Bank of America to cut 12,500 workers

CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Bank of America Corp. announced yesterday it is
cutting 12,500 jobs over the next two years as a result of its
merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp.

The cuts, which represent about 7 percent of the
companies’ combined work force of 181,000, will begin this
month. About 30 percent of them will be accomplished through

The Charlotte-based bank has said it expects to get about $650
million in savings from trimming overlapping operations and

Several workers leaving Bank of America’s headquarters in
downtown Charlotte yesterday evening were not aware of the
company’s plans. Loan officer Veronica Dawkins said she had
not received any word from the company. “There’s been a
lot of talk around the office, but no one has given me any
indication whatsoever that I need to worry,” Dawkins said.
“I’m hoping it works out for everybody.”

Spokeswoman Eloise Hale would not specify where positions would
be eliminated, saying only that they will take place

The completion last week of Bank of America’s merger with
Fleet created the nation’s No. 3 bank, with assets estimated
at $966 billion.


Opposition calls for new election in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan- Taiwan’s opposition yesterday launched a
new challenge to the March 20 presidential vote, asking the High
Court to nullify the entire election and order another one.

The request by losing candidate Lien Chan was part of his
two-pronged legal strategy to overturn President Chen
Shui-bian’s narrow victory. Lien and his Nationalist Party
claim the vote was marred by irregularities and a mysterious
election-eve shooting that wounded Chen.

Lien’s first step came last week when he petitioned the
High Court to order a recount — a move the president
endorsed. The two sides are negotiating the details of the
re-tally, and were scheduled to discuss the process with the High
Court tomorrow.

Nationalist spokesman Alex Tsai told reporters that Lien
yesterday filed a petition with the High Court for a new election
because the president “used fraud to gain power … and
people will question the legality of his power in the next four

One of Lien’s lawyers, Lee Fu-dan, added: “There
were major violations of the law with this election, so we filed
the petition according to the law.”


Sharon: Palestinian state may be delayed

JERUSALEM- A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
and four West Bank settlements could delay Palestinian dreams of
statehood for many years, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in
interviews yesterday.

Israel also is no longer bound by a pledge to the United States
not to harm Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Sharon said. The
White House said killing Arafat was “not part of the solution
to the situation in the Middle East.”

In Gaza, soldiers killed three Palestinians, ages 18 and 19,
near the fence with Israel. Troops fired during the night at three
figures they deemed suspicious, the army said. Israeli forces also
set up a new security position east of the Rafah airport,
Palestinians said. The Israeli army said it was checking the

Israeli forces were on high alert for possible attacks by
Palestinian militants during the weeklong Passover holiday.


Mexico flash floods kill at least 31 people

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico- Torrential rains swelled a tributary of
the Rio Grande River by 25 feet early yesterday, causing a flash
flood that inundated a Mexican border city, killing at least 31
people and forcing hundreds more into shelters.

Dozens more people were missing; the death toll was expected to
rise. Mexico declared a state of emergency in the area.

Floodwaters from the Escondido River began receding after the
rain stopped by midday, but heavy, dark clouds loomed over Piedras
Negras, a city of 200,000 people about 150 miles southwest of San
Antonio. Supplies of drinking water, electricity and gas were

Hundreds were left homeless, radio stations reported, and
announcers read the names of people staying at shelters to help
families find missing relatives.


NASA: Mars rover’s mission completed

PASADENA, Calif.- NASA’s Spirit rover wrapped up its
primary mission to Mars on yesterday as it continued to roll across
the planet’s surface on an extended tour that could last through

The unmanned robot, marking its 90th full day on Mars, had
accomplished all of the tasks NASA considered essential to declare
the joint mission a success. Its twin rover, Opportunity, was
getting close to achieving the same.

“Spirit has completed its part of the bargain, and
Opportunity doesn’t have much left to do,” said Mark Adler,
manager of the $820 million mission.


— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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