Home' Greymouth Star : May 13th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Nigeria has rejected conditions set out by
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau for
the release of more than 200 schoolgirls
held hostage by the Islamists.
Asked if the government would reject
the suggestion by Shekau in a new video
that the girls may be released once Nigeria
frees all militant prisoners, Interior
Minister Abba Moro said overnight: “Of
“The issue in question is not about Boko
Haram giving conditions,” he said.
Shekau made the claim in a video obtained
by Agence France-Presse claiming to show
about 130 of the 276 girls abducted from
their school in the remote north-eastern
town of Chibok, in Borno state, on April
“ We will never release them (the girls)
until after you release our brethren,” he said.
The militant leader, who has made
prisoner exchange demands before, said
some of the teenagers had converted from
Christianity to Islam.
The International Crisis Group said in
a report published last month that Boko
Haram had written an open letter in 2011
to the governor of northern Kano State,
demanding the release of detainees.
Shekau repeated the demand in a video
released last week claiming responsibility
for the mass kidnapping that has sparked
global condemnation and calls for action.
Nigeria’s military has been accused of
rounding up thousands of Boko Haram
suspects, including women and children,
and holding them in atrocious conditions
that have been criticised by rights groups.
On March 14, Boko Haram fighters
stormed the notorious Giwa military
barracks in the state capital of Borno,
Maiduguri, freeing hundreds of militants.
Amnesty International, however, said on
March 31 there was “credible evidence”
more than 600 people, most of them
unarmed recaptured detainees, were
summarily killed in the military response.
Shekau, speaks on the video for 17
minutes before showing what he says are
the girls, in Muslim dress and praying.
A total of 276 girls were abducted on
April 14 from the town of Chibok, which
has a sizeable Christian commun ity. About
223 are still missing.
The footage shows about 130 girls sitting
on scrubland near trees, reciting the first
chapter of the Muslim holy book, the
Koran, and holding their palms upwards in
Three of the girls are inter viewed. Two say
they were Christian and have converted,
while one says she is Muslim. The girls
appear calm and one says they have not
There was no indication of when the
video was taken, although the quality is
better than on previous occasions and at
one point an armed man is seen in shot
with a hand-held video camera.
Boko Haram has been waging an
increasingly deadly insurgency in Nigeria’s
mainly Muslim north since 2009, attacking
schools teaching a western curriculum,
churches and government targets.
Civilians, though, have borne the brunt of
recent violence, with more than 1500 killed
this year alone, while tens of thousands
have been displaced after their homes and
businesses were razed.
Nigeria’s government has been criticised
for its lack of immediate response to the
kidnapping but has been forced to act after
Shekau threatened to sell the girls as slaves.
President Goodluck Jonathan has now
accepted help from the United States,
Britain, France, China and Israel, which
have sent specialist teams to help in the
In the video, Shekau appears in front of
a lime-green canvas backdrop wearing
combat fatigues and carrying an automatic
weapon. He does not appear in the same
shot as the girls at any point during the
Speaking in Hausa and Arabic, he restates
his claim of responsibility made in a video
released last Monday.
“These girls you occupy yourselves with .
. . Do you know we have liberated them?
These girls have become Muslims. ”
Meanwhile, one of the 53 teenagers who
escaped from Boko Haram has said the
kidnapping was “too terrifying for words”,
and that she is scared to go back to school.
Sarah Lawan, 19, spoke as Nigerians
prayed for those still held captive.
The science student said more of the
girls could have escaped but they were
frightened by the threats to shoot them.
“ I am pained that my other colleagues
could not summon the courage to run away
with me,” Lawan said. “ I cry each time I
come across their parents and see how they
weep when they see me.” — AFP
Nigeria rejects hostage swap
Boko Haram shows video of girls praying; conversion to Islam claimed
A 102-year-old mother has told of
her joy and astonishment at being
reunited with the daughter she gave
up for adoption more than seven
Minka Disbrow became pregnant
and gave birth at 16, after being raped
by a stranger in woods near her house
in South Dakota in 1928.
Abiding by the wishes of her family,
she handed over the daughter she
called “Betty Jane”, but never forgot
about her, writing dozens of letters
over to the years to the House of
Mercy adoption agency begging for
Adopted by a Lutheran pastor and
renamed Ruth, the little girl went on
to have a happy childhood, and was
never tempted to seek out her birth
mother. It was only when she suffered
from health problems in her 70s
that her own children suggested she
research her genetic history by tracing
her birth family.
She was astonished to receive
a package with more than 60
handwritten letters, and even more
amazed to look her birth mother up in
the phone book and find her straight
Ruth Lee, as she has been known
since her marriage, and Mrs Disbrow
were reunited in 2006 and have
become firm friends.
Mrs Lee’s daughter, Cathy LaGrow,
has written a book about their reunion
called The Waiting, in which she says
that the two women are “ like sisters,”
looking and even dressing alike.
“S he never forgot about me,” Mrs
Mrs Disbrow had not known where
babies came from when she was raped,
while walking with her best friend
near her home. It was only when her
mother spotted her swelling figure
that she learned what it meant to be
In an inter view with the New York
Post, Mrs Disbrow said she still could
not take in the fact that her baby was
now an old woman herself. “ I can’t
believe that her hair is white,” she said.
Joy for mum, daughter after 77 years
Minka Disbrow, right, 102, with her daughter, Ruth Lee, who is 77.
Extremely rare Australian conjoined
twins born with one body, one head and
two faces have amazed their doctors
after managing to breathe on their own.
Faith and Hope Howie, who have
an extremely rare condition called
diprosopus, were born last Thursday.
The babies share a body, limbs and a
skull, but each have their own brains and
a set of identical facial features.
There have only been 35 similar cases
recorded worldwide and none of these
babies sur vived.
Their Sydney parents Renee Young
and Simon Howie, who already have
seven children, say the babies have
astounded doctors after being able to
breathe on their own and are in a stable
The twins were born at 32 weeks by
emergency Caesarean section during a
sometimes harrowing labour where they
appeared to be struggling to breathe.
“They managed to find a heart beat, but
the breathing was very shallow,” Howie
told the Nine Network’s A Current
He said he was initially shellshocked
when he saw his babies, but also felt
“ I am proud as punch to see them
make it this far, where all the odds were
against us,” he said.
Their mum thinks they are “amazing”.
“ I think they ’re beautiful, Simon thinks
they ’re beautiful, really that ’s all that
matters,” Young said.
Doctors have told the parents that
they do not know what the future holds
for the babies and they were still in
“ unknown territory”.
“As long as they ’re fighters and they
keep fighting they will be okay,” Howie
Doctors discovered the babies’
condition during a routine ultrasound at
19 weeks and their parents went against
medical advice when they continued
with the pregnancy. — AAP
Conjoined twins —
one head, two faces
Minister Riad al-Malki
said overnight he had
asked world powers
to label Israeli settler
groups which attack
and holy sites as terrorist
Malki said militant
settlers known as the
“Hilltop Youth” and
vigilantes who use the
“pricetag” slogan “practise
terror . . . constantly
against the Palestinian
people, their land, holy
places and property”.
Palestinian anger has
mounted over incursions
by militant Jewish settlers
into Palestinian villages
where they have torched
hateful slogans and
attacked residents. —
Call to label militant
Certain chemicals that are common in
everyday life have been shown to cause breast
cancer in lab rats and are likely to do the
same in women, United States researchers
The paper in the peer-reviewed journal
Environmental Health Perspectives lists 17
chemicals to avoid and offers women advice
on how to minimise their exposure.
They include chemicals in petrol, diesel and
other vehicle exhaust fumes, flame retardants,
stain-resistant textiles, paint removers and
disinfection byproducts in drinking water.
“The study provides a road map for breast
cancer prevention by identifying high-
priority chemicals that women are most
commonly exposed to and demonstrates how
to measure exposure,” study author Ruthann
Rudel, research director of the Silent Spring
“This information will guide efforts to
reduce exposure to chemicals linked to
breast cancer and help researchers study how
women are being affected,” she said.
Some of the biggest sources of mammary
carcinogens in the environment are benzene
and butadiene, which can come from vehicle
exhaust, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke and
Other concerns are cleaning solvents like
methylene chloride, pharmaceuticals used
in hormone replacement therapy, some
flame retardants, chemicals in stain-resistant
textiles and non-stick coatings and styrene
which comes from tobacco smoke and is also
used to make Styrofoam, the study said.
Carcinogens can also be found in drinking
water, researchers said.
“Every woman in America has been
exposed to chemicals that may increase her
risk of getting breast cancer,” co-author Julia
Brody said. “ Unfortunately, the link between
toxic chemicals and breast cancer has largely
been ignored. Reducing chemical exposures
could save many, many women’s lives.”
Brody described the paper as the first
to comprehensively list potential breast
carcinogens and detail ways for experts to
measure them in women’s blood and urine.
The study also recommends seven ways for
women to avoid these chemicals. —
Limit exposure to exhaust from vehicles
or generators, do not idle your car and use
electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers and weed
whackers instead of gas-powered ones.
Use a ventilation fan while cooking and
limit how much burned or charred food you
Do not buy furniture with polyurethane
foam, or ask for furniture that has not been
treated with flame retardants.
Avoid stain-resistant rugs, furniture and
If you use a dry-cleaner, find one who
does not use perchloroethylene or other
solvents. Ask for wet cleaning.
Use a solid carbon block drinking water
Keep chemicals out of the house by
taking off your shoes at the door, using a
vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air
filter and cleaning with wet rags and mops.
The research was funded by the Avon
Foundation. The Silent Spring Institute
is a 20-year-old organisation made up of
scientists who focus on the environment and
It is named after the best selling
environmental book The Silent Spring by
Rachel Carson, who died of breast cancer in
1964, two years after the book was published.
Dale Sandler, chief of epidemiology at the
US National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences, described the paper as a
terrific resource for epidemiologists who
study environmental causes of breast cancer.
“This paper is a thorough review of
toxicology data and biomarkers relevant to
breast cancer in humans,” he said. — AFP
Common chemicals linked to breast cancer
set to become PM
Cameron and London mayor
Boris Johnson have taken time
out from the campaign trail to
help a woman who had fallen
sick by the roadside.
Popular mayor Johnson is
widely believed to covet the job
of his old schoolmate Cameron,
but the pair joined forces to
look after the woman who had
apparently fallen ill on a street in
Harrow, north-west London.
Cameron held the woman’s hand
while waiting for an ambulance.
BBC reporter Chris Mason
said ambulance staff reportedly
“ looked like they had swallowed
a very large fly” when they arrived
to find the prime minister and
The political heavyweights
comforted the woman, who was
conscious at the time, for about
two minutes before medics arrived.
“The prime minister and Boris
Johnson had pulled over when
they noticed a woman collapsed
on the street,” a paramedic told
“ When I arrived a few minutes
later, I found the PM holding the
woman’s hand. I took over caring
for the patient and they left a few
The woman was later said to be
recovering in hospital.
Cameron and Johnson were on
the road campaigning ahead of
this month’s European elections,
and more importantly next year ’s
They received a boost overnight
when a poll gave them a lead over
their Labour rivals for the first
time in two years. — AFP
come to woman’s aid
Hindu nationalist Narendra
Modi is set to become India’s
next prime minister, four major
exit polls showed overnight,
with his opposition party and
its allies forecast to sweep to a
parliamentary majority in the
world’s biggest election.
Modi, of the Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP), electrified the
lengthy contest that ended
overnight, with a media-savvy
campaign that hinged on vows
to kickstart India’s economy and
Yet much depends on Modi
winning enough seats to form a
stable government that can push
through promised reforms.
Indian elections are notoriously
hard to call, and polls taken
before and after voting have
a patchy track record at best.
Results of the ballot are due to be
announced on Friday.
A Modi victory would be a blow
for campaigners who have long
maintained he is an autocratic
Hindu supremacist responsible
for an outbreak of religious riots
in his home state, Gujarat, in
2002 in which more than 1000
people died, mostly Muslims.
Modi, who rose from humble
roots as a tea vendor’s son, was
shunned by western nations
for years after the bloodshed in
Gujarat, where he has been chief
minister since 2001.
However, his rise on the national
stage forced a rethink among the
European Union and the United
States, whose ambassadors have
met him to patch up relations.
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