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Swiss authorities intervene to halt exports of nuclear weapons material

May 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Court orders Swiss authorities to publish arms export data

Court orders Swiss authorities to publish arms export data APRIL 24, 2019 Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) must give a Swiss journalist company data on arms exports.

The Federal Court rejected an appeal by SECO which had refused to transfer detailed information to a journalist from the WOZ newspaper on companies that had filed arms exports requests in 2014.

In a decision published on Wednesdayexternal link, the court backed an earlier ruling by the Federal Administrative Court on behalf of the WOZ journalist, who had filed a freedom of information request.

Last March, the Federal Administrative Court had ruled in favour of the journalist, stating that it was public interest to ensure greater transparency and information on arms exports and that the media played an important role in holding the authorities to account in this regard.

SECO had argued that, in accordance with the law on war materiel, only the parliamentary oversight committee should be sent the details on Swiss arms exports. It said that publishing details on arms exports could also displease importing countries.

However, the Federal Court said publishing such information was not a threat for Switzerland’s interests. If there is no business secret involved, SECO must publish the firms’ names.

Hot topic

Rules governing arms exports and calls for greater transparency remain a hot topic in Switzerland. In 2008 the government tightened rules on arms exports; in 2014 it relaxed them on behalf of parliament.

In October 2018 the government abandoned plans to ease Swiss weapons exports following a public outcry.

In December 2018 campaigners started collecting signatures for a people’s initiative to prevent the Swiss government from relaxing rules for exporting arms to conflict-ridden states.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Legal, media, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Misleading and dangerous – the downplaying of Chernobyl’s radiation risks

May 27, 2019 Posted by | radiation, spinbuster, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Torres Strait Islanders take their human rights case to UN against Australia, on climate change.

Torres Strait Islanders ask UN to hold Australia to account on climate ‘human rights abuses’ The Conversation, Kristen Lyons  Professor Environment and Development Sociology, The University of Queensland. May 27, 2019  Climate change threatens Australia in many different ways, and can devastate rural and urban communities alike. For Torres Strait Islanders, it’s a crisis that’s washing away their homes, infrastructure and even cemeteries.The failure to take action on this crisis has led a group of Torres Strait Islanders to lodge a climate change case with the United Nations Human Rights Committee against the Australian federal government.

It’s the first time the Australian government has been taken to the UN for their failure to take action on climate change. And its the first time people living on a low lying island have taken action against any government.

This case – and other parallel cases – demonstrate that climate change is “fundamentally a human rights issue”, with First Nations most vulnerable to the brunt of a changing climate.

The group of Torres Strait Islanders lodging this appeal argue that the Australian government has failed to take adequate action on climate change. They allege that the re-elected Coalition government has not only steered Australia off track in meeting globally agreed emissionsreductions, but has set us on course for climate catastrophe.

In doing so, Torres Strait Islanders argue that the government has failed to uphold human rights obligations and violated their rights to culture, family and life………

Torres Straight Islanders are on the frontlines

Some Torres Strait Islands are less than one metre above sea level and are already affected by climate change.

Rising tides have delivered devastating effects for local communities, including flooding homes, land and cultural sites, with dire flooding in 2018 breaking a sea wall built to protect local communities…….

Parallel threats across the Pacific

While the Torres Strait appeal to the UN is groundbreaking, the challenges facing Torres Strait Islanders are not unique.

Delegates at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji last week described climate change as the “single greatest threat” to the region, with sea level rise occurring up to four times the global average in some countries in the Pacific.

Climate change is already causing migration across parts of the Pacific, including relocation of families from the Carteret Islands to Bougainville with support from local grassroots organisation Tulele Peisa.

The Alliance of Small Island States, an intergovernmental organisation, has demanded that signatories to the Paris Agreement, including through the Green Climate Fund, recognise fundamental loss and damages communities are facing, and compensate those affected.

The growing wave of climate litigation

Across the Torres Strait, the Pacific, and other regions on the frontline of climate change, there are a diversity of responses in defence of land and seas. These are often grounded in local and Indigenous knowledge……


May 27, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Donald Trump isn’t fit to have control of the nation’s nuclear codes or state secrets

Trump Should Not Have Access to Nuclear Codes or State Secrets,   by David Atkins, May 26, 2019
 Donald Trump’s slide into unhinged despotism has shifted from gradual to sudden in the last few days.First, the he suggested—after being reminded by a reporter that the punishment for treason is death—that the former FBI Director, the former FBI Deputy Director and at least two FBI agents had committed treason by daring to investigate him. Then he gave his toady Attorney General unprecedented power to selectively declassify any and all materials related to the probe into his campaign’s ties with Russia, thereby not only retaliating against his own Justice Department but also endangering the lives of its agents. He posted a doctored video of the speaker of House, falsified to make it appear as though she were drunk or mentally impaired. He stormed out a meeting on infrastructure, calling an impromptu press conference in which he forced cabinet members to stand by and attest to how calm he is.

And then there’s whatever this is, written during an official state visit to Japan:

Donald J. Trump   @realDonaldTrump

In what may well be the most reckless and bizarre tweet of his entire presidency, Trump did the following: 1) made light of provocative saber rattling by the biggest immediate threat to the host nation of his state visit; 2) cozied up to the brutal dictator of the world’s most repressive autocratic regime, Kim Jong Un; 3) made himself out to be braver than his staff and advisers in the military and diplomatic corps; 4) commiserated with said brutal dictator against the former vice president of the United States and his potential political opponent in the next election; 5) almost certainly lied about the interaction with the dictator, who is very unlikely to have said or done anything like what Trump described; and 6) wrote about the dictator “sending him a signal” in the context of said commiseration as if he were a middle-school student writing in his or her diary about a first crush.

As Dan Rather said:

Dan Rather  @DanRather

At some point, even Republicans are going to have to decide how much more of this they can tolerate. Trump is displaying increasingly dangerous and unstable behavior with unpredictable impacts on American national security. Mike Pence is odious to liberals and progressives for many reasons and would make a horrible president in all the ways for which the conservative base would love him, but he wouldn’t be a Mad King threatening to take the entire country down with him in decompensating fits of destructive narcissism.

Trump isn’t fit to have control of the nation’s nuclear codes or state secrets. Even his closest allies know this, and there will have to be some sort of political intervention by Republicans to avert disaster. We are unlikely to make it through to January 2021 without serious repercussions if nothing is done in the meantime.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Continuing USA debate on nuclear waste- Yucca Mt is central to the issue

May 27, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

In Kenya, 87% of the electricity is from renewal sources

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Kenya, renewable | Leave a comment

At June G20 meeting, Japan to push for international conference on nuclear waste disposal (but no talk on stopping making radioactive trash)

Japan to push for int’l conference on nuclear waste disposal at June G-20 meet    TOKYO — The Japanese government announced May 24 that it plans to arrange an international meeting to consider how to dispose of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

Tokyo is set to get approval for the plan at the Group of 20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth scheduled for mid-June in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, and aims to launch the first roundtable this autumn.

Nuclear waste is a problem for all countries operating nuclear power plants, and the Japan-backed international summit on cooperating to dispose of it will be a world first. Participating nations are expected to aim for improved cooperation and formulation of an international “basic strategy” on dealing with radioactive waste.

High-level nuclear refuse is usually “vitrified” — mixed with melted glass and solidified — before being deposited in an underground storage facility. Japan’s own disposal plans call for holding the waste for 30 to 50 years to cool it before burying it in stable rock formations at least 300 meters below ground. Finland is already building a major underground disposal site, while its neighbor Sweden is conducting a safety evaluation at the location of its own planned facility. However, there is no precedent for actually operating such an installation, and Japan has not yet even begun the survey process to choose a site.

The Japanese government will thus use the June 15-16 G-20 environment and energy summit meeting to urge member nations to cooperate on realistic solutions. Specifically, Japan will press nations with advanced nuclear disposal technology including those in Europe to share their know-how, and also promote international collaboration among research facilities and staff exchanges. The international roundtable will put together a collection of proposals on a basic nuclear waste disposal cooperation strategy and how to explain the issue to the citizens of member nations.

(Japanese original by Hajime Nakatsugawa, Business News Department)

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

240 shrines within 20 K of Fukushima reactor 1, so a move to build a new shrine

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Japan, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Radiation in UW building: 200 employees being moved, cleanup could take at least six more weeks

May 27, 2019 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Russia Launched New Nuclear Power Icebreaker While Other Countries Pay To Clean up Russian Nuclear Waste Ship (& Other Russian Nuclear Messes) — Mining Awareness +

Russia launched its new nuclear icebreaker just as Norway and the EU have started helping financially and technically to cleanup one of Russia’s old nuclear waste ships! The US, Europe (including Norway), Canada, and Japan have given billions to Russian nuclear cleanup efforts, freeing Russian funds to develop more nuclear icebreakers, submarines, etc. This goes […]

via Russia Launched New Nuclear Power Icebreaker While Other Countries Pay To Clean up Russian Nuclear Waste Ship (& Other Russian Nuclear Messes) — Mining Awareness +

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The tiny plant that helped save a desert from uranium mining — Beyond Nuclear International

A spectacular landscape is spared, but opposition will remain vigilant

via The tiny plant that helped save a desert from uranium mining — Beyond Nuclear International

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A rebel with many causes — Beyond Nuclear International

Muna Lakhani spread his love wide, inspiring activism

via A rebel with many causes — Beyond Nuclear International

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In promoting nuclear power, Australia’s nuclear shills are also promoting coal — Nuclear Australia

Coal and the nuclear lobby (updated), John Quiggin AUGUST 13, 2018 JOHN QUIGGIN Updated 26 May 19, “……… It’s reasonable to ask why I would bother arguing about nuclear power, given my frequently expressed view that it’s DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. The problem is that nuclear fans like Ben Heard are, in effect, advocates for coal. Their line […]

via In promoting nuclear power, Australia’s nuclear shills are also promoting coal — Nuclear Australia

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear power seen as obsolete in South Africa, but they must ramp up renewables, get out of coal

The Dance of Nuclear, Coal, & Renewables in South Africa, Clean Technica May 25th, 2019 by David Zarembka , “………  South Africa has the most mining and industry of any country in Africa and consequently needs the largest amount of electricity – 54,400 megawatts. This can be broken down as follows:


Type Capacity [MW] Percent
Coal 40,036 73.6%
Gas turbine 3,449 6.3%
Hydro 3,573 6.6%
Wind 2,096 3.9%
Nuclear 1,860 3.4%
Solar PV 1,479 2.7%
Solar Concentrated 400 0.7%
Landfill gas 7.5
Nuclear accounts for 3.4% of power capacity in South Africa, thermal energy sources 79.9%, and renewable sources 16.7% (hydro alone is 9.4%).

Nuclear Power: South Africa has two nuclear power plants in Koeberg near Capetown. Each unit produces 830 MW of power. The first was commissioned in 1984 and the second in 1985. Their closure dates are 2024 and 2025, although there are already attempts to keep them open longer than their 40 year lifespan.

The real story, the dance of nuclear power, began in 2010 when South Africa planned to build 8 more nuclear reactors for 9600 MW of additional energy at Koeberg and Thyspunt. These were projected to come online between 2024 and 2030. At different times, the United States, Russia, France, China, and South Korea were involved in negotiations. In March 2017, when the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, opposed these new nuclear plants because South Africa could not afford the costs, he was fired by then President Jacob Zuma and replaced with a minister who approved the projects. Due to major corruption scandals, including the nuclear power projects, President Zuma was ousted on February 18, 2018. Zuma’s replacement, Cyril Ramaphosa, immediately canceled the nuclear projects until 2030. By that time, I am sure nuclear power will be seen as obsolete, like the horse and buggy is today.

There is another important side issue to the two nuclear power plants in operation. From mid-2017 through mid-2018, Capetown and the surrounding communities where the nuclear power plants are sited almost ran out of water, as the reservoirs were falling below 30% of capacity. Not only were restrictions placed on washing cars, watering lawns, and filling swimming pools, the water people did receive was rationed. “Day Zero” was announced when the city would run out of water. Since people cut their consumption by more than half, the day was postponed a number of times. Strong rains in June 2018 ended the crisis. Nonetheless, Capetown residents are restricted to 105 liters (26 gallons) of water per person per day. The issue was that the two nuclear power plants were using lots of scarce water. They have now been required to install ocean desalination plants for their water requirements.

Coal: South Africa has the seventh highest coal reserves in the world. In 2018, it exported $6.2 billion of coal, mostly to China, Japan, and India. Yet in 2008, 2015, and 2018, South Africa had “load shedding,” planned rolling backouts where parts of the country are routinely without power on a scheduled basis. This was because, due to mismanagement and corruption in Eskom, the public electricity utility, South Africa’s power stations were short of coal. South Africa has 17 coal-fired plants in operation producing 40,036 MW of electricity. Electric consumption has been flat or declining slightly in the last decade.

One of the problems with these coal plants is that many are old, needing repairs, and expensive to operate. In the next five years, two coal plants with 3,454 MW of capacity are scheduled to be retired, while from 2025 to 2030 seven coal plants with 7,822 MW of capacity are scheduled to be retired. There are two coal plants under construction for 6,800 MW of additional capacity, but they are already years behind schedule at substantially increased costs. The question then is, “Will renewable energy be able to fill the electricity deficit in the country?”

Renewables: South Africa has 2,096 MW of wind power currently providing electricity, 400 MW of concentrated solar power, and 1,479 MW of solar PV. This totals 3,975 MW or 7.3% of the total electric generation capacity.

What is most interesting is that as soon as the new Ramphosa government canceled the nuclear power plants, the government approved thousands of MW of renewable power. These included 2,097 MW of wind power, 200 MW of concentrated solar, and 1,094 of solar PV, totaling 3,391 MW of additional renewable energy. This will almost double the amount of wind/solar power in the next few years.

South Africa has a plan for energy projection to 2030. The additional generating capacity by that time would be 9.5 GW of wind, 6.8 GW of solar, 6.7 GW of coal, and 2.5 GW of hydropower. This, therefore, assumes that the two coal plants now under construction will be completed, but no more coal plants will be built. Hurrah!

Nonetheless, the 2030 projections still indicate that coal will provide 64% of the electricity produced. Wind would then be 13%, solar 8%, nuclear 4%, hydropower 3%, and gas 1%. This implies that the lifespan of the two current nuclear plants will be extended beyond their expiration date.

Over the next eleven years, even with the phaseout of 11,276 MW of coal capacity, the use of coal will decline by less that 10%. With the price of wind and solar declining each year, these goals seem to be without sufficient ambition. Boo! South Africa ought to do better than this.

David Zarembka I am a retired Quaker peace activist focusing on genocide, war, violent conflict, election violence, and refugees in Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan. Since 2007, I have lived in a small town in western Kenya, called Lumakanda, in the home area of my Kenyan wife, Gladys Kamonya. I write a weekly blog called “Reports from Kenya” on current happenings in East Africa. To sign up for the weekly blog, contact me at

May 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment