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Associated Press
Protesters from the Gulf Restoration Network and other groups stand outside federal court in New Orleans on the first day of the Gulf oil spill trial.
Briefs

Trial begins in Gulf spill lawsuit

– BP put profits ahead of safety and bears most of the blame for the disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a U.S. Justice Department attorney charged Monday at the opening of a trial that could result in the oil company and its partners being forced to pay tens of billions of dollars more in damages.

The London-based oil giant acknowledged it made “errors in judgment” before the deadly blowout, but it also cast blame on the owner of the drilling rig and the contractor involved in cementing the well. It denied it was grossly negligent, as the government contended.

Eleven workers were killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP exploded April 20, 2010. An estimated 172 millions of gallons of crude gushed into the Gulf over the three months that followed in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Nation

Boating family lost off California coast

Crews planned to search by sea and air through the night Monday as they ramped up efforts to find a husband, wife and two young children who sent a series of distress calls saying their sailboat was sinking far off the Central California coast and they were fashioning a raft from a cooler and a life ring.

The unidentified family had been sailing a small vessel Sunday west of Monterey Bay, where strong winds, cold water and big swells made for perilous conditions. Forecasters had issued a weekend advisory warning boaters of rough seas in the area.

Nixon’s reward for Bork: Supreme Court

Robert Bork says President Richard Nixon promised him the next Supreme Court vacancy after Bork complied with Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973.

Bork’s recollection of his role in the Saturday Night Massacre that culminated in Cox’s firing is at the center of his slim memoir, “Saving Justice,” that is being published posthumously by Encounter Books. Bork died in December at age 85.

Bork writes that he didn’t know whether Nixon actually, though mistakenly, believed he still had the political clout to get someone confirmed to the Supreme Court or was just trying to secure Bork’s continued loyalty as his administration crumbled in the Watergate scandal.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork to the high court in 1987. The nomination failed in the Senate.

Warrant issued for Las Vegas suspect

Police said Monday they have a warrant for a 26-year-old ex-convict identified as the prime suspect in a shooting and fiery crash that killed three people last week on the Las Vegas Strip.

“We can say with certainty that Ammar Harris is the suspect who fired the fatal shots,” Las Vegas police Capt. Chris Jones told reporters at an afternoon update about a manhunt that he said would be advertised on southern Nevada billboards.

Boycott planned on boardwalk’s wood

Environmental groups say they’ll launch a boycott drive against a Jersey shore town that refuses to back off its plan to use tropical rainforest wood to rebuild a boardwalk destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

The groups calculate that 766 acres of old-growth tropical rainforest needed to be cut down to provide materials to rebuild just one small storm-damaged boardwalk at the Jersey shore, and they’re promising a tourist season boycott if the town goes through with its plan.

Activists on Monday called on the small shore town of Avon to use something other than ipe to rebuild the boardwalk destroyed by the October storm but were rejected.

ISPs asked to notify illegal file sharers

Internet users who illegally share music, movies or television shows online could soon receive warning notices from the nation’s five major Internet service providers.

The Copyright Alert System, organized by the recording and film industry, is being activated this week to target consumers using peer-to-peer software.

Under the new system, complaints will prompt an Internet service provider – such as Verizon or AT&T – to notify a customer whose Internet address has been detected sharing files illegally.

A person will be given up to six opportunities to stop before the Internet provider will take more drastic steps, such as temporarily slowing their connection, or redirecting Internet traffic until they acknowledge they received a notice or review educational materials about copyright law.

Homeless man feted for returning ring

A homeless man’s decision to return a woman’s engagement ring after she accidentally dropped it in his cup is about to pay him big dividends.

Billy Ray Harris, who frequently panhandles on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, discovered the ring after Sarah Darling dumped spare change from her coin purse into his cup earlier this month. Earlier that day, she had taken off her ring and put it with the coins.

Television station KCTV reports that after realizing what she’d done, the Missouri woman returned to Harris and asked whether he had the ring. He said yes and gave it back to her.

Now, the woman’s fiancé has set up a website seeking donations for Harris. On Monday, people from around the world had donated more than $145,000.

World

Iran offered token in nuclear talks

World powers, fearful of scuttling negotiations beginning this week with Iran, are offering the Islamic republic some small new sanctions relief in return for curbing its nuclear program.

But officials warned Monday that it’s unlikely that any compromise will be reached soon.

Negotiators set low expectations for the latest round of high-level diplomatic talks to begin today in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city – the first since last June’s meeting in Moscow that threatened to derail delicate efforts to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level close to that used for nuclear warheads.

Horsemeat scandal prompts Ikea recall

Swedish furniture giant Ikea became entangled in Europe’s widening meat scandal Monday, forced to withdraw meatballs from stores across Europe amid suspicions that they contained horse meat.

Stores in the U.S. and Canada were not affected, Ikea said.

The company reacted after authorities in the Czech Republic said they had detected horse DNA in tests of packs of frozen meatballs that were labeled as beef and pork.

Ikea is known for its assemble-it-yourself furniture, but its trademark blue-and-yellow megastores also have cafeteria-style restaurants.

European Union officials met Monday to discuss tougher food labeling rules after the discovery of horse meat in a wide range of frozen supermarket meals that were supposed to contain beef or pork. Authorities say the scandal is a case of fraudulent labeling but does not pose a health risk.

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