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1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

1987 photo of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm depleted uranium ammunition for the Phalanx CIWS aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

Gunner’s mates inspect linked belts of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm ammunition before loading it into the magazine of a Mark 16 Phalanx close-in weapons system aboard the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63). (Uploader’s note, those are probably Firecontrolman, the maintainers of Phalanx, not Gunners mates.)

ID:DNST9400420

Service Depicted: Navy
Camera Operator: PHAN BRAD DILLON

Wkimedia.org

Depleted Environment, Depleted Lives

Uranium Weapons Still Making Money, Wreaking Havoc

by JOHN LAFORGE

The US Army has awarded General Dynamics a $12 million contract to deconstruct and dispose of 78,000 depleted uranium anti-tank shells. The Pentagon’s May 6 announcement calls for “demilitarization” of the aging shells, as newer depleted uranium rounds are added to the US arsenal.

In the perpetually profitable business of war production, General Dynamics originally produced and sold some of the 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds to the Army. One of the richest weapons builders on earth, General Dynamics has 95,000 employees and sells its wares in 40 countries on six continents.

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons in Manchester, England, reports the armor-piercing shells to be disassembled are thought to be the large 105-millimeter and 120-millimeter anti-tank rounds.

Depleted uranium, or DU, weapons are made of extremely dense uranium-238. More than 700,000 tons of DU has been left as waste in the US alone from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor fuel rods. The urankum-238 is left when fissionable uranium-235 is separated for H-bombs and reactor fuel. DU is only ‘depleted’ of this U-235. It is still a radioactive and toxic heavy metal. A tax and ecological liability, DU is given away free to weapons builders.

 

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NYU EDU

Sources

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the enriching of natural uranium for use in nuclear reactors. When most of the fissile radioactive isotopes of uranium are removed from natural uranium, the residue is called depleted uranium. A less common source of the material is reprocessed spent reactor fuel. The origin can be distinguished by the content of uranium-236,[1] produced by neutron capture from uranium-235 in nuclear reactors.

As a toxic and radioactive waste product that requires long term storage as low level nuclear waste, depleted uranium is costly to keep but relatively inexpensive to obtain. Generally the only real costs are those associated with conversion of UF6 to metal. It is extremely dense, 67% denser than lead, only slightly less than tungsten and gold, and just 16% less dense than osmium or iridium, the densest naturally occurring substances known. Its low cost makes it attractive for a variety of uses. However, the material is prone to corrosion and small particles are pyrophoric. [2]

History

Depleted uranium was first stored in stockpiles in the 1940s when the U.S. and USSR began their nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs. While it is possible to design civilian power reactors with unenriched fuel, only about 10% of reactors ever built utilize that technology, and both nuclear weapons production and naval reactors require the concentrated isotope. Originally, DU was conserved in the hope that more efficient enrichment techniques would allow further extraction of the fissile isotope; however, those hopes have not materialized.

In the 1970s, The Pentagon reported that the Soviet military had developed armor plating for Warsaw Pact tanks that NATO ammunition couldn’t penetrate. The Pentagon began searching for material to make denser bullets. After testing various metals, ordnance researchers settled on depleted uranium. DU was useful in ammunition not only because of its unique physical properties and effectiveness, but also because it was cheap and readily available. Tungsten, the only other candidate, had to be sourced from China. With DU stockpiles estimated to be more than 500,000 tons, the financial burden of housing this amount of low-level radioactive waste was very apparent. It was therefore more economical to use depleted uranium rather than storing it. Thus, from the late 1970s, the U.S., the Soviet Union, Britain and France, began converting their stockpiles of depleted uranium into kinetic energy penetrators.

Photographic evidence of destroyed equipment suggests that DU was first used during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Various written reports cite information that was obtained as a consequence of that use.[1]

However, while clearing the decades-old Hawaii Stryker firing range, workers have found chemical weapons from World War I era and depleted uranium ammunition from the 1960s [3].

The U.S. military used DU shells in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War (Associated Press, August 12, 2006, free archived copy at: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0812-06.htm most recently visited November 1, 2006).

Production and availability

Natural uranium metal contains about 0.71% U-235, 99.28% U-238, and about 0.0054% U-234. In order to produce enriched uranium, the process of isotope separation removes a substantial portion of the U-235 for use in nuclear power, weapons, or other uses. The remainder, depleted uranium, contains only 0.2% to 0.4% U-235. Because natural uranium begins with such a low percentage of U-235, the enrichment process produces large quantities of depleted uranium. For example, producing 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and leaves about 10.8 kg of depleted uranium with only 0.3% U-235 remaining.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) defines depleted uranium as uranium with a percentage of the 235U isotope that is less than 0.711% by weight (See 10 CFR 40.4.) The military specifications designate that the DU used by DoD contain less than 0.3% 235U (AEPI, 1995). In actuality, DoD uses only DU that contains approximately 0.2% 235U (AEPI, 1995).

 


Depleted Uranium Stocks as of end of 1999
Holder Country Approximate DU Stocks [t U]
as UF6 as U3O8 as metal TOTAL
DOE external link, USEC external link USA a) 470,000 10,000 480,000
Russia b) 450,000 10,000 460,000
COGEMA external link, EURODIF France 50,000 140,000 190,000
BNFL external link United Kingdom 30,000 30,000
Urenco external link Germany, Netherlands, UK 16,000 16,000
JNC external link, JNFL external link Japan c) 10,000 10,000
CNNC external link China d) 2,000 2,000
KAERI external link Rep. of Korea 200 200
South Africa 4 69 73
TOTAL 1,028,204 160,069 1,188,273

t = metric tonne
a) As of mid-2000. See also: Compostion of the U.S. DOE Depleted Uranium Inventory (70k PDF).
For more recent and detailed data, download Inventory of depleted uranium tails, Oct. 2, 2007 external link (PDF – U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce)
b) Estimate based on: Depleted Uranium from Enrichment, Uranium Institute, London 1996
c) As of February 2001
d) As of end of 2000
Source: OECD NEA 2001

Source: WISE Uranium Project

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 P R O G R E S S I V E  R E V I E W

Depleted uranium
Recycling death
 

URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER

 

NEW YORK TOWN PROVIDES EVIDENCE OF TRUE DANGER OF DEPLETED URANIUM 

Parrish’s team has found that DU contamination, which remains radioactive for millions of years, is in effect impossible to eradicate, not only from the environment but also from the bodies of humans. Twenty-three years after production ceased they tested the urine of five former workers. All are still contaminated with DU. So were 20 per cent of people tested who had spent at least 10 years living near the factory when it was still working. . .

MORE DAMAGE FROM DEPLETED URANIUM FOUND

GUARDIAN, UK – Depleted uranium, which is used in armor-piercing ammunition, causes widespread damage to DNA which could lead to lung cancer, according to a study of the metal’s effects on human lung cells. The study adds to growing evidence that DU causes health problems on battlefields long after hostilities have ceased.0508 05 1DU is a byproduct of uranium refinement for nuclear power. It is much less radioactive than other uranium isotopes, and its high density – twice that of lead – makes it useful for armor and armor piercing shells. It has been used in conflicts including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and there have been increasing concerns about the health effects of DU dust left on the battlefield. In November, the Ministry of Defense was forced to counteract claims that apparent increases in cancers and birth defects among Iraqis in southern Iraq were due to DU in weapons.

Now researchers at the University of Southern Maine have shown that DU damages DNA in human lung cells. The team, led by John Pierce Wise, exposed cultures of the cells to uranium compounds at different concentrations. The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. “These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,” the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. . . Prof Wise said it is too early to say whether DU causes lung cancer in people exposed on the battlefield because the disease takes several decades to develop.
“Our data suggest that it should be monitored as the potential risk is there,” he said.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/08/1059/

DEPLETED URANIUM BACK IN THE NEWS

AUDREY PARENTE, DAYTONA BEACH HERALD, FL – Lori Brim cradled her son in her arms for three months before he died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Dustin Brim, a 22-year-old Army specialist had collapsed three years ago in Iraq from a very aggressive cancer that attacked his kidney, caused a mass to grow over his esophagus and collapsed a lung. The problems she saw during her time at Walter Reed, including her son screaming in pain while doctors argued over medications, had nothing to do with mold and shabby conditions documented in recent news reports. What this mother saw was an unexplainable illness consuming her son.

And what she has learned since her son’s death is that his was not an isolated case. Lori Brim has joined other parents, hundreds of other sick soldiers, legislators, research scientists and environmental activists who say the cause of their problems results from exposure to depleted uranium, a radioactive metal used in the manufacture of U.S. tank armor and weapon casings.

Health and environmental effects of depleted uranium are at the heart of scientific studies, a lawsuit in the New York courts and legislative bills in more than a dozen states (although not in Florida). . .

Despite a 1996 U.N. resolution opposing its use because of discovery of health problems after the first Gulf War, the military studies have concluded there was no evidence that exposure to the metal caused illnesses. . .

To the military, the effectiveness of weapons and armor made with depleted uranium outweighs any residual effects. Their bottom line: Depleted uranium saves soldiers’ lives in combat. . .

But Brim and others think there will not be enough known until soldiers are tested for exposure. They compare the debate over depleted uranium to the controversy surrounding Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam. Speculation over its effects continued for more than two decades before the Defense Department agreed to compensate veterans who suffered from ailments linked to its use. . .

http://www.news-journalonline.com/special/uranium/DUFOLO041507.htm

CANADIAN REPORT: U.S. USE OF DEPLETED URANIUM RAISED RADIOACTIVITY 300 TIMES

MNA – Canadian research centers have reported that during the war against Iraq the U.S. military used depleted uranium weapons which caused the radiation level to rise at least 300 times above normal, and the weapons caused similar effects in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops have recently begun removing contaminated topsoil in Iraq, taking it to an unknown location. Scientists believe the next generation of children of citizens of both countries exposed to DU will suffer from higher rates of birth defects and cancer.

The Uranium Medical Research Center issued a report based on a 13-day survey throughout the primary conflict zones in urban and rural areas of central and southern Iraq on October 2003, according to Risq News. . .

The most disturbing circumstance was observed in the U.S. occupied base in southwestern Baghdad in the Auweirj district. It is close to the international airport and hosts one of the largest coalition bases around Baghdad, occupying the operational headquarters of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard. . . Departing the coalition-occupied base was a long, a steady stream of tandem-axle dump trucks carrying full loads of sand, heading south away from the city. Returning from the south was a second stream of fully loaded dump trucks waiting to enter the base. As the team passed the base’s main entrance, the gates were opened to reveal bulldozers spreading soil while front-end loaders were filling the trucks that had just emptied their loads of soil (silt and sand). The arriving trucks were delivering loads of sand into the base while the departing trucks were hauling away the base’s topsoil.

DEPLETED URANIUM FOUND IN TROOPS

JUAN GONZALEZ, NY DAILY NEWS – Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found. They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah. . . A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four “almost certainly” inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium. Laboratory tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two manmade forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers.

 

CARD GIVEN BRITISH TROOPS IN IRAQ 

 


NOTE: THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE WEB PAGE HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN 

 

BRITISH ISSUE DEPLETED URANIUM WARNING CARDS TO ITS TROOPS IN IRAQ 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SUPPRESSED STUDY ON DEPLETED URANIUM

ROB EDWARDS, SUNDAY HERALD, UK – An expert report warning that the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian population would be endangered by British and US depleted uranium weapons has been kept secret. The study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation, which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO.

Baverstock also believes that if the study had been published when it was completed in 2001, there would have been more pressure on the US and UK to limit their use of DU weapons in last year’s war, and to clean up afterwards. Hundreds of thousands of DU shells were fired by coalition tanks and planes during the conflict, and there has been no comprehensive decontamination. Experts from the United Nations Environment Program have so far not been allowed into Iraq to assess the pollution.

U.S. LEFT 75 TONS OF DEPLETED URANIUM TO POLLUTE IRAQ

U.S. FORCES UNLEASHED at least 75 tons of toxic depleted uranium on Iraq during the war, reports the Christian Science Monitor. An unnamed U.S. Central Command spokesman disclosed to the Monitor last week that coalition forces fired 300,000 bullets coated with armored-piercing depleted uranium during the war. “The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is five DU bullets to 1 — a mix that would have left about 75 tons of DU in Iraq,” wrote correspondent Scott Peterson. Peterson measured four sites around Baghdad struck with depleted uranium munitions and found high levels of radioactive contamination, but few warnings to this effect issued among the populace at large. While the Pentagon maintains that spent weapons coated with the low-level, radioactive nuclear-waste are relatively harmless, Peterson notes that U.S. soldiers have taken it among themselves to print leaflets or post signs warning of DU contamination. “After we shoot something with DU, we’re not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer,” said one sergeant requesting anonymity.

DEPLETED URANIUM

PAUL KRASSNER, NY METRO – The officer came around a row of missiles, and Ethan asked him the question he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, “What the hell kind of missiles are these?”

“Those aren’t missiles; they’re cobalt jackets.”

“What are they for?”

“Well, this is ‘need to know,’ so keep your mouth shut, but they are designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They’re made out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they’re wrapped around detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit beyond.”

“So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?”

“No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn’t detonate itself. It just scatters everywhere.”

“Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?”

“Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They’re for a situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won’t capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt ­ and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea ­ and contaminate the world. If we can’t have it, nobody can. . .

I emailed the anecdote to no-nukes activist Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War and co-author of The Superpower of Peace. I asked him to comment in a couple of hundred words:

“This nightmare has now essentially come true with the use of depleted uranium on anti-tank and other shells in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The military rationale is that the super-hard depleted uranium helps shells penetrate tanks and other hard structures. But the long-term effect is that the uranium vaporizes upon explosion and contaminates everything for hundreds of yards, if not miles.”

STUDY FINDS DEPLETED URANIUM USED IN AFGHANISTAN

IRAQI CITIES HOT WITH DEPLETED URANIUM

SARA FLOUNDERS, COASTAL POST, CA – In hot spots in downtown Baghdad, reporters have measured radiation levels that are 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal background radiation levels. It has also opened a debate in the Netherlands parliament and media as 1,100 Dutch troops in Kuwait prepare to enter Iraq as part of the U.S./British-led occupation forces. The Dutch are concerned about the danger of radioactive poisoning and radiation sickness in Iraq. Washington has assured the Dutch government that it used no DU weapons near Al-Samawah, the town where Dutch troops will be stationed. But Dutch journalists and anti-war forces have already found holes in the U.S. stories, according to an article on the Radio Free Europe website. . .

In this year’s war on Iraq, the Pentagon used its radioactive arsenal mainly in the urban centers, rather than in desert battlefields as in 1991. Many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers, along with British, Polish, Japanese and Dutch soldiers sent to join the occupation, will suffer the consequences. The real extent of injuries, chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects won’t be apparent for five to 10 years.

By now, half of all the 697,000 U.S. soldiers involved in the 1991 war have reported serious illnesses. According to the American Gulf War Veterans Association, more than 30 percent of these soldiers are chronically ill and are receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration. Such a high occurrence of various symptoms has led to the illnesses being named Gulf War Syndrome.

DEPLETED URANIUM: DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

JAY SHAFT, COALITION FOR FREE THOUGHT IN MEDIA – In three separate interviews a U.S. Special Operations Command Colonel admitted that the U.S. and Great Britain fired 500 tons of DU munitions into Iraq. He has also informed me that the GBU-28 BLU 113 Penetrator Bunker Buster 5000 pound bomb contains DU in the warhead. Until now, as far as I know, the materials used to make the warhead of the GBU-28 have remained shrouded in mystery. He admitted that privately the Pentagon has acknowledged the health hazards of DU for years. . .

J.S.: What about the cities? Did you deliberately use DU on them?

U.S.C.: Let’s just say that we didn’t do anything to avoid using DU in cities or heavily populated areas. I know that I selected some DU bunker busters because of the fact that they have a high penetration factor. I used DU weapons exclusively on some targets so as to ensure maximum damage on those targets. You don’t want to just halfway destroy some targets, you want maximum damage. . .

J.S.: What about the health risks that are associated with DU? Or do you deny there are any?

U.S.C.: You are determined to get me to make a statement about the health risks aren’t you?

J.S.: If you will, I want to see what the behind the scenes view of DU is in the Pentagon.

U.S.C.: Well. . . (long pause, followed by heavy profanity). . . Okay, I’ll give you some dirt if that’s what you’re looking for. The Pentagon knows there are huge health risks associated with DU They know from years of monitoring our own test ranges and manufacturing facilities.

There were parts of Iraq designated as high contamination areas before we ever placed any troops on the ground. The areas around Basra, Jalibah, Talil, most of the southern desert, and various other hot spots were all identified as contaminated before the war. Some of the areas in the southern desert region along the Kuwaiti border are especially radioactive on scans and tests.
One of our test ranges in Saudi Arabia shows over 1000 times the normal background level for radiation. We have test ranges in the U.S. that are extremely contaminated; hell, they have been since the 80’s and nothing is ever said publicly. Don’t ask don’t tell is not only applied to gays, it is applied to this matter very heavily.

I know at one time the theory was developed that any soldier exposed to DU shells should have to wear full MOP gear (the chemical protective suit). But they realized that just wouldn’t be practical and it was never openly discussed again.

J.S.: So the stories that they know DU is harmful are true?

U.S.C.: Yes, there is no doubt that most high level commanders who were around during the 80’s know about it.

J.S.: So how do you feel about the fact that you exposed your own men to DU?

U.S.C.: F…k you!! What do you know about my job? I did what I had to do to take out the targets I was given. If it was necessary to use DU, than I put it in my target analysis reports. I didn’t actually fire the rounds myself; I work in a remote office.

J.S.: So you’ll never have to worry about being exposed to DU huh? Very brave.

U.S.C.: (lot’s of profanity) this interview is over with (more profanity, followed by the phone slamming down)

U.S. TO USE DEPLETED URANIUM AGAIN

BBC – A United States defense official has said moves to ban depleted uranium ammunition are just an attempt by America’s enemies to blunt its military might. Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium shells had no medical basis. “They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them,” he told a Pentagon briefing.

If war starts, tons of depleted uranium weapons are likely to be used by British and American tanks and by ground attack aircraft. Some believe people are still suffering ill health from ammunition used in the Gulf War 12 years ago, and other conflicts. In the House of Commons in London on Monday, Labor MP Joan Ruddock said a test of the UK Government’s pledge to keep civilian casualties to a minimum in an attack on Iraq would include not using depleted uranium weapons.

Apparently anticipating complaints, the US defense department briefed journalists about DU – making it plain it would continue to be used. . .

Cancer surgeons in the southern Iraqi port of Basra report a marked increase in cancers which they suspect were caused by DU contamination from tank battles on the farmland to the west of the city. . . Depleted uranium is mildly radioactive but the main health concern is that it is a heavy metal, potentially poisonous. The likelihood of absorbing it is increased significantly if a weapon has struck a target and exploded because the DU vaporizes into a fine dust and can be inhaled. . .

A 1995 report from the US Army Environmental Policy Institute, for example, said: “If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences.”

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Environmental Pollution

du_rounds

US allegedly poisoned Iraqi village with lethal radioactive material - local official

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Environment Pollution Iraq Province of Missan, [Karima village area] Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

Environment Pollution in Iraq on Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 at 03:07 (03:07 AM) UTC.

Description
The official environmental authority in the Iraqi governorate of Missan, which is located 390 kilometres away from Baghdad, has announced the discovery of dangerous radioactive contamination that is attributed to the 2003 US-led war on Iraq. The director of the general authority for the environment in Missan, Samir Kadim, told the New Arab news website that the authority’s specialised staff found radioactive material, mainly in military equipment and the skeletons of cars, in a small village south of Missan known as Karima. Kadim explained that the ministry’s authority is cautiously entering the three areas where radioactive material was discovered and is taking strict procedures to remove it. The village witnessed one of the fiercest battles between the former Iraqi army and the US-led coalition forces in 2003. “Unfortunately, we have discovered it late, after a number of the village’s residents have been diagnosed with various diseases,” Kadim said.One of the village’s residents told the New Arab in a phone interview that: “Cancer has spread among us, in addition to birth defects among new-born babies and other diseases that doctors cannot explain.” “But it is only now that we have discovered the cause �” it is the US,” said 45-year-old Abboud Moussa. Moussa described how a number of Karima’s villagers, including children and his own mother, died as a result of this radioactive material. Doctors diagnosed his mother with skin cancer and bone disease, and they told him that she needed to receive medical treatment abroad, but she died very fast before she could travel. The village’s mayor Mahmoud Abtan told the New Arab that a routine visit to the village by officials from the Ministry of Environment encouraged the villagers to ask them to examine a number of areas that had a bad smell. “A number of animals grazing near those areas have died … people even thought that those areas were possessed. Then it turned out that they are not possessed at all, and our murderer is the US,” he said.According to Missan’s environment authority, Karima is the third place in the governorate where radioactive material has been discovered amid primitive treatment and an American refusal to take responsibility. Any US assistance in handling the radiation would be an acknowledgement of its use of internationally banned weapons in Iraq. Abdel Khalek Mahmoud, an environmental expert, told the New Arab that “radioactive contamination in Iraq is divided into two types: The first, which is rarely found in Iraq, is high-level radioactivity that can be discovered by electronic devices. The second is low-level radioactivity, which is more difficult to discover. It was caused by the waste of depleted uranium that was used by the US in its 2003 war on Iraq. This is abundantly found and it has caused a lot of lethal damage in the country.” “We have often said that the reason why thousands of Iraqi soldiers went missing is that their bodies burnt as a result of uranium-saturated bombs. But the country’s new leaders, who were empowered by the US, were not willing to bother the Americans,” Mahmoud added.

 

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US allegedly poisoned Iraqi village with lethal radioactive material – local official

US allegedly poisoned Iraqi village with lethal radioactive material - local official

© Photo: Voice of Russia/Michael Shepetkov

The official environmental authority in the Iraqi governorate of Missan, located 390 kilometers away from Baghdad, has discovered radioactive material attributed to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Global Research reports. The director of the general authority for the environment, Samir Kadim, explained that dangerous contamination was found in military equipment left at a small village south of Karima that saw severe fighting between the Iraqi army and the US-led coalition forces in 2003.

Kadim laments that the contamination was not discovered soon after the military operation ended. Since then several people have been diagnosed with various serious diseases, from cancer to birth defects. “Unfortunately, we have discovered it late, after a number of the village’s residents have been diagnosed with various diseases.”

Many need professional medical help only available abroad. Some succumbed to the disease without receiving any treatment.

Abboud Moussa told the New Arab: “Cancer has spread among us, in addition to birth defects among new-born babies and other diseases that doctors cannot explain.”

“But it is only now that we have discovered the cause – it is the US.”

Reportedly, this is the third case that radioactive material has been discovered in that area.

The village’s mayor Mahmoud Abtan told the New Arab that a routine visit to the village by officials from the Ministry of Environment encouraged the villagers to ask them to examine a number of areas that had a bad smell. “A number of animals grazing near those areas have died … people even thought that those areas were possessed. Then it turned out that they are not possessed at all, and our murderer is the US,” he said, as quoted by the Global Research.

Abdel Khalek Mahmoud, an environmental expert, told the New Arab that allegedly depleted uranium was used in Iraq by the US in 2003. “This is abundantly found and it has caused a lot of lethal damage in the country.”

 

 

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 nuclear-news

USA, UK, France will not admit the growing radioactive pollution of Iraq, due to depleted uranium weapons

du_roundsThe health effects are disputed by the US and UK governments, who joined with France and Israel to vote against a resolution calling for “a precautionary approach” to the use of DU weapons at the United Nations general assembly in December; 155 countries voted in favour of the resolution.

Iraq’s depleted uranium clean-up to cost $30m as contamination spreads  guardian.co.uk,  6 March 2013 Report says toxic waste is being spread by scrap metal dealers, and describes its ‘alarming’ use in civilian areas during Iraq wars Cleaning up more than 300 sites in Iraq still contaminated by depleted uranium (DU) weapons will cost at least $30m, according to a report by a Dutch peace group to be published on Thursday.

The report, which was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warns that the contamination is being spread by poorly regulated scrap metal dealers, including children. It also documents evidence that DU munitions were fired at light vehicles, buildings and other civilian infrastructure including the Iraqi Ministry of Planning in Baghdad – casting doubt on official assurances that only armoured vehicles were targeted. “The use of DU in populated areas is alarming,” it says, adding that many more contaminated sites are likely to be discovered.

More than 400 tonnes of DU ammunition are estimated to have been fired by jets and tanks in the two Iraq wars in 1991 and 2003, the vast majority by US forces. The UK government says that British forces fired less than three tonnes.

DU is a chemically toxic and radioactive heavy metal produced as wasteby the nuclear power industry. It is used in weapons because it is an extremely hard material capable of piercing armour.

 

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Hunger and desperation as Afghan mudslide survivors wait for food

Mudslide survivors

Mudslide survivors in Argu village, Afghanistan. Photograph: Nasir Waqif/EPA

Lailema’s soft wailing filters through the canvas of her tent, a 12-year-old’s hopeless lament for her mother and a life that is gone forever. Her three younger siblings play on the dusty floor as her grandmother cries silently nearby and her uncle wonders how to feed his new dependents.

None of them have eaten since the landslide in the village of Aab Barik – in the north-eastern province of Badakshan – that took away their home and six relatives two days earlier, despite trucks full of food aid parked just a few metres away. No one has distributed the bags of rice, oil and other necessities, they say.

“They promised that they would hand them out after the government officials leave today,” said Khan Baay, the uncle, who was heading out to hear the vice-president, Yunus Qanuni, lead prayers for the dead and promise survivors whatever help they need, backed by a delegation of ministers, members of parliament and European ambassadors.

But many on the ground were less interested in pledges from dignitaries helicoptered in to survey the damage than getting their hands on something edible. “I am so hungry I could scratch your eyes out,” said Bibi Jaahan, a grandmother in her early 60s who lost her home and several relatives to the mud. “I haven’t eaten for over two days.”

Sharing her tent is Zaina, breastfeeding her 11-month-old son but worried that her milk is drying up, as he grumbles then starts crying. She has only scavenged a few biscuits to feed him, and knows he needs more solid food.

The Afghan Red Crescent was quick to hand out tents to those who lost their homes in last Friday’s devastating mudslide, and in the corner of newly motherless Lailema’s cramped new home, barely two metres wide and perhaps three times as long, there are new plates and tea cups but nothing to eat off them.

They were part of their package of “non-food items”, explains Ahmad, an official from the charity who stops by to check on the family. “We started handing out tents on Friday, but other organisations are responsible for food. We cannot provide everything ourselves.”

 

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5 May 02 2014 03:32 PM Landslide Afghanistan Province of Badakhshan, [Argu district] Damage level Details

 

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Landslide in Afghanistan on Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 15:32 (03:32 PM) UTC.

Description
Around 250 people were feared dead following a landslide in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. According to local government officials, the incident took place in Argu district and dozens of others have been trapped under the rocks. A local official in Badakhshan province said around around 250 people have been killed following the landslide while 200 houses and dozens of more people were trapped following the rockslide. Provincial police chief, Fazluddin Ayar confirmed that over 250 people were trapped following a landslide in Aab Khoshk village. Mr. Ayar further added that the incident took place around 12:00 pm local time and Afghan secuirty forces and rescue teams have been deployed to the area to assist the local residents. This comes as deputy Afghan interior minister Gen. Ayub Salangi earlier said around 200 houses were affected following the rockslide. Gen. Salangi had said preliminary reports suggest that the casualties due to the rockslide is around 200 people.

 

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Landslide in Afghanistan on Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 15:32 (03:32 PM) UTC.

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Updated: Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 16:13 UTC
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A landslide triggered by heavy rains buried a village Friday in northeastern Afghanistan, leaving as many as 2,000 people missing, a top official said. Badakshan province Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after a hill collapsed on the village of Hobo Barik. Adeeb said the landslide buried some 300 homes in the area – about a third of all houses there. The governor said rescue crews were working but didn’t have enough equipment, appealing for shovels. “It’s physically impossible right now,” Adeeb said. “We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.” He said authorities evacuated a nearby village over concerns about further landslides. Faziluddin Hayar, the police chief in Badakshan province, said the landslide happened about 1 p.m. Friday. Badakshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country. The area has seen few attacks from insurgents following the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

 

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Landslide in Afghanistan on Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 15:32 (03:32 PM) UTC.

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Updated: Saturday, 03 May, 2014 at 04:09 UTC
Description
A landslide triggered by heavy rain buried large sections of a northeastern Afghan village Friday, killing at least 350 people and leaving up to 2,500 missing. Villagers looked on helplessly and the governor appealed for shovels to help dig through the mass of mud that flattened every home in its path. The mountainous area in Badakhshan province has experienced days of heavy rain and flooding, and the side of a cliff collapsed onto the village of Hobo Barik at midday, burying it under up to 60 feet of mud and rocks, officials said. Landslides and avalanches are frequent in Afghanistan, but Friday’s was one of the deadliest. It was one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory in Afghanistan, where spring rainfall and snowmelt make the mountainous northeast susceptible to flash floods and mudslides. U.N. officials said more Afghans had been killed in natural disasters in the past seven days than in all of 2013. Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said up to 2,500 people were missing after the landslide buried some 300 homes, about one-third of all the houses in the area. At least 350 people were confirmed dead, according to Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He said the U.N. was working with authorities to rescue trapped people.

The governor said rescue crews were working, but didn’t have enough equipment. “It’s physically impossible right now,” Adeeb said. “We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.” The Badakhshan provincial police chief, Maj. Gen. Faziluddin Hayar, said rescue workers had pulled seven survivors and three bodies from the mounds of mud and earth, but held out little hope that more survivors would be found. “Now we can only help the displaced people. Those trapped under the landslide and who have lost lives, it is impossible to do anything for them,” Hayar said. Video footage showed that a large section of the mountain collapsed, sending mud and earth tumbling onto the village below. The landslide was likely caused by heavy rain, said Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the province’s director for the National Disaster Department. He said the landslide happened about 1 p.m. Friday, a day of worship in Afghanistan when many families would have been at home instead of at work. President Obama said the United States was ready to assist. “I want to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan, who have experienced an awful tragedy,” he said at the White House during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. U.N. humanitarian officials said some areas remained difficult to reach, making the scale of the damage unclear. Officials fear more landslides are possible because of more rain and melting snow. About 700 families living on a hillside near Aab Barik were told to move to higher ground and wait for emergency aid to reach them, Adeeb said.

 

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Landslide in Afghanistan on Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 15:32 (03:32 PM) UTC.

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Updated: Saturday, 03 May, 2014 at 05:22 UTC
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About 2,250 people are feared dead after a mudslide Friday buried an Afghan village in the far-north-eastern province of Badakhshan, a spokesman for the provincial governor said. More than 300 houses in Ab-e-Barik were swept away in the mudslide, which occurred after heavy rainfall, Naveed Ferotan said. “Our rescue teams have so far found 150 bodies in the area, and they are working hard to save the villagers,” he said. About 2,100 other people are missing and also feared dead, officials said. The mudslide first struck a wedding party, killing 250 people, and then buried nearly all of the village as well as farmland, said Haji Abdul Wadood Saeedi, governor of the Argu district, where Ab-e-Barik is located. About 300 families are missing, he said. The ground is still unstable, and people in nearby villages are scared they could also become victims, Saeedi said. Rescue teams were dispatched to the area and at least 1,500 people have been evacuated from Ab-e-Barik so far, Saeedi said. The United Nations said 700 families lived in Ab-e-Barik and at least 120 houses were destroyed. “Reportedly, 350 people have died and 580 families are at severe risk of further landslides,” said Ari Gaitanis, a UN spokesman in Kabul. “The village is flooded, and a drainage channel must be opened to prevent further destruction,” he said. The national government and United Nations planned their own rescue and aid response.

 

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Landslide in Afghanistan on Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 15:32 (03:32 PM) UTC.

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Updated: Saturday, 03 May, 2014 at 14:26 UTC
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At least 300 families have been burried under a hill that collapsed in a remote mountain village in northeast Afghanistan on Friday. The confirmed death count at present is 2,100, and is expected to rise in the coming days. “More then 2,100 people from 300 families are all dead,” Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial governorsaid. The United Nations said the focus was now on the more than 4,000 displaced by Friday’s disaster. There is a risk of further landslides in the area, officials said.

 

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Landslide in Afghanistan on Friday, 02 May, 2014 at 15:32 (03:32 PM) UTC.

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Updated: Sunday, 04 May, 2014 at 15:23 UTC
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The Afghan government officially named the scene hit by a massive landslide in Badakhshan province as a mass grave and started focusing on helping the survivors on Sunday. “The religious scholars and high level officials has convinced the locals to give up looking for dead bodies,” Haji Abdul Wadoud, governor of Argo district in Badakhshan told Anadolu Agency. “It is almost impossible to search for dead bodies,” he said. “When muslims die, they must be buried, and they are already under a huge hill of mud.” The first Vice President Mohammad Younus Qanooni also visited the area on Sunday along with some cabinet members and religious authorities. “All agreed that it would be named as the mass grave of Abe Barik martyrs,” Abdul Wadoud said. Early Friday afternoon, a massive landslide triggered by heavy rainfall engulfed the village of Abe Barik in northern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. At least 300 families have been trapped under dirt and mud, whereas only 255 of the dead bodies have been identified so far, but the local authorities estimate that more than 2,100 people are dead. Heavy rains in the last few weeks have also caused flash floods in different parts of the country, taking dozens of lives and damaging hundreds of houses. Turkey’s IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation has delivered humanitarian aid to 350 families hit by Friday’s landslide disaster in Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan. “Emergency packages were prepared for 350 families in the first stage of the aid campaign,” Orhan Sefik, Central Asia regional coordinator of the foundation, told Anadolu Agency. He said the packages contained food, rugs, blankets and kitchen utensils, adding that the foundation would continue to provide aid to the area. Earlier, Noor Mohammad Khawari, head of the Badakhshan central hospital told Anadolu Agency that it would be tragic if the locals agreed to the village becoming a mass grave although he said it would require an extraordinary effort driving by a big number of professionals and machinery to find the buried individuals. “Now they are discussing securing the scene from the threat of floods so that members of the victim families can come here to prayer” Khawari added. In a statement released from his office late Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was deeply saddened after hearing the news of the landslide. The Afghan government has also announced a day of national mourning in the country.

 

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Russian troops amass on border as Kyiv authorities reformulate operation plans (LIVE UPDATES, VIDEO)

April 24, 2014, 11:47 p.m. | Ukraine — by Kyiv Post

UKRAINE, Slavyansk : A member of the Ukrainian special forces takes position at an abandoned roadblock in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 24, 2014. Ukraine’s military launched an assault on the flashpoint rebel-held town of Slavyansk, sending in armoured vehicles and a helicopter, AFP journalists in the town reported. Several armoured personnel carriers drove past an abandoned rebel roadblock in flames to take up position at the entry to the town. AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
© AFP


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Editor’s Note: On April 22, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov announced that Ukraine would restart its anti-terror operation to quell Russian-backed separatist movements in Donetsk Oblast. The operation had been put on hold after quadrilateral talks between the U.S., EU, Russia, and Ukraine in Geneva led to an agreement whereby separatists in eastern Ukraine were requested vacate public spaces and buildings, and surrender their arms. The insurgents refused to comply with the stipulations of the Geneva Statement, and, over Easter weekend, seized several more buildings in Donetsk Oblast.

On the morning of April 24, Ukrainian troops repelled a separatist attack on a military base in the city of Artemivsk, Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainian forces also retook the city council building in the city of Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, which had been controlled by insurgents since April 13.

On April 23, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russia Today that Russia will be forced to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine if they are attacked directly.

The Kyiv Post will be live blogging the anti-terrorist operation as it continues in eastern Ukraine.

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Russia’s rep to OSCE hopes OSCE monitoring mission to be sent to Sloviansk immediately

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Andrei Kelin said that he has raised the issue of sending an OSCE monitoring mission to Ukraine’s Slovyansk and that he hoped it has already arrived there.

“I raised the issue today in the morning during a meeting with a range of ambassadors to the OSCE that it is necessary to send monitors of the mission to Slovyansk immediately. I hope they are already there,” Kelin said on the Rossiya 24 (Russia 24) TV channel.

Monitors of the OSCE mission have visited Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the diplomat said.

“It should be said that for now I see quite an honest story regarding what they see and what is happening,” Kelin said.

Putin spokesman: Actions of Kyiv authorities cast doubt on coming presidential elections

21:15 – The Actions of the Kyiv authorities in eastern Ukraine cast doubt on the coming presidential elections in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Such situational developments in Ukraine and such criminal actions of those, who are in Kyiv – even now they challenge a priori the legitimacy of the elections scheduled in May,” Peskov told reporters in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Interfax reported.

Putin spoke during a media forum of the All-Russia People’s Front on Thursday, Peskov said. “The main thing is namely the crime of using armed forces against the country’s ethnicities,” the spokesman said.

“What is happening in Slovyansk can be interpreted in two ways – on the one hand, as an attempt to disrupt the May elections, on the other, as an aspiration to hold them amid any conditions,” Peskov said. “Kyiv’s actions do not add legitimacy to the authorities in both cases,” he said. — Kyiv Post, Interfax

Chief editor of Russia Today tweets “Ukraine. R.I.P.”

8:57 p.m. — Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of Russia Today, the Kremlin’s flagship English language news organization, tweeted “Ukraine. R.I.P.” early in the morning on April 24. — Isaac Webb

 

Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been freed

7:46 p.m. — Kevin Bishop, BBC’s acting bureau chief in Moscow, says that Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky has been freed after nearly two days of captivity in Sloviansk.

J-Francois Belanger, a foreign correspondent in Moscow for CBC television, says that Ostrovsky is currently in a CBC car traveling from Sloviansk to Donetsk.

Ostrovsky was taken hostage on April 22 by Russian-backed separatists in Sloviansk.

Vice News issued the following statement:

“VICE News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health. We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. Out of respect for Simon and his family’s privacy, we have no further statement at this time.”

At 8:45 p.m., Ostrovsky tweeted: “I’m out and safe. Thank you all for your support. Had no idea I had so many good friends.”

– Isaac Webb

Deputy Foreign Minister Lubkivsky suggests Ukraine needs lethal aid to defend its borders

7:09 p.m. – Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. on April 24, deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky said that Ukraine “would definitely be interested to gain all necessary means to protect our country.”

When asked whether Ukraine is asking the U.S. to provide it with weapons to defend its eastern border against a Russian invasion, Lubkivsky said, “We have to protect Ukraine against the aggression. All possible means that may help in this case should be used.”

BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray first reported Lubkivsky’s remarks. — Isaac Webb

 

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Uneasy standoff in Ukraine’s pro-Russian stronghold of Slavyansk

Opinion divided on Kiev’s actions, but army holds back from storming town, which is firmly in the hands of separatists
Ukraine troops Slavyansk

Ukraine armoured vehicles skirmished with separatists on the edge of Slavyansk, but stopped short of attacking the town. Photograph: Pierre Crom/Le Journal/Sipa/Rex

By late afternoon on Thursday it was a surprisingly tranquil scene. A few people stood and chatted at a militia checkpoint leading into Slavyansk over a bridge. A Russian tricolour flew above a wall of tyres. Next to it was the flag of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”. The armed pro-Russian separatists who hijacked the town in eastern Ukraine almost three weeks ago were still in business. Earlier they had fended off a demonstrative mini-attack by the Ukrainian army.

Six miles down the road, past several crumbling Soviet-era factories and a sliver of forest, was a crossroads. Here, the Ukrainian forces had set up a new checkpoint of their own. Soldiers dressed in black body armour and helmets inspected vehicles driving up and down in the afternoon sunshine. An armoured personnel carrier half-blocked the road; from the adjacent field came the clang of shovels, as troops dug in for the night.

“We arrived here this morning,” Dima, a 21-year-old Ukrainian soldier said. What were his orders? “We’ve been told to search all cars. The idea is to stop any weapons from reaching Slavyansk.” A giant blue and yellow Ukrainian flag flew from Dima’s armoured vehicle. “It’s a BMD-1. Good but old,” he said. Another soldier, 30-year-old Vyacheslav, said his battalion, the 25th, had arrived from the city of Dnipropetrovsk.

Earlier on Thursday, other Ukrainian armoured vehicles had skirmished with separatists on the outskirts of the city. The column destroyed several militia checkpoints, transforming ramshackle barricades into smouldering rubber pyres. The assault took place in several places. The troops cleared a militia blockade next to a disused animal feed factory, as well as another rustic roadblock to the city’s north-west.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov had announced the “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Russian gunmen who control a patchwork of municipal buildings across the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. For a moment on Thursday it appeared Ukrainian troops were about to storm Slavyansk – a small, usually sleepy provincial town, which has become the de facto rebel capital.

After burning down a couple of barricades, however, the army pulled out, retreating towards the nearby town of Malynovka. According to the pro-Russian militia, one man waiting at a bus stop was killed in the morning shoot-out, and another injured. Vyacheslav Ponomarev – the self-appointed mayor of Slavyansk – said mines planted in a field had blocked the advance. He said that he would turn the town into a second Stalingrad. But Ukrainian forces seemed reluctant to play the role of aggressors.

Opinions among locals were divided as to who was to blame for this not-quite war. “Everything inside the city is peaceful now. There are no Ukrainian troops there,” said Alexander, a 43-year-old taxi driver. “But what government uses an army against its own people? It’s a crime. The army is supposed to defend us, not attack us. These people in power in Kiev don’t listen.” Alexander complained that gunfire was bad for business, adding that the price of water in Slavyansk was extortionate, even though the city sits on Donetsk’s northern canal.

Another local, Oleg, however, was scathing about the heavily-armed militia who had taken over Slavyansk’s executive committee building and police station. The government in Kiev says that among the militia are undercover Russian soldiers who first appeared in Crimea when Moscow launched its stealth invasion of the Black Sea peninsula. Ukrainians have nicknamed these masked Russian forces who carry automatic weapons but no insignia “little green men”.

“How would you like it if 400 little green men turned up and took over your town?” Oleg – who declined to give his second name – wanted to know. “Obviously it’s crap. We have guys roaming the streets with guns and masks.”

But didn’t the public support them? “No. We have a couple of million voters here. Five thousand people can’t decide for everyone.” He said Slavyansk’s existing legislative structures were still intact – a local council, and an elected mayor, now imprisoned by the militia. “People voted for her,” Oleg said bitterly.

 

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Black smoke billows from barricades outside the Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, set alight by pro-Russia gunmen as they were driven from the site by Ukrainian national forces trying to recover occupied towns and cities in the east of the country.

( Mika Velikovskiy / Associated Press / April 24, 2014 )

Black smoke billows from barricades outside the Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, set alight by pro-Russia gunmen as they were driven from the site by Ukrainian national forces trying to recover occupied towns and cities in the east of the country.

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Ukrainian forces report killings, ouster of separatist gunmen

 

Ukrainian forces launch an operation Thursday to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country’s tumultuous east, prompting new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian government troops killed at least two pro-Russia separatist gunmen in Slovyansk on Thursday and drove away others occupying key public buildings in the city of Mariupol in an operation the Kremlin condemned as the Kiev government attacking “its own people.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the actions in eastern Ukraine and the deployment of NATO forces in member states bordering Russia to the west had “forced” the Kremlin to order more military drills of its troops amassed on Ukraine’s border.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that “up to five” separatists had been killed in Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” targeting armed checkpoints set up by the Russian-speaking militants in Slovyansk.

A spokeswoman for the militants, Stella Khorosheva, confirmed to the Associated Press that two had been killed in the provincial town 100 miles west of the Russia-Ukraine border. Slovyansk has become the main flashpoint in the weeks-old confrontation between pro-Russia gunmen demanding autonomy from Kiev for the territory they are holding and Ukrainian officials trying to hold the country together.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the Ukrainian interim leadership of “consequences” for its move against pro-Russia militants who have seized a dozen towns and cities in eastern Ukraine in demand of local votes on whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia or revise the constitution to make their regions virtually independent. The separatists’ actions followed last month’s Russian  annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula after a swift occupation by Russian troops and a hastily called referendum on secession.

 

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Amid Russia warning, Ukraine is in a security bind

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister warned Wednesday that attacks on Russian citizens or interests in Ukraine would bring a firm response and drew a comparison to the circumstances that opened the war with Georgia in 2008.

“Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, a day after Ukraine announced it was re-launching a campaign against pro-Kremlin insurgents occupying government facilities in the mostly Russian-speaking east.

“If we were attacked we could certainly respond,” Lavrov said, speaking on the Kremlin-funded satellite TV channel RT.

Lavrov’s warning came as the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement demanding that Ukraine pull its armed forces out of the crisis-ridden region.

“If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia, I do not see any other way but to respond in full accordance with international law,” Lavrov said, referring to the 2008 war that led to the breaking away of the Georgian republic of South Ossetia.

In that conflict, Russia launched an invasion of Georgia after it unleashed an artillery attack on the capital of the separatist region, where Russian peacekeeping forces were stationed. However, unlike the conflict with Georgia, Russia has denied having troops or agents in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian warnings came as an accord reached last week in Geneva to defuse the Ukraine crisis continued to crumble, with pro-Russian insurgents in the east defying calls for all sides to disarm and to vacate the buildings they are occupying.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, ordered resumption of an “anti-terrorist operation” against the pro-Russia forces. However, the highly publicized move produced little action on the ground Wednesday.

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Cyclone threatens to disrupt search for missing MH370

April 21, 2014

Australian Navy officer Morgan Macdonald stands in a rigid hull inflatable boat as he observes markers dropped from a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3K Orion, after an object was sighted in the southern Indian Ocean. – Reuters pic, April 21, 2014.Australian Navy officer Morgan Macdonald stands in a rigid hull inflatable boat as he observes markers dropped from a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3K Orion, after an object was sighted in the southern Indian Ocean. – Reuters pic, April 21, 2014.A tropical cyclone was threatening to hamper the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight today, as a submarine drone neared the end of its mission scouring the southern Indian Ocean sea bed with still no sign of wreckage.

The search for flight MH370, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, has narrowed to a 10 sq km patch of sea floor about 2,000 km west of the Australian city of Perth.

Search authorities and the Australian and Malaysian governments have said a series of sonar signals, or “pings”, traced to the area may have emanated from the plane’s “black box” and present the most credible lead as to its whereabouts.

However no pings have been detected in almost two weeks and authorities now fear that, with the flight data recorder’s battery several weeks past its expected expiry date, the black box may not emit further signals.

A US Navy remote controlled submarine, the Bluefin-21, was on its ninth mission scanning the largely unmapped stretch of sea bed where the pings are believed to have come from, with still no trace found, Australian search officials said today.

“Bluefin-21 has searched approximately two-thirds of the focused underwater search area to date. No contacts of interest have been found to date,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement.

 

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT

MH370 search to be most costly ever at $100 mln: analysts


by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) April 18, 2014


Malaysia warns of ‘huge’ cost in MH370 search
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) April 17, 2014 – Malaysia warned Thursday that the cost of the search for flight MH370’s wreckage in the vast depths of the Indian Ocean will be “huge”, the latest sobering assessment by authorities involved in the challenging effort.
“When we look at salvaging (wreckage) at a depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles), no military out there has the capacity to do it,” Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.”We have to look at contractors, and the cost of that will be huge.”

The search in a remote stretch of ocean far off western Australia was enlivened in the past two weeks by the detection of signals believed to be from the Malaysia Airlines plane’s flight data recorders on the seabed.

But the transmissions have gone silent before they could be pinpointed, raising the spectre of a costly and extensive search of a large swathe of ocean floor at extreme depths.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, which is leading the multi-national search, had earlier warned in an interview published Thursday that an autonomous US Navy sonar device that began scanning the seabed for wreckage on Monday would be given one more week.

If nothing is found, authorities would reassess how next to proceed in the unprecedented mission to find the plane, Abbott said in the Wall Street Journal.

The Bluefin-21 completed its first full scanning mission early Thursday.

An initial attempt was aborted when the sub hit its maximum depth at 4.5 kilometres. A second was cut short by unspecified “technical” troubles.

Hishammuddin said he agreed with Abbott, saying “there will come a time when we need to regroup and reconsider”.

“But in any event, the search will always continue. It’s just a matter of approach,” said Hishammuddin, who did not specify what any alternative approach would be.

Australia’s search chief Angus Houston said earlier this week that authorities already were looking at possible alternative methods, including undersea devices that can go deeper than the Bluefin-21, but he also gave no specifics.

The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people aboard inexplicably veered off its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course on March 8, and is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean.

 

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is set to be the most expensive in aviation history, analysts say, as efforts to find the aircraft deep under the Indian Ocean show no signs of slowing.

The Boeing 777 vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, after veering dramatically off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the sea off Australia.

Australia, which is leading the search in a remote patch of water described as “unknown to man”, has not put a figure on spending, but Malaysia has warned that costs will be “huge”.

“When we look at salvaging (wreckage) at a depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles), no military out there has the capacity to do it,” Transport and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Thursday.

“We have to look at contractors, and the cost of that will be huge.”

Ravikumar Madavaram, an aviation expert at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, said Malaysia, Australia and China, which had the most nationals onboard the flight, were the biggest spenders and estimated the total cost up to now at about US$100 million (72 million euros).

“It’s difficult to say how much is the cost of this operation … but, yes, this is definitely the biggest operation ever (in aviation history).

“In terms of costs this would be the highest,” he told AFP.

- Hopes rest on submersible -

In the first month of the search — in which the South China Sea and Malacca Strait were also scoured by the US, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam — the Pentagon said the United States military had committed US$7.3 million to efforts to find the plane.

Meanwhile the Indian Ocean search, in which assets have also been deployed by Australia, Britain, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand, has failed to find anything conclusive.

Hopes rest on a torpedo-shaped US Navy submersible, which is searching the ocean floor at depths of more than 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) in the vicinity of where four signals believed to have come from black box recorders were detected.

David Gleave, an aviation safety researcher at Britain’s Loughborough University, said the costs “will be of the order of a hundred million dollars by the time we’re finished, if we have found it (the plane) now”.

But he said the longer it took to find any wreckage, the more costs would mount because scanning the vast ocean floor “will take a lot of money because you can only search about 50 square kilometres (19 square miles) a day”.

 

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WATER WORLD

Sub dives deeper in hunt for missing MH370


by Staff Writers
Perth, Australia (AFP) April 18, 2014

The mini-sub searching for missing flight MH370 has reached record depths well beyond its normal operating limits, officials said Friday as it dived on its fifth seabed mission.

With no results to show since the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people disappeared on March 8, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has set a one-week deadline to locate the plane which is believed to have crashed in a remote area of the Indian Ocean west of Perth.

Searchers have extended the hunt beyond the normal 4,500 metre (15,000 feet) depth range of the US Navy’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) called Bluefin-21.

“The AUV reached a record depth of 4,695 meters during mission four,” the US Navy said. “This is the first time the Bluefin-21 has descended to this depth.

“Diving to such depths does carry with it some residual risk to the equipment and this is being carefully monitored,” a statement said.

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) announced that the mini-sub had been deployed on a new mission as operations run round the clock.

“Data analysis from the fourth mission did not provide any contacts of interest,” it added.

The unmanned Bluefin-21 which maps the seafloor by sonar, has searched 110 square kilometres (43 square miles) to date, JACC said.

The UAV, which hit a technical snag on Tuesday had also re-surfaced Monday after breaching a pre-programmed maximum depth of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles).

JACC said Thursday night that the US manufacturer of the UAV, Phoenix International, had advised the risk was “acceptable”.

“This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the sea floor within the predicted limits of the current search area,” it said.

The Malaysia Airlines jet is believed to have crashed in the ocean after mysteriously vanishing while en route between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

Hopes for finding the plane have focused on the Bluefin-21 after signals believed to be from the plane’s flight data recorders on the seabed fell silent in recent days.

The submersible is being deployed from an Australian vessel to scan an uncharted seafloor at extreme depths, but Abbott said the Bluefin-21 would be given about a week as questions are asked about the massive costs.

 

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The Australian

Dismayed families of missing MH370 passengers have vowed to ‘get noisier’

Malaysia to issue death certificates in missing plane

http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/external?url=http://content6.video.news.com.au/FxNzJibTpfUWDOML1T4JUliRzjZY81g9/promo222290599&width=650&api_key=kq7wnrk4eun47vz9c5xuj3mc

The Malaysian government prepares to issue death certificates for passengers of missing flight MH370 but some families cling to the hope their loved ones are alive. Mana Rabiee reports.

Shock … relatives of the missing MH370 passengers at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 21, 2014. Picture: Wang Zhao Source: AFP

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FAMILY members of passengers lost on missing Malaysia Airlines 370 have criticised the Malaysian government for an investigation they say has been mismanaged.

Appearing on US morning television, Sarah Bajc, the girlfriend of Flight 370 American passenger Philip Wood, told Today host Matt Lauer passengers’ loved ones all just “wanted to go back to square one”.

“We just don’t believe they’re using proper evaluative techniques to check the data,” she said. “It’s day 45 and we’re basically on the same position we were on on the first day.”

We don’t know anything for sure,” she said. “We want to go back and start over again, but with new people looking at the information.”

Ms Bajc sent an email to the media, on behalf of “the united families of MH370”, detailing their complaints and concerns.

 

Despair ... Sarah Bajc with her boyfriend Philip Wood, who was a passenger on missing Mal

Despair … Sarah Bajc with her boyfriend Philip Wood, who was a passenger on missing Malaysian flight MH370. Picture: Facebook Source: Supplied

 

Among their grievances is the suggestion by the government it issues death certificates or pay compensation before the plane is found.

“Until they have proof, they have an obligation to make regular prepayments to the families in need, and they have an obligation to exert themselves beyond dozing and snickering in resolving this case,” the email says.

The families say they are gaining strength and prepared to get noisier in their criticisms. The letter signs of “WE ARE IN UTTER OUTRAGE, DESPAIR AND SHOCK!”

The Acting Minister of Transport in Malaysia has posted a comment to Twitter that he hopes to discuss with Angus Houston the status of the remaining third of the search area being combed by the Bluefin-21 unmanned submersible.

 

 

 

DETAILS OF TODAY’S SEARCH

Bluefin-21 is still scouring the ocean depths on its ninth mission trying to locate wreckage from MH370.

So far it has searched about two thirds of the underwater area, with no contacts of interest found to date.

Up to 10 military aircraft and 10 ships will be part of today’s visual search approximately 1500 kilometres north west of Perth.

Scattered showers are predicted to continue with south easterly winds and sea swells of up to three metres.

 

 

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AEROSPACE

 


by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) April 18, 2014

Malaysia and Australia will sign a deal specifying who handles any wreckage from missing flight MH370 that may be recovered, including the crucial “black box” flight data recorders, local media reported Friday.

Malaysia is drafting the agreement “to safeguard both nations from any legal pitfalls that may surface during that (recovery) phase,” the New Straits Times reported.

The government hopes the deal can be finalised soon and endorsed in a Cabinet meeting next week. Canberra is studying the memorandum of understanding, it said.

“The MoU spells out exactly who does what and the areas of responsibility,” civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying.

Azharuddin added that Malaysia would lead most of the investigation, with Australia and others helping. Details of the MoU will not be made public, the report said.

Azharuddin and other officials could not immediately be reached by AFP.

The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people inexplicably veered off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean far off western Australia.

But a massive international search has failed to turn up any wreckage so far.

 

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Published on Feb 23, 2014

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VOA News

UN Orders Syria Humanitarian Aid Access

The United Nations Security Council votes on resolution on humanitarian aid for Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 22, 2014.

The United Nations Security Council votes on resolution on humanitarian aid for Syria at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 22, 2014.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution on Syria’s humanitarian crisis, demanding that both sides in the conflict provide immediate access to deliver essential aid to millions of people in desperate need.

The 15-member council united on Syria for the first time Saturday. Russia and China — which have shielded Syria’s government throughout the country’s three-year-long civil war — voted in favor of the resolution.

Saturday’s vote does not threaten sanctions. Russia insisted that this reference be dropped from the original Western- and Arab-backed text. But it does express the council’s intent to take “further steps” in the case of non-compliance.

The resolution demands immediate cross-border aid access and condemns rights abuses by the Syrian government and armed opposition groups.

It also insists that all parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians and stop the indiscriminate use of weapons in populated areas — including shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote that the resolution should not have been necessary, because “humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law.”

The U.N. chief said it is “profoundly shocking … that both sides are besieging civilians as a tactic of war.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the newly adopted resolution could be “a “hinge-point in the tortured three years” of the crisis. He called it “a resolution of concrete steps to answer the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.”

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reuters

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Watch Video Here  :

UN humanitarian chief demands Syria aid access by reuters
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos calls for unlimited aid access to Syria’s worst hit areas.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Amos said she had spoken to Syrian government representatives but they’d asked for more time.

SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF, VALERIE AMOS, SAYING:

“However,the government have agreed to a limited assessment exercise to be conducted by U.N. agencies and the Syrian authorities, which would give us some information about what is happening in the country.”

Meanwhile, amateur videos from Syria posted on to a social media website – which Reuters cannot independently verify – purportedly reveal fresh fighting amid reports that 31 people were killed.

This burning car is reportedly in the Asheera neighbourhood of Homs while this amateur Homs footage shows smoke billowing from buildings amid sounds of heavy gunfire.

This footage, apparently from Damascus, purports to show a group of protesters chanting anti-regime slogans outside the captal’s Russian embassy.

The resumption of the heavy shelling follows a few days of relative calm during which Amos visited Homs and said part of the city had been completely destroyed.

UN and Arab League evnoy Kofi Annan is due to arrive in Damascus on Saturday to try to calm the year-old conflict.

Sunita Rappai, Reuters
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