prevent disruption in a key industry.

FACTORIES

Industrial production rose in June

U.S. industrial production rose in June as factories made more cars, machines and business equipment, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. Factory output recovered to levels reached earlier this spring but appears to be leveling off.

Factory output rose 0.7 percent last month, after falling by the same amount in May, the Fed said. Factories produced more machines and vehicles used by businesses. Production of consumer goods edged higher. Auto production rebounded after its first decline of the year.

Overall industrial production, which includes mining and utilities, rose 0.4 percent in June. Mining activity increased 0.7 percent, while utility output fell 1.9 percent.

June’s strong results follow a period of shaky growth for the factory sector, which is a crucial contributor to economic expansion. Factory output fell in two of the past four months.

CHINA

Former Treasury chief plays down anti-China rhetoric

Former U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson expressed doubt Tuesday that election year criticism of China would hurt ties but said the world’s two largest economies need to improve relations.

President Obama has boasted on the campaign trail of confronting China over U.S. jobs, while presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney has lashed out at Beijing and accused Mr. Obama of being a “supplicant” to the communist giant.

Mr. Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush, said heated words were nothing new in election campaigns, telling an audience in Washington: “I think the important thing is to look through the rhetoric.”

“I don’t believe that either candidate wants to make China a focus of the campaign because I think they know that we need to cooperate with China on a whole range of areas,” he said at the Atlantic Council.

“I think you’ve got nationalism in both countries. Nationalism plays.”

But he added: “When you look at both President Obama and Mitt Romney and the position they’ve taken, they have argued for a level playing field and a competition according to the global trade rules and made very clear that they want to do that without having a trade war.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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