05-22-2022  12:36 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

As Registration Opens Portland Parks Needs Staff for Summer Programs

Indoor and outdoor pools will open with jobs and free training available for swimmers

State Representative Janelle Bynum Calls for Legislative Inquiry into Clackamas County Election Debacle

Bynum says Elections Clerk Sherry Hall must answer questions and deliver a clear plan along with assurances the count will be fair

Here's How Abortion Clinics Are Preparing for Roe to Fall

In March, Oregon lawmakers approved million to pay for abortions and support services such as travel and lodging for in-state or out-of-state patients who travel long distances, and to expand abortion availability.

'Twitter Philanthropy' Reveals Chasms in Social Safety Net

Online direct giving is nothing new – for years, people have used sites like GoFundMe to get money for medical expenses, funeral costs and other unforeseen bills. But Pulte’s approach is nearly instantaneous

NEWS BRIEFS

'Twitter Philanthropy' Reveals Chasms in Social Safety Net

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Local Podcast Wins Awards at Home and Abroad

Let’s Talk About Race is a production of Grassroot News NW and KBOO Community Radio. ...

Multnomah County Planning Commission Seeks New Member

Multnomah County’s Land Use Planning Division is looking for a Multnomah County resident to serve as a volunteer member on the...

2 Pleasure Boats Catch Fire on Columbia River

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WA Childhood Immunization Rates Decline During Pandemic

Immunization rates have decreased by 13% in 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic level ...

US women's soccer equal pay victory decades in the making

The U.S. women's national team has not only been wildly successful on the field, the players have also been unabashedly outspoken, using their platform to advocate for equal rights for themselves and others. The team's efforts to secure equitable pay finally came to fruition this...

Parole canceled for man who killed 3 in Washington state bar

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has overturned a decision to grant parole to man who killed three tavern workers during a robbery in 1980. Timothy Pauley was 21 when he and associate Scott Carl Smith robbed the Barn Door Tavern near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport...

OPINION

Costly Auto Repairs Driving Consumers Into a Financial Ditch

Research documents new, growing form of predatory lending ...

Can Federal Lynching Law Help Heal America?

Despite decades of senseless delays, this new law pushes America to finally acknowledge that racism often correlates to a level of violence and terror woven into the very fabric of this country. ...

The Skanner News Endorsements: May Primary 2022

Primary election day is May 17, 2022. Read The Skanner's endorsements for this important election. ...

Men’s Voices Urgently Needed to Defend Reproductive Rights

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AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Cannes: Transylvania-set 'R.M.N.' probes a ubiquitous crisis

CANNES, France (AP) — Cristian Mungiu's Cannes Film Festival entry “R.M.N.” is set in an unnamed mountainous Transylvanian village in Romania, but the conflicts of ethnocentricity, racism and nationalism that permeate the multi-ethnic town could take place almost anywhere. Of...

Buffalo shooting's wounds need a strong salve, residents say

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Shenaya Ann Washington and a close friend cleared a small patch of grass at the base of a utility pole on Riley Street. They dug a hole there and planted a red rose bush seedling. Next to it, they leaned 10 prayer candles against the pole. Washington said she...

Buffalo shooting victim laid to rest; city marks 1 week

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Roberta Drury, a 32-year-old woman who was the youngest of the 10 Black people killed at a Buffalo supermarket, was remembered at her funeral Saturday for "that smile that could light up a room,” as the city marked one week since the shooting with sorrowful moments of...

ENTERTAINMENT

Ozzy Osbourne's daughter Aimee escapes Hollywood studio fire

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s daughter Aimee was among those who escaped a Hollywood recording studio fire that killed a 26-year-old music producer, Sharon Osbourne and others who work in the space said. Aimee Osbourne's producer also escaped the blaze that began...

Slimmed-down Billy Gardell savors TV success, family life

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Billy Gardell is scrupulous about giving credit where it’s due, at home and at work. He describes his wife, Patty, as the “North star” who helped him through tough times and kept their family on track. Chuck Lorre, the prominent producer who cast the...

'Squid Game' star Lee Jung-jae debuts as director in Cannes

CANNES, France (AP) — Lee Jung-jae, the award-winning star of Netflix's “Squid Game,” spent years developing the 1980s-set Korean spy thriller “Hunt” before electing to direct himself. He did it a little reluctantly, without big plans to continue filmmaking. But Lee did have a vision for...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is 'most certainly not over'

BERLIN (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic is “most certainly not over,” the head of the World Health Organization...

Pennsylvania's Fetterman released from hospital after stroke

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee in the state’s high-profile...

Priceless seeds, sprouts key to US West's post-fire future

A New Mexico facility where researchers work to restore forests devastated by fires faced an almost cruelly ironic...

EXPLAINER: What are the key climate themes at Davos?

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — While the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine will be focuses of the World...

Climate to conflict, Davos' post-COVID return has full plate

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Davos — the hub of an elite annual gathering in the Swiss Alps — is back, more...

WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is 'most certainly not over'

BERLIN (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic is “most certainly not over,” the head of the World Health Organization...

Ed Lavandera and Jason Morris CNN

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- A titanic courtroom showdown with billions of dollars in the balance opened in New Orleans on Monday, with oil giant BP arguing it shouldn't face the government's steepest penalties for the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

BP already pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to a record-setting $4 billion fine for the spill. But it could face more than $20 billion in additional environmental penalties if found to have committed gross negligence in the disaster.

In a packed federal courtroom Monday afternoon, BP attorney Mike Brock said blame for the disaster wasn't the oil company's alone. A string of bad decisions by Transocean, the company that owned the doomed drill rig Deepwater Horizon; well cement contractor Halliburton; and BP all led to the blowout, he said.

"We do not believe that men and women of BP behaved in willful misconduct," Brock said. "It was a multiparty event."

But Halliburton attorney Don Godwin said BP ignored the contractor's recommendations about the cement job and that Transocean didn't move fast enough to contain the blowout.

Transocean settled with the government last week for $1 billion in Clean Water Act penalties but could face additional additional liability in the case that started Monday. Transocean lawyer Brad Brian said that last week's settlement was not an admission of gross negligence and that last-minute changes to the well design by BP had the rig's crew "at wits' end" before the disaster.

All three companies have been pointing fingers at each other since the April 20, 2010, blowout that sank the Deepwater Horizon, killed 11 men aboard and uncapped an undersea gusher that spewed for nearly three months. The spill's effects on the environment are still being cataloged.

The plaintiffs in the civil case that opened Monday include five Gulf states, individuals, businesses and the federal government.

"Evidence will show BP placed huge financial pressure to cut costs, cut corners, and rush the job," attorney James P. Roy, who represents the coalition of plaintiffs, said during opening arguments on Monday.

And Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said the oil giant "was blinded by their bottom line."

"The spill was tragically inevitable due to BP's corporate culture," Strange said. "The evidence will show that, at BP, money mattered most."

If it is found to have been "grossly negligent" under the Clean Water Act, it could be fined as much as $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. If it's found "negligent," the company could be fined about $1,100 per barrel.

Attorneys will also likely square off over how much oil gushed into the gulf, another key figure that will be used to calculate how much money BP might owe. Officials have said 4.9 million barrels -- about 205 million gallons -- of oil spilled, while BP says that number is overblown and that authorities should use a maximum figure of 3.1 million barrels of oil when calculating the fine.

The trial will also determine what fines the company faces under National Resource Damage Assessment, which aims to restore environmental damage caused by the spill. Environmental groups want to see those fines -- which will put a specific price tag on damage to plants and wildlife -- total around $25 billion.

With so much money at stake, each side has brought an army of lawyers to the fight. With almost 60 lawyers filling the courtroom, the judge created a seating chart for all the attorneys. Lawyers representing the federal government and other plaintiffs sat on one side, while the BP lawyers and other companies' lawyers sat across the room.

Three overflow courtrooms were also packed on Monday.

BP says it has already paid billions in spill-related cleanup and compensation costs and has been barred from new federal contracts. Though Halliburton and Transocean could also face penalties, much of the criticism from environmentalists before the high-profile trial has focused on BP, the undersea well's owner.

"The damage done here is real, both to the environment and to the people," said Brian Moore, of the National Audubon Society. "And BP should not have the chance to get off cheaply on this."

In his statement before the trial began, BP General Counsel Rupert Bondy said the company would push for the court to consider lower penalties, arguing that BP made efforts to do the right thing and "immediately stepped up" and acknowledged its role in the spill.

"To date we've spent more than $23 billion in response, cleanup, and payments on claims by individuals, businesses and governments," he said. "No company has done more, faster, to meet its commitment to economic and environmental restoration efforts in the wake of an industrial accident."

CNN's Vivian Kuo and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

 

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