Australian news, and some related international items

WASHED AWAY – Minister Keith Pitt’s grand dream of a Kimba nuclear waste dump

there is now no earthly hope of it ever being established at Kimba.

It is all over for Pitt so he should pick up his marbles and go home.

Peter Remta, 27 Jan 22, The recent events at Kimba resulting from the severe flooding have exposed a number of aspects included in the planning of the waste management facility that had been either inadequately covered or
completely ignored in the planning and accompanying studies.

While there are several instances of these insufficiencies it becomes most concerning that the federal government has spent huge amountsof money on developing its South Australian proposals and more
importantly has failed to inform the communities of the true situation

There will no doubt be attempts to downplay any forewarning of the flooding possibility at Kimba but the fact remains that none of the government studies gave much credence to the Pirie – Torrens corridor
which has always been a risk as to flooding and rising water tables for a large part of the Eyre Peninsula


Minister Pitt tweeted on 24 January 2022:
” It’s been a challenging couple of days for communities around Kimba inmSA after a big rain event. Thanks to those who took time out to joinmdiscussions for the new radioactive waste facility. It’s a critically important piece of national infrastructure #auspol

The mention of “a big rain event” sounds more like some ancient tribalnwar dance than the devastating flooding in the Kimba region while thenrest of his tweet is hard to follow.

Surely he must be extending his thanks to those who previously joined in the past discussions for the waste facility as there is now no earthly hope of it ever being established at Kimba.

It also undoes the years of disingenuous exaltations of the facility by the government which in many instances were an insult to the community.

It is all over for Pitt so he should pick up his marbles and go home.

His biggest fault besides his numerous and unfounded statements was that he never gave the community the opportunity to get is ownnindependent assessment of his government’s proposals as is required by
all international prescriptions in these situations

In closing here are a couple of comments by leading international experts whose anonymity I have preserved for commercial confidentiality:

A. Kimba – What a perfect site with floods – has groundwater at 20 mnand within 20-30 km of towns and wheatfields.

B. ……if the plan is to store waste fractions from spent fuel reprocessinginto what qualifies as intermediate level near-surface facility, and thennplace this facility in an area of obvious flooding risk … …it seems to
reach internationally competitive levels of stupidity. And …… it doesn’t help if it’s only interim storage, since we are not looking long term but a risk that would be well plausible during our generation

January 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, politics | Leave a comment

UK High Court gives very little chance for Julian Assange

UK: HIGH COURT DECISION WELCOME IN ASSANGE CASE BUT CONCERNS REMAIN OVER LIMITATIONS ON APPEAL , Amnesty UK 26 Jan 22, Following today’s High Court decision to certify one issue in the Assange appeal as of ‘general public importance’, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Research Director for Europe, said:

“While we welcome the High Court’s decision to certify one narrow issue related to the US’s assurances as being of ‘general public importance’, and so to allow the Supreme Court to consider granting an appeal on this issue, we are concerned the High Court has dodged its responsibility to ensure that matters of public importance are fully examined by the judiciary. The courts must ensure that people are not at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. This was at the heart of the two other issues the High Court has now effectively vetoed.

“Torture and other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement, are key features of life for many people in US federal prisons, including those imprisoned on charges similar to Assange’s.

“The ban on torture and other ill-treatment is absolute and cannot be upheld by simple promises from a state that it won’t abuse people.

“The Supreme Court should have had the opportunity to deliberate and rule on all of the points of law raised by Assange at this crucially important point but the High Court has limited its scope to do so. If the question of torture and other ill-treatment is not of general public importance, what is?”

“We now hope that the Supreme Court will grant leave to appeal on the certified issue concerning at what stage in extradition proceedings should such assurances be submitted and considered.”


January 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

Full scale war in Ukraine? With its 15 nuclear reactors – no more Ukraine, no more Europe

Ukraine diplomat sees little chance of war ‘in country with 15 nuclear reactors’ with Reuters, 26 Jan 22, Ukraine is committed to seeking a diplomatic solution to the current tension with Russia, its ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, said on Wednesday (26 January), adding that he saw little chance of all-out war, although there might be smaller conflicts.

nuclear reactors would bring about a devastating regional impact on Europe.

“I believe that full-scale war is very, very, very difficult to expect, but we may see more localised conflict,” Korsunsky told a news conference in the Japanese capital Tokyo.

If war is going to happen, that will be the first ever in the history of mankind, war against a country which has on its territory 15 nuclear reactors, which has 30,000 km of gas and oil pipelines, full with gas and oil,” said Korsunsky.

“If all these infrastructure is destroyed, there is no more Ukraine. But this is just one consequence. There is no more central Europe and probably western Europe would be affected, too.”

An accident at the Chernobyl reactor, located in what is now Ukraine, spewed tonnes of nuclear waste into the atmosphere in 1986, spreading radioactivity across swathes of the continent and causing a spike in cancers in the more immediate region.

Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, Alexey Pavlovsky, said on Wednesday that Russia did not plan to invade Ukraine.

We don’t intend to invade at all,” Pavlovsky told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

“Our troops on the border…These troops are not a threat, they are a warning. A warning to Ukraine’s rulers not to attempt any reckless military adventure,” he said.

As to the sanctions, I think that by now everybody should understand that it is not the language which should be used when talking to Russia. The sanctions just don’t work.”

January 27, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention

Although the threat of imminent extradition has been stayed, Assange stands on thin ice. What began as a case on the most fundamental rights of journalists to expose war crimes and torturehas been whittled away by the British judiciary to the single question of how “assurances” of Assange’s safety should be given by one criminal state to another.

Whatever the outcome, the US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention, even though he has been convicted of no crime.

Assange granted leave to appeal to UK Supreme Court against extradition, Oscar GrenfellThomas Scripps, 24January 2022

The UK High Court has provided WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a route to appeal to the Supreme Court in his extradition case against the United States government.

Assange is seeking to overturn the High Court’s direction last December that he be extradited, against the earlier ruling of the lower Magistrates’ Court that to do so would be “oppressive” on health grounds.

The High Court upheld a US appeal against the Magistrates’ Court ruling despite accepting evidence of Assange’s intense physical and psychological ill-health. It also did not contest the likelihood that the conditions he would be subjected to in the US, as discussed throughout the entire preceding court process, would likely result in his death by suicide.

The December ruling was overwhelmingly based upon supposed US assurances, issued months after deadlines had elapsed, that Assange’s conditions in an American prison would not be as bad as previously accepted.

With numerous caveats and loopholes, the US assurances asserted that Assange would not be held under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), a regime of total isolation, to which those convicted of terrorism offenses, along with drug lords and major serial killers, are sometimes subjected in federal prison.

The High Court found that the Magistrates Court should have solicited such assurances prior to its ruling.

In response to Assange’s request for leave to appeal this decision yesterday, the judges certified a single point of law of public importance, the requirement for an issue to be heard in the Supreme Court. This was: “In what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings [in this case, the magistrates’ court].”

Assange’s lawyers had argued that “profound issues of natural justice arise where assurances are introduced by the Requesting State for the first time at the High Court stage… These issues have never been addressed by the Supreme Court.”

As his solicitors elaborated in an explanatory note, “There has long been a general approach by the courts that requires that all relevant matters are raised before the District Judge appointed to consider the case in the Magistrates’ Court,” but this has been undermined by the treating of assurances as “issues” rather than “evidence”, allowing them to be introduced at a later stage in proceedings.

“The defence argument is that despite being as demanding of close evidential scrutiny as the evidence already heard, and despite the content of the assurances being applicable to the testimony of witnesses already heard but not to be heard again, assurances have been afforded a different procedural position.”

The assurances in question, accepted in “good faith” by the High Court, are given by a state with a decades-long history of lies and dirty tricks whose record in the Assange case was exposed a month before the High Court ruling as including plans to kidnap and assassinate the heroic journalist.

Based on the statements of 30 former US officials, Yahoo! News revealed that the Trump administration and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had discussed kidnapping or assassinating Assange when he was a political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2017. The US indictment was first conceived of as a pseudo-legal cover for a possible CIA rendition.

The character of that indictment, as a concoction from spies and criminals, had been proven in June 2021. Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson, whose testimony still forms a crucial part of the indictment, admitted that all his substantive allegations against Assange were lies proffered in exchange for immunity from US prosecution. The star US witness is reportedly facing prosecution in Iceland on fraud charges, having been convicted of child molestation and embezzlement offenses prior to his latest collaboration with the American government.

Although the threat of imminent extradition has been stayed, Assange stands on thin ice. What began as a case on the most fundamental rights of journalists to expose war crimes and torturehas been whittled away by the British judiciary to the single question of how “assurances” of Assange’s safety should be given by one criminal state to another.

The Magistrates’ Court upheld the sweeping US attacks on democratic rights contained in the attempt by a state to prosecute a journalist for publishing true information about its unlawful activities. This forced Assange to defend the US appeal on the grounds of the threat to his mental health posed by extradition and imprisonment in the US. The High Court’s acceptance of the US appeal means Assange’s defence is now limited to the question of when assurances should have been provided.

In keeping with the UK’s courts’ trashing of democratic rights throughout this case, the High Court rejected out of hand the point of appeal that the assurances are worthless because the US asserts the right to withdraw them if Assange violates, or is alleged to have violated, certain conditions.

Assange’s lawyers argued “oppressive treatment” is barred, “whether or not the requesting state justifies its imposition by reference to conduct.”The High Court replied that it did not consider these arguments to “raise certifiable points” for the Supreme Court’s consideration.

It is now technically down to the Supreme Court to agree to hear Assange’s case; it would be highly unusual, though not impossible, for it to refuse to consider an issue certified by the High Court.

If Assange’s appeal is unsuccessful and his case is sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel to rubber-stamp his extradition, then his lawyers can seek to cross appeal the Magistrates’ Court’s original decision on the substantive issues of the case—press freedom, the espionage act and the bar on extradition for political offences. But leave to do so is not assured and would mean years more incarceration as the new appeal works its way through the courts.

Whatever the outcome, the US and British governments are effectively using “lawfare” to ensure Assange’s continued detention, even though he has been convicted of no crime.

He remains in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison, dubbed the UK’s Guantanamo Bay. With the British government allowing the mass spread of Omicron, in the latest stage of its homicidal “herd immunity” policy, the prison has reportedly been hit by COVID outbreaks. Assange, because of his fragile health, is at intense risk of succumbing to the virus. The repeated prison lockdowns intensify his isolation.

January 27, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment