BP’s cost cuts contributed to oil spill disaster, probe finds

Posted Sept. 14, 2011, at 8:46 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A 16-month federal investigation has concluded that BP’s efforts to limit costs on its mile-deep Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico contributed to the disastrous blowout last year that killed 11 workers and sunk the giant rig Deepwater Horizon.

“BP’s cost or time saving decisions without considering contingencies and mitigation were contributing causes of the Macondo blowout,” states the long-awaited report by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The report, based on months of hearings and testimony from rig workers and engineers, skewers BP for dozens of mistakes and a failure to appreciate the risks of drilling and then temporarily abandoning the Macondo well.

It also finds fault among BP’s contractors, including Transocean, which owned the doomed rig, and Halliburton, which handled the cement job. To the key questions of the disasters – what went wrong, and who’s to blame — the report says, in effect, everything and everyone.

BOEMRE conducted its inquiry alongside the Coast Guard, which released its findings earlier this year.

Poll: Near-split in US over legal gay marriage

WASHINGTON — A new poll shows that Americans are passionate, conflicted and narrowly split on same-sex marriage.

Fifty-three percent of 1,000 adults surveyed believe the government should give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, about the same as last year, according to the nationwide telephone poll by The Associated Press and the National Constitution Center. Forty-four percent were opposed.

People are similarly conflicted over what, if anything, the government should do about the issue.

Support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage has shifted in recent years, from a narrow majority opposed in 2009 to narrow majority support now. Some of the shift stems from a generational divide, with the new poll showing a majority of Americans under age 65 in favor of legal recognition for same-sex marriages, and a majority of seniors opposed.

Most Americans who live in states where gay marriage is not already legal say it is unlikely their state will pass such a law; just 20 percent think it is likely to become law in their state.

Lost Colo. cat found in NYC 5 years later

NEW YORK — Animal care officials say a calico cat that wandered away from a Colorado home five years ago has been found on a New York City street.

How Willow the cat traveled more than 1,600 miles is a mystery.

But thanks to a microchip implanted when she was a kitten, Willow will be reunited with her long-ago owners.

Willow was found Wednesday by a man on a Manhattan street.

Animal Care & Control agency executive director Julie Bank says Willow is healthy and probably has not been living on the streets for very long. She says there’s no clue to how the cat got to New York.

Owner Jamie Squires, of Boulder, Colo., says Willow escaped during a home renovation.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis on the rise, WHO report finds

LONDON — Cases of tuberculosis resistant to a multitude of drug treatments are rising “at an alarming rate” across Europe, with an estimated 81,000 new cases every year, the World Health Organization said in a report published Wednesday.

Fifteen of the 27 countries with the highest incidence of multidrug-resistant TB are in eastern Europe, but Asia has also been hit hard by the disease.

Almost 12 percent of newly diagnosed patients with TB have the multidrug-resistant form, as do 37 percent of those who have previously been treated for TB, the report said.

While countries in eastern Europe and central Asia were hardest-hit by drug-resistant TB, their treatment success rate of 65 percent was greater than that in western Europe.

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