THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.

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Computing multinational Hewlett-Packard (HP) is to pay US regulators $108m to settle a corruption scandal involving employees at subsidiaries in three countries, who were charged with bribing government officials to win and retain lucrative public contracts.

The case piles further pressure on the HP boss, Meg Whitman, who is already managing the fallout from her company’s disastrous acquisition of the British software group Autonomy, while losing ground commercially to Samsung, Apple and Chinese rival Lenovo.

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Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline, two of the world’s top drugmakers, have struck a multi-billion-dollar deal to join forces and reshape their businesses.

The deal involves swapping assets and combining their consumer health units.

Novartis will acquire GSK’s cancer drugs business for $16bn (£9.5bn) and sell its vaccines division, excluding the flu unit, to GSK for $7.1bn.

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