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Thursday, January 3, 2013

U.S. Drone Kills Pakistan Tribal Leader

Pakistani Tribal Leader Maulvi Nazir Wazir, better known as Mullah Nazir, was killed late yesterday along with his key aide and at least four others in a U.S. drone strike. The attack occurred as the militant, who is close to Afghanistan’s Taliban, was traveling in a car near Wana, in the region of South Waziristan. Nazir’s death is believed to have dealt a serious blow to Pakistan’s militants as well as the Taliban. His followers often participated in attacks on American troops across the Afghan border though, unlike other groups, they did not go after the Pakistani police and military. Nazir is thought to have signed a peace treaty with Pakistan’s government. This strike may prompt retaliation and increased violence, officials say.

Transocean Settles Oil Spill Probes with $1.4 Billion Fine

Transocean, the owner of the drilling rig that exploded and caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, will pay $1.4 billion to end civil and criminal investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice. The accident killed 11 workers before the rig sank. The Swiss company will plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor in violation of the Clean Water Act, and the money will fund environmental restauration projects and research and training for the prevention of oil spills. Transocean will also be required to improve safety on its rigs. The settlement comes two months after U.K. oil company BP agreed to pay a $4.5 billion fine, including $1.26 billion in criminal penalties, in reparations for the same oil spill.

India Gang-Rape Suspects Charged with Murder

Five men were charged in Delhi today with the kidnap, rape, and murder of a 23-year-old woman who died of her injuries shortly after the attack. A sixth suspect will face judgement in a juvenile court. The six assaulted the victim and her boyfriend on December 16 by luring them onto a moving bus at night, the 1,000-page charge sheet reads. They proceeded to successively rape her and beat her friend as he attempted to shield her from the aggression. Thousands of protesters took to the streets almost every day since the attack, demanding tougher sanctions on violence against women, which is endemic in a city that borders slums where a village culture still dominates. The men, who face the death penalty, will be tried in a fast-track court created by the government in response to the outcry. The woman’s father called for their hanging.

Clear of Search Bias, Google Must Improve Business Practices

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said today it ended its probe into Google after it found the company’s search application does not break antitrust and anticompetition law. “We found unanimously that [Google] hadn’t engaged in illegal monopolization and hadn’t violated the FTC act,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz at a press conference today. Google had been under investigation for two years over its alleged practice of unfairly promoting its products over its rivals’. Even still, the web search company agreed to make its patented cellphone technology more accessible to its competitors and to “give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms.”  A federal judge has yet to rule on the deal.

Meteorite Analysis Suggests Mars Was Wet for Longer

A meteorite from Mars found in the Sahara desert is older and contains more water than all but one of the 111 meteorites already found on Earth, research has shown. About the size of a baseball, it is thought to be about two billion years old. It also bears a close resemblance to the volcanic rocks that have been studied by Nasa’s Curiosity Rover on Mars in the past few months. Only one meteorite has been found to be older at 4.5 billion years. This new rock may be from a period when Mars was drying out, researchers said. “It opens our mind to the possibility that climate change on Mars was more gradual,” said Professor Carl Agee of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

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