Daily Archives: May 5, 2018

Hottest April day ever recorded – maybe: UN weather watchdog

Deadly storms in India and record temperatures in Pakistan are an indication that more extreme weather events are happening globally owing to climate change, United Nations weather experts said on Friday.

Amid flash-floods in the East and Horn of Africa – and sand and dust storms in the Arabian Gulf – Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told journalists at UN headquarters in Geneva that this week’s storms in northern India had reportedly left more than 100 dead.

What may well be the hottest temperature ever recorded for April, was registered this week in Pakistan, she added. A weather station in the city of Nawabshah registered 50.2 degrees Celsius on Monday; or 122.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is April – not June and July – this is April, she exclaimed. We don’t normally see temperatures above 50 degrees: in fact, as we’re aware, we’ve never seen a temperature above 50 degrees C in April.

Moving considerably further south, to another climatic region of the world, A WMO committee of experts also announced on Thursday that a record high temperature recorded for the Antarctic which was set back in in March 2015, still stands.

The record high reading, was under threat of being surpassed by a temperature recorded at a nearby weather station, in the same period of warm weather, and in more or less the same location.

The existing record of 17.5 degrees Celsius was recorded at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza, near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, on 23 March.

The rival reading which, if verified, would have set a new record, was registered a day earlier in the same area, at an automatic weather station established by the Czech Republic on Davies Dome. But polar meteorology experts examined the data closely and made their long-awaited announcement on Friday that the existing record still stands.

Source: UN News Centre

Macron Honors New Caledonians Before Independence Vote

French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged the “pain of colonization” Saturday during a visit to New Caledonia that was rich with symbolism and emotion as the South Pacific archipelago prepares to vote on whether to break free of French rule.

Wrapping up a three-day trip, Macron said, “France would not be the same without New Caledonia” � but he was careful not to openly campaign for the territory to stay French when it holds an independence referendum in November.

The territory east of Australia has about 270,000 inhabitants including the native Kanaks, who represent about 40 percent of the population. New Caledonia already enjoys a broad degree of autonomy, but is an important part of France’s overseas holdings that stretch from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean and the northeast coast of Canada.

Activists remembered

Macron paid homage Saturday to 19 Kanak independence activists killed 30 years ago after taking police hostage in a cave on the New Caledonian island of Ouvea. Four soldiers were also killed.

It was the first time a French president took part in the annual ceremony marking the May 5, 1988, event.

Children of Ouvea sang the French Marseillaise and the Caledonian anthem at the site of the police station occupied by the independence activists. Macron then visited the burial site of the 19 killed and spoke with victims’ families.

“I am glad and proud that the president came,” said Micheline Ouanema of the Takedji tribe, whose husband was among those killed.

Macron also met with a group that protested his participation in the ceremony, the Gossanah collective, but decided not to lay flowers at the site to show respect for their anger.

Later, Macron handed over two documents from 1853 that declared New Caledonia as a French possession. At the same site in 1998, then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin signed the accords that paved the way for this year’s referendum.

“We are no longer in a time of possession, but a time of choice, and collective responsibility,” Macron said.

In a closely watched speech addressing the referendum, Macron said, “We will not forget the pain of colonization. We must recognize the place of each person, to look directly at each other.”

Macron insisted that he would not take sides in the referendum. Some in the loyalist camp criticized Macron’s trip as favoring pro-independence partisans.

Past electoral results and recent polls suggest voters will choose to remain in France in the November 4 referendum.

Warning against friction

Macron warned against letting the referendum fuel local tensions.

“The day after [the vote], each will have to work together,” he said.

While he didn’t urge voters to stay French, he insisted that developing deeper ties with the South Pacific � where France also has ties thanks to French Polynesia � is an important part of his global strategy. Macron arrived in New Caledonia after a trip to Australia, where he sought to boost military and economic cooperation.

“France is a great power thanks to all its territories,” he said, calling his country “the last European country in the Pacific.”

France’s African and Asian colonies mostly broke free in the 1950s and 1960s. The vote in New Caledonia is the first time a self-determination referendum is being held on a French territory since Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, voted for independence in 1977.

The Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, which chose to remain French in the 1970s, voted in 2009 for closer ties with the mainland.

Source: Voice of America

Macron Honors New Caledonians Before Independence Vote

French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged the “pain of colonization” Saturday during a visit to New Caledonia that was rich with symbolism and emotion as the South Pacific archipelago prepares to vote on whether to break free of French rule.

Wrapping up a three-day trip, Macron said, “France would not be the same without New Caledonia” � but he was careful not to openly campaign for the territory to stay French when it holds an independence referendum in November.

The territory east of Australia has about 270,000 inhabitants including the native Kanaks, who represent about 40 percent of the population. New Caledonia already enjoys a broad degree of autonomy, but is an important part of France’s overseas holdings that stretch from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean and the northeast coast of Canada.

Activists remembered

Macron paid homage Saturday to 19 Kanak independence activists killed 30 years ago after taking police hostage in a cave on the New Caledonian island of Ouvea. Four soldiers were also killed.

It was the first time a French president took part in the annual ceremony marking the May 5, 1988, event.

Children of Ouvea sang the French Marseillaise and the Caledonian anthem at the site of the police station occupied by the independence activists. Macron then visited the burial site of the 19 killed and spoke with victims’ families.

“I am glad and proud that the president came,” said Micheline Ouanema of the Takedji tribe, whose husband was among those killed.

Macron also met with a group that protested his participation in the ceremony, the Gossanah collective, but decided not to lay flowers at the site to show respect for their anger.

Later, Macron handed over two documents from 1853 that declared New Caledonia as a French possession. At the same site in 1998, then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin signed the accords that paved the way for this year’s referendum.

“We are no longer in a time of possession, but a time of choice, and collective responsibility,” Macron said.

In a closely watched speech addressing the referendum, Macron said, “We will not forget the pain of colonization. We must recognize the place of each person, to look directly at each other.”

Macron insisted that he would not take sides in the referendum. Some in the loyalist camp criticized Macron’s trip as favoring pro-independence partisans.

Past electoral results and recent polls suggest voters will choose to remain in France in the November 4 referendum.

Warning against friction

Macron warned against letting the referendum fuel local tensions.

“The day after [the vote], each will have to work together,” he said.

While he didn’t urge voters to stay French, he insisted that developing deeper ties with the South Pacific � where France also has ties thanks to French Polynesia � is an important part of his global strategy. Macron arrived in New Caledonia after a trip to Australia, where he sought to boost military and economic cooperation.

“France is a great power thanks to all its territories,” he said, calling his country “the last European country in the Pacific.”

France’s African and Asian colonies mostly broke free in the 1950s and 1960s. The vote in New Caledonia is the first time a self-determination referendum is being held on a French territory since Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, voted for independence in 1977.

The Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, which chose to remain French in the 1970s, voted in 2009 for closer ties with the mainland.

Source: Voice of America

Mining Firm’s License Renewal Fuels Protests in Ethiopia

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in at least a dozen southern Ethiopian towns this week to protest the federal government’s renewal of a license for a mining company that they say jeopardizes local residents’ health.

The protests, in the restive Oromia region, criticize a 10-year license for Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Cos., or MIDROC, to continue mining gold at a site near the town of Shakiso and the Lega Dembi river.

The demonstrations followed the April 27 report of the license renewal for MIDROC, which has operated the mine since the late 1990s. The company is owned by one of Africa’s richest men, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, detained since November in what Saudi Arabia alleges was an anti-corrupt sweep.

“Demonstrators are very angry. They are blocking roads and demanding change,” Dulacha Lafe, administrator for the local Goro Dolaa district, told VOA in a phone interview on Monday, when the protests began. He said local authorities “understand and agree with their concern. However, we don’t have the power to solve the problem. [The] Oromia regional government and the federal government should help us out. The license should not have been renewed at all.”

Some high school students skipped classes this week to join in the anti-mining protests, which have erupted periodically over the years. A Shakiso resident, who asked VOA to withhold his name out of fear of retaliation, said Friday that some students “were beaten because of protesting and asking for their constitutional rights.”

Abdu Kadir, an inspector for the local Guji district government, told VOA: “Some schools have been closed for a few days, and today students are back in class. Nobody is arrested or anything.”

Chemicals blamed for ailments

Protesters contend that chemicals used at the mine contaminate the water and air, sickening humans and animals with everything from respiratory illnesses to miscarriages, birth defects and disabilities.

Also in that report, MIDROC’s environmental protection expert, Ahmed Mohammed, said the company used chemicals including hydrogen cyanide. “[E]ven a small amount” of hydrogen cyanide “can contaminate water and can cause serious consequences,” he said. He did not specify the amounts used in MIDROC’s operations, nor what safety precautions, if any, the company had taken.

MIDROC did not respond to VOA’s attempts to reach it by phone and via its website.

The website MiningFacts.org explains that cyanide, “in the form of a very dilute sodium cyanide solution, is used to dissolve and separate gold from ore. Cyanide is toxic in large doses and is strictly regulated in most jurisdictions worldwide to protect people, animals and the aquatic environment.”

Local residents are concerned not only about health but also economics, said Galchu Halake, a traditional leader and one of the protesters in Arkalo town.

“They want the license to be revoked since the company has been mining gold for export without contributing to the local economy or the society’s well-being,” Galchu said.

Bacha Faji, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, said the renewed contract’s terms direct a share of the company’s earnings to local communities.

“Two percent of the income the company generates will go to locals,” Bacha said in an interview with the BBC this week. He said that followed a government investigation “into what the company was doing for the past 20 years” and factored in local grievances.

Those include concerns about mining-related environmental degradation, health risks, displacement of housing and “the failure to hire local labor,” the international organization Human Rights Watch noted in a 2016 report.That report focused on Ethiopian security forces’ crackdowns, including “the killings and mass arrest of protesters” over gold mining and other issues.

In April 2016, Badada Gelchu was shot and killed at his home in Shakiso after participating in demonstrations against the gold mine. His family told VOA then that security agents “went to his house and killed him, accusing him of organizing the protests in our area.”

Skeptical of deal

Addisu Bulala, a leader of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress party, expressed skepticism about MIDROC’s renewed license. Speaking with VOA by phone, he mentioned televised reports showing children with deformities allegedly linked to contaminants from mining.

“Until today, there’s been no compensation, no change. … No one is charged for crimes committed” involving environmental pollution, Addisu said. “This is basically selling the community for dollars. Our party is concerned deeply, and no responsible government would allow this.”

Oromia regional officials are “not accepting” the federal mining ministry’s licensing decision, said Negeri Lencho, spokesman for the regional government. “Even if the [ministry] says it conducted an investigation, we have no idea of the findings. They did not share the results. It is disrespectful to us and our people. … They admitted the lack of transparency and agreed to figure this out together.”

Negeri said the regional government was conducting its own investigation into MIDROC’s mining practices and environmental impact.

“We want our people to understand that, as a regional government, their concerns and questions are ours, too,” he added.

Ethiopia still is under a state of emergency imposed in February after the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. His successor, Abiy Ahmed, confirmed in April, is the country’s first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group, which has long sought equal representation in government.

Source: Voice of America

Mining Firm’s License Renewal Fuels Protests in Ethiopia

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in at least a dozen southern Ethiopian towns this week to protest the federal government’s renewal of a license for a mining company that they say jeopardizes local residents’ health.

The protests, in the restive Oromia region, criticize a 10-year license for Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Cos., or MIDROC, to continue mining gold at a site near the town of Shakiso and the Lega Dembi river.

The demonstrations followed the April 27 report of the license renewal for MIDROC, which has operated the mine since the late 1990s. The company is owned by one of Africa’s richest men, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, detained since November in what Saudi Arabia alleges was an anti-corrupt sweep.

“Demonstrators are very angry. They are blocking roads and demanding change,” Dulacha Lafe, administrator for the local Goro Dolaa district, told VOA in a phone interview on Monday, when the protests began. He said local authorities “understand and agree with their concern. However, we don’t have the power to solve the problem. [The] Oromia regional government and the federal government should help us out. The license should not have been renewed at all.”

Some high school students skipped classes this week to join in the anti-mining protests, which have erupted periodically over the years. A Shakiso resident, who asked VOA to withhold his name out of fear of retaliation, said Friday that some students “were beaten because of protesting and asking for their constitutional rights.”

Abdu Kadir, an inspector for the local Guji district government, told VOA: “Some schools have been closed for a few days, and today students are back in class. Nobody is arrested or anything.”

Chemicals blamed for ailments

Protesters contend that chemicals used at the mine contaminate the water and air, sickening humans and animals with everything from respiratory illnesses to miscarriages, birth defects and disabilities.

Also in that report, MIDROC’s environmental protection expert, Ahmed Mohammed, said the company used chemicals including hydrogen cyanide. “[E]ven a small amount” of hydrogen cyanide “can contaminate water and can cause serious consequences,” he said. He did not specify the amounts used in MIDROC’s operations, nor what safety precautions, if any, the company had taken.

MIDROC did not respond to VOA’s attempts to reach it by phone and via its website.

The website MiningFacts.org explains that cyanide, “in the form of a very dilute sodium cyanide solution, is used to dissolve and separate gold from ore. Cyanide is toxic in large doses and is strictly regulated in most jurisdictions worldwide to protect people, animals and the aquatic environment.”

Local residents are concerned not only about health but also economics, said Galchu Halake, a traditional leader and one of the protesters in Arkalo town.

“They want the license to be revoked since the company has been mining gold for export without contributing to the local economy or the society’s well-being,” Galchu said.

Bacha Faji, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, said the renewed contract’s terms direct a share of the company’s earnings to local communities.

“Two percent of the income the company generates will go to locals,” Bacha said in an interview with the BBC this week. He said that followed a government investigation “into what the company was doing for the past 20 years” and factored in local grievances.

Those include concerns about mining-related environmental degradation, health risks, displacement of housing and “the failure to hire local labor,” the international organization Human Rights Watch noted in a 2016 report.That report focused on Ethiopian security forces’ crackdowns, including “the killings and mass arrest of protesters” over gold mining and other issues.

In April 2016, Badada Gelchu was shot and killed at his home in Shakiso after participating in demonstrations against the gold mine. His family told VOA then that security agents “went to his house and killed him, accusing him of organizing the protests in our area.”

Skeptical of deal

Addisu Bulala, a leader of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress party, expressed skepticism about MIDROC’s renewed license. Speaking with VOA by phone, he mentioned televised reports showing children with deformities allegedly linked to contaminants from mining.

“Until today, there’s been no compensation, no change. … No one is charged for crimes committed” involving environmental pollution, Addisu said. “This is basically selling the community for dollars. Our party is concerned deeply, and no responsible government would allow this.”

Oromia regional officials are “not accepting” the federal mining ministry’s licensing decision, said Negeri Lencho, spokesman for the regional government. “Even if the [ministry] says it conducted an investigation, we have no idea of the findings. They did not share the results. It is disrespectful to us and our people. … They admitted the lack of transparency and agreed to figure this out together.”

Negeri said the regional government was conducting its own investigation into MIDROC’s mining practices and environmental impact.

“We want our people to understand that, as a regional government, their concerns and questions are ours, too,” he added.

Ethiopia still is under a state of emergency imposed in February after the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. His successor, Abiy Ahmed, confirmed in April, is the country’s first prime minister from the Oromo ethnic group, which has long sought equal representation in government.

Source: Voice of America