UK Human Rights - search results
Amnesty International has called on heir to the British throne Prince Charles to tell the “truth” about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record during his three-day visit to the Arab country this week.
The rights organization urged the Prince of Wales to raise human rights issues with the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz while there, The Daily Mirror reported on Monday.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will visit Saudi Arabia as part of a nine-day tour of the Middle East that began on March 11, with stops in Jordan, Qatar and Oman.
“We’re not going to try to fill Prince Charles’ luggage with Amnesty reports. But if he or Camilla were to voice their royal displeasure at reports that a young Saudi jewel thief is facing crucifixion in a matter of days, that surely is their prerogative," said Kate Allen, the UK Director of Amnesty.
Amnesty’s concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia include, death penalty, freedom of speech and protests, torture, unfair trials and women’s rights.
Saudi Arabia, which is accused of brutal crackdown on peaceful anti-regime protests, is considered as Britain's largest trading partner in the Middle East, with bilateral trade worth more than £15 billion every year.
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”
Civil liberties campaigners vowed to continue fighting Government plans for secret court hearings in sensitive national security cases after MPs rejected stronger safeguards.
Ministers comfortably saw off a bid to reinstate amendments made by the House of Lords despite Labour securing the support of a number of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.
Several prominent Labour ex-ministers defied their own party’s position to back the Government in last night’s vote on controversial elements of the Justice and Security Bill.
An attempt to make judges balance national security against the public interest of open justice was defeated by 297 votes to 226, majority 71, in what opponents called a “dark night for British justice”.
Minister Kenneth Clarke insisted the measures were essential to enable sensitive intelligence material to be introduced in a small number of civil cases where the state is being sued.
The alternative, he said, was that the Government would be unable defend the action and could be forced to pay out millions in compensation – as happened with a series of former Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The defeated changes, originally passed in the House of Lords only to be reversed by the Government in the Commons committee going through the Bill line-by-line, would have made the legislation impossible to operate, he said.
The vote came after former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf said the legislation already ensured the operation of closed material proceedings was under the “complete control” of the judge in any case.
Critics complain though that CMPs undermine the principle of open justice and allow the security services to cover up involvement in abuse and torture.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan told the Commons that while he accepted the difficulty of “reconciling the issues of justice and security” the legislation was not “proportionate to the scale of the problem”.
Among prominent Tories backing the amendments was Andrew Tyrie who said they were “about whether people can get to hear the case made against them, and whether we can keep legal safeguards we have had for generations”.
Analysis of division lists revealed seven Liberal Democrats rebelled to support the public interest test amendment, including party president Tim Farron, deputy leader Simon Hughes and former minister Sarah Teather.
The issue is set to provide a renewed confrontation this weekend between Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his party activists – who last year voted overwhelmingly to oppose the legislation – at the Lib Dem spring conference in Brighton.
Labour former foreign secretary Jack Straw backed the legislation, however, telling MPs it was about “how you protect the sources of information on which intelligence depends”.
Party colleague Hazel Blears, a former counter terrorism minister, also gave her support.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said last night: “History teaches that politicians abandon ancient legal principles at their peril. Today’s cover-up is tomorrow’s scandal.
“The opposition to turning British courts into secret commissions continues. Once again, we look to the House of Lords to defeat Secret Courts and defend the Rule of Law.”
Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, said: “This has been a dark night for British justice.
“These plans for secret courts were always dangerous and unnecessary, but the failure of even minor attempts to modify the Bill means that it is even worse than when it first reached the House of Commons.
“MPs must now vote against the Bill altogether if they want to defend British justice.
“Should that fail, the House of Lords will be the only thing standing in the way of plans which would mean the end of the right to a fair trial in a vast range of civil cases.”
Speaking after the vote, Mr Khan said: “It’s disappointing that Labour’s attempts to reintroduce checks and balances into the Government’s plans for closed material proceedings have been defeated by the Tories and Lib Dems.
“This had the support of the Government’s own Independent Reviewer of Terrorism and the Joint Committee of Human Rights. We will be looking to our colleagues in the House of Lords to once again bring some balance to the Government’s plans over the coming weeks”
A Conservative Party source said: “By opposing this Bill, Labour are prepared to accept the possibility of millions of pounds going without challenge to individuals who could be terrorists.
“This raises the appalling prospect of taxpayers’ cash funding jihadist groups.”
Pointing to the presence of former Labour home office ministers Paul Goggins and George Howarth among those voting with Mr Straw against the amendments, they said: “This shows that under Ed Miliband the Labour Party is more interested in playing politics than acting as a serious alternative government.”
Published time: March 05, 2013 00:59
A public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers in Iraq murdered 20 unarmed prisoners and tortured 5 others has begun in London, with further legal arguments expected to slow the inquiry in the deaths of the Iraqi men nine years ago.
The Al-Sweady inquiry will examine claims that Iraqi prisoners were tortured by British soldiers following the Battle of Danny Boy in Maysan province, southern Iraq in the summer of 2004.
Evidence has also come to light that several of the corpses suffered severe mutilation. Iraqi death certificates recorded that one man had allegedly had his penis removed while another two bodies were missing eyes.
Several of the corpses were also said to have signs of torture when they were handed back to their families by British personnel at Camp Abu Naji.
However, there is major dispute between the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the families of the dead Iraqi men over the way in which the deaths occurred.
“The Iraqi witnesses say that the evidence points to there having been a number of Iraqi men having been taken into camp Abu Naji alive by the British military on 14th May, and who were handed back to their families dead the next day,” said Jonathan Acton Davis QC, counsel to the inquiry.
“The military say the evidence points to 20 Iraqi dead having been recovered from the battle and handed back to their families the next day,” he added, continuing that the two sides couldn’t even agree about the number of those killed or captured, or their identities.
On May 14th 2004, the troops embroiled in the allegations were involved in a fierce battle known as Danny Boy, the name of a permanent vehicle check point, which was on route six in Iraq.
A group of insurgents launched an attack against vehicles of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It soon developed into a fierce firefight, which also involved soldiers from the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, with many Iraqis shot dead and two British soldiers being wounded.
The Iraqi dead would normally have been left on the battlefield but British soldiers were allegedly told to try and identify an insurgent thought to be involved in the murder of 6 British soldiers a year earlier in 2003.
One of the first jobs of the inquiry is to try and establish whether the 20 Iraqis were killed in battle as the MoD claims or if in fact they were captured alive and then unlawfully killed.
The inquiry will also try to determine if five men taken prisoner following the battle of Danny Boy were mistreated at a second British base in Shaibah, near Basara, between 14 May and 23 September 2004.
The al-Sweady inquiry as it is known is named after Hamid al-Sweady, a 19 year old alleged victim.
The inquiry was set up after former prisoners and relatives of the dead men took their case to the High Court in London in February 2008. They are entitled to an independent inquiry because the UK is a signatory of the European convention on human rights.
But even as the enquiry opened on Monday, there were signs of legal disagreements to come. Lawyers for the relatives of the dead Iraqis are saying that its terms of reference are too narrow, while the MoD is arguing that it should be limited to allegations of mistreatment that were already decided in previous High Court rulings.
This is potentially the most embarrassing inquiry since the killing of 26-year-old Iraqi citizen Baha Mousa while in British custody in Basara in 2003. He was severely beaten on suspicion of being an insurgent. The Ministry of Defense never accepted any liability for Mousa's death.
According to Christpher Stanley of the UK-based Rights Watch group, "today [the MoD] is trying to manage it and put a cap on it. These are people getting away with grave human rights violations – including killing – without punishment or due process of law. “
So far the MoD has not come out well in the proceedings. The inquiry was ordered by then defense secretary Bob Ainsworth, after high court judges found that the MoD had made “serious breaches” of its duty.
Furthermore, British Foreign Minister William Hague has written a private memo to other ministers on March 1, urging them not to discuss Iraq and its legality in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the NATO-led invasion.
Investigators have faced problems trying to access MoD documents concerning events covering the battle of Danny Boy and at Camp Abu Naj.
In 2010 investigators found in files of the Royal Military Police a number of relevant papers which had been entirely absent from evidence disclosed by the MoD in previous court proceedings. While another 9 files were handed over by the MoD in 2011, a six week search by investigators of MoD archives found 600 documents that were relevant to the case.
Last week the inquiry was still waiting to receive emails from the MoD about a visit to the Shaibah base by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The inquiry has already cost the taxpayer £15 million and that is expected to double. Up to 200 military witnesses will be called and 45 Iraqis will give evidence through a video link from Beirut.
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GLOBAL RESEARCH ONLINE INTERACTIVE READER SERIES
The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation
Michel Chossudovsky (Editor)
I-Book No. 3, January 25 2012
Global Research’s Online Interactive I-Book Reader brings together, in the form of chapters, a collection of Global Research feature articles and videos, including debate and analysis, on a broad theme or subject matter.
In this Interactive Online I-Book we bring to the attention of our readers an important collection of articles, reports and video material on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and its impacts (scroll down for the Table of Contents).
The World is at a critical crossroads. The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation.
The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami:
“This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.”
Nuclear radiation –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities.
While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, which resulted in almost one million deaths (New Book Concludes – Chernobyl death toll: 985,000, mostly from cancer Global Research, September 10, 2010, See also Matthew Penney and Mark Selden The Severity of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster: Comparing Chernobyl and Fukushima, Global Research, May 25, 2011)
Moreover, while all eyes were riveted on the Fukushima Daiichi plant, news coverage both in Japan and internationally failed to fully acknowledge the impacts of a second catastrophe at TEPCO’s (Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc) Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant.
The shaky political consensus both in Japan, the U.S. and Western Europe is that the crisis at Fukushima has been contained.
The realties, however, are otherwise. Fukushima 3 was leaking unconfirmed amounts of plutonium. According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, “one millionth of a gram of plutonium, if inhaled can cause cancer”.
An opinion poll in May 2011 confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the Japanese population do not believe the government’s information regarding the nuclear crisis. (quoted in Sherwood Ross, Fukushima: Japan’s Second Nuclear Disaster, Global Research, November 10, 2011)
The Impacts in Japan
The Japanese government has been obliged to acknowledge that “the severity rating of its nuclear crisis … matches that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster”. In a bitter irony, however, this tacit admission by the Japanese authorities has proven to been part of the cover-up of a significantly larger catastrophe, resulting in a process of global nuclear radiation and contamination:
“While Chernobyl was an enormous unprecedented disaster, it only occurred at one reactor and rapidly melted down. Once cooled, it was able to be covered with a concrete sarcophagus that was constructed with 100,000 workers. There are a staggering 4400 tons of nuclear fuel rods at Fukushima, which greatly dwarfs the total size of radiation sources at Chernobyl.” ( Extremely High Radiation Levels in Japan: University Researchers Challenge Official Data, Global Research, April 11, 2011)
Fukushima in the wake of the Tsunami, March 2011
The dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination. Radioactive elements have not only been detected in the food chain in Japan, radioactive rain water has been recorded in California:
“Hazardous radioactive elements being released in the sea and air around Fukushima accumulate at each step of various food chains (for example, into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). Entering the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, continuously irradiating small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years often induce cancer”. (Helen Caldicott, Fukushima: Nuclear Apologists Play Shoot the Messenger on Radiation, The Age, April 26, 2011)
While the spread of radiation to the West Coast of North America was casually acknowledged, the early press reports (AP and Reuters) “quoting diplomatic sources” stated that only “tiny amounts of radioactive particles have arrived in California but do not pose a threat to human health.”
“According to the news agencies, the unnamed sources have access to data from a network of measuring stations run by the United Nations’ Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. …
… Greg Jaczko, chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told White House reporters on Thursday (March 17) that his experts “don’t see any concern from radiation levels that could be harmful here in the United States or any of the U.S. territories”.
The spread of radiation. March 2011
Public Health Disaster. Economic Impacts
What prevails is a well organized camouflage. The public health disaster in Japan, the contamination of water, agricultural land and the food chain, not to mention the broader economic and social implications, have neither been fully acknowledged nor addressed in a comprehensive and meaningful fashion by the Japanese authorities.
Japan as a nation state has been destroyed. Its landmass and territorial waters are contaminated. Part of the country is uninhabitable. High levels of radiation have been recorded in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which has a population of 39 million (2010) (more than the population of Canada, circa 34 million (2010)) There are indications that the food chain is contaminated throughout Japan:
Radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit was detected in tea made in a factory in Shizuoka City, more than 300 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the most famous tea producing areas in Japan.
A tea distributor in Tokyo reported to the prefecture that it detected high levels of radioactivity in the tea shipped from the city. The prefecture ordered the factory to refrain from shipping out the product. After the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, radioactive contamination of tea leaves and processed tea has been found over a wide area around Tokyo. (See 5 More Companies Detect Radiation In Their Tea Above Legal Limits Over 300 KM From Fukushima, June 15, 2011)
Japan’s industrial and manufacturing base is prostrate. Japan is no longer a leading industrial power. The country’s exports have plummeted. The Tokyo government has announced its first trade deficit since 1980.
While the business media has narrowly centered on the impacts of power outages and energy shortages on the pace of productive activity, the broader issue pertaining to the outright radioactive contamination of the country’s infrastructure and industrial base is a “scientific taboo” (i.e the radiation of industrial plants, machinery and equipment, buildings, roads, etc). A report released in January 2012 points to the nuclear contamination of building materials used in the construction industry, in cluding roads and residential buildings throughout Japan.(See FUKUSHIMA: Radioactive Houses and Roads in Japan. Radioactive Building Materials Sold to over 200 Construction Companies, January 2012)
A “coverup report” by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (May 2011), entitled “Economic Impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Current Status of Recovery“ presents “Economic Recovery” as a fait accompli. It also brushes aside the issue of radiation. The impacts of nuclear radiation on the work force and the country’s industrial base are not mentioned. The report states that the distance between Tokyo -Fukushima Dai-ichi is of the order of 230 km (about 144 miles) and that the levels of radiation in Tokyo are lower than in Hong Kong and New York City.(Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Current Status of Recovery, p.15). This statement is made without corroborating evidence and in overt contradiction with independent radiation readings in Tokyo (se map below). In recent developments, Sohgo Security Services Co. is launching a lucrative “radiation measurement service targeting households in Tokyo and four surrounding prefectures”.
“A map of citizens’ measured radiation levels shows radioactivity is distributed in a complex pattern reflecting the mountainous terrain and the shifting winds across a broad area of Japan north of Tokyo which is in the center of the of bottom of the map.”
“Radiation limits begin to be exceeded at just above 0.1 microsieverts/ hour blue. Red is about fifty times the civilian radiation limit at 5.0 microsieverts/hour. Because children are much more sensitive than adults, these results are a great concern for parents of young children in potentially affected areas.
SOURCE: Science Magazine
The fundamental question is whether the vast array of industrial goods and components “Made in Japan” — including hi tech components, machinery, electronics, motor vehicles, etc — and exported Worldwide are contaminated? Were this to be the case, the entire East and Southeast Asian industrial base –which depends heavily on Japanese components and industrial technology– would be affected. The potential impacts on international trade would be farreaching. In this regard, in January, Russian officials confiscated irradiated Japanese automobiles and autoparts in the port of Vladivostok for sale in the Russian Federation. Needless to say, incidents of this nature in a global competitive environment, could lead to the demise of the Japanese automobile industry which is already in crisis.
While most of the automotive industry is in central Japan, Nissan’s engine factory in Iwaki city is 42 km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Is the Nissan work force affected? Is the engine plant contaminated? The plant is within about 10 to 20 km of the government’s “evacuation zone” from which some 200,000 people were evacuated (see map below).
Nuclear Energy and Nuclear War
The crisis in Japan has also brought into the open the unspoken relationship between nuclear energy and nuclear war.
Nuclear energy is not a civilian economic activity. It is an appendage of the nuclear weapons industry which is controlled by the so-called defense contractors. The powerful corporate interests behind nuclear energy and nuclear weapons overlap.
In Japan at the height of the disaster, “the nuclear industry and government agencies [were] scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan’s civilian nuclear power plants”.1 (See Yoichi Shimatsu, Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant? Global Research, April 12, 2011)
It should be noted that the complacency of both the media and the governments to the hazards of nuclear radiation pertains to the nuclear energy industry as well as to to use of nuclear weapons. In both cases, the devastating health impacts of nuclear radiation are casually denied. Tactical nuclear weapons with an explosive capacity of up to six times a Hiroshima bomb are labelled by the Pentagon as “safe for the surrounding civilian population”.
No concern has been expressed at the political level as to the likely consequences of a US-NATO-Israel attack on Iran, using “safe for civilians” tactical nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state.
Such an action would result in “the unthinkable”: a nuclear holocaust over a large part of the Middle East and Central Asia. A nuclear nightmare, however, would occur even if nuclear weapons were not used. The bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities using conventional weapons would contribute to unleashing another Fukushima type disaster with extensive radioactive fallout. (For further details See Michel Chossudovsky, Towards a World War III Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War, Global Research, Montreal, 2011)
The Online Interactive I-Book Reader on Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War
In view of the official cover-up and media disinformation campaign, the contents of the articles and video reports in this Online Interactive Reader have not trickled down to to the broader public. (See Table of contents below)
This Online Interactive Reader on Fukushima contains a combination of analytical and scientific articles, video reports as well as shorter news reports and corroborating data.
Part I focusses on The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: How it Happened? Part II pertains to The Devastating Health and Social Impacts in Japan. Part III centers on the “Hidden Nuclear Catastrophe”, namely the cover-up by the Japanese government and the corporate media. Part IV focusses on the issue of Worlwide Nuclear Radiation and Part V reviews the Implications of the Fukushima disaster for the Global Nuclear Energy Industry.
In the face of ceaseless media disinformation, this Global Research Online I-Book on the dangers of global nuclear radiation is intended to break the media vacuum and raise public awareness, while also pointing to the complicity of the governments, the media and the nuclear industry.
We call upon our readers to spread the word.
We invite university, college and high school teachers to make this Interactive Reader on Fukushima available to their students.
Michel Chossudovsky, January 25, 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: How it Happened
The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: What Happened on “Day One”?
– by Yoichi Shimatsu – 2011-04-16
Fukushima is the greatest nuclear and environmental disaster in human history
- by Steven C. Jones – 2011-06-20
Nuclear Apocalypse in Japan
Lifting the Veil of Nuclear Catastrophe and cover-up
- by Keith Harmon Snow – 2011-03-18
Humanity now faces a deadly serious challenge coming out of Japan — the epicenter of radiation.
VIDEO: Full Meltdown? Japan Maximum Nuclear Alert
Watch now on GRTV
-by Christopher Busby- 2011-03-30
- by Sherwood Ross – 2011-11-10
Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant?
U.S.-Japan security treaty fatally delayed nuclear workers’ fight against meltdown
- by Yoichi Shimatsu – 2011-04-12
The specter of self-destruction can be ended only with the abrogation of the U.S.-Japan security treaty, the root cause of the secrecy that fatally delayed the nuclear workers’ fight against meltdown.
Fukushima: “China Syndrome Is Inevitable” … “Huge Steam Explosions”
“Massive Hydrovolcanic Explosion” or a “Nuclear Bomb-Type Explosion” May Occur
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-11-22
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-01-12
VIDEO: New TEPCO Photographs Substantiate Significant Damage to Fukushima Unit 3
Latest report now on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2011-10-20
The Devastating Health and Social Impacts in Japan
VIDEO: Surviving Japan: A Critical Look at the Nuclear Crisis
Learn more about this important new documentary on GRTV
- by Chris Noland – 2012-01-23
Fukushima and the Battle for Truth
Large sectors of the Japanese population are accumulating significant levels of internal contamination
- by Paul Zimmerman – 2011-09-27
FUKUSHIMA: Public health Fallout from Japanese Quake
“Culture of cover-up” and inadequate cleanup. Japanese people exposed to “unconscionable” health risks
- by Canadian Medical Association Journal – 2011-12-30
VIDEO: Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated
Watch this important new report on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2012-01-19
VIDEO: The Results Are In: Japan Received Enormous Exposures of Radiation from Fukushima
Important new video now on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen, Marco Kaltofen – 2011-11-07
- by Jim Bartel – 2011-10-31
- by Prof. Matthew Penney, Prof. Mark Selden – 2011-05-24
Uncertainty about the long-term health effects of radiation
Radioactivity in Food: “There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” – by Physicians For Social Responsibility – 2011-03-23
Tokyo Water Unsafe For Babies, Food Bans Imposed – by Karyn Poupee – 2011-03-23
Hidden Nuclear Catastrophe: Cover-up by the Japanese Government and the Corporate Media
VIDEO: Japanese Government Insiders Reveal Fukushima Secrets
GRTV Behind the Headlines now online
- by James Corbett – 2011-10-06
Fukushima and the Mass Media Meltdown
The Repercussions of a Pro-Nuclear Corporate Press
- by Keith Harmon Snow – 2011-06-20
- by Alexander Higgins – 2011-04-18
Emergency Special Report: Japan’s Earthquake, Hidden Nuclear Catastrophe
- by Yoichi Shimatsu – 2011-03-13
The tendency to deny systemic errors – “in order to avoid public panic” – is rooted in the determination of an entrenched Japanese bureaucracy to protect itself…
VIDEO: Fukushima: TEPCO Believes Mission Accomplished & Regulators Allow Radioactive Dumping in Tokyo Bay
Learn more on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2012-01-11
The Dangers of Radiation: Deconstructing Nuclear Experts
- by Chris Busby – 2011-03-31
“The nuclear industry is waging a war against humanity.” This war has now entered an endgame which will decide the survival of the human race.
Engineers Knew Fukushima Might Be Unsafe, But Covered It Up …
And Now the Extreme Vulnerabilty of NEW U.S. Plants Is Being Covered Up
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-11-12
COVERUP: Are Fukushima Reactors 5 and 6 In Trouble Also?
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-11-14
- by John LaForge – 2012-01-17
The Process of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation
- by Dr. Helen Caldicott – 2012-01-25
An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the US Follows Arrival of Radioactive Plume from Fukushima, Is there a Correlation?
- by Dr. Joseph J. Mangano, Dr. Janette Sherman – 2011-12-20
In the US, Following the Fukushima fallout, samples of radioactivity in precipitation, air, water, and milk, taken by the U.S. government, showed levels hundreds of times above normal…
Radioactive Dust From Japan Hit North America 3 Days After Meltdown
But Governments “Lied” About Meltdowns and Radiation
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-06-24
VIDEO: Fukushima Will Be Radiating Everyone for Centuries
New report now on GRTV
- by Michio Kaku, Liz Hayes – 2011-08-23
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-11-15
Implications for the Global Nuclear Energy Industry
Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima
- by Gayle Greene – 2012-01-26
- by Helen Caldicott – 2011-12-05
VIDEO: Radiation Coverups Confirmed: Los Alamos, Fort Calhoun, Fukushima, TSA
New Sunday Report now on GRTV
- by James Corbett – 2011-07-04
VIDEO: Why Fukushima Can Happen Here: What the NRC and Nuclear Industry Don’t Want You to Know
Watch now on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen, David Lochbaum – 2011-07-12
VIDEO: Safety Problems in all Reactors Designed Like Fukushima
Learn more on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2011-09-26
VIDEO: Proper Regulation of Nuclear Power has been Coopted Worldwide
Explore the issues on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2011-10-05
VIDEO: New Nuclear Reactors Do Not Consider Fukushima Design Flaws
Find out more on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2011-11-24
Nuclear Energy: Profit Driven Industry
“Nuclear Can Be Safe Or It Can Be Cheap … But It Can’t Be Both”
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-12-23
VIDEO: Fukushima and the Fall of the Nuclear Priesthood
Watch the new GRTV Feature Interview
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2011-10-22
- by Patrick Henningsen – 2011-06-23
- by Sue Sturgis – 2011-07-24
- by Rady Ananda – 2011-07-01
VIDEO: US vs Japan: The Threat of Radiation Speculation
Dangerous double standards examined on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2011-06-25
Additional articles and videos on Fukushima and Nuclear Radiation are available at Global Research’s Dossier on The Environment
Nuclear Radiation: Categorization
At Fukushima, reports confirm that alpha, beta, gamma particles and neutrons have been released:
“While non-ionizing radiation and x-rays are a result of electron transitions in atoms or molecules, there are three forms of ionizing radiation that are a result of activity within the nucleus of an atom. These forms of nuclear radiation are alpha particles (α-particles), beta particles (β-particles) and gamma rays (γ-rays).
Alpha particles are heavy positively charged particles made up of two protons and two neutrons. They are essentially a helium nucleus and are thus represented in a nuclear equation by either α or . See the Alpha Decay page for more information on alpha particles.
Beta particles come in two forms: and . particles are just electrons that have been ejected from the nucleus. This is a result of sub-nuclear reactions that result in a neutron decaying to a proton. The electron is needed to conserve charge and comes from the nucleus. It is not an orbital electron. particles are positrons ejected from the nucleus when a proton decays to a neutron. A positron is an anti-particle that is similar in nearly all respects to an electron, but has a positive charge. See the Beta Decay page for more information on beta particles.
Gamma rays are photons of high energy electromagnetic radiation (light). Gamma rays generally have the highest frequency and shortest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. There is some overlap in the frequencies of gamma rays and x-rays; however, x-rays are formed from electron transitions while gamma rays are formed from nuclear transitions. See the Gamma Rays for more” (SOURCE: Canadian Nuclear Association)
“A neutron is a particle that is found in the nucleus, or center, of atoms. It has a mass very close to protons, which also reside in the nucleus of atoms. Together, they make up almost all of the mass of individual atoms. Each has a mass of about 1 amu, which is roughly 1.6×10-27kg. Protons have a positive charge and neutrons have no charge, which is why they were more difficult to discover.” (SOURCE: Neutron Radiation)
“Many different radioactive isotopes are used in or are produced by nuclear reactors. The most important of these are described below:
1. Uranium 235 (U-235) is the active component of most nuclear reactor fuel.
2. Plutonium (Pu-239) is a key nuclear material used in modern nuclear weapons and is also present as a by-product in certain reprocessed fuels used in some nuclear reactors. Pu-239 is also produced in uranium reactors as a byproduct of fission of U-235.
3. Cesium (Cs-137 ) is a fission product of U-235. It emits beta and gamma radiation and can cause radiation sickness and death if exposures are high enough. …
4. Iodine 131 (I-131), also a fission product of U-235, emits beta and gamma radiation. After inhalation or ingestion, it is absorbed by and concentrated in the thyroid gland, where its beta radiation damages nearby thyroid tissue (SOURCE: Amesh A. Adalja, MD, Eric S. Toner, MD, Anita Cicero, JD, Joseph Fitzgerald, MS, MPH, and Thomas V. Inglesby MD, Radiation at Fukushima: Basic Issues and Concepts, March 31, 2011)
Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism”(2005). His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). He has taught as Visiting Professor at universities in Western Europe, South East Asia, Latin America and The Pacific, acted as adviser to governments of developing countries and as a consultant to several international organizations. Prof. Chossudovsky is a signatory of the Kuala Lumpur declaration to criminalize war and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, Germany. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.
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Published time: February 27, 2013 21:35
The governments of at least 20 countries may have fallen victim to a sophisticated new cyber-attack. Security experts believe the hackers are attempting to steal political intelligence.
The governments of at least 20 countries may have fallen victim to a sophisticated new cyber-attack. Security experts believe the hackers are attempting to steal political intelligence.
Computer security firms Kaspersky Lab and CrySyS Lab discovered that the malware, dubbed "MiniDuke," targeted government computers in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal and Romania along with think tanks, research institutes and healthcare providers in the United States.
“The technical indicators from our analysis show this is a new type of threat actor that hasn't been seen before,” Kurt Baumgartner, a senior security researcher with Kaspersky Lab, told RT.
Although experts avoid speculating on who the attackers may be, Baumgartner clarified that “based on the target victims and the functionality of the malware” the objective of MiniDuke’s authors is “to collect geopolitical intelligence.”
The threat operates on low-level code to stay hidden, and uses Twitter and Google to get instructions and updates. It allegedly infected PCs when ‘victims’ opened a cleverly disguised Adobe PDF attachment to an email.
“The high level of encryption in the malware and the flexible system it used to communicate with the C2 via Twitter and Google indicates this was a strategically planned operation,” Baumgartner said.
The PDF documents were specifically tailored to their targets, according to the researchers. The attachments referred to highly relevant topics subjects like “foreign policy,” a “human rights seminar,” or “NATO membership plans."
When the files were opened, MiniDuke would install itself on the user's computer.
So far it is only known that the malware then connects to two servers, one in Panama and one in Turkey, but security researchers say there are no clear indications of who was behind the online attacks.
According to Karpersky Lab the spyware was written in “assembler language,” a low-level code where each statement corresponds to a specific command, and is very small in size, only 20 kilobytes. Assembler language codes are written specifically for each system they are meant to attack, as opposed to higher-level codes, which can infect multiple types of technologies.
The way the malware was created and used indicates that the attackers “have knowledge from the elite, ‘old school’ type of malicious programmers who were extremely effective at creating highly complex viruses in the past,” Baumgartner says. “MiniDuke’s attackers have combined these skills with the newly advanced sandbox-evading exploits to target high-profile victims, which is unique and something we haven’t seen before.”
MiniDuke is a three-stage attack, technology news and information website, Arstechnica, explains. First it tricks a victim into opening an authentic-looking PDF document, and then infected machines start using Twitter or Google “to retrieve encrypted instructions showing them where to report for additional backdoors.”
"These accounts were created by MiniDuke’s Command and Control (C2) operators and the tweets maintain specific tags labeling encrypted URLs for the backdoors,” Kaspersky Lab said in a statement. “Based on the analysis, it appears that the MiniDuke’s creators provide a dynamic backup system that also can fly under the radar - if Twitter isn’t working or the accounts are down, the malware can use Google Search to find the encrypted strings to the next C2.”
Stages two and three are hidden inside a GIF image file which is downloaded from the command server and “disguised as pictures that appear on a victim’s machine.”
Eugene Kaspersky, founder and chief executive of Kaspersky Lab, compared the highly-advanced MiniDuke to “malicious programming from the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s”, saying it has the potential to be "extremely dangerous" because it was an "elite, old-school" attack.
"This is a very unusual cyber-attack," the statement emailed to RT read.
"I remember this style of malicious programming from the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. I wonder if these types of malware writers, who have been in hibernation for more than a decade, have suddenly awoken and joined the sophisticated group of threat actors active in the cyber world. These elite, “old school” malware writers were extremely effective in the past at creating highly complex viruses," Kaspersky's CEO added.
Neither Kaspersky nor CrySyS is disclosing what the malware does once it takes hold of a victim until they have had a chance to privately warn infected organizations, Arstechnica reported.
According to the technology news and information website, at least 60 victims have been affected. Kaspersky has identified at least 23 affected countries, including the US, Hungary, Ukraine, Belgium, Portugal, Romania, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Japan, Russia, Spain, the UK, and Ireland.
Revelations about the new malware come two weeks after Silicon Valley security firm FireEye discovered security flaws in Reader and Acrobat software.
The UK government’s decision to rename a hall at the Sandhurst military academy after the brutal king of Bahrain has sparked outrage among the British public, according to media reports.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) is renaming the hall, called Mons, commemorating troops killed in a major World War One battle after king Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain following the cruel ruler’s donation of £3 million to refurbish the hall.
This comes as the country will soon be marking the 100th anniversary of the battle, Mons, which took place in Belgium and left 1,600 UK troops dead.
The outraged British attacked the MoD’s move, saying that the tiny Persian Gulf island nation, which is well-known for severe human rights abuses, is essentially ‘buying silence’. They, meanwhile, noted that the British Army is ‘betraying its dead’, by renaming a war-time memorial after a wealthy brute ruler just for helping it financially.
“There’s something deeply ironic in renaming a hall that was in memory of soldiers who died in a tragic battle in the First World War in honor of a king who is routinely committing human rights abuses,” Labor MP Jeremy Corbyn told British media.
“To change the name of something which commemorates a very tragic episode in British military history, simply because they’re getting a sum of money from a rather dubious source, is appalling,” said Labour MP Andy Slaughter.
Slaughter also chairs the House of Commons all-party ‘Democracy In Bahrain’ group.
“It reflects the appalling double standards the British government and institutions have in relation to the Bahraini regime, which is guilty of all sorts of human rights abuses and fundamentally undemocratic", he added.
The online community also reacted angrily to the move as well.
“I doubt UK will condemn human rights abuses committed by allies whose leaders indirectly fund UK armed forces,” and "Sandhurst endorses mass torturing, child-murdering, iron-fisted dictator" were among the messages posted on Twitter in response to the name change.
Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has come under fire from human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, which slammed the regime for its violent and brutal crackdown on protesters. British-made tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and even live ammunition have been fired on pro-democracy demonstrators, according to the Amnesty International’s latest reports on Bahrain.
Violent clashes broke out recently at the funeral of a teenager, who was killed on Thursday during a rally marking the anniversary of the popular uprising against the ruling monarchy. The procession was blocked and dispersed with stun grenades and tear gas, and several people were injured.
In a clear example of double standards, the UK, U.S. and their Western allies have been reluctant to even criticize the Bahraini regime for its atrocities over the past two years and beyond.
Britain and its fellow members at the European Union have been supplying the al-Khalifa regime with various types of weaponry irrespective of the fact that scores of protesters in Bahrain were being fired on nightly with birdshot and tear gas they had manufactured.
This is while that the UK, France and certain EU states are conspiring behind closed doors to lift an EU embargo barring the supply of weapons to foreign-backed terrorists fighting the popular government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Mons Hall is set to reopen next month, and king Hamad has been invited to attend the ceremony. A plaque will be unveiled with the inscription: ‘King Hamad Hall. This building, the former Mons Hall, was refurbished in 2013 with a generous gift from the Kingdom of Bahrain.’
The Battle of Mons was the first engagement between British and German forces on World War I’s Western Front, beginning on August 23, 1914. The conflict comprised one of the so-called ‘Battles of the Frontier,’ which took place in August 1914. The British found themselves heavily outnumbered by the Germans: 70,000 troops to 160,000, and 300 artillery pieces to 600. The British suffered some 1,600 casualties.
It’s hard for me, an ordinary citizen of Singapore, a medical doctor engaged in social enterprise work in Afghanistan and a human being wishing for a better world, to write this from Kabul.Raz, Abdulhai and the author in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo: Voices for Creative Nonviolence)
But people are dying.
And children and women are feeling hopeless.
“What’s the point in telling you our stories?” asked Freba, one of the seamstresses working with the Afghan Peace Volunteers to set up a tailoring co-operative for Afghan women. “Does anyone hear? Does anyone believe us?”
Silently within, I answered Freba with shame,” You’re right. No one is listening.”
So, I write this in protest against my government’s presence in the humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan, as a way to lend my voice to Freba and all my Afghan friends.
I do so in dissent, against the global security of imprisoned minds.
I thought, “If no one listens as humans should, we should at least speak like free men and women.”
Singapore’s complicity in the humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan
It is clear that the Taliban, the many Afghan and regional warlords, militia groups and the Afghan government are responsible for the current humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan.
But Singapore is also responsible because it is one of the fifty U.S. /NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) coalition countries working with the corrupt Afghan government (rated the most corrupt country in 2012).
While the Singapore government would never support any corrupt Singaporean leader even for a day, they have sent troops to support the most corrupt leaders on earth! If accountability is at all important, we cannot say, ‘Oh…never mind!”
Moreover, Singapore has inadvertently become a minor accomplice of the self-interests of the U.S. government in Afghanistan ; The U.S. Vice President , Joe Biden, spoke at the Munich Security Conference recently, "The United States is a Pacific power. And the world's greatest military alliance ( NATO ) helps make us an Atlantic power as well. As our new defense strategy makes clear, we will remain both a Pacific power and an Atlantic power."
American power and economic interests naturally do not include the best interests of ordinary Singaporeans or Afghans.
The Afghan humanitarian tragedy
In the normal, logical world, it should inspire the doubt and curiosity of Singaporeans that while the U.S. /NATO coalition was spending billions of dollars every week on the Afghan war ( the U.S. alone was spending two billion dollars every week ), Afghans have been perishing under one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. At least 36% live below the poverty line and 35% of Afghan men do not have work . The UN calls the acute malnutrition of nearly one million children in the Afghan south ‘shocking’ . Almost three quarters of all Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water .
On several occasions in the past few years, Afghanistan was declared the worst country for children and women, and yet, many of us still hold this warped presumption, “Afghanistan is the worst country for children and women but whatever we are doing over there MUST somehow be right!”
The Afghan war tragedy
In the normal, logical world, it should at least matter to ‘result-orientated’ Singaporeans that the very expensive Afghan/U.S. coalition’s ‘war against terrorism’ has increased rather than decreased ‘terrorism’, with the Global Terrorism Index reporting that terrorist strikes in the region have increased four times since the start of the Iraq war in 2003.
Even President Karzai said in the UK recently that the security situation in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan was better before British troops were deployed.
Adding to this cynical mess of increased ‘terrorism’ at the hands of global superpowers, the U.S. has established an epicenter of drone warfare in Afghanistan, with Afghans and Pakistanis and other ‘insurgents’ as their ‘targets’, and Singapore as one of their many allies. Singapore has had teams helping in drone reconnaissance operations, reconnaissance that may have eventually ended up with a U.S. /NATO decision to kill someone without trial.
I had raised this personal concern once in a meeting room at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ; I was appreciative of the attentiveness given to this issue, but sensed that there was no great interest in ‘investigating’ how Singapore’s co-operation in the drone operations in Afghanistan may be violating international law, as was suggested by the ex-UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings, Mr Philip Alston.
A recent New York Times article highlights these ‘fears for U.S. allies’, reporting on a lawsuit in the British courts that ‘accuses British officials of becoming “secondary parties to murder” by passing intelligence to American officials that was later used in drone strikes.’ My life has been changed by listening to Afghan friends like Raz Mohammad tell how ‘drones bury beautiful lives’.
The U.N. is finally living up to its charter to ‘remove the scourge of war’ by duly investigating drone warfare. Major U.S. newspapers are also asking for more transparency over Obama’s weekly, premeditated ‘kill lists’. There has been concern over unchecked Powers getting even more out of all jurisdictions with the appointment of ‘drone justifier’ John Brennan as Obama’s CIA Director nominee.
Even the UN Committee on the Rights of a Child has been "alarmed" at reports of the deaths of hundreds of children from US attacks and air strikes in Afghanistan since the committee last reviewed U.S. practices in 2008.
Singapore should be alarmed too.
Singapore’s own identity as a militarized, authoritarian country
Deep within, like most human beings, Freba yearns for a decent livelihood without war. Abdulhai and the Afghan Peace Volunteers wish for friends from all 195 countries of the world, a better world without borders!
What kind of identity do Singaporeans wish for their country, a peaceful and friendly country or otherwise?
Again, I’m concerned. We like pictures of be-medaled soldiers more than unsung ‘Mother Teresa’ heroines. Our government has a significant number of ex-military commanders.
According to the Global Militarisation Index released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), Singapore has been the second most militarized nation in the world for years. The latest ranking puts Singapore just second to Israel and one brutal position more militarized than Syria.
The world is awakening, the human race is revolutionizing, and so is Singapore’s electorate. Most ordinary folk in the world don’t want to send missiles or guns to kill strangers in other places! Human beings have always preferred otherwise.
What also worries me is that this militarized mindset may be behind Singapore’s enthusiasm in the drone show-business, and in ‘unintentionally’ being part of the U.S.’ ‘Asia pivot’ by hosting four U.S. littoral combat ships.
Even on the economic front, while Singapore has one of the higher Gini coefficients of income inequality in the world, not many people in Singapore are aware of or debating Singapore’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, again a partnership that corporate America is pushing for.
What Singapore has aligned herself with in Afghanistan is militarized authoritarianism that concentrates profit and power in the hands of a few. While this follows global norms, such a system works mainly for the wealth and power of the 1% in the short term, but not for the daily needs of the 99% in either the short or long term.
I personally think that both the democratic and socialist practices of today are ‘non-progressive’ vehicles for the rule of the few ‘Kings, Emperors, Presidents, and Prime Ministers’ over the many presumably ‘ignorant, helpless and sometimes lazy’ subjects. These elitist systems tend to maintain control by ‘pacifying the masses’ through formal education, mainstream media and force.
I hope Singapore can steer itself away from this ‘norm’, an ugly ‘norm’ in which war becomes fun, like when Prince Harry described his combat pilot job in Afghanistan as "a joy … because I'm one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I'm probably quite useful."
I believe that for effective defense and genuine security, we ought to be friends with neighbours and all peoples of other lands rather than militarists with superior weapons.
Perhaps these are differences in opinions which can be included in Our Singapore Conversation.
It’s hard for me to write this, but I am sincerely ashamed to be a citizen of the 2nd most militarized nation on earth, a country that has participated in the legally-questionable drone warfare in Afghanistan.
Thankfully, I have hope in Singaporeans like I have hope in humanity. There are alternatives. The world is awakening, the human race is revolutionizing, and so is Singapore’s electorate. Most ordinary folk in the world don’t want to send missiles or guns to kill strangers in other places! Human beings have always preferred otherwise.
My voice is not political. My voice is human.
Afghans are hurting very badly.
And I am hurting too.
Hakim (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul. www.ourjourneytosmile.com
LONDON -- Will President Obama’s plans for "comprehensive immigration reform," centred on a "pathway" to “earned citizenship” for 11 million undocumented immigrants, inspire British politicians to unveil similar proposals here?
In the UK, the number of undocumented immigrants has been estimated to be anywhere between 500,000 and 1.1 million. The much-maligned UK Border Agency is attempting to clear a massive backlog of cases of some 320,000 people -- the equivalent of the population of Iceland.
Yet ministers studiously refuse to talk of reform, which has been criticized as "amnesty": to be seen as “soft” on immigration, illegal or otherwise, is considered the kiss of death in modern British politics.
Here, the debate over immigration reform revolves around devising new and ingenious ways of keeping people out of the country -- for example, the government’s "cap" on the number of immigrants allowed into the UK from outside the European Union, or the ongoing war on "bogus" foreign students from the Indian subcontinent –- rather than legalising the status of undocumented people who are inside the country (a process known as “regularisation”).
And Fortress Britain is, of course, part of Fortress Europe; across the continent, governments have erected an increasing number of hurdles and barriers to try and limit immigration into the EU from North Africa and the Middle East while far-right parties have exploited a growing fear of foreigners to make substantive electoral gains.
“Globally, European countries stand out as having a negative attitude towards immigration (and Britain especially so),” wrote Ben Page, chief executive of pollsters Ipsos MORI, earlier this year, “and this appears to be linked to economic stagnation, high unemployment and public-sector cuts providing a framework in which immigrants are likely to be seen as a drain on limited resources and a threat to limited opportunities.”
Nonetheless, there have been a few attempts to buck the trend. In December 2011, the Polish government announced a relief for an estimated 7,000 undocumented immigrants.
Here in the UK, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg –- prior to entering into coalition with the Conservatives and being elevated to deputy prime minister –- said he wanted to “regularise” the status of undocumented immigrants and bring them “out of the shadows”; his party’s 2010 manifesto pledged to “allow people who have been in Britain without the correct papers for ten years ... to earn their citizenship."
Influential Labour MP Jon Cruddas, now in charge of his party’s policy review, is also on record backing deportation relief for undocumented foreign workers who have been in the UK for a long time.
Remarkably, so too is the Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson. "If an immigrant has been here for a long time and there is no realistic prospect of returning them, then I do think that person's condition should be regularised so that they can pay taxes and join the rest of society," he has said in the past. (The capital is thought to be home to more than two-thirds of the country’s undocumented immigrants.)
But it would be a mistake to assume that relief for undocumented in the UK is around the corner. “In the U.S., ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ brings together a broad alliance of business and unions, human rights and race advocates and universities; and advocates have built an argument that two-thirds of Americans back by putting effective borders, a path to citizenship, and enforcement of labour market standards together,” says Sunder Katwala, founder and director of the British Future think tank. This contrasts with the UK, he explains, where “advocacy is fragmented.”
Reform is also deeply unpopular –- hence the reluctance of most mainstream politicians to utter the A-word. Poll after poll shows the public supports deportation of undocumented immigrants, no matter how expensive or impractical such measures may be, rather than "amnesties" or "regularisation." As Katwala observes, “The 2010 election, where the LibDems came under fire over amnesty, showed that there is a very long way to go to build public support and consent, and to offer credible reassurance that it would be a one-off to sort an effective system out, not the first in a series of amnesties seeming to create an open door policy for all.”
Few would pretend that there is anything resembling a "liberal" majority on immigration in the UK: A recent YouGov poll for the Sunday Times revealed that 67 percent of the public thinks immigration has been “a bad thing for Britain” and 80 percent support the Conservative-led coalition government’s pledge to reduce net immigration into the UK from the hundreds of thousands to the "tens of thousands."
Consider, however, the results of YouGov’s latest “issues” poll. When asked which two or three issues were the “most important ... facing the country at this time," the economy came first, cited by 79 percent of the public, while immigration was second, cited by 49 percent. But when asked to rank “the most important issues facing you and your family,” the economy still came first (67 percent) while immigration plummeted to sixth (14 percent), behind health (33 percent), pensions (31 percent) tax (27 percent) and family life (16 percent).
The YouGov poll, incidentally, backs the findings of a recent "State of the Nation" survey conducted by British Future, which found that 19 percent of the public picked immigration as their top local concern while 30 percent put immigration first when asked to think about the tensions facing “British society as a whole."
As YouGov chairman Peter Kellner points out, “there is a huge gulf between people’s perception of immigration as a national issue, and one that affects their own lives.”
It is this “gulf” that the advocates of deportation relief, and a less draconian approach to immigration as a whole, will have to try and turn to their advantage if they are to secure popular support in the near future. In the meantime, the UK's undocumented immigrants will continue to remain in the shadows, watching the unfolding debate across the Atlantic with envy.
MONROVIA, LIBERIA - February 1 - Palm oil companies are grabbing more than 1.5 million acres of land in Liberia and are violating human rights of local communities, warn Liberian NGOs including Friends of the Earth Liberia (SDI - Sustainable Development Institute), Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) and Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SESDev).
On the eve of a United Nations meeting in Liberia, that will discuss a new global development framework, Friends of the Earth International is backing the local NGOs’ demands - including renegotiation of contracts for land concessions and a reassessment of the Liberian agricultural development strategy on which these concessions are based.  
Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby and Indonesian Golden Veloreum have entered into long term land leases with the Liberian Government. Investigations into Sime Darby’s operations reveal that communities located in the areas allocated to the company had little warning or consultation of this land grab. Many of the inhabitants, especially women, say they have lost their farms and food sources, livelihoods, as well as culturally sacred sites to oil palm plantations.  
An analysis of the contracts between the Liberian Government and the Asian companies demonstrates they are likely to be violating several Human Rights conventions ratified by Liberia. 
“Giving away land for large scale plantations is hailed as promoting the economic recovery of Liberia but in reality these plantations undermine Liberia’s basic food security and cause poverty when livelihoods are lost. Therefore allowing these plantations contradicts the Liberian Government’s own policies on reducing poverty and preventing hunger”, says SDI campaigner Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor.
“Allocating large swathes of fertile agricultural land to foreign companies for several decades will push people further into poverty, as local income generating activities are curtailed and peoples’ earning capacities become limited”, he adds
Civil society organisations are also concerned about large scale conversion of primary and secondary forest to palm oil plantations as Sime Darby expands into Gbarpolu county. They are demanding a halt to any further planting and further deforestation and environmental degradation in any of the concession areas.
“Forests have environmental benefits and provide multiple livelihood sources for the people, which they have now lost. Employment from the plantations is insecure; low- paid and does not contribute to sustaining livelihoods in the long term. Instead, local communities want the Liberian government and the palm oil companies to recognise their ownership of community land”, says SAMFU campaigner Robert Nyahn.
The UN High Level panel meeting in Monrovia brings together political leaders from around the world, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, to discuss development goals especially in Africa. Friends of the Earth Liberia will be present at this meeting to question the suitability of large scale land concessions as a development strategy in Liberia.
Sime Darby claims that it upholds international human rights standards and voluntary guidelines such as the UN Global Compact of which the company is a signatory. However, in its operations in Liberia, Sime Darby is violating several principles of the Global Compact as well as OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Silas Kpanan'Ayoung Siakor, Campaigner, Sustainable Development Institute (Liberia) Phone: 00 35383 148 4210 (Ireland mobile) Email: email@example.com
Maarten Van Den Berg, Communications Coordinator, Friends of the Earth International, Phone: +31 20 622 1369 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Detailed press information, a fact sheet about the case and supporting documents, as well as a selection of rights free images is available online at http://www.foei.org/simedarby
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 In a statement released today, the three Liberian NGOs are demanding a comprehensive reform program for the agriculture sector which takes into account community livelihoods and recognizes their rights to use and benefit from community resources, to kick-start genuine development in Liberia. See statement at foei.org/simedarby
 Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will convene a high Level Panel meeting on 1st February to discuss global Sustainable Development Goals. See more information on the meeting at http://www.un.org/sg/management/hlppost2015.shtml
 A fact sheet with about the operations of Sime Darby in Liberia is online at http://www.foei.org/simedarby
 In November 2012, 150 affected community representatives met in Liberia to discuss the impacts of palm oil. See their statement at http://www.foei.org/simedarby
 A human rights-based analysis of the agricultural concession agreements between Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum and the Government of Liberia, Forest Peoples Programme 2012, available at http://www.foei.org/simedarby
As Britain prepares to send hundreds of troops to West Africa to support French forces fighting Islamists in Mali, charities and human rights groups have warned of serious atrocities being committed on both sides of the conflict.
Reports from workers on the ground suggest child soldiers are being drafted into a war that is split down ethnic and geographical lines, and one that is threatening to turn into a major humanitarian crisis.
More than 2,000 French soldiers are currently supporting the army in Mali after Islamist fighters seized hold of several regions in the North more than nine months ago.
Malian soldiers boarding a French Transall military plane in Bamako, Mali
“We are winning in Mali," French President Francois Hollande told a news conference on Monday, after armed forces secured the key city of Timbuktu.
While news footage showed local Malians celebrating the departure of the Islamists and cheering the French, the situation is far more complicated than some bulletins suggest.
Phillipe Bolopion, the UN Director of Human Rights Watch, told the Huffington Post UK the organisation was documenting "serious evidence of multiple killings by the Malian army", recounting how bodies are dumped and wilfully ignored by the local police.
Malian soldiers walking through the rubble of a former army base leveled during fighting with Islamist rebels in Konna
Bolopion, speaking from Sévaré, a town in the Mopti Region of Mali, said a number of people from different ethnic groups were rounded up from around town and bus stations a few weeks ago and then slaughtered.
"The bodies were dumped in a well close to the Gendarmerie station and they are still there. No one is interested in investigating," he said.
Islamist groups have been driven from the area, yet Bolopion painted a stark picture of the scene that will greet British troops, adding: “If Sevare is the test case of things to come in other liberated areas it is very worrying."
“We are trying to piece it all together but the army are intimidating people and telling them not to talk. We told the Gendarmerie; ‘the bodies are still there, you can see them, but they say ‘why dont you ask my boss? or 'it's the fire service’s fault.’ And what this shows is there is no interest in investigation from local authorities.’
Malian soldiers outside Gao airport
His disturbing account follows a report by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) alleging that the Malian army is responsible for at least 33 killings since Jan 10, particularly in the towns of Sévaré, Nioro, and Mopti.
Refugees have told of horrific atrocities committed by the Islamists too, with public whippings, children being recruited to fight and rebels chopping off people’s hands.
As displaced families struggle with the emotional and physical toll of what they have witnessed, both Save The Children and UNHCR have reported on how members of different ethnic communities blame each other for supporting the separatist rebellion which led to the present conflict.
Many of these people have already survived the worst food crisis in living memory and there are fears that the situation could develop into a major humanitarian crisis.
A burnt-out car in Konna after the fighting
Sévaré is not the only town that has seen conflict. Konna, in the centre of Mali, witnessed fierce fighting less than a week ago. Many of the town’s main buildings were razed to the ground after clashes between Malian army and rebel groups and then the French forces moved their troops in.
Bolopion claims they have collected evidence of civilian casulties after a French airstrike in Konna and said there had also been reports of people being taken away from the Malian army and turning up either dead or missing.
A crowd cheers the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, in northern Mali
He said they had documented four civilians who were killed in the airstrike so far, with one woman, and three children, aged six, ten and 11.
He added: "Reports suggested there may be more but we did not have enough time to check as the Malian army did not allow it."
There has been widespread frustration at the lack of access to the places where fighting has taken place, either to journalists or to people providing humanitarian aid. Al Jazeera's Yasmine Ryan, who is in Mali, described the conflict as an 'invisible war' with no official death tolls for civilians or soldiers.
A French soldier guards the Timbuktu airport in Mali
Despite these accounts of violence, Tom McCormack of Save the Children said most people seem happy that the West has intervened.
Speaking from the capital Boloko, McCormack told the Huffington Post UK: "It seems most Malians accept that forceful intervention was needed and most people feel relieved that armed groups (Islamists) are gone."
The brutal violence of these groups was documented in a January 2013 report by Amnesty, which told how Tuareg and Islamist armed opposition groups engaged in widespread rape and torture and killed of captured Malian soldier and recruited child soldiers.
"We dont have first hand reports but we are hearing stories of child soldiers being involved in the fighting, being lured into training camps with a little bit of money and being used in the conflict in various ways."
McCormack said he thought the recent flurry of violence was now settling down into a "long simmering conflict" which came with its own set of challenges.
Angry crowds shout at suspected Islamist extremists in the back of an army truck in Gao
Thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting, with very few refugee camps and instead refugees staying with host families or extended relatives.
According to UNCHR some 380,000 people have fled northern Mali since the start of the conflict a year ago. This includes 230,000 who fled South, and more than 150,000 who are living as refugees in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria (despite the border being closed)
McCormack said this displacement threatens to push communities to breaking point. "These are some of the poorest people in the world and it wont take very much for people to be pushed over the edge," he added.
"People have always been able to accept the many different ethnic groups in Malian society and prided themselves on getting along but these Islamist groups have proved really divisive.
"There’s an added factor of social strain now. A lot of people resent this, and blame the Touregs for this tension and some Northern Malians living down south fear they could be stigmatised and blamed for the crisis. People are pitted against people and there have been isolated cases where northern malians have been targeted.
"I fear there will be some social damage with reprisals as those in the south see it a chance to punish people in the north for the unrest."
Hundreds of Malians looted stores in Timbuktu, saying the shops belonged to 'Arabs' and 'terrorists' linked to the radical Islamists who occupied the desert town for 10 months
This is supported by a report by the UNHCR which talks of "tension between ethnic communities" and appeals to community leaders and to the Malian authorities "to give urgent priority to initiatives to promote peace and reconciliation between various ethnic groups."
Additionally both the Red Cross and Crescent and Plan International have raised concern over the developing humanitarian situation in the region. ICRCC have been involved in large scale food distribution in the north, amid shortages of fuel needed to power water pumps and lack of chemicals to treat the water.
Dr Krishnan of Plan International told the Huffington Post UK: "We, the global humanitarian community, have been struggling to raise money to help almost 400,000 people displaced by the fighting. We are asking for just one-third of the military budget – US$370 million. But as of this morning only 1% has been committed.”
Lindsay German of Stop the War Coalition told the Huffington Post UK that intervention in these kinds of situations never worked "because it doesnt address the problems and grievances people are facing on the ground."
"Every time the government does a knee jerk reaction like this you know its not addressing the real problems.
"They need to address the inequality of people living there. Islamists do well in part in these regions because the state is not functioning for the people and they provide some sort of alternative for people who are very very poor."
Behind each name there is the face of a child with a family history in a village in a far away country, with a mom and a dad, with brothers and sisters and friends.
The UN inquiry into the use of armed drones for targeted killing, announced yesterday by London-based UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, is very much to be welcomed. Undertaken at the direct request of several…
Chris Woods and Alice K Ross, January 26, 2013
A UN investigation into the legality and casualties of drone strikes has been formally launched, with a leading human rights lawyer revealing the team that will carry out the inquiry. The announcement came…
One day … Children at school will ask: What is war? You will answer them. You will tell them: Those words are not used any more. Like stagecoaches, galleys or slavery. Words no longer meaningful … (Martin Luther King,15th January…
Patrick Martin, January 21, 2013
President Obama is about to sign off on a manual that will institutionalize the process by which the White House orders and approves killings by remote-controlled drones, according to a report Sunday. The so-called counterterrorism “playbook” will define the circumstances…
“What is needed is a clear understanding of the issues involved so that informed decisions can be made.” The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, MoD 2011 In 2011 the MoD published its policy document on the use of armed…
A simple twist of fate has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, he has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”
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Back in 1872, just after she was arrested for casting an illegal vote, Susan B Anthony gave a rousing speech in which she posed the question of whether women are actually persons. Her point, of course, was that if women were indeed flesh and blood persons, then there could be no legal basis under the constitution to deny them a vote. It took nearly 50 more years – women finally achieved suffrage in 1920 – to get a definitive answer to what was a rhetorical question.Several states have pursued murder charges for women who have miscarried. (Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian)
Now, however, less than 100 years after that long-delayed answer, the question of whether women – or at least, pregnant women – are still persons endowed with all the human, civil, and constitutional rights that personhood bestows, is once again in play. And the evidence suggests that the answer is, at best, a "maybe".
This week, just in time for the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) released a study (pdf) on the "criminalization of pregnancy", as reported last week by the Guardian's Karen McVeigh. It details hundreds of cases of women who were arrested, forced to undergo medical procedures, and held in jails, prisons, or mental institutions.
These arrests and detentions were made possible by the relentless quest to undo Roe v Wade and restrict access to legal abortions. But there is a bigger issue, according to NAPW's executive director Lynn Paltrow:
"We are no longer just talking about [attacks on] reproductive rights, but whether, in the guise of trying to end just abortion rights, we are going to remove pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons."
That sentence should send chills up the spine of any woman in America who is pregnant or who may someday become pregnant (which covers quite a few of us). There are now anti-foeticide laws in 38 states. Colorado and Mississippi have tried (and intend to try again) to pass personhood laws that would grant full constitutional rights to a fertilized egg.
Georgia tried, and thankfully failed, to pass a law that would have had all miscarriages investigated as possible homicides. Alabama did pass a chemical endangerment law that is being used to prosecute (mostly poor and minority) pregnant women suspected of taking drugs. The upshot of all this attempted legislation is that terminating a pregnancy is still lawful, but hundreds of women who miscarry or have stillborn babies can be charged with murder and sentenced as murderers.
Many reproductive rights advocates have long suspected that these various laws are more about controlling women than genuine attempts to protect babies. I would argue that anyone genuinely pro-life should be demanding universal healthcare for pregnant women, not prison terms for a failure to provide their unborn babies with a level of care and well-being they themselves do not enjoy. Whatever the intention of these laws, what has become clear is that rather than protecting the rights of the fetus, this legislation steadily erodes the rights of the women on whom those fetuses are dependent.
The Roe v Wade decision explicitly rejected the argument that fetuses were to be treated as separate constitutional persons under the law. Yet, we now have documented evidence of hundreds of women being forced to undergo medical procedures against their will, against their doctors' advice and sometimes in restraints, on the grounds that the fetus has its own set of rights separate from those of its mother.
Lynn Paltrow recounts the tragic case of Angela Carder, who was ordered by a court to undergo caesarian surgery – against the advice of her doctors, her family, and her own wishes.
"Ms Carder was 27 years-old and 25 weeks pregnant when she became critically ill. She, her family and her attending physicians all agreed on treatment designed to keep her alive for as long as possible. The hospital however called an emergency hearing to determine the rights of the fetus.
"Despite knowing that Caesarian surgery could kill Ms Carder, the court ordered it, claiming that the fetus had independent legal rights. The fetus was born alive but died two hours later. Angela Carder died two days later, with the surgery listed as a contributing factor."
A higher court later ruled that Carder's rights had been violated – scant comfort to her grieving family. The dissenting judge in that ruling, however, gave some frightening insight into what women are up against: he argued that the viable unborn child is a person with rights separate from the pregnant woman, and that an expectant mother by "undertaking to bear another human being places herself in a special class of persons".
I don't imagine that "special class of persons" is one Susan B Anthony, or indeed, any self-respecting woman, would care to be a part of. In this class, a pregnant woman can apparently be expected to forgo her own right to life, whether or not there is a chance that the fetus she is carrying might outlive her.
We (women, I mean) should be grateful that, for now, this particular judge's dissenting opinion is not the law of the land. But these increasingly common opinions, and not the law of the land, are driving continued arrests, detentions, and illegal interventions into the lives of pregnant women.
What does this mean for American women in the future? I do not know, but what is certain is that as legal battles to undo abortion rights continue (and they will), women – and men who care about them – need to realize it's no longer just reproductive rights we have to worry about, but our basic civil and human rights.
Hasbro has updated the UK version of Monopoly in order to "more accurately reflect the average British high street". Check it out - and below it, some of the new Community Chest and Chance cards, too!
- 'Drunk in Charge'. Get featured on the cover of Heat magazine. Collect £200.
- You manage to get an appointment at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store within a week. Collect £200.
- Go To Jail. Move directly to Jail. Do not pass 'Go'. Do not collect £200.
- Sue Jail for breaching your human rights. Collect £10,000 compensation.
- It’s your birthday! You receive an HMV voucher. Collect £0 from each player.
- Advance to Pall Mall. If you pass Starbucks, pay £5 towards their taxes.
- Take a trip to Marylebone Station. If you pass a ‘Tesco Metro’ collect £100. Your small local shop then closes down. Lose £200.
- You buy a peplum dress with lace insert online with free delivery from ASOS. Collect £100.
Community Chest Cards
- Your bank has made an error. Pay them £100 plus £20 in additional fees.
- Get out of Jail free card – move to the Ecuadorian Embassy and stay there indefinitely.
- You receive a 2 for 1 deal email from Blockbuster. Go back three places.
- You have come third in a reality show. Skip three turns while you do panto in Swindon.
- Your fridge breaks down. You bought it from Comet. Pay £200 to buy a new one from Argos.
- You appear on Jeremy Kyle. You take a lie-detector test and discover which brother is your baby's daddy. Collect £1000 in child support arrears.
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France, the former slave power of west Africa, has poured into Mali with a vengeance in a military attack launched on January 11. French warplanes are bombing towns and cities across the vast swath of northern Mali, a territory measuring some one thousand kilometers from south to north and east to west. French soldiers in armoured columns have launched a ground offensive, beginning with towns in the south of the northern territory, some 300 km north and east of the Malian capital of Bamako.
A French armoured convoy entered Mali several days ago from neighbouring Ivory Coast, another former French colony. French troops spearheaded the overthrow of that country’s government in 2011.
Off with a handshake into a C-17 transport plane, to support French imperialism.
The invasion has received universal support from France’s imperialist allies. The U.S., Canada and Europe are assisting financially and with military transport. To provide a figleaf of African legitimacy, plans have been accelerated to introduce troops from eight regional countries to join the fighting (map here).
The public relations version of the French et al invasion is a familiar refrain. “Islamic terrorists” and “jihadists” have taken control of northern Mali and are a threat to international security and to the well-being of the local population. Terrible atrocities against the local populace are alleged and given wide publicity by corporate media. Similar myths were peddled by the warmakers when they invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
It is true that Islamic fundamentalists have ruled northern Mali with an iron hand since taking over in 2012. But the reasons for this latest intervention lie in the determination of the world’s imperial powers to keep the human and natural resources of poor regions of the world as preserves for capitalist profits. West Africa is a region of great resource wealth, including gold, oil and uranium.
The uranium mines in neighbouring Niger and the uranium deposits in Mali are of particular interest to France, which generates 78 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy. Niger’s uranium mines are highly polluting and deeply resented by the population, including among the semi-nomadic, Tuareg people who reside in the mining regions. The French company Areva is presently constructing in Imouraren, Niger what will become the second largest uranium mine in the world.
Notwithstanding the fabulous wealth created by uranium mining, Niger is one of the poorest countries on earth. As one European researcher puts it, “Uranium mining in Niger sustains light in France and darkness in Niger.”
Mali (population 15.5 million) is the third-largest gold producing country in Africa. Canada’s IAMGOLD operates two mines there (and a third in nearby Burkina Faso). Many other Canadian and foreign investors are present.
A key player in the unfolding war is Algeria. The government there is anxious to prove its loyalty to imperialism. Its lengthy border with northern Mali is a key zone for the “pacification” of northern Mali upon which France and its allies are embarked.
Further proof of the hypocrisy of the ‘democracy’ that France claims to be fighting for in Mali is found in the nature of the Mali regime with which it is allied. Often presented in mainstream media as a ‘beacon of democracy’ in west Africa, the Mali government was little more than a corrupt and pliant neo-colonial regime before last year when the U.S.-trained and equipped Mali army twice overthrew it – in March and again in December. The Mali army now scrambling to fight alongside its French big brother was condemned and boycotted by the U.S., Europe and Canada during a brief, sham interlude of concern following the first coup.
Today, the Mali government is a shell of a regime that rules at the behest of the Mali military, the latter’s foreign trainers, and the foreign mining companies that provide much of its revenue.
The Tuareg People
At the political heart of the conflict in Mali is the decades-long struggle of the Tuareg, a semi-nomadic people numbering some 1.2 million. Their language is part of the Berber language group. Their historic homeland includes much of Niger and northern Mali and smaller parts of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Libya. They call themselves Kel Tamasheq (speakers of the Tamasheq language).
The Tuareg have fought a succession of rebellions in the 20th century against the borders imposed by colonialism and then defended by post-independence, neo-colonial regimes. They are one of many minority nationalities in west Africa fighting for national self-determination, including the Sahwari of Western Sahara, a region controlled by Morocco and whose Sahwari leadership, the Polisario Front, is widely recognized internationally.
The Tuareg were brutally subdued by colonial France at the outset of the 20th century. Following the independence of Mali and neighbouring countries in 1960, they continued to suffer discrimination. A first Tuareg Rebellion took place in 1962-64.
A second, larger rebellion began in 1990 and won some autonomy from the Mali government that was elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1997. A third rebellion in Mali and Niger in 2007 won further political and territorial concessions, but these were constantly reneged. A Libya-brokered peace deal ended fighting in 2009.
The Mali state and army constantly sought to retake what they had lost. Violence and even massacres against the Tuareg population pushed matters to a head in 2011. The army was defeated by the military forces of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) and on April 6, 2012, the MNLA declared an independent Azawad, as they call northern Mali and surrounding region. The Tuareg are one of several national groups within the disputed territory.
The independence declaration proved premature and unsustainable. The MNLA was soon pushed aside by Islamist-inspired armed groups that oppose Tuareg self-determination and an independent state. The army, meanwhile, continued to harass and kill people. A group of 17 visiting Muslim clerics, for example, were massacred on September 22, 2012.
According to unconfirmed reports, the MNLA has renounced the goal of an independent Azawad. It entered into talks with the Mali regime in December for autonomy in the northern region. A January 13 statement on the group’s website acquiesces to the French intervention but says it should not allow troops of the Mali army to pass beyond the border demarcation line declared in April of last year.
Militarization of Mali and West Africa
Mali is one of the poorest places on earth but has been drawn into the whirlwind of post-September, 2001 militarization led by the United States. U.S. armed forces have been training the Mali military for years. In 2005, the U.S. established the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership comprising eleven ‘partner’ African countries-Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.
The ‘partnership’ conducts annual military exercises termed ‘Flintlock.’ This year’s exercise is to take place in Niger and according to the January 12 Globe and Mail, “Canada’s military involvement in Niger has already commenced.”
Canadian troops have participated in military exercises in west Africa since at least 2008. In 2009, Mali was named one of six “countries of focus” in Africa for Canadian aid. Beginning that year, Canadian aid to Mali leaped to where it is now one of the largest country recipients of Canada aid funds.
In 2008, Canada quietly launched a plan to establish at least six, new military bases abroad, including two in Africa. (It is not known exactly where the Africa part of the plan stands today.)
Only days into the French attack, evidence is mounting of significant civilian and military casualties. In the town of Douentza in central Mali, injured civilians can’t reach the local hospital, according to Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders). “Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital,” said a statement by the agency’s emergency response co-ordinator Rosa Crestani.
The International Red Cross is reporting scores of civilian and military casualties in the towns coming under French attack.
Amnesty International is worried. Its West Africa researcher, Salvatore Saguès, was in the country last September and saw the recruitment of children into the Mali army. He is worried about retaliatory attacks by the army if it retakes control of the towns and cities it has lost, notably in the northern cities of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.
He also warned of the plans to bring neighbouring armies into northern Mali. “These armies, who are already committing serious violations in their countries, are most likely to do the same, or at least not behave in accordance to international law if they are in Mali,” he said.
According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, the latest crisis has internally displaced nearly 230,000 Malians. An additional 144,500 Malians were already refugees in neighbouring countries.
UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards says half the population of the town of Konna, some 5,000 people, sought as French bombs threatened to fall by fleeing across the River Niger.
In an ominous sign of more civilian casualties to come, and echoing the excuses for atrocities by invading armies against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine in recent years, French military commanders are complaining of the difficulty in distinguishing fighters they are bombing from non-combatant populations. France’s army chief Edouard Guillaud told Reuters that France’s air strikes were being hampered because militants were using civilian populations as shields.
No to the War in Mali
The military attack in Mali was ordered by French President François Hollande, the winner of the 2012 election on behalf of the Socialist Party. His decision has been condemned by groups on the political left in France, including the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste and the Gauche anticapitaliste. The latter is a tendency with the Front de gauche (Left Front) that captured 11 per cent of the first-round presidential vote last year.
Shockingly, the Left Front leadership group has come out in favour of the intervention. Deputy François Asensi spoke on behalf of the party leadership in the National Assembly on January 16 and declared,
“The positions of the deputies of the Left Front, Communists and republicans, is clear: To abandon the people of Mali to the barbarism of fanatics would be a moral mistake… International military action was necessary in order to avoid the installation of a terrorist state.”
His statement went on to complain that President Hollande did not bother to seek the approval of the National Assembly.
A January 12 statement by the French Communist Party (PCF), a component of the Left Front, said,
“The PCF shares the concern of Malians over the armed offensive of the Jihadist groups toward the south of their country… The party recalls here that the response to the request for assistance by the president of Mali should have been made in the framework of a United Nations and African Union sponsorship, under the flag of the UN…”
Unlike the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in 2004, which the PCF and Socialist Party supported at the time, France and its allies did not feel the need to obtain a rubber stamp of approval from the UN Security Council this time in Mali. But doing so would not have changed the predatory nature of this latest mission, just as it didn’t in Haiti.
A January 15 statement by the Canadian Peace Alliance explains:
“The real reason for NATO’s involvement is to secure strategic, resource rich areas of Africa for the West. Canadian gold mining operations have significant holdings in Mali as do may other western nations…
“It is ironic that since the death of Osama Bin Laden, the U.S. military boasts that Al-Qaeda is on the run and has no ability to wage its war. Meanwhile, any time there is a need for intervention, there is suddenly a new Al-Qaeda threat that comes out of the woodwork. Canada must not participate in this process of unending war.”
That’s a call to action which should be acted upon in the coming days and weeks as one of the poorest and most ecologically fragile regions of the world falls victim to deeper militarization and plundering. •
Roger Annis is an antiwar activist who lives in Vancouver, Canada.
The TUC accuses UK Tory Eurosceptics of disguising plans to tear up workers’ rights.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has accused Tory Eurosceptics of undermining a wide number of labor laws that has emerged from Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) over the past years.
The TUC said the Conservatives’ bid to abolish the EU social and employment law is a cover-up to tear up British workers’ rights.
The Union’s accusations came after a group of Conservative MPs said their primary objective over the country’s break up from the EU was to see the return of social and employment legislation from Brussels.
“The Conservatives want a free market Europe without workers' rights, controls on the financial sector, equality laws, human rights and so on,” The TUC said.
“The PM's strategy is that if he can blackmail the rest of the EU into that, then he will put that to a referendum and seek the British people's endorsement.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron is under growing pressure from backbenchers for a referendum offering voters the choice of signing up to a new EU deal or quitting.
Intl. conference to discuss Britain’s failed legacy in Palestine
The London-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is organizing an international conference to discuss “Britain’s legacy in Palestine”, which takes a deep look at the UK’s failed policy in Palestine.
The gathering, which coincides with the fourth Palestine Memorial Week, to be held from 19th-25th Jan 2013, will be used as a formal launching pad for an anti-Balfour Declaration Campaign.
International Balfour Campaign is a five year initiative by the PRC to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in 2017.
The Balfour Declaration was a November 2, 1917 letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, the president of the British Zionist Federation that made public the British support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration led the League of Nations to entrust the United Kingdom with the Palestine Mandate in 1922.
Now, the main objective of the Balfour campaign is said to be raising awareness about Britain’s failed policies in Palestine and their devastating outcomes for the oppressed people of the region.
The UK’s failed policy in the region brought sufferings for thousands of Palestinians living under the British rule at the time and many more millions who are enduring terrible human rights abuses and occupation under the Zionist regime of Israel.
According to reports the conference will be inaugurated by Prof Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Mohamad al Hamid of PRC and a number of MPs.
Among topics to be discussed during the conference there are three in the first session including the Theological and Ideological Roots of the Balfour Declaration, British Policy in Palestine, and the continuation of Britain’s colonial Legacy in Palestine by the Israeli regime.
“Ethnic cleansing of Palestine: Same goal different model”, and “Living Under occupation, the mechanics of ongoing ethnic cleaning”, are also among topics to be discussed at the second session of the conference.
Pushing the UK government to apologize to the Palestinians will also be top on the agenda of the International Campaign.
Britain is funding millions of pounds in foreign aid into training an Ethiopian paramilitary force, accused of human rights abuses, including rape and torture, as well as summary executions.
Based on a Department for International Development document seen by The Guardian, the £13 million to £15 million funding for training the militia in the Somali region of Ogaden, which lies within Ethiopia, is excused by the British government as a “peace-building” plan.
The Ethiopian government is leading a counter-insurgency campaign in Ogaden by its “special police” or the “Liyu police.”
The force was deployed to the area after federal security institutions halted operations there due to protests to the Ethiopian army’s conduct by rights groups including the Human Rights Watch.
This comes as the disclosed document shows the British government is training the force in the knowledge of its record.
“Human rights abuses committed by the special police are believed to be more widespread and severe than those committed during the military campaign,” the document said.
In a report in May 2012, the Human Rights Watch revealed the “special police” have been behind at least ten summary executions.
This comes as another rights group Amnesty International has also raised serious concerns about Britain training the force.
“There have been repeated allegations against the Liyu police of extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and other violations including destruction of villages,” Amnesty International's Ethiopia researcher, Claire Beston said.
Britain’s links to the force follows repeated reports of London’s assistance to foreign agencies, widely accused of major human rights abuses and torture, including in the Muammar Gaddafi-led Libya.
1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.
4. All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.