Business Briefs
Star-Bulletin staff & wire reports




Delta Air pilots elect new leader

ATLANTA » Delta Air Lines Inc.'s pilots union elected a new chairman for its executive committee yesterday, changing leaders amid worries the nation's third-largest carrier may file for bankruptcy protection.

Lee Moak defeated current chair John Malone, whose two-year term ends Oct. 1.

Malone, who has held key union positions since being hired by Delta in 1988, was chairman at the time the union agreed last year to $1 billion in annual concessions.

Union spokeswoman Kelly Collins declined to comment yesterday when asked if the union's strategy with the airline will change under Moak's direction. She said Moak was on a flight and not available for comment.

Last week, Atlanta-based Delta warned its pilots union that the airline's cash reserves had fallen to the point where the company might need to revise last year's agreement to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

2 arrested over computer worm

Two men were arrested overseas on Thursday for unleashing a computer worm that infected networks across the United States nearly two weeks ago, the FBI and Microsoft announced yesterday.

The men, Farid Essebar, 18, of Morocco, and Atilla Ekici, 21, of Turkey, were said to be responsible for the Zotob worm, which hampered computer operations at more than 100 companies, including news organizations like CNN, the New York Times and ABC News. The computers were running a version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, prompting the company's Internet crime investigations unit to collaborate with the FBI to locate the source.

"The swift resolution of this matter is the direct result of effective coordination and serves as a good example of what we can achieve when we work together," said Louis M. Reigel III, assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division.

In a conference call with reporters, Reigel said Ekici, who went by the online alias Coder, paid Essebar, operating under the name Diabl0, to create Zotob and another worm, called Mytob. But he would not comment on whether they were part of a broader operation.

"They certainly knew each other via the Internet," Reigel said, but it was not clear whether they had met in person.

Merck may settle some Vioxx suits

TRENTON, N.J. » Merck & Co. will consider settling a limited number of lawsuits over its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, a spokesman said yesterday. The drug's link to heart attacks and strokes has spawned thousands of lawsuits and last week's $253 million jury verdict in Texas.

As recently as Wednesday, company lawyers were still saying they planned to fight each personal-injury lawsuit. On Thursday morning, Merck said that as of Aug. 15 it faced nearly 5,000 lawsuits alleging patients were harmed by the drug. The total includes about 150 potential class-action suits that could include many plaintiffs.

"Cases we'll be looking at concern ingestion of Vioxx for 18 months or more," by patients with limited heart risk factors, said Kent Jarrell, spokesman for the company's legal team.

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