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News Wrap: Cleanup Effort Underway After Oil Spill Hits Yellowstone River

July 4, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A major cleanup effort was under way today in Montana, after an oil spill spewed up to 42,000 gallons into the Yellowstone River. The ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured late Friday near the town of Laurel. Since then, the oil has traveled about 100 miles east, near Hysham.

The oily residue has washed up on the riverbanks, but is still downstream from Yellowstone National Park. Crews are laying sheets of absorbent padding and booms to prevent further damage.

The president of ExxonMobil said an investigation is under way.

GARY PRUESSING, ExxonMobil: We do not know the root cause. This is a very unusual event. Obviously, we had a large amount of oil enter the water very quickly. So, whatever it is, it’s something that is very unusual for us, something that we do not have our hands around yet. But the investigating team certainly will work hard to determine that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees pipelines, recently notified ExxonMobil of seven potential safety violations along the ruptured pipe. Two of the warnings faulted the company for its emergency response and pipeline corrosion training.

Some 12,000 residents of Los Alamos, N.M., are returning home after the largest wildfire in that state’s history. An evacuation order was lifted yesterday now that the blaze is about 20 percent contained and no longer threatens the community. Meanwhile, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is set to reopen Wednesday. But fire crews are still racing to protect sacred Native American grounds that remain vulnerable.

A violent crackdown on opposition intensified in central Syria today. Syrian forces opened fire on residents in Hama and sealed off the city three days after a massive anti-government protest there. This amateur video shows gunfire breaking out in the streets. Approximately 20 people were wounded. Activists also reported Syrian troops fired on people fleeing to neighboring Turkey. They say a mother and her young son were wounded.

The winner of elections in Thailand moved today to put together a ruling coalition with four smaller parties. Yingluck Shinawatra will become Thailand’s first female prime minister. She said her priority is to bring unity and reconciliation to Thailand, after five years of turmoil following a military coup. Today, the defense minister accepted her win, and vowed the military wouldn’t stage another coup.

In Morocco, thousands of protesters called for more electoral reforms this weekend, just two days after voters approved a new constitution. The demonstrators were showing their support for the Feb. 20 movement that aims for a parliamentary monarch and to fight corruption. Last Friday, a referendum passed that would give executive power to the government, but keep the king in charge of the cabinet, army and judiciary.

The former Bosnian Serb Military Chief Ratko Mladic was thrown out of his own court hearing today. U.N. judges ejected him from an arraignment at The Hague after he shouted at the court in Serbian, interrupted the judge, and refused to enter any plea. He faces 11 charges of masterminding the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war.

RATKO MLADIC, former Bosnian Serb general (through translator): I don’t want to listen at all. Without my lawyer I don’t want to listen anymore.

PRESIDING JUDGE ALPHONS ORIE, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (through translator): Mr. Mladic, the court orders that you be removed from the courtroom. Could security please escort Mr. Mladic out of the courtroom?

RATKO MLADIC (through translator): You are not allowing me to defend myself.

HARI SREENIVASAN: After Mladic left, the presiding judge entered not- guilty pleas on his behalf. That’s the rule of the war crime tribunal for suspects who refuse to enter a plea.

Mexican authorities announced the arrest of one of the co-founders of Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel. Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar is also suspected in the killing of a U.S. customs agent in February. Aguilar was one of the – one of Mexico’s most wanted men and the U.S. State Department had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. He was caught outside Mexico City on Sunday.

The Secret Service will investigate the hacking of FOX News’ political Twitter account. It was hacked early Monday with six false postings reporting that President Obama had been assassinated in Iowa, and the shooter was unknown. FOX News responded with a statement on its website calling the tweets malicious and false.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.