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Cisco may be warming up to China
The Chinese government put out a bid for nearly 500,000 cameras to be used in a security project in the city of Chongqin. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), the largest maker of networking devices, is said to be one of the companies poised to supply the equipment. Some human rights advocates believe the government may use these devices to persecute political dissenters.

The U.S. has banned the export of crime-controlling devices, such as fingerprint scanners, after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. However, there is no indication that Cisco Systems is providing this type of equipment or that it has even closed a deal with the Chinese government. The company told The Wall Street Journal that it has not sold any cameras or video surveillance hardware to any Chinese project.

The question is how will investors react to the possible partnership? If Western companies could be supplying devices that help political oppression, this could turn away some investors. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), another company that  may be interested in the project, said its trusts the word of Chinese officials on how the devices will be used, and is merely concerned with supplying the demand. Another possible U.S. participant may be Intergraph. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Google goes on a shopping spree
After losing the bidding war for nearly 6,000 patents from Nortel Network, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) continues in the search for possible patented inventions. The main reason is to build protection against lawsuits for its smartphone software operating system, Android. Since the creation of Android, which works on an open-source basis (meaning that outside developers can change the code), the company has faced lawsuits from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Oracle.

Apple has targeted makers of products that use the Android platform including HTC and even Barnes & Noble, with its Nook. Oracle on the other hand, went directly after Google.

In the auction for Nortel's portfolio, Google had an offer of $900 million, a budget it could still be using for patent shopping. According to Bloomberg, Google has actively increased its patent portfolio over the past two years. Read more at Bloomberg.

Debt limit deal inching closer
Despite the back-and-forth bickering of Democrats and Republicans, it seems that raising the debt ceiling may be a viable option. If the debt ceiling is not raised from its $14.3 trillion, the U.S. could have a default by early August, which could lead to a financial crisis and upheaval in the markets.

But it seems both sides may be making concessions, including a possible restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid, and a cutback on space exploration and pollution control on the part of Democrats. As for Republicans, they may agree to some military and security spending cuts. There could also be an increase in taxes on high-end items such as yachts and corporate jets, but no increase on income taxes of the wealthiest. Read more at Reuters.

Southern Union is still most wanted
The bidding for energy company Southern Union (NYSE: SUG) just got even more intense, as natural gas pipeline operator Energy Transfer Equity (NYSE: ETE) raised its bid to $5.1 billion. Williams Cos. (NYSE: WMB), the one to beat, had offered $4.9 billion in cash. Energy Transfer's bid is a mix of cash and partnership units.

On June 16, Energy Transfer had offered $4.2 billion for Southern Union in hopes of becoming one of the largest natural gas pipelines in the nation.  

To finance the new deal, Energy Transfer has secured $3.3 billion from Credit Suisse. Read more at Dealbook.

Shaky banks in Europe, according to Moody's 
Moody's said banks rolling over Greek debt, such as Deustche Bank and Allianz Bank, could have some impairment charges. The rating company said that to avoid a default rating, Greece would have to meet its debt-service payments and the terms of transactions would have to be attractive by their own merit.

Standard & Poor's had said the bailout plans offered by France and a similar one by Germany may put Greece in selective default. European banks are looking for a deal that will keep this from happening. Moody's rating could determine whether the plans would be implemented. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

So there you have it, the top financial stories for this afternoon. Check throughout the day for commentary on these and other stories. Also, follow us on Twitter, on Facebook, or through our email digests.

Michelle Zayed owns no shares of any companies mentioned in this story. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle, Apple, and Google. The Fool owns shares of and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.