Deborah P. Majoras's nomination to be chairman of the Federal Trade Commission is being held up by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who complained that the agency has failed to address rising gasoline prices. Wyden said he met with Majoras on Tuesday and will block her nomination until she offers a plan to make the agency more active in policing gasoline prices.

Ex-Freddie Chief Seeks Frozen Pay

Lawyers for former Freddie Mac chief executive Leland C. Brendsel asked a federal judge in Washington for a preliminary injunction to release $53.7 million in compensation withheld after he was fired under pressure from the mortgage giant's regulator because of widespread accounting problems. Brendsel is suing the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and its director, Armando Falcon Jr., on constitutional grounds, arguing that he wasn't afforded due process before the assets were frozen last year. The two-month-old suit has some urgency because about $4 million of the compensation is in stock options that expire June 2, according to court documents. Brendsel won't be able to recoup the money after the options expire.

MORE NEWS

About 500 demonstrators appeared outside Halliburton's annual shareholders meeting in Houston, and five were arrested for shouting their protests inside the hotel where it was held. The crowd decried Halliburton's contracting in Iraq, where 35 employees of its KBR subsidiary have been killed, and its ties to Vice President Cheney, Halliburton's former chief executive.

Microsoft will cut vacation time for new employees and charge U.S. workers a $40 co-payment for brand-name prescription drugs as part of its plan to cut costs. The software manufacturer also plans to reduce the discount for employee stock purchases to 10 percent from 15 percent starting in July, a spokeswoman said. Microsoft is facing slower sales next year because its new version of Windows has been delayed, most customers aren't renewing two-year licenses giving them the rights to product upgrades and the company doesn't expect as large a benefit from currency conversions as it had this year.

Calpers, the nation's largest public pension plan and one of the largest purchasers of health care benefits, dropped more than three dozen hospitals from its HMO plan, severing ties with the most expensive facilities. The decision will force the plan's 1.2 million members to choose between switching to another doctor and hospital in the HMO plan or paying more to retain both in a preferred provider organization. The California Healthcare Association, which represents nearly 500 hospitals and health systems, called the decision "fundamentally flawed."

Gasoline and distillate fuels were produced in record amounts by U.S. refiners in April, the American Petroleum Institute said. U.S. gasoline output of 8.7 million barrels a day was up 2.8 percent from last April, the industry-funded group said. Deliveries of gasoline rose 4.2 percent, to 9.15 million barrels a day. Gasoline supplies fell about 1 million barrels, the first April decline since 1988. Inventories fell to 196 million barrels, the first time they dropped below 200 million barrels during April since 1997.

Intel shareholders turned against management's wishes and approved an advisory proposal calling on the chip-making giant to expense stock options in its financial reports. Intel chief executive Craig Barrett immediately said the company would not take any action on the non-binding vote until accounting regulators and Congress decide the issue, which is expected by the end of the year.

Sexually explicit spam must now carry a warning label in the subject line. The Federal Trade Commission rule also prohibits graphic images at the beginning of such e-mails. Violators could face fines and imprisonment.

Verizon Communications must give customers in New York state about $40 million in rebates because it missed quality goals in a special agreement with the state's Public Service Commission. The agreement mandates quality standards such as quick response to outages in exchange for more flexibility in selling long-distance services.

Court officers stepped between lawyers who were shouting and arguing over whether a letter approving a relocation loan to Tyco International's former top lawyer Mark A. Belnick had been fabricated or could be admitted as evidence. Belnick, 59, is on trial for alleged first-degree grand larceny, securities fraud and falsifying business records. He is accused of accepting an illegal bonus of as much as $17 million from former Tyco chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski and improperly taking more than $14.5 million from Tyco's loan programs and lying about it on company forms.

Cometa Networks, a 11/2-year-old venture to wholesale wireless-fidelity (WiFi) Internet access to telephone and cable companies, will shut down after failing to attract enough new investors to expand nationwide. The company, whose backers included Intel, AT&T and IBM, operates about 150 WiFi "hot spots" in Seattle and New York.

Hollinger International won a judgment against former chief executive Conrad Black from a Delaware court, which ruled that Black improperly tried to sell control of the newspaper publishing company without telling the board. Vice Chancellor Leo Strine also dismissed claims by Black against Richard C. Breeden, a former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman who is advising the company; board member James Thompson, a former Illinois governor; and other directors of Hollinger International.

Three former Enterasys Networks executives were indicted on federal charges that they conspired to inflate the technology company's revenue. Robert Gagalis, Bruce Kay and Gayle Spence face conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud charges. A fourth executive, Gary Workman, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Cardinal Health, a drug wholesaler and distributor, said it has agreed to pay $1.6 billion for Alaris Medical Systems, a maker of intravenous medication products and services, increasing its range of health care products and bringing it to foreign markets.

The Transportation Security Administration must move more quickly to develop high-tech ID cards that could prevent armed terrorists from boarding a plane by posing as airport workers or law officers, federal lawmakers said. House aviation subcommittee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) said the TSA recently reported several suspicious people who may have been conducting surveillance of airports, including a door allowing access to aircraft.

INTERNATIONAL

The European Union lifted its six-year moratorium on biotech products by approving imports of Bt11, a genetically modified strain of sweet corn from Switzerland-based Syngenta, for human consumption. The corn, modified to resist insect damage, would only be imported and not grown in Europe. An application for cultivation is pending.

Air Canada failed to win wage concessions from the Canadian Auto Workers, jeopardizing a $617 million financing intended to save the carrier from liquidation. The airline said it will seek talks with Deutsche Bank, which arranged the financing, and a General Electric unit that agreed to provide an additional $1.4 billion. Air Canada's bankruptcy protection expires Friday.

Sony is seriously considering the acquisition of film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said Nobuyuki Idei, chief executive of the electronics and entertainment giant, but he declined to say when a decision was expected. "We will not go into an unprofitable business," he said.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Honeywell International's Technology Solutions subsidiary in Columbia should face criminal prosecution or civil penalties for false statements made in a bid proposal that helped it win a $1.2 billion Air Force contract to provide satellite ground station services, the Pentagon inspector general's office said. The Air Force says the first two years of work on the project are 48 percent, or $26.3 million, over budget, and it estimates Honeywell will incur an additional $33 million in overruns through 2009.

EARNINGS

Goodyear Tire & Rubber said it had a narrower loss in the fourth quarter of 2003, in a financial report delayed by two months while it investigated accounting at its European operations. The world's largest tiremaker said it lost $434.4 million, compared with a loss of $1.19 billion in the same period in 2002.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.

Members of Communications Workers of America Local 6201 march in front of the SBC Communications building in Fort Worth, Tex. The CWA plans to stage a four-day strike starting Friday because of a deadlock in contract negotiations with the nation's second-biggest local phone company. CWA President Morton Bahr said the union opted for a short strike to get its message across without doing too much harm to SBC. A strike would likely affect local phone service in 13 states.