One uranium mine in Niger says a lot about China’s huge nuclear-power ambitions – Armin Rosen Oct 24 2015


Niger

Armin Rosen/Business Insider Where’s the uranium? The highway between Agadez and Abalak.

The odds of finding much of anything seem slim in northern Niger’s unnerving expanses of hazy white desert.

The land is so vast, so untethered from any obvious landmarks that when straying just a few hundred feet off of the inconsistently paved road between Abalak and Agadez, it’s hard to shake the fear that the driver won’t be able to find the highway again.

Even with plenty of water, gas, and daylight on hand, there’s a general feeling of being marooned.

In the post-World War II years, huge amounts of cheap electricity were needed to fuel the breakneck growth of Western economies.

At the same time, nuclear weapons became the ultimate embodiment of national power and prestige.

So the discovery of uranium in Niger in 1957 was a much-needed economic boon for a country that still ranks 187th on the Human Development Index.

And the ambitions of the nuclear powers in Niger are still playing out today as Niger’s remote and inhospitable northern desert environment contains the world’s fifth-largest recoverable uranium reserves, some 7% of the global total.

The ore must be extracted and then milled into yellowcake in distant pockets of the Saharan wastes, where it’s then sent on a multi-day truck convoy to the port of Cotonou, in Benin, some 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) away.

NigerGoogle Maps

With degraded roads and unpredictable passenger air service, it’s hard to physically access the country’s two major mines, which are outside of a town called Arlit, about a five-hour drive north from Agadez and a more than 20-hour, 1,300-kilometer (807-mile) drive from Niamey, the capital.

Those mines are operated by Areva, a nuclear-energy-services company that is 70% owned by France, the colonial power that ruled Niger between the 1890s and 1960.

Those two mines have been in operation since the late 1960s and are collectively the largest employer in the country other than the Nigerien government.

On their own, the mines account for nearly one-third of Niger’s exports. Nigerien uranium is thought to provide for approximately one-third of France’s domestic consumer electricity needs.

Both of the mines are nearing the end of their operational lifespan — one is expected to only last another 10 to 15 years.

A third mine, at Imouraren, is currently under development and has reserves enough to become one of the most productive uranium sites in the world.

But plans to begin large-scale mining at Imouraren are now on hold because of the worldwide plunge in uranium prices that followed the Fukushima incident and the resulting shutdown of Japan’s 43 commercial nuclear reactors.

 

 

Article continues:

http://www.businessinsider.com/niger-uranium-mine-and-nuclear-china-2015-10

Witness to Islamic State Atrocities (Extra Scene from ‘Libya’s Migrant Trade’) – Vice News Published on Sep 23, 2015


In a desperate bid to seek a better life in Europe, thousands of refugees and migrants leave the shores of Libya and cross the perilous Mediterranean Sea every month. Over 2,000 people have died making the journey in 2015 alone.

The routes to and journey through Libya are also dangerous, however, and since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, the country has struggled to achieve and maintain stability. Porous desert borders, rival fighters, and weak governance have left much of Libya in complete chaos.

With militias controlling large swathes of land, their attentions have turned to the people that cross their territories. The fighters assert they are bringing order to the country as they detain the refugees, yet these people’s lives have become valuable commodities to the militias as they try to solidify their positions in the country.

In this extra scene from ‘Libya’s Migrant Trade,’ VICE News speaks to migrants who witnessed atrocities committed by Islamic State militants, and whose perilous escape was followed by capture and detention by Libyan authorities.

Watch “Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1V943t1

Kidnapped and Sold: Libya’s Migrant Trade (Part 2) – Vice News Published on Sep 16, 2015


In a desperate bid to seek a better life in Europe, thousands of refugees and migrants leave the shores of Libya and cross the perilous Mediterranean Sea every month. Over 2,000 people have died making the journey in 2015 alone.

The routes to and journey through Libya are also dangerous, however, and since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, the country has struggled to achieve and maintain stability. Porous desert borders, rival fighters, and weak governance have left much of Libya in complete chaos.

With militias controlling large swathes of land, their attentions have turned to the people that cross their territories. The fighters assert they are bringing order to the country as they detain the refugees, yet these people’s lives have become valuable commodities to the militias as they try to solidify their positions in the country.

VICE News secured exclusive access to a camp outside Tripoli, run by a militia that has seized hundreds of migrants. Food is scarce, dehydration and disease is rife, and control comes in the form of whips and warning shots. The militia claims to have the migrants’ interests at heart, but what emerges is a very different story.

In part two of a two-part series, VICE News speaks to migrants and refugees rounded up by a militia in Tripoli, before returning to another militia camp to speak to a young Eritrean migrant who calls upon the United Nations for help.

Watch “Detained by Militias: Libya’s Migrant Trade (Part 1)” – http://bit.ly/1Mb2jrx

From Jihad to Jewelry Making: Inside Nigeria’s Secret Prison for Former Boko Haram Fighters – By DREW HINSHAW And PATRICK MCGROARTY Updated Sept. 14, 2015 5:15 p.m. ET


Government offers ex-militants rehabilitation at prison complex, while also aiding women they traumatized

Fatima Bukar, in white, took part in an Arabic lesson at a secret government camp in Nigeria on Aug. 21. Boko Haram held Ms. Bukar and her daughter hostage in a forest clearing for nearly five months.

Fatima Bukar, in white, took part in an Arabic lesson at a secret government camp in Nigeria on Aug. 21. Boko Haram held Ms. Bukar and her daughter hostage in a forest clearing for nearly five months. Photo: Patrick McGroarty/The Wall Street Journal

 

Usman Balami once commanded hundreds of Boko Haram jihadists in attacks on police stations and banks. Now serving time at a prison complex in northern Nigeria, he says he is a changed man.

“In the past, I would have loved to die as a martyr,” said the 34-year-old, after changing out of a yellow goaltender’s jersey following a morning soccer match. In a nearby room, a group of former insurgents strung together beaded necklaces in a jewelry-making class.

About 100 miles away in another government facility, Fatima Bukar prayed that she can move on as well. Each day at midnight, the hour in which she believes God is listening most intently, she rises in the hostel where soldiers are keeping watch over hundreds of women rescued from Boko Haram. The group held Ms. Bukar and her daughter hostage in a forest clearing for nearly five months.

“I pray that Allah can turn them back into good people,” said the 27-year-old. “If not, Allah should destroy them.”

Boko Haram has become Nigeria’s collective trauma. The insurgency has swept thousands of boys and men into its ranks, often at gunpoint. It has snatched several thousand more girls and women, many of them raped nightly for months.

Continued fighting has left more than 25,000 people dead and more than one million people without homes, Ms. Bukar among them.

ENLARGE

Now, in these two high-walled camps, survivors from both sides of the conflict are coming to terms with the scars of the six-year insurgency that has redefined their lives.

It is the start of a long reckoning for Nigeria.

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/nigeria-reaches-out-to-former-boko-haram-fighters-victims-1442289601

 

The Land of No Men: Inside Kenya’s Women-Only Village – Vice News Published on Sep 9, 2015


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Where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the desert, the people of Samburu have maintained a strict patriarchy for over 500 years in northern Kenya. That is, until 25 years ago, when Rebecca Lolosoli founded Umoja village as a safe haven for the region’s women. Umoja, which means “unity” in Swahili, is quite literally a no man’s land, and the matriarchal refuge is now home to the Samburu women who no longer want to suffer abuses, like genital mutilation and forced marriages, at the hands of men.

Throughout the years, it has also empowered other women in the districts surrounding Samburu to start their own men-excluding villages. Broadly visited Umoja and the villages it inspired to meet with the women who were fed up with living in a violent patriarchy.

John Oliver Says U.S. Students Learn Virtually Nothing About Africa – ANDERS KELTO SEPTEMBER 09, 2015 4:48 PM ET


Leif Parsons for NPR
Leif Parsons for NPR

This week, comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, released a back-to-school video that mentioned how little U.S. students learn about Africa and Asia. (P.S. Although Oliver tries hard not to curse, he does utter a naughty word or two.)

“You will leave school knowing as much about those two continents as I know about actor Penn Badgley,” he said. “You’ll know it’s something that exists in the world, but you won’t be able to give any facts about it other than the general shape.”

If my own educational experience is any indication, Oliver is right. I graduated from a public high school in Michigan knowing very little about Africa. This proved to be something of a problem when I moved to Cape Town, South Africa, to cover the 2010 World Cup and began traveling around the continent as a reporter.

Five years and many stories later, I’ve filled much of my knowledge gap. So, to my fellow undereducated Americans — especially you students — here is a crash course in Africa. It’s the basics, plus some trivia that will prove your worldliness at future cocktail parties.

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1. Africa is not a country. Please, please, please get this right. There are 54 countries and one “non-self-governing territory” (Western Sahara) in Africa. South Africa is a country, not the southern part of a country called “Africa.” Similarly, West Africa and East Africa are regions of the continent, each containing many countries. In fact, there is a popular culture and media analysis website that takes its name from the common misconception thatAfrica is a country.

2. The map of Africa has changed — a lot. Before colonialism, Africa comprised thousands of autonomous groups with distinct languages and customs. By the early 20th century — the end of the “scramble for Africa” — colonists had taken control of every part of the continent except modern-day Ethiopia and Liberia. The national borders created by colonists were largely arbitrary. Many of today’s ethnic and tribal disputes have their roots in these somewhat randomly assigned borders, which forced rival civilizations to coexist.

3. Africa is a land of many tongues. There is incredible linguistic richness. Arabic is the most common language, spoken by roughly 170 million people. Next are English (130 million), French (115 million), Swahili (100 million), Berber (50 million), Hausa (50 million), Portuguese (20 million) and Spanish (10 million). By some estimates there are more than 2,000 languages, many of them thousands of years old.

4. The world’s deadliest animal is not what you think. When you picture Africa, you probably think of lions, cheetahs, rhinos and other potentially dangerous beasts. But as Bill Gates has pointed out, the animal that claims the most lives in the world is the mosquito: responsible for an estimated 725,000 deaths and millions of illnesses each year — primarily from malaria, which claims 90 percent of its victims in Africa.

Article continues:

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/09/09/438672718/john-oliver-says-u-s-students-learn-virtually-nothing-about-africa

People Smuggling in Sicily: Europe or Die – Vice News Published on Aug 14, 2015


In June the European Union (EU) responded to the huge numbers of migrants and refugees dying on its borders by launching an 11.8 million euro ($12.8m) a year naval mission. EUNAVFOR Med was launched to tackle human trafficking from North Africa, a major contributor to the migration crisis that has claimed 2,000 lives in the Mediterranean in 2015 alone.

But while the EU has declared war on traffickers in Libya and elsewhere, another trade is booming on its doorstep. Land smuggling preys on desperate people hoping to escape the EU’s Dublin Regulation — whereby migrants seeking refuge are required to do so in the first country that they set foot in — and illegally cross European borders.

VICE News travels to Sicily, a main stepping stone into Europe, to follow a police operation to arrest suspected smugglers at a boat landing, and meets a former member of a people trafficking network operating between Libya, Egypt, and Italy. We also find out about the land smuggling business of taking people from Sicily to northern Europe, and meet a small group of activists helping newly-arrived migrants and refugees avoid being exploited.

Watch “Migrants Stranded on Kos: Europe or Die” – http://bit.ly/1M8CkSt