Thursday, May 27, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/27

  • A top BP worker who was aboard the Deepwater Horizon in the hours leading up to the explosion declined to testify in front of a federal panel investigating the deadly oil rig blowout, telling the U.S Coast Guard he was invoking his constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination. The move Wednesday by BP's Robert Kaluza for the first time raises the specter of criminal liability in the April 20 explosion that killed 11 and continues even five weeks later to spew hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day.
  • The Obama administration Thursday will suspend planned exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska until at least 2011, a casualty of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The move will stop Shell from drilling five wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off northern Alaska weeks before it had hoped to start work, an administration official told McClatchy.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that President Barack Obama's decision to deploy 1,200 more soldiers as part of a $500 million effort to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border is "a good start." Obama's plan, announced this week, has sparked criticism from all sides. Many conservatives say his response is too little, too late. Human-rights groups are disturbed by the decision and are staging a series of protests, including one today in El Paso by the Border Network for Human Rights.
  • Oil giant BP is asking the courts to place every pre-trial issue in the hands of a single federal judge in Houston. That judge, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, has traveled the world, expenses paid, giving lectures for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. His financial disclosure forms show he collects royalties from several energy companies.
  • Bell Helicopter has agreed to pay the U.S. government $16.6 million to settle claims that it overcharged the Defense Department for work on military contracts. The Justice Department announced the settlement Wednesday, bringing an end to investigations that began in August 2004, when Bell attorneys first notified the Pentagon's inspector general that the company had overcharged the government for work done by Bell subsidiaries and affiliates.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday that BP — and only BP — can stop the gush of oil into the Gulf of Mexico caused by the April explosion of an offshore drilling rig. Napolitano, in the Kansas City area to discuss homeland security preparedness, said the government isn't capable of stopping the oil, but has taken an active role in mitigating the damage.
  • Keep your head down and follow the campaign plan. That's what the four Republicans running for South Carolina governor said they would do as blogger Will Folks' still-unproven allegations of an "inappropriate physical relationship" with candidate Nikki Haley continue to dominate news coverage.
  • Scores of South Florida Jamaican leaders, troubled at the unfolding crisis back home, gathered at a Miami Gardens church Wednesday to express their concerns and call on government officials to move quickly to solve the problem. At least 48 Jamaicans have been killed surrounding the attempts to arrest suspected drug trafficker Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who's wanted on a U.S. Justice Department warrant.
  • Captain Duck is suing British Petroleum, saying the oil company giant is responsible for his small charter boat business losing tourist customers in Key West. Although no oil from last month's Deepwater Horizon blowout has reached the Florida Keys, Michael J. Burge, who goes by the nickname Captain Duck, said it's the "perception" that has cost him significant snorkeling, diving, fishing and dolphin encounter business over the past few weeks.
  • President Barack Obama reaffirmed Wednesday his commitment to containing and cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pledged to wean the country off its dependence on fossil fuels. Obama said that the spill in the gulf "underscored the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources," and that the administration is "intensively engaged with scientists and engineers to explore all alternative options" as relief wells are completed.
  • The angry people getting most of the attention lately are the Tea Party screamers — mostly older, white, more affluent folks who preach a gospel of selfishness. They see the problem as "big government." But I encounter a larger, quieter, though still angry group of people every day. They don't wave flags, wax nonsensically about the Constitution or seek to live in some idealized past.
    These people, both Democrats and Republicans, think the Tea Partiers' diagnosis of what is wrong with America is missing a couple of words and most of the point. They see the problem as "big business" and "irresponsible government".
  • Last week, Soledad O'Brien made a young mother cry.
    It came in the midst of a special series, "Black Or White: Kids on Race" on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. The series was based on a new version of the famous "doll tests" pioneered by husband and wife psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1930s and '40s, and recreated in 2005 by Kiri Davis, a teenage filmmaker.

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