STATENikiski to explore home-rule governmentKENAI -- A group of citizens organized to explore forming a Nikiski city government has decided instead to explore forming a home-rule community as might be allowed under a bill now before the Legislature.Jack Brown, who recently announced he will be stepping down from his Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly seat to take a borough job, said a group of about 40 Nikiski residents has been meeting since fall, considering primarily whether Nikiski could incorporate as a home-rule or first-class city."They want more local influence on what goes on around here, but they’re not willing to take the leap of faith to form a city," he said. "There’s too much mistrust of government. The common theme is that people here don’t want another layer of government."The bottom line is that many do not want to pay any more taxes, he said.Gillnets not allowed in Inlet hooligan fishingANCHORAGE -- Spring means hooligan fishing, and the state Department of Fish and Game is reminding people that new rules ban the use of gillnets in Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay.The new regulation was adopted by the Board of Fisheries last year. It means hooligan can be taken only with dipnets in those waters.The season runs from April 1 through May 31, with no permit required and no catch limit.NationWomen-owned firms get 2.5% of federal contractsWASHINGTON -- Companies owned by women aren’t receiving not nearly enough government contracts, lawmakers say.Women own an estimated 38 percent of all businesses in the United States, but they received 2.5 percent of the $189 billion in federal contracts awarded in fiscal 1999, the most recent year for which data are available. Congress wants to see that number double.According to a recent study by the General Accounting Office, federal contracting with firms headed by women has grown in some agencies, notably the departments of Veterans Affairs, State and NASA.By all accounts, the government-wide numbers won’t change much until there is a sizable increase at the Defense Department, which controls the lion’s share of federal contracting.And at the Pentagon, a decade of military downsizing has slashed the pool of specialists who match businesses with contracts.Supreme Court hears harassment appealMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The harassment began with a Bible verse left at Sharon Pollard’s work station: "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over man. She must be silent.’’Pollard, who put up with years of bad treatment from male co-workers at a DuPont plant, sued the chemical company giant for sexual harassment and won.On April 23, a key facet of the case involving damages was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is a $300,000 cap on damages added in 1991 amendments to the Civil Rights Act. The court is being asked to decide whether the cap covers "front pay,’’ or damages a court can allow to replace future earnings an employee would have drawn.Some courts have not applied the cap to such damages, but a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Tennessee, has ruled that the cap covers front pay.Bush rejects Kyoto treaty, State Department saysWASHINGTON -- The Bush administration rejects the Kyoto global warming treaty "under any circumstances’’ and sees little chance that new talks this summer will produce a suitable substitute, a State Department memo says.Despite comments by a top U.N. official that the administration might be shifting its position, the cable to diplomatic and consular posts also said negotiations to ratify the 1997 treaty do not appear to be leading to agreement.The cable drew strong criticism from environmental groups. Some said the document shows the administration’s negative policies are based on ideology, not science as Bush contended.Honeywell to slash 6,500 jobs worldwideTRENTON, N.J. -- With sales in key markets slumping and first-quarter profits down 92 percent, high-tech manufacturer Honeywell International Inc. announced plans April 20 to cut 6,500 jobs to remain competitive.The 6,500 job cuts, spread across Honeywell’s businesses around the world, represent about 5 percent of its global work force.On April 20, Honeywell reported first-quarter net income of $41 million, or 5 cents per share, down from $506 million, or 63 cents per share, a year earlier.WORLDQantas New Zealand halts operationsWELLINGTON, New Zealand -- The Qantas New Zealand domestic airline was forced out of business after running out of money, stranding thousands of travelers Saturday and leaving hundreds of staff jobless.The airline’s parent company, Tasman Pacific Airlines, was put into bankruptcy proceedings just months after a change of ownership and relaunch as a domestic carrier. The airline halted operations after its last flights April 20.More than 1,100 airline staff and up to 2,000 ground support staff are affected by the closure.Nokia increases slice of phone marketHELSINKI, Finland -- Nokia expanded its lead as the world’s top mobile phone maker in the first three months of the year, the company said April 20 as it reported strong quarterly results despite industry and economic troubles that have hurt rivals.Net income rose to 1 billion euros, or $880 million, for a per share profit of 0.22 euro, or 19 cents, up 15 percent from the same period a year ago.Sales from January to March increased 22 percent to 8 billion euros, or $7 billion.Wal-Mart gives up on German super storesFRANKFURT, Germany -- Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has scuttled plans to launch 50 new super stores in Germany by 2003, the latest sign that shoppers in Europe’s biggest market are still cool on its all-American approach.With little fanfare, the humbled store operator said Friday it plans to open doors at only two locations this year, leaving it far off the goal set last July by Wal-Mart’s then-top European executive Allan Leighton, who has since resigned."We will concentrate on our existing operations, but we are also interested in continuing our expansion,’’ said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Andrea Hahn, who called last year’s plans "optimistic.’’Compiled from business wire services.