Enron’s fall hurts state pensions

Washington, Georgia and Ohio have asked a federal judge in Texas to make them the lead plaintiffs in legal action against Enron in an attempt to recover at least $1 billion lost from the retirement funds of teachers, firefighters and other public employees. The retirement plans invested in Enron stock, once the darling of Wall Street before the company acknowledged it overstated profits and then went bankrupt.

Boeing Co. said it will continue to compete for a contract to build 40 fighter jets for South Korea’s air force, despite the country’s decision to delay its purchase because initial bids for the planes were higher than expected. Boeing is offering a version of its F-15 Eagle, built in St. Louis by the company’s Military Aircraft and Missile Systems division. The contract with South Korea is estimated at $4 billion.

China has issued its most intrusive Internet controls to date, ordering service providers to screen private e-mail for political content and holding them responsible for subversive postings on their Web sites. The order also makes it more difficult for software companies to do business in China. Software makers will now have to guarantee in writing that their products do not contain hidden programs that would allow spying or hacking into Chinese computers.

Dell Computer Corp. said Friday that surprisingly strong consumer sales will lift fourth-quarter earnings past Wall Street forecasts. Dell, the world’s leading maker of personal computers, said sales to consumers in the quarter ending Feb. 1 will grow 50 percent over the previous three months. That will push total sales, including those to business customers, to $8 billion, Dell said. Analysts had expected $7.6 billion in sales for the quarter.

The Transportation Department on Friday said Delta Air Lines and three foreign airlines could coordinate flights, set fares and sell each other’s tickets. The decision gives Delta, Air France, Italian carrier Alitalia and Czech Airlines immunity from U.S. antitrust laws. The airlines will remain independent. The agreement would allow a passenger to board a Europe-bound Delta flight in the United States and then seamlessly switch to one of the European carriers to complete the journey. The only limit on the decision involves flights between Paris and Atlanta or Cincinnati, because of Delta’s dominant role at airports in those two U.S. cities.

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