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Newly released documents show engineers for the oil giant BP took a series of dangerous shortcuts to save money in the days leading up to the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Four days before the rig exploded, BP officials clashed with contractors working for Halliburton over how to stabilize the oil well before cementing it. Halliburton recommended using twenty-one so-called centralizers to stabilize it; BP ignored the advice and used just six. In an email released to Congress, a BP official wrote on April 16, “Who cares, it’s done, end of story, will probably be fine.”
In a separate email sent six days before the explosion, a BP drilling engineer wrote it “has been [a] nightmare well which has everyone all over the place.” BP CEO Tony Hayward is scheduled to testify before Congress on Thursday.
In other news on the BP oil spill, CBS News reports the last government inspection of the Deepwater Horizon rig before the explosion was done by a Minerals Management Service employee who had only recently started his drilling inspection training. The inspector, Eric Neal, recently told investigators he had been in training for just four months when he was sent on April 1 to inspect the massive rig by himself.
The Los Angeles Times has revealed the chief responsibility for safety and other inspections rested not with the US government but with the Republic of the Marshall Islands. That’s because the owners of the Deepwater Horizon registered the rig in the tiny Pacific Ocean nation.
President Obama will address the nation tonight in his first-ever Oval Office address on prime-time television. On Monday, the President started his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast and pledged to do what it takes to restore the region.
President Obama: “It’s going to take time for things to return to normal. There’s going to be a harmful effect on many local businesses, and it’s going to be painful for a lot of folks. Folks are going to be frustrated, and some folks are going to be angry. But I promise you this, that things are going to return to normal.”
A group of New York officials have called on the State Department to investigate the visa applications of two international activists who are scheduled to speak at a Brooklyn church on Thursday about their experience on the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish humanitarian aid ship attacked by Israeli commandos two weeks ago. The attack left eight Turks and one Turkish American dead. Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney spoke at a press conference on Monday.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney: “We have an obligation to protect our borders against potential terrorists, and the State Department should be extra cautious with those who want to arm and help Hamas. After all, Israel is called the 'little Satan,' and America, we’re called the 'big Satan.' And if Gaza flotilla participants were willing to die as martyrs against Israel, we can assume that they would be just as willing to die as martyrs against the United States.”
Also at the press conference were New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and three other members of the New York congressional Democratic delegation: Charlie Rangel, Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler.
A federal judge has indefinitely delayed the trial of four men from Newburgh, New York, who were charged last year with trying to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes. US District Judge Colleen McMahon said government prosecutors had failed to turn over critical information that should have been given to the defense much earlier. Defense attorney Mark Gombiner said the documents included a previously unreleased FBI memo from the lead agent on the case explaining that the four men posed no danger without the help of an FBI informant.
Mark Gombiner: “Over the last few days, the government turned over some documents that show that in January of 2009, when they were investigating this case, that the FBI concluded that James Cromitie, who was the lead defendant, was not in fact likely to be committing any acts of violence.”
The four men — all Muslim converts — face charges of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. If convicted, they could face life in prison. The defense claims the men were entrapped by a paid FBI informant. Alicia McWilliams, the aunt of defendant David Williams, spoke outside the courthouse.
Alicia McWilliams: “This was entrapment. You know, you can’t come into a community — come on – you know, flashing money. People ain’t got no jobs. These guys, you know, they’re down on their luck. And when you go to Newburgh and you look, and you’ll be, like, come on. And they pick the most isolated, impoverished community with crime-ridden. You didn’t go to Bushwick. You didn’t go to Harlem. You know, you went to an isolated place where you could do your sneakiness and be manipulative and tricky. And that’s the sad part, that our government would even do that to our own damn people.”
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that a documented immigrant convicted of two minor drug charges should not face mandatory deportation. Immigrant rights advocates say the ruling could have a drastic impact on thousands of immigrants facing deportation, because the ruling gives more discretion to immigration judges.
In another ruling, the Supreme Court has sided with a death row prisoner in Florida. The justices said lower courts should look again at an appeal from Albert Holland, whose lawyer missed the deadline for asking federal courts to stop his execution. An appeals court had previously ruled that Holland had missed his chance to get a federal review of his death sentence because paperwork was not filed on time.
Activists gathered in New York on Monday to demand that
Warren Anderson appear in an Indian criminal court to face charges stemming from the 1984 Bhopal industrial gas disaster that left an estimated 15,000 people dead. Anderson is the former head of Union Carbide, now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical. Members of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and Kids for a Better Future attempted to hand-deliver copies of an Indian arrest warrant and criminal charges against Union Carbide and Anderson. The Indian government formally requested for Anderson’s extradition in 2003, but the US refused in 2004. Twelve-year-old Akash Viswanath Mehta of the group Kids for a Better Future spoke at Monday’s rally.
Akash Viswanath Mehta: “I would like today to appeal to Warren Anderson’s conscience, his guilt and his grief, and ask him to stand beside me. If he is truly haunted by the disaster that happened on his watch, which destroyed an entire community, I ask him to come forward and make a moral statement about what the right thing is for Dow and Union Carbide to do.”
The New York Times is reporting the Somali government may be using US tax dollars to pay hundreds of child soldiers, some as young as nine years old. According to the United Nations, the Somali government is among the “most persistent violators” of sending children into war. The United States and Somalia are the world’s only two countries not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the use of soldiers younger than fifteen.
In news from Mexico, gunmen killed fifteen federal police officers Monday in one of the bloodiest days for security forces since Mexico launched a crackdown on drug cartels. Twelve of the officers were killed in the city of Zitácuaro in the western state of Michoacán. The three other officers died in the northern border city of Ciudad Juárez.
In news from California, officials at the University of California, Irvine, have banned the Muslim Student Union for one year and placed the organization on disciplinary probation for an additional year. In February, members of the group disrupted a speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. Victor Sanchez, president of the University of California Student Association, said he was outraged by the ban. Sanchez said, “It’s almost impossible not to interpret this as a means of the university to silence dissent.”
Newly released FBI documents show the FBI monitored the late Senator Edward Kennedy in 1961 when he visited Mexico, Central America and South America. One document shows that FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover received a file from an FBI employee in Mexico City that said Kennedy is “interested in meeting with 'leftists' to talk with them and determine why they think as they do.” The FBI documents also show Kennedy was the target of many death threats over the past fifty years. Threats came from the Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia and other groups.
In news from South Africa, security guards at the World Cup have gone on strike, forcing police to take over security. Workers said they were being paid only a fraction of what they had been promised.