Embracing an idea first offered by CAP, the Obama administration announced yesterday that it will demand BP turn over a “substantial” amount of money in escrow to handle claims from people and businesses harmed by the environmental disaster. BP’s costs for responding to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have risen to $1.6 billion.
“In an effort to dampen international criticism and stave off calls for an international inquiry, Israel’s cabinet unanimously approved a government-appointed commission” to investigate the deadly raid on the Gaza flotilla. The panel will be led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, and will include “two Israeli experts in international law and two foreign observers.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling on Israel to lift its Gaza blockade, saying that the closure is “having a devastating impact on the 1.5 million people” who live in the Palestinian territory. The aid group cites the area’s “electricity crisis,” “lack of proper sanitation,” an “ailing health-care system,” and ruined livelihoods.
In his run to be the next Governor of Kansas, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) proposed revamping an existing state position to create “a new Kansas entity, the State Office of the Repealer” that is charged with eliminating state regulations deemed “silly, needless,” and “over-the-top.” Brownback says the idea resonates with Kansans who “feel like they’re getting their brains regulated out of them.”
The United States “has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself,” according to senior U.S. officials. An internal Pentagon memo dubs Afghanistan the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has approved “a major security crackdown in the Taliban birthplace of Kandahar, assuring residents that the operation was aimed at battling corruption and bad government as much as insurgents.” Karzai worked to ease fears of civilian deaths “saying the operation will not resemble a heavy military offensive that includes tanks and airstrikes.”
The White House is expected issue new rules today “that strongly discourage employers from cutting health insurance benefits or increasing the costs of coverage to employees.” “The rules limit the changes that employers can make if they want to be exempt from certain provisions of the health care law passed by Congress in March.”
The Treasury Department reported on Friday that for the first time, the amount of TARP funds “repaid by banks and other recipients has surpassed the outstanding balance.” Treasury officials said repayments had reached $194 billion, topping the $190 billion still outstanding. The program has “continued to exceed expectations, substantially reducing the projected cost of this program to taxpayers,” a Treasury official said.
American Crossroads, a 527 conservative group being supported by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, is launching television ads today that attack Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for passing the economic stimulus package last year.
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