SETTLEMENT IN TAINTED PET FOOD CASE: A pet food maker whose contaminated product may have led to the deaths of thousands of dogs and cats in North America has agreed to settle lawsuits with pet owners in the United States and Canada. Streetsville, Ontario-based Menu Foods Income Fund announced the tentative settlements Tuesday. Amy W. Schulman, a lawyer for Menu, said she could not disclose how much the settlements would be worth, but the company said it expects its costs associated with the widespread recall of its products last year to be about $53.8 million. The company's pet foods are produced in bulk and sold as store brands. In March 2007, Menu recalled tens of millions of containers of pet food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found melamine, a chemical used to make plastics, in samples of Menu Foods' products. The melamine was traced to contaminated wheat gluten imported from China. The discoveries solved the mystery of why so many seemingly healthy pets died in the previous months. U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman set a May 14 hearing to consider the agreement.
TRUCKERS PROTEST HIGH FUEL COSTS: Tons of freight idled across the country Tuesday as independent truckers pulled their rigs off the road while others slowed to a crawl on major highways in a loosely organized protest of high fuel prices. Using CB radios and trucking Web sites, some truckers called for a strike Tuesday to protest the high cost of diesel fuel, hoping the action might pressure President Bush to stabilize prices by using the nation's oil reserves. "The gas prices are too high," said Lamont Newberne, a trucker from Wilmington, N.C., who along with 200 drivers protested at a New Jersey Turnpike service area. "We don't make enough money to pay our bills and take care of our family." On the Turnpike, southbound rigs "as far as the eye can see" staged a short lunchtime protest by moving about 20 mph near Newark, jamming traffic on one of the nation's most heavily traveled highways, authorities said. By day's end, the protests ended up scattered. Major trucking companies were not on board, and Teamsters union officials and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association denied organizing the protests.
RECORD FINANCIAL JOB LOSS PREDICTED: The U.S. financial industry has been shedding jobs at a record clip, and some analysts predict the pace will accelerate over the next 18 months as banks cut costs in the face of the housing market slump and the weak economy. Analysts at the financial research firm Celent LLC said in a report Tuesday that they expect the U.S. commercial banking industry -- essentially, all companies that lend or collect deposits -- to lose 200,000 of its 2 million jobs over the next 12 to 18 months. An annual loss of 200,000 jobs at the nation's commercial banks would be an unprecedented number. In 2007, the entire financial services sector -- which consists of mostly commercial banks -- announced job cuts that totaled a record 153,000, according to the job placement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. More than half of those cuts were in the mortgage-lending business, and they occurred all over the country, particularly in New York and California.
PG&E BUILDING SOLAR POWER PLANTS: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is planning to build three large solar power plants in the Mojave Desert. The three installations will generate enough electricity for more than 375,000 homes. They'll be designed and built by BrightSource Energy Inc. of Oakland, with the first plant starting operation as early as 2011. Under state law, all three of California's large, investor-owned utilities have until the end of 2010 to ensure that 20 percent of the power they deliver to customers comes from such renewable resources as the sun and the wind. Dozens of projects have been proposed for the Mojave Desert.
BEE NEWS SERVICES
43: Percentage of wealthy business owners who say they enjoy their work so much that they want to work until age 70 or later, according to a survey conducted by PNC Wealth Management.
33: Percentage who say they have written succession plans in place that would ease the transition of their business to family or other business associates.
61: Percentage who strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, "I will continue to work, no matter how much money I have."
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