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Briefs (left)

Nurses Locked Out of Las Vegas
Hospitals in Contract Dispute

By Steve Friess

Hundreds of nurses were turned away Monday when they reported for work at two area hospitals as management began what officials say will be at least a five-day lockout over failed contract negotiations.

Temporary nurses were brought to cover shifts and the hospitals are functioning normally, said Steve Filton, chief financial officer for United Health Services Inc., the conglomerate based in King of Prussia, Pa., that owns Valley and Desert Springs Hospital in the urban core of Las Vegas.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents the nurses, had called for a strike to start Monday but said Sunday that it would stand down as James Gibbons, the governor-elect, and other state leaders asked both sides to submit to new, mediated talks after a 30-day cooling-off period.

Yet United Health Services rejected Gibbons’ offer and instead implemented its strike contingency plan in the form of a lockout. That plan involved flying in and housing hundreds of nurses hired from the Denver-based firm US Nursing, which frequently supplies nurses to hospitals involved in labor disputes.

FBI Computer Overhaul
Faces $57 Million Gap

By Eric Lichtblau

The latest effort to overhaul the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s antiquated computer system, still in its early stages, is already coming up short by nearly $57 million, a Justice Department audit report concluded Monday.

The budget gap could force the FBI to take money from law enforcement and other areas, the report by the Justice Department inspector general’s office determined. It said that while the bureau now has taken steps in the management of the project that provide “reasonable assurance” of success, crucial financing and operational questions linger.

The FBI has struggled for more than a decade to modernize its computer systems and replace a record-keeping system that is still largely paper-driven — a task considered critical to strengthening antiterrorism operations. Widespread design and management problems last year forced the bureau to scrap the final phase of its case-automation system, known as Trilogy, after spending $170 million on the project.

Airbus to Avoid Government
Funding For New Wide Body

By Carter Dougherty

Airbus said on Monday that it had no immediate plans to seek government-backed financing for its new wide-body aircraft, the A350 XWB, avoiding another round of trans-Atlantic recriminations over aircraft subsidies.

Though he refused to rule out going to European governments in the future, the chief executive of Airbus, Louis Gallois, said that the company could handle the initial phase of the $13.2-billion development program from its own cash resources and by sharing the costs with its suppliers.

“We have no imminent cash needs,” Gallois said at a news conference in Paris.

Airbus is currently in discussions with “about 10” potentially significant partners that could help shoulder both the risk and the potential reward of developing the A350, Gallois said. Airbus expects to have work allocated and partners selected by the spring, he said.