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Thursday: Approaching Storm Suspends BP’s Efforts in Gulf

A storm brewing in the Caribbean is forcing dozens of ships in the Gulf of Mexico to prepare to evacuate the area where workers are trying to plug BP’s oil well and clean the waters. Though the storm will not enter the Gulf until the weekend, officials ordered the suspension of work because they needed several days to clear the area.

It could be two weeks before crews can resume the effort to kill the well, throwing off BP’s timetable, which called for finishing the relief tunnel by the end of July and plugging the well by early August. It also will curtail cleanup efforts in the waters and on the shores.

If the storm prevents BP from monitoring the well, the cap may be reopened, allowing oil to spill into the water, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said. BP and government scientists were meeting to discuss whether the cap could be monitored from shore, reported the Associated Press.

Rounding out some of the other news about the BP oil disaster:

The New York Times reports that in the weeks before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, workers voiced concern about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported problems. The Times also reports, “[T]he blowout preventer rams and failsafe valves … had not been fully inspected since 2000, even though guidelines require its inspection every three to five years.”

The New Orleans-Times Picayune has a look at what is happening to all the oil and waste collected in the Gulf.

The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that promotes new ways to clean up oil spills and aims to make deepwater drilling safer.

In Lafayette, La., about 15,000 people attended a rally against the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. The “Rally for Economic Survival” was organized by a coalition of business organizations “in the heart of Louisiana’s oil patch, where thousands of jobs are tied to oil companies,” reports the AP.

An analysis by the Washington Post shows that “Three out of every four lobbyists who represent oil and gas companies previously worked in the federal government, a proportion that far exceeds the usual revolving-door standards on Capitol Hill.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal reports that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, “plans to ramp up the U.S. military’s troop-intensive strategy.” The Journal cites senior military officials who have concluded that setbacks in the war aren’t the result of the strategy, but of flaws in its implementation.

‘The Morning Line’

For your politics news, including an update about today’s hearing on Arizona’s immigration law, read our new daily post, “The Morning Line,” by political editor David Chalian.

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