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Will BP Execs Face Criminal Charges? Not Likely, Experts Say

A Bloomberg News report that the U.S. Justice Department is considering manslaughter charges in its investigation of BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico played prominently enough Tuesday to drive BP's share price down.

But if criminal charges are filed against individuals involved in the disaster, it would be a rare event. An analysis of industrial disasters by University of Maryland law professor Jane Barrett shows that company managers are almost never charged in industrial accidents -- even in disasters that have killed more people than the 11 men who died in last year's explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

"If they are large corporate entities, what has happened historically is the company pleads guilty, pays a fine and no individuals are prosecuted," Barrett said in an interview with AOL News. "The bigger the company, the less likely there will be individuals held accountable."

Briefcase

U.S. Lawyers Say BP, Spill Partners Harmed Cleanup Crew

Image
© Reuters/Lee Celano
Workers clean booms stained with oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in Waveland, Mississippi July 8, 2010.
BP Plc and other companies who had used chemical dispersants to fight the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill should compensate the cleanup crew and residents harmed by those toxic chemicals, lawyers suing the firms said in a court filing.

To date, BP and its contractors have used more than 1.8 million gallons of Nalco Holding's chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico in connection with the oil spill, according to the complaint. Nalco was also named in the complaint.

Lawyers said many plaintiffs, who were assisting in the effort to prevent oil slicks from reaching the shore, or cleaning oil spill residue from the beaches, came into contact with crude oil, chemical dispersants and other toxic chemical mixtures.

The complaint has sought unspecified compensatory damages from BP and the other companies involved in the clean up act. The lawsuit has also sought damages for medical screening and monitoring.

BP in London declined comment.

Handcuffs

Canada: Police make Toronto airport "terrorism" arrest

A man was arrested for "terrorism-related offenses" at Toronto's international airport just before he was about to board an airplane bound for North Africa, Canadian police said on Wednesday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said 25-year-old Canadian citizen Mohamed Hassan Hersi was headed to Somalia to join al Shabaab, which police said is a hard-line Islamist group that has ties to al Qaeda.

"Al Shabaab is a listed terrorist entity," said RCMP Inspector Keith Finn at a press conference. "Any participation in that group would constitute an offense."

Hersi was arrested Tuesday evening at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, moments before he was to board a one-way flight to Cairo via London, the RCMP said. They said Hersi planned to travel to Somalia from Cairo.

Somalia has replaced Iraq as the state most at risk from terrorist attack, according to a ranking by global analysts Maplecroft.

Hersi appeared in a Toronto area courthouse on Wednesday, and was remanded to custody until Friday.

Heart - Black

US: Chef Damien Cardone Deliberately Tries To Make Customers Sick

Glenwood Springs, Colorado -- A Glenwood Spring's chef is caught bragging about feeding his customers foods that could make them very sick. Now the restaurant he was working for says it never happened.

The chef worked for the Italian restaurant Florindo's in Glenwood Springs. In a Facebook post, he says he targeted people who suffer from a gluten intolerance.

Damien Cardone's Facebook page shows he's worked for a long line of prestigious kitchens. But on March 10th, he decided to tell people he'd been getting even.

Nuke

Japan Weighs Entombing Nuclear Plant on Chain Reaction Risk

Japan is considering pouring concrete into its crippled Fukushima atomic plant as the United Nations's nuclear watchdog agency warned that a potential uncontrolled chain reaction could cause further radiation leaks.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano yesterday ruled out the possibility that the two undamaged reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s six-unit Dai-Ichi plant would be salvaged. Units 1 through 4 suffered from explosions, presumed meltdowns and corrosion from seawater sprayed on radioactive fuel rods after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami cut power to cooling systems.

Workers have averted the threat of a total meltdown by injecting water into the damaged reactors for the past two weeks. The complex's six units are connected with the power grid and two are using temporary motor-driven pumps. Work to repair the plant's monitoring and cooling systems has been hampered by discoveries of hazardous radioactive water.

The risk to workers might be greater than previously thought because melted fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be causing isolated, uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions, Denis Flory, nuclear safety director for the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, said at a press conference in Vienna.

USA

US: NYPD officer's family upset by 9/11 death probe

City medical officials declined to sign off on a police officer's death certificate this week after a hospice doctor declared that his fatal stomach cancer was caused by World Trade Center toxins, then angered his family by asking to examine his body on the day of the wake.

George Wong, who retired from the New York Police Department in 2006, was 48 when he died on March 24. His wake was about to get under way Monday when his family received a call from the office of the city medical examiner asking for permission to do an autopsy.

Normally, the city doesn't investigate cancer deaths, but it got involved after health department workers noticed that a doctor who had provided end-of-life care for Wong, Lyla Correoso, had filled out paperwork attributing his cancer to toxic exposure in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Heart - Black

Fears of Radioactive Contagion: Evacuees Turned Away From Shelters

Image
© Reuters
A man sits inside a bar in central Fukushima. The situation at the Fukushima plant remains critical.

Hundreds of people evacuated from towns and villages close to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are being turned away by medical institutions and emergency shelters as fears of radioactive contagion catch on.

Hospitals and temporary refuges are demanding that evacuees provide them with certificates confirming that they have not been exposed to radiation before they are admitted.

The situation at the plant remains critical, with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency yesterday that radioactive iodine-131 at more than 3,350 times permitted levels has been found in a sample of seawater taken from near the facility.

The water is the most highly contaminated sample taken from the sea and indicates that radiation from the core of one or more of the reactors, where fuel rods have partly melted, is leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

Fish

Tainted seafood fears spread as Japan plant leaks

Japan's Emperor Akihito ,Empress Michiko
© Reuters/Issei Kato
Japan's Emperor Akihito (L) and Empress Michiko (2nd L) talk with evacuees at Tokyo Budoh-kan.

Tokyo - Fears about contaminated seafood spread Wednesday despite reassurances that radiation in the waters off Japan's troubled atomic plant pose no health risk, as the country's respected emperor consoled evacuees from the tsunami and nuclear emergency zone.

While experts say radioactive particles are unlikely to build up significantly in fish, the seafood concerns in the country that gave the world sushi are yet another blemish for Brand Japan. It has already been hit by contamination of milk, vegetables and water, plus shortages of auto and tech parts after a massive quake and tsunami disabled a coastal nuclear power plant.

Setbacks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex mounted Wednesday, as the plant's operator, Tokyo Power Electric Co., announced that its president was hospitalized. Masataka Shimizu has not been seen since a news conference two days after the March 11 quake that spawned the destructive wave. His absence fueled speculation that he had suffered a breakdown.

Alarm Clock

The Cannibalization of Charlie Sheen

Conventional wisdom tells us that the rich and famous have it easy, that they get away with murder, that they can buy and charm their way out of all the social traps the rest of us face. But in fact, people love to see a fall from grace, and they love to kick the fallen when they're down. When the mass media target a celebrity for character destruction, the ostracism and witch-hunts are typically more relentless than when a commoner is in the crosshairs. There is no privacy. There is no escape. The entire media class, from Hollywood to Manhattan, lines up to cannibalize one of their own with gratuitous relish.

That Charlie Sheen has been the biggest national story, while the Arab world is aflame with revolution and the U.S. marches toward ever more war and economic disaster, is not the most remarkable thing. What is most striking is how easily so many line up behind a consensus that someone ought to be the butt of all jokes and the focus of everyone's mockery and outrage. Why is the public so obsessed? Does the public's obsession fuel the media's, or is it the other way around?

Indeed, the main mystery is why so many entertainers have jumped on the bandwagon to belittle the actor. Why are so many glitterati pointing their fingers and laughing, judging, and psychoanalyzing Sheen from afar? And even if it was kind of funny the first time to compare his eccentric quips to the ranting of the dictator Qadafi, isn't it a bit unseemly for so many to be piling on with such insults?

Info

Dutch Girl, 12, Gives Birth on School Trip

A 12-year-old Dutch girl gave birth while on a school trip, sparking a police search Wednesday for the father of the child.

The girl, from Groningen, 114 miles northeast of Amsterdam, complained of stomach pains March 22, during a day out with classmates.

Teachers realized the girl was in labor and called an ambulance. Medics rushed to the scene, and the 12 year old delivered a healthy baby girl in a nearby building. The young mother was then taken to the hospital but has refused to name the father.

Family members said that the schoolgirl's father previously sexually abused another older daughter and served two years in jail for the sex crime, according to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

The girl was living with her father and brother after he won custody following a divorce from their mother, who was originally from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America.