Not So Fast
March 17, 2014
Flickr CC By: Gerald R. Ford School

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is spending a few days in China, but that doesn't mean he's putting out feelers for a possible launch of the social network there — he swears. Twitter told the Wall Street Journal that Costolo is there to "learn more about Chinese culture and the country's thriving technology sector," with a packed itinerary filled with university tours and government meetings.

Twitter reiterated that it has "no plans to change anything about our service in order to enter the market" where it has been blocked since 2009. The tightly controlled country restricts what people can access online, and social networks have to comply with the Chinese government's demands. Twitter said it has no plans to do that.

So, why is Costolo there? The Journal guesses:

Instead of trying to get Twitter into China, Mr. Costolo may simply be seeking to understand the world's largest and most isolated internet market. Though many products on China's internet remain copies of products coming out in the U.S., intense local competition and specific demands of local users are slowly leading Chinese companies to push in directions not anticipated by Silicon Valley. [Wall Street Journal]

China is usually ahead of the curve when forecasting technology trends, with a Tinder-like dating service dominating the market long before the app launched in America. Read the rest of the story at the Journal. Jordan Valinsky

This just in
2:34 p.m. ET

Russia warned Monday that it could not stop "volunteer" forces from fighting in Syria, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances that the use of ground troops was off the table. However, according to a statement from the former commander of the Black Sea fleet, Vladimir Komoyedov, "A unit of Russian volunteers, conflict veterans, will probably appear in the ranks of the Syrian army." Sending in unmarked ground troops has become a familiar Russian tactic, after unidentified Russian forces seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and were later caught fighting the Ukrainian army in the ongoing conflict there; Admiral Komoyedov suggests that it would be those very veterans who would be appearing to fight in Syria.

Last week, Russia began air strikes that supposedly target the Islamic State and Syrian al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front. Many sources, however, have reported that the strikes instead hit Western-backed rebels. Jeva Lange

drill baby drill
2:20 p.m. ET
Justin E. Stumberg/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

BP will pay $20.8 billion in penalties for the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill, marking the U.S.'s largest ever settlement with a single entity, the Justice Department announced Monday. The number is up from the $18.7 billion figure originally announced in July.

The settlement includes payments for claims from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, along with local governments and the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, NPR reports.

"BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

On April 10, 2010, a BP drilling rig blew out, leaking 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months. After 60 days of public comment on the settlement, the deal will go before a federal judge for final approval. Julie Kliegman

1:37 p.m. ET
Al Bello/Getty Images

One day before the New York Yankees take on the Houston Astros in the American League's Wild Card matchup, the team announced left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia has checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

"I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series," he said in the statement Monday. "It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father, and player."

Sabathia, 35, is widely considered one of the best pitchers in baseball, notching a Cy Young Award, World Series title, and six All-Star nods since he got his start with the Cleveland Indians in 2001. The pitcher said he plans to rejoin the Yankees after completing rehab.

"Being a baseball player means that others look up to you," Sabathia said. "I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help."

The Star-Ledger has the full statement here. Julie Kliegman

This just in
1:24 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A red-eye American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Boston was diverted Monday morning after the pilot flying the plane became ill mid-flight and died, CBS reports. A spokesperson for the airline did not specify if the pilot died during the flight, although the co-pilot landed the plane alone and can be heard posting a call to air traffic control, describing a "medical emergency" in which the pilot was "incapacitated."

US Airways Flight 550 had 147 passengers on board; the co-pilot landed the plane safely in Syracuse, New York, where a replacement crew took over the flight and flew the rest of the way to Boston. "This is a terribly sad event and American Airlines is focused on caring for the pilot's family at this time," the airline's spokesperson said. Jeva Lange

feel the bern
1:05 p.m. ET

It's no secret Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) isn't an obvious presidential pick for many black voters. "On the surface, he looks like a concerned 74-year-old grandfather who has spent most of his political career serving the people of a state that is 95 percent white," Ebony quipped.

When the magazine sat down with the Democratic presidential contender for an interview published Monday, Sanders vowed he'll face the odds and work on engaging the black community:

Yes, it's true, I am from a state that is overwhelmingly white. I am also aware that I am running against somebody whose husband is very popular in the African-American community. But, we plan to take our message to the community and so you will see me getting out soon around the country speaking in black communities, telling people about my life history and my message like the fact that I have one of the strongest civil rights voting records in the Congress. I believe once we explain, it will all make sense. [Ebony]

After Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted Sanders on the campaign trail, he agreed to meet with the activists to talk race. He told Ebony those meetings have gone well, highlighting the connection between activists' goals and his own platform of reforming the criminal justice system.

"I think for most whites, their experience with the police has been good or neutral because they don't interact with the police as much as those in the black community," Sanders said. "That was made very clear to me, and so I have found those meetings to be very useful. It speaks again for the need for criminal justice reform in a very significant way."

Check out his full interview here. Julie Kliegman

Payback time
12:25 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Want proof that the onslaught of LinkedIn emails crashing your inbox is just as annoying as you always thought? Here it is: LinkedIn has agreed to pay users $13 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over what Gizmodo describes as an "endless torrent" of emails and the professional networking site's "overzealous email habits."

Because LinkedIn sent oh so many emails that name-checked people you might know, many users thought the barrage of emails "made them look needy (the email mentions your contact's name no less than five times), which is why they launched a class-action suit against the company," Engadget says.

So, if you were a member of LinkedIn's "add connections" program between September 2011 and October 2014 — and the subject line: "Hi, I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" — is seared into your memory, you may very well be eligible to get some money for the hassle of clicking delete so many times.

Granted, the payout will likely only be about $10 — and hopefully the end of all those emails. Becca Stanek

This just in
12:23 p.m. ET

A southbound Amtrak train derailed Monday morning just north of Montpelier, Vermont, WPTZ reports. First responders said that two train cars, the engine and the conductor's car, went over an embankment; the conductor was injured but not severely. Four people in total were reportedly injured, and no fatalities have been reported so far. The train, which belonged to Amtrak's daily Vermonter line, was en route from St. Albans, Vermont, to Washington, D.C.

The accident is the second major incident for Amtrak this year. In May, seven people died and over 50 were injured when an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia. Jeva Lange

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