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News Wrap: Gulf Oil Cap Working Again After Submarine Collision

June 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The cap on that ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was back in action today. It had to be removed for 10 hours yesterday after being struck by a remote-controlled submarine. That, in turn, allowed more oil to gush into the sea.

But, today, the cap was again collecting thousands of gallons of crude. BP said it would take some time for the system to get ramped back up to full operation. Meanwhile, a federal judge refused to delay his ruling against a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Wall Street had a down day. It was driven in part by concerns about the financial reform bill being finalized in Congress. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 145 points to close at 10152. The Nasdaq fell more than 36 points to close at 2217.

President Obama welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Washington today. The low-key summit lasted for several hours, but there were no major agreements announced.

The leaders got to showcase their new warmer relations, even breaking bread over burgers in Arlington, Virginia. Afterward, they returned to the White House for further talks across a modest agenda.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When I came into office, the relationship between the United States and Russia had drifted, perhaps to its lowest point since the Cold War. There was too much mistrust and too little real work on issues of common concern. That did not serve the interests of either country or the world.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, Russian president (through translator): We made our world safer, I must say this.

But this is not enough for bilateral economic ties to change. And this visit is generally mostly aimed at achieving these goals. We are ready for that now; our American partners are ready for the same thing.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Underscoring that point, President Obama announced the U.S. will support Moscow’s entry into the World Trade Organization without conditions.

BARACK OBAMA: Russia belongs in the WTO. That’s good for Russia, it’s good for America, and it’s good for the world economy.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV (through translator): We hope — and we have stated this — that the work will be finalized by the end of September this year.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It was the latest sign that tensions have eased since the Obama administration initiated its so-called reset in relations.

In April, Russia and the U.S. signed a new strategic arms treaty to draw down nuclear arsenals by about a third. Russia also joined in speaking out against North Korea’s nuclear threat. And, last month, it supported further U.N. sanctions against Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

The two leaders still have some disputes to resolve over America’s missile defense plans and Russia’s support of two breakaway provinces in Georgia.

The U.S. Senate today approved new sanctions aimed at Iran. They target foreign companies that do business with the Revolutionary Guard or contribute to Iran’s energy industry. The House also moved to approve the bill.

In Pakistan, a court convicted five young American Muslims on terror charges. The men were all from the Washington, D.C., area. They have been in custody since last December. Today, they were sentenced to 10 years in jail for plotting attacks inside Pakistan. Defense lawyers vowed to appeal.

Australia now has a new prime minister, Julia Gillard, the first woman to hold the position. She was sworn into office today, after ousting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The vote by the ruling Labor Party was uncontested.

JULIA GILLARD, Australian prime minister: I asked my colleagues to make a leadership change, a change because I believed that a good government was losing its way, and because I believe, fundamentally, that the basic education and health services that Australians rely on and their decent treatment at work is at risk at the next election.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Rudd had been prime minister since 2007, but his support had fallen sharply with another election just a few months off. He championed climate change legislation, but the Australian Senate rejected a tax on polluters for carbon emissions. Rudd shelved the plan last April.

A new bid for campaign finance reform advanced in the U.S. Congress today. House Democrats pushed through a bill to disclose who pays for political ads by outside groups. Republicans said it would hinder free speech. Last winter, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a longstanding ban on direct political activity by corporations and unions. The bill goes next to the Senate.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jeff.