IBM Corp. and cell phone maker Motorola Inc. unveiled plans Wednesday to cut thousands of jobs. IBM is laying off 1,570 people, primarily from an ongoing overhaul of operations in its giant technology services unit. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company carried out a similar level of job cuts at the beginning of the month, for a total of 3,023 in this quarter and 3,720 for the year, according to IBM spokesman Edward Barbini. That amounts to roughly 1 percent of the company, which employed 355,000 people at the beginning of the year. But even these small numbers reflect a big project inside IBM to transform its business. Motorola Inc. said it will cut another 4,000 jobs as part of a plan aimed at improving sagging financial and operational results. The company already eliminated 3,500 jobs as part of a two-year cost-cutting plan to save $400-million. Those layoffs, announced in January, are to be completed by June 30, it said. The Schaumburg, Ill.-based company said it will save another $600-million in 2008 with the 4,000 cuts.
Earth-First plans 'bio-refinery'
Tampa-based EarthFirst Technologies said Wednesday it will develop a "bio-refinery'' in Illinois to produce biodiesel fuel from palm oil. The company is leasing an unused vegetable-oil facility and will retrofit it to produce biodiesel by November. EarthFirst's stock, which is traded over the counter, rose 1.5 cents to 6.5 cents per share Wednesday.
Vacation costs up 3.7%, AAA says Summer travelers already feeling the pinch of higher gas prices may find that lodging costs more, too. The AAA auto and travel association found in its annual vacation costs survey, released Wednesday, that combined lodging and restaurant costs were 3.7 percent higher than last year. The survey found that a family of two adults and two children could expect to pay an average of nearly $270 a day for food and lodging this summer. It said lodging rates averaged $152 a night, up nearly 8 percent from last year, while meals were projected at $118, down 1.3 percent. Michael Petrone, a AAA tourism executive, said that lodging rates were up because of higher demand. Both are affected by rising energy costs and higher salary and benefit costs, he said.
Faulty fax causes mass evacuation
A faulty bank fax printed a message that was misinterpreted as a bomb threat Wednesday, leading authorities to evacuate more than a dozen neighboring businesses and a day care center. The branch manager of the Bank of America called police about 10 a.m. after receiving a fax containing images of a lit match and a bomb with a fuse, bank spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said. But text explaining the fax was an internal bank promotion that failed to transmit. The missing text included the phrases "The countdown begins" and "Small business commitment week June 4-8," police said. A bomb squad searched the bank and checked out a suspicious package, which turned out to be documents, delivered about the same time.
Times staff and wires
Inflation still the main concern for Fed
While Fed officials said the downturn in housing was turning out to be more severe than expected, worries about inflation continued to dominate the May 9 discussions among Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues, according to minutes of the closed-door discussions released Wednesday.