Australian news, and some related international items

Scotland’s Ministers have the power to stop export of nuclear wastes to planned dump in South Australia

Scottish ministers can stop nuclear waste dump, say advisers, The Ferret, 19 Feb 19, Scottish ministers have the power to halt plans to dump nuclear waste on Aboriginal land in Australia which could breach human rights, according to government advisors.

Documents obtained by The Ferret reveal that expert advice sought by ministers stated that the Scottish Government could prevent the export of radioactive waste from the UK under a swap arrangement involving the Dounreay nuclear complex in Caithness.

The revelations have prompted campaigners to call for the Scottish Government to step in and stop the waste dumping, which they see as a potential desecration of sacred Aboriginal lands in south Australia.

The Scottish Government and its regulator, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), have insisted that regulating the waste shipment is not their responsibility – but Sepa’s former chief executive says this is wrong.

Nuclear fuel was sent from an Australian research reactor to Dounreay for reprocessing in the 1990s. The resulting radioactive waste, amounting to 51 cemented drums, was originally due to be returned to Australia for disposal.

But under the terms of a waste substitution deal in 2014, Scottish and UK governments agreed that the drums should stay at Dounreay because of the difficulties of transporting them around the globe……

Peter Roche, an anti-nuclear campaigner and member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates, pointed out that environmentalists were opposed to nuclear waste being transported around the world. “It should be stored in above
ground stores on the site where it is produced,” he said. “And should certainly not be sent back to Australia if it is likely to pose a potential risk to the rights of Aboriginal communities near the two proposed storage sites in Australia.” He added: “The Scottish Government should accept that it bears some responsibility for this waste and tell the UK government
to halt the proposed shipment.”


February 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) using tax-payer funding to propagandise for nuclear power


This month ANSTO is opening its doors to 11 talented young people from across Australia as the two-year Graduate Program kickstarts.

Working from Lucas Heights, ANSTO’s 2019 graduates will get extraordinary insights into nuclear science, engineering and technology and how it is being applied to help achieve sustainability for our health and environment industries.

February 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Education | Leave a comment

Australia’s liberal govt’s reaction to another earthquake close to planned nuclear dump sit – “She’ll be right, mate!”

Kim Mavromatis  Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA. 21 Feb 19, FED LIBS REACTION TO ANOTHER EARTHQUAKE TREMOR AT PROPOSED NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP SITES AT KIMBA : She’ll be right mate – no worries – trust us – we’ll make the radioactive nuclear waste dump earthquake and flood proof – and if it doesn’t work and radioactive poison leaks onto Eyre Peninsula farmland or Flinders Ranges and completely stuffs up people’s livelihood and south australia’s economy, we’ll blame it on the boat people and the Labor opposition for allowing sick refugees to go to hospital.

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Middle East wars, displacement of populations – resulting from climate change

Climate change will fuel more wars and displacement in the Middle East, experts warn
‘Terrorist organisations like ISIS also capitalise on climate change to get new members’,
20 Feb 19,  Borzou Daragahi The Hague @borzo ,Themost volatile region in the world is about to be plunged into further chaos because ongoing climate change, with food scarcity and water shortages adding to the flood of displaced people, sparking wars, and providing opportunities for extremist groups, warned scholars and international officials at a conference on Tuesday.

A UN development official predicted that 7 to 10 million people in the Middle East and North Africa will be forced to leave their ancestral or temporary homes over the next decade because a lack of water, food or owing to wars possibly sparked by conflicts over resources. Others speaking at a panel at the annual Planetary Security Initiative in the Dutch capital cited small and large conflicts in the region over the years, including food riots in 2008 in Jordan, and identified other future hotspots in the Levant and north Africa.

“Food and fuel in security can very quickly quickly lead to unrest,” Jamal Saghir, a professor at McGill University.

  • “It’s likely that such shocks will happen again. Such crises might trigger violent crisis and increase public support for extremist groups offering viable alternatives,” he told attendees at the conference. “Terrorist organisations like ISIS also capitalise on climate change to get new members. They find impoverished farmers to take advantage of – they are offered food, salaries, and other advantages.”

    First launched in 2015, the Planetary Security Initiative is a conference sponsored by the Dutch government and several international organisations to address climate change and associated crises. It seeks to broaden the definition of security beyond weapons and borders to include daily sustenance.

  • Scholars and policymakers have already attributed to climatic shifts that a decades-long drought that has afflicted the Middle East. During the opening talk, the Iraqi ambassador showed a chart that traced average rainfall in Baghdad collapsing and temperatures rising consistently over the last decade.

  • The changing conditions contributed to unrest in Syria and Iraq and other Arab nations plunged into chaos in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, and the subsequent rise of ISIS. But the troubles are far from over, with warmer temperatures leading to less water, for example along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that nourish Iraq.

    “In Iraq, what is projected is the reduction of rainfall or snow in the headwaters,” said Nadim Farjallah, a professor specialising in climate change issues at the American University of Beirut. “The Middle East has all the problems now and all it needs is a spark. We already have all the tinder there.”

    Adding to the complications, the Middle East region imports 65 percent of its grain, with the numbers increasing, making governments and populations even more vulnerable to market shifts or climactic changes in other regions. “The region is completely dependent on the sustainable  management of agriculture in other parts of the world for its food security,” said Johan Schaar, a scholar at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

    The United Nations and other development agencies are nibbling at the edges of the looming crisis. They’ve established a fund to find water solutions for Egypt, where the bulk of its nearly 100 million population live along the Nile River. Kishan Khoday, a UNDP official focused on Middle East issues, described initiative bring solar energy to Somalia and manage underground water resources.

  • Participants spoke of the urgent need of making governments and publics more aware of the need to manage water and other natural resources. “We need to weave climate change more systematically into our analysis of what’s happening in the region,” said Elizabeth Sellwood, an official of the UN’s environment arm.

    In Jordan and Gaza, international officials have launched efforts to find  sources of agricultural water that are sustainable.

    But in the end, many were sceptical that either policymakers or populations  had a sense of the looming threat, and the waves of crises still ahead.

    “We’re looking at a situation of rising scarcity due to climate change and people on the move being the new normal,” said Tessa Terpstra, the Netherlands’ envoy for water matters in the Middle East.

    A  handful of governments — including those of Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco — have begun to address the issue of climate change. The preamble to Tunisia’s landmark 2014 constitution stresses “the preservation of a healthy environment that guarantees the sustainability of our natural resources.”

    But for the most part, governments are blithely ignoring the issue, especially those wealthy Arabian Peninsula states dependent on the export of oil and gas. “Between the talk and the walk there’s a major discourse that needs to be addressed,” said Mr Saghir. “I don’t think the political will is there.”

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s democracy is threatened by Adani’s ‘legal intimidation’ tactics against community groups

Adani’s ‘legal intimidation’ tactics against community groups a ‘threat to democracy’, Guardian, Ben Smee

Eminent members of legal profession, including a former supreme court judge, critical of law firm’s strategy document, 
The Adani mining company’s “legal intimidation” tactics against community groups are a “threat to democracy” and “gravely concerning”, say eminent members of the legal profession, including a former supreme court judge and an expert on corporate lawfare.The ABC reported on Tuesday that a law firm hired by Adani, AJ & Co, wrote a strategy document urging the Indian miner to “play the man” and adopt an aggressive legal posture against opponents.

The documents suggested Adani should trawl social media for evidence of bias among activists and decision makers. It recommended using the legal system to bankrupt poorly resourced opponents, silence commentators and put pressure on government……

Brian Walters, a Melbourne-based QC and human rights advocate, is an expert on so-called Slapp suits – strategic lawsuits against public participation. He wrote the 2005 book Slapping on the Writs and said using the law to silence community groups undermined the democratic process.

“It is a fundamental feature of free speech that people should be allowed to comment on the way that corporations and other powerful people are using their power,” Walters said.

“What appears to have happened here is a large corporation has agreed to use, or has tried to use, threats of legal intimidation to silence the public in speaking out about its proposals.

“When corporations attempt to use the law not to achieve a legitimate forensic outcome but to intimidate those who criticise them, they are abusing the process of the law. They are bringing the law and indeed their own corporation into disrepute.”…..

The Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland said on Tuesday it had received a legal letter sent on behalf of Adani on 12 September “clearly designed to intimidate us”.

“Instead of spending its legal energy on complying with Queensland’s laws, Adani is hiring lawyers to silence its critics in a well-funded campaign of intimidation, EDO Queensland’s chief executive and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said.

A faction of Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners, who have been fighting a long-running native title case against Adani in relation to the Carmichael mine, said they had been targeted by the “malicious” tactics……

February 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

New research indicates that world efforts towards climate change targets are likely to be too slow to take effect.

World climate targets ‘unlikely to be met’, SBS, 20 Feb 19, 
New research indicates the way people use land is having an impact on global climate change targets, which may not be met.
Global targets to limit climate change are unlikely to be met due to delays in changing the way people use land, according to new research.The study, involving researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Edinburgh, suggests that efforts to make land management less damaging to the climate need to be stepped up dramatically if high levels of climate change are to be avoided.

The 2015 Paris Agreement to limit average global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels relies heavily on changes in the management of agricultural land and forests around the world, researchers said.

Many countries plan to prevent deforestation or establish new forests over large areas to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, changes which would remove up to 25 per cent of the greenhouse gases released by human activity every year.

However, the new research shows that such changes in land use usually take decades to happen, far too slowly to help slow climate change to the agreed level.

Dr Calum Brown of KIT, lead author of the study, said: “The 195 countries that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 set out a range of actions they would take to tackle climate change.

“In most cases little progress has been made in implementing these actions and often the situation has actually worsened in the last three years.

“Our research suggests that many of the plans for mitigation in the land system were unrealistic in the first place and now threaten to make the Paris target itself unachievable.”

The research highlights deforestation in tropical regions, which has accelerated recently after previously slowing down……..

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Donald Trump in a hurry to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology | Al Jazeera English, 20 February 2019 

The US is rushing to transfer sensitive nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a new congressional report.

A Democratic-led House panel has launched an inquiry over concerns about the White House plan to build nuclear reactors across the kingdom.

Whistleblowers told the panel it could destabilise the Middle East by boosting nuclear weapons proliferation.

Firms linked to the president have reportedly pushed for these transfers.

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee report notes that an inquiry into the matter is “particularly critical because the Administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia appear to be ongoing”.

President Donald Trump met nuclear power developers at the White House on 12 February to discuss building plants in Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia.

And Mr Trump’s son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner, will be touring the Middle East this month to discuss the economics of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

Lawmakers have been critical of the plan as it would violate US laws guarding against the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons programme.

They also believe giving Saudi Arabia access to nuclear technology would spark a dangerous arms race in the volatile region. Continue reading

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Adani’s ruthless aggression exposed in leaked “attack dog” plan

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners say an explosive ABC report this morning has revealed the corruption of process and the intimidation being engaged in by Adani’s new legal team. They say Adani are trying to silence its opponents and build political pressure to push its Carmichael project through. (ABC News story here). 

The Traditional Owners say they are clearly targeted in Adani’s “attack dog plan” and that Adani’s new law firm, AJ&Co, is running a malicious strategy to take down Adani’s critics, including the W&J Council’s senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba. … “

February 21, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to back the Adani mine.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to back the Adani mine. Fin Rev , 19 Feb 19

Labor candidates in regional Queensland have split from the party’s line on Adani’s $2 billion Carmichael mine, saying the project was needed to bring more jobs to regional Queensland. … (subscribers only ) 

February 21, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian rallies in defense of Julian Assange – March 3 and 10

The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 1: What’s Torture Got To Do With It?  New Matilda, By Dr Lissa Johnson on February 19, 2019  “…Next month rallies will be held in Sydney and Melbourne in defence of Julian Assange. Protesters will call upon the Australian government to uphold its obligations to its citizens and secure freedom for Assange, whose health is failing is in his ninth year of UN-declared arbitrary detention.

Assange faces extradition to the United States and secret charges for his publishing activities should he step outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. This cross-border, extraterritorial persecution threatens not only Assange’s health, and possibly his life according to a recent UN statement, but poses grave legal risks both to journalism and dissent.

Among the speakers at the Sydney rally will be renowned journalist and film maker John Pilger, who will address protesters in the Amphitheatre at Martin Place on Sunday, March 3rd, from 2pm. The Melbourne rally will be held at the State Library on Sunday March 10th, from 1pm.

The Australian rallies join a growing international chorus of organisations and individuals sounding increasingly urgent alarms over Julian Assange’s plight, and its implications for freedom of speech and democratic rights.

Late last year, as secret US charges against Julian Assange surfaced, and the threat of his imminent extradition to the US loomed, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) issued a strongly worded statement to the UK Government, having previously ruled twice that Assange is being arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

In its statement, the UNWGAD demanded that the UK abide by its “binding” legal obligations and “immediately” secure freedom for Julian Assange. The UN reminded the UK Government that “human rights treaty law is binding law, it is not discretionary law. It is not some passing fancy”.

The same fears prompted 33 EU parliamentarians to write a similarly strongly worded letter to the British Prime Minister, the Ecuadorian President and the UN Secretary General on December 10th, condemning the “very serious and egregious violations of human rights in the heart of Europe.” They called for Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country.”

Two German MPs followed with a visit to the Ecuadorian Embassy on December 20th, at which they denounced the violation of Assange’s “fundamental rights” and expressed their “demand that this case has to be solved: that no publisher, no editor, no journalist is detained because of publishing the truth”.

The politicians’ and UN statements added to previous condemnations of Assange’s persecution from Human Rights WatchAmnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and a former senior lawyer for the UNHCR and UN Expert on the Promotion of International Order…..

February 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

SA Water on path to “net zero” power bills, with 154MW solar rollout — RenewEconomy

SA Power Networks subsidiary Enerven awarded contract to deliver SA Water’s 154MW solar and 34MWh storage roll-out. The post SA Water on path to “net zero” power bills, with 154MW solar rollout appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via SA Water on path to “net zero” power bills, with 154MW solar rollout — RenewEconomy

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar Insiders Podcast: Murdoch media’s attack on solar — RenewEconomy

A breakdown of the Murdoch media’s ham-fisted attempt to demonise rooftop solar incentives, and Nigel Morris catches out some solar cowboys. The post Solar Insiders Podcast: Murdoch media’s attack on solar appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Solar Insiders Podcast: Murdoch media’s attack on solar — RenewEconomy

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 20 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Bramble Cay Melomys: Climate Change-Ravaged Rodent Listed As Extinct” • When Queensland declared the Bramble Cay melomys extinct in 2016, it was said to be the first mammalian extinction caused by human-induced climate change. Now, Australia has made the extinction of the small brown rodent official. [BBC] ¶ “IRENA Identifies Innovations […]

via February 20 Energy News — geoharvey

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trump’s 40 Nuclear Power Stations For Saudi Appear Still In The Works; With Enrichment & Reprocessing (For Bombs); Plus Kushner 666 Connection — Mining Awareness +

“On February 12, 2019, it was reported that President Trump participated in a White House meeting with private nuclear power developers… Participants reportedly included Rear Admiral Hewitt and General Keane from IP3, as well as representatives from Westinghouse, General Electric, Exelon, Nuscale, TerraPower, Lightbridge, AECOM, BWXT, Centrus Energy Corp., and X-energy. President Trump was reportedly […]

via Trump’s 40 Nuclear Power Stations For Saudi Appear Still In The Works; With Enrichment & Reprocessing (For Bombs); Plus Kushner 666 Connection — Mining Awareness +

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

How a ridiculous falsehood about solar power self-replicated in media — RenewEconomy

The Australian’s misleading story about the cost of rooftop solar rebates was spread throughout the Murdoch stable, TV, other media and the climate-denier blogosphere. The post How a ridiculous falsehood about solar power self-replicated in media appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via How a ridiculous falsehood about solar power self-replicated in media — RenewEconomy

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment