Wikinews:Briefs/July 19, 2010

Wikinews Audio Briefs Credits
Produced By
Recorded By
Written By
Listen To This Brief

Problems? See our media guide.



Today on Wikinews : Leaks at the well cap and on the sea floor have been detected in the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill; violence continues in Iraq, Mexico and in Iran; India experiences yet another deadly train derailment and, in history, the Iroquois Confederacy attempt to strike a deal with The Crown.

Today is Monday, July 19, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.



After an investigation, Wikinews has learned that oil spewing from a rupture in the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico on June 13 was 50 to 60 feet from the Deepwater Horizon leak.

A nearly four and a half minute video posted on YouTube from the Viking Poseidon ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) 1 shows oil and methane leaking from the seafloor at around 2:48 a.m. on June 13. In the video, the ROV monitors the leak for a minute and even gets covered in a plume of oil and sand before it moved on to the next spot. Smaller eruptions were seen as the ROV traveled, making the leak locations vary from 50 to 60 feet from the damaged well.

Until now, there was no way to determine the location of the ROVs in relation to the previously leaking Deepwater Horizon well. However Alexander Higgins, an independent computer programmer, developed the 'Gulf Oil Spill ROV UTM Distance Calculator.' Using the coordinates for the location of the Deepwater Horizon, and the location of the Viking Poseidon on June 13, Wikinews was able to determine that the first rupture and leak was approximately 50.45 feet from the leaking well or "21.56 feet North and 45.61 feet West" of the Deepwater leak point.

Higgins told Wikinews how he created the calculator, and says it is "very accurate," but that the tool would "not give you accurate measurements over a large distance, EG from the well head to New Orleans."

"This tool was created using java script that uses basic Pythagorean theorem (A2 + B2 = C2) to calculate the distance between two points. ROV coordinates match the location within a few feet when looking at the well because obviously the ROV can not be over the exact center because that is where the BOP is," said Higgins.

On Sunday, Wikinews contacted BP, who authenticated the video, and asked if any ROVs were sent back to the crack and leak location on June 13 for further investigation. According to their office in London, England, they "sent ROVs to investigate and monitor that and no further signs of oil or gas were found." They also stated that they "have continued to monitor" and "have also carried out seismic surveys." Wikinews also asked if they could confirm the location of the leak and crack, but no response was given.

Yesterday an unnamed United States official told the Associated Press that there was "seepage" coming from the area at the bottom of the Deepwater well head. The official said the seepage and methane gas were discovered near the Deepwater well head, but did not specify an exact location. Admiral Thad Allen, a former US Coast Guard admiral who is overseeing the spill efforts for the US government said yesterday in a letter to BP that ROVs "detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head."

As many as four leaks have been detected in the Deepwater Horizon well cap. The HOS SUPER H ROV 1 made the discovery while performing an "integrity survey" of the well and well cap. It recorded what appears to be a thin metal pipe lining the outside of the oil cap. Four small leaks of what appear to oil bubbles were detected during this survey. The first appears just after the elbow connecting the pipe to the two green pipes. The second can be seen through the hole of the large metal ring. The third is seen just to the right of the metal ring.

So far there is no word what those substances are, but BP says bubbles detected on July 18 are not of a hydrocarbon nature.

It is not yet known what the pipe carries or what they connect to. It is also not yet clear if all leaks are from the pipe, or leaking from the well. BP confirmed the leaks and told Wikinews in a phone call to their Houston, Texas press office, there is a "small leak" releasing hydrates consisting of gases and oil. They are "studying the issue" and are prepared to fix the pipe if it becomes an issue. Live camera feeds show hydrocarbons building up as the oil and gas leak from the pipe.

Since the June 13 video surfaced, other videos have been posted to YouTube allegedly showing some of the ROVs being tossed around by large amounts of oil leaking through the seafloor. One video showed an alleged eruption spraying oil and debris around the BOA DEEP C 2 ROV before it was tossed from side to side. It then immediately retreated to the surface.

Some of the cracks on ocean floors, where oil has leaked from, have occurred naturally. One such oil spill in California in 2005 was the result of a naturally occurring crack in the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Some of those cracks can cause oil to leak through at a rate as high as 5,000 gallons a day, with most of the oil not even reaching the water's surface. In the Gulf of Mexico, oil could leak through natural cracks at a rate of up to 150,000 gallons when comparing it to the amount of oil that leaked from the Deepwater well.

According to Cutler Cleveland, a Boston University professor at the university's Department of Geography and Environment, "The Deepwater Horizon site releases 3 to 12 times the oil per day compared to that released by natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico. By May 30, the Deepwater Horizon site had released between 468,000 and 741,000 barrels of oil, compared to 60,000 to 150,000 barrels from natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico over the same 39 day period".

BP capped the leaking well on July 13 which effectively stopped oil from leaking into the Gulf. The company has been running a pressure integrity test on the 150,000 pound cap for 48 hours. Earlier on July 17, they announced the test would continue for another day. BP hopes for the well's pressure to rise to or above 7,500 PSI. As of Saturday morning the well's pressure was just above 6,700 PSI. BP fears anything lower than the expected PSI could mean a leak in the cap or elsewhere, such as oil or methane seeping up from the seafloor.

Thad Allen was quoted as saying "We are feeling more comfortable we have integrity. We will keep monitoring and make the decisions as we go forward. The longer the test goes the more confidence we have in it".

A suicide bomber killed 43 people in Iraq on Sunday, injuring an estimated 40 more.

The attack occurred southwest of Baghdad and targeted members of a government-backed militia, Sons of Iraq, also known as the Sahwa, who were waiting to collect their pay. Early reports say the attacks killed at least three soldiers and injured an additional thirteen, while three accountants died and four more were wounded. It's not yet clear who the remaining casualties are.

A survivor of the bombing said that "[t]here were more than 85 people lined up in three lines at the main gate of the military base to receive salaries when a person approached us. When one of the soldiers tried to stop him, he blew himself up."

An Iraqi military official said that "[t]he suicide bomber blew himself up in the biggest group of Sahwa members. We generally let them enter the base in groups of 10 for them to get their salaries."

A second suicide bombing took place in Western Iraq, when an attacker fired upon Sahwa militants in Al-Qa'im before blowing himself up, killing three people, with six more injured.

Credit for the attacks has not yet been claimed, but al-Qaeda is considered the probable culprit.

The Sahwa movement is a Sunni militia group that split from al-Qaeda in 2006, and with US support have been one of the groups fighting al-Qaeda. In recent months, members of the militia have said that they have come under attack from other militant groups, and support from the Iraqi government has been reduced.

The attack comes just a day after two suicide bombers detonated bombs at a mosque in southeastern Iran, killing 27 and leaving several hundred more injured.

The explosions occurred moments apart at a Shia mosque, killing both civilians and government officials from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. 27 people are confirmed dead, while reports of injuries totaled 270, and officials said the death toll is likely to rise.

The attacks were reportedly carried out by a Sunni rebel group, Jundallah, who said it was in retaliation for the execution of the group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, by the Iranian government in June.

The Revolutionary Guard's top official, Yadollah Javani, blamed the United States, Israel, and Europeean countries for the attacks, citing testimony offered by Rigi before he was executed that claimed Jundallah had received aid from Western powers.

Across the globe, the gang violence in Mexico continued as

gunmen on Sunday stormed a party in Torreon, a city in the north of Mexico. According to local authorities, at least eighteen people were injured, and seventeen died. The victims have not yet been identified, but several were young and some were women.

According to a statement from the Coahuila state Attorney General's office, the gunmen arrived in several cars and opened fire without saying a word. This happened after a similar shooting last month, in which eight people were killed at a bar, in the same city. In all of northern Mexico there are increasing reports of mass shootings at parties, bars and rehab clinics.

Investigators do not yet have any suspects and do not know the motive, but believe that the shooting may be linked to Mexico's long-running drugs war. Police found more than 120 bullet casings at the scene, the majority of which were from .223 caliber guns.

The shooting follows the explosion of a car bomb last Thursday in a violent area of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico killing two police officers, a paramedic, and one civilian, although Mayor Jose Reyes said that only three died. At least six others were injured, although reports have said the total injured may be as high as sixteen. Four remain in the hospital, including three paramedics and one civilian.

Mexican authorities say it was a car bomb, but counter-terrorism experts are still unsure as to what caused the vehicle to explode. Intelligence expert Fred Burton said, "For this to be an improvised grenade attack, in some capacity, it doesn't surprise me."

The Juarez cartel, one of the two drug-traffickers in the area, claimed responsibility for the bombing in a graffiti message. "We have more car bombs," the graffiti said.

Ciudad Juárez has a history for trafficking drugs to the United States, especially into Texas.

Before the explosion, the police arrested a suspected leader of the Juarez cartel, Jesus Armando Acosta Guerrero.

This year more than 7,000 people have died as a result of drug-related violence in Mexico since this year began. Attorney General Arturo Chavez on Friday said nearly 25,000 people have died in the last three and a half year period.

Tragedy also struck in India today when

a train crash at around 0200 local time Monday killed at least 40 people and injured at least another 100. The crash occurred in the town of Sainthia, which is located in eastern India. Initial reports say that one passenger train collided with another that was waiting at a station, but the exact cause is not known.

The lowest estimate of the death toll is around 40 dead, and Indian media has reported that there are as many as 100 dead. The incident has prompted a major rescue operation, and senior government officials are en route to the site of the incident.

The region's Superintendent of Police, Humayun Kabir, said that "[c]asualties have taken place. I cannot give any number now. Rescue work has begun." A local railroad official said that "[t]he people who have lost their lives were travelling in unreserved coaches. We do not have their names and any vital information about them to inform their relatives."

The state-run Indian railway system has a poor safety record, with several hundred incidents a year taking place, and this crash is the third major one in the past decade.

A traffic accident in the UK has claimed the life of a woman

after being involved in a collision between a bus and a bicycle in Hampshire in the south of England, United Kingdom. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was cycling in the seaside resort of Southsea when a number 700 Stagecoach single-decker bus, which was traveling from Brighton to Southsea, collided with her bicycle at approximately 1:15pm local time on Saturday. A helicopter transported the woman to Southampton General Hospital, where she died at approximately 4:30pm the same day.

None of the occupants of the bus were injured. The 53-year-old bus driver has now been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Hampshire Constabulary is requesting any witnesses to the accident to contact them. PC Phil Hunt also mentioned: "We are also trying to trace the passengers, who left the scene before we could speak to them."

The road traffic accident occurred in an area where Portsmouth City Council had been intending to place a new cycle route, but the plans to do so were canceled last week. The plans, which would have cost £250,000, were said to have been canceled due to financial difficulties.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the nation's voters will go to the polls on August 21.

"Today I seek a mandate from the Australian people to move Australia forward," Ms Gillard said. She took the office of prime minister on June 24 after the Australian Labor Party caucus elected to remove Kevin Rudd from the role.

Directly after the June 24 caucus meeting, Senator Michael Forshaw told media , "the new leader elected unopposed is Julia Gillard and the deputy will be Wayne Swan." The "leadership spill", as this scenario is known, occurred at 9:00am Australian Eastern Standard Time that morning (11:00 pm UTC the previous day). According to reports, there was no ballot after Rudd pulled out.

Gillard became Australia's first female prime minister in the country's 109 year history and has been sworn in as such by Australia's first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

Australia's three major parties, the ALP, the coalition of the Liberal and National parties and the Greens, came together to encourage young people to enroll to vote.

"At the launch of our campaign this morning we had representatives from the Opposition, the shadow minister for youth as well as the Greens spokesperson for youth showing that this is not about who people vote for, it's about the fact that they've got the chance to vote," said Ms Gillard. The electoral roles close at 8pm Monday night.

Her opposition, Tony Abbott has openly stated that his shadow cabinet is ready to govern. “This is a bad government and it deserves to lose" he continued.

To win the election, the Coalition (Liberal-National parties) will need to gain 17 extra seats, with a recent opinion poll (Newspoll) tipping Labor in a two party preferred category, 53-47.

The campaign will last five weeks, one of the longest in Australia's history.

Traralgon went within a game and percentage of ladder leader Maffra with a 118 point victory over Warragul in their round 14 Gippsland Football League match.

Warragul kicked both of its goals in the first half, still conceivably in the contest at that point thanks to Traralgon's inaccurate seven goals and ten behinds. However Traralgon kicked five goals in the third quarter to extend their lead to ten goals. At the end of the day, Traralgon won 20-13 (136) to Warragul's 2-6 (18).

24 hours later, Maffra defeated Sale by 44 points to remain the ladder leader.

On this day in history (18:44)


The Deed from the Five Nations to the King, of their Beaver Hunting Ground, more commonly known as the Nanfan Treaty, was conducted in Albany, New York, on July 19, 1701.

The treaty was an agreement made between the representatives of the Iroquois Confederacy with John Nanfan, the acting colonial governor of New York, on behalf of the The Crown. The Iroquois, who claimed to have conquered this territory 80 years earlier, deeded the English a large tract of land north of the Ohio River when the Iroquois were allied with the English during King William's War, the first of the French and Indian Wars.

As a vast majority of the Beaver Hunting Grounds described in the Nanfan Treaty were located in New France, the area colonized by France in North America, the French did not recognize this as a valid treaty. However, at the time, the Iroquois were also negotiating peace with the French and together they signed the Great Peace of Montreal later that same year. That treaty ended 100 years of war between the Iroquois, whom had been allied to the English, and the French, allied to the Hurons and the Algonquians. It provided 16 years of peaceful relations and trade before war started again.

The Iroquois, also known as the Haudenosaunee, the "People of the Longhouse" or more accurately, "They Are Building a Long House" and are actually an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America. After the Iroquoian-speaking peoples coalesced as distinct tribes, based mostly in present-day upstate New York, around the 16th century they came together in an association known today as the Iroquois League, or the "League of Peace and Power". The original Iroquois League was often known as the Five Nations, as it was comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations. After the Tuscarora nation joined the League in 1722, the Iroquois became known as the Six Nations.

The Iroquois League has also been known as the Iroquois Confederacy, a decentralized political and diplomatic entity that emerged in response to European colonization. The League still exists, but the Confederacy dissolved after the defeat of the British and allied Iroquois nations in the American Revolutionary War.

The Iroquois were a mix of farmers, fishers, gatherers, and hunters, though their main diet came from farming. The main crops they farmed were corn, beans and squash, which were called the three sisters and were considered special gifts from the Creator. These crops are grown strategically. The cornstalks grow, the bean plants climb the stalks, and the squash grow beneath, inhibiting weeds and keeping the soil moist under the shade of their broad leaves. In this combination, the soil remained fertile for several decades. The food was stored during the winter, and it lasts for two to three years. When the soil eventually lost its fertility, the Iroquois migrated.

Since they had no writing system, the Iroquois depended upon the spoken word to pass down their history, traditions, and rituals. As an aid to memory, the Iroquois used shells and shell beads. The Europeans called the beads wampum, from wampumpeag, a word used by Indians in the area who spoke Algonquian languages.

The type of wampum most commonly used in historic times was bead wampum, cut from various seashells, ground and polished, and then bored through the center with a small hand drill. The purple and white beads, made from the shell of the quahog clam, were arranged on belts in designs representing events of significance.

Certain elders were designated to memorize the various events and treaty articles represented on the belts. These men could "read" the belts and reproduce their contents with great accuracy. The belts were stored at Onondaga, the capital of the confederacy, in the care of a designated wampum keeper.

Women assumed a position in Iroquois society roughly equal in power to that of the men. Individual women could hold property including dwellings, horses and farmed land, and their property before marriage stayed in their possession without being mixed with that of their husband's. The work of a woman's hands was hers to do with as she saw fit. The chief of a clan could be removed at any time by a council of the mothers of that clan, and the chief's sister was responsible for nominating his successor.

The Iroquois aimed to create an empire by incorporating conquered peoples and remolding them into Iroquois and thus naturalizing them as full citizens of the tribe. By 1668, two-thirds of the Oneida village were assimilated Algonquians and Hurons and at Onondaga there were Native Americans of seven different nations.

In the last few decades, some historians have stressed "The Iroquois Influence Thesis" in relation to the development of the Articles of Confederation or United States Constitution. Consensus has not been reached on how influential the Iroquois model was to the development of the United States' documents, however, historians Donald Grinde and Bruce Johansen believed that the democratic ideals of the Great Law of Peace, the oral constitution whereby the Iroquois Confederacy was bound together, provided a significant inspiration to Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and other framers of the United States Constitution. The standing of the Influence Thesis was demonstrated by the United States Congress' passing a resolution in October 1988 that specifically recognized the influence of the Iroquois League upon the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

While anthropologist Dean Snow believes "There is, however, little or no evidence that the framers of the Constitution sitting in Philadelphia drew much inspiration from the League", Benjamin Franklin wrote in volume 4 of his published papers that "It would be a very strange thing, if six Nations of ignorant savages should be capable of forming a Scheme for such a Union … and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a Dozen English Colonies".

Interestingly, the Iroquois government has issued passports since around at least 1923, when Haudenosaunee authorities issued a passport to Cayuga statesman Deskaheh to travel to the League of Nations headquarters. Before 2001 these passports were accepted by various nations for international travel, but with increased security concerns across the world since the 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, this is no longer the case.

The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team was allowed by the U.S. to travel on their own passports to an international lacrosse tournament in England after the personal intervention of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 14, 2010. But, the British government refused to recognize the Iroquois passports and denied the team members entry into the United Kingdom.



And those are the top headlines for Monday, July 19, 2010

This has been the Audio Wikinews brief. To receive the latest news, please visit, presenting up-to-date, relevant, newsworthy and entertaining content without bias. Wikinews is a free service and is funded by your generous donations. Click on the donate link on our homepage to learn how you can contribute. This recording has been released under the Creative Commons 2.5 License.