Heroes

A whale interrupts a deep-sea expedition on the site of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, the animals of the sea are still recovering.

A whale interrupts a deep-sea expedition on the site of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

You may have seen a video making the rounds about deepwater explorers and their encounter with a sperm whale.

It's a really cool clip. If you haven't seen it yet, go ahead and give it a watch (it's at the bottom of this post).


But there are a few things you might not know about that crew. For example...

The crew is led by the same man who discovered the Titanic.

No, not him.

Him!

That's Bob Ballard, and he's basically the Michael Jordan of, uh, doing stuff underwater.

Just two dudes at the top of their game.

So it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he's making rare, chance encounters with whales.

And another thing you might not know about the whale video: It was filmed at the site of the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster.

Less wondrous majesty of the sea, and more ... oil and fire and smoke and stuff.

It's been five years since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

Located roughly 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, it became the site of one of the world's largest drilling-related disasters.

For 87 days, oil rushed from the leak before it was finally capped on July 15, 2010. It wasn't until Sept. 19, though, that the well was sealed off.

According to a report by the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 5 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf.



As part of the containment efforts, the Coast Guard attempted to burn the oil off the surface, as seen in this picture from May 5, 2010.

Wildlife was negatively affected onshore and off, leading to short- and long-term challenges.


Ballard and his crew are out there researching the spill site to answer some remaining questions.

There's still a lot we don't really know about the long-term effects of such a huge spill.

The crew took some time this week to answer questions about their work exploring the area during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session.

They touch on their work, as well as some general questions about the spill. I highly recommend checking it out. It's great stuff.

Check out the team's encounter with the sperm whale below:

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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Of the 25 actors that have been nominated for an Oscar for playing an LGBTQ character, a grand total of zero of them have been openly queer. The debate on whether or not only gay actors can play gay roles has many sides and nuances. After Darren Criss, who is straight, won an Emmy for playing Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Criss vowed he would never play another gay man because he didn't want to be "another straight boy taking a gay man's role." Actor Ben Whishaw, who is gay, feels otherwise. "I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn't be defined only by what we are," Whishaw said. Recently, Kristen Stewart also weighed in on some of the complexities around the issue.

Variety recently asked Stewart about the importance of gay actors playing gay characters. Stewart acknowledged the complexity of the issue. "I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who's lived that experience. Having said that, it's a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I'm going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it's such a gray area," Stewart told Variety.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Richard Desmick / TikTok

Over the weekend, an estimated thousands of people ran 2.23 miles to show their support for Ahmaud Arbery, a former high school football player and avid jogger. Arbery was shot and killed in February near Brunswick, Georgia after being pursued in a truck by a former policeman and his son who claimed he resembled someone responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood.

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Americans are more interested in politics than ever these days. More voted in the 2020 election than in any other in the past 100 years. Over 65% of the voting-eligible cast a ballot in the contentious fight between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

"People are very excited and paying attention even though there are all this bad news and high 'wrong track' numbers in the country," Nancy Zdunkewicz, managing editor at Democracy Corps, told The Hill.

It's wonderful to see that a greater number of Americans are standing up to be counted and demanding their voices be heard. But it's also the symptom of a deep level of discontent many people feel about their country.

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