British Petroleum PLC (BP) has taken the offensive against claimants seeking damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and letters of notice to claimants’ lawyers of their intention to recover payments from claimants. British Petroleum is appealing to overthrow a previously-made settlement that had originally been estimated at $7.8 billion because average payments per claim have been higher than anticipated and not all claims have been processed; should they win on appeal, they intend to actively litigate against those who sought claims from the spill claim fund. BP has previously challenged the spill claim fund’s process for handing out money, saying in court filings that the administrator has approved “fictitious awards” to some businesses and overestimated the losses of many claimants. A federal judge denied BP’s plea to halt payments from the fund in April.
OPEC’s latest report has projected that demand for OPEC crude oil will be decreasing from 29.9 million to 29.6 million barrels per day, approximately 2.6 percent less than they are currently producing. This projection is based on two major factors: the increases in United States and Canadian production due to new manufacturing and supply methods, which while not necessarily resulting in direct competition to OPEC markets will still reduce reliance on their products; and a soft global economy forcing competitive markets.
To preserve their oil prices at $100 a barrel or greater, OPEC is considering reducing their supply output of 30 million barrels per day by half a million barrels per day in order to keep supply lower than demand. This may work out to the benefit of the United States energy industry, at least locally, as uniformed workers take their places on oil rigs and platforms around the country to maintain supplies with lower transportation costs, and power plants running on newer and cleaner technologies continue to gain ground.
In 1996, the U.S. Navy ended a requirement for all sailors to wear flame-resistant military uniforms at sea, with the exception of engine room personnel, firefighters, and flight-related personnel. However, a decision announced in May is phasing back in flame-resistant uniforms for every sailor at sea after testing revealed that the camouflage work uniforms most sailors wear at sea are extremely flammable. These nylon-cotton blend uniforms burn and melt until completely consumed, causing severe risk of life threatening injury if being worn at the time. Rear Admiral John Kirby, who reviewed the report, suggested in a later blog posting that the Navy didn’t realize until now just how flammable their uniforms were. In sharp contrast, Army and Marine combat uniforms are designed to be self-extinguishing and are made of a blend that includes flame-resistant rayon. The dramatic results, he continued in a post to explain the change to Navy personnel, have convinced the Navy that flame resistant clothing should be worn by all sailors at sea.
Law enforcement officers are beginning to feel the heat in warmer climates as summer approaches, and that means a changeover from the traditional poly-wool-blend uniforms to poly-cotton police uniforms in order to beat rising temperatures and maintain speed and efficiency while confronting suspects. Anchortex Uniform recommends that law enforcement uniform buyers evaluate their department’s needs in advance before the temperature increase strikes and plan ahead for the needs of our public defenders.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people on Monday, police in full body armor with automatic weapons are swarming the Watertown suburb, searching door-to-door for the surviving suspect involved in the bombing, while bomb experts comb the area for possible explosives. It is a tense situation, with businesses, transportation systems, and schools closed and residents advised to stay indoors and away from doors and windows. Police are searching the Watertown area after a wild car chase in which one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot and killed after shooting and hurling explosives at pursuing officers; the other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, escaped on foot and is still at large. One police officer was shot and wounded during the pursuit; his condition is currently unknown.
Firefighters responding to an emergency call by 55-year-old Lauren Brown complaining of chest pains in Suwanee, Georgia found themselves taken hostage at gunpoint as part of a three and a half hour standoff that ended in violence on Wednesday. He then proceeded to demand that the phone, cable, and Internet service to his home be turned back on, as they had been turned off due to nonpayment. He also demanded that police board him up in the house and fetch him a meal from a fast food restaurant. Police eventually became convinced that Brown had no intention of releasing the hostages and stormed the home. Police report that Brown opened fire as they entered, wounding one officer, but that they returned fire, killing Brown. It is still unclear as to why Brown decided to take hostages in the first place, although his substantial debts and the foreclosure of his home and termination of services seems to be the most likely motive.
Two eleven-pound battery-operated drone helicopters are being added to the tools at the disposal of the Arlington Police Department, intended for use in damage assessment and search operations as well as for complex crime scene investigation and tactical operations. These helicopters must remain within line of sight of the pilot at all times and must stay lower than 400 feet from the ground, per FAA regulations, and are only to be operated by licensed pilots. The Arlington pilot program has been working to develop standards for law enforcement use of drone helicopters since 2011, both for purposes of public safety and individual privacy.
Army Major General Lynn A. Collyar, former director of the Defense Logistics Agency and current head of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, was part of a panel discussion with several industry representatives on “Optimizing the Global Supply Chain” at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium last Saturday.
The former head of Army logistics tried to assure a nervous audience of defense industry executives that the expectation of massive budget cuts was “not all doom and gloom” with an expected remaining budget of almost $500 billion for military expenditures. “That’s a lot of money,” Collyar said of the budget. “We can’t afford to just throw money around, but there is still a lot of money out there.”
The three executives who sat on the panel stressed the urgency of the “brand new reality” faced by a step-down of military activity and put out a request for “more affordable” methods to “execute the missions we have within the budgets we’re given.” How this affects military readiness for future conflicts remains to be seen.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced yesterday a lifting of the ban on female military servicemembers in combat roles, with plans to open most jobs to women by May 15th. Senior commanders will have until January 2016 to ask for exceptions. View the full story here.
For those who thought being in the correctional industry couldn’t get any stranger, this is a reminder that humans aren’t the only things that have to be searched upon attempting to enter prison grounds. Guards at the prison of Arapiraca were surprised to witness a white cat with tape wrapped around its body passing through the main gate of the prison. Upon further examination, they discovered that the feline had been carrying a saw, drills, a mobile phone, a phone charger, a memory card, an earphone, and batteries. The cat was temporarily ‘detained’ to remove the contraband items, and was then discharged to an animal disease center to receive medical care. Currently, all of the prison inmates at Arapiraca are suspect of complicity in the smuggling operation, as the cat was unable to give information regarding its intended destination. In the words of a prison spokesperson, “It’s tough to find out who’s responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak.”