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Friday, January 4, 2013

BP shares rise after Transocean fine

Shares in BP rose today after news that oil rig contractor Transocean Ltd had agreed to pay a $1.4 billion settlement to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ).  After admitting that its crew were partly responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Transocean, which employed nine of the 11 workers killed on the rig, has agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties and $400 million in criminal penalties. BP reacted positively to the settlement stating that  “in settling, Transocean has acknowledged that it played a significant role and has responsibility for the accident.” Shares in the London-based oil company rose accordingly, closing at 441.7p yesterday, a gain of 2.4 percent. There are still  outstanding claims against BP, which could be forced to pay civil fines totaling $20 billion if found guilty for gross negligence. A trial in New Orleans is scheduled for February 25.

Church Drops Gay Bishop Opposition

The Church of England dropped its opposition this afternoon to clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.  In a statement issued by the Church’s House of Bishops, it was announced that openly gay clergy could be ordained as bishops, provided they remain celibate. The move enables the church to conform with the Equality Act, which protects against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, but has been swiftly criticised by more liberal groups within the church. Gay rights campaigners have denounced the celibacy requirement in the decision for continuing to draw distinctions between homosexual and heterosexual clergy. The decision is due to put before the General Synod next month.

Swiss Bank to close after tax evasion fine

Switzerland’s oldest bank, Wegelin, is set to close after having pleaded guilty to charges of aiding tax evasion by U.S. citizens. The 272 year-old bank, based in the Swiss town of St. Gallen, admitted in a U.S. court today of having allowed more than 100 Americans to hide money totaling  $1.2 billion. Wegelin was handed a $57.8 million fine, which although lower than expected, has caused consternation in the Swiss banking community. A U.S. prosecutor described the fine as a “watershed moment” in the U.S. government’s efforts to crack down on tax evasion by its citizens in Switzerland.

UK’s first hand transplant goes ahead

Doctors at the Leeds General Infirmary in Yorkshire have completed the U.K.’s first hand transplant. The patient, 51-year-old Mark Cahill from Halifax, is said to be recovering well after an eight hour operation to replace his disabled hand with a donor hand. In the complex procedure, two teams of surgeons employed a new technique, simultaneously removing both Cahill’s hand and the donor hand from its body. Cahill lost all sensation in his hand five years ago after a severe case of gout and had been on standby to receive the pioneering treatment since late November. A spokesman for the surgical team stated that provided the new limb survives, Cahill is expected to gain movement and feeling in the hand. The former pub landlord told the press this morning that the new limb already looks his and that he “looks forward to getting it working.”

Malala Yousafzai leaves Hospital

Fifteen-year old Malala Yousafzai has been discharged from Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after a lengthey treatment for life-threatening brain injuries sustained in last year. The Pakistani school girl was admitted to the hospital for treatment following an attack by the Taliban on October 9.  She had been campaigning for girls’ education in Pakistan and was targeted by the Taliban for “promoting secularism.” Malala will continue her rehabilitation at her family’s temporary home in the West Midlands and is expected to undergo cranial reconstruction surgery in late January. The news follows Wednesday’s announcement that her father, Ziaududdin Yousafzai, had been appointed education attaché at the Consulate of Pakistan in Birmingham

Weekend Read: The Innocence of Muslims

When struggling actor Tim Dax agreed to star in a low-budget film titled Desert Warrior, he had no idea of the reaction the film would later have around the world… In Vanity Fair

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