Another US embassy employee held in Pakistan after road accident

Another US embassy employee held in Pakistan after road accident

Pakistani police arrested a US embassy employee after his vehicle hit and seriously injured a motorcyclist in the federal capital, posing a fresh challenge for bilateral ties that are already under strain over the arrest of a CIA contractor on charges of shooting and killing two men.

Maqbool Ahmed was “critically injured” when the US embassy vehicle hit his motorcycle in Blue Area, a commercial district of Islamabad, police said.

Ahmed’s wife sustained minor injuries while his child escaped unhurt.

Police arrested the driver of the US embassy vehicle and took him to Kohsar police station, officials said.

US embassy spokesperson Alberto Rodriguez confirmed the incident and said that the mission was “working with Pakistani police to resolve the matter”.

He said the driver of the vehicle involved in the incident was an American employee of the embassy.

Relations between Pakistan and the US plunged to a new low after police arrested CIA contractor Raymond Davis in Lahore in January after he gunned down two armed men he claimed were trying to rob him.

Pakistan’s top leadership, fearful of a backlash due to rising anti-American sentiments, have rebuffed repeated US demands for Davis to be freed on grounds of diplomatic immunity and said his case will be decided by the courts.

Police have rejected Davis’s claim of acting in self-defence and booked him for murder.

20 Years After Chernobyl–The Cover Up

The first catastrophe of Chernobyl was the meltdown itself. The second catastrophe of Chernobyl was and still is the subsequent cover-up. Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with the promotion of nuclear energy, stated after the Chernobyl meltdown became public that “the atomic industry can take catastrophes like Chernobyl every year”. This cynical slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of victims of the accident seems to remain the dogma of the IAEA until today. The effects of the accident are still being suppressed, played down and minimized. Even today, the IAEA claims there were only 56 deaths. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are still are being affected: in Ukraine, Belarus,Russia, Poland and other western and northern European countries. Many victims have been neglected and remain without any help at all. Even worse: the IAEA has just recently called for a stop of aid to the victims in order to prevent what it calls victim-mentality. In reality, the organization’s sole aim is to promote nuclear energy and the pictures of tens of thousands of irradiated children with leukaemia don’t really fit into the picture of clean energy.
The IAEA, an organization founded and funded in order to “promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies” claimed in its report in 1991 that the population of the areas surrounding Chernobyl were “generally” healthy and there was nothing to fear. Another IAEA report in 2000 again took this stand, stating that with only a few cases of treatable, non-lethal thyroid cancer amongst children, no scientific evidence could be found to support the belief of rising cancer incidence or mortality. Following a recent conference of the Chernobyl Forum, an expert panel staffed with government envoys of the three directly affected countries and some UN agencies including the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the following excerpts could be read in the world press:

“No evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility among the affected population has been found, nor has there been any evidence of increases in congenital malformations that can be attributed to radiation exposure.”

“Poverty, lifestyle diseases now rampant in the former Soviet Union and mental health problems pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure.”

Dr. Michael Repacholi, Manager of WHO’s Radiation Program was quoted as follows: “The sum total of the Chernobyl Forum is a reassuring message.” He explains that there have been 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children, but that except for nine deaths, all of them have recovered – a survival rate of almost 99%. Otherwise, the team of international experts found no evidence for any increases in the incidence of leukaemia and cancer among affected residents. (…) The health effects of the accident were potentially horrific, but when you add them up using validated conclusions from good science, the public health effects were not nearly as substantial as had at first been feared. (…) If we do not expect health or environmental effects, we should not waste resources and effort on low priority, low contamination areas,” he explains. “We need to focus our efforts and resources on real problems.”2

IPPNW and many other organizations, states and institutions like the Belarus National Cancer Registry or the Centre for Russian Environmental Policy of the Russian Academyof Sciences have strongly objected to this cynical way of treating the Chernobyl meltdown, including the government of Ukraine. In many cases, the IAEA report is based on studies of more than 10 years of age, without taking into account newer scientific research. Numbers for dosimetry counts of the population are not available and the report thus relies on approximations, without clearly stating this. Mean averages are being created over vast populations in huge territories without knowing any concrete numbers. Health effects outside of the three countries were not even considered and significant amounts of data still remain classified and cannot be reviewed by outside scientists. Therefore, the results of the IAEA studies cannot be formally disproved but have to either be believed or not.1 Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appearantly does not really take the IAEA report seriously:: “…the exact number of victims may never be known, but 3 million children require treatment and…many will die prematurely…Not until 2016, at the earliest, will be known the full number of those likely to develop serious medical conditions…because of delayed reactions to radiation exposure…many will die prematurely…

Despite frequently cited statistics about the rate of cancer screenings and other medical follow up, few official attempts were undertaken to truly assess the results of radiation and many NGOs in the area, as well as the institutes cited in this paper criticize the publication of IAEA statistics, which are not based on any real facts. Fact is that a vast majority of the population is not being screened for cancer, is not receiving regular check ups, ultrasound exams or other types of secondary preventive measures. What’s worse, the IAEA is going public these days with statements ridiculing the so called “radiophobia” of the population and calling for an end of aid programs, which, according to the IAEA report of 2005, only serve to instil a victim mentality in a totally healthy population – a claim not only cynical, but potentially dangerous for the health of the affected population.

by Alex Rosen
 

S. Pflugbeil

Only 50 deaths caused by Chernobyl?

Press Release by IPPNW Germany on its new study

 

A. Claussen

Berlin, April 6 2006: A report published today by the physician’s organisation IPPNW in Germany and the German Society for Radiation Protection contradicts the claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that less than 50 people died as a result of the accident at Chernobyl (see IAEA press release of September 5th 2005).

The facts presented by Dr. Sebastian Pflugbeil, President of the German Society for Radiation Protection, show that the IAEA figures contain serious
inconsistencies. For instance, the IAEA claim that future fatalities due to cancer and leukaemia in the most heavily exposed groups are expected to
number 4000 at the most. However, the study by the WHO, that this claim is based on, forecasts 8930 fatalities. “And when one then reviews the
reference given in WHO report, one arrives at 10,000 to 25,000 additional deaths due to cancer and leukaemia”, says Pflugbeil. These inconsistencies
are not surprising, given the mandate of the IAEA: to promote nuclear energy. This prevents the Agency from being independent.

According to Dr. Angelika Claussen, Chair of the German affiliate of IPPNW, the point is not to contrast the “correct” numbers with the obviously false
ones provided by the IAEA. These cannot be claimed to have been found due to methodical problems. Essential data on the Chernobyl catastrophe have been kept secret, both in the East and in the West. Large epidemiological studies are very expensive and only possible with state support. “It is, however, possible to provide an informative basis to show to what extent and what kinds of damage we are dealing with when we are talking about the effects of Chernobyl”, says Claussen.

The IAEA is attempting to account for an evident rise in fatalities and disease by providing absurd arguments. “It is cynical, to say the least,
when affected people in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are told by the IAEA that they have a victim mentality, should feed themselves better and live
more healthily”, says Claussen.

The IPPNW/GfS Report “Health Effects of Chernobyl – 20 Years After the Reactor Disaster” documents the catastrophic dimensions of the reactor
accident, using scientific studies, expert estimates and official data:

  • 50,000 to 100,000 liquidators (clean-up workers) died in the years up to 2006. Between 540,000 and 900,000 liquidators have become invalids;
  • Congenital defects found in the children of liquidators and people from the contaminated areas could affect future generations to an extent that cannot yet be estimated;
  • Infant mortality has risen significantly in several European countries, including Germany, since Chernobyl. The studies at hand estimated the numberof fatalities amongst infants in Europe to be about 5000;
  • In Bavaria alone, between 1000 and 3000 additional birth defects have been found since Chernobyl. It is feared that in Europe more than 10,000 severe abnormalities could have been radiation induced;
  • By referring to UNSCEAR one arrives at between 12,000 and 83,000 children born with congenital deformations in the region of Chernobyl, and around 30,000 to 207,000 genetically damaged children worldwide. Only 10% of the overall expected damage can be seen in the first generation;
  • In Belarus alone, over 10,000 people developed thyroid cancer since the catastrophe. According to a WHO prognosis, in the Belarussian region of Gomel alone, more than 50,000 children will develop thyroid cancer during their lives. If one adds together all age groups then about 100,000 cases of thyroid cancer have to be reckoned with, just in the Gomel region;
  • Altogether, the number of Chernobyl related cases of thyroid cancer to be expected in Europe (outside the borders of the former Soviet Union) is between 10,000 and 20,000;
  • In more contaminated areas of Southern Germany a significant cluster of very rare tumours has been found amongst children, so-called neuroblastomies;
  • In Germany, Greece, Scotland and Romania, there has been a significant increase in cases of leukaemia;
  • In a paper published by the Chernobyl Ministry in the Ukraine, a multiplication of the cases of disease was registered – of the endocrine system ( 25 times higher from 1987 to 1992), the nervous system (6 times higher), the circulation system (44 times higher), the digestive organs (60 times higher), the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue (50 times higher), the muscolo-skeletal system and psychological dysfunctions (53 times higher). Among those evaluated, the number of healthy people sank from 1987 to 1996 from 59 % to 18%. Among inhabitants of the contaminated areas from 52% to 21% and among the children of affected parent from 81% to 30%. It has been reported for several years that type I diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) has risen sharply amongst children and youth.

Libyan Amb. To Ghana Denounces Western Media for Stirring Lies

West blamed for Libyan uprising

Accra, March 11, GNA – Libyan Ambassador to Ghana, Dr Ali Ghadban on Friday blamed the foreign media and the West for exacerbating the current unrest in Libya saying those fighting are foreigners.

 

He said: “all the Libyan people love and support Gaddafi” and the political whirlwind that was ferociously blowing across the Northern part of the African continent and the Arab world had been viewed as revolution by people asserting their right.

 

Dr Ghadban said this was not the case and that the people of Libya were content and had no problem whatsoever and blamed the western media of peddling untruth to give Muammar Gaddafi a bad name.

 

Addressing a press conference in Accra, he said machinations of the West would not succeed and wondered why the 52 African States did not have the media to project their own perspective and promoted their own interests both national and international.

 

“I am very sad about this situation we find ourselves as a people where outsiders would be telling our own story from their perspective. The West has once again deployed their media propaganda weapons against Africa and Libya in particular, “he added.

 

Dr Ghadban said the records of causalities had been fabricated and noted that for every news bulletin a story was told about wholesale murder by nationalist forces as if the leader of the revolution was a sort of macabre person whose desire was to kill his own compatriots.

 

The Libyan Ambassador noted that the West was not a neutral arbitrator in the Libyan situation because they had clearly taken their position and therefore could not be fair in anything they did regarding the political conflagration in the eastern part of Libya.

 

He was of the view that those who thwarted the genuine efforts of Dr Kwame Nkrumah were at it again but this time they would fail miserably to effect change.

“Seeing Africa united is what the West cannot accept simply because African unity would automatically stop the process of resource brain drain both natural and human. The Western world which depends on Africa to feed its industrial machines would have to act either by covert or overt means to prevent the realisation of the dream of Dr Nkrumah. Brother Gaddafi is being targeted because he is on the same track with Dr Nkrumah.

 

“Libya is rich. We have all social and economic amenities for free; a system that never existed in the West. From crèche to university, medicare, accommodation, water and electricity are virtually free for all citizens of Libya,’ he said.

 

Dr Ghadban noted that the crisis in Libya, had nothing to do with democracy or human rights as was being portrayed by the West adding that it was essentially an ethnic separatist and an Al Qaeda organisation to destabilise the country.

 

He said the people of Libya are not afraid to fight in the defence of the revolution he said and added that “We are on this occasion calling for Africans to speak out in support of their kith and kin and most importantly to defend the sovereignty of the continent.”

GNA

Number 3 Fukushima Reactor Has Been Charged With MOX Plutonium-Enriched Fuel

[MOX made from recycled Russian warheads (SEE: Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel).]

MOX fuel loaded into Tokyo Electric’s old Fukushima reactor

Sunday 22nd August, 05:36 AM JST

FUKUSHIMA —

Tokyo Electric Power Co loaded plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel Saturday into a reactor at its nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in preparation for the largest Japanese utility’s first plutonium-thermal power generation.

The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant would be the third in Japan to be used for the so-called pluthermal generation, but the only one among the three to have been subjected to antiaging treatment with 34 years since its launch. Pluthermal output has already begun at the No. 3 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor of Shikoku Electric Power Co’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Gates warns NATO allies about ‘precipitous’ exit from Afghanistan

Gates warns NATO allies about ‘precipitous’ exit from Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ discouraged European allies from pulling out large numbers of their troops as the U.S. begins a July drawdown.

NATO defense ministers' meeting

Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands with British Secretary of State for Defense Liam Fox, left, and their Canadian counterpart, Peter MacKay, prior to a meeting at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/ Getty Images / March 10, 2011)

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Brussels

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday warned allies against “ill-timed, precipitous or uncoordinated” drawdowns of their troops from Afghanistanthat could harm gains made against Taliban militants.

Gates aimed to discourage allies in Europe from using the Obama administration’s plans to withdraw some troops beginning in July as a pretext to bring out large numbers of their own forces. The planned withdrawals are expected to be a small percentage of the overall U.S. force, but if allies with only a few thousand soldiers or fewer bring out similar numbers it could cause problems, officials said.

“Frankly, there is too much talk about leaving and not enough talk about getting the job done right,” Gates said in remarks to defense ministers from the 47 other countries that have troops in Afghanistan.

Gates spoke at a two-day meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels after visiting Afghanistan this week. Though his remarks were delivered in a closed meeting, the Pentagon released a transcript to reporters traveling with Gates.

He did not say which countries were talking about removing troops, but he noted that much of the “recent rhetoric” about withdrawals was “coming from capitals” in Europe, which has seen continuing political debate about the cost of having troops deployed in Afghanistan, whether casualties are justifiable, and whether the war, which began in 2001, is winnable.

Behind the United States, which has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, the biggest contributors are Britain with 9,500 troops, Germany with 4,909, France with 3,979 and Italy with 3,815. The non-U.S. troop contingent totals about 42,000 personnel.

Italy said last year that it intends to begin troop withdrawals in the middle of this year. Germany’s Parliament voted this year to begin withdrawals in 2011 and complete its pullout by 2014. The French, Polish and Danish governments have also said they could begin drawdowns this year.

Gates did not say how large the first U.S. troop withdrawals will be this year, but he implied, as he has before, that the reductions would be small.

“We will not sacrifice the significant gains made to date, or the lives lost, for a political gesture,” he said. “In return, we expect the same from you,” he told the other ministers.

At U.S. urging, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in November approved a timetable that calls for keeping large numbers of troops in Afghanistan through 2014, when the Afghan army is scheduled to assume the lead role for security throughout the country.

“We can’t lose our momentum, or give in to calls to withdraw before the job is finished. America is willing to shoulder the lion’s share of the burden, but we cannot do it alone,” Gates said.

The NATO ministers Friday endorsed a plan that would turn over lead responsibility for initial areas of Afghanistan to the Afghan army. The Associated Press said the areas include the town of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, the cities of Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, and the provinces of Bamiyan and Panjshir. All except Lashkar Gah have long been considered largely free of insurgent attacks.

Gates later flew to Bahrain, where he was scheduled to meet with the king and the crown prince. Protests continued in the Persian Gulf island nation Friday.

david.cloud@latimes.com

Did Western Covert Actions Initiate Conflict In Libya?

[SEE: The Last Victory of Muammar Gaddafi]

“Hold your horses,” Cameron–Lady Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Libya no-fly zone plan rejected by EU leaders

David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy fail to convince rest of Europe at emergency summit on Libya in Brussels

  • Ian Traynor and Nicholas Watt in Brussels
  • guardian.co.uk
  • David Cameron, Nicolas SarkozyFrench president Nicolas Sarkozy and prime minister David Cameron discuss their strategy at the EU summit in Brussels on the Libyan crisis. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP

    Europe’s leaders have clashed over the prospect of intervention inLibya, with Angela Merkel leading a campaign to block talk of air strikes and no-fly zones from David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy.

    An emergency EU summit in Brussels summoned the ghosts from the 1990s of division, appeasement, and impotence when Europe failed to halt the fighting in former Yugoslavia.

    Cameron has emerged as the west’s leading hawk, but failed to win explicit support for Nato to enforce a no-fly zone.

    The summit statement said EU leaders would “examine all necessary options” to protect civilians.

    The German chancellor noted there was no legal basis for a no-fly zone, and said she would reconsider only if a legal basis were established.

    The prime minister’s robust stance was also indirectly criticised by Lady Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief. Her staff emphasised the risks of a no-fly zone, warning of potential civilian casualties and “collateral damage”.

    “Hold your horses,” she was reported as saying to interrupt Cameron in the summit debate.

    Cameron tried and failed to have an explicit reference to no-fly zones and Nato in the summit statement.

    “We support continued planning with Nato allies and other partners, including those in the region, to be ready to provide support for all possible contingencies as the situation evolves, including a no-fly zone,” was the UK formula.The disputes also involved the French president, who sounded defensive afterwards. Sarkozy’s decision on Thursday to recognise the rebel leadership unilaterally was especially contentious, heavily criticised by east Europeans and by Merkel.

    Sarkozy also sounded less than keen on a no-fly zone, but nonetheless made common cause with Cameron, stating that the prime minister also supported “targeted [military] actions” on Libya provided a raft of conditions were met.

    Sarkozy acknowledged the split among the EU leaders over a military option and a political option.

    “The British and ourselves are wondering what happens if peaceful civilians … are being targeted by aircraft and helicopters shooting directly at the crowd. David Cameron and I wondered: should we simply stand by … or react … we cannot stand by and watch civilians being massacred.”

    Cameron put a brave face on the rebuff. “All necessary options is strong language,” he said, referring to the formula agreed for the joint statement. “Of course the EU is not a military alliance and I don’t want it to be a military alliance. Our alliance is Nato.”

    On possible military action, the statement said: “The European council expresses its deep concern about attacks against civilians, including from the air. In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided there is demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region.”

    These reflected the views of Merkel and most of the EU’s 27 member states, who agreed that a no-fly zone, also opposed by the Pentagon, can only be imposed if three conditions are met:

    First, “a demonstrable need” means attacks from the air on civilians or use of chemical weapons.

    Second, “a clear legal basis” means a UN security council resolution. But the communique does not specify this, leaving open the possibility of action under the Geneva convention if Gaddafi is found guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Third, “support from the region” means the African Union and the Arab League would have to back the action.

    The prime minister privately believes that, by him making the argument for a no-fly zone, the EU has agreed to harden its position and accept the need for contingency planning.

    Cameron launched one of his strongest verbal attacks yet on Gaddafi. “This is a dangerous moment. We are witnessing frankly what can only be called barbaric acts, with Gaddafi brutally repressing a popular uprising led by his own people and flagrantly ignoring the will of the international community. Things may be getting worse, not better, on the ground.

    “The truth is this. Gaddafi is still on the rampage, waging war on his own people, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and right now there is no sign of this ending.”

    The lack of a reference to a no-fly zone represented a victory for Ashton, who was attacked by Sarkozy as well as Cameron, according to diplomats present.

    She said that such a zone could end up killing large numbers of civilians. One EU diplomat said: “The risks are high for potential civilian casualties and potential collateral damage. The efficiency of a no-fly zone is very questionable.”

Wisconsin union bill signed

[Remember PATCO!  (see: An old lesson still holds for unions)]

Wisconsin union bill signed

Governor expects public support for its changes to rise

BY SCOTT BAUER

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Protesters demonstrate outside Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office after his signing of the collective-bargaining bill.

MORRY GASH | ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOS
Protesters demonstrate outside Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s office after his signing of the collective-bargaining bill.

Walker, a Republican elected in November, signs the bill eliminating most union rights for public employees.

|
Walker, a Republican elected in November, signs the bill eliminating most union rights for public employees.

 

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker yesterday signed into law the bill that eliminates most union rights for public employees, saying he has “no doubt” that support for the measure will grow.

The governor’s signature on the bill quietly concluded a debate over collective bargaining that provoked three weeks of loud, relentless protests at the Capitol.

In an interview, Walker said that once the public sees government becoming more efficient, support for the changes will increase.

“What we’re doing here, I think, is progressive,” he said. “It’s innovative. It’s reform that leads the country, and we’re showing there’s a better way by sharing in that sacrifice with all of us in government.”

Walker, the 43-year-old son of a preacher who has swiftly become one of the most-polarizing politicians in the country, signed the legislation in private yesterday morning. At a ceremonial signing later in the day, he said the new law will be “good for the middle class for years to come.”

The governor insisted that the proposal was necessary to balance the state budget, and he never backed down, even after 14 Senate Democrats fled the state in an attempt to block the bill. The drama touched off an intense national debate over labor rights for public employees.

Parts of the fight are sure to continue in the courts and in the battle over the broader state budget.

Yesterday, the Democratic executive of Dane County asked a court to find passage of the law to be unconstitutional, arguing in part that it was adopted without the required quorum. A judge denied an emergency request to block the measure and scheduled a longer hearing for Wednesday.

Walker said he is confident that the law will withstand legal challenges.

The law does not take effect until the state issues an official notice that it has been enacted, and the notice is published in the Madison newspaper. Secretary of State Doug La Follette said he typically takes 10 business days to send the notice. Given the court action, he said he is not going to act sooner than that.

Walker’s success was a key victory for Republicans, who have gone after unions in efforts to slash government spending.

Labor leaders and Democrats vowed to use the setback to fire up their supporters across the country and mount a counterattack against the GOP at the ballot box in 2012.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said the GOP was not listening to the people.

“Republicans may have achieved a short-term policy goal, but their radical agenda, the war on working families, has been exposed, and the people of Wisconsin and across the country are united against it as never before,” Miller said in a statement.

Democrats said the battle with Walker helped them raise nearly $1 million in a matter of days, and efforts to recall Republican state senators who sided with Walker were gaining momentum.

In addition to ending collective bargaining, the law forces state workers to pay more for their pensions and health-care benefits. Those changes will save an estimated $30 million to help pay down a budget shortfall projected to be $137 million by July 1. The higher payments for state workers will take effect over the coming weeks.

But much more turmoil lies ahead.

Lawmakers have not even started to debate Walker’s two-year budget, which calls for cutting aid to schools and local governments by more than $1billion.

Dozens of protesters returned to the Capitol yesterday, shouting “Recall Walker!” Another large rally is planned for today.