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Politics – what hope for civil society? theme for November 20 

AS I write the tortuous American election  process is going on. The USA used to be a world leader .   This is a gripping example of 2 different ways to run the political process. With Trump – dictatorial ruthlessness – heading to fascism, with Biden, restraint, respect for the rule of law, and a co-operative effort.

2020 has seen the continuing dictators, like  Xi Jinping, Putin, Putin, Kim Jong Un, Bolsonaro, Bashar Al-Assad – , and also the drift to  dictatorship in democratic countries, e.g India.  As the world is faced with huge problems, many people seem to turn to uninformed, anti-science populist leaders – especially in English- language countries –  USA, Britain, Australia.

So –  the American election circus goes on: it is something of a test case for the world.  To deal with global heating, nuclear dangers, and the pandemic, we need people of intelligence, respect for science, and the ability to co-operate.

Fortunately there are many thousands of people with all kinds of valuable skills , working on the global problems.  Far too many great organisations to name here, and a lot of them under the wing of the United Nations.

The achievements can be seen, and continue to evolve, First and foremost , there’s the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, It matters, whatever the bosses of the ‘nuclear nations’ say.  There’s the global work towards the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.   But, however good the work of these agencies, it can succeed only with the participation and support of millions of people

The media has a huge role to play in explaining and promoting this. But will they?

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Christina's themes, politics international | 3 Comments

The beginning of the end for nuclear weapons?

November 7, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The accumulating radioactive water is another Fukushima disaster crisis

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans | Leave a comment

U.S. Senate election results – a disappointment for climate action, but with a couple of bright spots


Also this week, the United States exits the Paris climate agreement,
NYT,  By Henry Fountain and Lisa Friedman, Nov. 4, 2020,  The United States presidential race is still up in the air, and the battle for control of the Senate appears far from over. But one thing is clear the day after Election Day 2020: The “green wave” that environmentalists had hoped for failed to materialize.

There were bright spots for the environment. In the Senate, two Democrats, John Hickenlooper in Colorado and Mark Kelly in Arizona, have defeated incumbent Republicans who have received poor marks from environmental and conservation groups for their voting records.

Mr. Kelly was endorsed by Climate Hawks Vote, a progressive group that promotes candidates who promise to take action on climate change. Mr. Hickenlooper was not. While he declared during the campaign that action on climate change was urgently needed, his past ties to the oil and gas industry in Colorado made some groups wary.  ……..

Mr. Hickenlooper could turn out to be the greenest of green lawmakers, but if Democrats don’t win control of the Senate it might make little difference. While the House looks certain to remain in Democratic hands, in the Senate the party needs more victories: Two, if Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the presidency, which would allow Kamala Harris to break tie votes; or three, if President Trump is re-elected. Even two more Democratic victories seemed less likely on Wednesday than they did before the vote count began.

Climate and the environment were front and center in several state and local elections, and the outcomes appear certain in a few of those………  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/climate/climate-us-election.html

 

November 7, 2020 Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

America’s Kings Bay peace activists to be sentenced Nov. 12 and 13

Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Judge Denies Further Delays, Virtual Sentencing Nov. 12 & 13. Festival of Hope Sunday Nov 8 at 4 pm

Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, presiding over the trial and sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares in Brunswick, GA, has denied any further continuances for sentencing as requested by the last four defendants due to COVID-19 restrictions. The remaining KBP7 defendants have been ordered to be sentenced on November 12th and 13th. Despite their desire to be sentenced in person in open court as is their legal right, three of the defendants have reluctantly chosen to do it remotely via video because of the health risks of travel to the court in Georgia for themselves and supporters. Mark Colville has filed a motion to challenge this order.

Although the judge has delayed the sentencing five times because of health and safety concerns, she said that was enough even though the nation is now experiencing record breaking numbers of more than 120,000 daily cases. “With nearly a quarter of a million US COVID deaths, and prison cases exploding again, more court delays are certainly advisable, ” said Veterans For Peace activist and KBP7 supporter Ellen Barfield of Baltimore.

The court plans to convene for sentencing on Thurs. Nov. 12, at 10 am for Carmen Trotta, and 1 pm for Clare Grady and on Friday, Nov. 13, at 10 am for Mark Colville and at 1 pm for Martha Hennessy.
A phone number will be made available early next week by the court to listen to the sentencing of the last four defendants as was done with first three. It will be sent out in a future notice and also be posted on the website.

In a rare opportunity, as a consequence of COVID-19 court and travel restrictions, hundreds of people were able to listen on a conference call line to the October sentencing of Fr. Steve Kelly and Patrick O’Neill who gave their final statements as to why they were compelled to act against the nuclear doomsday machine at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay. They also heard the testimony from character witnesses for the defendants attesting to the good things they do in their lives and their devotion to peace. Many of these statements are posted on the website in recent news.

Some of the supporters were moved to tears but also filled with joy by their courage. We invite you to call in to hear the four defendants’ profound and powerful statements and to hear the testimony from their character witnesses.

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There will be a virtual Festival of Hope on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4 pm EST for Kings Bay Plowshares members, Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy, and Carmen Trotta, as they prepare to be sentenced. more https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Australian govt will feel the heat when a Biden administration rejoins the Paris climate agreement

Biden says the US will rejoin the Paris climate agreement in 77 days. Then Australia will really feel the heatThe Conversation Christian Downie, Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, Australian National University, November 6, 2020   When the US formally left

 

the Paris climate agreement, Joe Biden tweeted that “in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it”.

The US announced its intention to withdraw from the agreement back in 2017. But the agreement’s complex rules meant formal notification could only be sent to the United Nations last year, followed by a 12-month notice period — hence the long wait.

While diplomacy via Twitter looks here to stay, global climate politics is about to be upended — and the impacts will be felt at home in Australia if Biden delivers on his plans.

Biden’s position on climate change

Under a Biden administration, the US will have the most progressive position on climate change in the nation’s history. Biden has already laid out a US$2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan, a commitment to rejoin the Paris agreement and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050……..

Can he do it under a divided Congress?

While the votes are still being counted — as they should (can any Australian believe we actually need to say this?) — it seems likely the Democrats will control the presidency and the House, but not the Senate.

This means Biden will be able to re-join the Paris agreement, which does not require Senate ratification. But any attempt to legislate a carbon price will be blocked in the Senate, as it was when then-President Barack Obama introduced the Waxman-Markey bill in 2010.

In any case, there’s no reason to think a carbon price is a silver bullet, given the window to act on climate change is closing fast.

What’s needed are ambitious targets and mandates for the power sector, transport sector and manufacturing sector, backed up with billions in government investment.

Fortunately, this is precisely what Biden is promising to do. And he can do it without the Senate by using the executive powers of the US government to implement a raft of new regulatory measures.

Take the transport sector as an example. His plan aims to set “ambitious fuel economy standards” for cars, set a goal that all American-built buses be zero emissions by 2030, and use public money to build half a million electric vehicle charging stations. Most of these actions can be put in place through regulations that don’t require congressional approval.

And with Trump out of the White House, California will be free to achieve its target that all new cars be zero emissions by 2035, which the Trump administration had impeded.

If that sounds far-fetched, given Australia is the only OECD country that still doesn’t have fuel efficiency standards for cars, keep in mind China promised to do the same thing as California last week.

What does this mean for Australia?

For the last four years, the Trump administration has been a boon for successive Australian governments as they have torn up climate policies and failed to implement new ones.

Rather than witnessing our principal ally rebuke us on home soil, as Obama did at the University of Queensland in 2014, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has instead benefited from a cosy relationship with a US president who regularly dismisses decades of climate science, as he does medical science. And people are dying as a result.

For Australia, the ambitious climate policies of a Biden administration means in every international negotiation our diplomats turn up to, climate change will not only be top of the agenda, but we will likely face constant criticism.

Indeed, fireside chats in the White House will come with new expectations that Australia significantly increases its ambitions under the Paris agreement. Committing to a net zero emissions target will be just the first.

The real kicker, however, will be Biden’s trade agenda, which supports carbon tariffs on imports that produce considerable carbon pollution. The US is still Australia’s third-largest trading partner after China and Japan — who, by the way, have just announced net zero emissions targets themselves……

With Biden now in the White House, it’s not just global climate politics that will be turned on its head. Australia’s failure to implement a serious domestic climate and energy policy could have profound costs.

Costs, mind you, that are easily avoidable if Australia acts on climate change, and does so now.  https://theconversation.com/biden-says-the-us-will-rejoin-the-paris-climate-agreement-in-77-days-then-australia-will-really-feel-the-heat-149533

November 7, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Sudden resignation of head of USA’s National Nuclear Security Administration

Head of nuclear weapons agency unexpectedly resigns, Yahoo News, Aafron Mehta,Deense News•November 7, 2020  WASHINGTON Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, has resigned her position effectively immediately, Defense News has learned.

Gordon-Hagerty, who became the first woman to lead the NNSA in February 2018, sent her letter of resignation to the White House Friday, according to a pair of senior NNSA officials, speaking to Defense News on background.

The NNSA is a semi-autonomous office located within the Department of Energy. While the Defense Department manages the delivery systems of the nuclear force — ships, planes and missiles — NNSA has oversight over the development, maintenance and disposal of nuclear warheads. While the agency falls under the purview of DoE, much of its budget is set by the Nuclear Weapons Council, which is largely controlled by Defense Department officials.

Per the sources, the resignation was driven by almost a year of clashes between Gordon-Hagerty’s office and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. That fight first seeped into public earlier this year, when Brouillette sought to cut NNSA’s budget request. Defense officials, backed by supporters from Congress, went to the White House and forced the issue in NNSA’s favor.

Tensions never truly receded and continued to play out in Congress during the fiscal 2021 budget season. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., led pro-defense lawmakers in an effort to give the Pentagon more official control over NNSA; House lawmakers created several pieces of legislation that would give the Energy department more control.

The issue seemed to come to a head when the Department of Energy Organization and Management Improvement Act, passed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Sept. 9, changed language that made the NNSA a quasi-independent entity, in essence folding the agency more fully under DOE’s control. The move was seen by NNSA officials as an attempt by Brouillette to outright destroy the agency……….  https://news.yahoo.com/head-nuclear-weapons-agency-unexpectedly-184158751.html

November 7, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan: the next generation of LDP leaders embrace both carbon neutrality and the elimination of nuclear energy.

Nuclear Power and Japan’s 2050 Climate Pledge

Japan’s latest carbon-neutrality pledge puts the spotlight on the challenges facing the country’s nuclear power industry. The Diplomat , By Tom Corben,, November 05, 2020  In his inaugural address to the Diet last month, Japan’s Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide officially announced that his government would revise the country’s carbon-neutrality commitments, aiming for zero emissions by 2050. Suga expressed his intent to “put maximum effort into achieving a green society…..

Importantly, it seems as though the next generation of LDP leaders are embracing both carbon neutrality and the elimination of nuclear energy. Like Abe governments of the recent past, Suga’s cabinet features two particularly prominent politicians and possible future prime ministers who have stated their anti-nuclear preferences before, one of whom – Koizumi Shinjiro – is also the incumbent minister for the environment. Though the Environment Ministry does not officially set Japan’s energy policy, Koizumi has nevertheless been a driving force behind many of Japan’s recent environmental and clean energy initiatives since assuming his post in September 2019, including the revision of Japan’s decarbonization target.
In that respect, Koizumi has also been a vocal supporter both of Japan’s decision to more tightly regulate the country’s exports of coal-fired power stations and of reducing the country’s own reliance on those facilities. Koizumi has also proposed easing restrictions on building solar and wind turbine sites in Japan’s national parks, part of a solution to get around the challenge that Japan’s land scarcity has posed to the mass introduction of renewables. Though he has made no extensive public comment on phasing out nuclear power since his inaugural press conference last year, that silence may in itself may be an indication that Koizumi’s views on a nuclear phaseout remain unchanged even in the wake of more ambitious climate targets.

Of course, the nuclear lobby’s entrenched interests at the highest levels of the government and within the LDP itself will likely continue to frustrate efforts to comprehensively revise Japan’s nuclear energy policies. Indeed, there is every chance that the revised Basic Energy Plan due next year will maintain, if not expand, the share of Japan’s energy mix allocated to nuclear power. Still, without significant changes to the regulatory environment, a more favorable business environment, or a major shift in public opinion or political support, at present it is difficult to see Japan’s nuclear power industry making a major contribution to Japan’s carbon-neutrality goals in the coming decades.

Tom Corben is a resident Vasey Fellow with Pacific Forum. https://thediplomat.com/2020/11/nuclear-power-and-japans-2050-climate-pledge/

November 7, 2020 Posted by | climate change, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Putin orders Russian government to try to meet Paris climate goals


Putin orders Russian government to try to meet Paris climate goals

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree ordering the Russian government to try to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement to fight climate change, but stressed that any action must be balanced with the need to ensure strong economic development.

November 7, 2020 Posted by | climate change, Russia | Leave a comment

Exploring the reasons why Britain is to ‘re-nationalise’ it’s nuclear weapons

UK Government move to ‘re-nationalise’ Britain’s nuclear weapons, The National

November 7, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Canada’s Bruce County Council postpones voting on nuclear waste bunker plan

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Covid-19 divides and weakens the nuclear sector in South Africa

November 7, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, health, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear Technology Germany Association says Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) will always be more expensive than large ones.

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Germany, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

U.S. Navy to spend $billions on two Columbia-class nuclear missile submarines

November 7, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Texas governor wants Trump to oppose nuclear waste dump plan

Gov. Abbott Asks Trump for Help with Nuclear Waste in West Texas, Sanangelo Live, MATT TRAMMELL, NOV 6, 2020, ANDREWS, TX – Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Trump last week urging him to put a stop to storing high levels of nuclear waste in rural West Texas.

In the letter sent to President Trump, on Sep. 29, Abbott gave a number of reasons for his opposition.

The main concerns the Governor has is the risk the nuclear material will bring to the Permian Basin.

Here is the full letter: [ but extract only posted here]

Dear Mr. President:  Thank you for all you do to ensure a prosperous economy and strong energy industry in the United States. I write to express my opposition to the license applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the consolidated interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste at proposed sites within the state of Texas and within the state of New Mexico, close to the Texas border. A stable oil and gas industry is essential to the economy, and crucial to the security of our great nation. Allowing the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high- level nuclear waste at sites near the largest producing oilfield in the world will compromise the safety of the region.

The proposed facilities would be sited in the Permian Basin Region, which is the largest producing oilfield in the world ……..the Permian Basin is a significant economic and natural resource for the entire country, and the proposed storage facilities would place America’s recovering economy and energy security at great risk.

The NRC is currently evaluating issuance of a 40-year license to Interim Storage Partners (ISP) for a consolidated interim storage facility in west Texas as well as issuance of a 40-year license to Holtec International for such a facility in southeastern New Mexico. As proposed, the ISP facility would store commercial spent nuclear fuel and reactor-related materials, presenting a radiological risk greater than currently authorized for storage and disposal in Texas. ISP has also indicated it may seek to renew the license for an additional 20 years, which would result in an operating life of 60 years, or until a permanent facility is established.  ……..https://sanangelolive.com/news/politics/2020-11-06/gov-abbott-asks-trump-help-nuclear-waste-west-texas

November 7, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment