06-20-2018  7:31 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

Oregon gun-storage proposal won't make November ballot

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregonians will not be voting this fall on a proposal to require safe gun storage.Supporters of the initiative petition said Wednesday there isn't enough time to obtain the more than 88,000 valid signatures necessary to get the item on the November ballot.They had until...

Oregon Senator sues governor, state revenue department

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon state senator has filed a lawsuit against top lawmakers and the governor, saying the passage of a controversial March tax measure violated the state constitution.Brian Boquist, a Republican from Dallas, Oregon, filed the suit Tuesday in state tax court, naming...

Suspect arrested in 1986 killing of 12-year-old Tacoma girl

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Tacoma police have arrested a man suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl more than three decades ago.The News Tribune reports 66-year-old Gary Hartman was booked into Pierce County Jail Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of Michella...

Trudeau: Canada to legalize marijuana on Oct. 17

TORONTO (AP) — Marijuana will be legal nationwide in Canada starting Oct. 17 in a move that should take market share away from organized crime and protect the country's youth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.The Senate gave final passage to the bill to legalize cannabis on...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

AP Explains: US has split up families throughout its history

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some critics of the forced separation of Latino children from their migrant parents say the practice is unprecedented. But it's not the first time the U.S. government has split up families, detained children or allowed others to do so .Throughout American history,...

The Latest: Messi gets a chance to save face against Croatia

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Wednesday at the World Cup (all times local):12:16 a.m.Lionel Messi is going to have a hard time keeping up with Cristiano Ronaldo at this year's World Cup.Ronaldo has all of Portugal's goals, a tournament-leading four so far, and has been getting in digs at Messi...

Ex-NAACP chief who posed as black pleads not guilty to fraud

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black pleaded not guilty to welfare fraud on Wednesday.Nkechi Diallo, formerly known as Rachel Dolezal, made a brief appearance in Spokane County...

ENTERTAINMENT

Jimmy Fallon reveals personal pain following Trump fallout

NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Fallon is opening up about the personal anguish he felt following the backlash to his now-infamous hair mussing appearance with Donald Trump.The host of "The Tonight Show" tells The Hollywood Reporter he "made a mistake" and apologized "if I made anyone mad." He adds...

After 4,000 episodes, a halt for Jerry Springer's show

NEW YORK (AP) — Somehow it doesn't seem right for Jerry Springer to exit quietly.There should be one last thrown chair or a bleep-filled tirade, at the very least. Instead, it was announced with no fanfare this week that he will stop making new episodes of his memorably raucous talk show,...

Peter Fonda apologizes for 'vulgar' Barron Trump tweet

NEW YORK (AP) — Peter Fonda apologized Wednesday for a late-night Twitter rant in which he suggested 12-year-old Barron Trump should be ripped from "his mother's arms and put in a cage with pedophiles."The all-capitals tweet in the wee hours went on to call President Donald Trump an...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

GOP senator defends EPA chief, calls ethics allegations lies

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican senator who had expressed concerns about Environmental Protection Agency...

AP Explains: US has split up families throughout its history

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some critics of the forced separation of Latino children from their migrant...

Trump supporters steadfast despite the immigration uproar

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati resident Andrew Pappas supported President Trump's decision to separate...

Burger King says sorry for Russian World Cup pregnancy ad

MOSCOW (AP) — Burger King has apologized for offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who...

Volgograd provides the proper perspective at World Cup

VOLGOGRAD, Russia (AP) — Nearly 60 years since it changed its name to Volgograd, the Russian city once...

Live animals, meat, ivory, wood seized in trafficking stings

PARIS (AP) — Thousands of live animals along with tons of meat, ivory, pangolin scales and timber were...

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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