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Disaster continues: BP oil spill killing dolphins at an alarming rate

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

After the 2010 BP oil spill, Dolphins swimming in the oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico have suffered from lung lesions and are dying at high rates because of petroleum pollution, as per a recent study.

More than 1,300 bottlenose dolphins have stranded themselves in the northern Gulf of Mexico since early 2010. The recent research links this unusual mortality event to the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The rise in the death toll of dolphin began shortly before the spill in April 2010, when 4.9 million barrels of oil was spilled into the ocean, and the scientists have struggled to understand whether the two events are related. According to a report of PLOS ONE, all the underwater animals found dead had lung and adrenal-gland lesions that are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds.

Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation said, “Dolphins take big, deep breaths right at the surface of the water, where oil sheens are most concentrated, and where there is a good chance of inhaling oil itself.”

According to the research which compared autopsies of 46 dolphins that were found dead in the spill area had lesions in the lungs and adrenal glands, which regulate hormones and stress response. That’s when researchers came to know that something is wrong with the dolphins.

Kathleen Colegrove, pathologist at the University of Illinois said, “We found that dolphins that died after the oil spill had distinct adrenal gland and lung lesions that were not present in the stranded dolphins from other areas.”

One out of three stranded dolphins in the spill area had a thinned adrenal gland cortex, a rate that was significantly higher than the reference population of stranded dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, in which one in 10 had such a condition.

Colegrove told reporters during a conference call to discuss the findings, “The thinning of the adrenal gland cortex was a very unusual abnormality for us that has not been previously reported in dolphins in the literature. This is something which is latest in a series of research papers on dolphin health in the region after the spill.”

Other differences were also apparent. More than one in five dolphins from the mass-death group had bacterial pneumonia, a serious lung disease that was severe enough to cause or contribute to the animals’ deaths.

Venn-Watson described that inhaling oil can cause adrenal dysfunction, lung disease and bacterial pneumonia, which is one of the most common outcomes of chemical inhalation injury in other animals. Whereas other diseases like brucellosis and morbillivirus are also responsible for increase in the number of deaths.

A 2013 study on cetaceans in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, found that dolphins were losing their teeth, had lung lesions and high pervasiveness of disease after the worst oil spill in US history.

Venn-Watson added, “Combination of live and dead dolphin analyses, including the latest study, have provided a strong body of evidence. We feel that this study is a critical link in the chain.”

According to figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), minimum 1.300 dolphins have washed up in the area of the Gulf of Mexico since the spill. An additional 114 were stranded from February, two months prior to the spill, until April 20.

Geoff Morell, BP senior vice president for US communications and external affairs said, “This new paper fails to show that the illnesses observed in some dolphins were caused by exposure to Macondo oil.” After BP took the issue to the scientific findings.

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Issues Over Heritage In Illinois Election Campaign

"We vote by the type of person and what that person can do and not by anything else"

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

In an Illinois congressional district where just six percent of the constituency is Indian American, the incumbent Democrat Congressman is being challenged by another Indian American.

“I see it as American versus American,” Jitendra Diganvker, or “JD” — the Republican challenger for the Illinois 8th district, said.

“Yeah we happen to be Indian,” he added dismissively.

“It is a good thing that members of minorities are running as Democrats or as Republicans,” the incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi said.

The Illinois 8th District is 51 percent Caucasian, 28 percent Hispanic,14 percent Asian, and four percent African-American, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. Of those Asians, about half are Indian, according to the campaigns’ estimates.

Views and policy

In this diverse district, voters care about issues more than identity.

“I don’t care about them being Indian American. I just hope that whichever one wins that they support and help the people,” said Michelle Sims, an employee at the DuPage Community College. “And if you’re Indian then, hey, that’s fine. Just help the people.”

A Jamaican-American university student, Amara Creighton, says she thinks it is great that two minority candidates are running and have support, regardless of their ethnicity.

“I think what’s more important is their views and their policies,” Creighton said. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter to me what their minority is as long as they’re standing up for us and doing good for us.”

This rare instance of two candidates of the same minority running against each other is reflective of a larger trend throughout the United States – record numbers of Indian Americans are running for office and winning their elections.

In 2016, four Indian Americans — one of them being Krishnamoorthi, were elected to the U.S. House and a fifth was elected to the Senate — outnumbering in just one election the total number of Indian Americans to serve as U.S. representatives.

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Incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi goes by his first name, which his constituents can more easily pronounce. VOA

Krishnamoorthi, a businessman and former deputy state treasurer, was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives in 2016. He succeeded Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who was elected that year to the U.S. Senate.

Diganvker is a small businessman, Uber driver, and ardent member of the local Republican party. As the underdog, he is running as a “day-to-day” guy, and says he decided to run because he feels his opponent is out of touch with middle-class, hardworking families in his community.

But his opponent, who is completing his first term in Congress, says he is far from out of touch with his community. He visits each weekend to see his wife and children when Congress is in session.

Though both candidates are immigrants, their views on immigration policy differ. Krishnamoorthi, the Democrat, has been critical of Trump’s policies to decrease refugee allowances and speaks out against family separations at the border.

“We shouldn’t separate parents from children,” he told VOA. “That’s an abomination.”

Though Diganvker, too, opposes family separations at the border, he favors Trump’s promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico and supported the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

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Republican challenger Jitendra “JD” Digavnker says he is running as a “day-to-day” guy. VOA

“I’m also an immigrant. I followed the legal process and I believe in merit-based immigration,” he said, adding that merit-based immigration “brings the right skill set of people into our country.”

Krishnamoorthi, however, said that his parents legal immigration to the United States has not hardened his immigration stance.

“The fact that my parents came here legally and someone [else] did not, doesn’t mean that we should be inhumane or disrespectful, doesn’t mean we should treat them with anything less than dignity,” he said.

Diverse constituency

Both Congressional candidates are Hindu, but have wooed members of various religions in the community.

“When you come to this country there is no race,” said Farrukh Khan, a Muslim halal-shop owner in Schaumburg. “We should not go for the race, we should go for the people who more care about you and your community. Hindu or Muslim doesn’t matter.”

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Halal shop-owner Farrukh Khan says that he is unconsidered by the religion of either candidate. VOA

So as not to lose a customer, he did not indicate which man he will support in the November election.

Myrna Frankel has volunteered for Krishnamoorthi since his first campaign, an unsuccessful bid for Illinois comptroller in 2010. They know each other through the Jewish Beth Tikvah Congregation in Schaumburg where the congressman, who lives a few blocks away, sent his children for nursery school.

“He considers himself a JewDu – half Jewish, half Hindu,” she recounted with a laugh.

Myrna’s husband, Robert, said that this diversity and community relationships are typical of their community.

“Our state senator is from Mexico. Our state representative is from Puerto Rico. Our junior senator is of Thai background,” he said.

“We vote by the type of person and what that person can do and not by anything else,” he said.

Also Read: Democrats Gain Fundraising Advantage In The US Midterm Elections

When it comes to policy, voters in the Illinois 8th seem to heavily favor the incumbent. Early polling by Five Thirty Eight shows a “99% chance” that Krishnamoorthi will win. Rasmussen’s most recent poll shows a “Strong Dem” leaning in the midterm. As of June 30, Krishnamoorthi had raised more than $4 million compared to Diganvker’s $29,000.

But the challenger isn’t intimidated.

“People can give him $10 million and that’s not going to scare me,” he said, adding that despite recent polling, his campaign is “1,000 percent sure” that he will win in November. (VOa)