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Hiroshima Anniversary, Gaddafi Video, Sibling Rivalry

Hiroshima Anniversary, Gaddafi Video, Sibling Rivalry

HIROSHIMA ANNIVERSARY

As the world marks today the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan’s Prime Minister called for the abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide, during a ceremony in the city where more than 140,000 were killed in the last moments of World War II.

Asked about the significance of the anniversary before meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Malaysia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as saying by Reuters that the ceremony was a powerful reminder of “the importance of the agreement we have reached with Iran to reduce the possibility of more nuclear weapons." Worldcrunch takes a look at the timeline of press coverage, and what it tells us about the evolution of reporting when faced with an inconceivably shocking event destined to become a chapter of human history.


MALAYSIAN AIRLINE DEBRIS ALL BUT VERIFIED

Photo: Raymond Wae Tion/Maxpp/ZUMA

An international team of investigators in France studying the flaperon found last week off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion declared Thursday a “high probability” that the section of the wing comes from the vanished Malaysian Flight MH370. Further tests are expected to give relatives long-awaited closure 17 months after the plane disappeared from the radar. Meanwhile, back on the remote French island of Reunion, the AFP reports more airplane debris has been identified, including seat parts and porthole. Read more in English from the BBC.


THE DONALD’S DEBATE

The Republican party’s top White House hopefuls gather tonight in Cleveland, Ohio for the first debate ahead of this year’s primaries. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who has made racist remarks about Mexicans and insulted former Republican nominee John McCain, is dominating the media circus â€" and leading in the polls, ahead of former Florida Governor and presidential brother-and-son Jeb Bush. The debate is limited to the top 10 candidates in the current poll rankings, out of 17 declared candidates. Have a look at our Extra! featuring the front page from the hometown Cleveland Plain Dealer. Read more from Politico.


GADDAFI ABUSE VIDEO

A video has emerged of guards in a Tripoli prison beating Saadi Gaddafi, son of the deposed dictator. The video, yet to be verified, was posted on the Internet soon after a court sentenced his brother Saif Al-Islam and other former regime officials to death for crimes during the 2011 uprising that toppled Col. Muammar Gaddafi, reports Al-Arabiya. The graphic nine minutes of footage have been denounced by human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.


NEW MED MIGRANT TRAGEDY

Rescue operations continued Thursday after at least 150 people drowned when an overcrowded boat capsized 25 kilometers off Libya's coast. A distress call was picked up and one of the first ships to the scene Wednesday was Irish navy vessel, the LÉ Niamh. But as rescue boats were launched, the fishing boat capsized. It is believed too many people may had moved to one side of the fishing boat causing it to overturn. The boat â€" thought to have had some 700 on board, according to Commander Brian Fitzgerald of the Irish Naval Service â€" sank within two minutes. Read more from the Irish Independent.


ON THIS DAY


Time for today's 57-second shot of history, today featuring Hiroshima and Game of Thrones.


VERBATIM

"When corruption is systemic, paying bribes become routine and that is seen as part of the game," said Judge Sergio Moro after two former executives of Brazilian construction giant OAS were sentenced to up to 16 years in jail for corruption. In his ruling, Judge Moro reaffirmed OAS" participation in the scandal at state-owned oil company, Petrobras, writes O Globo.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Le Temps’ Nic Ulmi delves into the latest scientific studies that help explain why humans are uniquely drawn to stories. “Outside the fields of biology and neuroscience, many essayists have attempted to describe and explain this compulsion. Fiction enables us to tame the real world and to extract meaning from more or less disparate events in our lives. The analysis was there. The only thing left to be done was for scientists to open up the brain’s black box to see how our species’ particularity fits into it and understand how our evolution through the ages gifted us with such a strange ability.”

Read the full article, The Science Behind Our Love Of Storytelling.


MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD



SIBLING RIVALRY

Many moms can identify with trying to get their child to say "mama" for the first time, but nobody expected their dog to beat the baby to it …

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Green

Ecological Angst In India, A Mining Dumpsite As Neighbor

Local villagers in western India have been forced to live with a mining waste site on the edge of town. What happens when you wake up one day and the giant mound of industrial waste has imploded?

The mining dumpsite is situated just outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat

Sukanya Shantha

BADI — Last week, when the men and women from the Bharwad community in this small village in western India stepped out for their daily work to herd livestock, they were greeted with a strange sight.

The 20-meter-high small hill that had formed at the open-cast mining dumpsite had suddenly sunk. Unsure of the reason behind the sudden caving-in, they immediately informed other villagers. In no time, word had traveled far, even drawing the attention of environment specialists and activists from outside town.

This mining dumpsite situated less than 500 meters outside of the Badi village in the coastal state of Gujarat has been a matter of serious concern ever since the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited began lignite mining work here in early 2017. The power plant is run by the Power Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited, which was previously known as the Bhavnagar Energy Company Ltd.

Vasudev Gohil, a 43-year-old resident of Badi village says that though the dumping site is technically situated outside the village, locals must pass the area on a daily basis.


"We are constantly on tenterhooks and looking for danger signs," he says. Indeed, their state of alert is how the sudden change in the shape of the dumpsite was noticed in the first place.

Can you trust environmental officials?

For someone visiting the place for the first time, the changes may not stand out. "But we have lived all our lives here, we know every little detail of this village. And when a 150-meter-long stretch cave-in by over 25-30 feet, the change can't be overlooked," Gohil adds.

This is not the first time that the dumpsite has worried local residents. Last November, a large part of the flattened part of the dumpsite had developed deep cracks and several flat areas had suddenly got elevated. While the officials had attributed this significant elevation to the high pressure of water in the upper strata of soil in the region, environment experts had pointed to seismic activities. The change is evident even today, nearly a year since it happened.

It could have sunk because of the rain.

After the recent incident, when the villagers raised an alarm and sent a written complaint to the regional Gujarat Pollution Control Board, an official visit to the site was arranged, along with the district administration and the mining department.

The regional pollution board officer Bhavnagar, A.G. Oza, insists the changes "aren't worrisome" and attributes it to the weather.

"The area received heavy rain this time. It is possible that the soil could have sunk in because of the rain," he tells The Wire. The Board, he says, along with the mining department, is now trying to assess if the caving-in had any impact on the ground surface.

"We visited the site as soon as a complaint was made. Samples have already been sent to the laboratory and we will have a clear idea only once the reports are made available," Oza adds.

Women from the Surkha village have to travel several kilometers to find potable water

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

A questionable claim

That the dumpsite had sunk in was noticeable for at least three days between October 1 and 3, but Rohit Prajapati of an environmental watchdog group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, noted that it was not the first time.

"This is the third time in four years that something so strange is happening. It is a disaster in the making and the authorities ought to examine the root cause of the problem," Prajapati says, adding that the department has repeatedly failed to properly address the issue.

He also contests the GPCB's claim that excess rain could lead to something so drastic. "Then why was similar impact not seen on other dumping sites in the region? One cannot arrive at conclusions for geological changes without a deeper study of them," he says. "It can have deadly implications."

Living in pollution

The villagers have also accused the GPCB of overlooking their complaint of water pollution which has rendered a large part of the land, most importantly, the gauchar or grazing land, useless.

"In the absence of a wall or a barrier, the pollutant has freely mixed with the water bodies here and has slowly started polluting both our soil and water," complains 23- year-old Nikul Kantharia.

He says ever since the mining project took off in the region, he, like most other villagers has been forced to take his livestock farther away to graze. "Nothing grows on the grazing land anymore and the grass closer to the dumpsite makes our cattle ill," Kantharia claims.

The mining work should have been stopped long ago

Prajapati and Bharat Jambucha, a well-known environmental activist and proponent of organic farming from the region, both point to blatant violations of environmental laws in the execution of mining work, with at least 12 violations cited by local officials. "But nothing happened after that. Mining work has continued without any hassles," Jambucha says. Among some glaring violations include the absence of a boundary wall around the dumping site and proper disposal of mining effluents.

The mining work has also continued without a most basic requirement – effluent treatment plant and sewage treatment plant at the mining site, Prajapati points out. "The mining work should have been stopped long ago. And the company should have been levied a heavy fine. But no such thing happened," he adds.

In some villages, the groundwater level has depleted over the past few years and villagers attribute it to the mining project. Women from Surkha village travel several kilometers outside for potable water. "This is new. Until five years ago, we had some water in the village and did not have to lug water every day," says Shilaben Kantharia.

The mine has affected the landscape around the villages

Sukanya Shantha/The Wire

Resisting lignite mining

The lignite mining project has a long history of resistance. Agricultural land, along with grazing land were acquired from the cluster of 12 adjoining villages in the coastal Ghogha taluka between 1994 and 1997. The locals estimate that villagers here lost anything between 40-100% of their land to the project. "We were paid a standard Rs 40,000 per bigha," Narendra, a local photographer, says.

The money, Narendra says, felt decent in 1994 but for those who had been dependent on this land, the years to come proved very challenging. "Several villagers have now taken a small patch of land in the neighboring villages on lease and are cultivating cotton and groundnut there," Narendra says.

They were dependent on others' land for work.

Bharat Jambucha says things get further complicated for the communities which were historically landless. "Most families belonging to the Dalit or other marginalized populations in the region never owned any land. They were dependent on others' land for work. Once villagers lost their land to the project, the landless were pushed out of the village," he adds. His organization, Prakrutik Kheti Juth, has been at the forefront, fighting for the rights of the villages affected in the lignite mining project.

In 2017, when the mining project finally took off, villagers from across 12 villages protested. The demonstration was disrupted after police used force and beat many protesters. More than 350 of them were booked for rioting.

The villagers, however, did not give up. Protests and hunger strikes have continued from time to time. A few villagers even sent a letter to the President of India threatening that they would commit suicide if the government did not return their land.

"We let them have our land for over 20 years," says Gohil.

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