The Lookout
  • Leak forces BP to shut down Alaskan pipeline

    Energy experts have long raised concerns about the rapid deterioration of the oil industry's Alaskan pipelines -- much of them owned and controlled by BP. Industry analysts have said that any spills arising from defective pipes would probably disrupt the industry's ability to meet consumer demands -- leading, in turn, to higher gas prices at the pump.

    That scenario may now be coming to pass. A leak described by BP spokesman Steve Rinehart as "significant" at a pumping station at Alaska's North Slope has forced the closure of a pipeline that transports an estimated 12 percent of America's oil.

    According to the AP: "The 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) trans-Alaska pipeline, which normally carries between 630,000 and 650,000 barrels a day, was shut Saturday after a leak was discovered at a North Slope pump station, said Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which manages the line. North Slope production was reduced to 5 percent of normal." The leak was contained, but normal operations remained on hold

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  • teacherA judge has swatted down the New York City teachers' union argument that performance ratings for 12,000 teachers should not be released because the information is inaccurate.

    "There is no requirement that data be reliable for it to be disclosed," Manhattan Judge Cynthia Kern wrote, according to the New York Post.

    The Post and other news organizations asked New York City's education department for the performance rankings using the Freedom of Information Law. The United Federation of Teachers union argues the data is flawed and teachers may face "harassment" from parents if they find out their child is in class with a teacher who received a poor ranking. The union is expected to appeal the decision.

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  • GiffordsHad the federal assault-weapons ban, which Congress let expire in 2004, remained in effect, Saturday's shooting in Tucson would likely have killed and injured far fewer people. And if either Arizona or federal law made it harder for people with a history of mental health problems to get guns, then the suspect in the rampage might never have obtained a weapon.

    Gun-control advocates are reminding lawmakers and the public of how readily disturbed shooters can obtain rapid-fire weaponry in a fresh push to tighten laws in the wake of the shooting, which killed 6 people and injured 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

    Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who ran for Congress after her husband was shot and killed on a Long Island commuter train in 1994, has said she'll introduce legislation that targets high-capacity ammunition clips of the kind said to have been used in Tucson. As we've reported, law-enforcement officials have said that the gun used in the shooting, a Glock 9mm, could hold about 30 or more rounds, two or three times a normal magazine capacity. And today they told NBC that the shooter got off at least 31 rounds.

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