Australian news, and some related international items

Today. About Julian Assange: Australian government, snivelling cringing sycophantic to USA. And the Labor Opposition is just as bad

Will Australia ever get any integrity in it’s leaders?

In the clearest denialof justice in British history, the UK kow-tows to American militarism in its court now agreeing to send Juian Assange to be ”disappeared” in the USA’s penal system. And, worse than the UK, Australia’s leaders stand by, and pretty much applaud this evil event.

Liberal Morrison mouthpiece Simon Birmingham – ” we have confidence in the process”

And Labor’s Penny Wong carefully keeping her nose clean as she sucks up to the UK-USA ”legal” fakery – ”We also expect the government to keep seeking assurances from both the UK and US that he’s treated fairly and humanely.” What does she mean? – ” ïf they don’t treat Assange fairly, well, that’s not our problem

I actually think that the Liberals are better – they don’t even pretend to care!

Paradoxically – we all love to hate Barnaby Joyce, but he stuck up for Julian Assange – and good on him!

And the Greens – a voice of intelligence and reason, in Australian political mental desert – the Greens spelled out the reasons for their opposition to this terrible injustice to Assange and to journalism.

April 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government will not intervene as Australian citizen Julian Assange is extradited from UK to USA

Australia won’t interfere in Assange case, By Dominic Giannini, April 21, 2022 The Australian government will not make any representations to the British home secretary after a UK court approved the extradition of whistleblower Julian Assange to the US.

A British court has sent Mr Assange’s extradition order to Home Secretary Priti Patel, but the whistleblower can try to challenge the decision by judicial review if signed.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government maintained confidence in the UK’s justice system.

“We trust the independence and integrity of the UK justice system. Our expectation is that, as always, it operates in the proper and transparent and independent way,” he told the ABC.

“It, of course, has appeal processes built into it as well. This is the legal system upon which our own has been built on and established and we have confidence in the process.”

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said it was ultimately a decision for the UK home secretary.

“I do understand why not only Mr Assange’s personal supporters but many Australians more generally are worried about this. It has dragged on a long time,” she told the ABC.

“As an Australian citizen, he is entitled to consular assistance. We also expect the government to keep seeking assurances from both the UK and US that he’s treated fairly and humanely.”

But Senator Wong stopped short of saying a Labor government would make specific representations about the case. 

“Consular matters are regularly raised with counterparts, they are regularly raised and this one would be no different,” she said.

The development comes 10 days after Mr Assange surpassed the three-year anniversary of his arrest.

The 50-year-old Australian was dragged from London’s Ecuador embassy on April 11 in 2019 to face extradition to the United States on espionage charges over WikiLeaks’ release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has previously called for an end to Mr Assange’s extradition.

Mr Joyce said Mr Assange didn’t steal secret US files but only published them, which did not breach any Australian laws at the time, and he was not in the US when leaks were put online.

The Greens have criticised the extradition of Mr Assange, with senator Peter Whish-Wilson saying the US Espionage Act wasn’t intended to be used against publishers.

“We must support press freedoms and those who hold the powerful to account,” he said.

“Julian Assange’s prosecution has always been political. It needs political intervention of the highest order from our government to get justice for him.”

Assange Australia campaign adviser Greg Barnes says it’s important the matter has moved back into the political realm.

“Previously the Australian government has said we can’t even intervene because the matter is before the courts. It is no longer before the courts in that sense,” he told Sky News.

This is a political decision that will be made by Priti Patel and it’s a decision which the Australian government, and of course in this context the opposition, could influence.”

The Greens, crossbenchers such as Andrew Wilkie, and Liberal and Labor backbenchers had expressed support for Mr Assange, which could potentially influence a hung parliament in May, Mr Barnes said.

“That’s also an interesting factor as to what pressure is going to come on whoever gets elected in May to bring this Australian home.”

with Reuters

April 22, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, secrets and lies, Wikileaks | Leave a comment



A ground-breaking legal complaint has arisen after First Nation’s elders Andrew and Robert Starkey discovered an unexploded missile on their country. The brothers discovered the missile, manufactured by arms multinational Saab, in Lake Hart West, a registered Indigenous heritage site within the vast Woomera Prohibited Area. The Starkeys are Kokatha Badu (respected senior figures, or lore men) from the Western Desert region of South Australia who have devoted decades to protecting heritage sites on their land.

In a complaint to the OECD, the Starkeys alleged that Saab had breached OECD guidelines by failing to undertake or maintain ‘adequate human rights due diligence which could prevent their product from being used in human rights violations’, and which also resulted in a failure to ‘protect and preserve the integrity of [those] heritage sites’ for which the Starkeys have custodial responsibilities

Michelle Fahy, 4 Feb 2022

Australia hasn’t seen anything like this case before. In fact, in the world of OECD complaints, it’s a first.

The Starkey complaint has resulted in a precedent-setting initial assessment from the OECD that could have ramifications for multinational weapons companies. The OECD’s Australian contact point has decided that arms export permits granted by national governments do not provide weapons companies with immunity from responsibility for human rights violations resulting from the use of their products or services.

This decision overturns earlier OECD precedents set by other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, which allowed weapons companies  to shelter behind  arms export permits. The initial assessment in the Starkey complaint says that government-issued arms export permits on their own are insufficient protection, and that the OECD guidelines require global arms manufacturers to conduct ongoing due diligence on human rights issues. Manufacturers of weaponry used to commit war crimes against civilians in Yemen, for example, could now be exposed to similar complaints.

The Defence Department, which has long fobbed off the Starkeys’ heritage concerns, took a year to remove the missile. Andrew says they next tried to approach Saab—whose marketing tagline is ‘It’s a human right to feel safe’—but were again brushed off and referred back to Defence. The Starkeys then lodged their complaint with the OECD’s Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP) in September 2021.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a comprehensive code of responsible business conduct that governments have committed to promoting. Each country that chooses to adhere to the guidelines must establish a national contact point to promote and implement the guidelines. The complaints procedure is intended to provide a non-adversarial ‘forum for discussion’ to examine and resolve complaints against multinationals.

The OECD covers most of the world’s weapons makers— 80 of the top 100 arms corporations, according to an analysis of data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. These companies represented 80 per cent (US$425 billion) of the US$531 billion in sales by the top 100 in 2020. Saab, ranked thirty-sixth, had US$3.4 billion in sales in 2020.

Saab responded to the Starkeys’ complaint saying, amongst other things, that its supply of weaponry to Defence was subject to ‘strict export control laws’ aimed at preventing their use in harmful ways and that Swedish export controls ‘require human rights issues to be considered’. This rote argument is parroted across the arms industry and is one that Australia’s Defence Exports Controls Office relies on to justify its continued arms exports to nations engaged in serial human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab EmiratesIsrael and Indonesia.

‘No nation gets to pick and choose which laws to comply with, nor do they get to choose who will or will not be held accountable’, says the Starkeys’ international human rights lawyer John Podgorelec. ‘The international law has to be applied as evenly to the Saudi Yemen conflict as it would to the Russia Ukraine conflict.’

Weapons companies have long benefited from a myopic reliance on one-off export permit approvals. However, the extensive evidence of war crimes and the resultant catastrophe still unfolding in Yemen, fuelled in large part by US– and UK­ supplied weaponry, shows that the so-called strict permit approval system is an abject failure in protecting human rights.

The AusNCP’s initial assessment sounds a warning to the arms industry worldwide. The AusNCP has now offered its ‘good offices’ to facilitate a negotiated resolution between the Starkeys and Saab. The Starkeys are ready to negotiate. Whether the ‘good offices’ phase proceeds depends on Saab, which has so far said it will ‘review the findings, and continue to engage with the AusNCP, to determine any further required actions’.

Andrew Starkey is pleased with the result so far, but his relief is tempered with discontent. ‘The situation is so bad in Australia. The legislation is so weak that we needed to rely on international law to get justice.’

Dr John Pace, who is also advising the Starkeys, is a globally recognised expert in human rights law with more than fifty years’ experience, including at the United Nations. Pace says that the obligation for due diligence on human rights grounds never abandons the equipment. ‘It is an ongoing, responsive and changing process, not a one-off rubber stamp.’

Amnesty International has noted, in Human rights policies in the defence sector, that, ‘There is now a clear global consensus that companies have a responsibility to respect all human rights wherever they operate’. There is also increasing acceptance that good business practices in one area do not offset harm in another. Corporate behaviour must be globally consistent.

A significant factor influencing the handling of the Starkeys’ complaint is the web of conflicting interests in which Saab features strongly. Such conflicts were not disclosed to the Starkeys during the complaint process. It is this inconsistency in its corporate behaviour that has brought Saab undone. As Andrew says, ‘Defence seems more interested in protecting a Swedish company than in protecting Australian culture’………………………………………………………………

The due diligence guidelines are clear about avoiding adverse impacts on human rights and, in particular, the importance of engaging with Indigenous peoples who might be affected by the activities of the business. One adverse impact noted by the OECD in relation to human rights is ‘Failing to identify and appropriately engage with indigenous peoples where they are present and potentially impacted by the enterprise’s activities’.

The Starkeys are concerned that similar problems will recur. Says Andrew, ‘For us this is the same as the British atomic tests. We are the ones left to deal with the mess. They are erasing us one site at a time up there’.

Christina Macpherson <>Apr 22, 2022, 9:02 PM (11 hours ago)
to me

April 22, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Major parties suffer from a climate credibility gap: new health election scorecard

Major parties suffer from a climate credibility gap: new health election scorecard

Recent floods in Queensland and New South Wales have put the spotlight on the damaging health impacts from climate change including risks to food security, mental health and trauma from widespread devastation.

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are we in West being manipulated on a grand scale with deceptive propaganda about the war in Ukraine?

Today I’m posting two videos from Regis Tremblay. I’m sure that Western viewers will hate these, and call the ”Russian propaganda”. And I wish that I could believe that, too,

But I do have an awful fear. Swamped as I am by the tsunami of TV, radio, news, barrage of hyper-emotional depiction of the Ukrainian war, – I cannot help my fearful thought that Regis Tremblay’s speakers are telling the truth.

It’s a painful thought – but I think that the anglophone world, and NATO – the European countries are pulling a giant confidence trick on us all, as we all are led into this frenzy of endless weapons-buying to further the destruction of Ukraine. We are standing by, cheering, as Zelensky and the Ukrainian people are used as pawns, sacrificed, in the cause of the USA discrediting and disrupting Russia

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Mariupol – city under siege – the OTHER SIDE OF THIS STORY

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine: The End Game – A Proxy War and Armageddon – Who are the Flag Waivers supporting?

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is a long, bloody war between Russia and Ukraine really in our national interest? By David Bromwich,   22 Apr 22

Russia invaded Ukraine in violation of international law, and now we stand on a precipice. Advocates of war are saying that World War III has already begun, and the United States should therefore plunge in. How can they say that? People may finally hurl themselves into an abyss from the sheer terror of falling.

I learned something about this mood from a retired Foreign Service veteran. On October 27, 1962, he was sitting in the next room, listening on an intercom with second-echelon State Department officials while President Kennedy and his advisers discussed the appropriate response to Russian missiles in Cuba. As we now know, Kennedy barely held off an almost unanimous recommendation to bomb. What my informant vividly recalled was the mood of decision. They all recognized that a nuclear war would be a catastrophe of unimaginable dimensions; but at a certain point, the momentum seemed irresistible. “I thought to myself,” he said, “OK, let’s just do this.”

That state of mind—of blank acceptance (because they had already come so far)—“lasted,” he continued, “for about 20 minutes. Then, somehow, I came to my senses. But I’ve thought of that moment ever since. I was willing to ‘live with’ the end of the world. It showed me what we are capable of—what I was capable of.”

Joe Biden has long been a man given to sentimental avowals and reckless denunciations. He was indulged for half a century; the slips were easily exposed and of no large consequence. His rhetorical effervescence took on a graver aspect in mid and late March, when he called Vladimir Putin a war criminal, broke with the US renunciation of chemical weapons by saying we would use them in retaliation if Russia used them, told members of the 82nd Airborne Division that they would soon be deployed in Ukraine, and signaled a wartime goal of regime change in Russia: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

When a leader speaks of an international rival with unbounded contempt, it renders negotiation impossible. Yet the president’s advisers, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, have done little to blunt his message. Congress, too, is full of members who yesterday could not have found Ukraine on a map but today want US missiles to shoot down Russian planes. The US/NATO plan looks forward to a long and bloody war, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians killed,  Ukraine vindicated and the Russian economy destroyed.

Is this a probable result? Is it desirable?

There is a broader allegorical battle in which many Americans now imagine us playing a part. We—along with our surrogate, Ukraine—stand for democracy, civilization, and enlightenment. Russia is tyranny, barbarism, darkness and dirt and gas.

The push for a bigger war draws enormous strength from the weapons lobby, of course, but another influence is the daily inundation of headlines. Consider The New York Times, April 10: “Russia Resets Military Command as Western Arms Pour In.” April 15: “Russian Flagship Sinks in Black Sea; E.U. Could Ban Oil” It has been permanent Ukraine, all day and every day, with a drumbeat that exceeds any comparable string of headlines during Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a foreign war that the Times and The Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and all the old networks cover as if it were being fought on American soil.

The columnists have followed close behind. On April 13, the Times’ Bret Stephens asked: “What Do We Do if Putin Uses Chemical Weapons?” His answers, fluent and brash, led off with approval of cyberwarfare against Russian pipelines, and proceeded to a series of excited subheads: “Tear apart Russia’s supply chains,” “Arm Ukraine with offensive weapons,” “Plan for a long war.” Writers of humbler strategic ambitions have written accusingly of American faintheartedness. A recent George Packer column in The Atlantic was listed in the magazine’s online “ideas archive” as “Can We Be Worthy of Ukraine?” while the article itself was titled “I Worry We’ll Soon Forget About Ukraine.”

This posture of sorrow and humility, the prayer We are not worthy in homage to people living a higher moral reality, owes much to an undeserved nostalgia for the Cold War. More insistently, our opinion-masters look to the example of World War II. The zealots want another good war like that one; and Volodymyr Zelensky has breathed new life into their yearning. He is courageous, and his appeals are convincing; but 

the truth is that Zelensky is a target from more than one direction: the Russian Army facing him and, at his back, the Azov Battalion and the neofascist militias, who fear him as little as they love the Russians, and whose actions many months ago nullified his election promise to negotiate peace in the Donbas. Even now, Zelensky could save most of his country and many lives if the United States strongly backed negotiations; but our leaders and munitions-makers agree that Ukraine must go on fighting.

What still seems barely possible, at press time, is a solution that Zelensky has come halfway to suggesting, with no encouragement from the US or its European dependents: namely, a neutral Ukraine, part of the Western European community in most respects but not a member of NATO; autonomous status for the Donbas, the details to be decided perhaps by referendum; and Russian troops withdrawn, never to return. Admittedly, this would disappoint believers in a worldwide struggle-to-the-death from which either tyranny or democracy must emerge the final victor.

Words are going to matter more than usual in the next few weeks. The let’s just do this mood is as deranged now as it was in 1962. Trap the invader in a tight enough corner, choke off all the exits, make him feel he has nothing to lose, and he will drive the world off a cliff as surely as our generals and think-tank adepts, our senators and columnists. “I am,” says Macbeth, “in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” We had better step back before we step any further.  AT TOP

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russia makes another offer to besieged Ukrainian forces

Ukraine – Azovstal Steel PLant in Mariupol RT, Fri, 22 Apr 2022,

Ukrainian troops and members of the Neo-Nazi Azov battalion, who remain at the surrounded Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, can still surrender to the Russian military, the Defense Ministry explained on Friday.

A day earlier, Moscow announced the capture of Mariupol, with President Vladimir Putin calling off the assault on Azovstal, which remains the last holdout of the Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city. Russian troops should “seal the area so that a fly cannot get through,” he instead ordered.

In its fresh statement, the Defense Ministry pointed out that the offer to surrender for those inside the facility remained in place. “At any given moment, Russia is ready to introduce a ceasefire and announce a humanitarian pause in order to stage the evacuation of civilians (if they’re really in the underground structures of the steel plant) and troops of the Ukrainian armed forces and nationalist battalions.”

The commander of the Ukrainian marines, holed up at the plant, had earlier claimed that “hundreds” of civilians were trapped at the premises. He didn’t explain why the people would voluntarily decide to hide out together with Ukrainian troops, who are under attack by Russian forces.

The Ukrainian fighters and foreign mercenaries only need to raise white flags along the perimeter of Azovstal to be able to surrender. “This humanitarian offer by Russia remains in force 24/7,” according to the statement.

Their lives are guaranteed to be spared, and they will also be provided with medical assistance – just like other combatants, who chose to stop resisting earlier, the Russian side insisted.

According to the ministry, the humanitarian corridors, organized by the Russian forces in Mariupol, have allowed the evacuation of 143,631 Ukrainian civilians, 341 foreign citizens as well as 1,844 Ukrainian servicemen.

Those figures are more proof that claims by Ukraine and the West that Russia is hampering civilian evacuation, or is reluctant to provide necessary conditions for combatants to surrender, are absolutely groundless, it added.

The 2,000 fighters, according to Russia’s estimates, that are holed up at the Azovstal steelworks have been given several opportunities to lay down their arms in recent days, but they have refrained from availing of them.

Intercepted communications from the steel plant suggest that the Ukrainian troops and nationalist battalion fighters are short on food and water and are eager to surrender, but can’t do so without an order from Kiev over fears of being court-martialed.

However, Ukrainian authorities have so far been reluctant to give such a command. On Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that there was still “a military way” to recover Mariupol, but added that it would require the “help of our partners,” apparently referring to Kiev’s backers in the West.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The big mistake of sudden renewed optimism about nuclear power

The global scramble for fuel after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has decidedly ended any debate over whether nuclear energy should be part of the world’s new renewable era. Governments in Europe, Asia and the US have all recently overridden environmental concerns about radioactive waste and nuclear accidents to recommit to nuclear power plants as a part of any transition away from oil and gas.

As the world celebrates Earth Day this weekend, the return of nuclear energy harks back to the 1970s, before the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl scarred its reputation as a safe and cheap alternative to oil and gas.

But the sudden spurt of nuclear optimism from Washington to London is little more than a political feint.
By the time most proposed nuclear projects are paid for and developed, in a decade or more, we will be either well into a new chapter of solar and wind energy dependence or dashed against the globally-warmed rocks of fossil fuel hubris.

Next week, the Biden administration will commit up to $6bn of its infrastructure bill to preserving almost 100 ailing nuclear power plants for future use. Plans to transform closing coal plants – and their
workers – into nuclear facilities, are taking shape. Nuclear power currently makes up about 20 per cent of US energy usage, compared to wind (9 per cent) and solar (3 per cent), according to the US Energy Information Administration.

In Europe, harsh condemnation of nuclear power in places such as Germany, the UK and Brussels has given way this spring to the political expediency of siding with countries such as France, which have
long supported nuclear power. Belgium, for example, has changed its mind and recommitted to building new power plants. Poland plans to build new ones. France has doubled down and even the UK’s Boris Johnson has placed new nuclear facilities squarely within his government’s new energy strategy, even at the expense of onshore wind farms. He wants to move Britain’s nuclear mix to 25 per cent by 2030 from 16 per cent.

The energy crunch caused by Ukraine is an immediate crisis, not one that can be fixed with long-term, expensive solutions. While Europe – and the rest of the world – must think long term to mitigate global heating and stop burning fossil fuels, the decreasing costs of other renewable energies such as wind, solar, and tidal will eventually catch up with expensive alternative plans. Likely faster than we all think, given the reduction in their costs over the past 10 years.

 Independent 21st April 2022

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Overwhelming majority of Members of European Parliament oppose inclusion of nuclear power in Europe’s taxonomy as ”green”

MEPs set to block plan deeming nuclear and gas energy ‘green’

McGuinness seeks to use EU taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities

  Irish Times,   Naomi O’Leary, 22 Apr 22, Europe Correspondent   A plan by Ireland’s European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness to classify nuclear and gas energy as “green” is facing major opposition in the European Parliament, with MEPs preparing to block the move.

The so-called EU taxonomy was intended as a classification system to label economic activities that are environmentally sustainable in an attempt to direct private investment to industries that help the green transition.

But an attempt by the commission, fronted by Ms McGuinness, to add gas and nuclear to this list is facing a kill vote in the parliament, backed by MEPs from her own centre-right political group, according to the results of an internal consultation seen by The Irish Times.

  MEPs from the European People’s Party, of which Fine Gael is a member, have joined with those from the centre-left Socialists and Democrats; Renew, of which Fianna Fáil is a member; the Greens; and the Independents’ Left group, to which Sinn Féin is affiliated, to back an objection that could block the change from coming into force.

At the parliament’s environment and economy committees, an overwhelming majority of 115 MEPs chose to object to the commission’s move, with just 23 from the hard-right Identity and Democracy and ECR groups opting to acquiesce to the addition of nuclear and gas to the taxonomy, the results show.

The MEPs now have weeks to approve a joint objection text in committees. It would then go to a full vote in the European Parliament in its July session, where a majority of at least 353 MEPs would be sufficient to stop gas and nuclear being added to the taxonomy.

Russia’s invasion

The majority is easily achievable if the same political groups back the objection as they have in the committee stage. Observers believe that if the commission’s move is blocked in July, there would be little political will to make another attempt given the difficulties that have dogged the file and the additional controversy that now surrounds gas since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine……………………………………………

The move to add green and nuclear to this list is being done as a so-called “delegated act” – something which updates existing EU legislation rather than creating new law, and does not need the usual vote of approval by the European Parliament to come into force. It can, however, be blocked by an objection procedure backed by a majority of MEPs.

The opposition of MEPs to adding gas and nuclear to the taxonomy is grounded in doubts about the inherent merits of the move, but also in opposition to the commission’s method in using a delegated act to do it…………………………..

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 22 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Is The US Stockpiling Dirty Oils? How Greater Transparency Can Reduce The Climate Impacts” • In response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, President Biden authorized the largest-ever Strategic Petroleum Reserve drawdown in March 2022. The economic benefits may seem clear, but the environmental impacts of SPR withdrawal are less certain. [CleanTechnica] Strategic oil […]

April 22 Energy News — geoharvey

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment