News in Brief: Well Cap May Not Be Viable, and More

Well Cap May Not Be Viable

Hopes that BP has finally stopped up the Macondo oil well are being undermined by the possibility that materials are flowing past the cap and into the surrounding area. In a Monday press release, Admiral Thad W. Allen, who is the national commander of the Deep Water Horizon Response, said the federal science team and BP representatives held a conference call about possible leaking and methane that may have been detected above the well. According to the statement, Allen’s group has extended the well integrity tests, but has not eliminated the possibility of having to reopen the well and resume collecting oil at the surface. According to The New York Times, BP officials are standing by the cap, which has been in place since Thursday.

In terms of assessing the ecological damage, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that almost 2,200 dead birds have been found since April and that oil may have begun seeping into the lower levels of the food chain. Despite this concern, families are not eager to leave the Gulf. The New York Times interviewed several long-time fishing families — descendants of Acadians expelled from Canada in the 1700s — who are determined to stay put. Their defiance includes, according to the New York Times, continuing to eat fish from the Gulf despite government warnings that it may be contaminated.

Meanwhile, the spill has boosted the onshore drilling industry. According to Bloomberg.com, Halliburton Co., which is the biggest provider of land-based oilfield services, attributes its 83% increase in net income — $480 million for the second quarter compared with $262 million for the same time last year — to the havoc in the Gulf.

Rich Pakistanis Skirt Income Tax

Just as The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US has committed $500 million to encourage project development in Pakistan, The New York Times highlights a problem affecting US-Pakistan relations — income tax. According to the Times, Pakistan’s ruling class is skirting its income taxes, thereby depriving the country of public works financing and making harsh living situations even harsher. The result, The New York Times says, is an abyss of social and financial opportunities between the rich and poor that has created an insurgency-friendly environment in a country the US needs to rein in terrorist efforts.

Suicide Bomb Kills US Allies

Over 40 people were killed in what The New York Times calls the deadliest of a recent string of suicide bomb attacks in Iraq. Sunday’s attack, in Radwaniya, occurred outside of an Iraqi Army base, targeting former insurgents who switched sides to fight with the US. Four others were killed in a second attack in Anbar province, according to The New York Times.

Bank Helps Iran Sidestep Sanctions

An Iranian-owned bank in Germany has been helping the country sidestep international sanctions. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank, known by the initials EHI, is the only Iranian bank in Germany that “is free of any sanctions or controls.” At the same time, The New York Times is reporting that Shahram Amiri, an Iranian scientist the US says tried to defect and was then forced to return home, is claiming that the US wanted him to confess to being a spy so they could trade him for three hikers who had been held in Iran since 2009.

US Spy Network Seen as Out of Control

The US Intelligence network is so large and disjointed as to be almost completely unknowable, according to a two-year investigation by the Washington Post. The article quotes Retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was put in charge of tracking the Defense Department programs, as saying “the complexity of this system defies description.” The Post, paraphrasing Vines, says the result is that there is no way to know if the country is actually safer.

Jobless Benefits up For Senate Vote

Extending unemployment benefits is back up for discussion in the Senate on Tuesday, the same day the monthly jobs report is due. In June, 125,000 jobs were lost and unemployment was at 9.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the number of long-term unemployed, which the BLS categorizes as jobless for 27 weeks or more, was unchanged at 6.8 million. Job training has proven of little value in helping people who are out of work land a new position, The New York Times reports. Meanwhile, Washington, according to an article by Politico, should not be considered a mirror of the country’s unemployment stress. Its report, titled Reality Gap: “US Struggles, DC Booms” shows the Capitol City is not in synch with the rest of the country.

Tea Party Boots Williams After Racist Remarks

After making racist remarks that painted African Americans as lazy and unmotivated, Mark Williams has been bounced by the National Tea Party as has the Tea Party Express, with which Williams was affiliated. This is the second strike against the movement in less than a week — an Iowa division of the Tea Party posted a billboard likening President Obama to Adolph Hitler and Vladimir Lenin. The advertisement has been removed.