Tuesday PM January 9th, 2007

United beats out Continental and other airlines for nonstop route to China...Crown Castle International subsidiary launches beta cellphone TV service...Kuwait recommends a judicial probe of fees charged Halliburton subsidiary to ship fuel to the U.S. military in Iraq...

Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Houston-based Continental Airlines are out of luck on the first-ever nonstop route to China. The federal government today tentatively awarded the daily U.S.-to-China route to United Airlines after a hotly fought competition. The Department of Transportation's approval gives United—at least initially--exclusive access to a burgeoning travel market that its competitors had also sought to enter. The suburban Chicago-based airline can begin nonstop service between Washington Dulles and Beijing on March 25th if the tentative decision becomes final. The Department of Transportation says interested parties have 14 days to file objections to the tentative decision. Also finishing out of the running with American and Continental was Northwest Airlines. American offered to fly between Dallas-Fort Worth and the Chinese capital. Continental had applied to fly between Newark, New Jersey, and Shanghai. Northwest wanted to fly between Detroit and Shanghai.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is awash with the latest technology and one local company is at the forefront, bringing live TV to cell phones. Charles Bornstein is there and has the details.

Charles Bornstein audio

Kuwaiti lawmakers recommended a judicial probe of fees a Halliburton subsidiary charged to ship fuel to the U.S. military in Iraq. The lawmakers approved a report by a parliamentary committee. That panel investigated the contract between the private Kuwaiti company Altanmia marketing and Halliburton subsidiary KBR. The panel recommended further investigation. Kuwait's cabinet is expected to refer parliament's findings to the prosecutor general. Parliament established the committee in February 2004 after lawmakers complained Altanmia's profits from the fuel deliveries were close to double those made by the state-owned Kuwaiti Petroleum Company. Kuwait was the launch pad for the war and remains a major logistics base for troops serving in Iraq. Altanmia has made no public comment. Houston-based Halliburton and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the fuel contract, have said the higher price was justified by dangers fuel convoys faced.

There's a new king of the hill atop Fortune's list of the 100 best companies to work for. Google makes its debut in the number-one position on Fortune's tenth annual list. The magazine says Google employees can enjoy free gourmet meals, do laundry, drop off dry cleaning, get an oil change or a massage--all onsite. Dropping from first place is Genentech, which comes in second for both the overall list and for best medium-sized companies. Wegmans food markets, which has been on the list all ten years, dropped one spot to number three. Two-thirds of a company's score is based on a survey of employees about things such as attitudes toward management, job satisfaction, and camaraderie. The remaining third comes from their evaluation of things like pay, benefits programs and opportunities.

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