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NATION IN BRIEF: BP pledges to pay for gulf oil spill's cleanup, damages

The Associated Press. BP Chairman Lamar McKay leaves the Interior Department in Washington on Monday after a closed door meeting.

The Associated Press. BP Chairman Lamar McKay leaves the Interior Department in Washington on Monday after a closed door meeting.

VENICE, La. -- BP PLC gave some assurance Monday to shrimpers, oil workers and scores of others that they will be paid for damage and injuries from the explosion of a drilling rig and the resulting massive oil spill in the Gulf.

A fact sheet on the company Web site says BP takes responsibility for cleaning up the spill and will pay compensation for ''legitimate and objectively verifiable'' claims for property damage, personal injury and commercial losses. President Barack Obama and several attorneys general have asked the company to explain what exactly that means.

BP spokesman David Nicholas said the company doesn't know how much the cleanup will cost and hasn't decided how to pay for it.

Owner of SUV with bomb says he sold vehicle three weeks ago

NEW YORK -- The registered owner of an SUV that was parked in Times Square and rigged with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb told investigators he sold the vehicle to a stranger for cash three weeks ago, a law enforcement official said Monday.

The owner, who lives in Connecticut, was questioned Sunday about his sale of the dark-colored 1993 Nissan Pathfinder to a man he did not know, the official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into the botched bombing is at a sensitive stage.

Officials say the owner, whose name has not been released, is not considered a suspect into the bomb scare that forced thousands of tourists to be cleared from several streets in the heart of Times Square on Saturday night.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne confirmed Monday that investigators had spoken to the registered owner, declining further comment. Investigators were still searching for the driver.

Obama declares disaster in Mass. water main break

BOSTON -- President Barack Obama has signed an emergency disaster declaration offering federal help as Massachusetts grapples with the effects of a major water main break.

The break led Gov. Deval Patrick to issue a boil order for about 2 million people in the Boston area.

Obama's declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts with the state to help ease any hardships.

The 10-foot-wide pipe has been repaired, but health officials say testing must be finished before tap water in Boston and about 30 other communities is approved for drinking.

Merging airlines looking to court business flyers

United and Continental Airlines are counting on more business travelers -- not higher fares for vacationers -- to make their $3 billion merger pay.

United CEO Glenn Tilton and Continental CEO Jeffery Smisek announced Monday that the nation's third- and fourth-largest airlines will consolidate into the world's biggest in hopes of drawing more business travelers who will pay top dollar for last-minute tickets. It's a stock swap deal in which United acquires Continental, and the new airline is to be called United.

Cops: Woman kills sister-in-law, drives with body

RIALTO, Calif. -- Police said a homeless woman fatally shot her sister-in-law and then drove around a Southern California neighborhood for hours with the body in the victim's car.

Lt. Joseph Cirilo said 48-year-old Sandra Lee Kotz was found armed before dawn Sunday sitting on a curb near the car. Cirilo said Kotz then pointed to the car and the body was found inside.

Kotz was booked for investigation of murder in the death of 58-year-old Ellen Ann Bayless. Jail officials said Kotz has no attorney.

Wal-Mart to pay $27.6M in Calif. dumping case

SAN DIEGO -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that it improperly handled and dumped hazardous waste at stores across California in a case that led to changes in the retailer's practices nationwide, prosecutors said Monday.

The settlement ends a five-year investigation involving more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups. They alleged that each of the company's 236 stores and distribution centers across California, including Sam's Club warehouse stores, were in violation of environmental laws and regulations, said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.