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A leading scientist on the government-appointed oil spill team is warning that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico has increased significantly over the past week. Ira Leifer, who serves on the Flow Rate Technical Group, says the well may now be leaking 100,000 barrels, far higher than the official government estimate of between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels a day. Leifer said the flow rate increased when BP decided to sever the well’s damaged riser pipe to install its new collection device known as the containment cap. Leifer told the McClatchy Newspapers that once the riser pipe was cleared, there was little blocking the oil’s rise to the top of the blowout preventer. BP is now able to siphon some of the oil to a ship, but Leifer said the actual amount leaking into the Gulf has increased.
The investigative news organization ProPublica is reporting a series of internal BP investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the oil company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways. The reports described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured employees not to report problems and cut short or delayed inspections to reduce production costs. A 2001 internal report noted that BP had neglected key equipment needed for an emergency shutdown, including safety shutoff valves and gas and fire detectors similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf.
In business news, the federal commission probing the roots of the financial crisis has subpoenaed Goldman Sachs after investigators said the investment bank refused to cooperate. Members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission accused Goldman Sachs of stonewalling the commission by refusing to share documents and other information.
In Afghanistan, ten international troops, including seven Americans, were killed Monday in a series of attacks. The war in Afghanistan has entered its 104th month, making it the longest war in US history. The Vietnam War ended after 103 months.
The Israeli military has announced that it will conduct its own internal investigation into last week’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish passengers dead. Israel has rejected calls for an international tribunal. On Monday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there should be an international presence in the inquiry.
William Hague: “There should be an investigation or inquiry, an inquiry into the events of a week ago, with an international presence in that inquiry. And we continue to call on Israel to make sure that that happens, alongside a resolution of the current situation in Gaza allowing jobs and homes and livelihoods to be rebuilt.”
Meanwhile, Irish passengers who were aboard the Gaza-bound Rachel Corrie aid boat are criticizing Israel for seizing the boat in international waters over the weekend.
Denis Halliday, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations: “The outrage of taking Irish citizens prisoner in the international waters, that is an outrage of a huge dimension. Armed men, heavily weaponed, threatening Irish citizens and Malaysian citizens, who have bought this boat for us, and the crew, excellent Filipino guys, and the captain is from Scotland — you know, we were all rounded up and treated like animals. I mean, it was not acceptable.”
At the annual meeting of the Organization of American States, member nations remain divided over whether to allow Honduras back into the OAS. Honduras was expelled from the body last year after a military coup ousted the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Our ongoing discussions about Honduras makes clear the urgency of this agenda. As we emphasized, when the United States along with the rest of the hemisphere condemned the coup in Honduras, these interruptions of democracy should be completely relegated to the past. And it is a credit to this organization that they have become all but nonexistent in the Americas. Now it is time for the hemisphere, as a whole, to move forward and welcome Honduras back into the inter-American community.”
Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia and Nicaragua have argued against allowing Honduras to return to the OAS.
A Rwandan judge has refused bail for the American attorney Peter Erlinder despite pressure from the US government. Erlinder is a lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and a past president of the National Lawyers Guild. The Minnesota-based attorney was arrested shortly after arriving in Rwanda last month to help with the legal defense of opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, who has been accused of promoting genocidal ideology. The Rwandan government has been accused of using laws barring genocide denial to silence opposition critics. Rwandan judge Maurice Mbishibishi announced the decision.
Judge Maurice Mbishibishi: “The court has found that what Peter Erlinder is accused of is serious and true. The accusations include genocide denial and the spread of documents which can threaten the security of Rwanda, so we decided that Peter Erlinder will remain in prison for thirty days while the judiciary continues with the investigations.”
On Monday, opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire voiced support for Peter Erlinder.
Victoire Ingabire: “There is no justice in Rwanda. There is no democracy in Rwanda. People are not free to say what they think, because if there are freedom, Peter would not be in jail because he said that they are killing in Rwanda. if the government of Kagame have a problem with what he said, they have to accept the debate. We have to talk about what happened in Rwanda in 1994.”
In Texas, one worker died and eight others were injured when a large natural gas pipeline exploded Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, in West Virginia seven workers were hospitalized Monday after another natural gas explosion. The blast occurred when a crew drilling a natural gas well struck a methane pocket in a closed mine. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the volunteer firefighters who responded to the West Virginia fire had never been trained to fight gas well fires.
A West Virginia coal miner has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Labor Department, alleging that he was fired after he made comments about safety conditions at mines owned by Massey Energy. Ricky Lee Campbell was fired on April 23, less than two weeks after an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine killed twenty-nine. A number of other Massey coal miners have also complained that they have faced retaliation for reporting safety problems.
An Arizona elementary school has announced it will restore a mural to its original design after giving it a paint job to lighten the faces of the dark-skinned children it depicts. The Miller Valley Elementary School of Prescott, Arizona, drew controversy last week after it was revealed school administrators ordered the artists to lighten the children’s skin tone following complaints about their ethnicity. The school’s principal had maintained he had ordered the changes from an “artistic” point of view, not a “racial” one. But on Saturday, standing next to the artist in front of a crowd of dozens of protesters, the principal, Jeff Lane, reversed his decision and apologized.
Jeff Lane: “Miller Valley made a mistake. When we asked them to lighten the mural, we made a mistake. We are going back to our original theme.”
Iranian state television has aired a video showing what it says is an Iranian nuclear scientist. The video allegedly shows Shahram Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization who disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia a year ago. In the video, Amiri claims he had been kidnapped and taken to the United States where he was tortured. Iranian television said the video had been passed to members of the country’s intelligence agency, but did not give details of how this was done. In March, ABC News said Amiri had defected to the United States and was helping the CIA.