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News Wrap: Another Gulf Oil Rig Fire Extinguished; Workers Rescued

September 2, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Coast Guard cutters and aircraft scrambled today after the latest oil fire in the Gulf. They picked up all 13 workers who were on the Mariner Energy platform that exploded and burned. It happened in shallow water 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay in Louisiana and about 200 miles west of where the BP oil spill took place.

For more, I’m joined now by David Hammer with The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Thanks for joining us, David.

DAVID HAMMER, The New Orleans Times-Picayune: Good to be with you, Hari.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, so, what’s the latest that we have now?

DAVID HAMMER: Well, as you said, all of the 13 people on board have been brought in to the Terrebonne Regional Medical Center. It seems like all they had was sunburn issues, nothing major. And we have had conflicting reports earlier in the day about oil sheen seen on the water. But the latest from the Coast Guard is that there is no sheen visible at this time. And it seems like there’s — people are on edge a lot because of the proximity to the BP spill four months ago.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.

DAVID HAMMER: But it really doesn’t seem to be that related.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. And how common are these fires and how common is it that people have to evacuate these rigs?

DAVID HAMMER: Well, there have been about 100 or more fires every year on production platforms, according to federal government data. But very rarely do all of the people on board have to evacuate, and certainly not by jumping into the water, as was the case here. So, this was a more significant fire than what you have seen typically.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. David Hammer, from The Times-Picayune, thanks so much for joining us today.

DAVID HAMMER: My pleasure.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A new operation began today at the BP well that caused this summer’s disastrous spill. Crews removed a cap, now that concrete has been pumped into the well. With the cap gone, investigators can raise the damaged blowout preventer to the surface for examination.

Thousands of Shiite Muslims mourned today for victims of a triple bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. At least 35 people were killed Wednesday and 250 others were wounded. Today, crowds gathered at a public park near the scene of the explosions. They prayed over the bodies of eight victims, before relatives took them to be buried. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, but Shiite leaders insisted the extremists will not succeed.

HAIDER MOSVI, Shiite cleric (through translator): They want to destroy this country through sectarianism. They want to create misunderstanding among Sunni and Shiite. We will not accept any misunderstanding among Sunni and Shiite. We will give blood to save our country in unity of the Muslims.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Shiites in Pakistan have faced a series of attacks by Sunni militants in recent years.

In Afghanistan, two more U.S. troops died in fighting in the east and the south. And NATO said up to a dozen insurgents were killed in an airstrike in the north. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai charged, the victims were civilians campaigning for a parliamentary candidate.

Trading on Wall Street was muted today, ahead of tomorrow’s report on August unemployment. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 50 points to close at 10320. The Nasdaq rose 23 points to close at 2200.

The days of too big to fail must never return. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, made that case today to the commission investigating the financial meltdown. Bernanke said giant institutions helped cause the crisis and hindered efforts to contain it.

BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: The most important lesson of this crisis is, we have to end too big to fail. And I believe that we — much — in a much different way than we did before the crisis, we now have the tools to address that.

In particular, tougher regulation and oversight will reduce the risks. There has to be a credible way to let firms fail, in fact, require that they fail. I mean, I think it’s — it’s striking that the new rules do not permit discretion.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The new financial overhaul law allows regulators to shut down firms that pose a broad threat to the banking system. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation already has that power over smaller institutions.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit today against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the sheriff’s department there in Maricopa County, Arizona. The suit said he refused to turn over records in a probe of alleged racial profiling. The department said it has never seen a local enforcement agency as uncooperative in 30 years. Arpaio said he’s been trying to work with Justice. He called the lawsuit harassment.

American workers are paying a larger share of their health care costs at work. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported today the average employee contribution rose 14 percent this year, to nearly $4,000. The study found companies are passing on premium increases that they would have normally absorbed in the past.

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