Payback: French get revenge for 2008 Olympic relay loss, rallying to beat Lochte and Americans

LONDON (AP) -- Payback. This time, it was France chasing down the United States - and Ryan Lochte, no less - to win another riveting relay at the Olympics.

With Michael Phelps looking much stronger than he did the night before, the Americans built a commanding lead over the first three legs of the 400-meter freestyle relay Sunday and never really had to worry about the defending world champions from Australia.

When Lochte dove into the water on the anchor leg, he was a half-body length ahead of the field and looking to add another gold to his dominating victory Saturday in the 400 individual medley.

Not so fast.

SEC says Chinese firm illegally traded on oil deal

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that it froze assets of Hong Kong traders who bought stock in a Canadian company before a firm owned by the Chinese government announced plans to buy it this week.

The SEC said Friday that Well Advantage Limited and other traders used accounts in Hong Kong and Singapore to make over $13 million trading shares in Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc. based on inside information.

China's CNOOC Ltd. Oil company announced plans to buy Nexen on Monday for $15.1 billion.

Dow blows past 13,000 on hope for action in Europe

EW YORK (AP) -- Faced with Facebook, Starbucks and Angela Merkel, the market chose to focus on Merkel.

For a second day, the U.S. stock market powered higher after European leaders, including German chancellor Merkel, pledged to protect the union of 17 countries that use the euro. The Dow Jones industrial average blew past 13,000, a key psychological marker that it hadn't hit since early May.

It wasn't that there weren't any troubling signs about the economy. In fact, they abounded: U.S. economic growth was anemic in the second quarter. A measure of consumer sentiment fell in July as people worried about their job prospects. And Facebook and Starbucks dropped sharply after reporting disappointing quarterly results.

But on this day, investors homed in on a couple of remarks coming from Europe.

Most notably, Merkel and French president Francois Hollande released a joint statement saying they were "determined to do everything to protect the eurozone." That followed a similar pledge the day before from Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank.

New Romney attack ad hits Obama for comment on government role in creating businesses

BOSTON (AP) -- Mitt Romney is attacking President Barack Obama in a new television ad that seizes on the president's suggestion that government helps create businesses.

The Republican presidential candidate's new ad, entitled "These Hands," features Obama's remarks from a Virginia campaign stop last week. It shows a business owner who says he and his father used hard work to build their company.

8 tagged as potential threats to financial system

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators have tagged eight exchanges and clearinghouses that settle trades as potential threats to the stability of the financial system that need strict government oversight.

They include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Depository Trust Co., the National Securities Clearing Corp. and the Options Clearing Corp.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group of the top regulators that includes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The action was mandated by the 2010 financial overhaul law.

Democrats seek leverage as fiscal cliff of tax hikes, spending cuts looms

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats are going all-in in a fiscal game of chicken, saying they'll let everyone's income taxes rise on Jan. 1 and slash defense spending amid 8-plus percent unemployment if Republicans continue to balk at raising taxes just on those making more than $250,000 a year.

The brave face is being adopted as President Barack Obama and Congress come to grips with the possibility that gridlock and stalemate will result in the government careening off a fiscal cliff in January with automatic tax increases, spending cuts and an approaching exhaustion of borrowing ability.

EU begins investigation of Microsoft for failing to offer choice of browsers, as promised

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The EU's executive body, the European Commission, announced Tuesday that it was opening an investigation into whether Microsoft has kept the antitrust commitments it made in 2009, and warned that penalties for non-compliance would be "severe."

Microsoft conceded it had "fallen short" of its obligation to provide the "browser choice screen," or BCS. The screen would allow users of Microsoft's Windows operating systems to select a browser other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

"Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7," Microsoft said in a statement.

The company said that PCs running the original version of Windows 7, as well as Windows XP and Windows Vista, did have the screen.

Yahoo turns to former nemesis to be its CEO savior

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As a top executive at Google for the past 13 years, Marissa Mayer played an instrumental role in developing many of the services that have tormented Yahoo as its appeal waned among Web surfers, advertisers and investors.

Now, Yahoo is turning to its longtime nemesis to fix everything that has gone wrong while Google Inc. has been cementing its position as the Internet's most powerful company.

Mayer, 37, will tackle the imposing challenge Tuesday when she takes over as Yahoo's fifth CEO in the past five years.

The surprise hiring announced late Monday indicates Yahoo still believes it can be an Internet innovator instead of merely an online way station where people pass through to read a news story or watch a video clip before moving on to more compelling Internet destinations.

Comic-Con wraps after 4 days of pop-art indulgence

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- This year's 43rd annual Comic-Con festival may be over but die-hard fans of the pop-culture celebration already have their minds on next year's show.

"There's no more pre-registration," lamented Chris Herrera, 26, of Los Angeles, who was attending his sixth consecutive Comic-Con. "Now you have to register online, and that website always crashes."

Fans used to be able to register onsite for the following year's convention, but organizers eliminated that option this year for the 2013 convention, set for July 18-21.

IOC: Saudis to send 2 female athletes to Olympics for 1st time; will compete in judo, track

LONDON (AP) -- Every country competing at the London Games will include female athletes for the first time in Olympic history after Saudi Arabia agreed Thursday to send two women to compete in judo and track and field.

The move by the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom to break with its practice of fielding male-only teams followed decisions by Qatar and Brunei to send women athletes to the Olympics for the first time.

"With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei, it means that by London 2012 every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games," IOC President Jacques Rogge said.

Saudi Arabia had been under intense pressure from the International Olympic Committee and human-rights groups to include female athletes. The announcement Thursday followed months of IOC negotiations with the Saudis to bring women to London.

After verdict, Olmert may return to politics

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Could Ehud Olmert be plotting his return to politics?

Although the former prime minister denies it, that was the buzz in Israel on Thursday, after he was acquitted of a series of corruption charges that forced him to resign three years ago.

The momentum is driven by the displeasure of many with Olmert's successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, the sense that the current opposition leaders are too weak to unseat him, and a sinking suspicion that in bringing down Olmert in the midst of critical negotiations with the Palestinians, overzealous prosecutors might just have cost Israel its chance for peace.

Speculation over whether he may return to political life has been rife since a Jerusalem court dismissed most of the counts against him on Tuesday.

In the decision, Olmert was cleared of charges he accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from an American supporter and that he double-billed Jewish organizations to cover his international travel.

Wimbledon champ Federer back at No. 1, tying Sampras for most weeks; Azarenka new WTA No. 1

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- By tying Pete Sampras with a record seven Wimbledon titles, Roger Federer also has tied the American's career mark of 286 weeks at No. 1 in the ATP rankings.

In Monday's new rankings, Federer jumps from No. 3 to the top, overtaking Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Federer last was No. 1 in June 2010.

Djokovic, who'd been No. 1 since winning Wimbledon last year, lost to Federer in this year's semifinals. Nadal, the 2011 runner-up at the All England Club, was upset in the second round in 2012.

2 injured at Pamplona's 5th bull run

PAMPLONA, Spain (AP) -- Several thousand people tested their bravery Wednesday by dashing with six fighting bulls through the streets of the northern Spanish city of Pamplona in the fifth day of the famed San Fermin festival. Two people were treated for minor injuries, but no one was gored.

The bulls, accompanied by guiding steer, stayed together for much of the chase but one broke free toward the end, causing fear among screaming runners. An isolated bull is more dangerous because it can become disoriented and more likely to charge.

Red Cross spokesman Alfonso Contin said there were no gorings, while the city's Navarra Hospital said a 56-year-old American from New York was treated for a hand injury and a 32-year-old Spaniard suffered a broken nose.

Dead Danish drug user tests positive for anthrax

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Danish authorities say an intravenous drug user who injected heroin and died has tested positive for anthrax.

The Health Ministry suspects the drug was contaminated with the bacillus anthracis strain of anthrax. The 55-year-old addict died Sunday.

Terrorism is not suspected, and the health ministry says there is no risk of contagion because the bacteria cannot be passed from person to person.

Anthrax is a deadly disease that can be treated with antibiotics if caught early.

China's inflation falls further, giving government leeway to fight slowdown with stimulus

BEIJING (AP) -- China's inflation fell to a 29-month low in June, giving Beijing more room to fight a deepening economic slowdown.

Consumer prices rose 2.2 percent over a year earlier, down from May's 3 percent, government data showed Monday. Food costs rose 3.8 percent.

Lower inflation clears the way for Beijing to cut interest rates or boost spending to reverse China's deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis with less danger of igniting a spike in politically sensitive living costs.

Premier Wen Jiabao warned over the weekend that the world's second-largest economy still faces "huge pressure" to decelerate. That suggested Beijing might roll out more stimulus measures following two rate cuts since the start of June, a reduction in gasoline prices and higher public works spending.

Also Monday, the government announced its second fuel price cut in five weeks in a new effort to ease cost pressures for companies and consumers and encourage spending. The official Xinhua News Agency said the reduction takes effect Wednesday but gave no details of how large it would be.

Libya's former rebel PM hub for political surge

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- A Libyan political alliance trying to hold off Islamist rivals used just one face on their campaign posters: the image of a former rebel prime minister who once taught strategic planning at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Founded by Mahmoud Jibril" read the fliers and posters for the secular-leaning coalition that appeared to have the early edge over the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist backers in the vote counting from Saturday's parliamentary election. If the liberals hang on, the outcome will likely speak more about Jibril's skills at populism than a wellspring of support for his relatively unknown political allies.

Jibril - a globe-trotting envoy for the rebel cause after abandoning his adviser post within Moammar Gadhafi's regime - is now in position to become one of Libya's political point men by serving as a kind of catch-all figure to unite an array of liberals, secularists and moderates in the nation's first open elections in nearly five decades.

Investigators outline key moments during Air France Flight 447's fatal 2009 journey

Three years after France's worst air crash, government investigators on Thursday released a final report on the accident that paints a vivid picture of pilots who, confused by faulty air-speed data during a thunderstorm, struggled to save the jet but wound up causing it to stall and plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. All 228 people aboard were killed.

Key moments of the flight as outlined in the final report by the French air accident investigation agency:

May 31, 2009

10 p.m. GMT- 216 passengers and 12 crew members - including three pilots - have boarded the Air France flight 447 in Rio de Janeiro. The computers of the Airbus A330 have been programmed for the flight to Paris.

10:29 p.m.- Flight 447 takes off. A co-pilot, rather than the captain, is flying.

June 1, 2009

Midnight- The plane is cruising at 35,000 feet. The autopilot and autothrust are on.

1:35 a.m.- The plane makes its last radio contact with Brazilian air traffic control. Attempts to make contact with air traffic control in Dakar, Senegal, fail.

After weak June, retailers to sweat out summer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Retailers could be sweating it out this summer.

Shoppers, worried about jobs and the economy, pulled back on spending in June, slowing sales for most retailers to the weakest pace since 2009. And that could leave merchants on edge, wondering if Americans will spend more when the back-to-school season starts in late July.

"The consumer is in a watch-and-wait mode,'" says Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. "She has to be seduced by value."

The June results, based on revenue at stores opened at least a year, are considered an indicator of a retailer's health. Only a small group of chain stores report monthly sales figures. But the results offer a snapshot of consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of all economic activity.

The figures have shown an uneven recovery. Discounters and high-end stores, for example, notched stronger growth last month.

But for most, sales were disappointing. Big chains like Costco, Kohl's and Macy's, as well as teen retailer The Wet Seal, were among stores whose results fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Shoppers are concerned about the struggling economy. Employers have pulled back on hiring. Europe faces a recession and growth has slowed in China. Worries about jobs sent shoppers' confidence down in June for the fourth straight month.

Tracy Garza, 41, has been waiting all year for hard evidence that the economy is on solid footing. The San Francisco resident picked up a pair of shoes for $25 at Ross Stores and bought some Blu-ray discs earlier in the year but has held back on buying a laptop for $1,200.

"Are you going to spend? Are you going to wait?" says Garza, whose income from freelance writing and Spanish translation has been uneven. "I'm going to wait to get a better idea of where the economy is going."

June is a period when stores clear out summer merchandise to make room for fall goods. So it is typically the second-biggest shopping month behind December. But because spending was so tepid last month and it took more discounts to get shoppers to buy, March may end up the biggest month, says Mike Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Overall sales growth was only 0.2 percent, according to the ICSC's tally of 23 stores nationwide. That was lower than the 1.7 percent increase in May, and it marked the weakest performance since November 2009 when the tally was down 0.2 percent. Growth would have been higher at 2.6 percent, excluding drug stores, which dragged down the overall tally.

Shoppers spent more during the first three months of the year, when warmer-than-usual weather and a sunnier outlook for the economy lured shoppers to malls. But since then, shopping, like the economy, has stalled.

Some temporary factors depressed June's retail results. The figures were compared with a hefty sale gain of 6.9 percent a year earlier, when results were the most robust for that month since 1999. Also, a series of storms left millions without power across a broad swath of the country.

Two trends could help shoppers feel wealthier and give retailers a boost during back-to-school sales, the second-biggest shopping period of the year after the holidays. Gas prices are down 60 cents since their peak of $3.94 in April, and home prices have begun to stabilize in most U.S. markets.

But a big question remains: Will hiring improve? A positive answer would go long way in helping Americans open up their wallets and bolster an economy that relies on consumer spending. On Friday, retailers and shoppers could get a partial answer.

Economists expect U.S. employers to add 90,000 jobs to payrolls when June figures are reported that day. That would be up from 69,000 in May, although the gain wouldn't be enough to lower an unemployment rate stuck at 8.2 percent.

Against this backdrop, ICSC's Niemira expects a modest 2.5 percent increase in total back-to-school sales from mid-July through mid-September. If that happens, the result would be lower than last year's 3.6 percent increase and the 5.4 percent gain in 2010. But it would be a big improvement over the 4 percent drop in 2009.

Overall, June's revenue results were lopsided, with discounters and luxury stores faring better than mall-based clothing merchants catering to low to middle-income shoppers.

Costco's revenue from stores open at least a year rose 3 percent but fell short of the 3.7 percent estimate from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Target had a 2.1 percent increase as shoppers spent more on food and health and beauty items. That was slightly lower than the 2.4 percent rise analysts expected.

Among department stores, Macy's, traditionally a strong performer, reported a slim 1.2 percent gain.

"In part, this was a function of a macroeconomic environment that is stagnant at best, and lower spending by tourists in cities such as New York," said Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's. He added sales were also slowed by the renovation of Macy's Herald Square store in Manhattan, which is creating more disruptions than expected.

Kohl's sales fell a worse-than-expected 4.2 percent in June, as the department store chain tried to build back inventories after reducing them too much earlier in the year.

A deteriorating economy could add to the woes at rival J.C. Penney, which is getting rid of hundreds of sales in favor of everyday low prices. The company, which no longer reports sales on a monthly basis, notched an almost 20 percent drop in revenue at stores open at least a year for the first quarter.

Among teen retailers, The Wet Seal reported 9 percent drop, bigger than the expected 7.7 percent decline.

Not everyone had disappointing results.

Strong performances at Ross and The TJX Cos., which operates Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and Home Goods, underscored that shoppers' have a strong appetite for brand names at bargain prices. Both Ross and TJX posted a 7 percent gain in revenue and raised their profit outlook.

Luxury chains Nordstrom and Saks also fared well, easing fears that the affluent could pull back because of big swings in the stock market. Nordstrom notched an 8.1 percent increase, up from the 5.3 percent pace in May. Saks had a 6 percent gain, up from a 4 percent gain in May.


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FDA cracks down on unapproved painkillers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration says it will begin cracking down on companies that market versions of the painkiller oxycodone which have not undergone federal review.

Oxycodone is a powerful pain reliever with the potential for addiction, abuse and death, when used inappropriately. The drug is marketed legally by companies like Purdue Pharma, which sells the time-release pill OxyContin. FDA reviews these drugs to make sure they are safe and effective.

Tarmoh on US Olympic team as a member of relay pool after conceding spot to Felix in 100

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jeneba Tarmoh has made the U.S. track and field team for the London Olympics, joining Allyson Felix, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin on the 127-athlete roster.

Tarmoh was selected as a member of the relay pool after withdrawing from a runoff Monday for the final Olympic spot in the 100 meters. She conceded her position rather than meet Felix at the starting line to break a third-place tie.

Jeremy Wariner, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, also made the squad as part of the relay pool. Wariner didn't qualify for a spot in the 400 at U.S. track trials.

GlaxoSmithKline pleads guilty to health fraud, agrees to pay record $3B in penalties

BOSTON (AP) -- A federal judge on Thursday approved an agreement by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3 billion for criminal and civil violations involving 10 drugs, the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.

The amount of money involved led U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel to remark in court that she was having trouble keeping track of the numbers.

GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to promoting the popular antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin for unapproved uses.

Government officials said in the original complaint that the company promoted Paxil as safe for children and adolescents, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hadn't approved it for those patients and the company's clinical trials raised concerns about an increased suicide risk.

APNewsBreak: Democratic super PAC, major labor union reserve $20M ad buy for House races

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A major labor union and an outside group committed to electing Democrats to the House have reserved nearly $20 million in television ad time for the fall in districts from Illinois to Florida as the party tries to reclaim the majority, The Associated Press has learned.

House Majority PAC, a so-called super political action committee that recently helped Democrats hold former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Arizona seat, is investing $16 million, while the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union is spending $3.7 million, according to an official from the Democratic-leaning group who described planned spending. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the plans.

The ad reservation targets at least 47 competitive House races that include vulnerable Republican incumbents as well as Democratic lawmakers facing strong challenges.

Pakistan: NATO supply deal looking more likely

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- U.S. and Pakistani officials expressed optimism Monday that Islamabad was close to reopening its Afghan border to NATO troop supplies after a 7-month blockade, a move that could significantly reduce tension between the two countries.

The tussle over the supply line, which Pakistan closed in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 of its troops, has driven the bilateral relationship to new lows, threatening U.S. prospects in Afghanistan.

The two sides have been deadlocked for months because of disagreements over transit payments and Washington's refusal to apologize for the deadly attack, which it insists was an accident.

The Pakistani government has also been worried about the inevitable political backlash from reopening the route, given the high level of anti-American sentiment in the country.

While the exact details of a deal remain unclear, there are growing signs that a breakthrough could be imminent.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf called a meeting of the defense committee of the Cabinet on Tuesday to decide whether to reopen the supply line, according to a senior Pakistani official.

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Arena's Belviq is first new prescription weight-loss pill to win US approval in over a decade

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has approved Arena Pharmaceutical's anti-obesity pill Belviq, the first new prescription drug for long-term weight loss to enter the U.S. market in over a decade.

Despite only achieving modest weight loss in clinical studies, the drug appeared safe enough to win the FDA's endorsement, amid calls from doctors for new weight-loss treatments.

The agency cleared the pill Wednesday for adults who are obese or are overweight with at least one medical complication, such as diabetes or high cholesterol. The drug should be used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise.

Obesity Society President Patrick O'Neil said he's encouraged by the drug's approval because it underscores the notion that lifestyle changes alone are not enough to treat obesity.