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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  April 18, 2015 12:30am-1:01am EDT

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communities also benefited. but for now that's likely to change. al jazeera aguirre. >> a reminder you can keep up to date with all the news on our website. lots of opinion comment and analysis. is the address >> on "america tonight", snuffed out ? quitting tobacco draws users who never started. maintain's christof putzel on vapping and lighting up. also tonight, a contaminated catch? >> i quit
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shrimping with them. i didn't go shrimping anymore. >> "america tonight's" michael okwu, five years after the bp oil spill. is the gulf catch safe to eat? thanks for joining us, i'm joie chen. it is high season on the gulf coast and it's a grim anniversary. five years since the worst oil spill in u.s. history. on april 20th, 2010, the deep water horizon rig exploded leaking over 200 million gallons into the gulf of mexico. while sunshine has returned to the shore there are still deep questions about what lies beneath the surface. "america"america tonight"'s michael okwu returned to the water with those who say they know best, just how much has changed.
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>> reporter: what kind of fish are you catching in these waters? >> puppy drowns, all kinds. >> point ocean indian tribe tucked deep in the wetlands of southern louisiana. for more than 40 years, these waters have put food on their table and money in their bank account. >> reporter: what would you guys do if you weren't living off the water? >> what would we do? oh lord, i don't know. >> you never considered that? >> no. >> now their sea farring faring life may end. some have turned to church charity in order to survive. >> i mean they're fishermen and they couldn't fish. it caused a lot of anger in the community.
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>> reporter: to understand the impact of the spill on this landscape and on those who live and fish here, we took a boat ride with the dardars. these vast fields of sea grass is what gives life, they are the spawning ground for fish and a nursery for the newly born. not to mention a home for shrimp and oysters. before bp louisiana was already losing 24 square miles of marsh land a year. an area about the size of manhattan. since bp, the dardars say that process sped up. we approach what was donnel's favorite fishing spots. this area was covered by oil. >> 15 feet on the bank here. >> 15 feet on the bank? >> at least 15 feet that went
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away. >> reporter: losing 15 feet of grasslands at this spot may not sound like a big deal but multiply that by the hundreds of miles of shore line polluted by oil, you get a sense of how much vital fish habitat may have been lost. >> all the bank, kill all the grass. >> reporter: that's not all that worried the dar dares, since the bye-bye spill they say fish. this is a picture of one, swollen red and missing scales. >> i quit shrimping with them. i wasn't going to put something on the market that i wasn't eating. >> reporter: you felt that you didn't want to put something in the market that wouldn't be safe. >> so i didn't go shrimping anymore. >> federal standards say gulf
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seafood is safe to eat. nonetheless, the government has documented severe illness in other animals, damage to tuna trout and red snapper. all important specious for fishermen. >> bethany says the dar dares are right to be worried. >> we know frens when the exxon valdez spilled, the area has still not recovered. this is not a short gain, it is a big ecosystem that's complex. changes happen over time. >> reporter: in speeches and press releases, bp likes to say, the most dire predictions have not come true at least not yet. but you think they'd like to talk about it on camera. instead they declined our request for an interview. bp recently released a report timed to the fifth anniversary of the spill.
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it says there hasn't been any significant long term impact on marine life in the gulf. adding that the massive response which followed mitigated the damage. the company also told "america tonight" that their results were covered by the government, not bp. >> a great piece of public relations material but science begs to differ to say that all's well and good and we should all go home is a great talking point for them, but it's not the truth. >> reporter: five years after the spill fishermen all along the gulf coast have fallen on hard times. oystermen have been hit particularly hard. according to seafood harvest erst plummeted since 2010. disappearing habitat is one of the reasons why.
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however, fishermen also blame the oil and decisions made by the government during the crisis. biendo 76 and lee lee nguyen 70, have been fishing since they were children. bien and lee says that until five years ago, oystering made for a good life, the season lasted for months at a time and their daily catch could be up to a thousand dollars. bien and lee say their daily take is down to about $300. >> do you blame bp for this? >> yes, bp is responsible but they are not the only ones. the federal government allowed dispersants.
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and that plus the oil caused the spill to be much more lethal. >> the study said the dispersant made the oil toxic, by a factor of more than 50. when we met bien and lee they were back in harbor. this year's already shortened season was cut shorter because of heavy rains. >> it caused a lot of sleepless nights and financial problems. before we didn't have a lot of debt. now we owe delinquent dock fees. we don't have enough equipment and we are concerned about our livelihood. >> if everything is normal right an the fisheries are healthy, how come the season has been so terrible. >> reporter: isn't fishing like any other business, you've got good years and bad years,. >> definitely. >> and uch got a string you've got a string of good years and a string of pretty bad years.
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what has happened? >> only one major thing and that's the bp oil disaster. >> reporter: there is a fund which ostensibly is available to restore the marine habitat of the spill. so far bp has set aside $1 billion for environmental restoration work. yet almost half the money has been spent not on the environment, but on human use projects. things to benefit creation like boat marinas at local parks. those funding decision he are not made by bp alone. they are deeply influenced by a group of federal and state officials. >> projects across the gulf have been in the human use impact. >> kyle graham is the lead trustee of the state of louisiana he says which projects gets funded largely depends on each state.
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in louisiana, fixing harm can mean fixing the environment. in florida that could mean rebuilding tourist attractions. >> for example we know in louisiana we've had natural resource injury. when you look at florida the majority of their injury has been to that human use category where people aren't or weren't able to utilize the gulf. >> what it comes down to is, there is a lot of pressure of all different kinds of project.s. projects. we don't know exactly how these decision are made. we would like to see efforts towards a direct benefit. >> reporter: in alabama an environmental group has stepped in to do environmental work. in bon secour bay, protecting the fragile shore from erosion in a little more than two years
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the shellfish are moving back in. >> in my hands i have some baby root mussels. they help the reef become more three dimensional. >> the reef is three miles long, and eventually it may grow another two and a half miles. following the nature conservators's conservancy's lead, the dar dares would like to see the wet land rebuilt there, to keep the shore from washing away. >> when i was young and whenever we weren't walking to go to my grandfather's house on land, he would pick us up in his boat and we would hang over the side and
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just grab the marsh grass. >> it's more about culture and ecology. tribal burial grounds, silent witnesses and the landscape as the way of life which accompanies it slowly slips away. so far, they haven't had much luck convincing straight or federal officials to finance a restoration plan. instead, at a recent town meeting they were told the entire community would likely be underwater, and gone in 50 years. michael okwu, al jazeera, point ocien bay ou louisiana. and michael told us, some 10 million gallons of oil simply sunk potentially entering the food chain.
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>> loving them to death? sea cows and what tourists are doing to them. and e-cigarette, does it help smokers kick the habit or cause younger people to light up. an in-depth look into locker rooms and coach's corners and the field of unfair play at >> monday. >> a lot of these mining sites are restricted. >> a silent killer. >> got a lot of arsenic in it. >> you know your water's bad and you know you're sick. >> unheard victims. >> 90 percent of the people will get some type of illness from the water. >> where could it happen next? >> i mean, they took away my life. >> "faultlines". al jazeera america's hard-hitting... >> today they will be arrested. >> ground-breaking... >> they're firing canisters of gas at us. >> emmy award-winning investigative series. water for coal. monday, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
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>> part of al jazeera america's >> special month long evironmental focus fragile planet
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al jazeera america gives you the total news experience anytime, anywhere. more on every screen. digital, mobile, social. visit follow @ajam on twitter. and like aljazeera america on facebook for more stories, more access, more conversations. so you don't just stay on top of the news, go deeper and get more perspectives on every issue. al jazeera america. >> the peninsula, in arabic, is aljazeera. our logo represents courage. fiercely independent quality reporting. >> to take as much aid as possible... >> and standing up for the voiceless. when you see this symbol respected around the world it means you too can now count on all the things we stand for. aljazeera america. >> sunday night. >> 140 world leaders will take
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the podium. >> get the full story. >> there is real disunity in the security council. >> about issues that impact your world. >> infectious diseases are a major threat to health. >> "the week ahead". sunday 8:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. can being. >> in our fast forward segment being loved to death, florida's manflorida's manatees, many want to touch the gentle sea cow. but sheila macvicar says there's much to fear. too much of a good thing. >> king's bay is the only place you can swim with and even touch groups of florida's endangered manatees. producing an an aquatic gridlock. an ever growing number of people now more than 250,000 a year
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flock to this small bay. hot springs beneath the bay provide warm water all year round, heated to a pleasant 72°. manatees need that warmth to survive winter cold. it's critical manatee habitat. >> we have fat healthy manatees here. >> mike is a skilled guide. the swim with manatees attraction is his livelihood. often swimmers will touch or pet the manatees. which is legal here. they believe new york hers and boats are harming the manatees. they believe at the least, touching should be banned. turns tourists to manatee advocates. >> gives me chills thinking about that, being able to touch
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something that to me which has always been so elusive. >> so different than anything i've ever done. like they're so big. and they're right there. and you know you could just reach out and touch them and they're not going to do anything. >> reporter: manatees can have areas to escape to when the crowding becomes too much. >> ma'am you aren't supposed to be in there. see it says closed area. >> we're going to go up here this way. >> reporter: tracy colson is an environmentalist who leads kayak tours of the bay. she also films manatee harassment by divers and some tour operators. >> i see people stand on them, climb on their backs to ride grab onto their flippers, trying to
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grab on to ride, blocking their ability to surface to breathe. just about everything you can think of. >> providing thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in revenue for gift shops, dive operators. >> where do you draw the line? >> i think that people should not touch the animals or attempt to. i think that's where a lot of the harassment and the disturbance of the animals occurs. >> fast forward now to new fears for manatee. advocates in a group called pier charges too much touching amounts to harassment. the group says it represents public servants, who say manatees still could be at risk if the swin swim with seas cows program
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isn't reigned reined in. >> e-cigarettes pay be lighting up new users. the hippest in travel, air b and b . lori jane gliha, on the uber way >> criminal gangs risking lives >> it's for this... 3 grams of gold >> killing our planet >> where it's blood red... that's where the mercury is most intense >> now, fighting back with science... >> we fire a laser imaging system out of the bottom of the plane >> revealing the deadly human threat >> because the mercury is dumped into the rivers and lakes, it then gets into the food chain... >> that's hitting home >> it ends up on the dinner plate of people... >> techknow only on al jazeera america >> part of al jazeera america's >> special month long evironmental focus
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fragile planet
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>> most smokers want to stop and none of us wants our kids to start. but the latest aid, the e-cigarette, may be causing a problem.
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the sharp increase in teenagers using it. the number who smoked tobacco cigarettes dropped significantly but now most kids use smokes. christof putzel on who is lighting up and why. >> reporter: in february 2013, the unthinkable happened. for the first time in nearly half a century, and ad for cigarettes appeared on tv. >> you know what the most amazing thing about this cigarette is? it isn't one. >> the officials in scotsville illinois found a loophole. entirely. of the 200 stations who screened the ad only ten agreed to air it during the super bowl but it was enough to driver up n-joy sales.
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>> i'm jenny mccarthy. i finally found a smarter alternative to cigarette. >> don't know what this is. >> got a bejeweled bottom. >> this is remarkable. >> i know! >> cigarettes you've met your match. >> reporter: what hasn't changed is the law surrounding mark marketing. e-cigarette makers , ads appearing inning magazines today, look virtually like they were a decade ago. >> the virginia slims riding a whole new way. >> matt meyers is the president of the campaign for tobacco-free kids. he spent years trying to take down big tobacco now he's watching his work unravel. >> he's never seen a cigarette
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ad on tv, a teenager. our problem is the product and how it's being marketed. has the potential to undue literally 30 years of progress in reducing tobacco use among america's children. >> no one knows what the health effects are of puffing these things hours a day every day for 20 years. >> reporter: thomas farley is the form he new york state health commissioner. >> we work very hard to try counteract the cool factor of smoking cigarettes. now, regular tobacco cigarettes will become more cool in the future. >> 1980s tobacco giant r.j. reynolds unveiled what it revealed the smokeless premier. >> nearly smokeless smokeless cigarette market high tech cigarettes. >> the company spent $300
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million developing the cigarette but users said it tasted like charcoal. charcoal isn't on the menu instead they offered dozens of flavors part of a new phenomenon known as vapping. peter denholts denholts denholts started this. >> i started to do research on it, saw an opportunity for myself to stop smoking which i was able to do and then i thought it was a great business opportunity in this. and we have just exploded. the world's found out about e sition and the cigs and the world has found an alternative. try it and go home with something that is a better alternative. >> reporter: alternative is how you describe the vibe here at
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henley. critics fear the phenomenon will hook nonsmokers as well as minors. >> we make sure we do not sell to anybody underage. >> you sell a lot of flavors. >> we do. >> there is controversy about flavors, the idea is they would appeal to minors. do you agree with that? >> does strawberry vodka pealz to appealto minors? >> i believe it does. >> by having a lot of flavors it's keeping the people using the vapping products rather than using the regular cigarettes. >> what's inside depends on who you ask. do you think it's responsible to be pushing a product like this? >> traditional cigarettes we know kill you. anything we can do to move
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people away from traditional cigarettes as harm reduction we support that 100%. we know that kills you. this may not. let's do all we can to keep the doors open to this product. >> reporter: in the absence of hard science, what happens in the return is fueling passion and politics on all sides. >> i don't know where this will go in five or ten years. tobacco companies want to make money selling whatever they can sell. if they can create a whole new market for people who are afraid of tobacco cigarettes but not afraid of these cigarettes, the only way we can prevent them from marketing to nonsmokers is through some sort of legislation. >> let's keep the door open until there is more definitive evidence against them. >> can big tobacco be trusted again? perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of what's
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going on is that e-cigarettes may have the potential under the right circumstances to help millions of people quit. if they were responsibly marketing, if they were responsibly made. greats could bee-cigarettes could be e-cigarettes, the manufacturing themselves could be the biggest impediment of us actually finding how helpful they could be. >> christof putzel, al jazeera. >> is we'll see. that's "america tonight". tell us what you think. at we'll have more of "america tonight", tomorrow.
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at least 30 people die in car bomb attacks in iraq. and narrowly avoided in erbile. i'm nick clark. you're watching al jazeera live from doha. more dean dean