6.0 quakes rumble under Bering Sea off Alaska By APPALMER, Alaska – Two strong earthquakes rumbled Friday under the Bering Sea off Alaska, but officials say they posed no tsunami risk and were too far from land to be felt.David Hale at the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer says a 6.0-magniitude
quake struck at 3:12 p.m. and was followed minutes later by another of about equal strength. The quakes were centered about 480 miles southwest of Nome and about 10 miles beneath the seabed.Hale says people at a National Weather Service station on St. Paul Island, about 400 miles southeast of the epicenters, report they didn’t feel anything.Satellite images shows spill tripling in size By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP ScienceWASHINGTON – The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has grown tremendously in just a day or so.Satellite images analyzed by the University of Miami show the spill has expanded from the size of Rhode Island to something closer to the size of Puerto Rico, close to tripling.Hans Graber, executive director of the university’s Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing, said Saturday that the spill is moving faster and expanding much quicker than estimated.Graber says the size of the slick was about 1,150 square miles on Thursday. By the end of Friday, he says it had tripled to about 3,850 square miles.Graber says estimates of only 1,000 barrels spilling a day seem to be more public relations than anything accurate.Officials: At least 5 dead in Tenn. Flooding By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated PressMEMPHIS, Tenn. – At least five people died and hundreds were being evacuated Saturday as heavy rains pounded Tennessee, causing widespread flooding across the state.The forecast called for more rain through the weekend.The five deaths were storm related, but the exact causes were not yet known, Jeremy Heidt, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said Saturday evening.Hundreds of homes had been evacuated and shelters were being opened across the state for people stranded due to flooded roads. Heidt said crews were called out for swift-water rescues from Nashville to Memphis.”It’s so widespread, it’s a very serious concern,” he said. The deaths were in reported in Stewart, Davidson, Williamson and Carroll counties, he said.The southwestern part of the state was extremely hard hit, with several Memphis-area streets declared impassable. Memphis received 10 inches or more of rain during the day and officials were warning that 4 to 8 more inches could fall overnight and into Sunday.Corey Chaskelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a levee had been breached along the Big Creek River in Millington. He said 4 to 5 feet of water had flooded 200-300 homes at the Naval Support Activity base in Millington.”Water rescue of people from their homes is still ongoing,” he said Saturday evening.Emergency officials in Shelby County said hundreds of people were being evacuated due to high water, including residents of the Navy base and inmates at a federal prison.Bob Nations, director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness, said most of the roads into and out of Millington had been cut off by flooding.”Our weather forecast says we could get 4 to 8 inches tonight,” he said Saturday evening.At the Baker Community Center in Millington, where a Red Cross shelter was set up, retiree Joe Curry, 74, said he and his wife were rescued from their home in a boat Saturday morning after the water had risen to 7 feet.”It rose so fast we couldn’t get out,” said Curry, who spent the day at the Red Cross shelter until family members could pick him up. „It’s a mess.”Erick Hooper, 19, said there was water in his living room when he woke up Saturday morning.”It kept rising, and it was too cold to swim, so I went on the roof,” he said.Hooper spent the day on the roof of the mobile home until rescuers picked him up in a boat. A pillow and a blanket were all he managed to take with him.Jerry Fritts of the Red Cross said about 100 people were expected to spend the night at the Millington shelter. „So many roads are blocked that some people have waited all day for their family to come get them,” Fritts said.Waters were washing away parts of roads and bridges in the Jackson area, said Marty Clements, director of the Jackson-Madison County Emergency Management Agency.”We’ve basically become an island because the major highways and roads are cut off,” he said Saturday evening. „We can’t get in or out.”Clements said there have been gas leaks and water main breaks due to the flooding and both area hospitals were running on generators temporarily during the day.He said emergency officials have asked all events be canceled on Sunday, even church services, to keep people from trying to venture out in the floodwaters.Charles Shannon, a spokesman for the Nashville Fire Department, said one person drowned in flood waters on Interstate 24 south of Nashville.In Nashville, emergency responders had rescued 50 people from flooding, Mayor Karl Dean said at a news conference Saturday night. Police Chief Ronal Serpas said two police officers had to be rescued from a tree.”It is only going to get worse as the night goes on,” Dean said.Segments of Interstate 40 were closed between Nashville and Memphis. Pooling water in the median and along the sides of the highway gave some sections the appearance of a causeway.The National Weather Service said up to 12 inches of rain had fallen along areas of Interstate 40 since midnight and up to 6 more inches was expected through Sunday.AP Writer Kristin Hall in Nashville contributed to this story. Meltdown, volcano: Weary Icelanders ask, what nextBy JILL LAWLESS, Associated PressHVOLSVOLLUR, Iceland – It took Sigurdur Thorhallsson more than a decade to turn a patch of flat land wedged between glacier and ocean into a field fit to grow fodder grass. It took Iceland‘s Eyjafjallajokull volcano just minutes to wreck it.Iceland’s financial crisis had already tested the 41-year-old farmer’s dream by driving up repayments on his bank loan. But it was a flash flood triggered by the volcanic eruption last month that devastated him.”It was very emotional for me. You could say it broke my heart, to see it destroy my land,” said Thorhallsson, using a trailer to haul away some of the tons of mud, silt and volcanic ash left behind on the field when melting glacier ice sent floodwaters racing down the mountain.It is seemingly endless work, but Thorhallsson is stoically determined to clean up the mess. Like many other Icelanders, he’s trying to salvage a better future from the wreckage of the country’s recent past.The last few years have been traumatic for this tiny North Atlantic nation of 320,000 people.A roaring economic boom that saw Iceland produce a crop of international jet-setters with a penchant for Alpine chalets and private planes was followed in 2008 by a spectacular bust. Suddenly, affluent Iceland was an economic basket case in need of financial life support from the International Monetary Fund. „It has been a weird time,” said Valy Thorsteinsdottir, 26, who recently returned from a trip to southeast Asia that showed her just how her country’s image has changed.”Usually I’m the first Icelander people have met. You used to get, ‘Iceland, that’s amazing: Bjork, hot springs.’ Now people say, ‘Iceland? Isn’t it bankrupt?'”And just when Icelanders thought things couldn’t get any worse, Eyjafjallajokull awoke with its first eruption in almost 200 years.An initial blast last month forced 500 people temporarily from their homes in the area, 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. A second, bigger eruption that began April 14 shook the global economy. Fears the drifting ash cloud could damage jet engines grounded planes across northern Europe for almost a week, stranding millions of people and costing the aviation industry almost $2 billion.Ironically, Iceland itself was initially little affected. Ashfall and flooding hit a small, sparsely populated area, and as winds blew the ash cloud east toward Europe, Iceland’s international airport stayed open, although it later closed when the wind switched direction.But Iceland’s travel industry fears the bad publicity and aviation uncertainty will hit their summer tourist season. National carrier Icelandair say bookings for April were sharply down on expectations, and hotels report a spate of canceled bookings.Thorsteinsdottir was stuck for several days in Bangkok, and found strangers suggesting — sometimes jokingly, sometimes in anger — that the gridlock was her fault.”When I was holding my passport at the airport, I deliberately turned it the other way so people couldn’t see where I was from,” she said. „I was sick of people blaming me.”It has never been easy to be an Icelander. For centuries the people of this wind-swept rock, the descendants of Vikings who settled here more than 1,000 years ago, eked out a living from fishing and from hardscrabble farms.Their foes included the unstable land itself. There is a volcanic eruption about every five years in Iceland; the worst, in 1783, spewed a deadly cloud of toxic gas and sparked famine that killed up to a quarter of Iceland’s population and tens of thousands more across Europe.This tough history has helped produce a hardy, egalitarian people undeterred by adversity — or, looked at another way, a nation of overconfident risk-takers.Historian Gunnar Karlsson said Iceland’s isolation from bigger nations had produced „a strong national consciousness and a feeling that we had something special.”Drawing on their egalitarian side, Icelanders established one of the world’s first parliaments, the 1,000-year-old Althingi. They tapped the land’s geological volatility for geothermal energy to heat houses, business and year-round outdoor swimming pools. With the money they made from fishing — by the 20th century a lucrative business — they built a cozy Scandinavian social safety net. In 2007, Iceland was declared the best country in the world to live in by the United Nations.On the other hand, Iceland produced the „Viking capitalists” who set out early in the 21st century — armed with huge loans from Icelandic banks — to conquer businesses around the world, from London’s Hamley’s toy store to English football club West Ham.Soon Iceland’s banking sector dwarfed the rest of the economy and the country was awash in easy credit. Teenagers could get loans to buy fancy new cars; middle-class Icelanders bought the latest designer clothes and imported electronic goods. The new super-rich drove the streets of Reykjavik in Hummers and luxury cars.”There were more private jets parked at Reykjavik airport than planes from our domestic airlines,” said travel agent Jonas Thor, 61.”For the older generation, we wondered, ‘Where is the money coming from?’ We never understood. And it turned out there was no money.”As the credit squeeze tightened in 2008, Iceland’s economic house of cards collapsed. The three main banks went bust within a week of one another. The national currency plummeted and a series of angry protests — dubbed the Saucepan Revolution, after the pots and pans banged by the demonstrators — ousted the country’s center-right government.Eighteen months later, signs of decay are not obvious in Reykjavik, Iceland’s tidy capital city. McDonald’s decamped last year, and Pizza Hut is closing all but one of its outlets. But boutiques still line the main street, there are people in the bars and restaurants.However, unemployment is now at eight percent, up from almost nothing a few years ago, and many businesses and individuals — like farmer Thorhallsson — are struggling to pay off loans taken out in foreign currencies when the krona was at its strongest and Iceland had one of the world’s highest per-capita incomes.But for many Icelanders, the initial shock and anger have been replaced by a sense of reflection and social solidarity. Last month the country’s „truth commission” published a 2,000-page report into the financial crisis, an event greeted as cathartic. The report lays blame on bankers and politicians and may lead to criminal charges against some. In style-conscious Reykjavik, the latest must-have garment is not a designer label, but the humble Icelandic sweater, its chunky knit and geometric patterns redolent of practicality and heritage.And, in the economy, there are tentative signs of recovery. A new hamburger joint may not seem much cause for celebration, but in Iceland’s battered state, last month’s opening of Hamborgarafabrikkan — an upmarket eatery that aims to be Iceland’s answer to the Hard Rock Cafe — is a good sign.”People tell us we are brave to do this, an inspiration to others,” said Johannes Asbjornsson, a TV personality — one half of the duo who host the Icelandic version of „American Idol” — who started the business. „That’s a really nice thing to hear.”Some people even think Iceland — with its recent experience of direct action and truth-seeking — could show the way to a new model of democracy.”In 10 or 20 years, when we look back as Icelanders and tell our children, we will say that the crisis is the best thing that ever happened,” said Gudjon Mar Gudjonsson, a former telecoms magnate turned social entrepreneur who has founded the Ministry of Ideas, an incubator for participatory democracy. „Iceland could play a role in changing ideas about how democracy works.”Icelanders are risk-takers,” he said. „We just need to find our path. It was definitely not in banking.”Meanwhile, the volcano is still erupting. No one knows when it will stop. Clearing his land despite the threat of more ash, Thorhallsson is determined to rebuild. „I will try to survive this,” he said quietly.”In Iceland, we are all not far from being farmers and sailors. If you look at them in every country, they are people who try to survive.” Climate bill could be harmed by Gulf spill By MATTHEW DALY and NOAKI SCHWARTZ, Associated PressWASHINGTON – A historic environmental protection bill is in danger after a massive oil spill put a new focus on the perils of offshore drilling, a feature that was supposed to win wider support for the legislation.The bill, supported by President Barack Obama, calls for new offshore drilling — a concession by environmentalists. But with the tragedy off the Gulf Coast growing daily, even conservationists who have waited a decade for the legislation are now saying it will fail if offshore drilling remains in the bill.”When you’re trying to resurrect a climate bill that’s face-down in the mud and you want to bring it back to life and get it breathing again, I don’t think you can have offshore drilling against the backdrop of what’s transpiring in the Louisiana wetlands,” said Richard Charter, energy adviser to Defenders of Wildlife. „I think it’s flat-lined.”Some Democrats, including two of New Jersey’s congressmen and both of its senators, threatened Friday to pull their support if offshore drilling is included in the bill designed to curb emissions of pollution-causing gases blamed for global warming.The Senate legislation was already on shaky ground, and its introduction was postponed last week in an unrelated dispute over immigration politics. The bill aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and it also would expand domestic production of oil, natural gas and nuclear power.Obama called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida, and the northern waters of Alaska. He also asked Congress to lift a drilling ban in the oil-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles from Florida beaches.The proposal was not just designed to get the votes of Republicans, but also moderate Democrats such as Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who reiterated her support for offshore drilling this week.The images of last week’s explosion and the growing, uncontrolled spill in the Gulf of Mexico made the bill’s road to approval much more difficult. The accident, which threatens wildlife and fishing grounds along the Gulf Coast, will likely force many wavering lawmakers to reconsider whether they support expanded drilling.”I think that’s dead on arrival,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, told CNN on Friday.But South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said Friday he has not wavered in his support. „We’ve had problems with car design, but you don’t stop driving,” he told The Greenville News. „The Challenger accident was heart-breaking but we went back to space.”A White House spokesman said this week that President Barack Obama remains committed, at least for now, to plans to expand drilling to new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.David Jenkins, a spokesman for Republicans for Environmental Protection, said the politics of offshore drilling are „changing by the minute” as the spreading slick of oil threatens coastal states that traditionally support drilling.”If this plays out, how many politicians will be jumping up and saying they won’t vote for this because it doesn’t include offshore drilling?” Jenkins said.While the environmental community never embraced drilling, some muted or at least downplayed their opposition to Obama’s proposal for the sake of the larger climate bill, said Steve Cochran, with the Environmental Defense Fund.While the spill essentially kills any proposal for more drilling, he said it also demonstrates more than ever the need for a comprehensive energy bill that protects the environment.”We need to take advantage of the opportunity of this bill to make sure we never face this situation again,” he said.Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club, agreed. He said the authors of the bill will have to come up with a new formula to attract support from moderate Democrats, independents and Republicans.”The oil industry spent 40 years building a story line that it knew what it was doing underwater and because it knew what it was doing we could allow it to turn our most sensitive coastline into oilfields,” he said. „We’ve now been reminded once again that oil and water do not mix.”Some environmental groups called on Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., two of the bill’s sponsors, to seize the opportunity created by the spill to encourage more renewable energy such as wind, solar and nuclear power, and add reforms that ease the cost of oil clean-ups and more closely regulate oil companies.”Offshore drilling did not belong in the climate bill a month ago and it does not belong now,” said Anna Aurilio of the advocacy group Environment America. Weather hampers oil spill efforts in Gulf of Mexico by Erica Berenstein AFPVENICE, Louisiana (AFP) – High winds and rough seas hampered efforts to prevent a giant oil slick from reaching US shores and wreaking enormous environmental and economic damage on the fragile Louisiana coast.President Barack Obama prepared for a Sunday morning visit to the stricken region in the Gulf of Mexico, a prime spawning ground for fish, shrimp and crabs, home to oyster beds and a major stop for migratory birds.The leading edge of the slick may just be sheen, but Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal warned that the millions of gallons of crude being driven into shore by inopportune southeasterly winds formed a potential catastrophe.”This oil spill threatens not only our wetlands and our fisheries, but also our way of life,” Jindal told reporters. „They originally thought we would see heavier oil hitting us today. They’ve pushed that back until tomorrow.”Environmentalists said it could take decades for the maze of marshes — more than 40 percent of America’s ecologically fragile wetlands — to recover if waves simply wash the oil over miles of boom set up to protect the coast.”The surface area is huge,” said Mark Floegel, a researcher with Greenpeace. „There probably isn’t enough boom in the world to protect what needs to be protected.”Engineers are racing against time to shut off the flow of oil from a ruptured well some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast but are getting nowhere fast as more than 200,000 gallons of crude spews into the sea each day.Commandant Admiral Thad Allen of the US Coast Guard, newly appointed by Obama to spearhead the government response to the burgeoning disaster, admitted the adverse weather conditions meant a major shore impact was inevitable.”There’s enough oil out there, I think it’s logical to assume that it will impact the shoreline. The question is when and where,” he told reporters.The White House said Obama would travel to the Gulf on Sunday morning to survey efforts to contain the spill.Miami University researcher Hans Gruber said satellite images of the slick on Friday showed it was three time bigger than estimated, covering an area of 3,500 square miles (9,000 square kilometers), similar in size to Puerto Rico.At the current estimated rate of leakage, it would take less than eight weeks for the spill to surpass the 11 million gallons of oil that poured from the grounded Exxon Valdez tanker in Alaska in 1989.Safety fears over the oil slick led operators of two natural gas platforms to halt production and evacuate workers from one of their sites in the Gulf of Mexico.But Commandant Admiral Allen stressed that operations in the region, which accounts for a major proportion of US oil and gas production, had not been seriously affected by the spill.So far, the disaster has prompted Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to declare states of emergency. Louisiana closed shrimping grounds and oyster beds as the slick approached.Windy weather complicated efforts to set out protective boom material aimed at stopping the slick.”It’s high wind. It’s high waves. It’s difficult conditions,” Tom McKenzie, spokesman for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, told AFPThere has also been political fallout as the White House put new domestic offshore oil drilling on hold until the disaster has been fully investigated.British energy giant BP, which has been named in a slew of lawsuits, has pledged to take „full responsibility” and said it would pay for „legitimate claims” stemming from the disaster. BP has been working on three main fronts to try to stop the oil flow streaming from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sank on April 22, two days after a massive explosion that killed 11 workers.It has six underwater submarines trying to activate a 450-tonne blowout preventer that could turn off the supply. It also began drilling a relief well that would divert the flow of oil.As the first method appears not to be working and the second could take up to three months, the third idea could be crucial — building a giant dome containment structure that could cover the leaks and contain the spill.This could take a month to construct and secure into place and has never been tried before at these depths.Gulf oil spill swiftly balloons, could move east By ALLEN G. BREED and SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated PressVENICE, La. – A sense of doom settled over the American coastline from Louisiana to Florida on Saturday as a massive oil slick spewing from a ruptured well kept growing, and experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic.President Barack Obama planned to visit the region Sunday to assess the situation amid growing criticism that the government and oil company BP PLC should have done more to stave off the disaster. Meanwhile, efforts to stem the flow and remove oil from the surface by skimming it, burning it or spiking it with chemicals to disperse it continued with little success.”These people, we’ve been beaten down, disaster after disaster,” said Matt O’Brien of Venice, whose fledgling wholesale shrimp dock business is under threat from the spill.”They’ve all got a long stare in their eye,” he said. „They come asking me what I think’s going to happen. I ain’t got no answers for them. I ain’t got no answers for my investors. I ain’t got no answers.”He wasn’t alone. As the spill surged toward disastrous proportions, critical questions lingered: Who created the conditions that caused the gusher? Did BP and the government react robustly enough in its early days? And, most important, how can it be stopped before the damage gets worse?The Coast Guard conceded Saturday that it’s nearly impossible to know how much oil has gushed since the April 20 rig explosion, after saying earlier it was at least 1.6 million gallons — equivalent to about 2 1/2 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The blast killed 11 workers and threatened beaches, fragile marshes and marine mammals, along with fishing grounds that are among the world’s most productive.Even at that rate, the spill should eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident as the worst U.S. oil disaster in history in a matter of weeks. But a growing number of experts warned that the situation may already be much worse.The oil slick over the water’s surface appeared to triple in size over the past two days, which could indicate an increase in the rate that oil is spewing from the well, according to one analysis of images collected from satellites and reviewed by the University of Miami. While it’s hard to judge the volume of oil by satellite because of depth, it does show an indication of change in growth, experts said.”The spill and the spreading is getting so much faster and expanding much quicker than they estimated,” said Hans Graber, executive director of the university’s Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing. „Clearly, in the last couple of days, there was a big change in the size.”Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, said it was impossible to know just how much oil was gushing from the well, but said the company and federal officials were preparing for the worst-case scenario.In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a „worst-case scenario” at the Deepwater Horizon site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout — 6.8 million gallons each day.Oil industry experts and officials are reluctant to describe what, exactly, a worst-case scenario would look like — but if the oil gets into the Gulf Stream and carries it to the beaches of Florida, it stands to be an environmental and economic disaster of epic proportions.The Deepwater Horizon well is at the end of one branch of the Gulf Stream, the famed warm-water current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic. Several experts said that if the oil enters the stream, it would flow around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern seaboard.”It will be on the East Coast of Florida in almost no time,” Graber said. „I don’t think we can prevent that. It’s more of a question of when rather than if.”At the joint command center run by the government and BP near New Orleans, a Coast Guard spokesman maintained Saturday that the leakage remained around 5,000 barrels, or 200,000 gallons, per day.But Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, appointed Saturday by Obama to lead the government’s oil spill response, said no one could pinpoint how much oil is leaking from the ruptured well because it is about a mile underwater.”And, in fact, any exact estimation of what’s flowing out of those pipes down there is probably impossible at this time due to the depth of the water and our ability to try and assess that from remotely operated vehicles and video,” Allen said during a conference call.The Coast Guard’s Allen said Saturday that a test of new technology used to reduce the amount of oil rising to the surface seemed to be successful.During the test Friday, an underwater robot shot a chemical meant to break down the oil at the site of the leak rather than spraying it on the surface from boats or planes, where the compound can miss the oil slick.From land, the scope of the crisis was difficult to see. As of Saturday afternoon, only a light sheen of oil had washed ashore in some places.The real threat lurked offshore in a swelling, churning slick of dense, rust-colored oil the size of Puerto Rico. From the endless salt marshes of Louisiana to the white-sand beaches of Florida, there is uncertainty and frustration over how the crisis got to this point and what will unfold in the coming days, weeks and months.The concerns are both environmental and economic. The fishing industry is worried that marine life will die — and that no one will want to buy products from contaminated water anyway. Tourism officials are worried that vacationers won’t want to visit oil-tainted beaches. And environmentalists are worried about how the oil will affect the countless birds, coral and mammals in and near the Gulf.”We know they are out there” said Meghan Calhoun, a spokeswoman from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. „Unfortunately the weather has been too bad for the Coast Guard and NOAA to get out there and look for animals for us.”Fishermen and boaters want to help contain the oil. But on Saturday, they were again hampered by high winds and rough waves that splashed over the miles of orange and yellow inflatable booms strung along the coast, rendering them largely ineffective. Some coastal Louisiana residents complained that BP, which owns the rig, was hampering mitigation efforts.”I don’t know what they are waiting on,” said 57-year-old Raymond Schmitt, in Venice preparing his boat to take a French television crew on a tour. He didn’t think conditions were dangerous. „No, I’m not happy with the protection, but I’m sure the oil company is saving money.”As bad as the oil spill looks on the surface, it may be only half the problem, said University of California Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea, who serves on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil pipeline safety.”There’s an equal amount that could be subsurface too,” said Bea. And that oil below the surface „is damn near impossible to track.”Louisiana State University professor Ed Overton, who heads a federal chemical hazard assessment team for oil spills, worries about a total collapse of the pipe inserted into the well. If that happens, there would be no warning and the resulting gusher could be even more devastating because regulating flow would then be impossible. „When these things go, they go KABOOM,” he said. „If this thing does collapse, we’ve got a big, big blow.”BP has not said how much oil is beneath the Gulf seabed Deepwater Horizon was tapping, but a company official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the volume of reserves, confirmed reports that it was tens of millions of barrels — a frightening prospect to many.Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that he has asked both BP and the Coast Guard for detailed plans on how to protect the coast.”We still haven’t gotten those plans,” said Jindal. „We’re going to fully demand that BP pay for the cleanup activities. We’re confident that at the end of the day BP will cover those costs.”In a statement late Saturday, a Coast Guard spokesman said the governor’s office helped develop the plans that Jindal referred to.Capt. Ron LaBrec said federal and company officials had been working closely with the governor’s office „since day one” to implement contingency „which were developed in coordination with state and local leadership before this incident began.”Obama has halted any new offshore drilling projects unless rigs have new safeguards to prevent another disaster.As if to cut off mounting criticism, on Saturday White House spokesman Robert Gibbs posted a blog entitled „The Response to the Oil Spill,” laying out the administration’s day-by-day response since the explosion, using words like „immediately” and „quickly,” and emphasizing that Obama „early on” directed responding agencies to devote every resource to the incident and determining its cause.In Pass Christian, Miss., 61-year-old Jimmy Rowell, a third-generation shrimp and oyster fisherman, worked on his boat at the harbor and stared out at the choppy waters.”It’s over for us. If this oil comes ashore, it’s just over for us,” Rowell said angrily, rubbing his forehead. „Nobody wants no oily shrimp.”Borenstein reported from Washington; Associated Press writers Tamara Lush, Brian Skoloff, Melissa Nelson, Mary Foster, Michael Kunzelman, Chris Kahn, Vicki Smith, Janet McConnaughey, Alan Sayre and AP Photographer Dave Martin contributed.The nation’s weather By WEATHER UNDERGROUND, For The Associated Press The chance for severe weather was expected to continue through very early Saturday morning as the Storm Prediction Center predicted a high chance of tornadic development in Arkansas and a moderate risk into Missouri.Even after the early morning hours, a slight risk of severe weather was expected to continue from eastern Texas through Ohio.The active weather was expected due to a strong cold front that was to progress through the Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio Valley. Substantial moisture was expected to be drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico, producing heavy rain, strong thunderstorms and a threat of tornadoes. Residents in the affected area were asked to monitor local weather conditions closely and be prepared for strong wind, hail, and possible tornadoes.Elsewhere, scattered rain and high elevation snow was expected to continue in the Northern Rockies and Intermountain West.There were expected to be two distinct air masses in the country Saturday. Cold air in the West and Plains was predicted to keep temperatures mild, while warm air streaming into the eastern third of the country was expected to allow temperatures to warm considerably.Temperatures in the Northeast were forecast rise into the 80s, while the Southeast was expected to see very warm temperatures in the 80s, 90s, and some 100s. Southern Plains temperatures were forecast to rise into the 80s, 90s, and some 100s as well, while the Southwest was expected to see temperatures in the 70s and 80s.Temperatures in the Lower 48 states Friday ranged from a low of 6 degrees at Wolf Creek Pass, Colo. to a high of 100 degrees at Kingsville Nas, Texas.Transitional housing slowly getting built in Haiti By FRANK BAJAK, Associated PressPAPETTE, Haiti – Unlike the vast majority of earthquake victims still crowded into squalid camps, the simple farmers of this hard-hit village have reason to hope as hurricane season looms.Transitional housing now rises on the foundations of cinderblock homes pulverized by the Jan. 12 quake, framed in pressure-treated yellow pine, roofed in rustproof paint-coated galvanized steel and anchored in newly poured concrete.The Dutch relief group, Cordaid, expects to finish 150 of the dwellings with sturdy tarpaulin walls by next week in this village overlooking a mango-lined lagoon. They are among the first of more than 130,000 semi-permanent shelters that international relief groups hope to put up in the earthquake zone in coming months.But construction of the shelters — more than a tent but less than a house — has been excruciatingly slow, with barely 400 or so completed.Two major factors impede the rollout: the crawling pace of rubble removal in Port-au-Prince, where a third of the city is still buried in quake debris, and Haiti‘s vexing land issues.Relief agencies can’t build shelters in the jammed tent camps that sprung up after the quake on every available inch of public land in Port-au-Prince, as well as on the private property of schools and businesses.Nor can they build on most plots where the homeless previously resided because about 80 percent of them were renters, and the agencies fear the intended recipients would only be evicted by landowners.Papette farmer Andre Senvoy, 57, the rare Haitian who holds title to the tract where he has been living, grins as apprentice carpenters hammer together his new shelter next to the makeshift corrugated steel shelter he fashioned from the remains of his quake-shattered home.”The people in Port-au-Prince need to pray more so they can also get lucky,” Senvoy remarks, a straw hat shading his gray-stubbled face from a blistering midday sun.Because of land ownership issues, only a few dozen transitional homes have gone up in the capital, where more than half of the 1.3 million homeless still live in tents and flimsy structures fashioned mostly of tarps and bed sheets.For now, the place where the most transitional shelters are slated to go up is a dusty relocation camp 45 minutes north of the capital at Corail Cesselesse on land that Haiti’s government appropriated March 19.Relief organizations don’t like relegating the displaced to relocation camps far removed from friends, families and jobs. But agencies have scoured the capital and its suburbs for available land with paltry results.The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which leads the shelter coordination, has yet to build a single transitional dwelling.”I’m very sorry to say that after weeks and weeks and weeks of trying, we still don’t have anywhere to build,” Red Cross spokesman Alex Wynter said. „We have a pipeline, some kits in our base camp. But we still don’t have anywhere to put shelters.”Instead of building, relief engineers are working full time trying to identify how to put shelters up in quake-ravaged neighborhoods without exacerbating land disputes.”If you don’t do this correctly you can create riots,” said Alex Coissac of the International Organization for Migration.Landlords have good reason to fear the worst. The shelters — though modestly sized, ranging from 12 to 18 square meters (120 to 180 square feet), and without plumbing or sanitation — can be made into permanent abodes without much work.They amount to palaces for many here in the Western Hemisphere‘s poorest country, where squatter settlements were already strewn across the capital before the quake, and the fragile legal system was burdened by multiple claims for the same parcels of land. Cordaid lead architect Henk Meijerink expects many Haitians to line the outside his $1,500 shelters with chicken wire and plaster, obtaining greater durability and insulation against the tropical heat.”We have found that upward of 65 percent of transitional shelters get improved into permanent shelter,” said Chuck Setchell, an urban planner and shelter expert at the U.S. Agency for International Development who has worked on other disasters.Construction has not yet begun at the Corail Cesselesse relocation camp. It will take about a month to finish the first 500 shelters because the land must first be leveled and graveled, Coissac said.Even in Papette, not everyone who lost a home is getting a new one.Joanne Deldeiserser, 27, sits forlornly on a bunched up blanket at the foot of a nearly finished Cordaid shelter, sharing gruel with three filthy toddlers naked from the waist down.It belongs to a friend in whose quake-cracked home Deldeiserser and her children are living. „I asked them to make me a house like this,” she says, gazing up at the fresh-smelling pine skeleton. „(But) my name was not on the list.” That’s because she and her husband, a farmer killed in the quake, were living on rented land. „I’m sitting here at the mercy of God, hoping he’ll do something,” she moans. Associated Press Writer Evens Sanon contributed to this report from Port-au-Prince.Ancient treasures set for auction in Indonesia by Stephen Coates AFPJAKARTA (AFP) – An ancient treasure trove salvaged from a 1,000-year-old shipwreck found by Indonesian fishermen is set to go under the hammer in Jakarta Wednesday with a minimum price of 80 million dollars.Belgian treasure-hunter Luc Heymans said the haul was one of the biggest found in Asia and was comparable to the most valuable shipwreck ever found anywhere, that of the Atocha, a Spanish vessel which sank off Florida in 1622.It includes 271,000 pieces such as rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Iranian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to the end of the first millennium, or around 976 AD.”At the time there was a lot of trade going on between Arabia and India and coming down to Java and Sumatra,” said Heymans, who led the salvage effort and subsequent battles with Indonesian officialdom to bring the treasure to light.”But we think there must have been an ambassador on board because so many pieces are imperial Chinese porcelain.”Descending for the first time onto the wreck site north of Cirebon, West Java, in 2004, the veteran diver said he couldn’t believe what appeared out of the gloom on the sea floor.”The site was 40 metres (130 feet) by 40 metres and it was just a mountain of porcelain. You couldn’t see any wood,” he said.And not just any porcelain. The pieces include the largest known vase from the Liao Dynasty (907-1125) and famous Yue Mise wares from the Five Dynasties (907-960), with the green colouring exclusive to the emperor.Around 11,000 pearls, 4,000 rubies, 400 dark red sapphires and more than 2,200 garnets were also pulled from the depths by Heymans and his team of international divers.It took 22,000 dives to bring it all up but Heymans said the salvage work, from February 2004 to October 2005, was the easy part. „All the major problems began after we got the stuff on shore,” he said.The police arrested two of the divers even though Heymans’ company, Cosmix Underwater Research Ltd., and his local partner, Paradigma Putra Sejathera PT, had painstakingly arranged survey and excavation licences.The divers spent a month behind bars before the mix-up was resolved.There were also run-ins with the Indonesian navy, efforts by rivals to move in on the wreck, a year of litigation and two years of waiting while Indonesia drafted new regulations to govern such work.Some of Heymans’ backers who covered him to the tune of 10 million dollars began to worry that their investment would be lost at the bottom of the Java Strait, he said.”I feel some relief now because so many people told me I would never be able to get the permits and get the stuff out of the country,” he said. He adds, however, that it was one of the most difficult ordeals of his career.By coincidence, officials last week said another treasure hunter who is well-known to Indonesia, Michael Hatcher, is under investigation for allegedly plundering valuable Chinese porcelain from a new wreck.Marine and Fisheries Ministry official Adji Sularso said the probe came after authorities seized 2,360 items dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) which Hatcher was allegedly trying to smuggle out of the country.The porcelain was loaded in two ships that were intercepted in waters off West Java in September, he added. No charges have been laid but police said Friday that Hatcher was a fugitive and alerted border officials to block him from attempting to flee the country. His current whereabouts are unknown. Hatcher, who was reportedly born in Britain but grew up as an orphan in Australia, is believed to have made 17 million dollars from auctioning gold ingots and 160,000 pieces of porcelain salvaged from wreck found in the Riau islands in the mid-1980s.Under the terms of Heymans’ arrangement with the Indonesian government, which declared some of his treasure to be of national heritage, the state will take 50 percent of the proceeds of Wednesday’s auction.The remainder will be shared among the salvagers. The auction will be conducted by the Indonesian government, bidders will have to front up a deposit of 16 million dollars to take part and the artefacts will be sold as a single lot. The deadline for registration is Monday. „We hope to get more than 80 million dollars — it all depends on how the auction runs,” Marine and Fisheries Ministry official Ansori Zawawi said.Bidders are expected from China, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan, he added.