Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mass Grave of Refugees Uncovered in Evros (Greece)

During the first seven months of the year 2010, 38 human beings died while attempting to cross the heavily guarded Turkish-Greek border. The corpses of the dead are being transferred to the department of forensic medicine of the university clinic of Alexandroupoulis. Since they can often not be identified, only a DNA-test is being carried out so that relatives can still gain certainty.

Mass grave in the Evros region

On 25th of June 2010 19 people drowned in the river Evros/Meriç. 14 corpses washed ashore on the Greek side and were brought to the university clinic by an undertaker from Orestiada. After the dead had been examined and registered, the undertaker brought them to a village of the Turkish minority on the mountains above Souflí for them to be buried on muslim cemetery.
cemetery of the illegal immigrants - muftia evros

However, the corpses can now be found in a mass grave outside the village of Sideró, in inaccessible terrain. Only a sign, riddled by many gun-shots, tells that this is the "cemetery of the illegal immigrants" where the corpses are buried. It is not immediately obvious that it is a mass grave. Upon closer inspection, one can however see holes that were excavated and again filled up by bulldozers and that can contain up to ten corpses.

Further investigation by w2eu, currently in the area to look for the corps of the father of a family who died in the incident on the 25th of June and whose family is currently in relative security shows that this practice has been ongoing for years. It is believed that between 150 and 200 dead have been buried in the mass grave. Although the local government ordered an ablution and burial according to muslim rite, the dead have merely been buried in the mass grave. This practice fundamentally lacks any respect for the dead as well as their relatives. Even an exhumation for the dead to be buried in a more dignified way is not possible anymore.

The existence of this mass grave at the external border of the EU fits the image of constant and continued humiliation and degradation of refugees. It is with a systematic brutality that refugees and migrants are stopped from crossing the borders, a brutality that even puts up with the death of those looking for protection. Even after their death, those human beings remain second class people that seemingly not even deserve a burial of human dignity.

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Mullen: National Debt is a Security Threat

The national debt is the single biggest threat to national security, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tax payers will be paying around $600 billion in interest on the national debt by 2012, the chairman told students and local leaders in Detroit.

“That's one year's worth of defense budget,” he said, adding that the Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.

“We're going to have to do that if it's going to survive at all,” Mullen said, “and do it in a way that is predictable.”

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Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed In Street-Roving Vans

As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it's worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren't the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets.

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E's machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.

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Software Predicts Criminal Behavior

New crime prediction software being rolled out in the nation's capital should reduce not only the murder rate, but the rate of many other crimes as well.

Developed by Richard Berk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the software is already used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict which individuals on probation or parole are most likely to murder and to be murdered.

In his latest version, the one being implemented in D.C., Berk goes even further, identifying the individuals most likely to commit crimes other than murder.

If the software proves successful, it could influence sentencing recommendations and bail amounts.

"When a person goes on probation or parole they are supervised by an officer. The question that officer has to answer is 'what level of supervision do you provide?'" said Berk.

It used to be that parole officers used the person's criminal record, and their good judgment, to determine that level.

"This research replaces those seat-of-the-pants calculations," he said.

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Black workers in Guyana struggle against neocolonial State and foreign bosses

On Wednesday August 18, the GB&GWU in its continued pursuit to ensure the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) and the Government of Guyana respect bauxite workers' rights to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining made its case before the Black and Ethnic Advisory Committee of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) in London, United Kingdom.

In the symposium organized by RMT to address this issue, Norman Browne, the Union's UK representative made a presentation that highlighted the plight of the bauxite workers and the government's response to the transgressions.

In presenting the Union's position of the 10 months old dispute, Browne pointed out the evident transgression of Section 23 (1) of the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Act (1997) which expressly says "When a trade union obtains a certificate of recognition for workers comprised in a bargaining unit in accordance with this Part, the employer shall recognize the union, and the union and the employer shall bargain in good faith and enter into negotiations with each other for the purpose of collective bargaining."

He highlighted the violation of the rights of the 57 workers who were placed on the breadline without due process.

He also apprised the audience of the Minister of Labour's responsibility under the Labour Laws of Guyana,  Chapter 98:01 Section 4 (1) (a) (b) and (c)  and the concerns of the Union at the tardiness of the Ministry of Labour in resolving the dispute, a dispute that has now become the longest running in the history of Guyana.

Dr Rupert Roopnarine, of the Working Peoples' Alliance, was another main speaker at the event.  In addressing the gathering, he gave a historical perspective of the development of the trade union movement in Guyana and the political interference that saw a decline in the vibrancy of the Guyana Trades Union Congress and its umbrella unions.

Attendees at the symposium made known their concerns about the deterioration in Guyana and have given the commitment to the Union to stand by it in its struggle for the protection of rights and the upholding of the rule of law. Leaders and representatives from several organizations in the UK were in attendance; among them were Tongarara Danni of the Pan African Voice in London and Kwabena Gyakye of the UK's branch of the African People's Socialist Party (APSP).
 
On Friday August 13, the leadership of the Union, Messrs Leslie Gonsalves and Carlton Sinclair, along with Mr. Norris Witter, General Secretary (ag.), Guyana Trades Union Congress, met with Labour Minister, Mr. Manzoor Nadir.

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Repairing bikes for torture survivors wins woman McKnight award

Cynthia McArthur surrounds herself with bicycles she can't ride.

McArthur, 58, used to work as a bicycle mechanic and once spent months pedaling across Europe - until chronic fatigue syndrome left her unable to work or bike more than a few blocks.

Now she spends her time repairing bicycles in the garage of her St. Paul home and coordinating a volunteer program that donates the bicycles to torture survivors. The "Bikes for Clients" program at the Center for Victims of Torture provides about 50 bicycles each year to adults and children.

"I suppose you could say, 'Oh, it's a way of taking lemons and turning it into lemonade,' or something silly like that," McArthur said. "It's not that goofy, but it is ironic because sometimes it was depressing that I couldn't do what I was helping other people do."

The McKnight Foundation announced Wednesday that McArthur and five other Minnesotans will receive Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service. The nonprofit provides the $10,000 awards to Minnesota residents "who have demonstrated an exceptional personal commitment to helping others in their communities but who have received little or no public recognition."

McArthur said that when a McKnight official called to tell her the news, she couldn't believe it.

"I almost fell off the chair that I was sitting in," she said. "It was totally out of the blue for me."

Other award recipients include Somali youth advocate Abdi Ali, homeless outreach volunteer Jerry Fleischaker, affordable housing landlord Dan Hunt, early education advocate Peg Johnson, and Korean War veteran and longtime volunteer Berlyn Staska.

McArthur began volunteering at the Center for Victims of Torture in 1996, after learning that the agency needed bicycle helmets for clients. Agency staff had been buying used bicycles at rummage sales, but they didn't know how to repair or maintain them.

For McArthur, it was a perfect fit. She grew up with a passion for bicycling and had worked repairing bicycles in the 1970s, when it "was totally uncool for a girl to be a bike mechanic," she said.

The volunteer work also allowed McArthur to fulfill a childhood promise.

"I had a lot of things happen to me when I was young that weren't good," she said. And I just remember saying, 'I'll never treat anybody like I've been treated.' So it's just been a conduit for me to exercise that value."

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Italian right-wing minister backs French Rom expulsions

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Saturday praised France's crackdown on Roma and travellers, saying that President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is "simply copying Italy". French Interior Minsiter Brice Hortefeux defended the controversial deportations in a newspaper interview, claiming his critics are confined to the "billionaire left".

"For years now, Italy has been using the technique of voluntary and assisted repatriation," Maroni told the Corriere della Sera.
 
Maroni is a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, the junior partner in Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing government. Critics of France's policy include the Vatican and the authors of a UN report on racism.
 
He added that he would like to be able to deport European Union citizens who do not meet hs requirements for income and housing and will raise the proposal at an EU ministers' meeting in Paris on 6 September.

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