Russia denies nuclear accident after radioactive traces found

  • 21 November 2017
  • From the sectionEurope
Map highlighting Russia and Kazakhstan, with location of the Mayak nuclear facility

Russia says a nuclear accident has not occurred on its territory despite “extremely high” traces of a radioactive isotope being found.

Russia’s weather service acknowledged it had measured pollution of ruthenium-106 at 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains.

It said there was no health risk.

The announcement appeared to confirm a report by France’s nuclear safety institute which detected a cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe.

The Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said on 9 November it had detected ruthenium-106 in France. It added that the source of contamination could have been an accident at a nuclear facility in either Russia or Kazakhstan.

Both countries said nothing untoward had happened at their plants.

The report by the Russian meteorological service, Roshydrome, is the first official data from the country supporting the French report.

Roshydrome said two stations in the southern Ural mountains found “extremely high pollution” of the radioactive isotope between September and October.

A station close to the Mayak nuclear facility in Chelyabinsk region indicated levels 986 times those of the previous month, it said, without specifying the origins of the pollution.

Mayak, owned by state nuclear company Rosatom, is a large plant that reprocesses nuclear fuel. It said it was not the source of the increased level of ruthenium-106 while Rosatom said there were no accidents at any of its facilities.

The Mayak plant was the scene of a major nuclear accident in 1957, when a waste storage facility blew up.

Ruthenium-106 is a product of splitting atoms in a reactor and does not occur naturally. It is also used in some medical treatments.

Courtesy: BBC

Germany’s Merkel ‘prefers new vote’ after coalition talks fail

  • 20 November 2017
Media captionGerman chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said it was a day of “deep reflection” for Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she would prefer new elections to leading a minority government, after a breakdown in coalition talks plunged the country into political crisis.

She also said she did not see any reason to resign from her post despite the failed negotiations.

On Sunday evening, the FDP liberals pulled out of talks with Mrs Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc and the Greens.

Germany’s president called on parties to “reconsider their attitudes”.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged them to make compromises for Germany’s “well-being”, amid a situation he said was unprecedented.

Mrs Merkel faces her biggest challenge in 12 years as chancellor.

“The path to the formation of a government is proving harder than any of us had wished for,” she told broadcaster ARD.

But she said she was “very sceptical” about a minority government, adding that “new elections would be the better path”.

In a separate interview with the ZDF broadcaster, she argued Germany needed stability and a government “that does not need to seek a majority for every decision”.

The elections were held in late September.

Some in Mrs Merkel’s party still hope for another grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), despite that party repeatedly ruling such an option out.

Earlier on Monday, SPD leader Martin Schulz said his party was “not afraid of new elections”.

‘Politicians have a responsibility’

When asked about the prospect of another alliance with the SPD, Mrs Merkel told ZDF she would wait to see what came of upcoming talks between President Steinmeier and SPD leaders.

However, she said a demand for her to resign would not make a positive start for a new coalition.

If fresh elections are to happen, they would need to be called by Mr Steinmeier, after a long drawn-out process that would take months.

But he appears to view new polls as a last resort. In a brief address earlier on Monday he told politicians they had a responsibility that could not just be handed back to voters.

“Inside our country, but also outside, in particular in our European neighbourhood, there would be concern and a lack of understanding if politicians in the biggest and economically strongest country [in Europe] did not live up to their responsibilities,” he said in a statement.

Seats in Bundestag

Mrs Merkel’s bloc won September’s poll, but many voters deserted the mainstream parties.

Negotiations between the pro-market FDP, the Greens and the conservative CDU/CSU bloc had gone on for four weeks before the FDP’s surprise withdrawal late on Sunday.

Mrs Merkel blamed the FDP for the collapse, saying that the parties were on the “home straight” when the liberals pulled out.

But FDP leader Christian Lindner has defended his party, saying it “did not take such a decision lightly”.

Despite Mrs Merkel’s words about a fresh poll, analysts say the new elections would be likely to benefit the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant AfD most, so other parties would probably try to avoid them.

The far-right AfD won 12.6% of the vote in the September elections, entering parliament for the first time with more than 90 seats.

Courtesy: BBC

The Libya Slave Markets: the shame of the 21st Century World

Gabby Ogbechie, TPG.

0:20 / 2:20

0:42 / 2:19

For the umpteenth time, I have captivatingly watched the riveting report on CNN Africa regarding the Libya Slave Trade. On arrival, the CNN crew was taken to the location where an ad-hoc slave auction was taking place. Three apparently able-bodied men were the subject of the ongoing auction. ‘’ Four hundred, five hundred, six hundred, seven hundred, .… twelve hundred, … sold’’. And the three men were sold for twelve hundred dollars at four hundred dollars apiece. Apparently, the men were Nigerians, as the report by Nima Elbagir, of CNN indicated.

The next humiliating stop in the report was a warehouse in Italy in which the rescued migrants were housed. As would be expected, there was a shortage of everything: no food, no water, and so on and so forth. One of the inmates, whose opinion was sought regarding the fact that some of the inmates had been sold in slave markets responded, ‘’I was sold’’. He then went on to show the CNN crew evidence of the ill-treatment sustained at the hands of their ‘‘captors/owners’’; scars on backs, feet, and punctures in inaccessible parts of the human anatomy. ‘’We want to go home, let them take us home,’’ they chorused.

Evidence that slavery, the selling and buying of human beings for different purposes in the modern, twenty-first Century world was being practiced surfaced a few years ago when ISIS traded young Yazidi and Christian girls as sex slaves. The older women, like their male counterparts, were given the option of either converting to Islam, or be slaughtered with butchers’ knives.

One could argue, at the time, that the Islamic State was a place far removed from reality, because of the barbaric state of affairs imposed on people in the ISIS occupied areas of Iraq and Syria. But, with ISIS apparently gone, the world is faced with the reality of the fact that places like Libya have become as bad as whatever state ISIS thought it was creating, in redrawing the map of the Middle East.

It is therefore no wonder that the protest by people of Black African descent happened in Paris, France around the premises of the Libyan Embassy. But one may ask, why in Paris alone? Why not in all the capital cities in all African nations? Why not in all other nations of the world?

The answer may lie in the fact that most Western nations would not want to offend their Muslim and Arab citizens and guests by staging, allowing, or getting involved in such protests. On the contrary, whenever issues bothering on the ill-treatment of Palestinians by Israeli Defence Forces crop up for whatever reasons, Muslims and Arabs easily hoodwink and railroad the West and the rest of the world into condemning Israel, and boycotting Israeli made goods.

This is in spite of the fact that the Muslim world, for whom ISIS/Islamic State speaks, has made it abundantly clear that that Western civilization, which the rest of the world has embraced, is haram, and that all who do not convert to Islam are enemies who must be slaughtered. The taunts of Muslims to Britons that they are taking over Britain and all of Europe is yet to strike a chord, but the advance is unrelenting.

The testimony of Nadia Murad, the Yazidi girl from northwest Iraq whose village, Kocho was overtaken by ISIS in August, 2014 and was captured and turned into the sex slave (sabiyya) of Hajji Salman, a high ranking ISIS judge. When she eventually dared to escape, her owner had her gang-raped all night by six of his bodyguards until she became unconscious. She was then passed to six other men who beat and raped her in turns before she eventually escaped. Meanwhile, her father, mother, five brothers had been executed.

The members of the Security Council of the United Nations before whom she testified passed a resolution to appoint independent investigators to collect evidence of ISIS crimes, the first step towards holding the group accountable for its mass executions. Murad, who has written a book, ’’The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight against the Islamic State’’ has dedicated the proceeds thereof toward supporting ISIS survivors and bringing ISIS to justice.

Thus far, ISIS and Muslim fundamentalists have gotten away with murder because the governments that should lead the charge against the excesses of radical and fundamentalist Islam have been shut up by oil dollars; most western leaders are still towing the path defined by President Obama; and African leaders are in no position whatsoever to protest because they are either fellow Moslems, or stooges of either Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Now that Nadia Murad has declared her personal war with ISIS, let us hope that the rest of the world would wake up from its slumber, and for the sake of their children and loved ones, do all it can to ensure that there never again would be another ISIS. If a young woman could mortgage the rest of her life toward holding ISIS accountable, Christendom, the United Nations, African Union, etc. should wake up to ensure that never again should young men with hopes and dreams be slaughtered like rams; that never again should young women with hopes and dreams be enslaved for the pleasure of some idiots who still dwells in their own defined barbaric, pre-historic era; and that never again should anyone dare to enslave another, at whatever price.



French police use tear gas to disperse protest against slave auctions in Libya (VIDEO)

French police use tear gas to disperse protest against slave auctions in Libya (VIDEO)
Hundreds of activists flocked to the Libyan Embassy in Paris on Saturday, outraged with the government’s failure to tackle people smuggling after a CCN report unveiled a network of migrant slave auctions in Libya.

About a thousand people turned up to the protest following calls by several prominent anti-slavery groups and a number of celebrities of African origin, including soccer star Didier Drogba and former Miss France Sonia Rolland.

Carrying signs reading “No to slavery in Libya,” the demonstrators gathered in front of the Libyan Embassy on Saturday afternoon before marching towards the Champs-Elysees, where they were stopped by riot police cordons.

Paris – Forte mobilisation devant l’ambassade de Libye contre l’Esclavage après la diffusion d’images montrant la vente aux enchères de migrants.

La foule criant : « Libérez nos frères ».

“Free our brothers,” “Let’s liberate Africa,” “We are black, we are human!” the demonstrators chanted.

Clashes broke out as police moved to disperse the protest. Some activists began hurling rocks at police, who responded with tear gas.

A Ruptly crew was on the spot to film as activists attempted to break through metal barriers erected by police.

One person was arrested following the scuffles, AFP reports. Police say the protest was illegitimate, adding that “no damage” resulted from the clashes.

Earlier this week, the Libyan government launched a probe into slave auctions operating in the country, including areas controlled by the UN-backed internationally-recognized Government of National Accord, after CNN showed footage of migrants being sold at a location outside Tripoli.

CNN claims in the report that men were priced at as little as $400, and that auctions are being carried out at many sites across Libya each month.

Libya has become the last stop on the route to Europe for migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty in their home countries, with the ongoing political chaos allowing people smugglers to thrive in the country, ravaged by civil war.


Courtesy: RT

Second wave of refugees will sweep Europe, says UN food chief

Second wave of refugees will sweep Europe, says UN food chief
Europe may face a second wave of migration as the situation in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East is only getting worse, the head of the UN World Food Programme said. He added there is a clear link between hunger and migration.

Living conditions, mostly food distribution, in refugee camps in crisis-affected regions had deteriorated dramatically before the European migrant crisis struck in 2015, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) told German newspaper Die Zeit.

“We paid a heavy price for this mistake and I’m afraid we’re about to make it once again,” Beasley believes. According to the UN food chief, while many asylum seekers wanted to stay in their home region, the lack of food has driven them away. “If they don’t have enough food, they will leave. And many of them would go to Europe,” Beasley said.

While the UN has been seemingly making progress in fighting world hunger over the last 10 years, the number of people suffering hunger worldwide has now dramatically increased again, Beasley said, adding that the food crisis is caused mainly by wars and climate change. Yemen is threatened by famine because Saudi Arabia is blocking the country’s ports, preventing aid deliveries, Beasley said, urging Gulf countries not to stand aside but instead join the food aid program for crisis-stricken regions.

A WFP report from March says that some 108 million people across the globe faced “crisis food insecurity or worse,”a dramatic increase from 2015 when the figure was 80 million. The document says that major food crises were fueled by “conflict, record-high food prices and abnormal weather patterns.”

The number of asylum seekers in the EU during the second quarter of 2017 reached 149,000, according to statistical data from Eurostat. The applications mainly came from Syria, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Germany, Italy, France, Greece and the UK account for almost 80 percent of all first-time applicants in the union, the data shows.

Courtesy: DW

Greek nationalist anger turns to violence against refugees

Years into a refugee crisis, many Greeks continue to resist the integration of asylum seekers stranded in the country. New, far-right extremist groups are taking advantage of the frustration. Anthee Carassava reports.

Group of Golden Dawn protesters

A supreme court prosecutor has ordered an urgent investigation into a violent racist attack against a migrant minor after a new group of far-right vigilantes emerged from obscurity, vowing to chase refugees out of Greece.

The group, calling itself Crypteia, claims to be a modern-day remake of a sort of Hitler Youth of Sparta — a murderous clan of men who roamed the countryside of southern Greece, in ancient times, terrorizing and killing state slaves.

The investigation comes days after members of the hit squad attacked the home of Amir, an 11-year-old Afghan boy and his family in central Athens. Vigilantes used rocks and beer bottles to smash the boy’s bedroom window at 3 a.m., also tossing in a message in Greek that only Amir was able to read.

A smashed windowAmir and his family have been moved to a safe house after this attack on their home

It read: “Go back to your village. Leave.”

The hate crime — considered the first against a migrant minor — has sparked furious reactions from the United Nations and other humanitarian groups concerned that a rising rate of attacks on asylum seekers threatens to transform this once tranquil sun-kissed European nation into a hotbed of throbbing racist discontent.

Division over the treatment of refugees

Watch video01:21

Greek far-right praises Trump entry ban

But in Greece, the latest incident with Amir has triggered a nationwide debate — and division — over whether asylum seekers stuck in the country who wish to leave than stay, should be afforded the same rights as local citizens in the interim.

“There is no question that they should be embraced by all of us, and the state, to help them overcome the violent uprooting that they faced from their homelands,” said Panagiotis Armamentos, a local attorney. “They enjoy refugee status. And we as Greeks should honor that so much more because we too have been migrants and refugees, trying to seek a better life abroad.”

Read more: Refugee crisis further muddies Greek politics

But not all agree. In fact, in a random DW survey of Greeks in a middle class suburb of Athens, Armanentos emerged as the only emphatic supporter of refugee rights. All others appeared sympathetic but then biased and at times discriminatory on emotive, nationalist issues.

“They can eat and sleep here,” says Evangelos Dangalakis, a retired orthodontist. “But beyond that, refugees can not and should not enjoy the same rights as Greeks. They should not be allowed to appropriate Greek symbols and values.”

A Greek coupleEvangelos Dangalakis and his wife don’t want refugees to be afforded the same rights as locals

“A refugee, for example, can not lead a national parade and carry the Greek flag. It’s a right that should be afforded only to Greeks.”

Just days before Amir’s home was stoned, administrators at a state school demonstrated exactly that — stripping the young Afghan of the privileged prize he had won in a lottery organized by his teachers. Eventually, Amir was given a small, nondescript, school sign to carry during the march, instead.

National identity

“And rightly so” says George, leading his girlfriend, Nasia, into a luxury coffee shop in the Athens suburb of Drosia. “My grandfather fought for that flag; her’s was killed trying to defend it. It’s not an issue of racism or discrimination,” said the 37-year-old businessman, refusing to divulge his surname, “but of one of national identity. How can a Muslim hold a flag bearing a cross? And how can any migrant even aspire to enjoy the same rights as the local population when he himself refuses to assimilate, seeing us as a mere stepping stone to another destination.”

Like thousands of refugees who have streamed to Greece from Turkey in the past year, Amir and his family have refused political asylum here, hoping to reach their preferred destination of Germany to reunite with relatives.

Refugees at a protest in AthensMany refugees in Greece are eager to join their families and relatives in Germany

It’s not the first time that Greeks have tried to assert their national identity in the wake of Europe’s refugees crisis. Last year, scores of parents padlocked the gates of primary schools and kept their children from attending classes in one of the biggest and most violent protests to grip northern Greece.

Backed by extreme-right vigilantes, the demonstrations quickly took on strong racist and nationalist tones. Most worryingly, though, they underscored the beleaguered government’s daunting task of managing the integration of more than 62,000 asylum seekers stranded across the country.

Further attacks expected

With migration inflows rising anew, experts have warned of more far-right extremist attacks.

Earlier this year, the Hellenic League of Human rights said in a report that after years of inaction, Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party was once again starting to recruit and train anti-migrant hit squads.

Police investigating the attack on Amir and his family suspect that Crypteia is a violent offshoot of Golden Dawn. No arrests or prosecutions have followed. But to protect him against any future attacks, police have relocated the young Afghan and his family to an undisclosed safe house in Athens.

“Unfortunately,” said Armamentos, the attorney and human rights advocate, “this incident has put us all in a bad light. It marks a bad moment for Greece and the Greeks. Something must be done.”


Germany: 150 percent rise in number of homeless since 2014

German government figures estimate the number of homeless people in the country to total around 860,000 — more than half of whom are refugees. That number is expected to rise a further 40 percent to 1.2 million by 2018.

Obdachlosen in Ungarn (FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Figures released on Tuesday by Germany’s federal working group for homeless persons’ assistance (BAG) point to a shrinking supply of affordable and social housing, coupled with the government’s decision to allow to almost one million refugees to enter Germany in 2015, as reasons for the country’s exponential rise in the number of homeless.

According to federal statistics for 2016, 440,000 of the country’s 860,000 homeless people were refugees. However, BAG stressed that its data does not show hundreds of thousands of refugees living on the streets, since it also took refugees living in communal housing and shelters into account. Officials said they chose to include these refugees in their latest census as they are also in need of housing.

Read more: Mini-houses shelter Cologne’s homeless during pre-Christmas chill

BAG managing director Thomas Specht stressed that “while immigration has dramatically aggravated the overall situation, but it is by no means the sole cause of the new housing shortage.” The main cause, he said, was misguided government housing policy.

Watch video03:05

A hairdresser for the homeless

Germany’s homeless data by the numbers:

·     Of Germany’s 860,000 homeless, 440,000 are refugees.

·     Excluding refugees, of the 420,000 remaining homeless people, 52,000 live on the streets.

That amounts to a 33 percent rise in just two years.

·     Some 130,000 people are thought to be living with partners or children.

·     Excluding refugees, 32,000, or eight percent, of homeless people in Germany are thought to be children or minors.

Federal government’s social housing failure

According to Specht, the number of social housing units has fallen across Germany by around 60 percent since 1990 to just 1.2 million, as communes, states authorities and the federal government continue to sell their stock of housing to private investors. “These policies have made affordable housing inaccessible for many,” Specht said.

Read more: Germany drafts bill to ease bank account access for homeless, refugees

A lack of housing has in turn led to a sharp hike in rental prices, with one-to-two room apartments in conurbations seeing the steepest rise. To put the issue into context, Germany has an estimated 17 million single-person households, although last year only saw 5.2 million one-to-two room apartments available on the market.

Following the latest homeless statistics, BAG managing director Werena Rosenke called on the federal government and municipal authorities to take greater responsibility in future housing policy. This would, she said, include the introduction of quotas for letting subsidized apartments to homeless people and “the acquisition of available housing stock from private landlords and businesses.”

Watch video01:14

Mini-homes for the homeless in Cologne

dm/jm (dpa, AFP)

Courtesy: DW