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Thursday: BP CEO to Appear Before Congress; Israel Eases Access to Gaza

BP CEO Tony Hayward

BP CEO Tony Hayward and other company executives leave the White House following Wednesday’s meeting with President Barack Obama. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

A day after meeting with President Obama at the White House and agreeing to a $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, BP CEO Tony Hayward will testify before Congress.

In prepared testimony obtained by media organizations, Hayward said the explosion and sinking of the BP-operated rig “never should have happened — and I am deeply sorry that they did.”

Hayward is also expected to tell Congress that he was “personally devastated” by the explosion of the oil rig and understands the anger that Americans feel toward him and his company.

We will be live blogging Hayward’s appearance later Thursday morning.

NPR profiles Hayward, “a company man”:

“Compared to the larger than life [former CEO John] Browne, Hayward is unassuming and modest. The Economist once said Browne is one of a handful of CEOs striking mainly for their blandness. But Hayward set about putting his stamp on the company and trying to change its culture.”

The Economist looks toward the hearing:

“[The] company’s punishment continues. The suspect cementing is just one of the issues about which the House of Representatives committee on energy and commerce, chaired by Henry Waxman, intended to grill Mr. Hayward on June 17th. The committee has unearthed several instances in which BP managers seem to have chosen cheaper, rather than safer, options.”

In other news, the New York Times profiles Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Treasury department’s “pay czar” and former 9/11 compensation director who was named Wednesday by President Obama as the independent administrator of the $20 billion fund.

“Mr. Feinberg’s task in managing the BP compensation fund will be more complicated than it was after the 2001 attacks. The suffering caused by the terrorists was, in most cases, immediately clear. But with oil expected to spew into the gulf throughout the summer, it is impossible right now to assess, for example, the harm to a fisherman who may be out of work for months, or even years.”

And The Washington Post says President Obama’s plan to restore the Gulf Coast “is short on details”:

“”Any meaningful plan to restore a region damaged by decades of poor industrial planning, frequent hurricanes and now the oil spill could cost as much as $30 billion over the next 15 to 20 years. Such a sum would dwarf the country’s largest environmental restoration project so far — the $12 billion plan for the Florida Everglades.”

Israel Agrees to Ease Gaza Land Access

Israel agreed Thursday to ease the importation of some goods by land into Gaza but made no offer to lift its naval embargo. In one of the major changes, reports the AP, Israel will now allow in construction materials for civilian projects, provided those projects are carried out under international supervision. An Israeli military official also told the AP that all foods would be freely let in to Gaza, effective immediately.

EU Imposes New Sanctions on Iran

European leaders decided Thursday to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, going further than the United Nation’s latest measures to pressure Tehran by targeting the oil and gas industry.

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