BBC news 2010-07-16

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2010-07-16 BBC

BBC News with Jim Lee.

The oil company BP says it has for the first time stopped the torrent of oil that's been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico for the past three months. A BP Vice President Kent Wells said a new 75-ton cap had cut off the oil flow during the early stages of a pressure test. Madeleine Morris reports from Washington.

For the first time in nearly three months, the cameras a mile under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico are showing no oil flowing from BP's broken well. In the words of the company, the well is "shut in". The four pipes connected to the new capping system are closed while the company tests the pressure inside. After around 48 hours of tests, BP will decide what to do next - whether to start siphoning the oil to four ships on the ocean surface, keep the well completely blocked, or open a backup.

In a major political victory for President Obama, the US Senate has given final approval to the biggest overhaul of American financial regulation in more than 70 years. The measure passed by a vote of 60 to 39. President Obama said this would prevent a repeat of the financial crisis of 2008.

"Because of this reform, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes. There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts, period. If a large financial institution should ever fail, this reform gives us the ability to wind it down without endangering the broader economy. And there will be new rules to end the perception that any firm is too big to fail, so that we don't have another Lehman Brothers or AIG."

Medical officials in Iran say at least 20 people have been killed and around 100 injured in two suspected suicide bombings outside a Shia mosque in the southeastern city of Zahedan. A Sunni Muslim insurgent group, Jundallah, claimed responsibility for the attack on its website. Iran executed the group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, last month. This report from Jon Leyne.

Reports on the attack are coming from official Iranian news agencies. They say two suicide bomb blasts hit a Shia Muslim mosque in the city of Zahedan. That's the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province in the extreme southeast of Iran which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan. It's a troubled region with both a violent insurgency and heavily-armed gangs of drug smugglers. Worshippers and members of the elite military force, the Revolutionary Guards, who were manning a checkpoint are believed to be among the dead.

An American official has told the BBC that an Iranian nuclear scientist who has just returned home was a defector who changed his mind because he wanted to see his family again. The official said the scientist, Shahram Amiri, provided the Americans with significant, original information. He said Mr Amiri was well paid, but the money was now beyond his reach because of the financial sanctions on Iran. Tehran disputes this. It says Mr Amiri was kidnapped and tortured by the CIA.

World News from the BBC.

China has become the biggest worldwide investor in renewable energy, overtaking the US. Two United Nations reports say China took the lead after opening new wind farms that produce as much electricity as 20 coal-fired power stations. Nearly a fifth of the world's electricity now comes from renewable sources, including solar and hydropower that don't release greenhouse gases.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has spoken of the resumption of a dialogue with India after several hours of talks in Islamabad with his Indian counterpart SM Krishna. Relations soured after India accused Pakistan of failing to counter Islamist attacks in India. An assault by Pakistani gunmen in Mumbai in 2008 killed more than 160 people.

A court in Gambia has sentenced eight men to death for taking part in an alleged coup plot against President Yahya Jammeh four years ago. The president himself seized power in a coup in 1994. Caroline Duffield reports.

The eight men were found guilty of plotting to overthrow the government. They include the former army chief, the former intelligence chief and the former deputy chief of police. Eyewitnesses in court described people fainting and relatives breaking down as the death sentence was read out. The men were accused of trying to smuggle arms, ammunition and mercenaries into Gambia in an attempted coup. The prosecution said that they were sponsored by drugs money, and Gambia is a major transit route for cocaine.

The authorities in Mexico City have offered a free honeymoon to the first gay couple to marry in Argentina, following that country's decision to legalize same-sex marriage. The Tourism Minister of Mexico City Alejandro Rojas said the offer was intended to celebrate tolerance and to promote gay-friendly tourism in the Mexican capital which itself legalized gay marriage last year. Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.

BBC News