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Wednesday, Aug 20th

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Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling

Deep water frackingEnergy companies are taking their controversial fracking operations from the land to the sea -- to deep waters off the U.S., South American and African coasts.

Cracking rocks underground to allow oil and gas to flow more freely into wells has grown into one of the most lucrative industry practices of the past century. The technique is also widely condemned as a source of groundwater contamination. The question now is how will that debate play out as the equipment moves out into the deep blue. For now, caution from all sides is the operative word.

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Porch shooter found guilty of second degree murder

Renisha McBrideA jury in Detroit found Theodore Wafer guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Renisha McBride Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Wafer, 55, was on trial in Detroit's Wayne County Circuit Court after shooting 19-year-old McBride on his porch in November. McBride appeared at Wafer's house in Dearborn Heights, adjacent to Detroit, around 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 2. She crashed her car nearby earlier that night, and no one knows her whereabout in the several hours between the accident and her death. She was severely intoxicated. She knocked on Wafer's door, potentially looking for help; he came to the door with a loaded shotgun and shot in the face.

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In Retaliation, Russia Bans Some Food Imports From U.S., Europe

Russia retaliates with food embargoRetaliating for sanctions placed on it by the West, Russia has announced that it is banning the import of some food from the United States and its allies.

As The Associated Press reports, the list is broad and shows that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "no intention of bowing to Western pressure over Ukraine and will instead try to strike back at the West."

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U.S. Homeland Security contractor reports computer breach

Homeland Security computer breachA company that performs background checks for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday it was the victim of a cyber attack, adding in a statement that "it has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack."

The computer breach at Falls Church, Virginia-based US Investigations Services (USIS) probably involved the theft of personal information about DHS employees, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the story.

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BofA said to be near $16 billion deal with U.S. over mortgage bonds

Bank of AmericaBank of America Corp (BAC.N) is close to a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay more than $16.5 billion to end investigations into mortgage securities that the bank and companies it bought sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

A settlement would likely cap more than four years of work by Brian Moynihan, the bank's chief executive, to rid Bank of America of nearly all of the massive mortgage liabilities it took on through the acquisitions of Countrywide Financial Corp and Merrill Lynch & Co by his predecessor, Kenneth Lewis.

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Jimmy Carter urges US to recognize Hamas, condemns Israel in co-authored op-ed

Jimmy carterFormer U.S. president and international peace activist Jimmy Carter co-authored an op-ed along condemning Israel's military actions in Gaza as war crimes and urging the United States to recognize Hamas as a legitimate political force.

The piece, published Tuesday in the Guardian, was written along with Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland. Both Carter and Robinson are members of The Elders, an international non-governmental organization formed in 2007 by the late Nelson Mandela comprised of elder statesmen, peace activists, and humanitarian advocates who describe themselves as "independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights."

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More inland oil and gas rigs in U.S. than anywhere else

inland rigs in USOil services company Baker Hughes said Thursday there were more rigs actively exploring for oil or gas in the United States than any place else in the world.

Baker Hughes published its monthly rig count for July. It shows 1,819 rigs active in the United States, compared with the 1,394 rigs combined for Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

The closest rival to the United States for July was the Middle East with 378.

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Russia grants 3-year asylum extension for Edward Snowden

Edward SnowdenFormer U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was granted a three-year extension on his asylum residency in Russia.

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters Thursday that Snowden's request for an extension was granted. Snowden's previous asylum was only for one year and expired July 31.

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Cambodia tribunal convicts Khmer Rouge leaders

Cambodia convicts Khmer Rouge leadersThey were leaders of Cambodia's infamous Khmer Rouge, the fanatical communist movement behind a 1970s reign of terror that transformed this entire Southeast Asian nation into a ruthless slave state — a place where cities were emptied of their inhabitants, religion and schools were banned, and anyone deemed a threat was executed.

When the nightmare ended, in 1979, close to 2 million people were dead — a quarter of Cambodia's population at the time.

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