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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Qatar Coup Attempt – Report


Initial reports are coming out of Qatar about an attempt by a military group to overthrow the current ruling elite led by Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. 
It currently seems that the coup d’etat failed, although other reports say that gunfights are still raging in the palace. Instability in one of the usually stable oil producing countries could send oil priceshigher, and trigger fresh worries.
Qatar is home to to Al Jazeera, perhaps the most influential news outlet in the Middle East, that had a significant role in reporting about the Arab Spring in Middle Eastern and North African countries. During last year’s uprising, there was talk about a day of rage also in Qatar, perhaps ignited by Iranian agents. Eventually nothing happened.
There is also talk that the leaders were flown to hiding by US forces.
FARS News Agency (FNA) reports:
Yet, Qatari officials confirmed lethal clashes between the Royal Guard Forces and a number of military troopers and personnel, the sources added.
The limited news reports released by some local and Arab media earlier this week said that the Qatari Emir succeeded over the past weekend to foil a coup attempt against him. They added some 30 senior army officers were detained while some others were put under house arrest.
It seems that Qatar wishes to hide what is happening concerning the  power struggle within the royal family and as the Arab world is still engulfed by the “Arab Spring” that began last year.
These reports join the already high tensions in the Persian Gulf around Iran. The large oil producing country is undergoing sanctions due to its nuclear program, and military action by the US and Israel is on the agenda for a long time.


Puerto Princesa sees boom in tourism

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – With the Puerto Princesa Underground River being named as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, more tourists are expected to flock to Palawan's "City in a Forest".
Puerto Princesa's city tourism officer Rebecca Labit told there has already been a noticeable increase in the number of tourists to the city since last year.
In January alone, Labit said Puerto Princesa recorded 60,000 tourist arrivals, representing 15% of the total tourist arrivals in the Philippines for the month.
"In the last 5 years, we were not even in the top 20 (cities for tourist arrivals). Nung 2009, we were number 10. In 2010, we were 7. We're still waiting for the 2011 figures, but I hope we are able to climb a little higher. It's not impossible for us to be in the Top 5," she said.
Labit noted the Puerto Princesa Underground River's popularity soared after it was the subject of a campaign for it to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Led by the city government and Mayor Edward Hagedorn, the campaign drew the support of many Filipinos and even President Benigno Aquino. The efforts were a success, with the Puerto Princesa Underground River officially declared as one of the winners of the New 7 Wonders of Nature Saturday evening.
"Malaking tulong ‘yung pagiging New Wonder of Nature. The President himself campaigned for it, and the entire country campaigned. ABS-CBN campaigned for us. We didn't really realize the campaign for the 7 New Wonders of the World is technically a campaign for tourism," Labit said.
At the current rate of the increase in tourists, Puerto Princesa is hoping to attract 1.2 million tourists by 2014.
"By 2025, we would achieve the 2.5 million mark in tourist arrivals. The city continues to grow in terms of development. There are 20 new hotels being constructed in the city. We used to have 40+ accommodations, now we have a hundred accommodations, ranging from small pension houses, inns to hotels," she said.
Tourism is also helped by the fact that airlines have increased the number of flights to Puerto Princesa. Last year, there were only 11 flights to Puerto Princesa. By the first quarter of 2012, the number of flights rose to 20.
On Friday, low-cost carrier AirAsia began its Puerto Princesa-Clark flights - increasing the number of Puerto Princesa flights to 21.
"Our earliest flight now is 6:45 a.m. It used to be that our earliest flight was 9 a.m. The last flight used to be 3 p.m. and now the last flight is 9 p.m.," Labit noted.
While other Philippine cities worry about attracting tourists, Puerto Princesa has the enviable problem of having too many tourists.
But Labit said the city government, led by Hagedorn, is committed to the protecting the city's environment and natural resources.
"The vision of the city is to become a model of sustainable development as a local government, anchored on the three principles: protect, rehabilitate and provide for maximum and intelligent use of the remaining resources. It's a tough challenge, while everyone else is having mining, cyanide fishing--kami walang ganun. Mahirap din ang pag-angat namin, but we believe in the vision," she said.

Pinoy invents 'aircon for the poor'

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino inventor has come up with a multi-cooler fan as a cheaper alternative to the air conditioner.
Dubbed by inventor Rodolfo Biescas as the “aircon for the poor,” the cooling device consumes the same power as a regular electric fan but produces cooler air.
“Kaya nga na-design natin ‘yan para sa problema ng electric fan. Kapag mainit kasi ang panahon, mainit din ang hanging inilalabas dahil ‘yung motor nu’n sa likod eh, umiinit ‘yun,” Biescas said.
The device just needs some ice and it can cool a room for 8 hours.
It can even be used as a beverage cooler and won't overheat even after several hours of use.
“Nilagyan natin ng blower. Tapos ‘yung box na ‘yun, nilagyan natin ng cooling system. Nung nakita ko ‘yung mga tindahan, minsan pagdating ng hapon, itinatapon nila ‘yung tubig galing sa ice box nila. So ‘yung tubig na natutunaw, ‘yun ang ginagamit kong cooler,” said Biescas.
Biescas, who has many inventions under his belt, invented the multi-cooler fan in 1985.
However, the product didn't go anywhere since he lacked government support.
“Marami tayong award pero hindi ‘yun ang kailangan natin. Ang kailangan natin ay i-produce ito sa tulong ng gobyerno,” he said.
With Biescas’s many inventions, the multi-cooler fan is perhaps the most timely product for the summer.
Power demand has risen as people use electric fans and air conditioners more often due to the heat.
The state weather bureau forecasts temperatures across the country will remain high in the coming weeks. 

Fil-Am community leaders unite for Jessica Sanchez

SAN FRANCISCO – Filipino-Americans are focusing their energies on helping American Idol contestant Jessica Sanchez reach her star in Hollywood.
Community leaders have been actively organizing to campaign and vote to make sure Sanchez becomes the first Asian and the first Filipina to win America’s most popular talent show.
Fans have used social media such as Facebook to generate votes for Sanchez, creating a page called ‘Save the Best, Save our Own, Save Jessica Sanchez.’
Leaders of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations have sent out e-mails and Facebook links encouraging every Filipino in the United States to vote for the young singer.
Even former San Francisco Consul General Rowena Sanchez is calling on her countrymen to vote for her.
Balitang America’s top Filipino Champion for 2011 Nimfa Gamez joined the Save Jessica campaign by texting all her friends to vote for Sanchez for as many as 50 times in the two hour voting window.
“Jessica symbolizes our country. We are a small country, but we are bursting with talent. We just need to find our way, work our way harder to be known, to be famous," Gamez said.
If Sanchez wins the contest, it will also show that the Filipino community can unite for a great cause.
“It will only prove one thing: that we really can unite as a people. That, if there's a great cause like Jessica's cause, we can unite and bond together and fight for something to represent us as a people,” she said.
Top 6
The young singer victoriously entered American Idol's Top 6 after many Filipino-Americans campaigned and voted multiple times for her.
A season-high 53 million votes came in for the Top 7 contestants, acknowledged by Idol experts as one of the most talented group of finalists the show has ever had.
Meanwhile, after Sanchez’ near-elimination last week, American Idol results delivered another shocker this week: Colton Dixon, who many thought was a contender for the finale, was eliminated for getting the lowest number of votes following a rare off night on stage.
Contestants say choosing the best song that would appeal to the audience and the judges is not easy. They are usually judged on the strength on their last performance so each one can raise their chances of winning. 
“Performing in front of millions of people each week is crazy," Sanchez quipped.
Her fans said they won't let last week's debacle happen again, as they plan to hold weekly viewing and voting events.
The six remaining contestants will return to the stage next week for another shot to prove that they deserve to be Season 11's American Idol champion. With Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

KFC guilty in Australia salmonella brain damage case

Sydney - An Australian girl who suffered severe brain damage and was left paralysed by food poisoning won a court case against fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken, in a judgment published Saturday.
Monika Samaan was seven years old when she suffered salmonella encephalopathy -- a brain injury linked to food poisoning that also left her with a blood infection and septic shock -- in October 2005.
Several other family members also fell ill and they claimed Samaan's injuries, which include severe cognitive, motor and speech impairment and spastic quadriplegia were caused by a KFC chicken Twister wrap.
She went into a coma in hospital and was so ill last rites were given.
The Supreme Court ruled in the family's favor, finding that her sickness was caused by "a KFC Twister... consumed predominately by Monika and in lesser quantities by her family."
Justice Stephen Rothman said the chicken became contaminated "because of the failure of one or more employees of KFC" to follow proper preparation rules, which he described as "negligent".
"There is some evidence, which I accept, that some employees were unaware of the full consequences of a breakdown in the system that was to be implemented," Rothman said in his judgment.
"Nevertheless, the conduct of the employee was negligent and KFC, as the employer, is vicariously liable for the negligence."
An internal review of standards at the store in the months before Samaan's illness assessed them at "breakdown" level, with particular criticism of hygiene and food preparation, Rothman said.
Though compensation will be determined in a separate hearing Rothman described the now wheelchair-bound Samaan's injuries as being of a type and severity that were "most rare".
"She is now intellectually disabled, is unable to function independently, she needs total care and she will be unable to live a life filled with normal activities, relationships, milestones and achievements," he said.
"The plaintiff has been severely disabled at a very young age and as a result of her injuries, it is clear she will never enjoy the normal life that was expected of her prior to this catastrophic event."
KFC said it would appeal the decision.
"We believe the evidence showed KFC did not cause this tragedy and, after reviewing the judgment and seeking further advice from our lawyers, we have decided to appeal Justice Rothman's decision," said KFC Australia spokeswoman Sally Glover.
"We feel deeply for Monika and the Samaan family however we also have a responsibility to defend KFC's reputation as a provider of safe, high quality food."

Filipino couturier gets Congressional award

HOLLYWOOD, California -- Filipino couturier Angelo Santos will receive the US Congressional Award for achievement for co-creating the first all organic and eco-friendly gown showcased at the recent Oscar Awards.

Actress Missi Pyle of "The Artist" wore the dress and was a red carpet favorite. It was also seen onstage when the cast accepted their Best Picture award. The gown was the winner in the red carpet green dress design contest.
"We're going to get a US Congressional Award for Achievement in making the first eco-friendly dress worn by an actress at the Oscars." he said.

Santos has worked at the most-watched daily soap opera, “The Bold and the Beautiful" since 2001. He is part of the design team that has won three Emmy awards for the outfits they make on the show.

Santos works at the CBS studio wardrobe department. He creates costumes for the characters.

Though he studied nursing when he first immigrated from Tarlac to America in 1980, Santos made a big decision to follow his heart and took a chance to go into fashion design, his dream as a child growing up in the Philippines.

Santos honed his craft and studied to be rightly called a couturier.

“You can be a fashion designer without proper training. But a couturier-- if you notice the old couturiers like Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, they don't call themselves fashion designers. You have to be trained in couture,” Santos explained.

He has dressed many Hollywood stars and his creations were part of the Emmy awards exhibit in 2006.

Friday, April 20, 2012

UK travel website says Philippines as Asia’s undiscovered jewel

While most tourists head to Asia’s better known beach destinations of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia’s tropical island of Bali, one of the world’s best beach destinations is often overlooked. Consisting of over 7,000 islands and with a staggering coast line of 39,289km, it’s little surprise to learn that the Philippine’s tropical paradise-like beaches are among the best the world.
Stepping off the plane in the country’s crowded and polluted megacity capital – Manila; you would hardly image the country to be full of idyllic deserted islands fringed by palms, fine sand beaches and clear turquoise sea filled with pristine reefs of coral. Yet this is exactly what most of the country is like.
Add this to the Philippines being the world’s largest exporter of coconuts and producer of the best mangos you’ll ever taste, you soon realise that it is the ultimate dream beach destination that we all fantasize over. However, the country is not all about its remote island beaches; it’s also full of large modern cities with five-mile long shopping malls and is home to both the glamour and the poverty.
For those who love the beach parties and night life, Boracay is the place to be, one of the Philippine’s most popular holiday destinations. Having said that, Boracay is also an island full of lush mountains, hidden caves, giant bats and wide white sand beaches fringed by emerald palms. It’s the best of both worlds.
The beautiful island of Palawan is perhaps one of the most stunning of the Filipino islands, but it’s hard to judge since they all so closely resemble paradise. Being quite far out, Palawan is not as built up compared to the other islands and is dotted with wildlife sanctuaries, marine reserves and carpeted in lush rainforest. The island is also home to one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the underground river in Puerto Princesa – the longest in the world. If you’re in Palawan then make sure you also take the opportunity to visit El Nido Beach, which has been named by some as the best beach in the world.
If you only have a limited time on the Philippines, then the island of Mindoro is the best beach destination easily accessible from Manila. The resort of Puerto Galera on Mindoro is a popular weekend getaway spot and home to some modest and as well as upmarket beach resorts, mostly owned and visited by Scandinavians. Although it’s a popular spot, there are so many different beaches here that they are never crowded and you’ll always managed to find a secluded spot.
Almost anywhere in the Philippines is perfect for nature lovers, but Bohol is something special. The island is set to become a big eco-tourism destination and is home to the smallest type of monkey in the world as well as whales, dolphins, old geological forests and the infamous Chocolate Hills.
If you’re after glamorous upscale resorts, then the Island of Cebu, a major Philippine tourist destination is the best place to go. Here you’re sure to find luxurious island retreats, but you can always find local Filipino resorts too.
And if you’re into snorkelling and diving, then almost every island in the Philippines provides the chance to view unspoiled brightly coloured coral reefs, surrounded by elegant angel fish, iridescent parrot fish, cute clown fish, barracudas, sea turtles, giant blue starfish, spiky puffer fish and stripy sea snakes, the list of wildlife you may encounter here is endless. In the deeper water you can find sharks, dolphins, endangered dugongs and even whales. Some would even go as far as saying that the Philippines is the best place for snorkelling and diving in whole world.
Escape the hoards of travellers who frequent the world’s most popular beach destinations, by heading to the Philippines, a place of such beauty that it will make you gasp surprise; this truly is Asia’s last undiscovered jewel. But hurry, before the secret is out and everyone decides to make that little detour to the other side of the South China Sea to find their slice of paradise.

17 Facts You Didn't Know About Coffee


Considering that almost 300 million people in the United States drink about 400 million cups of coffee every day, it's not surprising that the specialty coffee industry brought in $12.2 billion in sales in 2006.
Here's a handy infographic from, compiling all the data you need to figure out whether to buy that $200 espresso machine. Highlight: Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a satirical cantata about coffee.
Infographic by: Espresso Machine Advisor

Read more:

Film about Journey's Arnel Pineda's rise to fame premieres


Members of the band, Journey, rocked the red carpet in New York for the world premiere of the documentary, "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey".
The film, which is spotlighted at the Tribeca Film Festival, tells the unlikely obscurity-to-fame story of Filipino singer, Arnel Pineda.
In 2007, Journey was looking for a new lead singer. The band's guitarist and singer, Neal Schon was searching the Internet late one night and happened upon a YouTube video of Arnel Pineda and his band Zoo, performing Journey's "Faithfully" in the Philippines.
Schon was so impressed by the performance that he e-mailed Pineda, who was subsequently flown to the U.S. to audition.
The film documents Pineda's audition and reception into the band, as well as the band's most extensive tour to date in 2008.
Pineda told Reuters that five years later, his fairytale success still hasn't sunk in.
"It will never sink in. Until now, up to now, it's still just a dream. The only difference is my eyes are always open, I feel it, it's in my soul, it's in my heart," said Pineda.
Schon says that the first two days of auditioning did not go well, but that was because Pineda needed to rest.
"From the third day in rehearsal when he came out from the Philippines, it fit like a glove and felt really magical and we got in the studio and things were just flowing. I mean the 'Revelation' record, it's pretty unheard of you know, of us coming back with a new record, with new songs and have a number one hit single," said Schon.
Guitarist and keyboard player Jonathan Cain said the logistics of hiring a Filipino singer for an American band was daunting at first.
"I said, how are we going to do this? How are we going to do immigration, how are we going to ... he lives there, how we going to ...? Lots of questions and somehow it manages to work, you know, because of his commitment," said Cain.
Pineda's family was poor and the singer lived on the streets of Manilla for a period. At first, life on the road in the United States was tough for him. Despite his success, he missed his family back home. But he says he wouldn't trade his career.
"Being on stage with these guys is the most wonderful thing. You know, being a part of one of the most anthemic songs out there, being made by one of the biggest rock 'n roll bands in history, it couldn't get any better than that," said Pineda.
According to the movie, "Don't Stop Believin'", which was a hit for Journey when Steve Perry was the lead singer, is the most downloaded song in history.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top 13 Snack Ideas With Crunch

Craving something crunchy? Give up the chips, and go for a healthier choice, like nuts, seeds, or raw veggies — or one of our new nutritionally balanced South Beach Diet snack or cereal bars. Here are some Phase-specific snack suggestions that pack a crunch!
Phase 1 Snacks
  • Raw veggies — including green or red bell peppers, cauliflower and broccoli florets, or j√≠cama sticks. Serve with reduced-fat cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, or a bean-based dip (or offer a South Beach Diet–friendly dressing as an accompaniment)
  • Celery sticks with 2 tablespoons natural no-sugar-added peanut butter (count toward your daily nut/seed allowance)
  • Soy nuts or dry-roasted edamame (count 1/4 cup toward your daily nut/seed allowance)
  • Almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, dry-roasted peanuts, or other nuts (limit to one 1/4-cup serving once a day, which can be counted toward your daily nut/seed allowance)
  • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (count 1 ounce or 3 tablespoons toward your daily nut/seed allowance)
Phases 2 and 3 Snacks
  • Carrot sticks
  • Whole-grain crackers (3 g or more fiber per ounce)
  • High-fiber, low-sugar, whole-grain cereal (choose a low-sugar brand with 5 g or more fiber per serving)
  • Air-popped or microwavable popcorn (3 cups; check the label to be sure it doesn't contain trans fats)
  • Apple or pear slices
  • Frozen grapes
  • Toasted whole-wheat pita bread (choose varieties with 3 g fiber per pita), cut into triangles; enjoy with an individual container of hummus
  • Toasted whole-wheat or whole-grain tortillas or wraps, cut into triangles; serve with salsa or a bean-based dip
  • 100-Calorie South Beach Diet Snack Bar or a Protein Fit Cereal Bar
Remember, you can also enjoy Phase 1 snacks on Phases 2 and 3

Elephants terrorise villagers in Mozambique

Source: AFP

Rampaging elephants are terrorising Mozambican villages near the Zimbabwe border, attacking people, trampling crops and scaring children, state-run newspaper Noticias reported Wednesday.
"We are using traditional ways to try to scare the animals, but all in vain, because whenever we do something, the monsters disappear for a few days, and when they come back there is no peace," local farmer Joseph Maithe told the paper.
"It even seems they come back to take revenge."
Locals living near the remote village of Mucumbura complain they are living in a state of siege as elephants lay waste to their crops, the paper said.
They say children in the area are terrified to walk to school for fear of crossing paths with their tormentors, who recently trampled on and injured a local teacher, it added.
Possible solutions to the human-elephant conflict, authorities say, include creating an elephant reserve in the area, relocating farmers from the animals' migratory path and installing drinking water for people so they do not have to share watering holes with elephants.
"The government cannot kill wild animals, it would create disequilibrium in the ecosystem," provincial governor Alberto Vaquina told the paper.
Much of the southern African country's wildlife was killed off during a brutal 16-year civil war that ended two decades ago. In recent years the government has tried to revive its wildlife population in hopes of boosting tourism.

The 6 Manliest Ways To Relieve Stress

Everybody gets stressed. And, people have to figure out how to get rid of that stressWomen have their ways, and guys have theirs. There is no wrong way to relieve stress. Some people work out, some people playvideo games. However, if you’re into the machismo thing, there are some less than manly ways to relieve said stress. These six manly stress relievers will have Rocky questioning his manhood.

Be Atlas. If you’re in a bad mood and need to blow off stress, get in thegym and lift a few tons. Don’t do your normal punk routine off a few sit ups, push ups, and thirty minutes on the treadmill. Get your butt in gearand bust a few blood vessels pushing up two cars on the weight bench. Then try your hand, err your legs at squatting a house on your back. You’ll be so tired after you leave the gym, stress won’t be a factor.

Be HefSex is by far the best stress reliever. Period. But, this isn’t about just relieving stress. This is about relieving stress in the most manlyfashion as possible. You don’t just have sex with one girl, get seven. Grab a comfortable robe, smokers jacket, and a pipe. Get your sex kittens to your house and relieve some stress in one of the most manly ways possible.
Be a Paratrooper. Yeah, one free fall from a plane at umpteen thousand feet will relieve any of the previous stress you were dealing with. Though, you may suddenly develop stress from suddenly and quickly falling out of a plane. The rush alone will make you feel born again. When you safely land, that is, if you safely land, the trivial stuff that stressed you out an hour ago won’t mean very much anymore.

Be Tyler DurdenKicking the crap out of another man, or to yourself for that matter, is one of the manliest ways to relieve stress, ever. Start an underground fight club. Imagine your opponent as your jerk of a boss and beat every spreadsheet you ever created out of this man. Use your fists to knock your measly three percent raise into the back of this guy’s throat. A knee to the stomach will make you feel better about not being able to use any paid vacation days because of that new merger.

Be a nerd. Log into the social network of your choice and complain about your day. Use the worst swear words in your vocabulary to describe your day. Simultaneously monitor your favorite porn websites. All at the same time, while playing the most violent video game you own. Hell, you can even throw in a little alcohol and barbeque if you want. Stress will be a distant memory in no time.

Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

New Orleans, LA - "The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."
Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.
Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.
Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.
Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.
Eyeless shrimp
Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.
"At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these," Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.
According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets."
"Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico]," she added, "They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes … they look like they've been burned off by chemicals."
On April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded , and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.
Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.
"I've seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out," Ladner told Al Jazeera. "The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday."
While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and "their shells missing around their gills and head".
"We've fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this," he added.
Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.
Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week".
Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.
"We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills."
Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was "ten per cent what it normally is".
"I've never seen this," he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.
Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.
BP's chemicals?
"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber," Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. "It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known".
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP's disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic - able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus - and carcinogenic.
Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP's submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from "a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor".
Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia published results of her submarine dives around the source area of BP's oil disaster in the Nature Geoscience journal.
Her evidence showed massive swathes of oil covering the seafloor, including photos of oil-covered bottom dwelling sea creatures.
While showing slides at an American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington, Joye said: "This is Macondo oil on the bottom. These are dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads."
Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has conducted tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP's crude oil and toxic dispersants.
"Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline," Subra told Al Jazeera. "We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation."
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, PAHs "are a group of semi-volatile organic compounds that are present in crude oil that has spent time in the ocean and eventually reaches shore, and can be formed when oil is burned".
"The fish are being exposed to PAHs, and I was able to find several references that list the same symptoms in fish after the Exxon Valdez spill, as well as other lab experiments," explained Cowan. "There was also a paper published by some LSU scientists that PAH exposure has effects on the genome."
The University of South Florida released the results of a survey whose findings corresponded with Cowan's: a two to five per cent infection rate in the same oil impact areas, and not just with red snapper, but with more than 20 species of fish with lesions. In many locations, 20 per cent of the fish had lesions, and later sampling expeditions found areas where, alarmingly, 50 per cent of the fish had them.
"I asked a NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] sampler what percentage of fish they find with sores prior to 2010, and it's one tenth of one percent," Cowan said. "Which is what we found prior to 2010 as well. But nothing like we've seen with these secondary infections and at this high of rate since the spill."
"What we think is that it's attributable to chronic exposure to PAHs released in the process of weathering of oil on the seafloor," Cowan said. "There's no other thing we can use to explain this phenomenon. We've never seen anything like this before."
Official response
Questions raised by Al Jazeera's investigation remain largely unanswered.
Al Jazeera contacted the office of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who provided a statement that said the state continues to test its waters for oil and dispersants, and that it is testing for PAHs.
"Gulf seafood has consistently tested lower than the safety thresholds established by the FDA for the levels of oil and dispersant contamination that would pose a risk to human health," the statement reads. "Louisiana seafood continues to go through extensive testing to ensure that seafood is safe for human consumption. More than 3,000 composite samples of seafood, sediment and water have been tested in Louisiana since the start of the spill."
At the federal government level, the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency - both federal agencies which have powers in the this area - insisted Al Jazeera talk with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 
NOAA won't comment to the media because its involvement in collecting information for an ongoing lawsuit against BP.
BP refused Al Jazeera's request to comment on this issue for a television interview, but provided a statement that read:
"Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and, according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident."
BP claims that fish lesions are common, and that prior to the Deepwater Horizon accident there was documented evidence of lesions in the Gulf of Mexico caused by parasites and other agents.
The oil giant added:  
"As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, which is led by state and federal trustees, we are investigating the extent of injury to natural resources due to the accident.
"BP is funding multiple lines of scientific investigation to evaluate potential damage to fish, and these include: extensive seafood testing programs by the Gulf states; fish population monitoring conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Auburn University and others; habitat and water quality monitoring by NOAA; and toxicity tests on regional species. The state and federal Trustees will complete an injury assessment and the need for environmental restoration will be determined."
Before and after
But evidence of ongoing contamination continues to mount.
Crustacean biologist Darryl Felder, in the Department of Biology with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is in a unique position.
Felder has been monitoring the vicinity of BP's blowout Macondo well both before and after the oil disaster began, because, as he told Al Jazeera, "the National Science Foundation was interested in these areas that are vulnerable due to all the drilling".
"So we have before and after samples to compare to," he added. "We have found seafood with lesions, missing appendages, and other abnormalities."
Felder also has samples of inshore crabs with lesions. "Right here in Grand Isle we see lesions that are eroding down through their shell. We just got these samples last Thursday and are studying them now, because we have no idea what else to link this to as far as a natural event."
According to Felder, there is an even higher incidence of shell disease with crabs in deeper waters.
"My fear is that these prior incidents of lesions might be traceable to microbes, and my questions are, did we alter microbial populations in the vicinity of the well by introducing this massive amount of petroleum and in so doing cause microbes to attack things other than oil?"
One hypothesis he has is that the waxy coatings around crab shells are being impaired by anthropogenic chemicals or microbes resulting from such chemicals.
"You create a site where a lesion can occur, and microbes attack. We see them with big black lesions, around where their appendages fall off, and all that is left is a big black ring."
Felder added that his team is continuing to document the incidents: "And from what we can tell, there is a far higher incidence we're finding after the spill."
"We are also seeing much lower diversity of crustaceans," he said. "We don't have the same number of species as we did before [the spill]."
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Felder has tested his samples for oil, but not found many cases where hydrocarbon traces tested positive. Instead, he believes what he is seeing in the deepwater around BP's well is caused from the "huge amount" of drilling mud used during the effort to stop the gushing well.
"I was collecting deepwater shrimp with lesions on the side of their carapace. Under the lesions, the gills were black. The organ that propels the water through the gills, it too was jet-black. That impairs respiratory ability, and has a negative effect on them. It wasn't hydrocarbons, but is largely manganese precipitates, which is really odd. There was a tremendous amount of drilling mud pumped out with Macondo, so this could be a link."
Some drilling mud and oil well cement slurries used on oil extraction rigs contains up to 90 per cent by weight of manganomanganic (manganese) oxide particles.
Felder is also finding "odd staining" of animals that burrow into the mud that cause stain rings, and said: "It is consistently mineral deposits, possibly from microbial populations in [overly] high concentrations."
A direct link
Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.
Whitehead's work is of critical importance, as it shows a direct link between BP's oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf's food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.
"What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil," Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.
According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator species because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.
"That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish," he explained. "So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can't think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish."
But we may well be witnessing the beginnings of this worst-case scenario.
Whitehead is predicting that there could be reproductive impacts on the fish, and since the killifish is a "keystone" species in the food web of the marsh, "Impacts on those species are more than likely going to propagate out and effect other species. What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect. And a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences."
Back on shore, troubled by what he had been seeing, Keath Ladner met with officials from the US Food and Drug Administration and asked them to promise that the government would protect him from litigation if someone was made sick from eating his seafood.
"They wouldn't do it," he said.
"I'm worried about the entire seafood industry of the Gulf being on the way out," he added grimly.
'Tar balls in their crab traps'
Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has "great concern" about the hundreds of dolphin deaths he has seen in the region since BP's disaster began, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.
"Adult dolphins' systems are picking up whatever is in the system out there, and we know the oil is out there and working its way up the food chain through the food web - and dolphins are at the top of that food chain."
Cake explained: "The chemicals then move into their lipids, fat, and then when they are pregnant, their young rely on this fat, and so it's no wonder dolphins are having developmental issues and still births."
Cake, who lives in Mississippi, added: "It has been more than 33 years since the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil disaster in Mexico's Bay of Campeche, and the oysters, clams, and mangrove forests have still not recovered in their oiled habitats in seaside estuaries of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has been 23 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and the herring fishery that failed in the wake of that disaster has still not returned."
Cake believes we are still in the short-term impact stage of BP's oil disaster.
"I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover," said Cake, who is 72 years old. "Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades."
The physical signs of the disaster continue.
"We're continuing to pull up oil in our nets," Rooks said. "Think about losing everything that makes you happy, because that is exactly what happens when someone spills oil and sprays dispersants on it. People who live here know better than to swim in or eat what comes out of our waters."
Khuns and her husband told Al Jazeera that fishermen continue to regularly find tar balls in their crab traps, and hundreds of pounds of tar balls continue to be found on beaches across the region on a daily basis.
Meanwhile Cowan continues his work, and remains concerned about what he is finding.
"We've also seen a decrease in biodiversity in fisheries in certain areas. We believe we are now seeing another outbreak of incidence increasing, and this makes sense, since waters are starting to warm again, so bacterial infections are really starting to take off again. We think this is a problem that will persist for as long as the oil is stored on the seafloor."
Felder wants to continue his studies, but now is up against insufficient funding.
Regarding his funding, Cowan told Al Jazeera: "We are up against social and economic challenges that hamper our ability to get our information out, so the politics have been as daunting as the problem [we are studying] itself. But my funding is not coming from a source that requires me to be quiet."