• AP Interview: Coelho says Sony hack threatens all

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    GENEVA (AP) — Brazilian author Paulo Coelho says the Sony hack threatens us all if society doesn't enforce important values: our individual and collective freedom of expression and an unwavering refusal to negotiate with anonymous terrorists. The best-selling author said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press that he was prepared to make himself an example — even if it meant inviting criticism and potential threats — if Sony Pictures had taken him up on his $100,000 offer for the rights to its cancelled film.

  • Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he founded owe Japanese whalers for lawyer fees, damage to their ships and for violating the court order to stop their dangerous protests. The Japanese whalers are demanding $2 million in addition to their attorney fees and damage and cost to their ships for warding off the protests.

  • Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, and he pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government. Speaking of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Obama said at a year-end news conference, "I wish they had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship." Obama said he imagined situations in which dictators "start seeing a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like.

  • Iron Mountain reaches $44.5M settlement with US

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Information storage and management company Iron Mountain agreed to pay $44.5 million to settle allegations that the company overcharged federal agencies for record storage services, authorities announced Friday. U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said the settlement involves services the Boston-based company provided to government entities from 2001 to 2014 through contracts with the General Services Administration, or GSA. Prosecutors say the settlement resolves allegations that Iron Mountain Inc.

  • FDA OKs Cubist antibiotic for serious infections

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine to fight complex infections in the abdomen and urinary tract, the fourth antibiotic the agency has approved since May. Zerbaxa treats serious and resistant bacteria, such as E.coli, that can cause life-threatening infections. The approval of Zerbaxa on Friday is the second antibiotic approval this year for Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a drugmaker focused on antibiotics. It is being acquired for $8.4 billion by Merck & Co. of Kenilworth, New Jersey. New antibiotic approvals are important for public health because the threat of antibiotic resistance has been growing since the early 1990s.

  • Sony on shelving 'The Interview': 'We had no choice'

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Following pointed criticism from President Barack Obama for shelving "The Interview," Sony Pictures Entertainment on Friday defended its decision, claiming it had no choice but to cancel the film's Christmas Day theatrical release. Obama said during a press conference Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in dropping "The Interview." However, the studio fired back, saying the cancellation happened only because the country's top theater chains pulled out. "This was their decision," Sony said in a statement. "Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

  • Jailed ex-billionaire's lawyers seek his release

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for jailed real estate mogul Tim Blixseth filed an emergency motion with a federal judge Friday seeking his release, saying the one-time billionaire was willing to provide whatever information the court wants. U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon on Thursday found Blixseth in contempt and ordered him incarcerated until he accounts for millions of dollars owed to his creditors. Blixseth attorney Michael Ferrigno asked Haddon for a five-day stay on that order. That would give his client time to obtain documents related to the 2011 sale of a Mexico resort in defiance of an earlier court order, Ferrigno wrote in his request. "Mr. Blixseth simply cannot comply with anything that the court directs

  • FDA approves AbbVie combo hepatitis C treatment

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Patients with chronic hepatitis C have a new option for treating the liver-damaging virus, with the approval of a combination treatment developed by AbbVie. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the sale of a packaged treatment called Viekira Pak made by AbbVie Inc. of North Chicago, Illinois. It includes a combination pill, which contains the antiviral drugs ombitasvir, paritaprevir and ritonavir, along with a tablet of dasabuvir. All the ingredients are new except for ritonavir, which works to increase blood levels of paritaprevir. It's among several new pill-only hepatitis C treatments that are big improvements over earlier treatments that are less effective, require injections an

  • Grand Canyon awards temporary services contract

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The National Park Service has averted a shutdown of some of the Grand Canyon's iconic hotels and mule rides by awarding a temporary contract for services at the canyon's South Rim. The one-year contract goes to Xanterra Parks & Resorts Inc., which has been providing those services for decades. Its current contract ends Dec. 31 and reached its limit on extensions. Three companies expressed interest in the temporary contract, which will be in place while the Park Service solicits bids for a 15-year contract. Efforts to have the long-term contract in place before Xanterra's expires failed, with no one submitting a bid in three previous bidding rounds that met the Park Service's terms.

  • Arctic offshore drill company enters guilty pleas

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The company hired by Royal Dutch Shell PLC in 2012 to drill on petroleum leases in the Arctic Ocean pleaded guilty Friday to eight felony environmental and maritime crimes. Noble Drilling U.S. LLC, based in Sugarland, Texas, agreed to pay $12.2 million after pleading guilty to five counts of failing to maintain records on a drill ship that operated in the Chukchi Sea, one count of failing to maintain proper ballast water records and two counts of failing to report hazardous vessel conditions. "On behalf of the company, I plead guilty," Bernie G. Wolford Jr., president of Noble Drilling U.S., told District Court Judge Ralph Beistline. Wolford had no comment outside the courtroom and referred qu

  • Google sues Mississippi attorney general

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Google Inc. is suing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, trying to block him from pursuing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit against the company after Hood issued a subpoena for information about some of Google's operations. In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Mississippi, Google said Hood has tried to force the company to restrict access to content through its Internet search engine and advertising and on its video-sharing site, YouTube. "The Attorney General has engaged in a sustained campaign of threats against Google," the Mountain View, California-based company said in its lawsuit.

  • Celebrities react to latest Sony hack developments

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    Latest reaction from Hollywood and beyond to the Sony hacking scandal and President Obama's remarks Friday that the studio "made a mistake" in not releasing its embattled film "The Interview": — "As the events of the past weeks have made painfully clear, we are now living in an age in which the Internet can enable a few remote cyber criminals to hold an entire industry hostage. ... We hope that instead of the "chilling effect" on controversial content, this incident becomes a rallying point for all of us who care about freedom of expression to come together and champion this inalienable right.

  • US regulators close small Minnesota bank

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators have closed a small lender, the 18th bank failure in the U.S. this year after 24 closures in 2013. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday that it has taken over Northern Star Bank, based in Mankato, Minnesota. The bank operated two branches and had about $18.8 million in assets and $18.2 million in deposits as of Sept. 30. BankVista, based in Sartell, Minnesota, agreed to assume all of Northern Star Bank's deposits and to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets. Northern Star Bank's failure is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $5.9 million.

  • 2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but sealed. Even though law enforcement didn't deem the threats of violence credible at the time, theater owners and Sony undoubtedly considered the 2012 massacre of a dozen people in a Colorado movie theater. That attack came without warning, and at the time there was no precedent for such mass violence against a U.S. movie audience.

  • Cuban cigar boom? Not yet, stores and customers say

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    MIAMI (AP) — The coveted Cuban cigar is set to make its first legal appearance in the U.S. in years, with relaxed guidelines allowing American travelers to return with a few of the once-forbidden items in their suitcases. But the cigars won't roll into stores just yet, and owners say they aren't worried about any dip in business. "I don't think they'll be able to afford it. It's not for the average customer," said Erik Otero, who left Cuba when he was 3 and has been rolling cigars since age 11. Most people won't travel on a regular basis to buy cigars, said Otero, who works at Guantanamera Cigars Co. in Miami's Little Havana. "If anything, it might create a cigar boom because it's going to pique interest again.

  • More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than 4,400 people filed adoption papers for homeless dogs during what was billed as the first all-star dog adoption telethon, producers say. "If only half of those result in adoptions, that would be huge," director Michael Levitt said. Seventy dogs from rescues across the country were featured on the two-hour Thanksgiving night telecast — a show the producer see becoming a fixture in the future. More than 4 million people tuned in to the show, which was co-hosted by actresses Hilary Swank and Jane Lynch, and aired on donated time from the Fox Network. Besides the permanent homes offered, 250 people signed up as foster parents for homeless dogs, Levitt said.

  • Kocherlakota warns Fed of 'unacceptable' risk

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — One of three Fed officials who dissented in the Fed's policy decision this week is warning that the central bank is taking an "unacceptable" risk by not paying more attention to the dangers posed by low inflation. Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Fed's regional bank in Minneapolis, said Friday that the Fed's failure to respond to weak inflation "runs the risk of creating a harmful downward slide in inflation" similar to the problems facing Japan and Europe. Meanwhile, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, another dissenter at this week's meeting, is unhappy for a different reason. He feels the Fed is making a mistake by saying it will still be patient in deciding when to begin raising inte

  • Staples: Customer data exposed in security breach

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Staples Inc. says nearly 1.2 million customer payment cards may have been exposed during a security breach earlier this year. The office supply retailer announced in October that it was looking into a potential credit card breach, adding to a long list of retailers recently hit by cyberattacks. Staples said Friday that an investigation shows that the criminals used malware that may have allowed access to information for transactions at 115 of its U.S. stores, which total more than 1,400. That includes cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and card verification codes.

  • Judge: Family Dollar can vote on Dollar Tree buyout

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge says stockholders of Family Dollar Stores Inc. can vote on proposed $8.5 billion acquisition by Chesapeake, Virginia-based Dollar Tree Inc. Family Dollar shareholders are to vote on the acquisition Tuesday. But some Family Dollar shareholders want the vote postponed until the board reviews a deal with Dollar General Corp., which has also bid for Matthews, North Carolina-based Family Dollar. The judge ruled Friday that Family Dollar's board acted reasonably in not negotiating with Dollar General, which is based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, because of antitrust risks and uncertainty that regulators would approve the deal.

  • Arctic offshore drill company enters guilty pleas

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The company hired by Royal Dutch Shell PLC in 2012 to drill on petroleum leases in the Arctic Ocean pleaded guilty Friday to eight felony environmental and maritime crimes. Noble Drilling U.S. LLC, based in Sugarland, Texas, agreed to pay $12.2 million after pleading guilty to five counts of failing to maintain records on a drill ship that operated in the Chukchi Sea, one count of failing to maintain proper ballast water records and two counts of failing to report hazardous vessel conditions. "On behalf of the company, I plead guilty," Bernie G. Wolford Jr., president of Noble Drilling U.S., told District Court Judge Ralph Beistline. Wolford had no comment outside the courtroom and referred qu