Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza ‘war crimes’/Israels Latin America “Trail of Terror”

Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza ‘war crimes’
Israel has warned military officers and senior officials that a threat of prosecution for alleged war crimes in Gaza could hinder future travel abroad.

By Damien McElroy in Jerusalem
January 24 2009

Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza 'war crimes'
Daniel Friedman, Israel’s justice minister, was appointed to head a special task force to defend individuals detained abroad and the military censor declared that names of officers from lieutenant to colonel must not be published Photo: AFP

At least four human rights groups are believed to be compiling suits alleging that Israelis perpetrated war crimes in planning or carrying out the three-week operation Cast Lead.

Daniel Friedman, Israel’s justice minister, was appointed to head a special task force to defend individuals detained abroad and the military censor declared that names of officers from lieutenant to colonel must not be published.

More than 1,300 Palestinian deaths were reported during the offensive in Gaza and the United Nations has led demands that Israel investigate high-profile incidents including the shelling of its facilities.

Private prosecutions are already being prepared. “We are building files on war crimes throughout the chain of command from the top to the local level,” said Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. “We are convinced these have been the most bloody days for Gaza since the occupation and that war crimes were perpetrated against Palestinian civilians.”

Courts in six countries, including Britain, have accepted petitions to prosecute alleged war crimes in previous wars. Most notoriously, activists in Belgium used a clause, since removed from the statute, to target the former prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

Accusations of war crimes strike an especially sensitive chord in Israel, a nation founded in the wake of the Holocaust. Comparisons between the long siege of Gaza and the Jewish ghettoes of central Europe draw a vociferous denunciation from the government. Israel insists troops did their best to limit civilian casualties in heavily populated areas where Hamas gunmen were attacking from tunnels and had booby-trapped civilian homes.

While senior politicians travel with diplomatic immunity, retired officials have already faced problems travelling abroad.

A retired major general, Doron Almog, was forced to remain on an El Al plane at Heathrow in 2005 after the Israeli military attaché warned he would be arrested if he disembarked. Gen Almog commanded Israeli forces in Gaza when a bombing raid on an apartment block that killed a Hamas commander, Salah Shehadeh, resulted in the deaths of 14 others. The magistrates’ warrant was later quashed.

An unknown number of officials have been notified that they should submit future travel plans to the military for review. Avigdor Feldman, an Israeli lawyer, said that thousands of serving officers could be affected. “I would highly recommend any soldier or officer contemplating going to the UK to reconsider,” he told an Israeli newspaper.

According to Lt Col David Benjamin of the Military Advocate Corps, lawyers were deployed at divisional commands in operation Cast Lead. He said: “Approval of targets which can be attacked, methods of warfare – it all has gone through us.”

But ensuring that those involved in the Gaza Campaign are never sentenced is set to be a long-term challenge for Israel. “The government will stand like a fortified wall to protect each and every one of you from allegations,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, at a military gathering after a ceasefire was called last week.

Source

How dare they scream  Holocaust, when in fact they have helped in the murder of millions.

Screaming Holocaust is there favorite pass time, but it doens’t cut it,  when you look at their history.

Israel was on the road, long before the Holocaust transpired at any rate anyway. Anyone who knows the history of the Jewish Community would know that.

Seems they always use that as a tactic. The rest of the world is suppose to feel guilty and forgive them for their terrorizing innocent people.

Well there have been numerous Holocausts. Like all the Aboriginal Indians in North and South America. In Africa  and other countries. There has even been a Holocaust in Palestine.  Perpetrated by the Israelis them selves. That being said lets move on.

Here are a few Facts about Israel, I had tucked away for prosperity.

They are not the sweet wonderful country, they pretend to be.

Israel’s Latin American trail of terror
By Jeremy Bigwood
June 5, 2003

“I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements” said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin.

Castao, who leads the Colombian paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary force to ever exist in the western hemisphere reveals that he was trained in the arts of war in Israel as a young man of 18 in the 1980s.

He glowingly adds: “I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the Israelis,” in his chapter-long account of his Israel experiences.

Castao’s right-wing Phalange-like AUC force is now by far the worst human rights violator in all of the Americas, and ties between that organisation and Israel are continually surfacing in the press.

Outside the law

The AUC paramilitaries are a fighting force that originally grew out of killers hired to protect drug-running operations and large landowners. They were organised into a cohesive force by Castao in 1997. It exists outside the law but often coordinates its actions with the Colombian military, in a way similar to the relationship of the Lebanese Phalange to the Israeli army throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

According to a 1989 Colombian Secret Police intelligence report, apart from training Carlos Castao in 1983, Israeli trainers arrived in Colombia in 1987 to train him and other paramilitaries who would later make up the AUC.

Fifty of the paramilitaries’ “best” students were then sent on scholarships to Israel for further training according to a Colombian police intelligence report, and the AUC became the most prominent paramilitary force in the hemisphere, with some 10,000-12,000 men in arms.

The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.

In May of last year, GIRSA, an Israeli company associated with the Israeli Defence Forces and based in Guatemala was able to buy 3000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 2.5 million rounds of ammunition that were then handed over to AUC paramilitaries in Colombia.

Links with the continent

Israel’s military relations with right-wing groups and regimes spans Latin America from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile, starting just a few years after the Israeli state came into existence.

Since then, the list of countries Israel has supplied, trained and advised includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
But it isn’t only the sales of planes, guns and weapons system deals that characterises the Israeli presence in Latin America.
Where Israel has excelled is in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency operations in the Latin American “dirty war” civil conflicts of Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.

In the case of the Salvadoran conflict – a civil war between the right-wing landowning class supported by a particularly violent military pitted against left-wing popular organisations – the Israelis were present from the beginning. Besides arms sales, they helped train ANSESAL, the secret police who were later to form the framework of the infamous death squads that would kill tens of thousands of mostly civilian activists.

From 1975 to 1979, 83% of El Salvador’s military imports came from Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By 1981, many of those in the civilian popular political movements who had survived the death squads headed for the hills to become guerrillas.

By 1981 there was an open civil war in El Salvador which took over a decade to resolve through negotiations.

Even though the US was openly backing the Salvadoran Army by 1981, as late as November 1983 it was asking for more Israeli “practical assistance” there, according to a declassified secret document obtained recently by Aljazeera.

Among the assistance asked for were helicopters, trucks, rifles, ammunition, and combat infantry advisors to work at both the “company and battalion level of the Salvadoran Army”.

One notable Salvadoran officer trained by the Israelis was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, who always held a high opinion of the Israelis. It was Major D’Aubuisson who ordered the assassination of El Salvador’s archbishop amongst thousands of other murders.
Later he would organise the right-wing National Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) and send his son to study abroad in the relative safety of Israel.

Dirty war

Amazingly, while the Israelis were training the El Salvadoran “death squads” they were also supporting the anti-semitic Argentine military government of the late 1970s and early 1980s – at a time when that government was involved_in another “dirty war” of death squads and disappearances.

In 1978, Nicaragua’s dictator Somoza was making his last stand against a general uprising of the Sandinista-led population who were sick of his family’s dynasty which had ruled and monopolised the county for half a century. The Israelis and the US had been supplying Somoza with weapons for years. But when President Jimmy Carter came into office in 1976 he ordered a cessation of all US military assistance to Nicaragua.
Filling the void, the Israelis immediately increased their weapons supplies to Somoza until he fled the country when the Sandinistas took power.

Israeli operatives then helped train right-wing Nicaraguan Contras in Honduran and Costa Rican camps to fight the Sandinista government, according to Colombian police intelligence reports Aljazeera_has obtained.

At least some of the same Israeli operatives had also previously trained the nucleus of the paramilitary organisations that would become the AUC in Colombia.

But by far the bloodiest case of Israeli involvement in Latin America was its involvement in Guatemala from the 1970s to the 1990s. As in El Salvador, a civil war pitted a populist but, in this case, mainly Indian left against a mainly European oligarchy protected by a brutal Mestizo Army.

As Guatemalan President Carlos Arana said in 1971, “If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so.”

Active involvement

The Israelis supplied Guatemala with Galil rifles, and built an ammunition factory for them, as well as supplying armoured personnel carriers and Arava planes. Behind the scenes, they were actively involved in the bloodiest counter-insurgency campaign the hemisphere has known since the European conquest, in which at least 200,000 (mostly Indians) were killed.
Like Israel’s original occupation of Palestine, several entire Guatemalan Indian villages were razed and a million people displaced. “The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea. If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea,” said Guatemalan President Rios Montt in 1982.

Guatemalan army officers credit Israeli support with turning the tide against the uprising, not only in the countryside where Israeli counter-insurgency techniques and assistance set up strategic-hamlet-like “development poles” along the lines of the Israeli kibbutz, but also in the cities where “Israeli communication technicians and instructors” working through then-sophisticated computers were able to locate and then decimate guerrillas and their supporters in Guatemala City in 1981.

From the late 1970s until the 1990s, the US could not overtly support the Guatemalan army because of its horrendous human rights record (although there was some covert support), but many in the US government, especially in the CIA, supported Israel in taking up the slack.

Wrong

But the US grew to regret its actions. On 10 March 1999, US President Bill Clinton issued an apology for US involvement in the war: The “United States… support for military forces or intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression…was wrong.” No similar statement has ever been forthcoming from the Israelis.

At the present time, the only major insurgency war in Latin America is in Colombia, where Israel has an overt involvement.
Besides the dozen or so Kfir IAI C-7 jet fighters they have sold the Colombian government, and the Galil rifles produced in Bogota under licence, most of the Israeli ties to the government’s counter-insurgency war are closely-guarded secrets.

Aljazeera’s attempts to obtain clarification on these and other issues for this story were stonewalled by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Why does Israel continue to provide arms and expertise to the pariahs of the world? Clearly, part of the reason is the revenues produced by arms sales, and part of it has do with keeping up with trends in counter-insurgent war across the globe.
But another factor is what is demanded of Israel by the world’s only superpower, the US, in partial exchange for the superpower’s continued support for Israeli dominance in the Middle East.

Assistance

This relationship can be best illustrated by recently declassified 1983 US government documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based National Security Archives through the Freedom of Information Act.

One such declassified document is a 1983 memo from the notorious Colonel Oliver North of the Reagan Administration’s National Security Council and reads: “As discussed with you yesterday, I asked CIA, Defense, and State to suggest practical assistance which the Israelis might offer in Guatemala and El Salvador.”

Another document, this time a 1983 cable from the US Ambassador in Guatemala to Washington Frederic Chapin shows the money trail.

He says that at a time when the US did not want to be seen directly assisting Guatemala, “we have reason to believe that our good friends the Israelis are prepared, or already have, offered substantial amounts of military equipment to the GOG (Government of Guatemala) on credit terms up to 20 years…(I pass over the importance of making huge concessionary loans to Israel so that it can make term loans in our own backyard).”
In other words, during civil wars in which the US does not want to be seen getting its hands dirty in Latin America, the superpower loans Israel money at a very good rate, and then Israel uses these funds to do the “dirty work”. In this regard, in Latin America at least, Israel has become the “hit-man” for the US.

Wars funded by American Tax Dollars.

Wars and funding to prop up Brutal governments or regimes.

Israel the, Money Laundering, “Funnel Tunnel” for the US.

They love extermination pure and simple. They were more, then willing to help other regimes exterminate innocent people.

Of course it doesn’t end there, they also supplied weapons etc to other countries as well. Africa is also on my list as well. It’s a pretty long list.

What has changed over the years, not much.

Why would anything change.

We will in the future find out who and how many.

The trail of cookie crumbs, is not all that hard to follow.

Have a cruel bloodthirsty regime and you will find both the US or Israeli involvement.

Most time they work together. All in the name of profit, power, control and death.

They call it Self Defense or I am rescuing you.

Iran is evil because thy want to help innocent victims rebuild.

Hamas is pure evil are they?  The Hamas they helped create.

Haitian’s are pure evil are they?

Indians are pure evil are they?

All the innocent people they had a hand, in murdering are all evil are they?

Death Squads are a good thing are they?

I can almost bet, the “Death Squads” in the Philippines, were trained by Israelis.

The Israeli Gov. and the US Gov. should mind their own business and clean up their, own moral bankruptcy.

They both should clean up their own Weapons of Mass Destruction.

They are two the most corrupt, countries in the world.

They blame everyone else of crimes, they themselves are actually committing.

Well like all criminals they will plead not guilty. They are no different from any other criminal.

Both countries lied to their people.

Both oppressed their own people.

Both are warmongering countries.

They could pass as twins, in their sins against humanity.

Those who are corrupt past and present should be rooted out and charged.

There is no statute of limitation on murder or war crimes.

They should be held responsible for the millions, they have murdered or helped murder. Directly or indirectly they are responsible.

Can or will Obama be able to clean up the US.

Maybe:  We will have to wait and see.

Will the corruption in Israel, get cleaned up, not flippin likely.

Will the corruption in the International Agency’s get cleaned up, we will have to wait and see.

The less they do to stop those in the US Gov. and Israeli Gov. the more obvious it is, they are corrupted.

Information Wanted by the International Criminal Court/ UN: Falk Likens Gaza to Warsaw Ghetto

Israel Accused of Executing Parents in Front of Children

White Phosphorus Victims in Gaza

What Types of Gruesome Weapons Did Israel Use in Lebanon?

UN: Israel should pay for Humanitarian Aid they Destoyed

Father: ‘I watched an Israeli soldier shoot dead my two little girls’

Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?

Outrage as Israel bombs UN and Hospital

Israel Navy ships turn back “Spirit of Humanity” carrying Gaza humanitarian aid

President of the United Nations General Assembly: Israel violating International Law

Israel Hits another “United Nations” Building in Gaza

Israel Violating Egyptian Airspace to attack Gaza

Israel continues to attack Hospitals, Clinics and Public Buildings in Gaza

Red Cross slams Israel over 4 day wait to access wounded

The making of Israel’s Apartheid in Palestine

Samouni family recounts Gaza horror

79 % of the time: Israel caused conflicts not Hamas

Gaza War Why?: Natural Gas valued at over $4 billion MAYBE?

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat headed to Gaza

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

Shoot Then Ask, Israeli Soldiers Told

Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

Will the world do nothing to stop Genocide in Gaza?

Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty

Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Sign Petition to Ban DU

What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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A Few of the World’s most polluted places

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Untreated sewage and mercury-contaminated sludge flow into a water system at Sumgayit, See a map of Azerbaijan.)

A major industrial center of the former Soviet Union and erstwhile home to more than 40 chemical factories, Sumagayit was recently named one of the ten most polluted cities in the world by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute.

At their peak of production, the town’s factories released as much as 120,000 tons of harmful emissions annually, exposing workers and residents to high levels of contaminants, the institute said.

A study conducted by the Azerbaijani government and the UN revealed that cancer rates in Sumgayit are 22 to 51 percent higher than in rest of the country.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Workers dump waste at Vapi, a town in western India that marks the southern end of the country’s “Golden Corridor”a 400-kilometer (245-mile) stretch of industrial sites that manufacture petrochemicals, pesticides, dyes, paints, and fertilizers. (See a map of India.)

A survey by the Indian government revealed that the sites lack a proper system for disposing of industrial waste, which often contains high levels of heavy metals and cyanide, among other contaminants.

A new list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute places Vapi in the top ten of the most polluted regions in the world.

Vapi’s distance from sources of clean water has forced residents to consume the town’s contaminated water, the institute said.

As a result, incidences of respiratory diseases, carcinoma, skin and throat cancers, birth defects, and infertility are high in Vapi, the nonprofit added.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

A doctor holds a newborn in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, in 1997. (See a map of Russia.)

The city, once the country’s Cold War headquarters for producing chemical weapons, was recently added to the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s ten most polluted places.

Dzerzhinsk remains an important hub of chemical manufacturing.

Babies born here have birth defects at three times the national rate, the institute said on its Web site. A quarter of these babies will likely grow up and work in factories that still spew toxic chemicals, it added.

Dzerzhinsk’s average life expectancy is 42 years for men, well below the national average of about 58.

No major initiative to combat the pollution and health problems is underway, according to the New York-based institute.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Men search for metal at an abandoned lead mine in Kabwe, Zambia, the country’s second largest city, in this undated photo. (See a map of Zambia.)

Decades of unregulated lead mining have led to widespread poisoning in residents exposed to soil and water.

The New York-based Blacksmith Institute added the city to its list of the ten most polluted places for 2007.

Blood lead levels in children, who often bathe in contaminated water and play in the soil, are high enough to be potentially fatal, the institute reported on its Web site.

Although a local nonprofit educates families about avoiding lead exposure, entire communities may have to relocate, the institute said.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

A cemetery of radioactive vehicles is seen near Ukraine‘s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in this November 10, 2000 photo. (See a map of Ukraine.)

More than 1,300 Soviet military helicopters, buses, bulldozers, and other equipment were used and contaminated while responding to the April 26, 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl.

The disaster’s residual effects and its potential for future environmental and health damage has landed Chernobyl on the New York-based Blacksmith Institute’s 2007 list of the ten most polluted sites.

A hundred times more radiation was released during the meltdown of Chernobyl’s reactor than was contained in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The event created a spike in thyroid cancers among children and led to innumerable respiratory ailments, infertility cases, and birth defects in local residents.

Today a 19-mile (31-kilometer) exclusion zone around the reactor remains largely deserted.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Women work at an open chromite mine at Sukinda, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, in this undated photo. (See a map of India.)

The Sukinda valley contains 97 percent of the country’s deposits of chromite a source of chromium and is the site of one of the largest open-cast chromite ore mines in the world.

A list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute cites the region as one of the most polluted in the world.

Twelve mines operate in Sukinda, generating about 30 million tons of waste rock and contaminating more than 60 percent of the water resources with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, the institute said on its Web site.

A state government study has also indicated that 85 percent of the deaths in the mining areas and nearby villages are due to chromite-mine related diseases.

The government reportedly stated that the situation in Sukinda “is unique, it is gigantic, and it is beyond the means and purview of the [Orissa Pollution Control] Board to solve the problem.”

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Cars inch through the smog-filled city center of Linfen, China, on July 7, 2007. (See a map of China.)

The city is listed among the world’s ten most polluted places of 2007, according to the New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute.

Linfen sits at the center of China’s prodigious coal industry, which is largely unregulated by the government. Residents describe choking on coal dust, and local health clinics have reported an upsurge in bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer, according to the institute.

“The one thing that blew me away was in Linfen, three million people are affected by air pollution,” said William Suk, acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“People assume a lot of these sites are in the middle of nowhere, but they’re not.”

By the end of 2007, Linfen plans to shut down 57 of its 153 coal-producing plants, to be replaced with cleaner, regulated facilities, the institute’s Web site reported.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Russia‘s northernmost major city, Noril’sk pumps out more than two million tons of pollutants a year making it one of the ten most polluted spots in the world, according to the New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute. (See a map of Russia.)

Mining and smelting began in Noril’sk in the 1930s, and the city now houses the world’s largest smelting complex for heavy metals.

Snow is often blackened with pollution, the air tastes of sulfur, and the life expectancy is up to ten years lower than the Russian average, the institute reported.

Noril’sk Nickel, the major firm operating in the town, says it has invested millions in its dust and gas recovery and removal systems, according to the institute.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

September 18, 2007Two girls walk to school amid smoky skies in La Oroya, Peru, in this September 2003 photo. (See a map of Peru.)

The congested mining town of 35,000 nestled high in the Andes was recently added to the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the ten most polluted places in the world.

A metal smelter run by the Missouri-based Doe Run Corporation has operated in the remote settlement since 1922.

Exposure to the smelter’s pollution has led to dangerously high blood lead levels in nearly all of La Oroya’s children, according to the New York-based institute.

Lung ailments are widespread, and high numbers of premature death have been linked to the smelter’s emissions, the nonprofit reports on its Web site.

Likewise, acid rain from sulfur dioxide pollution has destroyed much of the vegetation in the area.

Doe Run says it has invested approximately 1 million U.S. dollars a year in a joint program with the Peruvian Ministry of Health to lower blood lead levels in the region.

The Blacksmith Institute, which collaborates with local agencies to fight pollution worldwide, compiled its annual list of the most polluted places through a nomination process.

The entries were then reviewed by a technical advisory board of medical and environmental experts.

William Suk, acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was not involved in the report.

“What the [Blacksmith Institute] has done is a good thing,” Suk told National Geographic News.

“They are trying to bring to the attention of the world that these sites exist.”

Source

U.N. report warns toxic brown haze has devastating effect

November 14 2008

A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central-eastern China, covering the coastline around Shanghai. The "Asian brown cloud" is a toxic mix of ash, acids and airborne particles from car and factory emissions, as well as from low-tech polluters like wood-burning stoves. </p> <p>A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central-eastern China, covering the coastline around Shanghai. The

BEIJING

A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.

The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, cooking on dung or wood fires, and coal-fired power plants, these plumes rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America.

But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

“The imperative to act has never been clearer,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, in Beijing, identified as one of the world’s most polluted cities and where the report was released.

The brownish haze, sometimes in a layer more than a mile thick and visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian peninsula to the Yellow Sea. During the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far east as California. The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hot spots, among them Bangkok, Thailand; Cairo, Egypt; New Delhi; Seoul, South Korea; and Tehran, Iran.

It was issued on a day when Beijing’s own famously polluted skies were unusually clear. On Wednesday, by contrast, the capital was shrouded in a thick, throat-stinging haze that is the byproduct of heavy industry, coal-burning home heaters and the 3.5 million cars that clog the city’s roads.

Last month, the government reintroduced some of the traffic restrictions that were imposed on Beijing during the Olympics; the rules forced private cars to stay off the road one day a week and sidelined 30 percent of government vehicles on any given day. Overall, officials say the new measures have removed 800,000 cars from the roads.

According to the U.N. report, smog blocks from 10 percent to 25 percent of the sunlight that should be reaching the city’s streets. The report also singled out the southern city of Guangzhou, where soot and dust have dimmed natural light by 20 percent since the 1970s.

In fact, the scientists who worked on the report said the blanket of haze might be temporarily offsetting some warming from the simultaneous buildup of greenhouse gases by reflecting solar energy away from the earth. Greenhouse gases, by contrast, tend to trap the warmth of the sun and lead to a rise in ocean temperatures.

“All of this points to an even greater and urgent need to take on emissions across the planet,” Steiner said.

Climate scientists say similar plumes from industrialization of wealthy countries after World War II probably blunted global warming through the 1970s. Pollution laws removed that pall.

Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. As a result, the glaciers that feed into the Yangtze, Ganges, Indus and Yellow rivers are absorbing more sunlight and melting more rapidly, researchers say.

According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, these glaciers have shrunk by 5 percent since the 1950s and, at the current rate of retreat, could shrink by 75 percent by 2050.

“We used to think of this brown cloud as a regional problem, but now we realize its impact is much greater,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who led the U.N. scientific panel. “When we see the smog one day and not the next, it just means it’s blown somewhere else.”

Although the clouds’ overall impact is not entirely understood, Ramanathan, a professor of climate and ocean sciences at the University of California, San Diego, said they might be affecting precipitation in parts of India and Southeast Asia, where monsoon rainfall has been decreasing in recent decades, and central China, where devastating floods have become more frequent.

He said some studies suggested the plumes of soot that blot out the sun have led to a 5 percent decline in the growth rate of rice harvests across Asia since the 1960s.

For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by firewood.

Source

CO2

By Paul Eccleston
November 14  2007

Australians are the world’s worst polluters, according to a new ‘name and shame’ league table based on power station emissions.

Each Australian produces 11 tonnes of CO2 power sector emissions each year on a per capita basis. The United States comes second in the table on nine tonnes per person Britain is ranked 9th at 3.5 tonnes per person.

The findings are revealed in a huge survey of the CO2 emissions from 50,000 power plants worldwide by the Centre for Global Development (CGD) an independent think-tanked based in the US.

The on-line Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database shows where the worst power station culprits are, who owns them and how much of the greenhouse gas they are pumping into the atmosphere.

It includes 4,000 power companies, and nearly 200,000 geographic regions in every country on earth. Visitors to the site can view carbon emissions data for the year 2000, the present, and future plans.

Power stations are the planet’s most concentrated source of greenhouse gases – one of the main factors in global arming – producing nearly 10 billion tons of CO 2 per year. The US, with over 8,000 power plants, accounts for about 25 per cent of the total or 2.8 billion tons.

Although the developing nations are among the worst offenders they have a far lower per capita rate. The average Chinese citizen produces two tonnes of CO2 from power generation annually while Indians only about half of one tonne per person.

Although no single country comes close to the 2.8 billion tons of CO 2 produced annually by the US power sector, other countries collectively account for three-quarters of all the power-related CO2 emissions.

China comes second with 2.7 billion tonnes, followed by Russia with 661m tonnes; India 583m tonnes; Japan 400m tonnes, Germany 356m tonnes, Australia 226m tonnes, South Africa 222m tonnes, the UK 212m tonnes and South Korea 185m tonnes.

Power generation accounts for about one-quarter of total emissions of CO2. Through the website people concerned about climate change can check on the emissions of their local power station.

CARMA was set up to help the drive towards less carbon-intensive power generation and reducing global warming which will hit poor people in developing countries the hardest.

The man who led the research, David Wheeler, a senior fellow at CGD, said: “CARMA makes information about power-related CO2 emissions transparent to people throughout the world. Information leads to action. We know that this works for other forms of pollution and we believe it can work for greenhouse gas emissions, too.

“We expect that institutional and private investors, insurers, lenders, environmental and consumer groups and individual activists will use the CARMA data to encourage power companies to burn less coal and oil and to shift to renewable power sources, such as wind and solar.”

Statistics for the UK show it has the 9th highest CO2-emitting power sector at 212,000,000 tonnes of CO2.

The Drax power station in Selby, Yorkshire is named as the biggest UK polluter producing 23,700,000 tonnes of CO2 annually making it the 23rd most polluting power station in the world.

It is followed in the UK by Longannet in Alloa, Scotland at 15,700,000 tonnes; Ratcliffe in the East Midlands at 12,800,000 tonnes; Fiddlers Ferry in the North West at 12,300,000 tonnes; and Cottam in the East Midlands at 12,300,000 tonnes.

The world’s worst pollution power plant is Taichung in the city of Lung-Ching in Taiwan which pumps out 41.3m tonnes of CO2 per year.

Taiwan and China have four of the top six worst polluting power plants

Source

100 dirtiest power stations in the UK
25 dirtiest power stations in the world

World’s 10 Worst Pollution Spots

NEW YORK, New York, October 18, 2006 (ENS)
The world’s 10 most polluted places threaten the health of more than 10 million people in eight countries, according to a report released today by a U.S. environmental action group. Three of the most polluted sites are in Russia, the report said, with the remaining seven located in China, Dominican Republic, India, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Ukraine and Zambia.

The report was released by the Blacksmith Institute and compiled by a team of international environment and health experts, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Mt. Sinai Medical Center and City University of New York.

“A key criterion in the selection process was the nature of the pollutant,” said Richard Fuller, director of Blacksmith Institute. “The biggest culprits are heavy metals – such as lead, chromium and mercury – and long-lasting chemicals – such as the `persistent organic pollutants.’ That’s because a particular concern of all these cases is the accumulating and long lasting burden building up in the environment and in the bodies of the people most directly affected.”

scavenge
Children scavenging a mine in Kabwe, Zambia, one of the sites on the list. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)
With the exception of Chernobyl, the Ukranian site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, most of the locations on the list are little-known – even in their own countries.

The most-polluted sites primarily affect communities deep in poverty, the report said, but there are potential remedies.

“Problems like this have been solved over the years in the developed world, and we have the capacity and the technology to spread our experience to our afflicted neighbors,” the report said.

The list includes:

  • the Chinese city of Linfen, located in the heat of the country’s coal region and chosen as an example of the severe pollution faced by many Chinese cities;
  • Haina, Dominican Republic, the site of a former automobile battery recycling smelter where residents suffer from widespread lead poisoning;
  • the Indian city of Ranipet, where some 3.5 million people are affected by tannery waste, which contains hexavalent chromium and azodyes.
  • Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan, home to a former Soviet uranium plant and severely contaminated with radioactive uranium mine wastes;
  • the Peruvian mining town of La Oroya, where residents have been exposed to toxic emissions from a poly-metallic smelter;
  • Dzerzinsk, Russia, the site of a Cold War-era chemical weapons facility;kid
    A child stands on a battery casing in the Dominican Republic. The world’s most polluted sites all impact very poor communities. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)
  • the Russian industrial city of Norilsk, which houses the world’s largest heavy metals smelting complex and where more than 4 million tons of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and zinc emissions are released annually;
  • the Russian Far East towns of Dalnegorsk and Rudnaya Pristan, whose residents suffer from serious lead poisoning from an old smelter and the unsafe transport of lead concentrate from the local lead mining site;
  • and the city of Kabwe, Zambia, where mining and smelting operations have led to widespread lead and cadmium contamination.

“Living in a town with serious pollution is like living under a death sentence,” the report said. “If the damage does not come from immediate poisoning, then cancers, lung infections, mental retardation, are likely outcomes.”

The report warns that there are some towns where life expectancy approaches medieval rates, where birth defects are the norm not the exception.”

“In other places children’s asthma rates are measured above 90 percent, or mental retardation is endemic,” it said. “In these places, life expectancy may be half that of the richest nations. The great suffering of these communities compounds the tragedy of so few years on earth.”

Blacksmith said it plans to circulate the report extensively to development agencies and local governments, working to place clean-up on the policy agenda in their respective countries and to initiate fundraising to help these regions.

tannery

Tannery runoff in India is polluting the water supply of some 3.5 million people. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)

“The most important thing is to achieve some practical progress in dealing with these polluted places,” says Dave Hanrahan, Blacksmith Institute’s chief of global operations. “There is a lot of good work being done in understanding the problems and in identifying possible approaches. Our goal is to instill a sense of urgency about tackling these priority sites.”

“This initial Worst-Polluted Places list is a starting point,” Hanrahan added. “We are looking to the international community and local specialists for feedback on the selection process and on our list. We want to make sure that the key dangerously polluted sites get the needed attention and support from the international community in order to remediate them.”

Source

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2007 in US

Alberta Oil Sands a Pollution Nightmare

Latin Americas Private Pension Funds in Doubt

By Marcela Valente

November 26 2008

BUENOS AIRES

Pension funds in Latin America have suffered sometimes drastic losses as a result of the global financial crisis. Argentina decided to nationalise its private pension funds, and in Chile, Colombia and Mexico there are voices urgently calling for reforms.

Many of the private sector pension plans, created mainly in the 1990s under the influence of neoliberal, free-market reforms and structural adjustment policies, followed the model adopted in 1981 by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) in Chile.

In 1993, Argentina adapted the model, without eliminating the parallel public system, which allowed workers to choose either one. But on Nov. 20, the Argentine parliament eliminated the private pension funds, which were in a state of collapse.

It is not yet clear how the financial crisis will affect private pension funds in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

According to the International Association of Latin American Pension Fund Supervisors (AIOS), the 10 Latin American countries that make up the association had 76 million pension fund affiliates as of late 2007, but only 32 million — 37 percent of the economically active population — made regular payments.

The largest number of members of private pension plans — 39 million — were in Mexico. This was followed by 9.5 million in Argentina (who will now go into the public social security system), and by Chile and Colombia, with around eight million each.

The AIOS reported that in late 2007, private pension funds in the region held 275 billion dollars, equivalent to 16 percent of the 10 member countries’ GDP.

“We are going to keep a close eye on what happens in Chile, the pioneer of the model,” said Jorge D’Angelo, chairman of the Inter-American Conference on Social Security’s (CISS) commission on the elderly. “We’ll have to see how bad the crisis gets, and whether Chile will be able to weather the storm,” he told IPS.

In Chile, which has the highest proportion of retirees in private pension plans in the region, the average monthly pension stands at 264 dollars, just over the minimum monthly wage. In the rest of the countries, pensioners draw even more meagre amounts. In Chile, the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) central trade union and citizen, social and political groups are demanding alternatives to the private pension funds. CUT is calling for a public social security system based on the principle of solidarity.

Senator Alejandro Navarro, who recently left the co-governing Socialist Party, is pushing for the creation of a public administrator of individual retirement accounts.

Between Oct. 31, 2007 and Oct. 31, 2008, Chile’s private pension fund assets shrank from 94.3 to 69.1 billion dollars.

In 2002, the private pension administrators created five different funds, classified as A, B, C, D and E, ranging from high to low risk, for workers to choose from. So far this year, profit margins have shrunk by 40.9 percent in the A funds, 30.1 percent in the B funds, and 18.6 percent in the C funds, to mention the sharpest falls.

And since the creation of Chile’s multi-fund system in 2002, returns have ranged between 2.8 and 4.2 percent, depending on the level of risk exposure. But if measured since 1981, returns have averaged 8.8 percent

“The worries of workers are logical and understandable,” Fabio Bertranou, a Chilean expert on social security with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), told IPS. “The value of the funds has shrunk due to the sharp drop in the value of their financial assets.”

Chile accounts for 35 percent of the region’s private pension fund assets that are invested in equities abroad.

“It is difficult to predict how long it will take for the value of the assets to rally,” admitted Bertranou. “We have to issue a call for reflection and reassess how individual retirement savings accounts work during times of crisis, in order to take the necessary precautions. There isn’t a great deal of experience in the matter.”

Early this year, the Chilean government passed a new law that created a system built on three pillars: a pay-as-you-go guaranteed minimum pension funded with help from the government, a solidarity system, and voluntary individual savings.

The most notable aspect was the creation of the “basic solidarity pension” and the “solidarity pension contribution” for the poorest of the poor.

That reform “has taken a fundamental step towards the creation of a mixed social security system. The incorporation of the solidarity pension component will give workers, especially low-income workers, a more secure future,” said Bertranou.

In his view, “the decline in the value of pension funds is not the only problem. It is also necessary to address the drop in occupational coverage that will result from the economic slowdown, and the subsequent fall in income and job creation and stability.”

Uruguay’s system, unique in Latin America, seems to be the one least affected by the crisis so far.

Under the mixed or multi-pillar system, contributions and benefits are linked to both a state-managed pay-as-you-go system and privately managed individual retirement accounts. Workers contribute to each, depending on where they fall within a salary level band, and receive two pensions when they retire, with the exception of those who earn less than 715 dollars a month, who are not required to pay into an individual savings account.

Alongside the mandatory individual capitalisation system, the public sector maintains a basic minimum pension under the pay-as-you-go regime.

In the quarter that ended in September, private pension funds went down 2.6 percent, due to the drop in value of the debt bonds in which most of their assets are invested. But since the system began to operate in 1996, returns have ranged between nine and 11 percent, depending on the currency in which they are measured.

Nearly 38 percent of workers paying into private retirement accounts in Uruguay chose an administrator that is run by three state banks. By law, the pension fund administrators can only invest a limited amount of their assets abroad.

Pension fund returns depend partly on where the assets are invested. In some countries, a majority have been placed in equities in foreign companies that are now in crisis, while others are invested in public bonds, whose drop in value varies from country to country.

“In Argentina, the debate had become abstract, because the decline in the value of private funds was so steep that when beneficiaries were ready to retire, the state had to step in to help pay their pensions, since their savings were too small,” said D’Angelo.

According to the superintendency of private pension fund administrators (AFJPs) in Argentina, only 3.6 million of the 9.5 million members of the private system were actually making payments. And of the six million workers still affiliated with the public social security system, only two million were contributing.

In October, total AFJP assets plunged 17 percent with respect to the previous month. And the returns over the last year have reflected a loss of 25.4 percent — compared to an average annual profitability rate of 6.6 percent.

Given that situation, the government of Cristina Fernández proposed the creation of an integrated pensions system and the elimination of the private funds. Within less than a month, the new law made it through both houses of Congress, approved by the legislators of the governing Justicialista (Peronist) Party and some opposition lawmakers.

The drop in the value of the funds has also been drastic in Mexico, whose current pension system began to operate in 1996. According to the national commission of the retirement savings system, between May and October, the value of the individual retirement accounts of 39 million workers fell by 3.36 billion dollars.

The national union of social security workers is demanding that the Mexican Congress review the laws on private pension funds and intervene so that limits are set on the proportion of assets that can be put into high-risk equities abroad.

People in Colombia, where reforms incorporating a private pension system went into effect in 1994, are worried too. According to the Colombian association of pension fund administrators, losses climbed to more than 94 million dollars in the first six months of the year.

“We are much worse off than they are in Argentina,” Saúl Peña, president of the union of Colombia’s Social Security Institute workers, told IPS. “Our problems are more serious because of the low level of wages, the labour instability and the low profitability.”

There are currently 12,000 retirees in Colombia’s private pension system, and nearly all of them now draw a monthly pension equivalent to the minimum wage, he said. “The only thing that can be done now is to wait and see whether we will recover in the long-term, maybe in 2009, or 2010. It’s chance, it’s a gamble,” he said.

* With additional reporting from Daniela Estrada in Santiago and Helda Martínez in Bogotá.

Source

Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007

November 21 2008
15 countries including Britain will miss their 2009 landmine clearance targets
Greece, Turkey and Belarus continue to violate an international treaty by not destroying their stock of landmines, according to a report that says more than 5,400 people were killed or maimed by landmines last year.

The Landmine Monitor Report released by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) says that 15 other countries including Britain will miss their 2009 clearance targets.

According to Stuart Casey-Maslen, editor of the Landmine Monitor, “It is not acceptable that [these] countries have failed to clear a single mined area in the last nine years and expect to be granted extensions,” he told reporters ahead of a meeting of the treaty’s 156 signatory states to be held in Geneva next week.

The ICBL report says that anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other ordnance can lie dormant for decades before exploding.

While trade in landmines is now virtually non-existent, many countries are moving too slowly to get rid of the crippling weapons, the 1,155-page report said.

The ICBL, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, said that while Denmark, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Britain and Venezuela, are seeking more time to clear their mined areas, de-mining operations should have been finished by now.

But Britain has not even begun mine-sweeping in the Falkland Islands, where it fought a war with Argentina in 1982, while Venezuela has said it gains some benefit from mines that keep Colombian guerrillas off its territory, Casey-Maslen said.

Greece and Turkey have a combined stockpile of 4.2 million anti-personnel mines, and Belarus has 3.4 million yet to be destroyed under the Ottawa Convention, which regulates the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and monitors their destruction.

Source

A lesson in landmines

IN DEPTH: Landmines


Sad Plight of Landmine Blast Survivors

Uganda, Africa

November 21 2008

Government pledging to help victims, often shunned by friends, families and employers.

By Gloria Laker Aciro in Gulu (AR No. 193, 20-Nov-08)

Irene Laker said she’d had a restless night because her village near Gulu had just been attacked by members of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA.

In the morning, she walked out the back of her house. “As I moved, [there was] a big bang. I had stepped on a landmine the rebels had planted at night,” she said, recalling the incident in May 2001 that wrecked her life.

Laker was taken to the local Lacor Hospital, where her leg was amputated. After two months, she was fitted with an artificial limb donated by an Italian organisation.

Over the years, thousands of people in northern Uganda have either been maimed or killed by landmines and other forms of unexploded ordnance such as hand grenades and mortars.

Laker, now 29, said her life was devastated by her injury. The man she was set to marry called off the wedding when he saw her condition in hospital.

Then she said all her good friends deserted her and finally she lost her job.

“Before the accident, I had got a job as secretary in the office of the resident district commissioner. But when I reported for work one day, I was told to leave because I had become disabled,” she said.

Women have been particularly hard hit by the landmine problem, say experts, because they generally are the ones who gather firewood and cultivate gardens.

William Odong, a Gulu district councillor who represents people with disabilities, said women constitute 70 per cent of landmine cases in the north.

“The fact that … women are more engaged in agricultural work, collecting fire wood, and fetching water [puts] them [more] at risk of being hurt,” he told IWPR.

Women with amputated limbs are often shunned by family and friends.

“Most of the women who are victims of landmines have been abandoned by their husbands, who either marry another woman or send them away,” he said.

Small children are also victims of landmines, says Odong, because they accompany their mothers to collect firewood, work in gardens or go to fetch water.

He adds that landmine survivors can also face workplace discrimination because some jobs can’t be performed by the disabled, and some are disqualified simply because of discrimination against amputees.

“People see landmine survivors as a [undesirables] and try not to get close or give them support,” continued Odong. “Unless we move away from this kind of behaviour, the survivors will never be happy.”

Odong was also critical of demining operations which he said wait for people to report suspected landmines rather than go out searching for them.

He says it’s risky to have villagers look for landmines and other unexploded devices – something that should only be handled by experts.

Mark Livingstone, a landmine expert with a Danish de-mining group, said progress has been made to remove these hazards from northern Uganda during the past couple of years.

“We have deployed more men on the ground lately in smaller teams so that they can identify, respond and clear larger areas a lot faster,” he said.

“However, the main threat in northern Uganda is unexploded ordnance, [as] people move back to their villages and start to clear the ground for agriculture.”

More is being done to warn locals of the dangers of landmines and other unexploded devices, he says, through school programmes and local radio.

“We teach them that if they see an object like a landmine, they should mark the area … and quickly report [it], [so we can] move to verify and detonate,” he said.

But, said Livingston, the de-miners fear that in the next year more casualties are likely as people clear more land for cultivation.

Despite the setbacks, life has begun to improve for some landmine victims.

Laker, for example, joined the Gulu-Amuru Association of Landmine Survivors and now works with the organisation as a secretary, helping to set up support projects for victims.

One such project provides small solar panels to victims who live in villages where there is no electricity. The survivors earn money by using the panels to recharge mobile phone batteries.

Association coordinator Stephen Okello, who is also a landmine victim, said others are engaged in bricklaying, pig-raising and poultry projects.

In addition, homes are being built for some victims in Gulu and Amuru – and the first 15 are almost complete, says Okello.

More help may also be coming from the Ugandan government.

Gulu resident district commissioner Walter Ochora says documentation of victims of war who have lost limbs or been mutilated began last year.

“Victims of war including landmine survivors are faced with a number of challenges,” said Ochora. “They are categorised as persons with special needs, and soon all will be compensated by government of Uganda.”

Gloria Laker Aciro is an IWPR-trained reporter.

Source

The Ottawa Treaty (also known as the Convention On The Prohibition Of The Use, Stockpiling, Production And Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines And On Their Destruction) bans the use of anti-personnel mines around the world.

In 1992, Handicap International and five other NGOs, completely appalled by the suffering and the horrifying consequences of the use of anti-personnel mines on civilians, decided to create the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). For Handicap International, the decision to take part in the creation of ICBL was motivated by the fact that our staff saw daily victims of landmines in countries such as Cambodia or Kosovo.

Three years later, in March 1995, Belgium became the first country to ban anti-personnel landmines. This brave move bya small country was the result of a fruitful cooperation between Handicap International and two visionary members of the Parliament.

By March 1997, 53 countries had announced their support for a total ban on landmines, 28 countries had renounced of suspended the use of mines, and 16 began destroying some of their stockpiles.

By September 16, 1998, the Treaty to Ban Landmines, which had been opened for signature in December 1997, had been ratified by the 40 countries required to make it a binding international convention. The treaty entered into force on 1st March 1999, faster than any international treaty in history. The Treaty:

  • prohibits the manufacture, trade and use of anti-personnel mines
  • obliges countries to destroy stockpiles within 4 years and clear their own territory within 10 years
  • urges governments to help poorer countries clear land and assist landmine victims

The Treaty to Ban Landmines has already had some tangible effects on the production and trade of landmines, even among countries that have not yet signed the treaty. By 1999, only 16 of the original 54 mine-producing countries continued to manufacture anti-personnel landmines or their components, and all traditional exporters of mines, except Iraq, have officially ceased their activities.

As of 20 March 2006, there are 154 signatories/accessions to the Treaty more than two-thirds of the world’s nations. Those who have still not signed include the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Finland and India.

Map of the countries that signed the Treaty to Ban Landmines


A landmine victim every hour in the world

  1. • Indiscriminate: landmines kill and maim civilians, soldiers, peacekeepers and aid workers alike. Landmines lie dormant in the ground and become a permanent threat to civilians in peacetime.
  2. • Inhumane: It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties every year. Many people die in the fields from lack of emergency care. Those who survive will most likely suffer from amputations, will face long hospital stays and require extensive rehabilitation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or injured in the last decades.
  3. • Development disaster: landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of land and infrastructure. Landmines also hold up the return of refugees and displaced people. They hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid, whilst killing livestock and wrecking the environment.
  4. • Landmines are everywhere: 84 countries and 8 territories are affected in the world. Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chechnya and Iraq are some of the worst affected countries.
  5. • Still work to be done: Landmines are still being planted today and minefields dating back decades continue to lie in wait of innocent victims. Over 10 countries are still producing landmines.


Source

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 1:44 am  Comments Off on Landmine Treaty Ignored, 5,400 killed or injured in 2007  
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A new chapter in China-Latin America relations

November 17 2008

President Hu will leave for state visit to Latin American countries of Costa Rica, Cuba as well as Peru and attend the 16th Informal APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting right after the G-20 Summit on Financial Market and the World Economy just concluded in Washington on Oct. 16.

Hu’s tour will definitely open a new chapter in China’s relations with Latin American countries in consideration to the changing international situations.

Though geographically wide apart, China and Latin American countries developed friendship from early time. The ties maintain a good momentum of rapid development in the new millennium. Politically, leaders from China and Latin American countries conducted frequent high-level exchanges and close communications, which boosted political mutual trust; in economy and trade, the volume broke the benchmark of 100 billion US dollars in 2007, and the growth rate in first nine months stood at 51.7 percent, making China the third largest trading partner of Latin America. Up to the present, relations with Latin America, being rapidly growing, wide and deep, have reached its historical new high.

President Hu’s three-nation tour is considered to be a crucial diplomatic measure China has taken to develop ties with Latin American countries from a strategic perspective. It is the first time for the Chinese president to visit Costa Rica since the two countries established diplomatic relations in June 2007. The Caribbean country hopes to win China’s support in joining APEC, and wishes to start negotiation on free trade agreement in the earliest possible time. Costa Rica is the first Central American country to establish diplomatic tie with China in recent years. President Hu’s visit will undoubtedly expand China’s influence in the region.

Cuba is the first country in Latin America that established relations with China, and it successfully finished its power handover in February this year. Hu’s visit will be deemed as support to Raul’s new administration.

China also witnessed rapid development of bilateral relations with Peru. Now the Central American country now has become one of the key destinations for investment from China. Two countries started free trade negotiation in September 2007, and will hopefully sign an official agreement after six rounds of talks.

Hu’s visit will convincingly push forward the bilateral and multilateral cooperation within APEC framework. Mexico. Peru and Chile are full members of APEC, and Costa Rica, Columbia, Panama and Ecuador are making efforts to join the organization. China and Latin American countries launched cooperation of mutual benefit under APEC framework, and vowed to make progress in the fields of trade and investment, energy, cooperation among SMEs, environmental protection, natural disaster relief and so on.

President Hu’s visit will enhance exchange and communication on major issues among China and Latin American countries. China and Latin America share common ground and interest appeal. On issues such as reform of international financial system, supervision on international financial market and Doha round negotiations, the emerging economies need to boost communication and take a firm stand so as to maintain the interests of developing countries.

Under the circumstance of global economic recession, whether China could maintain a stable economic growth is vital to Latin American countries. Hu’s visit will help Latin American better understand China’s economic development and importance of expanding domestic demand, which will deepen cooperation among China and Latin American countries.

China released its first policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean ahead of President Hu’s Latin American tour, eyeing closer ties with the region. The paper illustrated the issues of policy goals, cooperation fields, as well as China’s investment and debt reduction to Latin America. Hu’s three-nation Latin America tour will thoroughly interpret the paper, and push forward the healthy, stable and comprehensive development of China-Lain America relations.

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Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 9:40 am  Comments Off on A new chapter in China-Latin America relations  
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