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Company in W.Va. oil spill under scrutiny PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JONATHAN MATTISE, Associated Press MITCH WEISS, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 07:16

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — When state inspectors showed up unannounced at Freedom Industries to investigate a licorice odor wafting across West Virginia's capital city, company executive Dennis Farrell seemed to brush off any cause for concern.

But inspectors quickly found what was already contaminating the water for some 300,000 people: a chemical oozing from an above-ground tank and escaping through an old, cracked containment wall. A bag of absorbent material had been placed nearby and weighed down with a cinder block in a failed attempt to stop the flow.

"When they approached the tank, (Farrell) said they just discovered a leak," Jesse Adkins, the inspectors' supervisor, said.

The encounter between state officials and Freedom Industries provides a window into the little-known and lightly regulated firm whose spill of a coal-cleaning chemical contaminated the drinking water for West Virginia's capital city. The consequences from the spill — government investigations and lawsuits — mark the biggest crisis that Freedom Industries has faced in its nearly 22-year history since one of its founders went to prison on tax charges. The U.S. attorney has pledged to determine who is responsible, and numerous businesses have sued because they were forced to close and lost money until the water was safe again.

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Google builds a 'Nest' for future of smart homes PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 07:09

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When our Internet-connected gadgets and home appliances all learn to talk to each other, Google wants to be at the center of the conversation.

This imagined future is still a few years away, but Google is already preparing with its $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs.

The surprise deal announced earlier this week will provide Google Inc. with more tools to build a valuable hub for homes. It's a world of network-tethered toasters and tea kettles, or a so-called "Internet of Things," that is destined to reshape society, experts say, in the same way that smartphones have done in the seven years since Apple Inc. unveiled the iPhone.

The research firm Gartner Inc. expects more than 26 billion objects to be connected to the Internet by 2020, a figure that doesn't include personal computers, smartphones or tablets. That would be a nearly 30-fold increase from roughly 900 million Internet-connected things in 2009.

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Judge: $765M might not cover NFL concussion claims PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 07:15

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge is slowing down the proposed $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims, questioning if there's enough money to cover 20,000 retired players.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody denied preliminary approval of the plan on Tuesday because she's worried the money could run out sooner than expected. She also raised concerns that anyone who gets concussion damages from the NFL would be barred from suing the NCAA or other amateur football leagues.

"I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their (families) ... will be paid," the judge wrote.

The proposed settlement, negotiated over several months, is designed to last at least 65 years.

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Atlantic City casino revenue below $3B; first time in 22 years PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 15:53

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City's casino revenue fell below $3 billion last year for the first time in 22 years, as increasing competition in the northeastern U.S. continued to shrink the market.

Figures released Tuesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement showed the city's casinos won $2.86 billion in 2013, down from just over $3 billion in 2012.

The figures also showed the state's fledgling Internet gambling industry being dominated by two main players: the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, and Caesars Interactive, which together won $6.1 million of the $8.4 million that was taken in by New Jersey Internet gambling sites over the final five weeks of 2013.

The Borgata, with its partypoker online brand, took in more than $3.7 million in online gambling revenue since Internet betting began in New Jersey on Nov. 21.

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