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Date: Monday, September 8, 2014, 7:28 PM GREEN PEACE TAKES AIM AT SOUTH 

Environmental activists at Green peace Africa have launched a global  campaign to block efforts by Eskom, South Africa’s public power utility, to release more polluting coal dust in the air. The dust has been linked to an uptick in premature deaths now estimated at 2,700 every year. Green peace is pushing its campaign in the wake of an application by Eskom to postpone compliance with new minimum emissions  standards aimed at reducing the damaging health impacts of air pollution. The new standards will impact the north-eastern Mpumalanga Province where 12 coal-fired power plants are clustered on the western  high-altitude side of the province known as the High veld. Eskom responded by casting blame on local area residents. "It is well  established that the brunt of poor air quality in South Africa are borne by people who burn coal and wood in their homes for cooking and heating,” they wrote. “The best way of improving this poor air quality is through the provision of affordable electricity." However, a July 2014 report by local environmental justice NGO groundwork, found that health risks related to outdoor air pollution resulting from Eskom's  emissions were three times higher than those associated with burning coal indoors. "The poor disproportionately bear the burden of  environmental exposure and yet are least able to mitigate the impacts," said Rico Euripidou, groundwork's environmental health  campaign manager, adding that his organization agreed with Green peace's figures on premature deaths caused by emissions. "If  anything, they're an under-estimate." “Soot pollution—a by-product from burning fossil fuels that results in small  particles in the air composed of a mixture of metals, chemicals, and acid droplets—is one of the deadliest and most dangerous air  pollutants,” notes the green advocate Sierra Club. “The smallest soot  particles are less than one-thirtieth the width of a human hair.  Because of their minuscule size, this fine particulate matter can  travel deep into our lungs and even enter the bloodstream.” Coal-fired plants placed in Africa got a boost this summer from World Bank  President Jim Yong Kim who used the term “energy apartheid” to  describe how two-thirds of the continent lack access to power. “We are  very sensitive to the idea that Africa deserves to have power,” Kim said. The Bank will “try to avoid” investing in coal, Kim said, “but  at the same time, we’ve got to respect the Africans’ demand for access to power.” Meanwhile, the Medupi power station,  fiercely opposed by an international coalition of grassroots, church  and environmental activists, appears to have been built on the graves  of fourteen families. The families say that they were never properly  consulted about the project, in a language which they were comfortable  with, when construction started seven years ago. Barring any new Delays, the Medupi $3.75 billion power station in Lephalale, Limpopo, 
is expected to go live next June.

Sep. 8 (GIN) –
Angola’s crude oil is proving sweet to U.S. buyers who are snapping it  up as fast as they are dropping purchases from Nigeria, according to  data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  Breaking a 40 year record, crude oil exports from Angola to the U.S. 
are averaging around 116,000 barrels per day (bpd) since the start of  2014, while imports from Nigeria are looking at 75,000 bpd. “Right  now, the US is no more importing from us because of shale oil that  they have. Now we are looking to India and to others where our crude  may not have a premium market,” Mike Olorunfemi, former executive of  Nigeria’s national oil cartel told Business Day.But the news is hardly comforting to Nigeria’s environmental activists. Pools of  spilled oil in the oil-rich Ogoniland still scar the landscape. A  report by the United Nations Environmental Program confirmed that  Ogoniland was a ticking ecological bomb." After three years a situation that required the declaration of environmental emergency has yet to elicit any serious response,” declared Nnimmo  Bassey, director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation in Nigeria. “We  are deeply shocked that we are marking three years of inaction on a  report that clearly showed our peoples are walking and living in the  valley of the shadow of death. We are scandalized that we are not  marking three years of concrete actions to salvage what is left of the  Ogoni environment,” he said. “There are no tenable reasons for  government and Shell to fold their arms and watch our people wallow in a chronically polluted environment all through their lives. Why should  anyone have to drink water containing benzene, a known carcinogen, at 
levels over 900 times above the World Health Organization guideline  and 1000 times above Nigerian drinking water standards?” Bassey asked.  This month, the call to “Leave the Oil in the Soil” will be widely  heard as thousands of people take to the streets of New York, London 
and eight other cities worldwide to pressure world leaders to take  action on global warming. Organizers predict it will be the biggest  climate march in history. The march and rally precedes a U.N. summit  on climate change organized by the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the first time world leaders have come  together on the issue since the landmark Copenhagen summit in 2009.  Ricken Patel, executive director of digital campaign group Avaaz, said the demonstration on Sept. 21 was intended to send a signal to the  world’s leaders. “Now is the time, here is the place, let’s come  together, to show politicians the political power that is out there on  there. On the web site: http://peoplesclimate.org/march/ ,  organizers explain: “With our future on the line and the whole world  watching, we’ll take to the streets to demand a world with an economy 
that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of  climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and  healthy communities.”

Sep. 8 (GIN) –

A blizzard of brickbats, insults and other aspersions aimed at South Africa’s Public Protector assigned to investigate the  taxpayer-financed country estate of President Jacob Zuma, have roused  the Diakonia Council of Churches, a social justice faith-based group,  which this week came to her defense in an open letter. The council  said it wished there were more people in public office with Thuli  Madonsela's integrity and courage. "We express our unwavering support 
for the office of the public protector... and applaud (Ms. Madonsela) for her courage and her integrity," the  clerics wrote in a published piece."We urge those whom we supported in the days of the struggle against the evil monster of  apartheid to not disappoint us now and take us into their version of a monster state' in which all are afraid to speak their mind and undertake their tasks with courage and integrity," it said.  Madonsela, an appointee of President Jacob Zuma with unanimous support  from the multi-party National Assembly, had been tasked with  investigating complaints about public spending on the President’s  private homestead in the KwaZulu-Natal town of Nkandla. Her final report published in March found that the President had benefited unduly from  the 246 million rand (U.S. $22.8 million) the state spent on so-called  security upgrades including a cattle kraal, an amphitheatre, a  Visitors’ Center, a chicken run and a swimming pool. A letter to the  President – leaked to the public - requesting repayment of the  “opulent” and “unauthorized” expenditures – is awaiting response. For the critical report, Madonsela was vilified by former friends and ANC colleagues even  before the document was officially released. Her investigation was  dismissed as “political”, she was urged to resign, and most recently 
she was accused of “acting like a counter-revolutionary” and being on  the payroll of the CIA. That charge by the Minister of Defense was  the match to dynamite, prompting a demand for proof or a retraction of  the charge within 72 hours. A graduate of law schools in Swaziland 
and a member of the team that drafted the country’s constitution,  Madonsela was in her early years a participant in the armed liberation  struggle and in the United Democratic Front anti-apartheid group. The  attacks against her work prompted a finger-wagging from former 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “Maligning the public protector besmirches  not only the ruling party, but the entire country,” he said. “We are  proud that South Africa has an office of the public protector. The  contempt being shown by the ruling party underlines the slippery moral 
slope South Africa has descended since the days of hope and promise  under President Nelson Mandela.” w/pix of T.Madonsela


Sep. 8 (GIN) – A 
U.S. drone war on the insurgency in Somalia has overlooked the war on women – specifically the abuse, rapes and attacks on women and girls by AMISOM - the African Union Mission in Somalia, a new report by Human Rights Watch has disclosed. In its reported titled “The Power These Men Have Over Us,” the NY-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) spoke with 21 women and girls who described being gang-raped or sexually exploited by Ugandan or Burundian military personnel serving with the AU forces. “Some Amisom soldiers have used humanitarian assistance, provided by the mission, to coerce vulnerable women and girls into sexual activity. Twenty-four other witnesses,  international actors as well as officials of the military courts, and other military personnel in Uganda and Burundi responded to questions.  Interviews with survivors were conducted on an individual basis and were unpaid. “Our research uncovered cases of rape, exploitation, and other forms of abuse. Several cases of rape or attempted rape were against children,” HRW wrote in its searing report, adding:" We are particularly concerned that a significant number of the abuses  occurred when the individuals initially came to the bases looking for help for sick children or relatives.” Several women described being slapped and beaten by the soldiers with whom they had  sex. Others said that soldiers had refused to wear condoms, passing on  sexually transmitted infections. The 22,000 African Union force, called AMISOM, with soldiers drawn from six nations, has been fighting alongside government troops against the insurgent al-Shabab fighters  since 2007. After viewing the report, AMISOM questioned the findings, 
saying the alleged rapes were "isolated" incidents and calling the  charges "unbalanced and unfair". Burundian General Silas Ntigurirwa,  AMISOM's commander, also downplayed "allegations of isolated cases of  rape", and said that his troops were given strict orders against raping and looting. HRW criticized troop-contributing countries for  not providing the necessary resources to investigate allegations or  make the investigation and prosecution of sexual exploitation and 
abuse a priority. Only one rape case, in which the victim was a child,  is before Uganda's military court in Kampala. "The findings raise serious concerns about abuses by AMISOM soldiers against Somali women  and girls that suggest a much larger problem," HRW said. "The AU military and political leadership needs to do more to prevent,  identify, and punish sexual abuse by their troops," Daniel Bekele, HRW 
Africa head, said.
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