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It is not too late for The Guardian to redeem itself, and help Julian Assange

The Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample on Assange’s Rights in Effective Darkness

October 21, 2020  On the eve of a demonstration outside the paper’s office in London, Jonathan Cook issues a statement about The Guardian’s abandonment of its former media partner.  By Jonathan Cook   WISE Up, a solidarity group for Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, is due to stage a demonstration outside The Guardian offices on Oct. 22 to protest the paper’s failure to support Assange as the U.S. seeks his extradition in an unprecedented assault on press freedom.

The date chosen for the protest marks the 10th anniversary of The Guardian’s publication of the Iraq war logs, leaked by Manning to Assange and which lie at the heart of the U.S. case to reclassify journalism exposing crimes against humanity as “espionage.”

Here is my full statement, part of which is due to be read out, in support of Assange and castigating The Guardian for its craven failure to speak up in solidarity with its former media partner:  

Julian Assange has been hounded out of public life and public view by the U.K.  and U.S.  governments for the best part of a decade.

Now he languishes in a small, airless cell in Belmarsh high-security prison in London — a victim of arbitrary detention, according to a UN working group, and a victim of psychological torture, according to Nils Melzer, the UN’s expert on torture.

If Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding in the Central Criminal Court in London, agrees to extradition, as she gives every appearance of preparing to do, Assange will be the first journalist to face a terrifying new ordeal — a form of extraordinary rendition to the United States for “espionage” — for having the courage to publish documents that exposed U.S.  war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Guardian worked with Assange and WikiLeaks on vitally important documents – now at the heart of the U.S.  case against Assange – known as the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. The latter were published exactly a decade ago today. They were a journalistic coup of global significance, and the paper ought to be profoundly proud of its role in bringing them to public attention.

During Assange’s extradition hearing, however, The Guardian treated the logs and its past association with Assange and WikiLeaks more like a dirty secret it hoped to keep out of sight. Those scoops furnished by Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning enriched the paper financially, and bolstered its standing internationally. They also helped to pave its path into the lucrative U.S.  market.

Unlike Assange and Manning, The Guardian has suffered no consequences for publishing the logs. Unlike Assange and Manning, the paper has faced no retribution. While it profited, Assange continues to be made an example of — to deter other journalists from contemplating following in his footsteps.

The Guardian owes Assange.

  • It owes him a huge debt for allowing it to share in the journalistic glory of WikiLeaks’ revelations.
  • It owes him a duty of care as its partner in publishing the logs.
  • It owes him its voice loudly denouncing the abuse of a fellow journalist for doing the essence of journalism — holding the powerful to account.
  • It owes him and its own staff, and the young journalists who will one day take their place, its muscle in vigorously defending the principle of a strong and free press.
  • It owes him, and the rest of us, a clear profession of its outrage as the U.S. conducts an unprecedented assault on free speech, the foundation of a democratic society.

And yet The Guardian has barely raised its voice above a whisper as the noose has tightened around Assange’s — and by extension, our — neck. It has barely bothered to cover the dramatic and deeply disturbing developments of last month’s extradition hearing, or the blatant abuses of legal process overseen by Baraitser.

The Guardian has failed to raise its editorial voice in condemnation either of the patently dishonest U.S.  case for extradition or of the undisguised mistreatment of Assange by Britain’s legal and judicial authorities.

The paper’s many columnists ignored the proceedings too, except for those who contributed yet more snide and personal attacks of the kind that have typified The Guardian’s coverage of Assange for many years.

It is not too late for the paper to act in defence of Assange and journalism.

Assange’s rights are being trampled under foot close by The Guardian’s offices in London because the British establishment knows that these abuses are taking place effectively in darkness. It has nothing to fear as long as the media abdicates its responsibility to scrutinize what amounts to the biggest attack on journalism in living memory.

Were The Guardian to shine a light on Assange’s case — as it is morally obligated to do — the pressure would build on other media organizations, not least the BBC, to do their job properly too. The British establishment would finally face a countervailing pressure to the one being exerted so forcefully by the U.S.

The Guardian should have stood up for Assange long ago, when the threats he and investigative journalism faced became unmistakable. It missed that opportunity. But the threats to Assange — and the causes of transparency and accountability he champions — have not gone away. They have only intensified. Assange needs the Guardian’s support more urgently, more desperately than ever before.

Jonathan Cook is a former Guardian journalist (1994-2001) and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support.

This article is from his blog Jonathan 


October 22, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

America pushes other nations to withdraw from the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

US urges countries to withdraw from UN nuke ban treaty

  UNITED NATIONS (AP) 22 Oct 20 — The United States is urging countries that have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons to withdraw their support as the pact nears the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, which supporters say could happen this week.The U.S. letter to signatories, obtained by The Associated Press, says the five original nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty.

It says the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts.

“Although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession,” the letter says.

The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances … develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty, told The Associated Press Tuesday that several diplomatic sources confirmed that they and other states that ratified the TPNW had been sent letters by the U.S. requesting their withdrawal.

She said the “increasing nervousness, and maybe straightforward panic, with some of the nuclear-armed states and particularly the Trump administration” shows that they “really seem to understand that this is a reality: Nuclear weapons are going to be banned under international law soon.”

Fihn dismissed the nuclear powers’ claim that the treaty interferes with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as “straightforward lies, to be frank.”

“They have no actual argument to back that up,” she said. “The Nonproliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”

The NPT sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the nuclear weapons ban treaty “a very welcome initiative.”

“It is clear for me that we will only be entirely safe in relation to nuclear weapons the day where nuclear weapons no longer exist,” he said in an interview Wednesday with AP. “We know that it’s not easy. We know that there are many obstacles.”

He expressed hope that a number of important initiatives, including U.S.-Russia talks on renewing the New Start Treaty limiting deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and next year’s review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, “will all converge in the same direction, and the final objective must be to have a world with no nuclear weapons.”

“That the Trump administration is pressuring countries to withdraw from a United Nations-backed disarmament treaty is an unprecedented action in international relations,” Fihn said. “That the U.S. goes so far as insisting countries violate their treaty obligations by not promoting the TPNW to other states shows how fearful they are of the treaty’s impact and growing support.”

The treaty was approved by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on July 7, 2017 by a vote of 122 in favor, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Among countries voting in favor was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies.

The treaty currently has 47 ratifications and needs 50 ratifications to trigger its entry into force in 90 days.

Fihn said there are about 10 countries that are trying very hard to ratify to get to 50, “and we know that there are a few governments that are working towards Friday as the date. … We’re not 100 percent it will happen, but hopefully it will.”

Friday has been an unofficial target because it is the eve of United Nations Day on Oct. 24 which marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the U.N. Charter. The day has been observed since 1948 and this year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the U.N.

Fihn stressed that the entry into force of the treaty will be “a really big deal” because it will become part of international law and will be raised in discussions on disarmament, war crimes and weapons.

“And I think that over time pressure will grow on the nuclear-armed states to join the treaty,” she said.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The ethical and moral case grows stronger, for the U.N. nuclear ban treaty

THE NUCLEAR  TREATY dividing the World, Byline Times, Stephen Colegrave, 21 October 2020   As the latest United Nations nuclear treaty is on the eve of coming into force, Stephen Colegrave looks at how it might finally end the ethical and moral case for nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been a long time in the making. It is the first legally binding agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons and was originally agreed at the United Nations on 7 July 2017.

To enter into force it requires ratification by at least 50 countries. At last, this is in sight. Any day, the fiftieth nation will ratify despite the determined efforts by all NATO countries and others with nuclear weapons.

UK representatives have remained outside of all meetings in Geneva about the treaty, to try to persuade countries not to sign. What are the predominantly Western powers so afraid of? And why is there such a fissure opening up between countries with access to or guaranteed by nuclear weapons and those which want them to be completely banned?
A Different Type Of Treaty

Up until now, most nuclear treaties have either been between nuclear powers or to limit proliferation internationally. This treaty is different.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons seeks to ban all nuclear weapons and wipe out the hegemony of nuclear powers that has lasted since 1945.

It questions the moral basis of the Western powers’ nuclear ‘deterrent’ policy, which claims to have maintained peace, specifically banning the “use of force and the threat of the use of force”. This is why the treaty is vehemently opposed by NATO members and other nations with nuclear weapons. For the first time, the deterrent stance is now being questioned by politicians in nations around the world, not just by activists.
Northern Hemisphere nations such as Austria, Mexico and Ireland have actively campaigned against nuclear weapons and, in the Southern Hemisphere, many nations have already signed treaties and conventions setting up Nuclear Weapon Free Zones. In fact, the six main zones include 60% of the 195 nation states, 59% of the world’s geography and 39% of the world’s population. These nations will not allow the transportation of nuclear weapons, their supply chain in their territories, or even let ships use their harbours. Attitudes in these areas and other non-nuclear states is very different than those found in the UK and America.

Until recently, nations with nuclear weapons have been setting the agenda and the conversation about limiting nuclear proliferation, in countries such as North Korea and Iran, has focused on limiting their ‘special club’.

With this treaty, the countries that have banned nuclear weapons in their own regions have taken global leadership over the issue for the first time. They have been responsible for setting a new legal standard and building the moral case that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. This is because they realise that their Nuclear Weapon Free Zones are worthless if nuclear powers accidently or deliberately set off a nuclear winter.

A History Of Near Accidents……….

October 22, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan

October 22, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Study finds that bees are harmed by quite low levels of ionising radiation

Current Chernobyl-level radiation harmful to bees: study

Researchers exposed bee colonies in a laboratory setting to a range of radiation levels found in areas of the exclusion zone around the ruined Chernobyl site

Bumblebees exposed to levels of radiation found within the Chernobyl exclusion zone suffered a “significant” drop in reproduction, in new research published Wednesday that scientists say should prompt a rethink of international calculations of nuclear environmental risk.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, set out to discover how ionising radiation affects insects, which are often thought to be more resilient than other species.

“We found that at radiation levels detectable in Chernobyl, the number of new queen bees produced from the colony was significantly reduced and colony growth was delayed — meaning colonies reached their peak weight at a week later,” said the paper’s lead author Katherine Raines.

The lecturer in environmental pollution at the University of Stirling told AFP by email that researchers “anticipate that this may have an effect on pollination/ecosystem services in contaminated areas”.

The authors said they chose bumblebees both because of a lack of lab-based research into bees and because of their crucial role in pollination.

Ionising radiation can occur either from nuclear sites or medical procedures, although the levels tested were higher than those that would likely be found in the environment from normal releases, Raines said.

But she added that the researchers were “very surprised that we could detect effects as low as we did”.

“Our research suggests insects living in the most contaminated areas at Chernobyl may suffer adverse effects, with subsequent consequences for ecosystem services such as pollination,” she added.

The authors said if their findings could be generalised “they suggest insects suffer significant negative consequences at dose rates previously thought safe” and called revisions to the international framework for radiological protection of the environment.

People are not allowed to live near the Chernobyl power station and the abandoned settlements within the exclusion zone are surrounded by forests hosting birds, wolves, elks and lynxes. A giant protective dome was put in place over the destroyed fourth reactor in 2016.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Hard to save the Iran nuclear deal, even if Biden wins the U.S. election.

Even if Biden wins US election, time is running out to save Iran nuclear deal
Events in the US are being watched closely as Iran’s presidential election looms in early 2021,
Guardian, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor, Wed 21 Oct 2020 Even if Joe Biden triumphs at the polls, Iran’s weakened government may only have a few months to negotiate a revived nuclear deal before facing its own electoral challenge by hardliners who oppose any engagement with the west.

The narrow window has prompted calls for Biden to offer a phased approach to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018, in order to show progress before the Iranian presidential election.

Iran’s reformists and centrists remain severely damaged by the failure of the original agreement to deliver economic benefits to ordinary Iranians.

Once Trump left the deal, he imposed maximum economic pressure on Tehran, blocking Iran’s oil exports, and leaving advocates of engagement with the US struggling to defend their strategy. In a recent interview in Kar Va Kargar the foreign minister Javad Zarif insisted the foreign ministry had not been naive to negotiate with the Americans, but said Trump had “blown up the entire negotiating room”.

Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, was also an advocate of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but is standing down after two four-year terms. A range of conservatives, including members of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, are preparing to stand, advocating either closer ties with China or a stronger self-reliant economic policy.

The reformist movement has not yet decided whether to put up a candidate or instead back a technocratic figure such as Ali Larijani, the former Speaker who is currently assisting Rouhani in framing a 25-year strategic partnership with China.

Reformists were trounced in spring parliamentary elections marked by a record low turn-out. The chances of persuading the disillusioned middle class to vote in the presidential election may in part depend on finding a credible candidate who can raise hopes of a resumption of talks with the west.

Biden has so far promised that “if Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the US would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations”.

But even if he does win, Biden would not take office until 20 January, leaving only a short time for reformists to convince Iranians that the path of engagement is worth trying again.

Some analysts say a Biden victory could be enough to change the mood in Iran – and certainly the elections are being watched with fascination in Tehran…….

October 22, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear hierachy desperate to lead on nuclear waste solution, but it was not to be

HOW SYNROC’S SCIENCE-PUSH FAILED AS THE PANACEA FOR NUCLEAR WASTE,  by Peter Roberts, 21 Oct 20, CSIRO’s Synroc synthetic rock method for safely storing radioactive waste is making headlines again (more on that later), but as someone who has been around for a while it all just demonstrates yet again the topsy turvy way we see innovation in Australia.

Synroc was unveiled in 1978 by a team led by Dr Ted Ringwood at the Australian National University, and further developed by CSIRO as the answer to nuclear waste.

After a process of hot isostatic pressing, in which cannisters of waste are compressed at high temperature, Synroc ceramic was created and said to be a massive step forward from today’s techniques of storing high level waste in glass.

But despite decades of trying to commercialise the technology both CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation have failed to get it adopted commercially – it is simply not seen by customers as that much better than what they were already doing.

The process Synroc went through is typical of the science-push model of innovation in which researchers are seen as being the font of brilliant ideas that only need to be picked up by a grateful private sector.

ANSTO’s Michael Deura said in a statement: “I am pretty excited to see the HIP system in action at ANSTO. This type of innovation will change the industry and how it operates in the longer term.”

And Synroc technical director Gerry Triani said: “This HIP system is a global first for nuclear waste management.”

Not a word in ANSTO’s media release about the three decades plus work and expenditure that has gone into Synroc, and not a word about the meagre uptake of the technology internationally.

Really, you would hope we might learn the lessons of the past.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Very dubious claims made by proponents of NuScam’s small nuclear reactor plans

Small Nuclear Reactors Would Provide [a dubious claim] Carbon-Free Energy, but Would They Be Safe? Inside Climate News, Jonathan Moens, -21 Oct 20 Regulators have approved designs for 12 small reactors to be built in Idaho, but opponents say the project is dangerous and too late to fight climate change.   “……… Last month, U.S. officials approved NuScale Power’s designs for 12 small nuclear reactors to be built in Boise, Idaho. The reactors could make use of the water, transmission lines and general infrastructure of former coal-powered plants in the West to produce clean energy, said Jose Reyes, co-founder of the company.

NuScale said the energy produced by its reactors would generate enough electricity to power about 50,000 homes across six Western states. The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, an energy cooperative, would be the first to build the reactors on a federal site at the Idaho National Laboratory.  

The NuScale Power initiative has met with opposition from local environmental groups, who say that nuclear power is a dangerous and unsustainable energy source.

In addition, the highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors must be securely stored indefinitely to prevent accidents, and contains plutonium and uranium that can be reprocessed into nuclear weapons. “We see this project as a way to create a whole new generation of high level radioactive waste,” said Scott Williams, executive director of Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, a nuclear watchdog. ……

The designs underwent a public health and safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But some scientists think they still aren’t safe enough. In a public statement, Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists, cited a report by a senior engineer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing concern that the cooling process might inadvertently cause “catastrophic” core damage to the reactors.

Other scientists worry that NuScale may be getting ahead of itself by not having a planning protocol for a radioactive emergency that affects areas around the site.

“In the event of an accident, the people around there will not have rehearsed how to do an evacuation,” said M.V. Ramana, a professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.  …….

Too Late in a Climate Crisis?

The municipal power systems cooperative still needs to obtain a license to build and begin operating the reactors. To do so, the project will undergo an additional site-specific review to consider the potential ecological, geographic and residential impact the technology may have on the area, said George Griffith, lead technician at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The delay means that while NuScale will be ready to manufacture modular reactors by around 2024, it will take an additional five to six years for them to be operational at the Idaho site, said Reyes. 

Some experts, however, question whether 2029 is too late for the technology to be relevant in a time of climate crisis…….

Ramana, of the University of British Columbia, said, “While the overall capital cost [for small modular reactors] might be smaller, they also generate smaller amounts of electricity.” He outlined his concerns in a report released in September urging the Utah energy cooperative to “end their pursuit of small modular reactors.”

Ramana made clear that while devastating incidents associated with nuclear power plants might seem unlikely, we need to remain cautious. 

“The lesson we should learn from all the many nuclear and other accidents that have happened with hazardous technologies, is a little bit of humility,” he said.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Japan now has enough plutonium to make about 6,000 atomic bombs

Japan Sticks to Nuclear Fuel Recycling Plan Despite Plutonium Stockpile

Japan now has 45.5 tons of separated plutonium, enough to make about 6,000 atomic bombs.

By Mari Yamaguchi, October 21, 2020   Japan’s government said Wednesday it will pursue a nuclear fuel recycling program that would involve extracting plutonium from spent fuel, despite international concerns about the country’s already huge plutonium stockpile and lack of prospects for effectively consuming it as nuclear fuel.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu, at a meeting with the governor of Aomori prefecture, home to Japan’s pending nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, reaffirmed that new Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide’s government will pursue the country’s nuclear energy policy.

“The government will firmly promote our nuclear energy policy and fuel cycle programs,” Kato said. He said Japan will make effort to reduce volume and toxicity of high-level nuclear waste, and extract plutonium from spent fuel from a resource conservation point of view.

critics say continuation of spent fuel reprocessing only adds to Japan’s already large plutonium stockpile. Japan also lacks a final repository for high-level nuclear waste.

Wednesday’s meeting came after the Nuclear Regulation Authority granted a safety approval this past summer for the Rokkasho fuel reprocessing plant, operated by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., located in northern Japan, for a planned launch in 2022. The authority also gave a preliminary permit for the Rokkasho MOX fuel production plant, also planned for completion in 2022.

Japan now has 45.5 tons of separated plutonium — 8.9 tons at home, and 36.6 tons in Britain and France, where spent fuel from Japanese nuclear plants has been reprocessed and stored because Japan lacks a plant to produce MOX fuel containing plutonium at home. The amount is enough to make about 6,000 atomic bombs.

Despite security concerns raised by Washington and others, the stockpile is hardly decreasing due to difficulties in achieving a full nuclear fuel recycling program and slow restarts of reactors amid setbacks from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Japan reprocesses spent fuel, instead of disposing it as waste, to extract plutonium and uranium to make MOX fuel for reuse, while the U.S. discontinued the costly and challenging program. Allowed under international safeguard rules, Japan is the only non-nuclear weapons state that separates plutonium for peaceful purposes, though the same technology can make atomic bombs.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Vital need to protect Antarctic seas: groups aim for new protected areas

‘No other choice’: Groups push to protect vast swaths of Antarctic seas, Mongabay

  • A coalition of conservation groups is advocating for the establishment of three new marine protected areas (MPAs) in East Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea, which would encompass 4 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles) of the Southern Ocean, or 1% of the global ocean.
  • These proposals will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which is due to take place online because of the pandemic.
  • Conservationists anticipate that China and Russia may not support these MPA proposals due to fishing interests in the region, although they are optimistic that the MPAs will eventually be approved.
‘……………… While Antarctica’s land mass is currently protected through the Antarctic Treaty (although this expires in 2048), vast swaths of its marine region are open to industrial fishing for species such as Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) and Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). Conservationists say these fishing activities are endangering the Southern Ocean’s delicate marine ecosystem that hosts more than 15,000 species, and a region that plays a vital role in regulating the world’s climate.

A coalition of conservation groups, including Pew, ASOC, SeaLegacy, Antarctica2020, Ocean Unite, and Only One, are working together to advocate for the formation of three marine protected areas (MPAs) in East Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the Weddell Sea. Together, these areas would protect about 4 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles), encompassing 1% of the world’s ocean. That’s two and a half times the size of Alaska, and nearly three times the size of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaiʻi, which is currently one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries.

“If these three marine protected areas … [are] created at the same time, it would form the largest marine protection in the history of humanity,” Cristina Mittermeier, National Geographic wildlife photographer and co-founder of SeaLegacy, told Mongabay. “[It would be] a piece of good news that the planet needs.”

This is a matter of political will’

The body responsible for making decisions surrounding Antarctica’s marine region is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international commission with 25 member states and the European Union, as well as 10 acceding states. Originally established to manage krill fisheries in the Southern Ocean, the commission meets each year in Hobart, Australia, to negotiate total allowable catches for fisheries, and to discuss other matters related to Antarctica’s marine region, including the designation of MPAs.

Any decision requires a consensus among all members, and proposals can take a long time to be approved. For instance, it took more than five years for the commission to approve a proposal to turn a region of the Ross Sea into an MPA, according to Werner. But it finally went ahead in 2016: now 1.55 million km2 (nearly 600,000 mi2)of the Ross Sea is classified as an MPA, with 1.12 million km2 (432,000 mi2) of the region fully protected from commercial fishing.

“In CCAMLR, everything is possible,” said Werner, who acts as an official observer and scientific representative at the commission. “You can have a proposal blocked for years like the Ross Sea, and then one day [it happens].”…………

The way that Antarctica goes, so does the world’

One of the most important species living in the Southern Ocean is krill. These tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans are the foodstuff for many species, such as whales, seals, penguins, squids, fish and seabirds. Without krill, the pelagic food web would entirely collapse.

Krill is also heavily harvested for human consumption, mainly for fish meal and omega-3 dietary supplements.

The establishment of the three proposed MPAs — which would include no-take zones, but also areas that would allow regulated fishing — would help protect krill populations from overharvesting and enable fishing activities to continue in other areas, Cousteau said. According to one study, MPAs help increase fish mass………

But it’s not just fishing that’s a threat to krill — climate change is wreaking havoc on the species as high temperatures melt the ice it vitally depends upon. ……..

October 22, 2020 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, oceans | Leave a comment

Taiwan furthers its departure from nuclear power, with more unused fuel rods sent back to USA

More fuel rods at fourth nuclear power plant sent back to U.S.

(By Flor Wang and Wang Chao-yu)  10/21/2020 Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) More fuel rods at a mothballed nuclear power plant in New Taipei were shipped back to the United States on Wednesday as part of government to honor its promise to make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025.efforts

Five or six trucks carrying an unknown number of unused fuel rods from the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant arrived at Keelung Port in the early hours and were then loaded into several containers that departed for the U.S. at around noon.

However, the authorities in charge did not disclose whether this is the last batch of fuel rods being sent back to America.

A Legislative Yuan resolution that was passed in 2018 demands that state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) must send back all 1,744 unused fuel rods from the plant to America by the end of this year.

Taipower has said the task will cost NT$700 million (US$24.1 million).

In July 2018, the first batch of 160 rods was transported back to its U.S. supplier — Global Nuclear Fuel Americas, LLC — which was followed by three more similar operations as of August 2019, the Taipei-based China Times reported on Tuesday.

On Oct. 15, Atomic Energy Council Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) said 240 fuel rods at the power plant were still waiting to be transported to the U.S. — a delay caused by travel restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, disposing of the 1,744 fuel rods from the plant could save about NT$100 million in maintenance costs per year.

The government has spent NT$283.8 billion on building the plant in New Taipei’s Gongliao District, but it has been mothballed since 2014 due to public concern over the use of nuclear power.



October 22, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics international, Taiwan | Leave a comment

How would Bradwell B affect local people, place and environment? What powers are behind the decision?

Maldon Nub News 20th Oct 2020, Anti-nuclear campaigners have produced a new video on the proposed Bradwell B nuclear power station. The YouTube video uses special effects in an attempt to show the scale of the plans. A spokesperson for the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) said: “With the Bradwell B Stage One consultation submitted, what effects would this vast industrial complex have on local residents and the whole area? “This video provides realistic imagery of the overwhelming scale of the proposals, including the hybrid cooling towers, turbine hall, reactors, spent fuel store, permanent pier and new access roads.” The video includes contributions from local residents and the recently formed Bradwell Action Network (BAN).

October 22, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Hitler’s quest for nuclear weapons

WW2: Hitler’s true nuclear capacity exposed in secret sabotage mission that ‘saved world’

WORLD WAR 2 saw the Allies cooperate to fight Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany but jaw-dropping documents reveal just how close he came to using nuclear weapons. Express UK By CALLUM HOARE Oct 21, 2020   The German nuclear weapons programme was an unsuccessful scientific effort to research and develop atomic weapons during World War 2. It went through several phases but was ultimately “frozen at the laboratory level” with historians and scholars alike generally agreeing it failed on all fronts. With that, Hitler is thought to have focused more on his revolutionary V1 and V2 rockets, but he came terrifyingly close to arming them with nuclear warheads, according to declassified papers unearthed by writer and filmmaker Damien Lewis.

The author of ‘Hunting Hitler’s Nukes’ wrote: “That Hitler’s Germany might win the race to build the world’s first atom bomb was arguably one of Winston Churchill’s greatest wartime concerns and one that was shared with his good friend US president Franklin D Roosevelt.  …….

“The greatest fear was that the Nazis had mastered the technology to fit a nuclear or radiological charge to the V2s, in which case there would be no defence possible.

“Churchill ordered aerial surveys to forewarn of such attacks – dry-run rehearsals to prepare for such an ordeal, and for frontline doctors to be briefed on the symptoms of radiation poisoning.

Such fears were very real. Following German physicist Otto Hahn splitting the atom in December 1938, the Allies believed the Germans to be two years ahead in the race to build the atom bomb.”

In May 1940, German forces struck a further blow in the race for nuclear supremacy after seizing Olen, Belgium, where the largest remaining stock of European uranium was located.

British intelligence reports on Operation Peppermint found by Mr Lewis revealed fears from London.

One read: “Since the fall of Belgium, much of the largest stock of uranium has been available [to Germany] from the refinery.”

The report went on to chronicle how “several hundred tonnes of crude concentrates had been removed from Belgium”.

According to Mr Lewis, its destination was the AuerGesellschaft refinery, at Oranienburg, Germany.

Allied research suggested it would require 20,000 workers, half a million watts of electricity and $150million (£114million) in expenditure to build the world’s first atom bomb.

Hitler, who now controlled most of western Europe, could demand such resources.

And, in concentration camps, he had access to millions of workers.

Mr Lewis noted: “In short, the Fuhrer could harness Germany’s foremost engineering capabilities to its scientific expertise and western Europe’s almost unlimited resources – all of which made an atom bomb a real possibility.”……..

According to Mr Lewis, its destination was the AuerGesellschaft refinery, at Oranienburg, Germany.

Allied research suggested it would require 20,000 workers, half a million watts of electricity and $150million (£114million) in expenditure to build the world’s first atom bomb.

Hitler, who now controlled most of western Europe, could demand such resources.

And, in concentration camps, he had access to millions of workers.

Mr Lewis noted: “In short, the Fuhrer could harness Germany’s foremost engineering capabilities to its scientific expertise and western Europe’s almost unlimited resources – all of which made an atom bomb a real possibility.”

“Details of Operation Peppermint and the measures taken to prepare for a Nazi nuclear strike were revealed in papers that I unearthed from the National Archives.

“This came as a great surprise to me, for I was unaware that the Allied wartime leaders viewed Nazi Germany’s nuclear programme as such a real and present threat.”

However, a top secret heroic mission would lead to a breakthrough……..

Hunting Hitler’s Nukes: The Secret Race to Stop the Nazi Bomb’ is published by Quercus and available to buy here

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Germany, history, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A history of nuclear weapons accidents

THE NUCLEAR  TREATY dividing the World, Byline Times, Stephen Colegrave, 21 October 2020  “……… A History Of Near Accidents  It is easy to be sympathetic with their position when the number of near nuclear weapons accidents are considered.
In early 2009, two nuclear submarines, the French Le Triomphant and British Vanguard, both carrying nuclear weapons, crashed into each other deep in the Atlantic. Fortunately, they were not going fast enough to cause much damage.

Two years earlier, the American Air Force lost six nuclear armed cruise missiles for 36 hours when, unknown to anyone, they were fitted to a B-52 bomber and flown completely unauthorised to a base in Louisiana, left unguarded on the runway until anyone worked out what had happened.

In 2000, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that classified documents obtained by a group of former workers at the Thule airbase suggest that one of four hydrogen bombs on a B-52 bomber that crashed there in 1968 was never found.

There are many instances of false alarms and nuclear bombs nearly being launched. One of the most dangerous of these was stopped by little-known hero Lieutenant Colonel Petrov who, in 1983, probably really did save the world. When he was alerted by an early warning system that five nuclear missiles by America were coming towards the Soviet Union, instead of immediately raising the alarm to his superiors who would have ordered retaliation, he instinctively decided that, if there was an attack, more than five missiles would have been launched and rightly decided that the system was faulty.

These incidents seem to have done nothing to dent the UK and America’s insistence that nuclear weapons safeguard and guarantee peace. The old Cold War politics of nuclear deterrents can seemingly do nothing to deter democratic interference on social media or the global impact of COVID-19. Like scary but lumbering dinosaurs, our trident submarines roam the ocean’s depths with enormous fire power – just one missile can kill more than 10 million people – while Russian President Vladimir Putin interferes with democratic elections in the West for less than the price of a non-nuclear fighter jet.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | history, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

An opportunity to remove American nuclear weapons from Europe

Creating an Opportunity to Withdraw U.S. Nuclear Weapons From Europe Carnegie Endowment   PIA FUHRHOP,  ULRICH KÜHN,  OLIVER MEIEROCTOBER 20, 2020
 The United States could withdraw the tactical weapons it deploys in Europe with no negative consequences for NATO unity and the security of Europe. In order to secure such an outcome, German leaders and NATO policymakers will have to combine reassurance and arms control in novel and smart ways.

In May 2020, a debate erupted in Germany on the future of NATO nuclear sharing and Berlin’s participation in the arrangement that has seen U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in European nations for decades. This may well turn out to be an opportunity for the alliance, European security, and arms control. Even though it might not sound very realistic today, within the next five years the United States could withdraw the tactical weapons it deploys in Europe with no negative consequences for NATO unity and the security of Europe. In order to secure such an outcome, German leaders and NATO policymakers will have to combine reassurance and arms control in novel and smart ways. ……….

October 22, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment