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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Audience cries over oil spill

A lecture on the BP oil spill on Monday had its audience in awe, moving some to tears.

UA’s Voices of Opposition, a group that focuses on issues of war, racism and oppression in weekly lectures and films, invited independent investigative journalist Dahr Jamail to report on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A large projector showed the audience photographs of the coast, glassy with oil pollution and depicting inhabitants of coastal areas affected by the spill.

Dr. Mary Jo Ghory, one of the program’s coordinators, helped put on the event at 7 p.m., Monday in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building. Ghory said she “”dragged him out here,”” after they had great responses from Jamail’s previous UA appearances where he discussed Iraq issues he reported on. “”It’s an important issue and it’s nice to talk about something besides war, yet this one isn’t rainbows and jelly beans either,”” she said.

Jamail spoke of how fisherman, seafood distributors, marine coastal life and families are affected due to the hazardous waters.

“”I just got back about two days ago from my third trip down there,”” Jamail began in his lecture. “”I’ve spent two months total down there now, and I can tell you unequivocally that this thing is just beginning.””

An elderly woman in the crowd sobbed as Jamail showed images of the damage done to the Gulf because of the oil spill.

Jamail described the current conditions of the Gulf as “”post-apocalyptic.””

He described his first-hand experience in the Gulf region, when he traveled there to report along with his partner, an artist and documentary photographer.

“”You get down there and the first thing that happens to you is your eyes start burning, you can feel your heart palpitations speeding, your skin gets flushed, you get a headache that gets worse the longer you stay.””

He told the audience of how he spoke to a woman in the fishing industry who said she and her family were getting really sick. She introduced Jamail to a friend of hers who was a charter fisherman.

He told Jamail, “”Last night I took my dog out to use the nightly restroom break, and there were crabs literally crawling out of the water in the middle of the night because they couldn’t breathe in the water. They were crawling out and dying.””

He went on to discuss how BP is trying to fix this using dissolvent chemicals, which are making waters more toxic and hurting marine life rather than helping.

Near the end of the lecture, someone from the audience asked, “”How has it come to this?”” People asked question after question, all stricken with sadness by the presentation.

About 200 people attended with few UA students in the audience.

Ghory added it took her a year and a half to get Jamail to return to Tucson for another lecture, and his crowd of nearly 200 people gave great responses.

According to Jody Gibbs, a second program coordinator of Voices of Oppression, Jamail has won two national awards and has been invited to the UA previously for a UofA Bookstore event.


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