The US Coast Guard is warning the oil spill from an offshore well in the Gulf of Mexico could be five times worse than previously thought. Rear Admiral Mary Landry made the announcement while also disclosing a new breach has been discovered in the underwater well.
Mary Landry: "Specifically, BP has just briefed me on a new location of an additional breach in the riser of the deep underwater well. While BP believes, and we believed, and established a thousand-barrel-per-day estimate of what is leaking from the well, NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] experts believe the output can be as much as 5,000 barrels."
Eleven workers remain missing from the explosion that set the rig on fire before sinking into the Gulf last week. The workers are presumed dead. The oil slick meanwhile continues to approach the Louisiana coast, with fears it could reach the shoreline by Friday night.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans have ended their filibuster of a financial reform bill after three days. On Wednesday, Republicans allowed Democrats to advance the measure to the Senate floor but vowed to continue opposing several provisions, including new curbs on the trading of derivatives.
The Justice Department is considering filing a lawsuit to thwart a new law in Arizona that forces police officers to determine the immigration status of someone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant. Opponents call it the harshest anti-immigrant measure in the country and a license for racial profiling. The Washington Post reports government officials are considering making the case that the law intrudes on federal enforcement of immigration laws.
President Obama, meanwhile, has suggested he may delay a push for immigration reform until next year. Obama spoke to reporters Wednesday aboard Air Force One.
President Obama: "We’ve gone through a very tough year, and I’ve been working Congress pretty hard. So I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue. There’s still work that has to be done on energy. Mid-terms are coming up. So, I don’t want us to do something just for the sake of politics that doesn’t solve the problem."
The federal government has approved the nation’s first offshore wind farm near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Cape Wind project would mark a major step toward a green energy economy.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: "Cape Wind will be the United States’ first offshore wind farm, supplying clean power to homes and businesses in Massachusetts while creating good jobs here in America. This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic Coast, which I expect will come online in the years ahead as we build a new energy future for our country."
The decision had been delayed for nearly a year amidst opposition from two Native tribes over the project’s impact. In a statement, Kert Davies of the environmental group Greenpeace USA praised the announcement, saying, "There could be no clearer direction for America’s energy future and global warming leadership…President Obama [should] think twice about…[opening] the door to more risky offshore drilling and prioritize renewable energy projects like Cape Wind instead."
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, a young Palestinian man was killed in the Gaza Strip Wednesday when Israeli troops opened fire on a nonviolent protest. The victim, Ahmad Salim, was shot as he and other demonstrators planted Palestinian flags near the border wall sealing off Gaza from Israel. They were protesting an Israeli policy barring anyone in Gaza from entering an area within several hundred yards of the wall. Eva Bartlett, an international solidarity activist living in Gaza, took part in the protest.
Eva Bartlett: "These are nonviolent demonstrations against the Israeli imposition of the buffer zone. The buffer zone is a 300-meter no-go zone in which the Israelis say they can shoot anyone in this area. But it annexes Palestinian farmland. It annexes land where Palestinians live and work."
In Mexico, two human rights activists have been shot dead in the state of Oaxaca. The victims have been identified as Beatriz Carino, director of the Mexican human rights group CACTUS, and Jyri Antero Jaakkola, a human rights observer from Finland. They were traveling as part of a convoy attempting to deliver aid to a town that’s been targeted by paramilitary blockades since the 2006 uprising against Governor Ulises Ruiz. Gabriela Jimenez of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca described the attack.
Gabriela Jimenez: "When the driver tried to reverse, his tires were gone, and he couldn’t get up, because they were attacking from the front. It was then when our colleagues, Beatriz Carino and Jyri Jaakkola, died. They were hit in the head, as far as we know."
Two Mexican journalists who were covering the humanitarian convoy have also been reported missing since the attack.
The Obama administration is seeking to force a New York Times reporter to reveal his sources for a 2006 book on the CIA. The reporter, James Risen, has been subpoenaed to testify next month before a Virginia grand jury about his sources for a chapter on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. Risen says he won’t comply with the subpoena and will seek its dismissal.
Republican Congress member Duncan Hunter of California is under criticism for saying he would support deporting the US-born children of undocumented immigrants. Hunter made the comments at a gathering of the right-wing Tea Party group on Saturday.
Rep. Duncan Hunter: "Would I support the deportation of natural-born American citizens that are the kids of the illegal aliens? I would have to, yes. It’s a complex issue, and it’s — you know, you could look and say, ’You’re a mean guy. You know, that’s a mean thing to do. That’s not a humanitarian thing to do.’ We simply cannot afford what we’re doing right now. We just can’t afford it. California’s going under."
And at the University of California, Berkeley, the student senate has failed to override a veto of a measure calling for divestment from companies linked to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Last month, the president of the student government vetoed a bill urging the school to divest from General Electric and United Technologies for the companies’ "military support of the occupation of the Palestinian territories.” Earlier today, the student senate voted 13-to-5 to bypass the veto — one vote shy of the total necessary for an override. The vote was held at around 4:00 in the morning local time following a lengthy session attended by over 200 people. San Francisco State graduate student Jacqueline Husary spoke out in favor of the divestment call.
Jacqueline Husary: "Divestment is not an act of aggression, as some may claim. Rather, it is a nonviolent act that precludes aggression against innocent, powerless people with names and real faces. You can no longer feign indifference or ignorance. But from this point on, you need to realize the consequences of your choices on real people and that the choice to continue investing incontrovertibly equals an act of aggression. Blood will forever be on your hands if you don’t make the right choice tonight."