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Judge gives approval to American Airlines pacts

DALLAS – A federal bankruptcy judge has approved three labor contracts that were ratified by union workers at American Airlines.

The judge on Wednesday approved deals with flight attendants, mechanics and maintenance clerks.

The pilots rejected a company contract offer last month, and American was expected to begin imposing pay and work terms on them. The company is declining to comment.

American and parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November. US Airways Group Inc. is trying to force a merger, but AMR has resisted overtures from its smaller rival.

Toys R Us offers reservations

HACKENSACK, N.J. – Toys R Us on Wednesday unveiled a new weapon in its strategy to win the holiday toy wars: a “hot toys reservation” program that will give parents a guarantee that they can get a sold-out toy in time for Christmas, as long as they reserve it by Halloween.

The retailer’s plan for this holiday season includes free layaway for orders placed by the end of October; a computer for kids called Tabeo, and plans for 150 to 200 pop-up, or temporary, toy stores.

Under the reservation plan, shoppers will be able to reserve any of the 50 toys on a list that will be released sometime in the coming weeks. Once the list is released, any sold-out toys can be reserved, with a 20 percent deposit, until Oct. 31. Toys R Us will then guarantee that they will receive the toys by Dec. 16. The deposit will be refunded if an order is canceled.

Harsh sentencing sought

SAN FRANCISCO – Federal prosecutors are seeking harsh sentences against a Taiwan company and two of its former executives, saying they participated in the most significant price-fixing “cartel” ever prosecuted in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday demanded AU Optronics Corp. pay $1 billion and the two former executives each serve 10-year prison sentences for illegally fixing computer screen prices.

The company’s lawyers are arguing for a fine of no more than $285 million and significantly lighter, but undefined, prison terms for the executives.

A federal jury in March found the company, along with Hsuan Bin Chen and Hui Hsiung, guilty of price fixing.

Tainted ricotta linked to death

WASHINGTON – Federal health officials say ricotta cheese tainted with listeria bacteria is linked to 14 illnesses including at least one death.

The imported Italian ricotta salata cheese distributed by Forever Cheese Inc. of New York is linked to illnesses in 11 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forever Cheese issued a recall of one lot – 800 wheels of ricotta salata, or roughly 4,800 pounds – on Monday.

The cheese was distributed in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington between June 20 and Aug. 9.

Most people who consumed the cheese would not know where it came from because it was distributed in large wheels for retailers or restaurants to break down into smaller servings or packages. Ricotta salata is a salty, white cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk. It is not the same as soft ricotta cheese sold in tubs and used to make lasagna.

The CDC said the ricotta can have up to a four-month shelf life, so some consumers may still have it in their homes.