By Mark Memmott

Good morning.

There's been breaking news from Europe this morning, as we said earlier. Greece has asked that an "EU/IMF aid package" be activated in the hope that will help pull it out of its debt crisis.

Also this morning, we've passed along word that "senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system," according to the SEC's inspector general.

There's also news just coming in from Baghdad of another bomb attack in the Iraqi capital. According to the Associated Press, it was aimed at the office of "an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric" and killed at least 14 people. Reuters is reporting that at least 25 people died and another 100 or so were wounded.

Other stories making headlines include:

-- Houston Chronicle -- Sunken Rig May Put Large Amount Of Oil Into Gulf: "A drilling rig that burned for more than a day before sinking Thursday has fouled Gulf of Mexico waters with a potentially major spill of crude oil, officials said. The collapse of the oil rig could disgorge up to 336,000 gallons of crude a day into waters about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast."

From a related story by the Associated Press: "Hope dimmed for the lives of 11 crew members missing."

Update at 7:38 a.m. ET: The AP now reports that "Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said Friday morning that no oil appeared to be leaking from the well head at the ocean floor, nor was any leaking at the water's surface. However, Landry said crews were closely monitoring the rig for any more crude that might spill out. The oil currently being contained was residual from the explosion and sinking." We've adjusted the headline on this post to downgrade the fear of a spill.

-- Chicago Tribune -- "Blagojevich Attorneys Want To Subpoena Obama": "Just weeks before the start of his federal corruption trial, ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich sought Thursday to tie his credibility to that of President Barack Obama by asking that the leader of the free world be compelled to testify for the defense. The court filing by the ex-governor's attorneys attempted to protect sensitive details by blacking out references to sealed investigative records. But it became an instant Internet sensation thanks to a computer glitch that enabled people to view the entire document -- a mix of new allegations and old details that combined to create fresh intrigue over charges Blagojevich sought to sell the Senate seat vacated by Obama when he was elected in 2008. ... Since Blagojevich's arrest in December 2008, Obama has insisted that he and top aides were never part of any deals for the Senate seat and were unaware that Blagojevich may have been scheming to use his appointment power to enrich himself. There is nothing in the filing to indicate otherwise."

Related reporting from NPR's David Schaper in Chicago: "There are no bombshell accusations in the redacted portions of the motion, but the Blagojevich defense suggests the president played a more active role in the process of trying to choose his successor than he's previously acknowledged, and that he could refute accusations Blagojevich was trying to sell the seat."

-- The New York Times -- "Two Mines Show How Safety Practices Vary Widely in U.S.": Following up the story of this month's devastating explosion at a Massey Energy-operated coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 workers died, the Times writes that "coal mining carries inherent risks. But the numerous and very public violations and fatalities at Massey-owned mines over the years may leave the impression that all mines are run this way -- that all mines leave coal shafts open and fail to exhaust methane properly. They do not. A comparison between Massey's safety practices and those of other operators in the coal industry shows sharp differences, helping to explain why Massey mines led the list of those warned by federal regulators that they could face greater scrutiny because of their many violations."

-- Morning Edition -- "Grenade Attack Cripples Bangkok Business District" And Cuts Into Tourism: "Residents of the Thai capital Bangkok are braced for more violence after a deadly grenade attack. Earlier this month, 25 people were killed when protesters clashed with security forces. Protesters began a campaign last month to dissolve parliament and hold elections immediately." NPR's Michael Sullivan reports:

-- Morning Edition -- "Oklahoma QB Bradford No. 1 NFL Draft Pick": NPR's Mike Pesca reports on the annual drama (for football fans, at least) of the NFL draft:


categories: Foreign News, Iraq, Morning Roundup, Sports

7:45 - April 23, 2010