Computer blamed in outage
CHICAGO — United Airlines said a piece of computer hardware was behind the technology meltdown that delayed 580 flights and shut down its website for more than two hours. The outage on Tuesday prevented workers from boarding passengers on time. United passengers reported long lines in the airline's hubs in Newark, N.J., San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago. It also caused nine cancellations. The problem was a piece of hardware in a data center that failed to communicate properly with other computer equipment, said Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for United Continental Holdings Inc. A backup system failed to take over for the troubled hardware.
New sets to out-do HDTVs
NEW YORK — High-definition TVs roughly quadrupled the resolution of the sets that came before them. Now, the industry is poised to do it again. By December U.S. stores will sell a TV set with four times the resolution of today's best HDTVs, Sony Corp. said Wednesday. The set will measure 84 inches on the diagonal, making the screen area four times as large as the common 42-inch set. Executives said Sony will reveal the price of the set next week. There is, for now, very little video content available that can take advantage of the higher resolution. With some work and know-how, a computer connected to the set can display video in the ultra-HD “4K” resolution. The set will also do its best to “upscale” TV, DVD and Blu-ray movies, so they look better.
Artists oppose N.Y. fracking
NEW YORK — Yoko Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, on Wednesday launched a coalition of artists, musicians and filmmakers who oppose hydraulic fracturing in New York state. The formation of the group Artists Against Fracking was announced at a news conference in Manhattan with Ono, Lennon and Mark Ruffalo, who has long been outspoken on the issue. Other celebrities joining the coalition's cause include Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney and Alec Baldwin. The group's formation comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to decide whether to allow shale gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing — known as hydrofracking, or fracking — after four years of studying its health and environmental impacts. The process uses millions of gallons of chemically treated water to blast open gas-rich shale deposits deep underground.
Trade secrets theft nets 4 years
CHICAGO — A federal judge sentenced a Chinese-born American Wednesday to four years in prison for stealing millions of dollars in trade secrets from Motorola, describing her as a soft-spoken, unassuming woman who carried out a “very purposeful raid” on the company in the dead of night. In a barely audible voice and heavily accented English, 41-year-old Hanjuan Jin told the judge she was “so sorry for what happened” and pleaded for a second chance. Her lawyers had argued that she took the files merely to refresh her knowledge after a long absence from work and was not spying for China. They appealed for leniency and asked that Jin receive probation, in part because of her poor health. But U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo said it was important to send a message that would deter others.
Biggest lenders provide relief
WASHINGTON — Five of the biggest U.S. lenders have reduced struggling homeowners' mortgage balances by $1.3 billion and provided a total $10.6 billion in relief under a landmark settlement over foreclosure abuses. The monitor overseeing the $25 billion settlement says the banks provided the relief in the first four months of the three-year program. In his first progress report, Joseph Smith Jr. discloses that $8.7 billion of the $10.6 billion in relief was in the form of short sales, in which lenders agree to accept less than what the seller owes on the mortgage. Bank of America Corp., which is required by the settlement to provide the largest portion of the relief, $8.6 billion, hadn't completed any modifications, according to the report.
Refunds ordered in e-book sales
NEW YORK — Attorneys general in 55 jurisdictions who claim there was a conspiracy to fix prices of electronic books say they've gotten on board with a $69 million settlement of antitrust claims against three publishers. Publishers Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Shuster had earlier settled with the U.S. government. News releases from attorneys general in 55 states, districts and territories Wednesday said $69 million will be paid to consumers who bought electronic books from the publishers between April 1, 2010, and May 21. Payments are to begin a month after a court approves the deal. The publishers also will pay $7.5 million to the states to cover costs. Hachette denied it was in a conspiracy but said it changed its pricing structure.
France offers help in hiring
PARIS — The French government wants companies to hire young people so much that it's offering to pick up the tab. President Francois Hollande told his Cabinet Wednesday that he wants to wage a war on unemployment and unveiled a plan for the government to pay most of the salaries of tens of thousands of young people hired next year. Unemployment in France is 10 percent, but nearly 23 percent for those under the age of 25. That's an imbalance that many European countries are struggling with. In Spain youth unemployment is over 52 percent. It's 34 percent in Italy.
Pemex finds deep-water oil
MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Felipe Calderon says the country's state-owned oil company has made its first large-scale discovery of deep-water oil deposits in the Gulf of Mexico. Calderon says Pemex drilled a roughly three-mile exploratory well and now hopes to verify the existence of 250 million to 400 million barrels of light oil in the area known as Perdido. The field is about 24 miles from U.S. waters. Calderon says a deposit of that size would be equal to a third of Pemex's annual petroleum production.
From Wire reports