New Attempts to Murder Pakistani Religious Leaders

[SEE:  Is this the Reason for the Poisoning Attack? ]

Gruesome attacks

It is a matter of great concern that a leader of the  stature of Maulana Fazlur Rehman who with his stiff opposition to the US aggression had gained a large following particularly among the tribal folks, hardliners and virtually all America bashers had a narrow escape in two deadly bomb attacks.
The first attack occurred at Swabi Interchange on Peshawar-Islamabad motorway on Wednesday and if Maulana was not late by a minute or so for a gathering he was to address he would have become the target of the suicide bomber. Ten people died in the blast. The JUI-F leader however was unfazed and stated that the attack was carried out by the US and its CIA for his bold stance against the drone attacks. The second blast took place in Charsadda in the DCO office on Thursday close to the convoy of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and though he was again lucky, 12 people lost their lives. These attacks must be condemned because apart from attempting to assassinate a high profile religious leader, it is part of the same game of creating sectarian rift and hence destabilising the country. If leaders of his calibre are being targeted in this manner, it is pretty clear that general security is virtually non-existent. But most important of all, it is also time for different factions and outfits of the insurgent groups like the Taliban and their political bosses to avoid factional rivalries and infighting among themselves at least on Pakistan’s territory. Turning our homeland into the veritable battlefield when actually the fury of these groups ought to be directed in driving out the occupation forces from Afghanistan has put our survival at stake. It must be remembered that the only country that is benefiting from the splits within Taliban is the US. First these groups owing to the absence of a united leadership cause mayhem inside Pakistan and secondly, the US by causing unrest within their ranks neutralise the threat to its military presence in Afghanistan.

Rush in now, repent later

Rush in now, repent later

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN

Agitators pelt stones at police in Ratnagiri on April 19, 2011, in protest against the proposed nuclear power plant in Jaitapur. File Photo: Vivek Bendre
The HinduAgitators pelt stones at police in Ratnagiri on April 19, 2011, in protest against the proposed nuclear power plant in Jaitapur. File Photo: Vivek Bendre

A transparent assessment of the costs and risks associated with India’s ambitious nuclear plans must be made before any ground is broken at Jaitapur or elsewhere.

You really have to hand it to the nuclear industry. In any other sphere of the economy, a major industrial disaster is likely to have adverse, long-term financial consequences for the company or companies whose product or activity was involved in the accident, regardless of actual cause or legal liability. Thus, the people of Bhopal may still be paying for the poisonous gas which descended over their city in December 1984 but Union Carbide became such a toxic brand that it eventually went bust. Last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has also blown a large hole in the profits of BP. But under the perverse economic logic of the nuclear industry, disasters like the one unfolding at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan only mean more business for the world’s biggest atomic energy vendors.

According to Dan Yurman, a consultant for firms connected to the American nuclear industry, two giant nuclear consortia are forming to manage the clean-up of the Fukushima site. “The first consortium is composed of General Electric and Hitachi, with support from Exelon and Bechtel. The second group is led by Toshiba which is partnered with the U.S. branch of Areva, the French state-owned nuclear giant. Babcock & Wilcox and The Shaw Group are part of the Toshiba team,” he writes in his excellent and authoritative blog, Nuke Notes. Incidentally, cleaning up isn’t really their core competence. GE, Hitachi, Areva, Babcock & Wilcox and Toshiba are all in the business of building components for nuclear power plants.

In case readers have failed to spot the irony, let me be blunt about what’s going on here. First, you get paid to sell a reactor in a foreign country. Then, under an international liability regime that is explicitly designed to favour you, the entire burden for site remediation and victim compensation in the “highly unlikely” event of an accident is shifted on to the plant operator. Finally, if and when that “highly unlikely” accident does occur, you are not only insulated from any financial claims but you actually get paid even more handsomely to come in and help clean up the mess!

Exactly how much money are we talking about? Yurman estimates the cost of decommissioning the six reactors at the site could be as much as $12 billion and would take more than a decade to complete. “Industry experts agree this won’t be an ordinary job of tearing down a safe and cold reactor. For instance, to remove the spent fuel from Unit 4, a giant superstructure will have to be built around the devastated secondary containment structure to safely load the hot fuel assemblies underwater into special transportation casks.” Indeed, so lucrative is this project that the two consortia — which consist of companies that otherwise fiercely compete with each other for contracts and projects — “are reported to be having exploratory talks to combine forces.”

As for the $12 billion required to pay these companies for the clean-up, where is such a huge sum likely to come from? From the victims of the accident, the Japanese people, who else! “The Japanese government is said to be considering a form of receivership for the Fukushima site which would allow taxpayer funds to cover clean-up costs and pay compensation to people forced to evacuate their homes within the 13 km government defined danger zone around the plants,” notes Yurman.

As far as the Indian debate over nuclear energy is concerned, the unfolding Fukushima scenario poses an urgent challenge on three different fronts: estimating the true cost of nuclear power, assigning liability in the event of a nuclear accident in a way that is both equitable and efficient, and ensuring the highest possible standards of safety and regulation. As of today, despite the government’s ambitious plans for the construction of 20 or more nuclear reactors across the country, there is little or no clarity or transparency on these vital issues.

The Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement — which paved the way for actualisation of these grand targets — led to intense political divisions at the time it was being negotiated but the debate over the optimum energy mix for India must be conducted independently of those fault lines. The deal may have been sold to the Indian and global public as a cheap and green solution to the country’s power shortage but its primary economic utility today lies in presenting our planners with a wider set of energy options. A door has been opened for India to access nuclear material and technology which was unfairly denied to it in the past but any decision to walk through that door and fill our shopping cart must be based on a sound cost-benefit analysis. Post-Fukushima, we now know, for example, that the cost of clean-up in the event of a “low-probability” event must also be factored in to the equation. Once the $12 billion bill the Japanese taxpayers are going to be saddled with to permanently entomb the highly radioactive reactors there is retrospectively fed into the cost of electricity that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) generated over the years, the true per unit tariff is likely to be much higher than the figure TEPCO worked with when the decision to build the reactors was originally made. Here in India, the Planning Commission should now go back to the drawing board and ask itself whether it still makes financial sense to produce electricity at any given location through large and expensive imported reactors when there may be cheaper options available over the medium term. It may still be that nuclear energy makes economic sense but it is vital that the decision we take be based on a realistic assessment of actual and probabilistic costs over the entire life cycle of a nuclear plant.

As for liability, the Manmohan Singh government owes a debt of gratitude to those who criticised it during last year’s debate over the controversial liability law. If the watered down version had been passed, as the American nuclear industry was insisting, our leaders would be running for political cover today. Fukushima is a confirmation of the need for tough liability legislation, especially since the cause of the accident lay, at least partly, in deficient design. As the 16 leading nuclear scientists who recently sent a letter on nuclear safety to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General noted, “It appears that, in the siting and design of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plants, an unlikely combination of low-probability events (historic earthquake plus historic tsunami leading to loss of all electrical power) was not taken sufficiently into account.” Rational liability laws are essential for ensuring the nuclear vendor pays adequate attention to safety in coming up with his designs. Optimum safety can only be built in if the vendor is forced to internalize the cost of an accident, something liability laws in Japan and elsewhere do not do. The Indian law is an improvement over the prevailing global model but post-Fukushima, many will argue for its further strengthening.

“We are confident that only nuclear power that avoids being a threat to the health and safety of the population and to the environment is acceptable to society,” the 16 nuclear scientists, including Anil Kakodkar, former head of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), said in their letter. They added: “It is necessary to ensure that national nuclear safety regulators in all countries are fully independent in their decision-making on nuclear safety and to assure their competence, resources and enforcement authorities.”

Unfortunately, India today has no such body of regulators. Even on paper, the “autonomous” Atomic Energy Regulatory Board cannot remotely be called “fully independent” since it reports eventually to the Atomic Energy Commission, which, in turn, is chaired by the head of the DAE. As Prashant Reddy, a research associate at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata, has noted, “This is like making the Securities & Exchange Board of India [SEBI] responsible to the Bombay Stock Exchange and then expecting SEBI to function as an independent, autonomous regulator.” The government is understood to be working on a proposal to create a truly independent regulator for the nuclear industry but what eventually emerges from its internal review process is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, the decision to push ahead with construction activity at Jaitapur and other places has evoked a strong negative reaction from local communities. Opposition parties like the Shiv Sena may be trying to exploit people’s fears but the government’s failure to be open and transparent in its conduct at the grassroots level is what has created fertile ground for protest. Radioactive pollution, in the “low-probability” event of an accident, has a half-life of hundreds of years. Will the skies fall upon us if Jaitapur and other projects are put on hold for a fraction of that time, so that citizens at large — and the concerned local communities — can be convinced through argument and debate that putting up nuclear plants in their backyard is a safe and economical way of generating electricity?

This article was corrected for grammatical errors.

Bangladeshi Denounce US Imperialist Interference

CPB, BSD call to resist ‘US aggression’

Dhaka, Apr 9 (bdnews24.com)—Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD) have called upon the masses to resist what they called ‘US capitalist aggression’ across the world and interference in Muhammad Yunus issue.

Speaking at separate meetings in the city on Saturday, leaders of the two parties express grave concern over ‘ever-increasing US interference in the internal issues of Bangladesh’.

“The frequency of US interference in Bangladesh’s internal issues has surpassed all past records. The government and opposition parties’ subservient attitude is responsible for the increased interference,” a CPB press release said.

CPB leaders were addressing a meeting at city’s Muktangon on Saturday afternoon, the release said.

The release also termed the US stance on Yunus and mineral resources issues as anti-diplomatic etiquettes.

“Violent speech of US assistant secretary of state Robert O Blake on Mar 22 is disrespectful to Bangladesh and a threat to our independence and sovereignty.”

The US had even sent the Seventh Fleet besides opposing the independence struggle in 1971, but Bangladesh resisted that US aggression as a brave nation, the Left party’s release added.

Ashraf Hossain Ashu presided over the meeting where CPB presidium member Shahadat Hossain and central leader M M Akash spoke, the release added.

On the other hand, speaking at a demonstration programme in front of National Press Club on Saturday afternoon, BSD general secretary Khalekujjaman said, “Imperialist countries are supporting this newest US aggression over Middle-East just to gain control of oil fields for themselves.”

On the Libya issue, he pointed out that only Libyan people held the power to steer the country.

While criticising Hillary Clinton and Robert Blake’s threats over Yunus issue, he suspected that both the government and imperialists were patrons of micro-credit system.

BSD’s metropolitan convenor Bazlur Rashid Firoz presided over the programme, while central committee member Rajekujjaman Ratan and member secretary Zulfikar Ali were among those speaking on the occasion.

bdnews24.com/mmr/trb/nir/2345h

Nashville: Proposed terrorist bill stirs controversy

Opponents of an anti-terrorism bill watch a TV monitor in the legislative office complex as Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, discusses the bill in Nashville on Tuesday. Hundreds came to the Capitol to protest the measure that originally sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic Sharia code. The measure has since been stripped of any reference to religion, but opponents say it is still unnecessary. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
Opponents of an anti-terrorism bill watch a TV monitor in the legislative office complex as Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, discusses the bill in Nashville on Tuesday. Hundreds came to the Capitol to protest the measure that originally sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic Sharia code. The measure has since been stripped of any reference to religion, but opponents say it is still unnecessary. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s governor and state attorney general would have power to decide who and what groups constitute a “domestic terrorist entity” under a controversial bill moving in the General Assembly.

At least 200 Muslims packed the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and adjacent hallways on Tuesday, saying they fear the proposed Material Support to Designated Entities Act would unfairly target them.

But the legislation passed in both panels, with House Judiciary Committee members approving it on a 12-8 vote and their Senate counterparts later voting 6-3 in favor of it. Both versions now move on to their respective finance committees.

The bill originally sought to criminalize what critics said were extreme aspects of Sharia, the individual and social duties prescribed by Islam. But the bill has now been amended to remove any references to Sharia or religion.

“The offensive language that was in the original bill has been removed,” said House Speaker Pro Tem Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, the bill’s sponsor.

The bill’s intent, he said, is “to protect Tennesseans, to empower local law enforcement, to preempt terrorist attacks so we don’t have to pick up body parts after an event. It’s to prevent an event from happening.”

Designating a person or group as a “domestic terrorist entity” would be a civil procedure and would allow the state to freeze or block the entity’s bank assets, he said.

Those contributing in spite of the designation could be subject to criminal penalties if the group commits a terrorist act. Matheny said there are adequate legal protections, but critics question that.

Zulfat Suara, a Nigerian Muslim who now makes her home and works as a certified public accountant in Bolivar, Tenn., said her greatest concern is the tremendous power top state officials will have to impose a designation that can destroy innocent lives.

“Two or three years later you’re cleared, but the damage is already done,” she said.

During the House hearing, Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, also fretted about the power of top officials.

“Isn’t that the ultimate in truly Big Brother?” Lundberg said. “I like the intent. It just candidly scares me what we open up with this and what we potentially toss out.”

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, called the bill “un-American as far as I’m concerned. What we’re saying here is that somebody in Tennessee, a regular person, can be declared a terrorist, and they have no right to a trial of their peers to clear their good name.”

One of the bill’s proponents, Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, said the bill was “not about religion,” however, he went on to criticize aspects of Islam in a lengthy speech.

“There are three parts to Sharia law that the majority of Americans do not understand,” Womick said. “It’s a political system that has at its center the goal to install Sharia law and its divine beliefs in every country in the world … It is a legal system with a legal code enforced if necessary through militaristic or Jihadist methods. It is also a religion. That part of Sharia is protected by the First Amendment — the other two are not.”

Imam Mohamed Ahmed with the Islamic Center of Nashville later spoke before the committee, calling the situation “very interesting” because proponents say it does not target any religion yet committee members had just listened for “20 minutes about Sharia law.”

“I think we’re facing double standards these days in the Muslim community,” he said, comparing Muslims’ situation to that of blacks in the past.

Indian Press Reveals Radiation-Caused Evacuation of Ohio’s Problem-Plagued Perry Nuke Plant

US facing nuclear scare in Ohio plant?

Oneindia News

Cleveland, Apr 27: After the nuclear scare in tsunami-hit Japan’s Fukushima Daichi plant, there were global concerns on the disastrous impact of the nuclear leak for years to come. Following the scare, nuclear plants across the world had stepped up their security and safety measures to avoid a catastrophe of fatal proportions.

News has emerged of exceptionally high radiation levels at a nuclear reactor in northeast Ohio that has caused concern to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The plant in question is the Perry Nuclear Power Plant that was evacuated on Apr 22 after radiation levels rose while the plant was shutting down for a refuelling outage, revealed the commission. The plant officials have confirmed that workers have not been exposed to radiation in excess of NRC limits, the commission added.

In a statement issued by the commission, “The plant is in a safe condition and there has been no impact to workers at the plant or members of the public from this issue.” The commission explained that trouble started when workers were removing a monitor that measures nuclear reactions during start-up, low-power operations and shutdown.

The highest recorded radiation exposure to workers were measured at 98 millirems, which is the equivalent to two or three chest X-rays, revealed a spokesman for the owners of the nuclear reactor. He also added that the NRC’s limit for radiation exposure in a year is 5000 millirems.

The plant owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. has been operational since 1987. Plant spokesperson revealing the lapses in the part of workers stated, “The contractors did not use the proper method to remove this piece of equipment from underneath the reactor. It shouldn’t have happened, but the bottom line was it did not impact the safety or health of the contractors or the public.”

The Commission started inspecting the plant from Monday and refused to divulge how high the radiation levels are and how often such are carried out.

OneIndia News

‘Saudis fear losing seized Yemeni land’

‘Saudis fear losing seized Yemeni land’

Saudi soldiers in the former Yemeni province of Jizan, during the war with Yemen’s Houthi fighters in Jan. 2010.
A Yemeni opposition group says the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) is plotting to defeat the popular revolt in the country against the despotic rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Secretary General of Yemen Democratic Party Saif al-Washli told the al-Alam news network on Tuesday that leaders of [P]GCC are against Yemen’s membership in the council.

This is because they fear that if Yemen joins the council, it may demand the return of three of its provinces under the occupation of Saudi Arabia, al-Washli explained.

When the British partitioned the Arabian Peninsula following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the Saudis sought to expand their territories by occupying parts of Yemen.

This unleashed the 1934 Saudi-Yemen war that resulted in the separation of three provinces — Asir, Jazan and Najran — from Greater Yemen.

Nearly 80 years after the Saudi occupation, the border dispute remains fresh, with many Yemenis demanding the return of the three regions to the motherland.

In November 2009, Saudi forces once again intervened in Yemen by launching an offensive against Shia fighters in the north, known as Houthis.

The massive offensive claimed the lives of a large number of people, including women and children, and led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands in the impoverished country.

Al-Washli stressed that Saudi Arabia’s recent interventions in Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Iraq also show that the Kingdom is bent on suppressing popular revolutions in the Mideast by following pro-Israeli agendas.

The latest comments come two days after the [P]GCC granted President Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution in exchange for his stepping down and handing power over to his Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

According to the plan, the opposition will be allowed to form an interim national unity government after the president signs the deal.

Reports say both Saleh and Yemen’s opposition have accepted the plan.

However, the opposition groups believe Saleh’s verbal acceptance of the plan is merely another ploy.

Since late January, hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for regular demonstrations in Yemen’s biggest cities, calling for an end to corruption and unemployment and demanding Saleh’s ouster after nearly 33 years in power.

According to local sources, at least 300 protesters have been killed and many others have been injured during clashes with riot police and forces loyal to the Yemeni president armed with batons, knives, and clubs.

FF/MB

EU Prepares To Invade Libya With Ground Troops Under “Humanitarian” Hoax

Western hypocrites manipulating UN to whitewash mass-murder and international oil theft, under the banner of “”humanitarianism.” American and European plundering of Asian and African oil resources have justified European and “American counter-revolutions to remove the criminal regimes. Expect a hostile global revolution to bring the American/European war criminals to justice.