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Nov. 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM
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Report: BP nearing oil spill settlement

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Oil company BP said it was nearing an agreement with the U.S. government that would resolve criminal claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Britain-based BP stressed Thursday no agreement has been finalized, but negotiations with the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission were "advanced," CNNMoney reported.

Any settlement would undergo federal judicial review, and would not affect any civil claims made against BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP still would face a potential fine for environmental damages in the gulf.

Several media outlets have reported BP has agreed to admit guilt and pay a fine that reportedly would be the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history, CNNMoney said.

In April 2010, an explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and dumped millions of barrels of oil into the gulf, causing extensive environmental damage to the region before the well was capped three months later. BP's embattled chief executive officer, Tony Hayward, was forced to resign and BP shares plummeted.

Petraeus: I did not pass classified info

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- David Petraeus said he did not pass classified information to his biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom he had an affair that ended his career at the CIA.

In a conversation with Headline News, the former CIA director said his resignation had nothing to do with his scheduled testimony about the September attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and he did not pass information along to Broadwell, CNN reported.

Broadwell admitted to the FBI she had an extramarital affair with Petraeus, CNN reported. Petraeus admitted to the affair within days of the event.

Petraeus and Broadwell are both married with children.

Meanwhile, sources told two news organizations Petraeus and Broadwell both attended a Washington event less than two weeks before Petraeus quit the CIA.

Feds accused of withholding Biowatch info

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The Department of Homeland Security and other federal officials have been accused of withholding key documents on BioWatch from a congressional committee.

The congressional committee that oversees BioWatch, the nationwide system for detecting deadly biological attacks, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, asking her to comply with their request for documents, the Chicago Tribune reported.

BioWatch was launched in 2003 by President George W. Bush to "protect our people and our homeland."

"The response from DHS to date has been inadequate, raising serious questions about the department's willingness to cooperate with efforts to ensure the success of the BioWatch program and transparency about its potential failures," wrote Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who heads its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

In a separate letter to the Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, Upton and Stearns allege the agency has provided "insufficient responses" to BioWatch-related requests sent to him by the committee in July.

FDA unsure energy drinks linked to deaths

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials say they don't have enough evidence to tighten rules on energy drinks despite dozens of reports linking them to deaths of consumers.

The highly caffeinated drinks have been cited in 18 deaths in recent filings with the Food and Drug Administration, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Thirteen deaths over the past four years have been linked to the highly caffeinated drink 5-Hour Energy, federal health officials say.

The FDA last month received five reports of deaths mentioning energy drink Monster Energy.

FDA records examined by the Times found some 90 filings with the agency since 2009 that mentioned 5-Hour Energy. More than 30 of the reports involved serious medical issues such as heart attacks, convulsions and a spontaneous abortion.

U.S., Afghanistan to start security talks

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Talks with Afghanistan concern developing a status-of-forces arrangement, not a plan for further military intervention if the need arises, a U.S. official said.

The United States and Afghanistan were to begin Thursday negotiating terms of a new security setup once U.S. combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The talks, which could last up to a year, will attempt to reach agreement on a new joint security arrangement that satisfies both the U.S. goal of denying terrorists a base and Afghanistan's demands for sovereignty, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that U.S. troops be held accountable under Afghan law, while the U.S. officials insisted that troops accused of crimes in Afghanistan be tried in the U.S. legal system, the Tribune said.

Immunity from prosecution was the same issue that dashed similar talks between the United States and Iraq in 2011.

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