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State agency eyes EZ Lube shutdown

State authorities want to shut down EZ Lube's 76 Southern California shops, accusing the oil-change chain of charging for services that were unneeded -- and in some cases never provided, officials said Wednesday.

A two-year undercover investigation of the chain, which has almost all of its locations in Southern California, found 640 violations, including charging for unneeded parts, making false or misleading statements and departing from accepted standards, state officials said.

The state action follows a ``number'' of consumer complaints and local news reports regarding the chain, the Bureau of Automotive Repair said in announcing the action.

An EZ Lube representative could not be reached immediately to comment on the state's disciplinary action. The company has the right to an administrative hearing to contest the charges, officials said.

As a result of the action, the chain could have its auto-repair registrations suspended or revoked, officials said. The shops allegedly violated the Automotive Repair Act.

Google Inc. balks at court order

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google Inc. refused to comply Wednesday with a Belgian court decision that required the company to publish the original text of the ruling on its sites, calling that requirement ``unnecessary'' and ``disproportionate.''

Earlier this month, the Belgian Court of First Instance ordered the Internet search engine to stop publishing content from Belgian newspapers without permission or payment of fees. Local newspaper editors argued that Google's popular news site, which features small photos and excerpts from news reported elsewhere, stole traffic from individual newspapers' sites.

Google complied with the ruling, which threatened to impose daily fines of about $1.27 million against the Mountain View-based company. Google is removing the Belgian newspapers from its indexes.

The court also demanded that Google post the original text of the ruling on its Belgian sites, Google.be and news.google.be. The court is scheduled to rule Friday on whether Google must publish the text or face fines of $634,000 per day.

Government still will check ICANN

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday that it will extend its oversight of the California organization that handles domain name policies, while finding ways to improve the group's accountability and transparency.

John Kneuer, the department's acting assistant secretary for communications and information, said the government's current agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers works and should continue.

Commerce plans to renew a memorandum of understanding with ICANN, but it will likely add provisions designed to address complaints that the group is sometimes too secret and makes decisions that don't reflect the Internet community at large, Kneuer said.

Paper: HP wanted to plant spies

NEW YORK -- During the boardroom leak investigation that's forcing the chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard Co. to step aside, the company explored the feasibility of planting spies in the offices of two news organizations, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Citing an anonymous individual knowledgeable about HP's investigation techniques, the Times said that in February, senior HP management was briefed on the possibility that investigators could pose as clerical or custodial employees in the San Francisco offices of CNET Networks Inc. and The Wall Street Journal.

It was unclear whether the plan was carried out.

A spokesman for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, declined to comment Wednesday. Messages seeking comment from CNET weren't immediately returned.

Morgan Stanley Q3 profits surge

NEW YORK -- Investment banking firm Morgan Stanley on Wednesday said its third-quarter profit surged on stronger investment-banking and trading business, surpassing analysts' expectations.

Morgan Stanley is the fourth big Wall Street firm to post better-than- expected profits for the period, bucking fears a summer slowdown in the stock market might drag on results. It also punctuated a turnaround at Morgan Stanley begun in mid-2005, when Chairman and Chief Executive John J. Mack took the helm.

Analysts praised Morgan Stanley's performance, and its shares reached a new five-year high for the second consecutive day. The stock rose as high as $73.65 before closing at $72.35, up 50 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Quarterly income jumped to $1.85 billion, or $1.75 per share, from $144 million, or 13 cents per share, in the same three months in 2005.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 21, 2006
Words:708
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