Russia, sole European nation favoring application
UN Admission Committee, specialized for recognizing new states’ applications, submitted its report to the UN Security Council on Friday, reading that the Palestinian-UN full membership has been rejected after discussions regarding the Palestinian bid.
The committee’s secretary, the Portuguese ambassador to the UN Gabriel Jose Blaba said that “The UNSC member states would continue their discussions regarding the upcoming Palestinian steps of the Palestinian application at the UN.”
Eight members voted in favor of the Palestinian-UN bid, which are Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Niger, Gabon and Lebanon while 7 other members voted against the bid including the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Columbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Portugal has abstained.
It is worth mentioning that the committee’s stand has been leaked out few days ago which cause the Palestinian Minister Foreign Affairs, Riyad Al-Maliki, confirming the Palestinian bid for full membership at the UN. He further stated that the Palestinians would continue their attempts in order for Palestine to be a full member at the international body.
Nine people are believed to have died after a French helicopter crashed near Somalia’s Southern port city of Kismayo, Press TV reports.
The military chopper crashed late on Friday as it was patrolling the area between the town of Kuda and Kismayo, local Somali official, Captain Sabriye, said.
The crash caused a massive explosion and sent flames high into the sky.
French helicopters fly over the area, to provide backup for Kenyan forces, who launched an incursion into Somalia in October in pursuit of al-Shabab fighters.
In late October, French military spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said Paris would transport air-borne military equipment to Kenyan soldiers near the Somali border.
Night before last I was visiting my Mom and over dinner we watched some television news. I have not had reception at my house since last spring and I’d forgotten all the reasons why I’d opted out. Channel 5 news had a segment on a puppy kidnapped from the rescue center with the overriding message ‘thieves do not make responsible dog owners’ and something about not eating imported honey.
Then they showed a clip of protesters in front of Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley. They were occupiers and although the television said there were a couple hundred of them it looked like around 700 to a thousand to me. Later it was reported that 3,000 were there.
Both my mother and I were wondering what they were protesting about.
The television didn’t mention why they were there but the programming kept cutting back to the crowd and updating us on the tent situation (4 tents..still negotiating) between stories of the puppy and other vital Bay Area news. Berkeley is not far from Oakland which has a strong robust OWS presence. But what’s happening at UCBerkeley?
Google is my friend. In the twelfth paragraph we are informed but do not blink because this is the only mention of the alleged cause of the protestors throughout the entire article:
Several on campus criticized the university for using any force against the protesters, who have watched the police response overshadow the issues that led to the demonstration: budget cuts, tuition hikes and tax policy. – (my bold)
Budget cuts, tuition hikes and tax policy. Hmm. Don’t you find it a tad unusual the TV anchors didn’t mention why all the students were protesting? What has happened to journalism in this country?
Last night a friend sent me this photo at top from the ongoing occupation of Sproul Hall. GO TEAM, we’re everywhere. “Occupy Cal not Palestine”. Then she wrote me back and told me this same banner was just featured on Colbert Nation. Last night he covered the protest. OWS is a “cancer on capitalism has spread to every corner of the US”, and after flashing a photo of a person captioned ‘goldman sachs’ (is GS one person?) stated OWS has moved to ‘patchouli granola dump site’ ‘hippie haven’ of UC Berkeley….and here it comes… “drastic state wide cuts in education spending” and showed close up footage of police abuse which he dubbed “nudging with battons”.
Stephen Colbert to the rescue.
The Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Peterson reports on continued suspicions that were raised about the authenticity of the information presented in the so-called Iranian “laptop of death”–2005 information which the latest IAEA report is repeating.
Not only is the information that’s being publicized about Iran’s alleged nuclear activities “not new“, it’s also based/builds on information that was doubted by experts in the first place.
News reports at the time indicated deep skepticism, when some of the laptop contents were first shown to diplomats accredited to the IAEA. In many quarters, doubt still persists. Recognizing such skepticism, one portion of the IAEA report was devoted to addressing the credibility of the information. But Mr. Kelly, the former IAEA inspector who also served as a department director at the agency, remains unconvinced.
“The first is the issue of forgeries. There is nothing to tell that those documents are real,” says Kelley, whose experience includes inspections from as far afield as Iraq and Libya, to South Africa in 1993.
“My sense when I went through the documents years ago was that there was possibly a lot of stuff in there that was genuine, [though] it was kind of junk,” says Kelly. “And there were a few rather high-quality things” like the green salt document: “That was two or three pages that wasn’t related to anything else in the package, it was on a different topic, and you just wondered, was this salted in there for someone to find?”
It would not be the first time that data was planted. He recalls 1993 and 1994, when the IAEA received “very complex forgeries” on Iraq that slowed down nuclear investigations there by a couple of years.
“Those documents had markings on them, and were designed to resemble Iraqi documents, but when we dug into them they were clearly forgeries,” adds Kelley. “They were designed by a couple of member states in that region, and provided to the Agency maliciously to slow things down.”
What If It Had Been Carrying Plutonium?
The big problems Russia is now having with a space probe it launched this week to go to a moon of Mars underscores the dangers of the planned launch in coming weeks of a NASA mission involving a plutonium-fueled rover that is supposed to go to Mars.
Russia launched its Phobos-Grunt space probe Wednesday and it reached low Earth orbit, but then its engines, which were to power it on to Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars, failed to fire. As a result, the spacecraft has remained in low Earth orbit and, said an Associated Press account Thursday, “the probe will come crashing down [to Earth] in a couple of weeks if engineers fail to fix the problem.”
The AP reported that a spokesman for the Russian space program “said efforts to communicate” with the probe “hadn’t brought any results.” And, it added, “some experts said the chances of saving the $170 million craft looked slim.”
The probe has no nuclear material onboard. It is loaded with 12 tons of what AP described as “highly toxic fuel.” AP said: “Most experts believe the fuel will likely stay liquid if the probe comes down and would harmlessly blow up about 50 miles above ground, but some fear it may freeze, survive the fiery reentry and spill on impact.”
A similar problem with the Mars rover, which NASA calls Curiosity, not breaking out of Earth’s gravity and crashing back to Earth with its 10.6 pounds of plutonium would present a far, far more serious threat—the potential of wide dispersal on the Earth of plutonium, regarded as the most deadly radioactive substance.
NASA intends to launch the plutonium-powered rover on what it has named its Mars Science Laboratory Mission from Florida during a window from November 25 to December 15.
NASA, in its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the mission, addresses the possibility of an accident similar to what the Phobos-Grunt is facing—a crash back Earth from orbit of the Curiosity rover in what NASA designates as “Phase 4” of the launch.
The rover would fall to Earth in “from minutes to years,” says the EIS, with the plutonium “affecting Earth surfaces” along a wide belt around the middle of the Earth.
NASA’s language for this in its EIS: “Phase 4 (Orbital/Escape): Accidents which occur after attaining parking orbit could result in orbital decay reentries from minutes to years after the accident affecting Earth surfaces between approximately 28-degrees north latitude and 28-degrees south latitude.” NASA gives odds of 1-in-830 for the “probability of a release” of plutonium in such an accident.
It says the cost of decontamination of areas affected by the plutonium would be $267 million for each square mile of farmland, $478 million for each square mile of forests and $1.5 billion for each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas.” The Curiosity mission itself has a cost of $2.5 billion.
Between 28 degrees north and 28-degrees south are much of South America, Africa and Australia. The prospect of the U.S. paying fully for loss of life, health impacts and property damage caused by such an impact is questionable.
That’s because in 1991, the U.S. declared that its space missions involving nuclear power would henceforth be covered by the Price-Anderson Act, a U.S. law that limits liability in the event of an accident involving nuclear power—initially enacted in 1957 and focused then on nuclear power plants.
The law, which was supposed to be temporary, running for 10 years, has been repeatedly extended and the limit of liability—how much people could collect—has been increased for U.S. domestic damage from an original $560 million to now $12.6 billion. But the Price-Anderson’s 1957 liability limit of $100 million for all foreign nations impacted by a U.S. nuclear power accident has stayed at $100 million.
In terms of space, this is illegal under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the framework for international space law, which the U.S. has signed. The treaty says that “states shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects.” This provision was reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly last year in a measure passed that set up a process for compensation.
The key issue in terms of effects is whether the plutonium remains as the marble-sized pellets fabricated for space use or vaporized and dispersed as fine particles that can be inhaled. A way this could occur is during a fiery reentry in the atmosphere of a space device falling back to Earth. A millionth of a gram of plutonium can cause lung cancer if inhaled. Also, the isotope of plutonium produced for use in space, Plutonium-238, is 270 times more radioactive than the more widely known Plutonium-239, used as fuel in atomic bombs.
NASA has used nuclear power on space missions since the 1950s and there have been accidents. Of the 26 U.S. space missions which used plutonium that are listed in the EIS for the mission involving Curiosity, three underwent accidents, the EIS admits. The worst, in 1964, was a satellite with a SNAP-9A plutonium system aboard failing to achieve orbit and dropped to Earth, disintegrating as it fell. The 2.1 pounds of plutonium fuel dispersed as fine particles widely over the Earth. The late Dr. John Gofman, professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, long linked this accident to an increase in global lung cancer.
Because of the SNAP-9A accident, NASA switched to solar energy on satellites. Now all satellites and the International Space Station are solar powered.
Although rovers that NASA has sent to the Earth’s moon and also Mars through the years have used solar photovoltaic panels to provide locomotion, NASA says in its EIS that for the Curiosity mission a “solar-powered rover…would not be capable of operating over the full range of scientifically desirable landing site latitudes.”
The EIS says “overall” on the mission, the likelihood of plutonium being released is 1-in-220. The danger begins with the launch itself and the potential of an explosion on launch of the Atlas 5 rocket that is to carry Curiosity up. Such an accident on launch, says the EIS, could “release material into the regional area defined…to be within…62 miles of the launch pad,” That’s an area including Orlando.
Opponents of the launch in Florida have created a Facebook page warning people not to visit Disney theme parks in Orlando during the launch window. “Don’t Do Disney brought to you by NASA,” the Facebook page is titled. There’s an online petition to The White House to stop the launch.
Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org), comments: “This Russian space mission failure should be a clear reminder to all of us—space technology can and does fail.”
Gagnon said the situation “reminds me of the Russian Mars 96 mission that also failed to achieve proper orbit and fell back to Earth with plutonium on board and burned up over the mountains of Chile and Bolivia.” There was nearly a half-pound of plutonium on the Mars 96 space probe that also failed and crashed back to Earth.
“A NASA scientist and his wife were on a star-gazing expedition” near the site where the probe fell in 1996 and “saw the fiery reentry,” he recounted. “Bill Clinton was president then and was asked to send in radiological teams to help detect the contamination swath, but he refused to help because he didn’t want to alarm the public. So that toxic mess was never cleaned up.”
Gagnon declared: “We are being warned—stop launching nukes into space or else we are going to have a calamitous accident at some point. Folks need to send a message to NASA and the White House—no more nuclear launches.”
The grunt in the name of the Phobos-Grunt space probe is the word for soil in Russian. The probe was to bring soil back to Earth from Phobos. An account yesterday by Reuters reported that it is believed that the “problems are linked to the craft’s on board flight computer, which failed to fire two engine burns to send it on its trajectory toward Mars.” It quoted Vladimir Uvarov, identified as a “former chief Russian military expert on space,” as saying: “In my opinion Phobos-Grunt is lost.”
Reuters said, too, that “Phobos-Grunt is also carrying bacteria, plant seeds and tiny animals known as water bears, part of a U.S. study to see if they could survive beyond the Earth’s protective bubble.”
Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet (Common Courage Press) and wrote and presented the TV program Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens (www.envirovideo.com).
Trevor Hogan, best-known as an international rugby player, was one of 14 Irish people detained by Israel over the past week after they tried to break the illegal siege of Gaza.
In a telephone interview this morning, Hogan recalled how the MV Saoirse (called after the Gaelic word for freedom) and the Canadian-flagged Tahrir were approaching the waters off Gaza last Friday (4 November) afternoon when they were intercepted by the Israeli navy.
“They were circling us for ages, with their rifles trained on us,” he told me. “It was surreal looking out our window at these guns.”
Still in international waters, the two boats were surrounded by numerous Israeli vessels. Hogan estimates there were 15 or 16 vessels in total, including several full-sized warships. Eventually, the MV Saoirse was attacked by water cannons.
“The water cannons destroyed the electricity,” said Hogan. “They flooded the engine room. We had to use emergency power. The boat could have sunk if it went on much longer.”
Balaclava-clad Israeli commandos then boarded the Saoirse. “We just stayed sitting down peacefully,” he added. “They wanted to search us on deck but we refused. We all acquitted ourselves well. One sudden move and they were sure to fire. My heart was pumping looking at this.”
Hogan expected to be beaten when the Israelis brought their captives to the port of Ashdod. But the arrival of an Irish diplomat at the port “calmed things down.”
Women “stressed and traumatized”
Hogan said that the Israelis kept him and the others awake on their first night in Givon Prison. But the treatment was even worse for the two women, Zoe Lawlor and Mags O’Brien, on the boat, who were detained separately from the 12 men.
“There was solidarity among us [the men],” he said. “We were all together. We managed to meet them [the two women] for 20 minutes each time the consular was there. You could see that the girls were stressed and traumatized. They were under serious pressure.”
Yesterday morning, seven of the 14 were scheduled to be flown from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to London. Yet they were prevented from boarding a British Airways flight by the Israeli authorities and placed into cells in the airport.
“Givon was tough enough,” Hogan said. “Ben Gurion was a lot worse. We thought we were going home and then we were banged up in cells. It was more decrepit. There was no information and no free association. We were held apart.”
Israel has blamed British Airways for the episode at Ben Gurion, alleging that the carrier would not take the seven campaigners. “Maybe there was an element of the airline being at fault,” Hogan explained. “But there was more to it than that. It was part of a pattern. They wanted lessons to be learnt and that’s why they made life as difficult as they could for us. We didn’t sign anything saying we were criminals, [even though] there were threats made that we would be kept [in prison] indefinitely.”
Five of the Irish, including Hogan, were put on a later flight and arrived in Dublin late last night. Two others, Fintan Lane and Zoe Lawlor, were stopped from taking that later flight and were instead made to travel via Istanbul. They and the seven remaining prisoners are expected to land in Dublin today.
Hogan retired from professional rugby earlier this year because of persistent knee injuries. His efforts to reach Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla II during the summer and now with the smaller Freedom Waves initiative have been supported by a number of Irish sports personalities.
He is adamant that the attempts to penetrate the Gaza blockade have been worthwhile. “We don’t want to make out that we are the victims or martyrs,” he said. “We were in Givon Prison. But Gaza is the world’s largest prison. Whatever we have gone through, the Palestinians have to go through 10 times worse.
“It was very interesting to notice the attitude of the Israelis towards us. They couldn’t comprehend why we were doing this. What we were doing challenges their mindset and that is why it is such an effective tactic. They treat the Palestinians as if they are subhuman. They don’t think Palestinians deserve to live in a normal society, to be able to import and export and fish and farm. It’s great to be able to meet that mindset head on.”
In the village of an-Nabi Salah, in the district of Ramallah, an organizer of the weekly non-violent protest, Abu Hussam Tamimi, was shot in the face by the Israeli military, at a distance of approximately 20 meters, according the the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, on Friday.
Tamimi was shot in the face with a rubber coated steel bullet, contravening international law regarding the use of so-called crowd dispersal tactics, that state that projectiles should be fired towards the legs.
Local activists stated via Twitter that Tamimi lost a great deal of blood while waiting to be evacuated to hospital by the Red Crescent ambulance services.
The Popular Committee further stated that Tamimi has suffered a fracture.
Also, in an-Nabi Saleh an 11 year old boy, name not known, was shot in the torso with a rubber coated steel bullet, possibly fracturing the boy’s ribs.
In total more than ten injuries wee reported in Nabi Saleh, as was the use of live ammunition. None of those injuries reported were due to the use of live munitions.
Furthermore, local journalist and volunteer for the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, Bilal Tamimi, was arrested whilst filming this week’s protest.
Israeli sources reported that Israeli soldiers accidentally shot and killed an Israeli settler and wounded two others, early on Friday, in the Hebron district, in the southern West Bank.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that according to a preliminary investigation, the soldiers received a tip on what was described as “suspicious activity in the area”, and installed a temporary roadblock on the road between Yatta town and Hebron.
The tip was regarding a truck that was reportedly seen leaving an Israeli settlement, one of dozens, in the Hebron area.
Haaretz said that soldiers stationed at the temporary roadblock signaled to the vehicle to stop, but the driver did not attempt to slow down, an issue that pushed the soldiers to open fire.
The 60-year-old driver was killed instantly while two passengers were injured, and were moved to the Hadassah – Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem.
According to a report by the Israeli Radio, the driver did not see the temporary roadblock that was installed by the soldiers.
An Israeli military spokesperson reported that the soldiers opened fire at the vehicle as it was speeding and appearing to be trying to avoid being stopped.
After the initial event took place, a Palestinian vehicle accidentally struck an Israeli soldier standing on the side of the street where the settler was shot, inflicting minor injuries.
Israeli Army GOC Central Command, Aviv Mizrahchi, told Haaretz that the army will be conducting an investigation into the incidents in question.