HEADLINES -- May 18, 2010 at 8:38 AM ET
Tuesday: Afghan Bombing Kills 5 U.S. Troops; Incumbents Face Primary Tests
Afghan policemen stand guard near the site of Tuesday's suicide attack in Kabul. Photo by Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that struck a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday, killing at least 18 people, including five U.S. troops.
Nearly 50 others were wounded by the powerful blast, which occurred during morning rush hour just outside a recruitment center for the Afghan military. A Taliban spokesman told the Associated Press that the bomber carried 1,650 pounds of explosives inside his Toyota minivan.
Also killed were 12 Afghan civilians -- many of them on a public bus in rush-hour traffic -- and one NATO service member whose nationality was not immediately disclosed.
According to the AP, the explosion "wrecked nearly 20 vehicles, including five SUVs in the NATO convoy, and scattered debris and body parts across the wide boulevard."
The attack was the deadliest against NATO in Kabul since September. Moreover, says the BBC's Nick Childs, it "highlights the fact that, despite increased efforts, it is impossible completely to eliminate such attacks ...And such so-called 'spectaculars,' especially in the capital, remain a potent weapon for the insurgents."
Democratic Incumbents Face Test in Primary
Voters in Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Oregon are heading to the polls for the first major set of races in the 2010 congressional midterm elections.
Political observers are keeping a close eye on Pennsylvania and Arkansas. In Pennsylvania, incumbent Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter is facing a reelection challenge from former Congressman Joe Sestak, while in traditionally conservative Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is taking heat from the left in a race against State Attorney General Bill Halter.
"The results are not likely to offer a single satisfying answer to how big Democratic losses might be in November. Rather, Tuesday's voters will drop clues on a variety of questions, about anti-incumbent sentiment, 'tea party' power and presidential popularity."
We'll have lots more on Tuesday's primaries throughout the day and on this evening's program. You can also catch what NewsHour regulars Mark Shields and David Brooks have to say about the midterms here.
BP: Pipe Is Siphoning 40% of Leak
BP has doubled its estimate of how much oil it is siphoning from the underwater leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The company now says it is collecting 2,000 barrels of oil per day -- roughly 40 percent of the leak -- through a mile-long tube that engineers connected to the damaged pipeline over the weekend.
As BP races to contain the spill, scientists are trying to determine whether the oil has entered a powerful ocean current that could carry the spill up the Atlantic coast. Speaking to Gwen Ifill on Monday's NewsHour, Jane Lubchenko, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it was likely that "a very small stream of oil" was likely to enter the so-called loop current "at some point." If so, Lubchenko said, oil could reach Florida waters within nine to 12 days.
Late Monday, Coast Guard officials reported 20 tar balls along the shore at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West, Florida. Coast Guard officials stopped short of saying whether the tar balls came from the Gulf Coast spill, only that they were being sent to a lab for analysis. Meantime, President Barack Obama is planning to name a special White House commission to investigate the spill.