Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The Australian government”s intimidation of whistleblowers – the torture of Julian Assange

Torture of Julian Assange by Australian governments sends powerful message to whistleblowers, Michael West Media by Lissa Johnson | Nov 26, 2020

Australia has used a range of torture techniques against Julian Assange, writes Dr Lissa Johnson. Governments have isolated and demonised him; flatly rejected evidence of ill-treatment; refused to respond to specific allegations; and divested themselves  of any responsibility. Leaders can’t, or won’t, accept the difference between psychological torture and ‘a legal matter’.

Julian Assange has set a number of firsts for Australia, including:

  • The first Walkley award winner whose journalism has attracted a possible 175 years in US prison.
  • The first journalist to be prosecuted as a spy by the US government, under its 1917 Espionage Act.
  • The first citizen of an ostensibly democratic state (Australia) whom a UN official has found to be the target of a campaign of collective persecution and mobbing by other so-called democratic states.

As the UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, observed:

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.

As part of this mobbing and collective persecution, Assange is the first Australian journalist to be tortured for journalism in the UK.

On 9 May 2019, Professor Melzer visited Assange in Belmarsh prison, accompanied by two medical experts specialising in the assessment and documentation of torture. On 31 May, Melzer reported that they had found Assange to be suffering all symptoms typical of prolonged exposure to psychological torture.

On 1 November 2019, Melzer warned that, unless the UK government urgently changed course, it may soon end up costing his life.

What torture?

Julian Assange is being held in ‘Britain’s Guantanamo’, Belmarsh prison, a high-security facility designed for those charged with terrorism, murder and other violent offences. He has been held in solitary confinement for 22 to 23 hours a day.

He knows that US-aligned security contractors have written in emails that he will make a nice bride in prison, and needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo. He knows he is headed for life in US supermax prisons, where prisoners are held in perpetual solitary and chains.

‘If this man gets extradited to the United States, he will be tortured until the day he dies’, Profesor Melzer has cautioned.

To heighten the torment, Assange has been prevented from preparing his defence against extradition in violation of his human rights as a defendant.

He has been granted negligible access to his lawyers and is prevented from researching his own defence. The only purpose is to render him helpless, intensifying his trauma.

A Message from the Australian Government

Assange’s experience sets an example to anyone thinking of airing the dirty secrets of those in power: the genuinely dirty secrets, such as wantonly slaughtering and torturing innocent people and covering it up.

Like all public torture, it sends a message to onlookers: this could happen to you.

And the message from the Australian government to any Australian journalists looking on? You’re on your own.

The US government is seeking to retrospectively apply its own Espionage Act to non-US citizens in foreign lands, while simultaneously withholding the free speech protections of its Constitution. The upshot would be that non-US citizens, and non-US journalists, would be vulnerable to prosecution wherever they may be, whenever the United States saw fit.

Should a host country oblige, that journalist’s only hope would be the protection of their own government. And the message from the Australian government? Not a chance.

A climate of consent

But can the government do anything to stop the torture of Assange in the UK? Or are its hands tied?

Australia ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1989. It therefore has a positive duty to take ‘effective legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures to prevent acts of torture’ of its citizens. According to the Federal Attorney-General’s website, however, that duty applies to ‘territories within Australia’s jurisdiction’.

So who is responsible for protecting Australian citizens from torture overseas?

Australian officials can raise concerns with their overseas counterparts when they are concerned about gross violations of citizens’ rights as happened in the cases of Melinda Taylor, James Ricketson, David Hicks and Peter Greste.

 

They could also make a submission to the Committee against Torture that a state is ‘not fulfilling its obligations under this Convention’.

n Assange’s case, however, the government has opted for ‘consent and acquiescence’ under Article 1 of the convention. Consent and acquiescence is listed alongside inflicting and instigating torture as part of the very definition of torture.

 ‘Standard’ fare

DFAT representatives say repeatedly that Assange’s treatment In the UK is perfectly normal. ‘Standard’. ‘No different’ from the treatment of other UK prisoners. Routine, in other words. Nothing to see here.

When reminded that Assange had been handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice and moved between five holding cells after the first day of his extradition hearing, a DFAT representative described this as ‘standard prison to court and court to prison procedure’.

What the official failed to explain is that treatment is only ‘standard’ and normal for prisoners charged with terrorism or other violent offences.

It is not remotely normal for journalists with no criminal history, and no history or risk of violence, to be detained under the most punitive conditions that UK law enforcement has to offer.

As an exercise in “consent and acquiescence” DFAT representatives performed their duties well.

Sanitising, normalising language minimises and trivialises abuse………….

‘Not our responsibility’ has been the Australian government’s refrain. Australian government officials ‘don’t provide running commentaries on legal matters before the courts in other parts of the world’, asserted the Foreign Minister.

Australia is ‘not a party to the legal proceedings in the United Kingdom’, stressed a DFAT official when asked why Australia had not intervened in Assange’s case during Senate Estimates. ‘We have no standing in the legal matter that is currently before the courts.’

Perhaps the Australian government doesn’t understand the seriousness of the abuses taking place in the UK. Perhaps ministers and their advisors are unaware of the difference between psychological torture and a ‘legal matter’. Psychological torture is, after all, not commonly well understood.

It is possible that the Australian government merely fails to grasp the gravity of ignoring Professor Melzer’s warnings. However, when the group Doctors for Assange wrote to the Australian government in December 2019, they detailed the medical and psychological basis of their concerns for Assange’s life and health…………..

New normal in Australia?

Assange is not the first person in Australia to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Australia’s abuse of asylum seekers and refugees has been found to violate the Convention Against Torture. Aboriginal Australians, among the most incarcerated groups on earth, have been dying in custody, buried under acquiescent consent, for decades, and historically for hundreds of years.

The Human Rights Measurement Index 2019 has given Australia a 5.5 out of 10 rating for ‘freedom from torture’, noting, ‘Torture is a serious problem in Australia … a large range of people [are] at particular risk of torture or ill-treatment, with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders at the top of the list’…….

Through sending a message to journalists worldwide by torturing Assange, the abusive licence deployed against other persecuted groups is being expanded to take in journalism. The targeting of journalists around the world matters because journalists cut across the acquiescence and consent, remove the deadbolt on the torture chamber door, turn down the music, and expose what is going on inside. Every persecuted and abused group or person needs them, to break the cycle of violence by breaking the silence.

We do torture here. It is our problem. In Julian Assange’s case, the biggest problem appears to be that torturing journalists is becoming the new normal in Australia.

This edited extract is reproduced from A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés, edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau, Monash University Publishing, December 2020. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/torture-of-julian-assange-by-australian-governments-sends-powerful-message-to-whistleblowers/

November 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia’s Department of Defence captured by foreign weapons makers Thales, BAE,

November 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Planned nuclear waste dump at Kimba has absolutely nothing to do with the production of nuclear medicine

Peter Remta, 16 Nov 20, Referring to Minister Keith Pitt’s media release of 9 November 2020 regarding the round table conference on nuclear medicine  –  it  still fails to answer and explain how precisely will nuclear medicine be affected by not having a national waste management facility at Kimba.

It is well known that nuclear waste is currently stored in over 100 different locations throughout Australia most of which has been generated through nuclear medical treatment and is classified as low level waste. However as Minister Pitt has himself  acknowledged it would be very doubtful if the national facility managed to get 30% of that waste for storage and
disposal.

How will the production of nuclear medical material by ANSTO at Lucas Heights be affected by the failure to have the waste facility at Kimba?

The proposed facility at Kimba has nothing to do with and will not affect the production of nuclear medicine by ANSTO and to suggest otherwise is totally false and deliberately misleading.

It is no more than clutching at straws in order to convince senators who are opposed to the Bill for the waste facility presently before the Senate to change their minds.  It is an insult to their intelligence.

The only thing that will affect the production of nuclear medicine by ANSTO is its own inherent problems with the nuclear medicine facility plant at Lucas Heights which keeps breaking down and having trouble despite the
huge cost of planning and building it.

Again that has nothing to do whatever with the proposed waste facility at Kimba other than perhaps to demonstrate the inefficiency of ANSTO and confirm the dangerous nature of the reactor waste which is completely unsuitable for storage at Kimba before ultimate disposal.

Despite many repeated requests,  Senator Pitt has not  explained  how nuclear medicine will be affected should the waste facility not to be built at Kimba,
I

November 16, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia’s freedom of information system hides climate documents

Australia’s government agencies increasingly refusing environment-related FOIs, audit finds .  Australian Conservation Foundation also finds growing delays in processing requests by departments and agencies. Guardian, Christopher Knaus, 9 Nov 20,Australia’s freedom of information system is increasingly hiding documents about climate and other environmental issues from the public, a trend driven by skyrocketing refusal rates, widespread delays and rising costs, an audit has found.

The audit, conducted by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), examined five years of FOI requests for environment-related documents across federal and state departments and agencies.

It found the number of outright refusals for environment-related documents has more than doubled, from 12% to 25%, while the number of requests granted in full has dropped from 26% to 16%.

Delays in processing environment-related FOI requests were widespread, the audit found, with 60% of requests late by more than a month and 39.5% by more than two months.

The cost of processing environment-related FOIs was double the average, and lengthy review processes, which often took more than a year to complete, were becoming “a key tool for denying access to information”.

“It appears from our audit that environmental information is even more odiously inaccessible than other information subject to the [Freedom of Information] Act,” the ACF’s audit said.

ACF’s democracy campaigner, Jolene Elberth, said the findings of the audit should be a “wake-up call” to anyone who cares about transparency.

“Serious systemic flaws in our system are frustrating efforts to protect our precious natural ecosystems and tackle the climate crisis,” Elberth told the Guardian………

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) latest annual report shows delays, complaints and refusals are all increasing over time.

Complaints about the FOI system increased by 79% in a single year, according to the OAIC’s annual report.

Practical refusals – used if a request is deemed to take too much time or effort to process or if documents cannot be found – went up by 71% in 12 months.

Delays are growing more protracted.

Last financial year, about 79% of all FOIs were processed in the time required by law. The year before it was 83% and in 2017-18 it was 85%.

In some government agencies, only 50% of FOI requests are being processed within the lawful timeframe, including the prime minister’s office, the office of the environment minister, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, Sports Australia, the Australian federal police, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the office of the infrastructure minister and Norfolk Island Regional Council.

Delays at the Department of Home Affairs, which receives by far the most FOI requests, have also increased……  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/09/australias-government-agencies-increasingly-refusing-environment-related-fois-audit-finds

November 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Minister Keith Pitt reluctant to name property owner who sold land for nuclear dump

Paul Waldon  Fight to Stop a Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia
Keith Pitt’s failure to name Jeff Baldock (pictured) when asked by an ABC presenter may cement the theory that Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources,  knows it’s a highly contentious issue that shows he and radioactive waste embracing locals are safety and risk impotent with no ability to engage in a ongoing vituperation.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556

November 7, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Why did Australia’s nuclear high priest Dr Adi Paterson leave so suddenly ?

Kazzi Jai,  No Nuclear Waste Dump Anywhere in South Australia, 6 Nov 20, 

 Some very odd things happened in Senate Estimates last week. Seems NO-ONE knows why Adi Paterson resigned and officially took leave until the end of the year – nearing “the end of his term” we were told!!. Considering his term, it turns out, doesn’t end at the end of this year…or next year….but March 2022! Strange….


Then there is the David Tune Review into ANSTO…something about finances and administrative review…didn’t know there WAS a review….but there is no comment by ANSTO given at the Senate Estimates of EXACTLY what it was all about or what the recommendations were!
Then some very strange comments about the ANM Facility. According to ANSTO’s website it says “The ANSTO Nuclear Medicine (ANM) project includes an export scale Mo-99 Manufacturing Facility and an innovative ANSTO Synroc waste treatment plant. Both of these new facilities will be owned and operated by ANSTO Nuclear Medicine (ANM) Pty Ltd, a majority subsidiary of ANSTO.”

It was completed construction in 2019 and after an accident occurred there mid-2019, it has been on amended and reamended licence by ARPANSA to produce Mo-99 at reduced amounts. The facility cost build was estimated to be approx. $169 million in 2016…but difficult to find the actual final cost. And yet it seems ANSTO is using the old facility currently which was retrofitted? How does that work?

So many questions!…. And no-one asking them!!

One thing which is important is that the acting CEO Mr Jenkinson did correct one of the Senators regarding the availability of isotopes from ANSTO which are used FOR DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING. They are NOT used for treatment! That is the PREDOMINATE USED OF ANSTO – TO PRODUCE Mo-90 which breaks down to Tc-99m which is used for DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING…

“Senator SHELDON: You had 12,000 normal doses that would go out. You said you imported some doses to cover that. What was the shortfall from 12,000 in comparison with the imports?

Mr Jenkinson : I would have to give you a very specific number on notice. I can’t give you that information. But it would not be anywhere the level of 12,000 because of the way that the prioritisation is done.
Senator SHELDON: That means there would be quite a few people that were delayed in receiving their cancer treatment as a result of the incident?
Mr Jenkinson : There would have been a number of people certainly delayed receiving diagnostic scans, and then potentially the associated treatment they then needed as a result of that diagnosis. That could have happened.”I might leave it there for the moment…..

November 5, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies | 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

Persecuting Assange Is a Real Blow to Reporting and Human Rights Advocacy’

Persecuting Assange Is a Real Blow to Reporting and Human Rights Advocacy’
CounterSpin interview with Chip Gibbons on Assange extradition Fair, 15 Oct 20

JANINE JACKSON Janine Jackson interviewed Defending Rights & Dissent’s Chip Gibbons about Julian Assange’s extradition hearing for the October 9, 2020, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
CounterSpin Chip Gibbons Interview
Janine Jackson: If it were not for a tiny handful of journalists—ShadowProof’s Kevin Gosztola preeminent among them—Americans might be utterly unaware that a London magistrate, for the last month, has been considering nothing less than whether journalists have a right to publish information the US government doesn’t want them to. Not whether outlets can leak classified information, but whether they can publish that information on, as in the case  US war crimes and torture and assorted malfeasance to do with, for instance, the war on Afghanistan, which just entered its 19th year, with zero US corporateUS war crimes and torture and assorted malfeasance to do with, for instance, the war on Afghanistan, which just entered its 19th year, with zero US corporate media interest.

Assange’s case, the unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to go after a journalist, has dire implications for all reporters. But this country’s elite press corps have evidently decided they can simply whistle past it, perhaps hoping that if and when the state comes after them, they’ll make a more sympathetic victim.

Joining us now to discuss the case is Chip Gibbons. He’s policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC………..

CG: Sure. So the US has indicted Julian Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act, as well as a count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Assange is not a US person; he’s an Australian national. He was inside the Ecuadorian embassy for a number of years, as Ecuador had granted him asylum, and the UK had refused to basically recognize that and let him leave the country, so he was de facto imprisoned inside the embassy. And after the indictment the US issued, the new government of Ecuador—which is much less sympathetic to Assange than the previous Correa government—let the US come in the embassy and seize him.

And the US is seeking Assange’s extradition to the US from the UK. I guess it’s, probably, technically a hearing, but Kevin’s point was that it’s more like what we would think of as a trial, in that there’s different witnesses, there’s expert testimony, there’s different legal arguments at stake.

The defense, the witness portion of it, has closed; it ended last week. And there’s going to be closing arguments submitted in writing, and then the judge will render a decision, and that decision will be appealable by either side. So regardless of the outcome, we can expect appeals. So it does very closely mirror what we would think of more like a trial than a hearing in the US court context.

It’s important to really understand what’s at stake with Assange’s extradition. He is the first person ever indicted by the US government under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information.

The US government has considered indicting journalists before: They considered indicting Seymour Hersh, a very famous investigative reporter. They considered indicting James Bamford, because he had the audacity to try to write a book on the National Security Agency. But they’ve never done that.

And Obama’s administration looked at the idea of indicting Assange and said, “No, this would violate the First Amendment, and it would open the door to all kinds of other bad things.” But the Trump administration clearly doesn’t have those qualms……..

 It is very interesting to see how this plays out in a US court in the current environment. If whoever—Trump or  Biden, whoever is president, when this finally comes to the US—actually pursues this, and they actually are allowing the persecution of journalists, that’s going to be a really dark, dark assault on free expression rights. 

And it’s worth remembering—and Julian Assange is clearly very reviled in the corporate media and the political establishment right now—but the information he leaked came from Chelsea Manning, it dealt with US war crimes; and he worked with the New York Times, the GuardianDer Spiegel, Le MondeAl Jazeera, to publish this information. So if he can go to jail for publishing this, why can’t the New York Times? And is that a door anyone wants to open? There is a big press freedom angle here.

I also want to talk about the facts, though: What did Julian Assange publish, and why did it matter? ………..

Julian Assange is accused of publishing information about war crimes, about human rights abuses and about abuses of power, that have been tremendously important, not just for the public’s right to know, but also have made a real difference in advocacy around those issues. People were able to go and get justice for victims of rendition, or able to go and get court rulings in other countries about US drone strikes, because of this information being in the public domain. So attacking Assange, persecuting Assange, disappearing him into a supermax prison, this is a real blow to reporting and human rights advocacy. ………

JJ: Right. And, finally, the journalists who are holding their nose right now on covering it aren’t offering to give back the awards that they won based on reporting relying on WikiLeaks revelations. And James Risen had an op-ed in the New York Times a while back, in which he was talking about Glenn Greenwald, but also about Julian Assange, and he said that he thought that governments—he was talking about Bolsonaro in Brazil, as well as Donald Trump—that they’re trying out these anti-press measures and, he said, they “seem to have decided to experiment with such draconian anti- press tactics by trying them out first on aggressive and disagreeable figures.”………. https://fair.org/home/persecuting-assange-is-a-real-blow-to-reporting-and-human-rights-advocacy/

October 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Michelle Fahy blows open the disgraceful collusion between Australian politicians and weapons industries

October 13, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, 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

Australian scientists censored on speaking about climate change

 Censored: Australian scientists say suppression of environment research is getting worse
Survey finds that many researchers are banned from speaking about their work or have had their research altered to downplay risks.  Nature ,
Dyani Lewis, 22 Sept 20,   Environmental scientists in Australia say that they are under increasing pressure from their employers to downplay research findings or avoid communicating them at all. More than half of the respondents to an online survey thought that constraints on speaking publicly on issues such as threatened species, urban development, mining, logging and climate change had become worse in recent years1.

The findings, published this month in Conservation Letters, reflect how politicized debates about environmental policy in Australia have become, says Saul Cunningham, an environmental scientist at the Australian National University in Canberra. “We need our publicly funded institutions to be more vocal in defending the importance of an independent voice based on research,” he says.

Australian scientists aren’t the only ones who have reported interference in science or pressure — particularly from government employers — to downplay research findings. Scientists in the United StatesCanada and Brazil have also

Scale of the problem

Two hundred and twenty scientists in Australia responded to the survey, which was organized by the Ecological Society of Australia and ran from October 2018 until February 2019. Some of the respondents worked in government; others worked in universities or in industry, such as environmental consultancies or non-governmental organizations.

The results show that government and industry scientists experienced greater constraints from their employers than did university staff. Among government employees, about half were prohibited from speaking publicly about their research, compared with 38% employed in industry and 9% of university staff. Three-quarters of those surveyed also reported self-censoring their work (see ‘Scientists silenced’)……….

One-third of government respondents and 30% of industry employees also reported that their employers or managers had modified their work to downplay or mislead the public on the environmental impacts of activities such as logging and mining. ………. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02669-8

September 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming, politics, 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

Julian Assange case: Witnesses recall Collateral Murder attack: “Look at those dead bastards,” shooters said

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

Julian Assange was offered a pardon, if he would name a source

Trump ‘associates’ offered Assange pardon in return for emails source, court hears
WikiLeaks founder was asked to reveal source of leak damaging to Hillary Clinton, hearing told, 
Guardian,  Peter Beaumont in London, Sat 19 Sep 2020   Two political figures claiming to represent Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a “win-win” deal to avoid extradition to the US and indictment, a London court has heard.

Under the proposed deal, outlined by Assange’s barrister Jennifer Robinson, the WikiLeaks founder would be offered a pardon if he disclosed who leaked Democratic party emails to his site, in order to help clear up allegations they had been supplied by Russian hackers to help Trump’s election in 2016.

According to a statement from Robinson read out to the court, the offer was made by the then Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Trump associate Charles Johnson at a meeting on 15 August 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange was then sheltering. At the time he was under secret investigation by a US grand jury.

Robinson added: “The proposal put forward by Congressman Rohrabacher was that Mr Assange identify the source for the 2016 election publications in return for some kind of pardon, assurance or agreement which would both benefit President Trump politically and prevent US indictment and extradition.”

……….. The barrister added that Assange did not name the source of the emails.While Assange’s legal team first made the claim in February detailing a deal for a pardon in exchange for denying the source of the emails was Russia, Robinson’s statement – admitted as evidence by the court – provides substantial details of the meeting………

Robinson’s description of the offer suggests Trump was prepared to consider a pardon for Assange in exchange for information almost a year before a federal grand jury issued a sealed indictment against the WikiLeaks founder.

If it is confirmed that the approach did indeed have the approval of Trump, it would mark the latest in a number of interventions by the US president in relation to the investigation into Russian election interference.

In her statement, Robinson said Rohrabacher and Johnson “wanted us to believe they were acting on behalf of the president”.

“They stated that President Trump was aware of and had approved of them coming to meet with Mr Assange to discuss a proposal – and that they would have an audience with the president to discuss the matter on their return to Washington DC,” she said……

Appearing to confirm that the approach had been made, James Lewis QC, for the US government, said: “The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said,” adding: We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.” ……. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/sep/18/trump-offered-julian-assange-pardon-in-return-for-democrat-hacking-source-court-told

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Julian Assange exposed “a very serious pattern of actual war crimes”

Speaking on the significance of the WikiLeaks releases, Ellsberg said, “It was clear to me that these revelations, like the Pentagon papers, had the capability of informing the public that they had been seriously misled about the nature of the [Iraq and Afghan] war[s], the progress of the war, the likelihood that it would be ended successfully or at all, and that this was information of the highest importance to the American public.”

Characterising the wars that WikiLeaks exposed, Ellsberg explained, “The Iraq war was clearly recognisable, even to a layman, as a crime against the peace, as an aggressive war.”

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment