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Have state beaches caught a break?

The 72-hour forecast map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA) showed at the start of this week that winds from the north and east are expected to push the Gulf of Mexico oil spill created by the BP oil well explosion more to the west. The forecast did not show a possibility of the spill making contact with the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines before this Thursday.
Although suspected tar balls were reportedly spotted along the Alabama coast at Dauphin Island over the past weekend, in the early-week forecasting NOAA continues to show the bulk of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill from the BP site pushing westward and becoming more of a problem for Louisiana coastal wetlands and waterways than for the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coast.
The New York Times reported this week that BP has a “history of spills and safety lapses” and continues to lag behind other companies when it comes to safety according to federal officials and industry analysts. Despite those repeated promises to reform, BP continues to lag other oil companies when it comes to safety, according to these officials and analysts.
According to the Times many problems still afflict BP’s operations and regulators are investigating a whistle-blower’s allegations of safety violations at the Atlantis, one of BP’s newest platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. BP is in the spotlight because of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 people and continues to spew oil into the ocean. It is too early to say what caused the explosion. Other companies were also involved, including Transocean, which owned and operated the drilling rig, and Halliburton, which had worked on the well a day before the explosion.
Even if not a drop of oil reaches Alabama’s coast there will be serious economic damages to coastal businesses and properties and there are lawyers standing on every corner ready and willing to sue BP, Transocean and Halliburton. This issue will take a long time to be resolved.
Governor’s office defends multi-lingual driver exam
The office of Gov. Bob Riley has defended the governor’s decision to offer the state’s driver license exam in multiple languages following release of a political campaign ad by GOP candidate Tim James pledging to return the state to an exam provided only in English. Riley spokesman Todd Stacy told The Times/Daily of Florence that concerns include federal funding issues as well as industry recruiting and relationships with the state’s international businesses.
Stacy said if the state adopts an English-only driver exam requirement, public safety officials estimate Alabama would lose $37.4 million in federal money that now goes to transportation safety.
“Alabama is a leader in attracting international companies that invest billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs in our state and it would be a real shame to see that reputation tarnished by something as silly as this,” the governor’s spokesman said.
Department of Public Safety statistics show that only between one and two percent of the exams are given in a language other than English, and only to people who are in the country legally and who know enough English to understand verbal directions on the test. The state also offers special exams to people who are illiterate.
‘Walking’ Wendell Mitchell recovering
State Sen. Wendell Mitchell has not abandoned plans to seek an eighth term in the State Senate. He currently serves as Deputy President Pro Tem which allows him to serve on all Senate committees except those involving local legislation. Mitchell said over the past weekend that his doctors are pleased with his progress since beginning treatment for acute leukemia over a month ago.
“They tell me I should go into full remission in about three months,” he says.
Mitchell has lost 25 pounds since his illness was discovered but says he will be back on the campaign trail within a few months. His district includes parts of Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Pike, one of the state’s largest geographical Senate districts.
Mitchell is unopposed in the Democratic primary, but faces Republican opposition in the general election. I know we all wish a speedy and complete recovery for Sen. Mitchell.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. Email him at: bob@montgomeryindependent.com

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