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Obama defends energy policy

LARGO, Md. — In what has become a weekly ritual, President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his administration’s energy policy, in the face of relentlessly rising gasoline prices, to an American public that believes he can do more to ease the pain at the pump.

Obama cycled through now-familiar themes, promoting his record of increased domestic oil and gas production; stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks; and investments in alternative sources of energy, like biofuels, wind and solar power. The administration’s energy policy has been the focus of many speeches the president has given in recent weeks.

“There’s no silver bullet,” the president declared. “Anybody who tells you otherwise isn’t really looking for a solution; they’re trying to ride the political wave of the moment.”

—Mark Landler, The New York Times

Cisco systems to buy NDS, a software provider

Cisco Systems said Thursday that it planned to buy the NDS Group, a provider of content streaming and security software, for about $5 billion to help expand its next-generation video services.

By buying NDS, whose customers include British Sky Broadcasting and DirecTV, Cisco is hoping to augment its Videoscape streaming platform. The company has been focusing on its video offerings as it works to bolster lagging growth in its core networks business.

NDS, based in Staines, England, has about 5,000 employees and has operations in five countries. Its chairman, Abe Peled, will become a senior vice president and chief strategist for Cisco’s video and collaboration group.

—Michael J. De La Merced and Mark Scott, The New York Times

Britain’s shaky economy threatens credit rating

LONDON — Fitch, the ratings agency, warned Thursday that Britain could lose its top investment grade because its economy might not be flexible enough to absorb economic shocks.

The change in the rating outlook, which came as the country’s Treasury was putting the finish touches on its annual budget, showed how fragile Britain’s economic recovery remained. It is also likely to give ammunition to the opposition Labour Party, which argues that the government’s far-reaching austerity measures have hindered growth. Fitch revised its outlook for Britain’s debt rating to negative from stable late Wednesday but kept its AAA credit rating unchanged.

The government said Thursday that Fitch’s comments reflected support for its austerity measures and a recognition of the need to reduce the budget deficit in an uncertain economic environment.

Fitch warned that the British economy remained threatened by the “ongoing financial tensions in the eurozone.” The eurozone is Britain’s biggest export market.

—Julia Werdigier, The New York Times

Falling for the president

For President Barack Obama, the fainting spells are back.

A woman listening as the president discussed his energy policy in Maryland on Thursday fainted among the standing-room-only crowd.

“Remember next time, if you’re going to stand for a long time, you’ve got to eat,” he said to laughs from the crowd. “It’s true. You’ve got to get something to eat. You’ve got to get some juice.”

It was the third time this month that someone had fainted during one of the president’s speeches. A woman fainted last week as Obama spoke at a Daimler plant in Mount Holly, N.C. A week earlier, a woman passed out as Obama spoke at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire.

—Ashley Southall, The New York Times