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Experts double estimated 
rate of spill in Gulf

A government panel Thursday essentially doubled its estimate of how much oil has been spewing from the out-of-control BP well, with the new calculation suggesting that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every eight to 10 days.

The new estimate is 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day. That range, still preliminary, is far above the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.

These new calculations came as the public wrangling between BP and the White House was reaching new heights, with President Barack Obama asking for a meeting with BP executives next week and his congressional allies intensifying pressure on the oil giant to withhold dividend payments to shareholders until it makes clear it can and will pay all its obligations from the spill.

The higher estimates will affect not only assessments of how much environmental damage the spill has done but also how much BP might eventually pay to clean up the mess — and it will most likely increase suspicion among skeptics about how honest and forthcoming the oil company has been.

Genocide verdicts in 
Srebrenica killings

PARIS — Judges at The Hague handed down two rare genocide convictions on Thursday, sentencing two security officers for the Bosnian Serb Army to life in prison for their roles in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst single episode in a decade of war that left 100,000 dead and tore the Balkans apart.

The verdicts, along with five other war crimes convictions, concluded an almost four-year trial in which many witnesses spoke, at times in horrifying detail, of the Serbian capture of the U.N.-protected enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa that held tens of thousand of Bosnian Muslim refugees.

The military operation ended with the deportation of thousands of women and children and the execution of close to 8,000 captive men and boys.

Although the U.N. war crimes tribunal has convicted more than a dozen people of crimes committed in Srebrenica, it has only once before issued a conviction of genocide. And that ruling, against Gen. Radislav Krstic, was lessened on appeal to “aiding and abetting genocide.”

Gay couples gain under 
violence against women act

The Justice Department has decided that federal prosecutors should enforce crucial provisions in the Violence Against Women Act in cases involving gay and lesbian relationships, a newly disclosed memorandum shows.

In a seven-page legal analysis, David J. Barron, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, concluded that federal prosecutors may use the law in cases of interstate stalking and domestic violence regardless of whether the victim or the defendant is a man or a woman.

“The text, relevant case law and legislative history all support the conclusion” that the law’s criminal provisions “apply when the offender and the victim are the same sex,” Barron wrote.

The memorandum was addressed to the acting deputy attorney general, Gary Grindler, who had apparently asked the Office of Legal Counsel to consider the question. The document was posted on the Justice Department’s website Wednesday.