UN expert urges action on Nepal’s commitment to indigenous rights

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KATHMANDU/GENEVA, Dec. 2, 2008 – “This is a critical moment to respond to the many challenges that indigenous peoples of Nepal face,” said Professor S. James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, as he concluded his nine-day visit to Nepal. “While I am encouraged by expressions of commitment by the Government of Nepal to advance the rights of indigenous peoples, much needs to be done.”

The Special Rapporteur, who expressed his appreciation for the Government’s cooperation during all phases of his visit, met in Kathmandu with government officials, representatives of indigenous peoples’ (adivasi janajati) organizations, members of civil society, and various representatives of the United Nations. In his visits to the districts of Illam, Jhapa, Chitwan and Kailali, the UN expert consulted with indigenous communities and local authorities.

Professor Anaya observed with satisfaction the Government of Nepal’s commitment to international standards upholding the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular its ratification of ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.



Shoshone activists seek to halt NV gold mine

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A lawyer for environmentalists and tribal activists told a federal judge Monday that the government’s approval of a big gold mine was flawed and would prohibit the Western Shoshone from practicing religious rites on a mountain in northern Nevada.

But attorneys for Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. countered that not all Western Shoshone share the views of Carrie Dann and the Western Shoshone Defense Project, and that their arguments are without merit.

U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks, after a two-hour hearing, delayed ruling on a motion by tribal activists for a temporary restraining order to halt work on the 6,700-acre Cortez Hills Project that would include a 900-acre open mine pit 2,000-feet deep.


Yes, a Nuclear Iran Is Unacceptable: A Memo to President-elect Obama

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We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. It would be a game-changer in the region. Not only would it threaten Israel, our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but it would also create a possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. And so it’s unacceptable. And I will do everything that’s required to prevent it. And we will never take military options off the table.

–Barack Obama, Second Presidential Debate[1]

President-elect Obama, you are right that the United States cannot allow Iran to attain a nuclear weapon. Your statement during the second presidential debate indicates that you appreciate the unacceptable dangers posed by a nuclear-capable Iran. But statements like the following indicate a lack of understanding about the past record of failed attempts to negotiate with Iran:

Question: [W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?…


Nuclear reactor cost soars 20%

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THE STATE-OF-THE-ART nuclear power station being built by EDF at Flamanville in Le Manche Normandy has risen by 20%.

The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) power station is now expected to cost €4 billion, up from an original €3.3 billion.

This could have a knock-on effect on the price of electricty it will produce – up to €55/megawatt hour compared to a planned €46.


Nuclear cleanup to cost billions

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While it will cost taxpayers billions to clean out dangerous radioactive waste from a defunct nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, storing it there would cost billions more over the centuries — and risk contamination of Lake Erie.

That was the conclusion of a state-funded report on the 3,300-acre West Valley nuclear site, closed since the early 1970s and once the nation’s only commercial center for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

Released Tuesday, the report comes during a growing national debate about stepping up nuclear power as a way to cut the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Critics continue to question the fate of spent fuel, which is dangerous for thousands of years.


DOE receives little community support at meeting

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The U.S. Department of Energy didn’t get a lot of community support Tuesday at a public hearing to discuss its Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Program.

The program, referred to as GNEP, would, at its most basic level, allow for research and development of the recycling of spent nuclear fuel rods. At its most active level, the program could include advanced nuclear recycling using advanced recycling reactors.

The meeting was conducted in Piketon, where a GNEP program could be implemented in the future. The DOE already owns land and has facilities that would be good for recycling, and is one of many DOE sites being considered.


DOE would expand nuclear dump in Nevada

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Energy Department will tell Congress in the coming weeks it should begin looking for a second permanent site to bury nuclear waste, or approve a large expansion of the proposed waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Edward Sproat, head of the department’s civilian nuclear waste program, said Thursday the 77,000-ton limit Congress put on the capacity of the proposed Yucca waste dump will fall far short of what will be needed and has to be expanded, or another dump built elsewhere in the country.

The future of the Yucca Mountain project is anything but certain.