TTIP: what does the transatlantic trade deal mean for renewable energy?, Guardian, Tim Smedley, 5 Aug 15
Trade partnership between the EU and US could remove barriers facing the green energy sector, but experts warn of potential dangers. In July the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) came a step closer to reality. Formal talks have been ongoing for two years, but trying to create the world’s biggest free trade zone is no mean feat. Essentially, if passed, the EU and US will be able to trade without each other’s pesky tariffs or regulations getting in the way.
David Cameron is a big advocate, arguing it could add £10bn to the UK economy. Many others, meanwhile, criticise the undemocratic nature of the closed-door talks and sinister influence of powerful lobbyists.
But what would TTIP mean for renewable energy?………
TTIP could even undermine the democratic authority of local government. The UK’s Local Government Association representative in Brussels, Dominic Rowles, imagines a situation “whereby a public authority, whether local or national, takes a democratic decision on energy generation … that TTIP then makes easier for corporations to challenge.”
More opportunities to sue
The bone of contention here is the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), which allows private companies to sue governments for loss of profits connected to regulation. It is seen as a key US demand for the trade partnership. Precedents include a US tobacco firm suing the Australian government over packaging restrictions and a US fracking company suing the Québec government following a moratorium on drilling under the St Lawrence River.
“Where the US wants to engage it does so pretty forcefully”, says David Baldock, executive director of the Institute for European Environmental Policy. He questions why an ISDS provision is needed at all, given the robust nature of the courts in both jurisdictions and the “huge levels of trade already between the EU and the US”. Yet an ISDS independent tribunal which would bypass national courts (and “doesn’t sit at all comfortably with the European decision-making process”, says Baldock) appears to be strongly favoured by US negotiators.
Race to the bottom on regulation Baldock also argues, “If you add TTIP to the language coming out of the commission about being less regulatory, lighter governance, letting states off binding targets around renewables and energy efficiency, then it is another layer that feeds … angst and lack of confidence for investors.”
Chair of the UK environmental audit committee, Joan Walley, believes there is a danger of TTIP coming at “the expense of throwing away hard-won environmental and public-health protections” and that combining US and EU regulatory systems becomes a “race to the bottom” – agreeing to harmonise the lowest regulations on either side, not the highest.
Baldock believes there could also be “a chill effect”, meaning that any new, stricter regulation is less likely to pass in future. “If we’re going to have a low carbon world we’ve got to [set] more targets, more product standards, more eco design directives,” he says. “The question is how far those are going to be inhibited by TTIP and giving the Americans a seat at the table.”……..http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/aug/05/ttip-free-trade-deal-renewable-energy-transatlantic-partnership-eu-us
India barred activist from entry: Greenpeace , Arab News 9 June 15 NEW DELHI: Greenpeace said Monday an Australian staff member had been barred from entering India despite holding a valid visa, in what it said was the latest crackdown against the group.
Aaron Gray-Block was on his way to meetings in India when immigration officials stopped him at Bangalore airport on Saturday night and put him on a flight to Kuala Lumpur without explanation, the campaign group said.
His passport was seized and only returned to him once he had landed in the Malaysian capital, the environmental group said in a statement.
“Our colleague has a valid business visa, and yet he was prevented from entering India with no reason given,” Divya Raghunandan, program director of Greenpeace India, said.
“We are forced to wonder if all international staff of Greenpeace will now be prevented from entering the country?“
Local media reports cited unnamed home ministry sources saying Gray-Block was denied entry because his name figured in an official ‘black list’.
But the activist said he had “not received any communication” from the government of being placed on such a list, demanding “an explanation to this.”
“I arrived at Bangalore Airport with a valid business visa issued by the Indian embassy in Australia… Any suggestion of wrongdoing is a farce and a smear,” Gray-Block said in a statement late Monday.
“There is no reason for me to be included in any blacklist,” he added……
A court last month ordered authorities to unfreeze some of Greenpeace’s accounts, handing the group a lifeline after it faced closure of its local operations.
Greenpeace has accused the government of waging a “malicious campaign” against it. Authorities prevented one of its campaigners in January from leaving Delhi after she was placed on a suspicious persons list. According to Indian media, a secret report by the main intelligence agency recently warned that delays to key development projects being sought by Greenpeace and other activist groups could knock up to three percentage points off India’s annual growth rate.
Greenpeace has been at loggerheads with the government over claims of environmental damage caused by India’s heavy reliance on coal and the impact of deforestation and nuclear projects. http://www.arabnews.com/news/758971
Senate Passes USA Freedom Act, Restricting NSA Surveillance Powers http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/senate_passes_usa_freedom_act_restricting_nsa_surveillance_powers_20150602 by Roisin Davis Jun 2, 2015 In a move seen to vindicate whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Senate on Tuesday passed the USA Freedom Act, which will end the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.
As the Guardian explains, this is the most significant surveillance reform for decades, “a direct result” of Snowden’s revelations to the paper two years ago. “The passage of the USA Freedom Act,” the Guardian states, “paves the way for telecom companies to assume responsibility of the controversial phone records collection program, while also bringing to a close a short lapse in the broad NSA and FBI domestic spying authorities. Those powers expired with key provisions of the Patriot Act at 12.01 am on Monday amid a showdown between defense hawks and civil liberties advocates.”
Needing only a simple majority to pass, the final tally of the vote showed that 67 senators were in favor of the measure and 32 against.
The vote comes only two days after key parts of the Patriot Act expired, and BBC News compares the two:
What is changing? The expiry of the Patriot Act brings to an end bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata – who called who, when and for how long, but not the content of calls – by the US. Under its successor, records must be held by telecommunications companies and investigators need a court order to access specific information. Technology companies will be given greater leeway to reveal data requests. The measures are intended to balance concerns on privacy with providing the authorities the tools they need to prevent attacks.
What stays the same? Key parts of the Patriot Act are retained in the Freedom Act. They include the provision allowing the monitoring of “lone wolf” suspects – potential attackers not linked to foreign terror groups, despite the US authorities admitting the powers have never been used. The Freedom Act also maintains a provision allowing investigators to monitor travel and business records of individuals, something law officers says is more effective than bulk collection.
The Secret 1949 Radiation Experiment That Contaminated Washington, Gizmodo, 3 June 15 Sarah Zhang The physicists who invented the nuclear bomb worked out of Los Alamos in New Mexico, but the people who did the dirty work of making the bombs were in Hanford, Washington. Throughout the Cold War, Hanford churned out plutonium for our nuclear arsenal. It was also, conveniently, a place to experiment with radiation.
Today, Hanford is the most contaminated radioactive site in America—the site of a massive (and troubled) cleanup effort. Radioactive material is still accidentally leaking into the ground. Though Hanford’s plants routinely released small doses of radioactive material into the air, most of this damage came from an event in 1949 called Green Run.
Green Run was a secret Air Force experiment that released Hanford’s largest single dose of radioactive iodine-131. On the night of December 2, 1949, at the behest of the military, scientists at Hanford let 7,000 to 12,000 curies of iodine-131 into the air, where it rode the wind as far as 200 miles. For a sense of scale, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident released an estimated 15 to 24 curies of iodine-131 and the Chernobyl accident 35 million to 49 million curies.
The Green Run stayed secret until the 1980s, when it was revealed by Freedom of Information Act requests from local newspapers. The military details are still classified. More than half a century later, suspicion and controversy continue to lurk around Green Run, especially among the residents who lived downwind of Hanford.
There’s still much that we don’t know about the Green Run, but here is what we do.
Hanford, Factory and Farm …….Hanford was always more than a production facility; it was also a research complex. Up to 1,000 animals were housed on a farm near reactor F for experiments on the effects of radiation. The animals included fish, dogs, pigs, sheep, and even alligators. Sheep, especially, were given feed with iodine-131, the same radioactive material that the reactors were discharging into the air…….http://gizmodo.com/the-secret-1949-radiation-experiment-that-contaminated-1707748721
The largest-ever international economic treaty that has ever been negotiated
Only five of the 29 chapters are about traditional trade. The others are about regulating the Internet and what Internet—Internet service providers have to collect information. They have to hand it over to companies under certain circumstances. It’s about regulating labor, what labor conditions can be applied, regulating, whether you can favor local industry, regulating the hospital healthcare system, privatization of hospitals. So, essentially, every aspect of the modern economy, even banking services, are in the TPP.
Julian Assange on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secretive Deal Isn’t About Trade, But Corporate Control democracynow.org/2015/5/27/julian_assange_on_the_trans_pacific As negotiations continue, WikiLeaks has published leaked chapters of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership — a global trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries. The TPP would cover 40 percent of the global economy, but details have been concealed from the public. A recently disclosed “Investment Chapter” highlights the intent of U.S.-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company’s claimed future profits. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warns the plan could chill the adoption of health and environmental regulations.
By Justin McCurry, Correspondent MAY 21, 2015 TOKYO — Is Japan’s commitment to free speech foundering?
A growing chorus of critics accuses the Abe administration of trampling on press freedoms, moving the issue beyond a coterie of academics and journalists……http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2015/0521/In-Japan-anger-at-Shinzo-Abe-s-heavy-hand-on-press-turns-mainstream-video
Royal Navy investigates Trident whistle-blower William McNeilly who claims nuclear programme is a ‘disaster waiting to happen’ , The Independent 17 May 15 The Royal Navy is investigating claims by an apparent whistle-blower that there is a “complete lack of concern for security” that makes the Trident nuclear weapons programme vulnerable to terror attack.
The claims were made in an online post by 25-year-old William McNeilly, and included a photograph of his Navy ID card.
McNeilly said he had “sacrificed” his freedom and a well-paid career to make the claims in an 18-page report entitled “The Secret Nuclear Threat”, and that after posting it he had gone on the run.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that McNeilly was a member of the naval service, and a source said the Navy was “concerned for the whereabouts and wellbeing of AB (able seaman) McNeilly and working closely with civilian police to locate him”.
In his report, McNeilly claimed he had witnessed a host of inadequate systems and checks while training with the Trident programme, from “things like food hygiene” to failed launch tests, flooding on board submarines, fires in the missile compartment and “a complete lack of security”.
“If airport security and nuclear weapon security were both compared to prisons,” McNeilly writes, “the airport would be Alcatraz and base security would be house arrest.”
McNeilly’s report: Key claims
• Missile launch tests failed on three occasions
• Collision with French nuclear sub covered up
• Failures to carry out security checks on bags
• Computer waste representing major fire risk
• Missile safety alarms muted and ignored
• Accidental flooding of torpedo compartment
• Failure to question recording of top-secret info
McNeilly described the state of Trident security as “the biggest threat the UK faces”, and said he was only releasing “selected information” in order to avoid damaging security further.
“I’m releasing this information in this way because it’s the only way I can to be sure it gets out,” he said, adding that he had “raised concerns through the chain of command on multiple occasions” and got nowhere……….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/royal-navy-investigates-trident-whistleblower-william-mcneilly-who-claims-nuclear-programme-is-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen-10256148.html
TNP attorneys file motion for immediate release https://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/tnp-attorneys-file-motion-for-immediate-release/ BY TNPLOWSHARES ⋅ MAY 15, 2015
Everyone seemed to have the same question following the news that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had thrown out the sabotage charge against Michael Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed and vacated the sentences on both the sabotage and the depredation charges. The court noted if the three had been sentenced only on the depredation charge, according to the sentencing guidelines, they would likely have received shorter sentences and would have already served their full time. So the question of the day: When are they getting out?
A fair question—they now are being held in federal prison with no sentence at all.
Within days of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, Judge Amul Thapar, who handled the original case, convened a conference call with the lawyers from both sides. He apparently told them he had not yet been assigned the case, but he wanted to set a schedule in case he was. The result was a July 8 date set for resentencing. (The Court’s decision to throw out the sabotage charge and vacate the sentences could be appealed by the prosecutor, a decision we are told would be made not in Knoxville, but in Washington; the feds have two weeks to file a notice of appeal, then as much as 90 days to actually file the appeal, after which the defense gets time to respond, and the feds get more time for a final response—you can see how this would drag out with Greg, Megan and Michael still in prison.
But the case resides still in the Sixth Circuit (Thapar, who is a federal judge in Lexington, KY, originally drew the case because the Knoxville court had a vacancy on the bench; the judge who had been assigned the case had retired; Thapar drew the reassignment. That empty seat in Knoxville has since been filled, so it is not absolutely certain that the case would be remanded to Thapar for re-sentencing.) So, long story short, attorneys for MGM filed a motion with the Sixth Circuit on Thursday, May 15, asking for immediate release.
The Sixth Circuit wasted no time. Within hours, it issued an order requiring the government to respond to the motion for immediate release by noon on Monday, May 18.
That is where things stand at this moment.
Here is a copy of the Defense Motion for Immediate Release:Def Motion for Immediate Release 5-14-15
Greenpeace India could close within a month due to government crackdown Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 6 May 15 Organisation faces 340 job losses in what would be the only forced closure since it was founded in 1971 because Indian government has frozen its bank accounts Greenpeace India will be forced to close within a month with the loss of 340 jobs because of a government crackdown on its funding, the organisation’s chief has warned.
The Indian home ministry froze seven bank accounts connected with the organisation last month, the latest in a series of moves against the NGO since Narendra Modi’s government came to power.
The international group said that if it was forced to close the Indian operation, it would be the first time since it was founded in 1971 that one of its national organisations was forcibly closed down………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/05/greenpeace-india-could-close-within-a-month-due-to-government-crackdown
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/
India government trying to shut us down: Greenpeace ABC 16 Apr 15 Greenpeace believes the Indian government has blocked donations from being deposited in its bank accounts, both locally and internationally.
The latest allegation comes less than a week after the right-wing government suspended the environmental watchdog’s foreign funding licence and blocked several of its bank accounts, citing violations of rules governing international financial transactions.
Following the ban, Greenpeace said, many donors even in India were unable to deposit money into the group’s local accounts. It said it suspected the accounts had been blocked by the government.
The group described the fresh step as an all-out attack by the government to “suppress democracy and silence those with an alternative vision of development”. The government has also blocked our domestic accounts and is now preventing ordinary Indians from supporting our work for clean air, healthy forests, pesticide-free food and a liveable environment,” Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India, said in a statement………http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2015/04/15/4217058.htm
The Union Home Ministry on Thursday suspended the official registration for foreign funding of Greenpeace India for six months and froze seven bank accounts connected with the organisation, The Hindu, a local newspaper, reported.
Samit Aich, the executive director of Greenpeace, said the move was “an attack on democracy”.
“They don’t like the questions we are raising. We are environmental activists asking questions about the environment. There has been intimidation, illegal attacks for some time now,” he said……..
In January a Greenpeace campaigner was stopped by Indian officials from travelling to the UK to deliver a talk to MPs about the impact of mining on a poor communities and the environment in central India.
Government agencies had also found that “in the past couple of years, several UK nationals, including cyber experts and activists, had visited Greenpeace’s offices in India allegedly to help it organise protest activities”, the newspaper said.
In January the Indian government was told by judges to unblock funds received by Greenpeace which have been frozen by authorities since June.
The high court in Delhi, the capital, ruled that the previous freeze on funds that Greenpeace India had received from abroad was “arbitrarily illegal” and “unconstitutional”.
Over the past year, there have been a series of measures targeting Greenpeace and several other international NGOs working on similar environmental issues in India.
An intelligence report prepared for the incoming government of Narendra Modi, which took power after a landslide electoral win in May, accused several foreign-funded NGOs of stalling major infrastructure projects at the behest of unidentified foreign powers.
The report, which was leaked to the press, claimed that “people-centric” campaigns organised by NGOs blocked projects in seven sectors – nuclear power, uranium mining, thermal and hydroelectric power, farm biotechnology, extractive industries, and mega industrial projects – were aimed at keeping India in “a state of underdevelopment”.
In June, the government barred Greenpeace from receiving funds from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation – some 30% of its funding. The remaining 70% is raised from local supporters in India. About £180,000 was frozen, before courts ordered its release.
Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, had complained that foreign-funded NGOs were blocking the expansion of nuclear power and the introduction of genetically modified products. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/10/greenpeace-bank-accounts-frozen-by-indian-government
Japan’s Lonely Brave Bureaucrat Speaks Out on TV Asahi Nuclear Free by 2045? 31 Mar 15 A former high level bureaucrat in the Japanese Ministry of Trade was one of the few public officials to bravely speak up for radical change in the wake of the earthquake-tsunami-meltdown catastrophe. The Economistwas one of the first in the English language media to report on Shigeaki Koga’s radical proposals for reform of national energy policy. In September 2011, The Economist reported his views:
MARCH 30, 2015: The Japan Times reported on the controversial broadcast a few days afterwards: Ex-bureaucrat blasts Abe on news program.
MARCH 29, 2015: Asahi Shimbun reported on the controversial broadcast the day after I wrote the above: Abe critic claims on air he was axed from TV program at behest of management.
Tomohiro Sasaki, “Ex-bureaucrat blasts Abe on news program,” The Japan Times, March 30, 2015. http://nf2045.blogspot.jp/2015/03/japans-lonely-brave-bureaucrat-speaks.html
Mako Oshidori in Düsseldorf “The Hidden Truth about Fukushima”, Fukushima Voice version 2E 28 May 2014 On March 8th, 2014, comedienne/journalist Mako Oshidori gave a lecture, “The Hidden Truth About Fukushima” in Düsseldorf, Germany, organized by a citizen’s group, SAYONARA Genpatsu Düsseldorf. Translation of Mako Oshidori’s March 6th, 2014 press conference at the German IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) Symposium in Frankfurt can be found here.The lecture, given in Japanese with German interpretation, was transcribed and translated into English……Transcription by Takashi Mizuno Translation by @YuriHiranuma
Mako: I am the director of Free Press Corporation in Japan.
This organization was originally created after the earthquake. The media is controlled as I just mentioned. This alliance was created for the purpose of conveying accurate, fresh information without media control.
Mako: Actually, it was created shortly before the earthquake. It was sort of coincidental…..
I was invited to talk to you, but I am actually not active in the anti-nuclear power plant movement. What I do is conduct investigations. There are numerous issues in Japan that I investigate, from the nuclear accident to other medical issues such as Minamata disease and Asbestosis.
However, doctors and scientists attending the IPPNW conference, which ended yesterday, shared how they end up being labeled as anti-nuclear activists even though they don’t consider themselves to be as such, when they research and publicize facts inconvenient for promotion of nuclear power. There is a tremendous amount of pressure exerted when researching and writing up facts the nuclear lobby doesn’t like. Continue reading
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
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
- climate change
- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
- MIDDLE EAST
- NORTH AMERICA
- SOUTH AMERICA
- Christina's notes
- Christina's themes
- RARE EARTHS
- resources – print
- Resources -audiovicual