Sprint Nextel to cut 8,000 jobs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Faced with persistent subscriber losses and questions about its long-term prospects, Sprint Nextel Corp. is slashing its already shrinking work force by 8,000 people as it seeks to cut annual costs by $1.2 billion.

The layoffs, announced Monday, are just the latest attempt by the nation's third-largest cell phone carrier to right its financial ship in the face of tough competition and a brutal economy. They come slightly more than a year after the company cut 4,000 jobs and closed 125 retail centers as Chief Executive Dan Hesse, then new on the job, aimed to show he was serious about streamlining operations.

Sprint said it expects the latest round of layoffs, which represent a 14 percent reduction of its 56,000 employees, will be largely completed by March 31. The company said it will take a first-quarter charge of more than $300 million for severance and other costs.

Oil falls below $46 as Wall Street gives up gains

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Oil prices fell Monday as investors weighed early gains in the equity markets against signs of a deepening recession that could further eat away at energy demand.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell 74 cents to settle at $45.73 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, though prices fluctuated throughout the day.

Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, said the market is in a sort of shoulder period in which dour economic news continues to emerge and investors haven't yet seen the effects of the OPEC production cuts.

Ill. Senate begins trial as governor hits TV shows

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial opened on Monday with a vacant chair reserved for the governor, who boycotted the proceedings and instead spent the day on the TV talk-show circuit in New York, complaining he is being railroaded.

'The fix is in,' Blagojevich declared on ABC's 'Good Morning America.'

As the Illinois Senate assembled for the first impeachment trial of a U.S. governor in more than 20 years, David Ellis, the House-appointed prosecutor, told the chamber that he will show that Blagojevich 'repeatedly and utterly abused the powers and privileges of his office.'

Man, 93, freezes to death, owed big utility bill

BAY CITY, Mich. - A 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home just days after the municipal power company restricted his use of electricity because of unpaid bills, officials said.

Marvin E. Schur died 'a slow, painful death,' said Kanu Virani, Oakland County's deputy chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy.

Neighbors discovered Schur's body Jan. 17. They said the indoor temperature was below 32 degrees at the time, The Bay City Times reported Monday.

Promoter run over, killed at truck show

MADISON, Wis. - A monster truck show promoter fatally injured during a show was a close friend of the veteran driver whose huge truck accidentally ran him down, officials said Monday.

George Eisenhart Jr. stepped into the path of a truck driven by Daniel Patrick during the Saturday night show at the Dane County Coliseum in Madison. Eisenhart later died of his injuries, which occurred as Patrick returned his truck to a parking area.

Patrick spoke to investigators and authorities said he would not be charged. Sheriff Dave Mahoney said it appeared all safety precautions had been taken and called the death 'a very tragic accident.'

Court hears 9/11 conspirator's appeal in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. - Zacarias Moussaoui's guilty plea in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was invalid because the government failed to turn over evidence that could have helped his defense, his attorney told a federal appeals court Monday.

Justin Antonipillai urged a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out the plea and order a new trial for Moussaoui, who once claimed to be part of the 2001 conspiracy but has since changed his story. Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. Justice Department attorney Kevin Gingras argued that Moussaoui, the only person to stand trial in a U.S. court in the 9/11 attacks, knew the trial judge was considering ways to get the favorable evidence to him but decided to plead guilty anyway.