Billy Graham association laying off 10 percent of staff
CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is laying off nearly 50 workers, or about 10 percent of its staff, as it shifts focus to its online ministry and other initiatives.
The Charlotte Observer reports this is the second time in three years that the 62-year-old organization has cut jobs.
Spokesman Brent Rhinehart says some of the affected employees will work through mid-March, while others will stay on into June. Fewer than 20 of the layoffs will affect the association's operations in Charlotte, where it's based.
The organization currently has about 500 employees spread across dozens of programs, ranging from the Billy Graham Library to online evangelism.
Mr. Rhinehart says the workers losing their jobs are getting severance packages and career assistance.
About 55 workers were let go in 2009.
Judge allows El Paso Corp. takeover to proceed
WILMINGTON — A state judge has decided against blocking Kinder Morgan Inc.'s $23.5 billion acquisition of El Paso Corp. despite claims by some investors that El Paso executives had undervalued the company to make it more attractive.
Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. of the Delaware Court of Chancery wrote in an opinion published Wednesday that it should be left to El Paso shareholders to approve the deal.
"El Paso stockholders should not be deprived of the chance to decide for themselves about the merger, despite the disturbing nature of some of the behavior leading to its terms," Chancellor Strine said.
Last October, Kinder Morgan said it planned to take over El Paso. It would spin off El Paso's production business while keeping its pipelines to become America's largest natural gas pipeline operator. Kinder Morgan would control more than 80,000 miles of pipelines, allowing the company to negotiate more lucrative supply deals around the country.
A group of El Paso investors opposed the takeover. They argued that El Paso CEO Doug Foshee didn't negotiate the best price for the company because he also was interested in a side deal with Kinder Morgan to buy El Paso's production business.
"In other words, when El Paso's CEO was supposed to be getting the maximum price from Kinder Morgan, he actually had an interest in not doing that," Chancellor Strine wrote.
'Blackout in a can' lands under review
A carbonated brew guzzled on college campuses is the focus of an intense write-in campaign urging federal regulators to take some buzz out of a sweet alcoholic drink sometimes referred to as "blackout in a can."
The Federal Trade Commission is looking at a wave of complaints about the popular fruit-flavored malt liquor Four Loko. Under review is the amount of alcohol in the brightly colored, supersized cans and how they are marketed.
The drink gained national attention in 2010 following the hospitalization of college students in New Jersey and Washington state. Some states banned the drink, worried about the caffeine in Four Loko and its potential to mask how much alcohol one could safely consume. Amid a crackdown by the Food and Drug Administration, the drink's makers removed the caffeine and started selling Four Loko without the energy kick but with plenty of alcohol.
The FTC charges that the drink's creator, Chicago-based Phusion Projects, has implied in ads that its 23.5-ounce can is equal to one or two regular 12-ounce beers. The agency says the can, which contains up to 12 percent alcohol, is really more like four to five beers and shouldn't be consumed in one sitting.
Couple's Waldorf hotel return to cost 1952 rate
NEW YORK — A Connecticut couple will mark their 60th wedding anniversary at New York's Waldorf-Astoria for the same $16.80 per night they paid on their honeymoon.
Isidore and Joan Schwartz, of East Lyme, Conn., still have their hotel bill from March 2, 1952.
Today, rooms at the Waldorf start at $319 a night.
The hotel charges the original room rate for returning guests celebrating a milestone. It says two to three couples a year take advantage of the deal.
The former New Yorkers met on a blind date in 1950. Their wedding reception was on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Mrs. Schwartz tells the New York Daily News that it cost $4.75 a head for a catered steak dinner and ice sculpture decorations.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports