Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian MP Rowan Ramsey, and Minister for Resources, Keith Pitt, talk nonsense about the planned nuclear waste dump at Napandee. 

  By Noel Wauchope, 27 June 20Examining the Joint media release by the Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey MP and Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, 11 June 2020   – “Important step for national radioactive waste facility in South Australia.” – here it is –

Legislation has been introduced to federal parliament that will pave the way for a critical piece of national infrastructure to support the increasing use of nuclear medicine in Australia and provide an economic boost to a regional South Australian
community. The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill today passed through the House of Representatives.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said it’s an important milestone for the establishment of the facility.

“Governments have been attempting to find a solution to this issue for decades and today our Government has taken a
significant step in bringing the process to a conclusion,” Minister Pitt said.

My Response That just shows how hopeless and incompetent the government has been on this issue and still cannot do everything correctly and in an acceptable manner under internationally prescribed standards.

Moreover the government lacks the capacity or simply does not want to follow and adopt the most recent developments and advances in the field of nuclear waste disposal and storage.

The legislation will confirm the site near Kimba in South Australia as the home for the facility that will allow the continued growth of nuclear medicine in Australia.

My Response This has nothing to do with nuclear medicine and is a most dishonest representation. It again shows bad planning on the part of the government, particularly as the new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights for the production of molybdenum is having persistent problems which could have led to a total shutdown last year. 

Interestingly there was little public reporting of these problems by either ANSTO or ARPANSA as the regulatory authority which as a result had to issue only an interim operating licence.

“The site was one of 28 across the country that was voluntarily nominated, followed by extensive engagement and consultation with the surrounding community that has shown broad support for the project,” Minister Pitt said.

My ResponseThere have not been 28 voluntary nominations or the extensive  engagement and consultations particularly as there has been no contact by the government with the Azark Project at Leonora in Western Australia since early 2018.

“There has also been extensive engagement with other stakeholders during this process, including with Traditional Owners.”

My Response Again, there has been no extensive engagement with Traditional Owners, particularly as the Azark Project has far more internationally based scientific and technical knowledge available to it in the areas of nuclear chemistry and engineering as to waste then possessed by the government through ANSTO and CSIRO There has not been any contact even with the traditional owners\ of the Azark site at Leonora.

Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said the local community has heard enough and just wants work on the facility to begin. “I thank the landholders who nominated their properties and have been the centre of attention ever since and I also thank the whole community for engaging in the consultation process,” Mr Ramsey said.

My ResponseRamsey is being disingenuous as in all probability the proposal for Napandee will have difficulty getting the necessary licences for its establishment and operations.

No work can begin until those licences are issued.

The land owners concerned did not voluntarily nominate their properties but only did so at the suggestion of Ramsey and the government through the then Department of Industry Innovation and Science, since other properties in the Kimba region were found unsuitable.

The government has refused to produce the nomination forms for the properties at Napandee and Lyndhurst, as they were apparently filled out for them by the Department’s staff.

“Of course there are differing views, but the whole community has made a decision and most are looking forward to the commencement of work.”

My ResponseThis is absolute rubbish as Ramsey knows that there are many people who are against the proposed facility and if a proper and fully informed plebiscite were held then the government would struggle to get approval for its ill-conceived proposals.

Whichever way it is examined the government has failed to provide sufficient information for an informed decision or consent by the selected voters for the Kimba ballots and excluded many other persons who should have had a vote on this important issue.

Minister Pitt said the legislation will now head to the Senate and called on Labor and the cross-benchers to support the project.

My ResponseWishful thinking as discussions with both the opposition and cross-benchers in the Senate are already suggestive of lack of support for the legislation.

“Suggestions that a site in the Woomera area could be used for the facility are simply not practical due to the increase in Defence Force training activities that will limit access to the area,” Minister Pitt said.

My Response  Is not the real reason that the Defence Force does not trust or rely on ANSTO and will not work with it in containing or disposing of any nuclear waste as Defence wants to retain complete control of its nuclear material?

“The passage of this Bill, and the construction of the facility, is crucially important to the future of nuclear medicine in Australia, which will benefit two in three Australians”.

My Response This, as already mentioned, has nothing to do with the future of nuclear medicine in Australia and this is confirmed by overseas experts who regard the proposals for Kimba as unrealistic and uncommercial with an obvious lack of research.

“Currently the waste is stored in around 100 locations across the country, including hospital basements, research facilities and universities”.

My Response Yes but only a relatively small portion of this waste is under the control of the federal government and again, from discussions with state government and private institutions having waste, is that they will not use the facility as they regard ANSTO as completely unreliable.

“The project at Kimba will support the future growth of nuclear medicine in Australia, and provide new job and economic opportunities for a South Australian regional community.”

My Response How will this support the future growth of nuclear medicine in Australia as its production has nothing to do with the storage issue?

Equally the numbers of 45 new jobs or others stated by the government are completely unrealistic, as much larger similar facilities overseas have only a fraction of that staff complement.

To be quite clear about the situation:

1. Even though it claims that it has not raised any concerns regarding the storage of waste at what is known as the interim waste storage facility at Lucas Heights, ARPANSA still requires ANSTO under existing licensing arrangements to report by 30 June 2020 on the plans for the storage and disposal of that waste.

2. This came about because when this waste was returned by the end of 2015 from overseas reprocessing, the intended storage facility for it which is described as the national radioactive waste management facility was not available.

3. As a result ARPANSA permitted by licence for ANSTO to temporarily store the reprocessed waste at the interim waste storage facility at Lucas Heights but on the condition that ANSTO provides plans for the final management of that waste by its removal.

4. It follows that the urgency is for the government through ANSTO to have firm plans for the removal by being able to specify the proposed facility at Napandee for that purpose.

5. This is obviously the reason for the rushed legislative process which will probably involve debating the bill in the Senate before the existing committee inquiry is completed.

6. A similar condition has been imposed by ARPANSA under the licence for ANSTO to operate the new nuclear medicine facility at Lucas Heights.

7. The waste in question is classified by the government as being of intermediate level but it is at the higher end of that class as to volatility and was classified as high level waste by France when being returned to ANSTO after reprocessing.

8. It is this level of waste about which the government has been rather backward in providing any information of a public nature as by the international safety prescriptions it should even for temporary storage be by appropriate geological burial which is simply not possible at Kimba.

9. It is a major reason for the obvious difficulties that ANSTO will encounter in trying to get the necessary licences for the storage facility at Napandee.

10. The other important aspect of the government’s proposals will be the disclosure by ANSTO of the inventory of radionuclides applicable to that waste which becomes the determining factor of the manner of storage and ultimate disposal to be used for that waste. That is why the level or quantum of radionuclides should be the first issue examined by the Senate inquiry as it will form the basis of the safety case and even indicate whether the Napandee facility plans should be pursued.

11. The ridiculous part of all of this is that the government has persistently refused to consider the Azark Project facility at Leonora , which would readily overcome the problems of storage and ultimate disposal of the intermediate level waste in a completely acceptable manner in accordance with all international standards and at a fraction of the cost of the government’s proposals.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

It’s 38°C in Siberia – need for action on global heating!

June 27, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

16th Century colonisation, slavery began the planet’s damage, 21st Century pandemic response could repair it.

Why the Anthropocene began with European colonisation, mass slavery and the ‘great dying’ of the 16th century, The Conversation, Mark Maslin, Professor of Earth System Science, UCL, Simon Lewis, Professor of Global Change Science at University of Leeds and, UCL June 25, 2020 The toppling of statues at Black Lives Matter protests has powerfully articulated that the roots of modern racism lie in European colonisation and slavery. Racism will be more forcefully opposed once we acknowledge this history and learn from it. Geographers and geologists can help contribute to this new understanding of our past, by defining the new human-dominated period of Earth’s history as beginning with European colonialism.Today our impacts on the environment are immense: humans move more soil, rock and sediment each year than is transported by all other natural processes combined. We may have kicked off the sixth “mass extinction” in Earth’s history, and the global climate is warming so fast we have delayed the next ice age.

We’ve made enough concrete to cover the entire surface of the Earth in a layer two millimetres thick. Enough plastic has been manufactured to clingfilm it as well. We annually produce 4.8 billion tonnes of our top five crops and 4.8 billion livestock animals. There are 1.4 billion motor vehicles, 2 billion personal computers, and more mobile phones than the 7.8 billion people on Earth.

All this suggests humans have become a geological superpower and evidence of our impact will be visible in rocks millions of years from now. This is a new geological epoch that scientists are calling the Anthropocene, combining the words for “human” and “recent-time”. But debate still continues as to when we should define the beginning of this period. When exactly did we leave behind the Holocene – the 10,000 years of stability that allowed farming and complex civilisations to develop – and move into the new epoch?

Five years ago we published evidence that the start of capitalism and European colonisation meet the formal scientific criteria for the start of the Anthropocene.

Our planetary impacts have increased since our earliest ancestors stepped down from the trees, at first by hunting some animal species to extinction. Much later, following the development of farming and agricultural societies, we started to change the climate. Yet Earth only truly became a “human planet” with the emergence of something quite different. This was capitalism, which itself grew out of European expansion in the 15th and 16th century and the era of colonisation and subjugation of indigenous peoples all around the world.

In the Americas, just 100 years after Christopher Columbus first set foot on the Bahamas in 1492, 56 million indigenous Americans were dead, mainly in South and Central America. This was 90% of the population. Most were killed by diseases brought across the Atlantic by Europeans, which had never been seen before in the Americas: measles, smallpox, influenza, the bubonic plague. War, slavery and wave after wave of disease combined to cause this “great dying”, something the world had never seen before, or since.

In North America the population decline was slower but no less dramatic due to slower colonisation by Europeans. US census data suggest the Native American population may have been as low as 250,000 people by 1900 from a pre-Columbus level of 5 million, a 95% decline.

This depopulation left the continents dominated by Europeans, who set up plantations and filled a labour shortage with enslaved workers. In total, more than 12 million people were forced to leave Africa and work for Europeans as slaves. ……….

In addition to the critical task of highlighting and tackling the racism within science, perhaps geologists and geographers can also make a small contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement by unflinchingly compiling the evidence showing that when humans started to exert a huge influence on the Earth’s environment was also the start of the brutal European colonisation of the world.

In her insightful book, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, the geography professor Kathryn Yusoff makes it very clear that predominantly white geologists and geographers need to acknowledge that Europeans decimated indigenous and minority populations whenever so-called progress occurred.

Defining the start of the human planet as the period of colonisation, the spread of deadly diseases and transatlantic slavery, means we can face the past and ensure we deal with its toxic legacy. If 1610 marks both a turning point in human relations with the Earth and our treatment of each other, then maybe, just maybe, 2020 could mark the start of a new chapter of equality, environmental justice and stewardship of the only planet in the universe known to harbour any life. It’s a struggle nobody can afford to lose.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Trump’s Justice department doubles down on USA allegations against Julian Assange

ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Assange Hit With New Superseding Indictment, Reflecting Possible FBI Sting Operation The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday unveiled the new superseding indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher, adding to existing computer intrusion charges. By Joe Lauria, Consortium News June 24, 2020  The Justice Department on Wednesday said it had filed a second superseding indictment against imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, adding to existing computer intrusion charges.“The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019,” the DOJ said in a press release.

“It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged,” the release said. “According to the charging document, Assange and others at WikiLeaks recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions to benefit WikiLeaks.”…….

The indictment quotes Assange at hacking conferences encouraging hackers to obtain a “Most Wanted Leaks” list of classified materials that WikiLeaks sought to publish.

It provides new allegations that Assange instructed a “teenager” from an unnamed NATO country to conduct various hacks “including audio recordings of phone conversations between high-ranking officials” of the NATO nation as well as members of parliament from that country. The indictment claims Manning “downloaded classified State Department materials” about this country.

WikiLeaks has identified the “teenager” as Sigurdur Thordarson, “a diagnosed sociopath, a convicted conman, and sex criminal” who had impersonated Assange to embezzle money from WikiLeaks………..

Thordarson, an Icelander, became an FBI informant, and was flown to Washington in May 2019 for an interview with the FBI.

The superseding indictment says Assange was allegedly able to learn from “unauthorized access” to a website of this government that police from that country were monitoring him. The indictment says the source of this information was a former member of Anonymous who worked with WikiLeaks named Sabu, identified in the press as Hector Monsegur, who became an FBI informant after being arrested in June 2011.

In the same month, Iceland’s Interior Minister Ögmundur Jonasson prevented FBI agents from entering Iceland, testifying that “FBI dirty-tricks operations were afoot against WikiLeaks.” He said the agents had been sent to seek “our cooperation in what I understood as an operation to set up, to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.”  The possibility remains that the new evidence against Assange was obtained in an FBI sting operation.

Jeremy Hammond, a hacker arrested for obtaining the Stratfor files, is named in the new indictment has having revealed information about his activities with Assange to Sabu in December 2011. Last September, Hammond, who was serving a 10-year sentence in Memphis, TN, was brought by prosecutors investigating Assange to Alexandria, VA to compel him to give testimony against Assange. Hammond has refused.

Reiterates Original Charges

The new indictment repeats the existing espionage and computer intrusion charges………

In 2010, Robert Parry, one of the best investigative reporters of his era, and the founder of this website, wrote that the then pending plans of the Obama administration to indict Assange “for conspiring with Army Pvt. Bradley Manning to obtain U.S. secrets strikes at the heart of investigative journalism on national security scandals.”

Parry added:

“That’s because the process for reporters obtaining classified information about crimes of state most often involves a journalist persuading some government official to break the law either by turning over classified documents or at least by talking about the secret information. There is almost always some level of ‘conspiracy’ between reporter and source.” [Emphasis added.]

Parry thus admitted to encouraging his sources to turn over classified information even if it meant committing the lesser crime of leaking classified information if it could help prevent a larger crime from being committed. In this way Assange encouraged Manning to turn over material such as the “Collateral Murder” video in the hope that it could end the illegal war in Iraq…….

The New York Times reported at the time that “federal prosecutors were reviewing the possibility of indicting Assange on conspiracy charges for allegedly encouraging or assisting Manning in extracting ‘classified military and State Department files from a government computer system,’” Parry wrote.

“The Times article by Charlie Savage notes that if prosecutors determine that Assange provided some help in the process, ‘they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them,” wrote Parry.

This is precisely what the Trump Justice Department has done in the first computer intrusion indictment against Assange and now with this superseding one.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

We are going to need to learn to live with the virus

The shifting strategies are an acknowledgment that even the most successful countries cannot declare victory until a vaccine is found.

They also show the challenge presented by countries like the United States, Brazil and India, where the authorities never fully contained initial outbreaks and from where the coronavirus will continue to threaten to spread.

How the world is learning to live with a deadly pandemic, Wee, Benjamin Mueller and Emma Bubola  China is testing restaurant workers and delivery drivers block by block.

South Korea tells people to carry two types of masks for differing risky social situations.

Germany requires communities to crack down when the number of infections hits certain thresholds.

Britain will target local outbreaks in a strategy that Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls “whack-a-mole”.

Around the world, governments that had appeared to tame the coronavirus are adjusting to the reality that the disease is here to stay.

But in a shift away from damaging nationwide lockdowns, they are looking for targeted ways to find and stop outbreaks before they become third or fourth waves.

While the details differ, the strategies call for giving governments flexibility to tighten or ease as needed.

They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

They require some mix of intensive testing and monitoring, lightning-fast response times by authorities, tight border management and constant reminders to their citizens of the dangers of frequent human contact.

The strategies often force central governments and local officials to share data and work closely together, overcoming incompatible computer systems, turf battles and other long-standing bureaucratic rivalries. Continue reading

June 27, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Scientists just beginning to grasp how bad this Coronavirus is

Scientists just beginning to understand the many health problems caused by COVID-19
CHICAGO (Reuters) 26 June 20, – Scientists are only starting to grasp the vast array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, some of which may have lingering effects on patients and health systems for years to come, according to doctors and infectious disease experts.

Besides the respiratory issues that leave patients gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.

And recovery can be slow, incomplete and costly, with a huge impact on quality of life.

The broad and diverse manifestations of COVID-19 are somewhat unique, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

With influenza, people with underlying heart conditions are also at higher risk of complications, Khan said. What is surprising about this virus is the extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs.

Khan believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19.


Patients who were in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks will need to spend extensive time in rehab to regain mobility and strength.

“It can take up to seven days for every one day that you’re hospitalized to recover that type of strength,” Khan said. “It’s harder the older you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.”

While much of the focus has been on the minority of patients who experience severe disease, doctors increasingly are looking to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalization, but are still suffering months after first becoming infected. ……..

June 27, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Auditor general finds that Morrison government has failed in its duty to protect environment


June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

With Liberal Coalition business as usual on energy, thousands of renewable energy jobs will vanish

Up to 11,000 renewable energy jobs at risk if the government ignores calls for new policies,   Renewable energy groups are calling for greater public investment as companies risk losing thousands of jobs if the government ignores calls for a policy refresh. BY OMAR DEHEN, 26 June 20  Up to 11,000 jobs in Australia’s renewable energy sector could be lost over the next two years if no additional policies are introduced by the Morrison government, a new report has found.

Modelling from the University of Technology Sydney looked at several scenarios that predicted a reduction of jobs in the industry.

The modelling also examined scenarios that increased employment and reduced electricity costs across Australia.

According to its worst-case scenario – what would happen if there was no change in government policy – the number of people employed in renewable energy would fall from roughly 26,000 people to 15,000 by 2022.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Assange faces new indictment in US

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Doctors accuse UK and US of Assange ‘psychological torture’ amid new indictment

Doctors accuse UK and US of Assange ‘psychological torture’ amid new indictment, UK News : Jun 25, 2020

US prosecutors are seeking the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition on grounds that he damaged national security by publishing classified documents.  More than 200 doctors from 33 countries have signed a letter saying British public officials could be held accountable for the “psychological torture” of Julian Assange.

It came as the WikiLeaks founder faced a new indictment in the US, which alleges that he sought to recruit hackers at conferences to train in obtaining official secrets.

In their letter, printed in The Lancet, the Doctors for Assange group accuse UK and American officials of “intensifying Julian Assange’s psychological torture” and call for his immediate release.

They add in the letter, which has also been sent to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, that Assange is at medical risk because of increasing abuse of his “fundamental human and legal rights at the hands of judicial, prison and contracted security authorities”.

Earlier this month, the 48-year-old was said to be too ill to attend the latest court hearing in his extradition case.

He is wanted in the US to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act as well as conspiracy to commit computer intrusion after the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011……

US prosecutors are seeking his extradition on the grounds that he damaged national security by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but Assange maintains he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

His full extradition hearing is set to take place on September 7, having originally been scheduled for May 18, although a crown court has not yet been found to take the case.

A further administrative hearing is due to take place on June 29.

June 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Renewable generation eclipses coal, nuclear for 2nd straight month

Renewable generation eclipses coal, nuclear for 2nd straight month in April,  S and P Global Market Intelligence, 
Krizka Danielle Del Rosario, 26 June 20Although U.S. net generation in April fell 6.6% below the same month in 2019, renewable generation has continued to grow as a source of the nation’s supply and surpassed nuclear and coal for the second month in a row.

Renewables accounted for 23.3% of the total, expanding its lead on nuclear generation as the second-largest source of power supply. Nuclear generation made up 21.5% of the nation’s electricity, while gas-fired generation remained the largest supplier of power with a 39.3% share…….

June 27, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Coronavirus is an SOS: Mend our broken relationship with nature, says UN and WHO — limitless life

By Damian Carrington, June 22, 2020 Category 5 Super Typhoon Trami, on its way to Japan and Taiwan in September, 2018. Image courtesy of European Space Agency/Alexander Gerst. Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Guardian. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Pandemics such as coronavirus are the result of humanity’s destruction of […]

via Coronavirus is an SOS: Mend our broken relationship with nature, says UN and WHO — limitless life

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 26 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Energy Giants Want To Thwart Reforms That Would Help Renewables And Lower Power Bills” • Australia doesn’t encourage competition and that’s holding back the transition to renewable energy. Important reforms to modernize the market are on the way, but big energy companies are seeking to use the cover of Covid-19 to prevent the […]

via June 26 Energy News — geoharvey

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 25 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Facebook Creates Fact-Checking Exemption For Climate Deniers” • Facebook is “aiding and abetting the spread of climate misinformation,” said environmental sociologist Robert Brulle. “They have become the vehicle for climate misinformation, and thus should be held partially responsible for a lack of action on climate change.” [PR Watch] World: ¶ “73.5% of Londoners […]

via June 25 Energy News — geoharvey

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Huge 720MW solar farm and very big battery approved for connection to NSW grid — RenewEconomy

UPC\AC Renewables Australia’s 720MW New England solar farm plus 400MWh battery cleared for connection by network provider Transgrid. The post Huge 720MW solar farm and very big battery approved for connection to NSW grid appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Huge 720MW solar farm and very big battery approved for connection to NSW grid — RenewEconomy

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment