From Reuters, Dec. 12:

Residents say lives ruined by South Korea oil spill
TAEAN, South Korea – South Korean officials say they have made progress in cleaning up the country’s worst oil spill but residents worried on Thursday about ruined livelihoods and conservationists saw damage lasting for years.

More than 10,000 residents, soldiers and volunteers were working to clean blackened beaches about 150 km (95 miles) southwest of Seoul and remove oil from a nature reserve five days after a barge carrying a crane punched holes in a crude oil tanker, triggering a 10,500-tonne leak.

Local officials said oil had been removed from about 70 percent of Mallipo beach, one of the worst-hit areas. Other beaches were coated with crude some 10 cm (4 inches) deep while the air was foul with the stench of sulphur.

“There’s been a lull in the oil spreading,” said a Taean coastguard official. About 50 km of coastline has been hit so far but shifting winds on Thursday could send the slick south and lead to oil washing up at places that have so far been spared.

Thousands of residents helped with the clean-up, saying there was nothing else to do now that tourism had died in a region famed for its sandy beaches. Fisheries ground to a halt.

Kim Soo-ha, 63, wept at her oyster farm as she held dead shellfish coated in tar.

“I sent my kids to college by making money from this,” she said. “I don’t know how I’m going to live. They say they can’t do anything about it for the next 10 years.”

Environmental groups say oil in the Taean seabed and the loss of food for aquatic species will cause damage to the ecosystem that will last for years.

Hotels in the region are vacant and several restaurants that catered to tourists posted signs in their windows reading: “The government needs to pay”.

South Korea has declared the region a disaster area but initially freed up only a little over $6 million in aid. It has yet to give an estimate for the damage.

A maritime ministry official said the country lacked enough clean-up equipment and was ill prepared, Yonhap news agency said.

The leak is about a third of the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill of crude oil onto Alaskan shores, the costliest on record. The clean-up alone from that disaster cost around $2.5 billion while the total cost, including fines and claims settlement, is estimated at $9.5 billion.

Beaches have been littered with dead fish and waterfowl covered in oil, and the area’s oyster beds have been wiped out.

The conservation group Green Korea United said the chemicals used to break down the oil slicks could pose long-term health risks to workers.

“There’s no telling how long it will take for things to come back to normal. It could take five years, 10 years — we just don’t know,” said Park Young-jun, a village mayor.

On the heels of San Francisco Bay and the Sea of Azov. Meanwhile, in the “apolitical” news…

Newsday, Dec. 7:

Crash in Syosset claims 1, seriously injures his 2 friends
The uncle of a 19-year-old college student killed in a high-speed crash on Jericho Turnpike on Friday morning wants his nephew’s death to be a warning to other young drivers. “You just want to reach out and grab them by the collar and say, ‘Slow down, put on your seat belt,'” said Altan Gulum of Smithtown as he mourned his nephew, Atkin Altinerlielmas, on Friday. “They think they’re invincible but they’re not”

NYT, Dec. 6:

Queens: Two Killed in Highway Crash
Two teenagers died and three others were critically injured when their car struck a guard rail, became airborne for 100 feet and hit a concrete overpass pillar on a sharply curving exit ramp from the Van Wyck Expressway to the Nassau Expressway early yesterday, the police said. The car, a 2007 Dodge Charger, was being driven at a high rate of speed when the accident occurred at 12:45 a.m. near the northern border of Kennedy International Airport, investigators said. Two passengers, Devindra Harilall and Christopher Karan, both 18, were pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. Both lived in Ozone Park. A 17-year-old and two 19-year-olds, the other occupants of the car, were taken to the same hospital. The police declined to identify them, but said that they had life-threatening injuries.

NYT, Dec. 5:

Manhattan: Cyclist Killed in Accident
A bicyclist riding northbound on the Avenue of the Americas yesterday morning died after he struck an open car door, fell off his bicycle and landed in the street, where he was hit by a truck, the police said. The cyclist, David Smith, 63, of West Ninth Street, was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead, the police said. The accident happened shortly before 8:30 a.m. in front of 989 Avenue of the Americas, near 36th Street, the police said. Mr. Smith, who was riding in a designated bicycle lane, hit the car’s door after someone on the passenger side opened it into his path, the police said. It was unclear if he was wearing a helmet. The police issued two summonses to the car’s driver, Benjamin Siano, 52, of Staten Island, for parking at a fire hydrant and for blocking a bicycle lane. They also issued a summons to his passenger, Augustus Browne, 31, of Staten Island, for opening a door unsafely into traffic, the police said.

AP, Dec. 5:

NYC policeman charged with manslaughter in death of unarmed man after traffic accident
A police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of an unarmed man after a May car accident. A grand jury’s indictment of Officer Raphael Lora was unsealed in a Bronx courtroom Wednesday. He was released on $50,000 bail. He also was suspended without pay. Police have said that Lora, 37, who was off duty, fired five times while trying to stop Fermin Arzu from leaving the accident scene on May 18. The Honduran immigrant died at the scene.

See our last posts on car culture and WHY WE FIGHT.