NEWS DAY | World Cup / Political shenanigans from MN to SC / More on BP

The World Cup international soccer tournament, held every four years, launched with opening ceremonies in South Africa last night. Less-known in the United States, the World Cup is a huge international event, leading news and Twitter postings worldwide. More than three million tickets have been sold, and hundreds of millions will watch on television in 215 countries. This is the 19th World Cup, and the first time the tournament has taken place in Africa. The 64 games will take place over the next month, with the final game on July 11. Wikipedia describes in detail how the 32 national teams were selected and scheduled.

Here in Minnesota, Nomad Pub claims to be “where the world watches” with lots of World Cup promo and “Minneapolis premier soccer pub where you’ll never drink alone.”

In addition to the soccer teams, an international cast of celebrities is assembled, with Shakira leading the list of music stars at the pre-tournament mega-concert in Soweto. Politicos in attendance at opening ceremonies included Mexican President Felipe Calderon, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Jacob Zuma were there, with iconic leader Nelson Mandela absent because of the death of his 13-year-old great-granddaughter in a traffic accident the night before, after the concert.

Minnesota’s gubernatorial campaigns and Pawlenty’s Jon Stewart appearance make for good gossip, if not a lot of substance. Stewart softballed Pawlenty, making for a fairly boring show. Back at home the Independence Party targeted GOP Lt. Gov. candidate Annette Meeks with charges that she is using her Freedom Foundation as a campaign platform – not much evidence there, concludes MPR’s Polinaut. GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer appeared on MPR June 10. Eric Black describes Emmer’s complete refusal to get specific about anything, saying he “basically rejected every demand for specifics on what he would do as governor, and pretty much admitted that he was doing so.”

Today, presidential candidate Pawlenty is off to South Carolina

Reports of political shenanigans in South Carolina and Indiana focus on possible plants in Democratic primaries, as well as the ever-popular Nikki Haley soap opera. In SC, Alvin Greene came from nowhere to beat the endorsed candidate. In television interviews, he couldn’t name a single campaign event that he attended, claimed a “word of mouth” candidacy (but no web page, Twitter or other internet presence), and filed no SEC report. He’s one of several candidates with similar no-profile wins, including two more in South Carolina, and an ex-Republican Democratic nominee in Indiana.

New estimates double the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, and BP has been forced to release a higher-resolution video of the spill that it had been sitting on, according to the New York Times.

A government panel on Thursday essentially doubled its estimate of how much oil has been spewing from the out-of-control BP well, with the new calculation suggesting that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days.

Meanwhile, Transocean is stonewalling Congress, refusing so far to release the forms that some Deepwater Horizon workers say they were conned or coerced into signing after being rescued from the rig and before being reunited with their families. As NPR reported in May:

When they did get to shore, he says: “They were zipped into private buses, there was security there, there was no press, no lawyers allowed, nothing, no family members. They drove them to this hotel and they escorted them into the back of this hotel, once again under escort.”

It would be many hours more, according to lawyers and survivors, before they could see family and, for many, even telephone loved ones to say they were safe.

Secluded at a hotel, they were questioned by company consultants and investigators. And given the form to sign.

By signing the form, the workers said that they were not hurt and were not witnesses to the explosion. Transocean says the forms are routine and that there was no coercion involved.

And on TPM, Robert Reich asks why BP isn’t moving more of its equipment to the site, why BP isn’t giving accurate info about the amount of the spill, and why BP is denying knowledge of underwater plumes, now estimated to reach 142 miles from the site.

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