BP Fires CEO Tony Hayward

The New York Daily News headline says it all: “Tony Hayward, BP CEO, gets his life back, no longer in charge of running Gulf cleanup operations.” A day after his congressional barbecue, Hayward has been replaced by New York-born, Mississippi-raised Robert Dudley. BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told Britain’s Sky News, “It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people.” The company, under intense pressure to contain a spill that continues to grow nearly two months after its leased rig exploded and sank, said Friday that BP is working on enhancements to its containment strategy that it says will push the collection capacity to more than 50,000 barrels a day by the end of this month and to as much as 80,000 by mid-July.

Congress Fails to Spare Doctors from Medicare Cuts

The Senate passed legislation Friday to spare doctors a 21% cut in Medicare payments — but the last-ditch effort did not come in time. Moments after the Senate acted, Medicare announced it would begin processing claims it has already received for June at the lower rate. The reason: the House cannot act on the fix until next week. That means doctors, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and other providers who bill under Medicare’s physician fee schedule will have to resubmit their claims if they want to be made whole, with added paperwork costs both for the providers and for taxpayers. “Congress is playing Russian roulette with seniors’ health care,” Dr. Cecil B. Wilson, president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement. “This is no way to run a major health coverage program.”

Muslims Disappointed by Obama

Muslims around the globe remain uneasy about the U.S. and are increasingly disenchanted with President Barack Obama, according to a Pew Global Attitudes poll that suggests his drive to improve relations with the Muslim world has had little impact. Among the seven countries surveyed with substantial Muslim populations, the U.S. was seen favorably by just 17% in Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan and 21% in Jordan. The U.S.’s positive rating was 52% in Lebanon, 59% in Indonesia and 81% in Nigeria, where Muslims comprise about half the population. None of those figures was an improvement from last year. In all seven of those countries, the percentage of Muslims expressing confidence in Obama has also dropped since last year.

ConAgra Recalls Marie Callender’s Meal

Food giant ConAgra has issued a national recall of all Marie Callender’s brand Cheesy Chicken & Rice frozen meals, regardless of when they were made, because they appear to be linked to an outbreak of salmonella Chester that has sickened 29 people in 14 states since April. “We estimate that prior to recall there would be 50,000 to 100,000 cases (each containing eight dinners) in market. So that would be 400,000 to 800,000 individual packages possibly in market,” a ConAgra spokesperson said. The company sells 5.6 million of the frozen dinners a year. “There are 29 laboratory confirmed cases, which means that hundreds of people have become ill,” said William Keene, an epidemiologist with the state of Oregon who¹s been a part of the national investigation of the outbreak.

Economic News

Regulators on Friday shut down a Nevada bank, raising to 83 the number of U.S. bank failures this year. The 83 closures so far this year is more than double the pace set in all of 2009, which was itself a brisk year for shutdowns. The pace has accelerated as banks’ losses mount on loans made for commercial property and development.

Stocks rose for a fourth straight day Friday, led by shares of minerals companies after gold prices settled at another record high. The Dow posted its second consecutive weekly gain. The Dow has risen back 6.4% from its lowest close of the year on June 7, but it’s still down 6.7% from the 2010 high it reached on April 26. Gold settled up $1,258.30 an ounce, a gain of $9.60.


A new kind of Mexican immigrant is making it big in the USA: huge Mexican corporations that are snapping up U.S. brand names, opening U.S. factories and investing millions of pesos north of the border. From Thomas’ English Muffins to Borden milk, Saks Fifth Avenue department stores to The New York Times newspaper, Mexican investors have taken advantage of low interest rates and depressed prices during the economic downturn to expand their holdings in el norte. In some cases, Mexican companies have taken over U.S. brands. Others have expanded their U.S. operations or increased their investments in U.S. firms. Grupo Lala, Mexico’s largest dairy company, bought a yogurt plant in Omaha in 2007. In 2009, it purchased Dallas-based National Dairy Holdings, which controls the Borden brand and 18 regional dairies. Grupo Bimbo, Latin America‘s largest baked-goods company, bought the U.S. baked-goods operations of Weston Foods for $2.4 billion, taking over 22 industrial bakeries and 4,000 distribution routes, turning out national brands such as Entenmann’s pastries, Boboli pizza crusts and Thomas’ English Muffins to regional brands such as Brownberry bread and Mrs. Baird’s snack cakes. New investment in the USA by Mexican companies rose from $3.6 billion in 2005 to nearly $8 billion in 2008. In 2008, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim bought a 6.9% share in The New York Times Co., making him the largest shareholder outside the Ochs-Sulzberger family. He increased his stake in the Saks Fifth Avenue department stores from 10.9% to 18%.


Turkish warplanes launched air raids at suspected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq Saturday after a rebel attack on a military outpost in Turkey touched off clashes in which eight soldiers and 12 rebel fighters died. Two other soldiers were killed in a land mine explosion while chasing the rebels. Special forces were immediately sent to reinforce the border area where the clashes occurred and Turkish warplanes bombed detected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq. At least 14 other soldiers were wounded in the fighting. Kurdish rebels have dramatically stepped up attacks in Turkey in recent months, threatening a government attempt to end one of the world’s longest guerrilla wars. The military said Friday more than 40 soldiers had been killed since March — including six who died in a rocket attack on a vehicle near a naval base in southern Turkey — and warned it anticipated more attacks. The rebels belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have used northern Iraq as a springboard to stage hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets in their decades-long campaign for autonomy in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast.


Twin car bombs exploded Sunday near a major square in Baghdad, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens in the latest attack targeting a high-profile area in the capital. The explosives-packed cars were parked a few hundred yards apart near a government agency that issues national identification cards, the telephone exchange building and a state-run bank. The nearly simultaneous blasts occurred shortly after 11 a.m. as the area was crowded with people at the start of the work week.


Heavily armed militants wearing military uniforms on Saturday stormed the Yemeni intelligence service’s southern headquarters, killing at least 11 people, security officials said. An eyewitness outside the facility in the southern port city of Aden, about 200 miles south of the capital, San’a, said the gunmen, suspected to be from the local branch of al-Qaeda, freed several prisoners. The brazen prison break highlights the challenges Yemen‘s U.S.-backed government faces in battling increasingly bold al-Qaeda elements that have found refuge in this impoverished country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.


Massive flooding in southern China has killed 132 people and forced 860,000 to flee their homes, and more storms were forecast, the government said Sunday. Another 86 people are missing and more than 10 million people have been affected since torrential rains began June 13. China sustains major flooding annually along the mighty Yangtze and other major rivers, but this year’s floods have been especially heavy, spreading across nine provinces and regions in the south and along the eastern coast. Thousands of houses have been destroyed and economic losses have topped 14 billion yuan.

Police and National Guard soldiers blocked off neighborhoods Friday as city officials organized a cleanup from tornadoes that ripped through the city the night before, part of a turbulent system that fueled twisters across the state and killed at least three people. Dozens more were injured in Thursday’s heavy weather. The National Weather Service collected 36 reports of tornado sightings, with northwestern and southern Minnesota hit hardest. If the sightings are all confirmed, it would exceed the previous state record of 27 in one day, in 1992.

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