The oil giant BP has admitted it proceeded with work on the underwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico shortly before last month’s explosion despite warning signs of a major problem. In a briefing to lawmakers, BP said it may have made a “fundamental mistake” in its work on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the hours before the explosion. BP faces a pivotal day today as it attempts a so-called “top kill” maneuver to choke off the gushing oil by pumping heavy drilling mud and cement into the mile-deep well. On Tuesday, the eleven workers who died in the rig explosion were remembered at a memorial service in Jackson, Mississippi. Chris Rivers, who runs a company that employed some of the workers, was among those to speak.
Chris Rivers: “These men were brave and courageous. We make too little of achievements in technology these days. We make too much of people who get their name in lights or on a scoreboard. We forget that some jobs require a little bit more inside than others. These exceptional men had that little bit more inside. These men are heroes, all eleven of them.”
President Obama has unveiled plans to further militarize the US border with Mexico. On Tuesday, Obama said he would deploy an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border and ask Congress for an extra $500 million for border security.
President Obama: “I’ve been very clear. I think the Arizona law was a mistake. And my Justice Department is looking very carefully at the nature of this law. But I understand the frustrations of folks in Arizona. The fact of the matter is, is that for decades we keep on talking about solving the problems at the border, and we don’t. The truth of the matter is, is that you’ve got hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers coming over the border, and that gets people stressed.”
The move marks a victory for Republicans who have been pushing for increased border militarization. Republican Senator John McCain said he welcomes the new troop commitment but thinks even more should be deployed.
Sen. John McCain: “I appreciate the additional 1,200 being sent of the Guard, as well as additional $500 million, but it’s simply not enough. We need 6,000. We need 3,000 across the border, an additional 3,000 — sorry, 3,000 National Guard troops to the Arizona-Mexico border.”
Immigrant rights group, meanwhile, are criticizing Obama’s plan. In a statement, the National Day Laborers Organizing Network said, “Instead of addressing a domestic human rights crisis, the president appears to be caving into extremists who are further shattering and already broken immigration system. Any legitimate concerns about border security cannot be resolved until undocumented people are given full equality in our society.”
Tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship two months ago. On Tuesday, North Korea said it will sever all ties with South Korea and repeal a non-aggression agreement between the two countries. Last week South Korea formally accused North Korea of torpedoing the warship and killing forty-six sailors on board in the March attack. In Washington, State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley criticized North Korea.
P.J. Crowley: “South Korea is one of the most dynamic economies in the world. North Korea is a failing economy, even by their own admission. North Korea is unable to care for its citizens; it’s unable to feed its people. And so, I can’t imagine a step that is less in the long-term interest of the North Korean people than cutting off further ties with South Korea.”
In a visit to South Korea today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an international response to the alleged North Korea attack, calling it an “unacceptable provocation.”
In Peru, the jailed American activist Lori Berenson has been ordered freed on parole. Berenson has spent over fourteen years in prison after hooded Peruvian military judges convicted her of collaborating with the rebel group MRTA. She has consistently maintained her innocence. Berenson’s husband and attorney, Aníbal Apari Sánchez, praised the ruling.
Aníbal Apari Sánchez: “I think the judiciary has shown that despite pressure, that despite opinions to the contrary that she is a danger to society, I think the judge has shown that she has enough autonomy to put forth objective judicial decisions. In this case, we are talking about an objective resolution.”
Lori Berenson and her year-old son Salvador are expected to be released as early as today, but Lori may be required to stay in Peru for the next five years on parole.
Jamaica has declared a state of emergency amidst a spate of violence linked to the attempted extradition of an alleged drug lord wanted by the United States. At least thirty-one people have died in three days of clashes between Jamaican forces and armed supporters of Christopher Coke. The US is seeking Coke’s extradition on drugs and drug-running charges. Speaking before the Jamaican parliament, Prime Minister Bruce Golding said the death toll could rise.
Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding: “In the exchanges that ensued, several persons have been confirmed dead, including one member of the Jamaica Defense Force and several others, including twelve Jamaica Defense Force soldiers have been injured. The police report that twenty-six persons are confirmed dead, but it is likely that the number is higher.”
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, at least fifteen Palestinians have been wounded in overnight Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Most of the victims were civilians. Israel says it launched the attack in response to Palestinian rocket fire into Israel that caused no injuries.
The Obama administration is backing the Vatican’s claim to immunity from lawsuits over sexual abuse by US priests. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court last week, the administration’s solicitor general’s office says an appeals court wrongly allowed an alleged abuse victim to proceed with a lawsuit against the Vatican. The plaintiff’s suit says the Vatican should be held responsible for transferring the priest to Oregon despite previous allegations of abuse.
A former FBI linguist has been sentenced to twenty months in prison for disclosing classified documents to an unidentified blogger. Shamai Leibowitz says he leaked the documents to expose an “abuse of power and a violation of the law” he witnessed while at the FBI. He says he chose to approach the media after his FBI superiors ignored his complaints. A career attorney, Leibowitz says he’s devoted his career to helping people of color, undocumented workers, and refugees through his legal work and his blog, Pursuing Justice.
And a correction to a headline from Tuesday’s broadcast: the suicide of Iraq war veteran Jesse Charles Huff in front of a veterans hospital in Dayton, Ohio occurred last month, not last week.