Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Monday that the latest failed attempt to award a $40 billion aerial- refueling-plane contract was "a missed opportunity" that leaves the military with an unclear path on how to replace its aging fleet of tankers.

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Aerospace

Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Monday that the latest failed attempt to award a $40 billion aerial- refueling-plane contract was “a missed opportunity” that leaves the military with an unclear path on how to replace its aging fleet of tankers.

Speaking at the Air Force Association’s annual conference, Donley said a decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to postpone the latest round of bidding on the contract means the service “needs a new approach” when it tries again next year to pick a defense contractor to build 179 new planes.

“None of us can yet answer the question, ‘Where do we go from here?’ ” Donley told the audience of mostly Air Force personnel and defense contractors. “This experience has not been a healthy one for the Air Force, or for the (Department of Defense) or for the contractors or for our working relationship with each other or Congress.”

Gates last week canceled bidding between Boeing and Northrop Grumman-EADS, calling for a “cooling off” period between the bitter rivals. Gates said it would be impossible to award the contract by the end of the year as planned.

Retail

Amazon to sell motorcycle gear

Amazon.com started a new store that will sell motorcycle and all-terrain-vehicle parts, accessories and gear.

Amazon.com is offering more than 300,000 products from manufacturers including Yamaha, Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki, according to a release Monday. The online retailer opened an automotive parts and accessories store in 2007.

Nation and World

Technology

Hewlett-Packard to lay off 24,600

Hewlett-Packard (HP) said Monday that it would cut 24,600 jobs, about 7.5 percent of the company, as it tries to digest one of its biggest acquisitions in years.

The cuts, nearly half of which will come in the U.S., are designed to help HP integrate its operations with those of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which HP bought in August for $13.2 billion. The deal should help HP take on IBM by beefing up its consulting, technical support and other services.

With the purchase of EDS, HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd, who has a reputation for cost-cutting, took on the challenge of finding savings in merging two large firms.

The cuts, which are expected over the next three years, will mostly affect the 142,000 employees of EDS, which is based in Plano, Texas. HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has 178,000 employees.

Finance

China bank cuts base lending rate

NEW YORK — The People’s Bank of China unexpectedly cut its base lending rate Monday and lowered the ratio of funds that some banks must set aside as reserves, twin moves designed to help shore up confidence in its stock and real-estate markets.

The PBOC said it would lower its base lending rate by 27 basis points, bringing its one-year lending rate to 7.20 percent. The announcement was made on the central bank’s Web site.

The lowered lending rate, the first such cut in six years, will take effect Tuesday, while the lower reserve ratio will come into effect Sept. 25. The base rate on one-year deposits will remain unchanged at 4.14 percent.

China’s stock markets were closed Monday for a public holiday. At the end of trading Friday, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was down 61 percent from its level a year ago.

Regulation

SEC plans to rein in short-selling

With Wall Street engulfed in crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission is planning measures to rein in aggressive forms of short-selling that were blamed in part for the demise of Lehman Brothers and which some fear could be turned against other vulnerable companies.

During emergency meetings between federal officials and investment bank executives over the weekend, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox indicated to the bankers that the agency plans in a few days to impose new permanent protections against abusive “naked” short-selling, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.

Unlike the SEC’s temporary emergency ban this summer covering naked short-selling in 19 stocks, the new measures would apply to trading in the broader market.

Electronics

Best Buy snapping up Napster

Napster, the online music community that rose from a dorm-room project to became the scourge of the global recording industry, is being purchased by Best Buy for nearly $127 million as the electronics retailer tries to boost its digital-music business.

The $2.65 per share all-cash deal announced Monday is nearly double the music network’s Friday closing price but a small sum to pay for Best Buy, which gets access to Napster’s 700,000 subscribers, who pay a monthly fee to access digital music catalogs.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times