Judge halts oil drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea

A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on billions of dollars in leases off Alaska’s northwest coast, saying the federal government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the drilling rights.

The lease sale in February 2008 brought in nearly $2.7 billion for the federal government from the sale of 2.76 million acres in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea, including $2.1 billion in high bids submitted by Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said that the Minerals Management Service failed to analyze the environmental effect of natural gas development despite industry interest and specific lease incentives for such development.

The agency analyzed only the development of the first field of 1 billion barrels of oil — despite acknowledging that the amount was the minimum level of development that could occur on the leases. Beistline enjoined all activity under the lease sale pending additional environmental reviews.


Morgan Stanley reports substantial jump in profits

Morgan Stanley said Wednesday its second-quarter net income rose to $1.58 billion, easily topping forecasts as its Smith Barney brokerage helped the bank recover from a loss a year ago.

Morgan Stanley joined other banks in reporting that its trading revenue fell from the first quarter, the result of the stock market’s spring plunge. But the company, which was hurt a year ago by a conservative trading strategy and steep losses on real estate investments, was able to beat analysts’ overall revenue and profit expectations for this latest quarter.

Morgan Stanley’s net income after payment of preferred stock dividends rose to $1.09 per share from a loss of $1.10 per share a year earlier, when it lost $1.26 billion.


Coca-Cola’s drinks sales end a four-year decline

Coca-Cola Co. sold more soft drinks and juices in North America for the first time in four years during the second quarter as soft drink sales stopped years of decline. Shoppers snapped up smaller packages and new bottles, wooed by discounts, but analysts said the market will likely remain stagnant and the company will keep pushing sales overseas.

The soft drink industry’s sales have been declining for years as people focus on health and choose juices and teas instead. That has weighed on North American performance of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drink maker.

But in the three-month period ended July 2, soft drinks in the U.S. were flat and the Coca-Cola brand grew 1 percent on the success of new 90-calorie cans and contour-shaped 2-liter bottles. That was the first increase for the brand since 2005.


Flipboard application brings new magazines to the iPad

Apple Inc.’s iPad has hatched a new breed of magazines, one filled with a constantly changing mix of articles, photos and videos picked out by your friends, family and other people within your online social circle.

This new twist on digital publishing comes courtesy of Flipboard, a free iPad application that made its debut Wednesday.

Flipboard is mining the hundreds of millions of Web links posted each day on two of the world’s most popular outlets for sharing information and imagery, Facebook and Twitter.

All those links are automatically converted into a “social magazine” format that’s customized for anyone who allows Flipboard to sift through their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Instead of having to click through a hodgepodge of links, Flipboard users will be able to flip through digital pages with all the text and images already displayed on Apple’s hot-selling computer tablet.

The content of this advertising-supported magazine will change as frequently as the links posted within a Flipboard user’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Everyone will have a different magazine each day,” said Mike McCue, Flipboard’s CEO.