In a reaction to economic sanctions pushed by the United States, Iran today stopped exporting oil to six European nations. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the nation would no longer sell oil to Greece, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal. Also, he appeared on TV to announce that an underground bunker complex for uranium enrichment needed to create nuclear energy is now fully operational.
BP posted a net profit of $25.7 billion for 2011, just a year after suffering losses when an explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and sent millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The company and its partners — including Halliburton — will face trial beginning Feb. 27 in New Orleans that consolidates various lawsuits seeking damages for economic losses, injury claims and environmental violations.
Corrections Corp. of America, the nation's largest operator of for-profit prisons, has sent letters to 48 states offering to buy their prisons as a way to help alleviate their budget problems. In return, the firm is asking for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full.
Political pundits say Mitt Romney must win the Feb. 28 Michigan primary to salvage his presidential aspirations. “As the son of one of the state’s legendary governors and the scion of an auto family,” Romney’s backers are confident of a victory there, Politico reports.
Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky comments on the recent spate of articles examining whether the United States is in decline. His conclusion: Yes, it is partially, but the reasons are mostly self-inflicted. “Corporate power’s ascendancy over politics and society — by now mostly financial — has reached the point that both political organizations, which at this stage barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate,” Chomsky writes.
Vatican officials tell Reuters News Service that a barrage of leaks about confidential and embarrassing information in the holy city during recent weeks could force Pope Benedict to clean up its administration.
Locally, the Cincinnati Museum Center is taking control of the troubled National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Museum representatives say the merger “will reduce payroll expense by sharing administrative work and eliminating redundancy in areas such as human resources and finance,” The Enquirer reports.
A local company is providing passengers the chance to join “the Mile High Club.” Flamingo Air, which operates at the city-owned Lunken Airport, offers hour-long flights for $425 a pop that allows couples to have sex while airborne in a private cabin. (We sense Citizens for Community Values about to launch a new fundraising campaign centered on this “scandal” even as we type.)
The city of Cincinnati’s attorney said there's no conflict of interest with Christopher Smitherman serving on City Council and also being the president of the NAACP’s local chapter. An assistant city solicitor explained that Ohio Ethics Law doesn't prohibit him from doing both jobs because the NAACP doesn’t currently receive any city funding.