An accident in a nuclear reactor in the south of France went unreported in the European press even though the incident raised questions concerning the safety of nuclear energy plants such as the ones France has promised to construct in Libya. The incident occurred the first week in July just as Nicolas Sarkozy assumed the role of president of the European Union. The plant malfunction led to 30,000 litres of a solution containing 12% enriched uranium to overflow from a reservoir into the nearby Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers. Evangelia Petit, admitted the concentration of uranium in the two rivers was now 1,000 times higher than normal but she downplayed the consequences of the accident insisting the risk posed to humans was “slight.”
However, local authorities apparently did not accept her verdict that things were not that bad because there was uranium in the rivers. Inhabitants of nearby towns and villages have been banned from fishing, swimming, drawing well water or using water from the polluted rivers for irrigation purposes. The area is noted for its grapes which are used in making several brands of wines.
The Green Party blog of Malta expressed concern that France was going to construct nuclear energy plants in nearby Libya. There is fear an accident in a nuclear plant to be built on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea might result in extensive pollution to a water body which is essential to the lives of millions.
There is no question great improvements have been made in safety of nuclear plants, but the world has yet to reach a point in which the presence of nuclear plants doesn’t also cause a risk to local populations.
New York state was among the first to initiate a testing program for high school students in order to determine if they had learned required material. The infamous “Regents Exam” is known to every person who attended high school in New York state and who can forget the June dread about the upcoming exam? Marc Epstein, writing in the New York Daily News, derides the supposed difficulty of an exam in which a student need only score 36 out of 65 possible points in order to pass. In the old days, when I was a high school student, anything below 60% was a failing grade.
Epstein offers an example to highlight the supposed difficulty of the exam. Students are shown a photo of the situation in the famous Little Rock High School desegregation event. A caption reads: “on September 25, 1957, federal troops escort the Little Rock nine to their classes at Central High School.” The student is asked the following rather difficult question: “Based on the photograph, what was the job of the United States Army troops in Little Rock, Arkansas?”
The more important issue is whether such tests go any further than identifying short term memory on the part of students. Do tests require students to demonstrate their ability to engage in critical thinking concerning issues in American history?
They were nameless men who had made the treacherous journey from North Africa to the supposed safety and good life awaiting them in Europe. A meeting with smugglers, a trip across water, huddled on the banks of a sea line in a new world, mumbled words of advice, and the goodbye on some lonely road leading to nowhere. Two men, strangers in a strange land, knowing a few people but uncertain exactly how to reach them. Somehow, they made i to Belgium and tried finding work, but, they were rounded up by a police dragnet and swept into a building in a place called, “internment center.”
Weeks passed, sitting on a cot, eating food at certain hours of the day, listening to the sounds of children weeping or laughing, and exchanging hopeful dreams with other men. Summer, it was hot, the place reeked of smells that invariably occur when hundreds are thrust into something called an “internment camp.”
One day, the two nameless men could take no more. They scrambled to the top of a building and threatened to fling themselves down. The police arrived and a man who spoke their tongue quietly exchanged soothing words of hope. They came down. They could hear the sounds of people below them shouting, screaming, smashing windows and furniture.
It was just another day in an internment camp. No one died. The two nameless men sat on their cots– waiting for Godot.
helen Zille, leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance and mayor of Cape Town, charged the African National Congress(ANC) was divided as the old National Party of apartheid days, between the “verligtes” and the “verkramptes.” The former were those who wanted to reform apartheid and possible even end it, while the latter wanted to continue the cruel policies of apartheid. “The ANC, after only 14 years, is showing the same schism. It is also divided between its verligtes who support constitutional rule, and its verkramptes who want to subordinate the Constitution to the pursuit of power.” She drew attention to remarks by ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, who said openly that the ANC was more important than the Constitution. Zuma is charged with corruption and could wind up in jail, but Zille believes his supporters will do everything possible to avert this possibility since the ends justify the means.
Zille insists every liberation movement goes through the same cycle of power. “Liberation struggles are about attaining power. Constitutional democracy is about limiting power. Very few activists who have engaged in liberation struggle understand this distinction.” Those who fight to attain power equate their power with furthering the ideas of the struggle and any attempt to limit power is thus regarded as counter-revolutionary.
Zille is seeking to create a new political alignment in South Africa in which ANC believers in constitutionalism will join forces with other groups such as the Democratic Alliance in order to create a new South Africa which is based on respect for constitutional law. South Africa needs a new political vision if it is to pursue the road of democracy.