Archive for August, 2012

30/08/2012

Record Refugee Flows to Yemen Amid Reports of Serious Abuses by Smugglers

Human Wrongs Watch

The flow of refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea towards Yemen continues to exceed previous records, with over 63,800 people having made this perilous journey in the first seven months of 2012, the United Nations reported.

Exhausted new arrivals recover on a beach after crossing the ocean to southern Yemen. Photo: SHS/A.S. Hussein/UNHCR

This marks a 30 per cent increase over the number of arrivals during the same period last year, which was 48,700, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Once data for August is compiled, we expect to see another spike in arrivals in Yemen,” a UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said in Geneva.

She said 2011 was also a record year with more than 103,000 arrivals by sea to Yemen, the highest total since 2006 when UNHCR started collecting data on this route.

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30/08/2012

Global Ban on Nuclear Tests ‘Vital’ – UN

Human Wrongs Watch

UN chief stressed the importance of “a global ban on nuclear tests to achieve a safer and more secure world,” calling on all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the international treaty that seeks to achieve this goal.

Nuclear tests remain a threat to human health and global stability. Graphic: CTBTO

“Nuclear tests remain a threat to human health and global stability,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the third annual International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed on 29 August.

The Day highlights the efforts of the UN and a growing community of advocates, including Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, youth networks and media, in informing and educating on the importance of the nuclear-test-ban, the UN reports

The General Assembly chose 29 August as the annual commemoration date since it marks the day in 1991 when Semipalatinsk, one of the largest test sites in the world and located in north-eastern Kazakhstan, was closed for good.

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30/08/2012

Germany Resolved to Pave the Way to Nuclear Disarmament

Human Wrongs Watch

By Ramesh Jaura, InDepthNews*, Berlin – The Geneva UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) has been turned into a talking shop because of the vested interests of a few mighty states without whose consent no genuine nuclear disarmament, not to speak of abolition of nuclear weapons, would ever be within the realm of possibility.

Nuclear test carried out on 18 April 1953 at the Nevada test site | UN

This formed the backdrop to an impassioned appeal by Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann of Germany to representatives of 64 countries, including all nuclear weapon states, to avail of the potential of this United Nations body to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Germany took over from France the CD presidency on August 20.

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29/08/2012

No Prosecution of US Troops for Defiling Afghan Corpses, Burning Korans

Human Wrongs Watch

By Bill Van Auken, WSWS*  – Three US Marines and six soldiers have escaped criminal prosecution in connection with the videotaped urination on the corpses of slain Afghans and the burning of copies of the Koran in two separate incidents that provoked bloody unrest earlier this year.

**2001 War in Afghanistan collage. Derivative work: Wackywace | Wikimedia Commons.

Other Marines still face separate charges in connection with the videotape that surfaced last January, showing four members of a sniper unit laughing and making sarcastic comments while urinating on the battered corpses of three Afghan men.

Army and Marine officials announced separately on Monday [27 August] that the nine soldiers had been given only administrative penalties, while refusing to name those involved.

This form of punishment normally includes measures such as forfeiture of rank or pay, confinement to base or the issuing of letters of reprimand.

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29/08/2012

European Recession, U.S. Slowdown Hit Developing Countries

Human Wrongs Watch

By Martin Khor*

Developing countries are increasingly being adversely affected by the economic recession in Europe and the slowdown in the United States.

**Singapore, the top country in the Enabling Trade Index, embraced globalization. Credit: chensiyuan | Wikimedia Commons.

The hope that major emerging economies like China, India and Brazil would continue to have robust growth, de-coupling from Western economies and becoming an alternative engine of global growth has been dashed by recent data showing that they are themselves weakening.

Just as during the 2008-2010 global crisis, a decline in exports caused by falling Western demand is the main way in which the developing countries are being hit.

The inflows of capital into developing countries have also slowed down, and a reversal to a new outflow situation may well take place. The lending conditions of banks in emerging economies have also deteriorated, according to a banking industry survey.

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29/08/2012

Melting Arctic in a ‘Death Spiral’ – Oil Rush, Industrial Fishing, Conflicts

Human Wrongs Watch

In the last 30 years, we’ve lost as much as three-quarters of the floating ice cap at the top of the world. The volume of that sea ice measured by satellites in the summer, when it reaches its smallest, has shrunk so fast that scientists say it’s now in a ‘death spiral’, Greenpeace reports.

A Greenpeace activist holds an oiled bird found on a beach severely affected by an oil spill.

For over 800,000 years, ice has been a permanent feature of the Arctic ocean. It’s melting because of our use of dirty fossil fuel energy, and in the near future it could be ice free for the first time since humans walked the Earth.”

This would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there – but for the rest of us too, Greenpeace alerts in its Save the Arctic campaign.

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28/08/2012

‘Authorized’ Small Arms Trade, Up to USD 8.5 Billion .. Per Year

Human Wrongs Watch

The annual value of authorized international transfers of small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition is at least USD 8.5 billion, according to the Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets.

*Photo by Lance Cpl. Will Lathrop | Wikimedia Commons.

The new figure, the result of a four-year investigation completed this year, is more than double the previous estimate of around USD 4 billion, released in 2006, adds this independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

An expansion in the arms trade is partly responsible for the upward revision, its reports.

“Two important sources of growth are increased spending by US civilians on small arms and their ammunition, and large-scale government purchases of military firearms and light weapons for international and national armed forces involved in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Better information and more nuanced research methodologies have also played a role in refining the estimate.”

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28/08/2012

‘Illegal’ Trade in Small Arms Kills Over Half a Million People a Year

Human Wrongs Watch

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged sustained efforts to tackle the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons, “which kill more than half a million people each year, with a particularly heavy toll on civilians.”

Some light and heavy weapons collected from fighters under a disarmament programme. UN Photo/S. Waak

“Our collective responsibility is clear: to prevent the flow of illegal small arms into conflict and post-conflict areas and the hands of warlords, traffickers and criminals,” he said in remarks to the opening of the Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons on 27 August.

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28/08/2012

Arctic Sea Ice at Record Low – Report

Human Wrongs Watch

Moscow, RIA Novosti, Valeria Yarmolenko* — The Arctic sea ice extent has fallen to 4.21 million square km, its lowest level since satellite observation began in 1979, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reported. The previous record low was 4.25 million square km on September 24, 2007, JAXA said. The sea ice extent will continue shrinking until mid-September.

Source: RIA Novosti

The record low is due to the unusually warm temperatures in 2011, the deputy head of St. Petersburg-based Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Alexander Danilov, told RIA Novosti.

“It was record warmth,” Danilov said, citing a March report from the World Meteorological Organization.

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27/08/2012

Egypt’s Anti-Islamist Counter-Revolution Falls Flat

Human Wrongs Watch

Cairo, August 26 (Sharia Amin* for RIA Novosti) –Organizers had called it “a second revolution” to topple Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, but last Friday’s so-called “million people rally” failed to draw the massive support the opposition activists had hoped for. It was also proclaimed “a failure” by revolutionary forces which had earlier announced their decision not to take part.

**Mohamed Morsi.png: Jonathan Rashad

Unlike last year’s popular uprising when Egyptians were unified by the common goal of bringing down the corrupt Mubarak regime, Friday’s rally reflected the deep polarisation of a country divided along ideological lines.

The lower than expected turnout signaled however – for the second time in as many months – that the new Islamist President’s following was by far larger than the opposition camp (the first time this had happened was during the run-off vote that pitted Morsi against former regime loyalist Ahmed Shafik).

The crowd protesting outside the presidential palace on Friday (which at its peak numbered no more than 3,000 demonstrators ) was a mix of former regime supporters, secularists and Christians – all opposed to what they describe as the “Brotherhoodization of Egypt.”

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