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Wednesday: President Obama to Meet With BP Executives for First Time

People at a bar in Grand Isle, Louisiana, watch President Barack Obama’s address to the nation about the oil spill disaster. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

President Obama will meet with BP executives at the White House on Wednesday, a day after his primetime address to the nation on the Gulf oil disaster. It will be the president’s first direct meeting with them since the spill began nearly 60 days ago.

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg was invited and encouraged to bring other officials; BP chief executive Tony Hayward is expected to attend.

After their meeting Wednesday morning, President Obama is expected to make a statement.

Here is some of the reaction to President Obama’s speech, which has drawn mixed reaction:

We have our own “annotated” speech with insights from experts and background materials here.

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius:

“I thought his Oval Office address Tuesday night had it about right….Obama was right to say that we are drilling a mile deep in the gulf because we are exhausting, with our voracious energy appetite, safer sources on land or in shallow water. And he was especially right to say that the nightmare of the gulf oil spill won’t end until we find alternatives to our economic dependence on fossil fuels.”

Michael Gerson, also in the Post, disagrees:

“The main impression left by President Obama’s address on the oil spill is the chasm between the ambition of its commitments and the thinness of its policies. …Obama urges others to take action, kibitzes with corporate executives, shifts some government personnel and signals the start of a review process. A crisis is met with a study….It is all rather limp and weak.”

Politco’s Glenn Thrush was also disappointed in a lack of specifics:

“The problem for Obama – 58 days into the biggest test of leadership he’s yet faced as president – is that the oil is still gushing, Gulf leaders are still grousing and the Senate is still deadlocked over climate change legislation. Even a great speech wouldn’t have changed all that–and this wasn’t one of Obama’s best speeches.”

Slate’s John Dickerson found the speech “lacking”:

“The president is constrained. He can’t stop the leak. And he doesn’t seem to be able to do much about the confusion reported on the ground. Reaction plans are being hatched on the fly. The speech felt like more of a management update of the crisis than an attempt to take command of it.”

The New York Times:

“We know that the country is eager for reassurance. We’re not sure the American people got it from a speech that was short on specifics and devoid of self-criticism. Certainly, we hope that Mr. Obama was right when he predicted that in “coming weeks and days,” up to 90 percent of the oil leaking from the well will be captured and the well finally capped by this summer. But he was less than frank about his administration’s faltering efforts to manage this vast environmental and human disaster.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune:

“We plan to hold the president to his word. Our state and region are counting on the president to follow through. We also want him to understand that his most decisive response to the oil spill — a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling — threatens to capsize our already struggling economy. We want specifics about what his administration plans to do to help sustain the economy in the meantime, and we want specifics about his plans for restoring ‘the unique beauty and bounty of this region.'”

Right after the president’s address, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and the White House new media director, Macon Phillips, answered questions from the public on the oil crisis, submitted via YouTube:

Afghanistan Hearing to Resume

Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, is scheduled to return to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday to resume his testimony about operations in Afghanistan. The hearing was interrupted Tuesday, when Petraeus became faint and later recovered.

Meantime, a roadside bombing killed two U.S. service members in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said, pushing the death toll among American troops so far this month to 30. The attack occurred in the Baghi Shirkat area, about 19 miles west of Kunduz city.

The Taliban says it has captured dozens of Pakistani soldiers after attacking their checkpoint in a cross-border raid, reports the BBC. Pakistani security sources confirm some troops are missing.

Israel to Vote on Easing Gaza Blockade

Senior officials say top Israeli Cabinet ministers have decided on a plan to ease Israel’s bruising blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Associated Press reports. Cabinet ministers are meeting on Wednesday to vote on limiting restrictions on Gaza to a small list of goods that Israel says militants could use in their battle against the Jewish state.

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