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Added June 03, 2010 with 10 photos
Added June 03, 2010 with 10 photos
Added June 02, 2010 with 54 photos
Added June 01, 2010 with 32 photos
Added May 28, 2010 with 20 photos
PORT FOURCHON, La., May 28 (UPI) -- President Obama picked up tarballs on a beach in Louisiana during a visit Friday to assess BP's efforts to plug the massive Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

Obama, along with Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen and the Lafourche parish president, Charlotte Randolph, strolled the white sand of Fourchon Beach. Obama knelt to pick up the nickel- to quarter-sized tarballs on the beach where yellow tape cordoned off the water and 7 miles of boom resembled a string of pompoms.

Looking to the water, Obama said conditions were ideal for keeping oil away from the shores.

"It's calm, which means that a lot of boats are out there right now and they're in a position where they can help prevent (the oil) from getting close to shore," he said.

The president praised Lafourche's work in responding to a spill now estimated to be at least twice the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. "This parish has been as effective as any in coordinating and working to make sure they respond quickly."

Obama's administration has received criticism for its response to the spill. A USA Today/Gallup poll indicated 53 percent of Americans believed the government has done a poor job responding to the emergency.

BP reported some progress as it continued to try to cap the spill using a so-called "top kill" method. The full top kill procedure could take up to two more days, BP said. The method involves pumping heavy fluid, known as drilling mud, into the head of the leaking well on the sea floor. Officials said they hoped the drilling mud would stop the flow so cement could be pumped in to seal the well.

Oil has been spilling into the gulf since April 20 when the drilling platform Deepwater Horizon exploded. It sank two days later. Eleven rig workers died.

U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia Minuit said oil is spewing at a rate of between 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day, CNN reported. The spill rate means 260,000 to 540,000 barrels had leaked as of 10 days ago -- more than the 250,000 barrels spilled when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound.

Added May 27, 2010 with 21 photos
Added May 27, 2010 with 10 photos
Added May 27, 2010 with 15 photos
Added May 25, 2010 with 22 photos
Added May 22, 2010 with 8 photos
MANGALORE, India, May 22 (UPI) -- Indian authorities said Saturday they have begun an inquiry into what caused an airliner crash that killed at least 159 and injured seven, three seriously.

The inquiry by the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation will be assisted by an Air India team, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said, the Press Trust of India reported.

Patel told reporters an initial investigation show there was no problem with the 4-year-old runway at Mangalore or the Air India Express jet. The aircraft overshot the runway by about 2000 feet.

The pilot, a British national of Serbian origin, and the Indian co-pilot had made several landings at the same airport, he said.

Patel said the aircraft's black box, an instrument that records what went on in the cockpit, has not yet been recovered, PTI reported.

The plane arriving at Bajpe airport on a flight from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates apparently touched down late and skidded off the runway into the valley, where it burned, The Hindu reported. Mangalore's airport is described as a "tabletop," set on a hill with steep cliffs not far from the runway.

The accident occurred on the longer of the two runways at the airport, which is 8,000 feet long. The shorter runway is 6,000 feet long, PTI reported.

Earlier, authorities said they believed cloudy conditions and reduced visibility may have contributed to India's worst air disaster in 14 years, The Times reported in London.

Mohammad Umer Farooqi, a young Mangalore man returning from a job-hunting trip in Dubai, said from a hospital that he jumped from the plane when he saw a hole in the fuselage, landing on the hillside.

"Then the plane veered off toward some trees on the side and then the cabin filled with smoke," he said. "I got caught in some cables but managed to scramble out."

He covered his face with his hands while he plunged through the hole to avoid the flames.

Police said the bodies of 120 passengers have been recovered.

Added May 22, 2010 with 13 photos
GRAND ISLE, La., May 22 (UPI) -- The mayor of Grand Isle, the only inhabited island on Louisiana's Gulf Coast, closed the beach to the public Friday after oil from the BP spill washed ashore.

Mayor David Camardelle closed the 8-mile-long island's beach to its 1,500 residents and the thousands more tourists who normally flock to the vacation spot to fish and swim, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

Lisa Rhobus, who runs the Cajun Holiday Motel, told the Herald all her rooms were booked before the disaster, but now every reservation has been canceled.

"The only paying people I have at Cajun Holiday are workers helping with the cleanup. This could just about kill Grand Isle," Rhobus said.

A giant oil slick 7 miles from Grand Isle was spotted from helicopters Friday.

"It's coming our way. All that oil you're seeing on Grand Isle beach now -- that's nothing compared to what's coming," one deputy sheriff told the Herald.

Added May 20, 2010 with 31 photos
Mothers of three U.S. hikers jailed in Iran on spy charges met with their children at a Tehran Hotel Thursday, Iranian media reported.

Nora Shourd, Laura Fattal and Cindy Hickey arrived in Tehran Wednesday after the Iranian government granted them visas to visit their children, jailed since July 2009 after straying into the country from Iraq and arrested on espionage charges, Iran's government-backed Press TV reported.

The families said Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal strayed accidentally into Iran from Iraq at an unmarked border.

Iran's Intelligence Ministry said the three Americans have been treated well in prison despite the seriousness of the charges against them.

"We have treated the U.S. nationals according to our religious principles and on humanitarian grounds, even though these individuals committed an act of espionage by illegally crossing the (western) border into Iran," Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told reporters Wednesday.

Added May 20, 2010 with 35 photos
WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday night toasted what he called U.S.-Mexico deep friendship at a state dinner he hosted for Mexico's first couple.

Obama elicited laughter from the assembled guests on more than one occasion, including when he opened his comments by welcoming Mexican President Felipe Calderon and first lady Margarita Zavala to the White House -- "tonight, la Casa Blanca."

The U.S. president noted Mexico is marking the bicentennial of its independence and the centennial of its revolution and said the evening was a celebration of "the bonds we share, as neighbors and as friends."

Getting around to his toast to the guests of honor, Obama said he remembered the enthusiastic children he and his wife met on their visit to Mexico.

"Each of those children has a dream. And yet we know that in life it's not enough to want your dream," Obama said. 'As the extraordinary writer Octavio Paz wrote in one of his poems, you must 'deserve your dream.'

"And so, Mr. President, I propose a toast -- to the dreams of our children. Together, may we realize those dreams. And together, may we deserve them -- by going forward in partnership and respect."

Speaking through an interpreter, Calderon thanked the Obamas and the people of the United States "for your invitation and the generous hospitality with which we have been welcomed during this visit." He went on to speak of the interdependence of the two nations.

"I have said this, and allow me to repeat it: We work with a certainty of what is good for the United States of America is good for Mexico, and if we understand this, at the same time, what is good for Mexico is good for the United States," the Mexican president said.

Continuing in English, Calderon told Obama he liked the quote about dreams.

"I don't know if you and me deserve our dreams, but I know that both of you -- both of us have dreams; those dreams are related with our people and we fight every day in order to deserve those dreams," he said. "And we will reach them."

Added May 19, 2010 with 8 photos
Added May 17, 2010 with 7 photos
TEHRAN, May 17 (UPI) -- Iran and Turkey struck a deal in which Iran will ship low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for uranium enriched at a higher level, diplomats said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday the Iranian government will send about 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent for 120 kilograms (264 pounds) enriched at 20 percent, Iranian-backed Press TV reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency will receive an official letter about the agreement "within a week," Mehmanparast said.

The exchange will occur about a month after Iran received official approval from the Vienna Group, made up of representatives from Iran, France, Russia, the United States and the IAEA, Press TV said.

Diplomats said the agreement -- the result of trilateral talks among Iran, Turkey and Brazil -- could revive an earlier U.N.-backed proposal for Iran to exchange fuel outside its borders, The New York Times reported.

Word of the agreement began filtering out Sunday after talks in Tehran involving Brazil's president, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iran and Turkey reached agreement on the "principles" to revive the stalled nuclear fuel-swap deal backed by the United Nations.

Unclear was whether U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, which has insisted on a new round of sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, would accept a new version of the original United Nations-based deal for a fuel exchange. The original terms were thought to be desirable to the United States and Western allies because Iran would have temporarily relinquished most of its uranium.

Mehmanparast said Turkey, which doesn't enrich uranium, agreed to serve as the venue for the fuel exchange, the Los Angeles Times reported. It wasn't clear whether Turkey would be a guarantor for the low-enriched uranium or if the material would be shipped to a nation with refinement capacity.

Added May 13, 2010 with 41 photos
Added May 12, 2010 with 9 photos
Added May 12, 2010 with 17 photos
LONDON, May 12 (UPI) -- David Cameron has begun putting together a Cabinet as head of the first British coalition government in 70 years.

Cameron, 43, became prime minister when Labor's Gordon Brown stepped down Tuesday. That ended the political deadlock after last Thursday's elections gave Cameron's Conservative Party a plurality, but not majority, of seats in Parliament's House of Commons.

The Conservatives won 306 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons. Brown's Labor Party was next at 258 and the Liberal Democrats third with 57, creating a hung Parliament.

Brown, as sitting prime minister, could have tried to form a government but stepped aside leaving Cameron to turn to the Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to put together a working majority.

The economy will be first order of business for Cameron, who was greeted on his first full day in office with word unemployment in the United Kingdom is at its highest since 1994.

The coalition, the first such ruling agreement in Britain since World War II, is an unexpected mix and as a commentator for American Public Media's Marketplace Morning Report related, "the cynics are saying it may not be too long before the two governing parties are fighting like ferrets in a sack."

Clegg, however, said he doesn't see such conflicts as inevitable.

"I hope this is the start of the new politics I have always believed in -- diverse, plural, where politicians of different persuasions come together, overcome their differences in order to deliver good government for the sake of the whole country," he said, even while admitting his party members have "many questions, maybe many doubts."

Added May 11, 2010 with 17 photos
Added May 10, 2010 with 15 photos
WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- Elena Kagan, a former Harvard Law School dean and current solicitor general, will be nominated to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kagan, if confirmed, would be the fourth woman on the country's highest court and, at 50, the youngest member who could have a voice on U.S. jurisprudence for decades.

U.S. President Barack Obama was to announce the nomination Monday, several media outlets reported, all citing unnamed sources.

Obama has been seeking a replacement for Justice John Paul Stevens since Stevens, 90, announced in April his intention to resign at the end of the current Supreme Court term. Stevens has been on the court since December 1975.

Kagan's selection isn't expected to alter the philosophical balance of the court if she replaces Stevens, who has led the more liberal side of the court. But she will be the first person in decades nominated to the court who isn't coming from a judgeship, and a lack of published judicial opinions and legal writings leave most of her stances unknown.

She missed out on a chance to join the federal appeals court when the U.S. Senate in 1999 never voted on her nomination by U.S. President Bill Clinton. She served as a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall. She graduated from Harvard Law School, where she later served as dean from 2003 until joining the Obama administration as solicitor general.

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