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Oil rig sinks, fears of major spill

NEW ORLEANS An oil rig burning out of control in the Gulf of Mexico sank Thursday morning, with 11 workers still missing and authorities fearing a potential environmental disaster.

Efforts to contain the damage from the burning rig became profoundly more complicated when it sank, leaving a one-by-five-mile sheen of what the authorities said was “crude oil mix.”

“I think it certainly has the potential to be a major spill,” David Rainey, a vice president for Gulf of Mexico exploration for BP, which was leasing the rig, said at a news conference.

Coast Guard helicopters, planes and patrol boats were in the final 12 hours of search-and-rescue efforts for the missing workers, said Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, the commander of the Coast Guard’s Eighth District. She said interviews with some of the 115 survivors had indicated to officials that the 11 who were missing may have been “in the vicinity of the explosion,” a view echoed separately in interviews with reporters.

“As time passes,” she said, “the probability of success in locating the 11 missing persons decreases.”

Chilean priest’s accusers seek solace but find anger

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Rev. Fernando Karadima is one of Chile’s most respected and influential priests. Some go so far as to call him a “living saint,” who for half a century trained dozens of priests and helped mold thousands of young Catholics from Santiago’s elite.

Now four men who were once devoted followers have filed a criminal complaint alleging that Karadima, now 80, sexually abused them in secret for years.

One man said he had reported the abuse to Karadima’s superiors in the archdiocese of Santiago as many as seven years ago, but they took no action. All four men filed formal complaints last year with the archdiocesan tribunal and, receiving no response, spoke publicly for the first time this week.

But the allegations have been largely met not with anger at Karadima but with outrage at the accusers by many of his parishioners, a prominent conservative politician and church officials. They say a man so respected over so much time could not possibly have abused his followers, though as the news broke this week, a cardinal here confirmed that the church has been secretly investigating claims of sexual abuse leveled against the priest.

Documents show internal qualms at rating agencies

WASHINGTON — In 2004, well before the risks embedded in Wall Street’s bets on subprime mortgages became widely known, employees at Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, were feeling pressure to expand the business.

One employee warned in internal e-mail that the company would lose business if it failed to give high enough ratings to collateralized debt obligations, the investments that later emerged at the heart of the financial crisis.

“We are meeting with your group this week to discuss adjusting criteria for rating CDOs of real estate assets this week because of the ongoing threat of losing deals,” the e-mail said. “Lose the CDO and lose the base business — a self reinforcing loop.”

In June 2005, an S&P employee warned that tampering “with criteria to ‘get the deal’ is putting the entire S&P franchise at risk — it’s a bad idea.” A Senate panel will release 550 pages of exhibits on Friday — including these and other internal messages — at a hearing scrutinizing the role S&P and the ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service played in the 2008 financial crisis. The panel, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released excerpts of the messages Thursday.