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Oil services company Halliburton said Tuesday it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States' most disastrous oil spill. Halliburton said the money would be paid to the Gulf fishing industry and other victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, including some claims made in suits against oil giant BP. Under contract with BP, Halliburton constructed the cement casing of the offshore deepwater Macondo well that blew out on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people. The blast sank the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and sent millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico over 78 days, soaking shores in several states, killing wildlife, and shutting down the fishing industry on much of the US gulf coast.
Moscow declared NATO a "threat" to its security Tuesday after the Western military alliance announced plans to reinforce defences in eastern Europe because of Russia's alleged stoking of war in Ukraine. Moscow's surprise declaration of a shift in its military doctrine came just ahead of a NATO summit in Wales on Thursday at which beleaguered Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will lobby US President Barack Obama for military help.
When the House voted in May to authorize the select committee, which could cost taxpayers up to $3.3 million to operate, the media attention such a panel was sure to draw was a huge part of the attraction for the Republicans who pushed for it. They wanted a channel to attack President Obama and the Democrats in the lead-up to the midterm elections — so much so that House Democrats weren’t even sure they wanted to appoint representatives to the panel out of fear it would legitimize the GOP’s charged rhetoric on the issue. But the politics of Benghazi have shifted. Domestically, the GOP appears poised to win back the Senate for the first time in nearly a decade, and internationally, the foreign policy picture has become much more complicated, with unrest in the Middle East growing dramatically since the last election.
Among the issues that Obama is likely to find is that the program lacks oversight and accountability. Once Pentagon weapons reach the 8,000 police departments that participate in the program, many of them in tiny towns, the federal government has little control over them. The departments are not allowed to sell or dispose of any of the 1033 program's “controlled” items, which include small arms and tactical vehicles. An agency in each state takes over responsibility for checking the inventory once a year and reporting anything missing to the Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency.
Hong Kong police said on Tuesday they arrested 19 people during scuffles with pro-democracy activists prompted by China's decision not to allow the Asian financial hub to choose its next leader. The 19, aged between 20 and 45, were arrested on Monday for illegal assembly, trying to force their way on to a carriageway, charging a police line and for pushing barriers, a police spokeswoman said. Police used pepper spray to disperse activists as Hong Kong center braces for a wave of disruptive protests against China's decision. Hong Kong is in the midst of a political upheaval as activists in the former British colony push for full democracy.
Boko Haram militants on Monday launched a pre-dawn raid on Nigerian troops as they prepared for a major offensive to retake a town that the group's leader declared part of his Islamic caliphate. Scores of Boko Haram fighters stormed the town of Bama as soldiers readied for an attack on the nearby town of Gwoza, which was seized by the Islamists on August 7. Bama is just 70 kilometres (45 miles) by road from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. Boko Haram has seized a number of towns and villages in southern Borno and near the border with Cameroon in recent weeks, leading to claims that it is planning to encircle Maiduguri and make it the centre of a hardline Islamic state.
By Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators are asking Facebook's rivals and telecoms operators whether the world No. 1 online social network's proposed $19 billion bid for mobile messaging startup WhatsApp will lead to price hikes and curb innovation. The move came after Facebook sought EU approval for the deal, the largest in its 10-year history, which will give it a strong foothold in the fast-growing mobile messaging market and pit it against telecoms companies. The European Commission said on Monday it will decide by Oct. 3 whether to clear the deal unconditionally, demand concessions or extend the preliminary review into a wider probe. In a questionnaire sent to third parties and seen by Reuters, the EU regulator asked if the deal would have a negative, neutral or positive impact on users and customers in mobile messaging and social networks.
By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - When Charlie Crist last governed Florida, his green energy and climate policies made him few friends among the state's powerful electricity corporations. Now, as the Republican-turned Democrat bids to return to the governor's mansion, it may be payback time. Florida's three largest utilities have poured money into the re-election campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott in an expensive and closely watched political battle for the nation's largest swing state. ...
Three top Chinese universities have vowed to tighten "ideological" control over students and teachers, as a wider clampdown on free expression in the country intensifies. The comments came from the Communist Party committees of Peking University, Shanghai's Fudan University, and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, which each wrote a statement in the Communist Party theoretical journal Qiushi. The statement from Peking University -- China's top academic institution -- condemned those with "ulterior motives" who target the ruling party. "In recent years, some people go on the Internet and with ulterior motives add fuel to the fire... ultimately targeting the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system," it said.
A Chinese anti-trust regulator said on Monday it has given Microsoft Corp 20 days to reply to queries on the compatibility of its Windows operating system and Office software suite amid a probe into the world's largest software company. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) questioned Microsoft Vice President David Chen and gave the company a deadline to make an explanation, the agency said in a short statement on its website. Microsoft is one of at least 30 foreign companies that have come under scrutiny by China's anti-monopoly regulators as the government seeks to enforce its six-year old antitrust law. According to a state media report on Monday, Microsoft's use of verification codes also spurred complaints from Chinese companies.
(Reuters) - Apple Inc plans to enable its next iPhone to become a mobile wallet by allowing owners to securely make mobile payments in a store with the touch of a finger, Bloomberg said on Sunday, citing a person familiar with the situation. The agreement includes participation by Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc and American Express Co and will be announced Sept. 9 along with unveiling of the next iPhone, according to the source, who Bloomberg said asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
By James Pearson SEOUL (Reuters) - In a move that makes it harder for North Koreans to gain illicit access to the global Internet, North Korea now only allows mobile phone SIM cards used by tourists to be active for the duration of their visit, tourism sources told Reuters. Unlike North Koreans, foreigners visiting the isolated country can freely browse social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter using the Koryolink domestic network. Under a change made in July, North Korea deactivates the card when a visitor leaves, ensuring that it can not be left for use by a resident, the sources said. "This basically means in practical terms that if someone leaves the country they can't simply leave their phone with a local friend and have them use the Internet," said one source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of discussing such issues when working in North Korea.
Oracle Corp failed to revive a $1.3 billion jury verdict in its long-running copyright dispute with German software company SAP SE as a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said jurors used "an undue amount of speculation" in awarding $1.3 billion in damages in 2010. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, had erred in concluding that Oracle deserved only $272 million of damages, a sum Oracle rejected. Writing for a three-judge 9th Circuit panel, Judge William Fletcher directed Hamilton to offer Oracle a choice of $356.7 million of damages or a second trial.
(Reuters) - Apple Inc is working with Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV to add secure near-field communications (NFC) technology into the next iPhone, which would enable smartphone users to pay by touch, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with Apple's plans. NXP will provide the secure near-field communications chips that will allow an iPhone to connect with payment terminals or ticketing systems, the daily reported. Apple has invited media to a "special event" in its hometown of Cupertino, California on Sept. 9, when the iPhone maker is expected to unveil the latest versions of its best-selling smartphones.
China's Tencent Holdings Ltd has suspended more than 300 accounts on its WeChat mobile messaging app and banned around 40 others as government restrictions on spreading political news online take effect, state media said on Friday. Earlier this month, China imposed new rules on what kind of information can be spread via instant messaging apps as well as restrictions on accounts which can broadcast news to large numbers of followers. Of the 357 accounts closed down by Tencent as of August 25, 46 were permanently banned while the rest were suspended, the official Xinhua news agency said on its microblog.
By Paul Carsten BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Dalian Wanda group and Tencent Holdings Ltd said on Friday they would set up a 5 billion yuan ($814 million) e-commerce joint venture with Baidu Inc , as the firms push into the high-growth e-commerce sector. The joint venture, to be registered in Hong Kong, will be 70 percent owned by privately-held Wanda, while Chinese internet giants Tencent and Baidu will hold 15 percent respectively, Wanda and Tencent said in separate press releases. China is the biggest e-commerce market in the world, with its No. 1 player, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N], transacting more goods than Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc combined.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Friday it will open a fifth data center in Shenzhen to service AliCloud, the latest sign of its growing investment in the small but potentially lucrative cloud computing business. Established in 2009, AliCloud posted $38 million in revenue during the quarter ending June, a relatively small slice of Alibaba's $2.54 billion in total revenue for the quarter, according to Alibaba's financial disclosures filed ahead of its imminent initial public offering in New York. AliCloud, which has been likened to a budding version of the cloud service run by Alibaba's U.S. AliCloud's new data center will serve "large and small companies, financial institutions and other third parties in southern China," the company said in a statement on Friday.
The White House announced on Thursday that Todd Park, a technology and innovation policy adviser to President Barack Obama, is relocating to California to advise the president on technology from there. Park, who had built a reputation as a successful information technology entrepreneur, was thrust into the public spotlight during the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act in the fall of 2013. While not in charge of the technology behind the flawed web portal that crashed when thousands of Americans tried to sign up for health insurance, he was one of several administration officials summoned to Congress to explain the breakdown. Park's focus in California will be on recruiting skilled technology experts into government roles, the White House said.
A German Greens party leader has taken the "ice bucket" charity challenge to a new high, standing next to a marijuana plant while dousing himself with water in a tacit call for the legalization of cannabis. Cem Oezdemir is one of many public figures and ordinary citizens around the world to take the challenge - pouring a bucket of ice water over one's head to raise funds to fight Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). "Yes, it is a cannabis plant," Oezedmir told the Essen-based Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) after speculation about the plant gripped social media.
By Jeremy Wagstaff SINGAPORE (Reuters) - 'Open data' - the trove of data-sets made publicly available by governments, organizations and businesses - isn't normally linked to high-wire politics, but just may have saved last month's Indonesian presidential elections from chaos. The embrace of open data has had few tangible benefits, but created a buzz and fostered a culture that prodded Indonesia's election commission to tweak the way it handles vote results.
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - The maker of the popular Grand Theft Auto video games said Lindsay Lohan's lawsuit accusing it of basing a character on her without permission is frivolous and an effort by the actress to attract attention. In papers made public on Tuesday in a New York state court in Manhattan, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc called Lohan's claim "so legally meritless that it lacks any good-faith basis and can only have been filed for publicity purposes." Take-Two wants to dismiss the July 1 lawsuit and have Lohan pay its legal fees. A lawyer for Lohan did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment. The 28-year-old "Mean Girls" star accused Take-Two and its Rockstar Games unit of basing the Lacey Jonas character in "Grand Theft Auto V" on her.
Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer has agreed to invest in fast-growing messaging startup Snapchat at a valuation close to $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. At least one other strategic investor has committed to joining the latest round of funding, the Journal cited two of the people as saying. If the deal goes through, Snapchat would join a select club of tech startups with valuations of $10 billion or more, including car-ride service Uber and rooms-to-let startup AirBnB. Snapchat is similar to a new crop of popular mobile messaging apps that compete with established Internet services such as Twitter Inc's and Facebook.
Time Warner Cable Inc will pay $1.1 million to resolve a Federal Communications Commission investigation that last year found the cable and Internet provider did not properly report multiple network outages, the regulators said this week. "TWC (Time Warner Cable) failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice over Internet Protocol network outages," the FCC said in a report revealing the settlement released on Monday. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the Commission's rules." The FCC requires providers of fixed Internet connection or voice-over-Internet-Protocol calling to promptly report some network outages that last 30 minutes or longer, for instance those that potentially affect emergency response 911 facilities or those that impact enough consumers to collectively result in at least 900,000 minutes of disrupted Internet or phone use.