Australian news, and some related international items

Missile defence system for Australia – unwise and probably ineffective

Paul Keating: North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons, SMH, James MassolaFergus Hunter, 12 Aug 17  “……..When asked if a missile shield was an option that Australia should pursue to protect the mainland, Mr Keating’s response was blunt.

“I think this is more than debatable. The offending missiles would approach their targets at something like Mach 20, a phenomenal speed. We could never know, until the fatal event, whether a missile defence system would effectively work, or work in respect of each and every missile,” he said.

“A more worldly and competent foreign and defence policy is by far the preferred first line of defence – rather than the default position of relying on expensive but problematic hardware.”

Mr Turnbull also disagreed with Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd – who have both told Fairfax Media in the last four weeks that Australia should pursue missile defence – on the need for such a shield.

He said on Friday the current advice from Defence was that the terminal high altitude area defence [THAAD] system “is designed to provide protection for relatively small areas against short to intermediate range missiles”……..

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said “the last thing we need here is a Prime Minister backing an unhinged and paranoid leader into a conflict that could potentially end life on Earth as we know it”.

He called on Mr Turnbull to tell the President to “back off”.

“If there was an ever a clearer example of why Australia needs to ditch the US alliance and forge an independent, non-aligned foreign policy, this is it. Malcolm Turnbull now needs to pick up the phone, he needs to talk to Donald Trump and urge him to de-eascalate.”…..


August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Startling climate changes in Alaska, Greenland, and the Arctic

The crazy climate records from 2016 you haven’t heard much about [good graphics] By Andrea Thompson on 11 August 2017 Climate Central

By now, we’ve all heard that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and that heat-trapping greenhouse gases hit their highest concentration ever, surpassing 400 parts per million for the first time in nearly 1 million years. But there are other climate change-related records that have flown more under the radar. Several of those records were highlighted Thursday in the annual State of the Climate report, released in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society:

For example, during August, ice-free areas of the Barents Sea (north of Norway and Russia) were up to 20°F (11°C) above average, a figure that stunned climate scientists.

 The Chukchi Sea off Alaska and the waters to the west of Greenland were 13°F to 14°F above average. Those warm waters were linked to the smallest annual winter peak in sea ice levels and the second lowest annual minimum.

The average land surface temperature for the Arctic was 3.6°F (2.0°C) above the 1981-2010 average — a 6.3°F (3.5°C) rise in temperatures since 1900. Record-high temperatures were measured below the surface of the permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, across the North Slope of Alaska.

“2016 was a year in the Arctic like we’ve never seen before,” Jeremy Mathis, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic research program and an author of the report, said.

The rate of warming in the Arctic, which is happening at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, has major impacts on local ecosystems, but also further drives the warming of the planet, as the sea ice that would reflect the sun’s rays back to space is lost.

And for the 37th consecutive year, alpine glaciers retreated across the globe. These glaciers are a major source of water for local communities, and their loss has led to concerns about water security, particularly in places like Southeast Asia.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Because of Pine Gap, Australia would be dragged into a Korean war

Pine Gap hardwires Australia into a Korean war  Whether we like it or not, Australia would be dragged into a conflict on the Korean Peninsula because of the critical role of Pine Gap in US military operations against North Korea.

Given the geography of Korea and the decades of military preparations of both sides, we could become a participant in a war likely to result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Koreans, with a high likelihood of uncontrollable escalation to involve regional conflict.

Informed commentators recognize that there is no military solution to this conflict, and talking is the only option to avoid unimaginable horror.

Difficult though it is to negotiate with North Korea, there is good reason to believe that its leaders are not bent on suicide. There are indications that negotiations could be possible, but they need to be genuine to have any chance of avoiding war.

The Australian government’s strategic response has for a long time been compliance with whatever constitutes United States policy of the day.

In the hands of President Trump, this places the future of both the Korean Peninsula and Australia in the hands of a deeply delusional narcissist who is incapable of comprehending the consequences of his actions.

The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap will play a critical role in both conventional and nuclear-armed U.S. attacks on North Korea.

Pine Gap hardwires Australia into US combat operations in Northeast Asia. Pine Gap’s tasking will now be very actively focussed on North Korea.

The logic of nuclear weapons, epitomized by the United States’ nuclear posture, and fully supported by compliant Australian governments, has led to North Korea’s successful path to nuclear weapons state status.

Its goal has clearly been to deter US from attempting regime change, rather than suicidal nuclear aggression.

It is time for Australia to take an independent stance urging the utmost caution on its nuclear-armed ally as well as on North Korea, and actively oppose any action leading to what would be a catastrophic outbreak of war.

But equally, the present crisis makes clear that doctrines of nuclear deterrence – by any country – hold the whole world to ransom, with deterrence failure inevitable in the long run.

It is clear that only the abolition of nuclear weapons will offer any chance of planetary safety.

The Australian government’s craven acceptance of US demands that its allies boycott the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons adopted at the United Nations indicates that we have no independent foreign policy.

Professor Richard Tanter, senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute and honorary professor in the School of Political and Social Sciences at Melbourne University.

Professor Tanter will address the issue ‘What would an independent Australian foreign policy look like?’ during the upcoming Independent and Peaceful Australia Network National Conference in Melbourne over the weekend of 8-10 September.


August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Should Step Back In Korea

What should Washington do?

  • President Trump should stop competing in the crazed rhetoric contest. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un shouts to get noticed and divert attention from his country’s many weaknesses. America’s president needs do neither. To the contrary, by doing so the U.S. leader demeans himself and his country.
  • The U.S. should begin phasing out both its security treaty with and military garrison in the ROK. Seoul long has been able to defend itself……
Washington Should Step Back In Korea: Is Donald Trump Or Kim Jong-Un More Dangerous? Forbes, 11 AUG 17, President Donald Trump has put all of Asia and much of the world on edge. All week he’s gone mano-a-mano with Kim Jong-un, blustering like the frightened head of an international micro-state instead of the representative of the world’s most important and powerful nation. Who imagined that people around the globe would be left wondering who was more stable: the 33-year-old “Supreme Leader” of the world’s only communist monarchy or the duly elected president of the United States, long considered the leader of the free world?

There is no contest between the two nations, which helps explain North Korea’s bluster as it attempts to develop a deterrent against U.S. attack. America’s GDP last year was almost $19 trillion, around 650 times that of the North. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s 25 million produce about as much as the residents of Anchorage, Alaska, or Portland, Maine. A weltmacht the DPRK is not.

Although North Korea devotes something like a quarter of its GDP to the military, its conventional armed forces are characterized more by quantity than quality. The DPRK probably has around 20 nukes, though they are of uncertain status and deliverability. Its practical missile capabilities are greatest at shorter ranges. Although Pyongyang is developing missiles capable of reaching America, they are not yet capable of successfully carrying warheads or targeting cities or bases.

In contrast, Washington spends upwards of 100 times as much as Pyongyang on the military. One carrier group possesses sufficient firepower to devastate the DPRK. And the U.S. sports the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenal. Only a few of America’s 1411 warheads would be necessary to turn Kim Jong-un’s kingdom into a proverbial “lake of fire,” which Pyongyang has so often threatened to do to others. Continue reading

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aboriginal Clinton Pryor’s long walk for justice

Long walk for justice: ‘Spiritual Walker’ Clinton Pryor crosses the country for his people, SMH,  Damien Murphy, 11 August, Clinton Pryor has walked across Australia from west to east seeking justice for Aborigines but he seemed overwhelmed when he walked down Eveleigh Street into the heartland of the Black Power movement.

He set out from Perth on September 8 last year and about 300 people gathered in front of the Redfern Community Centre to cheer Mr Pryor as he walked into Sydney late Thursday afternoon behind an array of flags representing Australia, Eureka, Land Rights and Torres Strait Islanders.

“Its my first time here on the east coast … I just walked in here and can’t tell you what Redfern has meant to us all over the years. Everyone knows Redfern is where we made our stand,” he said.

When he set out on “Clinton’s Walk for Justice” Mr Pryor aimed to walk to Canberra to protest forced closures of Indigenous communities in Western Australia.

But in his 11-month walk he said he had come to realise the issues facing Aborigines were the same across the nation.

“You only have to look at what’s become of ‘The Block’ here in Redfern to see that our people have lost control of their land and lives,” he said.

Mr Pryor told the Redfern audience he was “a Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and a Yulparitja man from the west” but as “a man from Western Australia walking across the whole country for justice and for change” he will march to Parliament House to confront Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issues he has encountered……..

But in his 11-month walk he said he had come to realise the issues facing Aborigines were the same across the nation.

“You only have to look at what’s become of ‘The Block’ here in Redfern to see that our people have lost control of their land and lives,” he said.

Mr Pryor told the Redfern audience he was “a Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and a Yulparitja man from the west” but as “a man from Western Australia walking across the whole country for justice and for change” he will march to Parliament House to confront Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issues he has encountered…….

Mr Pryor will head to Newcastle before turning south for the home walk to Canberra.

He expected to walk up to Parliament House early next month. He will bring Auntie Bronwen and elders from Kalgoorlie to help him tell the Prime Minister what he saw on his walk across Australia.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Bomb found at Fukushima nuclear plant

Bomb found at Fukushima nuclear plant — Officials concerned device could explode — “Military unit is headed to the site” — “Police have cordoned off the surrounding area”

August 10th, 2017 at 7:05 am ET
By ENENews Mainichi, Aug 10, 2017 (emphasis added): Suspected bomb found on premises of Fukushima power plant: TEPCO — What appears to be an undetonated bomb has been discovered on the premises of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Aug. 10. The device was discovered buried in the ground at a parking lot currently undergoing maintenance in the western corner of the premises… Police have cordoned off the surrounding area

Kyodo, Aug 10, 2017: Unexploded ordnance found at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

NHK, Aug 10, 2017: Unexploded bomb found near Fukushima plant — Police are checking what appears to be an unexploded bomb found near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant… Police were sending the pictures of the object to the Self-Defense Forces to determine whether it could explode

BBC, Aug 10, 2017: Fukushima disaster: ‘WW2 bomb’ found at Japan nuclear site — A suspected unexploded bomb has been found at the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant… Tepco said construction work was immediately suspended after the object was found and a temporary exclusion zone put in place while bomb disposal experts were deployed…

AP, Aug 10, 2017: Officials say the rusty object is about 85 centimeters (33 inches) long and 15 centimeters (6 inches) wide. A military unit is headed to the site

AFP, Aug 10, 2017: Japan’s Jiji Press reported that under such circumstances police call in bomb disposal experts from Japan’s military.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

USA government report confirms that 2016 was the hottest year on record

Independent 10th Aug 2017,The Trump administration has released a report confirming that 2016 was thehottest year since records began. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), a leading environmental agency which is part of the
US federal government, found that global temperatures were warmer last year
than in 137 years of recordkeeping for a third consecutive year –
surpassing the previous record of 2015.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapon program – Paul Keating

Paul Keating: North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons, SMH, James Massola, Fergus Hunter, 12 Aug 17, 

Paul Keating has warned that North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapon program and that this new reality will have to be addressed in the same way as the west sought to contain the former Soviet Union.

The former prime minister, one of Australia’s most-respected foreign policy thinkers and a strong advocate for a more independent foreign policy, has disagreed strongly with the language and approach being taken the US President Donald Trump towards the rogue state…….

Mr Keating said his criticism could be extended to Australia’s pledge to enter any potential conflict between the US and North Korea. He also disagreed with former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott that Australia should pursue a missile defence system against North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

His comments about the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula come on the same day that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared Australia would assist America if it was attacked by North Korea……..

Mr Keating decided to speak publicly after being contacted by Fairfax Media and his views will be expanded in a major essay for a new magazine, Australian Foreign Affairs, to be published in October.

“I have long believed, especially after the unprovoked Western attack on Iraq and the ransacking of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, that North Korea would not desist from the full development of its nuclear weapons program, despite threats and sanctions from the West and even from China,” he said

“I said in April, we should regard North Korea as a full and capable nuclear weapons state – a state that would, in future, need to be contained, in the way the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War. Developments since April have only confirmed my view.”

“More than that, it may be, that because the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea has, in a sense, become the raison d’etre of the state, were Kim Jong-Un and his generals to agree to the West’s demands, they may not politically survive that acquiescence.”……

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No guarantee of safety in federal government’s plan to transport ANSTO’s nuclear wastes 1000s of kms to be dumped on rural South Australia

Paul Waldon, Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 12 Aug 17  The heavily redacted nuclear industry has had its share of accidents, bad management, contamination, and economic death. This year there has been 695 recorded events in 222 days in America alone, that’s more than 3 a day.

While in Australia the federal government believes they can safely abandon spent fuel that’s a million times more radioactive coming out of a reactor than when it went into the reactor, yet this fuel has a hazard persistence of 89,060,000 days, so can Australia be the first to store forever deadly radioactive waste for the period of time it takes to have no adverse impact on people or the environment?

ANSTO is sitting on plenty which they want to offload onto a unwilling community while telling the residents it’s safe. Remember it only takes one bad day, yet the nuclear seasoned country of America had a nuclear event every eight hours on average this year.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

International Coalition Says “NO!” To Nuclear Industry Attempts to Raid $100 Billion Global Climate Fund

No Climate Money for Nuclear Power, International Coalition Says “NO!” To Nuclear Industry Attempts to Raid $100 Billion Global Climate Fund Tim Judson, NIRS,, Peer de Rijk, WISE-International August 8, 2017 Gedelitz, Germany – An international coalition lead by organizations from nine countries launched a new campaign today–“Don’t Nuke the Climate”–to ensure nuclear power and other false climate solutions do not derail global efforts to reduce the extent of global warming. The coalition is mobilizing for the COP 23 global climate conference in November, where the nations of the world are meeting to make critical decisions on how to solve the problem of climate change. Specifically, the fate of $100 billion per year of investment is at stake the Green Climate Fund. Nuclear power companies are attempting to gain access to the fund to finance uneconomic power projects, which their own governments and the private sector will not or cannot fund.

The coalition’s website and petition can be found on the website: Continue reading

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Legal case – a world first – against the Commonwealth Bank, over its failure to disclose climate risks

New CBA case a warning: Step up on climate change, or we’ll see you incourt John Hewson, Despite the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and popular support for action, governments and financiers are failing to act. This will have to change  John Hewson is a professor at ANU and a former Liberal leader, In a global first, Australian mum-and-dad shareholders Guy and Kim Abrahams have launched a case against the Commonwealth Bank, arguing that the bank has breached the law by not disclosing the risks climate change poses to its business. Continue reading

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

12 August – more REneweconomy news

  • It’s absurd. But consumers might be better off quitting the grid
    As long as Australia’s energy networks hold on to their inflated asset base, and generators and retailers to their inflated profit margins, consumers will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands with solar and battery storage. But what a hopeless failure in public policy that would be.
  • EOI open for NQ Clean Energy Hub
    A key part of the $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan will commence today.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

North Korea has already many nuclear warheads: time to accept North Korea as a nuclear nation?

Treating North Korea as another rival nuclear power would involve using the tools the U.S. has employed for decades to deal with such adversaries: containment, deterrence, and measures designed to lower the risk of a small incident escalating into an all-out confrontation. It might be the least bad option there is left

Is It Time to Accept the Reality of a Nuclear-Armed North Korea? By John Cassidy, 12 Aug 17, “…….A year ago, the Institute for Science and International Security estimated that Pyongyang had between thirteen and twenty-one nuclear warheads; since then, the number has likely grown. Last month, the North Koreans carried out two tests of ballistic missiles that, at least in theory, could hit parts of the U.S. mainland. The tests were apparently successful. And, according to a recent report in the Washington  Post, the Defense Intelligence Agency believes that Kim’s regime has developed a miniature nuclear warhead that could soon be fitted to these long-range missiles……In a presentation to the Asia Society last week, John Park, a director of the Korea Working Group at the Belfer Center, pointed out the Kim had been entirely consistent in his desire to obtain a nuclear deterrent, which, in addition to safeguarding his regime, would enable North Korea to avoid a costly conventional-arms race and focus on economic development. Park said that many Chinese officials privately sympathized with the North Korean policy……… Continue reading

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Growth of electric cars poses a lithium battery environmental problem

Guardian 10th Aug 2017,The drive to replace polluting petrol and diesel cars with a new breed of
electric vehicles has gathered momentum in recent weeks. But there is an
unanswered environmental question at the heart of the electric car
movement: what on earth to do with their half-tonne lithium-ion batteries
when they wear out?

British and French governments last month committed to
outlaw the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 2040, and carmaker
Volvo pledged to only sell electric or hybrid vehicles from 2019. The
number of electric cars in the world passed the 2m mark last year and the
International Energy Agency estimates there will be 140m electric cars
globally by 2030 if countries meet Paris climate agreement targets.

This electric vehicle boom could leave 11m tonnes of spent lithium-ion batteries
in need of recycling between now and 2030, according to Ajay Kochhar, CEO
of Canadian battery recycling startup Li-Cycle. However, in the EU as few
as 5% (pdf) of lithium-ion batteries are recycled.

This has an environmental cost. Not only do the batteries carry a risk of giving off
toxic gases if damaged, but core ingredients such as lithium and cobalt are
finite and extraction can lead to water pollution and depletion among other
environmental consequences.

There are, however, grounds for optimism. Thus far, the poor rates of lithium-ion battery recycling can be explained by the fact that most are contained within consumer electronics, which
commonly end up neglected in a drawer or chucked into landfill. This won’t
happen with electric vehicles, predicts Marc Grynberg, chief executive of
Belgian battery and recycling giant Umicore. “Car producers will be accountable for the collection and recycling of spent lithium-ionbatteries,” he says. “Given their sheer size, batteries cannot be stored at
home and landfilling is not an option.”

August 12, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Basic climate findings of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

More Climate Change Stories, Less Graphs And Maps,  Marshall Shepherd ,   FORBES, 11 AUG 17  …… On Thursday, the State of the Climate report was released. This report is an annual climate check-up led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and distributed by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Scientists from around the world contribute to the report. The report basically says the same thing that all recent reports say: Earth’s climate is warming, and that we are beginning to see impacts and trends across the globe……..
The basic findings from the State of the Climate report, which diagnosed 2016, are summarized at NOAA’s website:

  • Greenhouse gases were the highest on record.
  • Global surface temperature was the highest on record.
  • Average sea surface temperature was the highest on record.
  • Global upper-ocean heat content neared record high.
  • Global sea level was the highest on record.
  • Arctic sea ice coverage was at or near record low.
  • Tropical cyclones (globally) were above-average overall.
 These finding continue with a story that has emerged in report after report (at least those done carefully and credibly). There are opinion or grey literature (not peer-reviewed) efforts out there that say odd things and advance certain agendas. However, the message is pretty clear if you consume peer-reviewed science reported by National Academies, NASA, NOAA, National Climate Assessment, American Association for the Advancement of Science, IPCC, and the majority of published journal studies……

New data does suggest that public is paying attention. The recent report, Climate Change in the American Mind (May 2017) says

More than half of Americans (58%) believe climate change is mostly human caused. That’s the highest level measured since our surveys began in 2008. By contrast, only 30% say it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment, matching the lowest level measured in our November 2016 survey…….

August 12, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment