World and Nation

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Colorado fire causes at least $2.1 million in damage

BOULDER, Colo. — Federal fire managers said firefighters have the Fourmile Canyon Fire west of Boulder about 40 percent contained and that good progress against the blaze was made Thursday.

“Today has been good in the sense that we did not lose any structures,” said Winslow Robertson, operations chief with the incident command.

Though all of the 6,365 acres charred since the fire began Monday morning have not been surveyed, the tally of houses confirmed destroyed remains at 169. Another 25 structures have been damaged.

But winds of up to 50 miles per hour out of the southwest were expected Thursday night and residents who were briefly allowed to return to their homes were told to leave early Thursday afternoon. The winds could carry smoke and embers from the fire west of Boulder toward the city.

“There are concerns about the fire’s path becoming less predictable and the possibility of spot fires from embers,” City Manager Jane Brautigam said in a news release.

More than 500 firefighters are on the ground, with more than 70 engines. The cost of fighting the blaze was put at $2.1 million and rising.

The fire, which broke out Monday morning, has driven about 3,500 residents from their homes. There are about 800 homes in the 8,000 acres evacuated. No deaths or injuries have been reported from the fire and all residents were accounted for.

Combat video game goes too far for military

LEAVENWORTH, KAN. — Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hampton knows it is just a video game. But the details are unnervingly familiar: the uniforms, the weapons, even the military bases and desert towns where the action is set. Each time Hampton, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, plays, his heart rate spikes, his breathing quickens and his muscles tense.

“It brings back a real reminder of what it actually felt like to be out there,” Hampton, 31, said Thursday.

That video war games, with ever-greater verisimilitude, provoke such a physical reaction makes the thought that some people might play at killing U.S. soldiers all the more disturbing for some.

The lifelike simulations of combat are in part the product of a close working relationship between video game producers and the military. But there was an unexpected rupture in that relationship when the organizations that run the stores on Army, Air Force and Navy bases announced they would refuse to sell a soon-to-be-released combat simulation game, “Medal of Honor” by Electronic Arts, one of the world’s biggest video game publishers. (The body that runs the stores — known as PXs — for the Marines was still weighing whether to make the game available.)

At issue is a feature in the game, set in post-Sept. 11 Afghanistan, that allows a user to become a Taliban fighter and attack U.S. troops.

“Out of respect to those we serve, we will not be stocking this game,” Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which runs retail operations, said in a statement last week.

Goldman fined in Britain for not disclosing a U.S. inquiry

The British securities regulator said Thursday that it had fined Goldman Sachs 17.5 million pounds, or nearly $27 million, for not disclosing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inquiry into the synthetic collateralized debt obligation known as Abacus.

The regulator, the Financial Services Authority, said Goldman Sachs International, the bank’s London-based unit, “did not have effective procedures in place to ensure that its compliance department was made aware of the SEC investigation so that it could consider whether any notifications needed to be made to the FSA.”

In an e-mailed statement, Goldman said only that it was “pleased the matter is resolved.”

The bank agreed to pay $550 million in July to settle with the SEC over allegations of fraud tied to Abacus 2007-AC1, a credit derivative product based on mortgage-backed securities. The agency’s charges, filed in April after months of inquiry, led its British counterpart to examine whether Goldman should have disclosed the inquiry earlier.

Apple gives app developers its review guidelines

Apple, which keeps a tight lid on its products and inner workings, is loosening up a little.

The company said Thursday that it would relax its rules on how software developers can build applications for its iPhone and iPad. Also, for the first time, it published detailed guidelines explaining how it decides what programs can and cannot be sold through its App Store.

Apple has long faced criticism from developers who say its application review process is opaque and that it makes seemingly arbitrary decisions about what is acceptable for its customers.

Analysts said the moves Thursday were a sign that Apple was growing increasingly aware of competition in the smart phone market, and was trying to be friendlier to the developers whose applications have helped drive the success of its products.

In particular, Android, the mobile operating system by Google, has steadily increased market share in the United States and abroad. Shipments of smart phones using Android grew 886 percent during the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the research firm Canalys. A wave of Android tablet computers that will compete with the iPad are also on the way.