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News Wrap: BP Begins Testing New Oil Cap

In other news Tuesday, BP began testing a new containment cap and the Obama administration unveiled a new strategy to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in the U.S.

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    The U.S. trade deficit hit an 18-month peak in May. The Commerce Department reported the trade gap widened nearly 5 percent to $42.3 billion. Imports and exports were up, but the import surge indicated consumers could spend more down the road.

    That news, combined with good second-quarter earnings reports, translated on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 146 points to close at 10363. The Nasdaq rose 43 points to close at 2242.

    BP planned to begin gradual tests of its new tighter containment cap on the blown-out oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

    For the first time in months, news about the efforts to contain the spill struck a positive note.

    ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN (RET.), national incident commander: It's been a very consequential 24 hours in the life cycle of this response.


    The freshly installed cap maneuvered into place Monday evening. Remote-controlled robotic arms slowly placed it over the gushing well, a mile below the Gulf's surface.

    Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen is in charge of the government response.


    I think we are very confident we can take control of this hydrocarbon stream, and then slowly close all these valves and stop the emission of hydrocarbons. What we can't tell is the current condition of the wellbore below the seafloor and the implication of the pressure readings.


    The only oil now escaping is coming from a perforated pipe on top of the 30-foot stack, just as engineers intended. Over the next 48 hours, they will begin slowly closing three valves to test if the cap can withstand the pressure from the billowing oil. It is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI.


    While maybe counterintuitive to some, in this exercise, high pressure is good. We have a considerable amount of pressure down on the reservoir forcing the hydrocarbons up to the well bore. We are looking for somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 PSI inside the capping stack, which would indicate to us that the hydrocarbons are being forced up and the well bore is being able to withstand that pressure.


    A low pressure reading would indicate leaks in the well, perhaps beneath the seafloor, and could complicate, or halt, the process. Engineers should know by Thursday if the procedure is working.

    The cap's installation was good news to weary out-of-work fishermen in Louisiana.

  • RANDY BARTHELEMY, fisherman:

    Every time they tried something, it worked a little better. So, hopefully, this one here will work better than the last one. They — they are trying. There's a big mistake there, but they are trying, I guess.


    If it is successful, along with other measures, BP hopes to capture almost all of the oil spewing from the well. But the cap is still a temporary solution. A permanent fix won't come until next month, when one of two relief wells being drilled reaches the broken well and begins choking it with mud and cement.

    The Obama administration unveiled a new strategy to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in the U.S. The plan aims to reduce the rate of new infections by 25 percent over the next five years and treat 85 percent of patients within three months of being diagnosed. But it does not increase funding. Instead, it directs government agencies to implement more coordinated policies.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius aimed to emphasize the urgency.

    KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. Health and Human Services secretary: We refuse to accept a stalemate, to dig in and just hold the disease at bay. We want to be moving forward. We want to see infections going down once again, access to care increasing, and awareness expanding.

    The strategy we're releasing today is not an end of our work. It's just the beginning.


    A United Nations report on AIDS in Africa found the number of young people infected with the HIV virus there is falling. It dropped by at least 25 percent in a dozen countries. The decrease was attributed to people having fewer sexual partners and increasing condom use.

    The death toll numbers from the twin bombings in Uganda rose to 76 today, and investigators found evidence the blasts could have been even worse. The bombs hit fans watching Sunday's World Cup final in the capital city of Kampala. However, investigators found an unexploded suicide vest with ball bearings, just like the ones used this weekend in a suburban disco. Four foreign suspects have been arrested in connection with the discovery.

    Heavy rains in Western China triggered landslides in three mountain hamlets today. At least 17 people died and more than 40 others are missing. Meanwhile, crews raced to drain a swollen reservoir in the east. At one point, the water rose to almost four feet above warning level. Forecasters expect more rain to fall over the next three days.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today a previously missing Iranian nuclear scientist is free to go back to Iran. Shahram Amiri is taking refuge at Pakistan's embassy in Washington. He vanished more than a year ago, and the Iranian government claims he was abducted by the U.S. Amiri himself has made conflicting claims, and, in March, there were media reports that he had defected to the U.S. and was helping the CIA. The U.S. denies charges that he was being held against his will.

    A federal appeals court threw out a government ban on broadcast indecency today. The panel of three judges concluded the rule was unconstitutionally vague and could create a chilling effect on free speech beyond — quote — "fleeting expletives." The rule allowed broadcasters to be fined for allowing even a single curse word on live television.

    The court said the FCC might be able to craft a policy that doesn't violate the right to free speech.

    There was news today that drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline knew 11 years ago that its diabetes drug Avandia could cause serious heart problems. The New York Times reported that the company spent all that time hiding important data about the drug from the public and the Food and Drug Administration.

    Separately today, a panel of FDA advisers began meeting to consider whether to pull Avandia from the market or restrict its sale. A recommendation is expected tomorrow.

    The longtime owner of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, died today in Florida.

    "NewsHour" correspondent Kwame Holman has more.


    He was known simply as the boss.

  • GEORGE STEINBRENNER, Owner, New York Yankees:

    Start of spring training.


    George Steinbrenner owned baseball's iconic team the New York Yankees, and was himself an icon who dominated the sport.


    When you put the pinstripes on, you're not just putting a baseball uniform on. You're wearing tradition, and you're wearing pride. And you're going to wear it the right way.


    In 1973, with the storied franchise at a low ebb, he bought the team for $10 million. He recruited top stars, made the Yankees champions again, and ushered in a new free-spending era that drove player salaries sky-high.

    Steinbrenner's brashness was controversial, and carried over to his players, earning the Yankees the title the Bronx Zoo.


    Winning is important to me. It's second. It's second to breathing. Breathing is first. Winning's second.


    He feuded openly with players, hired and fired 20 team managers in 23 years, Billy Martin, alone, five times.

    BILLY MARTIN, Former New York Yankees manager: And that's not the way it's going to be, George.


    You're damn right it is. And, if you don't like it, you're fired.



    You haven't hired me yet.


    In the 1980s, Steinbrenner overspent, and the team underperformed, and he briefly was suspended from baseball for trying to undermine star Dave Winfield during a contract fight.

    But in the 1990s came a new roster of Yankee legends-to-be. A dynasty was reborn, four titles in five years through 2000.


    And the New York Yankees are the team of the 20th century.


    And again last fall, a seventh title under and for the boss.


    Yankees win. The Yankees win!


    Over nearly 40 years, Steinbrenner built a $1.5 billion franchise, with its own TV network and the priciest payroll in baseball.

    The Cleveland-born scion of a shipping family was a fixture in Tampa, the Yankees' off-season home, and became known for his low-key philanthropy. Steinbrenner had been ill for several years. His last public appearance was at opening day in April. George Steinbrenner died this morning of a heart attack. He had turned 80 years old on the Fourth of July.


    Those are some of the day's major stories — now back to Gwen.