News in Brief: BP and Officials Block News Coverage of Oil Spill and More

Thursday, 10 June 2010 12:30 By Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | News in Brief | name.

Journalists attempting to cover the BP oil spill have found themselves turned away not only by BP and its contractors, but also by the Coast Guard, local law enforcement and government officials, reported The New York Times. According to Rhonda Panepinto, whose company Southern Seaplane was denied airspace access to fly a journalist over the spill, said she was questioned extensively by a BP contractor when making the request. " Who was on the aircraft? Who did they work for?" recalled Panepinto. "The minute we mentioned media, the answer was: 'Not allowed.'" Scientists have also complained about information availability. Three weeks passed between the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which set off the leak, and the first release by BP of images of oil gushing from the underwater pipe.

Eighty-six people in Louisiana and Alabama have fallen ill from the oil spill and the widespread use of chemical dispersants, reported Democracy Now!.  The majority of people who reported sick were clean-up workers and workers on the oil rig, whose symptoms have included throat irritation, cough, chest pain, headaches and shortness of breath.

Meanwhile, BP's shares touched a 13-year low Thursday before rebounding, reported The Guardian UK.

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The United Nations imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran Wednesday, reported The Guardian UK,  in an attempt to push it to comply with international strictures over its nuclear program. However, a defiant Tehran insisted that the punitive measures would not alter its plans. The US-led Security Council resolution 1929 passed by 12 votes, with Brazil and Turkey voting against the sanctions. The two nations were recently involved in a fuel-swap deal with Iran. The use of sanctions is a marked shift from Obama's hope of resolving the nuclear standoff through direct negotiations with Tehran, a strategy his predecessor rejected. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the new resolution as a "wrong" move.

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The FBI will begin an investigation into the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican high school student by a US border agent, reported The Wall Street Journal. Sergio Adrian Hernandez was killed Monday evening in Ciudad Juarez, a border town on the Mexican side of the border, across the river from El Paso. Hernandez is the second Mexican national to be killed in eight days on the border by US authorities. On May 31, Anastasio Hernandez, no relation to Sergio, died from shocks with a stun gun by a border agent while crossing to San Diego. Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned the killing as "torture and death."

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President Obama has pledged $400 million in aid for the Palestinian territories, reported The Los Angeles Times, earmarking the money for housing, school construction and business development. During a one-on-one meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Obama called the situation in Gaza "inherently unstable." Following the deadly Israel raid on an aid flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza, the planned meeting about the Middle East peace process focused instead on the plight of the people of Gaza. "We agree that Israelis have the right to prevent arms from entering into Gaza that can be used to launch attacks into Israeli territory," Obama told reporters following his meeting with Abbas in the White House. "But we also think that it is important for us to explore new mechanisms so that we can have goods and services, and economic development, and the ability of people to start their own businesses, and to grow the economy and provide opportunity within Gaza." Following the meeting, Israel officials announced they were lifting border restrictions on some snack foods and spices that were previously off limits. However, Palestinian leaders said that this was not enough, as urgently needed items such as fabric, fishing equipment, spare parts and electronics are still not allowed.

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A Senate vote on Obama's choice for national intelligence director could be delayed, reported The AP, because of worries that the nominee could be too close to the Pentagon. James Clapper, a retired Air Force general, is currently undersecretary of defense for intelligence. From 2001 to 2006, Clapper headed the Pentagon's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he promoted the claims of the Bush administration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In October 2003, Clapper stated it was unquestionably true that Iraq had moved weapons of mass destruction to Syria. This claim was used as evidence by Karl Rove for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Yana Kunichoff

Yana Kunichoff is an assistant editor at Truthout.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 June 2010 12:50