The U.S. government will block oil giant BP from new government contracts over its "lack of business integrity" stemming from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.
The decision follows the London-based company's agreement November 15 to plead guilty to criminal charges including manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and environmental violations related to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and subsequent release of about 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.FULL STORY
As another candidate throws his hat into the ring, remember that CNN.com Live is your home for the 2012 presidential election!
Today's programming highlights...
8:30 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.
President Obama pays a visit to Facebook headquarters today for a town hall meeting, and CNN.com Live will be there for all your coverage.
Today's programming highlights...
12:30 pm ET - U.N. briefing on Libya - The United Nations humanitarian chief will speak with reporters on her trip to strife-torn Libya.
Several "specific and preventable human and engineering failures were the immediate causes" of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, the presidentially appointed Oil Spill Commission said in its much-awaited report Tuesday .
The event "was almost the inevitable result of years of industry and government complacency and lack of attention to safety. This was indisputably the case with BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, as well as the government agency charged with regulating offshore drilling - the former Minerals Management Service," said commission co-chairman William K. Reilly.
"As drilling pushes into ever deeper and riskier waters where more of America's oil lies, only systemic reforms of both government and industry will prevent a similar, future disaster."
The report, "Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling," proposed "comprehensive" government and industry actions "to overhaul the U.S. approach to drilling safety and greatly reduce the chances of a similar, large scale disaster in the future."
The Justice Department expects to sue BP for damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to a filing made Monday night with the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Justice Department attorneys told the court it might seek claims under the Oil Pollution Act, which was enacted in 1990 after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and the Clean Water Act, which gives the government the right to seek potentially huge penalties.
– From CNN's Alan Chenoff
Islamic center imam speaks – The imam at the center of the controversy over an Islamic center near New York's ground zero is speaking out as a broad coalition of Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders this week denounced what they described as a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry across the United States.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien has an exclusive interview with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf on "Larry King Live" at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday. Submit questions for the imam via iReport here.
On his fifth visit to the Gulf Coast since the start of the BP oil disaster, President Obama on Saturday reminded Americans that the cleanup effort has been successful and that the region's beaches "are clean, safe and open for business."
"That's one of the reasons Michelle, Sasha, and I are here," Obama said
in Panama City, Florida.
Here’s a quick glance at the collective consciousness of the Web on Monday:
Putting a ring on it: It was quite the celebrity wedding weekend, with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton marrying longtime beau Marc Mezvinsky in a lavish ceremony in Rhinebeck, New York. (After midnight, late-night munchies stole the show.) Recording artist Alicia Keys married hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz at a private residence overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Atlanta rapper T.I. married longtime fiancée Tiny Cottle in a glitzy soiree in Miami Beach, Florida.
Gulf oil disaster: The spill continued to make news Monday, with the dispersants used by BP coming under increased scrutiny. The Environmental Protection Agency said tests prove that the oil, not the dispersants, remain "the No. 1 enemy." The oil disaster seems to have leaked into the real estate market as well. For many residents, discovery of oil on their land used to mean guaranteed big bucks (Black gold? Texas tea?). But because of the spill, waterfront residents say home sales may be especially cruddy. In fact, the BP oil spill could cost homeowners $68 million in lost property value over the next year, according to a report released Monday.
#jailbreak: The iPhone 4 “jailbreak,” finally legal, is getting a lot of clicks. The hack - available at jailbreakme.com - installs a program that lets iPhone 4 owners and others purchase apps from stores other than Apple's. But be careful! It's still a risky proposition.
Lindsay's out: Speaking of jail, Lindsay Lohan has been released from prison after 13 days in the pokey. It’s on to rehab for the actress and singer.
BP Sunday refused to confirm reports that its embattled chief executive Tony Hayward is on the verge of leaving the oil giant.
"Tony Hayward remains our chief executive and has the full support of the board and senior management," company spokesman Mark Salt told CNN.
British media reported Sunday that Hayward could be out as soon as Monday. He has been under fire over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill BP's alleged role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber. See the FULL STORY
Didn't you get my texts? - President Obama talked to Shirley Sherrod, the ex-USDA employee who was forced to resign this week based on misleading reports that she made racist remarks. Sherrod received a text message Thursday telling her that Obama had been trying to reach her since Wednesday night. Sherrod called the White House and was asked to call back in 10 minutes, and then she was patched to the president for a seven minute unrecorded chat. The conversation went well, Sherrod said. So what happens now? Is this all shaping up to be a teachable moment, or is that too irritating a term? Give Shirley Her Job Back Now! Facebook page is all over that and every other conceivable angle.
The employees at Facebook seem to be hanging in there while jobless claims jumped higher than expected, underscoring that the economic recovery may not be happening as fast as some thought. Meanwhile, a bill that restores unemployment benefits to 2.5 million Americans passed the Senate and headed to the House where it's expected to pass.
Jobs are a huge issue in the Gulf right now as the Coast Guard and BP struggle to put fix the oil disaster. But BP is again making headlines for allegedly faking another photo. On Wednesday the company admitted to doctoring an official image of its command control center. Thursday Gizmodo reported that BP had faked an image of a helicopter.
Gizmodo is reporting that BP has doctored another image.
Earlier this week, the oil company admitted that it had altered an official photo of its crisis command center. That photo was mocked for its Photoshop sloppiness.
The latest photo, this one of a helicopter cockpit and its outside view, is also getting tee-hees for what observers call obvious cut-and-paste maneuvers. Pay special attention to the seemingly out-of-place air traffic control tower in the upper left hand side of the image and, well, several other off-kilter things.
"Hidden world" – A controversial investigative story about America's intelligence community has been generating major buzz since it went live on the Washington Post's site. The story, the culmination of two years of reporting, says that in the years after the 9/11 attacks, intelligence gathering has become unmanageable and inefficient. Critics say that the Post article discloses sensitive information.
The seep - Everyone is searching the Web to find the exact definition of the word "seep" after news this past weekend that there is a leak from the oil containment cap in the Gulf of Mexico.
The question now is whether the seep is significant enough to require opening valves to relieve pressure and in turn release more oil into the Gulf. Is this the end of the months-long Deepwater Horizon oil leak?
The federal on-scene coordinator warned Monday that it's too soon to make that call. "With an operation like this, your biggest enemy is complacency," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft.
Spencer Pratt - Alleged problems with America's intelligence community, the oil spill and ... that guy who everyone hates from MTV's show "The Hills." Last week, the long-running drama about rich 20-somethings in Los Angeles ended with a shocker - the reality show was not really reality but scripted. What? No! This week, (can we call him an actor?) Spencer Pratt tried to keep his name in the news by admitting that he's a "famewhore." His words, not ours. But he's getting clicks. Lots of 'em.
Oil seep – Testing on a capped oil well in the Gulf of Mexico will continue for another day as the federal government says BP has addressed questions about a seep near the well. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's reponse manager to the oil spill, said that a federal science team and BP representatives discussed the seep during a Sunday night conference call, including the "possible observation of methane over the well." Allen will give an update at 11 a.m. ET Monday. CNN's full coverage page takes you from the beginning of the April 20 disaster to the latest updates.
The Washington Post: "Top Secret America" – The 9/11 attacks have created an intelligence community so large and unwieldy that it's unmanageable and inefficient – and no one knows how much it costs, according to a two-year-long Washington Post investigation.
Many in the intelligence community reportedly worried that the Post articles would disclose too much information about contractors and the classified tasks they handle. The Post said its report uncovered "a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine."
Aid for Pakistan – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a major new aid package for Pakistan with hundreds of millions of dollars for projects to address water and energy shortages in the country. She made the announcement at the beginning of a daylong "strategic dialogue" in Islamabad between American and Pakistani officials.
India train crash – At least 60 people died and 92 were injured when a moving train rammed into a stationary train in eastern India. The collision at the Sainthia station hurtled the roof of one of the wrecked compartments onto an overpass, according to TV footage.
Editor's note: Philippe Cousteau Jr. is the grandson of legendary ocean explorer and filmmaker Jacques Yves Cousteau. Philippe heads the nonprofit organization EarthEcho International (www.earthecho.org). Philippe, who has been working in this field for years, is an advocate for the people and the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico during the oil crisis, visiting the area and learning first hand the impact the disaster has had not only on the ecosystem but on the people who suffer as a result of the catastrophe. Read more about Philippe's background.
I remember my first trip to see the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. A few weeks after the rig exploded I traveled to survey the spill both above and below the surface. Seeing the impact from the shore as well as being the first one to dive and film the oil spill from beneath the waves was a horrifying experience. Wave after wave of oil/chemical dispersant mix washed over us - a chemical soup that is toxic to countless creatures and still spreading through the Gulf, wreaking havoc on the lives of animals and the livelihoods of people.
It was made all the worse because less than 18 months earlier, in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, I had testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee to address the deficiencies of the laws that govern oil and gas development in the oceans. The echo of that testimony is still haunting me as I have watched the devastation unfold first-hand over the past 70 days.
One of my favorite writers Mark Twain once wrote, "A man's first duty is to his conscience and his honor." There is no honor in this catastrophe, and its consequences are unconscionable. Nor is there honor in the circumstances that created it.
There is a lot of talk in the media about the moratorium the Obama administration recently put in place; but the truth is that a moratorium would not have prevented this tragedy. What I testified about more than a year ago and what is still needed today is to reform and strengthen the existing laws to ensure that they protect ocean health and coastal economies, and that science - not profit - should guide any oil and gas development.
This spill reminds us we are in desperate need of a policy that recognizes that in our ocean environment, everything is connected - from industrial uses to the health of our ocean and the health of the coastal economy. The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster exposes a fundamental flaw in our nation's approach to oil and gas activities in the ocean.
It is day 70 of the Gulf oil crisis. Millions of words and thousands of hours of video have been devoted to the explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon rig and the gushing of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
And yet the organizers of a conference in Washington Monday think that there's actually a shortage of information about the disaster. The two technology entrepreneurs behind the conference, TEDx OilSpill, are hoping the event will start to fix that problem.
“There’s sort of this void right now with information coming out of the Gulf,” says Nate Mook. “Something catastrophic has happened. Most people don’t understand the underlying issues that led to this happening. They’re really not aware of the all of the complexities behind their getting into their car and driving … it’s brought to the forefront a lot of things that have been on the sidelines for a long time – with our oceans, with how important the marine eco-system is, with where we are getting our energy, what are we putting at risk, and … new technologies being developed.”
To answer those questions an array of speakers, from ocean explorer Sylvia Earle to energy expert Amory Lovins to “Leroy Stick,” the anonymous creator of the fake BP Twitter (@BPGlobalPR) account with more than179,000 followers, will speak onstage at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington from 9 am to about 7 pm. The event will be streamed at: http://tedxoilspill.com/live/. And people will gather to watch the stream or discuss the issues in 125 meetups around the nation and world.
[Updated at 11:07 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after an explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon on April 20:
– BP on Wednesday night successfully repositioned a containment cap over the underwater gusher in the Gulf of Mexico after it removed the device earlier in the day when an undersea robot struck it.
– Obama administration lawyers on Wednesday night filed documents in federal court in New Orleans, Louisiana, signaling their intention to appeal Tuesday's ruling striking down a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. The administration also asked the court to delay lifting the ban until an appeals court reviews the case.
– The request for a stay until the appeal is heard later this summer will be considered by Judge Martin Feldman, who firmly struck down the drilling ban, declaring it "arbitrary and capricious" in his ruling Tuesday. He could rule on the government's request as early as Thursday, officials said.
McChrystal and Obama - A Pentagon source tells CNN that President Obama has asked for a list of possible replacements for Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The president and the general will meet today to discuss the brouhaha triggered by a magazine profile of McChrystal. In it, he and his staff appear to disparage senior administration officials.
McChrystal is unlikely to survive the fallout from remarks he made about colleagues in a Rolling Stone magazine profile to be published Friday, a Pentagon source who has ongoing contacts with the general told CNN earlier. He likely will resign Wednesday, the source said. McChrystal's fate is expected to hinge on a meeting scheduled Wednesday with the Obama, who was "angry" after reading the general's remarks, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. Our columnists take a look, and give dueling viewpoints, on what Obama should do: keep him or fire him.
[Updated at 8:42 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after an explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon on April 20:
– From midnight to noon Tuesday, BP collected about 8,195 barrels of oil (344,190 gallons) and about 5,045 barrels of oil (211,890 galllons) and 27.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were burned, the company said.
– Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement Tuesday that a six-month halt on deepwater drilling is "needed" and "appropriate" after a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the moratorium. "We see clear evidence every day, as oil spills from BP's well, of the need for a pause on deepwater drilling," the statement said. "That evidence mounts as BP continues to be unable to stop its blowout, notwithstanding the huge efforts and help from the federal scientific team and most major oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico."
A federal judge in New Orleans, Louisiana, has blocked a six-month federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf.
Several dozen plaintiffs had sued President Barack Obama's administration, arguing the ban would create long-term economic harm to their businesses. Obama ordered the moratorium after the April 20 explosion of an oil rig off Louisiana that killed 11 people and triggered an underwater oil gusher.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the government will immediately appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
"The president strongly believes, as the Department of Interior and Department of Justice argued yesterday, that continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened is - does not make any sense and puts the safety of those involved, potentially puts safety of those on the rigs, and the safety of the environment and the Gulf at a danger that the president does not believe we can afford right now," Gibbs said.
[Updated at 10:11 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after an explosion aboard the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon on April 20:
– About 8,410 barrels of oil (353,220 gallons) were collected from midnight to noon Monday, according to BP. Another 5,015 barrels of oil (210,630 gallons) and 25.3 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.
CLEANUP AND RECOVERY EFFORTS
– Government estimates say up to 2.5 million gallons of oil could be flowing into the Gulf daily.
– The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has expanded fishing closures in the Gulf of Mexico. The closed area now represents 86,985 square miles - approximately 36 percent of the Gulf's federal waters.