Australian news, and some related international items

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie implores the Prime Minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange, Giannini   

MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange,

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has implored the prime minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

The former intelligence analyst said the prosecution of Mr Assange has always been political which meant it could be solved politically by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“The reality is this has always been an intensively political matter and it can be solved politically by Scott Morrison picking up the phone to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson,” Mr Wilkie told the ABC.

It comes after reports the 50-year-old WikiLeaks founder suffered a stroke in prison in October.

“Jail is killing Julian Assange,” Mr Wilkie said.

“There is no way he will survive continued incarceration in the UK.”

Mr Assange has just suffered a legal blow after the UK High Court ruled he could be extradited to face charges in the US.

Mr Assange’s lawyers say they intend to appeal the decision in the UK’s highest court.

December 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Protesters say ‘No’ to AUKUS, nuclear submarines and war with China

Protesters say ‘No’ to AUKUS, nuclear submarines and war with China Kerry Smith December 12, 2021Issue 1329Australia  A national weekend of action against AUKUS was organised over December 10-12 with protests in Canberra, Perth, Sydney, Wollongong, Hobart, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Around 40 people attended an action by the newly-founded campaign group Stop AUKUS – WA action in Boorloo/Perth on December 10 as part of a national weekend of action. The group’s three objectives are: No nuclear subs; No US bases; and No war with China. Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John called for a reduction in defence spending, more funds to international aid and proper care for veterans.

Other speakers included: Christopher Crouch from the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network; anti-nuclear campaigner Jo Vallentine; Socialist Alliance WA convenor Sam Wainwright; Elizabeth Hulm from the Communist Party of Australia; Peter Shannon from the Medical Association for Prevention of War and Steve McCartney from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

Around 200 people protested in Sydney on December 11. Speakers included Wongkangurru man Raymond Finn, an anti-nuclear campaigner, who acknowledged country; Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi; a speaker from School Strike 4 Climate; Lachlan Good from Young Labor Left and Warren Smith, Assistant National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

The lively protest, which marched through the CBD to Belmore Park, was endorsed by the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, Maritime Union of Australia – MUA, United Workers Union, NTEU-NSW, as well as many anti-war and peace organisations and environment groups.

December 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian government urged to push UK and US to free Julian Assange.

Australian government urged to push UK and US to free Julian Assange, SBS , 12 Dec 21,

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says officials have raised issues of due legal process and access to proper medical care for Julian Assange with officials in the UK and the US.  By Alexander Britton

The Australian government has been urged to weigh in on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as supporters vowed to continue to fight against his extradition……………..

Senator Rex Patrick told SBS News the Australian government has not placed enough pressure on the US and UK governments about the case but was hopeful “common sense will prevail”.

He said: “We have a Deputy Prime Minister (Barnaby Joyce) who spoke in support of Julian Assange while on the backbench who is in Washington in quarantine.

“He could be using his time pushing his views, speaking to the (US) Secretary of State.

“The Deputy Prime Minister was very clear as to what the Government should be doing, but has remained quiet since he rejoined the cabinet.”

‘Dangerous and misguided’   

In a statement, Mr Joyce said: “My position remains the same….In regards to the current UK proceedings, I note he was not in the US at the time of the action he is accused nor was he a US citizen at the time so should not be bound to US laws.”

The US said the release of the classified information put lives in danger, but Mr Assange’s backers say the case is retaliation for his exposing of wrongdoing in overseas conflicts.

His fiancee, Stella Moris, said his legal team would appeal against the decision and said Friday’s verdict at the Royal Courts of Justice in London was “dangerous and misguided”.

“This goes to the fundamentals of press freedom and of democracy. We will fight,” she said outside the court. 

“Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society, of what it means to have press freedom.”

The ruling has been the subject of criticism from a range of campaign groups, as well as a number of politicians in Australia.

Labor MP Julian Hill said the Australian government “must stand up to the US and the UK and stop this extradition”.

In a series of tweets, he said: “Julian Assange, an Australian citizen is fighting for his life in London, as the USA seeks his extradition to face an effective death sentence.

“This Australian, who exposed US war crimes, is treated worse than a war criminal. He’s NOT receiving a fair trial.

“There will never be a legal solution to Julian Assange’s case. It is an inherently political witch-hunt.

“The Australian Government must stand up to the US and the UK and stop this extradition.”

Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “end the lunacy” and demand the release of Mr Assange.

“The PM must end this lunacy, pick up the phone to his counterparts in the US and UK, and urge them to release Mr Assange immediately and allow him to return to Australia. He is a hero, not a villain, and journalism is not a crime.”

Greens senator Janet Rice added: “Julian Assange’s prosecution has always been political. It’s going to need a political response from our government to get justice for him.”

And MP George Christensen, who introduced a private bill to address the illegal detention of journalists last month, titled “free Julian Assange”, called on US President Joe Biden to drop the case.

He wrote on Facebook: “A foreign court just ruled that an Australian journalist – Julian Assange – should be extradited to another foreign nation to face trumped-up charges of hacking and espionage. 

“This is an affront to freedom of speech and Australian sovereignty.”

Concerns about Assange’s health………..

The legal wrangling will go to the Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s final court of appeal.

Amnesty International’s Europe Director Nils Muižnieks said the decision was a “travesty of justice”.

“The US government’s indictment poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad.”

While Nils Melzer, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, noted the court’s decision came on the same day as Human Rights Day and expressed concerns about Mr Assange’s health.

He said: “It’s just like a car crash happening in slow motion and every now and then someone asking you to comment on what you’re seeing.

“Well it’s still a car crash happening in slow motion, we know exactly what’s at the end of this.

“At the end, Julian Assange is crushed as a person and our rights have been done away with.”……………..

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said they have made available consular assistance and continue to monitor the case. [ed note: a fat lot of good that will do!]…………..

December 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear can’t deliver on climate —

Nuclear power can’t save us before climate tipping point

Nuclear can’t deliver on climate — Beyond Nuclear International
Nuclear energy can­not meaningfully contribute to a climate-neutral energy system say German scientists By Ben Wealer et al., Scientists for Future 13 Dec 21,
In light of the accelerating climate crisis, nuclear energy and its place in the future energy mix is being debated once again. Currently its share of global electricity ge­n­eration is about 10 percent. Some countries, international organizations, private businesses and scientists accord nuclear energy some kind of role in the pursuit of climate neutrality and in ending the era of fossil fuels. The IPCC, too, includes nuclear energy in its scenarios.

On the other hand, the experience with commercial nuclear energy generation acquired over the past seven decades points to the significant technical, economic, and social risks involved. This paper reviews arguments in the areas of “technology and risks,” “economic viability,” ’timely availability,” and “com­patibility with social-ecological transformation processes.”

Technology and risks: Catastro­phes involving the release of radioactive material are always a real possibility, as il­lustrated by the major accidents in Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Also, since 1945, countless accidents have occurred wherever nuclear energy has been deployed. No significantly higher reliability is to be expected from the SMRs (“small modular reactors”) that are currently at the plan­ning stage. Even modern ma­thematical techniques, such as probabilistic security analyses (PSAs), do not adequa­tely reflect important factors, such as deficient secu­rity arrangements or rare natural disasters and thereby systematically underestimate the risks.

Moreover, there is the ever-present proliferation risk of weapon-grade, highly enriched uranium, and plutonium. Most spent fuel rods are stored in scarcely protected surface containers or other interim solutions, often outside proper con­tainment structures. The safe storage of highly radioactive material, owing to a half-life of individual isotopes of over a million years, must be guaranteed for eons. Even if the risks involved for future generations cannot be authoritatively determined to­day, heavy burdens are undoubtedly externalized to the future.

Nuclear energy and economic efficiency: The commercial use of nuclear energy was, in the 1950s, the by-product of military programmes. Not then, and not since, has nuclear energy been a competitive energy source. Even the continued use of existing plants is not economical, while investments into third generation reactors are pro­jected to require subsidies to the tune of billions of $ or €. The experience with the development of SMR con­cepts suggests that these are prone to lead to even higher electricity costs.

Lastly, there are the considerable, currently largely unknown costs involved in dismant­ling nuclear power plants and in the safe storage of radioactive waste. Detailed ana­lyses confirm that meeting ambitious climate goals (i. e. global heating of between 1.5° and below 2° Celsius) is well possible with renewables which, if system costs are consi­dered, are also considerably cheaper than nuclear energy. Given, too, that nuclear power plants are not commercially insurable, the risks inherent in their operation must be borne by society at large. The currently hyped SMRs and the so-called Generation IV concepts (not light-water cooled) are techno­logically immature and far from commercially viable.

Timely availabilityGiven the stagnating or – with the exception of China – slowing pace of nuclear power plant construction, and considering furthermore the limited innovation potential as well as the timeframe of two decades for planning and con­struction, nuclear power is not a viable tool to mitigate global heating. Since 1976, the number of nuclear power plants construction starts is declining. Currently, only 52 nuclear power plants are being built. Very few countries are pursuing respective plans. Traditional nuclear producers, such as Westinghouse (USA) and Framatome (France) are in dire straits financially and are not able to launch a significant num­ber of new construction projects in the coming decade. It can be doubted whether Russia or China have the capacity to meet a hypothetically surging demand for nuclear en­ergy but, in any event, relying on them would be neither safe nor geopolitically de­sirable.

Nuclear energy in the social-ecological transformationThe ultimate challenge of the great transformation, i. e. kicking off the socio-ecological reforms that will lead to a broadly supported, viable, climate-neutral energy system, lies in overcoming the drag (“lock-in”) of the old system that is dominated by fossil fuel interests. Yet, make no mistake, nuclear energy is of no use to support this process. In fact, it blocks it. The massive R&D investment required for a dead-end technology crowds out the devel­opment of sustainable technologies, such as those in the areas of renewables, energy storage and efficiency.

Nuclear energy producers, given the competitive en­viron­ment they operate in, are incentivized to prevent – or minimize – investments in renewables. For obvious technical as well as economic reasons, nuclear hydrogen – the often-proclaimed deus ex machina – cannot enhance the viability of nuclear power plants. Japan is an exhibit A of transformation resistance. In Germany the end of the atomic era proceeds, and the last six nuclear power stations will be switched off in 2021 and 2022, but further steps are still needed, most importantly the search for a safe storage facility for radioactive waste.

By way of conclusion: The present analysis reviews a whole range of arguments based on the most recent and authoritative scientific literature. It confirms the assessment of the paper Climate-friendly energy supply for Germany – 16 points of orien­tation, pub­li­shed on 22 April 2021 by Scientists for Future ( that nuclear energy can­not, in the short time re­maining before the climate tips, meaningfully contribute to a climate-neutral energy system. Nuclear energy is too dangerous, too expensive, and too sluggishly deploy­able to play a significant role in mitigating the climate crisis. In addition, nuclear en­ergy is an obstacle to achieving the social-ecological transfor­mation, without which ambitious climate goals are elusive.

This article is the English language summary of the findings of the German report by Scientists for Future (S4F) International. S4F supports the global climate movement by providing facts and materials based on reliable and accepted scientific data to activists, politicians, decision makers, educators and the general public.

December 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s upcoming nuclear waste dump

Wikimedia Commons. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station, ABWR. (Japan) Photo Credit: Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO. Currently the world’s largest nuclear power plant, with a net capacity of 7,965MW. Source:

07.12.21 – Los Angeles, USA – Robert Hunziker

Nuclear waste is an interminable curse that eternally haunts the future of civilization for hundreds/thousands of years.

“The challenge of making nuclear power safer doesn’t end after the power has been generated. Nuclear fuel remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years after it is no longer useful in a commercial reactor.” (Source: Nuclear Waste, Union of Concerned Scientists, April 22, 2016)

There are 440 nuclear power plants in the world, all of which use nuclear fission, prompting one simple question: Is the process of generating heat via nuclear fission with a byproduct of extremely toxic radioactive waste lasting hundreds, or more, years for purposes of simply “boiling water” the epitome of human stupidity?

In April 2021, the Japanese government announced its decision to discharge nuclear waste from Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean via a sub-seabed pipeline. At least 1.2 million tons of tritium-laced toxic water will be discharged.

As it happens, nuclear powers of the world regularly dump nuclear waste into the ocean in violation of the London Convention (1972) and the London Protocol (1996), which are the two principal international agreements against dumping nuclear waste into the oceans. But, they get around the rules by dumping under the cover of “detailed environmental impact assessments.”

The last known “deliberate nuclear waste dumping into the ocean,” outside of the “good graces” of what the industry refers to as “detailed environmental impact assessments” that somehow (questionably, mysteriously, are you kidding me!) seem to justify dumping toxic nuclear waste was October 1993 when the Russian navy illegally dumped 900 tons of nuclear waste into international waters off the coast of Vladivostok near Japan and Korea. Moscow claimed they were running out of storage space and that “radioactive waste is not hazardous and the dumping would be according to international norms.” Sound familiar?

In 1993 Japan called the Russian dumping “extremely regrettable.” Yet, at the time, Tokyo Electric Power Company was itself discharging radioactivity into the ocean. At the time, Japanese power stations were allowed to dump nuclear waste into the ocean-based upon “detailed environmental impact assessments.” (OMG is this real?) (Source: Nuclear Dumping at Sea Goads Japan Into Action, NewScientist, November 6, 1993)

“Jinzaburo Takagi, a physicist working with the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre in Tokyo, says: ‘If the Russians had done an impact assessment for their dumping, it would have proved safer than the Japanese power plants.’ He says local authorities in Japan have measured elevated levels of radionuclides in shellfish and seaweed near the nuclear plants. If the Japanese criticize Russian dumping, says Takagi, ‘then they will have to abandon the option of dumping nuclear waste,” Ibid.

The abovementioned series of conflicting events surrounding the disposal of nuclear waste brings to mind the complexity and hypocrisy that runs throughout the nuclear industry. It stems from the hideous fact that the industry does not know what to do with radioactive waste, which is the most toxic material on the face of the planet; they do make up weird excuses and protocols to actually dump the toxic material into international waters. Not only that but, as mentioned in the quoted article above, “local authorities in Japan have measured elevated levels of radionuclides in shellfish and seaweed near the nuclear plants.” That’s a prime example of human insanity at work. And, that was 30 years ago, but it’s a safe bet that it’s the same today.

The bitter truth is that the citizens of the world are stuck with nuclear power and its offbeat craziness and its horrific potential destructiveness because the major powers have it and want to keep it.

Greenpeace has experts with “boots-on-the-ground” at Fukushima since the beginning. Here’s Greenpeace’s take on the situation, as of recent: “There are many technical and radiological reasons to be opposed to discharging Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. And Greenpeace East Asia has reported on these and continues to investigate. But the decision also affects you on a fundamental level. It should rightly trigger an outrage. In the 21st century, when the world’s oceans are already under the most severe threats including climate and biodiversity emergencies, a decision by any government to deliberately contaminate the Pacific with radioactivity because it’s the least cost/cheapest option when there are clear alternatives seems so perverse. That it is Japan, given its historical role in securing the prohibition on nuclear dumping in the London Convention and London Protocol, makes it all the more tragic.” (Shaun Burnie, The Japanese Government and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – History Repeating Itself? Greenpeace, November 17, 2021)

Further to the point of the future impact of dumping toxic radioactive water from TEPCO’s storage water tanks into the Pacific Ocean: Tsinghua University analyzed the diffusion process of the treated Fukushima contaminated water to be discharged into the ocean from 2023 onward. The results show that the tritium, which is the main pollutant, will spread to the whole of the North Pacific in 1200 days. (Source: Tracking Contaminated Water From The Fukushima Nuclear Accident,, December 2, 2021)

The Tsinghua University analysis went on to discuss the risks, stating: “Large amounts of radionuclides can affect marine biological chains and adversely influence marine fisheries and human health. The global effects of Fukushima discharge, which will last 30 to 40 years, remain unknown.”

As stated by Tsinghua, the pollutants will reach as far as the coast of North America to the east and as far as Australia to the south. Eventually, the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean (2400 days) will be affected. On day 3600 the pollutants will cover almost the entire Pacific Ocean.

According to a UN news release d/d April 2021: “Three independent UN human rights experts expressed deep regret on Thursday over Japan’s decision to discharge potentially still radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant water into the ocean, warning that it could impact millions across the Pacific region.”

The experts call the decision by Japan “very concerning,”

Moreover, according to the UN: “While Japan said that the tritium levels are very low and do not pose a threat to human health, scientists warn that in the water, the isotope organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans.”

“Moreover, they say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.”

Japan’s Upcoming Nuclear Waste Dump

December 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PM under pressure to end Assange ‘lunacy’

PM under pressure to end Assange ‘lunacy’ Blue Mountains GazetteMarty Silk and Tiffanie Turnbull  

  PM under pressure to end Assange ‘lunacy’ Blue Mountains Gazette

11 Dec 21, The federal government has “raised the situation” of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s confinement with the UK and US, but has stopped short of calling for the Australian to be released.

The 50-year-old is wanted in the US over the publishing of thousands of secret US diplomatic and military files, some of which revealed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange is also accused of trying to recruit hackers to provide WikiLeaks with classified US information, and if found guilty could face up to 175 years’ imprisonment……………

Assange’s lawyers intend to challenge the court’s ruling with another appeal, this time in the UK’s Supreme Court.

Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “end this lunacy” and demand the US and UK allow Assange to be released.

“Mr Assange should be looking forward to spending Christmas with his two young boys and his fiancee, but instead he’s facing a 175-year jail sentence and the very real possibility of living out his final days behind bars,” he said in a statement.

“He is a hero, not a villain, and journalism is not a crime.

“Again the United Kingdom proves it’s a lackey of the United States and that Australia is delighted to go along for the ride.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it respected the UK legal process and Australia was not a party to the case………..

The UK court’s decision has drawn ire from the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, who sharply criticised the verdict.

“This is a shortcoming for the British judiciary,” Mr Melzer told the DPA news agency on Friday.

“You can think what you want about Assange but he is not in a condition to be extradited,” he said, referring to a “politically motivated verdict”.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

December 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

A lonely evening at home for Fukushima man retracing past — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Unsurprisingly, concerns about radiation levels are still on the minds of many former residents. His wife, Mikiko, 64, refused to accompany him for that reason. Ikeda was the only individual in his neighborhood who took up the offer to return home. Mitsuhide Ikeda pours sake while seated in front of photos of his deceased parents […]

A lonely evening at home for Fukushima man retracing past — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

December 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 12 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Would You Like Fumes With That? ” • As my grandsons and I watched a crew cut down a large tree that had been damaged in a storm, I was impressed by the attention to safety. The men had steel-toed boots, protective clothing, safety goggles, hard hats, and ear protection. Then I realized […]

December 12 Energy News — geoharvey

December 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Assange facing extradition to US: where is the outrage?

How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?”

Assange facing extradition to US: where is the outrage? Gilchrist11 December 2021

The US government has won its appeal against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with the UK’s High Court overturning an earlier decision to block Assange’s extradition to the US. The case will now be sent back to the Magistrates Court with instructions to allow the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to approve or deny the extradition request.

This is a massive blow to press freedom. Assange faces one charge of conspiracy and 17 espionage charges, begun by the Trump administration but continued by the Biden administration. These 17 espionage charges relate to the publication and release of secret government documents, a crucial right for serious journalists trying to hold governments to account. As a statement from Wikileaks in response to the ruling puts its, Assange is “accused of publishing true information revealing crimes committed by the US government in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and details of CIA torture and rendition”.

For telling the truth about these war crimes Assange has faced a decade long campaign of persecution. As Amnesty International’s Europe Director Nils Muižnieks said in response to the High Court decision: “The US government’s indictment poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad. If upheld, it would undermine the key role of journalists and publishers in scrutinising governments and exposing their misdeeds, and would leave journalists everywhere looking over their shoulders.” Muižnieks has labelled the decision a “travesty of justice”.

In the earlier decision in January which blocked Assange’s extradition, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the harsh conditions of the US prison system would put Assange at an unreasonable risk of suicide. The High Court has allowed the appeal against this decision on the basis of various “assurances” given by the US government to Assange. These included assurances that he would not be subjected to Special Administrative Measures which restrict contact with the outside world, and that he would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia if the Australian government made such a request.

These assurances, however, come with caveats. The US government has said that they must be allowed to hold Assange in these restrictive conditions if they fear he could be responsible for a “breach” of “national security”. As Muižnieks argues “The fact that the US has reserved the right to change its mind at any time means that these assurances are not worth the paper they are written on”.

Earlier this year an investigative report from Yahoo! News revealed that leading figures in the US government had discussed the possibility of kidnapping or assassinating Assange during the seven years he was taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Over the last decade it has subjected Assange to a campaign of persecution which Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, says amounts to psychological torture. The idea that this same government is now able to give assurances that it cares about the health and safety of Assange is absurd. As Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, says “How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?”

Moris is a part of Assange’s legal team and says they will be appealing the decision. Such an appeal would be heard by the UK Supreme Court. Assange, meanwhile, remains imprisoned indefinitely in a maximum-security UK prison.

As one of the world’s most high-profile political prisoners, and an Australian national, the Australian media and government might be expected to be up in arms over the plight of Assange. But the shameful lack of concern about his fate persists. Loyalty to the US empire, and willingness to cover up its many crimes, comes first for Australian capitalism.

December 12, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment