Among other items: Nintendo, majority owner of the Mariners, said it will publish a baseball video-game title this spring; the economy finished 2004 with its best performance in five years despite slowing in the final stretch; and strong U.S. sales helped McDonald's more than triple its fourth-quarter profits to $398 million.

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Verizon plans to use new Microsoft TV software

Verizon Communications plans to use Microsoft technology for its rollout of television service over a new fiber-optic network.

The software maker’s platform initially will be used to provide an interactive program guide, high-definition television, digital video recording and video-on-demand for Verizon’s FiOS TV service, which is due to launch in undisclosed markets around midyear.

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The deal with Verizon comes on the heels of a contract from SBC Communications to use Microsoft’s platform to launch that telephone company’s planned TV service and an agreement with BellSouth to conduct trials with the technology.

By signing up the nation’s three biggest local phone companies, Microsoft has taken a sharp detour to achieve in just three months what it failed to accomplish in a decade, bypassing the traditional cable establishment to establish a serious beachhead in the video-entertainment industry.

Nintendo baseball video game to be in play soon

Japanese video-game company Nintendo, majority owner of the Mariners, said it will publish a baseball video-game title this spring.

Nintendo said “Pennant Chase Baseball” will be out April 4 and will feature the voices of the Mariners’ broadcasters, as well as current big-league players and ballparks.

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2004 economy was best in 5 years

The economy finished 2004 with its best performance in five years despite slowing in the final stretch. The outlook ahead: a moderate jog, rather than a sprint.

The broadest barometer of the country’s economic standing, the gross domestic product, clocked a 4.4 percent increase for all of last year spurred by brisk consumer and business spending, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.

United Airlines mechanics reject contract, OK strike

United Airlines’ mechanics rejected a tentative contract agreement and voted to authorize a strike if the carrier persuades a bankruptcy judge to impose the labor cuts, union officials said yesterday.

The vote is a setback in United’s bid to cut costs in order to exit bankruptcy. The company said yesterday that it would to ask a bankruptcy judge to impose the wage and benefit cuts.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association represents about 7,000 United mechanics. The union said members “overwhelmingly” rejected the contract, although it did not release vote totals.

McDonald’s chain triples its profits

Strong U.S. sales helped McDonald’s more than triple its fourth-quarter profits to $398 million, capping the fast-food chain’s best single-year sales improvement since 1987.

Intent on keeping the momentum going, the company raised the possibility yesterday it might spin off its Chipotle Mexican Grill business and plow much of the proceeds into McDonald’s restaurants. That 400-restaurant operation has grown and is proving increasingly successful, it said.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Reuters