Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

France’s latest nuclear-powered ‘Barracuda’ class submarine: why did Scott Morrison send Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to France, for the launch.

French President Emmanuel Macron unveils France’s nuclear-powered ‘Barracuda’ submarine    12/07/2019  French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled France’s latest nuclear-powered ‘Barracuda’ class submarine on Friday, a €9 billion stealth vessel programme Paris says is key to maintaining its naval presence for decades to come…….

The French government has placed an order for six of the 5,000-tonne submarines made by Naval Group, in which defence company Thales has a 35 percent stake.

The Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds attended the ceremony unveiling the submarine. Australia recently ordered a non-nuclear attack class submarine fleet from the Naval Group……… https://www.euronews.com/2019/07/12/french-president-emmanuel-macron-to-unveil-france-s-nuclear-powered-barracuda-submarine

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July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

The unwisdom of Australia mindlessly following USA into a war against Iran

We must think very carefully before committing to war in the Gulf, The Age, By Hossein Esmaeili, July 8, 2019 Conflict between the United States and Iran is deepening and the two states are marching towards war. The Persian Gulf, where a third of the world’s natural gas and a fifth of the world’s oil is sourced, may soon see another large scale and probably long-lasting international conflict………

On Sunday, Iran announced it would enrich uranium beyond the nuclear deal limit unless the remaining parties – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – help reduce the paralysing US economic sanctions, which are strangling Iran’s economy. …….
Any war in the volatile environment of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East would not be, as Trump said, ‘‘quick and short’’, but rather a blazing regional and international conflict which may disturb the world economy and endanger global peace and security. ….
In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially called on Australia to play a role in a new global coalition against Iran. Following Pompeo’s request, Prime Minster Scott Morrison did not rule out possible Australian involvement in a possible military conflict between the US and Iran.  ……
After the events of September 11, 2001, John Howard invoked provisions of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty to demonstrate Australia’s support for the US in its war against the Taliban/al-Qaeda and later against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  …..

Australia has no legal obligations under the ANZUS Treaty, or any other international agreement, to join the US in another possibly long, chaotic and devastating regional conflict. Indeed, under the Charter of the United Nations, to which both Australia and the US are parties, the use of force is prohibited unless authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations.

Australia’s Prime Minister must think very carefully before committing Australia to a war that has virtually no international support, no international legal justification, and no rational justification. ……

the European Union is backing measures, provided by France, United Kingdom and Germany, known as Instruments In Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX), to facilitate trade between the EU and Iran to partially get around the US sanctions, in order to save the 2015 nuclear deal, to maintain dialogue with Iran and to prevent an international military crisis.

Australia would be much wiser to join the EU’s INSTEX and engage in dialogue with Iran……..

Should Morrison decide to enter into a conflict in one of the most volatile regions of the world, he will not have the decision-making power to end it. He would do well not to drive Australia into such a war, instead, given Australia’s international reputation, he should help European countries, the world community and the United Nations to avoid a useless armed conflict, which will not benefit any country.

War with Iran won’t be like war with Iraq: significantly more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation for the entire world, including Australia, will be the result.

Hossein Esmaeili is an associate professor of international law at Flinders University.  https://www.theage.com.au/world/middle-east/we-must-think-very-carefully-before-committing-to-war-in-the-gulf-20190708-p52566.html

July 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new book argues that Australia will need nuclear weapons

Nuclear arsenal must be on Australia’s agenda, argues defence expert, SMH, By Harriet Alexander, July 1, 2019  Australia can no longer rely on the United States to protect it in Asia and should consider developing its own nuclear weapons for the event that China becomes hostile, former defence strategist and security analyst Hugh White argues in a controversial new book.

Professor White argues in How to Defend Australia the assumption that the United States would protect the nation against any attack by a major power, which has underpinned Australian defence policy since the Cold War, is no longer true as China emerges as the dominant power in Asia.

For Australia to be self-reliant, it would need to boost defence spending from 2 per cent to 3.5 per cent of GDP – or $30 billion – and consider the “difficult and uncomfortable” question of developing its own nuclear capability, said Professor White, a professor in strategic studies at the Australian National University……..

Although most think tanks and strategic policy institutes in the United States continued to assert that dominance in Asia was a strategic priority, America’s global leadership has not figured as a priority for President Donald Trump nor for the contenders to the Democrat nomination, Professor White said. ……

Professor White said Australia should only consider defensive weapons such as submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

“We need to be extremely careful about how we talk about this and very conscious of the extraordinary cost to us of acquiring nuclear weapons,” Professor White said.

“It would make us less secure in some ways, that’s why in some ways I think it’s appalling.”

The last prime minister to canvass the development of nuclear weapons in Australia was Robert Menzies in the 1960s.

Professor White, a former deputy secretary for strategy and intelligence with the Department of Defence, was dismissed as alarmist when he first foreshadowed in 2010 the demise of American influence in Asia. But the Lowy Institute’s international security program director Sam Roggeveen said he had since been proved correct.

Mr Roggeveen said the regional complications of Australia developing nuclear weapons would be huge, with Indonesia probably having to follow suit, but the logic was inescapable.

“If we ever completely decouple from the [US] alliance then it’s hard to see how we could essentially maintain our independence against China’s coercion if we didn’t have nuclear weapons,” Mr Roggeveen said.

The bipartisan political consensus on Australian defence policy is opposed to the development of nuclear weapons, and the domestic shipbuilding program would leave Australia “hopelessly vulnerable” if it ever came to a fight with China, Mr Roggeveen said.

“According to White, we are locking in a defence force for a generation that will be totally unsuited to the world we are entering,” he wrote in a book review for The Interpreter. “That’s the scandal.”

The Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, said: “Australia stands by its Non-Proliferation Treaty pledge, as a non-nuclear weapon state, not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons.”

La Trobe Asia executive director Euan Graham said the US alliance was more resilient than Professor White described and China had shown no signs of aggression, but he agreed Australia should think about developing its nuclear capability.

“We’re talking about 15 to 20 years acquisition timeframe and the security environment that we’re facing will almost certainly be more severe then that it is now,” Dr Graham said.

“I think Australia has to be thinking about what will be  be required to move to a nuclear weapon posture because that can’t happen overnight.”   https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/nuclear-arsenal-must-be-on-australia-s-agenda-argues-defence-expert-20190701-p52306.html

July 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Will Scott Morrison repeat John Howard’s mistake, and join in military action against Iran?

Acting on Iran has painful shades of joining the US in Iraq The Age, Tony Walker, 1 July 19, Here’s a word of advice to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Unless he wants to risk a smudge on his reputation of the sort that accompanies John Howard to this day: don’t get involved in conflict with Iran beyond limited naval engagement in a Gulf peace-keeping role.

When we read that Canberra is open to joining an international effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran “in consultation with our allies and partners”, this invites disquieting questions.

If Morrison is talking about involvement in a “global coalition”, as described by the hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then he might remind himself of what happened when Australia last lent itself to a so-called “Coalition of the Willing”.

That was 17 years ago in 2002 when John Howard – as one of the “three amigos” with Britain’s Tony Blair and Spain’s Jose Maria Aznar – joined George W. Bush in promoting a disastrous invasion of Iraq.

Only World War II, which absorbed one-third of American GDP, or $4 trillion in today’s dollars, has cost more than the Iraq debacle at $1 trillion (a total $2 trillion if Afghanistan is included).

These are the measurable costs in people, materiel and nation building. Incalculable are the ongoing costs of the destabilisation of the entire Middle East, and the empowerment of Iran…..

In a multi-year assignment in the Middle East I reported the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88); the first Gulf War (1990-1991), in which the US and its allies routed the Iraqi military; and the invasion of Iraq (2003). If I learned anything from those experiences it is that wars are easier to start than to finish. …..

Morrison is surrounded by a weak national security team. The national security committee of cabinet does not include one individual with credible security experience. …….

Morrison might remind himself that Canada’s then-prime minister, Jean Chretien, kept his country out of the Iraq war. The sky did not subsequently fall in on Ottawa.

All this is relevant today given that Morrison found himself last week in the presence over dinner of the two most hawkish members of the Trump administration. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton both advocated air strikes against Iranian targets in retaliation for suspected Iranian attacks on gulf oil facilities before the President, at the 11th hour, called off military action.

Bolton has been an intemperate advocate of regime change in Tehran. In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Pompeo said Australia had a key role in a “global coalition”. What that means is anyone’s guess.

Morrison would be well advised not to be suckered into joining a counter-punch against Iran. His response to requests for any significant Australian military involvement should be emphatically: No. https://www.theage.com.au/world/middle-east/acting-on-iran-has-painful-shades-of-joining-the-us-in-iraq-20190628-p5227h.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Tiny nations challenge Australia’s carbon ‘carryover credits’

Tiny nations challenge Australia’s carbon ‘carryover credits’ SMH Peter Hannam, June 30, 20Nations from Senegal to Tuvalu have used a United Nations climate conference to challenge the Morrison government’s use of carbon “carryover credits” to virtually halve Australia’s abatement ambition out to 2030.

The conference that wrapped up at the end of last week in Bonn, Germany, debated among other things, the rules of the Paris Agreement.

The discussions included whether nations including Australia should be allowed to count the surplus it expects to generate during the Kyoto Protocol period that runs to 2020.

On the government’s projections, 328 million tonnes of Australia’s pledged cut of about 695 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent could be met by counting the Kyoto surplus for the Paris pledge over the decade from 2021-2030.

Among the nations that opposed the use of “carryover credits” at the Bonn conference included the Association of Small Island states, including Tuvalu.

South Korea, the European Union and New Zealand were also against using Kyoto surplus, according to Kate Dooley, a researcher with the the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, who was an observer at the Bonn conference.

“Discussions here in Bonn have made it clear that most countries do not accept the carry-over of Kyoto units into the Paris Agreement,” Dr Dooley said.

“The world’s most vulnerable countries have spoken out to say that accounting tricks, such as those the Australian government intends to use, are not consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.”

…….. The Bonn talks were largely focused on preparing the rules for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement ahead of a Conference of the Parties (COP25) summit in Santiago, Chile later this year. The article is one of the main unresolved issues from the pact signed in Paris in 2015.

The Carbon Pulse newswire said while the new text agreed at Bonn had the potential to scupper Australia’s plans to use Kyoto credits without a specific prohibition in place they would still be able to be banked.

Still, the newswire quoted Gilles Dufrasne of Carbon Market Watch as raising the issue of how such credits had undermined nations’ abatement efforts.

“We have seen how damaging this has been under the Kyoto Protocol and we cannot afford to repeat the experience under the Paris Agreement,” Mr Dufrasne said. “It is very important that [Kyoto Protocol] units are not allowed for use towards [national targets}.” https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/tiny-nation-s-challenge-australia-s-carbon-carryover-credits-20190630-p522n0.html    

June 30, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison backs Donald Trump in getting tough on Iran

June 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

PM Scott Morrison looks favourably on Trump’s belligerent attitude to Iran ?

Scott Morrison on Iran: we’ll ‘seriously’ consider any US request to join military action, Australian PM speaks after meeting Donald Trump before G20 summit in Japan,   Guardian Luke Henriques-Gomes and Katharine Murphy, 28 Jun 2019 


  Scott Morrison says Australia has not yet been asked to take part in any military action in Iran but says any request from the Trump administration will be considered “seriously and on its merits”.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has asked Australia to toughen its stance on Tehran and play a key role in a new “global coalition” against the regime.

Tensions between the US and Iran are at their worst point since the White House pulled out of what the president said was an “unfair” nuclear deal known as the joint comprehensive plan of action in May last year.

Before the G20 summit in Osaka, Pompeo called on Australia to join what he described as a “global coalition” against Iran, which last week shot down a US surveillance drone. Iran has said the drone was in its airspace.

But as the Trump administration escalates its sanctions and rhetoric, Pompeo said the US would welcome a move from Australia to impose additional economic sanctions on Iran.

“I think Australia is an important player here,” he told the Australian………   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/28/scott-morrison-on-iran-well-seriously-consider-any-us-request-to-join-military-action?CMP=soc_567&fbclid=IwAR2ZnGgRGPj4wv1BwpN5qH4dGYCjM0Od6LAqOVJnW2A6nXA64SHwfscb7

June 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Malaysian MP insists that Lynas rare earths processing has contaminated grounwater

Contradicting Xavier, Fuziah insists groundwater near Lynas plant contaminated, The Star, 10 Jun 2019, by ong han sean   KUANTAN: Staunch Lynas opponent Fuziah Salleh  nsists that groundwater near the rare earth refinery contains toxic elements.The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said elements detected in the groundwater contamination monitoring data from the 2015-2016 Health Impact Assessment provided by Lynas to the executive review committee included nickel, lead and chromium.

“It is ironic that in Malaysia, Lynas has persistently denied that it is the source of serious heavy metal contamination, even though data taken over a 12-month period from September 2015 from its own groundwater monitoring stations have shown otherwise, apart from the month of April,” Fuziah said in a statement on Monday (June 10).

She said groundwater contamination detection required a protracted, regular and technically reliable independent monitoring strategy, and a conclusion could only be made with a high level of statistical confidence based on multiple and repeated samples taken across seasons.
The Kuantan MP said this kind of pollution had very serious public and environmental health implications in the long run.

“Of course, Lynas would never have admitted to the contamination because if it does, then it will be liable for this pollution. As a speculative rare earth junior mining company, its future lies in its ability to mask the real problems it is facing in Malaysia.

“Simply branding people who have raised concerns about its pollution and waste as activists is underestimating the many experts from different fields whom I have met over the years.

“These are highly skilled educated professionals with postgraduate qualifications from various reputable universities in Malaysia and from advanced industrialised countries overseas.

“They have given their pro-bono professional advice out of their sense of duty to the country and for our rakyat, and because they feel that Malaysia deserves the truth and environmental justice,” she said.

Fuziah’s statement is in stark contrast with a recent announcement by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar that the groundwater around the Lynas refinery was no longer polluted by heavy metals as shown by the latest tests conducted in the surrounding area there.

Lynas subsequently issued a statement expressing disappointment that anti-Lynas activists were using misleading and false information about groundwater in an attempt to create fear in the local communities……….

Fuziah added that Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin was planning to personally visit Australia later this month to negotiate the return of Lynas’ NORM waste to its mine pit in Mount Weld in Western Australia.

“Lynas had given two undertakings back in 2012 to remove its NORM waste to get its operating licence.

“Both thorium and uranium radionuclides and the heavy metals present in Lynas’ waste are toxic. Many of these are cancer-causing substances and must be isolated from the biosphere, not left to pollute the environment.

“Thorium especially is a long-living low-level radioactive radionuclide which will remain hazardous forever, leaving a toxic legacy for current and future generations.

“I have a duty and responsibility as an elected representative of the people to raise my concern,” Fuziah said.

On May 30, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly told the media in Japan that Malaysia would allow the Australian rare earths producer to continue operating its plant in Gebeng, Pahang.

However, in an interview with 8TV, Yeo said she was making plans to go to Australia to discuss the Lynas issue with government officials there.

She also said that the confirmation on whether the Malaysian government would give the green light to Lynas would only be decided after her trip. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/10/fuziah-contradicts-xavier-says-groundwater-near-lynas-plant-contaminated/

June 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | 1 Comment

Australia’s reputation in the Pacific now trashed due to its failure to help, in climate crisis

June 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange will now not face Espionage Act charges.  

Assange won’t face charges over role in devastating CIA leak   The decision surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to go after the WikiLeaks founder on Espionage Act charges.  

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not face charges for publishing Vault 7, a series of documents detailing the CIA’s arsenal of digital code used to hack devices  Politico, By 6/2/19

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.

It’s a move that has surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. ……

Prosecutors were stymied by several factors. First, the government is facing a ticking clock in its efforts to extradite Assange to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the U.S. to bring any additional charges against Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing Assange of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not face charges for publishing Vault 7, a series of documents detailing the CIA’s arsenal of digital code used to hack devices | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Julian Assange for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools, according to a U.S. official and two other people familiar with the case.

It’s a move that has surprised national security experts and some former officials, given prosecutors’ recent decision to aggressively go after the WikiLeaks founder on more controversial Espionage Act charges that some legal experts said would not hold up in court. The decision also means that Assange will not face punishment for publishing one of the CIA’s most potent arsenals of digital code used to hack devices, dubbed Vault 7. The leak — one of the most devastating in CIA history — not only essentially rendered those tools useless for the CIA, it gave foreign spies and rogue hackers access to them.

Prosecutors were stymied by several factors.

First, the government is facing a ticking clock in its efforts to extradite Assange to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the U.S. to bring any additional charges against Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing Assange of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers.

Second, prosecutors were worried about the sensitivity of the Vault 7 materials, according to an official familiar with the deliberations over whether to charge Assange. Broaching such a classified subject in court risks exposing even more CIA secrets, legal experts said. The CIA has never officially confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents, even though analysts widely believe them to be authentic……

So instead, the Justice Department will go after Assange on the one count for allegedly assisting Manning and the 17-count Espionage Act indictment. There are no plans to bring any additional indictments prior to his extradition.  https://www.politico.eu/article/julian-assange-wont-face-charges-over-cia-leak-whistleblower-spy-tools-national-security/

June 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia joins with Japan and USA in urging North Korea to return to nuclear talks

Japan, U.S., Australia urge North Korea to return to nuclear talks, Japan Times , 2 June, 19, KYODO   The Japanese, U.S. and Australian defense chiefs on Saturday agreed to cooperate on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and urge North Korea to return to disarmament negotiations that have remained at a standstill since the collapse of a second summit between Washington and Pyongyang in late February.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reached the agreement with Japanese and Australian defense ministers Takeshi Iwaya and Linda Reynolds at their meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore…….https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/06/02/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-u-s-australia-urge-north-korea-return-nuclear-talks/#.XPRJ-BYzbGg

June 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

USA Prominent right-wing Ron Paul asks: are the US and UK trying to kill jailed Julian Assange?

June 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Julian Assange a victim of torture: Australian government just let it happen

UN rapporteur on torture: Julian Assange subjected to psychological torture

Assange a victim of torture and Australia shares blame, says UN expert, The Age, By Nick Miller
May 31, 2019 London: Julian Assange has been subjected to intense psychological torture comparable to some of the gravest cases from “interrogation prisons” around the world, a United Nations expert says.He accuses the UK, US and Sweden of a “consistent failure” to protect Assange’s human rights – and Australia of a “glaring absence” where it should be helping one of its citizens…..

Nils Melzer, a Geneva-based former Red Cross lawyer and human rights expert who is now the UN special rapporteur on torture, spent four hours with Assange in Belmarsh in early May, assessing his psychological and mental state along with two medical specialists.

In a currently confidential report submitted to the British government on Monday, along with letters to the US, Swedish and Ecuadorian governments, Melzer concluded Assange “shows all the symptoms of someone exposed to prolonged psychological ill-treatment”.

“The evidence is overwhelming and clear,” Melzer said. “Mr Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the deliberate, concerted and sustained nature of the abuse inflicted on Mr Assange and seriously deplore the consistent failure of all involved governments to take measures for the protection of his most fundamental human rights and dignity.”

Melzer said the ill treatment was a combination of the way Assange was confined, isolated and persecuted while inside the Ecuadorean embassy, especially in his last year there, along with death threats and public accusations, the prosecutions pursued against him and the public statements made by US government officials as to how he should be dealt with.

Torture did not just include active efforts, but also covers a situation where a State is “aware your behaviour will have these consequences and not doing anything about it”, Melzer said.

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Melzer told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that in his work with the UN and before in the field with the Red Cross he had seen people in rendition for interrogation after 9/11, and prisoners of war who had been ill-treated on a daily basis.

“But [Assange] is really something I’ve never seen in 20 years,” Melzer said. “I’ve seen atrocities in war areas that were physically more horrible but I’ve never seen a single person pursued so relentlessly and with so little foundation.

“[When I saw him] I immediately compared him to some of the graver cases in interrogation prisons in terms of his psychological reaction patterns. That’s what alarmed me so much.”

He said Assange’s treatment was “very close to the intentional, purposeful infliction of coercive measures to try to break him”.

Melzer said his visit on May 9 involved a three-hour psychological and physical assessment based on the “Istanbul Protocol”, a standard manual for assessing torture victims around the world.

The assessment took place before WikiLeaks revealed, on Wednesday, that Assange had been moved to a prison hospital having “dramatically lost weight” and in such a state that “it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him”…….

Assange, unlike other prisoners, was exposed to multiple major pending legal proceedings with “so much political commotion”, and was not being given enough time to talk to his lawyers and get updates on his case. ……

Melzer said he had seen no sign of Australian assistance for Assange.

“Australia is a glaring absence in this case. They’re just not around, as if Assange was not an Australian citizen. That is not the correct way of dealing with that.”…..

After it was reported Assange had been taken to the hospital prison this week, the Australian government again got in contact with the prison to check on him.

“We are confident that Mr Assange is being treated appropriately in Belmarsh Prison. Mr Assange has advised us that he is being treated the same as other prisoners in Belmarsh,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to visit Mr Assange in prison, monitor and advocate for his health, welfare and equitable treatment, and closely follow his legal proceedings.”  https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/assange-a-victim-of-torture-and-australia-shares-blame-says-un-expert-20190531-p51t1v.html

June 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Swedish court rejects effort to delay Assange hearing

  https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/swedish-court-rejects-effort-to-delay-assange-hearing-20190529-p51s61.html  29 May 19.   Stockholm: A Swedish court has rejected efforts to postpone a hearing relating to Julian Assange, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder says.

A Swedish prosecutor this month filed a request for Assange to be detained for a June 3 hearing about a rape allegation.

Defence lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters he visited Assange in British custody on Friday before seeking to postpone the hearing.

“One of the reasons is that Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Samuelson said.

“I meant that it should be postponed until I had time to meet again and go through the issues in peace and quiet. I suggested no specific date and meant it should be postponed until everything was ready, but the district court has now decided that this won’t happen .

he Uppsala district court, where the hearing is due to take place, was not immediately available for comment. A prosecutors’ office spokesman declined to comment.

Sweden reopened the investigation into alleged rape, which Assange denies, in early May. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 while Assange was in refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange was arrested in London last month after spending nearly seven years inside the embassy.

If the court order is granted, it would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.

US authorities are separately seeking to extradite Assange on charges relating to the public release by WikiLeaks of a cache of secret documents, and last week unveiled 17 new criminal charges against him, including espionage.

The British courts will have to rule on the two extradition requests, with the home secretary having the final say on which one takes precedence.

June 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Lynas still struggling to deal with its Malaysian radioactive waste problem

June 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths | Leave a comment