Irish rape victim tries to take her own life in India #Vaw


Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India. The woman's death sparked a wave of protests like this one
Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India. The woman‘s death sparked a wave of protests like this one

LUKE BYRNE – 09 JUNE 2013

AN Irish woman, who was allegedly raped by a businessman while working for an aid agency in India, has attempted to take her own life.

It is understood that the 21-year-old woman took a mixture of sleeping pills, painkillers and other drugs.

She was discovered unconscious in her hotel room yesterday by a fellow Irish national who was staying at the same complex.

Sudeshna Lahiri, deputy director of the Calcutta Medical Research Institute, told reporters that the medicines were pumped from the woman’s stomach.

She is expected to make a full recovery.

The woman has claimed she was sexually assaulted after accompanying a man to his home in the Kalighat area of Kolkata on June 1.

She had been celebrating her 21st birthday with friends earlier that night.

Last December, a 23-year-old Indian woman was gang-raped on a bus that was being driven through New Delhi. She died from her injuries two weeks later. The case sparked mass protests and calls for tougher action to combat sex crimes against women.

In March, a 39-year-old Swiss woman was gang-raped as she camped in a remote forest in central India with her boyfriend, while that same month, a 31-year-old British woman was forced to leap from a second-floor hotel balcony to escape an attacker in the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

The attacks have led to a sharp fall in tourist numbers to India, especially among women. The number of foreigners visiting India is reported to be down 25pc, with the number of women travellers down 35pc.

 

source- http://www.independent.ie

 

Press Release- Documentary film ‘Factories of Death and Despair”



Lucknow, 9 June.  A special screening and release function of ‘Factories of Death and Despair’ – the first documentary film presented by Arvind Memorial Trust was held here today at the UP Press Club.

The film, produced by the audio-visual division of the Trust Human Landscape Productions is focussed on frequent accidents and horrific working conditions in the thousands of factories in the national capital region. The film shows the sprawling industrial areas adjacent to the shining posh locales of national capital where workers still toil in conditions as horrible as 100 years ago. Millions of workers in order to survive work daily under the shadow of death. Safety precautions are thrown to the wind in pursuit of quick profits. Accidents happen, people are killed or maimed, but things go on unchanged behind a cold veil of silence.

The film also shows how a nexus of police, factory owners and politicians suppresses all mention of the deaths after an accident. It also reveals the flaws in compensation laws and how the workers and their families are denied fair compensation by corrupt union leaders, touts and labour officers.

Senior poet and filmmaker Naresh Saxena who presided over the function said while releasing the film that the subject of the film has become even more relevant in the backdrop of increasing industrial mishaps in the recent past. He said the audio-visual medium has become very important today to reach out to the vast masses and educate them about their rights.

The director of the film Charu Chandra Pathak shared his experiences while making the film. He said he plans to take this film to the industrial areas and workers colonies to show it to its real audiences.

On this occasion, Satyam of the Arvind Memorial Trust said that the Trust has organised its audio-visual division named Human Landscape Productions which will produce documentaries on the life and struggles of working people and common masses, mass movements and social-political issues and feature films. It has already completed the production of its first documentary film. The Trust plans to establish a fully equipped film editing and audio recording studio. The audiovisual division of the Trust is also working for audio-visual documentation of various social-political mass movements and important events. It is making a collection of world famous revolutionary and progressive films, arrange for their sub-titling and dubbing in Hindi and organise regular shows and discussions on them in different cities.

Well known poet Katyayani said that an alternative peoples media is the need of the hour and audio-visual and new media have become very important. This division of the Trust will also produce CDs and DVDs of revolutionary music and compositions. It will also organise workshops and trainings on various aspects of digital film technique and animation etc. All these projects are being implemented without taking any kind of institutional grants and solely on the basis of contributions collected from the public.

The cultural troupe of ‘Pratyush’ presented a song ‘Zindagi ne ek din kaha ki tum lado…’ at the start of the program. Age number of media persons, writers, intellectuals, social and cultural activists and students were present on this occasion. A discussion on  various aspects of the film followed the film show .

(Meenakshy)

Managing Trustee

Arvind Memorial Trust

 Phone: 8853093555/9936650658, Email: info@arvindtrust.org

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विकास की चकाचौंध के पीछे मज़दूरों के जीवन के नारकीय सच को सामने लाती है ‘मौत और मायूसी के कारख़ाने’ 
औद्योगिक दुर्घटनाओं पर डॉक्युमेंट्री फिल्म का प्रथम प्रदर्शन
लखनऊ, 9 जून। अरविन्द स्मृति न्यास द्वारा प्रस्तुत पहली डॉक्युरमेंट्री फिल्म ‘मौत और मायूसी के कारख़ाने को आज यहाँ एक कार्यक्रम में जारी किया गया।
न्यास के दृश्य-श्रव्य प्रभाग ‘ह्यूमन लैंडस्केप प्रोडक्शन्स द्वारा निर्मित यह फिल्म राष्ट्रीय राजधानी क्षेत्र के कारख़ानों में आये दिन होने वाली दुर्घटनाओं और औद्योगिक मज़दूरों की नारकीय कार्य-स्थितियों पर केन्द्रित है। फिल्म दिखाती है कि किस तरह राजधानी के चमचमाते इलाक़ों के अगल-बगल ऐसे औद्योगिक क्षेत्र मौजूद हैं जहाँ मज़दूर आज भी सौ साल पहले जैसे हालात में काम कर रहे हैं। लाखों-लाख मज़दूर बस दो वक़्त की रोटी के लिए रोज़ मौत के साये में काम करते हैं। सुरक्षा इंतज़ामों को ताक पर धरकर काम कराने के कारण आये दिन दुर्घटनाएं होती रहती हैं और लोग मरते रहते हैं, मगर ख़ामोशी के एक सर्द पर्दे के पीछे सबकुछ यूँ ही चलता रहता है, बदस्तूर।
फिल्म में यह भी अत्यंत प्रभावशाली ढंग से दिखाया गया है कि किस तरह दुर्घटनाओं के बाद पुलिस, फैक्ट्री मालिक और राजनीतिज्ञों के गंठजोड़ से मौतों को दबा दिया जाता है। मज़दूर या उसके परिवार को दुर्घटना के मुआवज़े से भी वंचित रखने में श्रम कानूनों की खामियों और दलालों और भ्रष्ट अफसरों की तिकड़मों को भी इसमें उजागर किया गया है।
कार्यक्रम की अध्यक्षता कर रहे वरिष्ठ साहित्यकार श्री नरेश सक्सेना ने फिल्म जारी करते हुए कहा कि पिछले कुछ समय के दौरान बढ़ते औद्योगिक हादसों की पृष्ठभूमि में इस फिल्म की प्रासंगिकता और अधिक बढ़ गई है। उन्होंने कहा कि आज के दौर में व्यापक आबादी तक अपनी बात पहुंचाने और उन्हें अधिकारों के बारे में जागरूक बनाने में दृश्य-श्रव्य माध्यम की भूमिका काफी महत्वपूर्ण है और इस दिशा में यह परियोजना एक जरूरी कदम है।
इस अवसर पर फिल्म के निर्देशक चारु चन्द्र पाठक ने फिल्म बनाने के दौरान अपने अनुभवों को साझा करते हुए बताया कि औद्योगिक मज़दूरों के काम के हालात और नारकीय जीवन स्थितियों को नज़दीक से देखने के बाद उन्होंने तय किया कि ग्लैमर और शोहरत की फिल्मी दुनिया में जगह बनाने की कोशिश करने के बजाय वे इस कला का इस्तेमाल उन तबकों के जीवन को सच्चाई को सामने लाने में करेंगे जो इस देश के विकास की नींव होने के बावजूद मीडिया की नजरों से दूर हैं। उन्होंने बताया कि वे इस फिल्म को मज़दूर बस्तियों और कारखाना इलाकों में लेकर जाएंगे क्योंकि वही इसके असली दर्शक हैं।
अरविन्द स्मृति न्यास की ओर से सत्यम ने बताया कि न्यास ने मज़दूरों के जीवन और संघर्ष, आम जनजीवन, जनान्दोलनों और सामाजिक-राजनीतिक मुद्दों पर डॉक्युमेंट्री और फीचर फिल्मों के निर्माण के लिए अपना दृश्य-श्रव्य प्रभाग ‘ह्यूमन लैण्डस्केप प्रोडक्शन्स’ नाम से संगठित किया है। न्यास का दृश्य-श्रव्य प्रभाग विभिन्न जनान्दोलनों और महत्वपूर्ण घटनाओं के दृश्य-श्रव्य अभिलेखन (आडियो-विज़ुअल डाक्युमेण्टेशन) का काम भी कर रहा है। यह विश्वप्रसिद्ध क्रान्तिकारी, प्रगतिशील फ़िल्मों का संग्रह तैयार कर रहा है जिनकी उनकी हिन्दी में सबटाइटलिंग और डबिंग का प्रबन्ध किया जा रहा है। जल्दी ही अलग-अलग शहरों में ऐसी फिल्मों का नियमित प्रदर्शन एवं उन पर परिचर्चा आयोजित की जायेंगी।
कार्यक्रम का संचालन कर रही कात्यायनी ने बताया कि जनता का वैकल्पिक मीडिया खड़ा करना आज बेहद जरूरी है और आडियो-विजुअल माध्यम तथा इंटरनेट आदि का उपयोग इसमें बहुत महत्व रखते हैं। उन्होंने बताया कि न्यास का यह प्रभाग क्रान्तिकारी गीतों और संगीत रचनाओं की सीडी-डीवीडी भी तैयार करेगा। समय-समय पर इसके द्वारा डिजिटल फ़िल्म तकनीक के विभिन्न पक्षों और डाक्युमेंट्री निर्माण, एनिमेशन आदि पर कार्यशालाएँ भी आयोजित की जायेंगी। ये सभी काम किसी प्रकार के संस्थागत अनुदान लिए बिना जनता से जुटाए गए संसाधनों के बूते किए जा रहे हैं। इस वजह से इनमें देर भले ही हो लेकिन ये किसी दबाव से मुक्त होकर पूरे किए जाएंगे।
दिवंगत सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता एवं बुद्धिजीवी अरविन्द के चित्र पर उनकी जीवन साथी तथा अरविन्द स्मृति न्यास की मुख्य न्यासी मीनाक्षी द्वारा माल्यार्पण से कार्यक्रम की शुरुआत हुई। इस अवसर पर ‘प्रत्यूष की ओर से ‘जिन्दगी ने एक दिन कहा कि तुम लड़ो…’ गीत प्रस्तुत किया गया। कार्यक्रम में बड़ी संख्या में पत्रकारों, लेखकों, बुद्धिजीवियों, सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं, संस्कृति कर्मियों तथा छात्रों ने भाग लिया। फिल्म प्रदर्शन के बाद उसके विभिन्न पहलुओं पर दर्शकों के साथ चर्चा भी हुई।

(मीनाक्षी )
मुख्य न्यासी
अरविन्द स्मृति न्यास

फोनः 8853093555/9936650658 ईमेलः info@arvindtrust.org

 

Bauxite mining: Tribal ministry objects to Odisha’s move against SC order


Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneswar, June 09, 2013

The Union ministry of tribal affairs (MoTA) has objected to the Odisha government’s decision to hold gram sabhas in only 12 villages of Niyamgiri hill slopes to decide the fate of bauxite mining for Vedanta Group’s alumina plant.

In a letter to Odisha chief secretary BK Patnaik on Friday, the union ministry secretary Vibha Puri Das has written that limiting gram sabha meetings is not in accordance with the Supreme Court order.

She has asked the state government to arrive at the exact number of villages where gram sabha was to be conducted as per the direction laid down by the union ministry.

 

Das said: “The list of villages where rights of the forest dwellers are guaranteed under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) or where cultural and religious rights are likely to be affected cannot be arbitrarily decided by the state government. It is to be decided by the people, i.e. palli sabha, where claims would be filed through a transparent manner so that no genuine gram sabha which have a legitimate claim is left out of the process.”

She said the Supreme Court judgment on April 18 was the only judgment that assumed finality and not subject to or to be read in reference to earlier orders, affidavits filed, argument or submission made. “The apex court has not alluded to or limited the application of FRA in the project areas to any specific number of villages under any paragraph of its order,” she said, adding that any interpretation of the order to the contrary would be incorrect.

On June 1, Patnaik had written to Das justifying the selection of the villages for gram sabha saying the Odisha government had filed an affidavit before the apex court in this regard. “At the time of filing of claims relating to 12 villages which are on the slopes of Niyamgiri hill and during subsequent deliberation, neither the Union ministry of environment and forest nor the ministry of tribal affairs had raised any issue before the apex court regarding coverage of villages over and above the 12 hill slope villages,” he had said.

The Supreme Court in its order had said the decision of gram sabhas of Kalahandi and Rayagada district was crucial on the issue of whether mining should be allowed in the hill – home to nearly 10,000 endangered Dangria Kondh tribals, portrayed in western media as Na’vi from Hollywood blockbuster Avatar.

On May 27, the Odisha government had issued notices to the collectors of the two districts to call gram sabha meetings in five villages of Kalahandi and seven villages of Rayagada and complete the process within three months as stipulated by the Supreme Court.

Social activist Prafulla Samantara, an intervener in the case, had opposed the state government’s move saying selection of just 12 out of more than 100 villages thereby keeping away a large number of Dongria, Kutia and Jharnia Kondh tribals was against the judgment of the apex court.

The proposed mining in Niyamgiri hill is vital for the Vedanta Group, which has signed an MoU with the Odisha government in 2004. The MoU includes supply of 78 million tonnes of bauxite by the state owned Odisha Mining Corporation to the alumina refinery from Niyamgiri hill to its alumina plant adjacent to it in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi, about 550 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.

But the OMC has not been able to mine the hill due to stiff protest from the tribals who revered the hill as their god ‘Niyamraja’ and problems in getting clearance from the Union ministry for environment and forest. Denied clearance by the ministry in 2011, the OMC had moved the Supreme Court, while Vedanta had shut down its refinery on December 6 last year due to lack of bauxite.

 

San Onofre is Dead and So Is Nuclear Power


The sun sets on San Onofre. (Photo: dolanh/cc/flickr)From his California beach house at San Clemente, Richard Nixon once watched three reactors rise at nearby San Onofre. As of June 7, 2013, all three are permanently shut.

It’s a monumental victory for grassroots activism. it marks an epic transition in how we get our energy.

In the thick of the 1970s Arab oil embargo, Nixon said there’d be 1000 such reactors in the US by the year 2000.

As of today, there are 100.

Four have shut here this year. Citizen activism has put the “nuclear renaissance” into full retreat.

Just two of 54 reactors now operate in Japan, where Fukushima has joined Chernobyl and Three Mile Island in permanently scarring us all.

Germany is shutting its entire fleet and switching to renewables. France, once the poster child for the global reactor industry, is following suit. South Korea has just shut three due to fraudulent safety procedures. Massive demonstrations rage against reactors being built in India. Only the Koreans, Chinese and Russians remain at all serious about pushing ahead with this tragic technology.

Cheap gas has undercut the short-term market for expensive electricity generated by obsolete coal and nuke burners. But the vision of Solartopia—a totally green-powered Earth—is now our tangible long-term reality.

With falling prices and soaring efficiency, every moving electron our species consumes will be generated by a solar panel, wind turbine, bio-fueled or geothermal generator, wave machine and their green siblings.

As of early this year, Southern California Edison’s path to a re-start at San Onofre seemed as clear as any to be expected by a traditional atomic tyrannosaur.

But with help from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator-to-be Ed Markey (D-MA), a powerful citizen uprising stopped it dead.

So did the terrifying incompetence and greed that has defined the nuclear industry from the days of Nixon and before.

San Onofre Unit One shut in the 1990s due largely to steam generator problems.

In the early 2000s, Units 2 & 3 needed new steam generators of their own. In the usual grasp for more profits, Edison chose untested, unlicensed new designs.

But they failed. And the whole world was watching. In the wake of Fukushima, two more leaky tsunami-zone reactors surrounded by earthquake faults were massively unwelcome.

So a well-organized non-violent core of local, state and national activists and organizations rose up to stop the madness.

At Vermont Yankee, Indian Point, Seabrook, Davis-Besse and dozens of other reactors around the US and world, parallel opposition is escalating.

Make no mistake—this double victory at San Onofre is a falling domino. Had the public not fought back, those reactors would have been “fixed” at public expense.

Today, they are dead.

Worldwide, there are some 400 to go. Each of them—including the 100 remaining in the US—could do apocalyptic damage. We still have our work cut out for us.

But a huge double-step has been taken up the road to Solartopia.

There will be no Fukushimas at San Onofre.

A green-powered Earth is that much closer.

And we have yet another proof that citizen action makes all the difference in our world.

So seize the day and celebrate!!!

Harvey Wasserman

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits www.nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US and Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth are atwww.harveywasserman.com along with Passions of the PotSmoking Patriots by “Thomas Paine.”  He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election, atwww.freepress.org.

America’s Secret Fukushima Poisoning the Bread Basket of the World


Wednesday, 05 June 2013  By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese,
Truthout | News Analysis

United Nuclear's uranium mine and mill within the Navajo Nation in Church Rock, New Mexico.United Nuclear’s uranium mine and mill within the Navajo Nation in Church Rock, New Mexico. (Photo: EPA)Early in the morning of July 16, 1979, a 20-foot section of the earthen dam blocking the waste pool for the Church Rock Uranium Mill in New Mexico caved in and released 95 million gallons of highly acidic fluid containing 1,100 tons of radioactive material. The fluid and waste flowed into the nearby Puerco River, traveling 80 miles downstream, leaving toxic puddles and backing up local sewers along the way.

Although this release of radiation, thought to be the largest in US history, occurred less than four months after the Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown, the Church Rock spill received little media attention. In contrast, the Three Mile Island accident made the headlines. And when the residents of Church Rock asked their governor to declare their community a disaster area so they could get recovery assistance, he refused.

What was the difference between the Church Rock spill and the Three Mile Island partial meltdown? Church Rock is situated in the Navajo Nation, one of the areas in the US sacrificed to supply uranium for the Cold War and for nuclear power plants. That area and many others in the Navajo Nation are contaminated to this day. Another sacrifice area is the Great Sioux Nation, a region in the western part of the country comprising parts of 5 states, where thousands of open uranium mine pits continue to release radiation and heavy metals into the air, land and water.

This poisoning of the people in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations has been going on for decades and has had serious effects on their health. Even today, it is unknown what the full effects are and what the impact is on the rest of the nation and world because the contaminated air and water are not limited by borders.

Most Americans are unaware of the story of uranium mining on tribal lands because it is a difficult story to accept. It is a story that includes the long history of human rights abuses by the United States against native indians and recognition of the full costs of nuclear energy – two stories the government and big energy have suppressed.

Many people think of nuclear power as a clean source of energy. It has been promoted as part of the transition from fossil fuels. But the reality is that nuclear power comes at a heavy price to the health of people and the planet. Like other forms of extractive energy such as coal, oil and gas, uranium needs to stay in the ground. Radiation and heavy metal poisonings are a hidden environmental catastrophe that is ongoing and must be addressed. But rather than studying the health effects and cleaning up the environment, private corporations are pushing once again to lift the ban on uranium mining.

Is Uranium Mining Poisoning the Bread Basket of America?

Thousands of open uranium mines first excavated in the 1950s continue to release radiation today.  There have been inadequate assessments of the extent of contamination, but limited measurements done to date show ongoing leaks many times larger than the leakage from Fukushima. How did we get here?

After WWII, the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was created so that the United States could obtain uranium for weapons production domestically. The AEC guaranteed that it would purchase all uranium that was mined. A uranium boom ensued.

It is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of uranium in the United States is located on tribal land, particularly in the lands of the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations. Private corporations jumped in to mine these areas and, in parts of South Dakota, individuals started mining for uranium on their private lands unaware of the dangers.

Private corporations have set up thousands of underground and open pit uranium mines on tribal lands and hired local native Indians at low wages. Other than jobs, the uranium mines brought little benefit to these nations because the lands were given to non-Indian companies such as Kerr-McGee, Atlantic Richfield, Exxon and Mobil. Native Indians had little control over what took place.

Two Acts in the 19th century took the rights of self-determination away from the native population. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 allocated money to move Native Indians onto reservations, ostensibly to protect them from white settlers but more likely to give settlers access to natural resources. The reservations are also known as prisoner of war camps. In fact, the reservation in Pine Ridge, SD is registered as POW Camp 344.

A second Indian Appropriations Act in 1871 changed the legal status of Native Indians to wards of the Federal government, stripping them of recognition as sovereign nations and the right to make treaties. In order to make contracts for uranium mining on tribal lands, the Bureau of Indian Affairs created Tribal Councils to conduct negotiations. But the resulting contracts were not made in the best interests of the tribes.

The Native Indians who worked in these mines were not protected from exposure to radiation, nor were they adequately warned about the dangers. Though it was clear that radiation exposure was linked to cancer in the early 1950s, around the same time that the US Public Health Service also started studying the health of uranium miners, it was not until 1959 that lung cancer was mentioned as a risk in pamphlets given to the workers.  In an unpublished doctoral dissertation, A.B. Hungate writes that the reasons for this are: “The government had two interests. First, it needed a steady supply of domestic uranium, and it felt that warning the workers of the hazards would result in the loss of the workforce. Secondly, it wanted an epidemiological testing program to study the long-term health effects of radiation.”

Don Yellowman, president of the Forgotten Navajo People, described the extent of exposure to radiation and toxic metals. Native Indian miners would drink radioactive water that contained heavy metals dripping off of the walls deep in the mines. Some of the miners had to travel long distances to the mines, so their families would come with them. Children would play in the area around the mine, and family members would prepare and eat meals there. Other reports state that workers, primarily nonwhites, were ordered into the mines shortly after explosions were set off to gather up rocks and bring them out for processing. Also, miners would go home at night covered in toxic radioactive dust, exposing their families to health risks.

Uranium mining started in South Dakota on land included in the original treaties with the Great Sioux Nation in the 1960 and ’70s. The Sioux were not included in negotiations for the mining and are still refusing to settle with the US government over land in the Black Hills that was mined. During the boom, the land was mined without regard for contamination as “large mining companies [were literally] pushing off the tops of bluffs and buttes.”

A few decades after uranium mining began in the Navajo Nation, increased numbers of cancer cases, lung cancer in particular, began to show up in the miners. A 2008 literature review  in New Mexico found that the “Risk of lung cancer among male Navajo uranium miners was 28 times higher than in Navajo men who never mined, and two-thirds of all new lung cancer cases in Navajo men between 1969 and 1993 was attributable to a single exposure – underground uranium mining. Through 1990, death rates among Navajo uranium miners were 3.3 times greater than the US average for lung cancer and 2.5 times greater for pneumoconioses and silicosis.”

Though the health effects of radiation exposure were known, it took decades before steps were taken to protect workers. The mines were operated under lax laws established in the 1872 Mining Act. Health and safety regulations for the mines, such as requirements for ventilation, were not passed in Congress until the late 1960s. But even once they were law, the regulations were not enforced.

Beginning in the 1970s, miners and their families began to pursue legal solutions through the courts and Congress so they could be compensated for the effects of their radiation exposure. Many court cases failed, and Native Indians were excluded from hearings in Congress on miner safety. Finally, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) passed Congress in 1990.

RECA is desperately inadequate and restrictive. Until 2000, RECA only covered miners, not mill workers, and it does not cover families and others who lived near the mines. It also requires a very strict application process that is impossible for some to complete. A summary of RECA by academics Brugge and Goble states: “We believe that it is not possible to simultaneously apologize, set highly stringent criteria and place the burden of proof on the victims, as did the 1990 RECA.”

Uranium Mine Pits Continue to Leak Radiation Today

Radiation and heavy metals from uranium mines continue to pollute the land, air and water today and very little action is being taken to stop it.

In the upper great plain states of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, there are 2,885 abandoned uranium mines that are all open pits within territory that is supposed to be for the absolute use of the Great Sioux Nation under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the United States. These open mines continue to emit radiation and pollutants that are poisoning the local communities.

According to a report by Earthworks, “Mining not only exposes uranium to the atmosphere, where it becomes reactive, but releases other radioactive elements such as thorium and radium and toxic heavy metals including arsenic, selenium, mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these radioactive elements can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects.”

There are currently 1200 abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation and 500 of them require reclamation. The greatest amount of radioactive contamination on Navajo land comes from solid waste called “tailings,” which sits in large open piles, some as tall as 70 feet high, and was incorporated into materials used to build homes. Dust from these piles of waste blows throughout the land causing widespread contamination.

2008 study found that “mills and tailings disposal sites caused extensive groundwater contamination by radium, uranium, various trace metals and dissolved solids. One estimate is that 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater (or enough to fill Elephant Butte Reservoir more than twice) have been contaminated in the Ambrosia Lake-Milan area from historic mine and mill discharges, and less than two-tenths of 1 percent has been treated to reduce contaminant levels.” It is estimated that 30 percent of people living in the Navajo Nation lack access to uncontaminated water.

Charmaine White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills describes the situation in the Great Sioux Nation as “America’s Chernobyl.” She says,  “A private abandoned, open-pit uranium mine about 200 meters from an elementary school in Ludlow, SD, emits 1170 microRems per hour, more than 4 times as much as is being emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. ” In addition, “Studies by the USFS show that one mine alone has 1,400 millirems per hour (mR/hr) of exposed radiation, a level of radiation that is 120,000 times higher than normal background of 100 millirems per year (mR/yr)!” Cancer rates in Pine Ridge, SD, are the highest in the nation.

This contamination escapes into the air which blows to the East and South and seeps into the water, reaching the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers. It poisons grain grown in these areas that is fed to cattle that provide milk and beef for the rest of the nation. As White Face explains, “In an area of the USA that has been called ‘the Bread Basket of the World,’ more than 40 years of mining have released radioactive polluted dust and water runoff from the hundreds of abandoned open pit uranium mines, processing sites, underground nuclear power stations and waste dumps. Our grain supplies and our livestock production in this area have used the water and have been exposed to the remainders of this mining. We may be seeing global affects, not just localized affects, to the years of uranium mining.”

Uranium also contaminates coal that is mined in Wyoming for power plants in the East. Defenders of the Black Hills report that “Radioactive dust and particles are released into the air at the coal fired power plants and often set off the warning systems at nuclear power plants.”

People in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations have been fighting for decades for the US government to perform studies on the extent of contamination and to clean up both current contamination and prevent future contamination. As wards of the federal government, the United States is responsible for the health and safety of native Indians.

The Forgotten Navajo People have put forth a resolution that states “that all people have the inalienable right to clean air, clean water and the preservation of sacred lands and that immediate action must be taken to fund the ongoing need for remediation of radioactive contamination in our air, water, and homelands to ensure our survival and that the named parties will support the People’s Uranium Radiation Activity Data Collection Network.” The resolution also asks that the United States uphold the ban on further uranium mines. The resolution also seeks equipment that would allow residents to measure radiation on their reservations as people in Japan are able to do, a simple request that has not been acted on.

Defenders of the Black Hills have written legislation, the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, calling for study and remediation, but according to White Face, no members of Congress are yet willing to sponsor the bill. She explains that state and federal legislators want to hide the fact that this ongoing contamination exists because it will hurt the states economically. Just 40 miles south of Mount Rushmore, there are 169 abandoned open mines.  And there are mines in the areas of national parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. These mines likely contaminate water and air in those areas visited by thousands of tourists.

The Chain of Environmental Damage from Nuclear Energy Begins with Excavation

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Nixon called for the US to become more energy independent and to pursue renewable sources of energy through Project Independence 1980. This included increasing the use of nuclear power and resulted in the building of nuclear power plants throughout the nation. Some of those power plants, 23 currently in operation, were built using the same flawed plan as Reactor One (designed by General Electric) which failed at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. And many of them are reaching their 40-year lifespans and are applying for renewed permits to continue operation.

In addition, because of the reduced availability of fossil fuels and the climate crisis, nuclear power is back on the table as part of President Obama’s “All of the Above” energy strategy. Obama has been well-funded throughout his career by Exelon Energy, owner of the largest number of nuclear reactors in the United States and third largest in the world. Earthworks reports that “According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are currently 26 proposals to start, expand or restart in situ projects in the states regulated by the commission (Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Mexico). Of these, nine will be new operations.”

In situ uranium mining is being promoted as a safer method of extracting uranium. In this type of mining process, deep holes are drilled into the Earth’s surface and fluids are injected into them to dissolve the uranium so that it can be collected. This method of mining is certainly less destructive to the surface of the Earth than open pit mining, but the report also states that “Any in situ operation risks spreading uranium and its hazardous byproducts outside the mine, potentially contaminating nearby aquifers and drinking water sources. This has been a major problem with almost all in situ projects in the US.”

Current uranium mines have a history of noncompliance with regulations. There continue to be spills. Mining corporations do not clean up areas that they are required to clean up. They do not pay fines. And they influence local governments to loosen requirements once they receive a mining permit.

In addition to contamination of land, air and water, uranium mining, particularly in situ mining, requires large amounts of water. In the current environment, with extended droughts and reduced aquifers, in situ mining places a greater strain on the water crisis.

Nuclear power is another form of extractive energy that is not only extremely unsafe, but is also more expensive than safer forms of energy. Beyond the human and environmental costs, the cost of building new nuclear reactors has quadrupled since 2000 to an average of $13 to 15 billion each. Physicians for Social Responsibility report that “new reactors are estimated to cost homeowners and businesses between 12 cents and 20 cents per kilowatt hour on electric bills – more than cleaner, safer alternatives.”

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War passed a resolution in 2010 calling for a ban on all uranium mining worldwide, which states that, “As well as the direct health effects from contamination of the water, the immense water consumption in mining regions is environmentally and economically damaging – and in turn detrimental for human health. The extraction of water leads to a reduction of the groundwater table and thereby to desertification; plants and animals die, the traditional subsistence of the inhabitants is eliminated, the existence of whole cultures are threatened.”

Expose the Truth and Create a Carbon Free Nuclear Free Energy Economy

Uranium mining in the United States and worldwide is a hidden environmental catastrophe that must be exposed. It is not acceptable to ignore the ongoing poisoning of communities, particularly of indigenous communities. Three-fourths of all uranium mining worldwide is on indigenous land.

Yellowman speaks of the practice of uranium mining as a form of structural violence. Structural violence occurs when a social structure or institution harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. There is no doubt that widespread contamination of the air, land and water from 70 years of uranium mining has violated the basic rights of indigenous peoples to clean air and water and to live healthy lives.

It is not known at present to what extent the ongoing contamination is affecting the health of our nation. Despite the obvious need, there have not been, to date, any comprehensive studies of radiation and heavy metal contamination in the United States. Uranium that is ingested by cattle and other livestock through water and feed concentrates in muscle. We do not know how safe our air, water and food are. And it is likely that the government and the nuclear industry do not want us to know.

It is becoming clearer that nuclear power is another dirty extractive source of energy that has high costs to human and environmental health. We must see through the energy industry propaganda and realize that there are clean and safer alternatives that are less costly.

It is time to move quickly to a carbon and nuclear-free energy economy. First steps would be to end massive energy waste through investment in energy efficiency and conservation. Other steps are to end the secret Fukushima by cleaning up the mines, providing testing equipment to Native Indians and conducting studies on the extent of contamination and effects of radiation and other toxins on the soil, air and water.

Then, it is time to move quickly to a carbon and nuclear free energy economy, which includes changing the American way of life by putting in place land use planning, 21st century mass transit and dispersed energy, so every home and business can become an energy producer. The call of native Indians to restore the Earth, for the right to clean water and air, should be a rally cry taken on by all of us.

You can find “The Toxic Effects of Uranium Mining on Tribal Lands with Don Yellowman and Charmaine White Face” on Clearing the FOG.

 

On whistleblowers and government threats of investigation


No healthy democracy can endure when the most consequential acts of those in power remain secret and unaccountable

James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence.

James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, who called the Guardian’s revelations ‘reprehensible’. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

We followed Wednesday’s story about the NSA‘s bulk telephone record-gathering with one yesterday about the agency’s direct access to the servers of the world’s largest internet companies. I don’t have time at the moment to address all of the fallout because – to borrow someone else’s phrase – I’m Looking Forward to future revelations that are coming (and coming shortly), not Looking Backward to ones that have already come.

But I do want to make two points. One is about whistleblowers, and the other is about threats of investigations emanating from Washington:

1) Ever since the Nixon administration broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg‘s psychoanalyst’s office, the tactic of the US government has been to attack and demonize whistleblowers as a means of distracting attention from their own exposed wrongdoing and destroying the credibility of the messenger so that everyone tunes out the message. That attempt will undoubtedly be made here.

I’ll say more about all that shortly, but for now: as these whistleblowing acts becoming increasingly demonized (“reprehensible”, declaredDirector of National Intelligence James Clapper yesterday), please just spend a moment considering the options available to someone with access to numerous Top Secret documents.

They could easily enrich themselves by selling those documents for huge sums of money to foreign intelligence services. They could seek to harm the US government by acting at the direction of a foreign adversary and covertly pass those secrets to them. They could gratuitously expose the identity of covert agents.

None of the whistleblowers persecuted by the Obama administration as part of its unprecedented attack on whistleblowers has done any of that: not one of them. Nor have those who are responsible for these current disclosures.

They did not act with any self-interest in mind. The opposite is true: they undertook great personal risk and sacrifice for one overarching reason: to make their fellow citizens aware of what their government is doing in the dark. Their objective is to educate, to democratize, to create accountability for those in power.

The people who do this are heroes. They are the embodiment of heroism. They do it knowing exactly what is likely to be done to them by the planet’s most powerful government, but they do it regardless. They don’t benefit in any way from these acts. I don’t want to over-simplify: human beings are complex, and usually act with multiple, mixed motives. But read this outstanding essay on this week’s disclosures from The Atlantic’s security expert, Bruce Schneier, to understand why these brave acts are so crucial.

Those who step forward to blow these whistles rarely benefit at all. The ones who benefit are you. You discover what you should know but what is hidden from you: namely, the most consequential acts being taken by those with the greatest power, and how those actions are affecting your life, your country and your world.

In 2008, candidate Obama decreed that “often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out,” and he hailed whistleblowing as:

“acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration.”

The current incarnation of Obama prosecutes those same whistlelblowers at double the number of all previous presidents combined, and spent the campaign season boasting about it.

The 2008 version of Obama was right. As the various attacks are inevitably unleashed on the whistleblower(s) here, they deserve the gratitude and – especially – the support of everyone, including media outlets, for the noble acts that they have undertaken for the good of all of us. When it comes to what the Surveillance State is building and doing in the dark, we are much more informed today than we were yesterday, and will be much more informed tomorrow than we are today, thanks to them.

(2) Like puppets reading from a script, various Washington officials almost immediately began spouting all sorts of threats about “investigations” they intend to launch about these disclosures. This has been their playbook for several years now: they want to deter and intimidate anyone and everyone who might shed light on what they’re doing with their abusive, manipulative exploitation of the power of law to punish those who bring about transparency.

That isn’t going to work. It’s beginning completely to backfire on them. It’s precisely because such behavior reveals their true character, their propensity to abuse power, that more and more people are determined to bring about accountability and transparency for what they do.

They can threaten to investigate all they want. But as this week makes clear, and will continue to make clear, the ones who will actually be investigated are them.

The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that’s why they’re called publicservants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.

This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.

There seems to be this mentality in Washington that as soon as they stamp TOP SECRET on something they’ve done we’re all supposed to quiver and allow them to do whatever they want without transparency or accountability under its banner. These endless investigations and prosecutions and threats are designed to bolster that fear-driven dynamic. But it isn’t working. It’s doing the opposite.

The times in American history when political power was constrained was when they went too far and the system backlashed and imposed limits. That’s what happened in the mid-1970s when the excesses of J Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon became so extreme that the legitimacy of the political system depended upon it imposing restraints on itself. And that’s what is happening now as the government continues on its orgies of whistleblower prosecutions, trying to criminalize journalism, and building a massive surveillance apparatus that destroys privacy, all in the dark. The more they overreact to measures of accountability and transparency – the more they so flagrantly abuse their power of secrecy and investigations and prosecutions – the more quickly that backlash will arrive.

I’m going to go ahead and take the Constitution at its word that we’re guaranteed the right of a free press. So, obviously, are other people doing so. And that means that it isn’t the people who are being threatened who deserve and will get the investigations, but those issuing the threats who will get that. That’s why there’s a free press. That’s whatadversarial journalism means.

 

BMC – Keep Off Privatising Education #mustread


Vol – XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013 | Anand Teltumbde,EPW

Today it is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools, tomorrow it may be the resolution of all the other municipalities of the country.

I am grateful to Simantini Dhuru and Prachi Salve for sharing data which they obtained under the Right to Information Act, as also the Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyan, which is fi ghting against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools.

Neo-liberal policies have not delivered on any of their promises. Indeed, they have aggravated India’s age-old problems of inequality, unemployment, caste and communalism, to name a few. Yet, the ruling classes hold them up as a proven panacea. A key neo-liberal policy thrust is the release of services, traditionally provided by the state, to private capital. The state, in turn, uses its might against those who feel the heat of this transformation. The public utilities and infrastructure are now largely in private hands, and the state has turned its attention to education, the most critical instrument in the social transformation of any society. The process has been underway in higher education and now the rulers have begun to deva­state school education, particularly for the downtrodden strata. A decision taken at the beginning of this year by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to hand over its schools to private parties, this within the framework of the much-flaunted public-private partnership (PPP) model, is a case in point.

Auctioning the BMC Schools

BMC, the richest municipal corporation in India, provides free education to nearly 4,00,000 children enrolled in around 1,174 schools with 11,500 teachers imparting education in eight mediums. Besides, BMC runs 18 schools for the mentally challenged and 55 Mumbai Public Schools offering education in English medium. The BMC spends around 8% to 9% of its income on education; its planned spend this year is Rs 2,342 crore, 65% more than the previous year. Its expense per student at Rs 36,750 for its schools is among the highest in the country. The number of students attending BMC schools has been falling over the years. It fell from 4,20,440 in 2007-08 to 3,85,657 in 2011-12. It is the poorest of the very poor who send their children to BMC schools. Even the
so-called class IV employees, for example, sweepers and helpers working in BMC schools, do not send their children to these schools. Mumbai, the so-called “Urbs Prima of India”, the first city of India, accounting for more than 33% of the nation’s tax collection and the highest per capita income of Rs 65,361 in the country, more than twice the country’s average of Rs 29,382, has more than four million people earning less than Rs 20 a day. It is these people mainly belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SCs/STs), Other Backward Classes, Muslims and Christians who send their children to BMC schools.

On 23 January this year, the BMC, without consulting the parents of these children or the teachers in these schools, the major stakeholders, decided to auction its schools to private bidders under the euphemism of PPP, admittedly based on studies by the World Bank and Depart­ment for International Development (DFID). This is the first time in the country that a constitutional entity has decided to renounce its constitutional obligation and hand over its schools to private parties. Nonetheless, it had a nice sounding objective of giving an opportunity to poor children to get higher quality education with the support of organisations that had a record of “excellent work” in the educational field, charitable trusts and private companies.

The schools are to be auctioned to well-established corporate houses that would enter into memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with entities that have been recognised for their work in the “technical or educational field”. The process would be managed under the existing MoU bet­ween the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and BMC for conducting the “School Enhancement Programme” (initiated by UNICEF and McKinsey & Company since 2009, and having non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Akanksha, Aseema and Nandi Foundation on board). Neither the BMC provided any reasons for its failure to impart quality education nor did it provide any justification for its assumption that the private partner, with dubious credentials, will accomplish what it could not despite being experienced for more than 125 years. It has not even taken contrary evidence available through its own experience of the running of one of its schools by an NGO into account. For instance, a school run by Akanksha, important enough to be on the Board of the School Enhancement Programme, in the Cotton Green area of Mumbai, was found to have only one qualified teacher to teach the classes from one to eight. It basically drew its teachers from its Teach India Project, under which employees of companies took a sabbatical of a kind to teach in schools.

Private Profits at Public Cost

The PPP as a concept is not new but as a model serving the object of privatisation without public resistance it is to be attri­buted to the genius of neo-liberals. It only requires the state to rehearse its concern for the development of the down­trodden and plead lack of resources and failure to attain productive efficiency. The main selling proposition beyond the paucity
of resources is that the private sector
is intrinsically efficient. PPP has been pop­ular with rulers all over the world as it facilitates the transfer of huge public resources to private hands with contractual sieves that leak significant benefits to them. PPP has become a default vehicle for most infrastructural projects in recent years. In India, the PPP first appeared in the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)/National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999. The NDA government had formed a committee in the office of Prime Minister Atal Bihari ­Vajpayee to apply the PPP model in various fields. Later, this committee was transfer­red to the Planning Commission. In 2004, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, the same committee continued to function and submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In September 2007, Manmohan Singh, while presiding over a meeting of the Planning Com­mission, declared that initiatives at all levels of education shall be through PPP. Since then, in the Eleventh and Twelfth Five-Year Plans, there has been a rush of corporate houses, NGOs and religious organisations to grab public assets in the educational system.

The charity of the state in favour of private players includes grant of lands either free or at hugely subsidised rates, grants for building infrastructure, subsidised provision of electricity, water and bus service, exemption in income tax, payments of fees of students belonging to the SC/ST category, huge opportunities for outsourcing, etc. There is no evidence yet of any expertise being marshalled by the private players to whom huge public assets are devolved. The value of the BMC’s 11,500 schools, for instance, could easily run into thousands of crores of rupees.

Private education has been around in the country for years but whatever islands of quality education that exist have all been in the public sector. The overwhelming presence of private institutions could not produce a single institution to match the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Jawaharlal Nehru University or the University of Delhi. In the neo-liberal din, it is not even admitted that until the early 1970s, quality education was associated with only government institutions. It is only with the advent of increasing competition in politics that the academic autonomy of the schools was breached and they became subservient to the political bosses. These very BMC schools were famed for quality education and have produced scores of illustrious people. J B G Tilak of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, after analysing the plan for setting up 2,500 model schools in the PPP mode under the Eleventh Plan, has rightly concluded that notwithstanding the claim that PPP is not privatisation and the promotion of the profit motive, the plan will surely promote the opposite – privatisation and a high degree of commercialisation, albeit with a difference, namely, with the utilisation of public funds (The Hindu, 24 May 2010).

No Tradable Service

The neo-liberal juggernaut has reduced what were once public services into trad­able commodities. It sees education as a tradable service to transform raw youth into wage labour as a feedstock for its ­capitalist machine. But pedagogy is too hallowed to be treated as such. Universally, education is regarded as an instrument of social change. Our founding fathers saw education as an equaliser and sought to include it among the fundamental rights in the Constitution. Unfortunately they could not do so and education remained confined to the area of Directive Principles (not legally binding on the state). Nonetheless, they had stipulated a time limit of 10 years to accomplish education for all children up to the age of 14. Our rulers however disregarded it until they were shaken up by the Supreme Court judgment in the Unnikrishnan case in 1993 treating education as a part of the fundamental right to life vide Article 21. But the so-called right to education they passed in 2009 is only trickery; it violates the spirit of the Constitution by excluding the most vulnerable children between 0 and 6 years and legitimises the multi­layered educational system. Rather, in view of the alarming degree of malnutrition of pregnant women, the state should be obligated to provide healthcare so that no child is born with an inborn handicap.

The first Education Commission (1964-66), the Kothari Commission, had obser­ved that realisation of the country’s aspirations involves changes in the knowledge, skills, interests and values of the people as a whole. This is basic to every programme of social and economic betterment of which India stands in need. It made a profound observation: “If this change on a grand scale is to be achieved without violent revolution (and even then it would still be necessary), there is one instrument, and one instrument only that can be used, Education.” It envisaged free and compulsory education through a common neighbourhood school system for all children following in the spirit of the Constitution. Even if this simple dictum had been heeded by the rulers, many of India’s evils would have been overcome. I will argue that if the state had ensured that no child is born with the handicap of malnutrition and every child received the same education, there would not have been the need for reservation and thereby the constitutional castes.

Today it is BMC; tomorrow it will be the entire country. We must say a firm no to the privatisation of education.

 

#India – Cost of cancer treatment could drop to Rs 1,000 a month #goodnews #Health



Author(s):
Akshay Deshmane
Issue Date:
2013-6-7

Tata Memorial Hospital’s preliminary studies of combination therapy prove successful; clinical trials to begin soon

Treatment for cancer may become far more affordable and cost less than Rs 1,000 per month in coming years, if an ongoing research project at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai is successful. The treatment currently being researched combines low dosage metronomic therapy—administration of chemotherapy at low, minimally toxic doses every day –with drug repositioning, which is the use of low cost drugs usually administered for ailments other than cancer.

The treatment of the commonest form of cancer in India – head and neck cancer– usually costs between Rs. 15,000-20,000 a month. With the new form of drug therapy, a patient’s cost of treatment could be reduced to as low as Rs 500 per month, or even Rs 250 per month if the treatment is carried out at the Tata Memorial Hospital.

Testing efficacy

A review of the preliminary studies of the method which proved successful was published in the May issue of British medical journal Lancet. Researchers are now set to begin randomised clinical trials of the combined approach of treatment on patients with head and neck cancers from next month. Confirming the development, Shripad Banavali, head of medical oncology department at Tata Memorial Hospital, said the institutional review board of the hospital has recently given clearance to begin randomised trials on patients suffering from head and neck cancer.

“More than 400 patients suffering from head and neck cancer will undergo randomised trials over three years at the hospital, beginning next month. We are starting with this (type of cancer) as it is the commonest cancer in India. Once we conduct these trials, we will have conclusive evidence about the effectiveness of the therapy,” said Banavali.

The drugs Celicoxib and Methotrexate, usually used as anti-inflammatory drugs, are also considered useful in treating head and neck cancer. Low chemotherapy doses of these drugs will be administered on patients and their effects studied closely to gauge efficacy.

Drug repositioning

The current method of treatment of cancer is called maximum tolerated dose therapy. This involves administering heavy doses which target the tumour every three or four weeks. A gap between two doses is maintained to ensure that the patient has enough time to recover from the overwhelming effects of the treatment. This treatment, however, is very expensive and not widely available. In metronomic therapy, daily low doses are administered not only on the patient’s tumour but also in areas surrounding the tumour; the blood supply is cut off and resistance power of the body is increased.

The drug discovery system followed in the West involves making new inventions and discoveries for the treatment of ailments. However, this method does not solve the problem of affordability and access to treatment in most of those suffering from ailments. In our context, we need to follow drug re-positioning method, says Banavali.

“We use drugs which are already there in the market for treatment. Also, our effort is to ensure that the drugs are among those included in the World Health Organisation’s Essential Drugs list as they are not only cheap but affordable and available the world over,” adds Banavali.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/cost-cancer-treatment-could-drop-rs-1000-month

 

Rhymes for a Reason #Raptivism #Protestmusic #Hiphop


Despite his blingy alias, Ashwini Mishra, also known as A-list, is taking rap back to its political roots, says Richa Kaul Padte

Richa Kaul Padte

15-06-2013, Issue 24 l t

Hip-hop journalist Ashwini Mishra

Hip-hop journalist  Photo:Andrea Fernandes

“It’s so damn fake, we act so holy when We speak of Delhi gangrape, but what of Shopian? Enough of the lies, let me tell you what is true This is how we took the life of Afzal Guru

DRESSED IN a shirt, jeans, and a belt to match, Ashwini Mishra — aka A-List — harks back to a hip-hop culture that predates the ‘bling, bitchez and flowing cash’ of the bootylicious videos MTV has broadcast across the world for over two decades. His progressive and lyrically lucid emceeing is, in Mishra’s words, “taking it back to the streets”. Free styling, recording his own tracks and bringing a vibrant energy to clubs, open-mic nights and protest concerts alike, Mishra is quickly making a name for himself in what he labels ‘hip-hop journalism’.

As a member of , a Mumbai-based collective of poets, musicians, writers and artists, Mishra says his politics is liberal, though listeners of his music may place him much further on the Left in Indian politics today. A commentator for current events — such as the arrest of Shaheen Dhada for her Facebook status questioning the shutdown of Mumbai following the death of Bal Thackeray (“All the cops look at what these kids say/Then they are booked under Section 66A”) and the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits, an event often forgotten even in progressive views around the occupation of Kashmir (“He just wants a place in the valley, where he belongs/But Mr Kaul, your valley is gone”) — Mishra’s ties with JAPA’s network of activists and agitators across the country provide him with inside perspectives that go far beyond what the corporate media’s headlines dictate.

So how did the 28-year-old Bihari “corporate stooge by day” go on to produce one of India’s first hip-hop EPs in 2005? While living in Saudi Arabia, a serendipitous encounter with a Run-DMC cassette led seven-year-old Mishra to become “a hip-hop head” for the rest of his life. “The language, the culture, the aesthetic of hip-hop was just something I fell in love with,” he says. Returning to Kolkata, the city of his birth, Mishra began writing poetry (“In Calcutta, everybody is a poet,” he says, wryly). Poetry soon turned into performance, and growing up at a time when hip-hop was sparking resistance across the globe and artists like Eminem were “[making] it cool to be intricate with your rhyme again”, A-List was born as Mishra worked for his undergraduate degree.

Today, he collaborates with musicians as diverse as Kashmiri producers or The Republican Sena, a group of Dalit poets, artists and writers, and performs his own songs everywhere from “Richie-Rich venues to commie gatherings”. Looking to expand the culture of protest music in the country, Mishra’s work falls on the highly political end of India’s newly formed hip-hop spectrum, which covers everything from artists like Mumbai-based Microphon3 (who use much of the style, ‘swag’ and lingo of American ) to those who seek to be socially conscious, responding to issues such as gender-based violence (Manmeet Kaur, for example), or the treatment of the Muslim community (like the recent single, Native Bappa, from Kerala based hip hop crew Mappila Lahala).

However, rappers like Mishra and MC Kash (a Kashmir-based hip-hop artist who often includes recordings and excerpts from political rallies into his music) take socially conscious rapping to a more significant, interventionist level. Mishra extensively researches issues and participates in protests, demonstrations and public actions for movements he musically engages with, including the Bhopal gas tragedy, the treatment of Soni Sori and various feminist struggles. He is hopeful about making a difference, even in a music industry that is largely commercial and averse to changing the status quo. “Look at any great revolution; it has art linked to it,” he says. “So maybe hip-hop is the art of this era that can drive [change]… And guys like us will keep this thing going. So if you really look, you’ll see us; you’ll hear our music.”

letters@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 24, Dated 15 June 2013)

 

#India – Uranium waste contaminates water in Jharkhand


Saturday, Jun 8, 2013, 8:21 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Reckless dumping of radioactive waste in Jharkhand is contaminating surface and ground water, putting thousands of locals at risk of developing cancer, according to a report by independent researchers.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), a subsidiary of the Department of Atomic Energy, supplies uranium (yellow cake) to nuclear power plants in the country. It mines and processes uranium at seven mines in Jharkhand’s Jaduguda area. According to atomic experts, sludge and waste from uranium mines has to be scientifically disposed of as it contains around 85% radioactive substances.

Scientific disposal means creating pits that are covered, protected, cordoned off and made flood-proof. A tailing pond over an area of 30-40 acres must be created for disposal of sludge. These ponds too have to be cordoned off, made flood-proof and ensure that it prevents overflow. The waste decays to produce radium-226, which in turn produces Radon gas, a very powerful cancer-causing agent. For its three new mines i.e. Turamdih, Banduhurang and Mohuldih Uranium Mine, UCIL has one tailing pond at Talsa village, which fails to prevent sludge overflow and is not even fenced.

PT George, director of research institute Intercultural Resources, and independent writer Tarun Kanti Bose, spent six months studying the effects of uranium mining in the areas around the mines. Their report, Paradise Lost, released recently, states that UCIL’s irresponsible dumping in the vicinity of Jaduguda village (in Purbi Singhbhum district) is extremely worrisome as continued exposure to radiation will lead to increased cases of leukaemia and other blood diseases.

Heaps of uranium mining wastes have been abandoned in Dhodanga, Kerwadungri villages and those around Banduhurang open cast mine, according to the report. “The dumping has been going on for the last five years,” said Ghanshyam Birulee, a 45-year-old resident of Jaduguda village. “Despite complaints to UCIL, it has failed to take any action.”

Danger zone

Their report, Paradise Lost,  states that UCIL’s irresponsible dumping in the vicinity of Jaduguda village (in Purbi Singhbhum district) is extremely worrisome as continued exposure to radiation will lead to increased cases of leukaemia and other blood diseases

However, the nuclear regulator Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) said that it has not received any complaint so far on water contamination due to careless dumping of wastes by UCIL.

“AERB periodically inspects UCIL facilities to ensure that the waste management practices are followed and only treated effluent is discharged in Jhuria nallah which eventually meets the Gara River. Sludge generated in the effluent treatment plant is also disposed securely at the tailings pond. According to the site sample collected and analyzed the concentrations of uranium and radium observed in surface and ground water around Jaduguda are well within the specified drinking water limits.”

 

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