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April 27, 2013

BP oil spill dispersant's have resulted in oil-soaked mutated wildlife

Many rational voices loudly protested when BP began using chemical dispersants on the deepwater horizon spill. They weren't safe, people said. They were untested in such conditions, people said. They will thin the oil out and spread it everywhere, people said. And those people were right. Corexit BP Oil Spill Effects on Marine Life—Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Sawyer tested edible fish and shellfish from the Gulf for absorption of petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC), believed to have been facilitated by Corexit. Tissue samples taken prior to the accident had no measurable PHC. But after the oil spill, Sawyer found tissue concentrations up to 10,000 parts per million, or 1 percent of the total. The study, he said, “shows that the absorption [of the oil] was enhanced by the Corexit.” In April 2012, Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences was finding lesions and grotesque deformities in sea life—including millions of shrimp with no eyes and crabs without eyes or claws—possibly linked to oil and dispersants. The shocking story was ignored by major U.S. media, but covered in depth by Al Jazeera. BP said such deformities were “common” in aquatic life in the Gulf and caused by bacteria or parasites. But further studies point back to the spill. A just-released study from the University of South Florida found that underwater plumes of BP oil, dispersed by Corexit, had produced a “massive die-off” of foraminifera, microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain. Other studies show that, as a result of oil and dispersants, plankton have either been killed or have absorbed PAHs before being consumed by other sea creatures. Hydrocarbon-laden, mutated seafood is not the only legacy left behind by Corexit, many scientists, physicians, environmentalists, fishermen, and Gulf Coast residents contend. Earlier this week, TakePart wrote about Steve Kolian, a researcher and founder of the nonprofit group EcoRigs, whose volunteer scientists and divers seek to preserve offshore oil and gas platforms after production stops, for use as artificial reefs and for alternative energy production.

April 25, 2013

Why I wish my daughter had been vaccinated

Anti-vaccine lunacy isn't just for Americans, Wales is experiencing some nasty outbreaks due to parental resistance to vaccinations. Here's the story of one woman who didn't vaccinate her kid, but wishes she did. Why I wish my daughter had been vaccinated | Sophie Heawood | Comment is free | The Guardian
I wasn't a completely barefoot do-gooding type by any stretch of the imagination, but I breastfed, and read a lot of alternative health forums online that left me convinced we had become too over-protective. It was good for children to catch diseases naturally and fight them off by themselves. My baby would build up a strong immune system all of her own, not have it interfered with by some paranoid government programme that seemed to involve pumping metals into her blood. That was, until she caught pertussis – which turns out to mean whooping cough. Which turns out to mean months of pain. It is a highly contagious disease that comes in stages, but that horrible, hacking cough that kept her up all night went on for so many weeks that she was prescribed an inhaler. She was past her first birthday, so unlikely to die of it, like newborns can, but it's disgusting to watch your child needlessly suffer like that. My parents had to come to help us, and then we grownups all succumbed to the revolting condition too. Of course, having wanted to avoid filling her body with chemicals, I ended up giving her all the medicines I could find. And yet I still wondered about that list of things that I would now, I suppose, have to surrender to and immunise my child against. Polio, for one – a couple of my parents' pensioner friends still carry the limp left by their childhood polio, but none of my friends do, because it isn't around any more. And diphtheria – what was that, even? I knew it had killed one of Queen Victoria's daughters, but that wasn't our reality. The reason it wasn't our reality was, of course, due to a continuous programme of immunisation. Duh. Diphtheria is a disease that still kills one in five infants it meets, even if they get treatment, their necks swelling up until they can no longer breathe. I have now seen a picture of a child whose neck was ravaged by diphtheria, bloated like a foie gras goose about to burst. I wish I could unsee it.

April 24, 2013

The Mars Rover drew a penis on Mars

Truly, this is man's greatest achievement. I hope every time we land on a foreign world from now on our intrepid cosmonauts, taikonauts and astronauts honor our brave rover by kneeling on that strange shore and inscribing a dick in the sand. So NASA's rover drew a penis on Mars