Encouraging news!

It’s always good to add a little good news to one’s day!

The World Bank and United Nations on Wednesday appealed for billions of dollars to provide electricity for the poorest nations but said there would be no investment in nuclear power.

“We don’t do ,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim as he and UN leader Ban Ki-moon outlined efforts to make sure all people have access to electricity by 2030.

 

And, in case I missed this one, I’ll add it now, too!

Nuclear reactors are not a viable source of new power in the West, Morningstar analysts conclude in a report this month to institutional investors.

Nuclear’s “enormous costs, political and popular opposition, and regulatory uncertainty” render new reactors infeasible even in regions where they make economic sense, according to Morningstar’s Utilities Observer report for November.

“Aside from the two new nuclear projects in the U.S., one in France, and a possible one in the U.K., we think new-build nuclear in the West is dead,” Morningstar analysts Mark Barnett and Travis Miller say in the report.

This view puts Morningstar on the same page as former Exelon CEO John Rowe, who said in early 2012 that new nuclear plants “don’t make any sense right now” and won’t become economically viable for the forseeable future.

 

Real reasons to hope for an end to nuclear energy.

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From the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

Interesting tidbit here, from the Inbox, thanks to Bill C in rural SK:

From the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

Article 26

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.

2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.

3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Article 27

States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process.

And

Article 32

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.

2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of their mineral, water or other resources.

3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.

and here are some legal references from Cdn case law :

Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 511,at para. 24:

The Court’s seminal decision in Delgamuukw, supra, at para. 168, in the context of a claim for title to land and resources, confirmed and expanded on the duty to consult, suggesting the content of the duty varied with the circumstances: from a minimum “duty to discuss important decisions” where the “breach is less serious or relatively minor”; through the “significantly deeper than mere consultation” that is required in “most cases”; to “full consent of [the] aboriginal nation … ” on very serious issues. These words apply as much to unresolved claims as to intrusions on settled claims.

And at para. 32:

The jurisprudence of this Court supports the view that the duty to consult and accommodate is part of a process of fair dealing and reconciliation that begins with the assertion of sovereignty and continues beyond formal claims resolution. Reconciliation is not a final legal remedy in the usual sense. Rather, it is a process flowing from rights guaranteed by s. 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. This process of reconciliation flows from the Crown’s duty of honourable dealing toward Aboriginal peoples, which arises in turn from the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty over an Aboriginal people and de facto control of land and resources that were formerly in the control of that people. As stated in Mitchell v. M.N.R., [2001] 1 S.C.R. 911, 2001 SCC 33, at para. 9, “[w]ith this assertion [sovereignty] arose an obligation to treat aboriginal peoples fairly and honourably, and to protect them from exploitation … ” (emphasis added).

Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010, para. 168:

The nature and scope of the duty of consultation will vary with the circumstances. In occasional cases, when the breach is less serious or relatively minor, it will be no more than a duty to discuss important decisions that will be taken with respect to lands held pursuant to aboriginal title. Of course, even in these rare cases when the minimum acceptable standard is consultation, this consultation must be in good faith, and with the intention of substantially addressing the concerns of the aboriginal peoples whose lands are at issue. In most cases, it will be significantly deeper than mere consultation. Some cases may even require the full consent of an aboriginal nation, particularly when provinces enact hunting and fishing regulations in relation to aboriginal lands.

The Uranium-Backed War on Indigenous Peoples or Why Canada Did Not Support the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples

A somewhat lengthy petition calling for peace in the Republic of Niger landed in my inbox the other day and I had neither the time nor the energy to look at it. That changed yesterday, when I learned that a Canadian uranium mining company, NWT Uranium, has a letter of agreement to join forces with a New Mexico uranium mining company, Nu-Mex.

“We believe that this transaction will be of great benefit to NWT Uranium and its shareholders,” said Marek J. Kreczmer, President and CEO of NWT Uranium. “Nu-Mex has the ability to earn a majority interest in two highly prospective uranium properties and it was these potential assets that drew us to the combination.

The deal is “subject to approval by NWT Uranium shareholders, the Ontario Court of Superior Justice and the TSX Venture Exchange, and requires a favorable fairness opinion.” The two pieces of interest for NWT, Nose Rock and Dalton Pass, are on or near Navaho lands in New Mexico. In the WWII and post-WWII years and up until the late 70’s, the Navaho peoples embraced the uranium industry, welcoming the work, until they noticed the ill effects of the development.

Along the way, though, government and industry gave little attention to the pervasive, irreversible, and now well-documented impacts of this massive development. Government and industry were at best ignorant, but most often arrogantly dismissive, of the emerging epidemic of lung cancer and respiratory disease among underground miners; the wide assault on the region’s land, water and air quality that continues to command public concern and regulatory attention today; the abandonment of tens of thousands of drill holes, thousands of mines, and several dozen mills with little or no reclamation; and the economic dislocation of communities that had given up traditional, agricultural-based economies for the prospects of massive infusions of cash and employment from uranium development. The “bust” that followed the 35-year “boom” is by now a quarter-century old itself, and the communities that once hosted uranium mining, often with open arms, are now hard-pressed to point to anything, other than a few paved roads, that was sustainable from that era.

Fortunately, the state’s governor is taking action to prevent similar mistakes.

Of interest to Nu-Mex are the holdings of the Canadian company, NWT. The North Rae and Daniel Lake uranium projects are in the Ungava Bay area of northern Quebec, home to not less than 7 Inuit communities. That the governments of Quebec or Canada were as concerned for their people as the governor of New Mexico.

North Rae and Daniel Lake are located on the eastern side of Ungava Bay, approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of the town of Kuujjuaq, near the southern shore of Ungava Bay. With a population of approximately 2,000 people, Kuujjuaq is the largest community in northern Quebec.

North Rae is six to 12 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) from tidewater, which places it in a favorable context with respect to mine development. Daniel Lake is also favorably located, approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) east of George River, which is navigable and flows into Ungava Bay 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north.

Awfully close to a large body of water, don’t you thing? That global warming will raise water levels seems not to be an issue for NWT or Nu-Mex. That the Inuit have opposed this threat to their traditional way of life is not surprising. And it only gets more interesting! NWT has nearly 32 million shares in a company that holds several properties in the republic of Niger. Niger Uranium Limited , listed on the AIM Exchange in London, England, is extremely active in Niger.

It is clear, however, that the unfettered increase in uranium mining is causing great problems in Niger. From the petition, a bit of history:

Since its independence, the state of Niger has been in latent conflict with the Tuareg population living on the Nigerien territory. This situation escalated in 1990 with a massacre of this population group in Tchin-Tabaraden and resulted in an armed conflict. After the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which was intended to make allowances for certain claims brought forward by the Tuareg organizations in 1995, this conflict calmed down. Today, it seems that the implementation of the treaty has failed. This caused new dissatisfaction among the population in the north of Niger. A new Tuareg movement “Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice” (MNJ, Movement of Nigeriens for Justice) has formed whose central claim is that the peace accords signed in 1995 be met.

Another issue is that the exploitation of the uranium deposits in the regions inhabited by the Tuareg remains an unsolved problem. The local population has practically no benefit from the proceeds gained out of these mineral resources, while the ecological consequences of the uranium production seriously endanger the population and their environment.

We observe that the current crisis is seriously threatening the democratic process in Niger, in particular as the government seems to fall back on out-dated, dictatorial methods in order to gag the press and to impede the freedom of expression of the citizens.

Two members of the NWT Uranium, Inc. Board of Directors are apparently oblivious to the situation:

…North and Kreczmer assured us the country is stable. “When I first went to Niger in November 2004, and that was during the last election, it honestly looked like a lot of fun. Everybody had a little piece of rag tied around their wrist or tied to the antenna of their car to represent their political affiliation.” Kreczmer added, “My experience working in Africa is that because this country relies so heavily on foreign aid, the World Bank has great influence.”

The Republic of Niger has North’s vote on confidence … North feels Niger is going to become more aggressive in developing its uranium properties. He talked about how the President of Niger told his minister of mines, “Get out there and advertise Niger as being open for business. We want people to come in here and invest. We want to give them mineral rights, and we want them to do what Mali is doing.” From the looks of it, the first to jump on the Niger bandwagon were Northwestern Minerals and North Atlantic Resources, but they won’t be the last.

“My experience with Niger is that it’s a peaceful, democratic country with no civil unrest. Let’s put it this way. They have less civil unrest than France.” *

The Tuareg population have documented several horrific human rights violations. Homicides, arbitrary, racist and inhumane detention of civilians as well as expulsion of citizens from their communities by the military appear to be the norm. Dismemberment of corpses is not unheard of. Land mines, restricting the movement of the nomadic Tuareg, are in use despite the fact the Nigerien government signed the Ottawa Convention which bans their use.

The government of Niger wants to double its uranium production and exports so has issued more than 122 licenses to foreign companies. The areas granted exploration rights have generally been agricultural, providing an economic base for the local population. Uranium mining and exploration are harming the health of local populations. Radioactive waste is not being stored properly; open pit mining threatens fauna, flora, water, air and the entire food chain of the people living in the region. The Nigerien media has criticized these activities. As a result, prominent and outspoken editors and writers have been arrested. Some have been threatened with death by members of the Nigerien military.

And this — all this, in Canada, the USA, Australia, Niger, etc. — occurs despite a 2004 Declaration of the Indigenous World Uranium Summit which called for a Moratorium on Uranium mining:

[A] worldwide ban is justified on the basis of the extensive record of “disproportional impacts” of the nuclear fuel chain on the health, natural resources and cultures of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration calls attention to “intensifying nuclear threats to Mother Earth and all life,” and asserts that nuclear power — the primary use for uranium — is not a solution to global warming.

“Our Mother Earth needs protection from the destructive forms of uranium if we are to survive,” said Manny Pino, a member of Acoma Pueblo and professor of sociology at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. “Everyday we are at risk from radioactive materials that threaten our future generations. Indigenous people all over the World are saying these threats must end, and they are taking united actions to achieve that goal.”

As is the norm, the concerns of the world’s Indigenous peoples continue to be ignored. Stephen Harper could not support the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not because it contravenes Canadian laws, but because it would mean a loss of control of “vast resources on land claimed by aboriginal communities” and indicate a lack of support for the nuclear industry which forms part of the Harperian plan to curb GHGs.

Petiton Sources:

– Reuters press agency: http://www.reuters.com/, http://africa.reuters.com/NE/

– Agence France Presse: http://www.afp.com/

– Website of the MNJ: http://m-n-j.blogspot.com/

– Eye witness accounts

Other Sources

– * Finch, James. “Exposed: The World’s Best Kept Uranium Secret.” EzineArticles 09 April 2006. 14 December 2007 <http://ezinearticles.com/?Exposed:-The-Worlds-Best-Kept-Uranium-Secret&id=176018>.

Uranium, Indigenous Rights and Corporatism

This story provides some clarity for me around the reasons why the Harperites refused to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It provides opportunity for indigenous peoples to boot corporate pigs off their lands! And PMS won’t be wanting that!

OWE AKU & BLACK HILLS SIOUX NATION TREATY COUNCIL
DEFEAT URANIUM CORPORATION
(From Owe Aku International Human Rights and Justice Program, New York City) As explained in the following article, Owe Aku, a grass roots Lakota organization, just utilized the principle of free, prior and informed consent as set forth in the recently passed United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

JUDGE ISSUES RULING…N.A.E.G. EXCLUDED FROM PINE RIDGE
Pine Ridge, SD… On October 29, OST Chief Judge Lisa Adams issued an exclusion order to remove the Native American Energy Group (N.A.E.G.) from the Pine Ridge reservation, declaring that the company has been trespassing on tribal lands. The finding gave NAEG 30 days to vacate the reservation.

The Judge also noted that N.A.E.G. ignored a tribal resolution that accepted the OST Environmental Technical Team’s recommendation that the Tribe not enter into any working relationship with N.A.E.G. Further, the order stated that OST Member, Eileen Janis, failed to inform N.A.E.G. about OST ordinances prohibiting exploration and mining for uranium.

Environmental Nightmares provides more info about the current struggles of the Lakota peoples. The Lakota Nation is, for those with short memories or too young to remember, the nation of Leonard Peltier who has been held as a political prisoner in the USA for 30 years for allegedly murdering 2 FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Reservation located in the Black Hills. Another twist in the story is the extradition of John Graham, a citizen of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations of the Yukon, Canada, to the USA on charges of murdering Anna Mae Aquash.

…the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the extradition of former AIM member John Graham to stand trial in South Dakota in the chilling murder more than 30 years ago of Canadian Mi’kmaq Anna Mae Aquash.

…Mr. Graham and his many supporters argue, however, that he is being framed by the FBI, as they believe well-known native activist Leonard Peltier was.

…In a case that continues to arouse emotions today, the main evidence used to extradite Mr. Peltier was a sworn affidavit by native Myrtle Poorbear that later proved to be false. Many, including Amnesty International, have called for Mr. Peltier’s release.

Graham’s daughter says,

John Graham is a political prisoner. I will fight until John Graham, my dad, is free to live his life in peace and to exercise his right to protect Mother Earth.

Interesting how things happen. Searching out this piece I learned that the John Graham Defense Committee will hold a benefit this Friday, November 16, in Vancouver. Even more interesting is that John Graham has a history of advocating for environmental and aboriginal rights, most particularly in SK where he was an organizer of no nukes activities in the First Nations and Metis communities.

How convenient for the pro nukers that, at a time when the uranium industry wants to expand, former indigenous leaders in opposition to it, sit in US prisons.

Mission of Folly

The full piece by Laxer is also posted at Canadian Dimension.  It’s 30 pages long but definitely worth the read.

Mission of Folly: Why Canada should bring its troops home from Afghanistan (James Laxer)

Canadian troops have been fighting in Afghanistan for over five years. This military mission has endured for longer than the First World War and the Korean conflict. If the mission continues for another year, it will exceed the Second World War in duration, to become the lengthiest war in which Canadians have ever fought. To date, 44 Canadians have died in Afghanistan. On a per capita basis, more Canadians have been killed during the mission, than has been the case for any of the other allied countries who have sent forces to Afghanistan.

The Harper government has presented the mission to Canadians as combining a military element with the provision of aid to the people of Afghanistan. In fact, in dollars spent, the mission has been ninety per cent military, and only ten per cent reconstruction aid.troops out

The Chretien government propelled Canada into the Afghan War with little thought in the autumn of 2001. The mission has since been sustained and extended by the Martin and Harper governments. Despite the brief debate and vote on the issue in the House of Commons in May 2006, this country has had no authentic national debate on the Afghanistan mission.

In this 30,000 word long report, I have entered the debate not as an expert on Afghanistan, but as someone with considerable experience analyzing Canadian and American global policies. It is my belief that the Afghanistan mission is a tragic mistake for Canada. If prolonged, the mission will cost many more Canadian lives, without the achievement of the goals Canada and its allies have set for themselves in Afghanistan.

(This report will be published on-line on my blog, at http://www.jameslaxer.com, one chapter at a time, in February 2007. Then the report has a whole will be published there. The report will be available as well in PDF format. You are welcome to reproduce this report in whole or in part. I can be reached at: jlaxer@yorku.ca.

Chapter 1: Canada Went to War in the Absence of an Authentic National Debate

Slaughtering Human Rights in Afghanistan

Read this, by RAWA at ZNet.  Maybe this is why Gilles has changed his tune

Bring our soldiers home!

Afghanistan

The Bloodiest Field for Slaughtering Human Rights

by RAWAFive years ago, America and their allies attacked Afghanistan in the name of bringing “Human Rights”, “Democracy”, and “Freedom” to our war-torn country. The Taliban regime fell and Hamid Karzai’s puppet regime, which included the well-known Northern Alliance criminals or as UN envoy Mahmoud Mestri said, “the bandit gangs”, took over in the name of a fake democracy. However, today, the deceitful policies of Mr. Karzai and his Western guardians have brought Afghanistan to a very critical situation where disaster is a ticking time bomb that can explode any minute. Treason and mockery have efficiently been used in the name of “democracy” and “freedom” in the past five years. The human rights situation in Afghanistan is a product of the painful deception of the warlord led government.

Northern Alliance criminals, backed by the US have their own local and barbaric governments. Just the increasing number of women who commit suicide by burning themselves is the best example of a human rights violation in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, 65% of 50000 widows in Kabul think that committing suicide is the only option they have. Northern Alliance crooks raped an 11 year old girl, Sanuber, and traded her for a dog. In Badakhshan, a young woman was gang-raped by 13 Jehadis in front of her children, and one of the rapists urinated in the mouth of her children who were continuously crying. In Paghman, a suburb of Kabul, a criminal leader Rasol Sayyaf, who was the mentor and godfather of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, plunders our peoples’ territory and tortures his opposition in his private prison. Despite many protest rallies by the unfortunate people of Paghman in front of the Parliament House, no one hears their painful voice. Instead the so-called police forces headed by infamous criminal warlords like Zahir Aghbar and Amanullah Guzar, attacked the protesters and killed 2 of them. These are all just some examples of thousands of crimes that are being carried out by the fundamentalists of the Northern Alliance. These evil men have high positions in the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the US-imposed government with some unprincipled intellectuals dancing to their tune.

The full article is here.

Endorsing the UN’s recommendation

When I listened to Stephen Lewis’ piece on the women of Africa that was part of Massey Lecture series on CBC’s Ideas I was moved to tears. It seems that others at the United Nations have also been moved and that Canadian women are behind this movement.

Women's Groups in Canada Applaud Call for New United Nations Agency on Women
Ottawa, November 17th 2006 -- Today, a wide range of women's groups in

Canada (see list below) endorsed the recommendation by a high level UN

panel to establish a new independent women-specific agency at the United

Nations. This and other recommendations on UN reform were released by

the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel for UN System-wide Coherence

last week.

The recommendations on women respond to severe criticism from Stephen

Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and women's

organizations from around the globe that the UN is sidelining women'

rights and gender equality goals, and undermining its own effectiveness

by not adequately addressing women's empowerment and human rights.

Groups in Canada commended the contribution of Robert Greenhill,

President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), one

of 15 members of the High-Level Panel. With Greenhill's support, the

Reform Panel also proposed that a new Under-Secretary General should be

established to oversee the agency, and that sufficient resources should

be granted to it.

"The time is long overdue for a women-specific agency at the UN. Now is

the time to show commitment to the human rights of girls and women's

everywhere," said Prabha Khosla, coordinator of the Canadian Committee

on Women and UN Reform.

Women's groups say that the leadership of a new Under-Secretary General

will be essential to the success of a new agency as it will guarantee it

the appropriate influence and provide a voice for women at the UN

decision-making tables.  Groups also support the Panel's recommendation

for an open, transparent and global search for a candidate who has

substantive expertise in gender equality.

"It is now up to Canada and all member states at the United Nations to

adopt these recommendations during the 61st session of the General

Assembly and stick to a process and time frame for implementation,"

added Joanna Kerr, Executive Director, the Association for Women's

Rights in Development (AWID).

Canada must be a key player in ensuring a reasonable budget for the

agency.  The Panel did not recommend one and Canada and other countries

must work together to ensure that there is sufficient funding.  "Through

increasing our international development budget to 0.7% of GNP as we

have promised to do many times, Canada has a unique opportunity to take

leadership on women's equality," said Khosla.

The dual mandate of the new entity, which will include both policy and

country-level functions, will strengthen the effectiveness of the gender

mainstreaming work of other UN agencies, as well as advance women's

rights directly.  For this entity to function as a driving force

throughout the UN system, and for it to better address women's lives at

the country level, the Canadian Committee recommends that every UN

Country Team must include senior-level gender equality experts with

adequate resources and support who can lead the team's efforts to fulfil

and promote UN and government commitments to women's human rights.

A strong and well-resourced institutional accountability mechanism that

enables women's participation and addresses women's rights in the UN's

activities throughout the globe was one of the critical needs presented

to the Coherence Panel.

Groups noted, however, that the recommendations come at a difficult time

for women's groups in Canada. "The federal government has made very

different choices regarding women in Canada.  It has cut the operating

budget of Status of Women Canada, the lead agency for gender equality by

40% and prohibited groups from using federal funds to advocate for

gender equality goals," noted Charlotte Thibault with the Canadian

Feminist Alliance for International Action.

###

For more information, please contact:

Prabha Khosla, The Canadian Committee on Women and UN Reform 	Tel.:

(416) 925-7414

Charlotte Thibault, FAFIA

Tel.:	(514) 849-6957

Nancy Peckford, FAFIA

Cell.:	(613) 292-7941

The Canadian Committee on Women and UN Reform Action Canada for

Population and Development (ACPD) Association for Women's Rights in

Development (AWID Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

(CAEFS) Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA)

Canadian Women's Health Network (CWHN) City for All Women Initiative

(CAWI) Gays Lesbians of African Descent Grassroots Organizations

Operating Together In Sisterhood Gender Equality Incorporated Harmony

House - Ottawa Indigenous Women's Network Metropolitan Action Committee

on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) National Action

Committee on the Status of Women (NAC-CCA) North York Women's Centre

Older Women's Network Preston/Cherry Brook/Lake Loon/Westphal & Area

Chapter Congress of Black Women of Canada - Nova Scotia Rights &

Democracy Riverdale Immigrant Women's Centre -Toronto South Asian

Women's Centre - Toronto Sudbury Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (SSAC)

Temiksaming Native Women's Support Group The Women's Coordinating

Committee Chile-Canada - Toronto Toronto Women's Call to Action

Transition House Association of Nova Scotia Women and Environments

International Magazine -Editorial Board Women's Counselling Referral and

Education Centre Working Women Community Centre -Toronto Yellowknife

Women's Society Yukon Status of Women Council

NOTE: You can access The Canadian Committee on Women and the UN Reform

(Web site) at www.twca.ca