Effort by Japan to Stifle News Media Is Working, NYT By MARTIN FACKLER APRIL 26, 2015 TOKYO — It was an unexpected act of protest that shook Japan’s carefully managed media world: Shigeaki Koga, a regular television commentator and fierce critic of the political establishment, abruptly departed from the scripted conversation during a live TV news program to announce that this would be his last day on the show because, as he put it, network executives had succumbed to political pressure for his removal.
“I have suffered intense bashing by the prime minister’s office,” Mr. Koga told his visibly flabbergasted host late last month, saying he had been removed as commentator because of critical statements he had made about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Later in the program, Mr. Koga held up a sign that read “I am not Abe,” a play on the slogan of solidarity for journalists slain in January at a French satirical newspaper.
The outburst created a public firestorm, and not only because of the spectacle of Mr. Koga, a dour-faced former top government official, seemingly throwing away his career as a television commentator in front of millions of viewers. His angry show of defiance also focused national attention on the right-leaning government’s increased strong-arming of the news media to reduce critical coverage.
Mr. Abe’s efforts have had a chilling effect on coverage at a time when he is pushing ahead with a conservative agenda to dismantle the nation’s postwar pacifist consensus and put forth more positive portrayals of Japan’s World War II-era behavior. Experts warn that muzzling the press makes it easier for the government to make big changes that might not enjoy broad popular support, such as rewriting the pacifist Constitution, or even restarting the nation’s stalled nuclear industry.
“The Abe government is showing an obsession with the media that verges on paranoia,” said Keigo Takeda, a former editor in chief at Newsweek Japan who is now a respected freelance journalist. “I have never seen this level of efforts to micromanage specific newspapers and TV programs.”…..http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/27/world/asia/in-japan-bid-to-stifle-media-is-working.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1
On the April 4 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier previewed his upcoming hour-long special ondiscredited conservative author Peter Schweizer’s forthcoming book Clinton Cash, in which he accuses Bill and Hillary Clinton of influence peddling with foreign governments in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees. The segment focused on Schweizer’s allegations regarding Clinton’s purported role in approving the sale of the uranium mining company Uranium One to the Russian government.
New York Times reporter Jo Becker, whose own reporting on the Uranium One story has been criticized by the Clinton campaign for burying “original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale,” also appeared in the segment. Both the Times and Fox reportedly“made arrangements for exclusive access” to the book.
During the preview, Schweizer detailed the sale of Uranium One to the Russian state corporation Rosatom. ……….
Baier’s preview omitted important context to misleadingly suggest that Clinton personally approved the Russian purchase. According to Time, which received this chapter of Schweizer’s book in advance, the State Department’s role in approving the deal was part of an extensive bureaucratic process, and Schweizer’s chapter offers no indication of Hillary Clinton’s personal involvement in, or even knowledge of, the deliberations. In fact,Time quotes Jose Hernandez, who as former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs was involved the deliberations on behalf of the State Department, denying that Clinton was involved in the matter at all.
Moreover, Time pointed out that the “deal’s approval was the result of an extensive interagency process that required the assent of at least nine different officials and agencies” through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. According to the report, “State has just one vote on the nine-member committee, which also includes the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy. Disagreements are traditionally handled at the staff level, and if they are not resolved, they are escalated to deputies at the relevant agencies. If the deputies can’t resolve the dispute, the issues can be elevated to the Cabinet Secretary level and, if needed, to the President for a decision. The official chairman of CFIUS is the Treasury Secretary, not the Secretary of State.”
Furthermore, the Uranium One deal also had to receive approval from “the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency outside of the State Department’s purview, as well as Utah’s nuclear regulator. The deal also received approval from Canada’s foreign investment review agency.”
Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon has denied any wrongdoing by Clinton and criticized Becker for burying crucial facts from her report “that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale.”
Relying largely on research from the conservative author of Clinton Cash, today’s New York Times alleges that donations to the Clinton Foundation coincided with the U.S. government’s 2010 approval of the sale of a company known as Uranium One to the Russian government. Without presenting any direct evidence in support of the claim, the Times story — like the book on which it is based — wrongly suggests that Hillary Clinton’s State Department pushed for the sale’s approval to reward donors who had a financial interest in the deal. Ironically, buried within the story is original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale.
Schweizer’s book has been roundly denounced and discredited as a smear campaign which presentserroneous evidence to support its claims. http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/24/fox-news-baselessly-blames-hillary-clinton-for/203404
We Lucky Molecules, Consortium News.com April 22, 2015 As American neocons and other war hawks push for endless war in the Mideast and now eastern Europe, the resulting chaos is straining the capacity of civilization to meet basic human needs and raising the risk of nuclear war, what would be a tragic ending to the Universe’s luckiest molecules, writes Robert Parry………….politicians, pundits and pretend patriots push the human race toward endless war, daring the chance that one side or another might take the extra step and unleash nuclear conflagration in some ultimate game of chicken.
In my life’s role as a journalist, I have always believed that ignorance presents the greatest danger for humanity touching off such a cosmic catastrophe. Sometimes the ignorance can be self-imposed by people not wanting to know facts that make them uncomfortable or that contest what they have been trained to believe. Other times, the ignorance is imposed from the outside as propaganda to manipulate a population into a desired response, usually to get in line behind some warmongering leader.
Though there’s not much a journalist can do about the first type of ignorance – besides making reliable information available and hoping that people will open their eyes to it – the most daunting and crucial professional challenge is to pierce through the second kind of ignorance, the intentional twisting of reality to elicit a dangerous response from a population.
But success in countering propaganda has become increasingly difficult as its practitioners have become more sophisticated in their management and control of information and as their methods of disinformation delivery have grown more varied. Now, the false information can come from a dominant news outlet but also from an upstart Web site that has the look of independence but is actually bought and paid for by powerful interests…….
the more people understand about the realities of the world, the less vulnerable they are to the propagandists, those clever folks who disseminate ignorance in the superficial form of information and then use that ignorance to dominate the people. The true calling of a journalist is to give the people as many facts as possible and thus the tools to detect and negate the propaganda.
All this goes to the overriding principle that there is nothing more important to a democracy than an informed electorate and to the counterpoint that the most effective way to defeat democracy is to misinform the people. And, as the world hurtles toward more and more wars and ever worsening crises, there may be nothing more important than exposing the lies, exaggerations and prejudices that undergird most conflicts.
As President John F. Kennedy said in perhaps his finest speech – at American University on June 10, 1963 – “For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”
In an age of environmental fragility and nuclear dangers, the human race must finally recognize its common interests and cooperate in the common cause of averting unnecessary chaos and conflict. We must in the end realize that we are among the luckiest molecules in the Universe – and act accordingly.
Montana Becomes First State To Pass Law Protecting Journalists’ Electronic Privacy
By: Rachel Blevins Apr 17, 2015, Benswann1
Montana recently passed a bill, sponsored by Liberty Republican Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, which closed a loophole in the state’s media shield law, making Montana the first state to include a provision protecting journalists’ electronic communications from government entities.
Last week, Montana became the first state to include a provision in its Media Confidentiality Act that protected journalists’ electronic communications from the government when Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill “prohibiting disclosure of media info from electronic communications services.”…………..
The text of the bill states that it both prohibits “governmental bodies from questing or requiring the disclosure of privileged news media information from services that transmit electronic communications,” and prohibits “an electronic communication service from being adjudged in contempt” if that service “refuses to disclose certain information.”
Zolnikov tells Benswann.com that he created the bill to help Montana set the precedent at the state level for the rest of the nation.
“Freedom of the press is one of the most crucial rights contained in the First Amendment,” Zolnikov said. “The federal government has cracked down on whistleblowers and journalists in the past few years, and many have said this has a ‘chilling effect’ on news reporting.”……….http://benswann.com/montana-becomes-first-state-to-pass-law-protecting-journalists-electronic-privacy/
Study: Conspiracy of Fukushima Cover up Between Government and Media Proven, Your News Wire, 14 Apr 15 by Royce Christyn A groundbreaking study by American University sociology Prof. Celine Marie Pascale has proven there is a continuing and massive effort by varying world governments and major mainstream media outlets to cover up the horrifying truth of Fukushima.
According to the press release made public by the University and Pascale, the media and government (regarding the Fukushima cover up) “largely minimized health risks to the general population”.
Natural News reports: Just how bad was the radiation fallout from the near-complete destruction of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power station following a massive earthquake-generated tsunami in March 2011? The answer is, most people simply don’t know – because the media coverage of the damage and fallout, at the time of the accident and in the four years since, has been grossly inadequate, according to a new study –
As noted by American University sociology Prof. Celine Marie Pascale, there has especially been a dearth of U.S. media coverage, the disaster long disappearing from the headlines of domestic newspapers and cable news networks, despite the fact that the crippled plant dumps three hundred tons of radioactive water into the ocean daily, and the region surrounding the plant remains uninhabitable – probably forever.
Further, her new analysis found that U.S. news media coverage of Fukushima “largely minimized health risks to the general population,” says a press release from the university.
The release further states:
Pascale analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets following the disaster’s occurrence March 11, 2011 through the second anniversary on March 11, 2013. Only 6 percent of the coverage – 129 articles – focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere. Human risks were framed, instead, in terms of workers in the disabled nuclear plant.
‘Articles discuss instead how dangerous cosmic radiation is’
“It’s shocking to see how few articles discussed risk to the general population, and when they did, they typically characterized risk as low,” said Pascale, who studies the social construction of risk and meanings of risk in the current century.
“We see articles in prestigious news outlets claiming that radioactivity from cosmic rays and rocks is more dangerous than the radiation emanating from the collapsing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant,” she added.
The sociology prof examined news articles, editorials and letters from two major U.S. papers – The New York Times and The Washington Post – and two additional, prominent online news sites – Politico and The Huffington Post. The four outlets are not only among the largest, most influential in the U.S., they are also the most-cited by television news and talk shows, as well as other newspapers and blogs. Also, they are talked up in social media often, says Pascale. So, in that sense, she says, seeing how risk is presented in national prominent media can provide data on how the issue is framed nationally, in public conversations.
The press release further discussed Pascale’s analytical method and variables: – See more at: http://yournewswire.com/study-conspiracy-of-fukushima-cover-up-between-government-and-media-proven/#sthash.08pZB0ka.dpuf
Following Canada’s Bad Example, Now UK Wants To Muzzle Scientists And Their Inconvenient Truths https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150331/06512830496/following-canadas-
bad-example-now-uk-wants-to-muzzle-scientists-their-inconvenient-truths.shtml from the non-appliance-of-science dept Free Speech by Glyn MoodyWed, Apr 1st 2015
Under the new code, scientists and engineers employed at government expense must get ministerial approval before they can talk to the media about any of their research, whether it involves GM crops, flu vaccines, the impact of pesticides on bees, or the famously obscure Higgs boson.
The fear — quite naturally — is that ministers could take days before replying to requests, by which time news outlets will probably have lost interest. As a result of this change, science organizations have sent a letter to the UK government, expressing their “deep concern” about the code. A well-known British neurobiologist, Sir Colin Blakemore, told the Guardian:
“The real losers here are the public and the government. The public lose access to what they consider to be an important source of scientific evidence, and the government loses the trust of the public,” Blakemore said.
Not only that, by following Canada’s example, the British government also makes it more likely that other countries will do the same, which will weaken science’s ability to participate in policy discussions around the world — just when we need to hear its voice most.
Plea for retired journalists to return and save Japans press freedoms in the face of censorship and control!
“Those journalists that used to stand by the side of someone crying,
now stand by those in power.”
Hidetoshi Kiyotake 2015
Summarised by Shaun McGee
Posted to Nuclear-news.net
posted 3 April 2015
Minoru Tanaka: Investigative Journalist
Hidetoshi Kiyotake: Investigative Journalist and Author
Comments from the Chairman of the press committee
The reason for the Press freedom Award in Japan is because of the fact that in 2010 Japan was 11th in the rankings for press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders. Japan now has a position of 61st (just behind South Korea and far behind Croatia) out of 180 countries.
The State Secrets Act of 2013 makes nuclear power and relations with the USA taboo for journalists. Journalist freedoms are being eroded to stop embarrassing details from being made public. The governments and Corporations also have been directly influencing Broadcasters and Journalists.
Japanese Media are more fearful and are more wimpy than ever before.
For instance the story of the Education ministers links to the Yakuza has been grossly under reported and there are other scandals not reported also.
The Freedom of the Press Awards will be formally announced on the 3rd May 2015 (World Press Day)
There will be one Award for investigative journalism and another award for non journalism but have contributed to Freedom of information causes.
The prizes are to confer due recognition that is supportive of Open Society, Free Speech and democratic accountability.
Minora Tanaka(Investigative journalist also on the judging panel for the Award)
Tanaka San has been investigating a range of subjects over the years including issues surrounding the nuclear energy industry.
Tanaka San begins outlining a problem called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against journalists getting too near the truth and these defamation cases have had a chilling effect on journalism. Even if the case is withdrawn because it is a weak case it could be years before that happens and by then time , money and stress will have taken their toll.
Added to the fact that the imposition of the Orwellian State Secrets Act of 2013, Journalism in Japan is in dire straights.
Tanaka San finishes of his statement by exclaiming;
“I am Kenji” (In reference to the recently murdered journalist)
Hidetoshi Kiyotake (Investigative journalist and author)
Currently he has six lawsuits on the go and has 2 of them due in court next week (SLAPPs). Whilst not attending court Kiyotake San likes to do some journalism research and writing. He also leaves time for the freedom of the press issues also. He worked for the Yomuri Shimbun for many years as a financial analyst and has held managerial positions. In 2011 he was dismissed from his post and is now an independent journalist. He one a non fiction prize last year.
He quotes as an example his research into the Sony corporation where he reported on the use of “Isolation Rooms” being used as a punishment for employees.
He then goes onto say that reporting on government and corporate scandals and stories is getting harder and harder all the time, whilst the number of investigative journalists are going down.
It would appear that journalists have become numb to the big changes within these media corporations.
As an example he states that a story of 10,000 or 20,000 people being sacked is not a shock to them anymore.
There have been many job loses also in the media and that also would have been frowned on in the recent past in Japan.
Kiyotake San goes onto ask the question if Japan uses a managerial style that takes into account human dignity and long term perspective as it once did?
As an example he relates a story in the past where a Japanese CEO of Sony asks the CEO of GE on what might be the best managerial style. The CEO of GE announced that if a worker wakes up and is upbeat and positive about his oncoming work day than the right managerial style has been used.
“Those that used to stand by the side of someone crying now stand by those in power.”
Kiyotake San then went on to explain his hopes for the future.
He calls for retired investigative journalists to leave retirement and to come back to the job of reporting and to find some platform in the media or on the internet to publish their articles.
He also calls for working journalists to research topics and publish on other formats to increase competition and improve the quality of reporting and the oversight of government and corporations.
He finishes by asking journalists to not be content with being in a closed club but to go out and publish as independent journalists as well.
Questions and answers on the source video
Edited version by missmilkytheclown1 on YouTube for easy listening
People today who are familiar with social media think that TMI means “Too Much Information”. But to me, and anyone listening to the news in 1979, TMI will always represent the disaster at Three Mile Island, when the public received too little information, not too much.
At the time of the nuclear disaster at TMI, there were plans to build more than 200 nuclear plants in the US, with some projections topping 1,000. Today, less than 100 nuclear plants are operating in the US. During the 1970’s, the total amount invested in those early plants easily exceeded one trillion dollars. If the public became fearful of nuclear power, then the nuclear industry, investors, and banks that had loaned money would face huge losses, so the nuclear industry and nuclear regulators tried desperately to minimize the significance of what was happening at the crippled reactor.
The pattern of denial created by the nuclear industry during the TMI meltdown had at least five steps in its playbook:
- Make it appear that “authorities” have the situation under control.
- Delay any evacuation orders for as long as possible.
- Claim radiation releases are much lower than they actually are.
- Claim radiation exposures are acceptable and that no one will die.
- And lastly, minimize conflicting information given to the press through paid off experts.
The formula for damage control at TMI was designed by the nuclear industry composed a one size fits all “playbook” the industry has followed for all nuclear catastrophes since TMI. Comments made during the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi by utility owner Tokyo Electric could easily mimic those made at Chernobyl and TMI! When Maggie and I saw these old tricks being played again at Fukushima Daiichi, we dedicated ourselves to ensuring that the public has an accessible resource on which to rely that provides accurate information, and thus the Fairewinds videos were born.
In this video posted to commemorate the TMI disaster, I discuss the pattern of denial regarding nuclear power plant failures and meltdowns, not just for TMI but also for Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi as well. We at Fairewinds Energy Education hope you will watch it and think about sharing the true facts with others. http://www.fairewinds.org/three-mile-island/#sthash.InUCa9Be.dpuf
Ask Canadian Scientists Why You Can’t Ask Them About Science http://motherboard.vice.com/en_ca/read/ask-canadian-scientists-why-you-cant-ask-them-about-science by
STEPHEN BURANYI March 24, 2015
A coalition of journalists and academics is urging Canadians to write letters to government scientists, asking for data on pollution, global warming, and other federal research. They may not get much in response—but that’s precisely the point.
The week-long letter writing campaign, which began on Monday and is called Write2Know, is a protest of the government’s controversial practice of controlling access to both science and scientists—a policy that has never been officially codified, but has been enforced by government agencies for the past half-decade. Continue reading
Tightened science muzzle is ‘Orwellian’ July 3, 2012Margaret Munro Vancouver Sun, Sept 13, 2010 By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News https://margaretmunro.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/tightened-science-muzzle-is-orwellian/
The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.
Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.
The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.
They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.
“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning………
Environment Canada and Health Canada now tightly control media access to researchers and orchestrate interviews that are approved.
Environment Canada has even produced “media lines” for federal scientists to stick to when discussing climate studies they have coauthored with Weaver and are based on research paid for through his university grants.
“There is no question that there is an orchestrated campaign at the federal level to make sure that their scientists can’t communicate to the public about what they do,” says Weaver, adding that the crackdown is seriously undermining morale in federal labs. “Science is about generating new knowledge and communicating it to others.”
U.S. news media coverage of the Fukushima disaster largely minimized health risks to the general population.
News coverage of Fukushima disaster minimized health risks to general population http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150311124202.htm March 11, 2015 Source: American University
A new analysis by American University sociology professor Celine Marie Pascale finds that U.S. news media coverage of the disaster largely minimized health risks to the general population. Pascale analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets following the disaster’s occurrence March 11, 2011 through the second anniversary on March 11, 2013. Only 6 percent of the coverage — 129 articles — focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere. Human risks were framed, instead, in terms of workers in the disabled nuclear plant.
“It’s shocking to see how few articles discussed risk to the general population, and when they did, they typically characterized risk as low,” said Pascale, who studies the social construction of risk and meanings of risk in the 21st century. “We see articles in prestigious news outlets claiming that radioactivity from cosmic rays and rocks is more dangerous than the radiation emanating from the collapsing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.”
Pascale studied news articles, editorials, and letters from two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, and two nationally prominent online news sites, Politico and The Huffington Post. These four media outlets are not only among the most prominent in the United States, they are also among the most cited by television news and talk shows, by other newspapers and blogs and are often taken up in social media, Pascale said. In this sense, she added, understanding how risk is constructed in media gives insight into how national concerns and conversations get framed.
Pascale’s analysis identified three primary ways in which the news outlets minimized the risk posed by radioactive contamination to the general population. Articles made comparisons to mundane, low-level forms of radiation;defined the risks as unknowable, given the lack of long-term studies; and largely excluded concerns expressed by experts and residents who challenged the dominant narrative.
The research shows that corporations and government agencies had disproportionate access to framing the event in the media, Pascale says. Even years after the disaster, government and corporate spokespersons constituted the majority of voices published. News accounts about local impact — for example, parents organizing to protect their children from radiation in school lunches — were also scarce.
Globalization of risk
Pascale says her findings show the need for the public to be critical consumers of news; expert knowledge can be used to create misinformation and uncertainty — especially in the information vacuums that arise during disasters.
“The mainstream media — in print and online — did little to report on health risks to the general population or to challenge the narratives of public officials and their experts,” Pascale said. “Discourses of the risks surrounding disasters are political struggles to control the presence and meaning of events and their consequences. How knowledge about disasters is reported can have more to do with relations of power than it does with the material consequences to people’s lives.”
While it is clear that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown was a consequence of an earthquake and tsunami, like all disasters, it was also the result of political, economic and social choices that created or exacerbated broad-scale risks. In the 21st century, there’s an increasing “globalization of risk,” Pascale argues. Major disasters have potentially large-scale and long-term consequences for people, environments, and economies.
“People’s understanding of disasters will continue to be constructed by media. How media members frame the presence of risk and the nature of disaster matters,” she said.
The nuclear industry’s sense of desperation is palpable. Activists need to understand what the industry obviously knows: it’s in serious trouble. This is our time to really join together, ramp up our efforts, and kick more of these reactors over the edge; they’re already teetering. They’re dangerous, they can’t provide cost-effective electricity, they don’t have a solution to their radioactive waste and they exist now only because they were built decades ago and the utilities want to milk them for everything they can before they surrender to the inevitable and have to begin spending huge sums of money again–but this time it won’t be to build new reactors, it will be to decommission their dinosaurs.
You know the nuclear industry is desperate when… Michael Mariotte Greenworld April 1, 2014 You know the nuclear power industry is getting desperate when it solicits its CEOs to start piling on ghost-written op-eds in publications chosen for their reach to key audiences. And you know the industry is really desperate when it brings out big guns like a couple of paid-for former U.S. Senators to support nuclear power in The Hill newspaper, which, as its name implies, is aimed at current legislators. And you know the industry is super desperate when it pulls out none other than Rudy Giuliani, who continues stuffing his wallet with nuclear-powered green. Continue reading
About this project How many wrong decisions can one nation endure? Every
week there’s a new story that shows a shocking lack in judgment or ethics on the part of the government. It’s open season on the environment, on science, on the rights of veterans, and it shames us all.
Media in disarray Cuts to investigative journalism by most media outlets (including Canada’s CBC, which has been decimated by recent government funding cuts) are allowing many stories to remain under-covered, or untold altogether.
Media consolidation has meant there are fewer voices reporting, with ever-tightening restrictions on what they can say. This is a critical threat to democracy, and it’s the principal motivation for this film. Independent voices must pick up the slack.
Science Abandoned The Canadian tradition of being at the forefront of scientific research and innovation, critical to the nation’s prosperity, has been all but abandoned. The Harper government has pulled the plug on any science that doesn’t conform to its specific oil and gas agenda, and it has effectively muzzled scientists by forbidding them from speaking out to the press.
Critical programs that monitored the melting arctic, smoke stack emissions, food inspections, water quality, oil spills and climate change have been systematically dismantled.
Hundreds of the world’s scientists have written an open letter to the Harper government, voicing concerns over the inability to conduct basic research environmental and health issues, and other areas of science that should contribute to the public good.
It is a frivolous waste of taxpayers’ dollars to fund research only to have it repressed, causing decisions to be made without adequate data and information. This puts our citizens at risk, as it leaves us flying blind amid the dangers of increasing pollution and climate change.and other environmental hazards.
Our tradition of scientific prowess and innovation has been flushed down the toilet because of what scientific research is revealing — the effects of our own country’s destructive policies……..
“Not in Our Name”: the film
“Not in Our Name” (NION) will explore the axis of Industry, Media, and Government, which prioritizes corporate interests over the people’s. The film will show how similar tactics are being employed in the US, Britain, Australia…leaders administering the instructions of the multinational corporations who bought them. They count the profits while we, society and the environment count the cost.
If we don’t vigorously confront their stranglehold on our governments, we will have forever crossed the Rubicon, and there will be no turning back. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1916096034/not-in-our-name
Renewable energy for South Africa – not the cost, secrecy, corruption that goes with nuclear and coal
Next comes nuclear. The cost of $100 billion for 9 600 new MW of power – a guestimate at this stage – does not include ongoing expenses for uranium, transport and permanent safe storage. Illustrating the financial risk, the main French company bidding for SA’s attention is Areva, the world’s largest nuke builder – a company facing potential bankruptcy after its credit rating was cut to junk status in November.
Another huge risk is obvious: corruption
After an explosive start to his State of the Nation Address last week, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma turned to nuclear, coal, fracking and offshore drilling projects – but what about the country’s free sunshine, wind and tides?
Last Thursday night in Cape Town’s Parliament hall, South Africa’s newest and cheekiest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), fought gamely but lost their two-dozen seats for the evening. They were expelled during the State of the Nation speech when making what they termed a ‘point of order’: asking whether President Jacob Zuma would ‘pay back the money’ (about $20 million) that the state illegitimately spent on upgrading his rural mansion. As police ushered them out with extreme force, seven were hospitalised, one with a broken jaw.
The society only saw the fracas on journalists’ cellphones later, because the SABC public broadcaster refused to screen the floor, panning only a small area where the Parliamentary leadership were gesticulating for police action. Showing surprising technical prowess but extremely weak political judgment, Zuma’s security officials had jammed cellphone and Wifi signals in the hall just before the event began, creating outrage by opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and journalists alike. The centre-right Democratic Alliance then walked out in protest against armed police having cleared out the EFF MPs.
The dust settled 45 minutes later, with Zuma chortling and African National Congress (ANC) MPs cheering, and most observers sickened by the spectacle. Still, much more important news would follow, though in the dull tone that Zuma reserves for formal speeches. Given the country’s fury at electricity load-shedding – near daily outages of 2-4 hours – many were relieved that a substantial 14 percent of Zuma’s talk was dedicated to this theme: ‘We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge.’
Listen more closely, though. Aside from building three huge coal-fired power plants, two of which are mired in construction crises, the other long-term supply strategy, accounting for one in six of his words on energy, is nuclear. By 2030 a fleet of reactors is meant to provide 9600 MW. Today we have 42 000 MW installed, of which 39 000 comes from coal. But the economy uses just 30 000 at peak. What with so much capacity unavailable, load-shedding is set to continue for at least the next three years.
To truly ‘resolve’, not defer, the challenge will require a huge roll-out of public investment. ………….
Next comes nuclear. The cost of $100 billion for 9 600 new MW of power – a guestimate at this stage – does not include ongoing expenses for uranium, transport and permanent safe storage. Illustrating the financial risk, the main French company bidding for SA’s attention is Areva, the world’s largest nuke builder – a company facing potential bankruptcy after its credit rating was cut to junk status in November.
Another huge risk is obvious: corruption. Last Thursday, Zuma proclaimed ‘a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme.’ Hmmmm. Replies Moulana Riaz Simjee of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, ‘This nuclear deal poses an enormous corruption risk. It is happening in secret and will make the arms deal look like a walk in the park.’
With prescient timing, the Mail&Guardian last week exposed a Moscow foreign ministry website which provides details about the extent of the nuclear deal that Zuma had already cut with Vladimir Putin six months ago. The contract indemnifies Russian suppliers from any nuclear accident liabilities and gives ‘special favourable treatment’ for taxes.
A durable concern with nuclear energy is safety because three of the world’s most technically advanced countries – Japan, Russia and the US – conclusively demonstrated its catastrophic danger at Fukushima (2011), Chernobyl (1996) and Three Mile Island (1979)……..
Greenpeace continues vibrant anti-nuke protests, this month bringing the ship Rainbow Warrior to local ports and last week, once again unveiling its opponents’ security lapses by disrupting the opening session of Cape Town’s 2nd Nuclear Industry Congress Africa with a banner hang declaring, ‘Nuclear investments cost the earth.’
Such citizen advocacy helped halt South Africa’s zany Pebble Bed nuclear experiments, in which a generator was meant to be collapsed on top of pebble storage units after its life span, saving storage costs. But regrettably $1.5 billion of taxpayer funding was wasted, mostly under Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s nose (his successor Pravin Gordhan pulled the plug)……….
We really don’t need this risky behaviour. In three years from 2013-15, at least 2500 MW of renewable energy capacity will have been constructed in South Africa. According to Simjee, ‘Eskom itself has completed the construction of the Sere Wind Farm, which is already delivering 100 megawatts to the grid, well ahead of its intended launch in March this year.’ Sere’s cost is just $2.3 million/MW, far below all competitors, with no operating expenses aside from occasional maintenance.
These are supply-side enhancements, and will take time. For more rapid relief, on the demand side it appears Eskom is overdue in addressing wastage by the minerals and smelting corporations. The Energy Intensive Users Group’s 31 members use 44% of our electricity, and their Resource Curse has diminished the integrity of South African politics, economics, society, public health and environment.
Instead of endorsing nuclear-powered corruption, the moment is surely nearing for the state’s phase-out of subsidised energy to foreign corporations? The capital-intensive, high-energy guzzling firms need to be replaced by civil society’s low-energy, high-employment ‘Million Climate Jobs’ campaign alternatives…………..
for those aiming to breed a herd of nuclear White Elephants in coming years, maybe the opening theatrics before Zuma’s speech can resonate; maybe the EFF’s insistent call to, ‘pay back the money’, will prove a deterrent to those with nuclear fantasies.
Prof Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in Durban. http://allafrica.com/stories/201502201281.html
Interception Commissioner: 82 journalists’ phone records grabbed by police in three years, judicial oversight needed, Press Gazette William Turvill 04 February 2015 Some 82 journalists have had their communications data obtained by police under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in three years, the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office has found.
And the IOCCO has said forces should require judicial approval to do so in the future.
The report, which was partly prompted by the Press Gazette Save Our Sources campaign, reveals that in the last three years 608 RIPA applications have been made by forces for communications data to find journalistic sources……..
The RIPA scandal broke in September, when Press Gazette was the first news outlet to report that The Sun’s phone records had been targeted by the Met Police as part of Operation Alice into Plebgate.
Since then, it has emerged that two more Sun journalists had their phone records obtained by the Met under Operation Alice.
In addition, Kent/Essex Police has admitted to using RIPA to find a Mail on Sunday source, and Press Gazette has revealed how Suffolk, Thames Valley and Cleveland forces have also used the act to find journalistic sources.
Last month, Press Gazette co-ordinated a letter sent to the Prime Minister stating that the Home Office’s draft RIPA code was not acceptable. It was signed by every UK national newspaper editor.
More then 1,500 people have signed the Press Gazette Save Our Sources petition calling for judicial oversight of police requests to view journalists’ call records.
Sir Anthony May, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, said: “In October 2014 due to the serious nature of the concerns reported in the media about the protection of journalistic sources, and the allegations that the police had misused their powers under Chapter 2 of Part 1 of RIPA to acquire communications data the Rt Hon.
“Sir Paul Kennedy, who was at the time acting as interim Commissioner, considered it necessary to launch this inquiry and make an additional report to the Prime Minister……
“I am very pleased to be able to publish our inquiry report today and I hope that Parliament and the public will find it helpful.
“Our report sets out the extent to which these powers have been used by police forces to identify journalistic sources, examines the appropriateness of the use of Chapter 2 of Part 1 of RIPA for this purpose, and makes recommendations to ensure adequate safeguards are provided to protect journalistic sources.”
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