Posts Tagged ‘Senate


Al-Qaeda Lays Out Conditions for Peace With U.S.

Al-Qaeda Lays Out Conditions for Peace With U.S.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

••• Al-Qaeda’s U.S.-born spokesman has warned President Barack Obama the militant group may launch new attacks that would kill more Americans than previous ones.

In a taunting, 24-minute message that dwelled on Obama’s setbacks, including the loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat to the Republicans, Adam Gadahn set out al-Qaeda’s conditions for peace with the US, including cutting support for Israel and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Gadahn said if you compared the number of dead Muslims ‘with the relatively small number of Americans we have killed so far, it becomes crystal-clear that we haven’t even begun to even the score,’ he said, dressed in a white robe and turban.

‘That’s why next time, we might not show the restraint and self-control we have shown up until now,’ he said. Even if al-Qaeda was defeated, ‘hundreds of millions of Muslims’ would still fight the U.S., he added.

Al-Qaeda offered the same conditions for an end to hostilities to then President George W. Bush in 2007, including the release of all Muslim prisoners and cutting off aid to Middle East governments.

Gadahn’s statement was notable for its mocking tone, in which he described Obama as ‘a devious, evasive and serpentine American president with a Muslim name’, and seemed to delight in his setbacks.

‘You’re no longer the popular man you once were, a year ago or so,’ he crowed, ascribing his drop in popularity to the escalation of the U.S. wars abroad.

At the time of Obama’s election, many analysts said al-Qaeda was worried his race and Muslim family connections would make him more appealing to Muslims and Arabs angry at Bush’s foreign policy.

In its statements since his election, al-Qaeda has taken pains to show the continuity between Obama’s foreign policy and that of his predecessor.

Gadahn is wanted by the FBI since 2004 with a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction. He is also known as Azzam al-Amriki, Arabic for the American.
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Weekly Address: Republicans Blocking Progress

Weekly Address: Republicans Blocking Progress
President Obama Says Republicans in Congress Blocking Important Progress

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In this week’s address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to put scoring political points aside, and instead to focus on solving the problems facing the nation. The Republican leadership is currently blocking progress on a bill to boost the economy, retain jobs for teachers and cops, and help people buy their first home; another bill which would hold oil companies accountable for any disasters they cause by removing the current $75 million liability cap; and 136 highly qualified men and women who have been nominated to government positions. In these challenging times, elected leaders in Washington need to remember that they have an obligation that goes beyond upcoming elections – an obligation to care for the next generation.

At this moment, our nation is facing a host of big and difficult challenges. And more than anything else, what’s required to meet those challenges right now is a sense of cooperation and common purpose among our leaders. What we need is a willingness in Washington to put the public’s interests first – a willingness to score fewer political points so that we can start solving more problems.

That’s why I was disappointed this week to see a dreary and familiar politics get in the way of our ability to move forward on a series of critical issues that have a direct impact on people’s lives.

In the United States Senate, we have legislation that would boost our economic recovery and help Americans who’ve been affected by the worst recession in generations. We’ve certainly made progress since we were losing 750,000 jobs per month around the time I took office. Our economy is growing again, and we’ve added jobs for five straight months. But there are still millions of Americans out of work, and millions more who are struggling to pay the bills. The legislation in the Senate right now would extend unemployment benefits to those workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. It would provide relief to struggling states that would help save the jobs of thousands of teachers and cops and firefighters. There are also provisions in this legislation that would extend the tax credit for first-time homebuyers, as well as tax cuts to keep research and development jobs here in the United States.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Senate won’t even allow this legislation to come up for a vote. And if this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home.

All we ask for is a simple up or down vote. That’s what the American people deserve. Just like they deserve an up or down vote on legislation that would hold oil companies accountable for the disasters they cause – a vote that is also being blocked by the Republican leadership in the Senate. Right now, the law places a $75 million cap on the amount oil companies must pay to families and small businesses who suffer economic losses as a result of a spill like the one we’re witnessing in the Gulf Coast. We should remove that cap. But the Republican leadership won’t even allow a debate or a vote.

And as we speak today, 136 men and women who I’ve nominated for key positions in the federal government are awaiting a vote on the floor of the Senate. All are highly qualified. Very few are controversial. The vast majority already have support from both parties. But most of them are seeing their nominations intentionally delayed by Republican leaders, or even blocked altogether. They cannot get a vote. What this means is that, at a moment when our country is facing so many challenges – a time when we need all hands on deck – we cannot get the qualified people we need to start the jobs they were appointed to do.

Look, the nature of our democracy is that we’ll always have disagreements and debates – even heated ones. That’s healthy and it’s important. But let’s argue over genuine differences – over ideas and policies. And let’s go into those debates with an open mind – a willingness to find common ground and a conviction that, in the end, one way or another, we will have a vote to decide them. Next week, I’ll be meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators to discuss how we can transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels and embrace a clean energy future. I don’t expect that we’ll agree on a solution right away. In fact, I know that there will be plenty of disagreement and different ideas. But at least it shows that Republicans and Democrats can still sit down together in an attempt to tackle the big challenges facing our nation.

I know the political season is upon us in Washington. But gridlock as a political strategy is destructive to the country. Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, we’ve got an obligation that goes beyond caring about the next election. We have an obligation to care for the next generation. So I hope that when Congress returns next week, they do so with a greater spirit of compromise and cooperation. America will be watching.


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• Source(s): The White House


BP CEO Tony Hayward to hand over daily Gulf oil spill operations

BP CEO Tony Hayward to hand over daily Gulf oil spill operations

Friday, June 18, 2010

BP chief executive Tony Hayward is in the process of handing over day-to-day management of the Gulf oil leak operation to another top manager, Bob Dudley, BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg says.

BP announced the appointment of Dudley earlier this month as head of BP’s new disaster management unit, but did not specify a timetable for transferring responsibilies.

In an interview with British broadcaster Sky News, Svanberg said the transfer to Dudley, a U.S. national and managing director of the energy giant, is already occurring.

‘Our focus in the management team has been to close that well, to clean up the beaches and make sure that we compensate those that have suffered, and that has been everything on our agenda,’ he said on Friday.

‘Right after the explosion (Hayward) went out there and he has been leading the response ever since,’ he said. ‘I think everyone believed it to be something we could deal with faster, then he would come back…

‘And now he’s been around for eight weeks, he’s now handing over the daily operations to Bob Dudley, and he will be more home, and be there and be here,’ he told the broadcaster.
The announcement came a day after Hayward, so far BP’s main public face for its clean-up operation, faced a barrage of hostile questions from U.S. lawmakers about the spill that ripped through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Hayward, a Briton, has faced growing U.S. anger about a series of blunders in the wake of the April 20 explosion, which killed 11 workers and triggered the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history.

BP has some 23,000 employees in the United States. It also claims about 75,000 retirees from the firm and its subsidiaries and holds more than 500,000 retail shareholders in the country.
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• Source(s): British Petroleum PLC and Sky News / BSkyB / News Corporation


Lawmakers accuse BP chief of evasion over oil spill

Lawmakers accuse BP chief of evasion over oil spill

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BP boss Tony Hayward has vowed the British energy giant will repair the economic and environmental devastation caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as he was quizzed by irate lawmakers.

‘I know that only actions and results, not mere words ultimately can give you the confidence you seek. I give my pledge as the leader of BP that we will not rest until we make this right,’ a contrite Hayward said on Thursday.

Saying it was too early to pin down the causes of the April explosion on a BP-leased rig off Louisiana, Hayward pledged: ‘We and the entire industry will learn from this terrible event and emerge stronger, smarter and safer.’

Some lawmakers have publicly suggested senior BP officials should ‘commit hara-kiri’ over what has become the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster.

Amid tight security and sitting alone at a table to face congressmen and a media barrage, Hayward was sharply criticised in his first public appearance before Congress since the catastrophe was unleashed on southern U.S. shores.

‘I’m sure you will get your life back, and with a golden parachute back in England. But we in America are left with the terrible consequences of BP’s reckless disregard for safety,’ said Democratic Representative Bart Stupak.
Stupak, who chaired the hearing, was referring to a much-denounced statement in which Hayward, who has been the public face of the disaster, had said he wanted it to end so he could get on with his life.

At one point, a protester disrupted the hearing. ‘You need to be charged with a crime, Tony,’ she shouted. ‘You need to go to jail!’

She grappled with police and kept shouting as she wrestled with police trying to restrain her.

Tensions have been running high with millions of barrels of crude fouling the shorelines of four U.S. states, closing down fishing waters and hitting the region’s vital tourist industry.

On Wednesday BP agreed to set up a $20 billion escrow fund to pay compensation claims from thousands of Gulf businesses and residents facing economic ruin.

The deal was struck after Hayward and BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg were summoned to the White House for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.

News of the escrow fund deal with the U.S. administration sent BP’s share price soaring almost 10 per cent on Thursday, after days of falls sparked by uncertainty over its future.

The fund will be run by prominent lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who managed compensation claims by victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, and will be overseen by a panel of three judges who can hear appeals.

BP will fund the account in four annual payments of $5 billion, the White House said in a statement, adding it was ‘neither a floor nor a ceiling’ on BP’s total liability for the disaster.

The firm’s final bill will be tied to the amount of oil still spewing into the ocean each day, with U.S. experts putting that figure at between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels.

Hayward told lawmakers BP is now siphoning up an average of 20,000 barrels a day of oil to two processing ships on the surface.

The U.S. disaster coordinator, Admiral Thad Allen, said by ‘sometime early next week’ the company hoped to be containing 28,000 gallons – some of which will be burnt off by one of the surface ships.
And in some good news, Allen said drilling on a relief well, seen as the only way of permanently capping the spill, was ahead of schedule.

‘Mid-August was the target date; they’re actually ahead of schedule right now, but I’m not going to guarantee it will be earlier,’ Allen said, citing the meticulous work needed in carrying out the work safely.

‘We should be very wary about hard deadlines,’ he cautioned.

Analysts said BP, which has spent about $1.6 billion battling the spill and made a profit of about $14 billion in 2009, should be strong enough to weather the storm even if it has to borrow more.

‘They have enough cash flow and quality assets that will allow it to fund that type of liability,’ said Jason Gammel of Macquarie Research.

Amid deepening anger over the spill, Louisiana Representative Joseph Cao told one of Hayward’s colleagues this week that even the resignations of BP officials would not be enough.

‘In the Asian culture we do things differently. During the samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask to you commit hara-kiri,’ he said.
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• Source(s): British Petroleum PLC and Sky News / BSkyB / News Corporation


President Obama’s Oval Office Address on BP Oil Spill & Energy

President Obama’s Oval Office Address on BP Oil Spill & Energy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The United States will be fighting the oil spill for months and even years, President Barack Obama has warned. Obama said he will order BP to set up an independent claims fund.

President Obama accused BP of ‘recklessness’ in the first Oval Office address of his presidency, and swore not to rest until the company has paid for the damage it has caused to lives, businesses and shorelines.

The president said the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico region has caused a sense of sadness and anger that goes must deeper than dollars. He spoke of anxiety that people may lose their entire way of life.

‘We will make BP pay,’ he said.

The speech capped a two-day inspection tour of the stricken Gulf of Mexico region, and was lent new urgency as scientists announced the spill could be worse than previously thought.

It comes just ahead of his meeting in the White House on Wednesday with top BP executives.
The eight-week-old Gulf of Mexico oil spill was ‘not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days,’ Obama said.

‘The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years,’ he warned.

Obama has already authorised the deployment of more than 17,000 National Guards along the stricken southern US coast.

And on Tuesday, he called on the four worst-hit states ‘to activate these troops as soon as possible’.
The oil spill meant now was the time for a ‘national mission’ to develop clean energy, he said.

‘The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now,’ Obama said.

‘Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.’

He said he would order BP’s chairman to set up an independently managed fund to pay claims to victims.

‘Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness.

‘And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party,’ Obama said.
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Obama Appoints Lawyer to Overhaul Oil Drilling Agency

Obama Appoints Lawyer to Overhaul Oil Drilling Agency

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Tuesday his selection of Michael Bromwich to lead the Administration’s efforts to accelerate reforms in the regulation and oversight of offshore oil drilling.

A former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General, Bromwich will lead the effort to reform the Minerals Management Service (MMS), restoring integrity and rigor to the relationship between federal regulatory officials and oil companies.
Bromwich will develop the plans for a new oversight structure, replacing long-standing, inadequate practices with a gold-standard approach for environmental and safety regulation.

“For a decade or more, the cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency was allowed to go unchecked. That allowed drilling permits to be issued in exchange not for safety plans, but assurances of safety from oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore,” Obama said in a statement.
Bromwich will also oversee the reorganization of the MMS to eliminate conflicts among the different missions of the agency which include establishing safety standards, regulating industry compliance, and collecting royalties. These actions will ensure that there is no conflict of interest, real or perceived, in oil industry oversight.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced plans to split MMS into three new divisions – the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue – the most significant in a series of Interior Department reforms launched since January 2009.
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Obama tours disaster zone to set stage for national address

Obama tours disaster zone to set stage for national address

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama labelled the Gulf oil spill an environmental 9/11 as he made a fourth disaster zone trip.

The London-based energy giant’s shares meanwhile slumped 10 percent, amid deep investor anxiety about the costs it will bear for America’s worst ecological catastrophe and investor fears for the firm’s lucrative dividend.

Obama sought to engineer a pivot point following sharp criticism of his handling of the two-month Gulf of Mexico disaster.

He set off on a two-day, three-state tour of areas fearing a devastating ecological and economic blow from the massive oil slick coating a vast swathe of the Gulf, and threatening tourist resorts and teeming fishing stocks.

The visit to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida was set to bolster Obama’s message in his first Oval Office address to the American people on Tuesday night, focusing on the disaster.

He also hoped to set the stage for his showdown with BP’s chairman at the White House the next day.

Obama also apparently sought to defuse claims that he has shown insufficient empathy with local people who fear their way of life will be destroyed by the disaster unleashed by the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April.

The president munched on shrimp and mini crab cakes to show local seafood was safe and implored Americans to visit the dazzling white sands of the southern coast, aiming to boost the fishing and tourism sectors.

‘There’s still a lot of opportunity for visitors to come down here. There are a lot of beaches that have not been affected and will not be affected,’ Obama said in Gulfport, Mississippi.

White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton meanwhile said the administration was confident it had legal authority to prod BP to set up an escrow account to compensate those pitched into economic hardship by the disaster.

BP met a 48-hour ultimatum on Sunday to present a new plan to roughly triple the amount of oil it is capturing from the ruptured undersea well by the end of June, to more than 50,000 barrels, 2.1 million gallons, a day.

The company is currently siphoning up about 15,000 barrels of oil a day to a ship on the surface, about half the amount believed to be streaming into the Gulf from a well it has repeatedly failed to plug.

In London, BP’s already pummelled shares plunged more then 10 percent to 351 pence in late afternoon trade.

Earlier reports suggested BP would bow to massive U.S. pressure and decide to suspend dividend payments as its potential liability over the oil spill soars.
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Obama Begins Tour Of States Hit By Oil Leak

Obama Begins Tour Of States Hit By Oil Leak

Monday, June 14, 2010

President Barack Obama sets off on Monday on a fourth visit to states stricken by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in a sign of the seriousness of the disaster both for the country and his presidency.

The visit comes ahead of a rare White House prime-time televised address on the subject on Tuesday, marking a significant elevation in the Obama administration’s strategy on the oil crisis.

Meanwhile, the White House said that Obama ordered BP to set up an escrow account to pay legitimate claims and let an independent panel oversee the process.

‘The president is going down to the Gulf on Monday and Tuesday to the states he hasn’t visited – Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. When he returns he will address the nation from the White House,’ top Obama aide David Axelrod said Sunday.
Obama visited hard-hit Louisiana on his first three trips.

‘We’re at a kind of inflection point in this saga. He wants to lay out the steps we’ll take from here to get through this crisis,’ Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, told NBC television’s ‘Meet The Press’ program.

U.S. presidents usually reserve the formal setting of a prime-time televised address from the White House for moments of national crises, including wars and disasters.

Obama has yet to give an Oval Office address to the American people, though it had not been decided whether he will appear at the presidential desk flanked by U.S. flags when he speaks on Tuesday evening local time.

Obama’s address and the more stringent demands of BP suggest a concerted effort to be more aggressive on the disaster as angry Americans are confronted by disturbing images of oiled birds and toxic crude spoiling fragile wetlands.
BP has failed several times to seal the flow, and a first relief well that could provide a permanent solution is not expected to be ready until the second week of August at the earliest.

A containment system is siphoning up some 15,000 barrels – 630,000 gallons – of oil a day to the surface via a mile-long pipe, but estimates indicate the same amount of crude is probably still leaking into the Gulf.

The U.S. Coast Guard ordered BP to fine-tune plans to increase the capacity of its ‘top hat’ oil capture system amid fears of a time lapse while oil processing vessels are rotated.
Businesses in the Gulf region, ranging from fishing to tourism, are suffering. Some workers are finding temporary employment with BP to help in the clean-up effort, but longer-term prospects for many are bleak.

Obama is to insist at a high-stakes White House meeting on Wednesday with BP bosses that the firm establish an independently administered fund to pay out claims related to what is now the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster.

‘We want to set up a structure and protect the integrity of that fund so people get what they are due,’ Axelrod said. ‘And we want to make sure that money is independently managed so that they won’t be slow-walked on these claims.’

Thad Allen, the former Coast Guard chief who is now leading the U.S. response to the crisis, said he expected under-fire BP CEO Tony Hayward to join chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg at the meeting with Obama and administration officials.

BP is expected to suspend its next dividend payment to shareholders, due on July 27, in a bid to quell growing anger in the U.S., where many accuse it of deliberately underestimating the flow rate to try to reduce its liability, which is worked out by the barrel.
U.S. officials have suggested BP should also have to reimburse all companies and individuals that have lost business or income due to the six-month moratorium on deep sea drilling imposed by Obama last month.

Analysts estimate that including the cleanup, compensation claims, government penalties, and a host of civil lawsuits, BP’s total bill from the catastrophe could reach 100 billion dollars.

In London, BP said on Monday that its costs to date of sorting out the oil spill had risen to about $1.6 billion.

That figure includes ‘the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs,’ BP said in a statement.

The firm’s share price has fallen more than 40 percent since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. The rig sank two days later, fracturing the pipe now spewing the oil.

In the past 55 days, oil has reached 110 kilometers of shoreline along the Gulf Coast, including parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. About one-third of the Gulf’s fishing waters remain off-limits due to health concerns.
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BP Oil Spill Costs Reach $1.6 Billion

BP Oil Spill Costs Reach $1.6 Billion

Monday, June 14, 2010

••• British energy group BP said on Monday that its costs of sorting out the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had risen to about $1.6 billion.

‘The cost of the response to date amounts to approximately $1.6 billion, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs,’ BP said in a statement.
U.S. officials have demanded BP set up a special fund to pay oil spill claims and said President Barack Obama will give a rare White House address next week.

As Obama prepared to tour stricken states on his fourth visit to the Gulf of Mexico since the disaster, top aides ordered BP to set up an escrow account to pay legitimate claims and let an independent panel oversee the process.

The announcement of a prime-time televised address at 08:00 pm on Tuesday marked a significant elevation in the Obama administration’s strategy on the oil crisis.
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Barack Obama tells BP to set up multi-billion claims fund

Barack Obama tells BP to set up multi-billion claims fund

Sunday, June 13, 2010

••• The White House and at least two Gulf states have demanded that BP create special accounts that would set aside billions of dollars to pay for the mounting claims related to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Barack Obama wants an independent, third party to administer the escrow account and compensate those with ‘legitimate’ claims for damages, Obama’s top political adviser said on Sunday. The amount of money set aside will be discussed during talks this week between the White House and BP, but Axelrod said it should be ‘substantial’.

Gulf states also were putting the squeeze on BP. The attorney-general in Florida and the state treasurer in Louisiana want BP to put a total of $7.5 billion in escrow accounts to compensate the states and their residents for damages now and in the future.

‘At the end of the day, my concern is Louisiana,’ state treasurer John Kennedy told AP on Saturday. ‘BP ultimately will do what BP thinks is best for BP.’

The tough talk from the White House comes a day after the Coast Guard made public a testy letter sent to BP demanding the energy giant pick up its pace and present a better plan to contain the spill by the time Obama arrives at the beleaguered coast for a two-day visit on Monday.

BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, said on Saturday the company would respond to the letter by Sunday night. Its board also was to meet on Monday to discuss deferring its second-quarter dividend and putting the money into escrow until BP’s liabilities from the spill are known.

BP’s public image has taken a beating and its stock price has plunged since the April 20 explosion of a deep-sea rig that killed 11 people and triggered a massive oil spill that has coated parts of the Gulf Coast with stinking, dark piles of crude and created environmental and economic devastation.

At the same time, tensions between BP and the federal government have ramped up as the public outrage over the spill has grown. Obama has come under increasing criticism for his response to the disaster, with even some of his strongest admirers feeling his response at times has been hesitant and aloof.

Obama will meet BP executives, including the company’s chairman, on Wednesday, a day after he returns from the Gulf. The president also plans an Oval Office address to the American public on Tuesday night.

Louisiana and Florida want BP to set aside the money in escrow accounts to protect their interests amid talk of the possibility that BP may eventually file for bankruptcy. Alabama doesn’t plan to take such action, and Mississippi and Texas haven’t said what they will do.
But even with Florida and Louisiana, BP might have a hard time complying, and if it did, it could hasten the company’s spiral downward.

That’s because as of March 31, BP had $6.8 billion in cash and cash equivalents available.

Experts say BP wouldn’t necessarily need to use cash to fund the accounts the states are asking for. Instead, the company could borrow money to comply. That, however, presents a potential problem because the company’s borrowing costs are likely to be a lot higher due to investor concerns.

The company said in a statement to AP it’s considering the Florida request. It didn’t address the comments by Kennedy.

‘We have received a variety of funding requests from different states and have been responding to them in due course based on the particular issues raised in each,’ BP said, adding that it already has made grants totaling $245 million to four Gulf states and is committed to spending up to $360 million to fund construction of six barrier island berms in Louisiana.

As to the concerns raised about a possible bankruptcy filing, BP said only that as of Saturday it was ‘not in discussions with’ and had ‘not engaged any bankruptcy experts’.

Along the Gulf coast, ominous new signs of the tragedy emerged on the beaches of Alabama. Clean-up crews worked throughout the night to clear the oil from the white sand in Orange Beach. On Sunday, plastic bags filled with oil and sand sat along the beach where oil was caked the night before. The remaining sand was stained dark brown.

‘This is awful,’ said Shelley Booker of Shreveport, Louisiana, who was staying in a condominium with her teenage daughter and her friends near the deserted beach about 160km from the site of the spill.

Scientists have estimated that anywhere from about 950,000 barrels to more than 2.4 million barrels of oil have spewed into the Gulf since the drilling rig exploded.

BP said a containment cap sitting atop a leaking pipe in the Gulf of Mexico captured about 15,000 barrels of oil on Saturday, preventing that discharge from flowing into the ocean. The system has collected more than 120,000 barrels of oil to date.

BP is hard at work trying to find new ways to capture more oil. To boost its capacity, BP also plans to trap oil using lines that will suck oil and gas from the well to a drilling rig where it will be burned. Suttles said this system could be working by early next week. Another ship should be in place by mid-July to process even more oil.
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Obama stand on oil spill is tough and temperate

Obama stand on oil spill is tough and temperate

Sunday, June 13, 2010

••• U.S. President Barack Obama has been forced to adapt his agenda to the endless challenge of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which threatens to sully him politically as experts struggle round-the-clock to find a fix.

Obama on Monday and Tuesday will make his fourth visit to U.S. states facing the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.

On his return to Washington, Obama on Wednesday will meet with British Petroleum chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up and sank April 20-22 killing 11 workers and triggering a massive oil gusher.

Obama has spared BP no criticism on how it is handling the oil spill, to the detriment of the special U.S.-British relationship.

On Saturday, however, he reassured British Prime Minister David Cameron that all was well between their two nations.

In a call to Cameron, Obama said his criticism of BP was not aimed at Britain and that ‘frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity,’ a spokesman for the prime minister’s Downing Street office said.
As the bad news from the oil spill keeps coming the estimated daily oil leak recently doubled up to 40,000 barrels, the Obama administration’s ‘hands are to some degree tied’, said Fordham University’s political science department chairman Jeffrey Cohen.

‘Nobody seems to have a good idea about how to stop this leak, and now we’re waiting months before a relief well’ reaches the broken pipe to divert the oil to surface ships and plug up the leak with cement – expected at the earliest in August, Cohen said.

‘This is a long time for this kind of issue to persist,’ he added.

More than 50 days into the crisis, Obama is stung by criticism as he appears powerless to stop the gusher 1 mile below the sea.

The spill is lapping the shores of four states with long-term economic and environmental damage.

‘As best as I can tell, the federal government response has been timely and competent,’ but this is a problem it cannot resolve, said Brookings Institution think tank analyst Thomas Mann.

‘But the media and political (Republican) opposition demand more personal engagement by the president, even if it is purely symbolic,’ he added.

During his first two visits to the oil-stricken region, Obama met with local and response effort officials, but not with fishermen and business people whose livelihoods are directly threatened by the environmental catastrophe.

Intellectually, Obama has no problem grasping the situation, ‘but in terms of really feeling people’s issues, he doesn’t seem to do a very good job of that’, Cohen argued.

That all changed during his third trip to Louisiana on June 4, when Obama spoke at length with local people hard hit by the crisis. More of that is expected during his upcoming two-day trip.

In terms of his relation with BP and its response effort, however, Obama is having a tough time in keeping just the right distance, Cohen said.

‘People will attack him for not showing much concern, but if he associates himself too closely with what’s going on, he begins to take some of the blame for the screw-ups.’
During the call it was also agreed that Mr Cameron will visit the U.S. for the first time as Prime Minister on July 20, 2010.
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• Source(s): The White House & 10 Downing Street


U.S. gives BP 48 hours to improve oil spill containment plans

U.S. gives BP 48 hours to improve oil spill containment plans

Saturday, June 12, 2010

••• The U.S. Coast Guard has expressed concern that BP’s current plans to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill do not go far enough and has ordered it to improve them within 48 hours.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson told BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles in a letter that BP must do more, given new U.S. government data this week that suggests the flow is as much as double previous estimates.

‘Because those estimates have now been revised and estimate a substantially higher flow of oil from the Macado 252 well, it is clear that additional capacity is urgently needed,’ said the letter dated June 11 and released on Saturday.
‘I am concerned that your current plans do not provide for maximum mobilisation of resources to provide the needed collection capacity consistent with revised flow estimates,’ Watson said.

‘I am also concerned that your plan does not go far enough to mobilise redundant resources in the event of an equipment failure with one of the vessels or some other unforeseen problem,’ he added.

‘BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak containment capacity that could be operationalised and expedited to avoid the continued discharge of oil.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «


BP Woes Spill into Markets

BP Woes Spill into Markets

Saturday, June 12, 2010

BP shares rallied on Friday on bargain-hunting after recent sharp losses.

The gains came as British Prime Minister David Cameron threw his support behind a ‘financially strong’ BP in talks with its chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, while voicing frustration over the oil spill, his office said.

At the close of trade, the company’s share price soared 7.22 percent to 391.9 pence on London’s FTSE 100 shares index, which was 0.61 percent higher.

Despite the gains, the British oil giant’s share price has plunged by as much as 49 per cent, wiping tens of billions of dollars off its market value since the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22.

The accident, following a explosion that killed 11 people two days earlier, sparked an enormous oil spill from a leaking well head on the sea bed.

The disaster has seen huge amounts of oil wash up on the U.S. Gulf coastline, threatening precious wildlife and local communities, and provoking the wrath of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has demanded BP scrap its shareholder dividend.

‘We are considering all options on the dividend. But no decision has been made,’ BP chief executive Tony Hayward said on Friday.

The group is preparing to defer the payment of its next dividend, according to the BBC and The Times newspaper.

The Times, which cited people familiar with the situation, reported that the money would be held in an escrow account, held by a third party, until its liabilities from the disaster become clear.

The BBC said it understood BP was planning to suspend the dividend, with BP directors due to meet on Monday to discuss the payments.

The meeting ‘will be about when to suspend the payments, how long to suspend the payments, and what to do with the billions of dollars that would be saved and not paid to shareholders,’ BBC business editor Robert Peston said.

A BP spokesman declined to comment on the stories, but stressed that the company was considering all its options.

The company’s share price was meanwhile boosted after U.S. bank Goldman Sachs issued an upbeat outlook for embattled BP.

‘BP shares now have as much upside potential as the rest of the European integrated oil sector,’ Goldman said in a research note.

The stock had plunged on Thursday, striking a low of 330 pence, as investors fretted about the financial impact of the oil spill and the possible loss of the group’s shareholder dividend.

CMC Markets analyst James Hughes described Friday’s gains as an ‘inevitable bounce after the moves of the last few days’ but warned that the share price has further to fall.

Cameron will discuss BP’s handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with Obama over the weekend amid fears of an anti-British backlash in the United States.

BP chairman Svanberg has been summoned to meet Obama at the White House next week, as several US media reported the Swede was being lined up as a ‘fall guy’ for the disaster.

Cameron, who is visiting Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates, had a ‘constructive’ telephone conversation with Svanberg, a Downing Street spokesman said.

‘The prime minister explained that he was frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak but made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the UK, US and other countries,’ he said.

Cameron said: ‘It is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.’

Svanberg met with finance minister George Osborne and other senior officials in Downing Street on Friday.

After the talks, the Swede told ITN television: ‘I think we have done everything we can to try to fill the well, and we have said we would do everything expected from us in cleaning up the beach, taking care of all the claims and learn from this incident and make deepsea drilling an even safer place.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «


Weekly Address: Fair Pay for Doctors

Weekly Address: Fair Pay for Doctors
President Obama Calls on Senate Republicans to Allow a Vote to Protect Medicare Reimbursements

Saturday, June 12, 2010

In this week’s address, President Barack Obama called on Senate Republicans to stop blocking a vote to prevent a 21 percent pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients – a pay cut that will hurt America’s seniors and their doctors. Since 2003, Congress, under Republican and Democratic leadership, has deferred these cuts in Medicare reimbursements from going into effect. The President is committed to finding a responsible, long term solution to this problem, but it is not acceptable to punish America’s seniors or the physicians who treat them. If Congress does not act, then doctors will start receiving lower Medicare reimbursements next week, which could lead to seniors losing their doctors.

More than a decade ago, Congress set up a formula that governs how doctors get paid by the Medicare program. The intent was to slow the growth of Medicare costs, but the result was a formula that has proposed cutting payments for America’s doctors year after year after year. These are cuts that would not only jeopardize our physicians’ pay, but our seniors’ health care.

Since 2003, Congress has acted to prevent these pay cuts from going into effect. These votes were largely bipartisan, and they succeeded when Democrats ran Congress and when Republicans ran Congress – which was most of the time.

This year, a majority of Congress is willing to prevent a pay cut of 21% – a pay cut that would undoubtedly force some doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether. But this time, some Senate Republicans may even block a vote on this issue. After years of voting to defer these cuts, the other party is now willing to walk away from the needs of our doctors and our seniors.

Now, I realize that simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution to this problem. For years, I have said that a system where doctors are left to wonder if they’ll get fairly reimbursed makes absolutely no sense. And I am committed to permanently reforming this Medicare formula in a way that balances fiscal responsibility with the responsibility we have to doctors and seniors. In addition, we’re already taking significant steps to slow the growth of Medicare costs through health insurance reform – not by targeting doctors and seniors, but by eliminating 50% of the waste, fraud, and abuse in the system by 2012. This not only strengthens Medicare, it saves taxpayer dollars.

I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path. But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That’s just wrong. And that’s why in the short-term, Congress must act to prevent this pay cut to doctors.

If they don’t act, doctors will see a 21% cut in their Medicare payments this week. This week, doctors will start receiving these lower reimbursements from the Medicare program. That could lead them to stop participating in the Medicare program. And that could lead seniors to lose their doctors.

We cannot allow this to happen. We have to fix this problem so that our doctors can get paid for the life-saving services they provide and keep their doors open. We have to fix this problem to keep the promise of Medicare for our seniors so that they get the health care they deserve. So I urge Republicans in the Senate to at least allow a majority of Senators and Congressmen to stop this pay cut. I urge them to stand with America’s seniors and America’s doctors.


• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): The White House


David Cameron tells BP chief of oil spill ‘frustration’

David Cameron tells BP chief of oil spill ‘frustration’

Thursday, June 10, 2010

••• David Cameron has told BP’s chairman he is ‘frustrated and concerned’ about the Gulf oil spill, but said it is ‘in everyone’s interests’ for BP to remain ‘financially strong and stable’.

His conversation with Carl-Henric Svanberg comes as the Prime Minister is facing calls to challenge Barack Obama over his comments on BP which have been described as ‘anti-British’.

Mr. Cameron is due to speak to Mr. Obama by telephone on Saturday at 04:00 pm BST (11:00 am EDT).

Speaking about Mr. Cameron and Mr. Svanberg’s discussion, a Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister ‘made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the U.K., U.S. and other countries’.

He added: ‘Mr. Svanberg made clear that BP will continue to do all that it can to stop the oil spill, clean up the damage and meet all legitimate claims for compensation.

‘The Prime Minister said that he would raise the issue – and discuss these points – in his call with President Obama tomorrow.’

Meanwhile, BP chief executive Tony Hayward has told Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman that he welcomes the ‘very strong’ support from both the political and business community.
He added: ‘The best outcome is to keep BP strong and whole and working well so we can use our financial muscle to deal with this.

‘We have taken responsibility for the spill, committed enormous resources and we will stop the leak, clean up the oil and remediate the environmental impact. I am confident the company has the resources to do that.’

The U.S. President has been accused of using increasingly aggressive language towards the oil firm, which has had billions wiped off its share value over the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Former CBI director general Lord Digby Jones, who was a trade minister in the last government, said the Prime Minister should make it clear the problem is not just a British one.

He told Sky News: ‘I would like David Cameron to say to the President of the US, ‘look this is an international problem’.

‘This isn’t a British problem, BP is an international company, it employs more people in America than Britain and 40% of its dividend income goes to American pension funds.

‘It’s an American company that built this, it’s an American company that operated this.

‘Is BP to blame, yes, but will you stop calling this a British problem.’
London Mayor Boris Johnson had already demanded an end to the ‘beating up’ of the oil firm, urging the American administration to avoid ‘name calling’ and ‘buck passing’.

And in an open letter the chairman of insurance giant RSA, John Napier, warned Mr. Obama’s criticism was ‘unstatesmanlike’ and lacked ‘balance’.

The threat of a transatlantic row comes as new calculations from the U.S. Geological Survey found that up to 40,000 barrels have been pumping into the sea every day since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April, double the amount originally estimated.

BP lost 7% of its value on Thursday as it was hit by heavy falls in the U.S. and concerns that US officials were threatening to seek a ban on dividend payouts crucial to British pension fund investments.

On Friday, the shares pulled out of their nosedive and rose by 8%.

It is claimed BP will seek a deal with the White House that could see the investor payouts held in ‘escrow’ – or deferred – until the group’s clean-up liabilities are clearer.

Or it could propose scrapping the dividend for one quarter or paying it in shares rather than cash, according to reports.

BP has not confirmed whether it will pay future dividends, saying recently this would be discussed by the board next month.

It is due to make the next payout on June 22 and announce the subsequent dividend on July 27.
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.


U.K. Speaks Out in Defense of BP

U.K. Speaks Out in Defense of BP

Thursday, June 10, 2010

••• British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will discuss BP’s handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with U.S. President Barack Obama within days, as fears grew of an anti-British backlash in the U.S..

Cameron is expected to talk to Obama on Saturday or Sunday as the British oil giant and its chief executive, Tony Hayward, face mounting pressure over its response to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Politicians and business leaders in Britain have expressed fears that ‘anti-British rhetoric’ was taking hold in the United States, and that other British businesses could be hit as a result.

‘I understand the U.S. government’s frustration because it is a catastrophe for the environment,’ Cameron said as he made his first visit to Afghanistan on Thursday.

‘Obviously everyone wants everything to be done that can be done. Of course that is something I will be discussing with the American president.’

Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson summed up growing concern in Britain about reactions to BP stateside, telling BBC radio: ‘I do think there’s something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America.’

Johnson, of Cameron’s Conservative party, added: ‘I would like to see a bit of cool heads rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling.
‘When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP, it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the airwaves.’

Obama, who faced initial criticism for not being tough enough on BP, has stepped up the pressure amid growing U.S. public anger fuelled by media coverage of oiled birds and crude washing up on beaches.

A cap placed last week over the gushing well about 50 miles off Louisiana is capturing nearly 15,000 barrels of crude a day, yet oil continues to pour into the gulf.

BP’s share price collapsed by almost 16 percent in London trading early on Thursday although towards the close they were down just over five percent.

Its shares have lost about 42 percent of their value since the April 20 explosion aboard a drilling rig operated by BP which killed 11 workers and blew open the well.

Some investors fear the intense political pressure from Washington could force the group to axe its prized shareholder dividend.

Miles Templeman, director-general of the Institute of Directors, which represents senior British businessmen, said he was ‘very concerned’ by the comments against BP.

‘There is a danger that this will become a British business thing and there will be a prejudice against British companies because of it,’ he told the Financial Times. ‘The issue should be decided outside politics’.
And Christopher Meyer, a former British ambassador to the United States, told the BBC the oil spill had become ‘a bit of a crisis, politically’.

‘The government must put down a marker with the U.S. administration that the survival and long-term prosperity of BP is a vital British interest,’ he said.

The issue was raised in the House of Commons by a lawmaker who feared British pensioners could suffer as a result of BP’s plunging share price.

But Foreign Secretary William Hague, who last month said Washington is ‘without doubt’ London’s most important ally, played down concerns of opinion turning against Britain in the United States.

‘No-one has used an anti-British tone in anything I have detected,’ he told BBC radio.

‘The prime minister, of course, will be able to discuss this with President Obama, but the important thing here is actually dealing with the problem that has arisen from that oil spill, dealing with it out at sea and making sure that everything possible is done.

‘I think that is more important than any rhetoric that any of us may indulge in about it.’

Cameron took office as head of a coalition government only last month and is expected to meet Obama face-to-face for the first time in the job in Washington in July (July 20, 2010).
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «


Actor Kevin Costner presents “a partial solution” to Gulf oil spill

Actor Kevin Costner presents “a partial solution” to Gulf oil spill

Thursday, June 10, 2010

••• Hollywood star Kevin Costner has urged Congress to consider a technology he invested more than $20 million in that could be used to separate oil from water in the disastrous Gulf of Mexico spill.

‘I know there must be question why I am here, I want to assure every one in the room that it’s not because I heard a voice in the cornfield,’ Costner joked, referring to his role in the film The Field of Dreams, in which he played a farmer who heard voices telling him to build a ballpark in his corn field.

Costner, star of the post-apocalyptic classic Waterworld, said he was deeply affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and that convinced him to use personal resources to develop technologies to help people and the environment.

‘Today that technology (CINC) is the most effective and efficient tool for cleaning up oil spills that you have probably never heard of,’ he explained.
‘I envisioned the machine as a safety device, compact and portable enough that it could be deployed on a small craft and rugged enough to operate reliably in rough seas.’

Costner said oil giant BP, struggling with the worst ever U.S. oil spill, was interested in the technology.

‘Our machine is the right machine for the moment,’ said Costner. After successful tests, ‘BP is now moving to place initial orders (of) these machines and they acknowledged they do the job.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «


Senate hearing disrupted as woman pours liquid on self

Senate hearing disrupted as woman pours liquid on self

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

••• A Senate hearing on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was disrupted on Wednesday as a protester poured an oily-looking liquid on herself before being arrested.

‘This is what it feels like to have oil dumped on you,’ the woman, identified as Diane Wilson, said in comments addressed to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Wilson issued a statement issued later saying she is a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf and that her protest was directed against Murkowski for supporting the oil industry and opposing measures such as lifting the liability cap on oil firms in offshore spills.

Wilson opened a jar and poured a dark, oily-looking substance on her head at the hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, before being taken away by Capitol police. Committee staff said later the jar contained syrup.

‘With this BP disaster, I am seeing the destruction of my community and I am outraged,’ Wilson said in her statement.

‘I am also seeing elected representatives like Senator Lisa Murkowski blocking BP from being legally responsible to pay for this catastrophe.’

At the hearing, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told lawmakers offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will continue ‘in a safe way’ in the wake of the massive Deepwater Horizon accident.

Salazar told the committee that a range of new regulations implemented following the accident at the BP-operated well would protect against new spills.

‘Offshore drilling will continue… it has to be done in a safe way,’ he told the panel.

Salazar, who heads the agency that oversees oil leasing and management of federal lands, highlighted tougher safety rules imposed this week for offshore drilling and the reorganisation of the Minerals Management Service, the division which has been criticised for being too cozy with the oil industry.

But he said the rules would not halt all offshore drilling despite the six-month moratorium on new deepwater wells ordered by President Barack Obama last month.

‘The importance of the jobs is very much on the mind of the president and on my mind as well,’ Salazar said.

He told Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that the administration would ask BP to pay salaries of oil sector workers whose jobs have been suspended by the drilling ban.

According to committee figures, the Gulf of Mexico has some 3,600 wells or drilling operations and 700 of them are at depths of around 1 mile like the Deepwater Horizon.

Salazar confirmed that BP was capturing around 15,000 barrels a day from a new device placed on the wellhead, but was unable to estimate how much was still leaking.

‘It is important for us to have the right number. We’ll get that right number,’ he said.

‘Our goal is get zero pollution from this well. Nothing is being spared to bring this problem under control.’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «


Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

Facebook preparing to make changes to privacy settings in response to criticism

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook on Saturday said it plans to simplify privacy controls at the popular social-networking service to appease critics.

‘We’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to users and consulting with experts in California; Washington, DC, and around the world,’ Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in response to an AFP inquiry.

‘The messages we’ve received are pretty clear. Users appreciate having precise and comprehensive controls, but want them to be simpler and easier to use.’

Facebook contended that members like new programs rolled out at the California-based internet hotspot but want easy ways to opt out of sharing personal information with third-party applications or websites.

‘We’re listening to this input and incorporating it into innovations we hope to announce shortly,’ Noyes said.

Facebook has been under fire from U.S. privacy and consumer groups, U.S. lawmakers and the European Union over new features that critics claim compromise the privacy of its more than 400 million members.

The features introduced last month include the ability for partner websites to incorporate Facebook data, a move that would further expand the social network’s presence on the internet.
Four U.S. senators, in a letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, said they were worried that personal information about Facebook users is being made available to third party websites.

The senators also expressed concerns that ‘Facebook now obligates users to make publicly available certain parts of their profile that were previously private’.

Sharing personal information should be an ‘opt-in’ procedure in which a user specifically gives permission for data to be shared, privacy advocates argue.

Coming Facebook refinements are not expected to include a shift to an opt-in model.

Facebook vice president of global communications Elliot Schrage has been adamant that online privacy is taken very seriously at the company.

‘These new products and features are designed to enhance personalisation and promote social activity across the internet while continuing to give users unprecedented control over what information they share, when they want to share it, and with whom,’ Schrage said.

MySpace on May 17 announced plans to simplify its privacy settings as it seeks to differentiate itself from social network rival Facebook, which has eclipsed the News Corp-owned social networking service.

‘The last few weeks have been fraught with discussion around user privacy on social networks,’ MySpace co-president Mike Jones said in a blog post without directly mentioning Facebook by name.

‘While MySpace at its core is about discovery, self expression and sharing, we understand people might want the option of limiting the sharing of their information to a select group of friends,’ Jones said.
Jones said MySpace, which was bought by News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million, is ‘planning the launch of a simplified privacy setting for our user profiles.

‘While we’ve had these plans in the works for some time, given the recent outcry over privacy concerns in the media, we felt it was important to unveil those plans to our users now,’ he said.
• Source(s): Facebook Inc. and MySpace / Digital Media Group / News Corporation


Weekly Address: Wall Street Reform & Main Street

Weekly Address: Wall Street Reform & Main Street

President Obama “Wall Street Reform Will Bring Greater Security to Folks on Main Street”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In his weekly address, President Barack Obama discussed how reforming Wall Street will strengthen Main Street. The reform bill moving through Congress will empower and protect American families with the strongest consumer financial protections in history, level the playing field for community banks by making sure all lenders are subject to tough oversight, and strengthen small businesses by curbing excessive risk taking on Wall Street, which will help protect credit for our small businesses. As the economy recovers in the short term, we need to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity for the long term. This bill helps to do just that.

On Thursday, I paid a visit to a small business in Buffalo, New York, a town that’s been hard hit in recent decades. I heard from folks about the struggles they’ve been facing for longer than they care to remember. And I talked with them about what my administration is doing to help our families, our small businesses, and our economy rebound from this recession.

Jumpstarting job creation in the private sector and fostering a climate that encourages businesses to hire again is vitally important – and I’ll continue working hard to make sure that happens. But my responsibility as President isn’t just to help our economy rebound from this recession – it’s to make sure an economic crisis like the one that helped trigger this recession never happens again.

That’s what Wall Street reform will help us do. In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of back and forth about the reform bill currently making its way through Congress. There’s been a lot of discussion about technical aspects of the bill, and a lot of heated – and frankly, sometimes misleading – rhetoric coming from opponents of reform.

All of this has helped obscure what reform would actually mean for you, the American people. So, I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about why every American has a stake in Wall Street reform.

First and foremost, you have a stake in it if you’ve ever been treated unfairly by a credit card company, misled by pages and pages of fine print, or ended up paying fees and penalties you’d never heard of before. And you have a stake in it if you’ve ever tried to take out a home loan, a car loan, or a student loan, and been targeted by the predatory practices of unscrupulous lenders.

The Wall Street reform bill in Congress represents the strongest consumer financial protections in history. You’ll be empowered with the clear and concise information you need to make the choices that are best for you. We’ll help stop predatory practices, and curb unscrupulous lenders, helping secure your family’s financial future.

That’s why families have a stake in it. And our community banks also have a stake in reform. These are banks we count on to provide the capital that lets our small businesses hire and grow.

The way the system is currently set up, these banks are at a disadvantage because while they are often playing by the rules, many of their less scrupulous competitors are not. So, what reform will do is help level the playing field by making sure all our lenders – not just community banks – are subject to tough oversight. That’s good news for our community banks, which is why we’ve received letters from some of these banks in support of reform.

What’s true for our community banks is also true for small businessmen and women like the ones I met in Buffalo. These small businesses were some of the worst victims of the excessive risk-taking on Wall Street that led to this crisis. Their credit dried up. They had to let people go. Some even shut their doors altogether. And unless we put in place real safeguards, we could see it happen all over again.

That’s why Wall Street reform is so important. With reform, we’ll make our financial system more transparent by bringing the kinds of complex, backroom deals that helped trigger this crisis into the light of day. We’ll prevent banks from taking on so much risk that they could collapse and threaten our whole economy. And we’ll give shareholders more of a say on pay to help change the perverse incentives that encouraged reckless risk-taking in the first place. Put simply, Wall Street reform will bring greater security to folks on Main Street.

The stories I heard in Buffalo this week were a reminder that, despite the progress we’ve made, we need to keep working hard, so we can build on that progress and rebound from this recession in the short-term. But even as we do, we also need to lay a new foundation for growth and shared prosperity over the long-term.

Next week, we have a chance to help lay a cornerstone in that foundation. The reform bill being debated in the Senate will not solve every problem in our financial system – no bill could. But what this strong bill will do is important, and I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible, so we can secure America’s economic future in the 21st century.

• Source(s): The White House


July 2020


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