Princess Cruises Causes Uproar with Balloon Release

Princess Cruises Balloon ReleaseOn June 30th, Princess Cruises celebrated the Majestic Princess's maiden cruise to Taiwan by releasing hundreds of red, blue, yellow, and pink balloons from the ship, which it photographed and posted on its Facebook page

The reaction to this environmentally-harmful publicity stunt was immediate. At the time of publishing this article, there were over 900 comments posted on Facebook with the vast majority criticizing the cruise line's conduct:

Disgraceful and irresponsible behavior from Princess Cruises with this mass balloon release  . . . These balloons will end up choking wildlife in the marine environment . . . 

Stop littering the precious ocean with plastic from your marketing stunts . . . 

Shame on you, Princess cruises for releasing HUNDREDS of balloons from your ship. You should know that this causes death to wildlife in the oceans . . . 

This makes me really sad. Those balloons will eventually come down into our oceans. Marine species mistake them as food and consume them. It kills them, and adds to the microplastic crisis and contaminates our seafood. Seriously who was the idiot who decided a balloon release was a good idea? And further, who approved it?

Princess Cruises auto-responded to the hundreds of comments protesting the balloon release by falsely claiming that the balloons were allegedly "biodegradable:"

Hi, we value and respect the environment. Only eco-friendly biodegradable balloons were used in this event.

Of course, vinyl balloons are not remotely biodegradable, as many knowledgeable cruisers explained on the Princess Facebook page. Studies posted by concerned readers conclude that it takes as long as five years before the balloon actually begins to fall apart. But then the smaller parts are consumed by fish, turtles and mammals, as one commentator pointed out: 

Princess Cruises, do you really understand what you said? Balloons don't disintegrate when Princess Cruises Balloon Releasethey hit water or land. Sea life and wildlife ingest them as food. The only biodegradable thing about them is when they rot in the stomach of dead animals. Please educate yourselves. I am shocked to see an enterprise that depends on the oceans for their revenue destroy it like this. Deplorable really!

Many of the hundreds of negative comments were left by people offended that Princess would try and defend the harmful publicity stunt.

This is a cruise line which has earned a reputation over the years as an enemy of the environment. Last December, the U.S. Department of Justice fined Princess $40,000,000 for wide-spread dumping of oil from a number of its cruise ships, by-passing the bilge-water oil separators, falsification of its logs, and lying to the Coast Guard. After it was caught for its long standing environmental crimes, Princess president Jan Swartz issued a public apology, saying that the cruise line was supposedly "committed to environmental practices that protect the marine environment."

Unfortunately, Princess Cruises' statement that it released so-called "eco-friendly" balloons suggests that Princess still hasn't learned much about protecting the marine environment.

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Photo credit:

Top - Princess Cruises Facebook page.

Bottom -

WikiLeaks - Transparency, But at What Cost?

The New York Times has an interesting article today about WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, entitled "WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety."  Salon also has a counter-point in "The Nixonian Henchmen of Today: at the NYT."  Assange just released almost 400,000 secret documents on the Iraqi war.  At a press conference in London yesterday, he said that the release of U.S. Army field reports “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”

Three months ago, WikiLeaks posted around 90,000 classified Pentagon documents regarding the Afghan conflict on its website.

I have been fascinated by Wikileaks' never ending release of "secret" documents and "classified" images over the course of the last year.  I first heard of Wikileaks when it released graphic footage last year of U.S. Apache helicopters tracking and gunning down nineteen people in the streets of Baghdad in 2007. 

The video (below) shows the gunship operators acting like over-stimilated, out-of-control teenagers playing a computer war game.  When they jumped to the conclusion that a Reuters photographer carrying a camera tripod was somehow a bad guy carrying a AK-47, the helicopter gunners opended fire, seemingly gleefully, maiming the photographer who crawled across the dirt road trying to escape.  When a medical van arrived to help, with two children inside, the Apache helicopter again blasted away until no one was left standing.

The video reveals not only the incredibly brutal violence involved in the Iragi war, but the cowboy mentality attitude of the U.S. soldiers.  The gunners killed innocent civilians and two equally innocent journalists - who they called "pricks" and "assholes." 

When the video was released, the Pentagon harshly criticized WikiLeaks.  The U.S. Government claimed that the video was taken out of context and was harmful to the U.S. war effort.  But the video jeopardized no one.  It revealed the truth of what was actually happening in the street of Baghdad.  The disturbing images contrasted sharply with the usual type of PR videos released by the Pentagon showing precision laser bombs nicely hiting a target with no "collateral damage."  

I am a fan of transparency.  The truth is often quite ugly.  I am inherently untrusting of what governments and large corporations (especially cruise lines) tell the public.  Every moment of our lifes we are being fed pretty images of what others want us to believe.  The war is going as planned, they tell us.  But the truth becomes inescapable when faced with videographic proof of Apache helicopters slaughtering journalists.  And the recent document dump reveals that our U.S. Government grossly understated civilian deaths.  The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal that over 66,000 civilians died in "collateral" damage which often resembled murder. 

WikiLeaks plays a vital role in a world where governments keep secrets like this from the people.

But transparency forced by whistleblower organizations like WikiLeaks comes at a cost in the military context.  Contained in the almost one half million documents released by WikiLeaks may be the identities of Iraqis and Afghans who worked under-cover for the U.S., Great Britain and Germany.  If their names were not redacted, their lives are now in peril.  

Will WikiLeaks release video showing the deaths of other innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan killed because WikiLeaks revealed their identities in the interest of transparency?          




Video Credit:    WikiLeaks (via via YouTube sunshinepress)