News in Brief: Obama Launches Re-Election Campaign, and More

Obama Launches Re-Election Campaign

The Hill reports that President Barack Obama on Monday officially announced that he would be running for a second term in the White House. In an email to supporters, Obama wrote that he remains “focused on the job you elected me to do,” and that it is time to “begin mobilizing for 2012.” A video message entitled “It Begins With Us” features a series of the president's supporters stating the reasons why Obama's re-election is necessary. Today's announcement, which comes at an earlier point in time than President George W. Bush's re-election launch in 2003, puts Obama ahead in planning of almost all of his opponents, Republican and Democrat alike.

BP Asks to Continue Offshore Drilling as Manslaughter Investigation Begins

Oil company British Petroleum (BP) has requested permission from the US government to resume offshore drilling at ten existing wells in the Gulf of Mexico, less than one year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that became the biggest oil spill in the country's history, Democracy Now! writes. BP filed its request one week after the US Department of Justice began a manslaughter investigation against the oil giant for the deaths of 11 workers that occurred during the explosion. BP also faces potential charges for other alleged civil and criminal acts.

USAID Says GOP-Supported Cuts Could Kill 70,000 Children

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah told Congress Thursday that Republican plans to cut funding for global health programs could kill at least 70,000 children abroad, according to ABC News. The proposed spending bill, HR1, could cut or eliminate funding for malaria control programs, tuberculosis treatments and food distribution, among other humanitarian aid programs. Shah said that cutting disaster relief “would be, really, the most dramatic stepping back away from our humanitarian responsibilities around the world in decades.” Without immunizations and treatments for numerous diseases that affect children in third-world countries, Shah said, “we estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that HR1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying.”

Tokyo Dumps Radioactive Water Into Ocean

According to The Wall Street Journal , the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) began releasing 11.5 million liters of low-level radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean on Monday. The dumping was an attempt to curb the release of more dangerous material from Tepco's nuclear power plant, which was damaged during the earthquake in early March. By discharging the less toxic water into the ocean, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said during a press conference, the government can clear out space to store the water with higher radioactive levels. But Shigeru Tabeta, associate professor of marine environmental engineering at the University of Tokyo, said it can be difficult to gauge how the aquatic food chain will be affected by the contamination.