Australian news, and some related international items

Ukraine war – a boon for Morrison to campaign on fear and war with China?

This changes everything, from the world stage to polling booths far from the fatal steppes, MICHAEL SWEST MEDIA, By Mark Sawyer, February 25, 2022   As the world watches in horror the Russian assault on Ukraine, it seems crass to discuss what it means for a little election in faraway Australia. But local political operators in the big parties and the small will be doing nothing else this weekend, writes Mark Sawyer.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a disaster for more than 40 million people, a threat to Europe, a challenge to the US and a catastrophe for the world.

It’s hard to imagine that Vladimir Putin’s war, while just about as far away from Australia as any world event could be, would have no bearing on the thoughts of voters in the expected May election. And it’s clear we were already gearing for a security election. The Coalition has installed one of its head-kickers, Peter Dutton, in the Defence post and his warnings are as much about the dangers of a Labor government as any foreign foe.

The government has stooped to describing Labor leader Anthony Albanese as China’s preferred Australian leader and deputy Labor leader Richard Marles as the Manchurian candidate. (A term now synonymous with being a traitor in the service of China, but its provenance is from a book and film about US soldiers brainwashed during the Korean War to become assassins back home). Memories of former senator Sam Dastyari’s dalliance with Chinese interests remain fresh enough for the government to exploit.

Opponents of the Morrison government will be wondering whether the Coalition will be saved by a military crisis. Labor fears being robbed of victory. Both sides will be thinking of the same election: 2001.

Khaki elections, Australian style: est 1914

In fact khaki elections have not always been bad for Labor.   In 1914 Andrew Fisher won the federal election held just a month after the outbreak of the Great War. He pledged Australia would ”stand beside the mother country [Britain] to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling”. A year later, an exhausted Fisher handed over to Billy Hughes, who tried to introduce conscription……………….

   Billy Hughes, [originally Labou) styled as ”the Little Digger”, became the personification of the Australian war effort. In 1917 he won a decisive victory, and another one in 1919, fresh on the back of his participation in the postwar treaty negotiations.In 1943 Labor under John Curtin won a thumping vote of confidence for its handling of the most serious threat to the nation in white history. (The negative role of militant unions on the home front is a less storied aspect of Labor history.)…………………………………………………………………..

The last word should go to Calwell again. Remember, this speech was made in 1965:

The government justifies its action on the ground of Chinese expansionist aggression. And yet this same government is willing to continue and expand trade in strategic materials with China. We are selling wheat, wool and steel to China. The wheat is used to feed the armies of China. The wool is used to clothe the armies of China. The steel is used to equip the armies of China. 

Yet the government which is willing to encourage this trade is the same government which now sends Australian troops, in the words of the Prime Minister, to prevent ” the downward thrust of China “. The government may be able to square its conscience on this matter, but this is logically and morally impossible.

February 26, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s reactors – largest nuclear complex in Europe – in danger

An unverified map showing conflict points in Ukraine as of February 24, 2022. (Own work, derivate of Russo-Ukraine Conflict (2014-present).svg by Rr016 based on map provided by BNO News
Author Viewsridge/Wikimedia Commons)

Ukraine’s reactors at risk  

15 reactors plus Chernobyl in unprecedented warzone situation

A statement by Beyond Nuclear. 25 Feb 22,

Beyond Nuclear joins the chorus of voices calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine, a situation that could become orders of magnitude worse should any of the country’s 15 nuclear reactors suffer major damage due to military exchanges.

We are in an unprecedented situation, with, for the first time, a war happening in a region where there are operating nuclear reactors. This presents an extreme risk to human life unlike any we have seen in previous wars, even when traditional infrastructure has been bombed and destroyed.

The humanitarian tragedy is already enormous, with people fleeing, abandoning homes and businesses, with their lives upended and their safety and survival in jeopardy. However, should a major release of radioactivity occur due to the damage or destruction of any one of the country’s 15 reactors, the scale of the disaster would escalate to unimaginable proportions, affecting populations well beyond the boundaries of Ukraine and Russia.

Military activity around the Chernobyl nuclear site and within the Exclusion Zone is also of great concern. Reports are coming in showing elevated rates of radiation stirred up by the presence of troops, tanks and heavy equipment moving through the highly radioactively contaminated region, which is closed to regular human habitation. In April 2020, when a major wildfire consumed the area, radiation levels rose by 16 times.

The occupation of the site by Russian military personnel, reportedly the result of a firefight at the plant site, is already a concern. This takeover has called a halt to all activities on the site, which houses a significant inventory of radioactive waste.

Any attack or accidental hit on the Chernobyl nuclear site is of even greater alarm. The new protective dome, euphemistically known as the New Safe Confinement building, that encases the exploded Unit 4’s crumbling sarcophagus, is by no means impervious to damage.

Within this dome lie unstable slurries of radioactive liquids, sludges and sands containing uranium, plutonium and other radioactive wastes. As recently as last May, workers detected an unusual rise in neutrons in the wastes lying in the basement of the destroyed Unit 4, raising fears of a chain reaction or even an explosion. War activities in and around the Chernobyl site, therefore, are a reason for high concern.

The six reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in eastern Ukraine is of greatest concern, given its size — the largest power plant in Europe — and location. (Photo: Wikimapia)

The ISF2 (Interim Spent Fuel Storage #2 dry cask facility) at Chernobyl is also of serious concern. Its design, construction, management, and operation has been flawed from the start. Orano (formerly Areva) of France was effectively fired for the design and construction flaws. But serious problems have persisted even after Holtec International’s takeover of ISF2 management. An irradiated nuclear fuel fire at ISF2, whether due to intentional attack or unintended accident, could result in catastrophic releases of highly radioactive wastes into the environment over a large region.

The 15 operating reactors — located at Rivne (4), Khmelnitsky (2), South Ukraine (3) and Zaporizhzhia (6) — are all vulnerable to catastrophic meltdown, even if they are not directly attacked or accidentally hit.  

As at Fukushima, a loss of offsite power followed by a loss of onsite power could cause the workforce to lose control of the reactor. If cooling is lost, the reactor will heat up, the water level within the reactor core drops and the fuel rods are exposed. Explosive gases are released, as happened at Fukushima-Daiichi in March 2011, where we saw three reactor explosions. Should these gases find a spark, similar explosions could occur at one or more of Ukraine’s reactors.

Of even greater concern are the fuel pools containing the irradiated fuel rods, and unprotected by the containment building. If a fuel pool is hit and either drains down or boils dry, exposing the fuel assemblies, fire is a real risk. Fuel pools contain far more radioactivity than the reactor itself and a fire would release even greater amounts of radiation.

A war zone could also create a dangerous environment for the nuclear workforce and their families, tempting some to evacuate. But a nuclear power plant, even under daily, routine operations, is not walkaway safe and cannot be abandoned. This presents a terrible, and sacrificial choice that should not have to be made.

The situation in Ukraine is unacceptable at a time when humanity should be coming together to take on our collective existential threat — the climate crisis. The situation in Ukraine brings home all too clearly that nuclear power plants are a dangerous liability and certainly not a solution to the climate crisis.

We are thinking of those suffering as a result of this pointless and cruel war, and offer a list of organizations to which humanitarian aid donations can be made to help the innocent victims caught up in this senseless violence.

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remembering the success of the nuclear-free movement at Muckaty in Australia’s Northern Territory

The Commons Social Change Library Nuclear Fuel Cycle watch Jim Green, 24 FEb 22,

 To mark the first anniversary of the official announcement of Muckaty in the Northern Territory as the site for a proposed national radioactive waste dump, members of Friends of the Earth ACE (Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy) Collective toured part of the ALP Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s Batman electorate in search of an alternative dumping ground.

This was one of many protests against the project and it would take another three years of concerted campaigning by the Muckaty community and supporters to overturn the government’s decision. For his part Ferguson rapidly transitioned from mining minister to mining lobbyist, taking up a role as the chair of peak group the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association within six months of retirement from parliament.

To learn more about creative activism visit-…/

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

The U.K. Wanted to Extradite Assange to the U.S. From the Start

The attempt to extradite Assange to the United States is a clear breakdown of the rule of law, which is continuing in the post-Trump era. The yearn to punish and send a warning to others has been given precedence over human rights, rule of law, and freedom of expression. The persecution must end now.

The U.K. Wanted to Extradite Assange to the U.S. From the Start

In a 2016 meeting, Britain’s deputy minister of foreign affairs removed the diplomatic mask. 
Guillaume LongFebruary 25 2022, THE U.K. HIGH COURT ruling that Julian Assange should be extradited to face trial in the United States — a decision that Amnesty International has called a “travesty of justice” — came as no surprise to me. It’s what the U.K. government always wanted. I know because the British deputy minister of foreign affairs told me.

Many pundits and politicians talk of the extradition proceedings against Assange as if they were an unforeseen legal outcome that came about as Assange’s situation unfolded. This is not true. My experience as the foreign minister of Ecuador — the South American country that granted Assange asylum — left me in no doubt that the U.K. wanted Assange’s extradition to the United States from the very beginning.

One encounter I had with Alan Duncan, the former British minister of state for Europe and the Americas, in October 2016 really let the cat out of the bag. At our meeting in the Dominican Republic, Duncan went on extensively about how loathsome Assange was. While I didn’t anticipate Duncan to profess his love for our asylee, I had expected a more professional diplomatic exchange. But the most important moment of the meeting was when I reiterated that Ecuador’s primary fear was the transfer of Assange to the United States, at which point Duncan turned to his staff and exclaimed something very close to, “Yes, well, good idea. How would we go about extraditing him to the Americans?”

His advisers squirmed in embarrassment. They had spent the last four years trying to reassure Ecuador that this was not what the U.K. was after. I responded that this was news indeed. I then wondered whether Duncan left the meeting feeling he had made a mess of it.

I was particularly surprised by Duncan’s candor because my June 2016 meeting with his predecessor, Hugo Swire, in Whitehall, had been quite different. It’s not that Swire wasn’t equally contemptuous of the irritating South American country that had granted Assange asylum; it is more that Swire actually knew the case well.

Swire stuck to the U.K.’s position: Nobody wanted to extradite Assange to the United States. The Ecuadorian government was “deluded” and “paranoid.” This had nothing to do with the issue of freedom of expression or even WikiLeaks. The case was all about accusations in Sweden against Assange. Ecuador should stop protecting a potential sex offender.

Events since have demonstrated that the British argument that Assange was “holed up” in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden was deceitful. The case was always about Assange’s publishing activities as the head of WikiLeaks. In fact, my government had made it clear to both its British and Swedish counterparts that if Ecuador received guarantees of nonextradition from Sweden to the United States, Ecuador would have no problem with Assange traveling to Sweden to face questioning. Assange himself agreed to this. But Sweden refused to offer such guarantees, which obviously further heightened Ecuador’s suspicions that Assange was being persecuted.

Had Swire been telling the truth, the Swedish prosecutor’s decision not to press charges against Assange in May 2017 would have enabled Assange to walk free from the embassy. The remaining claim that he breached his bail by successfully applying for political asylum should have been easily resolved after the European arrest warrant was dropped. But the U.K. refused to let Assange slip away, and he remained in the Ecuadorian Embassy for two more years before a new Ecuadorian government, heavily leaned on by the Trump administration, consented to having him brutally removed in April 2019.

Maybe it was simply that Duncan’s hatred for Assange, whom he referred to as a “miserable little worm” in Parliament in March 2018, was too pure to be tempered in our meeting. Duncan’s published diaries certainly attest to the fact that Assange’s arrest became an overriding obsession and eventually a personal trophy. When the time came, Duncan watched Assange’s extraction from the embassy — which he refers to as Operation Pelican — on a live feed and later held “drinks in my office for all the Operation Pelican team.”

Duncan’s deeply felt disdain for what he called “the supposed human rights of Julian Assange” are probably part and parcel of his fervent allegiance to the Anglo-American security partnership. Duncan served on the U.K.’s Intelligence and Security Committee in 2015–2016. He is also a member of the secretive, transatlantic organization “Le Cercle,” an ultra conservative think tank with strong links to the intelligence community in Europe and the United States.

We can only speculate whether Duncan’s close relationship with whom he calls his “good friend and Oxford contemporary Ian Burnett,” the Lord Chief Justice who gave the green light to Assange’s extradition, interfered with the judicial process. But the extradition proceedings have been problematic from the beginning. A coalition of major human rights and press freedom organizations — including Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and First Look Institute’s Press Freedom Defense Fund — have urged the U.S. Justice Department “to dismiss the indictment of Mr. Assange” on the grounds that it “threatens press freedom” and marks a precedent that “could effectively criminalize … common journalistic practices.” The top editors of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and others have agreed with these experts.

The attempt to extradite Assange to the United States is a clear breakdown of the rule of law, which is continuing in the post-Trump era. The yearn to punish and send a warning to others has been given precedence over human rights, rule of law, and freedom of expression. The persecution must end now.

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russian forces now control Chernobyl, inviting speculation and uncertainty

Russian forces now control Chernobyl, inviting speculation and uncertainty, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Susan D’Agostino | February 25, 2022  Yesterday, Russian forces seized control of the defunct Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the still-radioactive site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. The plant, along with the approximately 1,000-square mile radius around it known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, supports ongoing work focused on nuclear waste management and storage…

Though the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations watchdog, reported that there have been “no casualties nor destruction” at Chernobyl, experts and the public are now at work attempting to understand the potential risks posed by the takeover. While some offer measured responses concerning the potential for human and ecological disaster, others express alarm. Many posit theories for why Russia sought to seize control of Chernobyl, including using the site as a base, for a potential act of terrorism, or for the symbolic “win” it may represent.

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for Russian Military of Defense, said in a statement that the Ukrainian staff “continues to service the facilities in a routine mode and monitor the radioactive situation.” Konashenkov did not indicate that Russian soldiers were holding the workers hostage, as Kateryna Pavlova, Chernobyl’s Head of the Department for International Cooperation and Public Relations, told the Bulletin yesterday.

“The most dangerous part is that we lost control,” Pavlova said. “Some part of the staff from Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and National Guard have been kidnapped. They can’t connect. They can’t report.”

White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, later expressed similar concern: “This unlawful and dangerous hostage-taking, which could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities, is obviously incredibly alarming. We condemn it, and we request their release.”

Expert views of the potential risk have changed since the news broke. For example, yesterday the American Nuclear Society wrote in a tweet that the hostilities in the region “have not resulted in any additional radiological risk.” And Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, said, “I can’t imagine how it would be in Russia’s interest to allow any facilities at Chernobyl to be damaged.”

Yet this morning, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine reported that radiation levels in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone were “exceeded at a significant number of observation points” since Russian forces assumed control. The Ukrainian regulatory body attributed the excessive levels to the “disturbance of the top layer of soil from movement of a large number of radio heavy military” and an “increase of air pollution.”

“But now it is currently impossible to establish the reasons for the change in the radiation background in the exclusion zone because of the occupation and military fight in this territory,” the agency’s website said.

A Russian defense ministry official has disputed the claim of excessive radiation levels……..

Chernobyl sits along a short path from the Russia-Ukraine border to Ukraine’s capital. Pavlova, who described the takeover as a “psychological and humanitarian disaster,” notes that Chernobyl’s facilities and location might have been part of the allure. “We have houses where they can stay and leave. It could be their base,” Pavlova said. “It’s very close to Kyiv—only 140 kilometers. The airport is also nearby. It’s a very good location to bring their troops.”

The stricken reactor has been entombed in a sarcophagus—a steel and concrete coffin-like structure—since 1986. In 2016, another structure—known as New Safe Confinement, which is “strong enough to withstand a tornado” and designed to last 100 years, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development—was placed over the sarcophagus. The New Safe Confinement was funded by more than 30 countries at a cost of $1.5 billion.

Still, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that the Russian takeover “may cause another ecological disaster” and that if the war continues, Chernobyl “can happen again in 2022.”

Others were less concerned. “[T]he bigger risk comes from the potential for fighting around Ukraine’s four active nuclear power plants, which contain 15 separate reactors and generated over half the country’s electricity in 2020,” James M. Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in a post………

Despite divergent early takes on the potential risks of this unfolding situation, Pavlova, who once served as Acting Head of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone during a time when wildfires were rampant, is alarmed. “Not so many people understand how dangerous nuclear power plants are in the case of war,” Pavlova said. “I want the world to know that we are one little step—a few millimeters—from destroying our world.”

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Increased radiation levels around Chernobyl probably due to military’s disturbance of soil around exclusion zone

Chernobyl radiation levels increase 20-fold after heavy fighting around the facility, Live Science, By Ben Turner  25 Feb 22,

Gamma radiation has increased to 20 times its usual levels in the area. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant and its surrounding area are showing increased radiation levels after heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the region, Ukrainian officials said Friday (Feb. 25).

Online data from the Chernobyl exclusion zone’s automated radiation-monitoring system shows that gamma radiation has increased twenty times above usual levels at multiple observation points, which officials from the Ukrainian nuclear agency attributed to radioactive dust thrown up by the movement of heavy military equipment in the area.   

The defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been under occupation by attacking Russian soldiers since Thursday (Feb. 24) after Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of the morning. Workers at the facility, stationed there to monitor and maintain radiation levels within safe bounds, have been taken hostage by Russian troops, according to Anna Kovalenko, a Ukrainian military expert.

“The station staff is being held hostage. This threatens the security of not only Ukraine but also a significant part of Europe,” Kovalenko wrote on Facebook.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a news briefing on Thursday (Feb. 24) that the Biden administration was “outraged” by reports of Russian troops holding Chernobyl plant staff against their will and demanded their release. She warned that the action “could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities.”

As one of the most radioactive places in the world, large parts of the Chernobyl exclusion zone have been closed off since the disastrous meltdown of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. In that year, two enormous explosions inside the plant’s reactor flipped its 2,000-ton (1,800 metric tons) lid like a coin, blanketing the surrounding 1,000-square-mile (2,600 square kilometers) with radioactive dust and reactor chunks. Following evacuation and the dousing of the nuclear fire — which cost many firefighters their lives — the reactor was sealed off and the area deemed uninhabitable by humans for the next 24,000 years. 

Heavy fighting around the plant on Thursday (Feb. 24) led to concerns that stray munitions could accidentally pierce the exploded reactor’s two layers of protection — consisting of a new, outer safe-confinement structure and an inner concrete sarcophagus — and release the deadly radioactive fallout trapped inside.  

In a contradictory statement, Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that radiation around the plant was within normal levels and that Russian forces were working with the facilities’ staff to ensure the area’s safety……..

The site, which is just 60 miles (97 km) north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, lies on a direct invasion route between Kyiv and the Russian forces’ northern entry point to Ukraine at the Belarusian border. 

Claire Corkhill, a professor of nuclear material degradation at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., wrote on Twitter that the gamma radiation around the Chernoybl plant “looks to have increased by around 20 times compared with a few days ago.” However, caution should be taken “not to over-interpret at this stage,” she said.

This appears to be based on a single data point,” Corkhill added in a separate tweet. “What is intriguing is that the level of radiation has increased mostly around the main routes in and out of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, as well as the reactor. This would tend to suggest that increased movement of people or vehicles may have disturbed radioactive dust.”

The highly radioactive fuel inside the Chernobyl reactor is buried deep beneath the defunct plant and is unlikely to be released unless the reactor is directly targeted, Corkhill said…….

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK government study shows that nuclear test veterans were more likely to have cancer and die

More than 20,000 men, many on National Service, were ordered to take part in 45 nuclear weapons tests and 593 radioactive ‘minor trials’ in America, Australia and the South Pacific between 1952 and 1991.They later reported cancer, blood disease, miscarriages for their wives and 10 times the usual rate of birth defects in their children, but the MoD spent millions denying war pensions and compensation, insisting there was no proof.

Nuclear test veterans were more likely to have cancer and die, government study finds, Mirror, By
Susie Boniface 25 Feb 2022

A study found out that nuclear test veterans were more likely to die. There are now cross-party calls for a public inquiry and immediate compensation, as well as a medal, 
Men ordered to take part in Cold War radiation experiments WERE more likely to die, according to a government study which has blown apart 70 years of official denials.

  • Nuclear test veterans told to watch atomic blasts then live, eat, and drink amid the fallout have raised rates of multiple cancers, the research has found.They are nearly four times more likely to die from a bone marrow cancer seen in survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and more likely than other servicemen to take their own lives.The shocking research proves:
    • HALF the crew of HMS Diana, ordered twice to sail through fallout in 1956, died from tumours;
    • Atomic scientists were SEVEN times more likely to kill themselves;
    • RAF decontamination crews were FIVE times more likely to die from leukaemia;
    • There were more cancers than deaths, meaning some veterans have fought multiple malignancies;
    • And despite Ministry of Defence claims servicemen were well-protected, three-quarters were not checked for radiation, while clean-up workers were both unmonitored, and more likely to die from blood cancer.
  • There are now cross-party calls for a public inquiry and immediate compensation, as well as a medal.Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “This is all the evidence required to seek a formal inquiry into the issues and injustices that more than 20,000 veterans of nuclear testing have faced. It appears to be incontrovertible proof that their service led to serious health issues.“They need recognition and for the government to give them the respect owed to them by acknowledging what they have known for years: they paid a devastating price for their vital role in protecting our country. We are at a critical moment in this journey for justice and we need to see action now.”
  • His call for speed was echoed by Tory grandee Sir John Hayes, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veteran Association, who said: “There can be no doubt and no more excuses. Based on these facts, we need to act with no delay to recognise these exceptional veterans’ extraordinary sacrifice.”
  • More than 20,000 men, many on National Service, were ordered to take part in 45 nuclear weapons tests and 593 radioactive ‘minor trials’ in America, Australia and the South Pacific between 1952 and 1991.They later reported cancer, blood disease, miscarriages for their wives and 10 times the usual rate of birth defects in their children, but the MoD spent millions denying war pensions and compensation, insisting there was no proof.

The new research comes eight months before the 70th anniversary of Britain’s first nuclear test, Operation Hurricane, on October 3, 1952. It was published without warning on the morning that Russia invaded Ukraine.

It looked at causes of death among 21,357 veterans compared to a control group of servicemen who were not at the tests. It traced only 85 per cent, but found three per cent more veterans had died from cancer and two per cent more veterans died from other causes.

Test veterans were 20 per cent more likely than controls to die from stomach cancer or pleural cancer, 59 per cent more likely to die from skin cancer, and 26 per cent more likely to die from acute lymphatic leukaemia.

  • There were 12 per cent more deaths from suicide, and 377 per cent more deaths from chronic myeloid leukaemia.
  • CML is caused by genetic mutations in the bone marrow. By-products of nuclear weapons, including plutonium-239 and strontium-90 are considered “bone-seeking” when absorbed by man, and it is known that they can damage DNA.Stuart Ross, whose dad Archie was a RAF corporal at Christmas Island in 1958 and died in 2015 from aggressive leukaemia, said it was time to released the veterans’ military medical records.
  • “My dad suffered for years with a layer of skin growing between his eyelid and eyeball, a daughter born with an outsized arm, and a grandson with Down’s syndrome. Then he died within six weeks of being diagnosed with blood cancer,” said Stuart, 57, of Hertford.“I’ve asked for the blood tests dad and many other veterans had taken when he was on the island, and officials tell me they don’t exist. They’re hidden somewhere. The Defence Secretary must order them to be released to the families. We deserve the truth.”The latest research studied an extra 19 years of data, and found higher rates for many types of death than were in three previous studies, first ordered by Margaret Thatcher in 1983.The report’s authors at the UK Health Security Agency warned that the MoD could no longer rely on dodgy dose records from the 1950s, saying that there should be no raised risk of death or cancer if the records “accurately reflect the broad levels of exposure”. They added that risks they found should be expected “if, in fact, doses… had been much larger than recorded”.
  • The Mirror has campaigned for justice for the test veterans since the 1980s…………..

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Most Immediate Nuclear Danger in Ukraine Isn’t Chernobyl

The Most Immediate Nuclear Danger in Ukraine Isn’t Chernobyl,    Even though an accident is unlikely, Russia must take exceptional measures to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,  James M. Acton 24 Feb 22,

……………The most immediate nuclear danger, however, comes from Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. …………  the bigger risk comes from the potential for fighting around Ukraine’s four active nuclear power plants, which contain fifteen separate reactors and generated over half of the country’s electricity in 2020..

Chernobyl is inside a large exclusion zone, and the uninhabited space would mitigate the consequences of a second nuclear accident there. Ukraine’s other reactors are not similarly isolated. Moreover, much of the fuel in these other reactors is substantially more radioactive than the fuel at Chernobyl. To put it simply, nuclear power plants are not designed for war zones. It seems exceedingly unlikely that Moscow would authorize deliberate attacks on these facilities, but they could nonetheless become targets in a war that will, in any case, disrupt their operations.

For Ukrainian nuclear power plant staff, merely traveling to work may be a dangerous act—making it potentially challenging to ensure the reactor can be operated safely. In the event of an accident, backup personnel, such as firefighters, may not be able to reach the plant—not least because they could be involved in civilian relief efforts

Moreover, nuclear power plants might be targeted inadvertently. These facilities use power from the state’s electricity grid to help cool the reactor in the event it is forced to shut down. While backup power systems, such as diesel generators, are available, the power grid is one important line of defense. There is a very real risk of such power being lost in Ukraine if Russian forces attack the country’s electricity infrastructure—as NATO forces did against Serbia during the 1999 Kosovo War and Russia itself did against Ukraine in 2015 using cyber tools.

Even if Moscow doesn’t authorize direct attacks against nuclear power plants, such attacks might occur anyway. A weapon aimed at a nearby target could hit a nuclear power plant if its navigation system failed. If Russian forces believed that Ukrainian defense forces were inside a nuclear power plant, they could call in an airstrike, perhaps in contravention of an order not to attack nuclear power plants. This concern isn’t hypothetical: In 2017, U.S. special operation forces in Syria called in an attack against a dam that was on a “no strike” list. The resulting damage almost caused the dam to fail, which would likely have led to the drowning of tens of thousands of civilians.

The CEO of the company that operates Ukraine’s nuclear power plants has stressed that they are designed to withstand an aircraft crash. However, munitions are often designed to penetrate thick layers of protective concrete. One particularly serious risk is that a direct attack might drain the pools in which spent fuel is stored, often in large amounts. Without cooling, this fuel could melt, releasing very large quantities of radioactivity. This kind of accident was the “worst-case” outcome envisioned by officials as the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan unfolded in 2011.I set out these scenarios with some hesitation. The likelihood of a serious nuclear accident is probably quite small……………..

Nonetheless, even if a nuclear accident is still quite unlikely, its effects could be severe and would add significantly to the long-term consequences  of this invasion for Ukraine’s population. Moscow will be directly responsible for any nuclear accident that is caused, directly or indirectly, by its aggression. If it doesn’t want such an accident to be added to its growing list of crimes, it must take exceptional measures to avoid one.

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A rogue journalist ponders on Ukraine situation

Caitlin Johnstone: 12 Thoughts on Ukraine,  February 24, 2022  The U.S. power alliance has a choice between escalating aggressions against Russia to world-threatening levels or doing what anti-imperialists have been begging them to do for years and pursue detente.  By Caitlin Johnstone  Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the goal of which he claims is not to occupy the country but to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” it. We’ve no reason to put blind faith in any of those claims. Only time will tell.

As of this writing dozens have reportedly been killed. All war is horrific. We can only hope that this one winds up being the least horrific a war can be.

Some thoughts:

  1. This whole thing could very easily have been avoided with a little bit of diplomacy. The only reason that didn’t happen was it would have meant the U.S. empire taking a teensy, weensy step back from its agenda of total planetary domination. I’ve seen people call it “sad” or “unfortunate” that Western powers didn’t make basic low-cost, high-yield concessions like guaranteeing no NATO membership for Ukraine and having Kiev honor the Minsk agreements, but it’s not sad, and it’s not unfortunate. It’s enraging. That they did this deserves nothing but pure, unadulterated, white hot rage.
  2. Narrative managers have been working furiously to quash all discussion of No. 1….the most influential Russia “experts” in the Western world decrying propaganda while demanding media outlets enact propaganda. Saying what your government wants said instead of objective reporting the truth is the thing that propaganda is.Please don’t report facts on your media platforms. Don’t let anyone talk about the known actions by NATO powers and Kiev, which experts have long warned would lead to this situation. You’re not allowed to talk about the known U.S./NATO/Ukraine actions which demonstrably led us to where we’re at. You’re only allowed to say Putin attacked Ukraine completely unprovoked, in a vacuum, solely because he is evil and hates freedom. Your loyalty is to the U.S. empire, not to truth. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world.
  3. It’s funny how everyone keeps referring to this as a “World War 2-style invasion” instead of a “U.S.-style invasion.” It’s not like examples of military invasions ended in the 1940s
  4. ………….These people actually believe it’s legitimate to call this “the largest invasion on our planet since WW2.” Just snip out all the pages from the history books between 1950 and 2003 to make Western imperialists feel good about themselves. Unbelievable.
  5. The primary risk of nuclear war is not that anyone will choose to start one, it’s that one could be triggered by miscommunication, malfunction or misunderstanding amid the chaos and confusion of escalating Cold War tensions. This nearly happenedrepeatedly, in the last Cold War. Cold War brinkmanship has far too many small, unpredictable moving parts for anyone to feel confident that they can ramp up aggressions without triggering a nuclear exchange. Nobody who feels safe with these games of nuclear chicken understands what they really are. We survived the last Cold War by sheer, dumb luck. We were never once in control. We just got lucky. There’s no reason to trust that we’ll get lucky again. We need to abandon this madness and pursue detente immediately.
  6. After the bombs drop and I’m dying of radiation poisoning, with my final breath I’m going to thank U.S President Joe Biden for denying Putin the moral victory of an assurance that Ukraine won’t join NATO.
  7. Probably goes without saying but just in case: anyone who supports any kind of Western military confrontation with Russia is an enemy of our entire species.
  8. It would now seem the U.S. power alliance has a choice between either (A) escalating aggressions against Russia to world-threatening levels or (B) doing what anti-imperialists have been begging them to do for years and pursuing detente. This is exactly where anti-imperialists have been warning we could wind up if the U.S. didn’t work toward detente with Russia, while being called Kremlin agents and Putin lovers the entire time for years on end. All the people who’ve called us crazy over the years for warning that Cold War brinkmanship against Russia could lead to hot war are the same people calling to ramp up the brinkmanship now that our warnings proved true. Perhaps some serious re-evaluation is in order. The solution to a crisis that was created by Cold War brinkmanship is not more Cold War brinkmanship. The solution to a crisis that was created by cold war brinkmanship is detente.
  9. Assertions made by secretive government agencies based on classified intelligence should always be subjected to aggressively intense scrutiny, 100percent of the time, without exception and without apology, regardless of the fact that those assertions occasionally happen to prove true.
  10. It sure is a lucky coincidence that Westerners have spent the last few years being persuaded to hate Russia by their governments and media. Otherwise they might not be giving consent to the West’s dramatic response to this act of aggression.
  11. Remain intensely skeptical of all news coming out of Ukraine. Since 2016 the Western empire has been running an extremely aggressive narrative management campaign about Russia the likes of which we’ve never seen before. The news media have been fully complicit in this mass-scale psyop. Watch and wait for hard evidence of every claim made. Recall how snipers were usedduring the 2014 coup in Kiev to kill protesters and pin the blame on the ousted Yanukovych government.
Unpopular opinion but I think those who are crowing that this marks the dawn of a multipolar world may be jumping the gun a bit. If the U.S. empire can succeed in crippling Russia’s economy and fomenting unrest, Balkanization and collapse there, it knocks out a key pillar of China’s support system, and China is the ultimate target in all these unipolarist maneuverings. If the U.S. can do this (and that’s a big if, I know), at that point the empire can set to work on China without its guard bear there to protect it. Which of course would have been the plan all along. Which of course would be why the empire and its propaganda engine have been acting so weird these last few years.

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment