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News in Brief: Oil Spill Panel: BP Disaster Could Have Been Prevented With More Oversight, and More

Oil Spill Panel: BP Disaster Could Have Been Prevented With More Oversight

Oil Spill Panel: BP Disaster Could Have Been Prevented With More Oversight

The Hill reports that the presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill recommended more government regulation of offshore drilling projects in its report today, stating that the Gulf disaster “did not have to happen.” Co-chairs Bob Graham and William Reilly said that, while implementing greater oversight would be more costly to the government, a less proactive approach “runs the risk of real costs” to lives, regional economies, and the environment. The report concludes that, while offshore drilling is “inherently risky,” the BP spill was “foreseeable and preventable.”

Biden Says US Willing to Stay in Afghanistan Beyond 2014

Vice President Biden told Afghan President Hamid Karzai today that the US would be willing to stay in the war-torn country beyond the planned 2014 withdrawal date if its leaders asked, according to Reuters. During his first visit to Afghanistan since becoming vice president, Biden told Karzai that the US had not come to his country to “nation-build,” but that the military presence would continue to work with Afghan forces “in the mutual self-interest of both nations.” Biden has criticized Karzai in the past, saying that the president was not doing enough to tackle corruption in the country, while Karzai has accused the US government of meddling in foreign affairs. A senior administration official said Tuesday’s meeting was productive.

Massive Inland Floods Hit Australia

Weeks of flooding in Australia surged into an inland tsunami yesterday, destroying thousands of homes in 80 suburbs and leaving at least 78 people missing in the wake of a “freak storm,” The AP reports. The death toll in Toowoomba rose to 20. Search and rescue efforts have been made much more difficult due to driving rain; though Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the weather should improve by Wednesday, allowing rescue workers to continue their work, forecasters said more flash floods could continue throughout the week.

US Could See Lasting Wage Decrease

The recession has led to a drop in labor wages rarely seen since the Great Depression, said The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The only other market downturn to lead to large wage cuts since then was the 1981-82 recession, but the current economic climate has already eclipsed historical examples. Many of the 14.5 million laid-off workers have settled for part-time work or jobs that offer significantly lower pay than their skill level, and the Labor Department recently reported that 36 percent of those who found full-time work after losing their jobs were receiving at least 20 percent less than they did in their previous positions. Columbia University labor economist Till von Wachter told the WSJ that it will take years for wages to return to pre-recession levels, if it happens at all, stating, “The deeper the recession, the lower the wage you’re going to get in the next job and the lower the quality of your next job.”