metal

FILE PHOTO: A suspected illegal miner climbs out of a ventilation shaft in Benoni
FILE PHOTO: A suspected illegal miner climbs out of a ventilation shaft used to access an abandoned gold shaft in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Peter Hobson

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 40 million people around the world work in artisanal and small-scale mining where minerals including gold, diamonds and cobalt are dug up often by hand, a report by the World Bank and development organization Pact said on Wednesday.

Increasing demand for metals and rising prices have triggered a boom in small-scale mining in recent years, mainly in poorer countries in South America, Africa and Asia.

These mines are a vital source of income for communities, but many operate outside the law and leak chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. Working conditions can be appalling, and the metal and stones dug up are often smuggled across borders on a vast scale, sometimes by criminal operations.

Billions of dollars worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa, a Reuters investigation found this week.

The World Bank and Pact said too little was known about how many people worked in small mines and previous estimates, which were often far lower than 40 million, tended to be partial or rely on outdated data.

“It’s time to shine a light on this vital sector so we can accelerate investments in people and communities for greater equity and sustainable economic growth,” Riccardo Puliti, the World Bank’s head of energy and extractives global practice, said in a statement.

The report said 16.3 million people worked in small-scale mining in South Asia, of which 12 million were in India, and 9.8 million people in East Asia and the Pacific, of which 9 million were in China.

Another 9.9 million people worked in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said, with 2 million in the Democratic Republic of Congo and between 1 and 1.5 million each in Sudan, Ghana and Tanzania.

Just over 2 million people work in the industry in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 1.9 million more in the Middle East and North Africa and 100,000 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, it said.

Thirty percent of the workers globally were women, the report found.

Minerals mined in small-scale and artisanal mines include gold and diamonds, used for jewelry and investment, and tin, tungsten, tantalum and cobalt consumed in industry, electronics and batteries that power electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; editing by David Evans)

Source: OANN

An artisanal gold miner holds a gold nugget at an unlicensed mine in Gaoua, Burkina Faso
An artisanal gold miner holds a gold nugget at an unlicensed mine in Gaoua, Burkina Faso, February 13, 2018. Picture taken February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

April 24, 2019

By Ryan McNeill and Zandi Shabalaba David Lewis

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters analysis has found.

Customs data shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in 2006. The total weight was 446 tonnes, in varying degrees of purity – up from 67 tonnes in 2006.

Much of the gold was not recorded in the exports of African states. Five trade economists interviewed by Reuters said this indicates large amounts of gold are leaving Africa with no taxes being paid to the states that produce them.

Previous reports and studies have highlighted the black-market trade in gold mined by people, including children, who have no ties to big business, and dig or pan for it with little official oversight. No-one can put an exact figure on the total value that is leaving Africa. But the Reuters analysis gives an estimate of the scale.

Reuters assessed the volume of the illicit trade by comparing total imports into the UAE with the exports declared by African states. Industrial mining firms in Africa told Reuters they did not send their gold to the UAE – indicating that its gold imports from Africa come from other, informal sources.

Informal methods of gold production, known in the industry as “artisanal” or small-scale mining, are growing globally. They have provided a livelihood to millions of Africans and help some make more money than they could dream of from traditional trades. But the methods leak chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. And African governments such as Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia complain that gold is now being illegally produced and smuggled out of their countries on a vast scale, sometimes by criminal operations, and often at a high human and environmental cost.

Artisanal mining began as small-time ventures. But the “romantic” era of individual mining has given way to “large-scale and dangerous” operations run by foreign-controlled criminal syndicates, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo told a mining conference in February. Ghana is Africa’s second-largest gold producer.

Not everyone in the chain is breaking the law. Miners, some of them working legally, typically sell the gold to middlemen. The middlemen either fly the gold out directly or trade it across Africa’s porous borders, obscuring its origins before couriers carry it out of the continent, often in hand luggage.

For example, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major gold producer but one whose official exports amount to a fraction of its estimated production: Most is smuggled into neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. “It is of course worrisome for us but we have very little leverage to stop it,” said Thierry Boliki, director of the CEEC, the Congolese government body that is meant to register, value and tax high-value minerals like gold.

The customs data provided by governments to Comtrade, a United Nations database, shows the UAE has been a prime destination for gold from many African states for some years. In 2015, China – the world’s biggest gold consumer – imported more gold from Africa than the UAE. But during 2016, the latest year for which data is available, the UAE imported almost double the value taken by China. With African gold imports worth $8.5 billion that year, China came a distant second. Switzerland, the world’s gold refining hub, came third with $7.5 billion worth.

Most of the gold is traded in Dubai, home to the UAE’s gold industry.

The UAE reported gold imports from 46 African countries for 2016. Of those countries, 25 did not provide Comtrade with data on their gold exports to the UAE. But the UAE said it had imported a total of $7.4 billion worth of gold from them.

In addition, the UAE imported much more gold from most of the other 21 countries than those countries said they had exported. In all, it said it imported gold worth $3.9 billion – about 67 tonnes – more than those countries said they sent out.

“There is a lot of gold leaving Africa without being captured in our records,” said Frank Mugyenyi, a senior adviser on industrial development at the African Union who set up the organization’s minerals unit. “UAE is cashing in on the unregulated environment in Africa.”

The Dubai Customs Authority referred Reuters’ queries to the UAE foreign ministry, which did not respond. The UAE government media office referred Reuters to the UAE federal customs authority, which also did not respond.

Not all the discrepancies in the data analyzed by Reuters necessarily point to African-mined gold being smuggled out through the UAE. Small differences could result from shipping costs and taxes being declared differently, a time-lag between a cargo leaving and arriving, or simply mistakes. And gold analysts say some of the trade, especially from Egypt and Libya, could include gold that has been recycled.

But in 11 cases, the per-kilo value that the UAE declared importing is significantly higher than that recorded by the exporting country. This, said Leonce Ndikumana, an economist who has studied capital flows in Africa, is a “classic case of export under-invoicing” to reduce taxes.

Matthew Salomon, an American economist who has researched the use of trade statistics to identify illicit financial flows, said the issue deserves scrutiny. “Persistent discrepancies in the trade of particular goods and between particular countries … can identify significant risks of illicit activity,” he said.

POLLUTION, CONFLICT AND BANDITS

Over the past decade, high demand for gold has made it attractive for informal miners to use digging equipment and toxic chemicals to boost the yield. Contaminated water is returned to rivers, slowly poisoning the people who need the water to live.

Small-scale miners have long used mercury – easy to buy at around $10 for a thumb-sized vial – to extract flecks of gold from ore, before sluicing it away. Mercury’s toxic effects include damage to kidneys, heart, liver, spleen and lungs, and neurological disorders, such as tremors and muscle weakness. Cyanide and nitric acid are also being used in the process, according to researchers and miners in Ghana.

Industrial mining companies have also been responsible for pollution, ranging from cyanide spills to respiratory problems linked to dust produced by mining operations. But almost a dozen states including DRC, Uganda, Chad, Niger, Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Mali and Sudan have complained in the past year about the harms of unauthorized mining.

Burkina Faso has banned small-scale mining in some areas where al Qaeda-linked Islamists are active, and earlier this month Nigeria’s government suspended mining in the restive northwestern state of Zamfara, saying intelligence reports established what it called “a strong and glaring nexus” between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners.

Strong prices have fueled the boom. Today, gold trades at over $40,000 per kilo, which is below a peak from 2012 but still four times the level of two decades ago.

Western investors want gold so they can diversify their portfolios; India and China want it for jewelry. But most Western companies – and the banks that finance them – avoid handling non-industrial African gold directly. They are unwilling to risk using metal that may have been mined to fund conflict or that may have involved human rights abuses in, for instance, DRC or Sudan. Various Uganda-based traders have been sanctioned for handling gold smuggled out of DRC.

DESTINATION DUBAI

In other states, including the UAE, these concerns have been less of a problem. Over the last decade, gold from Africa has become increasingly important for Dubai. From 2006 to 2016, the share of African gold in UAE’s reported gold imports increased from 18 percent to nearly 50 percent, Comtrade data showed.

The UAE’s main commodity marketplace, the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC), calls itself on its website “your gateway to global trade.” Trading in gold accounts for nearly one-fifth of UAE’s GDP.

However, no big industrial companies reached by Reuters – including AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater and Gold Fields – say they send gold there. Reuters contacted 23 mining companies with African operations, the smallest of which produced around 2.5 tonnes in 2018: 21 of them said they did not send metal to Dubai for refining, the other two did not respond.

While the big South African miners have local refining capacity, the main reason others gave is that no UAE refineries are accredited by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the standard-setter for the industry in Western markets.

The LBMA is “not comfortable dealing with the region” because of concerns about weaknesses in customs, cash transactions and hand-carried gold, its chief technical officer Neil Harby told Reuters. Investigators and people in the gold industry say the ease with which smugglers can carry gold in their hand-luggage on planes leaving Africa helps gold flow out unrecorded. And limited regulation in UAE means informally mined gold can be legally imported, tax-free.

Gold can be imported to Dubai with little documentation, African traders told Reuters.

A DMCC spokesman said it has a robust regulatory framework that includes strict responsible sourcing rules. These are aligned with the international benchmark for responsible sourcing laid out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Sanjeev Dutta, head of commodities at DMCC, said in January that the center is building strategic relationships with most gold-producing countries on the African continent, “and we are very confident of how that production is done and how responsible” it is. Over the past 12 months, he said, DMCC has firmed up a standard for refineries, called Dubai Good Delivery, which he said is very strict on responsible sourcing and sustainability. “We track right from responsible sourcing to sustainable development, things like human rights etc.,” he said. “We demand export certificates.”

A “very limited” number of refineries accept gold that has been imported as hand luggage, Dutta said, but gave no figures.

GOLD TO GO

Some African miners are swapping their pickaxes and shovels for diggers and crushers – increasing production volumes exponentially. Regulation remains scant, and accidents are frequent. In one week this February, three accidents at illegal mining operations in Zimbabwe, Guinea and Liberia claimed the lives of more than 100 people.

Often, miners must surrender a cut of their output, as commission, to the people who control a pit, let out the equipment, or buy and sell the gold. NGOs such as Global Witness and Human Rights Watch have documented child labor, corruption and links to conflict at some of these mines. At one mine in Zimbabwe visited by Reuters, people said they had to hand over some of their find before they would even be allowed out of the pit.

Reuters presented its analysis to 14 African governments. Of them, five said it reflected an existing concern about gold being smuggled out of their countries that they are trying to address. One said they did not think gold smuggling was a problem for them. The rest declined to comment or did not respond.

Governments across Africa are trying to work out how to manage a sector that, whatever its risks, provides a livelihood for many of their citizens, and which could be harnessed as a source of revenues.

Some, including Ivory Coast, are taking gradual steps to regulate their informal mining operations. Ghana and Zambia have sent security forces into mining areas to halt operations so miners can be registered and regulations put in place. Ghana, concerned that a rush of mainly Chinese-led ventures is harming the environment, has arrested hundreds of Chinese miners and expelled thousands in the past six years.

At the end of last month, Ghana temporarily banned the import of excavator equipment to try to stem a surge in illegal mining using heavy machinery.

In Sudan, one of the continent’s biggest producers, the government has unveiled a $3 billion plan for private banks to work with the central bank to buy gold from small-scale miners, offering prices that would make it less attractive to sell on the black market.

A Tanzanian parliamentary report estimated that 90 percent of annual production of informally mined gold is smuggled out of the country: The government wants the central bank to buy this up. In March, President John Magufuli launched a plan to establish hubs where the trade would be formalized by offering access to financing and regulated markets.

In Burkina Faso, Oumarou Idani, minister of mines, believes his country is leaking gold to UAE on a massive scale. Of the 9.5 tonnes of gold the government estimates informal miners dig up each year, just 200 to 400 kg are declared to the authorities, he said.

Much of the gold is smuggled from landlocked Burkina Faso to its Atlantic coast neighbor Togo, according to the minister. In Togo, virtually no taxes are imposed on gold.

Togo’s director of mining development and controls, Nestor Kossi Adjehoun, said informal mining is “an area that we have not properly figured out.” For now, he said, Togo saw no reason to suspect gold was being smuggled through the country.

“I understand that Dubai is the destination for this gold,” his Burkina Faso neighbor, Minister Idani, told Reuters in an interview last year. “But since (the trade) is fraudulent, I have no details.”

(Additional reporting by John Ndiso in Nairobi, Tim Cocks in Ouagadougou, Ed McAllister in Dakar, Chris Mfula in Lusaka, Giulia Paravicini in Kinshasa, MacDonald Dzirutwe in Battlefields, Zimbabwe, John Zodzi in Lome, Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala in Dodoma, Maha El Dahan in Dubai, and Peter Hobson in London; Edited by Sara Ledwith, Alexandra Zavis and Richard Woods)

Source: OANN

In the United States, many legislators and public health officials are busy trying to make vaccines de facto compulsory—either by removing parental/personal choice given by existing vaccine exemptions or by imposing undue quarantines and fines on those who do not comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) vaccine edicts.

Officials in California are seeking to override medical opinion about fitness for vaccination, while those in New York are mandating the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine for 6-12-month-old infants for whom its safety and effectiveness “have not been established.”

American children would be better served if these officials—before imposing questionable and draconian measures—studied child health outcomes in Japan. With a population of 127 million, Japan has the healthiest children and the very highest “healthy life expectancy” in the world—and the least vaccinated children of any developed country. The U.S., in contrast, has the developed world’s most aggressive vaccination schedule in number and timing, starting at pregnancy, at birth and in the first two years of life. Does this make U.S. children healthier? The clear answer is no. The U.S. has the very highest infant mortality rate of all industrialized countries, with more American children dying at birth and in their first year than in any other comparable nation—and more than half of those who survive develop at least one chronic illness. Analysis of real-world infant mortality and health results shows that U.S. vaccine policy does not add up to a win for American children.

Alex exposes the globalist agenda to use government agencies to cover up their crimes against the population.

Japan and the U.S.; Two Different Vaccine Policies

In 1994, Japan transitioned away from mandated vaccination in public health centers to voluntary vaccination in doctors’ offices, guided by “the concept that it is better that vaccinations are performed by children’s family doctors who are familiar with their health conditions.” The country created two categories of non-compulsory vaccines: “routine” vaccines that the government covers and “strongly recommends” but does not mandate, and additional “voluntary” vaccines, generally paid for out-of-pocket. Unlike in the U.S., Japan has no vaccine requirements for children entering preschool or elementary school.

Japan also banned the MMR vaccine in the same time frame, due to thousands of serious injuries over a four-year period—producing an injury rate of one in 900 children that was “over 2,000 times higher than the expected rate.” It initially offered separate measles and rubella vaccines following its abandonment of the MMR vaccine; Japan now recommends a combined measles-rubella (MR) vaccine for routine use but still shuns the MMR. The mumps vaccine is in the “voluntary” category.

Here are key differences between the Japanese and U.S. vaccine programs:

  • Japan has no vaccine mandates, instead recommending vaccines that (as discussed above) are either “routine” (covered by insurance) or “voluntary” (self-pay).
  • Japan does not vaccinate newborns with the hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine, unless the mother is hepatitis B positive.
  • Japan does not vaccinate pregnant mothers with the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.
  • Japan does not give flu shots to pregnant mothers or to six-month-old infants.
  • Japan does not give the MMR vaccine, instead recommending an MR vaccine.
  • Japan does not require the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

In contrast, the U.S. vaccine schedule (see Table 1) prescribes routine vaccination during pregnancy, calls for the first HepB vaccine dose within 24 hours of birth—even though 99.9% of pregnant women, upon testing, are hepatitis B negative, and follows up with 20 to 22 vaccine doses in the first year alone. No other developed country administers as many vaccine doses in the first two years of life.

The HepB vaccine injects a newborn with a 250-microgram load of aluminum, a neurotoxic and immune-toxic adjuvant used to provoke an immune response. There are no studies to back up the safety of exposing infants to such high levels of the injected metal. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) upper limit for aluminum in intravenous (IV) fluids for newborns is far lower at five micrograms per kilogram per day (mcg/kg/day)—and even at these levels, researchers have documented the potential for impaired neurologic development. For an average newborn weighing 7.5 pounds, the HepB vaccine has over 15 times more aluminum than the FDA’s upper limit for IV solutions.

Unlike Japan, the U.S. administers flu and Tdap vaccines to pregnant women (during any trimester) and babies receive flu shots at six months of age, continuing every single year thereafter. Manufacturers have never tested the safety of flu shots administered during pregnancy, and the FDA has never formally licensed any vaccines “specifically for use during pregnancy to protect the infant.”

U.S. vaccine proponents claim the U.S. vaccine schedule is similar to schedules in other developed countries, but this claim is inaccurate upon scrutiny. Most other countries do not recommend vaccination during pregnancy, and very few vaccinate on the first day of life. This is important because the number, type and timing of exposure to vaccines can greatly influence their adverse impact on developing fetuses and newborns, who are particularly vulnerable to toxic exposures and early immune activation. Studies show that activation of pregnant women’s immune systems can cause developmental problems in their offspring. Why are pregnant women in the U.S. advised to protect their developing fetuses by avoiding alcohol and mercury-containing tuna fish, but actively prompted to receive immune-activating Tdap and flu vaccines, which still contain mercury (in multi-dose vials) and other untested substances?

Japan initially recommended the HPV vaccine but stopped doing so in 2013 after serious health problems prompted numerous lawsuits. Japanese researchers have since confirmed a temporal relationship between HPV vaccination and recipients’ development of symptoms. U.S. regulators have ignored these and similar reports and not only continue to aggressively promote and even mandate the formerly optional HPV vaccine beginning in preadolescence but are now pushing it in adulthood. The Merck-manufactured HPV vaccine received fast-tracked approval from the FDA despite half of all clinical trial subjects reporting serious medical conditions within seven months.

Best and Worst: Two Different Infant Mortality Results

The CDC views infant mortality as one of the most important indicators of a society’s overall health. The agency should take note of Japan’s rate, which, at 2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, is the second lowest in the world, second only to the Principality of Monaco. In comparison, almost three times as many American infants die (5.8 per 1,000 live births), despite massive per capita spending on health care for children (see Table 2). U.S. infant mortality ranks behind 55 other countries and is worse than the rate in Latvia, Slovakia or Cuba.

To reiterate, the U.S. has the most aggressive vaccine schedule of developed countries (administering the most vaccines the earliest). If vaccines save lives, why are American children “dying at a faster rate, and…dying younger” compared to children in 19 other wealthy countries—translating into a “57 percent greater risk of death before reaching adulthood”? Japanese children, who receive the fewest vaccines—with no government mandates for vaccination—grow up to enjoy “long and vigorous” lives. International infant mortality and health statistics and their correlation to vaccination protocols show results that government and health officials are ignoring at our children’s great peril.

Among the 20 countries with the world’s best infant mortality outcomes, only three countries (Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore) automatically administer the HepB vaccine to all newborns—governed by the rationale that hepatitis B infection is highly endemic in these countries. Most of the other 17 top-ranking countries—including Japan—give the HepB vaccine at birth only if the mother is hepatitis B positive (Table 1). The U.S., with its disgraceful #56 infant mortality ranking, gives the HepB vaccine to all four million babies born annually despite a low incidence of hepatitis B.

Is the U.S. Sacrificing Children’s Health for Profits? 

Merck, the MMR vaccine’s manufacturer, is in court over MMR-related fraud. Whistleblowers allege the pharmaceutical giant rigged its efficacy data for the vaccine’s mumps component to ensure its continued market monopoly. The whistleblower evidence has given rise to two separate court cases. In addition, a CDC whistleblower has alleged the MMR vaccine increases autism risks in some children. Others have reported that the potential risk of permanent injury from the MMR vaccine dwarfs the risks of getting measles.

Why do the FDA and CDC continue to endorse the problematic MMR vaccine despite Merck’s implication in fraud over the vaccine’s safety and efficacy? Why do U.S. legislators and government officials not demand a better alternative, as Japan did over two decades ago? Why are U.S. cities and states forcing Merck’s MMR vaccine on American children? Is the U.S. government protecting children, or Merck? Why are U.S. officials ignoring Japan’s exemplary model, which proves that the most measured vaccination program in the industrialized world and “first-class sanitation and levels of nutrition” can produce optimal child health outcomes that are leading the world?

A central tenet of a free and democratic society is the freedom to make informed decisions about medical interventions that carry serious potential risks. This includes the right to be apprised of benefits and risks—and the ability to say no. The Nuremberg Code of ethics established the necessity of informed consent without “any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion.” Forcing the MMR vaccine, or any other vaccine, on those who are uninformed or who do not consent represents nothing less than medical tyranny.

The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Infowars.

Alex Jones breaks down how vaccines are used to trigger deadly amounts of fluoride and glyphosate already present inside your body, from tap water and agricultural produce, and weaken the blood brain barrier’s blockade of these killer chemicals.

Source: InfoWars

The BMW logo is seen on a car in Nice
FILE PHOTO: The BMW logo is seen on a car in Nice, France, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

April 23, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – German carmaker BMW will buy cobalt, a key component for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, directly from mines in Australia and Morocco to ensure they are not produced by child labor, an executive said on Tuesday.

The announcement came as the London Metal Exchange (LME) launched an initiative under which it could ban or delist brands that are not responsibly sourced by 2022 to help root out metal tainted by child labor or corruption.

Andreas Wendt, BMW board member responsible for procurement, told a briefing in Paris that the new supply of cobalt would be used in the carmaker’s next generation of EVs in 2020.

The world’s largest known reserves of cobalt are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the raw ingredient is often mined by small, artisanal operations and supply chains are not strictly monitored.

BMW said last year it was exploring ways to improve working conditions for mining cobalt in Congo through a pilot project.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai and Peter Hobson, writing by Eric Onstad; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: OANN

Mohammad Rafiq poses with his parents inside their house in Ahmedabad
Mohammad Rafiq, 18, poses with his parents inside their house in Ahmedabad, India, April 17, 2019. Picture taken April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave

April 23, 2019

By Rupam Jain

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – On the night of February 28, 2002, two toddlers living in adjacent alleys were dragged out of a slum district in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat that had been set ablaze by a mob in one of India’s worst ever Hindu-Muslim riots.

The attack in the Naroda Patiya area of the state’s biggest city was among scores of clashes in which more than 800 Muslims and 255 Hindus were killed in the month-long violence in the home state of Narendra Modi. He had just become its chief minister and would rule there until becoming India’s prime minister in 2014.

Rights groups say about 2,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims, and including scores of children.

The toddlers who survived, a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl, were both one-year-olds at the time of the riots. Now, 17 years later, they are among an estimated 15 million first-time voters in a general election in which Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are seeking a second term on a platform that, critics say, marginalises Muslims in favor of the nation’s majority Hindus.

Mohammad Rafiq and Pooja Jadhav, now both 18, met for the first time during the Reuters interview. Jadhav hesitantly acknowledged Rafiq’s presence but said they were too shy to talk.

“I have many Muslim female friends but I don’t talk to Muslim boys,” she said in the presence of her mother.

But despite the silence between them, they have a lot in common.

Both are largely uneducated and work 10 hour-days in menial jobs to support their families, who fled with them from one-room homes on that fateful day. Both want to secure permanent employment but do not have the educational qualifications, and say they want to vote for a party that will resolve this problem.

They also want get married within their communities, move to better homes and forget the 2002 riots.

But both grew up in a world of communal anger and are wary of people from the other religion. That is also reflected in their politics.         

“Even before I understood the word politics or elections, I was told that the BJP is an anti-Muslim political party,” said Rafiq who works at a factory printing election flags with symbols of the BJP and the main opposition party, Congress.

“RAGE” TOWARDS BJP

Rafiq’s family-run furniture shop and house were looted by Hindu men during the riots. His father was hit in the leg by a police bullet as he was fleeing the slum and his mother suffered head injuries when terrified people stampeded.

The family lived in a relief camp and later moved into a house situated next to Ahmedabad’s biggest garbage collection site.

“My rage towards the BJP is part of my life story. I  can forgive but I cannot forget,” said Rafiq as he stood next to a huge black mound of garbage.

“If Modi ever cared for Muslims he could come to see how we have learned to live with the stench from the landfill. His disrespect for Muslims defines my political choice,” said Rafiq, who said he will be voting for the Congress party at the polls in Gujarat on Tuesday. The votes from a 39-day staggered election will be counted on May 23.

Back in 2002, at least 97 people, mostly Muslims, living in Naroda Patiya were killed and 950 houses and shops were set on fire in less than 10 hours.

Modi, the state’s chief minister at the time, has faced allegations of allowing, or even encouraging, the Hindu attacks on Muslims, but he has vehemently denied the charges and a court-appointed investigation panel found no evidence to prosecute him.

The attacks were in retaliation for the death of at least 59 Hindus after a train carriage carrying hundreds of  pilgrims caught fire following a scuffle between Hindus and Muslims at a railway station in Gujarat.

Demarcation along religious lines has become pronounced in Ahmedabad since the riots. Hindus refused to sell houses to Muslims, forcing them to set up ghettos on the edges of the prosperous city.

Rafiq’s father sold the house in Naroda Patiya and used the money to start a metal trade business, and buy clothes and items for their new home, which was given to them by a Muslim charity organization.

“We had a choice to go back and live in the house where my neighbors were killed or live near this garbage site. My father chose the garbage site,” said Rafiq.

Rafiq traveled with Reuters to his old home in Naroda Patiya for the first time in two years. He met his relatives and stood near the house now owned by Muslims not known to him.

“The air is better here. There is no stench. I would have been happier if we lived here,” said Rafiq.

COMFORTED BY MODI

By contrast, Jadhav’s family returned to their partially damaged house in Naroda Patiya after the riots to live among Muslim neighbors.

“We had no choice. Muslim victims left this area and new Muslims came to live here. We are stuck,” she said.

Over a dozen members of 37 Hindu families in Naroda Patiya interviewed by Reuters said they want to live in a Hindu neighborhood but they lack the financial resources to move.  

When Modi became prime minister in 2014, Jadhav said her mother, a widow, celebrated his victory.

“Seeing her happy made me happy too. I have nothing against Muslims, but I like Modi,” said Jadhav, who works as a domestic helper.

Jadhav says she is comforted by BJP rule, especially living among Muslims. But she declined to say who she will vote for.

“We live in a country ruled by the BJP and Muslims know that they cannot behave badly with us. No one wants riots again,” said Jadhav. She says she enjoys listening to Modi’s speeches emphasizing his pro-Hindu brand of nationalism.

“I have heard about the riots and since then I know Muslims and Hindus should not engage after a point. There has to be a boundary forever,” she said.

The teenagers are both products of angry times.

“Children read comic books, fairy tales but we have grown up listening about Hindu, Muslim riots. My vote will be my reaction to our painful past,” said Rafiq as he scanned his mobile phone to play and sing the latest Bollywood hip hop song.

“Our time will also come,” he sang in the Hindi language and smiled at Jadhav. She hesitantly smiled back as she stood at door of her home.

(Reporting by Rupam Jain; Editing by Martin Howell and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN

Rising demand for solar panels pushes silver prices higher according to a recently released university study.

Researchers at the University of Kent found a “causal relationship” between solar panel demand and the price of the white metal.

With the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, silver’s physical characteristics make it an important component in the production of solar panels.  The average solar panel uses about 20 grams of silver, and the price of the metal makes up about 6.1% of the total cost of each unit.

Researchers tracked the price of silver and installed solar panel capacity between 1990 and 2016 and used the data to map correlations in demand and cost. According to the study, “The data clearly showed a rise in silver price at the same time as increased demand for solar panels, such as after the 2008 global recession indicating the causal relationship between these two variables. Similarly, prices rose after 2011 when there was worldwide concern oil prices were becoming too high leading to a move towards renewable energy sources.”

“The research shows that silver price rises are directly linked to the increased demand for solar panels,” lead study author Iraklis Apergis said.

According to the Silver Institute, continued investment in solar photovoltaic energy, should further boost global industrial demand for silver over the next decade and beyond. The institute projects roughly 820 million ounces of silver will be utilized by global solar energy applications alone through 2030.

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China, in particular, continues to rapidly increase solar energy production. In its 13th Five-Year Plan, Beijing aims to triple its solar capacity by 2020. To date, 2017 ranked as the strongest on record for solar-related silver demand.

Overall, “green technologies” are projected to consume over 1.5 billion ounces of silver over the next twelve years.

Silver is also used in the manufacture of electric car batteries. Battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid sales could account for as much as 17% of global car sales with traditional hybrids making up another 20% of the market by 2030. This will also boost the demand for silver, according to the Silver Institute.

(Photo by Moerschy / Pixabay / CC0 Creative Commons)

Overall, silver demand was up 4% and hit a three-year high in 2018, according to the 2019 World Silver Survey recently released by the Silver Institute. Meanwhile, silver mine production fell for the third straight year, dropping 2% in 2018 to 855.7 million ounces. The downward trend in production seems to have continued into the first quarter of this year with the world’s largest primary silver producer reporting a plunge in production through the first three months of 2019.

The silver-gold ratio remains historically high. At the time of this report, it was hovering around 85-1. As we’ve been reporting for the last year, this is essentially silver on sale.

Given the supply and demand dynamics, along with the prospects of a weakening dollar in the midst of the “Powell Pause,” it seems likely that gap will close.

Silver has hit an all-time high of $49 per ounce twice – in January 1980 and then again in April 2011. If you adjust that $49 high for inflation, you’re looking at a price of around $150 per ounce. In other words, silver has a long way to run up. As one analyst put it, “With the long-term downside potential of silver very low versus its current valuation, the risk/reward is one of the best investments on the planet.”

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A research team in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed new concept of fire extinguisher optimized for space-use, named Vacuum Extinguish Method (VEM).

VEM is based on the completely “reverse” operation of widely-used fire extinguisher, namely, spraying extinguisher agent(s) into the firing point. VEM is sucking the flame as well as combustion product, even fire source, by vacuum into the vacuum chamber to remove the firing matters from the space of interest. This reverse concept shall be suitable for the special environments that are highly enclosed (such as space vehicles or types of space transportation, submarines, and types of deep sea submersed vehicles) to prevent or suppress spreading the harmful combustion products such as fume, particulate matters, toxic gas component across the entire enclosed cabin. This is especially advantageous for space use, preferable in an extreme vacuum environment. This work is a collaborative research with the Hokkaido and Shinshu Universities. The results of our research were posted on-line in the special issue of Fire Technology; Spacecraft Fire Safety on April 16, 2019.

At present, fire extinguishers used in spacecraft or space stations in the US, Japan, Europe and Russia are mainly CO2-spraying gas extinguishers, although water mist was partially considered as an alternative. The CO2 extinguisher was preferred because its fire-fighting performance has been promised for electric fire (which is the main cause of fire in space) in the past experience on earth. However, we must notice that the spraying type of extinguisher is not the best choice for space-environment because of the limited volume inside the cabin and the increase of CO2 concentration, assuming it is adopted. It is, therefore, necessary to wear an O2 mask before the device’s extinguisher process is executed, which causes a delay of action and allow the fire to grow. In addition, while spraying CO2 gas toward the firing zone, the harmful combustible products as well as CO2 gas shall spread across the cabin. Such spreading harmful gas components (even CO2) might be eventually trapped by the filter during the air-recirculation procedure. However, an enormous amount of time is obviously necessary to collect all such harmful gas components so that the mission would be delayed accordingly. Furthermore, the CO2 filter wears out and requires replacement; consequently, large amount of stock for replacement would be needed for longer space mission (likely to go-to-Mars). On earth, contrarily, such issues are not critical, therefore, we focused our attention on the discovering the best alternative for space.

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VEM is a state-of-art concept newly proposed by our team, which is basically a “reverse” operation to fight fire. It is based on the suction of the combustible products and the flame (even the firing source) with vacuum, and the collecting them into a vacuum container (vacuum chamber) to be isolated. In case fire continues in the chamber, we can adopt any fire extinguisher procedures when necessary. Should this method be successful, the pre-process of fire-fighting (putting O2 mask on) would be excluded to manage the time for taking proper action. In addition, the product gas would be effectively removed from the cabin to reduce damage to the filter. Though this method sounds odd on earth, it might be most preferable for space use.

An ex-student, Mr. Taichi Usuki who was master course student at Hokkaido University supervised by Prof. Yuji Nakamura, investigated the feasibility of this concept and formulated the explanation of how it could be implemented. Three types of extinction modes were found and each extinction mode was controlled by a suction flow rate. Recently, the article summarizing this concept was accepted to be published at a special issue, “Spacecraft Fire Safety” in Fire Technology, which is a prominent international journal in the fire community.

(Photo by NASA)

The leader of the research team, Professor Yuji Nakamura, said, “The idea initially emerged through unreserved discussions with US researchers. Though the test of the concept was simple to implement and confirm, however, systematic study to show its performance such as formulate the performance based on a mathematical model was arduous. With the assistance of ex-student, Mr. Usuki, and the collaborator, Prof. Wakatsuki, the concept was confirmed and the complete test device was successfully developed. Controlled vacuuming was introduced by an ejector system and all devices were activated with sensors in the test to improve reproducibility substantially. Fascinating flame suction images (direct photograph and Schlieren imaging) show the result and provide rich images on how the process should be modeled. At present, space agencies are wary to introduce this concept because no such device was developed and tested by them. It is understandable that their decision-making is frequently based on safety so that older technologies which are well-distributed and reassuring are approved. However, it does not mean that the new concept has no possibility of being considered. Emerging technological concepts frequently require constant proposal presentations to be recognized. We will continue to refine and present the concept.”

The research team expects VEM to be an upcoming technique in future space missions and that the concept would also be applicable for extinguishing certain unusual fire which is severe and unmanageable with currently-used extinguishers such as metal powder fire. It is also expected to be applied for the fire in clean rooms (e.g., operating room), where the spraying fire-fighting agents would cause severe damage to the structure and equipment to have large delay of reactivation. It is expected that the main role of researcher is to propose the new idea scientifically. Moreover, some years later, the concept may possibly be a component of a live product. In the future, long-term space mission will be critically considered and effective, then fire safety strategy requires reconsideration. Moreover, because a non-specialist like a newly recruited astronaut may be involved in activities in space hotel, space travel etc., easy-to-use emergency devices will be mandatory. Putting O2 mask prior to the firefighting does not sound appropriate. This concept would eventually become a new standard fire-fighting device in space. Potentially, for in house use, a “new” vacuum cleaner may have special options with this fire extinguisher. Sounds ridiculous? Maybe not.

This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research, The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (No. 25560160).

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FILE PHOTO: Thousands of protesters wave Sudanese flags, hold banners and chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum
FILE PHOTO: Thousands of protesters wave Sudanese flags, hold banners and chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

April 19, 2019

By Michael Georgy and Khalid Abdelaziz

Khartoum (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters demanding an end to military rule flocked to the sit-in outside Sudan’s Defence Ministry on Friday, in the biggest turnout in the center of the capital since last week when former President Omar al-Bashir was ousted and a military council took over.

Protesters waved the Sudanese flag and chanted “freedom, peace and justice”. Children sitting on a bridge nearby banged with stones on the metal pillars to the rhythm of the chants.

The military council has said it is ready to meet some of the protesters’ demands, including fighting corruption, but has indicated that it would not hand over power to protest leaders.

“If we don’t stay it will be as if we hadn’t done anything, we will stay until we oust the military council,” said 26-year-old protester Rania Ahmed.

Not far from the bridge, 10 effigies dressed in security forces uniform and helmets were hanging from a metal pillar, symbolizing protesters’ animosity toward the security forces.

“I look at this everyday and it brings me great happiness,” said Mostafa Abuel Qassem, a 29-year-old photographer.

“This is the pride of the revolution,” he added.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), leading the revolt, has called for sweeping change to end a violent crackdown on dissent, purge corruption and cronyism and ease an economic crisis that worsened during Bashir’s last years in power.

Protesters formed checkpoints at the entrances of the sit-in, wearing yellow vests and body-searching people coming in for weapons to make sure the protest remains peaceful.

Hundreds performed Friday prayers in the sit-in, while hundreds more marched to the area after the praying in mosques nearby.

The sit-in that began on April 6 outside the Defence Ministry was the culmination of 16 weeks of protests triggered by the economic crisis, leading to Bashir being ousted and arrested after three decades in power.

The military council has said a transitional period of up to two years will be followed by elections and that it is ready to work with anti-Bashir activists and opposition groups to form an interim civilian government.

Sudanese have been struggling with sharp price rises and shortages of cash and basic products. Many analysts blame the country’s economic troubles on mismanagement, corruption and the impact of U.S. sanctions, as well as loss of oil revenue when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

(Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Environmental activists block the entrance of the French bank Societe Generale headquarters during a
Environmental activists block the entrance of the French bank Societe Generale headquarters during a “civil disobedience action” to urge world leaders to act against climate change, in La Defense near Paris, France, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

April 19, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – Climate activists blocked hundreds of employees from entering the headquarters of French bank Societe Generale, state-run utility EDF and oil giant Total on Friday, environmental group Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace said it was protesting against the companies links to the oil and gas industry, which the group says is a driving force in global warming.

They plastered giant posters of President Emmanuel Macron carrying the slogan “Macron, President of Polluters” and a banner reading “Scene of Climate Crime” on the glass facade of Societe Generale, Reuters TV images showed.

Police pepper-sprayed one group blocking the bank’s main entrance in a sit-down protest.

Some protesters taped themselves together while others cuffed themselves with plastic ties to metal poles to make it harder for police to dislodge them.

Employees in business suits milled around outside their offices. “I just want to get inside and on with my work,” one frustrated bank employee said.

A Societe Generale spokesman declined to comment. An EDF spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

The protest came as Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of Angola’s state oil company Sonangol, and the chairman of the Libya National Oil Corporation were due to attend an annual oil summit in Paris.

Greenpeace and action group Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) have previously criticized Societe Generale for their financial role in oil and gas projects, in particular the Rio Grande LNG gas project in the United States.

Friday’s protest echoed a series by the Extinction Rebellion group of climate-change campaigners in London this week that have caused transport snarl-ups in the British capital.

Teenage protesters staged an emotional protest, weeping and singing, at political inaction on climate change near London’s Heathrow Airport on Friday.

(Reporting by Antony Paone and Inti Landauro; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: OANN


Romania moved another step closer to bringing all of its gold home this week.

According to Romanian news outlets, the Chamber of Deputies Budget and Finance Committee released a favorable report on legislation that would require the country’s central bank to repatriate its gold and hold it within the borders of the country.

As originally introduced, the bill would have required the National Bank of Romania to hold 95% of its gold reserves in the country. An amendment to the bill upped the level to 100%.

Currently, Romania holds about 65% of its 103.7 tons of gold at the Bank of England.

The bill’s legislative findings assert:

“Nothing about Romania’s current economic landscape justifies keeping such a large quantity of gold reserves abroad, which incur quite significant costs, considering that this reserve can be properly stored and even increased in the country.”

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The bill will now move forward for a vote in the Chamber of Deputies.

A National Bank of Romania official testifying before the committee raised objections to the bill, saying any change to the bank’s statute requires consultation with the European Central Bank. He also said the law would hinder the bank in its duty to manage the country’s gold reserves.

If the bill passes, Romania would join a growing number of countries repatriating their gold reserves.

Last year, Romania’s neighbor Hungary announced plans to repatriate its 3-tons of gold. Hungarian news reports said, “The decision seems to be in line with international trends as storage of gold reserves out of the country is now considered risky by more and more central banks.”

(Photo by Andrzej Barabasz / Wikimedia Commons)

In the summer of 2017, Germany completed a project to bring half of its gold reserves back inside its borders. The country moved some $31 billion worth of the yellow metal back to Germany from vaults in England, France and the US.

In 2015, Australia announced a plan to bring half of its reserves home. The Netherlands and Belgium also launched repatriation programs. Even the state of Texas has put a plan in place to bring its gold within state borders.

Gold repatriation underscores the importance of holding physical gold where you can easily access it. Gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and “paper gold” have their place. But true security and stability come from physical possession of precious metals. If you can’t hold it in your hand, you don’t really possess it. That’s exactly why these countries are bringing their gold home, safe within their own vaults.

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Source: InfoWars


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