Australian news, and some related international items

False statements on nuclear power by  Federal Liberal National Party MP Keith Pitt

August 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Time that Australia stopped blindly following USA into wars

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia’s AUSMIN invitations: clean the driveway, wash the dishes. Again 9 August 2019

In the course of the current AUSMIN talks Australia has once again been invited, by the United States, to assume a role for which it is well, indeed over-qualified for – namely to provide janitorial services in the aftermath of a series of strategic debacles by the US itself. Serial prodigality and recklessness are to be rewarded with serial subservience and indulgence.  It’s a tradition.  

Amid declarations of the “unbreakable” nature” of the alliance relationship Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper made it clear that both an Australia contribution to a joint coalition of naval forces to protect merchant shipping from attacks by Iran, and Australia’s support for US decisions to scrap the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and deploy weapons once banned by the INF should be forthcoming.

On such matters wherein William Butler Yeats got it right when he wrote that excessive love, leading to needless debasement, and finally to bewilderment becomes a sacrifice so overpowering that it can “make a stone of the heart.”

But, of course, I speak of people historically informed and critically aware of whom there appear too few, or none with voice, at these talks.

If there were, some (at least) murmurings might have been heard to the effect that the current Iran-Straits of Hormuz crisis is principally the result of a White House anti-diplomatic vandalism. By extension, supporting the US is, essentially, to validate a threat to international peace and security.

More positively, declining to contribute to the US-led coalition would, if followed over time on similar occasions, establish a long overdue threshold reflecting Australia’s national interest, responsible international citizenship, and a reminder to the US that it must reform.  Wishful thinking? OK – is the preference, then, to be a janitor?

When approval is finally announced, as it almost certainly will be, it will come dressed, as it always does, in the many coloured costume-of-the-day festooned with the many medals of past defeats and the usual claims whereby necessity – the need to serve “the national interest,” and preserve “the international rules-based order” has determined the commitment.

Little thought will be given to the consequences of failure, or what victory would be like.  Iran is not a country that will stand for endless bullying and immiseration; it has no substantial navy to persist in ship seizures, but it has capabilities in the form of mines that would make passage in the gulf significantly hazardous to a level at which shipping is uninsurable.

What throws this situation into shadow are three unaddressed (in Australia, anyway) dimensions of US global strategy which go to the heart of the defence of Australia, its alliance with the United States in general and Pine Gap in particular, and the immediate Asia-Pacific region: (1) the explicit context of US strategic decisions, (2) the rationale for scrapping the INF, and (3), the subsequent deployment statements of the once proscribed weapons and others as well which, in combination, imply a renewed US attraction to nuclear war-fighting.

The first should have been a primary concern even before the Trump Administration but it has become unavoidable since its advent and the reported “serious, long-term preparations to restructure the US economy to fight a war with a “peer” adversary [Russia and/or China] entailing radical changes to American economic, social and political life” as detailed in a Pentagon document of October 2018.

This document, moreover, is consistent with a stream of reports, exercises, deployments, weapons developments and bellicose statements by high-level military and civilian personnel which exhibit, in brief, a disposition to war, in parallel with the relegation of diplomacy to an irrelevance beyond its cosmetic utility.

Such a frame of mind easily accounts for the US withdrawal from the INF.  Ostensibly this was mandated by Russia’s (possibly not deliberate) breach of the Treaty with the development and very limited deployment of the of the 9M729 missile and, secondarily, the fact that the INF did not include China.

To be understood here is that constituencies in the Pentagon and the Congress had been working assiduously for years to wreck the treaty.  More significantly still, the US was also quite possibly in breach of the treaty by installing an Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System at Deveselu air base in Romania (with another planned for Poland).

If we add to this  the US initiative to modernise its nuclear arsenal by installing the  burst-height compensating super-fuze – which effectively triples the killing power of its ballistic missiles – which, although outside the scope of the INF Treaty, relates in a fundamental way to strategic stability.

As described by three of America’s most respected weapons analysts (Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore Postol) in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists the situation is one  the US has developed “the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

Without entering into a ping-pong match of accusation and rationalisation, expert arms control opinion in both Russia and the United States is in agreement that, even if Russia’s 9M729 was in breach of the treaty, the nature and magnitude of the breach in no way justified US withdrawal, nor its obscenely rapid leap into deploying a range of previously prohibited, and other weapons, in Asia.

[Equally, if the non-inclusion of China in the INF Treaty was a grievance, then surely there was an obligation to initiate a round of arms control or disarmament negotiations which addressed the dangers arising from the proliferation of intermediate range missiles].

Instead, what we have witnessed in recent days is a speed of decisions and deployments relating to previously proscribed weapons that suggests a deeply guilty past during the writ of the INF treaty.

These must be seen in the context of the new inventory of nuclear weapons – inter alia so-called “mini-nukes” – in the lingua franca of the discourse, these are not “mega-destructive, but smaller, “tactical,” and “low/variable yield;” others are described as “earth-penetrating / “bunker-busters” (also “low yield).  And all will be joined by a suite of hypersonic missiles- described by its patrons as “fast, effective, precise and [currently] unstoppable.”

In time, China, Russia, and the US will all have them in their respective orders of battle. An arms race is as close to inevitable as a political cause-effect chain can be.

Three Conclusions: First, the nuclear developments in favour of the United States tempt not only a first strike (the US emphatically maintains this option) but also the notion of a winnable nuclear war.  The speed and destructive power of the hypersonics underline a first strike decision; warning time will be negligible and the “dictum use it or lose it” will be dogma.  By hosting the US facilities at Pine Gap, Australia is inextricably involved in this deadly evolution.

Second, the just-completed AUSMIN talks, therefore, are to be seen as another episode in the ongoing grooming process by the US. It has plans for Australia.

Third, realising the country’s enhanced target status, the Australian government will no doubt call for a missile defence system – perhaps the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD); indeed, two former Prime Ministers (Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott) have already done so.  Such a costly acquisition would be entirely consistent with currently defined defence priorities and strategic logic, both determined in Washington.

On the other hand, a decision to recognise Australia’s unnecessary transit into the deeper shadows of war by refusing to match America’s irresponsibility with Australia’s own irresponsibility would follow the logic of truly defined national interest articulated by a government engaged with its own people and region.

Michael McKinley is a member of the Emeritus Faculty, The Australian National University

August 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactor blew up in deadly accident

Russia says small nuclear reactor blew up in deadly accident,  The Age, By Jake Rudnitsky and Stepan Kravchenko

August 13, 2019  The failed missile test that ended in an explosion killing five scientists last week on Russia’s White Sea involved a small nuclear reactor, according to a top official at the institute where they worked.
The institute is working on small-scale power sources that use “radioactive materials, including fissile and radioisotope materials” for the Defence Ministry and civilian uses, Vyacheslav Soloviev, scientific director of the institute, said in a video shown by local TV.
The men, who will be buried on Monday, were national heroes and the “elite of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre,” institute Director Valentin Kostyukov said in the video, which was also posted on an official website in Sarov, a high-security city devoted to nuclear research less than 400 kilometers east of Moscow.
The blast occurred on August 8 during a test of a missile that used “isotope power sources” on an offshore platform in the Arkhangelsk region, close to the Arctic Circle, Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom said over the weekend. The Defence Ministry initially reported two were killed in the accident, which it said involved testing of a liquid-fuelled missile engine. The ministry didn’t mention the nuclear element.
Rosatom declined to comment on the incident on Monday and a spokeswoman for the Sarov institute couldn’t immediately be reached.
Russian media have speculated that the weapon being tested was the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, known in Russia as the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile that President Vladimir Putin introduced to the world in a brief animated segment during his state-of-the-nation address last year.
The incident comes after a series of massive explosions earlier last week at a Siberian military depot killed one and injured 13, as well as forcing the evacuation of 16,500 people from their homes. Russia’s navy has suffered numerous high-profile accidents over the years. In July, 14 sailors died in a fire aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in an incident on which officials initially refused to comment. A top naval official later said the men gave their lives  preventing a “planetary catastrophe.”
Russia’s worst post-Soviet naval disaster also occurred in the Barents Sea, when 118 crew died on the Kursk nuclear submarine that sank in after an explosion in August 2000.

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

Evidence Grows That Russia’s Nuclear-Powered Doomsday Missile Was What Blew Up Last Week 

there is the possibility that the “isotope power source” in question may have been a radioisotope thermoelectric generator or a small nuclear reactor for use on satellites or other spacecraft.
This, in principle, would give the weapon virtually unlimited range and a maximum flying time measured in days or weeks.
Evidence Grows That Russia’s Nuclear-Powered Doomsday Missile Was What Blew Up Last Week, BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK, AUGUST 12, 2019
, Seven personnel from a major nuclear weapons research laboratory died in the mysterious incident at a test site in northwestern Russia.   Rumors and speculation continue to swirl around a radiological accidentlast week at a missile test site in northwestern Russia even as officials held a memorial service today for those who died in the incident. The Kremlin has now acknowledged that the incident killed at least seven scientists and other personnel from a major state nuclear research laboratory, who were working on a system that included a small nuclear reactor at the time. This same lab is linked to the development of a nuclear-powered cruise missile called Burevestnik and U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly increasingly of the view that one of these weapons, or a test article related to it, exploded in this mishap.
Late on Aug. 11, 2019, Valentin Kostiukov, the director of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center-All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics, also known by the acronym RFNC-VNIIEF, along with the institute’s scientific director Vyacheslav Solovyev and deputy scientific director Aleksandr Chernyshev, held a televised press briefing regarding the accident. RFNC-VNIIEF falls under Russia’s top nuclear Corporation, Rosatom, which first admitted its involvement in the incident at the Nyonoksa missile test site in the country’s Arkhangelsk region and that the explosion had occured during work on a system that included a nuclear “isotope power source,” on Aug. 9, 2019. Continue reading

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

American religious anti-war activists face 25 year gaol term

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

Australians need to rally in support of Julian Assange

Dan MonceauxAugust 7    The combined imperial crusade against Julian Assange involves a multi-pronged effort to erode his support base. As a supporter, I have experienced this first hand, with various individuals trying to influence my opinion of his character and work. I have used Wikileaks documents in submissions made to government and in forthcoming documentary film work. WL is an invaluable repository of information, ready for anyone interested to know how power “works” internationally.

In the wider public, Assange’s standing has been weakened by the media and hostile commentators fixating on rape allegations while overlooking the serious matters exposed in the contents of documents Wikileaks received from anonymous sources then elected to publish.

As it stands, Assange will most likely face a Grand Jury in the US, before which he can present no defence. He may then go to prison for life (for a cumulative sentence of 175 years under offences listed in the US’s Espionage Act) and may spend much of this in solitary confinement.

But what of those responsible for the wrong doing Wikileaks has exposed? Is this what justice looks like in the 21st century? People need to rally behind Assange now, more than ever.

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

$40 billion a year needed for infrastructure to catch up with our population growth

$40 billion a year needed for infrastructure  to catch up with our population growth, SBS News, 13 Aug 19Infrastructure Australia has warned a new wave of investment and planning reform is needed for the nation to keep pace with population and economic growth.

Australia needs to commit to spending $200 billion every five years on a range of infrastructure projects if it wants to keep pace with population growth.

Infrastructure Australia has warned a new wave of investment is needed to ensure roads and public transport, schools, water, electricity and health services support people’s quality of life and economic productivity.

The most visible example of the impact of poor infrastructure is the increasingly congested roads and crowded public transport in our biggest cities, the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit published on Tuesday says.

At the moment, this congestion costs the economy $19 billion a year but if no more is spent on upgrades, that will double to nearly $40 billion by 2031.

Less visible but just as frustrating to people are hospitals and schools that are ageing or reaching capacity, overcrowded parks and city green spaces, ageing water pipes, and the quality of services like the NBN……..

Planning problems have occurred because population projections have traditionally been based on past growth areas, whereas actual growth has been faster and in different areas than anticipated. ……..

August 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian investigative journalist exposes Guardian/New York Times betrayal of Assange — Rise Up Times

The papers leaked by Manning documented at least 200 civilian deaths at the hands of US and allied forces that had previously been hidden from the public, along with clear evidence of war crimes, including the existence of a secret “black unit” within the US military, tasked with carrying out illegal assassinations.

via Australian investigative journalist exposes Guardian/New York Times betrayal of Assange — Rise Up Times

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

Contaminated water tanks in Fukushima will be full in 3 years — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

All part of the now massive media PR campaign to prepare the public opinion for the dumping of that accumulated radioactive water into the Pacific ocean. Let’s face it, for them to dump it into the sea is the quickest, cheapest conveniency. And they’d love to have it out of the way before the 2020 […]

via Contaminated water tanks in Fukushima will be full in 3 years — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

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

Fukushima students speak on 2011 disaster in Berlin — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

August 09, 2019 BERLIN (Jiji Press) — Nine high school students from Fukushima Prefecture gave speeches in Berlin on Thursday about their experiences of the March 2011 triple disaster that hit hard the prefecture. Addressing German high school students, the nine from Fukushima recounted in English what they experienced in the disaster, in which a […]

via Fukushima students speak on 2011 disaster in Berlin — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

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

Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water to run out of tanks in 2022 — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Storage tanks at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant hold more than 1 million tons of tainted water. Fukushima’s contaminated water to run out of tanks in 2022 With Olympics approaching, Tokyo hesitant to release into ocean August 09, 2019 TOKYO — Tanks containing runoff from the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant are likely reach capacity as […]

via Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water to run out of tanks in 2022 — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

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

South Korea Weary of Japan’s Plans to Dump Fukushima Daiichi Radioactive Water into the Pacific — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, in this picture taken on Feb. 18. Greenpeace warns Korea of Japan’s radioactive water discharge August 8, 2019 An international environment organization has said that Japan plans to discharge radioactive […]

via South Korea Weary of Japan’s Plans to Dump Fukushima Daiichi Radioactive Water into the Pacific — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

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

Melting Ice Everywhere — Arctic Sea Ice Extent Hit New Record Lows in Late July and Early August — robertscribbler

If there is one word I’d use for the summer of 2019 it would be awakening. Awakening to a general public awareness of a climate crisis driven by fossil fuel burning we are now entering the throes of. (According to NOAA, July of 2019 was the hottest July on record for the state of Alaska. […]

via Melting Ice Everywhere — Arctic Sea Ice Extent Hit New Record Lows in Late July and Early August — robertscribbler

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

August 12 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Power Technology Too Expensive, Too Dangerous: The Accusations Tightening The Noose Around Nuclear Power” • For all the promises of nuclear power, its cost and its devastating accidents have made many sceptical of its benefits. JP Casey speaks to Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany. [Power Technology] World: ¶ “IFC, MIGA […]

via August 12 Energy News — geoharvey

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