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Mali: Islamists Should Free Child Soldiers.. Are children dying?

“On Friday [January 11] at around 4 p.m., I saw six Toyota land cruisers full of fighters leaving for the battle in front of the HQ of the Islamic Police. There were children in two of these – around five in one truck and two in the other. These are our children – what do they know of war?”
“when hostilities between the Islamist groups and Malian army intensified – described seeing many children, some as young as 12, taking active part in the fighting. Witnesses also said that children were staffing checkpoints in areas that have come under aerial bombardment by the French or are near active combat zones.”
JANUARY 15, 2013

Nairobi) – Islamist armed groups occupying northern Mali should immediately release all child soldiers within their ranks and end the military conscription and use of those under 18, Human Rights Watch said today. With France carrying out aerial bombardment since January 11, 2013, to block the Islamists from advancing farther south, Human Rights Watch also urged rebel groups to remove children immediately from training bases in or near Islamist military installations.

Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch by phone since January 8 – when hostilities between the Islamist groups and Malian army intensified – described seeing many children, some as young as 12, taking active part in the fighting. Witnesses also said that children were staffing checkpoints in areas that have come under aerial bombardment by the French or are near active combat zones. The Islamic groups – Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – have recruited, trained, and used several hundred children in their forces since occupying Northern Mali in April 2012.

“These Islamist groups have no business recruiting children into their ranks, much less putting them on the front line,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These groups seem to be willfully putting scores of children directly in harm’s way. Before the military campaign goes any further, the Islamists should release these children back to their families.”

Three witnesses from Konna described seeing numerous children among the ranks of the Islamists who took over and briefly held the town on January 10. Witnesses in Gao said that they saw children among the reinforcements which left Gao for Konna; mothers looking for their sons who had left Gao to fight; and children wounded during the fight for Konna arriving in Gao.

“The Islamists arrived in about 10 land cruisers,” one witness from Konna said. “After the fighting died down, we went to the entrance of town to see them. I was shocked to see about a dozen children among them, several were only 12 or 13 years old, all armed with big guns, and working alongside the big men.”

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January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Eritrea: Mining Investors Risk Use of Forced Labor -Human Rights Watch

“…CEO of Australia’s South Boulder Mines, which is on the verge of developing a $1 billion potash mine in Eritrea. The CEO acknowledged that the company has done no assessment of the potential human rights risks involved with the project, including the potential risk of the use of forced labor….”

“…The Canadian firm Sunridge Gold, which is also working on plans to develop a mine in Eritrea, did not respond to requests to discuss the issue of forced labor and other human rights abuses. The newest entry into the mining scene is China SFECO, a Shanghai-based conglomerate that recently purchased a controlling interest in another mining project from Australia’s Chalice Gold….”

“It is negligent for mining companies to ignore the risks of forced labor that clearly exist in Eritrea,” Albin-Lackey said. “It is also long past time for these companies’ home governments to make their overseas human rights records an issue of domestic concern.”

Canadian Firm Failed to Adequately Address Issue
JANUARY 15, 2013

(Toronto) – International mining firms rushing to invest in Eritrea’s burgeoning minerals sector risk involvement in serious abuses unless they take strong preventive measures. The failure of the Vancouver-based company Nevsun Resources to ensure that forced labor would not be used during construction of its Eritrea mine, and its limited ability to deal with forced labor allegations when they arose, highlight the risk.

<p>Map of Eritrea with location of Bisha Mine.</p>

The 29-page report, “Hear No Evil: Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Eritrea’s Mining Sector,” describes how mining companies working in Eritrea risk involvement with the government’s widespread exploitation of forced labor. It also documents how Nevsun – the first company to develop an operational mine in Eritrea – initially failed to take those risks seriously, and then struggled to address allegations of abuse connected to its operations. Although the company has subsequently improved its policies, it still seems unable to investigate allegations of forced labor concerning a state-owned contractor it uses.

“If mining companies are going to work in Eritrea, they need to make absolutely sure that their operations don’t rely on forced labor,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, business and human rights senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If they can’t prevent this, they shouldn’t move forward at all.”

Eritrea is one of the world’s poorest and most repressive countries. In recent years the country’s largely untapped mineral wealth has provided a badly needed boost to its economic prospects. The Bisha project, majority owned and operated by the small Canadian firm Nevsun Resources, is Eritrea’s first and so far only operational mine. It began gold production in 2011 and produced some $614 million worth of ore in its first year.

Other large projects led by Canadian, Australian, and Chinese firms are in the pipeline, however. Numerous exploration firms are scouring other leases for new prospects.

Eritrea’s government maintains a “national service” program that conscripts Eritreans into prolonged and indefinite terms of forced labor, generally under abusive conditions. It is through this forced labor program that mining companies run the most direct risk of involvement in the Eritrean government’s human rights violations. Human Rights Watch has documented how national service conscripts are regularly subjected to torture and other serious abuses, and how the government exacts revenge upon conscripts’ families if they desert their posts. Many Eritreans have been forced to work as conscript laborers for over a decade.

Most national service conscripts are assigned to the military, but others are made to work for state-owned companies. Some of those companies are construction firms that the government pressures international companies to take on as contractors.

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January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Media Silent on Fukushima Radiation Impact in U.S.

“…My internet search skill may not be the best, but the fact that I have to search for follow-up stories is a warning sign. Journalists and the media should be paying more attention. The only recent article I could find related to radiation fallout from Fukushima was a scientific study published in November, 2012. It focuses primarily on how tracing the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere….”

21 JANUARY 2013

Media Silent on Fukushima Radiation Impact in U.S.

by Brian LynchOpEdNews Op Eds, 8 January 2013

Sometimes big news stories can only be seen by the shadows they cast. You would think that it should be easy to find detailed updates on theFukushima disaster‘s impact on our fishing industry, milk production, global radiation distribution patterns, etc. You would be mistaken. The massive media coverage following the initial disaster has fallen nearly silent. Some frustrated environmental advocates have suggested that there is a media blackout. Probably not, but media follow-up stories are few and far between these days.

In July of last year there were major stories about Fukushima and the plume of radiation reaching across the Pacific Ocean towards North America. On July 16, 2012, Deborah Dupre of the Examiner reported the following:

“As hair falls out of a Fukushima victim’s head, a new German study reports that North America’s West Coast will be the area most contaminated by Fukushima cesium of all regions in Pacific in 10 years, an “order-of-magnitude higher” than waters off Japan, according to a new German study followed by a former New York Times journalist going inside the no-entry zone and reporting radiation levels over 10 times higher than Tepco’s data.”

The article was accompanied by this scary graphic:

The article went on to say: “After 10 years, the concentrations become nearly homogeneous over the whole Pacific, with higher values in the east, extending along the North American coast with a maximum (~1 — 10 -’4) off Baja California,” a new research report states.”

Then, on August 22, 2012, Japan’s NHK News reported that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant detected radiation levels 380 times the government safety limit in a fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture.

Since then not much more has been reported on the spread of radiation, although there continues to be reports about the tons of debris from the tsunami still washing up on the Pacific coast.

(One recent article can be found here: click here)

My internet search skill may not be the best, but the fact that I have to search for follow-up stories is a warning sign. Journalists and the media should be paying more attention. The only recent article I could find related to radiation fallout from Fukushima was a scientific study published in November, 2012. It focuses primarily on how tracing the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere. It is clear from the abstract that atmospheric traces of radiation from Fukushimahave already encircled the hemisphere.

We deserve to know more about what the US, Canadian and Mexican governments are doing to monitor radiation levels, track distribution rates and study how it may be impacting our food and water.

Below is a reference to the recently published study.

Science of The Total Environment Volume 438,
1 November 2012, Pages 80—85

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Breaking! Nigeria -Ansaru claims attack on Mali-bound troops -More “spillover”?

Published on Monday, 21 January 2013 05:00

Daily Trust

A group blamed for abducting Westerners claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on troops heading to Mali on Sunday in Kogi State, Reuters quoted Desert Herald yesterday as reporting.

The suspected gunmen opened fire on a convoy of troops traveling to Kaduna from military formations in southern part of the country for their deployment to Mali, killing two officers and wounding eight others, in Kogi state, central Nigeria.
The statement in the online newspaper said the attack was part of a mission to stop Nigerian troops joining Western powers in their “aim to demolish the Islamic empire of Mali.”
“We are warning the African countries to … (stop) helping Western countries in fighting against Islam and Muslims or face the utmost difficulties,” said the statement by the group, whose full name Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan means “Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa.”
Ansaru is one of several radical groups seen as the leading security threat to Nigeria.
Dubbed a terrorist organization by Britain, it has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a French national last month, citing France’s ban on full-face veils and its support for military action in Mali as reasons for the abduction.
Thought to be a breakaway from Boko Haram sect, it has risen to greater prominence over the past few months. Unlike better-known Boko Haram, it seems to have a much more thorough focus on global fight, rather than a domestic political agenda.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mali: A French quagmire in the making?


Mon Jan 21, 2013 08:26 am (KSA) 05:26 am (GMT)

Sharif Nashashibi

Just 10 days into its military intervention in Mali, there are already signs that France may have taken on more than it bargained for. The West African country may become to French President Francois Hollande what Iraq was for U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair: a destructive, open-ended quagmire with wide-ranging, unforeseen consequences.


France’s foreign minister has said the campaign against Islamist rebels, who have taken control of the northern two-thirds of its former colony, will last “a matter of weeks.” However, subsequent statements by Hollande suggest that he is either contradicting his foreign minister, or that this timeframe is wishful thinking.

The president said French forces will leave when there is “security in Mali, a legitimate authority, an electoral process, and no more terrorists threatening the integrity of the country.” He added that his troops will stay “as long as is necessary so that terrorism can be defeated” in West Africa.

Hollande is either delusional in thinking that this utopia can be created within weeks – if at all – or he is preparing for the very long haul. After all, more than a decade since the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the two countries are still a mess.

Public opinion

  Many French will resent being told to tighten their belts while money is spent long-term on a foreign campaign that they may increasingly view as not worth the cost  

Sharif Nashashibi

Nearly two-thirds of French people support the intervention, according to a poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion. Quick and decisive military operations abroad often boost leaders’ ratings at home, and Hollande may be counting on this to alleviate his unpopularity over the economy. However, public opinion usually turns when a campaign lasts longer than expected or promised.

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January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

France slams media blackout on Mali war -PressTV

Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:57AM GMT
Press TV
France has reportedly imposed a media blackout on its invasion of Mali amid a growing war that rages on in the West African nation.


On January 11, France launched the war under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in Mali. However, as Paris has stepped up its ground offensive and aerial strikes in Mali few images of the conflict have come out of the African country.

French networks TF1 and France Televisions have also sent several teams to Bamako, but a media blackout on images of the clashes has confined all journalists to the city.

This comes as French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said the number of French troops on the ground in the West African country could top the initially-planned number of 2,500.

“Two thousand five hundred is what was initially announced, maybe that will be exceeded,” Le Drian said in a Saturday television interview.

Also on Sunday, Le Drian announced that Paris’ goal in the African country “is the total reconquest of Mali,” adding, “We will not leave any pockets” of resistance.

Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was preparing for around 700,000 people to flee the violence in Mali.

The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark have already said they would support the French war against Mali.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has also pledged to support the French war by sending 5,800 soldiers to Mali.

Some analysts believe that Malian abandoned naturalresources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind French war on the country.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the West’s grab for resources, it’s convenient to blame Al Qaeda

RT: Africa has plenty of untapped natural resources. Which countries appear most interested in securing and possibly expanding their interests there? And how could those interests clash?

NC: Very possibly, because I think obviously France from Mr. Hollande’s point of view – their economy is in a very bad state in France – and I think that he is hoping that a successful intervention in Mali would boost his popularity ratings back home. So, it’s a uranium issue and how France needs uranium there. And Mali is a big producer of uranium.

the west wants resources, the west wants to get control of resources in this region

‘Al-Qaeda threat used by NATO as smoke screen for re-colonization of Northern Africa’, RT 21 Jan 13,

The UK is providing logistical air assistance, while the United States is providing surveillance and other intelligence help. Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | AFRICA, Mali, politics international | Leave a comment

Corporations circle around for lucrative nuclear waste cleanup

money-in-nuclear--wastesUK firms to bid for Japan’s nuclear clean-up
 MARK LEFTLY, 20 JANUARY 2013 British engineers Amec, Babcock
International, and Atkins are believed to be circling nuclear
decommissioning work estimated to be worth at least $5bn (£3.2bn) in
Japan as a result of the Fukushima disaster.

The new Japanese government is thought to be preparing decommissioning
contracts that will include Fukushima’s Daiichi plant, which was
overwhelmed by a tsunami in 2011, and other reactors in seismically
endangered areas.
A nuclear source said bids could be invited for the clean-up work
before the end of the year, with British groups in a strong position
due to all the decommissioning work that has been undertaken in the
US-owned Energy Solutions will also be interested.
“This is a huge opportunity,” claimed the source. “Japan should start
making some real progress on decommissioning now.”

January 21, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

USA: In 2012 49% of new energy capacity was renewable

wind-turb-smNearly half of new U.S. power capacity in 2012 was renewable — mostly wind Grist, By Philip Bump, 18 Jan 13  As predicted, almost half of the new power-generating capacity installed in the United States last year was renewable.

Flag-USAThe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently released its December update on the nation’s energy infrastructure [PDF]. When we last checked on the data, it suggested that some 46 percent of new capacity — January through October — was renewable. Well, that ratio improved over the last two months of the year. Ultimately, 49.1 percent of new capacity was renewable…..

January 21, 2013 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Swiss referendum might bring earlier shutdown for nuclear power

ballot-boxSmSwiss to vote on new proposal for phase out
18 January 2013
flag-SwitzerlandA Green-led initiative to phase out the use of nuclear energy in
Switzerland by 2029 has secured enough support for a national
referendum on the issue to be held. A date for the vote has yet to be
announced. Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Blood tests, with no radiation hazard, may replace mammograms

BREAST-CANCERMammogram problems  A recent study in the British Medical Journal suggested mammograms may actually increase the risk of breast cancer in young women with a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene due to the radiation exposure. False positives (where the test incorrectly shows breast cancer) and false negatives (where it fails to detect breast cancer) are also not uncommon

Blood tests may replace mammograms Telegraph (Sydney) Leanne Hudson   January 19, 2013
SCIENTISTS are investigating a more accurate, less invasive test for breast cancer. Baring your breasts in front of strangers and having your flesh uncomfortably pressed between two pieces of plastic – a procedure commonly known as a mammogram – is the standard test for breast cancer In future, all you may need to do is have a simple blood test. Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health | 1 Comment

Virginia uranium might well not be profitable, after all

graph-down-uranium“The industry needs prices at $75 or $80 a pound for future mine production to be profitable.” Thus, the uranium market has a long way to go before the 119 million pound tract around Coles Hill Farm east of Chatham, said to be the largest in the U.S., can actually be profitable to mine.

This is a fact that Virginia Uranium hasn’t really advertised..

The Wobbly World of Global Uranium Prices, Bacon’s Rebellion, 
January 19, 2013 by Peter Galuszka

 Highly controversial plans to mine and mill a rich tract of uranium in Pittsylvania County are before the General Assembly. Plenty of studies, lobbyists and scads of money are being thrown about on both sides of the argument.

Yet a brief story on page B7 in today’s Wall Street Journal deals with a topic that may be the truly decisive factor in the project…… Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Existence of nuclear weapons poses an increasing danger

Atomic-Bomb-Sm“There are no right hands for wrong weapons,”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon warns nuclear weapons, terrorists a rising threat, Santa Cruz Sentinel,  Monterey: Ban Ki-moon says disarmament efforts off track

By PHILLIP MOLNAR   01/18/2013 The head of the United Nations warned of nuclear weapon threats, such as the possibility terrorists could obtain them, on Friday in Monterey.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a crowd of about 200 invitation-only guests at the Monterey Institute of International Studies that nuclear disarmament progress “is off track.”

“Delay comes with a much higher price tag,” he said. “The longer we delay, the greater the risk that these weapons will be used … and even terrorists may acquire these nuclear bombs.” Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Japanese professors remind public of the story of hibakusha

HibakushaThe next few years will be crucial in collecting oral
histories from hibakusha. I feel a sense of responsibility as the last
generation that can learn directly from the victims.

INTERVIEW: Scholars call for greater cooperation between Hiroshima,
Nagasaki in anti-nuclear push January 20, 2013 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Two scholars who have spent their careers collating first-hand
accounts of atomic victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and using those
experiences to push for nuclear disarmament sat down with The Asahi
Shimbun to talk about their research into the 1945 attacks.

Taeko Kiriya, 32, is an assistant professor at the Hiroshima Peace
Institute of Hiroshima City University while Keiko Nakamura, 40, is an
associate professor at the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons
Abolition (RECNA) at Nagasaki University.

Excerpts of the interviews follow:…… Continue reading

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Japan’s govt confirms cases of badly done nuclear decontamination work

CROOKED CLEANUP: Government confirms 5 cases of shoddy decontamination
work January 18, 2013 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The Environment Ministry on Jan. 18 said that there have been five
cases of shoddy decontamination work around the crippled Fukushima No.
1 nuclear power plant and has punished the general contractors
involved in the cleanup effort.

In the five instances, three general contractors were ordered to take
corrective actions, the ministry said on Jan. 18 in its report on the
investigation into the central government-commissioned work, following
reports of the suspected such dumping of potentially radioactive
debris. Two other contractors were given guidance on following proper

The ministry also announced that countermeasures would be taken for
preventing illegal dumping in the future….

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013 | Leave a comment