Press**Watch: Seafloor explosions, USS Washington at Pusan
Oil and methane are bursting from the seabed near BP's well.
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New Orleans, July 21 (RHC) - Outrage is mounting against BP as the oil
spill reached its nearly three-month mark and an internal BP document
showed up to 100,000 barrels of oil could be gushing daily into the
Gulf of Mexico.
Oil droplets have been found beneath the shells of tiny post-larval
blue crabs drifting into Mississippi coastal marshes from offshore
waters, says Harriet Perry, director of the University of Southern
Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.
Perry explained that many kinds of fish and shore birds feed on those
young crabs. And this is just one of the many examples of how the
crude oil that began to spill Apr. 20 from British Petroleum's (PB)
Deepwater Horizon well has already taken its toll on the Gulf's food
Experts with the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, an organization dedicated to
preserving the ecosystems of the Atchafalaya Basin on the Louisiana
Coast, are incensed at the catastrophic impact the BP oil disaster,
which has been ongoing for nearly three months.
Oil began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico following an explosion Apr.
20 on the Deepwater Horizon oilrig, which BP leased from the Swiss
firm Transocean. Two days later, the platform sank. As of Jul. 20, the
company had capped the well and stopped the flow of oil, though tests
continue on the cap's structural integrity.
Experts are particularly angry about what they perceive as BP's lack
of willingness to implement measures necessary to adequately protect
They argue, for instance, that the company is not rescuing the chicks
of oiled adult birds, nor is it allowing local environmentalists to go
out and participate in animal rescue efforts.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of Jul. 14, 553
miles of Gulf Coast shoreline was oiled, 2,930 birds had been
recovered (1,828 of them dead and 1,102 of them oiled), along with
more than 500 dead sea turtles and other mammals.
More than 45,000 workers are currently responding to the BP oil
disaster, but higher-end estimates show that as much as 8.4 million
barrels of BP oil has been released into the Gulf, and more than 6.8
million liters of chemical dispersants Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527
used (the same chemicals are banned in Great Britain).
The dispersants are believed to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs, difficulty
breathing, respiratory system damage, central nervous system
depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic damage and mutations, cardiac
arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage.
In Brazil, an oil disaster 10 years ago struck an ecosystem much like
the mangrove swamps in the US now being threatened by the giant BP oil
leak in the US Gulf of Mexico.
More than 1.3 million litres of oil leaked from an underwater pipeline
run by Brazilian oil giant Petrobras in 2000, making it the country's
The oil contaminated the waters of Guanabara Bay outside Rio de
Janeiro, an area which the government at the time said would recover
after 10 years.
But today the once green mangrove bay area only has thick black mud
and no life left in the soil.
Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo reports.
By Ellen Cantarow
Big Oil makes war on the Earth
By Ellen Cantarow
If you live on the Gulf Coast, welcome to the real world of oil - and
just know that you're not alone. In the Niger Delta and the Ecuadorian
Amazon, among other places, your emerging hell has been the living
hell of local populations for decades.
Even as I was visiting those distant and exotic spill locales via
book, article, and YouTube, you were going through your very public
nightmare. Three federal appeals court judges with financial and other
ties to big oil were rejecting the Barack Obama administration's
proposed drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. Pollution from the
BP spill there was seeping into Lake Pontchartrain, north of New
Orleans. Clean-up crews were discovering that a once-over of beaches isn't nearly enough: somehow,
the oil just keeps reappearing.
Endangered sea turtles and other creatures were being burnt alive in
swaths of ocean ("burn fields") ignited by BP to "contain" its
catastrophe. The lives and livelihoods of fishermen and
oyster-shuckers were being destroyed. Disease warnings were being
issued to Gulf residents and alarming toxin levels were beginning to
be found in clean-up workers.
None of this would surprise inhabitants of either the Niger Delta or
the Amazon rain forest. Despite the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969
and the Exxon Valdez in 1989, Americans are only now starting to wake
up to the fate that, for half a century, has befallen the Delta and
the Amazon, both ecosystems at least as rich and varied as the Gulf of
The Niger Delta region, which faces the Atlantic in southern Nigeria,
is the world's third-largest wetland. As with shrimp and oysters in
the Gulf, so its mangrove forests, described as "rain forests by the
sea", shelter all sorts of crustaceans. The Amazon rain forest, the
Earth's greatest nurturer of biodiversity, covers more than two
billion square miles and provides this planet with about 20% of its
oxygen. We are, in other words, talking about the despolation-by-oil
not of bleak backlands, but of some of this planet's greatest natural
Consider Goi, a village in the Niger Delta. It is on the banks of a
river whose tides used to bring in daily offerings of lobsters and
fish. Goi's fishermen would cast their nets into the water and simply
let them swell with the harvest. Unfortunately, the village was
located close to one of the Delta's many pipelines. Six years ago,
there was a major spill into the river; the oil caught fire and
Nnimo Bassey, Nigerian head of Friends of the Earth, International,
visited soon afterwards. "What I saw" he reported in a recent radio
interview, "was just a sea of crude, burnt out mangroves, and burnt
out fishponds beside the river... All the houses close to the river
were burnt... It was like a place that had been set on fire in a
situation of battle, of war. The people were completely devastated."
Nigeria's biggest oil producer, Royal Dutch Shell, insisted that it
cleaned up the village, but Bassey just laughs. "One thing about oil
incidents: you cannot hide them. The evidence is there for anybody to
see. This was in 2004; I've been there two times this year. The
devastation is still virtually as fresh as it was then. You can still
see the oil sheen on the river. You can see the mangroves that were
burnt, they've not recovered. You can see the fish ponds that were
destroyed. You can see the fishing nets and boats that were burnt.
They're all there. There's no signs of any clean-up."
Though the local inhabitants are still there, struggling for survival,
notes Bassey, they can't depend on fishing anymore. "The last time I
went there, there was a little boy who came with a plastic
container... [He and his father had gone] to look for shrimps all
night. And what they came back with was a paltry quantity of crayfish
that could barely cover the bottom of the plastic container... The
container was covered with crude and the crayfish itself was covered
in crude oil. So I was wondering what they were going to do with it,
and he said they were going to wash the crayfish, and then they would
feed on it."
(more at the link)
And now, for war:
The sinking last March of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval corvette,
precipitated a new round of tensions between North and South.
Forty-six sailors died in the incident.
A detailed investigation sponsored by the Seoul government, with the
involvement of foreign experts, indicated that the vessel had been
sunk by a deliberate attack, almost certainly from the North. But the
North Koreans still insist that they were not involved.
International response to the incident has been mixed. South Korea was
determined to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council.
This body released a statement on 9 July which condemned the attack
but fell short of directly blaming the North Koreans.
There was a huge measure of politics here; none of the key players -
Russia, China or the US - wanted to exacerbate tensions further, and
it was clear that Moscow and Beijing would not back tougher action.
The joint US-South Korean naval exercises, scheduled to begin on 25
July, following on from the high-level diplomacy, are one way for
Washington to reassure its uneasy ally.
The fear is that the North Korean government, which is unpredictable
at the best of times, might use the joint US-South Korean naval
exercises as a pretext for some further military action.
That is one reason why China is so concerned about the naval
exercises. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has urged the
"relevant parties to remain calm and exercise restraint" and "not to
do anything to exacerbate regional tensions".
It is a message directed as much at Pyongyang as it is at Seoul and
Washington. But Beijing is also unhappy about the naval exercises for
its own reasons too.
And this is no small war game: the initial phase of the exercise in
the Sea of Japan includes the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS
George Washington, 20 other ships and submarines, and some 100
For Beijing, these waters constitute the vital approaches to its own
territory. China is worried by any major foreign naval presence in
this area at a time when it is expanding its own maritime operations
It will take a long time for China to be able to rival US sea power in
any serious way. But China's naval ambitions are clear.
All this adds to the complexity of the US-Korea-China triangle.
It is in some ways the diplomatic equivalent of the Bermuda triangle:
an area of diplomatic uncertainty where catastrophe beckons if any
country makes the wrong move.
Pyongyang, July 21 (KCNA) -- The nuclear-powered carrier "George
Washington" belonging to the U.S. 7th Fleet entered Pusan Port on July
21, according to a report of the south Korean "Yonhap News".
Aegis destroyers belonging to the carrier flotilla also entered the
naval military base in Pusan.
This flotilla is expected to participate together with the south
Korean puppet army in the joint military exercises to be staged in
waters of the East Sea of Korea from July 25 to 28.
US Urged to Drop Its Daydream to Dominate World
Pyongyang, July 21 (KCNA) -- Of late the U.S. Department of Defense
formally announced that the U.S.-south Korea joint military maneuvers
would be kicked off soon. These maneuvers are, to all intents and
purposes, dangerous saber-rattling aimed at rounding off their
preparations for joint military actions, pursuant to their scenario
for a war of aggression against the DPRK and mounting a surprise
preemptive attack on it.
Minju Joson Wednesday observes in a signed commentary in this regard:
The U.S. is contemplating staging a joint anti-submarine drill under
the pretext of coping with the "intrusion" of DPRK's submarines into
the waters of the east and west seas of Korea. But lurking behind
these moves are a design to invade the DPRK to put the whole of Korea
under its control and a more important aim to establish military
hegemony in Northeast Asia and pressurize and contain other big powers
by force of arms in this region.
As Northeast Asia including the Korean Peninsula is of great military
and strategic importance, the U.S. considers the peninsula, a gateway
to the region, as its vantage point for carrying out its strategy of
Cold War came to an end but the U.S. ambition to dominate the world
remains unchanged. Its moves for a war of aggression have become
evermore pronounced to carry out the strategy to put Asia and the
Pacific under its control.
Asian countries will never remain an onlooker to the U.S. moves to
hold military hegemony.
If enemies dare provoke a war, the army and people of the DPRK who
have bolstered up the war deterrent in every way will wage an all-out
struggle and demonstrate the mettle of Songun Korea.
The U.S. would be well advised to give up its foolish dream to control
other countries and dominate the world by dint of its strong-arm
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