News Midday Update: Jobless claims pushed to 7-year high; Northwest shareholders OK Delta combo plan; former President Carter to attend Plains festival

New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to their highest level in seven years due to the impact of a slowing economy and Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, the Labor Department reported today.

The department said new requests for jobless benefits for the week ending Sept. 20 increased by 32,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 493,000, much higher than analysts' expectations of 445,000.

Wall Street was more focused on Washington, though, where lawmakers and the administration appeared to be moving closer to a $700 billion bailout package for the financial system. Stocks rose, with the Dow up more than 200 points in early trading.

The two hurricanes added about 50,000 new claims in Louisiana and Texas, the department said. The four-week moving average, which smooths out fluctuations, rose to 462,500. That's the highest it has been since Nov. 3, 2001.

The level of new claims was the highest since shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when it reached 517,000.

Associated Press

Northwest shareholders OK Delta combo plan

Northwest Airlines shareholders on Thursday approved a proposed combination with Delta Air Lines, bringing the carriers one step closer to creating the world's biggest airline.

Delta shareholders are scheduled to meet near Atlanta Thursday afternoon to vote on whether to issue stock to Northwest shareholders as part of the transaction.

Four shareholder advisory firms have recommended votes in favor of the combination. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents 12,500 Northwest ground workers, opposes the deal.

Majority votes are needed for the proposals to pass.

Their passage would leave U.S. regulatory approval and a pending federal lawsuit seeking to block the deal as the only remaining hurdles. A Justice Department decision could come in the next month or two. The lawsuit is set for trial Nov. 5 in San Francisco. Delta hopes to close the deal by the end of the year.

Associated Press

Former President Carter to attend Plains festival

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will take part in the 12th annual Plains Peanut Festival on Saturday.

Carter will present awards to postcard winner and 5-K road race winners and sign copies of his books. Mrs. Carter also will sign up to four books at 1:30 p.m.

The festival in the town where the Carters live also will feature a parade on Main Street at 11 a.m. Visitors will be able to learn more information about the southwest Georgia peanut industry in the nearby Plains Community Center.

Albany cover band the Club Hounds will close out the day with a street dance concert from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Carter will teach Sunday school at 10 a.m. at Maranatha Baptist Church.

Associated Press


- Macon will try again tonight at Central City Park to break the world record for the number of people playing a kazoo at one time. Come back to our Web site tonight to find out how it goes.

- Columnists Ed Grisamore will tell you about a Macon who officiates Southeastern Conference games -- with a pacemaker.


We invite you to check out our Web site again tomorrow for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to