Feb 19 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* BP already has agreed to pay more than $30 billion in fines, settlements and cleanup costs for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Now it is placing a big bet that by going to trial next week, it can hold down the cost of one of its last major potential liabilities for the disaster.
* OfficeMax Inc and Office Depot Inc are in advanced talks to merge, people familiar with the matter said, as the retailers of pens, paper and desks try to fight off tougher competition from rivals like Staples Inc and Amazon.com Inc
* Reader’s Digest Association and six affiliates filed for Chapter 11 protection late Sunday night, the publisher’s second bankruptcy filing in three-and-a-half years and another example of the pressures on media companies still relying on their print publications.
* Google Inc has been developing plans to launch retail stores in the U.S., said people familiar with the matter, in another sign the company is studying Apple Inc playbook for building a consumer-electronics brand. The stores would likely sell Google-branded hardware, these people said. But it isn’t clear when or where any stores would open, and one of the people said the Internet giant might not move forward with the plan this year.
* The heads of Macy’s Inc and J.C. Penney Co Inc are set to clash this week in a New York state court in a rare public donnybrook between the department-store chains as they jockey over their partnerships with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc
* Amazon.com Inc said it had cut ties with a German security firm amid claims that its guards intimidated and harassed temporary immigrant workers that the guards were assigned to oversee for the Internet retailer.
* Arms sales by the world’s largest weapons makers fell in 2011, representing the first decline since the mid-1990s as austerity measures and a reduced U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan hit military spending.
* Protesters clashed with police at Madrid’s international airport as ground staff and cabin crews for Spain’s Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA began 15 days of strikes to protest plans to lay off 3,800 staff.