ONE-THIRD OF DENGUE CALIFORNIA COFFEE CHILD BRIDES AND MASSIVE MADAGASCAR IVORY TEA FARMER COPS KILL SEVEN NEW GLOWING 'FORCED ACQUISITION' EARTHQUAKES, MONKEYS, MOSQUITOES, MUSHROOMS, TOBAGO MURDERS, SOUTH PACIFIC MALARIA, SECRETIVE RITUALS AND DERAILED PASSENGER TRAINS WITH BURMESE MIGRANT WORKERS HARASSED BY GANGS, PREFER HILTON HOTEL HORROR, ILLEGAL XINHUA FISHING, MALAYSIAN MALARIA MAYHEM, OVER BANGLADESH BORDER FENCING, POACHER BOATS, AND ALARMING NICARAGUAN CLIMATE CHANGE FOOD CRISIS AS RWANDA GENOCIDE'S GREENLIGHT RADIO STOCK EXCHANGE SURGES KILL THREE, WOUND 34 — HUNDREDS OF VENEZUELAN FOLK CORPSES TRAPPED FOR 100 YEARS IN KERMADEC, EASTER ISLANDS PONZI PRISON RAT-KILLING, ADMINISTRATIVE BUNGLED THAILAND TSUNAMI UNDERPANTS THIEF'S $60 MILLION PNG PATROL LOCK-UP
ABANDONED AMAZON INDIAN EXPLOSIVES ILLEGALLY FLOW FROM HUNGRY MISKITO BATTLE IN TRINIDAD MURDER CAPITAL'S COCA-COLA ZERO MAOIST RAMPAGE CONFIRMING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES A/H1N1 FLOOD-PRONE FLU CASES SO THAT THAI WHEAT STEM RUST MOSQUE ATTACK BANS VENEZUELA DENGUE DUCKS INSTEAD OF PERU SPAM CHICKENS
About 500 heavily armed Maoists encircled Chonha village under Dumaria
police station of Gaya district and blasted the primary health centre,
middle school building and community hall in the village using dynamite
sticks and other explosives. Earlier, the Naxalites had blown up a police
building in the same village. Incidentally, it was the eighth Maoist attack
in the district this month.
Influenza A/H1N1 continued to spread on with more confirmed cases reported
worldwide. Chilean health authorities confirmed the nation’s second death
from the new A/H1N1 flu in a man of 49. The man died and medical tests
confirmed the diagnosis. Five more A/H1N1 flu cases were confirmed in
Nicaragua, raising the total number of infected cases in the country to 26.
Gunmen killed 10 people and wounded 12 others when they opened fire with
automatic weapons at a mosque during evening prayers in Thailand’s restive
Muslim south. A rubber tapper was also shot dead and nine soldiers were
wounded by a roadside bomb, on one of the worst days of violence in the
region bordering Malaysia where a shadowy insurgency has rumbled since
2004. Police said at least five gunmen sprayed bullets into the mosque in
the Cho Airong district of Narathiwat, one of three mainly Muslim provinces
where more than 3,000 people have died in years of near daily bomb and gun
The United States has created a new system for waging war. Where you no
longer have to depend exclusively on your own citizens to sign up for the
military and say, “I believe in this war, so I’m willing to sign up and
risk my life for it.” You turn the entire world into your recruiting
ground. You intricately link corporate profits to an escalation of warfare
and make it profitable for companies to participate in your wars. In the
process of doing that you undermine U.S. democratic processes. And you also
violate the sovereignty of other nations, ’cause you’re making their
citizens in combatants in a war to which their country is not a party. The
end game of all of this could well be the disintegration of the nation
state apparatus in the world. And it could be replaced by a scenario where
you have corporations with their own private armies.
A Council of Elders of the Miskito indigenous people on Nicaragua’s
Caribbean coast, citing the central government’s opening of the region to
corporate exploitation with little return to local residents, have
announced their secession from the country and declaration of a
“Communitarian Nation of Mosquitia.” But the ruling Sandinista government
are charging that the US embassy has fomented the move. Upon declaring
independence, Miskito Elders and their supporters seized the headquarters
of the ruling party of the autonomous region, Yatama, or “Sons of Mother
Earth,” in Puerto Cabezas. No move was taken to remove them, but National
Police seized the locally caught green sea turtle meat they planned to
consume at their celebratory feast, on the grounds that it is an endangered
species. The occupiers were finally ousted from the party headquarters by
Across the globe, as mining and oil firms race for dwindling resources,
indigenous peoples are battling to defend their lands – often paying the
ultimate price. It has been called the world’s second “oil war”, but the
only similarity between Iraq and events in the jungles of northern Peru has
been the mismatch of force. On one side have been the police armed with
automatic weapons, teargas, helicopter gunships and armoured cars. On the
other are several thousand Awajun and Wambis Indians, many of them in war
paint and armed with bows and arrows and spears. In some of the worst
violence seen in Peru in 20 years, the Indians warned Latin America what
could happen if companies are given free access to the Amazonian forests to
exploit an estimated 6bn barrels of oil and take as much timber they like.
After months of peaceful protests, the police were ordered to use force to
remove a road bock near Bagua Grande.
A ‘time bomb’ for world wheat crop. The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust,
could wipe out more than 80% of the world’s wheat as it spreads from
Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it
reaches the U.S. The sample spores arrived from Kenya on dried, infected
leaves ensconced in layers of envelopes. The suspended fungal spores in a
light mineral oil were sprayed onto thousands of healthy wheat plants.
After two weeks, the stalks were covered with deadly reddish blisters
characteristic of the scourge known as Ug99.
Venezuela’s Health Ministry said it has banned Coca-Cola Zero because it
failed to declare the use of an artificial sweetener allegedly harmful to
the health. Health officials said tests show the no-calorie soft drink
contains a sweetener called sodium cyclamate — charges Coca-Cola Co.
denies. The sweetener’s use is not prohibited in Venezuela. But the
ministry said the company failed to declare sodium cyclamate as an
ingredient in Coca-Cola Zero when it received its initial health permit to
begin selling the product. Coca-Cola is “failing to comply with sanitary
norms,” the ministry said.
Scientists have devised a new system that can predict outbreaks of dengue
fever with 60 per cent accuracy. The system, predicts outbreaks based on
sea temperature and changes in vegetation making predictions up to 40 weeks
in advance. The model could act as an early warning system, allowing
countries to be better prepared for the likelihood of an outbreak. About
two-thirds of the world’s population live in areas infested with mosquitoes
that transmit dengue fever. The new system can be used in Africa, Asia,
Latin America and the Caribbean, which are prone to the fever.
With a steady rise in violent crime including an alarming increase in
homicides, Trinidad and Tobago has overtaken Jamaica as the “murder capital
of the Caribbean”. While homicides increased two percent in Jamaica in
2008, murders were up a staggering 38 percent in Trinidad and Tobago.
Although much of the violence is gang-related, in recent years tourists
have increasingly become targets for robbery, sexual assault and murder.
After blasting the three centres, the Maoists raided the two-storey house
of Maqsood Khan, a big farmer and former mukhiya of Narainpur panchayat of
the Naxal-infested Dumaria block. Using walkie-talkies, they directed the
four female inmates of the house, including the farmer’s wife, daughter and
two maid servants, to move out of the house as they were going to blow it.
Once the womenfolk came out, the Maoists conducted what they call “seizure
of the movable assets”. After emptying the house, they looted about 100
quintals of rice, an equal quantity of wheat, 10 quintals of gram, potatoes
and onions, clothes, about 100 grams of gold jewellery and one kg of silver
ornaments besides utensils — the Maoists blew up the sprawling two-storey
Cuba reported its fifth confirmed case of A/H1N1 flu in a 62-year-old
Canadian woman. Uruguayan health authorities reported four new A/H1N1
influenza cases, bringing the total in the country to 22. Three of them are
students from private colleges in Montevideo and the other is a woman who
recently returned from the United States and lives in the western Uruguayan
province of Rio Negro. The Dominican Republic’s Health Ministry reported 16
new cases of A/H1N1 flu, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 60.
There are a total of about 400 samples awaiting testing in a special
“The gunmen sneaked into the mosque and opened fire as the victims kneeled
on the floor praying.” The brazen attack was one of three in Narathiwat
province, which has seen a surge in violence. A Buddhist rubber tapper was
shot dead by unknown gunmen on a motorcycle in Rangae district and nine
soldiers were wounded, one seriously, when a powerful roadside bomb
exploded under their vehicle in neighboring Rueso district.
The President of Peru’s Amazon Indian organisation AIDESEP has been forced
into exile. Alberto Pizango sought refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in
Peru’s capital Lima after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Nicaragua
has granted him asylum. Pizango was charged with `sedition, conspiracy and
rebellion’ following the violent confrontation between hundreds of
indigenous protesters blockading a road near the town of Bagua in northern
Peru, and riot police intent on breaking up the protest. The violent
tactics used by the police, firing automatic weapons at Indians who were
peacefully protesting, resulted in many deaths on both sides.
Yatama said the eviction was peaceful. “We’re not going to fight between
Miskito and Miskito,” the regional governor, said. “It’s not that we’re
afraid of that movement.” But Miskito Elders said they were armed. The
National Police apparently did not get involved. The separatists are still
maintaining that they are no longer part of Nicaragua, and have appointed
Héctor Williams as their wihta tara, or great judge. He cited lack of
central government response to devastating hurricanes, a rat plague, and a
mysterious hysteria-causing disease known as grisi siknis.
In the fights that followed, at least 50 Indians and nine police officers
were killed, with hundreds more wounded or arrested. The indigenous rights
group Survival International described it as “Peru’s Tiananmen Square”.
“For thousands of years, we’ve run the Amazon forests,” said Servando
Puerta, one of the protest leaders. “This is genocide. They’re killing us
for defending our lives, our sovereignty, human dignity.” As riot police
broke up more demonstrations in Lima and a curfew was imposed on many
Peruvian Amazonian towns, President Garcia backed down in the face of
condemnation of the massacre. He suspended – but only for three months –
the laws that would allow the forest to be exploited. No one doubts the
clashes will continue.
Nearly all the plants were goners. Crop scientists fear the Ug99 fungus
could wipe out more than 80% of worldwide wheat crops as it spreads from
eastern Africa. It has already jumped the Red Sea and traveled as far as
Iran. Experts say it is poised to enter the breadbasket of northern India
and Pakistan, and the wind will inevitably carry it to Russia, China and
even North America — if it doesn’t hitch a ride with people first. “It’s a
time bomb. It moves in the air, it can move in clothing on an airplane. We
know it’s going to be here. It’s a matter of how long it’s going to take.”
The ministry urged Venezuelans to refrain from sampling the drink, saying
it is “considered harmful to the health.” The U.S. prohibits the use of
cyclamates in human food because of health safety concerns. Sales of
Coca-Cola Zero elsewhere in Latin America have met with resistance over the
sweetener’s use. But Rosy Alvarez, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Servicios de
Venezuela, said that Coca-Cola Zero sold in Venezuela uses other artificial
sweeteners. “No ingredient of Coca-Cola Zero is harmful to peoples’
health,” she said. The local affiliate is nevertheless complying with
Venezuela’s order and has begun halting production, she said. The company
is in discussions with the Venezuelan government. Coca-Cola sells many
other soft drinks in Venezuela including Coca-Cola Classic, Chinoto,
Frescolita and Hit.
An Australian man with multiple serious ailments, including swine flu,
died, but authorities say they can’t be sure whether it was the virus that
killed him. The 26-year-old Aboriginal man could be the first person in the
Asia-Pacific to die from swine flu, which has swept rapidly through the
region but without the fatal impact it has had in the hardest hit countries
such as Mexico and the United States where dozens have died. Bangladesh,
Laos and Papua New Guinea all reported their first cases, while infections
continued to rise sharply in Thailand. Authorities in New Zealand said
widespread transmission of the virus meant it likely had more than 1,000
cases. The World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic. More
than 39,000 cases had been reported worldwide, with 167 deaths. The
Australian fatality was from the impoverished Aborgine minority in a remote
desert community. He died in a hospital in the southern city of Adelaide.
It is not yet known what the patient died of or where he became infected.
Australia has recorded the highest tally of swine flu cases in the
Asia-Pacific, reaching 2,330. Swine flu remained mild in Australia and most
people infected made rapid and full recoveries. New Zealand reported 63 new
cases of swine flu _ taking the national total to 216, but the country
likely had at least 1,000 cases. He said despite widespread transmission in
the community, virtually all the New Zealand cases were mild, with only one
patient so far becoming critically ill. More serious cases were expected
once the virus spreads. Officials were moving to ‘manage’ the spread of the
virus after attempting to contain it for two months. Bangladesh confirmed
its first case: a 19-year-old man who had recently returned from the U.S,
the Health Ministry said in a statement. It said he was being treated and
his family members were also under observation. A 27-year-old Australian
visitor has been confirmed as the first case of the virus in Laos, the
official Khaosan Pathet Lao agency reported. The unidentified Australian
has been quarantined but does not need hospitalization.
A Swedish couple was chopped to death in their hotel room in Tobago and two
British females were robbed and sexually assaulted by a bandit who forced
his way into their holiday apartment. The US and the UK issued travel
advisories warning travelers about increasing violence and the failure of
police in Tobago to apprehend and prosecute criminals. “You should be aware
that there are high levels of violent crime, especially shootings and
kidnappings,” states a travel advisory issued by the UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office. “British nationals have been victims of violent
attacks, particularly in Tobago where law enforcement is weak.” A US travel
advisory issued about the same time warns travelers that armed robbers have
been trailing tourists as they depart international airports in Trinidad
According to Rizwan, he was in a neighbouring village when the Maoists
started encircling his village. He immediately informed all senior police
officials about it. But the police arrived only after everything was over.
Admitting that she got information about the movement of the Maoists,
Magadh Range DIG Anupama Nilekar claimed that immediate steps were taken
and police parties dispatched to the village. According to the villagers,
the police reached the place a good 15 hours later. The police team was
greeted by “go back” slogans as angry villagers protested against the
apparent police failure. The villagers also raised slogans against senior
In Hondura, 24 new cases of the A/H1N1 flu, bringing the country’s total to
56 with 100 more cases to be confirmed. Colombia confirmed one new A/H1N1
flu case, raising the total number of infected cases in the country to 25.
The boy, from Yopal, capital city of the central Casanare province, has had
close contact with a confirmed patient. The European Center for Disease
Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that 26 new A/H1N1 flu cases were
discovered in European countries within the last 24 hours. The new cases
were distributed in Germany, Netherlands, Austria, France and Denmark, it
Nineteen people have been killed and 40 injured in the region’s latest
surge in violence. No group has made a credible claim of responsibility for
any of the attacks in the region, which was an independent Muslim sultanate
until annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand a century ago.
At least 30 Indians are thought to have been killed, but indigenous
organisations believe the real figure is significantly higher, and have
accused the police of throwing large numbers of bodies into the MaraÒon
river. More than 20 police officers are also believed to have died. Peru’s
President Alan Garcia has labelled the indigenous protesters `savages’,
`barbaric’, `ignorant’ and `second-class citizens’. The Indians’ protests
started in response to a series of government decrees promoting the opening
up of their lands to oil and gas companies. In recent years more than 70%
of Peru’s Amazon has been auctioned off to oil companies, with the Indians
rarely being consulted.
“We have the right to autonomy and self-government,” Wycleff Diego, the
separatist movement’s ambassador abroad said, holding up a copy of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Even the government’s
allies concede that the separatists have valid grievances. “We haven’t been
the best administrators of public things, but that doesn’t mean we should
spill blood,” said Steadman Fagoth, a former Miskito guerilla leader who
has recently allied himself with Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. Two
major drilling concessions have been granted off Nicaragua’s Caribbean
coast, but officials fear the separatist movement could scare off
investors. “It’s going to send the signal that you can’t do business in
Nicaragua,” said a chief executive at Infinity Energy, a Denver-based
company. (A maritime border dispute with Honduras and Colombia has also
been an obstacle to offshore oil development.)
Peru is just one of many countries now in open conflict with its indigenous
people over natural resources. Barely reported in the international press,
there have been major protests around mines, oil, logging and mineral
exploitation in Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America. Hydro
electric dams, biofuel plantations as well as coal, copper, gold and
bauxite mines are all at the centre of major land rights disputes. A
massive military force continued this week to raid communities opposed to
oil companies’ presence on the Niger delta. The delta, which provides 90%
of Nigeria’s foreign earnings, has always been volatile, but guns have
flooded in and security has deteriorated. In the last month a military
taskforce has been sent in and helicopter gunships have shelled villages
suspected of harbouring militia. Thousands of people have fled. Activists
from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta have responded by
killing 12 soldiers and this week set fire to a Chevron oil facility.
Yesterday seven more civilians were shot by the military.
Though most Americans have never heard of it, Ug99 — a type of fungus
called stem rust because it produces reddish-brown flakes on plant stalks
— is the No. 1 threat to the world’s most widely grown crop. The
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico estimates that
19% of the world’s wheat, which provides food for 1 billion people in Asia
and Africa, is in imminent danger. American plant breeders say $10 billion
worth of wheat would be destroyed if the fungus suddenly made its way to
U.S. fields. Fear that the fungus will cause widespread damage has caused
short-term price spikes on world wheat markets. Famine has been averted
thus far, but experts say it’s only a matter of time.
The Solomon Islands police commissioner has warned against the practice of
cutting up unexploded wartime bombs to get explosives for fishing.
Commissioner Peter Marshall warned it was a very dangerous practice. He was
announcing that Hells Point, at the eastern end of the international
airport in the capital, Honiara, is out of bounds to the public. Solomon
Islands Broadcasting reports Mr Marshall said the area has been designated
by the Police Explosive Ordinance Division for destroying highly dangerous
products. The area is used to store explosives and ammunition left over
from World War II.
Thailand’s Public Health Ministry, meanwhile, confirmed 71 new cases,
bringing the country’s total to 589, most of them in Bangkok. Elsewhere in
the region, Papua New Guinea became the second South Pacific islands nation
to report a single confirmed case of the infection, after Samoa confirmed
its first case Tuesday. Singapore reported 11 new cases, bringing its total
to 77. Officials said all but two of the infections were contracted abroad.
In Beijing, an American high school student from Massachusetts was admitted
to a hospital with swine flu symptoms, while 14 other students and two
chaperones were quarantined. Numerous travelers have been quarantined over
swine flu concerns in China, including other school groups from California
and Maryland. Hong Kong reported 16 more cases, including seven that were
domestically transmitted. The new infections bring the city’s total to 237.
Malaysia confirmed four new cases of the virus, raising its tally to 27.
“Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault
and murder, have involved foreign residents and tourists (and) incidents
have been reported involving armed robbers trailing arriving passengers
from the airport and accosting them in remote areas… the perpetrators of
many of these crimes have not been arrested.” Highest crime rates in the
English-speaking Caribbean, which extends from the Bahamas in the north to
Trinidad & Tobago in the south, averages 30 murders per 100,000 inhabitants
per year, one of the highest rates in the world. By comparison, the murder
rate in both Canada and the UK is about two per 100,000.
$27bn flows out illegally every year from India. Global Financial Integrity
(GFI) — has ranked the country fifth in the list of 160 developing
countries suffering from the outflow of huge amounts of money through
Many countries in Asia also reported more infections. South Korea’s health
authorities on Monday confirmed one more case of Influenza A/H1N1, raising
the number of confirmed cases to 48 in the country. A 28-year-old man,
recently back from his business trip to New York, showed flu-like symptoms,
and, accordingly, was quarantined at a state-designated hospital. With four
more cases reported in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan’s tally of A/H1N1 flu
infections have amounted to 424. The four patients – three middle school
boys and one primary school boy – tested positive for the new flu after
having run fevers.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s recent takedown of an Internet service
provider thought to be a safe haven for spammers has reduced spam volumes,
but only by a little. Total spam volume dropped by about 15 percent as the
FTC got a court order to pull the plug on a notorious ISP named Pricewert.
which also did business under the name 3FN, was knocked off-line after the
companies that provided it access to the Internet stopped doing business
with it. This happened after the FTC was granted a temporary restraining
order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Frustrated by the refusal of the authorities to negotiate with them,
AIDESEP called for a series of peaceful protests. Indian communities
throughout central and northern Peru have been blockading rivers and roads
in a successful attempt to halt the oil industry traffic. Survival has
called for oil and gas companies in the Amazon to suspend their operations
until the government agrees to peaceful negotiations with the Indians’
representatives; for an independent and impartial inquiry into the tragic
events near Bagua; and for the lifting of all charges against Sr. Pizango.
Puerto Cabezas has twice been rocked by violent protests in recent years:
in 2007, over the central government’s slow response after a devastating
hurricane, and in 2008, when Ortega’s government postponed municipal
elections. Separatist leader Williams, who has enlisted the support of
hundreds of Miskito lobster divers who are protesting a drop in pay as
lobster prices plunge, said he had to discourage the divers from attacking
the party offices after they were re-taken. The separatists say they are
seeking financing to train and equip an army of 1,500. “We’ll defend our
natural resources,” vowed Guillermo Espinoza, the movement’s defense
minister, who was known as Comandante Black Cat during the 1980s war. If no
guns can be procured, he said, the separatists will make weapons
The escalation of violence came in the week that Shell agreed to pay £9.7m
to ethnic Ogoni families – whose homeland is in the delta – who had led a
peaceful uprising against it and other oil companies in the 1990s, and who
had taken the company to court in New York accusing it of complicity in
writer Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution in 1995. Meanwhile in West Papua,
Indonesian forces protecting some of the world’s largest mines have been
accused of human rights violations. Hundreds of tribesmen have been killed
in the last few years in clashes between the army and people with bows and
arrows. “An aggressive drive is taking place to extract the last remaining
resources from indigenous territories,” says Victoria Tauli-Corpus, an
indigenous Filipino and chair of the UN permanent forum on indigenous
issues. “There is a crisis of human rights. There are more and more
arrests, killings and abuses.
A significant humanitarian crisis is inevitable. The solution is to develop
new wheat varieties that are immune to Ug99. That’s much easier said than
done. After several years of feverish work, scientists have identified a
mere half-dozen genes that are immediately useful for protecting wheat from
Ug99. Incorporating them into crops using conventional breeding techniques
is a nine- to 12-year process that has only just begun. And that process
will have to be repeated for each of the thousands of wheat varieties that
is specially adapted to a particular region and climate. “All the seed
needs to change in the next few years. It’s really an enormous
A Spanish cruise ship hit by an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus among its
crew headed for its final stop at the Caribbean island of Aruba. The Ocean
Dream, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL.N), was on a week-long cruise
due to end but its itinerary was limited after several crew members came
down with the swine flu. Venezuela confirmed three cases of H1N1 flu among
the ship’s crew when the boat arrived at the island of Margarita and more
than 300 Venezuelan passengers were allowed off. The ship’s remaining 900
passengers and crew are expected to disembark in Aruba, the cruise’s final
Humanity will achieve the dubious distinction this year of having more than
1 billion members of its species living in hunger for the first time in
history. The number of undernourished is estimated to soar by about 100
million over last year, to 1.02 billion, according to the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The 11 percent surge
in the world’s hungry is primarily a product of the global economic crisis,
combined with persistently high food prices. World economic output is
expected to decline by more than 3 percent this year—the first global
contraction since the Second World War. The economic crisis, the FAO notes,
“has reduced incomes and employment opportunities of the poor and
significantly lowered their access to food.”
With 550 homicides in 2008, Trinidad and Tobago has a rate of about 55
murders per 100,000 making it the most dangerous country in the Caribbean
and one of the most dangerous in the world. The rate of assaults, robbery,
kidnapping and rape in Trinidad and Tobago is also among the highest in the
world. According to a report issued by the United States State Department,
gang-related homicides and other crimes will continue to increase in
Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 and 2010.
“In 2006, total outflows from developing countries outpaced incoming
official development assistance (ODA) by a ratio of 10 to 1. This means
that for every $1 in ODA a developing country received, $10 was lost due to
illicit financial outflows. China topped the list of countries for illicit
outflows with $233bn-$289bn, followed by Saudi Arabia ($54bn-$55bn), Mexico
($41bn-$46bn) and Russia ($32bn-$38bn).
Eight more A/H1N1 flu cases were confirmed on the Chinese mainland,
bringing the total number to 80. Three new cases were reported in Beijing,
including a 12-year-old Chinese boy and two foreigners. The boy studied in
the United States and returned to China from Orlando. Meanwhile, five
people were tested positive for the A/H1N1 influenza virus in Hong Kong
taking the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the city to 38.
Vietnamese authority updated the number of its A/H1N1 flu patients to 13.
The mother and younger sister of the 11th case has been confirmed to be
infected with the virus. The family returned to Vietnam from the United
States and were now isolated and treated at the Nhi Dong No. 1 Hospital.
According to the FTC, Pricewert was home to a host of illegal activity
including the distribution of viruses, phishing, spyware and child
pornography. Pricewert “actively shielded its criminal clientele by either
ignoring take-down requests issued by the on-line security community, or
shifting its criminal elements to other Internet protocol addresses it
controlled to evade detection.” The ISP has said that the alleged criminal
activity on its network was the result of bad customers and not its fault.
Pricewert lists its principal place of business as Belize City, Belize, but
it operated out of a DataPipe data center in San Jose, California.
A new kind of refugee is on the rise. And by 2050, there could be as many
as 200 million of them. CARE official says people in flood-prone Bangladesh
should raise ducks instead of chickens. They are not fleeing despicable
acts of violence or persecution but the very land and water on which their
livelihoods depend. They are some of the world’s poorest, forced from their
homes by global climate change.
A top Sandinista leader, Gustavo Porras, accused Robert Callahan, the US
ambassador to Nicaragua, of conspiring with the separatist movement in Cold
War-era fashion. Callahan—who worked in the US embassy in Honduras when it
was the command center for the Reagan administration’s Contra war in
Nicaragua—denies involvement. “The question regarding any contentious
issues that may exist between parts of the Miskito community and the
government of Nicaragua is a matter for the Nicaraguans, and one that they
themselves must resolve,” he said. Sandinista-aligned Miskito leader
Steadman Fagoth—president of Nicaragua’s Fishing Institute—said he
witnessed Ambassador Callahan and US State Department officials meeting
with separatist leaders in Puerto Cabezas.
“This is happening in Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia,
Nigeria, the Amazon, all over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa.
It is global. We are seeing a human rights emergency. A battle is taking
place for natural resources everywhere. Much of the world’s natural capital
– oil, gas, timber, minerals – lies on or beneath lands occupied by
indigenous people.” What until quite recently were isolated incidents of
indigenous peoples in conflict with states and corporations are now
becoming common as government-backed companies move deeper on to lands long
ignored as unproductive or wild. As countries and the World Bank increase
spending on major infrastructural projects to counter the economic crisis,
the conflicts are expected to grow.
An ancient adversary, farmers have been battling stem rust for as long as
they have grown wheat. The fungus’ ancestors infected wild grasses for
millions of years before people began cultivating them for food. The
pathogen keeps mutating and evolving. It’s one of our biblical pests. This
is not a small enemy. When a spore lands on a green wheat plant, it forms a
pustule that invades the outer layers of the stalk. The pustule hijacks the
plant’s water and nutrients and diverts them to produce new rust spores
instead of grain. Within two weeks of an initial attack, there can be
millions of pustules in a 2.5-acre patch of land. Wheat plants that can
recognize a specific chemical produced by stem rust can mount a defense
against the fungus. But the rust is able to mutate, evade the plant’s
immune system and resume its spread.
The ship made stops earlier in the week in Barbados and Grenada, but
authorities there refused to let passengers leave the ship. Venezuelan
health authorities that the boat had been quarantined for a week along with
its passengers, who are mainly from Spain, Colombia and Venezuela but also
include Brazilian, British and French citizens. “The boat is continuing its
itinerary in the direction of Aruba, where the rest of the passengers and
the affected crew will disembark,” the company said in a statement.
Barbados refused to let the ship dock because 43 crew members exhibited
The world’s hungry are concentrated in Asia and the Pacific (642 million),
Sub-Saharan Africa (265 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (53
million), and the Near East and North Africa (42 million). Sub-Saharan
Africa has the highest concentration of hungry, while the Middle East and
North Africa saw the most rapid growth in the number of hungry people (13.5
percent). The agency’s definition of hunger is based on the number of
calories consumed. Depending on the relative age and gender ratios of a
given country, the cutoff varies between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day. It
is likely the figures significantly underestimate the number of people
suffering from hunger. A study published earlier this year found that 12
million children are at risk of inadequate food in the United States.
Figures estimate the total number of hungry people in the entire “developed
world” (including the US and Europe) at 15 million.
The issue of money taken illegally abroad and stashed in tax havens has
recently acquired prominence because of the feeling, encouraged by the
global slowdown, that days of secret banking are over. The consensus was
reflected in the recent meeting of G-20, and has been strengthened by the
promises of Swiss authorities to cooperate with demands, provided they are
backed up by specific details, for investigation into accounts in banks
within their jurisdiction. In India, Supreme Court has taken up the matter
following a PIL by a group of well-known citizens. The Centre has promised
to get back to the court this week with details of what it has done to deal
with the issue, particularly with regard to details of 1,400 accounts with
a bank in Liechtenstein which has been made available by German
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health on Sunday reported a ninth case of
influenza A/H1N1 infection in the country. The latest patient was a
29-year-old businessman who returned from the United States. According to
the latest update by the World Health Organization (WHO), 21,940 cases of
A/H1N1 infection have been confirmed in 69 countries, including 125 deaths.
Pricewert was thought to be home to several servers used to control
computers infected with the Cutwail Trojan program (also known as Pushdo).
Criminals had been using these infected machines to pump out spam messages,
and right before the takedown the ISP was responsible for about 30 percent
of the spam. Levels dropped close to 50 percent after notorious ISP McColo
was taken off-line by its upstream providers, and it took months for spam
levels to rebound to the same volume. However, the results from the
Pricewert takedown were not as dramatic.
Alarmed by the predictions on climate refugees, humanitarian agencies warn
that recent gains in the fight against poverty could vanish unless issues
of forced migration become an integral part of the dialogue on global
warming. Attended by delegates from 184 countries, the Bonn conference is
meant to serve as a precursor to a crucial United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. That summit is
expected to produce agreement on how to tackle global warming after the
Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for industrialized nations for
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expires in in 2012.
The US canceled more than $60 million in assistance to Nicaragua, citing
concerns about democracy, rule of law and a free market economy. The board
of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US-funded operation set up by
former President George W. Bush to fight poverty in developing nations,
said it had cut $62 million from a $175 million program for Nicaragua.
“This decision is made with deep disappointment, as our partnership with
Nicaragua has yielded tremendous progress over the past years in reducing
poverty through innovative economic growth projects. The cut in aid follows
a suspension in new US assistance announced after the contested municipal
elections. Ortega accused the US of punishing the poor with the suspension
and defended the local elections, in which his Sandinistas won a majority
of municipalities. “Given the lack of meaningful reforms or progress in
these areas by the government of Nicaragua, the board has agreed to
terminate these projects. The canceled projects include a property
regularization project and improvement of a road in León department.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said US assistance must be “as
effective and transparent as it is generous.”
Indigenous groups say that large-scale mining is the most damaging. When
new laws opened the Philippines up to international mining 10 years ago,
companies flooded in and wreaked havoc in indigenous communities. “I have
never seen anything so systematically destructive. The environmental
effects are catastrophic as are the effects on people’s livelihoods. They
take the tops off mountains, which are holy, they destroy the water sources
and make it impossible to farm. Mining generates or exacerbates corruption,
fuels armed conflicts, increases militarisation and human rights abuses,
including extrajudicial killings.”
Stem rust destroyed more than 20% of U.S. wheat crops several times between
1917 and 1935, and losses reached nearly 9% twice in the 1950s. The last
major outbreak, in 1962, destroyed 5.2% of the U.S. crop. The fungus was
kept at bay for years by breeders who slowly and methodically incorporated
different combinations of six major stem rust resistance genes into various
varieties of wheat. The breeders thought it unlikely that the rust could
overcome clusters of those genes at the same time. After several
outbreak-free decades, it seemed that stem rust had been defeated for good.
Scientists switched to other topics, and the hunt for new resistance genes
practically slowed to a crawl.
Many of the small island states in the eastern Caribbean depend on cruise
ship arrivals as an important source of foreign exchange for their
vulnerable economies. A number of Caribbean states have reported confirmed
cases of the H1N1 swine flu, which was declared a pandemic by the World
Health Organization. Venezuela has confirmed at least 45 cases, with no
deaths. One person died from the virus in nearby Colombia.
According to the FAO, the growth of hunger is not the result of a decline
in food production. Cereal production, for example, will only slightly
decrease this year from 2008. Instead, “the poor are less able to purchase
food, especially where prices on domestic markets are still stubbornly
high…. At the end of 2008, domestic staple foods still cost on average 24
percent more in real terms than two years earlier; a finding that was true
across a range of important foodstuffs.” In other words, the sharp growth
in hunger is due not to a lack of capacity, although global food production
could be significantly increased given a rational and scientific allocation
of agricultural resources. Instead, the rise in social misery results from
the fact that millions more people are now unable to afford the most basic
The GFI report estimated that total illicit capital flight from developing
countries was as high as $1 trillion per year during 2002-06. The illegal
outflows involve activities such as corruption (bribery and embezzlement of
national wealth) and proceeds of licit business that becomes illicit when
transported across borders in violation of laws and regulatory frameworks.
This massive loss of assets is the greatest impediment to economic
development and poverty alleviation and should be of concern to all
Millions of people living in Kenya’s slums are denied vital services and
live under threat of harassment and forced eviction, posing a major threat
to the country’s security. Kenya’s capital hosts Africa’s biggest slum,
Kibera. An estimated two million people live in Kibera, a slum called
Mathare and other sprawling settlements in and around Nairobi. The
development of slums in urban areas has become the iconic symbol of the
forgotten marginalised people — excluded not only from basic services like
sanitation but also from the decision-making that takes place even about
their own lives.
According to data from Cisco Systems, spam levels dropped about 30 percent
but rebounded to normal levels quickly. Security experts say that following
the dramatic McColo incident, spammers may have put better backup systems
in place to maintain control of their botnets of hacked computers.
“Obviously, this was not a McColo. They were ready for the takedown. We’ve
seen the backups pop up and have to get taken down and so on.”
“The consequences for almost all aspects of development and human security
could be devastating. Global warming fears overblown? The breakdown of
ecosystem-dependent livelihoods is likely to remain the main driver of
forced migration during the next few decades. In the Mekong River Delta,
for instance, the sea level rising by 2 meters (6.5 feet) could mean the
loss of millions of acres of agricultural land, reducing it by half.
Climate change will exacerbate stressful conditions unless vulnerable
populations, especially the poorest, are assisted in building
climate-resilient livelihoods. It’s morally imperative for developing
nations to adopt policy that addresses these global change.
A man was seriously injured after he fell from the overcrowded
Saharanpur-Ambala-Nangal passenger train between Haldari and Dukheri
stations today. The train, which plys between Saharanpr and Nangal Dam via
Ambala, was reportedly overcrowded with migrant labourers coming to Punjab
to find work during the paddy transplantation season. However, after
rumours spread that one person had died while another was injured due to
overcrowding, the agitated commuters stopped the train at Dukheri and
ransacked the station before assaulting a few labourers. One person, who
was injured in the accident, was admitted to PGI Chandigarh with head
injuries. On the other hand, a number of labourers sustained minor injuries
and were administered first aid at the Ambala station. They said despite
having valid tickets, they were assaulted.
The arrival of dams, mining or oil spells cultural death for communities.
The Dongria Kondh in Orissa, eastern India, are certain that their way of
life will be destroyed when British FTSE 100 company Vedanta shortly starts
to legally exploit their sacred Nyamgiri mountain for bauxite, the raw
material for aluminium. The huge open cast mine will destroy a vast swath
of untouched forest, and will reduce the mountain to an industrial
wasteland. More than 60 villages will be affected. “If Vedanta mines our
mountain, the water will dry up. In the forest there are tigers, bears,
monkeys. Where will they go? We have been living here for generations. Why
should we leave?” asks Kumbradi, a tribesman. “We live here for Nyamgiri,
for its trees and leaves and all that is here.” Davi Yanomami, a shaman of
the Yanomami, one of the largest but most isolated Brazilian indigenous
groups, came to London to warn MPs that the Amazonian forests were being
destroyed, and to appeal for help to prevent his tribe being wiped out.
“History is repeating itself”, he told the MPs. “Twenty years ago many
thousand gold miners flooded into Yanomami land and one in five of us died
from the diseases and violence they brought. We were in danger of being
exterminated then, but people in Europe persuaded the Brazilian government
to act and they were removed.
A new strain of stem rust was identified on a wheat farm in Uganda in 1999.
“It didn’t draw a lot of attention, frankly. There’s very little wheat
grown in Uganda.” East Africa is a natural hot spot for stem rust. Weather
conditions allow farmers to grow wheat year-round, so rust spores can
always find a susceptible host. Some of the wheat is grown as high as 7,000
feet above sea level, where intense solar radiation helps the fungus
mutate. The highlands are also home to barberry bushes, the only plant on
which stem rust is known to reproduce through sexual recombination. That
genetic shuffling provides a golden opportunity for the fungus to evolve
into a deadly strain.
A Royal Caribbean Chief Executive said last week the flu outbreak had “a
short, but highly disruptive impact to our operations,” although he added
vessels were returning to their original itineraries. The launch of a
Pullmantur cruise ship targeting Mexican nationals, the Pacific Dream, had
to be canceled because of the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico, the epicenter of the
Three aspects of the present crisis that make it particularly severe.
First, it follows the rapid growth in food prices in the years 2006-2008.
This bubble was driven in part by speculative activities of investors
pouring money into commodities as the financial crisis developed. This
preceding surge in prices eroded any buffer created by households to cope
with economic shocks. Second, the crisis is global. When economic crises
are confined to individual countries, or several countries in a particular
region, governments can make recourse to instruments such as currency
devaluation, borrowing or increased use of official assistance to face the
effects of the crisis. Third, poorer countries are “more financially and
commercially integrated into the world economy” and are therefore “far more
exposed to changes in international markets.” They are highly susceptible
to rapid changes in global demand or supply and credit restrictions.
“Places like Kibera are ticking time bombs. We see young people unemployed
in desperate conditions and they have no stake in creating stable society,”
In a part of Kibera known as Soweto, sewage runs though ditches while
pathways are littered with animal waste, garbage and human waste.
Overcrowding in Kibera is a huge problem and more than 800,000 people live
on 250 hectares. Kenya was convulsed by ethnic violence after President
Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election in December 2007, largely pitting
supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga against backers of Kibaki
and the police.
Simple changes can help address potential catastrophe. In flood-prone
Bangladesh, for instance, CARE is helping women who raise chickens switch
to ducks. In other regions, it could mean something as simple as changing
water-craving crops to more resilient foods. “So if the rains don’t come
when needed, you don’t lose an entire crop. Climate migration could climb
to staggering levels, its consequences reaching far and wide.
International disaster relief charity ShelterBox has distributed aid to up
to 2,000 people whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Aila which hit
Bangladesh. A ShelterBox response team (SRT) arrived in the country days
after the cyclone struck. ShelterBox completed the distribution of 200
ShelterBoxes around the towns of Shyanmagar and Munshigaon, close to the
border with India. The area took the brunt of the storm damage, which also
affected eastern India.
But now 3,000 more miners and ranchers have come back. More are coming.
They are bringing in guns, rafts, machines, and destroying and polluting
rivers. People are being killed. They are opening up and expanding old
airstrips. They are flooding into Yanomami land. Governments must treat us
with respect. This creates great suffering. We kill nothing, we live on the
land, we never rob nature. Yet governments always want more. A warning to
the world that our people will die.” This is a paradigm war taking place
from the arctic to tropical forests. Wherever you find indigenous peoples
you will find resource conflicts. It is a battle between the industrial and
indigenous world views. There is some hope in that Indigenous peoples are
now much more aware of their rights. They are challenging the companies and
governments at every point.
Within a few years, Ug99 — named for the country and year it was
identified — had devastated farms in neighboring Kenya, where much of the
wheat is grown on large-scale farms that have so far been able to absorb
the blow. Then it moved north to Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen, putting more
small farms at risk. Those that can afford it are trying to make do with
fungicides, but that’s too cumbersome and expensive to be a long-term
solution. To make matters worse, the fungus is becoming more virulent as it
spreads. Scientists discovered a Ug99 variant in 2006 that can defeat Sr24,
a resistance gene that protects Great Plains wheat. Last year, another
variant was found with immunity to Sr36, a gene that safeguards Eastern
wheat. Should those variants make their way to U.S. fields any time soon,
scientists would be hard-pressed to protect American wheat crops.
Another related factor has been the way in which the US government has
monopolized credit markets to fund its multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts,
exploiting the privileged position of the American dollar to do so. Poorer
countries do not have this privilege and are facing higher borrowing costs
as a consequence. Take note of the growth in interest rates for debt to
“developing countries” along with the complete absence of available credit
for some nations. The economic crisis has led to other rapid shifts in
capital markets, including the drying up of foreign direct investment. Many
poorer countries are seeing a sharp decline in remittances from migrants,
by 5 to 8 percent. What is more, remittances have usually been resistant to
shocks and often even increased during economic crises in recipient
countries. The countercyclical effect of these transfers is unlikely to
happen this time due to the global dimension of the current recession.
Both Kibera and Mathare became battle grounds during the post election
violence that killed at least 1,300 people in east Africa’s biggest
economy. Millions of dollars have been spent on government projects to
upgrade the slums but there is little to show for it on the ground.
Corruption is a big issue because a lot of assistance money has been
ploughed into these slums, but it seems to be siphoned off.
Without money or resources, climate refugees will likely stay within their
own borders, accelerating movement from rural areas to urban centers and
crowding into cities already bursting at the seams. That could lead to
government instability and further unrest. The challenge is to better
understand the dynamics of climate-related migration and displacement. New
thinking and practical approaches are needed to address the threats that
climate-related migration poses to human security and well-being. Climate
change is a formidable foe that must be tackled. One doesn’t want to see
the hopes of the world’s poorest turned to dust.
The recipients were so grateful. Whole villages had been destroyed and
people were forced to live out in the open. The tents have given them the
opportunity to start rebuilding their lives. Each ShelterBox contains a
10-person tent, blankets, water purification and cooking equipment, basic
tools, a stove and other essential equipment.
In Ecuador, Chevron may be fined billions of dollars if an epic court case
goes against them. The company is accused of dumping, in the 1970s and
1980s, more than 19bn gallons of toxic waste and millions of gallons of
crude oil into waste pits in the forests, leading to more than 1,400 cancer
deaths and devastation of indigenous communities. The pits are said to be
still there, mixing chemicals with groundwater and killing fish and
wildlife. The Ecuadorian courts have set damages at $27bn (£16.5bn).
Chevron, which inherited the case when it bought Texaco, does not deny the
original spills, but says the damage was cleaned up. Back in the Niger
delta, Shell was ordered to pay $1.5bn to the Ijaw people in 2006 – though
the company has so far escaped paying the fines. After settling with Ogoni
families in New York this week, it now faces a second class action suit in
New York over alleged human rights abuses, and a further case in Holland
brought by Niger Delta villagers working with Dutch groups. Meanwhile,
Exxon Mobil is being sued by Indonesian indigenous villagers who claim
their guards committed human rights violations, and there are dozens of
outstanding cases against other companies operating in the Niger Delta.
Now the pressure is on to develop new wheat varieties that are impervious
to Ug99. Hundreds of varieties will need to be upgraded in the U.S. alone.
“You can’t just breed it into one or two major varieties and expect to
solve the problem. You have to reinvent this wheel at almost a local level.
The first step is to identify Ug99 resistance genes by finding wheat plants
that can withstand the deadly fungus. Roughly 16,000 wheat varieties and
other plants have been tested in the cereal disease lab over the last four
years. The tests were conducted when the Minnesota weather is so frigid
that escaping spores would quickly perish. These and similar efforts at a
research station in Kenya have turned up only a handful of promising
resistance genes, which crop breeders are trying to import into vulnerable
strains of wheat.
The FAO also expects foreign aid to drop by 25 percent to the poorest 71
countries. Total official development assistance (ODA) aid from all
countries has been about $100 billion a year—as compared to bank bailouts
running in the trillions and a US military budget of more than $500
billion. Countries that rely on exports have been particularly hard hit by
the economic crisis, and world trade is anticipated to fall between 5 and 9
percent this year. The implications of the rapid deterioration of the
global economy and the consequent decline in living standards for millions
of people were not lost on UN officials. The silent hunger crisis poses a
serious risk for world peace and security. A hungry world is a dangerous
world. Many commentators pointed to the possibility of a repeat of the food
riots that broke out in 2008. Earlier, the G8 countries met to discuss the
global “food emergency.” Little emerged from the conference save a mutually
expressed concern about the danger of social upheaval and revolution.
“Indigenous groups are using the courts more but there is still collusion
at the highest levels in court systems to ignore land rights when they
conflict with economic opportunities. Everything is for sale, including the
Indians’ rights. Governments often do not recognise land titles of Indians
and the big landowners just take the land.” Indigenous leaders want an
immediate cessation to mining on their lands. A conference on mining and
indigenous peoples in Manila called on governments to appoint an ombudsman
or an international court system to handle indigenous peoples’ complaints.
Most indigenous peoples barely have resources to ensure their basic
survival, much less to bring their cases to court. Members of the judiciary
in many countries are bribed by corporations and are threatened or killed
if they rule in favour of indigenous peoples. States have an obligation to
provide them with better access to justice and maintain an independent
judiciary. But as the complaints grow, so does the chance that peaceful
protests will grow into intractable conflicts as they have in Nigeria, West
Papua and now Peru. “There is a massive resistance movement growing. But
the danger is that as it grows, so does the violence.”
Each year, hundreds of plants are crossed in a greenhouse to produce as
many as 50,000 candidate strains. Those are winnowed down, and the most
promising 2,000 are planted in the field. Only the hardiest strains are
replanted each year, until the 12-year process results in a single new
variety with dozens of valuable traits, such as the ability to withstand
drought and make fluffy bread. The oldest of the plants bred for Ug99
resistance are only 3 years old, but one of the strains has been planted in
the field already in case the fungus hitches a quick ride to the U.S. on an
airplane or in a shipping container. In the absence of stem rust, it would
not be the highest-yielding wheat. In the presence of stem rust, it would
be the only thing that would survive.
The Solomon Islands declared a national disaster after torrential rain and
flooding in the South Pacific nation killed eight people and left another
13 missing, destroying homes and bridges.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
is reporting that populations in large areas of Kenya and the Horn of
Africa are now facing an exceptional humanitarian crisis that requires
urgent food assistance. The combined effect of high worldwide food prices
and a crippling drought are seriously jeopardizing the lives, livelihoods,
and dignity of up to 20 million people in rural and urban communities.
Opium poppy cultivation inched up by 3 percent last year in Myanmar,
according to a United Nations report, the second consecutive annual
increase that appears to signal a reversal of years of declining opium
production in the so-called Golden Triangle.
Indonesian security forces attacked a group of one hundred tribal people
who were peacefully protesting about delays to local elections in Nabire,
“Containment of the problem is under threat. Opium prices are rising in
this region. It’s going to be an incentive for farmers to plant more.”
Twelve communities on the Solomons’ main island of Guadalcanal had been
assessed as disaster-hit and appealed for international assistance.
Australia and France have already promised emergency aid.
Papua New Guinea’s law and order problem is set to get worse if a
recommendation to increase the national minimum wage is approved by the
The Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and
Myanmar meet, once produced two-thirds of the world’s opium, most of it
refined into heroin. But pressure by the Chinese government to eradicate
opium in Myanmar helped lead to steep declines, with a low point of 21,500
hectares, or 53,000 acres, of poppies planted in Myanmar in 2006. Since
then, opium cultivation has bounced back by around 33 percent, to 28,500
hectares last year.
For the past 17 years Papua New Guinea’s lowest income earners, like
security guards, have brought home just $US13 a week. Government plans to
increase that to $US43 has business owners worried.
When police began attacking the crowd, the demonstrators called for Mr
Yones Douw, a respected human rights worker, to document the violence. When
Mr Douw arrived, the police attacked him â€“ witnesses said he was kicked,
beaten on the side the head and punched in the face before being arrested,
along with seven protesters. The police also beat other protestors, and
fired rubber bullets into the crowd. Five people were seriously wounded,
and many others received minor bullet wounds.
Since December, flooding has also hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji,
Papua New Guinea, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, with tens of
thousands of islanders abandoning homes.
UN officials warn that the global economic crisis may fuel an increase in
poppy production because falling prices for other crops may persuade
farmers to switch to opium. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said corn
prices had fallen by half over the past year. The price of opium, by
contrast, has increased 26 percent in Laos and 15 percent in Myanmar over
the same period.
Heavy rain and flooding on Guadalcanal and nearby Savo Island has caused
widespread damage and forced the evacuation of more than 70 villagers to
the capital Honiara.
The PNG Manufacturers Council said the economy cannot accommodate a higher
salary. “It’s not the fact that the private sector doesn’t want to pay, its
whether the economy can accommodate that high level of salary.”
â€œIn Kenya 80 percent of the territory is affected, with the northern and
lower eastern Kenya the most affected. We’re talking of a target population
of 1.6 million for the Red Crescent.”
Farmers in the isolated highlands of the Golden Triangle are also hampered
by bad roads and difficulties getting their crops to market. They often
find that small parcels of opium are easier to carry across the rough
The Solomon Islands Red Cross had sent emergency staff and volunteers to
distribute relief supplies to communities in West Guadalcanal and Longu, in
the island’s east. The Solomon Islands is a nation of about 500,000 mainly
Melanesian people, spread across hundreds of islands, which gained
independence from Britain in 1978.
The global economic crisis is only just starting to short-change Papua New
Guinea, with the wage set to further undermine the local economy. “We
become less competitive, our prices go up and we don’t sell any goods.” It
could lead to thousands of workers being laid off, adding to the country’s
already high unemployment and crime rates.
Other areas are Djibouti with 50 thousand people in dire need. Ethiopia is
affected with an estimated 5 million need of food. The Red Cross is moving
in to start assisting the first 150 thousand people. The Red Cross and the
Red Crescent are also active in southern Somalia, as well as Somaliland and
Although opium is still grown in parts of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, UN
officials say that about 94 percent of the region’s opium comes from
Myanmar. Most of the Golden Triangle heroin is sold within the region, but
small amounts also reach the United States and Australia. Recent seizures
of heroin thought to come from the Golden Triangle have been made on the
Thai resort island of Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Yangon, Myanmar’s
“The key issue for PNG is more people working and that basically improves
the lifestyle of people and that without a doubt helps law and order
because when people can put food on the table there is harmony, you take
that opportunity away and you have unrest. Or, employers could head to the
labour black market, choosing instead to pay workers their current wage
under the table.”
Eyewitnesses say that a range of security forces were involved in the
attack, including Brimob, Indonesiaâ€™s notorious para-military police, plus
soldiers and Indonesiaâ€™s Intelligence Service.
The alarming spread of HIV by heroin users in southern China several years
ago persuaded the Chinese authorities to crack down on opium and heroin
trafficking. Western intelligence officials say Chinese spies are active in
anti-narcotics operations in Myanmar, especially in northern areas where
central government control is weak. “There’s strong collaboration with
Last month 11 Fijians died and more than 9,000 people were forced into
evacuation centres after the worst floods in decades. Sugar is Fiji’s
second major industry following tourism and sugar farms in the west have
been devastated by the flooding, with damages estimated to be in the tens
of millions of dollars.
The UN report on opium poppy cultivation is based on surveys taken from
helicopters and on the ground. The United States relies more heavily on
satellite images to calculate opium cultivation, and its reports are
sometimes at odds with those of the United Nations. The UN report did not
cover methamphetamine production and distribution, which among some
criminal syndicates has displaced opium and heroin in the region.
â€œWe have launched an appeal seeking 95 million dollars, now we have
received only 6 percent in the two months since we launched and this is not
enough to run an operation.â€
In Thailand, methamphetamines remain a problem but longstanding efforts by
the royal family to substitute opium production with vegetables, coffee and
macadamia nuts have virtually wiped out opium production among the northern
Floods ravaging northern Australia have washed crocodiles onto the streets,
where one was hit by a car. More than 60 per cent of the vast northeastern
state of Queensland has been declared a disaster area, and flooding after
two recent cyclones has affected almost 3,000 homes. The army has been
called in to help with rescue and recovery efforts, while three reports of
large crocodiles washed up from flooded rivers have come in from homes in
the Gulf of Carpentaria region.
The incident fuels concerns that repression and violence against the Papuan
people is increasing.
“Many employers are doing the right thing, but there are many unscrupulous
employers who will exploit their workers to gain maximum profit out of the
Afghanistan remains the world’s premier source of opium, producing more
than 90 percent of global supply. Afghan soil is also remarkably more
fertile than the rocky, unirrigated opium fields in the Golden Triangle.
The UN estimates in its 2008 report that one hectare of land yielded an
average of 14.4 kilograms, or 31.7 pounds, of opium in Myanmar but 48.8
kilograms in Afghanistan.
“The damage bill is estimated at $76 million and growing. But we wonâ€™t
really know the full extent of the damage until the water subsides, so that
figure could double, it could treble.â€ It was the worst flooding seen in 30
years. Fresh food supplies were flown into the westerly townships of
Normanton and Karumba, which had been cut off by flood waters. The flooding
comes amid a heatwave over in south-eastern Australia.
The situation has been exacerbated by the global and financial crisis.
However a small fraction of the billions of dollars being spent by
governments to bail out banks and financial institutions could help save
millions of lives in the Horn of Africa.
The death toll in Australia’s worst-ever bushfires has risen to 128 people,
as hundreds more flood community shelters after losing everything they own.
The state government in Victoria, where the fires have raged since
Saturday, is being advised to prepare for 230 fatalities. Police confirmed
128 deaths from the fires, many which officials suspect were deliberately
The crisis is not Euro-centric as it is made out to be. It is global.
The crisis does not seem to affect Asia as much as human life is cheap
fodder in that segment of humanity.
The crisis is also not materialistic or fiscal as made out to be, it
is a spiritual crisis.
There seems to be no solution to the spiritual crisis from the
Eurocentric point of view with the deepest aspects and values of
Christianity having been denied and defaced consistently. Even as
the Judaic notion of Just Law and the Greek philosophical notions
of Quality and Moderation have been chucked into the dustbin of
militarism and consumerism.
As for the Asiatic spiritual solutions, they are multiple, mostly
kaleidoscopic odds and ends, throwbacks to primitivism and animism
and irrationalism or simply prescriptive of treating all crises as
illusion or delusion and reducing the task of salvation to yet another
selfish point of indulgence.
There seems no way out of the global spiritual mess all of which is
finally centred in the “self” of each individual, each tribe, each
ethnic group, each nation and any other human configuration you might
want to name.
Crises Likely to Spur Mass Migrations
As climate change, sea-level rise, earthquakes and floods threaten countries such as Bangladesh, Tuvalu, Vietnam and Tajikistan, the Tokyo-based U.N. University (UNU) warns that by 2050, some 200 million people will be displaced by environmental problems.
This estimated figure is roughly equal to two-thirds of the current population in the United States or the combined population of Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
“All indicators show that we are dealing with a major emerging global problem,” says Janos Bogardi, director of UNU’s Institute on the Environment and Human Security.
The issue of migration, he points out, represents the most profound expression of the inter-linkage between the environment and human security.
Unlike the traditional economically-motivated migrants of today, the environmentally-motivated migration is expected to feature poorer people, more women, children and elderly, from more desperate environmental situations, and possibly less able to move far.
A group of experts who did a two-year research study points out that existing human trafficking networks would gain strength and new ones could emerge as environmental deterioration, climate change and disaster uproot millions of people.
In Bangladesh, women with children, whose husbands either died at sea during cyclone Sidr or are away as temporary labour migrants, are easy prey for traffickers and end up in prostitution networks or in forced labour in India.
Bangladesh is also often considered “the country that could be most affected by climate change” due to projected sea-level rise and flooding from melting Himalayan glaciers. It is also heavily affected by sudden disasters, such as cyclones.
According to preliminary findings, Bangladesh may lose up to one-fifth of its surface area due to rising sea level. And this scenario is likely to occur, if the sea level rises by one metre and no dyke enforcement measures are taken.
Asked if there should be an international treaty to protect the new breed of environmental migrants, Bogardi told IPS: “Yes, there should be a convention or set of treaties and formal recognition of people displaced or migrating due to environmental causes.”
However, he said, such a treaty should be independent of the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
The new refugees will also come from countries such as the Maldives, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Palau: small islands in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth due to sea level rise triggered by climate change.
“An entirely different question is how to deal with the disappearance of a state? This is a legal question and international lawyers have already been contemplating ‘solutions’ like governments [in permanent] exile or the model of the Sovereign Order of Malta,” said Bogardi.
“While the submergence of an entire state is unique, we expect that the humanitarian [and economic] challenge [measured by the number of people affected] will be much greater in the deltas of Bangladesh, the Nile River, Mekong River or even the Rhine and Mississippi Rivers, than in small island states,” he added.
A three-day conference on environmental migrants, described as the largest ever conference on this issue, is expected to conclude next weekend in Bonn, Germany.
Hosted by UNU, the conference, which is being attended by officials and experts from about 80 countries, also serves as a platform to introduce the fledgling Climate Change Environment and Migration Alliance (CCEMA).
Meanwhile, addressing the high-level segment of the General Assembly sessions last month, the vice president of Palau, Elias Camsek Chin, told member states they must be guided by a single consideration: “Saving those small island states that today live in danger of disappearance.”
Palau and members of the Pacific Islands Forum, including Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Micronesia, “are deeply concerned about the growing threat which climate change poses not only to our sustainable development but also to our future survival,” Chin said.
“This is a security matter which has gone un-addressed,” he warned the General Assembly.
James Michel, the president of Seychelles, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, said: “It is not right that small island states have to run the risk of being submerged by rising sea levels, whilst some nations refuse to even acknowledge their responsibility for the high levels of environmental pollution which are now threatening the planet’s resources.”
Kiribati’s President Anote Tong told the General Assembly his country has only several decades before its islands become uninhabitable. The 100,000 people in his country must one day move elsewhere, he said.
Asked if any of the countries neighbouring these small island states have expressed their willingness to accommodate the new migrants, Bogardi told IPS: “There is no recognition [yet] of environmentally [forced] migrants, hence there is no specific expression of obligation to let in migrants who migrate due to sea level rise, frequent storm surges or other such environmental events.”
“It is one of our main goals to establish and have accepted three categories of environmental migrants [namely, environmentally motivated migrants, environmentally forced migrants and environmental emergency migrants],” he said.
The latter category of environmental emergency migrants would account for those displaced by natural hazard events like earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc.
Bogardi said the frequently reported Tuvalu-New Zealand deal on migrants does not refer to accepting migrants for environmental reasons but rather New Zealand providing a labour migration quota for people from Tuvalu through its Pacific Access Category migration programme.
Asked about the possible extinction of some of the low-lying small island states, Bogardi said some small island states could face “disappearance” in the case of more extreme sea level rise than expected in benchmark reports such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).
Even if sea level rise exceeds expectations, he pointed out, the process is likely to be gradual over decades.
“Increasing sea level would threaten coastal aquifers, thus feasible life and economic activities would diminish much before the islands would disappear,” he said. Consequently, he added, “we expect migratory trends to emerge” or be stronger than at present in the years and decades to come.
“In summary, we expect depopulation as an ultimate coping measure to be implemented gradually before the physical disappearance of those islands. Time scale is decades, if not centuries.”
The UN’s most senior emergency relief co-ordinator has given warning that spectacular food price rises will trigger riots throughout the developing world. A year ago his remarks might have been prescient. Now they are a statement of fact: in Haiti, five people have died in the past week and thousands more have been reduced to eating biscuits made of soil and cooking oil as food riots drag the western hemisphere’s most fragile and impoverished democracy back to the brink of collapse. In Egypt, where wholesale rice prices have more than doubled since October, food price inflation has triggered the worst urban unrest for a generation. From Yemen to Uzbekistan, simple hunger has emboldened citizens to protest against regimes more used to cowed docility.
Public order is at risk in at least 33 countries, according to the World Bank. But the high food prices bringing misery to poor consumers offer the chance of transformative change to poor producers. These are, principally, the rice growers of India, China and South-East Asia, whose output would fetch twice what it commanded just six months ago if they had free access to world markets. Securing this access, and the investment in agricultural infrastructure that would follow, is the only long-term solution to an accelerating global crisis.
The factors bringing the age of cheap food to such a shuddering halt are well understood. Devastating droughts wrecked last year’s grain harvests in Australia and sub-Saharan Africa. The breakneck – and ill-advised – replanting of farmland for biofuels in the Americas helped to double world wheat and livestock feed prices between 2006 and 2007 alone, while high oil prices are transmitted to agriculture via the rising cost of planting, harvesting and distribution. Above all, soaring Indian and Chinese demand for land-intensive meat and dairy products are fuelling food price inflation with global impact and little sign of slowing.
The emerging economic superpowers account for more than a third of the world’s population but less than a quarter of global food output. India and China must, therefore, take urgent steps to modernise their farming sectors as fast as their export-led manufacturing. But no amount of investment in irrigation or high-yield crops will ease the current crisis unless developed as well as developing economies can agree to lift trade barriers instead of impose them.
The EU, on paper at least, has led the way with an undertaking to scrap large-scale food subsidies provided it can keep smaller ones for as-yet undefined â€œsensitiveâ€ commodities. The Philippines has followed by lifting rice import tariffs out of an urgent need to buy more on world markets. But the same emergency has led Vietnam, one of the world’s largest rice producers, to introduce new export tariffs.
Vietnam’s dilemma is acute and repeated across the developing world. Its people cannot go hungry for the sake of its exports, and its Government’s first duty is to craft safety nets for the most vulnerable. But beyond that, the solution is not to hoard food but to grow more of it, and to sell it on open markets that reward the most efficient farmers. That will take political courage and an unsqueamish approach to GM foods. Affordable food and social stability will require a greater openness to science and trade.