Australian news, and some related international items

Nagasaki – victim of nuclear bombing

The day the bomb fell on Nagasaki BRIAN MCKENNA  The Globe and Mail Aug. 07 2014, The atomic bomb destined for the ancient trading port of Nagasaki was called Fat Man. Sister Regina McKenna, my grandfather’s sister, was close enough to ground zero to feel the death wind on her face. She might have preferred another name: Terror. Or, as the Japanese call it: Slaughter.



August 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Abbott and Bishop bullying the “bully” Putin?

Abbott-and-Bishop-bulliesRussia told ban on sale of uranium, heavier sanctions are ‘on the table’, SMH August 9, 2014 Lakita Bourke Australia has urged President Vladimir Putin against crossing into Ukraine under the guise of a “humanitarian mission”, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warning further sanctions could involve bans on the sale of uranium.

As Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelled Russia a bully and warned Moscow not to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs, Ms Bishop said Australia had found a new status in world affairs, had proved itself capable of shifting global opinions and of influencing events in the national interest…


August 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Uranium sanctions on Russia? Julie Bishop informs Putin on how to be a world leader

Abbott-and-Bishop-big-timeUranium sanctions next, Julie Bishop warns Russia, as part of ‘broader, deeper’ response over MH17, SMH August 8, 2014  

National political reporter Further Russian intervention in Ukraine would invite Australian sanctions including on the sale of uranium says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who has declared “everything’s on the table” if Moscow fails to accept responsibility for downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Ms Bishop’s stern warning came as Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking in Sydney on Friday afternoon, called on Russia to hold back its forces, currently massing on the Ukraine border. He said any crossing would constitute an “invasion”.

“I want to say very clearly that we are working towards stronger sanctions,” he said.

“I say to President Putin, if he wants to be regarded as a world leader, as opposed to becoming an international outcast: hold your forces back. Stay behind the border, let the business of Ukraine be sorted out by Ukranians.”…….If Russia does seek to intervene in Ukraine, there would be consequences” Ms Bishop warned……..Russia announced its own retaliatory sanctions on Australia and other Western nations overnight, which include banning foodstuffs, including meat, fruit and vegetables.

Ms Bishop played down their impact on the Australian economy and said it was more “petulance” from Russia, which has refused to accept responsibility for MH17.

August 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | 1 Comment

Anniversary of Nagasaki atomic bombing: Women’s Action for New Directions.

Atomic-Bomb-LIn Pursuit of Nuclear Zero  (about the author)by Rawan Alkhatib, WAND Intern, Arlington MA 8/8/2014

The capacity for human innovation is extraordinary. Our creative feats over a few decades have demonstrated astounding technological advancements that could hardly be imagined a century ago. Many would consider nuclear strength as an achievement that must forever be proudly and positively marked in the history of humankind. However, the complete and indiscriminate destruction as a result of nuclear weapons may lead humankind in the future to wonder, “What were they thinking?” It is a source of shame that we now manufacture tools with the power to exert colossal damage.

Commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an important step in confronting this dark moment of American history. The American bombings of these two Japanese cities resulted immediately in a combined 214,000 approximate fatalities, 175,000 serious injuries, hundreds of thousands of deaths and illness from radiation exposure, and total destruction of infrastructure. The rationale behind striking was to minimize further American casualties in World War II. The obvious and horrifying destruction in Japan did nothing to deter the United States’ further nuclear ambitions.

Indeed, after World War II ended, the United States began testing larger and more destructive nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, with harmful and long-term consequences. The nuclear tests modified the Marshall Island’s natural topology, leaving lasting ecological damage that cannot be easily resolved. The citizens of the Marshall Islands’ continued exposure to radiation is demonstrating detrimental health risks that are far-reaching. According to one expert, “these tests had an equivalent explosive force greater than 1.5 Hiroshima bombs being detonated daily for 12 years.

Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear-armed nations “club” has grown to nine, which can be divided into two groups depending on whether or not a country is party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT, ratified in 1970, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The five parties to the NPT are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China. The remaining four–Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea–are not party to the NPT but, according to a new lawsuit brought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, are bound by customary international law.

The lawsuit alleges that the previously-mentioned nine countries have failed to live up to their obligations under Article VI of the NPTto take steps toward the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons. The date the lawsuit was filed on April 24, 2014, the tiny Republic of the Marshall Islands demonstrated an impressive act of bravery by taking on these nine nuclear nations.

As the 69th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings approaches, it is essential that we reflect on the lasting consequences of these attacks. Pursuing a world with zero nuclear weapons is one of the best ways to increase security in an increasingly insecure world. As President John F. Kennedy remarked regarding nuclear weapons’ power to cause mass extinction, “And we call ourselves the human race.” Technological progress, no matter to what end, should never supersede morality.

WAND is Women’s Action for New Directions. Staff, interns, and community members contribute to our voice, all authors will be named. WAND is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower women to act politically to reduce violence and (more…)

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BHP guzzling precious farming water for uranium mining

BHP Billiton’s thirst triggers an outback water fight   THE AUSTRALIAN, Sarah Martin Political Reporter Adelaide 9 Aug 14  SHANE Oldfield kicks the red rocks on his vast, dry pastoral lease north of Marree where he raises organic Angus beef for ­export.

The outback Clayton Station in northern South Australia has always been marginal farming land. With an average of 10cm of rain a year the property is dependent on water from the Great ­Artesian Basin in dry years…….. (subscribers only)


August 9, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Exposing the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor boondoggle

Report: New Nuclear Power Technology Would Siphon Resources Away From Renewable Energy, PROGRESS ILLINOIS Ellyn Fortino Friday August 8th, 2014, “…….one nuclear financing expert argues in a new report that SMRs, which have yet to be built in the United States, would be no cheaper than their larger counterparts. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at theInstitute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law School, also warns that SMR development would suck up funding that could otherwise be used for what he says are more attractive energy options like wind and solar.

“Large reactors have never been economically competitive and there is no reason to believe that smaller reactors will fare any better,” Cooper said. “Giving nuclear power a central role in climate change policy would not only drain away resources from the more promising alternatives, it would undermine the effort to create the physical and institutional infrastructure needed to support the emerging electricity systems based on renewables, distributed generation and intensive system and demand management.”………

Although SMRs would be smaller in size, “creating an assembly line for SMR technology would require a massive financial commitment,” Cooper writes in his report, “The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power and the Development of a Low-Carbon Electricity Future:  Why Small Modular Reactors Are Part of the Problem, Not the Solution.”


He projects it would cost between $72 billion and $90 billion by 2020 to fund the development of just two SMR designs and assembly lines.

The estimated price tag to invest in SMRs is roughly equivalent to 75 percent of the total projected investment in U.S. electricity generation over the same time period, the report noted. It is also “substantially more” than what is expected to be spent on renewables, Cooper said.

“This massive commitment reinforces the traditional concern that nuclear power will crowd out the alternatives,” he added.

SMRs themselves would also cost more, not less, than larger reactors, according to the report. Continue reading

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s farming export sector will suffer from sanctions against Russia

Abbott-and-Bishop-big-timeSanctions are good – tell that to Australian farmers iT Wire 8 Aug 14, Australia has two major export sectors and technology is not one of them. Aside from mining, food accounts for about $30 billion of this country’s national exports. Now, thanks to our good friends in Washington and our insipidly compliant lapdog Government we’ve just lost a reliable $500 million customer and moved a step closer to a senseless war. Following on from my previous article about MH17, the downed Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, after showing remarkable restraint in the face of a series of increasingly humiliating and totally unjust sanctions, Russia has finally responded with sanctions of its own. The difference is that Russia’s sanctions actually mean something. They hit us where it hurts – in the bread basket……..

In the coming year, Australian food producers would have been on track to sell a potential $500 million of produce to Russia. Particularly hard hit will be the dairy industry, which will now be forced to wipe about $100 million off its previously projected $575 million of exports. Russia was one of the Australian dairy industry’s shining star growth markets and this will be a big and needless hit.

While mining and resources have received all the glory in recent years for Australia’s recent and unprecedented lengthy economic boom, our food export business has been a relatively quiet achiever in contributing to this country’s continuing prosperity. Australian produce is second to none in its quality and purity. There are no GMO vegetables and fruit grown in Australia. Our dairy products are pure and radiation free, unlike those in Europe. Our grains are also largely GMO free and our meat produce is also generally high quality. …….

August 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Death of the small modular reactor hype emblematic of nuclear industry crisis

SMRs-mirageReport: New Nuclear Power Technology Would Siphon Resources Away From Renewable Energy, PROGRESS ILLINOIS Ellyn Fortino Friday August 8th, 2014 “………With the industry currently unable to garner enough customer and investor interest around SMRs, it is trying to save nuclear power by making a “desperate attempt to undermine the alternatives, which are succeeding,” Cooper added.

The nuclear energy industry “says, ‘Look, just get rid of their subsides. Gerry-rig the market so that we can stay in business. Avoid policies that will let (alternatives) stay in business … and then we’ll have a level playing field.’ But of course it doesn’t look anything like a level playing field,” he said.

Over the past 60 years, the nuclear energy industry has collected 10 times more subsidies than what renewables have received, Cooper said. Government funding for SMR research and development currently represents the smallest subsidy out of many received by the nuclear power industry, he added.

He said the U.S. nuclear energy industry is grappling with a “fundamental conflict.” After failing to bring online 90 percent of new reactors as part of a “nuclear renaissance” suggested by nuclear power advocates in the early 2000s, the hope was that SMR technology would rescue the industry. And since that has yet to happen, the industry is “now struggling to save the aging reactors … simply because they cannot compete against the alternatives available.”

“The death of the small modular reactor hype really is emblematic of the fundamental conflict that’s going on in the industry,” he said. “The near term will decide, not just the fate of nuclear power, but the fundamental approach that we take to addressing the challenge of climate change.”

Looking ahead, Cooper said he questions nuclear power’s place in the emerging “integrated, two-way electricity system based on decentralized alternatives.” In such a system, an “inflexible source of supply like nuclear does not have value,” he said, adding that nuclear power “becomes a burden on the flexible system rather than a benefit.”

Nuclear power, Cooper said, is not a smart “economic proposition” or “portfolio asset” for a low-carbon electricity future.

“And looking carefully at the urgency of dealing with climate change, it’s also the most costly, most risky approach to climate change,” he stressed.

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A good reason to get rid of coal – Australia’s “over-supply” of energy

Hear-This-wayAudio: Australia faces unprecedented oversupply of energy, no new energy generation needed for 10 years: report, ABC Radio The World Today 8 Aug 14  By David Mark South-eastern Australia will not need to ramp up energy generation for the next 10 years, even under a worst-case scenario, a report says.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report says Australia is facing an energy glut never before seen in the history of the national electricity market.

It raises serious questions about the ongoing viability of existing coal-fired power stations, but might also result in more pressure on the Federal Government to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET)……….

Electricity use in Australia has been falling now for about four years due to the take-up of rooftop solar systems, greater use of energy-efficient appliances and the downturn in some manufacturing industries that use lots of electricity.

AUDIO: Listen to David Mark’s story (The World Today)

The principal consultant of energy strategies with Pitt and Sherry, Hugh Sadler, says the upshot is that if the coal-fired power stations want to stay running, they will be competing in a buyer’s market.

“Many of them will have to trade unprofitably as many of them already have been doing for the last year or two,” Mr Sadler said.

Just last week energy company HRL announced it would close a small coal-fired power station in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley……..

August 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment