28 February 2014

Guam History and Chamorro Heritage Day



Special to OTR



Le centre du système colonial français brûle à nouveau. Le président de la république qui s'était fait élire pour une présidence normale censée mettre un terme aux frasques de la présidence précédente est selon les plus récents sondages rejetté par une large partie de l'opinion française. C'est la première sous la 5e république que l'on assiste à un tel phénomène. Rien n'arrête cette lame de fond .Les initiatives prises par le président se retournent contre lui et son gouvernement . Sa conversion subite au libéralisme et sa proposition de pacte de responsabilité semblent au contraire accentuer son divorce avec l'opinion française.Le désarroi de l’électorat de gauche, que traduit la marée basse des sondages de popularité de l’exécutif, est devenu une réalité durable. En Guadeloupe par contre où il n 'y a pas d'observations régulières de l'état de l'opinion, il semble que l'on assiste au même phénomène de rejet ou de méfiance probablement pour des raisons différentes . Quand au sein d'un système colonial le centre est en difficulté les marges de manœuvre pour la contestation de ce système s'élargissent considérablement. Cependant pour que la situation bascule ou se mette en position de bascule, il faut que les forces politiques qui contestent l'ordre établi soient aptes à saisir les opportunités. Malheureusement,aujourd'hui ces forces politiques nationales ne donnent pas l'impression de pouvoir changer le cours des choses tant elles sont désorganisées . 

27 February 2014

Sixtieth anniversary of the Bravo nuclear test on Bikini Atoll

This Saturday (1st March) is the sixtieth anniversary of the Bravo nuclear test, when the US government detonated a thermonuclear device on Bikini Atoll.

The test, on 1 March 1954, sent a cloud of radioactive fallout across the northern atolls of the Marshall Islands, which were part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a strategic UN trusteeship administered by the United States.

Part of Operation Castle, Bravo weighed in at fifteen megatons, the largest nuclear device the US military had tested.

The people of the Marshall Islands live to this day with the health and environmental consequences of 67 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests conducted by the United States on Bikini and Enewetak atolls.

Around the Pacific region, March 1 is commemorated as Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific day, remembering the survivors of 315 US, British and French nuclear tests around Oceania.

Let us remember, and let us act.

One hundred and forty six nations - but none of the nuclear powers - have just met in Mexico for the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. There is international momentum to develop a treaty banning the development and deployment of nuclear weapons.

As Rev. François Pihaatae of the Pacific Conference of Churches has stated: “In international forums, including conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the Pacific must speak with a united voice to bring about attitudinal change in the larger nations. We must speak out, for if we remain silent the larger countries will be under the misconception that their testing, development and construction of nuclear weapons are acceptable.

“That is why we will continue to call for a global ban on nuclear weapons. These weapons are no good for the Pacific, and no good for the world.”

History Project”, written and performed by Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

The long shadow of Bravo, Inside Story, 25 February 2014
Banning nuclear weapons: a Pacific Islands perspective, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) report presented to the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit, Mexico, February 12-14

America’s Nuclear Test Legacy: Still an Issue for the Marshall Islands, video seminar by Giff Johnson, PIDP, University of Hawaii.
Mission to the Marshall Islands (27-30 March 2012) and the United States of America (24-27 April 2012)” - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Calin Georgescu, 3 September 2012, A/HRC/21/48/Add.1

Nuclear Remembrance Day – from Majuro to Arkansas

Scientists warn over coming era of deep sea mining

Steve Connor | The Independent (UK)

The last great unexplored wilderness on Earth is about to experience industrial-scale mining that could change the face of the pristine seabed of the deep ocean for generations to come, scientists have warned.

Access to the mineral deposits and rare-earth metals that are known to exist on the sea bed has never been easier with the help of robotic submarines and there are already 19 leases for prospecting in international waters and another five leases that are pending, they said.
Strip mining involving giant underwater cutters, where vast areas of the seabed are removed and brought to the surface as a slurry, and vacuum mining where the seabed is literally sucked up by machines, are the kind of mining operations that could be commonplace in a few years time, they told the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“The deep ocean is a vast repository of natural resources and we’re going to be going in there if not now, then within the next 50 years,” said Lindwood Pendleton of the Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions in Beaufort, North Carolina.
“We’re really in the dark when it comes to the ecology of the deep sea. We know a lot about a few places, but nobody is dealing with the deep sea as a whole, and the lack of knowledge is a problem for decision-making and policy,” Dr Pendleton said.
Without careful controls the physical habitat of the sea bed hundreds of feet below the surface could be irrevocably destroyed along with the unique wildlife it supports, said Cindy Lee Van Dover of Duke University in North Carolina.
“The deep sea is out of sight, out of mind, and because there isn’t a specific human society that will be directly impacted by the negative consequences of extraction, there’s a whole level of concern that isn’t being expressed when it comes to deep sea  industrialisation,” Dr Van Dover said.
“There’s just so much that we don’t know about the deep sea, and we need that basic research before we form policy, but we urgently need policy before this window of opportunity closes,” she said.
“One hundred years from now, we want people to say they got this right based on the science they had, and they weren’t asleep at the wheel,” she told the meeting.
One mining company prospecting off the coast of Namibia intends to remove between 1 and 5 metres of seabed silt and ship it to the land for extracting phosphate deposits before the waste slurry to siphoned off and dumped back into the sea.
Bronwen Currie of Namibia’s National Marine Information and Research Centre in Swakopmund, said that concerns about the environmental impact of the phosphate mining has led to the government imposing a moratorium until further assessments can be made about its long-term effects.
“The biggest concern is the accumulation of effects. We need research on the impact on fish stocks. There is no real knowledge of the real impacts of this kind of mining,” Dr Currie said.

26 February 2014

Chagos Islanders ‘Will Not Give Up’ Fight to Return Home

The Chagossians pictured here when they visited the archipelago in 2006. Many are still fighting to return to the islands they were evicted from almost 40 years ago. Courtesy: Chagos Refugees Group (CRG).

PORT LOUIS (IPS) - “The Marine Protected Area (MPA) created around the Chagos archipelago is a new obstacle that the British government has placed in our path to prevent us from going back to our homeland,” claims Olivier Bancoult, leader of the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG).

For the past 40 years, the Chagossians have been fighting to return to their home in Chagos archipelago, a set of 55 islets situated 1,200 km north of the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius.

They lived there for five generations until the early 1970s when the archipelago was excised from Mauritius by the United Kingdom. The Chagossians were evicted and the archipelago now forms part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

“We’ll not give up,” Bancoult tells IPS as he prepares for a new legal battle against the British government, which will be heard by the High Court of Justice in London on Mar. 30. However, the Chagossians feel that the 2010 creation of the MPA, which does not allow for human settlement on the Chagos archipelago or travel there unless one is in possession of a permit from the U.K. government, prevents their resettlement.

Bancoult was four when he and his mother, Rita, came to Mauritius. In 1983 he created the CRG to defend the rights of his community and over the years the organisation has staged numerous public demonstrations and hunger strikes.

The MPA covers almost 545,000 square kilometres and aims to protect the natural resources of the Chagos archipelago by implementing strict controls over fishing, habitation, damage to the environment and the killing, harming and collecting of animals.

The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) designated the archipelago as an area that needs to be preserved “on the basis that the archipelago is one of the most precious, unpolluted, tropical ocean environments left on earth.”


25 February 2014

Curacao Leading Caribbean In Cruise Tourism Growth

Cruise ships
WILLEMSTAD – Curacao posted the largest year-over-year increase in cruise passenger visits of any country in the Caribbean last year, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

The Dutch Caribbean island welcomed 610,186 cruise passengers in 2013, a 41.4 percent increase over the previous year.
That was significantly higher than the next-fastest-growing destination, Aruba, which posted a 25.4 percent increase compared to 2012.
Not all Caribbean destinations had complete data for 2013, although it’s likely that none of the countries without complete 2013 reporting would have come close to Curacao.
The island’s growth came in a mixed year for cruise tourism in the region, one which saw 10 destinations report negative growth in cruise arrivals.
Overall, the Caribbean saw a 2.7 percent increase in cruise arrivals last year, with around 21.9 million in total, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
The region remained the world’s leading cruise destination, however, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Source: Caribbean Journal

24 February 2014

Polynésie: Gaston Flosse mis en examen pour détournement de fonds publics

Le Huffington Post

JUSTICE - Le sénateur et Président de la Polynésie française Gaston Flosse, déjà poursuivi dans plusieurs affaires, a été mis en examen pour détournement de fonds publics, lundi à Papeete, a-t-on appris vendredi 21 février auprès du Parquet. Le président de l'Assemblée de la Polynésie française, Edouard Fritch, avait été mis en examen la veille, également pour détournement de fonds publics, dans la même affaire.
Ils sont soupçonnés d'avoir fait supporter à la commune dont ils ont tous deux été le maire, Pirae, l'approvisionnement en eau de la villa de Gaston Flosse, sur une commune voisine, Arue. Cette villa, construite sur une zone à l'époque dépourvue d'eau potable, a été raccordée à une réserve située à Pirae, six kilomètres plus loin et en contrebas.
Lire l'article complet ici .

21 February 2014

Sint Maarten And Curacao Ministers Of Economic Affairs Sign Cooperation Protocol

Minister Palm Impressed With Port And Airport Operations

MinTEATT Curacao Minister Hon Stanley Palm and Sint Maarten Minister Hon Ted Richardson
PHILIPSBURG, WILLEMSTAD – Curacao’s Minister of Economic & Tourism Affairs Hon. Stanley Palm and Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (MinTEATT) Hon. Ted Richardson, on Saturday at the Government Administration Building in Philipsburg, signed a Protocol Agreement outliningfour areas of collaboration between the two countries.

The protocol paves the way for further collaboration between both countries and their respective ministries with respect to their ports of entry (airport and seaport) where assistance and exchange of knowledge and expertise can take place.
The second area of collaboration is between both Ministries of Finance to seek ways to finalize the division of assets of the former Netherlands Antilles, including but not limited to the Foundation Economic Development (SEO) and the Development Bank of the Netherlands Antilles (OBNA).

20 February 2014

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States reiterates support for full decolonisation in Puerto Rico, rest of the region


28-29 January, 2014

We, the Heads of State and Government of the Latin America and the Caribbean States gathered in Havana, Cuba, on the occasion of the II Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), on 28 and 29 January 2014:

38. Highlight the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico and, in noting the resolutions on Puerto Rico adopted by the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, reiterate that it is an issue of interest for CELAC;

39. CELAC member countries commit themselves to continue working, in the framework of international law, particularly in the framework of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514/(XV) of December 14th, 1960, to make the region of Latin America and the Caribbean a territory free of colonialism and colonies.

19 February 2014

Radioactive Fallout From France’s Atomic Tests Hit Southern Europe

By Anne Sewell

Liberty Voice

See Article and Video

Back in the 1960s, France was involved in atomic bomb tests in the Sahara desert in what was then French-administered Algeria and it turns out radioactive fallout from these tests hit a lot more of Africa, as well as southern Europe.
During 1960 and 1961, prior to Algerian independence, France detonated four atomic bombs in the Sahara.  After Algeria attained independence, France continued with a further 13 tests, but ceased testing in 1966.  Apparently they then moved on to testing in French Polynesia in around 1970.
The first of these atomic bomb tests was that of France’s very first atomic bomb which went by the name “Gerboise Bleue” or in English, Blue Jerboa, named after a rodent living in the desert.
“Gerboise Bleue” was apparently detonated on top of a 105 meter tower near Reganne in Algeria.  Reportedly it was a “pure fission device with a plutonium core and a one-point initiated implosion system.”  
It turns out that at the time, they never really told anyone the reach of the radioactive fallout from the blast and kept it under wraps until this week.  A French newspaper, Le Parisien, has published some declassified documents relating to the atomic testing, including a map showing how, in reality, the fallout spread much further than they said.  In effect, the fallout reached central, eastern and northern Africa and even went so far as to hit southern Spain and also Sicily and Sardinia in southern Italy.  The radioactive fallout from France’s atomic bomb tests hit southern Europe, apparently, within just 13 days of the test.  A link to the map is included at the end of this article.
Le Parisien reported that the French military recognizes that in some areas, the safety standards were widely exceeded.  For instance in Arak, near Tamanrasset, the water was highly contaminated as well as in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.
The French military are apparently describing the levels as “generally very weak” and they say there is no real threat outside the immediate blast area.
However, Bruno Barillot, a specialist in nuclear testing, told the newspaper that this is what the military will always say.  He stressed that at the time of the testing, standards were far less stringent than they are now, adding that medical advances have since shown that even very low doses of radiation can trigger serious diseases some 10, 20 or even 30 years later.
According to the declassified documents, dangerous levels of iodine-131 and caesium-137 were found in N’Djamena in Chad and Arak in Algeria, although it is apparently impossible to tell the exact levels.

Barillot said that everyone knows these days that these radioactive elements are a direct cause of cancers and cardio-vascular disease.  He stressed that even with the latest document release, the French government has been selectively declassifying documents to hide the real truth in the matter.
According to Fatima Benbraham, a lawyer representing around 30 people who have suffered cancer as a result of the radioactive fallout from atomic tests, nobody has received any compensation as yet, as they don’t actually have proof that these people were in the “very limited zone laid down by the law relating to damages,”   In fact, apparently in total there are around 150,000 people waiting for compensation due to the radioactive fallout.
This isn’t the first incidence showing the lack of knowledge involved when testing atomic weapons.  Three years before the French tests, in 1957, five U.S. air force officers along with a cameraman, were involved in an experiment where they stood directly underneath an atomic explosion at a Nevada test site and waited for the bang.  There was absolutely no forethought as to the radioactive fallout involved and one of the officers even wished that everyone could have been there.  As more documents become declassified, it will no doubt become clear that radioactive fallout from atomic bomb tests has probably hit far more areas of the world besides France’s contamination of southern Europe and various parts of Africa.

French Nuclear Tests in Algeria: Exact Radioactive Fallout Extent Revealed

U.N. reaffirms Palestinian right to self-determination and independent statehood


Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 

18 December 2013

[on the report of the Third Committee (A/68/455)]

           The General Assembly,

           Aware that the development of friendly relations among nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, is among the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as defined in the Charter,

           Recalling, in this regard, its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, entitled “Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”,

           Bearing in mind the International Covenants on Human Rights,[1] the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[2] the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples[3] and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights on 25 June 1993,[4]

           Recalling the Declaration on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations,[5]

           Recalling also the United Nations Millennium Declaration,[6]

           Recalling further the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,[7] and noting in particular the reply of the Court, including on the right of peoples to self-determination, which is a right 

erga omnes,[8]

           Recalling the conclusion of the Court, in its advisory opinion of 9 July 2004, that the construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, along with measures previously taken, severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,[9]

           Welcoming the resumption of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, based on the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative[10] and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,[11] aiming for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides within the agreed time frame of nine months,

           Stressing the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and recalling in this regard its resolution 58/292 of 6 May 2004,

           Recalling its resolution 67/158 of 20 December 2012,

           Taking note of its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012,

           Affirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

           1.       Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine;

           2.       Urges all States and the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.

70th plenary meeting

18 December 2013

[1] Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
[2] Resolution 217 A (III).
[3] Resolution 1514 (XV).
[4] A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chap. III.
[5] Resolution 50/6.
[6] Resolution 55/2.
[7] See A/ES‑10/273 and Corr.1.
[8] Ibid., advisory opinion, para. 88.
[9] Ibid., para. 122.
[10] A/56/1026‑S/2002/932, annex II, resolution 14/221.
[11] S/2003/529, annex.