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January 18, 2010

France seeks clarification of US role in Haiti

France seeks clarification of US role in Haiti | Stuff.co.nz
The United Nations must investigate and clarify the dominant US role in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a French minister said, claiming that international aid efforts were about helping Haiti, not "occupying" it. US forces last week turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, prompting a complaint from French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet. The plane landed safely the following day. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned governments and aid groups not to squabble as they try to get their aid into Haiti. "People always want it to be their plane ... that lands," Kouchner said Monday. "(But) what's important is the fate of the Haitians." But Joyandet persisted. "This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti," Joyandet, in Brussels for an EU meeting on Haiti, said on French radio. In another weekend incident, 250 Americans were flown to New Jersey's McGuire Air Force Base on three military planes from Haiti. US forces initially blocked French and Canadians nationals from boarding the planes, but the cordon was lifted after protests from French and Canadian officials. The US military controls the Port-au-Prince airport where only one runway is functioning and has been effectively running aid operations. However, the United Nations is taking the lead in the critical task of coordinating aid.

January 14, 2010

Who will pay for Amazon's Chernobyl?

Who will pay for Amazon's 'Chernobyl'? - Green Living, Environment - The Independent In a nutshell, Chevron spent decades dumping toxic waste into the rivers and streams and now is trying to dodge the cleanup cost.
In the words of the film's producers, the claim was "that from the mid-1960s until the early 1990s, Texaco (now Chevron) dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic waste and formation water directly into streams, rivers, and the jungle floor; that nearly 18 millions of crude oil was spilled and leaked from pipelines, that more than 235 billion cubic feet of natural gas was burned into the atmosphere, and that nearly 1,000 unlined toxic waste pits were built throughout the region." A Chevron spokesperson said: "What is being missed, even by well-intentioned people, is that the responsibility for the lack of potable water, insufficient access to proper health care, and malnutrition now affecting the people of the Oriente lies squarely with the government of Ecuador, which has failed to properly address these serious challenges for decades." The company says there is no increased incidence of cancers in the oil-producing areas, that "poor sanitation" contributes to local health issues, and adds that the film is "long on emotion, short on fact", something Berlinger denies. Within a few days of Berlinger's trip to Ecuador, he realised that the case was virtually demanding to be made into a film. "I noticed a group of indigenous people sitting by the riverbank, preparing a meal by an open fire using processed tuna fish from a big industrial-sized can that came from another corner of the world. They were eating this canned tuna because the fish that swam in their river, which had fed these proud people for millennia, were dead."

January 11, 2010

Banned from using lead, China puts deadly cadmium in children's toys

Toxic metal in kids' jewelry from China - Yahoo! News
LOS ANGELES – Barred from using lead in children's jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium in sparkling charm bracelets and shiny pendants being sold throughout the United States, an Associated Press investigation shows. The most contaminated piece analyzed in lab testing performed for the AP contained a startling 91 percent cadmium by weight. The cadmium content of other contaminated trinkets, all purchased at national and regional chains or franchises, tested at 89 percent, 86 percent and 84 percent by weight. The testing also showed that some items easily shed the heavy metal, raising additional concerns about the levels of exposure to children. A spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates children's products, said Sunday that the agency "is opening an investigation" and "will take action as quickly as possible to protect the safety of children." Cadmium is a known carcinogen. Like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, according to recent research.

January 06, 2010

Failed Slovakian security test leads to man unwittngly smuggling explosives into Ireland

Slovak security test ends with explosives on plane
A failed airport security test ended up with a Slovak man unwittingly carrying hidden explosives in his luggage on a flight to Dublin, Slovak officials admitted Wednesday — a mistake that enraged Irish authorities and shocked aviation experts worldwide. While the Slovaks blamed the incident on "a silly and unprofessional mistake," Irish officials and security experts said it was foolish for the Slovaks to hide actual bomb parts in the luggage of innocent passengers under any circumstances. The passenger himself was detained by Irish police for several hours before being let go without charge Tuesday. The Irish were also angry that it took the Slovaks three days to tell them about the Saturday mistake and that the pilot of the airplane decided to fly to Dublin anyway even after being told that an explosive was in his aircraft's checked luggage.