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Feb. 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM   |   0 comments

Court rejects corporate-donation case

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to review the longstanding ban on direct corporate contributions to a federal candidate.

Under 2010's Citizens United vs. the FEC, companies are allowed to use corporate funds for "independent electioneering" that isn't coordinated with a campaign.

Two business executives were charged in Alexandria, Va., with violating federal law.

Executives William P. Danielczyk, Jr., and Eugene R. Biagi were charged with funneling money from their financial firm through third-party donations -- channeled through their employees -- to the Hillary Clinton campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the presidency, SCOTUSBLOG.com reported.

Citing free speech, the executives wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court decision upholding the ban on direct corporate contributions.

The justices refused in a one-line order without comment.


BP trial in oil disaster may be lengthy

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- BP's civil trial for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster could last for months unless a deal is reached earlier, observers said.

The trial was to begin Monday.

Reports of a potential settlement surfaced late Sunday but no deal announced as of early Monday, AlabamaLive.com reported.

The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, said a proposed $16 billion agreement between BP, the U.S. Justice Department and the five Gulf states would limit BP's fines under the Clean Water Act to $6 billion, a proposal that could help reduce the company's tax liability. The deal would include $9 billion in penalties for damages to natural resources and restoration costs, and $1 million to be put in a fund that could be used if there are spill-related, unanticipated environmental damages, the report said.

The civil trial against BP and its partners in the ill-fated Macondo oil well begins what is expected to be a three-month proceeding to assign liability for the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and collapse April 2010, that killed 11 workers and caused one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, The (New Orleans) Times Picayune said.


Search for new pope may begin sooner

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Retiring Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree Monday that allows the selection of his replacement to begin sooner, Vatican officials said.

The change allows a gathering of the cardinals who will elect the new leader of the Catholic Church to begin sooner than 15 days after he steps down Thursday, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

"The cardinals will be permitted to bring forward the start of the conclave, if they are all present," the decree said.

Before the decree was issued, the conclave could not have begun before mid-March.


British archbishop quits amid allegations

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Britain, has resigned amid allegations of improper conduct with priests, officials said.

His resignation leaves Britain without a vote at an upcoming Rome church conclave to select a new pope, the BBC reported Monday.

O'Brien, 74, the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland, apologized in a statement to anyone he had offended during his time as a priest.

"Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologize to all whom I have offended," he said.

"I do not wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me -- but rather on Pope Benedict XVI and on his successor."

Three priests and a former priest complained to a papal representative in early February about what they said was O'Brien's inappropriate behavior toward them in the 1980s.


Onion deletes offensive tweet about Wallis

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- American satirical publication The Onion tweeted, then deleted, a profanity-laced joke about 9-year-old Best Actress Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis.

The "Beasts of the Southern Wild" cast member looked adorable in a blue dress and carrying a puppy purse at the Los Angeles ceremony Sunday night; however, she ultimately lost the Best Actress prize to "Silver Linings Playbook" star Jennifer Lawrence. Wallis still went down in the history books as the youngest person ever to be nominated for Best Actress.

"Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a [four-letter expletive beginning with a 'c'], right?" The Onion tweeted Sunday night.

CNET said it is unclear what prompted the mean-spirited barb toward the child on her big night, but attributed its quick removal from the Internet to Onion staffers realizing it was a mistake.

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