LABOR

Northwest Seeks More Cuts

Negotiators for striking Northwest Airlines mechanics considered a demand from the carrier that about 3,500 union members lose their jobs, up from the 2,000 in a proposal that prompted the strike. Ken Reed, president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association local in Duluth, Minn., said Northwest's latest proposal is to keep 1,020 mechanics. The union said that Northwest now wants $203 million in labor savings, up 15 percent from the $176 million it sought previously.

TRANSPORTATION

Amtrak Raising Fares

Amtrak, blaming higher fuel costs and other expenses, is raising fares by 5 to 7 percent starting Sept. 20. The increase will average $4 a ticket in the Northeast, which accounts for about two-thirds of its riders, and $3 a ticket elsewhere. The passenger railway service said that its fuel costs have risen nearly 40 percent in the past year.

REGULATORS

SEC Targets General Re CEO

Berkshire Hathaway said Joseph P. Brandon, chief executive of its General Reinsurance subsidiary, was notified by the Securities and Exchange Commission of a possible lawsuit for violating securities laws. Robert Graham, General Re's assistant general counsel, and Christopher Garand, who retired Aug. 31 as a senior vice president, also received notices, the insurance and investment company said. The SEC is trying to determine whether General Re helped American International Group use reinsurance contracts to distort its finances.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Japanese Firm to Buy PalmSource

PalmSource, whose software runs Palm handheld devices and Treo "smartphones," agreed to be purchased by Tokyo-based Access for $324 million.

California-based PalmSource struggled to earn a profit after losing Sony as a customer and confronting increased competition from Microsoft and Symbian. Access, maker of NetFront software, plans to use PalmSource to develop more applications for mobile devices.

Palm Inc. went public in 2000. Palm split in 2003, becoming PalmSource, maker of the operating system, and PalmOne, which makes the handheld devices.

LEGAL

Judge Hints She'll Approve Deals

A judge may be ready to approve legal settlements that will award $3.5 billion to WorldCom investors who claimed that banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase and accounting firm Arthur Andersen defrauded them, a plaintiffs' lawyer said.

U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote, at a hearing, said, "Bondholders will be recovering a very substantial portion of their losses." She stopped short of granting final approval to the settlements.

"She seriously seemed to indicate that she'll approve the settlements," Jeffrey W. Golan, a lawyer for the investors, said after the hearing.

ENTERTAINMENT

Microsoft Works On Pay-Per-View

Kudelski, a maker of security cards for digital pay-per-view television, said it will work with Microsoft to develop technology that allows computers to receive digital pay-TV programs.

The companies are seeking to create affordable ways to receive pay-per-view digital television programming on computers running Windows software, the Swiss company said in a statement.

The agreement includes joint marketing and business development, Kudelski said.

FRANCE

Oil Firms Cut Gas, Diesel Prices

Oil companies Total and BP announced cuts in the retail prices of gasoline and diesel fuel after the government threatened a special tax in response to soaring oil prices.

French company Total said it reduced prices by $0.14 a gallon for gasoline and by $0.09 a gallon for diesel, and it plans to make the same cuts again today.

BP France, a subsidiary of the British oil firm, announced similar cuts but said they would take effect Monday.

TRADE

Saudi Arabia Near to Joining WTO

Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with the United States on the terms for its joining the World Trade Organization.

Saudi Arabia agreed to respect U.S. patents and copyrights and to open its market to audio-visual services, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.

Northwest Airlines mechanics have been on strike since Aug. 20. Talks since have been fruitless.