Reuters: Very high methane levels in the Gulf of Mexico

Methane_Plume
Methane_Plume
A research team examining water within a five-mile radius of the leaking BP wellhead has found very high levels of methane.

When oil is extracted from the ground, it contains a large amount of methane. Excess methane is usually removed by engineers before the crude oil is refined.

The methane that is gushing from the broken well is dissolving into the seawater. Although methane occurs naturally in sea water, excessive amounts can encourage the growth of microbes. Microbes can deplete water of oxygen needed to support marine life.

“At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters. We need to determine why that is,” said Texas A&M University oceanography professor John Kessler, who is part of the research team.

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WaPo: American claiming to be hunting bin Laden arrested

800px-US_Navy_011218-F-3961R-003_Army_Civial_Affairs_distibute_leaflets_in_their_serach_for_Osama_Bin_Laden
800px-US_Navy_011218-F-3961R-003_Army_Civial_Affairs_distibute_leaflets_in_their_serach_for_Osama_Bin_Laden
A 52-year-old Californian construction worker, Gary Brooks Faulkner, armed with a pistol and a 40-inch sword was detained in northern Pakistan Sunday and told investigators he was on a solo mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

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NYT: Taliban Hold Sway in Area Taken by U.S., Farmers Say

Farmers have been fleeing their land in the district of Marja, an area which has been the focus of the largest American-led military operation in Afghanistan. Farmers say that American troops cannot protect them against the Taliban who are terrorizing the population.

Three months after thousands of coalition troops invaded and cleared the area in an effort to take control of southern Afghanistan, fighters have begun penetrating the area once more. The expectation of months of more fighting is driving people out.

The population here is divided on whether they support the Taliban or the coalition troops. In some places people are taking aid in spite of Taliban threats not to do so. Others think the U.S. intends long-term occupation, institution of a Western-style government, and the abolition of Islam.

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