Monthly Archives: September 2012

Exploding Ammo Dumps

The Economist, Sep 29th 2012

[Video from Congo-Brazzaville where explosions at an ammo dump ultimately killed 250 people in March]

TAKING stock of an ammunition depot can be a deadly task. Earlier this month it led to an explosion at a weapons storeroom near the Turkish town of Afyonkarahisar, killing 25 soldiers. Such blasts are frequent—and deadly. They have killed 4,600 people since global record-keeping started in 1995. Last year was the worst yet, with 442 victims from 46 explosions. One of the biggest ever happened in March this year: an accident in Congo-Brazzaville that killed 250, showering munitions over a two-mile radius.

Thousands of ill-run weapons stores are in restless parts of Africa and the Middle East, often near towns or cities. The end of the cold war left unneeded weapons all over the Soviet empire. Moldova spends a quarter of its defence budget guarding obsolete munitions. Ukraine alone has half a million tonnes.

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For more information on ammo dump explosions, visit the Small Arms Survey here. And check out the work of the Mines Advisory Group, one of several organisations trying to convince countries to sort out their ammo depots. They had warned Congo-Brazzaville about their depots prior to the explosions that killed 250 people earlier this year.

Catalan independence ‘impossible to stop’

The National, Sep 29, 2012

BARCELONA // In a small office in central Barcelona, surrounded by boxes overflowing with the red-and-yellow Catalan flag, a young political activist can smell victory.

“Catalonia has to become an independent state, and it is almost impossible to stop now,” said Ignazi Termes, a member of La Assemblea Nacional Catalana, an umbrella organisation of pro-independence outfits.

The Spanish government is already struggling to cope with 25 per cent unemployment, violent protests against spending cuts, and the prospect that it will have to seek a bailout from euro-zone partners. It can scarcely afford to deal with rebellious provinces, yet this is the moment when Catalonia, its wealthy northeastern state, has decided to strike off on the road to independence.

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Politics in Nepal: a hopeless mess or beacon of hope?

From The National, Sep 9, 2012

Nepal’s politicians may not look like they have much to teach the rest of the world. The Maoists, who are the largest party, were once guerrilla insurgents whose 10-year war against the state up to 2006 led to the deaths of thousands. The peace process has dragged on interminably, with four different prime ministers in as many years and four deadlines missed for writing a new constitution.

And since the end of May, the country hasn’t even had a parliament, and the election commission recently ruled that there is no legal framework for holding the elections scheduled for November.

Yet, amid all this chaos are signs of hope, since the crisis of recent months stems from a discussion about how to share power with Nepal’s marginalised ethnic communities that puts it leagues ahead of other countries in its neighbourhood and beyond.

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