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Electronics giant NEC announced it will cut 4,000 jobs, close some plants while halving production at others, and cease DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chip production within three years. The largest percentage of the layoffs will come in the ranks of contract workers in Japan who were hired for especially busy periods, reports said. The moves come on top of a restructuring plan announced in April that involves a halt in DRAM production at NEC's Roseville, Calif., plant, with the loss of 700 jobs. Similar cutbacks were announced recently by rivals Matsushita and Fujitsu.

The Los Angeles Times said it will lay off 1,570 part-time employees and close 12 distribution centers in southern California as part of a previously announced plan to cut costs. The Times said it plans to work with independent distributors instead and invited laid-off employees to apply for positions with them. The Times has a workforce of about 6,000 people.

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