News in Brief: US Oil Firms as Unprepared for Spill as BP, and More

A number of major oil companies who drill off the US coastline are just as unprepared for a leak or spill as BP, Henry Waxman, the chairman of the Congressional panel on the Gulf oil spill told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The BBC reported the response plans of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell are identical to BP’s. BP’s US chief Lamar McKay and other oil bosses will give testimony at the hearing on deepwater drilling safety amid damning accusations BP took shortcuts. The oil company faces $34 billion in fines, reported The Guardian UK, a significant rise from the previous estimate of $5 billion. Senators have told BP to deposit $20 billion in a ring-fenced account to cover escalating compensation costs. Following this news, BP stock dived 9 percent. The company is now worth nearly half of what it was prior to the Gulf oil spill.

Meanwhile, efforts to clean up the oil spill have been hampered by the lack of clear authority, reported The New York Times.

President Obama’s consistent use of the name “British Petroleum” instead of BP, to which the company officialy changed its corporate name, has angered some in Britain, reported Global Post, with a member of Parliament, Lord Norman Tebbit, calling Obama’s words “partisan political presidential petulance.”


In the Kyrgyz city of Osh, residents have begun to venture out as the first shipments of aid arrived, following violent clashes, reported The New York Times. At least 170 people have been killed in five days of what has been called the worst ethnic violence since the fall of the Soviet Union. More than a quarter of a million ethnic Uzbeks have fled the fighting to Uzbekistan, the UN refugee agency told the BBC. Despite the violence, the administration in Kyrgyzstan have announced their intention to go ahead with a national referendum on constitutional reform on June 27. The son of the ousted prime minister, Maxim Bakiyev, is reportedly being held in the UK, where he is claiming asylum amid calls from the new government for Britain to extradite him. Bakiyev is accused of funding the riots, which took place in his father’s former powerhouse.


New York lawmakers have called for a probe by the State Department of two activists from the aid flotilla to Gaza who were scheduled to speak at a Brooklyn church on Thursday, reported Democracy Now!. The attack on the Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandos two weeks ago left eight Turkish activists and one American of Turkish descent dead. Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney told a press conference Monday:

“We have an obligation to protect our borders against potential terrorists, and the State Department should be extra cautious with those who want to arm and help Hamas. After all, Israel is called the ‘little Satan,’ and America, we’re called the ‘big Satan.’ And if Gaza flotilla participants were willing to die as martyrs against Israel, we can assume that they would be just as willing to die as martyrs against the United States.”

Meanwhile, two Iranian ships carrying aid are bound for Gaza, in a move that may inflame tensions in the region, reported The Guardian UK.


In a landmark unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a documented immigrant who has been convicted of two minor drug charges should not have to face mandatory deportation, reported Democracy Now!. The effect on thousands of immigrants now facing deportation for minor drug charges could be drastic, say immigrant rights advocates, as the decision gives more discretion to immigration judges.

Arizona Republicans plan to introduce new legislation this fall which, if passed, would deny the children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States the right to citizenship, reported CNN. Federal law automatically grants citizenship to any child born in the United States, regardless of the status of their parents. According to John Kavanagh, a Republican state representative from Arizona and supporter of the law, the concept does not conflict with the US Constitution because, “If you go back to the original intent of the drafters … it was never intended to bestow citizenship upon [illegal] aliens.”


US taxpayers may be funding child soldiers in Somalia, reported The New York Times. By financing the Somali military, which according to the United nations is among the “most persistent violators” of sending children into war, the money may be used to pay hundreds of child soldiers, some as young as nine years old. The United States and Somalia are the only two nations in the world who have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among which are prohibitions on the use of soldiers younger than 15.


Hundreds of World Cup security workers have gone on strike two and a half hours before a game, reported Al Jazeera, after failing to resolve a wage dispute with a private contractor. The workers staged a walkout the day after riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at 400 stadium employees who claimed that their pay had been cut sharply without warning. “We were mounting a peaceful protest because they were not paying us what we expected and we were surprised that the police started charging at us,” a worker in Durban told Al Jazeera. Police troops will fill in for security workers as the games continue.