Archive for June 21st, 2010

21
Jun
10

Gulf Paymaster Pledges to Speed Up Compensation Claims, Says Residents ‘Desperate’

NEWS
Gulf Paymaster Pledges to Speed Up Compensation Claims, Says Residents ‘Desperate’

Monday, June 21, 2010

••• The administrator of a $20 billion compensation fund set up by British oil giant BP said on Monday he will speed up payment of compensation to those affected by the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kenneth Feinberg, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to run the third party fund, said on U.S. television that Obama has conveyed to him a message that “we want to get these claims out quicker. We want to get these claims out with more transparency.”

He said when it comes to emergency payments, “you’ve got to allow those payments to go out with less corroboration than you would if you’re giving a lump-sum payment that is the total compensation.”

“For the emergency payments, we’ve got to err on the side of the claimant,” he said.
The White House and BP has worked out an agreement last week that BP would fund the $20 billion fund, managed independently by White House tapped Feinberg. Feinberg on Monday appeared on several TV networks’ news programs, explaining how he intends to run the compensation fund.

Feinberg said people can file electronically for relief, and can do so without the help of a lawyer. “When a person comes in and asks for emergency assistance, they shouldn’t have to keep coming back,” said he.

The oil spill, which is now two months old, has hurt fishing, tourism, oil and other businesses. The fund is set up to compensate lost wages, business interruption, lost profits, personal injuries and even deaths.

BP said on Monday it has spent $2 billion so far on cleaning up the spill.
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21
Jun
10

Obama discusses economic recovery with German, Spanish leaders

NEWS
Obama discusses economic recovery with German, Spanish leaders

Monday, June 21, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on economy, said the White House.

Obama discussed separately with the two European leaders on “the importance of continuing to take resolute steps to foster a durable recovery and to strengthen financial regulation,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters.

The three leaders are scheduled to meet in the G20 summit next week in Canada.

In his call with Zapatero, Obama thanked Zapatero for “excellent cooperation during the Spanish E.U. presidency, particularly progress on counterterrorism and addressing the threat posted by Iran,” said Burton.
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• Source(s): The White House
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21
Jun
10

Oil firms challenge drilling ban

NEWS
Oil firms challenge drilling ban

Monday, June 21, 2010

••• Oil firms have gone to court seeking to lift a six-month freeze on deepwater drilling, as BP documents reveal 100,000 barrels of crude may be spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

The British energy giant also says it has spent $2 billion on cleaning up the spill and compensating residents and businesses facing ruin nine weeks into the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster.

U.S. firms, whose crews and equipment have been idled since U.S. President Barack Obama imposed a moratorium on deep water drilling and exploration in the Gulf, have urged a judge to ease the restrictions.

The government stand “is effectively a moratorium on all drilling because it may take months if not years for the industry to come into compliance with the standards, some of which have not yet been determined,” the plaintiffs argued on Monday.

Delaware-based Hornbeck Offshore Services, which first lodged the case, said in court documents the moratorium was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and inconsistent with industry regulations.

In a deal hammered out with the White House last week, BP agreed to set up a $20 billion compensation fund over the next four years to pay for the damage wrought by the spill.

It also set aside $100 million to compensate oil workers laid off as a result of the spill, triggered by an April 20 explosion on a BP-leased rig off Louisiana.

Kenneth Feinberg, named to run the fund, said Obama told him: ‘Get these claims paid. Get them paid quickly.’
“We want to get these claims out quicker and we want to get these claims out with more transparency so people have more certainty as to what they are going to receive,” Feinberg told the ABC network on Sunday.

“We want to do it in the next couple of weeks so that people who are down in the Gulf, who are in desperate financial straits as a result of this spill, are receiving financial compensation.”

But The Wall Street Journal reported BP’s additional sum for unemployed workers was a goodwill drop in the ocean compared with the estimated $300 million being lost every month as rigs are mothballed.

BP had successfully argued in the negotiations that the moratorium was a U.S. administration policy decision, for which they were not responsible.

“You won’t find many lawyers who will say when the government imposes a moratorium it’s the company’s obligation to help the workers impacted,” a BP negotiator told the business daily.

BP had also managed to fend off White House demands to pay to restore and improve the Gulf marshes and waterways – already blighted since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina – to leave them in a better condition than before the spill.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the embattled British energy giant – which has seen its credit ratings downgraded and share prices plunge – said it had spent $2 billion on the spill.

The costs included paying for containment, relief well drilling, grants to Gulf states, claims paid to those affected and costs incurred by the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, a worker on the Deepwater Horizon rig revealed he had alerted BP and Transocean, the rig’s owners, to a leak found in the control pod of the blowout preventer – a system of valves which failed to shut down the oil flow when the explosion happened.

“We saw a leak on the pod, so by seeing the leak we informed the company men,” Tyrone Benton told the BBC.

“They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don’t have to stop production… they just shut it down and worked off another pod.”

The news came as internal BP documents suggested in the worst case scenario about 100,000 barrels per day of crude could be spilling into the Gulf – way higher than U.S. official estimates of 35,000 to 60,000 bpd.

BP says it is containing about 25,000 barrels a day, and has called in more ships and equipment to boost the effort.

But a key U.S. congressman, Ed Markey, tore into the firm after releasing the document. “‘First they said it was only 1000 barrels, then they said it was 5000 barrels; now we’re up to 100,000 barrels,” Markey told NBC television.

BP rejected Markey’s charge. The estimate “has nothing (to do) with the amount of oil that’s actually escaping at the moment,” spokesman Robert Wine said.

BP has said the spill will not be permanently capped until they have completed two relief wells, with the first set to be finished in August.
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21
Jun
10

NYC car bomb suspect faces terror, weapons hearing

NEWS
NYC car bomb suspect faces terror, weapons hearing

Monday, June 21, 2010

New York’s Times Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad pled guilty to failed use of a weapon of mass destruction Monday afternoon.

Shahzad’s noon arraignment was postponed until 4:30 p.m. No reason was given.

Last week Shahzad was indicted on 10 courts including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Shahzad entered the plea to the first of 10 charges in the indictment, but said he planned to plead guilty to all of them. He reportedly told the judge he wanted to “plead guilty and 100 times more.”
He also warned that unless the U.S. leaves Muslim lands, “We will be attacking U.S.”

The botched plot involved a gasoline-and-propane bomb that failed to ignite in an SUV parked in the center of Times Square on May 1.

Soon after his arrest on May 3, he reportedly cooperated with investigators.

The 30-year-old Pakistani-born Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen last year, was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound jetliner two days later that was minutes from leaving New York’s JFK International Airport.
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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