A mysterious oil spill is ravaging Brazil's northeastern coast, killing sea turtles, limiting fishing and littering the sand with clumps of the crude substance, Bloomberg reports.

What's happening: The oil has been creeping onto the coast for more than a month, and officials have not been able to identify its source. Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque notes the oil is likely coming from a leaking ship and that its characteristics are similar to Venezuelan heavy crude — but that does not necessarily indicate that Venezuela is the source. Venezuela’s state oil company has not accepted any responsibility for the issue.

  • But some disagree that Venezuela is cleared as the culprit. As Bloomberg reports: "On Wednesday, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said the oil likely originated from Venezuela, citing a report from state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA about the characteristics of the crude."
  • Petrobras CEO Roberto Castello Branco says the spill may be the result of an accident or criminal act, and President Jair Bolsonaro says the act was likely criminal.

By the numbers: The oil has reached all 9 states in Brazil's northeastern region.

  • O Estado de S. Paulo, a local newspaper, reports that over a dozen turtles have been found dead since the spill began.
  • 800 hatched baby turtles were also blocked from reaching the water.

Go deeper: Brazil has lost 1,330 square miles of Amazon rainforest under Bolsonaro

Go deeper

20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.