A clan in Lebanon has abducted a Turkish businessman and several Syrians it says are rebel fighters in retaliation for the kidnapping of one of their relatives by the rebel Free Syrian Army in Damascus.
More than 20 Syrians have been kidnapped by the Mokdad clan, said Maher al-Mokdad, a relative of Hassan al-Mokdad, the man he said was captured in Damascus two days ago by the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
In remarks to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), he said “the snowball would grow”, warning “Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and their citizens”.
The apparent threat to kidnap nationals from countries backing the Syrian rebels quickly seems to have been realized. Among the hostages is a Turkish national, a diplomat in Lebanon said.
“He was here for business, arrived today, and was kidnapped near the airport,” the diplomat said, adding that there has been little progress so far in negotiations to secure the man’s release.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour contacted Hatem al-Mokdad, another brother of Hassan, requesting that the captors release Turkish national Toufan Teyken.
Mokdad refused the request, insisting that Teyken will remain a hostage until Hassan is freed by Syrian rebels across the border.
In a video broadcast by al-Mayadeen, a Lebanon-based TV station, two men identified as members of the FSA were shown in the custody of masked gunmen from the Mokdad clan in green fatigues and armed with automatic rifles.
One of the detainees identified himself as a captain by the name of Mohammed, who said his role was to help supply the FSA. The other said he was his assistant.
Maher al-Mokdad, speaking to Reuters, said the abductions were a response to the capture of Hassan al-Mokdad in Damascus two days ago by the FSA. The rebels had said Mokdad had been sent to Syria by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, one of Assad’s regional allies. Hezbollah denied Mokdad was a member of the party.
The detained Syrians included a lieutenant who deserted from the Syrian army to join the rebels, but those who were not FSA members had been freed, he said. He gave no details of how or where the men were abducted.
He said Mokdad went to neighboring Syria more than a year and a half ago – that is, before the outbreak of the 17-month-old uprising against Assad – and had no links to the fighting in Syria. … Full article
- Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar urge Lebanon exodus (altahrir.wordpress.com)
India has joined Japan in offering government-backed insurance for ships carrying Iranian crude in order to bypass European sanctions, the Washington Post reported.
The first Indian ship to carry oil from Iran with Indian insurance is scheduled to load up in Iran on Wednesday, a shipping company executive said. This is a breakthrough for the Indian government, which has scrambled to maintain vital Iranian oil imports after European sanctions blocked third-party insurance in July.
The MT Omvati Prem — a tanker contracted to carry 85,000 metric tons of crude oil from Iran for Indian state refiner Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. — is scheduled to arrive in India by Aug. 25, said Kowshik Kuchroo, president of shipping for Mercator Ltd., an Indian shipping company.
“This being a government of India cargo, it has a different sense of importance. We’re not doing it just for business,” Kuchroo said Monday. “India is in definite need of the crude. At a short notice, we can’t just snap the supply.”
Mercator is insuring the ship with $50 million in hull and machinery insurance, which covers physical damage to the ship, from state-owned New India Assurance Co. It’s insuring the vessel with another $50 million in protection and indemnity insurance, which covers a broad range of liabilities, including environmental pollution and cargo damage, from government-backed United India Insurance.
- South Korea resumes Iranian oil supplies (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Free Patriotic movement leader, Michel Aoun addressed Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, saying his party was with the resistance on the same path.
In an interview with al-Manar TV, General Aoun said his party would not abandon resistance, saying it has been part of the movement’s being.
“We can’t stand against a part of our people who have been sacrificing and dying for the sake of our country, land and people.”
Asked whether the General rued his position in regard to Hezbollah, Aoun told the al-Manar correspondent: “Never… you should not ask me such a question.”
Asked for his position toward resistance in case of an Israeli attack on Lebanon, Aoun stressed that the FPM would support the resistance.
“We will take the same position and behavior. We will be as eager as we were in July War in 2006 in supporting the resistance because it’s part of our being.
Addressing Sayyed Nasrallah, Aoun affirmed that the FPM and Hezbollah were in the same path.
“To Sayyed Nasrallah I say we are in the same path until securing victory at the end.”
Concerning the equation of people-army-resistance, the FPM leader said there were attempts to dismantle this equation, stressing that any occupied land, however small it was, had dignity.
“The attempt to dismantle the equation of people-army-resistance is an offensive one, which aims at subjecting our country to an International political equation, in a bid to threaten its entity in the future,” Aoun told al-Manar correspondent during the interview.
While the polls have demonstrated that America is just not taken with Romney’s choice of a youngish gentleman with both Reagan and Rand fetish, that doesn’t mean it is worthless. For one thing, it will make the coffers fill up again from a cadre of deep-pocketed yet shallow donors.
As of Tuesday morning, reporters would not be permitted to cover Ryan’s fundraiser with billionaire mega-donor Sheldon Adelson at The Venetian in Las Vegas tonight. The campaign’s agreement with the press is that events not at private residences are to be open to reporters.
Sounds familiar, because it is:
Some of Romney’s Jewish donors are flying here from the United States to attend the Jerusalem fundraiser on Monday morning, including Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to personally give tens of millions of dollars to a pro-Romney super PAC…
But Romney’s campaign announced Saturday that it would block the news media from covering the event, which will be held at the King David Hotel. The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April
That Sheldon Adelson must be shy, because breaking his word is so rare for Mitt Romney — and here is Mitt’s rather hilarious explanation for this latest ban of the media.
A Romney aide told reporters that the event in Las Vegas is not a fundraiser but a “finance event,” and therefore closed to reporters. The aide would not say what the distinction is between the two, declining to say whether the campaign is collecting checks at the event.
- Romney Campaign Bars Press From Ryan, Adelson Event (buzzfeed.com)
- Foreign Cash Disqualifies Romney from Presidential Bid (alexanderhiggins.com)
A US federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the FBI over the agency’s controversial practice of spying on California Muslims, arguing the disclosure of a potentially unconstitutional domestic spy program might reveal sensitive state secrets.
District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled that “the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security,” the LA Times reported.
Judge Carney claims to have reached his conclusion after reviewing confidential statements by top FBI officials. The judge ruled that the domestic espionage program – dubbed Operation Flex – involved “intelligence that, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.”
The lawsuit against the FBI was filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in 2011, on behalf of the Muslim community in Orange Country, California.
The litigants claim the FBI violated their civil liberties by employing an undercover informant, identified as Craig Monteilh, in a dragnet operation that targeted individuals on the basis of their religious beliefs. Monteilh infiltrated local mosques and installed bugging devices in offices, homes and places of worship.
ACLU attorney Peter Bibring said the ruling is “terribly unfortunate that there’s a doctrine in the law that allows courts to throw out cases that allege serious constitutional violations based on secret evidence the judge reviews behind closed doors that never sees the light of day,” the LA Times cited him as saying. “That shouldn’t be in a democratic society.”
The plaintiffs vowed to appeal the decision.
Monteilh previously admitted to spying on the Islamic Center of Irvine from July 2006 to October 2007, as well as ten other Southern California mosques.
Financial incentives and pressure from his FBI handler led him to use entrapment and other unethical tactics to ensnare targets “on a daily basis for over a year,” Monteilh said to RT in April. He also described how blackmail was used to force other Muslims to turn informant.
“That was part of my role in Operation Flex,” he said. “For example, in my conversations, or in their private conversations, certain things would come up. Like if a Muslim man was married and he had a girlfriend, a mistress, the FBI would use that information to blackmail that individual to become an informant. Or someone, perhaps, had a different sexual orientation. Or a certain youth had recreational drug use or desire to use certain narcotics. The FBI would use this information to blackmail them to become an informant.”
Montelih explained how the FBI supplied him with ‘fobs’ – sophisticated surveillance devices the size of a car remote – which he routinely planted at “the Imams’ offices, in certain board members’ offices, certain worshipers’ cars, in their homes” and “around the mosques where I would frequently pray.” He also described using a secret video recorder that had been sewn into his shirt.
He claims the operation eventually expanded abroad, and grew to involve the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Monteilh was previously convicted and served time for cashing fraudulent checks. He also filed a suit against the government, alleging that his rights had been violated and his life was endangered while employed by the FBI. His case was dismissed earlier this year.
A portion of the case may still go to trial, with Judge Carney branding some of the civil liberties violations of Operation Flex “disturbing.”
Judge Carney permitted the suit to stand against five individual FBI agents – though not the entire bureau – under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The act, signed into law in 1978, imposed certain procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers,” which in some cases may include American citizens and permanent residents suspected of being engaged in espionage.
The FBI admitted that Monteilh was used during the operation, but has denied engaging in any unconstitutional practices, claiming that the bureau was investigating credible evidence of potential terrorist activity.
Attorneys representing two of the agents being charged say there is little they can do to defend their clients against Monteilh’s accusations, as the information surrounding their investigation was classified.
“Our clients literally are defenseless to defend themselves,” attorney David Scheper said. “It’s just not a fair fight.”
Civil rights attorneys to appeal FBI Muslim spying lawsuit decision
Yesterday the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an unfortunate and legally incorrect decision holding that the Fourth Amendment provides no protection against warrantless cell phone tracking. Although couched in language stating narrowly that the Constitution does not protect criminals’ “erroneous expectations regarding the undetectability of their modern tools,” the impact of the opinion sweeps far more broadly, holding that the innocent as well as the guilty lack Fourth Amendment protection in cell phone location information. This is wrong, for a number of reasons.
The defendant in the case is one Melvin Skinner, who was allegedly involved in a marijuana trafficking operation of epic proportions. After a complex investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Skinner was busted while in possession of over 1,100 pounds of marijuana. The DEA tracked Skinner down in part by obtaining various kinds of location tracking data for the cell phone he was using: cell site information, GPS real-time location, and “ping” data. Law enforcement agents appear to have tracked Skinner’s movements using this information for about three days.
The ACLU has argued repeatedly that the Fourth Amendment provides protections against warrantless cell phone tracking, particularly continuous tracking over prolonged periods of time such as the three days at issue in Skinner’s case. The Fourth Amendment protects people’s reasonable expectations of privacy, and people reasonably expect that they will not be subject to this invasive form of surveillance. That is because location data is very sensitive, revealing private facts. As an appeals court has observed:
A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups—and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.
That is not to say that law enforcement agents can never obtain cell phone location data. The question, rather, is under what circumstances they are permitted to do so. Because of the privacy interests at stake, law enforcement should have to go to a judge and get a warrant, which involves proving that they have probable cause to believe that tracking location would turn up evidence of a crime. There are numerous police departments that get a warrant for cell phone tracking, and it’s the best way to ensure that law enforcement can do its job while also protecting Americans from having their privacy needlessly invaded.
Unfortunately, that is not the conclusion drawn by the Sixth Circuit. The majority practically scoffed at the idea that Melvin Skinner had any reasonable expectation of privacy in “data emanating” from his cell phone. This passage best captures the court’s view that Skinner’s claim to constitutional protection was the height of audacity:
The law cannot be that a criminal is entitled to rely on the expected untrackability of his tools. Otherwise, dogs could not be used to track a fugitive if the fugitive did not know that the dog hounds had his scent. A getaway car could not be identified and followed based on the license plate number if the driver reasonably thought he had gotten away unseen.
In other words, a person’s ignorant belief that he has made a clean getaway does not shield him from detection.
But this is not the right question. The mere fact that the police are capable of tracking someone doesn’t mean they’re entitled to do so without first getting a warrant, any more than the mere fact that it’s easy to break down someone’s front door or open their postal mail gives the police the right to take these steps without a warrant. The question, rather, is whether a police action invades a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Because people reasonably expect privacy in their movements, as the D.C. Circuit explained in the passage above, the Fourth Amendment provides us with protection.
If a suspected criminal’s phone can be tracked without a warrant, then all of our phones become tracking devices that the government can use to monitor us for any reason or no reason at all.
The Sixth Circuit was able to reach the conclusion that it did by relying on a 25-year-old Supreme Court case dealing with a more primitive tracking technology known as a “beeper.” In the beeper case, United States v. Knotts, the police used a combination of visual surveillance and signals from the beeper to track an investigative target as he traveled on public roads. The Supreme Court approved the tracking in Knotts, and the Sixth Circuit found that the DEA’s tracking of Skinner was not meaningfully different:
Similar to the circumstances in Knotts, Skinner was traveling on a public road before he stopped at a public rest stop. While the cell site information aided the police in determining Skinner’s location, that same information could have been obtained through visual surveillance. There is no inherent constitutional difference between trailing a defendant and tracking him via such technology.
This is really the heart of the matter. The Sixth Circuit’s fundamental error is in believing that a technological change that makes it vastly more feasible to track us all in great detail, continuously, and at little cost is simply irrelevant. It is not irrelevant. It is highly significant. Physically tailing a person for days on end requires a mass commitment of resources, which in turn limits the possibilities for abuse. The police aren’t going to enlist huge numbers of people for a massive surveillance operation without a very good reason. But when a single police officer can achieve the same level of surveillance using GPS, all while sitting at his desk and flipping open a laptop, the situation is radically transformed. As the invasiveness of tracking and the ease of tracking increase, the supervision of courts applying meaningful constitutional standards become all the more important.
The Sixth Circuit is the first court of appeals to address the Fourth Amendment and cell phone tracking after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones that when the police attach a GPS device to a car, that is a search under the Fourth Amendment. But Jones will be of little value if the police can simply track cell phones instead of cars and, with the Sixth Circuit’s decision holding that they can indeed do so, we’re off to a bad start. The Fifth Circuit is poised to consider the same issue later this year and has scheduled argument for October. Let’s hope that it’s more sensitive to the privacy interests at stake than its sister circuit.
According to Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Buthaina Shaaban, special envoy for and political and media advisor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been invited to Beijing Tuesday. The ministry also stated that it will invite members of the Syrian opposition to come to Beijing on a later date.
These moves are widely believed to be aimed at persuading the Syrian sides to get back to the negotiation table and solve their differences through a political solution. But such hopes suffered a heavy blow after UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan quit his job earlier this month. This has prompted observers to question the effectiveness of China’s mediation efforts.
China’s influence in the Middle East is certainly weaker than other major world powers like the US and Russia. It’s natural that there are doubts on what China can achieve through its talks with the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition. China’s efforts will not bear fruits instantly after just one round of talks.
However, China will keep trying. Solving the Syrian crisis through a political solution has always been China’s position. It will work to explore every possibility, however thin.
Though Annan has left the special envoy post, the UN hasn’t halted its mission. It has been actively seeking a replacement for Annan. The leaders of some Western countries, like French President François Hollande, have also agreed to solve the Syrian crisis through talk rather than war.
For China, a major supporter of the UN mission, its mediation efforts this time are intended to send a bold signal to the international community that the possibility of a political solution is still on the table, and that China is determined to continuously work with the UN to broker such a deal in Syria.
The US and some Western and Gulf countries are now exploring the option of imposing a no-fly zone in Syria, which, as witnessed in Libya, is an important step to enable foreign military intervention. China will need this mediation opportunity to counter that idea and to give undecided countries second thoughts on which approach is more feasible.
There are several issues that will pose serious challenges to efforts to broker a political solution.
First, making a political solution effective will require the cooperation of all parties in Syria. But at this stage, the will to get back to the negotiation table is weak on both sides. They have been pouring more efforts onto the battlefield than in setting up talks, because both believe that victory is within reach. The longer they are at war, the harder it will be for them to talk.
Second, the largely divided opposition makes it difficult for China or the UN to carry out effective mediation work. For instance, there is confusion in China as to which opposition group the Chinese government should make contact with.
While the Syrian National Council, based mainly outside Syria, is widely perceived as a representative of the rebel movement, does it truly have authority over groups and factions that have been operating inside Syria like the Free Syrian Army? Should China’s mediation also include representatives from other opposition groups?
While China is making its efforts, some countries are paving the way for military intervention, including supplying arms. The more weapons the opposition receives, the more confident they grow of an ultimate military triumph.
The opposition will increasingly prefer war over talks, but Assad won’t easily surrender either. This will eventually deadlock both sides in a cycle of conflict, blocking the way to a peaceful solution and risking more people’s lives.
Due to China’s lack of influence and channels to present its argument in full, its struggle to stop bloodshed in Syria has been constantly misinterpreted by some countries that are willing to throw Assad out at any cost and have been actively promoting their stance to the international community.
This will not only undermine China’s effort but even leave China isolated. Chinese policymakers should learn from this, and try to win understanding and support to its stance on Syria through various international platforms.
For instance, China can put forward this issue at developing country-orientated platforms like the Non-Aligned Movement or BRICS.
Most developing countries these days know that political reforms are a much better option than revolution induced by foreign intervention. China’s stance will win support there relatively easily.
By gathering such supports, China will not only find itself better positioned when confronted by similar issues, but also draw more nations to defend the UN principles from being violated by a few super powers.
This article was compiled by Global Times reporter Gao Lei based on an interview with He Wenping, director of the African Studies at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. email@example.com
It all began on 5th of August when masked gunmen attacked Egyptian border guards in Sinai Peninsula killing 16 of them and injuring many others. The attackers then sneaked into Israel, six of whom were killed in a firefight with the Israeli soldiers. No Israeli was injured.
Tel-Aviv said the incident is a “wake up call” for Egypt in dealing with it QUOTE “terrorists”.
The Egyptian President vowed to retake the Sinai Peninsula and declared three days of mourning. Hamas accused Israel of planning and executing the terrorist attack.
But who would benefit from such an attack?
- August 5 Sinai Attack Bears All the Hallmarks of an Israeli False Flag (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Jonesboro, Arkansas police know that the mysterious death of Chavis Carter raises a lot of questions. To help make sense of it, they’ve released a video of how they think the 21 year old shot himself in the head while cuffed in the back of a cop car.
The July 29 shooting death of Carter has attracted the attention of the national media and even the FBI in only a few short weeks. But as multiple investigations are launched to get to the bottom of the incident, the Jonesboro Police Department continues to stick to their story that Carter shot himself in the head, while handcuffed, shortly after being brought into custody for marijuana possession.
Even though the force says that police officers searched Carter twice before putting him in their cruiser, they are adamant that their suspect was armed at the time of his arrest and that law enforcement agents somehow managed to overlook a small, .380 caliber handgun involved in the killing. Officers found the gun and a spent cartridge only after Carter was killed.
The Jonesboro Police Department has put together a video that shows how easily Carter could have very well removed a pistol from his waistband while handcuffed and shot himself in the head. Critics are concerned even still though and say that the theory doesn’t add up.
“Look where the handcuffs are,”‘ Teresa Carter, Chavis’ mother, tells WREG News after watching the video. “I’m still not buying that.”
The Huffington Post reports that Teresa Carter is also critical of where the bullet entered her son’s head: although Chavis was left handed, law enforcement officers insist he managed to maneuver a .38 pistol out of his shorts and shoot himself in his right temple.
Police Chief Michael Yates had originally called the death “bizarre” and against all logic, but while commenting to CNN in recent days, reversed that stance.
“The average person that’s never been in handcuffs, that’s never been around inmates and people in custody would react exactly the same way that you just did, about how can that be possible,” Yates says to CNN’s Randi Kaye. “Well the fact of it is, it’s very possible and it’s quite easy.”
In a disclaimer that accompanies the department’s recreation at what could have happened, the agency says, “The circumstances displayed are not intended to illustrate the only means by which an individual could injure themselves but merely to determine the feasibility of these actions. The investigation is active and awaits forensic and other investigative material that will be used to complete a full inquiry into this matter.”
Cassie Carter, great-aunt of the deceased, has expressed her doubts with the department’s allegations too. Speaking to the Associated Press, Carter says that she doesn’t believe that cops couldn’t have found a handgun on their suspect’s person, even though they claim to have searched him twice before cuffing him.
“If you could find a dime bag of marijuana on a person, you could find a .380,” she tells AP.
Two officers linked to the death are on paid administrative leave while investigations continue.
It’s been nearly 18 months since the disastrous nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. There have been many reports on the huge amounts of radioactivity escaping into the air and water, unusually high levels in air, water, and soil – along with atypically high levels of toxic chemicals in food – that actually “passed” government inspection and wasn’t banned like some other food.
Conspicuously absent are reports on effects of radiation exposure on the health of the Japanese people. Have any health officials publicly announced post-March 2011 numbers on fetal deaths, infant deaths, premature births, birth defects, cancer, or other health conditions? The answer so far is an emphatic “no.”
The prolonged silence doesn’t mean data doesn’t exist. Japanese health officials have been busy with their usual duties of collecting and posting statistics on the Internet for public inspection. It’s just that they aren’t calling the public’s attention to these numbers. Thus, it is the public who must find the information and figure out what it means. After locating web sites, translating from Japanese, adding data for each of 12 months, and making some calculations, mortality trends in Japan after Fukushima are emerging.
The Japanese government health ministry has posted monthly estimated deaths for the 12 months before and after Fukushima, for the entire nation of Japan. These are preliminary figures, but they have historically been very good estimates of final numbers. A further look is in order.
Total deaths increased 4.8%, compared to the normal 1.5% annual rise. Since about 1.2 million Japanese people die each year, this computes to an excess of 57,900 deaths. The rise in deaths from accidents is given as 19,200, close to estimates of those killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami. But this still leaves an excess of 38,700 Japanese deaths, with no obvious cause.
The reports provide mortality numbers for 12 common causes, making up about 80% of all deaths in Japan, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and pneumonia. Each increased in the past year, with the exception of homicide and suicide. The category “other,” which is a collection of all other causes, rose 5.9%. The sharpest increases occurred immediately after the meltdowns, in March-June 2011 (vs. the same period 2010), a finding consistent with that found in preliminary mortality in the U.S. in a December 2011 article I co-authored with Dr. Janette Sherman in the International Journal of Health Services.
Nobody should yet race to conclusions that 38,700 Japanese died from Fukushima exposure in the first year after the disaster. Several activities must occur. The final death statistics must first be posted, which will occur sometime next year. Counts of deaths and diseases among infants who are most susceptible to radiation exposure must be made public. Numbers for each area of Japan must be made public – radiation exposure from Fukushima would likely result in the highest rises in mortality in areas closest to the damaged plant. Numbers of deaths must be converted into rates, to account for any change in population.
Other potential factors accounting for increased mortality must be considered. For example, were there any fatal epidemics post-March 2011? Was access to medical services reduced in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami? Changes in morbidity and mortality rates often have more than one contributing cause.
The final element needed before conclusions are made is patience; vital statistics must continue to be tracked, and compared with radiation exposures to the Japanese people. One year after the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, which joins Fukushima as the two worst nuclear disasters in history, no examinations of deaths among nearby Soviet citizens had been done. In fact, data was suppressed, and the standard line from the Soviet government – and for years after – was that 31 emergency workers who died putting out the fire at the stricken reactor were the only casualties.
Fast forward 20-plus years, with the publication of a 2009 book by the New York Academy of Sciences. A team of Russian researchers, led by Dr. Alexey Yablokov, published results of 5,000 reports and articles on Chernobyl – many in Russian languages never before made public. Yahlokov’s team concluded that near Chernobyl, increases in diseases and deaths were observed for nearly every human organ system. They estimated that 985,000 persons died as a result of Chernobyl exposures by 2004 – and that many more were to follow.
There is no question that even if Fukushima studies proceed and are conducted in an objective manner, it will take years before the true extent of casualties are known. However, an early estimate of 38,700 additional unexplained deaths in Japan in just one year must be taken seriously, and underline the need for Fukushima health studies to be made a top priority, in Japan and in other affected nations.
Monthly mortality statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, are available at http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/new-info/jul_2012..html. Death statistics are in the July 26, 2012 publication “Monthly Vital Statistics Report (preliminary data) February 2012” and then select the same report for the prior 11 months.
Joseph J. Mangano, MPH MBA, is Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project in New York.
- Fukushima disaster spawns mutant butterflies (smartplanet.com)
- Fukushima: Computer model predicts under 200 radiation deaths (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
A group of extremist Israeli settlers used electric pumps to empty a Palestinian irrigation well and flooded Palestinian farmlands in as-Seer area, east of Sa’ir town, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Resident Yassin Mohammad ash-Shalalda, told the Land Research Center that settlers of Esfir and Mitzad settlements carried out their attack on Tuesday at night. The settlers reportedly used a motor pump to empty the well and flooded the nearby Palestinian farmlands.
He added that several hundred cubic meters of land were wasted in the attack, and that the residents use this water for both irrigation and as a source of drinking water for their livestock.
Ash-Shalalda further stated that the residents filed a complaint to the Israeli police in Keryat Arba’ settlement in Hebron, but are not hopeful that there will be any affirmative action by the police due to the fact that numerous previous assaults, carried out by the settlers, were never investigated
The area in question is subject to frequent attacks especially since the settlers of both the illegal settlements of Mitzad and Esfir have been trying to expand their colonies at the expense of privately-owned Palestinian lands. The two outposts were also built on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.
Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are turning Palestinian cities, towns and villages into isolated ghettoes, while Israel and the extremist settlers continue to focus on fertile Palestinian lands, mainly in the Jordan Valley. Most Israeli settlements and outposts are also built on hilltops surrounding different parts of the occupied West Bank.
- Jewish settlers spray toxic substance, kill herd of sheep (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 8 injured as settlers stone bus carrying worshipers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Number of Jewish settlers in West Bank doubled in 12 years (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A Brazilian federal court has ordered the immediate suspension of work on the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, ruling that indigenous communities were not consulted. It was set to be the world’s third-largest dam.
The huge hydroelectric project across the Xingu River has been at the heart of an ongoing controversy The huge hydroelectric project across the Xingu River has been at the heart of an ongoing controversy
The Federal Regional Court of the First Region ruled on Tuesday that native communities affected by the Belo Monte dam in the Amazon must be heard before work resumes.
It said that the controversial project had been approved by the Brazilian Congress in 2005 on the proviso that an environmental impact study be conducted after work started. The court found that indigenous people were not given the right to air their views in Congress on the basis of the study’s findings, as was stipulated by law.
Norte Energia, the construction company which is running the project, faces fines of 250,000 dollars a day if it chooses to ignore the ruling. It has the right to appeal the ruling in a higher court.
Construction began a year ago on the dam, which runs across the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon. It was met by fierce opposition from local people and green activists.
Opponents argue it will reduce the volume of water in the Xingu River and affect populations of fish that are a staple in the diet of local indigenous peoples. They say it will lead to the displacement of around 20,000 people.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, warn of deforestation, greenhouse-gas emissions and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.
Due to be operational by 2014, the dam was designed to produce over 11.000 megawatts of electricity. If completed, it will only be surpassed in size by China’s Three Gorges facility, and Brazil’s Itaipu dam in the south, which is shared with Paraguay.
- Hundreds of Indigenous Peoples Occupy Belo Monte Dam Site (intercontinentalcry.org)