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THE BAXTER BULLETIN, Mountain Home, Ark.

Friday, April 23, 2010

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Nation / World

Rig sinks as search efforts go on Almost two days after blast, 11 oil workers still missing By Rick Jervis USA TODAY

Friday, April 23, 2010

Newsline Across the nation

Airlines told that tarmac limit stands Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday that he has turned down requests from five airlines for temporary exemptions to a rule against keeping passengers waiting longer than three hours on airport tarmacs. The new rule goes into effect on April 29. The department has said airlines may be fined up to $27,500 per passenger for each violation. Airlines asking for exemptions were JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, all for their operations at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport; Continental Airlines for its flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport; and US Airways for operations at Philadelphia International Airport.

Illinois man sues Vatican for abuse An Illinois man who says he was molested by a priest filed a federal lawsuit in Milwaukee accusing Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican officials of failing to protect children from a man they knew was a possible child molester. “John Doe 16” said he was molested for years by the late Rev. Lawrence Murphy while a student at the Milwaukee-area St. John’s Catholic School for the Deaf. The Vatican had no comment.

NEW ORLEANS — An oil rig that exploded in one of the worst offshore drilling disasters in recent U.S. history sank into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, with still no sign of 11 missing crewmembers. The Deepwater Horizon sank about 10 a.m. after burning for roughly 36 hours. Survivors of Tuesday night’s explosion told company officials that some of the missing crewmembers were around the area of the unexpected blast. Rescue teams scouring the wreckage site, about 42 miles off the Louisiana coast, have found no signs

of the 11 workers, said Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District. Coast Guard crews recovered two of the rig’s lifeboats, but both were empty, she said. In all, 126 people were on board the rig when it exploded. Seventeen people were injured, four critically. The Coast Guard is also focused on minimizing any potential environmental impact. A large 1-by-5-mile sheen of crude oil and other substances has spread from the site of the rig’s sinking, Landry said. It’s unclear how much crude will continue to flow from the wrecked rig. On

U.S. Coast Guard via AP

Offshore site sinks Thursday: Crews battle the fiery remnants of the Deepwater Horizon on Wednesday. Wednesday, Landry said the rig was spewing about 13,000 gallons of crude oil per hour. So far, no coastal areas have been affected, she said. Coast Guard crews have readied planes that drop

substances that break up the crude, Landry said. Officials at BP, which leased the rig, have also dispatched skimming boats and about 1 million feet of boom, or plastic tubing that surrounds and con-

“I want you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort. . . . These are reforms that would put an end to taxpayer bailouts.” — President Obama to Wall Street

tains spills, said Dave Rainey, vice president of BP’s Gulf of Mexico exploration. “It certainly has the potential to be a major spill,” he said. Most of the crew was ferried off the burning rig by nearby boats or evacuated in lifeboats. Jonathan Kersey, 33, was readying for a midnight shift when an alarm sounded around 10 p.m., according to his father, Ted Kersey. The alarm signaled a pressure buildup, Ted Kersey said. Ten minutes later, a second alarm sounded — this time, to alert workers that they should abandon the rig. Jonathan Kersey escaped on a lifeboat, Ted Kersey said. When he called his family Wednesday to say he was alive, father and son cried on the phone.

Military health care costs boom

Around the world

For 1st time in 15 years, U.S. mulls hike in benefit fees

Navy SEAL cleared in Iraq abuse case A U.S. military jury cleared a Navy SEAL of failing to prevent the beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding a 2004 attack that killed four American security contractors. A six-man jury found Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, 29, of Blue Island, Ill., not guilty of charges of dereliction of duty and attempting to influence the testimony of another service member. “It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” Huertas said as he left the courthouse at the U.S. military’s Camp Victory. Huertas was the first of three SEALs to face trial for charges related to the abuse.

By Gregg Zoroya USA TODAY

By Alex Brandon, AP

Thursday: President Obama talks financial reform at The Cooper Union in New York.

Obama addresses Wall Street reform By Luis Benavides, AP

Few wheels on the road Earth Day event: A Day Without Cars results in a main avenue that’s empty of private vehicles in this view from a bridge decorated with a statue of a pedestrian in Medellin, Colombia, on Thursday.

Nearly all European flights take off European airports sent thousands of planes into the sky after a week of disruptions caused by volcanic ash created the worst breakdown in civil aviation in Europe since World War II. Airlines added flights and used bigger planes to try to fly as many people as possible. Nearly all the continent’s 28,000 scheduled flights, including more than 300 trans-Atlantic routes, were going ahead.

Bangkok blasts kill 1, wound dozens A series of grenade attacks in Thailand’s chaotic capital, Bangkok, left one woman dead and 75 people wounded, a government emergency center said. Bangkok has been the scene of a tense standoff for weeks between troops and anti-government protesters. Red Shirt protesters believe the government is illegitimate because it came to power under military pressure. Government spokesmen stopped short of blaming the protesters for the grenade attacks. By Carolyn Pesce and Steve Marshall with staff and wire reports

He requests cooperation on financial fixes as lawmakers wrangle By David J. Lynch USA TODAY WASHINGTON — President Obama on Thursday urged Wall Street to drop its opposition to a proposed reshaping of financial industry regulation. And he hit back at Republicans who have derided the effort as a recipe for additional bank bailouts. “I want you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort. . . . These are reforms that would put an end to taxpayer bailouts,” the president said to applause. Obama said the proposed legislation would enable the government to close failing financial institutions without damaging the real economy, limit the risks they run and require greater openness in the trading of sophisticated products called derivatives. It would also provide for a new consumer protection unit within the Federal Reserve. The president spoke before an audience of about 700 people, including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. The 26-minute address came as the Senate moved closer to consideration of its version of the regulatory overhaul. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bid to bring the bill to the floor Thursday was derailed by Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Amid continued partisan skirmishing, Reid, D-Nev., scheduled a 5 p.m. Monday vote on starting what is expected to be a one- to two-week debate. The president said the financial crisis, which has cost more than 8 million jobs, was “born of a failure of responsibility from Wall Street all the way to Washington.” The cost of future financial institution collapses should be paid by the industry, not taxpayers, he said. And he said Republican efforts

to demonize the bill as providing for bailouts are “not true.” In Washington, as compromise efforts continued behind closed doors, Republicans publicly stayed on the attack. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the bill would “do more harm than good.” On the Senate floor, McConnell pointedly challenged the president’s claims. “The administration has said it wants to end bailouts,” McConnell said. “Prove it.” The House in December passed what was billed as the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression. Its package overlaps with the primary Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and would control derivatives, provide for the liquidation of failing banks and establish a council of regulators to monitor risk-taking. As the Senate grinds forward, the president continues to take heat from his allies on the left. Earlier this week, Sens. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., and Sherrod Brown, DOhio, proposed breaking up the nation’s largest banks and limiting them to liabilities equal to 2% of the nation’s gross domestic output. The six largest financial players — Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — all top that limit. “The issue is the megabanks. . . . Anything so complex is dangerous,” said Simon Johnson, author of 13 Bankers, a warning about the dangers of concentrated financial power. Financial industry lobbyist Scott Talbott said the Senate bill is “80% there,” but bankers oppose a provision in the bill they fear would allow individual states to establish different consumer protection standards, increasing the industry’s cost and complexity. Talbott, senior vice president for government affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, also disputed the idea that supersized banks are inherently dangerous. “The focus should not be on size. It should be on risk,” he said.

WASHINGTON — Military health care spending is rising twice as fast as the nation’s overall health care costs, consuming a larger chunk of the defense budget as the Pentagon struggles to pay for two wars, military budget figures show. The surging costs are prompting the Pentagon and Congress to consider the first hike in out-ofpocket fees for military retirees and some activeduty families in 15 years, said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE, the military health care program. Pentagon spending on health care is up from $19 billion in 2001 to a projected $50.7 billion in 2011, a 167% increase. The rapid rise has been driven by a surge in mental health and physical problems for troops who have deployed to war multiple times and by a flood of career-military retirees fleeing lessgenerous civilian health programs, Hunter said. Total U.S. spending on health care has climbed Rapid rise from nearly $1.5 trillion in 2001 to an estimated Military medical costs are rising $2.7 trillion next year, twice as fast as those an 84% increase. nationally. Increase As a share of overall from 2001 to 20111: defense spending, 167% health care costs have risen from 6% to 9% and will keep growing, says Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kathleen 84% Kesler, a Pentagon spokeswoman. That upward trend is “beginning to eat us alive,” Defense SecreMilitary National tary Robert Gates told 1 – estimates Congress in February. Sources: Defense In addition to mental Department, Health and Human Services health issues, multiple Department combat tours have creBy Julie Snider, USA TODAY ated more physical strains on joints, backs and legs, Pentagon statistics show. Medical visits for such problems increased from 2.8 million in 2005 to 3.7 million in 2009. Behavioral-health counseling sessions for troops and their families rose 65% since 2004. The Pentagon paid for 7.3 million visits last year — treatment of 140,000 patients each week, according to TRICARE numbers. Other factors driving up costs: uMany new patients are children suffering anxiety or depression because of a parent away at war. Children had 42% more counseling sessions last year than in 2005. uThe number of TRICARE beneficiaries has grown by 370,000 in two years to 9.6 million. uNearly 200,000 prescriptions were filled each day at civilian pharmacies last year. Active-duty troops and their families receive free health care. Their only out-of-pocket costs are co-payments of $3 or $9 for prescriptions. Retirees receive the same benefits by paying an annual fee of $230 per person or $460 per family, along with small co-payments for various forms of care. The fees have not gone up since 1995. “I want to be generous and fair to all those who serve, but there’s a cost-containment problem,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said at a recent hearing. “I don’t see how we can sustain this forever, where TRICARE is never subject to adjustment in terms of the premiums to be paid.”


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