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In the land around Baku, truck tires dredge ruts that pool spontaneously with natural bitumen that seeps up through the soil. Mysterious gasses burble up through mounds of gray mud, and the placid surfaces of dead ponds are disturbed by a constant effervescence. And strewn over the land, an army of oil derricks, arrayed like gigantic mosquitoes, are sucking the black blood of the earth.