Australian news, and some related international items

Energy Resources of Australia’s chairman, two directors, say they’ll resign after pressure from Rio Tinto and traditional owners By Daniel Fitzgerald,

The chairman and two directors of a company responsible for cleaning up a massive uranium mine on the edge of Kakadu have announced their intention to resign, following pressure from its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, and criticism from traditional owners.

Key points:

  • Energy Resources of Australia is responsible for the clean-up of Ranger uranium mine, on the edge of Kakadu
  • Its chairman and two directors have announced their intention to resign, after pressure from Rio Tinto 
  • It comes after a commissioned report suggested the company could consider developing a second uranium mine in the region

Rio Tinto on Monday publicly called for Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) chairman Peter Mansell to resign, four days after an independent report commissioned by the company suggested it could consider developing a second uranium mine next to Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr traditional owners have long objected to the potential mining of the ERA-owned Jabiluka uranium deposit — a position which Rio Tinto supports — and fiercely rejected the suggestion they might allow it to be mined.

Mr Mansell and two other directors not affiliated with Rio Tinto this afternoon said they would resign, “once a clear funding solution” for the cash-strapped company is arrived at.

In a statement to the ASX, ERA said the three board members would resign, “noting the requests from Rio Tinto” for Mr Mansell to consider his position.

Mine clean-up could cost $1.2 billion more than expected

ERA said the directors notified Rio Tinto of their intention to resign last week, before Rio Tinto’s public announcement.

Earlier this year, ERA estimated rehabilitation works could cost up to $1.2 billion more than expected and take workers until 2028 to complete the job — two years longer than initially planned.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia, Kellie Parker said the company was committed to the rehabilitation of the Ranger mine “in a way that is consistent with the wishes of the Mirarr people”.

“However, given our recent dealings with the Independent Board Committee [IBC] and last week’s release of the Grant Thornton valuation report, we do not believe that can be achieved without renewal within ERA’s board,” Ms Parker said.

“There remains a strong difference of opinion between Rio Tinto and the IBC on the terms of rehabilitation funding, with the IBC’s view that successful rehabilitation could underpin potential future growth opportunities, despite the Mirarr people’s long-held opposition to further uranium mining on their country.”

Justin O’Brien, the chief executive of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr people, said the Commonwealth may need to step in to ensure the safe clean-up of Ranger.

“We are extremely concerned that the Commonwealth is relying on a company that has publicly announced it does not have the funds to complete the rehabilitation work,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This public stoush over whether or not ‘magical’ uranium deposits in a World Heritage listed wetland and indigenous cultural landscape should be mined is a question of national public policy.”

On June 30, ERA had $132 million cash in hand and $537 million held by the Commonwealth government in a trust fund for the Ranger rehabilitation.

Rio Tinto said while a funding solution for the rehabilitation was being agreed, the company was “progressing discussions to amend an existing $100 million credit facility to assist ERA with its management of immediate liquidity issues”.

An ERA report released in August said cost overruns on the Ranger rehabilitation “have been caused by a number of factors including complexities in technical risk management, project delays and additional scope matters involving unbudgeted costs”.

Legislation was introduced to Federal parliament last month to grant ERA an extension to its rehabilitation schedule.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Matt Canavan and 8 Coalition Senators aim to overturn Australia’s ban on nuclear power

Bill introduced to remove nuclear energy ban in Australia

Small Caps, By Louis Allen, October 3, 2022 “………… nine coalition senators moved to introduce a Private Senators Bill, arguing nuclear power is one of the safest forms of energy and will play a vital role in achieving the nation’s emission targets moving forward.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan said the “mood is shifting” on nuclear energy,………………

Senator Canavan said the appetite for nuclear energy has grown since the government signed on to buy nuclear-powered submarines.

“People realised, given the geopolitical situation we faced, whatever hang-ups we had on nuclear energy, we needed them in our submarines,” he said.

Not everyone was in favour of the move – with federal energy minister Chris Bowen saying it was the most expensive form of power Australia could invest in.

Mr Bowen said industry groups suggested Australia would need about 80 nuclear plants to produce the electricity it needed.

“That is one (for) every second MP. Put your hand up if you would like one,” he said.

…………………….. Senator Canavan said Australia must … support nuclear energy as an energy means of the future. “The world is turning back to nuclear power and there are game changing developments in small modular reactor technology.”

“With the world’s largest uranium reserves, Australia cannot afford to be left out of global nuclear progress,” he said.

Coalition senator David Fawcett has backed senator Canavan’s claims, saying he believed nuclear power was the best option for the long term…………………..

Senator Jacinta Price said Australia needs to fully support nuclear power to achieve its ambitious emission goals and targets.

“If we truly as a nation want the cleanest and most reliable energy source there is available, then nuclear power is the logical option,” she said.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

‘Radiation risk’: Nuclear threat discovered off the WA coast

perth now Eli Green, NCA NewsWire, October 3, 2022,

Tourists visiting a popular destination in Western Australia have been warned there is still a “radiation risk” 70 years after it was used as a nuclear test site, a study has found.

The Montebello Islands, located 120km off the WA coast, were used by the British in 1952 for Operation Hurricane, which saw three nuclear tests performed.

“More than half a century on, marine scientists have discovered there remains a radiation risk to marine life and tourists,” the four-year study by Edith Cowan University PhD student Madison Hoffman found.

With the islands attracting nature lovers such as fishers, divers and snorkellers to its coral reefs, the study has brought a fresh warning for tourists.

Due to the elevated radiation levels, visitors are currently encouraged to keep their trips to an hour a day.

The exact level of danger that the radiation levels pose to humans is yet to be determined, but Ms Hoffman hopes that is something she can determine soon.

“We don‘t quite have an answer for that yet, but we’re hoping over the next two years that we’ll be able to put a number to the potential risk,” she said.

Operation Hurricane was the first time an atomic bomb was tested by the British, with the site chosen due to its isolated location and Australia’s close ties with the UK.

The study saw more than 100 samples of marine sediment and marine life collected and tested.

“It is really important that we try and understand exactly what type of radionuclides and what levels of radiation remain in the marine ecosystem at the Montebello Islands,” Ms Hoffman said.

Radionuclides are substances that release radiation, with some being harmful to humans as they damage the body’s cells and cause cancer.

“We’re focusing now on mapping out areas where higher levels of radionuclides are found in marine sediment all around the Marine Park.”

The level of radiation also poses a threat to local wildlife, with more than 450 species of fish, 630 types of molluscs like octopi and cuttlefish, and 170 varieties of starfish and sea urchins found in the area……………..

October 3, 2022 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

UK Prime Minister agrees to honour nuclear test veterans – affected by their experience in Australia.

Truss caves in to Mirror’s demands to mark ‘Plutonium Jubilee’ with gift for nuclear test vets.

The heroes of Britain’s Cold War radiation experiments and their families welcomed the news, but said it did not go far enough to address the tests’ legacy of cancers, early death and birth defects

Mirror, By Fleet Street Fox, Columnist, 3 Oct 2022,

Prime Minister Liz Truss has caved to the Mirror’s demands to mark the ‘Plutonium Jubilee’ with a £450,000 gift for nuclear test veterans.

The heroes of Britain’s Cold War radiation experiments and their families welcomed the news, but said it did not go far enough to address the tests’ legacy of cancers, early death and birth defects.

More than half the money – £250,000 – will go to an academic or cultural institution to record oral histories of survivors. The remaining £200,000 will be available for veterans’ charities to bid for.

But that will be equivalent to just £133 a head for the estimated 1,500 ex-servicemen still alive.

The government will also host an event to “celebrate the unique and significant contributions of those involved in testing and developing our nuclear deterrent”.

It was announced on the same day as the 70th anniversary of Operation Hurricane – the Plutonium Jubilee, which marks Britain’s first atomic bomb test.

Alan Owen, of campaign group LABRATS, said: “It’s very welcome news, and a direct result of the meeting we had with Boris Johnson following the Mirror’s Look Me In The Eye campaign.

“In fact, it was the Mirror that asked, in that meeting, for a ceremony of national acknowledgement to allay veterans’ anger, and that will be a huge leap forward if we get it. But this money is a pittance in the grand scheme of things, and there’s still no medal, no apology, no acknowledgement.”

The money won’t be available until April next year – and there are fears some survivors, who are now all in their 80s, may not benefit from it.

Minister for the Armed Forces and Veterans, James Heappey, said the test veterans “played a crucial role in keeping Britain and our NATO allies safe”.

He added: “Their sacrifice contributed to achieving the ultimate guarantee of UK sovereignty and they forever have this nation’s gratitude.

“I look forward to commemorating the incredible service and efforts of our veterans.”

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NATO ‘not obliged’ to assist Ukraine — German ambassador 2 Oct 22, Berlin’s envoy to the military bloc clarifies that NATO won’t actively fight for a non-member state.

Germany’s permanent representative to NATO has explained that the US-led bloc is not obliged to offer direct military assistance to Ukraine. Ruediger Koenig added that its members want to avoid a major war.

He was speaking to Dein Spiegel, the youth version of Der Spiegel magazine, which published the interview on Saturday.

The Ukraine conflict dominated much of the article, with Koenig describing Russia’s decision to launch its offensive against its neighbor in late February as a watershed event…….

Germany’s representative to NATO stressed that the military alliance as a whole, however, has no legal obligation to help Kiev repel Moscow’s attack as Ukraine is not a member state. This means that Article 5 of NATO’s treaty cannot be activated, the official explained. Under it, an attack on one ally is considered to be an attack against the whole of NATO, with all member states having to stick up for the targeted nation.

According to Koenig, the military bloc is anxious to avoid getting actively involved in the conflict at all costs because “this would mean a very big war.

Such a scenario, which would see 30 more nations join the fray, is something “nobody wants,” the diplomat noted…………..

He concluded that the prospect of peace is rather slim as Ukraine and Russia’s positions seem to be irreconcilable. Koenig clarified that Ukraine “rightly” demands that Moscow cede all former Ukrainian regions in the south and east of the country that recently voted to join Russia, as well as Crimea, which joined the country in 2014. The official pointed out that the Kremlin, however, is unlikely to agree to such terms.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 3 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Hurricane Ian Amplifies Urgent Need For Resilient, Renewable And Just Energy Grid” • Climate change is fueling more intense storms, with power outages that can be lethal. But distributed renewable energy – generated at or near the place where it will be used – can keep the power flowing to homes, hospitals, and […]

October 3 Energy News — geoharvey

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TODAY. Going blindly into the climate apocalypse

Yeah- I promised myself that my websites and articles would stick to the nuclear threat, and to exposing nuclear lies. Yeah – forget climate – everybody else is doing it.

Trouble is – they’re not!. The rich, powerful, influential people are not paying attention to global heating.

Today – the perfect example of corporate control over our planet’s future! King Charles, of the UK and British Commonwealth of Nations, caves in and obeys Prime Minister Liz Truss – he will now not attend the Cop 27 Climate Summit, where he was scheduled to give a speech.

King Charles will shut up about climate, the environment and our future. That is symbolic of what is happening world-wide

good, supposedly educated, quite affluent people in the so-called developed world are being “nice”, not rocking the boat, not causing others to be anxious, not discussing unpleasant things like global heating – that would be bad taste!

Never mind that our teenagers don’t read books etc, spend their lives on TikTok, with their dwindling attention spans. But some of them are depressed and suicidal. Could that be because those who do think , see that we are giving them a terrible future?

Meanwhile – in the “undeveloped” i.e poor countries, – well, along with drought, hunger, sea level rise, extreme weather, flooding ……. it is a struggle to stay alive, not much energy to deal with climate change. And anyway, their “betters” – powerful , mainly white, people will make their decisions for them. Just a pity that the “betters” are too busy making money, increasing material “goods”, and entertaining themselves.

I still think that I must stick to nuclear. But then again, perhaps it won’t matter – as extreme weather might put a stop to the nuclear industry, along with everything else. Now there’s a silver lining to the gloomy climate picture!

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Nukes Corp swings into action


Do Australians want to embrace nuclear energy? While our Media Glass House researchers can’t provide a definitive answer to that question, they do know we are all about to be told we do need it and should want it.

A few weeks back Opposition Leader Peter Dutton floated the idea of embracing nuclear power as a way to deliver supposedly cheaper, more reliable base-load power, and emissions-free energy.

Mr Dutton is obviously in the business of differentiating himself from the “woke” Labor Party which has a policy opposed to nuclear power, apart from its use in new submarines apparently.

The Liberal Party leader even set out an implied deadline for when we should have nuclear power plants up and running – 2030.

“Sixty percent of the capacity of our coal-fired generators is expected to leave the market by 2030,” he warned.

So obviously the question of whether we go nuke or not (and therefore to vote Liberal or not) is set to be a big issue in the 2025 federal election.

It would be a big change and Mr Dutton has a big job ahead of him to convince his fellow Australians.

But, as always, the Liberals Party is already being given considerable assistance by the Liberal and National parties’ retained advertising agency, News Crap Australia.

Right on cue News Crap Australia and its army of right-wing columnists and commentators have been spruiking the Dutton talking points.

The national broadshit soon published an “exclusive” (what else?) story based on sources in the American nuclear power sector which claimed a nuclear power network across Australia made up of US-made (naturally) mini-reactors would be quite feasible. (below on original)

Apparently the power plants would take just three years each to build (a perfect fit for Dutton’s timeline) and the cost of power would be lower than solar once the cost of batteries is taken into account.

All that information came from the people making the power plants so we should believe them, right?

LNP Queensland Senator Matt Canavan, who sits with the Nationals in Canberra, has also used one of his regular columns to explain how badly we need to go nuke. (below on original)

At the weekend columnist Vikki Campion, a columnist whose partner is former Nats’ leader and nuclear supporter Barnaby Joyce, joined in. (below on original)

Liberal Party promoter, Sky News “after dark” ranter, and News Crap Australia columnist had a go in her column in News Crap Australia’s Sunday turdbloids. (below on original)

A 2011 poll by the Lowy Institute showed 62% of respondents were “somewhat against” or “strongly against” nuclear power while 25% were “strongly in favour” or “somewhat in favour”.

So, as we noted above, there’s a bit of a job to be done by Dutton and Co to make their case.

But, as always, they can rely on the support and advocacy of News Crap Australia.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

War Powers Reform: those in favour say aye … or maybe “no comment”

by Alison Broinowski | Oct 2, 2022 ,

True to its word, the Albanese government has announced an inquiry into War Powers. Dr Alison Broinowski looks at the politics and the players, and the chances of reform so the decision to take Australians to war requires a vote of Parliament, rather than a one-man-call.

Dr Alison Broinowski AM is President of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR).

After a decade of public efforts to get politicians to concentrate on changing how Australia goes to war, the Albanese government has now responded by taking the first step. 

The announcement on 30 September of a Parliamentary inquiry reflects the concerns of groups across Australia that we might slide into another disastrous conflict – this time in our region. Those welcoming it are 83% of Australians who want Parliament to vote before we go to war. Many see this opportunity for reform as potentially putting Australia ahead of similar democracies.

While many nations have constitutions requiring democratic scrutiny of decisions for war, Australia is not among them. Nor are Canada or New Zealand. The UK has conventions instead, and British efforts to legislate the war powers have failed. In the US, efforts to reform of the War Powers Act of 1973 have repeatedly been defeated.

Western Australian MP Josh Wilson wants research done by the Parliamentary Library to update inquiry members on how other democracies respond to governments’ war proposals.

Yes, no, and no comment

Leading proponents of Australia’s inquiry are the ALP’s Julian Hill, who will chair it, and Josh Wilson. They stress that the outcome will be a matter of compromise, reflecting the composition of the Defence sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade. 

But the fact that it has been referred to the Committee by Defence Minister Richard Marles is encouraging for those who fear that Australia could slide into another war as disastrous as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Neither Marles nor Prime Minister Albanese has publicly supported reform of the war powers. Nor have many of their party colleagues, who either defer to their views or have no comment. Among Labor politicians who support reform, many are not members of the sub-committee conducting the inquiry.

Michael West Media (MWM) began surveying politicians last year about their response to the question ‘Should the PM have the sole call to take Australians to war?’. Almost all the Greens responded ‘No’, and all the Nationals ‘Yes’. Many others, ALP and Liberals alike, had no comment, or echoed their defence spokespeople or ministers. Others again favoured reform, but with certain conditions, mainly concerned with what Australia would do in an emergency.

Interestingly, three of the four MPs who had actually served favoured reform.

But since the election, numerous respondents to the MWM survey are no longer in Parliament, and we now have a new cohort of Independents, most of whom campaigned on platforms of accountability and climate change, rather than talking about foreign affairs and defence.

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) points to the connection between these two important issues and military operations, which are highly polluting and unaccountable. Independents Andrew Wilkie, Zali Steggall, and Zoe Daniel understand the need to subject war-making to the same democratic process.

Daniel, a former ABC correspondent, is among the 23 members of the Defence sub-committee which will conduct the inquiry. They include a balance of party affiliations and opinions. ALP Chair Julian Hill has as his Deputy, Andrew Wallace from the LNP. Members vehemently opposed to reform of the war powers, each for their own reasons, include Liberal Senators Jim Molan and David Van. Others responded to MWM’s surveys and AWPR’s inquiries with no comment. Some have not responded to requests for interviews.

Two contrasting responses stand out. Labor MP Alicia Payne said clearly that she wanted a Parliamentary inquiry and supported the government’s initiative. “I recognise that in some instances the executive government may need to make such decisions as a matter of urgency, however, such urgent decisions should still be subject to parliamentary scrutiny”. Ms Payne is not a member of the sub-committee.

On the other hand, Senator Ralph Babet, of the United Australia Party, told MWM that “A clear distinction should be made between war powers and matters of defence … A multi-partisan view of hope exists for future global peace and stability, within the halls of Parliament”. Senator Babet is a member of the sub-committee, which may hear from him what this means.

Not all the members of the sub-committee have made their views about war powers reform known to MWM or AWPR. A rough assessment shows that a majority didn’t reply or had no comments. The proceedings promise to be interesting. But the results are critically important, influencing as they will Australia’s position in March 2023.

That’s when the 18-month consultation process ends for AUKUS, the Defence Strategic Review reports, and the 20th anniversary of Australia’s invasion of Iraq occurs. Reform of the war powers has never been more urgently needed.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Taiwan “is not a vital Australian interest — we do not recognise it as a sovereign state”. A repost from November 17, 2021

Notwithstanding that we have no obligation to defend Taiwan, the hard reality, as many Americans commentators agree, is the Americans would likely lose such a contest and in the event could withdraw from Asia altogether, leaving Australia to face the wrath of the Chinese state and its military to which we had been party in attacking.

America can withdraw from Asia to the safety of its west coast on the other side of the Pacific. But Australia cannot withdraw — it has no place to withdraw to.

Pearls and Irritations, By Paul Keating, Sep 28, 2022

Peter Hartcher has a lot to answer for, writes Paul Keating in a response to the Nine columnist that did not make it to print.

I should have hoped that after 26 years away from the National Press Club, my appearance there, at the Club’s invitation, would have indicated to Peter Hartcher that I believed the invitation was important to accept — an invitation which had arisen from recent views I had put on Australian foreign policy, including in relation to China.

Instead, in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald and Age, Hartcher sought only to disparage what I had had to say including, comparing me to King Canute and in Hartcher’s case, not even understanding the Canute fable.

King Canute was not trying to direct the waves as Hartcher depicts me trying to do and as does the cartoon, rather Canute used the metaphor of his perching on the beach to “let all the world know that the power of the king is empty and worthless save for him, (meaning God) by whose will heaven and the sea obey eternal laws”.

So, right from the get-go, Hartcher mocks the motivation and tone of my speech.

He says, drawing on his misconception of King Canute, that, Canute-like, I gave “orders” to the United States about its geopolitics, that America has to come to a point of accommodation where it acknowledges China’s pre-eminence in East Asia and the Asian mainland.

Of course, I gave no such “order” nor am I in a position to give such an “order”, save to remind the audience that the coldest of America’s Cold War warriors, the implementer under President Jimmy Carter of the Nixon-Mao détente, Zbigniew Brzezinski, had said: “America should tacitly accept the reality of China’s geopolitical pre-eminence on the mainland of Asia, as well as China’s ongoing emergence as the predominant Asian economic power”.

Apparently, Hartcher thinks I should not have quoted Brzezinski, a statesman of enormous achievement and stature to Australians in respect of China — rather I should have fallen back on the philosophy of our very own internationalist, Peter Hartcher himself. I quoted Brzezinski word for word — Hartcher disparages me for this, claiming I was, in effect, giving the US “orders”.

Hartcher claims that I “won’t acknowledge anything that doesn’t have China in charge”. This is an obnoxious fabrication.

What Hartcher seriously failed to deliver to the readership of the Herald and The Age was what I had said to the Chinese leadership in Beijing in 2013, in the presence of a Chinese vice premier — years before Hartcher and his Nine colleagues hit upon their voluptuous contumely about China.

I had this to say:

A lot of attention has been given to America’s responsibility to China’s rise — but China too has equal responsibility for creating a new stable and sustainable order in Asia. As it steps up to a larger leadership role it will at the same time need to be willing to accept and respect restraints on the way it uses its immense strength, because the acceptance of such restraints by great powers is the key to any successful and durable international order.”

I then went on to instance two points.

I said, first, and most obviously, “China should continually reaffirm by word and by deed its commitment to repudiate the use or threat of force to settle disputes”. I went on to say, “the work of reassurance is never done, that the stronger China becomes the more it will need to reassure its neighbours and this will depend on deeds more than words”.

Second, “China will do a great deal to help build a continuing stable order in Asia if it quite unambiguously welcomes and supports a continued strong role for the United States in Asia”.

These were tough things to say to an audience of Chinese officials, but I said them in Beijing in 2013. And I repeated those words in my National Press Club address. But Hartcher made certain Sydney Morning Herald and Age readers would hear none of those critical references to the Chinese, because my utterances then, pull the rug from under Hartcher’s principal claim that I believe “Beijing is correct and everyone else should fall back in awe”.

Well, I certainly wasn’t falling back in awe in 2013 and Hartcher should have had the decency to have let Herald and Age readers know what firmly held views I had put to Chinese authorities back then.

But he did not let them know — he omitted to fully inform them.

Hartcher then misrepresented my longstanding view that Australia should find its security in Asia not from Asia.

He went on to say that the Quad is centred on Asia, notwithstanding that I had said at the Press Club, the Quad’s main failing and certainly in Australia’s terms, was to ignore the centrality of Indonesia and the ASEAN group of countries.

In fact, I used a metaphor — the park seesaw. I said under the Quad, we are focusing on the wobbly ends — India to the extreme west and Japan to the extreme east, rather than on the pivot at the centre, which is Indonesia.

Indonesia is five flying hours from Australia. India is 10, Japan is 15. Our strategic bread is buttered in the Indonesian archipelago which arcs across our northern approaches. And I made the point that relying on India to fight the Chinese in the South China Sea or the western Pacific, would be to rely on a state which will never meet such obligations.

And what’s more, India demonstrated its feckless unreliability over last weekend in pulling the rug from under COP26, weakening the communique by refusing to accept the words “phase out” of coal which would otherwise have achieved consensus.

A central point I made in the Press Club address is that the Quad is a joke and will present little value to Australia. Most military strategists agree it has no use as a device to contain China militarily.

Hartcher makes much of my dismissive response to questions about the so-called “14 demands” China has made of Australia. These — let’s remember — were a list of points of difference in Australian and Chinese policy positions handed by a junior Chinese embassy official to a TV reporter in Canberra last year.

That’s not the way any government in the world has ever conveyed serious policy demands to another one.

Hartcher at least found value in what I had to say about tensions over Taiwan.

I said that Taiwan “is not a vital Australian interest — we have no alliance with Taipei — we do not recognise it as a sovereign state”. That statement was enough to draw out Defence Minister Peter Dutton, to say a day later, that “it would be inconceivable that Australia as a US alliance partner, would not join in military action”.

That is, military action against China by the United States, should it attempt to take Taiwan by force.

Notwithstanding that we have no obligation to defend Taiwan, the hard reality, as many Americans commentators agree, is the Americans would likely lose such a contest and in the event could withdraw from Asia altogether, leaving Australia to face the wrath of the Chinese state and its military to which we had been party in attacking.

America can withdraw from Asia to the safety of its west coast on the other side of the Pacific. But Australia cannot withdraw — it has no place to withdraw to.

This is where years of unprincipled and obsessive writing and misreporting by the Herald and The Age to its readership on China may, in the end, take us.

Peter Hartcher and his mate Uhlmann have a lot to answer for and may in future, have a great deal more to answer for.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Who are the war criminals?

Pearls and Irritations , By Brian Toohey, Sep 29, 2022

One of the few heartening things to come out of Russia’s war against Ukraine is the renewed emphasis on how it’s a crime for national leaders to start a war of aggression. Putin is not the only one who can reasonably be accused of committing war crimes. Most US president since World War II have done so. So have some Australian Prime Ministers.

None of the wars Australia has fought in since World War II were necessary for defence. Instead, they all involved dispatching military expeditions to intervene in countries that posed no threat to Australia. All were wars of aggression, or soon became so, after the initial goal had been quickly achieved…………………………………………………….

The Labor leader Arthur Calwell gave a parliamentary speech demolishing Menzies rationale that North Vietnam was a Chinese puppet. He explained that Vietnam had a “1000-year history of hostility towards China” and said Labor opposed a “cruel, costly and interminable” civil war that would “prolong and deepen the suffering” of the Vietnamese people.

In a particularly despicable war crime, the US dropped more bombs on tiny Laos than the combined total on Europe and Japan during World War II. The total for Laos was the equivalent of a bomb load dropped every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. Many were mines or unexploded cluster bombs that continue to kill. The US called this a “secret war”. It was no secret to the Laotians beneath the falling bombs.

The people of Indo-China were no threat to Australia or the US. But the invading forces subjected them to death and disfigurement from carpet bombing, deliberate crop destruction, torture, massacres, assassinations, napalm, and dioxin – the persistent poison that still condemns anguished mothers to give birth to terribly deformed children they spend years nursing.

About 60,000 Australian troops, including 19,000 conscripts, were sent to the war. A total of 521 died and over 3000 were wounded. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians killed vary from 1.2 million to over 3.8 million. Far higher than is likely for the war in Ukraine.

While John Howard was Australia’s prime minister in 2003 he made a demonstrably false statement in his March 2003 television address at the start of the illegal invasion of Iraq. He said Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons that, “Even in minute quantities are capable of causing destruction on a mammoth scale”. Iraq had not produced any new chemical and biological weapons since they were disarmed by UN weapons inspectors in 1991.

Howard also claimed that the supply of intelligence was a “priceless component” of the relationship with the US and the UK. Far from priceless, the intelligence on WMD was worse than useless: it provided the rationale for a disastrous invasion. With few exceptions, the Australian media peddled nonsense in support of invasion.

Unlike Bush and Blair, Howard has never admitted that he was wrong to help invade Iraq. In 2016, Sir John Chilcot’s devastating report on the British involvement on the war found that the “benefit of hindsight was not needed to understand the intelligence was flawed”. But Howard told journalists he wouldn’t “retreat” from his decision to invade. Howard’s grotesque mistakes reinforce the need for the full Parliament to authorise a decision to go to war.

Howard also announced the dispatch of Australian SAS and other troops to Afghanistan to combat the Al Qaeda terrorist group. This group escaped in the opening months of the war. With the terrorists gone, there was no rationale for the US or Australia to stay. Their continued participation in a war of aggression was a war crime. No Afghanis took part in the September 11 attacks or helped al-Qaeda plan these atrocities. Before September 11, the Taliban government in Kabul offered to hand bin Laden over to the US. The offer was ignored……………………………………..

The last of the Australian military left in April 2021 after 41 had died and 260 were wounded or injured. How many they killed is unknown. The financial cost of the Australian contribution was $8.4 billion.

On August 30, 2021 the last of the US forces left Afghanistan behind with a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis in which starvation is rife……………………..

By the standards now rightly being applied to Vladimir Putin, the American and Australian leaders who brought devastation to Iraq and Afghanistan, George W Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard should arguably appear in the dock, subject to the presumption of innocence. Justice also demands a reasonable effort be made to bring them before a court. That hasn’t happened and won’t until the public demand justice.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Don’t nuke the future

even the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (WHEJAC) have declared nuclear power to be a false solution to climate change.

Regrettably. powerful nuclear lobbies, the Biden Administration, and nuclear supporters in Congress have ramrodded legislation (the 2021 IFA; the 2022 IRA) through Congress worth as much as $70+ billion dollars to bail out this false climate “solution”.

Time to focus on real climate solutions

Don’t nuke the future — Beyond Nuclear International By David Kraft, NEIS, 2 Oct 22,

As we strike for climate, we must strike nuclear power from our energy plans

The Fridays for the Future Climate Strike on September 23 called out tens of thousands of people worldwide – over 300 in downtown Chicago — to protest the inadequate governmental response to the Climate Code Red, and identify the many corporate criminals who are responsible for the bulk of the crisis.

While it is necessary to identify and hold accountable those who are the source of the problem, if the Planet is to survive the predicted catastrophic temperature rise and resulting environmental impacts, it is equally important to identify real and viable solutions to the crisis, given the limited amount of time left to act.

On that note it cannot be stressed more emphatically that nuclear power is not a viable climate solution.

Why is this the case?  With eight years left before the IPCC’s 2030 deadline to literally reinvent and implement a climate friendly energy infrastructure, nuclear power serves as a drag and barrier to reaching that target.  It is too costly; to slow to build out to the levels needed; displaces less atmospheric carbon per dollar spent than cheaper and quicker alternatives; and not only fails to solve its current list of unsolved problems (for example, nuclear waste disposal), but adds to this list the threat of increased nuclear proliferation and accidents, especially in war zones like Ukraine, and potentially elsewhere (India/Pakistan; China Taiwan; Iran/Saudi Arabia, etc.).

Worse, money spent on bailing out the economically failed nuclear power plants we have is money not available to be spent on real climate solutions we already know  work: more renewable energy, more energy efficiency, improved transmission/distribution systems, and energy storage.

Who says so?  Only:  two former CHAIRPERSONS of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; former public utilities chairs and utility CEOs from the states of California, New York, and Maine; energy experts and scientists like Amory Lovins and Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, and Dr. Andy Stirling of University of Sussex. 

Cost analysts at Lazards demonstrate that nuclear (both the present old generation, and the proposed “next generation” of so-called small modular nuclear reactors) is too expensive compared to renewables and other alternatives; while those at Moody’s point out that reactors will be at severe risk of operating safely in a climate disrupted world without extraordinary added expense to enhance safety – again, money that won’t be available for real alternatives.

Environmental justice activists loudly label nuclear power as a false climate solution.  Statements by the Climate Justice Alliance and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and even the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (WHEJAC) have declared nuclear power to be a false solution to climate change.  Scores if not hundreds of environmental organizations nationwide share the same sentiment.

Who else?  Mother Nature herself.  The heat wave experienced in France this year (and in previous years) shuttered 32 of 54 French reactors due to lack of river water to cool them and make steam – precisely when they were needed most.  The laws of physics state that reactors will also produce less electricity the warmer the water they take in to make steam.  And climate induced swarms of jellyfish, mayflies and other creatures have led to reactor shutdowns on multiple occasions.  These will only become more frequent with the worsening climate disruption.  These incidents have led former Union of Concerned Scientists staff scientist and NRC consultant David Lochbaum to sardonically ask, “And what will save nuclear power from climate change?

Finally, the war in Ukraine has forced to world to examine whether nuclear power even belongs on a planet where war seems omnipresent.  Nuclear power plants are now targets in war.  Do not think this will be the end of it.  The war and what has happened at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine now forces the nuclear industry, military planners and governments of the world to face what they have long avoided and refused to discuss: nuclear power plants are gigantic, pre-positioned radiation dispersion devices. The thought of sprinkling literally thousands of so-called “small modular nuclear reactors” (SMNRs) worldwide like fairy dust — without containment buildings and with reduced emergency planning/response zones and plans, as nuclear proponents eager to market their new techno-toys currently suggest —  almost seems to be the quintessential confirmation of Einstein’s admonition that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

Regrettably. powerful nuclear lobbies, the Biden Administration, and nuclear supporters in Congress have ramrodded legislation (the 2021 IFA; the 2022 IRA) through Congress worth as much as $70+ billion dollars to bail out this false climate “solution.”  This is one time when trying to jam a square peg down a round hole will not work.  You can’t build an energy future by bailing out the past.

Today’s demonstrations make two very important points:  we are out of time; and we must declare a climate crisis – and act like it is a crisis, to paraphrase climate activist Greta Thunburg.  We do not have the time or money for “all of the above”, business as usual false solutions like those proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Chuck Schumer.  We must act now to implement real energy solutions.

Nuclear power is simply a false solution to the climate crisis.  Anyone who says otherwise is as much a “denier” as those who still falsely claim that climate change does not exist. 

This article also appeared as a September 23, 2022 press release from Nuclear Energy Information Service,  a non-profit organization committed to ending nuclear power and advocating for sustainable ecologically sound and socially just energy solutions.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Interviews With Donetsk Residents After Joining Russia

Eva Bartlett 1 Oct 2022Given the predictable Western negation of the referendum to join Russia, and following having done many interviews with people during the referendum, yesterday I did some follow up interviews with Donetsk residents, asking their opinions on joining Russia

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Zelensky pledges never to talk to Putin 2 Oct 22

Ukraine will not negotiate with Moscow until Putin is replaced as president, Zelensky and his cabinet said

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky refuses to negotiate a peace settlement as long as Vladimir Putin remains president of Russia. He made this claim in a post on his official Telegram channel on Friday.

………….. “We are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but … with another president of Russia,” he wrote. Unlike the majority of his Telegram posts, this one was written only in Ukrainian, without an accompanying English translation.

Zelensky has repeatedly rejected overtures of peace from Moscow, most recently turning down Putin’s offer on Friday to resume negotiations. What made the offer a non-starter for Kiev is that Putin refused to relinquish the regions that voted this week to join Russia…..

Zelensky also confirmed that Ukraine had submitted an accelerated application to join NATO on Friday, something he previously admitted was probably never going to happen. While Western media described the move as “more symbolic than practical,” the Ukrainian president argued that Sweden and Finland were able to apply on an accelerated basis even without a Membership Action Plan and it was thus only “fair” that Ukraine do the same.

De facto, we have already completed our path to NATO,” he said in another Telegram post. “De facto, we have already proven interoperability with the Alliance’s standards … We trust each other, we help each other and we protect each other.”

Zelensky has previously acknowledged Ukraine might struggle to secure the consent of all 30 NATO member nations…………………………….

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here comes the catastrophocene…

If humans have become a geological force reshaping the Earth in the Anthropocene, then we need to become a geological force to undo the damage we have caused, and correct the threats we are still causing.

Pearls and Irritations, By Julian Cribb Oct 3, 2022,

The good news is that the Anthropocene is almost over. It will have been the shortest geological epoch in all of Earth history.

The bad news is that the Catastrophocene is just beginning.

This is a period marked by the interaction of ten catastrophic risks which many scientists are now warning could precipitate the end of human civilisation – and potentially bring about the departure of our species from an uninhabitable Earth.

The Holocene, the climatically stable period which enabled humans to develop agriculture and cities, is now over. It lasted about 11,650 years, from the last Ice Age to the latter C20th. And now it is gone and we are into a wholly different world, named in 2000 by Dutch Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen ‘the Anthropocene’ – the epoch in which humans became a truly geological force, reshaping and altering the entire planet, its atmosphere, oceans, the land, and life itself. On present indications, the Anthropocene will last only a century or two.

The evidence is all about us that we’re into something altogether grimmer. Each day, almost, brings fresh reports of colossal unintended consequences of human activity around the planet – vast floods, tens of thousands of fires raging, dust storms sweeping topsoil off our farms, heatwaves, dried-up rivers and lakes, melting glaciers, unimaginable losses of birds, animals, insects and other life, dwindling forests and fish, poisoned water, oceans, food and air, declining oxygen levels, hunger and starvation, the dissemination of new diseases, the mass migration of 350 million people a year, the advent of powerful new technologies whose effects are unknown and uncontrolled, and the insidious worldwide seep of malicious lies about it all.

The evidence is all about us that we’re into something altogether grimmer. Each day, almost, brings fresh reports of colossal unintended consequences of human activity around the planet – vast floods, tens of thousands of fires raging, dust storms sweeping topsoil off our farms, heatwaves, dried-up rivers and lakes, melting glaciers, unimaginable losses of birds, animals, insects and other life, dwindling forests and fish, poisoned water, oceans, food and air, declining oxygen levels, hunger and starvation, the dissemination of new diseases, the mass migration of 350 million people a year, the advent of powerful new technologies whose effects are unknown and uncontrolled, and the insidious worldwide seep of malicious lies about it all.

These phenomena are the physical manifestations of what the Council for the Human Future has termed the ‘existential emergency’ now confronting humanity – a crisis which many scientists and individual citizens now recognise as real, but which most governments, corporates and politicians seem loath to accept the evidence that is before their very eyes.

This crisis is comprised of ten catastrophic risks, not just the one or two most commonly reported in the media. All these risks interact with one another, meaning they cannot be tackled separately or solved one by one. Collectively, they are driven by human overpopulation, overconsumption and over pollution. The risks are:

Extinction and eco-collapse: currently proceeding 1000-10,000 times faster than normal, eliminating the ecosystems that humans and wildlife need to survive. Mainly caused by agriculture and land development.

Overheating: a climate approaching out-of-control as nine huge ‘feedbacks’ from the Earth system itself make it even faster, hotter and more turbulent than man-made factors (like fossil fuels and land clearing) alone.

Global poisoning: five times larger and ten times more deadly even that climate, human chemical emissions are the largest and most underestimated threat to planetary health and survival.

Nuclear holocaust: with 70 nations still committed to nuclear arms and conflict, scientists currently rate the threat at ‘100 seconds to midnight’, the worst level since Hiroshima.

Resource scarcity: a world water crisis is already a reality for half the population. Loss of topsoil, forests, fish stocks and scarcity of other key resources threaten to unleash fresh conflicts.

Pandemics:  there have been seven pandemics since 2000, with a new one striking every 2-3 years. With some 90 wild animal diseases already crossed into humans, more are on the way.

Overpopulation: due to hit 8 billion in November and 10 billion by 2060, human numbers are estimated by some researchers to now be 4 times what the Earth can carry in the long run. Not a threat in itself, population pressure drives all the other threats and must be brough under control.

Famine and hunger: already rising due to loss of soil, water and a stable climate. World food chains increasingly vulnerable to disruption from shortages, conflict and big events, putting megacities at risk.

Ultratechnologies: uncontrolled development and release of powerful new technologies without thought for the consequences will unlock fresh threats for humanity, just as fossil fuels and chemistry already have.

Misinformation: the world is drowning in lies, half-truths and disinformation, mainly spread by the fossil fuels lobby, certain media, politicians and other malicious actors. These are disabling government, breeding mistrust of science and making the task of saving civilisation ever harder.

It is the interaction of these ten mega-threats which now constitutes the new age – The Catastrophocene. This will be a period in which most human lives will be consumed in attempting merely to survive and find workable collective solutions to these threats, to repair our damaged planet and salvage all that is good and decent of our civilisation.

Take heart, solutions do exist. I detail the main ones in a forthcoming book, both global answers and what individuals can do to save themselves. However, as the Council for the Human Future has noted: no government on Earth yet has a policy for human survival. They simply do not grasp the magnitude or the reality of what is unfolding. Or they don’t care. Nor do the giant corporations who now rule the world economically.

If humans have become a geological force reshaping the Earth in the Anthropocene, then we need to become a geological force to undo the damage we have caused, and correct the threats we are still causing. Part of that consists in reducing both our numbers and our material demands to what the planet can safely bear in the long term. If we do not undertake this task, then nature will surely do it for us.  Doing nothing, or doing too little too late, will destroy us.

In other words, controlling the catastrophic risks we now face will save countless lives, help avoid total collapse or even extinction, restore the Earth and preserve what is best about the human endeavour.

It is the greatest, noblest and most urgent cause in all our million year journey.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment