South News Aug 8 

Hiroshima Day brings renewed protests 

Japan  marked the 52nd anniversary of the atomic U.S. bombing of its country Wednesday. Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka delivered the peace declaration, and appealed to the world to eliminate nuclear arms. Mr Hiraoka said a further 5,076 people exposed to the bomb had died in the past year, bringing the death toll to 202,118. Most of the victims are now elderly and suffering from deteriorating health. 

The 45,000 people gathered at Peace Memorial Park included victims of the attack. The park is located near the epicentre of the atomic bomb explosion, and includes the dome and the burnt-out shell of what used to be an an industrial exhibition centre as stark reminders of the blast.At the memorial, Hiraoka criticized the United States for conducting a series of low-level nuclear tests that began in early July in Nevada. "We in Hiroshima are outraged that nuclear weapons have yet to be abolished and banished from the face of the earth, and we are very uneasy about the future of civilization," Hiraoka said 

At 8.15am (Japan time) on Wednesday, the exact time of the blast, ceremony participants offered one minute of silent prayer. At the tolling of a Buddhist bell named ''Peace'' resounded through the park some 1,500 doves were released. 

The Hiroshima blast killed an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945. Many died instantly, others more slowly from radiation or severe burns. 

As dusk descended, traditional paper lanterns representing the spirits of the dead were floated on the Motoyasu River behind Hiroshima's symbol, the A-Bomb Dome. Children lit thousands of candles along the river banks. At the park, survivors and families of victims offered flowers and water before an altar. 

Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who was in Hiroshima for a peace conference, vowed to work toward abolishing nuclear arms to realize "a world without war." He said Japan was the first country to ratify the comprehensive ban among the 44 required to bring it into effect. He and other dignitaries from many countries attended the ceremony and offered flowers at a cenotaph for bomb victims at the peace memorial ceremony. 

Three days after the Hiroshima attack, the United States dropped a second atom bomb on Nagasaki, killing 70,000 people which many believe  was unjustified. In the United States peace activists plan to celebrate the Nagaski Day. John Catalinotto, editor of Workers World said, "The traditional anti-nuclear protest commemorating the horror inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki when atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities in 1945 will break newground this Aug. 9. Anti-nuclear protesters plan a demonstration that politically challenges the Pentagon and its continuing development of new weapons systems of mass destruction." 

The targets of this new anti-nuclear protest are 

"By raising these new issues, the anti-nuclear movement will express solidarity with the world's oppressed nations against the U.S. military establishment. It will also confront dangers to the world's environment", Catalinotto said. 

NASA plans to launch the Cassini space probe of the planet Saturn in October. The Cassini rocket will contain 72.3 pounds of plutonium-238 fuel. That is more of this dangerous material than ever before sent out into space. Plutonium is both radioactive and a highly dangerous carcinogen. As little as one-millionth of a gram could induce lung cancer, according to Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. 

"Washington has developed a new "bunker buster"  nuclear bomb", Catalinotto said." It's a hydrogen bomb fitted in a needle- shaped case made of depleted uranium. The new bomb can burrow 50 feet underground before detonating. Then it can obliterate underground structures." 

Catalinotto said it was also a weapon the Pentagon developed for use against non aligned countries that are not nuclear powers, and countries the U.S. propaganda machine has demonized-such as Iraq, Libya and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 

"The third new target for the anti-nuclear movement this August is conventional depleted uranium. This metal, 1.7 times as dense as lead, is used to make shells that penetrate effectively. It is poisonous and radioactive Made from the waste material of the nuclear arms and power industries, it is suspected of being a major cause of Gulf War Syndrome. During the 1991 Gulf War, when DU shells hit Iraqi tanks, the DU burned, spewing tiny radioactive particles into the air. There they could be ingested or inhaled by millions of people in the Gulf region, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops", Catalinotto said. 
Photo : Doves are released over Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park to mark the 52nd anniversary  

See:  South Movement's Events page 

UN observes International Day Of World's Indigenous People 

The International Day of the World's Indigenous People (9 August) was marked at United Nations Headquarters on Thursday, 7 August by a "sacred pipe" ceremony and songs and dances honouring indigenous people of the world. 

August 9 has been designated by the General Assembly as the International Day of the World's Indigenous People and the UN has designated the period 1995 to 2004 as the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The goal of the Decade is to strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health 

The Sacred Pipe Ceremony was led by Arvol Looking Horse, Nineteenth Generation Keeper of the Sacred Pipe of the Lakota of the United States. Nana Osei Boakye Yiadom II, Chief from Aburi-Akuapem, Ghana, blessed the children attending the ceremony 

Indigenous leaders and elders from around the world gathered for the commemoration, opened with Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message for the International Day. Kofi Annan said, the UN has undertaken to draw up a declaration of rights as soon as possible "Many indigenous people suffer from crippling poverty, discrimination and poor access to basic necessities such as education, housing and health. Indigenous people have also experienced, over many years, the gradual deterioration of their land and resource base," he said. 

"Indigenous people are renowned as guardians of nature. They were the first proponents of sustainable development. We need to call on their expertise, experience and wisdom as we seek solutions to the problems of the new century," Kofi Annan said. 

The Secretary-General quoted the words of one indigenous person saying "We are, on the one hand, the most oppressed people on the globe. On the other hand, we are the hope for the future of people of the planet." 


Tax crisis in Australia 

The Australian High Court decision last Tuesday to invalidate $5 billion in State business franchise fees has induced the most significant crisis in Commonwealth-State relations since Canberra took over income taxing powers in 1942 to fight World War II. 

The immediate impact of the majority decision was to gouge a great hole in State revenues, but the decision has cast doubt on other State sources of revenue such as real estate stamp duty. The High Court judgement, leaves the States with very narrow and tenuous sources of income such as gambling, financial transactions (which in future could be affected by increased electronic commerce) and payroll taxes. 

Treasurer Peter Costello the following day announced an immediate stop-gap, six-month patch-up with the Federal Government agreeing to raise national taxes on alcohol, tobacco and petrol to reimburse States for franchise fees which the High Court declared to be unconstitutional. 

The Prime Minister plans a special two-day Cabinet crisis meeting in Canberra on Monday and Tuesday to discuss tax reform, Commonwealth-State relations, industry policy and unemployment. 

The continuing jobs crisis was further highlighted in Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for July, published yesterday, They show the unemployment rate climbed from 8.5 per cent to 8.7 per cent last month in seasonally adjusted terms, with the jobless rate for men jumping from 8.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent over the same period. 

The ABS figures showed the labour market has been becalmed for the past six months and that no real inroads have been made into unemployment in the past two years with the true level of unemployment probably closer to 16 per cent when you include the so-called hidden unemployed and the underemployed. 

The hidden unemployed are workers who have given up looking for a job but who are ready to re-enter the labour market as soon as the chances of finding a job improve. The underemployed are the involuntary part-time workers. According to the last survey by the ABS, there are about half a million part-time workers willing to work another 7 million hours a week. That's the equivalent of about 195,000 full-time jobs or 456,000 part-time jobs. 

 Lockerbie victims' families visit Libya for talks 

Families of victims of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland who are visiting Libya held talks with the country's justice minister on Tuesday, officials said. 

"Proposals aimed at finding a solution to the Lockerbie affair and to guarantee a fair trial for the two Libyan suspects," were discussed during the meeting with Justice Minister Mohammad al-Zouai, a Libyan official said. 

Tripoli has proposed that the two Libyans be tried in a third country "other than the United States or Britain," before the International Court of Justice at The Hague or before a special court. The U.S. last month denounced a letter from Libya's U.N. mission to U.S. families of the victims, saying it was a callous effort "to prey on the emotions of the families in an attempt to undercut our will to see that justice is serve." 

Libya has been under an U.N. Security Council  air embargo since 1992 over its refusal to hand over to Britain or the United State two of its citizens accused of involvement in the Lockerbie tragedy. 

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu equated economic pressure he exerted on the Palestinians since the Jerusalem bombing with economic sanctions Washington imposed on Libya. 

But US Secretary of State Albright said this analogy ``does not work'' and inflames the situation rather than lowering tensions. ``The whole situation is totally different and while we respect the need for a prime minister, Prime Minister Netanyahu, to do what he can to protect the security of the people, using analogies that don't fit don't prove any point,'' she said. 

Related articles:  US on the ropes over Lockerbie 

Aid Groups Say Korean Famine Worsens  

A North Korean official says about 60,000 children ages 5 and under may not survive North Korea's severe food shortage, an international aid worker said Wednesday. North Korea's famine began in 1995 when severe floods destroyed arable land, crops, fertiliser stores and irrigation systems, plunging the country into a dire food shortage. The recent drought of over 60 days destroyed some 1.5 million tonnes of maize which the country had expected would help cover needs between November 1997 and October 1998. 

At a joint news conference, three relief agencies -- Oxfam, Hong Kong Red Cross and Caritas-Hong Kong --  said the latest drought would exacerbate North Korea's food deficit in 1998. they are petitioning the Hong Kong government  for $640,000 in emergency food aid . 

Officials estimate that 37.6 percent, or 800,000, of children aged up to six years old are suffering from malnutrition. Of these, 80,000 suffer severe malnutrition. "These children, even if they survive, will be physically stunted and there is a possibility of mental retardation," said Tricia Parker of Oxfam Hong Kong. 

Nurseries have also begun to fill with stunted, malnourished children, many too weak to stand and walk. "Some nurseries have run out of food and some are closed. Some parents have stopped sending their children to nurseries because they know they won't be fed there," said Parker. Oxfam is trying to raise HK$10 million which will be used to buy food for nurseries and children's homes and repair water and sanitation systems destroyed by past floods, Parker said. 

Oxfam also intends to approach the Hong Kong government for donations, she said. 60,000 North Korean children face death in food shortage Oxfam Hong Kong's Tricia Parker said she saw throngs of desperately hungry children at kindergartens and hospitals during a recent 10-day trip to North Korea. At one school, 6- and 7-year-olds were being fed one small meal every other day, she said. Children everywhere were bone thin, and many were too weak to even sit up, video footage of her trip shows. Parker said a North Korean official told her about 10 percent of children under 5 -- or 60,000 youngsters -- faced death from starvation. 

Australia on Wednesday announced a A$3.5 million (US$2.6 million) food aid package for North Korea. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the aid would be channelled through the United Nations' World Food Programme, which has appealed for international help. 

``This latest contribution from Australia comes at a time when it is clear that the food situation in North Korea is worsening, with millions of adults and children facing malnutrition and disease,'' Downer said in a statement. Canberra has already given A$4 million in aid to Pyongyang. 

Meanwhile the U.S. and Japan, both countries with huge food surpluses are not only holding back food but are blocking Korea from getting major international aid according to an article in The New York Times, Aug. 5. 

"Although the United States and other governments say that their aid is not politically conditioned, many officials say they believe that only if North Korea appears more cooperative in dealing with South Korea, Japan and other nations, will Pyongyang have a hope of getting major international aid ", the article highlighted. It also mentioned that the United States want to get its own personnel into the DPRK to "monitor" the situation first before committing any aid.