Stare down in D.C. Washington is buzzing with speculation about who will blink first in the second round of sequester chicken. The across-the-board spending cuts go into effect at midnight Thursday. On Sunday, the Obama administration tried to increase pressure on the Republicans by releasing state-by-state reports listing the effect the cuts will have on federal programs. But on Monday morning, GOP leaders said they would call the president’s bluff. No blinking here. No yet, anyway. Lawmakers return from their recess tonight.
Day in court. Oil giant BP goes to court today in New Orleans to defend itself against charges of negligence in the 2010 oil spill that leaked millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will hear arguments in the case and determine whether BP, rig owner Transocean, and contractor Halliburton acted with willful or wanton misconduct or reckless indifference. BP faces up to $17.6 billion in Clean Water Act fines. It also could be forced to pay damages to claimants who didn’t participate last year’s $8.5 billion settlement.
More Catholic controversy. As if the Catholic Church didn’t have enough to worry about, what with electing a new pope and all, the archbishop of Scotland announced his resignation today amid scandal. Three priests and a former priest have accused Cardinal Keith O’Brien of abusing them 30 years ago. O’Brien denies the abuse claims and says he submitted his resignation request to Pope Benedict XVI months ago. He cites his age and his health for his decision. Sound familiar?
Whoa! I did little more than cringe over the horse-meat-masquerading-as-beef story that has unfolded in Europe during the last few weeks. But today, we got the first hint that the suspect meat might not be confined to the Old World. Inspectors in the Czech Republic announced they found traces of horse meat in the frozen meatballs sold and served by Swedish furniture giant Ikea, which has stores all over the world. The company claims none of the meatballs shipped to the United States were tainted. But other food providers and several European countries made similar claims before admitting they had been duped as well. And we are talking about 99-cent meatballs here. The price alone makes them suspect.