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News Wrap: BP Begins Testing New Oil Cap

July 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. trade deficit hit an 18-month peak in May.
The Commerce Department reported the trade gap widened nearly 5 percent to $42.3
billion. Imports and exports were up, but the import surge indicated consumers
could spend more down the road.

That news, combined with good second-quarter earnings reports,
translated on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than
146 points to close at 10363. The Nasdaq rose 43 points to close at 2242.

BP planned to begin gradual tests of its new tighter containment cap on
the blown-out oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

For the first time in months, news about the efforts to contain the
spill struck a positive note.

ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN (RET.), national incident commander: It’s been a
very consequential 24 hours in the life cycle of this response.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The freshly installed cap maneuvered into place
Monday evening. Remote-controlled robotic arms slowly placed it over the
gushing well, a mile below the Gulf’s surface.

Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen is in charge of the government
response.

ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN: I think we are very confident we can take control
of this hydrocarbon stream, and then slowly close all these valves and stop the
emission of hydrocarbons. What we can’t tell is the current condition of the
wellbore below the seafloor and the implication of the pressure readings.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The only oil now escaping is coming from a perforated
pipe on top of the 30-foot stack, just as engineers intended. Over the next 48
hours, they will begin slowly closing three valves to test if the cap can
withstand the pressure from the billowing oil. It is measured in pounds per
square inch, or PSI.

ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN: While maybe counterintuitive to some, in this
exercise, high pressure is good. We have a considerable amount of pressure down
on the reservoir forcing the hydrocarbons up to the well bore. We are looking
for somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 PSI inside the capping stack, which would
indicate to us that the hydrocarbons are being forced up and the well bore is
being able to withstand that pressure.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A low pressure reading would indicate leaks in the
well, perhaps beneath the seafloor, and could complicate, or halt, the process.
Engineers should know by Thursday if the procedure is working.

The cap’s installation was good news to weary out-of-work fishermen in
Louisiana.

RANDY BARTHELEMY, fisherman: Every time they tried something, it worked
a little better. So, hopefully, this one here will work better than the last
one. They — they are trying. There’s a big mistake there, but they are
trying, I guess.

HARI SREENIVASAN: If it is successful, along with other measures, BP
hopes to capture almost all of the oil spewing from the well. But the cap is
still a temporary solution. A permanent fix won’t come until next month, when
one of two relief wells being drilled reaches the broken well and begins choking
it with mud and cement.

The Obama administration unveiled a new strategy to combat the spread of
HIV and AIDS in the U.S. The plan aims to reduce the rate of new infections by
25 percent over the next five years and treat 85 percent of patients within
three months of being diagnosed. But it does not increase funding. Instead, it
directs government agencies to implement more coordinated policies.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius aimed to emphasize
the urgency.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. Health and Human Services secretary: We refuse
to accept a stalemate, to dig in and just hold the disease at bay. We want to
be moving forward. We want to see infections going down once again, access to
care increasing, and awareness expanding.

The strategy we’re releasing today is not an end of our work. It’s just
the beginning.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A United Nations report on AIDS in Africa found the
number of young people infected with the HIV virus there is falling. It dropped
by at least 25 percent in a dozen countries. The decrease was attributed to
people having fewer sexual partners and increasing condom use.

The death toll numbers from the twin bombings in Uganda rose to 76
today, and investigators found evidence the blasts could have been even worse.
The bombs hit fans watching Sunday’s World Cup final in the capital city of
Kampala. However, investigators found an unexploded suicide vest with ball
bearings, just like the ones used this weekend in a suburban disco. Four
foreign suspects have been arrested in connection with the discovery.

Heavy rains in Western China triggered landslides in three mountain
hamlets today. At least 17 people died and more than 40 others are missing.
Meanwhile, crews raced to drain a swollen reservoir in the east. At one point,
the water rose to almost four feet above warning level. Forecasters expect more
rain to fall over the next three days.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today a previously missing
Iranian nuclear scientist is free to go back to Iran. Shahram Amiri is taking
refuge at Pakistan’s embassy in Washington. He vanished more than a year ago,
and the Iranian government claims he was abducted by the U.S. Amiri himself has
made conflicting claims, and, in March, there were media reports that he had
defected to the U.S. and was helping the CIA. The U.S. denies charges that he
was being held against his will.

A federal appeals court threw out a government ban on broadcast
indecency today. The panel of three judges concluded the rule was
unconstitutionally vague and could create a chilling effect on free speech
beyond — quote — “fleeting expletives.” The rule allowed broadcasters to be
fined for allowing even a single curse word on live television.

The court said the FCC might be able to craft a policy that doesn’t
violate the right to free speech.

There was news today that drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline knew 11 years ago
that its diabetes drug Avandia could cause serious heart problems. The New York
Times reported that the company spent all that time hiding important data about
the drug from the public and the Food and Drug Administration.

Separately today, a panel of FDA advisers began meeting to consider
whether to pull Avandia from the market or restrict its sale. A recommendation
is expected tomorrow.

The longtime owner of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, George
Steinbrenner, died today in Florida.

“NewsHour” correspondent Kwame Holman has more.

KWAME HOLMAN: He was known simply as the boss.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER, Owner, New York Yankees: Start of spring training.

KWAME HOLMAN: George Steinbrenner owned baseball’s iconic team the New
York Yankees, and was himself an icon who dominated the sport.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER: When you put the pinstripes on, you’re not just
putting a baseball uniform on. You’re wearing tradition, and you’re wearing
pride. And you’re going to wear it the right way.

KWAME HOLMAN: In 1973, with the storied franchise at a low ebb, he
bought the team for $10 million. He recruited top stars, made the Yankees
champions again, and ushered in a new free-spending era that drove player
salaries sky-high.

Steinbrenner’s brashness was controversial, and carried over to his
players, earning the Yankees the title the Bronx Zoo.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER: Winning is important to me. It’s second. It’s
second to breathing. Breathing is first. Winning’s second.

KWAME HOLMAN: He feuded openly with players, hired and fired 20 team
managers in 23 years, Billy Martin, alone, five times.

BILLY MARTIN, Former New York Yankees manager: And that’s not the way
it’s going to be, George.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER: You’re damn right it is. And, if you don’t like
it, you’re fired.

(LAUGHTER)

BILLY MARTIN: You haven’t hired me yet.

KWAME HOLMAN: In the 1980s, Steinbrenner overspent, and the team
underperformed, and he briefly was suspended from baseball for trying to
undermine star Dave Winfield during a contract fight.

But in the 1990s came a new roster of Yankee legends-to-be. A dynasty
was reborn, four titles in five years through 2000.

SPORTSCASTER: And the New York Yankees are the team of the 20th
century.

KWAME HOLMAN: And again last fall, a seventh title under and for the
boss.

SPORTSCASTER: Yankees win. The Yankees win!

KWAME HOLMAN: Over nearly 40 years, Steinbrenner built a $1.5 billion
franchise, with its own TV network and the priciest payroll in baseball.

The Cleveland-born scion of a shipping family was a fixture in Tampa,
the Yankees’ off-season home, and became known for his low-key philanthropy.
Steinbrenner had been ill for several years. His last public appearance was at
opening day in April. George Steinbrenner died this morning of a heart attack.
He had turned 80 years old on the Fourth of July.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back
to Gwen.