The most important question is no longer whether each of Abe’s policies is good or bad, but rather whether we are going to condone the prime minister’s basic attitude that negates the common sense of a modern state and will lead to turning Japan into a barbaric nation.
Abe undermining rule of law, Japan Times, BY JIRO YAMAGUCHI JUL 31, 2014 A recent series of events has demonstrated the deterioration of Japan as a nation. At the root of the problem appears to be a bottomless nihilism on the part of those in power characterized by their thinking that the powers that be can ignore the rules and norms of society and polity.
On July 1, the Abe administration made a Cabinet decision to pave the way for Japan engaging in collective self-defense. This is an act that alters the foundation of Japan’s national security policies developed over the past 60 years, and an outrageous move that way oversteps the power of a single Cabinet.
How vague and sloppy the decision itself is was illustrated by the Budget Committee debates in both chambers of the Diet held two weeks later……..
The new conditions for the use of force overseas set under the LDP-New Komeito agreement will never serve as an effective brake on Japan’s military actions overseas.
Questions and answers in the Diet showed that the text of the Cabinet decision allows different people to interpret it in their own way.
If so, the norms set by the Cabinet over Japan engaging in collective self-defense will be meaningless. In the first place, Abe does not have the idea that government leaders must exercise their power in accordance with rules that are set down in words…….
If the content of norms and rules of a nation can be freely changed by those who interpret them, the nation is no longer under the rule of law; it’s under the rule of man.
Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority screened Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in accordance with the NRA’s plant design standards updated in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and announced that the Sendai plant has cleared the screening. Thus the NRA has paved the way for restarting the idled plant.
At the same time, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said NRA cannot determine whether the plant is safe to restart. The NRA chief insists its screening standards are not safety standards.
Yet, the Abe administration, which had repeatedly said it would reactivate nuclear power plants that have cleared “the safety standards,” is expected to push for a quick restart of the Sendai plant. The government says that NRA screening has confirmed the safety of the Sendai plant.
As with the issue of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, each of the people involved in the nuclear power policy is allowed to interpret the rules in his or her own way.
All these events demonstrate that people in power in this country — in particular Abe — do not recognize that they are bound by rules. They defiantly argue that even if certain things are prohibited under rules, they can do them simply by first changing the interpretation of the rules. Or, if they cannot win a game, they think that it’s because the rules and the referee are wrong. They then think that if the referee is replaced, things will be all right.
The most important question is no longer whether each of Abe’s policies is good or bad, but rather whether we are going to condone the prime minister’s basic attitude that negates the common sense of a modern state and will lead to turning Japan into a barbaric nation.
Jiro Yamaguchi is a professor of political science at Hosei University. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/07/31/commentary/world-commentary/abe-undermining-rule-law/#.U9xbVuNdUnk
Fired From Los Alamos for Pushing Obama’s Nuclear Agenda, The Daily Beast, 31 July 14 The President says he wants to get rid of the world’s A-Bombs. But when an employee at the nation’s premier nuclear lab suggested the same thing, he got axed. By Douglas Birch, Center for Public Integrity
James E. Doyle’s ordeal with Washington began one morning in early February last year, when his supervisor stopped by his desk at Los Alamos National Laboratory and told him that senior managers wanted copies of all his publications.
The 55-year-old political scientist asked the reason for the request, and he eventually was told that someone at the House Armed Services Committee wanted to see the publications. But Doyle said officials refused to tell him who it was or why.
Later that day at the lab’s New Mexico campus, he said, two members of a Security Inquiries Team abruptly arrived with a special, silver-colored briefcase for secure documents, and pulled out an article he published a few days earlier on the website of a London nonprofit group.
They claimed that the article, an impassioned critique of the political theories undergirding the nuclear arms race and a defense of President Obama’s embrace of a nuclear weapons-free future, contained classified information.
The assertion astonished Doyle, since the laboratory’s security authorities had already reviewed the article and declared it unclassified. But it was the start of a series of events in which Doyle first had his pay docked and his security clearance withdrawn, and then eventually was fired.
He got that final news on July 8, a day after the Center for Public Integrity asked the Energy department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs the nation’s nuclear labs, about the dispute over his article. “I was shocked,” he said, shortly afterward. “I am still shocked.”
Experts say Doyle’s treatment raises questions about the commitment of the nuclear weapons labs—which face increased competition for resources amid declining military interest in their key product—to intellectual independence in their workforce………..
Doyle, who holds a doctorate in international studies from the University of Virginia, has been at Los Alamos for the past 17 years. Before he joined the lab, he said, he wrote the Department of Energy’s strategic plan for keeping weapons-grade uranium and plutonium stored at hundreds of sites scattered across the former Soviet Union from falling into the wrong hands. He referred to this risky state of affairs as “the babushka-with-uranium-in-the-chicken-shed” problem.
As a nuclear safeguards and security specialist in the lab’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Division, which has 250 employees and an annual budget of about $185 million, Doyle has studied ways to verify reductions in United States and Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles beyond the current levels. He also edited a textbook, Nuclear Safeguards, Security and Nonproliferation: Achieving Security with Technology and Policy, which, he said, is used in three dozen universities in the U.S. and abroad. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/31/fired-from-los-alamos-for-pushing-obama-s-nuclear-agenda.html#sthash.o3ZKvqHu.dpuf
Unsustainable: the ugly truth about Rio Tinto‘, also reveals that Rio Tinto’s sustainability reporting contrasts sharply with the company’s actual performance in all four categories. It shows how Rio Tinto’s reckless pursuit of profit at any cost has caused disputes with numerous unions as well as environmental, indigenous and community groups. Most of the disputes covered in the report are ongoing. Rio Tinto has continued to provoke disputes in the three months since the report was released:
- with South African regulators by illegally operating a coal mine for a decade;
- with injured Australian workers by systematically targeting them in a layoff;
- with leaders in Zimbabwe by reportedly reneging on a pledge to support community development programs;
- and with the people of Papua New Guinea by rejecting calls for an investigation into the company’s role in a bloody civil war.
Rio Tinto will go on provoking disputes and operating in an unsustainable manner unless it believes that doing so could threaten its license to operate. To reform Rio Tinto, first we must threaten its ‘license to operate’
Rio Tinto’s ‘Sustainable Mining’ Claims Exposed By Kemal Özkan http://www.globalresearch.ca/rio-tintos-sustainable-mining-claims-exposed/5394301 July 31, 2014 Global mining giant Rio Tinto markets itself as a ‘sustainable company’. But serious failures in its reporting, and its attempt to hold an Australian indigenous group to ransom, reveal a very different truth: the company is driven by a reckless pursuit of profit at any cost. Rio Tinto uses its sustainability reporting to bolster the argument that it is a responsible company and therefore entitled to a license to operate. Now, a global campaign is demanding that Rio Tinto live up to its sustainability claims.
Rio Tinto subsidiary, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), has threatened the Mirarr people that if it is not allowed to expand its Ranger uranium mining operations underground, it may be unable to fully fund rehabilitation of the open pit mine. The Ranger mine is located in the traditional lands of the Mirarr, the world heritage-listed Kakadu national park in Australia’s Northern Territory. If ERA does not complete rehabilitation of the site, which suffered a radioactive spill last year, the water, air quality and soil in the area could be scarred with toxic radiation for generations. Continue reading
Belarus anti-nuclear activist fears for ‘another Chernobyl’ on her doorstepNabeelah Shabbir theguardian.com, Friday 25 July 2014 “…………The proposed new plant in Belarus will be funded by Russia. Belarus’s official cost estimate is 9.4 billion US dollars, with one third of this to be spent by 2015. Its reactors would be constructed by the Russian company AtomEnergoMash.
Novikova is critical of the EU for not clamping down on nuclear power in the wake of the Fukishima nuclear disaster of 2011, and points out that some countries are steering away from nuclear energy. “Germany is phasing out of nuclear power; it produced 50% of all electricity generation from more renewable sources last year. The Italians said no in their nuclear referendum.”
Like many Belarusian activists, Novikova has faced severe harassment. She was detained in her own home in Minsk during anti-nuclear protests. Her elderly mother has received prank calls which the police confirmed came from the KGB. In Russia, she was arrested and jailed for five days for trying to hand in an environmental petition to the Russian embassy.
She was also was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011, and can’t tell if she was contaminated from radiation exposure from Chernobyl. The WHO says the disaster will cause 50,000 new cases of the cancer among young people living in the worst-affected region. Increased rates ofthyroid cancer are also being reported in Japan, post-Fukushima.
But she refuses to dwell on her own problems: “I’m still alive. Mine is not the worst case of persecution of people.”
“What should I do? Stop my fight? I lost my health, now I have lost my house,” she says. “Why should I run from this problem? I could go to the US or Europe, but it won’t change if I run – maybe I will, if my life will be in danger. Nobody knows. Right now, I have an opportunity to do something.”http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/25/belarus-anti-nuclear-chernobyl-on-her-doorstep
Row over contract to help nuclear firms, Herald Scotland, Daniel Sanderson Wednesday 23 July 2014
The body is to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds of public cash in a project aimed at helping Scottish firms move into the nuclear power industry.
As part of its Nuclear Supply Chain Phase II initiative, Scottish Enterprise has advertised for expert companies to come forward to assist Scottish firms to win business in the sector. In a document provided to firms interested in winning the three-year contract, worth up to a third of a million pounds excluding VAT, it says that as well as extensive opportunities for businesses to play a role in decommissioning old plants, there is also “considerable commitment to nuclear new-build” in the UK and overseas that could be exploited.
The contract has been offered despite Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing saying last year that support for nuclear was “misguided” after the UK Government announced it planned to build another plant in England. Mr Ewing added that economic powerhouses, including France and Germany, were scaling back or eliminating their reliance on the power source and that investment should instead be diverted to renewable energy sources.
While Scottish Enterprise said it believed the “vast majority” of new activity would involve the decommissioning of old plants, environmentalists have hit out at the agency, accusing it of wasting public money by “chasing the nuclear dream”.
Meanwhile, opposition MSPs have accused the SNP of “hypocrisy” after details of the project emerged. Murdo Fraser, energy spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The Scottish Government continually argues that nuclear power is declining, yet is now looking for a firm to deliver a programme designed to help businesses take advantage of nuclear power opportunities.”
Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends Of The Earth Scotland, said he believed the Scottish Enterprise project was “a waste of time”, and said the cash would be far better spent on creating jobs in green energy. He said: “Scotland is a world leader in renewable energy but has no useful expertise in new nuclear. Scottish Enterprise should concentrate on playing to our strengths in renewables and not be distracted by the nuclear white elephant.”……..http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/row-over-contract-to-help-nuclear-firms.24830973
Survey finds employees at contaminated nuclear site wary of challenging managers Times Colonist, Nicholas K. Geranios / The Associated Press June 24, 2014 SPOKANE, Wash. - Few of the U.S. Department of Energy workers who are helping build a plant to treat the most dangerous radioactive wastes at a nuclear site in Washington state feel they can openly challenge decisions made by management, according to a report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
The survey conducted by the department shows only 30 per cent of its employees at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation feel they can question their bosses……..
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said the study shows recent allegations of retaliation against Hanford workers who raised safety concerns made other employees less likely to come forward.
Hanford, near Richland in south central Washington, is engaged in a multi-decade cleanup of the nation’s largest collection of nuclear waste.
Two people who recently raised concerns about the design and safety of the unfinished Waste Treatment Plant at Hanford lost their jobs. Donna Busche was fired earlier this year, while Walter Tamosaitis, a 40-year Hanford employee, was laid off last year.
The U.S. Department of Energy has asked its Office of Inspector General to investigate Busche’s firing.
“Fatally compromised” NRC Commissioner Magwood urged to resign immediately , Beyond Nuclear, 21 June 14 34 groups, including Beyond Nuclear, represented by attorneys Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein, have urged NRC Commissioner William Magwood IV to resign immediately, as well as to retroactively recuse himself from numerous votes over the past many months, due to his apparent and actual conflict of interest.
He has agreed to become the Director-General of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, an institution explicitly mandated to promote nuclear energy — at odds with Magwood’s current job to protect people and the environment as a nuclear safety regulator. In 2009 and 2010, Beyond Nuclear helped lead a coalition effort opposing Magwood’s nomination and confirmation as an NRC Commissioner, due to his previous, long career of promoting nuclear power at DOE and in industry…..http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2014/6/18/fatally-compromised-nrc-commissioner-magwood-urged-to-resign.html
When the Democratic Party of Japan established the NRA, then–prime minister Naoto Kan implemented a rule to prevent conflicts of interest. It stopped anyone from becoming an NRA commissioner who had been employed by a nuclear organization in the three preceding years, which was defined as someone receiving $5,000 per year from the nuclear industry during that time period.
It appears that the Liberal Democratic Party has ignored that rule.
Post-Fukushima nuke watchdog outrages Japanese, Straight,com NRA appointee Satoru Tanaka’s financial ties to the nuclear industry provoke howls from environmentalists and opposition politicians by MARTIN DUNPHY on JUN 13, 2014 JAPAN’S PARLIAMENT, THE Diet, approved a controversial government appointee to the country’s nuclear watchdog agency on Wednesday (June 11).
Satoru Tanaka, a 64-year-old professor of nuclear engineering, will start his job as commissioner with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in September.
The staunch supporter of nuclear power has deep ties to the nuclear industry and has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from affiliated companies over the years. Continue reading
Nuclear regulators to Boxer: ‘None of your business’ Orange County Register, By TERI SFORZA / STAFF COLUMNIST 9 June 14,
Japan underreports 80 nuclear bombs-worth of plutonium to IAEA Rt.com : June 08, 2014 Japan has failed to mention having about 640 kg (1,411 lbs) of unused plutonium in reports it submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2012 and 2013. The unreported amount is enough to make about 80 nuclear bombs.
The MOX fuel was loaded into the No. 3 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear plant in March 2011 during its regular checkup, shortly before the Fukushima Nuclear disaster happened later that month. It was then taken out two years later as the reactor remained offline.
The unreported plutonium was first found by Kakujoho, a nuclear information website……..http://rt.com/news/164504-japan-nuclear-ieae-reports/
“The public policy position of Exelon is to oppose subsidies for wind and solar while the company itself purports to be this super-green company and also wants more subsidies for nuclear,” he said. “That’s just hypocritical.”
Nuclear Giant Exelon Blasts Win, by Elliot Negin, Director of News & Commentary, Union of Concerned Scientists Corporate executives often tout the benefits of competition in a free-market economic system, but it’s striking just how much large corporations don’t like it. In fact, some companies will do all they can to squash it, lobbying for favors and subsidies while working to deny them to their competitors.
The squabble over a key federal tax break for the wind industry is a case in point. Called the production tax credit (PTC), it has helped quadruple the wind industry’s generation capacity over the last five years, and six states now have enough wind turbines to meet more than 15 percent of their annual demand
Unlike most coal, nuclear, and oil and gas subsidies, the PTC — which has been around only since the mid-1990s — is not permanent. Congress has to renew it periodically. Last December, Congress let it expire yet again, and lawmakers likely will not restore it until after the November mid-term elections, if at all. The PTC represents roughly $1.2 billion in annual tax savings to the wind industry.
Wind’s more-established competitors want the PTC dead.
ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers and their front groups, for example, want Congress to let it die. Never mind that the oil and gas industry has been receiving an average of$4.86 billion annually in today’s dollars in subsidies and tax breaks since 1918. Or the fact that Congress exempted natural gas developers from key provisions of seven major environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
The nuclear power industry doesn’t like the wind tax break, either. Its most outspoken critic is Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear plant owner with 23 reactors at 14 plant sites. Continue reading
Israel renews restrictions on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu By Noam Sheizaf |972 Magazine June 1, 2014 Despite serving 18 years in prison, including 11 in solitary confinement, Vanunu is forbidden from traveling and speaking to the media. Recently, he was denied a permit to speak before the British Parliament, following an invitation by 54 MPs.
The Israeli interior minister and the IDF Central Command have decided to extend restrictions on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu’s freedom of movement and speech. Vanunu’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, has been notified on the decision and told +972 Magazine he will once again petition the High Court of Justice on Vanunu’s case.
Since his release from prison in 2004, Vanunu hasn’t been allowed to leave Israel, enter a foreign consulate or embassy, come within 500 meters of an international border, port or airport or enter the West Bank. He is forbidden from speaking to journalists, and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) monitors all foreign nationals with whom he meets. The Shin Bet must also approve Vanunu’s meetings with a foreign national who the Israeli media says is his partner.
Last month, Vanunu’s request to travel to London for a three-day visit was denied. He had been invited to speak before the British Parliament (his invitation was signed by 54 MPs) as well as to attend an Amnesty International event. Feldman also petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice against that decision……… Continue reading
Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World – Radiation survivors tell their story in Lima, Peru Peru This Week By Roxana Garmendia, 27 May 14 Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors visit Lima as part of their worldwide tour campaign ‘world free of nuclear weapons.’Hiroshima and Nagasaki are two words one cannot easily forget. They represent the destruction and the immense human suffering and loss caused by the usage of nuclear weapons. On August 6, 1945, American airplanes dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and three days later on Nagasaki. 69 years have passed since then but the effects of such acts are still present to this day. To tell us more on these tragic events, a delegation of survivors recently visited Lima as part of their worldwide tour campaign on a ‘world free of nuclear weapons.’
A group of both men and women – most of them in their 70s – shared their memories and the consequences these events had in their lives and those of their families. They were young – if not infants – and some did remember those moments quite well; others learnt about them growing up and through their families. One man recalled his hair falling off and having open wounds in his legs and body caused by the radiation and from which worms would stem out; a lady being covered with a blanket by her mother, saving her from getting the radiation burns – different was the fate of the other family members who died soon after, she explained. More than 200,000 people have died of radiation sickness; the vast majority of them civilians.
There were, of course, those who survived the nuclear attacks; in Japan they are known as hibakushas. A hibakusha technically is someone that has been exposed to radiation within a few kilometers of the hypocenter or was not yet born but was carried by a pregnant woman that had been exposed to such radiation. It is estimated that there are more than 220,000 hibakushas alive – Japanese for the most part but also Koreans and Chinese who were brought to Japan as forced labor during those years. One percent of them are believed to still suffer from some disease related to the bombings. The effects of the radiation, it must be said, are both short and long-term, and may appear later.
It was not only the physical scars, illnesses and traumas that the hibakusha have suffered all along; they were also victims of discrimination. Jobs were difficult to get as people were afraid of any disease transfer. Likewise in social terms, it was not any better as the belief that the illness could be hereditary was very much in the air, and doubts about this still persist. A Japanese lady revealed, for example that all her children suffer from cancer, thyroid, and intestinal problems, common illnesses among other second generation hibakushas (approx. 300 to 500,000).
Several years after, the hibakushas organized themselves and managed to obtain some benefits from the Government. The Japanese Government provides them a monthly allowance and free medical treatment for those registered hibakushas. No compensation, however, was ever paid by the Americans even though they were the ones who threw the bombs……http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-global-voyage-for-nuclear-free-world-radiation-survivors-tell-their-story-in-lima-peru-103071
The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) ‘outs’ the fossil fuel groups behind the attacks on renewable energy
New Report Exposes Fossil Fuel Front Groups Behind Attacks on Renewables http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/05/22/new-report-exposes-fossil-fuel-interest-groups-behind-clean-energy-attacks Fossil fuel exploitation in the United States has reached a fevered pitch. Oil production is at a near-record high, and fracking activities have made the U.S.the number one producer of natural gas. All of this comes at a cost. In 2013, the oil industry averaged 20 oil spills per day, destroying countless swaths of the environment and leaving toxic chemicals for nearby residents to deal with. Meanwhile, oil and gas train derailments have totaled at least 11 in the last 11 months.
During this period of dirty energy dominance, investments in renewable energy continued to fall by 14% in 2013. The United States is averaging 20 oil spills per day, 1 dirty energy transport train derailment and explosion per month, and yet we’re still doubling down on fossil fuels.
This all seems fairly shocking, until you peel back the curtain on who is behind the efforts to keep renewable energy solutions out of the picture, which is exactly what a new report has done. The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) has released a report detailing not only the fossil fuel front groups behind the attacks on clean energy, but also how they are able to use their money and political muscle to prevent a viable market for clean energy, limiting energy choices for consumers.
The fossil fuel lobby aggressively uses lobbying and propaganda to achieve their goals. Self-identified “free market think tanks” are among the most effective advocates for the fossil fuel industry to lobby for policy changes. Dozens of these so-called free market organizations, a majority of which are members of the State Policy Network (SPN), worked to influence state level energy policies and attack the clean energy industry…
Fossil fuel-funded front groups operate in multiple areas to influence the policy-making process in their attempts to eliminate clean energy policies. Continue reading
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