Honour killings: Law panel says no to death penalty #Vaw


Nov 27, 2012

  

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the latest case of alleged honour killing, the Law Commission has recommended making it a non-bailable offence but disagreed with Supreme Court’s suggestion that death sentence be applied to all such cases.

The Commission had also asked the government to explore the possibility of a new law to prohibit unlawful caste assemblies (like Khaps) which take decisions to condemn marriages not prohibited by law.

The Centre today said it was seriously considering a Constitution amendment to deal with honour killings, as it sought a report from the UP government on the murder of a man featured in Aamir Khan’s show on the problem.

The Centre, which had constituted a Group of Ministers on honour crimes, had earlier proposed making honour killings a separate offence under the IPC to bring clarity to law enforcement agencies.

“No person or any group shall assemble to condemn any marriage not prohibited by law, on the basis that it dishonoured the caste or community,” the report stated.

Representational Image. Reuters

“These offending acts which imperil the liberty of young persons marrying or intending to marry according to their wishes are being perpetrated in certain parts of the country and need to be effectively checked,” Commission chief Justice P V Reddi wrote to the Law Ministry before he demitted office recently.

The Cabinet has recently approved the setting up of a new Law Commission for a three-year period but its chairman and members have not yet been appointed.

Sources in the Law Ministry said, the August, 2012 report has been forwarded to the Home Ministry for further action.

The wife of 29-year-old Abdul Hakim, who was shot dead on Thursday last, yesterday alleged that her family members were behind the death of her husband.

According to the Hakim’s wife Mahvish, the victim was shot dead by her family members on November 22 after he had just entered a Bulandshahr village in Uttar Pradesh along with her and their two-year-old daughter.

Another proposal was to amend the Indian Evidence Act to put the burden of proof on the accused, which means khap panchayats and family members who perpetrated killings would have to prove their innocence.

The Commission, however, has rejected the government’s suggestion of defining honour killing as a specific offence in the Indian Penal Code (Section 300), stating that the existing provisions were sufficient.

It has also turned down the government’s view that onus of proving innocence in honour killings cases must be shifted on the accused.

The new law proposed by the Commission has defined three separate offences, with a maximum jail term of seven years for those found guilty of criminally intimidating married couples.

It has disagreed with the Supreme Court’s suggestion that death sentence be applied to all honour killing cases. “With great respect, we are constrained to say that such a blanket direction given by the Supreme Court making death sentence a rule in ‘honour killings’ cases, makes a departure from the principles firmly entrenched in our criminal jurisprudence by virtue of a series of decisions rendered by larger Benches of Supreme Court,” the Commission said.

It said that it is settled law that aggravating and mitigating circumstances should be weighed and it is only in very exceptional and rare cases, death sentence should be imposed.

Death sentence, in other words, is a last resort. Further, where there is more than one accused, the degree of participation and culpability may vary,” it added.

PTI

 

Not a Thackeray of hope Manohar Joshi will give up his Koh-i-noor


Published: Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012, 10:30 IST
By Sudhir Suryavanshi | Agency: DNA
Here’s perhaps why senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi is cagey over giving away 4.8 acre of the Kohinoor Mills land to build a memorial for Bal Thackeray: he stands to lose property worth over Rs2,500 crore.Countering the mounting demands that the mill plot be handed over for constructing a memorial for Thackeray, who died on November 17, an annoyed Joshi has insisted that such a memorial will come up only at Shivaji Park in Dadar, where the Shiv Sena chief used to address rallies, even going to the extent of threatening to take the law into his hands if the need arises. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has ruled out the possibility of constructing this memorial at Shivaji Park.

Vijay Kamble, senior Nationalist Congress Party leader, dubs Joshi’s threat shameful. “If he has any real affection for Balasaheb, Joshi should hand over his mill land without hesitation. He should not love property more than the legacy of Thackeray, who gave him everything — from anointing him the chief minister to making him the Lok Sabha speaker. Joshi is the only one who got the most and key positions by Sena. Even if Joshi gives 10 Kohinoor Mills plots for the memorial, they will not be enough to repay what he owes Balasaheb.”

A senior Sena corporator who is also the chairman of a committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation alleges that Joshi’s demand for a memorial at Shivaji Park is a diversionary tactic. “He was the first person to announce the construction of a memorial. He probably knew that Shiv Sainiks would ask the Kohinoor Mills premises for the memorial. That’s why he played such a gimmick. But people are not fools; they can see through his politics.”l Turn to p4

He adds that the party cannot afford to cheese off voters in Dadar by forcing the construction of the memorial at Shivaji Park.

“A majority of our candidates lost in the civic poll this year. Forcing a memorial at Shivaji Park will only alienate the vote bank more.”

Social commentator Arun Tikekar questions the haste behind the move to fix a spot for the memorial. “The residents are opposing it. It won’t be appropriate to build one at the mayor’s bungalow. Besides, such a decision should be taken jointly by the Thackerays and Joshi. A memorial for Balasaheb can be built anywhere in the city.”

Real estate experts point out that Kohinoor Mills is a prime property in Dadar. “It comprises commercial and residential buildings, which will be ready by 2013. It has 72 ultra-luxury flats, each measuring 3,500sqft. The Kohinoor Group, headed by Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh, has decided to sell each flat between Rs25 crore and Rs30crore. The aam aadmi cannot buy flats here; they will be sold only through invitations. These apartments are made for the uber-rich,” explains a realtor.

The buildings on the premises have not been sold as yet. “That’s why it’s the right time to build the memorial there, where we can have several guest houses and rooms to depict the life of Balasaheb. Also, Kohinoor Mills is close to Sena Bhavan and Shivaji Park,” argues Congress leader Rajendra Chaube.

Joshi was not available for his comments. His staff said he was away and had no idea when he’d be back.

#India- Shocking case of miscarriage of justice


Wanton Lawlessness, Outlook
The Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case of 1996 shows horrendous police culpability — if the court had not noticed the ‘casualness and slipshod approach’ of the police, three persons might have been wrongly executed by the state

Instances of miscarriage of justice are many in India. Sometimes, such instances arise due to gross negligence by the police in the investigation. Sometimes, due to wanton fabrication of evidence and violation of the legal procedures to be followed during the investigation.

Such instances continue to take place and even increase in number because of the lack of fear in the police officers that action might be taken against them for miscarriages of justice caused by negligence or mala fide actions or inaction.

There has been a worrisome increase in the number of such cases ever since terrorism made its appearance in the early 1980s.Calls for ruthless action against terrorists and zero tolerance of terrorism have unfortunately created an impression in the minds of sections of police officers that any methods are good methods for dealing with terrorists and terrorism. Political tolerance of the use of illegal methods in dealing with terrorists has added to the belief that the police can take liberties with the law and procedures while dealing with terrorism.

One has to be firm and ruthless under the law in dealing with terrorists, but one cannot go beyond the law in dealing with them. One has to use the might of the law against them, but one cannot use illegal methods and procedures during the investigation. Use of such methods and procedures prove counter-productive.

Since many of the acts of terrorism committed in India are by jihadis, innocent Muslims have often been the victims of mala fide investigation. Instead of controlling terrorism, it aggravates it by adding to the anger in the Muslim community against the police and other investigating agencies. It becomes a vicious circle. The more illegal the methods used by the police, the more the terrorism. The more the terrorism, the more illegal the methods used by the police.

A shocking instance of such wrongful action and miscarriage of justice has been brought to notice after 16 years by a Division Bench of Delhi consisting of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice G.P.Mittal. In a judgement delivered on November 22, 2012, it has acquitted two Kashmiri Muslim convicts who had been awarded death penalty by the trial court in a case relating to an explosion in the Lajpat Nagar Market of New Delhi in 1996 in which 13 persons were killed. Another convict’s sentence was reduced to life term.

It is a horrendous case because if the court had not noticed the wanton miscarriage of justice by the police, three persons might have been executed by the state on the basis of evidence of questionable value and authenticity. It was not a case of the police unconsciously using such evidence, but wantonly using such evidence in full knowledge of its lack of authenticity in order to obtain a conviction.

The judgement has said: “Police have not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case, test identification parade (TIP) was not conducted, statements of vital witnesses were not recorded. There was also absence of (police) daily diary entry in the case.” The court has observed that there was casualness in the investigation of the case.

While we have taken many steps to improve the quality of intelligence collection and physical security, we have not succeeded in improving the quality of investigation. This has had two results. Firstly, an increasing number of undetected cases. Secondly, instances of the use of wrongful methods and miscarriage of justice in cases which are claimed to have been successfully detected.

After the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, the government had set up the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to improve the quality of investigation. Despite this, the number of undetected cases has been increasing. This judgement has drawn our attention to a serious case of miscarriage of justice due to bad investigation in the year 1996– sixteen years later. One does not know how many more such instances remain unnoticed or undetected during the prosecution and trial.

It is important for the government to go into this and take corrective action to prevent a recurrence of such instances. There is a need to improve not only the quality of the investigation, but also the quality of the supervision over the investigation by senior officers.


B. Raman  is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter @SORBONNE75)

#India-Bt failure to hit cotton yield by 40%: Govt


Published: Monday, Nov 26, 2012, 5:48 IST
By Yogesh Pawar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

For the first time, Maharashtra has officially admitted that cotton yield is likely to reduce by nearly 40%. Bt cotton failure in more than 4 million hectares of land has reduced cotton yieldfrom 3.5 million quintal to 2.2 million quintal.

A report sent by the state agricultural department to the Centre states that the estimate of the net direct economic loss to cotton farmers in the state will be nearly Rs6,000 crore, whereas accumulated losses are likely to cross more than Rs20,000 crore due to a steep rise in cultivation costs.

Farmers and activists in the state’s cotton belt say the rise in the prices of Bt cotton seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and labour since last year has had a huge impact. “The agrarian crisis sweeping through the state due to Bt cotton failure has only widened. Unlike when cotton crop failure was reported only from Vidarbha and Marathawada, reports of such crop failure are now coming in from Khandesh in north Maharashtra, too,” said Kishore Tiwari of farm advocacy group Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti.

National Crime Records Bureau reveals that the number of farmer suicides in Maharashtra are likely to cross 5,000 this year in comparison to the 3,500 last year. The figures last year were, in fact, the highest among all states in India.

This is the third year in a row that Bt cotton failure is being reported in Mahahrashtra. Last year, the state paid Rs2,000 crore to 4 million cotton farmers as compensation. Unlike earlier when dry land farmers were affected, even areas with adequate irrigation are facing a crop loss this year.

Ravindra Shinde, a farmer from Dhamane village in Dhule, had taken a loan like several others, and is now worried about repaying it. “I spent Rs50,000 per hectare this year but Rs30,000 last year. Now with crops failing, I don’t know what to do?” he said.

According to state records, Maharashtra grows Bt cotton in 4.2 million hectares of land. This is the largest among all cotton-producing states. Even thenit has been reporting lowest cotton yield of about 5 quintal per hectare since 2006. The latest official estimate says this is likely to fall to 3 quintal per hectare. “This means a net loss of more than Rs38,000 per hectare!” points out Tiwari, who plans to lead debt-trapped farmers in march to the legislative council on December 11 during the winter session at Nagpur.

“We demand a compensation of Rs20,000 per hectare and fresh crop loans for every farmer for the ensuing kharif season. We also want food security and free health education, along with the implementation ofland development, soil enrichment and watershed development under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,” he said.

He appealed to the government not to mock the farmers. “We hope the state relief packages actually help farmers this time instead of just benefiting contractors, politicians and multinational agro majors like it has in the past.”

 

#India- Sonali Mukherjee Rises From The Ashes #Vaw #Acidattack


Rising from the ashes

Nov 24, 2012, Deccan Herald

SHEER GRIT

SonaLi Mukherjee, an acid attack victim who once wanted to end her life, is now awaiting facial reconstruction surgery. And with that a new life, says Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Sonali Mukherjee. Pic COURTESY WFS.

Pic- Kamayani Bali Mahabal

As I went to meet Dhanbad-based Sonali Mukherjee, who was visiting Mumbai to be in a special episode of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, various emotions raced through me. Then the door opened and a peppy voice broke through, “Didi aa jaye, aaj khana late ho gaya, aap bhi kha lo (I am having a late lunch, please join me).” I had heard about Sonali’s case. She had been subjected to an acid attack nine years ago when she was 17, but I had not expected this bright young woman who stood before me.

I smiled back and told her I will wait until she ate. As her father guided her into the room after lunch, I realised her eyesight loss was total. I hugged her before we began our conversation on the struggles of her life.

She started with an irony: It was her call for euthanasia that gave her a new lease of life. “Until July this year I was a victim. Now I am a survivor. My friends and family had abandoned me when I needed them most. But the media and people I didn’t even know came forward to help me live,” she said.

The Mumbai-based NGO, Beti, in association with a media group, has raised Rs 30 lakh as part of Project Hope, which aims to give Sonali a new identity with the help of facial reconstruction. The 22 surgeries will be carried out at the B L Kapur Super Specialty Hospital in Rajendra Place, New Delhi.

Clad in a white salwar kameez with a colourful collar — white is a favourite hue — she wore goggles before getting photographed. “I don’t want the world to see me this way because I hope to be like any other woman soon,” she said referring to her impending surgeries. She added, “Yeh aadhi adhorri zindagi aadhe chehre ke saath nahi jeeni hai mujhey (I don’t want to live half a life, with half a face).”

She grew up in Dhanbad, Jharkhand. History and Hindi had enthused her as a school student and the freedom movement and Indian scriptures inspired her. “I loved being a National Cadet Core (NCC) recruit,” she remarked. College followed. She opted for sociology and planned to pursue a PhD, and go into academics. She also enjoyed films and was a big fan of Aishwarya Rai and Shahrukh Khan. “I saw all their movies — loved dancing to Aishwarya’s numbers.”  She stopped here to poignantly remark that she hoped one day to re-gain her vision and watch films again.

Sonali, having experienced the horrific consequences of violence against women, had obviously thought deeply on the subject, “In India, women are advised to avoid sexual predators. But, think about it, society is directly responsible for the sexual harassment women face. Its patriarchal approach encourages men to ‘tease’ women, it’s seen as a ‘manly’ thing to do. In my case, we had complained to the parents about the behaviour of their children, but they did nothing.”

She also referred to the epics, “Take the Ramayana. You have Rama denouncing his pregnant wife and ordering her to spend her life in exile even though she had accompanied him to the jungle to share in his afflictions. Why did Ram ‘rescue’ Sita if he was going to subject her to an ‘agnipariksha’ (trial by fire)?”

Rewinding to the dreadful night on April 22, 2003, she revealed that the family was sleeping on the open terrace of their home, “Around 2.30 am I woke up with a sharp, burning sensation.” She felt her face, neck, right ear, the right part of her chest, and lower torso melt away. “Three men, who had been harassing me for weeks, had jumped over from the neighbour’s roof and doused me with acid. I suffered 70 per cent burns while my sister who lay nearby suffered 20 per cent burns,” she recalled.

The words she used were searing. “Us raat laga main maut ke aalingan main pighal gayi, zindagi mano thaher gayi, woh ek lamha zindagi aur maut ke beech atak gaya (that night I felt I was engulfed in the arms of death and life stood still; in that one moment I was stuck between life and death).”

It was a huge crisis for the family. Her father, Chandidas Mukherjee, employed with a private company, had to quit his job to be with her after the attack and the family shifted to their ancestral home in Kasmar, in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district. All the three youths involved in the attack were sentenced to nine years of imprisonment by the district court. They later managed to secure bail from the high court and began threatening the family.
A paltry sum of Rs 200 per month was made available to her from the government as a disability allowance. The entire sum went in medicines. The pain was overpowering. “For the first six months, I would scream in pain and sometimes fall unconscious. I would plead with God to kill me,” Sonali recalled.

She then decided to search for justice. “My father and I met the chief minister, all the legislators, NGOs. I even approached the National Commission for Women – after all, it was not just my case but that of hundreds of other women who face violence every day. The NCW gave me assurances, but apart from providing quotes to the media they did nothing. It was then that I decided to demand my right to die.”

Legally, there is no separate provision for acid attacks in the existing law. They are dealt with through Sections 320, 322, 325 and 326 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Of these only Section 326 refers to being attacked with a corrosive object but categorises it as ‘grievous hurt.’ Although this section allows punishment up to life imprisonment, most convicts get only a jail term of three to four years. Compensation, if ordered, is often paltry.

Says Sushma Varma of Campaign and Struggle Against Acid Attack on Women (CSAAAW), Bangalore, “CSAAW has documented around 75 cases from 1999 to 2012 in Karnataka. But there are many unreported cases. The National Crime Records Bureau cannot provide data because these attacks are not registered under a separate law or section. We want to stress that this is gendered sexual violence and needs to be recognised under a separate section of 326A.”

Shruti Pandey, a Delhi-based Human Rights lawyer, agrees that there is an urgent need to amend the IPC and Criminal Procedure Code to specifically recognise acid attacks as a crime. “But it must also be seen as a sexual offence. Most acid attacks are made on women and for sexual reasons. Equally importantly we need legal provisions for compensation and rehabilitation. There should be a dedicated fund set up for immediate and assured availability of monies for the survivor’s medical treatment as well as for their psycho-social support, reparation, and rehabilitation. Also, the trial needs to be fast-tracked keeping in view the severity of the crime,” states Pandey.

Sonali also believes that the sale, use and storage of acid should be strictly regulated. She wants women to step up their campaign against violence. “Campaigns like One Billion Rising (OBR) are important because they signal global solidarity on the issue. We need to come together beyond borders to battle such violence. Look what happened to Malala in Pakistan. But, apart from social campaigns, we also need justice delivery. Only then can we have a gender just society,” she said.

Two lines from a song penned by Kabir Suman, a Kolkata-based singer and political activist, expressed my thoughts as I emerged from my meeting with Sonali: ‘One day you will see the face, smiling in the mirror, Sonali/Till then this song remains, waiting in your favour…’

WFS

#India-20- year- old girl hacked to death on Hisar university campus #Vaw


B Tech student killed on Hisar university campus

By , TNN | Nov 27, 2012, 02.55 AM IST

B Tech student killed on Hisar university campus

HISAR: A 20-year-old college girl was hacked to death in full public view within the campus ofGuru Jambheshwar University of Science & Technology in Hisar on Monday afternoon.

Police said Geetika Mehta was murdered by another student identified as Pradeep Nain, 21, for rejecting his ‘friendship proposal’. The gory murder was witnessed by students of the university and shopkeepers who were sitting near where the girl was attacked. They caught Pradeep and handed him over to the police.

Police officials said that Pardeep attacked Geetika, a student of BTech (computer science) and resident of Faridabad, at around 5.24 pm right after the girl had stepped out of an ATM located within the campus. According to eyewitnesses, Pardeep, a BTech (mechanical) student and resident of Hisar, had a heated argument with Geetika for few minutes and then suddenly attacked her with an axe. The accused hit her once on the neck and twice on the head with the axe, said an official. The girl died while being taken to hospital.

Sources said Pardeep and Geetika were ‘friends’ but she had refused talking to him after his ‘proposal’. Pardeep was feeling dejected ever since and wanted to teach her a lesson, said officers who interrogated the accused. University proctor Rajesh Malhotra said, “Student sitting near the crime spot caught hold of the accused and handed him over to the police.”

Earlier on August 10, another girl student was stabbed to death at the same place on the campus by an outsider for rejecting the ‘friendship proposal’. Chetan Sheoran, 21, was arrested by the police for killing 18-year-old Varsha Yadav, who had also succumbed to her wounds before medical aid could reach her

 

#India- Kerala Shame- Father, Brother and Uncle rape Minor, arrested #Vaw #Torture


 

 

Father, brother, uncle rape minor, arrested in Kerala
PTI
Thalassery, November 27, 2012

The father, brother and an uncle of a 13 year-old girl from nearby Dharmadom in north Kerala’s Kannur district have been arrested for allegedly raping the minor for the past two years.

The shocking incident came to light two days ago when the 8th standard student of a local school  was seen crying and refused to go home even after school hours. When one of her teachers enquired, the petrified girl narrated her plight. The school authorities immediately informed the police and a complaint was registered.

The girl’s father, her 15-year-old brother and an uncle have been arrested, Thalassery Circle Inspector, MV Vinod Kumar, who is probing the case said.

The brother has been sent to juvenile home while the other two were produced in court and remanded to judicial custody.

The girl told police that she was sexually assaulted by the three since she was in her sixth standard.

According to Vinod Kumar, the victim has also told the police that her elder sister, who had committed suicide two years ago, had also been raped.

Meanwhile, Kerala Vanitha Commission chairperson, K Rosakutty told PTI that the incident was an ‘insult’ to Kerala’s conscience.

The Commission would be writing to chief minister and home minister demanding re-enquiry into the case of the suicide of the victim’s elder sister.

“This is a shocking case of two minor sisters being raped by family members. The elder sister, an 8th standard student, had committed suicide is the police version. But it needs to be probed as no proper inquiry was done then”, she said, adding, both the cases were related.

As uncertainty looms large about the victim’s future, the Commission was prepared to take her under its care, she said.

The victim has been presently housed at a home run by the Child Welfare committee. Efforts needs to be made to ensure that there were no interference in the case, she said.

Strongly condemning the incident, K Ajitha, president of “Anweshi”, a women’s organisation, said anti-rape case clinics needs to be set up in the state as early as possible.

 

The Imminent Death of Civil Nuclear Energy


Anamika Badal, dianuke.org

Some may consider that civilian nuclear energy programs are going great guns and will grow in future. They will not. In fact, its slow death is already on and will only accelerate in future. Let’s understand why.

 ————————————————–

The nuclear energy industry has had a charmed half century of existence.

What essentially started as military research for the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was subtly packaged into a benign energy source. At heart, the roots of nuclear energy are firmly linked to military use.

The cold war was an occasion which offered the nuclear energy industry the use of massive funds, research facilities, government grants (subsidies) and huge freedom to conduct more and more research into making more and more weapons.

Nuclear Energy was simply a byproduct of this military work.

Companies and governments worked overtime to create a veil of secrecy around atomic energy so that the common person would not be able to link the two. And to their credit, they succeeded for a large part. In the days before the advent of the internet, information was scarce and expensive to procure. People – by and large – tended to believe what the ‘scientists’ and the governments told them.

Essentially, they were sold two stories -

1) Nuclear industry means ‘national security’ and ‘national pride.’ Any opposition to nuclear automatically makes you an anti-national.

2) Nuclear Energy has no alternative because of its “cleanliness” and ability to deliver large amounts of power at cheap cost.

It is said that if a lie is told a thousand times, people start to believe that it is the truth.

Yet, it is also said that ‘You can fool some people all the time, you can fool all the people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’

The tipping point for the nuclear industry came after the end of the cold war. Contrary to what most people believe, Chernobyl had no effect on the growth of the nuclear energy business. After a tiny blip, the industry was back to it’s own self.

Anyway, concealment, fabrications, misrepresentation of facts, propaganda, censorship of news, strong arm tactics were all part of the overall cold war game.

The world knew that a huge nuclear accident had happened in Russia.

But beyond that, they had little more knowledge. The Russians painted a picture of “all-is-well“, while the West tried to malign Russian technology and safety. Neither really questioned nuclear energy as a whole.

Sure, there were enough independent researchers who risked life and limb to bring out the truth. But it was easy for the governments of those days to tackle these civilian groups – after all, government agencies were trained to play the big spy games – a bunch of civilians was a cakewalk for the masters.

The disguise continued unabated until the unexpected end of the cold war. The cold war meant that there was little need for military deterrence (?) The future wars would be fought on economic fronts and smart wars would take centre stage.

Tactical weapons, quick surgical strikes on specific small strategic targets did not require the kind of arsenal needed during the cold war days. It was no longer fashionable to parade the missiles and war heads on National days and gloat about technological prowess.

The new kind of weapons did not require as much of plutonium but needed a material that was far easier to procure – depleted uranium (DU).

DU is easily and openly available from nuclear reactors without the need for complex and expensive re processing technologies. The guided missiles tipped with DU are hundreds of times more powerful compared to ordinary bombs and can cause massive damage to over and underground structures. Because of the fact that they do not leave a huge visible impact (like that of an Atomic Bomb), people do not realize that effectively, a nuclear weapon has been used.

These missiles have been extensively used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While they have sometimes ensured that the targets are taken out, they are as deadly as a nuclear attack and leave behind vast amounts of radiation in the environment. People affected by DU develop the same conditions as those in Hiroshima or Nagasaki – the only difference being that of immediate visibility and localization.

The US and NATO troops have got away by using these weapons of tactical attack for many years now and the effects are showing up in the local population there – increased cancer, deformities, mutations and all the other radiation induced diseases are seen here. The soil and ground water is polluted with uranium and will continue to do so for many decades to come. The radiation has spread wider and entered the food chain and will continue to irradiate for a long time to come.

The West had found the ideal nuclear weapon which can be used easily – without any concern of accountability or justification needed  for a full blown nuclear attack.

The need to use nuclear energy and the spent fuel had diminished and the military had a far lesser interest in these reactors.

Almost at the same time, another and more significant revolution was taking place.

The information revolution.

Almost out of nowhere, the computers, satellite television, instant messengers and the internet were all over the world.

Nothing was hidden. Information previously restricted to libraries or locked away in forgotten cupboards was suddenly openly available.

Information flow meant that there were no longer any holy cows. Discussions happened over emails and internet, ideas exchanged and previous paradigms challenged.

When Data gets analyzed, it turns into Information.

The massive amount of data which was scattered all over the globe earlier was put together and analyzed. Cheaper but more powerful computers allowed this massive data to be analyzed on desktop computers without the need for super computers.

What emerged was the naked truth.

Atomic and nuclear science is no more (or less) mysterious or complex than any other science. The sheer eliteness of being part of a select “nuclear club” was shown to be hollow. The cost of nuclear energy in purely financial terms was proven to be the highest, the enormous social damage, the horrible medical conditions and the silent environmental destruction were proven – with irrefutable data.

Troubles, they say, come in multiples.

More was to follow.

With no place to hide, the nuclear industry was hit by developments in renewable energies which took off at a massive scale resulting in prices crashing beyond imagination. A new, safe and cost effective option arose for which the nuclear industry was totally unprepared – literally caught with its pants down!

With no business model to survive, shrinking patronage from the defence and government ministries, Fukushima was the final nail in the coffin. In plain, open view, the incident shamed the industry  badly and showed the world that the civilian nuclear operators were leagues ahead of Big Oil and Tobacco when it came to blatant lies and endangering lives for maximizing own profits. Safety and ethics be damned.

In the end, the nuclear industry has only itself to be blamed for its decimation. Nobody – except probably its own nuclear village fraternity – will shed any tears on its death.

It is one death which does not merit a RIP.

 

#India – Women unsafe in literate Kerala #Shame #Vaw


Sunanda Pushkar, you are not alone!

O. J. JOYCEE, The Hindu

The experience of Ms. Sunanda Pushkar at Cochin airport might have shocked the nation and triggered a hurricane of discussion on the harassment of the celebrity. But I do not think that most women in Kerala will be startled by the episode, for this is a routine treatment meted out to them in their daily life, especially while commuting by public transport, particularly in private buses. Frustration, anger, fury, repulsion, nausea and a whole parameter of emotions have been expressed by women in Kerala, who are generally known to be intelligent, educated and practical. But no serious action has been taken against the miscreants, for one reason or the other.

The situation was no different 25 years ago, when I joined a college in Kerala for a PG course. The weekend trip home, 28 km away from the hostel, was a nightmare. Thanks to the reduced fare for students, the buses plying on the route will not stop at the designated stop when the crew see students on the wait. And so we have to run for some distance behind the bus. If you are fortunate enough to race and catch the bus, there is another obstacle waiting right on the footboard — the doorkeeper, a being created exclusively for buses in God’s own country. This being has no female equivalent, or at least I have not seen one, and is aptly christened, kili in Malayalam or ‘bird,’ apt for the whistle he blows in anticipation of a stop, or as and when he likes; it can also signify a lot of other stuff that blossoms in his weird imagination at the sight of a skirt, sari or churidhar or even a frock. This being will not get off the footboard but will stand back a wee bit, very reluctantly, and savour the moment as women are forced to brush past him as they board the bus.

No, no that’s not the end. Inside the bus, you encounter another creature, the conductor. This man will not receive the money from your hand: instead, he will take it, nay, squeeze it out of your hand, and return any change in the same way, with a double squeeze. Still not the end. Even if there is not even an inch of space inside the bus, he will scream at every stop, “Get back there. There is enough room to play football.”

If you are the obedient kind and make your way back, you have had it. There are many wolves waiting there hungrily for you. They will pinch you here, there and everywhere, till you scream in pain. Remember, you have to scream in Malayalam, “Aiiiyyyyoooooo” and not in English, “Ouch!” because men in Kerala are proud of their language and culture!

One wonders what pleasure is derived from pinching others. In all probability, these masochists are those who strongly advocate sari. A Malayalam beauty should be wrapped up in the five-and-a-half-yard material. And that is the last outfit you should opt for the Battle in the Bus. In the course of the bus ride, as the vehicle picks up speed, be prepared for when the jarring sudden brakes throw your body forward, the wolves in the back will be on your back, and the sudden release of the brake will boomerang you back.

If you are a novice, by this time you, your sari, bag, footwear, and all other paraphernalia will be in a state of hotchpotch. In brief, for an average Kerala woman, commuting by bus is a painful ordeal.

Voyeurism of all kinds is rampant in literate Kerala. You will be unabashedly ogled and stared at. It is as if scopophilia is the birthright of the male. Use of foul language and abusive remarks are generally swept aside and condoned as comparatively harmless. But what has astounded me the most is the passivity of the average Kerala woman. And if there is somebody who has summoned up the courage to protest, she will find herself a lone diminutive David against Goliath, the sarcastic crowd. Frustration, anger and fury are not going to solve the problem. Passivity amounts to indifference and evasiveness. Ensuring safe use of public transport by women must be a priority of the State. The privacy of complainants should be protected. What is most important is a general change in the attitude of society that should be more supportive and respectful of women.

(The writer’s email is: joyceejames@gmail.com)

Oklahoma Judge sentences youth in drunk driving to 10 years church attendance #wtfnews


 

By 
Published: November 21, 2012

Initially there was little outcry in Muskogee, Oklahoma., last week when a judge, as a condition of a youth’s probation for a driving-related manslaughter conviction, sentenced him to attend church regularly for 10 years.

James Gibbard for The New York Times

Judge Mike Norman, in his Muskogee courtroom, seemed surprised by the scrutiny. “I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that,” he said.

The judge, Mike Norman, 67, had sentenced people to church before, though never for such a serious crime.

But as word of the ruling spread in state and national legal circles, constitutional experts condemned it as a flagrant violation of the separation of church and state.

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union said it would file a complaint against Judge Norman with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, an agency that investigates judicial misconduct, seeking an official reprimand or other sanctions.

“We see a judge who has shown disregard for the First Amendment of the Constitution in his rulings,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the civil liberties union branch in Oklahoma.

The 17-year-old defendant, Tyler Alred, was prosecuted as a youthful offender, giving the judge more discretion than in an adult case. Mr. Alred pleaded guilty to manslaughter for an accident last year, when he ran his car into a tree and a 16-year-old passenger was killed.

Although his alcohol level tested below the legal limit, because he was under age he was legally considered to be under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Alred told the court that he was happy to agree to church attendance and other mandates — including that he finish high school and train as a welder, and shun alcohol, drugs and tobacco for a year. By doing so, he is avoiding a 10-year prison sentence and has a chance to make a fresh start.

But his acquiescence does not change the law, Mr. Kiesel and others pointed out. “Alternative sentencing is something that should be encouraged, but there are many options that don’t violate the Constitution,” Mr. Kiesel said. “A choice of going to prison or to church — that is precisely the type of coercion that the First Amendment seeks to prevent.”

Mr. Alred and his family already attend a church, although Judge Norman said in an interview that he had not known that when he ruled.

The judge said he was surprised at the criticism. “I feel like church is important,” he said. “I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that.”

He added, “I am satisfied that both the families in this case think we’ve made the right decision,” and noted that the dead boy’s father had tearfully hugged Mr. Alred in the courtroom. If Mr. Alred stops attending church or violates any other terms of his probation, Judge Norman said, he will send him to prison.

As for the constitutionality of his ruling, Judge Norman said, “I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another.”

Judge Norman did not specify which religious denomination Mr. Alred must follow. But he also said: “I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day.”

Randall T. Coyne, a professor of criminal law at the University of Oklahoma, agreed that the judge’s church requirement was unconstitutional. But unless the defendant fights the ruling, he said, civil liberties advocates have no way to challenge it in court, leaving the complaint to the judicial review agency as their only option.

Over the years, several judges around the country have mandated church attendance as part of sentences, sometimes stirring criticism. In the early 1990s in Louisiana, Judge Thomas P. Quirk ordered hundreds of defendants in traffic and misdemeanor cases to attend church once a week for a year. The judge said that he had imposed the condition only on people who agreed to it, and that it provided a good alternative to sending defendants to overcrowded jails or imposing fines they could not afford.

The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana found that Judge Quirk had engaged in knowing violations of the Constitution and recommended that he be suspended without pay for 12 months. But the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that while the judge might have erred, he did not engage in “judicial misconduct,” and it rescinded the sanctions.

In 2011, the city of Bay Minette, Ala., required first-time misdemeanor offenders to choose between doing jail time and attending church weekly for a year. The city dropped the program after the American Civil Liberties Union called it unconstitutional.