July 20th, 2010
01:13 PM ET

Ex-interior chief: Oil spill will 'forever change' energy industry

CNN Wire Staff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/us/2010/07/19/pkg.snow.bp.hearing.cnn.640×360.jpg caption="Kempthorne says disaster plans were 'based on the probability' of a smaller oil spill" width=300 height=169]

Interior Department regulators designing disaster contingency plans didn't prepare for a calamity the size of the current Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis because of a lack of precedent, a former interior secretary said Tuesday.

Dirk Kempthorne told a joint congressional subcommittee that previous environmental impact statements, assessments and oil spill response plans were "based on the probability that a significant oil spill was small."

"When the 2007 and '12 five-year plan was written, there had not been a major oil spill in 40 years," he said. "One very real consequence of the Deepwater Horizon accident is that these historical assumptions will be forever changed."

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
July 20th, 2010
11:18 AM ET

Head of school charged with child pornography


The principal of a private school in Massachusetts has been charged with possessing child pornography, authorities said.

David B. Harris, who is Head of School at the Cambridge Montessori School was arraigned Monday for possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office announced in a statement.

Bail for Harris, 66, was set at $2,500.

The case against Harris followed a two-month investigation by several law enforcement agencies, authorities said.

According to the school’s web site, Harris has previously been the head master at four independent schools and has also served on several school boards.

Cambridge Montessori School was founded in 1963 with educational programs for toddlers and elementary and middle school children, according to its web site.

“It is with shock, dismay, and sadness that we learned early this morning that our Head of School, David Harris, was arrested over the weekend and arraigned at 9:00 am today in North Adams, Massachusetts, on a number of charges concerning child pornography,” said Webster O’Brien, President of the Board of Trustees for the Cambridge Montessori School said in a statement released Monday.

“While we can honestly state that we have had no reason to suspect this behavior, and we respect individuals’ privacy, these charges leave us no option but to immediately suspend David without pay until the Board of Trustees has enough information to make a final decision,” she said.

“This is a deep disappointment and a great sadness, but it will in no way affect the continuing mission of our school or our commitment to educating our children in the time honored Montessori method, instilling them with core CMS values.”

Please explain to your children that though the world is not a perfect place, the current leadership of CMS is completely committed to their growth and education, and that CMS is a place of respect, love, peace, and learning.”

Harris’ attorney could not be reached for comment.

Follow the Falcon File on Twitter @FalconCNN

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gulf Oil Spill
July 20th, 2010
10:14 AM ET

BP's fine could hit the billions

Steve Hargreaves
Senior Writer, CNNMoney

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/07/13/oil.spill.bill/story.spill.cnn.jpg caption="Just how much will BP pay in fines to the U.S. government? In one scenario, they could top $18 billion." width=300 height=169]

Just how much will BP pay in fines to the U.S. government? In a worst case scenario, they could top $18 billion.

BP (BP) has already announced a $20 billion fund to compensate disaster victims. But it will also owe a huge amount in fines for violating the Clean Water Act: Up to $4,300 per barrel of oil released if it's found the company was negligent in causing the disaster, according to a Justice Department spokesman.

No one has a precise number for how much oil has spewed into the Gulf. The Coast Guard originally said it was just 1,000 barrels a day. That figure has since been revised up to between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day.

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
July 20th, 2010
09:48 AM ET

Video: Is BP buying scientists?

Randi Kaye | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • Randi Kaye
July 20th, 2010
09:46 AM ET
July 20th, 2010
09:45 AM ET
July 20th, 2010
09:41 AM ET

Letter to the President #547: 'All aboard the D.C. caravan!'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/12/congress.agenda/t1larg.capitol.cnn.jpg caption="So this pal of mine at work, Josh, suggested a totally excellent and remarkably simple idea: Each time we elect a new president, the government will move to his or her home state for the length of the term." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: The most famous resident of Washington, D.C. is always the president. So why can’t the rest of the country get in on that action? Maybe they can…

Dear Mr. President,

A new poll by the folks over at Politico gave me a number that I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of hours: 45. That is the percentage of “DC elites” (meaning folks who make a lot of money and whose work is somehow connected to the expansion of government) who tell pollsters “Why sure the government is going in the right direction!” That’s compared to just 25 percent of people in the in the general population (meaning us…uh…little folks) who say the same thing, and who don’t hook their thumbs in their belt even when they do.

It’s easy to see why. Government is getting bigger, that creates jobs in the gravitational circle of the Capitol, that makes existing jobs more secure, that allows people to buy lots of things (like non-working iPhones,) that keeps housing prices up, and Bob’s-Your-Uncle you know what? They are just not living in the same America as the rest of America is.

And that’s a problem, because you and the rest of the lawmaking crowd spend a lot of time living in that same Bizarro America. No wonder you struggle to understand why the voters get so testy and seem to speak some strange alternative language full of baffling words like ethics, accountability, and governmentbythepeople.

So this pal of mine at work, Josh, suggested a totally excellent and remarkably simple idea: Let’s make the federal government a traveling institution; a bureaucratic Wally Byam Caravan Club! Each time we elect a new president, the government will move to his or her home state for the length of the term. “Hello, Chicago! Are you ready to make some laws?”

Imagine the life this could breathe into our moribund, out-of-touch, political process. The contest would not merely be about the contender anymore, but also much more directly about the interests he or she represents. “Oh sure,” you say, “why the big states will just take over and push everyone else around!” But I think not. I think the smaller states will prove remarkably adept at pitting the big boys against each other. Can’t you see California and Texas, unable to seize the Capitol prize in a given election, so opposed to letting New York or Florida grab it that they throw their weight behind Idaho? Sure you can!

This would be great! As my pal says, it would be kind of like the Electoral College colliding with Survivor. “Mr. Romney…Mr. Reid…you have both been voted off the country!”

Most importantly, if the seat of government were actually placed among the citizens, maybe our government would better understand the people it is supposed to serve and we’d better understand that government too. So what do you say? Up for a road trip?

Call if you can. I’m still working down on the Gulf and I have a terrible sunburn on my arms. Yikes! Could you sent Biden down here with some sunscreen?


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

July 20th, 2010
09:29 AM ET

Scientists weighing new option for shutting down oil well

CNN Wire Staff

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/07/20/gulf.oil.disaster/smlvid.bp.oil.cam.01..jpg caption="The 'static kill' option involves pumping mud into the well" width=300 height=169]

As tests continue Tuesday on BP's ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are weighing a new option for permanently sealing it.

The "static kill" would involve pumping mud into the well to force oil back into the reservoir below, officials from BP said Monday, noting that the option could succeed where other similar attempts have failed because pressure in the well is lower than expected.

Geologist Arthur Berman told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday the relative simplicity of a static kill makes it an attractive option for BP.

"I think the reason that they're considering it is because they've yet to intercept the well bore," Berman said. "They're very close, a few feet away with the relief well, as everyone knows. But to actually intersect the seven-inch pipe does involve a bit of technology and accuracy, whereas if they do the static kill through the existing well bore at the top, there's less uncertainty about their ability to actually get the mud into the pipe."

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • T1
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