Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Julian Assange ‘targeted as a political opponent of Trump administration and threatened with the death penalty’

November 16, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Jo Biden’s win leaves Scott Morrison looking pretty silly on climate policy

November 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian govt will feel the heat when a Biden administration rejoins the Paris climate agreement

Biden says the US will rejoin the Paris climate agreement in 77 days. Then Australia will really feel the heatThe Conversation Christian Downie, Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, Australian National University, November 6, 2020   When the US formally left

the Paris climate agreement, Joe Biden tweeted that “in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it”.

The US announced its intention to withdraw from the agreement back in 2017. But the agreement’s complex rules meant formal notification could only be sent to the United Nations last year, followed by a 12-month notice period — hence the long wait.

While diplomacy via Twitter looks here to stay, global climate politics is about to be upended — and the impacts will be felt at home in Australia if Biden delivers on his plans.

Biden’s position on climate change

Under a Biden administration, the US will have the most progressive position on climate change in the nation’s history. Biden has already laid out a US$2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan, a commitment to rejoin the Paris agreement and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050……..

Can he do it under a divided Congress?

While the votes are still being counted — as they should (can any Australian believe we actually need to say this?) — it seems likely the Democrats will control the presidency and the House, but not the Senate.

This means Biden will be able to re-join the Paris agreement, which does not require Senate ratification. But any attempt to legislate a carbon price will be blocked in the Senate, as it was when then-President Barack Obama introduced the Waxman-Markey bill in 2010.

In any case, there’s no reason to think a carbon price is a silver bullet, given the window to act on climate change is closing fast.

What’s needed are ambitious targets and mandates for the power sector, transport sector and manufacturing sector, backed up with billions in government investment.

Fortunately, this is precisely what Biden is promising to do. And he can do it without the Senate by using the executive powers of the US government to implement a raft of new regulatory measures.

Take the transport sector as an example. His plan aims to set “ambitious fuel economy standards” for cars, set a goal that all American-built buses be zero emissions by 2030, and use public money to build half a million electric vehicle charging stations. Most of these actions can be put in place through regulations that don’t require congressional approval.

And with Trump out of the White House, California will be free to achieve its target that all new cars be zero emissions by 2035, which the Trump administration had impeded.

If that sounds far-fetched, given Australia is the only OECD country that still doesn’t have fuel efficiency standards for cars, keep in mind China promised to do the same thing as California last week.

What does this mean for Australia?

For the last four years, the Trump administration has been a boon for successive Australian governments as they have torn up climate policies and failed to implement new ones.

Rather than witnessing our principal ally rebuke us on home soil, as Obama did at the University of Queensland in 2014, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has instead benefited from a cosy relationship with a US president who regularly dismisses decades of climate science, as he does medical science. And people are dying as a result.

For Australia, the ambitious climate policies of a Biden administration means in every international negotiation our diplomats turn up to, climate change will not only be top of the agenda, but we will likely face constant criticism.

Indeed, fireside chats in the White House will come with new expectations that Australia significantly increases its ambitions under the Paris agreement. Committing to a net zero emissions target will be just the first.

The real kicker, however, will be Biden’s trade agenda, which supports carbon tariffs on imports that produce considerable carbon pollution. The US is still Australia’s third-largest trading partner after China and Japan — who, by the way, have just announced net zero emissions targets themselves……

With Biden now in the White House, it’s not just global climate politics that will be turned on its head. Australia’s failure to implement a serious domestic climate and energy policy could have profound costs.

Costs, mind you, that are easily avoidable if Australia acts on climate change, and does so now.  https://theconversation.com/biden-says-the-us-will-rejoin-the-paris-climate-agreement-in-77-days-then-australia-will-really-feel-the-heat-149533

November 7, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Biden as president would pursue climate ‘cheaters’, such as Morrison’s Australia

November 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)- from a tiny group to an International Treaty

Nuclear weapons treaty backed by 50 nations to become international law  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/nuclear-weapons-treaty-backed-by-50-nations-to-become-international-law,14455

By Dave Sweeney | 1 November 2020,   A treaty designed to ban nuclear weapons has become a major step in the elimination of global nuclear arms, writes Dave Sweeney.

2020 HAS BEEN a very tough year with fires, pestilence and massive economic and human disruption but amid the difficulties, an Australian-born initiative is steadily growing global support and offers our shared planet its best way to get rid of its worst weapons.

In October 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an initiative born in Melbourne and adopted, adapted and applied around the world, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

This was in recognition of its:

“…work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

Fast forward to October 2020 and the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons has just cleared a big hurdle. Despite strong pressure from the nuclear weapons states, especially the U.S., 50 nations have now ratified the ban treaty. It will enter into force and become part of international humanitarian law on 22 January 2021.

At a time when the threat of nuclear war is more explicit than it has been in decades, the ICAN story is timely and shows the power of both the individual and the idea. When ICAN started in 2007, its founders could have fitted in a minibus. Ten years later, there are over 500 ICAN groups and formal partners in more than 100 nations. And a treaty. Continue reading

November 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British Prime Minister urges Scott Morrison on climate action: Morrison twists the message

October 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s submarine deal with a corrupt French company

 

Meanwhile, in Australia, the submarine deal continues. In February last year, after two years of negotiations, the government signed a ‘strategic partnership agreement’ with Naval Group. The signing took place despite the emergence of two more investigations into Naval, including alleged corruption on a 2009 submarine deal with Brazil and a significant security breach where complete plans of the new Scorpène submarines Naval had provided to India were apparently leaked from within Naval. 

Strong anti-corruption measures essential

Vast amounts of Australian taxpayers’ money are being handed to military industrial companies, including Naval Group, in contracts. Yet the perennial lack of transparency in defence procurement, blanket secrecy surrounding Australian weapons exports, and a pervasive “culture of cosiness” between government and industry all continue.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

U.S. Deputy Sheriff Australia taken for a ride on an obsolete $90 billion submarine

October 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, technology | Leave a comment

USA election result, and Australia’s response- the world’s climate in the balance

This is a cautionary tale for Australia. In both the US and Australia, conservative politicians seem more eager to bail out dirty polluters than protect the public

For Australia’s sake, I hope Trump’s climate science denialism loseshttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/17/for-australias-sake-i-hope-trumps-climate-science-denialism-loses, Michael Mann  US policy has emboldened Scott Morrison to be less ambitious on climate, just when so much is at stake.

October 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Assange extradition case could esrablish a dangerous legal precedent

Crumbling Case Against Assange Shows Weakness of “Hacking” Charges Related to Whistleblowing

The charge against Assange is about establishing legal precedent to charge publishers with conspiring with their sources, something that so far the U.S. government has failed to do because of the First Amendment.

October 10, 2020 Micah Lee  THE INTERCEPT, By 2013, the Obama administration had concluded that it could not charge WikiLeaks or Julian Assange with crimes related to publishing classified documents — documents that showed, among other things, evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan — without criminalizing investigative journalism itself. President Barack Obama’s Justice Department called this the “New York Times problem,” because if WikiLeaks and Assange were criminals for publishing classified information, the New York Times would be just as guilty.

Five years later, in 2018, the Trump Administration indicted Assange anyway. But, rather than charging him with espionage for publishing classified information, they charged him with a computer crime, later adding 17 counts of espionage in a superseding May 2019 indictment.

The computer charges claimed that, in 2010, Assange conspired with his source, Chelsea Manning, to crack an account on a Windows computer in her military base, and that the “primary purpose of the conspiracy was to facilitate Manning’s acquisition and transmission of classified information.” The account enabled internet file transfers using a protocol known as FTP.

New testimony from the third week of Assange’s extradition trial makes it increasingly clear that this hacking charge is incredibly flimsy. The alleged hacking not only didn’t happen, according to expert testimony at Manning’s court martial hearing in 2013 and again at Assange’s extradition trial last week, but it also couldn’t have happened.

The new testimony, reported earlier this week by investigative news site Shadowproof, also shows that Manning already had authorized access to, and the ability to exfiltrate, all of the documents that she was accused of leaking — without receiving any technical help from WikiLeaks. …….

the charge is not actually about hacking — it’s about establishing legal precedent to charge publishers with conspiring with their sources, something that so far the U.S. government has failed to do because of the First Amendment………

Whether or not you believe Assange is a journalist is beside the point. The New York Times just published groundbreaking revelations from two decades of Donald Trump’s taxes showing obscene tax avoidance, massive fraud, and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.

Trump would like nothing more than to charge the New York Times itself, and individual journalists that reported that story, with felonies for conspiring with their source. This is why the precedent in Assange’s case is so important: If Assange loses, the Justice Department will have established new legal tactics with which to go after publishers for conspiring with their sources. https://portside.org/2020-10-10/crumbling-case-against-assange-shows-weakness-hacking-charges-related-whistleblowing

October 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, media, politics international | Leave a comment

As Julian Assange faces extradition to USA, global press freedom is endangered

 

October 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Pretty despicable -tax breaks for company exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, UAE.

Tax break for weapons exports to Mid-East countries accused of war crimes, Michael West Media, by Michelle Fahy | Oct 6, 2020   Australian weapons manufacturer Electro Optic Systems, with financial support from the federal and ACT governments, is capitalising on the ‘growth market’ of the Middle East, one of the world’s most volatile regions. Michelle Fahy reports.

As has been reported repeatedly, remote weapons systems manufactured by EOS are being exported to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia despite both countries being accused of war crimes. Numerous UN reports have detailed shocking human rights violations over the six years of the Yemen war.

After a shutdown due to Covid-19, EOS announced last month that it is exporting again.

EOS and the federal government have been asked repeatedly for proof that its weapons are not being used in Yemen. “Trust us,” is the standard response.

Assurances from a company chasing millions in profit and a government intent on catapulting Australia into the global top 10 of weapons exporters seem to be the best the public can expect in terms of accountability.

There is zero transparency when it comes to Australian weapons exports………..

Government support for EOS

EOS has received extensive government support, including an exemption from paying state payroll tax. Under questioning last November by the ACT Greens, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT Government provided support to EOS (PDF p44), “principally for its space industry related activity”. While EOS separates its space industry work from its weapons side, both companies operate in the same group under the same board……..

EOS has so far supplied the UAE and Saudi with its remote weapons systems. The systems are mounted on armoured vehicles and can incorporate a light cannon, machine gun, grenade launcher or anti-tank missile, which EOS does not manufacture. The system enables the weapon to be operated from inside the vehicle, which makes the soldier safer. It can identify targets and automatically aim the weapon, making the firing of the weapon faster and more accurate. In military parlance, the system enhances lethality. See it in action here.

The claim that it was not a weapons manufacturer may have been technically correct when asserted by EOS and Barr, but that is no longer the case.

Last month EOS announced it had moved into production with a new range of directed energy (laser) weapons. The weapons are being marketed by EOS as ‘drone kill’ technology (counter unmanned aircraft system or CUAS). EOS says “CUAS are entirely defensive systems”. The potential market is large. EOS has named its new range of weapons Mopoke, after the small native Australian owl.

EOS has not disclosed its list of interested customers for Mopoke, but industry insiders – such as AuManufacturing – have noted that its first customers are likely to come from the Middle East, given drone attacks on infrastructure there……….

EOS is now unequivocally a weapons manufacturer, and likely to soon start exporting its weapons to the Middle East.

Supplying weapons to war crimes accused

Melissa Parke, a lawyer, former federal Labor MP, and human rights expert, is one of three UN-appointed Eminent Experts on Yemen. Parke told SBS Dateline last year:

“No country can claim not to be aware of the violations being perpetrated in Yemen. To continue to provide weapons in the knowledge of such violations is both morally and legally hazardous.”

A former secretary of the Defence Department, Paul Barratt, has also stated his position on these weapon sales:

“Regardless of whether Australian-made weapons [are] crossing the border into Yemen, Australia now has a national policy which seeks and facilitates weapons sales with countries that stand accused of gross violations of human rights and likely war crimes. When did this particular trade in arms become official Australian policy? As a country that routinely asks other countries to abide by the rules-based international order, it would seem hypocritical, at best, that Australia is now willing to … make a profit from weapons sales to nations that are openly flouting this international order.”……….

In addition to ministerial lobbying, EOS Defence Systems has received federal financial support, including:

  • $3.7 million from Defence between 2013 and 2016
  • $41.5 million performance bond from Export Finance Australia (EFIC) (PDF p66)

The company has also gained from influential appointments to its board. Former Chief of Army, Peter Leahy, joined the EOS board in May 2009, just 10 months after retiring as army chief. In April 2016 Leahy was joined by former Chief of Air Force, Geoff Brown, less than 10 months after he had retired from the air force…… https://www.michaelwest.com.au/eos-weapons-export-transparen

October 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 Pine Gap could play role in accidental US-China nuclear fight 

 

 Pine Gap could play role in accidental US-China nuclear fight  NT News, 30 Sept 20

Heightened US-China tensions have increased the risk of an accidental nuclear exchange between the two superpowers — and whether or not the Northern Territory’s Pine Gap surveillance base is playing a role in hyping this up needs to be looked at ……. (subscribers only)

October 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Medical experts testify to court on Julian Assange’s precarious mental health

Assange faces “very high risk of suicide,” medical expert tells court, WSWS, By Thomas Scripps and Laura Tiernan, 23 September 2020

Medical evidence was produced in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing yesterday detailing the terrible harm done to the heroic journalist by a decade of state-orchestrated persecution.

The day was given over to the examination of Professor Michael Kopelman who testified to Assange’s mental health. Kopelman is a psychiatrist and Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychiatry at Kings College London. He has given expert evidence in multiple extradition cases on behalf of both the defence and the prosecution. In assessing Assange, he conducted seventeen visits in 2019 and additional visits in 2020, constructed a “full family history” and a “full personal psychiatric history,” and carried out “interviews with his family and lifelong friends.”

His findings constitute a clear bar to Assange’s extradition to the United States. Under Section 91 of the UK Extradition Act (2003), extradition is prohibited if “the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”

Under Section 87, extradition is prohibited if it is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Article 3 of the ECHR states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Medical evidence speaking to these bars has played a critical role in previous US-UK extradition hearings, for example in the case of Lauri Love. The risk of notoriously poor conditions in US prisons exacerbating mental illness is an important factor.

Assange’s case meets these criteria. The details in today’s WSWS coverage are being reported consistent with the “sensitivity” called for by defence lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC, on behalf of his client. Nonetheless they make overwhelmingly clear the “unjust and oppressive” treatment to which Assange has already been subjected.

Assange, Kopelman told the court, has experienced periods of serious mental illness in his earlier life. Since being confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy and then Belmarsh maximum security prison, these issues have resurfaced and worsened. Assange has suffered symptoms of severe and recurrent depression. Those symptoms have included “loss of sleep, loss of weight, a sense of pre-occupation and helplessness” and auditory hallucinations which Kopelman summarised as “derogatory and persecutory.”

They have also included “suicidal preoccupations.” Kopelman told the court, “There are… an abundance of known risk factors in Mr Assange’s case” and that Assange has “made various plans and undergone various preparations.” He gave his opinion that there was a “very high risk of suicide.”

These symptoms and risks, Kopelman explained, are exacerbated by an anxiety disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and by a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Kopelman cited a paper by world-leading autism expert Dr Simon Baron-Cohen which found that the lifetime experience of suicidal thoughts in those with Asperger’s “was more than nine times higher than in the general population in England.”

Explaining the impact of the US government’s persecution, Kopelman said, “The risk of suicide arises out of the clinical factors of depression and the other diagnoses, but it is the imminence of extradition and/or an actual extradition that will trigger the attempt, in my opinion.”

If Assange were to be incarcerated in the US and segregated from other prisoners, Kopelman gave his opinion that the WikiLeaks founder would “deteriorate substantially” and see an “exacerbation” of his “suicidal ideas.” This would “amount to psychological harm and severe psychological suffering.”

Kopelman’s evidence confirms the warnings made since November 2019 by Doctors for Assange, representing hundreds of medical professionals from around the world, that Assange is suffering “psychological torture” and “could die in prison.” It underlines in distressing detail UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer’s comment regarding Assange’s treatment that “psychological torture is not torture-lite. Psychological torture aims to wreck and destroy the person’s personality and identity… to make them break.”

Assange’s year-and-a-half long incarceration at Belmarsh has been designed to achieve this objective. It has profoundly undermined, in numerous ways, his legal right to prepare his defence against extradition. Kopelman reported yesterday that Assange has repeatedly complained that the medication taken for his mental health has caused him “difficulty in thinking, in memorising [and] in concentration.”

During the morning’s cross examination, Kopelman forcefully rebuffed prosecution lawyer James Lewis QC’s challenge to his credentials. He said solicitors had called him several times in recent years saying that Lewis himself was “keen to have your services” in an extradition case.

In the afternoon, cross-examination continued, with Lewis challenging the veracity of Kopelman’s diagnosis, and claiming that Assange’s appearance was “wholly inconsistent with someone who is severely or moderately-severely depressed and with psychotic symptoms.”

Kopelman replied, “Could we go back a step?” Having seen Assange between May 30 and December [2019], “I thought he was severely depressed, suicidal and was experiencing hallucinations.”………….. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/09/23/assa-s23.html

September 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia is to build new nuclear reactors, in partnership with China (does Parliament know?)

 

Republishing again, in view of Dr Adi Paterson’s departure from Ansto.

Republishing this one, in view of news from the UK, that a British-China nuclear research programme may be siphoning UK tax-payers’ funds off into China’s military projects. 

Australia is back in the nuclear game, Independent Australia,  By Noel Wauchope | 24 March 2019, One of Australia’s chief advocates for nuclear power Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, (ANSTO), has done it again.

This time, he quietly signed Australia up to spend taxpayers’ money on developing a new nuclear gimmick — the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR).

This new nuclear reactor does not physically exist and there is no market for it. So its development depends on government funding.

Proponents claim that this nuclear reactor would be better and cheaper than the existing (very expensive) pressurised water reactors, but this claim has been refuted. The TMSR has been described by analyst Oliver Tickell as not “green”, not “viable” and not likely. More recently, the plan has been criticised as, among other things, just too expensive — not feasible as a profitable commercial energy source.

Paterson’s signing up to this agreement received no Parliamentary discussion and no public information. The news just appeared in a relatively obscure engineering journal.

The public remains unaware of this.

In 2017, we learned through the Senate Committee process that Dr Paterson had, in June 2016, signed Australia up to the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems (also accessible by Parliament Hansard Economics Legislation Committee 30/05/2017).

This was in advance of any Parliamentary discussion and despite Australia’s law prohibiting nuclear power development. Paterson’s decision was later rubber-stamped by a Senate Committee……..

Dr Paterson was then obviously supremely confident in his ability to make pro-nuclear decisions for Australia.

Nothing seems to have changed in Paterson’s confidence levels about making decisions on behalf of Australia.

Interestingly, Bill Gates has abandoned his nuclear co-operation with China. His company TerraPower was to develop Generation IV nuclear reactors. Gates decided to pull out of this because the Trump Administration, led by the Energy Department, announced in October that it was implementing measures to prevent China’s illegal diversion of U.S. civil nuclear technology for military or other unauthorised purposes.

Apparently, these considerations have not weighed heavily on the Australian Parliament.

Is this because the Parliament doesn’t know anything about Dr Paterson’s agreement for Australia to partner with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) in developing Thorium Molten Salt Reactors?   https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/australia-is-back-in-the-nuclear-game,12488#.XJWdhxDqitc.twitter

September 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international, secrets and lies, technology | Leave a comment