- - Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Judge bars graphic images on cigarette packages

RICHMOND | A judge has blocked a federal requirement that would have begun forcing U.S. tobacco companies to put large graphic images on their cigarette packages later this year to show the dangers of smoking.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington ruled Wednesday that the images violate the free speech amendment to the Constitution. He had temporarily blocked the requirement in November, saying it is likely cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit.

The Food and Drug Administration planned to require that images such as a cloud of cigarette smoke within inches of a baby’s face and a pair of healthy lungs next to the diseased lungs of a smoker appear on packs of cigarettes.


Murdoch son steps down from British newspapers

LONDON | James Murdoch, the executive at the epicenter of the phone-hacking scandal at his father’s British newspapers, is stepping down as executive chairman of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper arm.

News Corp. said in a statement Wednesday that James Murdoch, the youngest son of 80-year-old media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has relinquished his position at News International to concentrate on expanding the company’s television business.

James Murdoch, 39, will remain deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., but the move plucks the onetime heir apparent to his father’s global empire away from a firestorm about his credibility and his role in Britain’s expanding phone-hacking scandal.

News Corp. shares set a 52-week high in New York after the news broke, rising 1.6 percent to $20.11 a share.


Central bank hands out $712 billion in loans

FRANKFURT, Germany | The European Central Bank’s second offering of unlimited low-interest loans was gobbled up Wednesday by 800 banks, which borrowed $712.4 billion at 1 percent interest for three years.

Nearly $1.4 trillion has been pumped into Europe’s financial system in this way in an attempt to stabilize banks, governments and businesses.

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