As of Friday, February 28, 2014
Doctors Without Borders ejected
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Doctors Without Borders said Friday it has been expelled from Myanmar and that tens of thousands of lives are at risk. The decision came after the humanitarian group reported it treated nearly two dozen Rohingya Muslim victims of communal violence in Rakhine state, which the government has denied.
The humanitarian group said it was “deeply shocked” by Myanmar’s decision to expel it after two decades of work in the country.
“Today for the first time in MSF’s history of operations in the country, HIV/AIDS clinics in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, as well as Yangon division, were closed and patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed,” the group said in a statement, using the French acronym for its name. As Myanmar’s main provider of HIV drugs, supplying treatment to 30,000 people, the group described the impact as devastating.
Myanmar’s presidential spokesman Ye Htut had criticized Doctors Without Borders in the Myanmar Freedom newspaper for hiring “Bengalis,” the term the government uses for Rohingya, and lacked transparency in its work.
He also accused the group of misleading the world about an attack last month in the remote northern part of Rakhine. The United Nations says more than 40 Rohingya may have been killed, but the government has vehemently denied allegations that a Buddhist mob rampaged through a village, killing women and children. It says one policeman was killed by Rohingya and no other violence occurred.
Nuclear leak raises questions
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — For 15 years the trucks have barreled past southeastern New Mexico’s potash mines and seemingly endless fields of oil rigs, hauling decades worth of plutonium-contaminated waste to what is supposed to be a safe and final resting place a half mile underground in the salt beds of the Permian Basin.
But back-to-back accidents and a never-supposed-to-happen above-ground radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers have shuttered the federal government’s only deep underground nuclear waste dump indefinitely. They have also raised questions about a cornerstone of the Department of Energy’s $5-billion-a-year program for cleaning up legacy waste scattered across the country from decades of nuclear bomb making.
The problems also highlight a lack of alternatives for disposing of tainted materials like tools, gloves, glasses and protective suits from national labs in Idaho, Illinois, South Carolina and New Mexico.
Mt. Gox bitcoin goes bankrupt
TOKYO (AP) — The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday and its chief executive said 850,000 bitcoins, worth several hundred million dollars, are unaccounted for.
The exchange’s CEO Mark Karpeles appeared before Japanese TV news cameras, bowing deeply. He said a weakness in the exchange’s systems was behind a massive loss of the virtual currency involving 750,000 bitcoins from users and 100,000 of the company’s own bitcoins. That would amount to about $425 million at recent prices.
The online exchange’s unplugging earlier this week and accusations it had suffered a catastrophic theft have drawn renewed regulatory attention to a currency created in 2009 as a way to make transactions across borders without third parties such as banks. It remains unclear if the missing bitcoins were stolen, voided by technological flaws or both.
The loss is a giant setback to the currency’s image because its boosters have promoted bitcoin’s cryptography as protecting it from counterfeiting and theft. Bitcoin proponents have insisted that Mt. Gox is an isolated case, caused by the company’s technological failures, and the potential of virtual currencies remains great.
Debts at Mt. Gox totaled more than 6.5 billion yen ($65 million), surpassing its assets, according to Teikoku Databank, which monitors bankruptcies.