Thursday PM July 3rd, 2008

Continental Airlines is calling a French manslaughter indictment "outrageous and completely unjustified." A French judge ordered the Houston-based airline and five people to stand trial for manslaughter in the 2000 crash of a Concorde jet that killed 113 people. Two of the people to be tried are Continental employees. Two others were employed by the SST's maker, French company Aerospatiale. The fifth is an employee of the French Civilian Aviation Authority. The Air France Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport in July 2000, killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground when it slammed into a hotel. French investigators blamed a titanium strip on the runway from a Continental Airlines DC-10. Continental spokeswoman Julie King says "Continental remains firmly convinced that neither it nor its employees were the cause of the Concorde tragedy and we will defend ourselves vigorously against these charges."


Many more job cuts are likely at American Airlines as the nation's biggest carrier struggles to survive soaring fuel costs. American announced up to 900 flight attendant cuts yesterday that will start on August 31st, but that appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. The airline says it expects to shed about eight percent of its total workforce of more than 85,000 workers. That means the number of job cuts would be more than 6,800. American plans to cut domestic capacity somewhere between 11 to 12 percent in the fall. The planned job cuts follow announcements of similar reductions at other major carriers. American lost $328 million in the first quarter of this year, and analysts expect it to post a loss of about $330 million in the just-concluded second quarter.


The U.S. Attorney's Office is charging the owner of a rag factory with knowingly hiring and employing undocumented workers. The rag factory was raided last week by immigration officials who detained more than 160 suspected illegal immigrants working in Action Rags USA. A statement from U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle says the owner and four supervisors were involved in a pattern and practice of hiring undocumented workers and knowingly accepting false documents as proof of citizenship. All five are expected to make appearances in court Friday before a federal judge.


CEO confidence in the economy dropped 11.8 percent in June, according to CEO Index produced by Chief Executive magazine, as reported in the Houston Business Journal. Components of the index include current, future, business, investment and employment. Employment and investment were hit hardest.


The European Central Bank has raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point--to 4.25 percent--in an effort put a lid on inflation in the 15-nation Euro Zone. While some worry that a rate increase could dampen growth, the ECB president says the fundamentals of Europe's economy "are sound." He says the focus needs to be on inflation, which hit a record four percent in June. Inflation has been troubling central banks around the world as commodity prices--including oil and food--have spiked in a surge of new global demand.


In an effort to cut energy use, the state of Utah is giving its employees a longer weekend. Utah is about to become the first state to switch to a four-day workweek for thousands of government employees. Workers will put in ten-hour days, Monday through Thursday, and have Fridays off. Their pay will stay the same, but they'll have an extra day to golf, shop or spend time with the kids. The order issued by Governor Jon Huntsman covers about 17,000 of Utah's 4,000 executive branch employees. State police officers, prison guards, court employees and public university workers aren't covered by the new rules. While many people are excited about the plan, it could prove inconvenient for those who need to use state services and find certain offices closed on Fridays. The effort is expected to save the state millions in energy costs.


 

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