After 100 days, Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to threaten Gulf coast

Wednesday marked the 100th day since the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and although the leaking well was recently capped, the estimated three million or more barrels of oil already in the Gulf of Mexico are still causing trouble for many residents of the Gulf coast.

Several workers wash a pelican caught in the spill Image: International Bird Rescue Research Center.

There are still many unanswered questions about the long-term impact of the spill, including how it has affected the environment and natural habitats of the Gulf as well as whether residents of the area will be able to return to their jobs and livelihoods now that the leak has been capped. US government officials say that, even after the oil well is permanently sealed, workers will still have a lot to do, including the removal of around 20 million feet (6.1 million metres) of containment boom. “I would characterize this as the first 100 days. There’s a lot of work in front of us,” said Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft of the US Coast Guard.

Authorities will use submarines to assess damage underwater, while teams on the ground assess the shoreline. While removing oil from beaches is expected to be fairly straightforward, cleaning the marshlands will be particularly difficult, as boats are needed to maneuver through small channels and workers are unable to stand on solid ground. At least 638 miles (1,027 kilometres) of the Gulf coast have been hit by the oil.

Development Driller II digs a relief well in order to permanently close the leaking well. Image: Barry Bena/US Coast Guard.

The government is focusing on both cleaning sensitive coastal regions and looking for underwater oil plumes, but is also probing into what may have been the largest accidental oil spill. The US Justice Department, as well as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, are all investigating what contributed to the disaster. The Washington Post reported one team is looking into whether a close relationship between BP and government regulators played a role in the spill. The Post also said that Deepwater Horizon operator Transocean as well as oil services group Halliburton were being investigated.

NASA photo of Deepwater oil slick

BP officials say that they will try to perform the “static kill” process on Monday, a process which involves pumping a thick mixture of mud and cement down into the cap currently stopping the leak. At the end of next week, a relief well currently being dug should reach the leaking well, and officials will then know if the static kill has worked. It is hoped that this “bottom kill” operation will be able to permanently seal the damaged well.

Even though BP is close to sealing the oil reservoir, it still faces legal battles, economic struggles, and internal changes. On Tuesday, British Petroleum (BP) announced that Tony Hayward would step down from his position as the company’s chief executive. His replacement, American Bob Dudley, will be the first non-British CEO of the company.

On Thursday, lawyers met at Boise, Idaho hearing to determine how around 200 various lawsuits against BP will play out. Depending on whether the suits can be consolidated, BP could be facing years of legal disputes. BP, Transocean, and Halliburton had already blamed each other for the disaster during a May hearing before the US Senate. Federal regulatory officials were criticized for allegedly taking bribes and not thoroughly inspecting the oil rig.

The company also reported a quarterly loss of US$16.9 billion and said it has allocated US$32.2 billion to pay for the spill. BP has a US$20 billion fund to help make up for the massive losses of the Gulf fishing, oil, and tourism industries and will pay damages for each of the millions of barrels of oil lost in the disaster.

BP says that it is the “responsible party” for cleaning up the spill because it owned the leaking well and had leased the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, but claims that it is not responsible for the entire spill.

Medical helicopter crashes in Tucson, Arizona, kills all on board

A medical helicopter crashed into a fence just outside a house in Tucson, Arizona on Wednesday afternoon, killing all three crew members on board. The crash occurred at 1:42 p.m. Arizona time (21:42 UTC) at the intersection of Glenn Street and Park Avenue. Eyewitness Ricardo Carrasco said that he saw the rotors stop working and the helicopter start plummeting towards the ground, with the pilot attempting to steer it away from the house.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the helicopter was a Eurocopter AS350B3 flown in the LifeNet Arizona fleet. It was operated by the Colorado-based Air Methods Corporation, which specializes in flying emergency medical helicopters.

The Eurocopter AS350B3 is an aircraft type commonly used for medical evacuation (file photo) Image: Benjamint444 / Wikimedia Commons.

“This is a sad day for all of us at Air Methods and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of our employees who perished while on duty,” Air Methods Corporation CEO Aaron Todd said after the crash.

Two other fatal aviation accidents were reported in the United States on Wednesday. In Alaska, a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster transport plane crashed while preparing for an air show, killing all four crew members. Earlier, Delaware, Ohio city councilman and airport commissioner James Moore died when his rented light plane crashed and caught fire close to the city’s airport.

Ahmadinejad criticizes Paul the octopus

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims Paul the octopus, who correctly guessed the outcomes of eight matches of the World Cup, is a sign of decay of Western culture.

Ahmadinejad said in a speech at a youth festival in Tehran, “Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values.”

Paul the Octopus picks Germany over Uruguay in 3rd place World Cup match 2010-07-09

“We are after constructing Iran, but this does not mean viewing the matter from nationalist angle and singling out the Iranian race. Today the name of Iran is synonymous with prestige, justice seeking, monotheism, anti-despotism, and the entire blessed values that are dear for the world nations,” he continued.

Ahmadinejad accuses the octopus of spreading "western propaganda and superstition." Image: Jeff Swicord / José Cruz.

An Irish journalist, Rory Fitzgerald, wrote a satirical piece in response to the president’s remarks. “A visibly shaken Paul spoke out earlier today saying: ‘As an octopus, I can claim some objectivity in my view [of] human affairs,’ ” Fitzgerald wrote.

Paul correctly predicted the outcome of Germany’s seven matches and picked Spain over the Netherlands for the World Cup final. The mollusk currently lives in a tank at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany.

One billion reasons to use Opera Mini every day

The most popular mobile browser achieves the historic milestone of one billion daily page views

Oslo, Norway – Opera joins the exclusive one billion served per day club. According to Opera Software statistics, Opera Mini users viewed more than one billion pages on July 25, 2010. Every second, Opera Mini servers compressed more than 11,500 pages before sending that content to phones around the world.

Opera Mini has experienced tremendous page view growth in recent years. In June 2008, Opera Mini servers processed 100 million page views per day for the first time. In June 2010, Opera Mini users viewed more than 910 million pages on average every day, an increase of more than 161% since June 2009.

“Each day is different in the fast-growing mobile Web. Every day more people around the world choose Opera Mini and view more pages through this browser,” said Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder, Opera Software. “Crossing one billion pages views in a day is further proof that people desire the best Internet experience, no matter where they live or what device they use.”

Opera Mini, the world’s most popular mobile phone browser, delivers the best Internet experience possible on more than 3,000 mobile phone models. The unique Opera Mini technology compresses data by up to 90 percent before sending content to the phone, resulting in faster page loading, improved speed, and lower browsing costs.

Download

Go to m.opera.com with your phone’s default browser and Opera will automatically select the optimized version for your phone.

Africa’s mobile web explosion

State of the Mobile Web Report World Cup Edition explores mobile web trends in Africa, crowns the first Mobile Web World Cup champion, and explores the top sports sites on the mobile Web

Oslo, Norway – Mobile web use is exploding in Africa, according to Opera’s State of the Mobile Web Report, published today. Triple-digit growth rates are routine in the region where page views in the top 12 countries in Africa increased by 182% year-over-year, unique users increased by 124%, and the amount of data transferred increased by 160%.

Opera’s State of the Mobile Web Report, published monthly, provides information on the top global trends affecting the mobile Web. The full report is available from http://www.opera.com/smw/ (English only). This month’s report includes a geographic spotlight on Africa, and also highlights the top sports sites on the mobile Web.

Global trends

  • In June 2010, Opera Mini had over 59.4 million users, a 3.2% decrease from May 2010 but an increase of 124.7% since June 2009. The slight decrease in key metrics can be traced to certain countries where we have experienced some technical and political challenges that now are about to be solved.
  • Opera Mini users viewed over 27.3 billion pages in June 2010. Since May, page views have gone down 3.4%. Since June 2009, page views have increased 161.8%.
  • In June 2010, Opera Mini users generated over 416 million MB of data for operators worldwide. Since May, the data consumed went down by 4.0%. Data in Opera Mini is compressed up to 90%. If this data were uncompressed, Opera Mini users would have viewed over 3.8 PB of data in June. Since June 2009, data traffic is up 147.1%.
  • Ukraine, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam all rose one position on the list of top ten countries (number of Opera Mini users), while Nigeria dropped from position 5 to position 9.

Africa trends

  • In Part 3 of this month’s report, we look at countries in Africa. The top 12 countries using Opera Mini in that region are South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Sudan, Libya, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius.
  • Some numbers: From June 2009 to June 2010, page views in the top 12 countries in Africa increased by 182%, unique users increased by 124%, and the amount of data transferred increased by 160%.
  • Growth rates in Africa: Sudan and Ghana lead the top 12 countries of the region in terms of page-view growth (4,645.6% and 916.5%, respectively). Sudan and Ghana also lead the top 12 countries of the region in growth of unique users (1,225.0% and 498.8%, respectively). Kenya leads the top 12 countries of the region in page views per user, with each user browsing 639 pages on average each month.
  • Facebook, Google and YouTube all do well in Africa. Facebook is the top-ranked site in six of the twelve listed countries, and Google is ranked #1 in the remaining six countries.
  • Nokia remains the most popular handset brand in Africa, followed by Sony Ericsson, Samsung, and LG.
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