Australian news, and some related international items

Australian political parties’ policies on nuclear power and uranium mining

Well – you’d be hard put to find out about this.  I scoured the web to get anything up to date about this.  But no ! –  in spite of all the media rubbish going on lately about how great nuclear power would be for Australia –    no political party has a word to say about nuclear issues.

It seems that they think (even the Greens) that nuclear power is just irrelevant to the coming Australian election.

As for uranium mining – well despite its disastrous financial and environmental state, Australia’s mainstream media regards uranium mining as a great investment, terrific, we all love it


Indeed, the mainstream media does not cover nuclear/uranium issues as relevant.   Even the current radiation crisis at Fukushima is not relevant news.   (The ABC is an exception)  Hiroshima Day came and went, as far as I could see, it was ignored by the mainstream media.

If it weren’t for  Gem Romuld Outreach Coordinator International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons- Australia  we just wouldn’t know about our election parties’ nuclear policies.

So, thanks, Gem, for taking the trouble to let us know about party policies on  nuclear power


August 7, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

International Red Cross remembers Hiroshima Day

red-cross-and-red-crescentSwitzerland: Ceremony recalls dangers of nuclear weapons 06-08-2013 

A descendant of a Gingko biloba tree that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 was planted at a ceremony at the ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva today, standing as a reminder of the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons and as a sign of hope that they will one day be eliminated.

The Gingko biloba planted today is the first sapling of the 200-year-old Hiroshima survivor tree to be planted in Switzerland.

The ICRC and the city of Hiroshima have a unique bond. Dr Marcel Junod, then head of the ICRC’s delegation in Japan, was the first foreign doctor to enter the devastated city a little over a month after the bombing, bringing with him desperately needed medical supplies. Since then, the ICRC, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement more broadly, have regularly urged States to pursue the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, drawing conviction from Junod’s shocking findings in Hiroshima.

ICRC delegate Fritz Bilfinger reached Hiroshima shortly after the bombing. He sent Dr Junod a shocked telegram describing the situation in the city.

Speaking at the event in Geneva today, ICRC vice-president Olivier Vodoz said: “Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power. The scale of the destruction, and the risk associated with exposure to ionizing radiation, make it nearly impossible to deliver adequate humanitarian assistance to victims in the aftermath of a nuclear blast.


We firmly believe that States must ensure such weapons are never used again.” Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian political parties’ policies on climate change and environment

Climate-Report-CardEnvironment policy: where the parties stand ABC, By Sarah Clarke and Andrew Greene  Aug 5, 2013   After slipping from the national agenda, the environment and climate change are now back to prominence. When the ALP was elected in 2007, prime minister Kevin Rudd made climate change centre-stage at the UN climate meeting in Bali, where he declared that Australia would ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr Rudd first proposed an emissions trading scheme but postponed the idea. When she became prime minister, Julia Gillard revived a carbon price, in the form of a carbon tax, as a condition for getting the independents and Greens on side to form minority government.Following her departure, Mr Rudd has declared the carbon tax “terminated” as Labor promises to move to an emissions trading scheme by July 2014, one year earlier than planned.

The Coalition plans to scale back staff in the newly created Climate Change department, and merge it with the Environment Department. Under its “Direct Action” policy a number of initiatives and agencies set up by Labor will go.

On an international scale, Australia is one of the largest per capita emitters in the developed world. Australia’s carbon pollution represents 1.5 per cent of global emissions of greenhouse gases and our emissions are projected to continue growing by almost 2 per cent a year.

What aspects do the major parties agree/disagree on?

Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets

Both ALP and the Coalition agree on the science of climate change, and have formally backed Australia’s emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020. But there are some differences:

  • ALP: Committed to 5-25pc reduction on 2000 levels by 2020, based on the ambition of global agreement and 80pc reduction by 2050 which is in line with the UK and Germany. Signatory to second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol for 2020 reduction and intention to ratify.
  • Coalition: Committed to the 5-25pc reduction on 2000 levels based on ambition of global agreement. Review in 2015 to consider longer term target in light of international agreement. Coalition has stated “in principle” support for second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol but no position on ratifications announced.
  • Greens: Committed to 25-40pc reductions on 1990 levels by 2020, net zero emissions by 2050 and the second period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Carbon price

  • ALP: Carbon pricing legislated in 2011 along with independent  Climate Change Authority, Clean Energy Regulator, and Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Climate Commission established administratively in February 2011 to explain the science of climate change. Announced in July 2013 bringing forward emissions trading scheme to 1 July 2014 and cutting back Energy Security Fund from $4.3 billion to $2.5 billion.
  • Coalition: Committed to abolish carbon price. Abolish the Climate Change Authority, Climate Commission, and the Energy security fund. Retain the Clean Energy Regulator and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS) as part of the administration of the Emissions Reduction Fund. Committed to introducing a carbon buyback via an Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Greens: Made carbon pricing a condition of supporting the Gillard Government after the 2010 election, including the creation of Multi Party Climate Change Committee. Do not support bringing forward emissions trading to 1 July 2014.

Clean Energy Finance Corp

  • ALP: CEFC legislated in 2012 with funding of $10 billion over 5 years to leverage private investment to deploy and commercialise large scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects with funding from July 1, 2013. Investment functions of Low Carbon Australia now merged into CEFC.
  • Coalition: The CEFC to be axed and contracts already issued will not be acted on.
  • Greens: Will oppose any attempt to repeal the CEFC.

International climate deal

  • ALP: Labor supports a global deal through the United Nations negotiations and along with all member countries has agreed to set up a legally binding international deal for all major emitters by 2015 in Paris, to be up and running by 2019. Supports G20 and Major Economies Forum to shape global solution and climate deal.
  • Coalition :The Coalition supports the role of the UN and will be engaged in the international negotiations. In addition, the coalition believes that as Chair of the G20 there’s an opportunity for Australia to further negotiations between the US, China, India and the EU to secure an international deal.
  • Greens: Greens support a legally binding global deal through the UN negotiations by 2015.

Renewable Energy Target (RET)

  • ALP: Committed to the RET of at least 20pc by 2020 which maintains target of 41,000 GWh large scale renewable energy generation by 2020. Commitment not to review RET until 2016.
  • Coalition: Committed to the RET of 20pc by 2020 but will review it in 2014.
  • Greens: Committed to the RET of at least 20pc by 2020 which maintains target of 41,000 GWh large scale renewable energy generation by 2020; 2030 RET target is 90pc.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

  • ALP: Established ARENA but cut its budget in 2013. Approx $3 billion of support maintained and receives dividends from the CEFC.
  • Coalition: Maintain ARENA and accepts Labor’s budget cuts. Would not receive dividends from CEFC if it was abolished.
  • Greens: Opposed Labor’s cuts to ARENA in the 2013 Budget.

Carbon farming

  • ALP: Set it up and committed $290 million to Carbon Farming Futures and Skills program. $44 million for complementary improvements in Natural Resource Management planning. Adopted new international rules which allow virtually all Carbon Farming Initiative credits to be sold to all polluters in the carbon pricing mechanism.
  • Coalition: Committed to keeping it, and vowed to expand to include a wider range of emissions reduction methodologies to be available for purchase via the Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Greens: Supported the establishment of the CFI and negotiated amendments under the auspices of the Multi Party Climate Change Committee adding a ‘negative list’ which bans a range of project types…….

August 7, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

5 days left to enrol to vote

logo-election-Aust-13The PM has finally announced Election Day, but there’s a more urgent date we need to put in the calendar: voter enrolment ends next Monday at 8pm AEST — that’s Monday August 12. Take a minute right now to head to the Australian Electoral Commission website where you can enrol and update your address online:

If you’re correctly enrolled, take a minute to share this email with your friends and family to ensure that they are too. More than half a million people are still missing from the electoral roll — if we get even half of them enrolledthat’s enough votes to change an election.

It’s never been easier to check if you are enrolled — you can use your phone, your tablet or your computer, and it only takes a few minutes. There’s only days to go until until the chance to vote in this year’s election could be lost. Take a minute to make sure your details are correct, and then share this link with everyone you know by email, or by posting to Facebook and Twitter:

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radioactive Reality (06 August 2013) “Emergency situation” at Fukushima

   Tepco Press Conference: The situation at Fukushima is bleak — “This discharge is beyond our control” (VIDEO)

Title: Japan’s nuclear body says radioactive groundwater at Fukushima an ‘emergency’
Source: Arirang News
Date: Aug. 6, 2013
Transcript Excerpts
Two and a half years may have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but problems there are as serious now as they’ve ever been […]

The head of the country’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force Shinji Kinjo told Reuters on Monday that the leak was an emergency, but he was worried the plant’s operator, TEPCO, had no sense of how to deal with it. […]

In a recent news conference, TEPCO General manager Masayuki Ono said the situation was bleak.

“We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good.” […]

Watch the broadcast here

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy of Foreign Minister Carr: Australia DOES have the power to help Julian Assange


Australia could seek an assurance from Sweden that following the completion of all Swedish legal proceedings that Assange would be deported to Australia. This would be an entirely appropriate outcome for an Australian citizen who has been subject to extradition to a foreign country.

If the Gillard government was able to obtain these diplomatic assurances, which are consistent with international law, then Assange would face his accusers in Sweden and not face the prospect of onward extradition to the United States.


How Australia can end the Assange stalemate The Drum Australia can help Julian Assange negotiate his legal problems while remaining consistent with the norms of international law and with the level of assistance that would be offered to other Australians, writes Donald Rothwell. …….. the UK has indicated that it does not recognise Ecuador’s granting of asylum and if Assange were to leave the Embassy he is liable to arrest and extradition to Sweden.

Ecuador revealed in mid-August – as the Assange matter reached a pivotal point- that Britain had threatened to rely on its Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act and revoke the Ecuadorian Embassy’s diplomatic protection so as to enter and seize Assange.

This threat was extraordinary and without modern precedence and it was unsurprising that the Ecuadorian Government responded with such fury. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has now downplayed any suggestion that the Ecuadorian Embassy will be raided, and emphasised Britain will act consistently with international law.

Nevertheless, Hague and the British government have made it clear that they have a legal obligation to Sweden to extradite Assange and that they will continue to seek his arrest for breach of his bail conditions……..

Australia has been remarkably silent on some of these recent developments. Throughout the year Assange has been highly critical of what he claims has been a lack of support from the Australian government, but Foreign Minister Bob Carr insists that Assange has received more consular assistance than any other Australian in similar circumstances.

The reality is that Australia can still play a proactive, and perhaps even pivotal role, in seeking to bring about a resolution to the current stalemate. Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

World’s biggest nuclear power company switches focus to wind and solar power

sun-championNuclear Power Company Turns To Renewables  7 Aug 13 The world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants is exiting the nuclear power sector in the USA; turning instead to renewable energy.

According to Reuters, French utility EDF recently struck an agreement partner Exelon with regard to EDF’s exit from their Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG) joint venture, which operates five nuclear power stations totalling 3.9 gigawatts capacity.

EDF’s US operations will now focus on developing renewables-based generation, primarily solar power and wind energy, through EDF Renewable Energy.  The company currently has a portfolio of over 5 gigawatts of projects and 2.3 gigawatts of installed capacity.  Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The constructed, lying, history of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

hiroshima-1from its very first words, the official narrative was built on a lie, or at best a half-truth. Hiroshima did contain an important military base, used as a staging area for Southeast Asia, where perhaps 25,000 troops might be quartered. But the bomb had been aimed not at the “Army base” but at the very center of a city of 350,000, with the vast majority women and children and elderly males.

In fact, the two most important reasons Hiroshima had been chosen as our #1 target were: It had been relatively untouched by conventional bombs, meaning its large population was still in place and the bomb’s effects could be fully judged

 residential areas bore the brunt of the bomb, with less than 10 percent of the city’s manufacturing, transportation, and storage facilities damaged.

There was something else missing in the Truman announcement: Because the president in his statement failed to mention radiation effects, 

secret-agent-Sm68 Years Ago: Truman Opened the Nuclear Era — With a Lie About Hiroshima Greg Mitchell, HUFFINGTON POST, : 08/06/2013 When the shocking news emerged that morning, exactly 68 years ago, it took the form of a routine press release, a little more than one thousand words long……The atmosphere was so casual, many reporters had difficulty grasping the announcement. ….

Truman’s four-page statement had been crafted with considerable care over many months, as my research at the Truman Library for two books on the subject made clear…..

Those who helped prepare the presidential statement — principally Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson — sensed that the stakes were high, for this marked the unveiling of both the atomic bomb and the official narrative of Hiroshima, which largely persists to this day. It was vital that this event be viewed as consistent with American decency and concern for human life. Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, revealed secrets about injustice, not military secrets

text-Manning,-Bradley the reason there will be more Mannings and Snowdens is that so many American secrets are not strict military secrets but scandalous public secrets pertaining to ways the US national security state behaves that are at odds with national or international law, or in conflict with fundamental national values. Whether one condones what Snowden did or not, it is clear that he was motivated by a deep sense of indignation that his government was doing something profoundly wrong. “If you want a secret respected,” said Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, one of the country’s greatest commentators on secrecy, “see that it’s respectable in the first place.”

Not all secrets are alike, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,  Hugh Gusterson “……..The second kind of secret is what anthropologists call the “public secret.” These are denied yet known. Their ambiguous status as simultaneously public and secret torques them with psychological conflict. …….  Not infrequently, as Henrik Ibsen famously dramatized in his play An Enemy of the People, opprobrium attaches most harshly not to the transgressor, but to the person who tells the truth out loud…..

Often the state’s greatest rage is directed at those who reveal public secrets, not military secrets. Richard Nixon called Daniel Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America” not because he shared military secrets with the Vietcong (he did not), but because in giving the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times (and thus the American people), he made it impossible to deny what many already suspected—that the US government had lied about the reasons for the Vietnam War and about progress in fighting it…….
US national security officials have likewise been enraged by Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier who gave WikiLeaks 250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 Army reports. Although the Obama administration claims that Manning and WikiLeaks gave away military secrets, for the most part they caused embarrassment by revealing public secrets.  Many Americans had long been sure that, military propaganda notwithstanding, some American troops in Iraq were prone to using violence indiscriminately, killing innocents, and enjoying the act of killing, but Manning’s release of the “collateral murder” video, shot from a US military helicopter, gave visceral and undeniable form to inchoate knowledge. …..

Even before he was found guilty, Manning has been punished harshly. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture complained that Manning—held for months in solitary confinement, often naked, and deprived of sleep—had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture.”

Like Manning, Edward Snowden gave away a public secret, revealing that the National Security Agency does not just spy on foreigners, but in violation of the legal framework established after the Vietnam War, also harvests vast quantities of information on the communications of American citizens, including email messages, browsing histories, postal records, and telephone metadata. When public rather than military secrets are given away, the state always insists that military security has been damaged, so it should not surprise us that the Obama administration claims Snowden gave away military secrets that will help those bent on attacking the United States. ….. The US government has secretly created a massive apparatus of domestic surveillance on the edge of the law. Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian buildings can go gas free, AND halve their energy use

Aust buildings could halve energy use in decade – gas free   By  on 6 August 2013  A nationwide plan to transform Australia’s existing building stock into models of energy efficiency and renewable power generation has found that residential and commercial energy use could be cut in half, and could reach zero emissions from their operations, within 10 years.

Launched on Tuesday, the The Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan – a joint effort from climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne Energy Institute – sets out a strategy to retrofit Australia’s buildings, to reduce energy bills, generate renewable energy, increase comfort levels, and make workplaces more productive.


The plan finds the residential building sector would be able to achieve a 53 per cent energy use reduction overall, with some typical home categories seeing over 70 per cent reduction. Commercial buildings are estimated to be able to reduce energy use by 44 per cent overall.

A key element of the plan involves buildings going gas-free, with gas appliances deemed “too inefficient and polluting” compared to modern electric appliances which can replace them – namely heat pumps, or split-system airconditioners, as they are more commonly known. Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment