Australian news, and some related international items

Police drag Julian Assange from Embassy. Scott Morrison says “no special help”, Bill Shorten pleads ignorance of the matter 12 Apr, 2019

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has spent the last seven years. That’s after Ecuador’s president Moreno withdrew asylum.

That’s only a day after WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson claimed that an extensive spying operation was conducted against Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. During an explosive media conference Hrafnsson alleged that the operation was designed to get Assange extradited.

Assange’s relationship with Ecuadorian officials appeared increasingly strained since the current president came to power in the Latin American country in 2017. His internet connection was cut off in March of last year, with officials saying the move was to stop Assange from “interfering in the affairs of other sovereign states.”

The whistleblower garnered massive international attention in 2010 when WikiLeaks released classified US military footage, entitled ‘Collateral Murder’, of a US Apache helicopter gunship opening fire on a number of people, killing 12 including two Reuters staff, and injuring two children. 

The footage, as well as US war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 200,000 diplomatic cables, were leaked to the site by US Army soldier Chelsea Manning. She was tried by a US tribunal and sentenced to 35 years in jail for disclosing the materials.

Manning was pardoned by outgoing President Barack Obama in 2017 after spending seven years in US custody. She is currently being held again in a US jail for refusing to testify before a secret grand jury in a case apparently related to WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange ‘won’t get any special treatment’: Scott Morrison, SMH , By Michael Koziol and Latika Bourke
April 12, 2019  Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia is providing consular assistance to Julian Assange following his arrest in London but the Wikileaks founder will receive “no special treatment”, even in the wake of a US extradition request.

An Australian citizen, Assange had been living in the Ecuadorian embassy for more than six years until that country ended his political asylum on Thursday for “discourteous and aggressive behaviour” and WikiLeaks’ “hostile and threatening declarations” against Ecuador.

He was charged with skipping bail by entering the embassy in 2012. Appearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court four hours later, he pleaded not guilty, claiming he had a reasonable excuse for seeking asylum as his arrest would end in his extradition to the US.

That extradition request, on charges related to the publication of vast quantities of classified information by Wikileaks, is forthcoming but will be fought by Assange’s lawyers…..

Scott Morrison – “He won’t be getting any special treatment from Australia, he’ll be getting the same treatment that any other Australian would get.”

Asked whether Australia would fight a move to extradite Assange to the US, Mr Morrison said the Wikileaks founder was at the mercy of the British justice system. ……
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, also commencing the election campaign in Sydney, said Assange was entitled to his day in court but had no view on his extradition to the US.
“I think he should receive consular assistance, beyond that I don’t know all the facts of the matter,” Mr Shorten said. “He should deserve the ability to be represented in court which he will be.” …….


April 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story – on Julian Assange

This prospect prompted the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 33 EU parliamentarians to issue strongly worded statements to both the UK and Ecuadorian governments in December last year, warning against facilitating the prosecution of a journalist, editor and publisher for “publishing the truth”. The statements demanded Assange’s “immediate release, together with his safe passage to a safe country”, and reminded the UK of its “binding” legal obligations to secure freedom for Assange.

A critical task for propagandists such as those waging a psychological war on Wilkileaks, then, is to feed audiences material that supports official narratives and exclude that which does not. Since its inception, the smear campaign against Julian Assange and Wikileaks has been remarkably concerted and consistent in that regard.

With the new year, however, news broke that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had offered Ecuador a $10 billion bailout in return for handing Julian Assange over to the United States. This bounty came on top of earlier US pressures and inducements, reportedly including increased oil exportsmilitary co-operation and another $1.1 billion in IMF loans, with the US representative of the IMF instructing Ecuador that it must “resolve” its relationship with Julian Assange in order to receive the IMF money.

Australian Barrister Greg Barns has called it the blackmailing of a nation. News website 21st Century Wirecalled it “one of the biggest international bribery (or extortion) cases in history.”

While there is “not a single shred of evidence that any of [Wikileaks’] disclosures caused anyone harm”, writes journalist and author Nozomi Hayase, what Wikileaks did do in 2010 was expose thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths included the nonchalant gunning down of children, journalists and their rescuers, and other “indiscriminate violence… torture, lies [and]bribery”, writes Chris Hedges. According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Elsberg, the leaks exposed “a massive cover-up over a number of years by the American authorities”.

Julian in ‘critical danger’, new rules ‘torture’ – Assange mother *AUDIO*

The Psychology Of Getting Julian Assange, Part 2: The Court Of Public Opinion And The Blood-Curdling Untold Story, New Matilda, By Dr Lissa Johnson February 25, 2019  In her ongoing special investigation into the detention of Julian Assange, Dr Lissa Johnson turns to the art of smear, and how to corrupt a judicial system.

On Friday 14th February, the Editor in Chief of news website Consortium News, Joe Lauria, visited Sydney to host a ‘Politics in the Pub’ event: Whistleblowing, Wikileaks and the Future of Democracy. The event took place in anticipation of upcoming rallies to free Assange…….

. It is imperative that we pressure the Australian government to make sure its citizen, Julian Assange, is protected from the lawlessness of the American Empire.” Continue reading

April 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics international, reference | Leave a comment

Liberal seats held by vacating and conservative MPs have extremely high levels of concern for climate change.

Now Adani has been approved, these are the nine at-risk Coalition seats most concerned about climate change, ABC By political reporter Jackson Gothe-Snape, 10 Apr 19, Liberal seats held by vacating and conservative MPs have extremely high levels of concern for climate change.

Key points:

  • New research shows seats where climate change concerns are most common
  • “Keeping day to day living costs down” is the issue most often identified by Australians as a concern
  • Concern over the quality of governance is growing

And global warming fear was increasing even before the Federal Government approved the Adani coal mine this week.

Electorate-level research released on Wednesday shows the extent of concern for climate change as the election looms.

The polling, completed by Roy Morgan during 2018 as part of the democracy non-profit Australian Futures Project, shows “keeping day-to-day living costs down” is the most pressing concern across Australia, ahead of “improving health services and hospitals” and “open and honest government”.

Climate change is the next most commonly identified issue.

At least one in three people (33 per cent) have climate change concerns in nine Liberal seats that are potentially vulnerable at the coming election.

That is significantly above the national average of approximately one in four people (26 per cent).

A majority of these seats have either conservative MPs recontesting or new candidates replacing retiring or ousted MPs…..

April 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Key expert in USA Congress says there is little hope for consent-based siting for nuclear waste

House Appropriator Throws Cold Water on Consent-Based Siting for Nuclear Waste  BY EXCHANGEMONITOR 10 Apr 19, There is little hope for a consent-based approach to selecting the site for a U.S. radioactive waste repository, a key appropriator in the House of Representatives said Tuesday.

“I know of no community that will become a permanent repository for nuclear waste based on consent,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), ranking member of the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee.

Simpson was responding to a plea against funding the planned waste disposal site under Yucca Mountain, Nev., from Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.). Titus was among more than 20 lawmakers who appeared before the subcommittee during a member day hearing to argue their case for programs to be included or excluded in the upcoming House energy and water appropriations bill for fiscal 2020.

“We don’t use nuclear energy, we don’t produce nuclear waste, and we shouldn’t be forced to store it,” she said.,,,,,

April 11, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Electric vehicles: Could this be Scott Morrison’s Prince Philip moment? — RenewEconomy

Morrison’s loopy campaign against EVs may turn out to be his Prince Philip moment, when it dawns on the public that the entire government is locked in the past. The post Electric vehicles: Could this be Scott Morrison’s Prince Philip moment? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Electric vehicles: Could this be Scott Morrison’s Prince Philip moment? — RenewEconomy

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Call this a scare campaign? It’s nothing compared to what we will see, post election — RenewEconomy

If you think a Labor win will end the climate and renewables scare campaign, think again. But there’s hope, in the form of a new, open economic modelling platform. The post Call this a scare campaign? It’s nothing compared to what we will see, post election appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Call this a scare campaign? It’s nothing compared to what we will see, post election — RenewEconomy

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Butler: If Australia doesn’t embrace EVs, it’ll end up like Cuba — RenewEconomy

Mark Butler says Coalition would condemn Australia to becoming an island of automotive antiquity, while under Labor policy sales of EVs should “take-off” at little cost. The post Butler: If Australia doesn’t embrace EVs, it’ll end up like Cuba appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Butler: If Australia doesn’t embrace EVs, it’ll end up like Cuba — RenewEconomy

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some facts about electric vehicles for the Coalition — RenewEconomy

The Coalition claims that EVs are going to destroy our way of life. So, here are a couple of reminders about the reality of electric vehicles. The post Some facts about electric vehicles for the Coalition appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Some facts about electric vehicles for the Coalition — RenewEconomy

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Emergency experts issue climate warning  

Emergency chiefs from across Australia are demanding the prime minister take action to deal with increased disaster risks fuelled by climate change.


* Mary Barry: former State Emergency Service CEO

Neil Bibby: former Country Fire Authority (CFA) CEO and former Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) deputy chief officer

* Jeff Godfredson: former MFB chief fire officer

* Craig Lapsley: former Emergency Management commissioner, former Fire Services commissioner, former CFA deputy chief officer

* Ewan Waller: former Forest Fire Management chief fire officer.


* Bob Conroy: former National Parks and Wildlife Service fire manager

* Greg Mullins: former Fire & Rescue commissioner

* Murray Kear: former State Emergency Service commissioner

* Phil Koperberg: former NSW minister for the environment, former Rural Fire Service commissioner

* Ken Thompson: former Fire & Rescue deputy commissioner.


* Tony Blanks: former National Parks fire unit manager and former Forestry Tasmania fire manager

* Mike Brown: former Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) chief fire officer

* John Gledhill: former TFS chief fire officer.


* Lee Johnson: former Fire & Emergency Services commissioner, Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre director

* Frank Pagano: former Emergency Management executive director and former Fire & Rescue Service deputy commissioner.


* Andrew Lawson: former Country Fire Service deputy chief officer

* Grant Lupton: former Metropolitan Fire Service chief fire officer.


* Wayne Gregson: former Department of Fire & Emergency Services commissioner

* Craig Hynes: former Fire & Emergency Services Authority chief operations officer.


* Steve Rothwell: former Fire & Emergency Services director and chief fire officer

* Stephen Sutton: former Bushfires NT chief fire control officer.


* Peter Dunn: former Emergency Services Authority commissioner.


* Naomi Brown: former Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council C

April 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

The Chernobyl syndrome

With bountiful, devastating detail, Brown describes how scientists, doctors, and journalists—mainly in Ukraine and Belarus—went to great lengths and took substantial risks to collect information on the long-term effects of the Chernobyl explosion, which they believed to be extensive.

Other researchers have issued a much sunnier picture of post-Chernobyl ecology, but Brown argues persuasively that they are grossly underestimating the scale of the damage, in part because they rely too heavily on simplistic measurements of radioactivity levels.

Radiation has a special hold on our imagination: an invisible force out of science fiction, it can alter the very essence of our bodies, dissolve us from the inside out. But Manual for Survival asks a larger question about how humans will coexist with the ever-increasing quantities of toxins and pollutants that we introduce into our air, water, and soil. Brown’s careful mapping of the path isotopes take is highly relevant to other industrial toxins, and to plastic waste. When we put a substance into our environment, we have to understand that it will likely remain with us for a very long time, and that it may behave in ways we never anticipated. Chernobyl should not be seen as an isolated accident or as a unique disaster, Brown argues, but as an “exclamation point” that draws our attention to the new world we are creating. 

The Chernobyl Syndrome, The New York Review of Books  SophiePinkhamAPRIL4, 2019

Manual for Survival: A Chernobyluie to the Futur

by Kate Brown
Norton, 420 pp., $27.95

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster

by Adam Higginbotham
Simon and Schuster, 538 pp., $29.95

Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

by Serhii Plokhy
Basic Books, 404 pp., $32.00

“………As her book’s title, Manual for Survival, suggests, Kate Brown is interested in the aftermath of Chernobyl, not the disaster itself. Her heroes are not first responders but brave citizen-scientists, independent-minded doctors and health officials, journalists, and activists who fought doggedly to uncover the truth about the long-term damage caused by Chernobyl. Her villains include not only the lying, negligent Soviet authorities, but also the Western governments and international agencies that, in her account, have worked for decades to downplay or actually conceal the human and ecological cost of nuclear war, nuclear tests, and nuclear accidents. Rather than attributing Chernobyl to authoritarianism, she points to similarities in the willingness of Soviets and capitalists to sacrifice the health of workers, the public, and the environment to production goals and geopolitical rivalries. Continue reading

April 11, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Traditional Owners fighting Adani coal mine mount fresh legal challenge   Adani gained federal government approval for its controversial mine project but could be stopped by a courtroom confrontation from Traditional Owners.  By Ella Archibald-Binge, 10 Apr 19



Traditional Owners opposed to the Carmichael mine will mount a legal challenge in the federal court next month to overturn Adani’s crucial agreement with Indigenous landholders.

The mining company’s groundwater management plan was approved this week by Federal Environment Melissa Price and before construction can begin the Queensland government needs to sign off on environmental approvals.

However, if successful, next month’s court hearing could have severe ramifications.

A handful of Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) native title claimants are seeking to invalidate Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), which is required for the mining company to build key infrastructure.

Some W&J native title claimants support the mine but those who oppose it say the ILUA is a “sham”.

Their claims were dismissed in a court hearing last year and the group will now appeal that verdict to the full bench of the federal court.

‘An act of war on our people’

Adrian Burragubba, one of the anti-Adani claimants, said he felt confident ahead of the hearing.

“That full bench federal court has allowed us to argue at least ten points – all we need is one of those points to get up in that argument and that ILUA will then become null and void,” he told NITV News.

“You can’t start building a mine until you get that ILUA, so nobody wants to talk about it because it’s the main thing that’s holding up the mine.”

Mr Burragubba  also criticised the federal government’s decision to approve Adani’s groundwater management plan, claiming the project would destroy ancient springs.

“Water is part of our dreaming as First Nations people,” he said.

“This will fracture our ties with our ancestors and will essentially be an act of war on our people.”

Environmental approval ‘reeks of political interference’

Meanwhile, Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said she would not be rushing the remaining approvals.

“I will not be bullied and I will not allow the regulator to be bullied,” the Labor MP said.

“The federal minister’s decision yesterday to approve Adani’s [groundwater management plan] reeks of political interference, and in many ways puts into question the integrity of her decision-making process.”

Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow said the approval followed 18 months of environmental evaluation by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.

“The measures outlined in the plans will ensure groundwater at the mine, and the ecosystems that depend on it, are protected,” he said in a statement.

April 11, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate change is releasing ionising radiation as glaciers melt

Siren sounds on nuclear fallout embedded in melting glaciers, by Patrick Galey, 10 Apr 19,   Radioactive fallout from nuclear meltdowns and weapons testing is nestled in glaciers across the world, scientists said Wednesday, warning of a potentially hazardous time bomb as rising temperatures melt the icy residue.

For the first time, an international team of scientists has studied the presence of nuclear fallout in ice surface sediments on glaciers across the Arctic, Iceland the Alps, Caucasus mountains, British Columbia and Antarctica.

It found manmade radioactive material at all 17 survey sites, often at concentrations at least 10 times higher than levels elsewhere.

“They are some of the highest levels you see in the environment outside nuclear exclusion zones,” said Caroline Clason, a lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth.

When radioactive material is released into the atmosphere, it falls to earth as acid rain, some of which is absorbed by plants and soil.

But when it falls as snow and settles in the ice, it forms heavier sediment which collects in glaciers, concentrating the levels of nuclear residue.

The Chernobyl disaster of 1986—by far the most devastating nuclear accident to date—released vast clouds of radioactive material including Caesium into the atmosphere, causing widespread contamination and acid rain across northern Europe for weeks afterwards.

“Radioactive particles are very light so when they are taken up into the atmosphere they can be transported a very long way,” she told AFP.

“When it falls as rain, like after Chernobyl, it washes away and it’s sort of a one-off event. But as snow, it stays in the ice for decades and as it melts in response to the climate it’s then washed downstream.”

The environmental impact of this has been shown in recent years, as wild boar meat in Sweden was found to contain more than 10 times the safe levels of Caesium.

Clason said her team had detected some fallout from the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, but stressed that much of the particles from that particular disaster had yet to collect on the ice sediment.

As well as disasters, radioactive material produced from weapons testing was also detected at several research sites.

“We’re talking about weapons testing from the 1950s and 1960s onwards, going right back in the development of the bomb,” she said. “If we take a sediment core you can see a clear spike where Chernobyl was, but you can also see quite a defined spike in around 1963 when there was a period of quite heavy weapons testing.”

One of the most potentially hazardous residues of human nuclear activity is Americium, which is produced when Plutonium decays.

Whereas Plutonium has a half-life of 14 years, Americium lasts 400.

“Americium is more soluble in the environment and it is a stronger alpha (radiation) emitter. Both of those things are bad in terms of uptake into the food chain,” said Clason.

While there is little data available on how these materials can be passed down the food chain—even potentially to humans—Clason said there was no doubt that Americium is “particularly dangerous”.

As geologists look for markers of the epoch when mankind directly impacted the health of the planet—known as the Anthropocene—Clason and her team believe that radioactive particles in ice, soil and sediment could be an important indicator.

“These materials are a product of what we have put into the atmosphere. This is just showing that our nuclear legacy hasn’t disappeared yet, it’s still there,” Clason said.

“And it’s important to study that because ultimately it’s a mark of what we have left in the environment.”

April 11, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Five-minute forecasting to boost solar and wind and battery investments — RenewEconomy

Australian researchers are developing short-term weather forecasts for solar farms to help them precisely predict output as little as five minutes in advance. The post Five-minute forecasting to boost solar and wind and battery investments appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Five-minute forecasting to boost solar and wind and battery investments — RenewEconomy

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April 10 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Trump Mocks Climate Change. That’s A Key To Defeating Him.” • While one of Africa’s the worst weather disasters ever was unfolding, President Trump was urging Republicans not to kill the Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal. This was not because Trump wants to work with it, but because he wants to run against […]

via April 10 Energy News — geoharvey

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Revolutionary Australian Clean Energy Startup Wins Global Award — RenewEconomy

Planet Ark Power’s electricity grid-transforming solution wins at Startup Energy Transition Awards Berlin. The post Revolutionary Australian Clean Energy Startup Wins Global Award appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Revolutionary Australian Clean Energy Startup Wins Global Award — RenewEconomy

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