Australian news, and some related international items

USA corporations, but not Australians, can know what is in the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement

secret-dealsRight now we don’t know exactly what will be in the TPP, because it’s kept completely secret, unless you’re fortunate enough to be a wealthy lobbying organisation in the United States, who are provided access to the text through the US Trade Representative (USTR), and have direct input into it. 

We urge the Abbott Government to release the TPP text before it’s too late to fix. Let’s not cripple Australian innovation in the interests of American profits.

Why can’t Australian citizens read the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement? Journalists have been banned from a briefing about the TPP. Why the secrecy – and why can only wealthy lobbyists access the text? Only in Australia could the phrase “public briefing” mean that the meeting will be held behind closed doors, where journalists are not welcome.

logo-anti-TPPYesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) rescinded the invitations of several journalists to attend a public briefing regarding a multilateral trade agreement under negotiation called theTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The TPP is an extensive agreement that covers typical topics such as goods and services, but also contains chapters on labour laws, intellectual property, the environment and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. This agreement is currently being negotiated completely opaquely between the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. DFAT claims that it will be finished negotiating by the end of the year.

If you’ve never heard of the TPP, here’s a summary of the major issues: Continue reading

November 1, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Secrecy is the style of Australia’s new Abbott government

Abbott-shhhhPM’s department keeps first briefings secret October 31, 2013 SMH  Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent Tony Abbott’s department has decided to keep secret its first briefing for the Prime Minister, arguing disclosure of its advice would be contrary to the public interest.

The decision to block access to the briefing, which was handed to Mr Abbott the day after the election, marks a shift from 2010, when the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet published a redacted version of the briefing it prepared for Julia Gillard.

It follows decisions by Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department – both of which published elements of their 2010 briefs – to refuse Freedom of Information requests for the briefs they prepared for their new political masters.

Fairfax Media, along with other media organisations, applied to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Freedom of Information for access to the so-called “blue book” prepared in advance for an incoming Coalition government as well as the “red book” for a re-elected Labor government.

The documents typically provide a frank assessment of the party’s election policies as well as the public service’s view of the economy and other information designed to allow a smooth transition between governments.

The department’s acting first assistant secretary, Myra Croke, declined both requests on the grounds that the release of the briefs would “have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations” of the department. “I consider that release of any part of these documents would be contrary to the public interest,” Ms Croke wrote…….

Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department cited similar grounds in refusing requests for their briefs, with the Attorney-General’s department also noting the view expressed publicly by Mr Abbott in opposition that release of the briefs would contravene the Westminster conventions. The Industry and Employment departments have rejected requests from Labor Senator Joe Ludwig for the briefs prepared for their new ministers, arguing the requests are an unreasonable diversion of their resources……..
…..Senator Ludwig said while departments would always take a conservative approach to such requests, Ministers could encourage their departments to release their briefs.

“It is by and large information by individual taxpayers, why shouldn’t they be able to access that information? I think this is a government that is wedded to secrecy,” he said……..

November 1, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, election 2013, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Adam Broinowski explains how the World Health Organisation is beholden to the IAEA

IAEA-and-WHO Fukushima: Life and the Transnationality of Radioactive Contamination  生命と国境を越える放射能汚染 Adam Broinowski   Asia Pacific Journal 14 Oct 2013 “……….Following the formation of the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC 1954) and Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA 1955), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established in 1957. Article 2 of its foundational mandate referred to the promotion of ‘safe, responsible development of uranium resources’ and the mission to ‘accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity world wide’.

Just as Japan eagerly committed itself to the ‘peaceful use of nuclear power’, so too did signatory nations to the nuclear club agree to the IAEA assuming the role of key promoter of the nuclear industry worldwide.  In 1959, the WHO agreed to the IAEA taking primary responsibility for reporting the health effects of nuclear radiation despite the heavy concentration of IAEA expertise in nuclear physics (28 May 1959, WHO WHA 12-40).

Along with establishing radiation safety and environmental protection standards, the IAEA and other radiation protection authorities have consistently downplayed events and evidence and pathologised health concerns for low dose radiation as ‘radiophobia’, which it characterised as more hazardous than radiation itself. Their understanding of and response to the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is no exception. ……”

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

65 Japanese Civil Society Organisations request World Health Organisation to revise its statement on Fukushima

highly-recommendedStatement: Japanese civil society requests that the reports of the United Nations Scientific Committee on Fukushima be revised

 Joint Statement

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is about to submit a report on Fukushima to the United Nations General Assembly. 

Human Rights Now, along with 63 Japanese civil society organizations, has issued a statement requesting UNSCEAR, and the General Assembly Fourth Committee to revise the report and its finding from a human rights perspective. 

The statement outlines the case for a more cautious approach to low level radiation exposure in order to help protect the most vulnerable people after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

UNSCEAR_Statement_Submission (PDF)

   24 October 2013 

Japanese civil society requests that the reports of the United Nations Scientific Committee on Fukushima be revised

1. Concern for the reports of the United Nations Scientific Committee

The United Nations Scientific Committee has inserted the results of investigations on the effects of radiation exposure from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Number 1 into its report, which will be submitted to the 68th session being held at the moment.

We, the undersigned civil society organizations in Japan  express  serious concern that the results of these investigations contain some problems in terms of objectivity, independence, and accuracy, and that the underestimation of the effects of radiation exposure could have negative effects on the human rights and protection of citizens.

We request that the United Nations Scientific Committee and the United Nations General Assembly Forth Committee revise the reports  from a human rights perspective to protect the most vulnerable people based on careful and sufficient deliberations.

The parts of the reports  which include the foremost concerns of Human Rights Now are outlined as follows: Continue reading

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan cannot afford one slip up in the perilous task of decommissioning Fukushima nuclear plant

VIDEO and AUDIO Fukushima decommissioning slip-up could trigger monumental chain reaction, expert warns One slip-up in the latest step to decommission Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant could trigger a “monumental” chain reaction, experts warn. ABC NewsWithin days, Fukushima nuclear plant operators will begin what is being described as the most dangerous phase of the decommissioning process so far.

In an operation never before attempted, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) will start removing 1,331 highly radioactive used fuel assemblies from a deep pool which sits high above the ground in a shattered reactor building.

The Fukushima nuclear plant’s reactors were sent into meltdown by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 in the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Experts around the world have warned ever since that the fuel pool is in a precarious state – vulnerable to collapsing in another big earthquake.Yale University professor Charles Perrow wrote about the number 4 fuel pool this year in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.He said one pool contains 10 times the amount of radioactive caesium present in the Chernobyl disaster and warned one slip-up with the removal could trigger a chain reaction.

“This has me very scared,” he told the ABC. “Tokyo would have to be evacuated because [the] caesium and other poisons that are there will spread very rapidly. “Even if the wind is blowing in the other way, it’s going to be monumental.”…..

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Renewable energy subjected to a ‘Smear Campaign’ by Origin Energy

Report: Origin’s ‘Smear Campaign’ Against Renewables 23 Oct 13,  100% Renewable and Greenpeace say Origin Energy is engaged in a smear campaign against renewable energy in order to support what the groups say is the company’s ‘great gas gamble’.

In a report just released, the two groups state Origin’s campaign uses poor modelling and misinformation about the costs of renewables – including over-inflating the amount renewable energy programs add to electricity prices

“Origin’s Managing Director, Grant King, has repeatedly said the renewable energy target is a primary driver of increased energy costs,” says Lindsay Soutar, National Director of 100% Renewable.

“But, that is inaccurate, with the main cause of price rises – at over 70% – due to over investment in poles and wires.” The report also points out renewables are actually reducing wholesale power prices and without that influence, power bills would be higher. Continue reading

November 1, 2013 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fear of ionising radiation is based on reality

Caldicott,-Helen-4Radiation Fears Are Real  October 30, 2013, HELEN CALDICOTT   David Ropeik, a specialist on risk perception and risk communication, plays down the mass of scientific and medical literature that amply demonstrates that ionizing radiation is a potent carcinogen and that no dose is low enough not to induce cancer.

Large areas of the world are becoming contaminated by long-lived nuclear elements secondary to catastrophic meltdowns: 40 percent of Europe from Chernobyl, and much of Japan.

A New York Academy of Sciences report from 2009 titled “Chernobyl” estimates that nearly a million have already died from this catastrophe. In Japan, 10 million people reside in highly contaminated locations.

Children are 10 to 20 times more radiosensitive than adults, and fetuses thousands of times more so; women are more sensitive than men.

Radiation of the reproductive organs induces genetic mutations in the sperm and eggs, increasing the incidence of genetic diseases like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis and thousands of others over future generations. Recessive mutations take up to 20 generations to be expressed.


November 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment