Home' Greymouth Star : June 20th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Friday, June 20, 2014 - 9
Hundreds of children are
believed to have been kidnapped
in Africa and brought to Britain
for brutal voodoo rituals, a
United Nations watchdog says.
“ We’re concerned about reports
that hundreds of children have
been abducted from their families
in Africa and trafficked to the
United Kingdom, especially
London, for religious rituals,”
Kristen Sandberg, head of the
UN Committee on the Rights of
the Child, said.
“They are used in so-called
voodoo rituals, and are also raped
and sexually abused. The number
of convictions is extremely low,”
the former Nor wegian supreme
court judge said.
British police are reported to
have recorded scores of cases over
the past decade of children who
have faced torture and abuse as
part of witchcraft rituals.
The case of eight-year-old
Victoria Climbie — born in
Ivory Coast — brought the issue
into the public eye in 2000 when
she was killed by relatives who
said she was a witch.
A year later, police found
the dismembered corpse of a
Nigerian boy in London’s River
Thames, believed to have been
used in a ritual.
In 2010, 15-year-old Kristy
Bamu died after being tortured
by his sister and her partner, both
originally from the Democratic
Republic of Congo, who claimed
he was cursed.
Sandberg said child trafficking
for rituals was part of a wider
problem, with thousands of
minors brought into Britain
every year for sexual exploitation
The UN committee held a
hearing with British officials last
In its conclusions on that
session, released overnight, it
said Britain should “strengthen
the capacity of law-enforcement
authorities and judiciary to
detect and prosecute trafficking
of children for labour, sexual
and other forms of exploitation,
including for religious rituals”.
UN warns Britain
German rescuers have safely
extracted an injured caver, ending his
11-day ordeal and a massive recovery
operation deep below the Bavarian
“The victim has been brought to the
surface and is receiving emergency
medical care,” a mountain rescue
official said overnight after the team
emerged at the mouth of the cave,
where a helicopter was waiting.
Explorer Johann Westhauser, 52,
suffered serious head injuries in the
accident about 1000m below ground
in the Riesending cave complex,
Germany’s longest and deepest.
Since then a multi-national team
of hundreds of emergency personnel
battled around the clock in a complex
and costly operation to bring him to
“It was one of the most difficult
rescue operations in the history of the
mountain rescue ser vice,” Klemens
Reindl, who runs the ser vice and who
super vised the operation, said.
“ Especially the international
character of the mission was
remarkable,” he added in a statement,
saying that 728 people from five
countries took part.
Rescuers placed Westhauser on a
fibreglass stretcher and negotiated a
treacherous and labyrinth-like network
of tunnels and chambers, underground
lakes and ice-cold waterfalls.
The rescue operation involved rest
periods in five bivouac stops, followed
by a major final hoist up a 180m
vertical shaft near the entrance to the
cave, officials said.
The rescue effort, high in the
mountains near the Austrian border,
has involved professional cavers,
medical personnel and helicopter
crews, from Germany, Austria, Italy,
Switzerland and Croatia.
German Red Cross president Rudolf
Seiters praised the effort, saying the
conditions under which the rescuers
worked were extremely difficult.
“The fact that they still managed is a
great success for the volunteer rescue
Veteran caver Westhauser was
exploring the cave system with two
others when he suffered head and
chest injuries in the rock fall on
One of his companions made the
more than 10-hour trip back to the
surface to raise the alarm while the
other stayed behind with Westhauser.
The Riesending cave, north of the
city of Berchtesgaden, was discovered
in 1995 and was not explored and
mapped until 2002. It is more than
19km long and up to 1150m deep.
Westhauser was among the explorers
who first discovered the cave system.
Injured caver lifted out after 11-day ordeal
PICTURE: Getty Images
Rescue workers bring injured spelunker Johann Westhauser to the surface from the Riesending vertical cave during
the final phase of his rescue near Marktschellenberg, Germany.
Ecuador said overnight talks with
Britain on a stand-off over Wikileaks
founder Julian Assange were at an
impasse as the Australian prepared
to spend a third year holed up at the
country’s London embassy.
Assange, 42, fled to the South
American country’s embassy in June
2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden
to face allegations of sexual assault and
rape, which he denies.
He says he fears Sweden could
extradite him to the United States to try
him for one of the largest information
leaks in US history if he agrees to go.
Ecuador, which has granted Assange
political asylum, wants London to
assure him safe passage to Q uito. But
Britain has surrounded the Ecuadorean
embassy with police officers around
the clock ready to detain him if he
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo
Patino flew to London a year ago to
meet his British counterpart to try to
broker a deal. Both countries agreed at
the time to create a working group to try
to resolve the stand-off.
But Patino said overnight the two had
not even managed to set up the working
“There seems to be an impasse from a
legal point of view,” Patino told reporters
through a translator, speaking via video
link from Ecuador. “ We could not agree
on specific objectives for the group so
we haven’t even formed the group a year
Assange told the same news conference
that his lawyers had advised him there
was still a “serious risk” he would be
extradited to the US if he gave up
Complaining he had not seen his
children for four years, he said “some of
them” had been forced to move locations
and change their names after threats
against their lives had been made by
Assange’s lawyers will launch legal
proceedings in Sweden next week to
try to get the case there against him
dropped, he said.
Assange said the work of Wikileaks was
continuing, even though he cannot leave
the building, adding that money was still
being donated to the whistleblowing
publisher despite a banking blockade.
He estimated that the ban on collecting
money, imposed by leading credit card
companies, had cost Wikileaks tens of
millions of pounds.
He spoke by videolink to Patino in
Quito, who assured him that Ecuador
would continue to “protect ” him after it
granted Assange political asylum.
He said security at the London
embassy had been increased, adding:
“ We will protect Julian Assange for as
long as necessary, and as long as Julian
Patino met British Foreign Secretary
William Hague during a visit to London
last year and agreed to set up a working
group to try to break the deadlock.
He revealed the group had not yet met
because no agreement could be reached
on the “specific objectives”.
The process had “stalled”, while the
legal situation had reached an “impasse”,
The minister said the delay in dealing
with Assange’s future was having an
impact on his quality of life and his
“ Imagine the anguish of his family.”
Assange has offered to be inter viewed
by Swedish investigators inside the
London embassy, but they have declined
to travel to the UK to question him
about the allegations. — PA-Reuters
As many as 75 scientists working
in United States federal government
laboratories in Atlanta may have been
exposed to live anthrax bacteria and
are being offered treatment to prevent
infection from the deadly organism, the
US Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention said overnight.
The potential exposure occurred after
researchers working in a high-level
biosecurity laboratory at the agency ’s
Atlanta campus failed to follow proper
procedures to inactivate the bacteria.
They then transferred the samples, which
may have contained live bacteria, to
lower-security CDC labs not equipped
to handle live anthrax.
Two of the three labs conducted
research that may have aerosolised the
spores, the CDC said. Environmental
sampling was done and the lab areas
are closed until decontamination is
Dr Paul Meechan, director of the
environmental health and safety
compliance office at the CDC, said
the agency discovered the potential
exposure on June 13 and immediately
began contacting individuals working
in the labs who may have unknowingly
handled live anthrax bacteria.
“No employee has shown any
symptoms of anthrax illness,” Meechan
Meechan said the CDC is conducting
an internal investigation to discover
how the exposure occurred and said
disciplinary measures would be taken if
“This should not have happened,” he
said. For those exposed, he said, “ We’re
taking care of it. We will not let our
people be at risk.”
The normal incubation period for
anthrax can take up to five to seven days,
though there are documented cases of
the illness occurring some 60 days after
exposure, Meechan said.
As many as seven researchers may
have come into direct contact with the
live anthrax, he said. But the agency is
casting as wide a net as possible to make
sure all employees at the agency who
may have walked into any of the labs at
risk are being offered treatment.
About 75 people are being offered a
60-day course of treatment with the
antibiotic ciprofloxacin as well as an
injection with an anthrax vaccine.
Meechan said it is too early to
determine whether the transfer was
accidental or intentional.
He said that all employees who were
doing procedures to inactivate the
bacteria were working in a biosecurity
laboratory and had passed a security
The CDC said in a statement it has
reported the lab-safety incident to
the federal select agent programme,
which oversees the use and transfer of
biological agents and toxins that pose a
severe threat to the public.
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner did
not say whether the Federal Bureau of
Investigation was investigating. The
FBI was not immediately available to
Henry Waxman, the top Democrat
on the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, said he is “extremely
concerned” but said “ we understand
CDC has taken swift action to respond
to the possible exposure and will be
investigating how this exposure occurred
and appropriate measures to prevent
such an event from happening in the
Dr William Schaffner, an infectious
diseases expert at Vanderbilt University
Medical Centre, said the potential
unfortunate and serious.”
“ What ’s good about it is the
exposures are minimal,” he said. CDC
responded appropriately, aggressively
and transparently. The risk to the
individual is low and to the surrounding
community, essentially nil.”
Schaffner said it is not yet clear exactly
what the breach in infection control
protocol was, but said, “ Whatever it was,
it should not have happened.”
Anthrax is a potentially deadly
infectious disease caused by exposure
to the bacterium bacillus anthracis. The
bacteria most commonly affect hoofed
animals such as goats, but people can
also become infected.
Infection can occur through a cut in
the skin, breathing in anthrax spores or
eating tainted meat.
Meechan said CDC workers in the
lower-security labs were likely not
With anthrax, the biggest threat is
inhalation anthrax, in which bacterial
spores enter the lungs where they
germinate before actually causing
disease, a process that can take one to six
days. Once they germinate, they release
toxins that can cause internal bleeding,
swelling and tissue death.
Inhalation anthrax occurs in two stages.
In the first stage, symptoms resemble
a cold or the flu. In the second stage,
anthrax causes fever, severe shortness of
breath and shock. About 90% of people
with second-stage inhalation anthrax
die, even after antibiotic treatment.
Assange heads to third year holed up
Former mine boss Malcolm
Fyfield broke down in tears and
hugged his wife Gillian as a jury
cleared him of four counts of
Philip Hill, 44, Charles Breslin,
62, David Powell, 50 and 39-year-
old Garry Jenkins drowned in
September, 2011, when around
3000 litres of water were unleashed
after controlled explosives were
used inside the Gleision mine near
Pontardawe, south Wales.
Prosecutors had claimed Fyfield
was negligent by allowing the
men to dig towards an area where
underground water was present.
But the father-of-two said he
carried out three safety inspections
on the eve of the tragedy.
A jury at Swansea Crown Court
was told the issue of whether the
checks were carried out or not was
fundamental to the case.
Judge Wyn Williams said the
panel of eight women and four men
should return not guilty verdicts if
it believed Fyfield had examined
Less than two hours later, the jury
returned a not guilty verdict on a
man dubbed “the Alex Ferguson” of
the drift mine industry.
Defence counsel Elwen Evans,
QC, said it would have not made
sense for mining veteran Fyfield to
risk his own life as well as workers.
“ Even if Malcolm Fyfield was
an incompetent, uncaring, badly
regarded manager with a bad record
. . . evenifhewastheworstmine
manager ever, it is inconceivable
that he put his own life at risk by
going down the mine and into the
stall at the time of breakthrough,”
Evans said during the trial.
Fyfield said he had checked the
old central workings the day before
and found only small puddles —
something which was normal for a
“ wet ” mine like Gleision.
His account was also backed up
by conveyor belt worker David
“ Jake” Wyatt who said a drill test
into the coal face moments before
detonation saw only a limited
amount of water trickle out.
But seconds after shot-firer Hill
gave the orders for everyone to “get
their heads down”, enough water
to fill an Olympic swimming pool
rushed into the stall.
Fyfield, who was close to the blast
site, managed to escape after crawling
through dirt and sludge. — PA
Pit boss cleared over Welsh mine deaths
Oscar-winning New Zealand film-
maker Peter Jackson is getting a star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The film-maker behind the L ord
of the Rings and Hobbit franchises
was announced overnight as one of an
eclectic group of 30 stars of movies,
television, music, radio and stage to be
honoured with a star on Hollywood
The others include actors Daniel
Radcliffe, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Garner,
Paul Rudd, Melissa McCarthy, Julianna
Margulies, Jim Parsons, Sofia Vergara
and cartoon character Snoopy.
From the music world, Pharrell
Williams, Kool and The Gang and
Pitbull will get stars.
Dates have not been scheduled for the
star ceremonies although recipients have
five years before their invitations expire.
Jackson gets a
Holly wood star
A Chinese recycling tycoon who has
been angling to buy the New York Times
Co aims to feed 1000 poor Americans
at a charitable lunch in New York City’s
Central Park next week, where he plans
to sing and give each attendee $300.
Chen Guangbiao, who made his
fortune in the recycling business before
becoming a well-known philanthropist
in China, took out advertisements in the
New York Times and the Wall Street
Journal on Monday inviting America’s
poor to the lunch at the park’s Loeb
During the lunch set for next
Wednesday, Chen promised to sing We
Are the World, a 1985 charity hit song
performed by dozens of stars, to his
guests in English.
“I want to spread the message in
the United States that there are good
philanthropists in China and not all are
crazy spenders on luxury goods,” Chen
was quoted as saying in an inter view
about the lunch with the South China
Chen’s quest to buy the New York
Times from the Ochs-Sulzberger
family, which has owned the paper for
generations, is widely seen as quixotic.
Chinese mogul invites 1000
poor Americans to lunch
Satellites to monitor
US ready for ‘precise’
action in Iraq: Obama
United States President Barack
Obama says he is ready to send
300 military advisers to Iraq and
if necessary to take “targeted”
and “precise” military action to
counter radical Sunni fighters.
Washington was ready to deploy
advisers to study how to train
and equip Iraqi forces and had
already increased its sur veillance
and intelligence capabilities in
The US teams could set up joint
operations centres in Baghdad
and near Mosul, the northern
Iraqi city that fell to extremist
rebels last week, the president
“Going for ward, we will be
prepared to take targeted and
precise military action if and
when we determine that the
situation on the ground requires
it,” Obama said at the White
House after meeting senior
members of his national security
Obama said it was a good
investment for Washington to
inter vene in Iraq if it prevented
Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant (ISIL) fighters
establishing bases which could
eventually pose a threat to the
But he repeatedly insisted US
troops would not be going back
in to direct combat in Iraq, two
and a half years after the last
American soldier came home
from the war.
Obama did however pledge to
help Iraq bolster its own forces
against the advance of the radical
“ We’re prepared to send a small
number of additional American
military advisers, up to 300, assess
how we can best train, advise
and support Iraqi security forces
going for ward,” Obama said.
The president also renewed US
warnings that only non-sectarian
leadership could rescue Iraq from
its current plight — an apparent
implicit rebuke of Shi’ite Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Obama warned that he would
not authorise political operations
that were designed to promote
one sect in Iraq over another.
Two Japanese satellites will
be launched from Russia to
monitor environmental damage
near the crippled nuclear plants
at Fukushima and Chernobyl,
The Ukrainian-designed Dnepr
rocket carrying 33 satellites,
including the two, will lift off
today from a space centre in the
The University of Tokyo
developed the two satellites
the Hodoyoshi-3 and
on a relatively
slim budget of Y300 million
($3.376 million) each.
“The satellites have a number of
missions and monitoring the two
nuclear plants is part of them,”
project leader Shinichi Nakasuka,
a professor at the Japanese State-
run university, said.
Under the plan, the two
satellites will take photos of the
two nuclear power plants and
their surroundings and regularly
receive data, including radiation
levels, from instruments near the
“I hope that the data will help
Japan and Ukraine correctly
acknowledge the impact on
the environment near the two
plants,” Nakasuka said.
The two satellites will also
monitor river levels globally,
and “22 countries such as
Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and
Bangladesh will receive the data
as part of efforts to avoid damage
from major floods”, he added.
The launch, which had been
planned for last year, fell behind
schedule, but Nakasuka said
the delay was not caused by the
political situation in Ukraine.
The world’s worst civilian
nuclear accident took place
in Ukraine in 1986, at the
Chernobyl nuclear power station.
Thirty people were killed in an
explosion and a further 2500
died of related illnesses.
In March 2011, a massive
earthquake and tsunami hit
Japan’s north-eastern region
and sent nuclear reactors in
Fukushima into meltdown.
Full decommissioning of the
plant at Fukushima is expected
to take several decades. An area
around the plant remains out of
bounds, and experts warn that
some settlements may have to be
abandoned because of high levels
of radiation. — AFP
Songwriter Gerry Goffin, co-author
of hits ranging from dance classic The
Loco-Motion to Whitney Houston’s
Saving All My Love For You, has died
aged 75, his ex-wife Carole King says.
The Loco-Motion was a hit for
Australian singer Kylie Minogue,
reaching No 3 on the United States
charts in 1988, after reaching No 1 for
two other acts in 1974 and 1962.
Goffin, who wrote some of his biggest
hits during his 10-year marriage to
singing legend King, died of natural
causes at his Los Angeles home, industry
journal Variety reported.
“Gerry Goffin was my first love,” King,
who married him in 1959, said in a
statement issued by her publicist.
“He had a profound impact on my life
and the rest of the world. Gerry was a
good man and a dynamic force, whose
words and creative influence will resonate
for generations to come,” she added.
Goffin’s hits written with King include
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and
(You Make me Feel Like) a Natural
Woman, as well as Some Kind of
Wonderful for the Drifters, The Loco-
Motion for Little Eva and Pleasant
Valley Sunday for The Monkees.
He had seven No 1s on the Billboard
singles chart including Saving All My
Love for You for Houston in 1986, as
well as dozens of top-40 records.
“His words expressed what so many
people were feeling but didn’t know how
to say,” King, who had two daughters
with Goffin, said. “If you want to join his
loved ones in honouring him, look at the
names of the songwriters under the titles
of songs. Among the titles associated
with me, you’ll often find Gerry’s name
next to mine,” she added.
Goffin was inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, and
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990,
according to Variety. — AFP
Renowned song writer Goffin dies
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