Oil from the Deepwater Horizon well is gushing unimpeded into the Gulf of Mexico as BP attempts to put a new cap over the well. BP says the new cap might eventually allow for the capture of all of the oil leaking from the well, but installation of the cap won’t be finished until Wednesday at the earliest. Until then, an estimated 2.5 million gallons of oil will flow every day into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Biloxi Sun Herald of Mississippi reports BP has paid fewer than half of the claims filed by residents in the Gulf states who have been impacted by the massive oil spill. As of Saturday, BP had received about 103,000 claims but had paid out less than 49,000. Meanwhile, officials in Louisiana have accused BP of reducing payments to tens of thousands of people whose claim files are incomplete. Much of the claim process is being done by the private company ESIS, which was hired by BP. ESIS describes the goal of its services as "reducing our client’s loss dollar pay-outs." BP says the total cost of dealing with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has risen to $3.5 billion. In an effort to raise more funds, BP has reportedly discussed selling off its stake in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay field. Meanwhile, officials with ExxonMobil have approached US government officials, asking if they would object to a takeover bid for BP.
In news from Africa, at least sixty-four people died Sunday in a pair of bomb explosions in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. One blast hit an Ethiopian restaurant where people had gathered to watch the World Cup finals. Ugandan officials blamed the Somali militant group al-Shabab of carrying out strikes, but no arrests have been made in connection to the attack.
The Washington Post reports Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans to seek the removal of up to fifty former Taliban officials from a UN terrorism blacklist in a gesture intended to advance political reconciliation talks with militants. Karzai’s proposal has been met with resistance from UN officials, who are demanding more evidence that the individuals in question have renounced violence and severed any links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif on Saturday to protest against mounting civilian deaths. The protests came days after two civilians in the city were killed by US troops in a predawn raid. Over the weekend, six more US troops have died in Afghanistan. Twenty-three American troops have died so far this month.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday the Justice Department may file another lawsuit against the state of Arizona if the state’s new immigration law leads to racial profiling. The new law requires police officers to stop and interrogate anyone they suspect is an undocumented immigrant. Eric Holder made the comment during an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation.
Eric Holder: "It doesn’t mean that if the law, for whatever reason, happened to go into effect, that six months from now, a year from now, we might not look at the impact the law has had and whether or not — see whether or not there has been that racial profiling impact. And if that was the case, we would have the tools, and we would bring suit on that basis."
In related news, hundreds of immigrant rights activists gathered in Boston Saturday to protest Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. She was in Boston at the annual National Governors Association meeting.
The American Psychological Association is supporting efforts to strip the license of a psychologist accused of helping to develop the Bush administration’s torture methods used on foreign prisoners. The psychologist, James Mitchell, is under investigation by the licensing board in Texas. APA spokesperson Rhea Farberman said, "The allegations put forward in the complaint and those that are on the public record about Dr. Mitchell are simply so serious, and if true, such a gross violation of his professional ethics, that we felt it necessary to act." Mitchell was a partner in the firm Mitchell Jessen & Associates based in Spokane, Washington.
The Associated Press is reporting Toyota has withdrawn funding for Southern Illinois University after one of the school’s professors exposed major flaws in the electrical systems of Toyota vehicles. The professor, David Gilbert, was among the first to suggest that electronics, not sticky gas pedals or badly designed floor mats, caused the unintended acceleration problem that led to the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles. After Gilbert spoke publicly about his findings, two Toyota employees resigned from an advisory board of the school’s auto-technology program, and the company withdrew offers to fund two spring-break internships.
A Libyan ship carrying humanitarian aid is heading toward Gaza in the latest attempt by international activists to challenge the Israeli naval blockade. Members of the Gaddafi Foundation say it is not looking for a confrontation with Israel.
Youssef Sawani, Gaddafi Foundation: "Gaza has been the world’s biggest, number one open prison, open jail. People in Gaza have been in jail for the last, you know, number of years. And everyone is witnessing that. So I think it’s high time that the international community delivers some humanitarian goods and help ease and finally lift the blockade as a step towards realizing proper peace in the Middle East."
Israeli officials say the ship will not be allowed to reach shore.
Daniel Hershkowitz, Israeli Minister of Science: "Israel hasn’t changed its policy, and its policy is very clear: no ships we’ll allow to arrive at Gaza. So, if they want to transfer the humanitarian equipment there to the people in Gaza, they are welcome to do it through Ashdod."
In Panama, at least two striking banana workers have died during a series of protests against a new anti-union labor law. Banana union leader Antonio Smith died as a result of tear gas fired by the security forces. Another banana worker was shot to death.
Members of Greenpeace held a ceremony Saturday to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the deadly bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. Secret agents working for the French government blew up the ship in a harbor in Auckland, New Zealand. A photographer named Fernando Pereira died in the bombing. At the time, Greenpeace was leading campaigns against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said Greenpeace is now building a new Rainbow Warrior ship.
Kumi Naidoo: "This new Rainbow Warrior continues the rich traditions of resistance to environmental crime by Greenpeace and allows us to continue to fight for environmental justice and to avert catastrophic climate change and to secure this planet for our children and grandchildren."