International News Briefs

Documents show Shell paid Nigerian military to squash protests

NIGER: Court documents have revealed that in the 1990s, Shell often worked with and paid the Nigerian military to stamp out resistance to its oil production activities in the Niger Delta, The Guardian reported. Shell’s operations have polluted large land and air areas of the Ogoniland delta region, a claim that Shell does not deny. The company does deny involvement in human rights abuses that have killed what Ogoni activists claim to be thousands of people. Shell has been sued many times over its Nigerian operations and Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say that oil companies in the area have overseen a “human rights tragedy.”

Dalai Lama forced to cancel South Africa trip

AFRICA: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was unable to obtain a visa to visit South Africa, resulting in the cancellation of his trip to celebrate Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday. Although his office filed the visa applications in August, the visa was never issued in time to leave for the visit, Al Jazeera reported. The Office of Tibet, the Tibetan government in exile, issued a statement indicating that “for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue a visa” to the Dalai Lama. Critics have denounced South Africa’s decision and have claimed that China had pressured the government to deny the visa application.

U.S. jobs on the rise, yet unemployment still high

NEW YORK: Jobs are on the rise in the United States, where employers added 103,000 net new jobs in September, the New York Times reported. The U.S. Labour Department said this indicates the economy is not deteriorating and businesses are on the rise following this year’s oil price increases and the after-effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster. Despite these apparent successes, the unemployment rate has not yet decreased, sitting at 9.1 per cent in September. Due to the European debt crisis and tensions in American politics, the Times reports it unlikely American employers will create enough jobs to put millions of unemployed people back to work.

Residents of Japanese town feel unsafe to return

JAPAN: Most residents of Hirono, Japan, have refused to return home to the area contaminated during the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster, despite the Japanese government asserting that returning is safe. Of the former 5,500-person Hirono population, only a handful remains that refused to leave upon the first evacuation notice. One resident said, “I’ll never feel safe here. I’ll never feel secure,” according to The Globe and Mail. Hirono is in a zone within 20 and 30 kilometres from the plant. The area around Fukushima Dai-ichi was once home to more than 100,000 people but is expected to be uninhabitable for decades.

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to women activists

NORWAY: The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded equally to three women from Africa and the Middle East. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her fellow citizen peace activist Leyman Gbowee and Yemini human rights activist Tawakkol Karman won the prestigious award. Johnson Sirleaf is the first woman to be elected president in modern Africa; Karman continues to demand the resignation of Yemen’s president; and Gbowee worked to unite Christian and Muslim women against Liberia’s warlords, creating the Women for Peace movement. More than 250 people were nominated for the US$1.5 million prize.

Published in Volume 66, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 12, 2011)

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