Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear/climate news Australia – week to 14 April

On the surface, not much seems to be happening in nuclear news. Tensions between Pakistan and India have pulled back from the brink.  USA and North Korea remain at a nuclear stalemate, while South Korea tries for moderate progress. The mainstream media continues to regurgitate nuclear lobby propaganda about solving climate change, especially by developing small nuclear reactors.

The optimistic picture that’s often given of Chernobyl’s supposed recovery from the 1986 nuclear catastrophe has been thoroughly contradicted, as three new books reveal.  Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future by Kate Brown– details the dedicated research done in Belarus and Ukraine, on radiation effects, and draws attention to the pervasive and growing effects of ionising radiation, globally.  Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster– by Adam Higginbotham  describes the course of the disaster and investigates  the propaganda, secrecy, and myths that have obscured the truth on its effects. Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe– by Serhii Plokhy dramatically reconstructs the meltdown, and condemns the  USSR’s bureaucratic dysfunction, censorship, secrecy and mismanagement that preceded the disaster, and hindered the Soviet’s response to it. point to the danger of ionising radiation to the world, as nuclear activities continue, and the radioactive wastes accumulate.

Once again the twin threats of climate change and ionising radiation come together. As glaciers melt, ionising radiation, (from nuclear bomb testing) is released from ice surface sediments. Good news : how we could get (almost) all our energy from the sun by 2050.

The Threat of Nuclear War Is Still With Us,

Police drag Julian Assange from Embassy.  –Extradition of Julian Assange must be opposed. USA govt wants to silence all reports of govt atrocities.  Wikileaks has won many awards for fine journalism.  What Does Julian Assange’s Arrest Mean for Journalists?


Police drag Julian Assange from Embassy. Scott Morrison says “no special help“, Bill Shorten pleads ignorance of the matter.  ‘He uncovered war crimes’: Greens leader urges government to protect Julian Assange

CLIMATE Emergency experts issue climate warning .  Liberal seats held by vacating and conservative MPs have extremely high levels of concern for climate change.    “Grey Power” Queensland activists protesting against Adani coal mine, demanding action against climate change.  Traditional Owners fighting Adani coal mine mount fresh legal challenge .

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Queensland enacts new solar rules, as stunned industry warns of investment standstill.  Large scale solar developers warns of cost blowouts, job losses.  Electric vehicles: Could this be Scott Morrison’s Prince Philip moment? Revolutionary Australian Clean Energy Startup Wins Global Award.  Elon Musk says “no question” Australia can meet 50% electric car target by 2030 .er delays.


April 13, 2019 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must be opposed

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Japanese public face a move by government, to bring U.S. nuclear weapons into Japan

The Pain and Politics of Hiroshima

Nuclear Weapons in the Reiwa Era, GREGORY KULACKI, CHINA PROJECT MANAGER AND SENIOR ANALYST | APRIL 11, 2019 Japan will soon have a new emperor and a new dynastic name to mark the traditional Japanese calender: Reiwa (令和). Interminable commentary on the significance of the name is just beginning, but in the end it will be defined not by words but by deeds. One of the most important acts the Japanese people may be compelled to take as the new era begins is to decide whether to allow their government to introduce US nuclear weapons into Japan. They may have to choose between continuing to honor the LEGACY OF HIROSHIMA and the warnings of the HIBAKUSHA or abandoning Japan’s longstanding role as a leading voice for peace and nuclear disarmament.

Prime Minister Abe and the foreign policy elite of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are pushing the United States to increase the role of US nuclear weapons in Asia. They told US officials they want to alter Japan’s Three Non-Nuclear Principles to permit the introduction of US nuclear weapons into Japan. They also want to revise Article 9 of Japan’s post-war constitution, in which the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a mean of settling international disputes.” The Abe government’s desire to re-write the constitution and re-arm Japan is well known and hotly debated. But its efforts to bring US nuclear weapons into Japan are a closely guarded secret, known only to a small group of officials in Japan’s foreign policy establishment.

UCS obtained a document that contains a detailed description of the Japanese foreign ministry’s requirements for US nuclear weapons. Multiple conversations with the Japanese official who presented this document to his US counterparts not only confirmed its content, they also revealed this small group of hawkish officials wants to train Japanese military personnel to deliver US nuclear weapons. They would even like the United States to grant Japanese leaders the authority to decide when to use them. Japanese officials refer to this arrangement as “nuclear sharing.”

This information is not being kept from the Japanese people for security reasons. The responsible officials believe it is important for China to know Japan has the authority to make such a decision and the capability to carry it out. Preparations to make “nuclear sharing” a reality are being kept secret because these officials are afraid the Japanese public would oppose it. Their covert nuclear weapons wish list blatantly violates both the letter and the spirit of Japan’s constitution and the Three Non-Nuclear Principles.

Public opinion polls indicate many Japanese people would like to make the use or threat to use nuclear weapons illegal, which is the purpose of the recently adopted UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). A large majority of their elected representatives, even within Abe’s ruling LDP, want to uphold Japan’s Three Non-Nuclear Principles, which forbid “nuclear sharing.” Many Japanese people take pride in the belief that their country plays a leading role in advancing nuclear disarmament.

The gap between the public’s aspirations and the private machinations of its current leaders is difficult to reconcile.
Prime Minister Abe, like US President Trump, governs his country with a mix of nationalism and authoritarianism. His political opponents seem incapable of mounting a serious challenge to his leadership or his policies. But the absence of effective opposition is not an indication of popular support. Abe’s approval rating is not that much better than Trump’s. And like the current US president, he holds on to power with a dedicated minority of loyalists, disingenuous manipulation of the mass media and the resignation of a dispirited majority who see no compelling alternative.

Abe appears to have injected his nationalist agenda into the selection of the name for the new era. Press reports highlight that Reiwa (令和) is the first Japanese dynastic name not taken from the Chinese classics. The collection of Japanese poetry that inspired Abe’s selection was popular among the military officers of Imperial Japan who led their nation into World War II. Critics panned Reiwa as a cold expression of Abe’s authoritarian tendencies, but it seemed to be well-received and gave an immediate lift to the popularity of a man on track to become the longest serving prime minister in Japanese history.

Abe told the press Reiwa suggests a period when “culture is born and nurtured as the people’s hearts are beautifully drawn together.” His cabinet secretary told the world that Reiwa should be translated into English as “beautiful harmony.” So it may be that the initial appeal of the new name is more in line with the widespread public support for Japan’s pacifist constitution and the spirit of international cooperation than with Abe’s atavistic appeals to the chauvinist ambitions that led to Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.

Only time will tell. Japanese attitudes towards nuclear weapons may be the most important window into the ultimate meaning of Reiwa. Making sure the Japanese people know what their government is saying and doing about nuclear weapons may be the best way to ensure that window is clear.

Also: today we’re releasing a short documentary that we filmed in Hiroshima last year. It covers some of the issues around the Japanese Foreign Ministry and US nuclear weapons, as well as firsthand accounts of the bombing.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Assange prosecution threatens modern journalism

The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain The US government’s indictment of Julian Assange is about far more than a charge of conspiring to hack a Pentagon computer. Many of the acts detailed in the indictment are standard journalistic practices in the digital age. How authorities in the UK respond to the US extradition request will determine how serious a threat this prosecution poses to global media freedom.

Journalistic scrutiny is a key democratic safeguard against governmental misconduct. Strong reporting often depends on officials leaking information of public importance. That is why, although many democratic governments prohibit officials themselves from disclosing secret information, few prosecute journalists for publishing leaked information that they receive from officials. Similarly, because electronic communications are so easily traced, today’s investigative journalists often make extraordinary efforts to maintain the confidentiality of their sources, including setting up communication avenues that cannot easily be detected or intercepted.

The Assange prosecution threatens these basic elements of modern journalism and democratic accountability. Superficially, the single charge in the indictment concerns an alleged conspiracy between Assange and Chelsea Manning, at the time a US army intelligence analyst, to download Pentagon files for publication on WikiLeaks. Assange is accused of trying – ultimately unsuccessfully – to help Manning crack a password that would have enabled her to bypass security mechanisms that would identify her as the person downloading the files.

But beyond this alleged hacking attempt, the indictment details “manners and means of the conspiracy” that read like standard procedure for today’s journalists who receive information from a confidential source. It alleges that “Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks, including by removing user names from the disclosed information and deleting chat logs between Assange and Manning.” It says they “used a special folder on a cloud drop box” for the leaked information. And it charges that “Assange encouraged Manning” to provide the information.

It is dangerous to suggest that these actions are somehow criminal rather than steps routinely taken by investigative journalists who communicate with confidential sources to receive classified information of public importance. It is not difficult to imagine how autocratic governments, eager to undermine media scrutiny, will use this indictment to punish such journalists.

The Trump administration also poses a threat. So far, the administration has not charged Assange for the disclosure of the information he received from Manning, but that remains a possibility.

The administration filed the hacking charges against Assange a year ago, just days before the eight-year statute of limitations was about to expire for the alleged acts in 2010, but the 10-year statute of limitations has not yet run for the Espionage Act, which has been mooted as a way to prosecute Assange despite the severe implications for journalism of applying it to a public vehicle such as WikiLeaks. The indictment lists violation of the Espionage Act as one of the purposes of the alleged hacking conspiracy.

Manning already served nearly seven years of a prison term for leaking Pentagon files to Assange, until Barack Obama pardoned her. But Manning is now back in prison as part of the Trump administration’s effort to coerce her to testify before a grand jury. Because it is unlawful for the US government to use a grand jury simply to prepare for trial, the Trump administration may well be contemplating additional charges against Assange.

British authorities have the power to prevent any US prosecution from eroding media freedom. The extradition treaty between Britain and the United States requires extradition only if “the conduct on which the offense is based” is punishable in both countries. And the treaty prevents the US government from filing additional charges after extradition unless they are based on the same set of facts or the British government consents.

These provisions empower British authorities to insist that the hacking charges are not a subterfuge for – or a first step in a frontal attack on – legitimate journalistic activity. In other words, Britain can refuse to extradite Assange unless the Trump administration gives a binding guarantee that the prosecution, now and in the future, would not extend beyond the narrow charge of conspiring to hack a government computer.

This is not a theoretical matter. Donald Trump openly and regularly rejects any form of critical media scrutiny. And he has shown little willingness to defer to the norms of democratic accountability. The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.  Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

“Grey Power” Queensland activists protesting against Adani coal mine, demanding action against climate change

Grey power protesters stage Adani sit in. 12 Apr 19, Older voters opposed to Adani’s Queensland coal mine have vowed to continue a protest in Brisbane until they’re arrested. Queensland grandmother Rae Sheridan has been arrested three times at protests demanding action on climate change.

If she has her way, it’ll be four by the end of the day.

The 74-year-old is among a band of “grey power” activists who are staging a small but determined protest against Adani’s proposed coal mine in outback Queensland. (I’d) probably rather die in jail than in a nursing home,” Ms Sheridan told AAP on Thursday.

“This issue is of such importance, because stopping Adani is a line in the sand for our relationship with coal. It has to stay in the ground … New Zealand has done it, Australia can do it too.”

Fellow protester Greg McLachlan says he was moved to take action after watching thousands of school students take to the streets across the globe, calling on governments to protect their futures.

“We should have done more, and we should be doing more,” he told AAP, welling up with sadness.

“The future is their’s, not ours, and we are letting them down.”

Adani’s Carmichael mine project is an issue because Queensland is one of the key states needed to win federal government.

It is popular in the state’s central and northern regions, but could cost support among voters in inner-city seats who want more action on global warming. Labor’s environment spokesman Tony Burke says the prime minister called the election on Thursday to avoid Senate estimates hearings that would have seen the CSIRO grilled about the recent groundwater approval handed to Adani.

The hearings were promptly cancelled after Scott Morrison called the poll for May 18.

Adani’s plan manage groundwater now needs state government approval so that it can start digging.

But Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government says it won’t be rushed into a decision to approve that plan, and another to manage the tiny and endangered black-throated finch.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Wikileaks has won may awards for fine journalism

Hervé Courtoi13 Apr 19  Via Karl Wunder

Snowden points out that the WikiLeaks team has won many awards for its reporting. These include:

The Economist New Media Award (2008)
The Amnesty New Media Award (2009)
The Sam Adams Award for Integrity (2010)
The National Union of Journalists Journalist of the Year (Hrafnsson) (2011)
The Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal (2011)
The Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism (2011)
The Voltaire Award for Free Speech (2011)
The International Piero Passetti Journalism Prize of the National Union of Italian Journalists (2011)
The Privacy International Hero of Privacy (2012)
The Global Exchange Human Rights People’s Choice Award (2013)
The Brazilian Press Association Human Rights Award (2013)
The Kazakhstan Union of Journalists Top Prize (2014)

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

“The political, financial, or social influence of older people” – Grey Power climate activism

“We will inspire and train older Australians to take BOLD and creative nonviolent action to help change the politics of climate change for good.

Grey Nomads will become Green Nomads. We’ll organise #GreyPower blocs at the school strikes and bring the kids/grandkids with us. Politicians in marginal electorates will feel our presence day after day after day.
Our mission is to use our power to protect the climate now and for future generations and our #GreyPower uprising will demand the real change needed to address the climate emergency.
We are political but nonpartisan. We will target the political parties with the worst climate change policies the most, but will still push other parties to do better. We do not support or promote any political party.”

April 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Tens of thousands of young people in Britain and abroad are demonstrating for climate action in the latest wave of strikes

Youth climate change protests across Britain – as it happened

Tens of thousands of young people in Britain and abroad are demonstrating for climate action in the latest wave of strikes,   Sarah Marsh 13 Apr 19, 

  • Students across the UK took to the streets on Friday to call for the government to act to tackle the climate change crisis. Protests took place everywhere from Birmingham, to Newcastle and beyond. Jake Woodier, from the UK Youth Climate Coalition, who took part in London, said: “It’s been a really fantastic day, with thousands and thousands of students protesting across the country, and continuing to build the movement.”
  • A further 30 countries across the globe also held events today. Many shared their experiences over social media. It included activity in New Delhi in India, Istanbul in Turkey and Helsinki, Finland’s capital.
  • Politicians, broadcasters, scientists and artists showed their support for young activists. David Attenborough was asked about the young people who have been marching all over the world. The Washington Post asked: when you look at that, what do you see, as someone generations ahead of them? Attenborough said: “I mean, strikes are a way of expressing a strong feeling that you have, but they don’t solve it. You don’t solve anything by striking. But you do change opinion, and you do change politicians’ opinions. And that’s why strikes are worthwhile.”
  • The march in London brought Oxford street to a standstill. Organiser Cyrus Jarvis, 16, a year 11 student from London Academy school in Barnet, North London, said: “The police tried to frighten us with arrests but we just moved on. “We are really sorry for anyone who did have issues because of us, but unfortunately this is what we have to do to get our point across to the government.”
  • On 22 April, the Guardian is hosting an event with Greta Thunberg and Anna Taylor, from the UK Student Climate Network, with an introduction from Caroline Lucas MP, and chaired by the Guardian’s Zoe Williams.

    You can find out more about this event here.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Renewables will dominate world’s energy needs, says global body — RenewEconomy

Renewable energy could supply two-thirds of global final energy consumption if transport, heating and cooling is electrified, global body says. The post Renewables will dominate world’s energy needs, says global body appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Renewables will dominate world’s energy needs, says global body — RenewEconomy

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Critical Fire Danger Weather Along Texas-New Mexico Border: One Of The Reasons This Area Is Unfit For Nuclear Waste — Mining Awareness +

While some are getting snow due to Storm Wesley, others are at risk of fire, as the low pressure sucks air into its center. The fire hazard in the area of the Texas-New Mexico border is one of several reasons why the nuclear facilities that are there shouldn’t be there, and clearly more shouldn’t be […]

via Critical Fire Danger Weather Along Texas-New Mexico Border: One Of The Reasons This Area Is Unfit For Nuclear Waste — Mining Awareness +

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 12 Energy News — geoharvey

World: ¶ “Global Economy Would Save Up To $160 Trillion By Shifting To Renewables, Electric Cars” • The International Renewable Energy Agency reported this week that getting to 85% renewable energy not merely possible by 2050, but thanks to plummeting prices in key clean energy technologies, the cost of saving the climate has dropped dramatically. […]

via April 12 Energy News — geoharvey

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Large scale solar developers warns of cost blowouts, job losses — RenewEconomy

Developers of large scale solar farms under construction warn that new rules in Queensland will blow out costs, cause delays and result in job losses. The post Large scale solar developers warns of cost blowouts, job losses appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Large scale solar developers warns of cost blowouts, job losses — RenewEconomy

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Port Augusta solar tower: Did new inter-connector claim its first victim? — RenewEconomy

What killed the Port Augusta solar tower project? Was it the new transmission link to NSW? Or was it problems with its own technology? The post Port Augusta solar tower: Did new inter-connector claim its first victim? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Port Augusta solar tower: Did new inter-connector claim its first victim? — RenewEconomy

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment