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Posts Tagged ‘probe’

US probe shares out ‘systemic’ blame for oil spill

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:12 am

A US panel has spread blame for the deadly Gulf of Mexico oil spill beyond BP to Halliburton and Transocean, accusing all three of “systemic” management failures that could happen again.

The presidential commission’s assessment was part of its final report on the deadly April blowout of BP’s Macondo well, which killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over three months.

It said oil services giant Halliburton and offshore drilling group Transocean were also very much at fault in ignoring key warnings and failing to take the necessary precautions to avert the massive spill.

A dead sea turtle lies on a beach in Waveland, Mississippi at the height of the US Gulf oil spill

The blowout “was the product of several individual missteps and oversights by BP, Halliburton and Transocean, which government regulators lacked the authority, the necessary resources and the technical expertise to prevent,” read the advance chapter. The full report is due out next week.

Transocean owned the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon platform that sank in the accident. In October, Halliburton admitted skipping a key cement test before the blowout, but blamed BP for not testing the integrity of the job.

The root causes of the blowout were “systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur,” the report said.

“Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money).”

Saying it supported the presidential commission’s probe into the incident, BP stressed that preliminary findings concluded that “the accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple companies.”

The beleaguered firm said it was working with regulators and the industry “to ensure that the lessons learned from Macondo lead to improvements in operations and contractor services in deepwater drilling.”

It cited launching a new division devoted to safety and operational risk that reports directly to the firm’s CEO Bob Dudley and will provide “independent oversight” of safety-related operational decisions.

The findings “only compound our sense of tragedy because we know now that the blowout of the Macondo well was avoidable,” said former Florida senator Bob Graham, the commission’s co-chair.

“This disaster likely would not have happened had the companies involved been guided by an unrelenting commitment to safety first. And it likely would not have happened if the responsible governmental regulators had the capacity and will to demand world class safety standards.”

According to the report, the Macondo well blew out when a series of “separate risk factors, oversights and outright mistakes combined to overwhelm the safeguards” designed to prevent such an event.

“But most of the mistakes and oversights at Macondo can be traced back to a single overarching failure — a failure of management,” it added.

“Better management by BP, Halliburton and Transocean would almost certainly have prevented the blowout by improving the ability of individuals involved to identify the risks they faced, and to properly evaluate, communicate and address them.”

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator William Reilly, another co-chair of the commission, pointed to a “system-wide problem.”

The seven-member panel was set up by US President Barack Obama and tasked with finding out what caused the accident.

Source: SGGP

Boeing keeps 787s grounded as fire probe continues

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2010 at 3:25 am

BP did not put profit before safety on Gulf well: probe

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

Japan police probe online leak of anti-terrorism documents

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

HRW calls for transparent probe into Kurd journalist’s death

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 10:11 am

BAGHDAD, Oct 30, 2010 (AFP) – Human Rights Watch called Saturday for a transparent probe into the death of a journalist who was killed after writing an article scathing of Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani.

“Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government needs to ensure an independent and transparent enquiry into the killing of journalist Sardasht Osman in May 2010, that will lead to the identification and prosecution of all those responsible,” the New York-based rights group said.

Osman, 22, was kidnapped on May 4 in the regional capital Arbil, and his corpse was found a day later in the restive northern city of Mosul with a single bullet to the head.

He had written articles critical of Barzani’s rule, but an investigative committee formed by the Iraqi Kurdish leader said in September that Osman was killed because of his ties to a militant group.

“This secret investigation into Sardasht Osman’s murder is exactly the opposite of what’s needed,” HRW’s Joe Stork said in the statement.

“The Kurdistan government needs to get to the bottom of this killing with an open and independent inquiry that will include looking into allegations of government involvement,” Stork said.

HRW said Osman’s family and supporters had been threatened by government forces and Kurdish party members after speaking out against the findings of the official probe, which also was condemned by international rights groups and local Kurdish journalists.

In one of Osman’s most critical articles, headlined “I love the daughter of Massud Barzani” and published in the Kurdistan Post, he used an imaginary dream to condemn the alleged corruption of Kurdish leaders.

“When I become the son-in-law of Barzani, the wedding night will be in Paris and we will visit the palace of our uncle for several days in the United States,” he wrote, drawing a provocative contrast between Barzani’s opulent lifestyle and that of ordinary Kurds.

The HRW statement quoted the dead journalist’s brother as saying Osman had received multiple death threats by telephone and had feared for his life after writing the critical article.

“He thought he would be killed at any time by a gun with a silencer,” it quoted Bashdar Osman as saying.

“The Osman case is the tip of the iceberg,” Stork said.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government needs to support press freedom instead of trying to intimidate those who report the truth. An independent and credible investigation of the Osman case would be a start.”

Source: SGGP

Blatter: goal-line technology talks, N.Korea probe

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 11:22 am

The controversial issue of goal-line technology will be discussed at a meeting of the International Football Association Board in October, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Wednesday.

During the World Cup in South Africa, Blatter indicated it would be tabled at a meeting of football’s rulers in Wales in July, but that never happened.

“At this meeting (in October), we will bring the point of goal-line technology. It is now on the agenda,” he said in Singapore where he is attending the Youth Olympic Games.

Goal-line technology was forced back onto FIFA’s agenda after England’s Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed in South Africa, despite replays showing the ball clearly crossed the line.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said the world football authority is set to discuss the controversial issue of goal-line technology at a meeting of the International Football Association Board in October

FIFA have previously rebuffed all demands to use video technology to resolve contentious refereeing decisions, despite it being successfully implemented in other sports such as tennis, cricket and rugby union.

Their rationale has been that it would disrupt the free-flowing movement of the game.

But with international pressure growing, Blatter has softened his stance, and said Wednesday that the technology could be allowed providing it was reliable.

“My personal opinion on goal technology has never changed,” he said.

“I have said if we have an accurate and simple system then we will implement but so far we have not had a simple, nor an accurate system.”

Blatter also took the opportunity to demand answers from North Korea after reports that its World Cup squad was publicly humiliated and coach Kim Jong-Hun sentenced to hard labour.

The world football governing body this week opened an investigation and sent a letter to the North Korean football authorities in relation to the allegations.

It followed new, unspecified, evidence brought to its attention by Chung Mong-Joon, the powerful South Korean former chairman of Hyundai, who is also the president of the South Korean Football Association.

The showing of live games in the impoverished communist state had been banned to avoid national embarrassment, but after the Brazil game which North Korea lost 2-1, state television made the Portugal match its first live sports broadcast ever.

They could not have picked a worse game, with Portugal’s hail of goals leaving the commentator speechless and they eventually conceded the match 7-0.

According to Radio Free Asia, on their return team members were made to stand on a stage at the People’s Palace of Culture in the capital Pyongyang and were subjected to “ideological criticism” for six hours.

The players were apparently forced to criticise coach Kim, who was punished for “betraying” Kim Jong-Un — one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il’s sons and heir apparent.

He was reportedly expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea and sentenced to hard labour on a building site.

Blatter has also defended the scheduling of international matches, telling critics to stop making so much “noise”.

Virtually all European nations will be in action on Wednesday, with England facing Hungary and France against Norway just a month after the end of the World Cup.

Several club managers and players have made it clear they are not happy, concerned at the impact it will have on their preparations with the new season getting under way on Saturday.

Source: SGGP

Flotilla probe will show Israel acted lawfully: Netanyahu

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

JERUSALEM, Aug 9, 2010 (AFP) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Monday that Israel acted lawfully in a commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which killed nine activists, in testimony before an Israeli panel.

“I am convinced that at the end of your investigation, it will become clear that the state of Israel and the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) acted in accordance with international law,” Netanyahu told members of the Tirkel Commission as he began testifying about the raid.

“I am the first one to appear before this honorable commission. Many others will appear after me, and I believe that all the details will become clear and you will get to the root of the truth,” he said.

The Israeli leader looked at ease as he entered the room shortly after 9:00 am (0600 GMT), smiling at the hoards of journalists and members of the public waiting to hear his sworn testimony.

After he took his seat, facing the panel bench with his back to the audience, the committee members made their way into the auditorium.

Opening the session, which was expected to last into the afternoon, committee chairman Yaakov Tirkel said some of Netanyahu’s testimony would be given verbally and some would be delivered in written form.

“As much as possible, the committee will try to let the prime minister give his testimony verbally or in written form,” he said.

Some of the session was expected to take place behind closed doors.

Netanyahu is the first of three top officials to give sworn testimony about the May 31 incident in which naval commandos stormed six aid ships trying to run the blockade on Gaza, killing nine activists and wounding scores of others.

(AFP file) A picture shows an undated image taken from the Free Gaza Movement website on May 28, 2010 of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara taking part in the “Freedom Flotilla” headed to the Gaza Strip.

The bloody raid caused a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey and sparked global calls for an inquiry — prompting Netanyahu’s government to set up the Tirkel Commission to look into the legality of the operation.

Israel says its commandos resorted to force only after they were attacked when they rappelled onto the deck of the Turkish passenger ferry Mavi Marmara. But the activists on board say troops opened fire as soon as they landed.

Netanyahu was not likely to face any awkward questions on Monday as he testified before the five panel members, two foreign observers and hundreds of members of the press and public.

When the committee was created in June, Netanyahu’s office said its mandate was to examine the international legality of Israel’s naval blockade and of actions taken to enforce it, as well as the actions of those who organised and took part in the flotilla.

Panel members are not authorised probe the decision-making process which led up to the operation, nor do they have the authority to question troops involved in storming the boats.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak will take the stand on Tuesday, followed by Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday, with both likely to be quizzed over the operational aspects of boarding the ships.

Ashkenazi will be the only serving member of the military to testify before the committee.

The five-man panel, headed by Tirkel, a retired judge, began investigating the raid at the end of June, and its deliberations are being monitored by two international observers.

The creation of the panel, its members and its mandate were all backed by Israel’s cabinet. Its findings will be presented to the government, which has already blamed the bloodshed on the activists.

The Israeli military has already completed its own inquiry into the pre-dawn raid and concluded that although mistakes were made at a “relatively senior” level, the use of live fire was justified.

Israel has repeatedly said it has the right to stop vessels from reaching the Gaza Strip since they could be carrying weapons for the Islamist Hamas rulers of the enclave. Hamas is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named his own panel to look into the botched raid, which is set to begin work on Tuesday and includes representatives from Israel and Turkey.

The UN Human Rights Council is also carrying out an inquiry, as is Turkey which is reportedly looking to make a criminal case against Netanyahu, Barak and Ashkenazi, charging them with piracy and murder.

Source: SGGP

French footballer Ribery charged in under-age sex probe

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

France international footballers Frank Ribery and Karim Benzema were charged with having had sex with an under-age prostitute Tuesday, as magistrates cracked down on an alleged celebrity vice ring.

The indictments are the first stage of a formal judicial investigation that could lead to a trial and, if convicted, both players face up to three years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros (58,000 dollars).

Ribery, who plays for German giants Bayern Munich, arrived at the offices of the investigating magistrates at the Palace of Justice in Paris in handcuffs, according to several witnesses, but he was freed without preconditions after the hearing.

Ribery’s lawyer Sophie Bottai expressed surprise at the charge.

“The only thing that’s new since the last time he was questioned is that the World Cup is over and he played badly,” she told reporters, confirming that her client’s 22-year-old brother-in-law had also been charged.

French footballer Franck Ribery, seen here arriving for questioning at a police station in Paris, was placed under formal judicial investigation Tuesday on allegations he had sex with an under-age prostitute, a judicial official told AFP

The counsel for Real Madrid striker Benzema was not immediately available for comment.

Ribery has never denied having paid for sex with the young woman at the centre of the scandal, 18-year-old blonde party girl Zahia Dehar, but his lawyer told reporters that he had had no idea in 2008 that she was under-age.

“There’s not a single element of physical proof,” she said. “This woman told them she was of age, was all made up, dressed up, appeared very switched on.”

The players appeared before investigating magistrate Andre Dando after having been detained by vice squad officers and questioned for six hours on a charge of having “solicited an under-age prostitute.”

The players were detained at the request of the magistrate, who is probing claims that a Champs Elysees nightclub gave clients access to minors working as call girls.

Ribery, 27, was a member of France’s ill-fated World Cup squad, which went out in the first round at this month’s tournament in South Africa. He did not score and his performance was seen as disappointing.

Benzema, 22, was not chosen for this year’s French team despite playing in much of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Dehar is now 18 years and four months old. She has been questioned by police and gave a tell-all interview to the news and gossip weekly Paris Match after the scandal erupted.

She described selling sexual encounters to Ribery in 2009 and to Benzema in 2008, while she was underage, and with a third French player, 30-year-old Panathinaikos winger Sidney Govou, in March, when she was an adult.

Dehar has said the players did not know she was a minor. In France the general age of consent is 15 years, but in the case of prostitution a young person remains legally a minor until he or she reaches 18.

Secretary of state for urban policies, Fadela Amara, said the episode set a poor example for French youth.

“It is not a good image of a man to give to the youth of France,” Amara said in an interview with French news channel iTele. “I am sorry to see a man like Ribery find himself in such a terrible, catastrophic situation.”

Adult prostitution is in itself legal in France, but pimping, solicitation and running organised vice networks are outlawed.

The footballers became caught up in the investigation after detectives probing allegations of a vice ring bugged the Zaman Cafe, an expensive nightspot just off Paris’s most glamorous street, the Champs Elysees.

Four people — including the owner of the club, a waiter who worked there and a man suspected of pimping call girls to celebrities and sportsmen — have been placed under formal judicial investigation and could face trial.

The club itself has been closed down by an administrative order.

Source: SGGP

Obama forms commission to probe oil spill

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm

An independent presidential commission has been set up to probe the huge oil spill from a wrecked BP-leased rig in the Gulf of Mexico, US President Barack Obama said Saturday.

The main task of the bipartisan body, formed by an executive order, is to provide recommendations on how the oil industry can prevent — and mitigate the impact of — any future spills that result from offshore drilling.

“Now, this catastrophe is unprecedented in its nature, and it presents a host of new challenges we are working to address,” Obama said in his weekly radio address as he announced the formation of the commission.

“But the question is what lessons we can learn from this disaster to make sure it never happens again.”

Two-term Florida governor and former senator Bob Graham, a Democrat, and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William Reilly, a Republican, will serve as co-chairmen of the seven-member body, Obama said.

“I can’t think of two people who will bring greater experience or better judgment to the task at hand,” the president pointed out.

He said he will appoint the remaining five members of the panel in coming days. It will include scientists, engineers, and environmental advocates, but no sitting government employees or elected officials.

Even at the lowest estimates, more than six million gallons of crude have flowed into the water since the on April 20 explosion that heavily damaged a Deepwater Horizon oil rig operated by energy giant BP in the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 people.

Obama said his administration had deployed over 1,100 vessels, about 24,000 personnel and more than two million feet of protective boom to help contain the spill.

“And we’re doing all we can to assist struggling fishermen, and the small businesses and communities that depend on them,” he noted.

The environmental disaster has prompted calls for a halt in offshore drilling.

But Obama all but brushed off this option, saying he had promised to put the country on the path to energy independence and has “not wavered from that commitment,” despite the giant spill.

“Because it represents 30 percent of our oil production, the Gulf of Mexico can play an important part in securing our energy future,” the president said.

“But we can only pursue offshore oil drilling if we have assurances that a disaster like the BP oil spill will not happen again. This commission will, I hope, help provide those assurances so we can continue to seek a secure energy future for the United States of America.”

The commission will supplement existing government inquiries into the disaster sparked by an explosion aboard a drilling rig last month.

Earlier this month, Obama ratcheted up criticism of BP over the spills, betraying more and more frustration over the company’s failure to stop the leak.

A week ago, a visibly angered president hit out at oil companies for trying to avoid blame over a massive slick, and vowed an all-out effort to stop the leak pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

He slammed the three oil companies linked to the Deepwater Horizon rig — BP, Transocean and Halliburton — for seeking to pass the blame, denouncing what he called a “ridiculous spectacle” by their top officials during congressional hearings.

He also accused oil companies of enjoying a “cozy relationship” with federal agencies set up to monitor the energy sector.

The president reiterated his criticism Saturday, saying the disaster “was a breakdown of responsibility on the part of BP and perhaps others, including Transocean and Halliburton.”

He promised the government “we will continue to hold the relevant companies accountable not only for being forthcoming and transparent about the facts surrounding the leak, but for shutting it down, repairing the damage it does, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss.”

The commission has been asked to issue its recommendations within six months.


Source: SGGP

Police failed to probe Bhutto slaying effectively: UN

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

Pakistani authorities could have prevented the 2007 murder of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto and deliberately failed to properly investigate her death, a UN-appointed independent panel said

“Ms Bhutto’s assassination could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been taken,” said a report by a three-member panel headed by Chile’s UN ambassador Heraldo Munoz on Thursday.

And the panel, which was tasked with establishing the facts and circumstances of the killing, said it believed that Pakistani police’s failure to probe the slaying effectively “was deliberate.”

“These officials, in part fearing intelligence agencies‘ involvement, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions, which they knew, as professionals, they should have taken,” it added.

The report also said the investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other officials who impeded “an unfettered search for the truth.”

The 2007 murder of Pakistani ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, pictured in 2007, could have been averted if adequate security measures had been taken, a report by a UN-appointed independent panel said

The charismatic, Oxford-educated Bhutto, the first woman to become prime minister of a Muslim country, was killed on December 27, 2007 in a gun and suicide attack after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near the capital Islamabad.

Her shocking death threw the world’s only nuclear-armed Islamic nation into chaos, sparking violence and leading to months of political turmoil that ended in September when her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, claimed the presidency.

The Munoz-led panel said in its 65-page report that responsibility for Bhutto’s security on the day of her assassination rested with “the federal government, the government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi district police.”

“None of these entities took the necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh, urgent security risks that they knew she faced,” it added.

It noted that the Pakistani government failed to provide Bhutto with the same stringent and specific security measures it ordered on October 22, 2007 for two other former prime ministers who belonged to the main political party backing then president Pervez Musharraf.

“This discriminatory treatment is profoundly troubling given the devastating attempt on her life only three days earlier and the specific threats against her which were being tracked” by Pakistani intelligence.

The report said the Pakistani probe “lacked direction, was ineffective and suffered from a lack of commitment to identify and bring all of the perpetrators to justice.”

It added that it was up to Pakistani authorities to carry out a “serious, credible criminal investigation that determines who conceived, ordered and executed this heinous crime… and brings those responsible to justice.”

Munoz told reporters that the probe, which began last July, “was not a criminal investigation.”

He said his panel conducted more than 250 interviews, meeting with Pakistani officials and private citizens, foreign citizens with knowledge of the events and members of Britain’s Scotland Yard who probed some aspects of the killing.

Bhutto’s supporters have cast doubt on an initial Pakistani probe into her death, questioning whether she was killed by a gunshot or the blast and criticizing authorities for hosing down the scene of the attack within minutes.

Scotland Yard’s inquiry ruled that Bhutto died from the force of a suicide bomb and not gunfire.

The UN report, which was requested by Zardari’s political party, was turned over to UN chief Ban Ki-moon earlier Thursday.

The panel — which also included Indonesian ex-attorney general Marzuki Darusman and Peter Fitzgerald, an Irish former police official — enjoined Pakistani authorities to ensure that “the further investigation into the assassination of Ms Bhutto is fully empowered and resourced and is conducted expeditiously and comprehensively, at all levels, without hindrance.”

It unwrapped the long-awaited, sensitive report after complying with Islamabad’s request for a two-week delay.

Pakistan said last week it had asked that the release, initially scheduled for March 30, be delayed so that input from Afghanistan, the United States and Saudi Arabia could be included.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he had asked the UN-appointed, three-member panel to include input from former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Saudi Arabia.

He did not detail what information he wanted to be included.

Source: SGGP