Australian news, and some related international items

Kevin Scarce again shows his nuclear ignorance and misinformation

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, ‒ 25 October 2021

“Kevin Scarce led the 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission. His claims in News Corp papers today (and a Sky News interview) are dripping with ignorance.

“Scarce calls for a Royal Commission into nuclear energy, but we’ve already had one. Scarce should know ‒ he was the Royal Commissioner. The 2016 report found that nuclear power generation “would not be commercially viable in SA under current market rules”.

“The Royal Commission called on the SA government to lobby for the repeal of federal laws banning nuclear power. That recommendation was rejected by the Weatherill Labor Government. More recently, the SA Liberal Government’s 2019 submission to a federal nuclear inquiry said that “nuclear power remains unviable now and into the foreseeable future.”

“What makes Scarce think he is qualified to comment on whether or not Australia can reach a net zero emission target by 2050 without nuclear power? Scarce has net zero expertise and net zero qualifications to comment on the matter. Scarce appears to be ignorant about a wealth of relevant research on Australia’s renewable energy potential such as the Business Council of Australia’s recent report which argues for a rapid, renewables-led decarbonisation.

“Scarce also appears to be ignorant about progress in South Australia, with the SA Liberal Government not only ruling out nuclear power as being unviable now and into the foreseeable future, but also enthusiastically pursuing a goal of net 100% renewables by 2030.

“Scarce doesn’t even know what his own Royal Commission said. He claims that small modular reactors are lower cost than large-scale nuclear generation. In fact, the Royal Commission found that power produced by small modular reactors based on the NuScale design would cost a hopelessly uneconomic A$225 per megawatt-hour. To put that into context, the Minerals Council of Australia says that small modular reactors won’t find a market unless they can produce power at a cost of A$60-$80 per megawatt hour.

“Renewables coupled with storage are cheaper than nuclear as CSIRO found in a 2020 report:

* Nuclear (small modular): A$258-338 per megawatt hour.

* Wind or solar PV with 2‒6 hours storage (battery or pumped hydro): A$84‒151 per megawatt hour.

“Likewise, Peter Farley, a fellow of the Australian Institution of Engineers, concludes that Australia can get equivalent renewable power plus backup power (e.g. pumped hydro or battery storage) for one-third of the cost of nuclear power, in one-third of the time.

“Scarce’s handling of the Royal Commission was deeply biased and disgraceful. For example its main recommendation was that SA should establish a nuclear waste import and dumping business but Scarce’s report said almost nothing about the chemical explosion which shut down the only deep underground nuclear waste repository in the world, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plan in the USA.

“The farcical engineering of a positive economic case to proceed with the nuclear waste import plan was ridiculed by ABC journalist Stephen Long. After the Royal Commission, the SA Parliament released a report by the Nuclear Economics Consulting Group which noted that the Royal Commission’s economic analysis failed to consider important issues which “have significant serious potential to adversely impact the project and its commercial outcomes”.

“Friends of the Earth would welcome the opportunity to publicly debate Scarce to expose his nuclear ignorance and misinformation,” Dr. Green concluded.

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear propagandist Kevin Scarce back on the bandwagon

Australia needs a royal commission into nuclear power, argues former SA governor Kevin Scarce, Daily Telegraph Paul Starick  24 Oct 21, A former state governor has called for a royal commission into nuclear energy, saying a net zero targe t cannot be reached by 2050 without the controversial fuel.

Former state governor Kevin Scarce is urging a national royal commission into nuclear energy, declaring a net zero emission target cannot be reached by 2050 without Australia embracing the controversial fuel.

The former South Australian governor was the state’s Royal Commissioner into the nuclear fuel cycle and in 2016 recommended it be considered as a “future low-carbon energy source to contribute to national emissions reduction targets”.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Mr Scarce challenged Australia to be unafraid of examining nuclear power technology to determine whether it meets the nation’s future energy needs.

He argued a royal commission would remove politics from the necessary community debate, saying the 2050 emissions target should be the catalyst for examining whether to end legal barriers to nuclear generation…………..

He argued nuclear energy was safe and, as the state royal commission found, Australia had the perfect climatic and geological conditions for disposing of waste………

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

National Party did a secret climate deal with Morrison, but nuclear power was not included.

Some Nationals had been pushing for nuclear to be included as part of Australia’s clean energy mix. But ahead of the meeting, Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud indicated it would not be part of the plan.

Nationals provide in-principle support for a net zero 2050 target, nuclear not part of plan, ABC News, By political reporter Stephanie Borys  24 Oct 21,  The Nationals have given their in-principle support to back a target of net zero emissions by 2050, just days before Prime Minister Scott Morrison is due to fly to Glasgow for global climate talks.

Key points:

  • Mr Joyce says a majority of Nationals members and senators are on board with the plan
  • He says most concerns with the climate plan have been allayed
  • Cabinet will meet to sign off on the plan, which Mr Morrison will take to Glasgow

The party met on Sunday afternoon to discuss its ongoing concerns about adopting the policy, with some worried it could result in job losses in regional areas…….

The Nationals met for just over two hours and all 21 members and senators spoke on the matter but no formal vote was held…..

………Federal Cabinet will meet within days to formally sign off on the plan, which the Prime Minister will then take to the Glasgow climate summit.

What did the Nationals get inserted into the climate plan?

There are conditions attached to the Nationals backing net zero emissions by 2050, but those details remain a secret.

Just days ago, the junior Coalition partner presented a list of demands to the Prime Minister about the proposed climate change policy.

The Nationals have not publicly outlined the changes they want. Mr Joyce again refused to provide details about what Mr Morrison had offered or agreed to.

……….. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Australians deserved to know the details of the deal.

Some Nationals had been pushing for nuclear to be included as part of Australia’s clean energy mix. But ahead of the meeting, Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud indicated it would not be part of the plan.

“You have got to educate before you legislate and we’ve got to bring the community with us,” he said

“They are not there with us at this stage; unfortunately, they are getting their education from Chernobyl and The Simpsons.

“That takes time to build that education up,” he said.

New South Wales Liberal Treasurer Matt Kean said the proposal did not stack up on practical or economic grounds, and that his government had been told by experts it would take at least 15 years to train the workforce.

“People talking about nuclear to solve our current needs are chasing a unicorn,” he said……

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigating CIA plot to kill or kidnap Julian Assange

Adam Schiff asks intelligence agencies for information about CIA’s targeting of WikiLeaksMichael Isikoff·Chief Investigative Correspondent, yahoo News Wed, October 20, 2021  The House Intelligence Committee is seeking information about a Yahoo News report that CIA officials plotted to kidnap Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2017 after WikiLeaks published documents describing the spy agency’s hacking tools.

“We are seeking information about it now,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee chairman, in an interview on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.

Schiff added that, as the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel in 2017, he was never briefed about the CIA’s plans to target Assange. But he said the committee had reached out “to the agencies” — an apparent reference to the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) — after reading about the Yahoo News account describing deep divisions within the Trump administration, including objections from White House lawyers, over the CIA’s plans for unusually aggressive measures to cripple WikiLeaks that had been proposed by then agency Director Mike Pompeo.

Asked if he had received any response to the committee’s inquiry, Schiff replied: “I can’t comment on what we’ve heard back yet.” (Spokespeople for the CIA and ODNI declined comment.)

The disclosure by Schiff that the committee is pursuing information about the CIA’s measures targeting WikiLeaks comes the day after the ACLU and more than 20 other human rights and press freedom groups wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to drop the criminal prosecution of Assange in light of what they called “shocking” reporting by Yahoo News “on the government’s conduct in this case.

It also comes on the eve of a critical hearing before a British appellate court in London next week over the U.S. Justice Department’s appeal of a lower court judge’s ruling rejecting its request to extradite Assange to the United States to face trial for publishing classified documents in violation of the World War I-era Espionage Act. The judge concluded that Assange, who is now in a British prison after spending years holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, would be at serious risk of suicide if he were incarcerated in an American prison.

But lawyers for Assange intend to raise the issue of what they view as the CIA’s misconduct, arguing that returning him to a country where some top officials once plotted to kidnap him strengthens the judge’s conclusions about the risk of suicide and should be an additional basis for turning down the U.S. extradition request………..

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Kimba agricultural group supports nuclear waste stored at Lucas Heights, rejects dump on farming land.

NO WASTE NO WAY: No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA President Peter Woolford says ILW should not be stored at Kimba. 

Waste war over Kimba

  An anti-nuclear group are holding onto hope that the federal government will reconsider storing intermediate level waste (ILW) in Kimba, after attending a meeting in the rural town on Thursday.

The No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or SA are seeking answers as to why the government are planning to store ILW at Kimba as opposed to Lucas Heights.

It comes following a recent Parlimentary hearing where the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANTSO) revealed it had the capacity to store ILW at Lucas Heights for “decades to come”.

President Peter Woolford said the group put this to the combined Kimba Consultative Committee (KCC) and Kimba Economic Working Group (KEWG) when they met in Kimba.

They also questioned if the recent nuclear-powered submarines deal made by the federal government would see submarine waste stored at Kimba, and if it was a gateway to a domestic nuclear industry.

“They indicated that no high-level waste would come to Kimba,” he said.

“When you look at what’s going on with ANTSO and the money being spent there for extended storage of intermediate level waste it makes sense to keep the waste there until a permanent dispoal site is found.”

Mr Woolford said storage of nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines would have been an essential part of the federal government’s plans.

“Obviously people are concerned about that because it is an issue…there has to be a waste pathway for all that waste and there isn’t one at the moment,” he said.

With Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt intending to declare Kimba as the site for the Nuclear Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF), Mr Woolford believes there’s still time to prevent storage of ILW on agricultural land.

“The reality is the Minister has to declare the site, which could be this week, once they do that the Commonwealth can acquire the land,” he said.

The facility is coming here it’s just the matter of what’s stored in it … I can’t speak for everybody but at the present time it makes perfect sense that ILW stays in ANTSO.”

Minister Pitt has been contacted for comment.

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

UK High Court Should Deny Extradition Because CIA Planned to Assassinate Assange

UK High Court Should Deny Extradition Because CIA Planned to Assassinate Assange,  BYMarjorie CohnTruthout October 24, 2021  

Why is Joe Biden’s Department of Justice continuing Donald Trump’s persecution of WikiLeaks founder, publisher and journalist Julian Assange?

Barack Obama, concerned about threats to the First Amendment freedom of the press, decided against indicting Assange for exposing U.S. war crimes. Trump did indict Assange, under Espionage Act charges that could garner him 175 years in prison. A district judge denied Trump’s request for Assange’s extradition from the U.K. to the United States because of the extremely high likelihood that it would lead Assange to commit suicide. Trump appealed the denial of extradition.

Instead of dropping Trump’s extradition request, Biden is vigorously pursuing his predecessor’s appeal against Assange, which the U.K. High Court will hear on October 27 and 28. At that hearing, the High Court should determine what effect the CIA’s recently revealed plan to kidnap and assassinate Assange will have on his fragile mental state in the event he is extradited to the United States.

Judge Baraitser’s Denial of Extradition

On January 6, U.K. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser issued a 132-page decision denying extradition. “Faced with conditions of near total isolation and without the protective factors which moderate his risk at HMP Belmarsh [where Assange is currently imprisoned],” she wrote, “I am satisfied that the procedures described by Dr. [Leukefeld] will not prevent Mr. Assange from finding a way to commit suicide.”…………………………..

The United States will be allowed to present “assurances” that if Assange is extradited, tried, convicted and imprisoned, he will not be subject to special administrative measures (SAMs) — onerous conditions that would keep him in virtual isolation — or be held at the ADX maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. The U.S. intends to provide an additional assurance that it would not object to

Assange serving any custodial sentence he may receive in Australia. These so-called assurances, however, are conditional. The U.S. reserves the right to impose SAMs or hold Assange at ADX if his future behavior warrants it. Moreover, the U.S. cannot guarantee that Australia would consent to hosting Assange’s incarceration.

The High Court should give considerable weight to the way in which explosive new revelations of the Trump administration’s plot to kidnap and assassinate Assange will affect his mental health if he is extradited.

High Court Should Consider U.S. Plans to Kidnap and Assassinate Assange

The indictment against Assange stems from WikiLeaks’ 2010-2011 revelations of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. They included 400,000 field reports about the Iraq War, 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians, and evidence of systematic torture, rape and murder after U.S. forces “handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad,” the documents reveal. They included the Afghan War Logs, 90,000 reports revealing more civilian casualties by coalition forces than the U.S. military had reported. And the Guantánamo Files contained 779 secret reports revealing that 150 innocent people had been imprisoned there for years and documenting the torture and abuse of 800 men and boys, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Perhaps the most notable release by WikiLeaks was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” video, in which a U.S. Army Apache helicopter gunship in Baghdad targets and fires on unarmed civilians. At least 18 civilians were killed, including two Reuters journalists and a man trying to rescue the wounded. Two children were injured. A U.S. Army tank then drives over one of the bodies, cutting it in half. The video depicts three separate war crimes prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Army Field Manual.

It was WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA hacking tools known as “Vault 7,” which the agency called “the largest data loss in CIA history,” that incurred the wrath of Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Vault 7 materials revealed electronic surveillance and cyber-warfare by the CIA.

In 2017, Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and CIA and government officials hatched “secret war plans” to abduct and kill Assange, according to a stunning Yahoo! News report. Some senior CIA and Trump administration officials requested “sketches” or “options” for ways to assassinate Assange. Trump “asked whether the CIA could assassinate Assange and provide him ‘options’ for how to do so,” according to the report.

Pompeo advocated “extraordinary rendition,” which the CIA used in the “war on terror” to illegally seize suspects and send them to its “black sites” where they were tortured. The scenario was that the CIA would break into the Ecuadorian Embassy in which Assange was staying under a grant of asylum and clandestinely fly him to the United States to stand trial. Others in the agency wanted to assassinate Assange outright by poisoning or shooting him to avoid the hassle of kidnapping him.

The CIA spied on WikiLeaks, and it aimed to sow discord among the group’s members and steal their electronic devices, according to the Yahoo! News report. The CIA also conducted illegal surveillance inside the Ecuadorian Embassy and spied on privileged attorney-client communications between Assange and his lawyers.

Concerned that the CIA might kidnap or kill Assange, which could jeopardize a potential criminal prosecution, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a secret indictment against him in 2018. To bolster the DOJ’s case for extradition, the FBI collaborated with informant Siggi Thordarson to paint Assange as a hacker instead of a journalist. Thordarson later admitted to the Icelandic newspaper Stundin that he lied about Assange being a hacker in return for immunity from prosecution by the FBI.

In 2019, after a new pro-U.S. president came to power in Ecuador, in order to facilitate the U.S.’s attempted extradition, London police dragged Assange from the embassy and arrested him for violating bail conditions. Assange remains in custody in London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison pending Biden’s appeal of the extradition denial.

The High Court should give great weight to the U.S. plans to kidnap and assassinate Assange. The knowledge of those revelations will put even more mental stress on Assange, whom former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer described as having suffered “prolonged exposure to psychological torture” during his confinement. The High Court should affirm the district court’s denial of extradition.

A Window Into U.S. War Crimes and Threats to Investigative Journalism

“When Assange published hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the public was given an unprecedented window into the lack of justification and the futility of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Assange Defense co-chairs Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker and Noam Chomsky wrote at Newsweek. “The truth was hidden by a generation of governmental lies. Assange’s efforts helped show the American public what their government was doing in their name.”

Recent revelations of Pompeo’s threats against Assange that appeared in Yahoo! News have shed light on the dangers the national security state poses to investigative journalism and the public’s right to know. In light of these new disclosures, a coalition of 25 press freedom, civil liberties and international human rights organizations have intensified their call for dismissal of the DOJ’s charges against Assange.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said his committee has asked the CIA for information about plans to kidnap or assassinate Assange.

The High Court will decide whether to affirm or overturn district judge Baraitser’s decision denying extradition. If they affirm Baraitser’s ruling, the Biden administration could ask the U.K. Supreme Court to review the case. If the High Court overturns Baraitser’s decision, Assange could appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court and then to the European Court of Human Rights if the Supreme Court ruling goes against him.

Biden’s appeal of the denial of extradition should be dismissed. Julian Assange should be released and celebrated for his courage.

October 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Cop26: ‘World conflict and chaos’ could be the result of a summit failure

Cop26: ‘World conflict and chaos’ could be the result of a summit failure

Top climate official issues strong warning on effect of unchecked greenhouse gases ahead of summit

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

European states disagree on nuclear power – Eastern states pro nuclear, Western against it, (except for France)


The ongoing global energy crisis that has inspired spikes in gas and electricity prices worldwide has revived a number of conversations in the European Union about how to best achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Among them, the issue of nuclear power is perhaps the most divisive, splitting the EU’s 27 member states along fierce geopolitical lines.

On 11 October, ten EU member states led by France expressed their joint support for including nuclear power in the EU’s “taxonomy on sustainable financing,” which would essentially allow the EU to support nuclear projects under its green financing initiative……..

The issue of nuclear power pits two of the EU’s largest political and economic players against one another: France has long pursued a robust energy policy firmly in support of nuclear power, while Germany has cemented for itself a firmly anti-nuclear stance. Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron doubled down on France’s nuclear strategy, announcing a new €1 billion investment in new-generation nuclear reactors. On the other hand, 2022 will witness the shutdown of the last of Germany’s nuclear reactors, completing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 plan to phase out the country’s 17 nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

As these two European powerhouses move in distinctly different directions, the rest of the EU is compelled to take sides – notably, member states’ positions seem to be largely split along West/East lines. 

With the exception of France, the vast majority of countries in support of including nuclear energy in the EU’s green taxonomy are former communist nations that still find themselves partly in Russia’s sphere of influence: Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia. Compared to the richer Western European countries that have largely eschewed nuclear power, these member states are desperate for a transitional source to accelerate their move away from coal and towards a greener future.  . These countries’ desire for greater energy independence is also understandable, especially as Russia consolidates its provision of natural gas to the EU via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline

, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg and Spain constitute the bloc’s most vehement opposition and insist that nuclear power cannot be a viable path towards a sustainable future given the extensive and messy issues relating to the disposal of radioactive waste, as well as the dangerous, costly and slow process of constructing nuclear power plants. …..

On 21 October, a majority of the 27 EU member states voted in favour of including natural gas and nuclear energy in the EU’s environmental taxonomy. The EU’s Financial Services Commission, however, has punted the issue further down the line, declaring that a decision will be made as to whether nuclear energy would be eligible for green financing towards the end of 2021……

Significantly, France will take over as president of the Council of the European Union, which could likely tip the regulatory balance in a pro-nuclear direction.

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coalition avoids meltdown over emissions target – but at what price?

Coalition avoids meltdown over emissions target – but at what price?

Katharine Murphy

Scott Morrison will be relieved the Nationals have limped across the line on net zero by 2050, but the detail of what was negotiated with Barnaby Joyce is yet to be seen

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ICLEI launches its 100% Renewables Cities and Regions Energy Compact

On 24 September 2021, ICLEI’s 100% Renewables Cities and Regions Energy Compact was officially launched at the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Energy, which calls for local governments to make ambitious voluntary
commitments to catapult themselves towards 100% renewable energy usage at the latest by 2050.

ICLEI’s Energy Compact complements its existing work in the renewable energy space, including the 100% Renewables Cities and Regions Roadmap project, and the 100% Renewables Cities and Regions Network.

On their way to 100% renewable status, cities and regions that join ICLEI’s Energy Compact are encouraged to achieve several milestone targets by 2030 at the latest, such as achieving 100% renewable energy use
in local government operations, and achieving SDG7, among others.

 ICLEI 5th Oct 2021

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taylor refuses Senate order to release net zero modelling, says not in public interest — RenewEconomy

Taylor to reject Senate order to release the government’s modelling of a zero net emissions target for 2050, claiming ‘public interest immunity’. The post Taylor refuses Senate order to release net zero modelling, says not in public interest appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Taylor refuses Senate order to release net zero modelling, says not in public interest — RenewEconomy

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whole towns to be taken off the grid and powered by stand-alone renewables — RenewEconomy

Network to pilot “disconnected microgrids” – comprising mostly renewables – that will cut links to main grid and deliver, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable power. The post Whole towns to be taken off the grid and powered by stand-alone renewables appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Whole towns to be taken off the grid and powered by stand-alone renewables — RenewEconomy

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 24 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “The Bar For Climate Ambition Must Be Set By Science, Not Congressional Politics” • Precisely because the present emissions gap is so great, we cannot solely lean on the incredible progress enabled by leading states, localities, businesses, and individuals. To truly bend the curve, we need federal action – action, not spun words […]

October 24 Energy News — geoharvey

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment