Oil Spill Reaches Louisiana Shore

As dead sea turtles washed ashore, oil sloshed over inflatable barriers and the government ordered fishermen to stay home indefinitely, communities along the Gulf Coast and beyond braced for an environmental and economic tragedy that is growing worse by the day. Robot-controlled submarines made little progress in sealing the gash on the ocean floor that is leaking at least 200,000 gallons of oil a day — and possibly much more — since an oil rig exploded nearly two weeks ago off the Louisiana coast.

With oil that’s spewing from the Deepwater Horizon offshore well moving onshore, Louisiana officials are now focusing on cleaning up what the Coast Guard couldn’t block and trying to keep even more oil from coating the coastline. The spill imperils hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world’s richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life.

BP Didn’t Plan for Major Oil Spill

The worst U.S. oil spill in decades reached into precious shoreline habitat along the Gulf Coast as documents emerged showing British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the offshore rig that exploded. BP suggested in a 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well that an accident leading to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals was unlikely, or virtually impossible. The Coast Guard estimates now that at least 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers. The amount already threatens to make it the worst U.S. oil disaster since the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons off Alaska’s shores in 1989.

2 million in Boston Area Without Clean Water

More than 2 million people in the greater Boston area are likely to be without clean drinking water for up to 48 more hours because of the weekend rupture of two major water pipes. A cuff, 10-feet-in diameter, that joined two huge pipes blew off Saturday morning and is thought to have washed away in the Charles River. The Boston Globe reports that welders have rejoined the pipes, but that it will take at least two days to complete tests to make sure that the water is safe to drink. In the meantime, a boil-water alert remains in effect for people in Boston and 29 of its most populous suburbs.

  • The nation’s infrastructure is aging and neglected with more problems sure to come

Ariz. Deputy Shot by Suspected Drug Smugglers from Mexico

A sheriff’s deputy was shot and wounded Friday after encountering a group of suspected illegal immigrants who apparently had been hauling bales of marijuana along a major smuggling corridor in the Arizona desert — a violent episode that comes amid a heated national debate over immigration. State and federal law enforcement agencies deployed helicopters and scores of officers in pursuit of the suspects after the deputy was shot with an AK-47 on Friday afternoon. The officer had a chunk of skin torn from just above his left kidney, but the wound was not serious and he was doing fine. The shooting was likely to add fuel to an already fiery national debate sparked last week by the signing of an Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration in the state.

Authorities searching for drug smugglers who shot and wounded an Arizona sheriff’s deputy in the desert south of Phoenix said they captured 17 suspected illegal immigrants Saturday, including three who may have been involved in the incident. The three matched descriptions given by the Pinal County sheriff’s deputy who was grazed by a bullet fired by a group of about five smugglers.

Arizona Immigration Law Revised to Combat Racial Profiling

Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed a bill modifying Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, saying it will “make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal.” HB 2162 bars race from being considered when deciding whether to inquire about a person’s status, “except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.” The bill also clarifies that law-enforcement officers shall inquire about the immigration status only of those they “stop, detain or arrest.” The earlier bill simply said “contact.” The change is designed to allay fears that officers would have to examine the papers of anyone they spoke to, including crime victims and witnesses.

Ariz. Boycott Targets Major Sports Events, Conventions

The national political furor over Arizona’s tough new immigration law likely has jeopardized Phoenix’s chances of landing either the Democratic or Republican conventions. Before the controversy, Phoenix had made the short lists of both the Democratic and the Republican national committees. Officially, neither national party has indicated that Arizona’s immigration stance is playing a role in site deliberations, but they are coming under pressure to stay away from the state. They are not the only groups to come under fire since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law on April 23, igniting calls for boycotts of the state. The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association said Friday that 19 meetings representing 15,000 room nights have been canceled because of the immigration law. A coalition of Arizona-based civil-rights organizations launched a website to track boycott progress, called ArizonaBoycottClearinghouse.com. The site includes an online petition urging baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to move the All-Star Game scheduled to be played next year at Chase Field.

Mexico‘s Illegal Immigration Laws Tougher than Arizona’s

Mexican President Felipe Calderon denounced as “racial discrimination” an Arizona law giving state and local police the authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants and vowed to use all means at his disposal to defend Mexican nationals against a law he called a “violation of human rights.” But Newsmax reports that the legislation, signed April 23 by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, is similar to Reglamento de la Ley General de Poblacion — the General Law on Population enacted in Mexico in April 2000, which mandates that federal, local and municipal police cooperate with federal immigration authorities in that country in the arrests of illegal immigrants. Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.

  • Another pot/kettle thing. Facts don’t matter, only hyperbole.

Times Square Terrorist Attack Averted

Police found an “amateurish” but potentially powerful bomb that apparently began to detonate but did not explode in a smoking sport-utility vehicle in Times Square on Sunday. Thousands of tourists were cleared from the streets for 10 hours after a T-shirt vendor alerted police to the suspicious vehicle, which contained three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components. “We avoided what we could have been a very deadly event,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. The bomb appeared to be starting to detonate but malfunctioned. A Muslim extremist, Younus Abdullah Muhammad, author of RevolutionMuslim.com, told WND senior reporter Aaron Klein on New York’s WABC Radio that America should “absolutely” expect more jihadi violence in New York City.

States Refuse to Cooperate with Obamacare

One of the key parts of “Obamacare,” the Democrat plan that essentially nationalized health-care management, is facing bumpy seas as multiple states are telling Washington to run its own high-risk health insurance pool. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was among the state leaders who, to meet a deadline today, told the federal government his state would not accept federal money and the accompanying responsibility for running such a high-risk program. Joining with Pawlenty was Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who wrote to Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary, that the way the program is set up, if federal funds dry up, the state’s taxpayers are on the hook for any shortfalls. South Carolina’s Gov. Mark Sanford joined the chorus, citing the new federal mandates that would unfairly burden taxpayers and small businesses already stressed by the economy.

Economic News

The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose in March by the largest amount in five months although the gains were financed out of savings. But a modest rise in incomes added to concern that the recovery could weaken unless incomes grow more rapidly. Spending rose 0.6% in March, matching economists’ expectations. But personal incomes edged up just 0.3%,

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded at the fastest pace in nearly six years. The ISM said its manufacturing index rose to 60.4 in April from 59.6 in March. It’s the ninth month of growth. A level above 50 indicates expansion.

The Commerce Department said construction spending rose in March for the first time in five months, but all the strength came in government activity as private sector building fell to the lowest level in a decade. Weakness in construction remains a major drag on the economic recovery.

Regulators on Friday shut down three banks in Puerto Rico, two in Missouri, and one each in Michigan and Washington, bringing the number of U.S. bank failures this year to 64.

Greece

European governments and the International Monetary Fund on Sunday committed to pull Greece back from the brink of default, agreeing on $145 billion in emergency loans on the condition Athens increases taxes and makes painful budget cuts. The rescue aims to keep Greece from defaulting on its debts and to prevent its financial crisis from infecting other indebted countries just as Europe struggles to get out of recession. Prime Minister George Papandreou said his government is set to announce harsh spending cuts through 2012 as part of the loan agreement. Greeks would be called upon to make “great sacrifices” to avoid catastrophe, Papandreou said in a live televised address.

Middle East

Israel’s prime minister on Sunday welcomed Arab nations’ endorsement of indirect, U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians, saying he is ready to restart negotiations “at any time and at any place.” Israeli and Palestinian officials said they expect the talks to begin by early this week, and one Israeli official said the dialogue

would go beyond formalities and include preliminary discussions on “core issues” in the decades-long conflict. Despite the signs of progress, violence broke out in the West Bank during a Palestinian protest against the separation barrier Israel is building in the area. The Israeli army said it had used “non-lethal” methods such as tear gas to disperse what it called a riot by protesters who threw rocks at forces protecting a construction zone.

Iraq

Iraqi officials began on Monday a controversial recount of the 2.5 million ballots cast in Baghdad, a move requested by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who narrowly lost a parliamentary election held nearly two months ago. Political factions have since the March 7 vote wrestled over the results which showed a bloc led by al-Maliki coming two seats short of a rival coalition led by a secular Shiite heavily backed by Sunni Arabs. Since no one won an outright majority in the 325-seat legislature, all parties have been involved in intense talks to cobble together a majority to form the next government. The manual count, which election officials say could take up to two weeks, means further delay to an already lengthy election process that has raised fears of an increase in violence just as U.S. troops prepare to go home.

Pakistan

Army helicopter gunships pounded insurgent hideouts in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 22 militants. The aerial strikes also destroyed six militant compounds. Pakistani forces launched an operation in Orakzai in mid-March to flush out militants who last year fled an army offensive in South Waziristan. The troops are believed to have retaken several areas from the Taliban in the region. Thousands of people have fled the area. Most of them have moved in with relatives in nearby districts.

A suicide bomber on Saturday killed three civilians and three other militants in a busy market area in a northwestern Pakistani region wrested from the Taliban last year. Seven soldiers and five civilians were also wounded in the blast. The latest violence raised fears that the Taliban are returning in a region where the army waged a major offensive against the extremists last year part of a broader military campaign against militants across the volatile northwest.

Thailand

Thailand’s prime minister said Sunday the government was preparing to clear an area of Bangkok defended by thousands of anti-government protesters, seeking to end a crisis which has virtually paralyzed the capital. Many Thais have grown increasingly frustrated with the stalemate, which has dragged on for nearly eight weeks, claiming the lives of at least 27 people and costing the country tens of millions of dollars. It has sparked concerns of a flare-up of civil unrest.

India

The U.S., Australia and Canada warned Saturday that terror groups were likely planning “imminent attacks” in India’s capital and foreigners there should be vigilant. The warnings noted that markets and other areas frequented by Westerners in New Delhi have been targeted in past attacks. Militants linked to Pakistan-based Islamic groups have been blamed for previous attacks in the Indian capital.

Weather

Tornadoes and torrential rains raked across several Southern states over the weekend, killing at least 15 people in Tennessee and Mississippi, closing several interstates and forcing hundreds to evacuate their homesThe slow-moving storm stalled over Tennessee, where it delivered up to 17.75 inches of rain. Nashville had evacuated 500 residents and 150 businesses Sunday because of a levee leak, More than 1,000 water rescues have been made in Davidson County. Rescuers evacuated 267 patients from three nursing homes. Flooding in Nashville closed at least 15 miles of Interstate 65. One person died on Interstate 24, where a temporary building for a school was seen floating down the highway before it was pulled apart by the water. Memphis received 10 inches or more of rain during the day Saturday closing many of the cities streets.

Leveled homes, overturned vehicles and uprooted trees were scattered across central Arkansas on Saturday after several tornadoes ripped through the state, killing a woman and injuring two dozen others. At least two more tornadoes touched down in the region late Saturday. Gov. Mike Beebe declared a state of emergency after visiting a community south of Little Rock hit hard by Friday’s storms.

Lightning has left at least 16 people dead and scores of others injured in parts of Bangladesh. The United News of Bangladesh agency says most victims were on farmland or at their homes. Others were walking along roads.

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