Ignition problem spurs GM recall
DETROIT — General Motors is recalling almost 780,000 older-model compact cars in North America because a faulty ignition switch can shut off the engines without warning and cause crashes. The company says six people have died in 22 crashes linked to the problem in Chevrolet Cobalts from the 2005 through 2007 model years, and Pontiac G5s from 2007. A heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can move the ignition switch out of the run position, cutting off the engine and electrical power, GM said in statements and documents released Thursday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If that happens, the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash. GM says the six fatalities occurred in five front-end crashes, all of which happened off-road and at high speeds.
Facebook adds gender options
MENLO PARK, Calif. — You don’t have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant has added a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them. Facebook said the changes initially cover the company’s 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual. Facebook, which has 1.23 billion active monthly users around the world, also allows them to keep their gender identity private and will continue to do so.
Coal ash spill prompts inquiry
RALEIGH, N.C. — Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into a massive coal ash spill into a North Carolina river, demanding that Duke Energy and state regulators hand over reams of documents related to the accident that left a waterway polluted with tons of toxic sludge. The U.S. attorney’s office in Raleigh issued grand jury subpoenas seeking records from Duke and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The subpoenas seek emails, memos and reports related to the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River and the state’s oversight of the company’s 30 other coal ash dumps in North Carolina.
J.C. Penney replaces finance chief
PLANO, Texas — J.C. Penney has replaced its chief financial officer, the latest move by the struggling department store operator as tries to improve its results. Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah, 45, is leaving the company and will be replaced by Ed Record, 45. He was previously chief operating officer at department store chain Stage Stores. The move is effective March 24. Record will be responsible for J.C. Penney Co.’s financial operations and will report to CEO Mike Ullman. Hannah will remain CFO during the transition. The company did not give a reason for his departure.
Volkswagen workers eye UAW
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Thursday stood by his statements that Volkswagen is ready to announce it will expand its lone U.S. plant in Chattanooga if workers there reject the United Auto Workers. But the Tennessee Republican said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that he didn’t inquire whether the German automaker would scrap plans to build a new midsized SUV at the plant if the UAW wins. About 1,500 workers at the plant are eligible to cast votes in the three-day union election that ends Friday. Corker declined to say whom at Volkswagen he had spoken to and how they were in a position to know what the German automaker’s decision would be.
Google stays mum on acquisitions
SAN FRANCISCO — Google is becoming more secretive about its acquisitions as the company hunts for innovations and engineering talent to help shape the future of technology. The subtle change surfaced this week in Google’s 2013 annual report. Google Inc. didn’t quantify the total number of deals it closed last year in the regulatory filing, marking the first time the company has withheld that detail since going public in 2004. Google only said it spent a combined $489 million on all deals besides its purchase of mapping service Waze. The Waze deal was so large that government regulations prompted Google to break out the $969 million price it paid. While Google has always revealed the prices it has paid in big acquisitions, the company regularly provided a running tally of how many smaller deals it had been closing. In its annual report covering 2012, Google disclosed that it bought Motorola Mobility for $12.4 billion and paid an additional $1.17 billion to complete 52 other deals. In 2011, Google listed a total of 79 deals costing a combined $2 billion. Google didn’t respond to requests seeking an explanation for the change in the way it discloses its acquisitions.
From Wire Reports