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Questions Abound About Bucha Massacre

The West has made a snap judgment about who is responsible for the massacre at the Ukrainian town of Bucha with calls for more stringent sanctions on Russia, but the question of guilt is far from decided, writes  Joe Lauria.  By Joe Lauria, Special to Consortium News 4 Apr 22,  Within hours of news Sunday that there had been a massacre at Bucha, a town 63 kms north of the Ukrainian capital, the verdict was in:  Russian troops had senselessly slaughtered hundreds of innocent civilians as they withdrew from the town, leaving their bodies littering the streets. 

 

Unlike their judicial systems, when it comes to war, Western nations dispense with the need for investigations and evidence and pronounce guilt based on political motives: Russia is guilty. Case closed……………….

 voices are now perilously calling for the U.S. to go to war with Russia over the incident.  …….. Russia has categorically denied it had anything to do with the massacre.

Where to Start

If there were to be a serious probe, one of the first places an investigator would begin is to map out a timeline of events. 

Last Wednesday, all Russian forces left Bucha, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. 

This was confirmed on Thursday by a smiling Anatolii Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, in a video on the Bucha City Council official Facebook page.  The translated post accompanying the video says:

“March 31 – the day of the liberation of Bucha. This was announced by Bucha Mayor Anatolii Fedoruk. This day will go down in the glorious history of Bucha and the entire Bucha community as a day of liberation by the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the Russian occupiers.”

All of the Russian troops are gone and yet there is no mention of a massacre. The beaming Fedoruk says it is a “glorious day” in the history of Bucha, which would hardly be the case if hundreds of dead civilians littered the streets around Fedoruk. 

“Russian Defence Ministry denied accusations by the Kiev regime of the alleged killing of civilians in Bucha, Kiev Region. Evidence of crimes in Bucha appeared only on the fourth day after the Security Service of Ukraine and representatives of Ukrainian media arrived in the town. All Russian units completely withdrew from Bucha on March 30, and ‘not a single local resident was injured’ during the time when Bucha was under the control of Russian troops,” the Russian MOD said in a post on Telegram.

What Happened Next?

What happened then on Friday and Saturday? As pointed out in a piece by Jason Michael McCann on Standpoint Zero, The New York Times was in Bucha on Saturday and did not report a massacre. Instead, the Times said the withdrawal was completed on Saturday, two days after the mayor said it was, and that the Russians left “behind them dead soldiers and burned vehicles, according to witnesses, Ukrainian officials, satellite images and military analysts.”

The Times said reporters found the bodies of six civilians. “It was unclear under what circumstances they had died, but the discarded packaging of a Russian military ration was lying beside one man who had been shot in the head,” the paper said. It then quoted a Zelensky adviser, who said:

“’The bodies of people with tied hands, who were shot dead by soldiers lie in the streets,’ the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter. ‘These people were not in the military. They had no weapons. They posed no threat.’ He included an image of a scene, photographed by Agence France-Presse, showing three bodies on the side of a road, one with hands apparently tied behind the back. The New York Times was unable to independently verify Mr. Podolyak’s claim the people had been executed.’”

It is possible that on Saturday the full extent of the horror had yet to emerge, and that even the mayor was unaware of it two days before, though photos now show many of the bodies out in the open on the streets of the town, something that presumably would be difficult to miss. 

In Bucha, the Times was close to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, whose soldiers appear in the newspaper’s photographs. In his piece, McCann suggests that Azov may responsible for the killings:

“Something very interesting then happens on [Saturday] 2 April, hours before a massacre is brought to the attention of the national and international media. The US and EU-funded Gorshenin Institute online [Ukrainian language] site Left Bank announced that:

‘Special forces have begun a clearing operation in the city of Bucha in the Kyiv region, which has been liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The city is being cleared from saboteurs and accomplices of Russian forces.’

The Russian military has by now completely left the city, so this sounds for all the world like reprisals. The state authorities would be going through the city searching for ‘saboteurs’ and ‘accomplices of Russian forces.’ Only the day before [Friday], Ekaterina Ukraintsiva, representing the town council authority, appeared on an information video on the Bucha Live Telegram page wearing military fatigues and seated in front of a Ukrainian flag to announce ‘the cleansing of the city.’ She informed residents that the arrival of the Azov battalion did not mean that liberation was complete (but it was, the Russians had fully withdrawn), and that a ‘complete sweep’ had to be performed.”

Ukraintsiva was speaking a day after the mayor had said the town was liberated.   

By Sunday morning, the world learned of the massacre of hundreds of people. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We strongly condemn apparent atrocities by Kremlin forces in Bucha and across Ukraine. We are pursuing accountability using every tool available, documenting and sharing information to hold accountable those responsible.” President Joe Biden on Monday called for a “war crimes” trial. “This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it. I think it’s a war crime.”

The Bucha incident is a critical moment in the war. An impartial investigation is warranted, which probably only the U.N. could conduct. The Azov Battalion may have perpetrated revenge killings against Russian collaborators, or the Russians carried out this massacre. (Once again the Pentagon is dampening the war hysteria, saying it can’t confirm or deny Russia was responsible.)

A rush to judgment is dangerous, with irresponsible talk of the U.S. directly fighting Russia. But it is a rush to judgment that we are getting.

[Update: Satellite images, published after this article appeared by The New York Times, purportedly showing bodies strewn on a street in mid-March, should be considered by an impartial investigation. It cannot be considered at this point as conclusive evidence.]

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  https://consortiumnews.com/2022/04/04/questions-abound-about-bucha-massacre/  

April 7, 2022 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, Ukraine, weapons and war | 1 Comment

U.S. government high on the narcotic of ”Defense” spending – the war corporations love it !

 Exacerbating the dilemma are the close ties between the Washington establishment and the defense industry, which lobbies lawmakers and funds their campaigns.

Another problem is the so-called revolving door, wherein many defense officials tasked with overseeing procurement go on to work for companies in the private sector. In January, the Project On Government Oversight watchdog reported that over the past three years Lockheed Martin hired 44 former Pentagon officials, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman 24 each, Boeing at least 23, and General Dynamics eight.

A staggering $286 billion in US defense spending went to these five well-connected suppliers in 2019 and 2020, according to the report.

Biden’s Ukraine Arms-Buying Spree Boosts US Defense Industry Giants  https://www.urdupoint.com/en/world/bidens-ukraine-arms-buying-spree-boosts-us-d-1493247.html, Muhammad Irfan   April 06, 2022  WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik US defense contractors are raking in additional billions of Dollars as a direct result of President Joe Biden’s policy toward Ukraine, and stand to gain even more based on administration plans to bolster NATO while setting new military spending records.

After Russia launched its operation in Ukraine on February 24, the Pentagon‘s top five suppliers saw their stock prices rise – with three jumping by double digits in the first week, as investors on Wall Street anticipated a surge in weapons orders.

However, the spike began well before Russian forces entered Ukraine and in line with Washington‘s growing support for Kiev. For example, in the second week of January the US delivered about $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine just as lawmakers were set to introduce legislation for $200 million more.

In January, Raytheon chief Greg Hayes told investors on an earnings call that he fully expected to see the company benefit from the tensions in Eastern Europe with new international sales opportunities, a sentiment other contractors echoed, which has now become a reality. Since the beginning of the year, Lockheed Martin’s stock price rose by over 25 percent while Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics each saw a spike of over 15%.

“War is excellent for business,” Australian global peace activist Helen Caldicott told Sputnik.

Javelin manufacturer Raytheon and Stinger supplier Lockheed Martin are especially ecstatic over the situation in Ukraine, added Caldicott, the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Former Pentagon analyst Chuck Spinney was surprised by neither the conflict itself, which he called a “predictable consequence” of NATO expansion, nor the US defense establishment’s reaction to it.

“It now has champagne corks popping in the Pentagon, in the defense industry, and in their wholly owned subsidiaries in Congress, think tanks, the intelligence apparatus, and the press,” Spinney told Sputnik.

US President Joe Biden has repeatedly boasted about the largess of security aid his administration has bestowed Ukraine, which now stands at $2.3 billion – 70 percent of which has been doled out within the past five weeks alone.

The weapons the Biden administration committed or delivered to Ukraine by mid-March included 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft weapons,10,000 Javelin and AT4 shoulder-fired anti-tank systems, and 60 million rounds of ammunition, to name just a few of the big ticket items listed on a White House fact sheet. Thousands of other weapons in the packages include grenade launchers, rifles, pistols, machine guns, and shotguns – in addition to 100 tactical drones, 25,000 sets of body armor, and 25,000 helmets.

US allies are also giving defense contractors reason to celebrate. According to the White House, at least 30 countries have provided security assistance to Ukraine since the operation began.

Yet, even before current tensions, Ukraine for years had been a leading recipient of US military aid. Since 2014, the US has provided Kiev with a total of more than $4 billion in security assistance, including the aid authorized under Biden, according to a State Department fact sheet.

Meanwhile, the US troop presence in Europe has jumped from 60,000 to 100,000 following the start of the Ukraine conflict. And the US and its NATO allies have announced intentions to send even more to boost the alliance‘s “eastern flank.”

Spinney said understanding the internal political-economic causes of the US addiction to the narcotic of defense spending is at the heart of the problem.

Citing American strategic thinker John Boyd, Spinney said the strategy is simple: “Don’t interrupt the money flow, add to it.”

Sure enough, on March 28, the Biden administration submitted to Congress a budget request for 2023 that included $773 billion in spending for the Pentagon, a 4% increase from the previous year. Another $40 billion in defense-related spending through other agencies brings the total to $813 billion, which would represent a record level national security budget if approved.

Biden has asked Congress for nearly $7 billion to strengthen NATO and other European partners in order to counter Moscow, according to the White House. In addition, $682 million was requested for Ukraine security assistance, an increase of $219 million, which Biden said was meant to forcefully respond to Russia‘s “aggression” against Ukraine.

Nor is the next wave of weapons spending likely to stop there. Senior military commanders have already staked out the ground for further prodigal spending. On March 29, US European Command chief Todd Wolters in testimony to Congress said he suspected the Pentagon was “going to still need more.”

Only six days earlier, Republican lawmakers called for higher defense spending, saying that Russia‘s operation in Ukraine “has already left us and our NATO allies less secure.”

VICIOUS CYCLE, TWISTED INCENTIVES

The recent spending sprees, the experts said, are consistent with confrontational US policies – from the Cold War to the war on terrorism. Exacerbating the dilemma is the close ties between the Washington establishment and the defense industry, which lobbies lawmakers and funds their campaigns.

Another problem is the so-called revolving door, wherein many defense officials tasked with overseeing procurement go on to work for companies in the private sector. In January, the Project On Government Oversight watchdog reported that over the past three years Lockheed Martin hired 44 former Pentagon officials, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman 24 each, Boeing at least 23, and General Dynamics eight.

A staggering $286 billion in US defense spending went to these five well-connected suppliers in 2019 and 2020, according to the report.

Spinney, who once appeared on Time Magazine’s cover for highlighting reckless defense spending during the Reagan administration, said the “first” Cold War’s 40-year climate of fear was something then-Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev tried to end. But successive US administrations were busy planting the seed money for a new generation of cold-war inspired weapons.

The former Pentagon analyst said President George W. Bush‘s Global War on Terror was the bridging operation that “greased the transition” to Cold War II by keeping defense budgets at Cold War levels.

The 9-11 terrorist attacks helped fuel a climate of fear, he added, that is now needed to sustain Cold War II for the remainder of the 21st Century

Caldicott said the consequences of those decisions have unleashed wars and suffering around the world anew over the past two decades.

“Since 2001, the US has spent $6.4 trillion on killing and destruction in 85 countries, murdering 801,000 people,” Caldicott said while noting that the stocks of the top five defense contractors outperformed the overall market by a whopping 58 percent.

To make matters worse, the peace activist added, all members of Congress received huge amounts of money from these “killing corporations.”

April 7, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The US Bubble of Pretend- our complacent acceptance of preposterous propaganda about Ukraine

PATRICK LAWRENCE: The US Bubble of Pretend,  The lack of objective, principled coverage of the war in Ukraine is a degenerate state of affairs. The one thing worse is the extent to which it’s perfectly fine with most Americans. Consortium News, By Patrick Lawrence, 6 Apr 22,

Consortium News   It is perfectly obvious by now, to anyone who cares to look, that mainstream media in America and the other Western powers are not reporting the Ukraine crisis accurately.

Let me try that another way: The government-supervised New York Times and the rest of the corporate-owned media on both sides of the Atlantic lie routinely to their readers and viewers as to why Russia intervened in Ukraine, the progress of its military operation, the conduct of Ukrainian forces, and America’s role in purposely provoking and prolonging this crisis.

So far as I know, this is the first war in modern history with no objective, principled coverage in mainstream media of day-to-day events and their context. None. It is morn-to-night propaganda, disinformation and lies of omission — most of it fashioned by the Nazi-infested Zelensky regime in Kiev and repeated uncritically as fact.

There is one thing worse than this degenerate state of affairs. It is the extent to which the media’s malpractice is perfectly fine to most Americans. Tell us what to think and believe no matter if it is true, they say, and we will think and believe it. Show us some pictures, for images are all. 

There are larger implications to consider here. Critical as it is that we understand this conflict, Ukraine is a mirror in which we see ourselves as we have become. For more Americans than I wish were so, reality forms only in images. These Americans are no longer occupants of their own lives. Risking a paradox, what they take to be reality is detached from reality.

This majority — and it is almost certainly a majority — has no thoughts or views except those first verified through the machinery of manufactured images and “facts.” Television screens, the pages of purportedly authoritative newspapers, the air waves of government-funded radio stations — NPR, the BBC — serve to certify realities that do not have to be real, truths that do not have to be true.

This leaves us in a sad and very parlous place………………….

Ten days into the Russian intervention, the propaganda coming out of Kiev was already so preposterous The New York Times felt compelled to publish a piece headlined, “In Ukraine’s Information War, a Blend of Fact and Fiction.” This was a baldly rendered apologia for the many “stories of questionable veracity,” as The Times put it, then in circulation. I do love The Times for its delicate phrasing when describing indelicate matters.

There was the “Ghost of Kiev” story, featuring an heroic fighter pilot who turned out to derive from a video game. There were the Snake Island heroes, 13 Ukrainian soldiers who held out to the death on some small speck in the Black Sea, except that it turned out they surrendered, though not before Zelensky awarded them posthumous medals of honor that were not posthumous.

After railing against disinformation for years, The Times wants us to know, disinformation is O.K. in Ukraine because the Ukrainians are our side and they are simply “boosting morale.”

We cannot say we weren’t warned. The Ghost of Kiev and Snake Island turn out now to be mere prelude, opening acts in the most extensive propaganda operation of the many I can recall.

There was the maternity ward the Russians supposedly bombed in Mariupol. And then the theater, and then the art school. All filled with huddling citizens the Russian air force cynically targeted because “this is genocide,” as the ever-intemperate Zelensky does not hesitate to assert.

All of this has been reported as fact in the Times and other major dailies and, of course, by the major broadcasters. There have been pictures. There have been videos, all very persuasive to the eye.

And then, as evidence mounts that these incidents were staged as propaganda to frame the Russians and draw NATO forces directly into the war, a silence worthy of a Catholic chapel descends. We read no more of the maternity ward that turned out to be an improvised Azov base, or the theater, where citizens were herded, photographed in raggedy blankets, and sent away. Ditto the art school: Nothing more on this since the initial reports began to collapse. No body counts, no mention of the fact that Russian jets did not fly over Mariupol on the days in question…………………………..

Bucha is a suburb of 35,000 souls a few miles north of Kiev and one of the cities Russian forces began to evacuate on March 29 as peace talks in Istanbul progressed. Two days later the mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, celebrated the city’s liberation in a selfie-speech to his citizenry. He made no mention of anything untoward in Bucha’s streets, backyards, or public spaces.

Four days later, April 2, a special unit of the Ukrainian national police deployed to Bucha. And suddenly the place turns out to be a hellhole: bodies in the streets — 410, according to the Prosecutor General’s office in Kiev — evidence of atrocities galore, people bound and shot point blank. The whole nine, in short.

Instant Outrage 

The outrage from Washington, London and Paris — “worldwide outrage,” this would be — was instant. No demand for an impartial inquiry, forensic inspections, or any such thing. No one asked why corpses left in the street for five days appeared to be fresh, or why the relatives of the dead left them there until Kiev’s commando unit arrived.  

António Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, was level-headed enough to state, “It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability.” This is the only sound position at this point. But we know from a long history how far SGs  at the U.N. get with this sort of talk.

In my read this is yet another of the false flags the Kiev regime flies almost by the day now. Paying-attention people will not miss the striking similarity between these incidents and the numerous put-up jobs that featured in Washington’s covert operation in Syria and the campaign of those famous “moderate rebels” who desperately wanted to draw the U.S. into the conflict. 

As a matter of principle we must await evidence of what happened in Bucha, even as we know we are likely to see as much about events there as we have in Mariupol. We also know that to most people neither evidence nor its absence matters.

We have been told once again what to think and believe, and most of us will think and believe it.

We are to add this to various other “truths” now almost universally accepted: The Russian intervention had nothing to do with NATO expansion and was “unprovoked” — that favored term in the Biden regime. Ukrainian forces have pushed the Russians into retreat: not that the pressure on Kiev was a Russian diversionary tactic to keep Ukrainian forces away from Donbass where the fighting  is.

After the Pentagon Papers came out in 1971, Hannah Arendt published an essay in The New York Review of Books called “Lying in Politics.” In it she wrote of America’s slide into a sort of collective psychosis she termed “defactualization.” Facts are fragile, Arendt wrote, in that they tell no story in themselves. They can be assembled to mean whatever one wants them to mean. This leaves them vulnerable to the manipulations of storytellers…………..

It is a half-century since Arendt published “Lying in Politics.” And it is to that time, the 1960s and 1970s, that we must trace the formation of what now amounts to America’s great bubble of pretend. The world as it is has mattered less and less since Arendt’s time, the world as we have wished it to be has mattered more and more…………………………. https://consortiumnews.com/2022/04/05/patrick-lawrence-the-us-bubble-of-pretend/

April 7, 2022 Posted by | media, spinbuster, USA | 2 Comments

Incompetence of Britain’s leaders, on energy policy

Jonathon Porritt: This is absolutely the right time for a new Energy
Strategy. Unfortunately, we’ve got absolutely the wrong politicians in
charge of it. The combination of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak all but
guarantees that the new Energy Security Strategy will fail on most counts.

– In Boris Johnson, we have a careless showman, drawn unerringly to
‘big ticket’ announcements, groomed by a nuclear industry that knows
exactly how to play to these personality defects. – In Rishi Sunak, we
have a man so detached from the reality of most people’s lives that the
prospect of five million UK citizens finding themselves in fuel poverty by
the end of the year means literally nothing.

Careless Johnson and callous
Sunak is a devastating double-act – with the inconsequential figure of
Kwasi Kwarteng lurking around to pick up the pieces.

 Jonathon Porritt 5th April 2022

http://www.jonathonporritt.com/prospects-for-energy-security-marred-by-nuclear-fantasies/

April 7, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

AUKUS hypersonic announcement will ‘escalate global tensions’, warns CND

”………………… In a joint statement on Wednesday, the trio announced that they would now “commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, and electronic warfare capabilities. ”

Growing proliferation

Australia is already co-operating with Washington on hypersonic weapon development as part of the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE). UK officials said they will not be formally joining SCIFiRE. They will instead co-operate in research and development in the area so they can expand their options.

Hypersonic missiles travel at five times the speed of sound and can be armed with either conventional or nuclear warheads.  Faster than cruise missiles, they can in theory evade existing air defence systems. The US, Russia, and China have all  undertaken testing of the weapon.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “The latest expansion of the AUKUS military pact will further escalate global tensions, at a time when the threat of nuclear war is at its highest in decades. The announcement that a programme initially centred on providing a non-nuclear state with nuclear-powered submarines – in itself risking wider nuclear proliferation – will now include hypersonic missiles, is of great concern. This AUKUS expansion will accelerate arms racing in the Asia-Pacific region, leading to  increased militarisation, and potentially helping provoke conflict over Taiwan. Not to mention the fact that military budgets are already escalating – what will the opportunity cost be for embarking on a whole new class of weaponry be?” https://cnduk.org/aukus-hypersonic-announcement-will-escalate-global-tensions-warns-cnd/

April 7, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The European Commission Platform on Sustainable Finance concludes that nuclear and gas power are not green

Nuclear and gas power ‘not green’, say EC experts  https://environment-analyst.com/global/107948/nuclear-and-gas-power-not-green-say-ec-experts

EC Platform on Sustainable Finance delivers final report on extending sustainable finance rules across the whole EU economy, and includes a bombshell.

A European Commission (EC) expert group has made wide-ranging recommendations on extending the scope of the EU Taxonomy – the classification system that defines environmentally sustainable economic activities – across the European economy.

The EC Platform on Sustainable Finance’s final report will inform important new EU legislation, due in the autumn, which will in turn guide future policy and investment decisions.

The report concludes that gas and nuclear power cannot be described as ‘green’ under the taxonomy’s ‘do no significant harm’ (DNSH) rules – although leaves the final decision to the European Commission.

The expert panel’s final report considers 12 sectors, including manufacturing, transport, agriculture, fishing, building and disaster risk management. It is still finalising criteria for forestry and agriculture. 

The report proposes a ‘traffic light’ system, listing red activities requiring urgent transition to avoid significant harm, amber activities that could more easily qualify for taxonomy-recognised investment, and green, low environmental impact (LEnvI) activities. 

Welcoming the report, Sebastien Godinot, senior economist at WWF European policy office, commented: “The platform’s recommendations are a crucial step towards the much-needed ‘biodiversity taxonomy’, aimed at driving billions into nature-friendly activities.”

He added: “However, WWF is concerned that some criteria for critical sectors like forestry and agriculture are not [yet] included. The platform must publish recommendations for them no later than May.”

The EU Taxonomy, which came into force earlier this year, provides the technical underpinning for a number of interlinked EU regulations on sustainable finance products, disclosures and reporting. The taxonomy’s purpose is to increase financial flows towards green activities and to reduce green-washing by setting science-based criteria for performance. It is hoped that the taxonomy will become a global ‘gold standard’ for green finance. 

The taxonomy is governed by the Taxonomy Regulation, which came into force on 12 July 2020 and identifies activities that improve or diminish six objectives (climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, sustainable water resources, transitioning to a circular economy, pollution prevention and control and protecting  biodiversity and ecosystems). Article 26.2(a) of this regulation requires the commission to report on applying its rules across the wider economy and to define sectors that have no environmental impact or are outside its scope.

At the same time as the taxonomy came into effect, the EC presented the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act (TCDA). In response to restrictions to Europe’s natural gas supplies at the beginning of the year, the legislation was controversially complemented by a second Delegated Act, which defined nuclear and natural gas powered energy as ‘green’. This caused widespread objections from environmental and climate change groups.

The TCDA is being scrutinised by the European Parliament and the Council, before going back to the EC. The EC is expected to draft a new Delegated Act, building on the platform’s latest recommendations, in the autumn. This should resolve whether nuclear and gas-powered energy will count as sustainable for policy and investment purposes in the EU.

While asserting that nuclear and gas power are not green, the platform’s report gives the commission ‘wiggle room’ by suggesting a “systems-wide approach to the low-carbon transition”.

It says: “The extended Taxonomy framework would acknowledge the reasons why these activities are not green, explaining why, in some cases, [they] may be significantly harmful, but also showing that there is potential for valid and urgent transitions away from significantly harmful performance.”

April 7, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics international | 1 Comment

Nuclear waste management: Is Finland’s Onkalo facility safe?

Nuclear waste management: Is Finland’s Onkalo facility safe?  https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/science-technology/nuclear-waste-management-is-finland-s-onkalo-facility-safe–82252 6 Apr 22,

The facility, set to begin operation in 2024, isn’t based on a foolproof concept

Finland, a nuclear energy champion, claimed it has figured out how to tackle one of the bigger issues with nuclear energy: Safely managing radioactive  waste. 

The country plans to store its nuclear waste in an underground facility called Onkalo. The structure, named after the Finnish word for “pit”, is a 500-meter-deep underground disposal facility designed to store used nuclear fuel permanently. 

The deep geological repository is usually built in places containing a stable rock.Finland can become the first to commission a plant to permanently store spent nuclear fuel. The idea is to encase the waste in corrosion-resistant copper canisters. These will be further encapsulated in a layer of water-absorbing clay. The setup will be buried in an underground tunnel. 

The facility is now equipped with 500 sensors to monitor the functioning of the entire system, according to VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, a state-owned company and one of the contributors to the project.

“Monitoring brings evidence that the repository will be keeping the outside world safe from the nuclear fuel waste,” Arto Laikari, senior scientist from VTT, said. The state-owned company’s collaborator Posiva, a Finnish nuclear waste management organisation, has submitted the operating license for the facility and is awaiting approval.

In 2023, Posiva will do a final trial run of the disposal mechanism but without radioactive material, Erika Holt, project manager from VTT, told Down To Earth. It is expected to begin operations in 2024.

Problem of disposing nuclear waste

For years, the nuclear industry has been trying to find solutions to the waste problem. They are generated at various steps during the nuclear life cycle: Mining uranium ore, producing uranium fuel and generating power in the reactor.

The waste can remain radioactive for a few hours, several months or even hundreds of thousands of years. Depending on the extent of radioactivity, nuclear wastes are categorised as low-, intermediate- and high-level waste. 

About 97 per cent of the waste is either low- or intermediate-level. The remaining is high-level waste, such as used or spent uranium fuel. 

A 1,000-megawatt plant creates about 30 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste every year, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Even at low levels, exposure to this waste will be harmful to people and other living organisms as long as it remains radioactive,” Ramana explained.

Global endeavours

Some nations are storing waste on-site. But it carries the risk of radioactive leakage. In the United States, for instance, spent fuel is stored in a concrete-and-steel container called a dry cask, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

India and a handful of other nations reprocess about 97-98 per cent of the spent nuclear fuel to recover plutonium and uranium, according to data from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. 


India also recovers other materials like caesium, strontium and ruthenium, which finds application as blood irradiators to screen transfusions, cancer treatment and eye cancer therapeutics, respectively, according to the research institute. 

The remaining 1-3 per cent end up in a storage facility. India also immobilises the wastes by mixing them with glass, which is kept under surveillance in storage facilities.

But there are problems with this approach as well. Except for the plutonium and uranium, all the radioactive material present in the spent fuel is redistributed among different waste streams, Ramana said. “These enter the environment sooner or later.”

The plutonium and uranium intended for reuse in other nuclear reactors will also turn into radioactive waste, he added. 

Nations like Finland, Canada, France and Sweden are also looking at deep geological repositories to tackle spent nuclear fuel wastes. 

In January 2022, the Swedish government greenlit an underground repository for nuclear waste. Construction in Sweden will take at least 10 more years, Johan Swahn, director of MKG Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review, a non-governmental environmental organisation, said.

Finland can share its experience with colleagues and partners worldwide, Holt said. “But each country and programme must have their own solutions. Worldwide, we work together to show nuclear energy (and the holistic views for responsible waste management) are viable for meeting CO2 targets,” she added.

Is the approach safe?

Experts associated with the project said that 40-years of theoretical and lab-based studies suggest that the geological repository is safe.

The bedrock provides a natural barrier to protect from radioactive release to the environment, such as water bodies and air, Holt explained.

The use of clay and copper provides a protective layer to ensure no release due to extreme conditions like earthquakes.

But Ramana argues that theoretical safety studies are not foolproof. There are significant uncertainties stemming from various long-term natural processes. These include climate change and the unpredictability of human behaviour over these long periods of time, he added. 

Besides, design failure could undermine claims about safety, the expert noted. For instance, a few scientists fear that copper canisters can become corrosive and crack.

Finland’s team chose copper because it corrodes slowly. But Peter Szakálos, a chemist at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, is not quite sure.

In a 2007 study, Szakálos and his team observed that copper could corrode in pure, oxygen-free water. “It’s just a matter of time — anything from decades to centuries — before unalloyed copper canisters start to crack at Onkalo,” he told Science journal.

On February 14, 2014, radioactive materials such as americium and plutonium leaked out of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a deep geological long-lived radioactive waste repository, following an accident. The facility dealt solely with a special class of wastes from nuclear weapons production.

“If a failure like this happened within two decades of opening the repository, what are the odds that such failures won’t happen over the millennia that these repositories [Finland’s Onkalo] are supposed to operate safely?”

Both the Finnish project and the Swedish decision are very important for the international nuclear industry because the latter can point to these facilities to prove the nuclear waste problem is solved, Swahn said. “But it is very uncertain whether copper as a container material is a good idea.”

The projects may still fail as the understanding of how copper behaves in a repository environment is still developing, the expert added.

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Finland, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Why is the UK government backing nuclear power when onshore wind is so much better? 

Why is the UK government backing nuclear power when onshore wind is so much better?  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/06/government-nuclear-power-onshore-wind-betterAlethea Warrington

Using windfarms would be an easy, quick, cheap and actually popular way to solve the energy bill crisis


fter Friday’s huge jump in energy costs, millions of people across the UK face a frightening future. Urgent measures are needed but, instead of taking action, the cabinet is absorbed in a pointless argument that wrongly pits the energy bill crisis against our climate commitments. In reality, the best way of bringing down bills is to get off gas for good.

We can take immediate steps to stop using gas because the UK has clean energy sources that can get going quickly, and are cheap and popular – wind and solar in particular. But at a time when they should be powering up the UK with renewables, ministers have other ideas: suggesting deepening our reliance on fossils fuels by opening up more drilling in the UK; or labouring under the misapprehension that people would rather live near a nuclear power plant than a wind turbine.

The government’s tug of war over onshore wind is particularly puzzling. Onshore wind is clean, cheap and extremely popular, with the government’s own polling showing support from four out of five people in the UK. Far from considering them an “eyesore” as some Tory MPs and ministers worry, a Survation poll last year found that people who live near existing windfarms are the most supportive of all. Yet a major cause of the past month’s delay in getting the energy strategy out appears to be the government’s utterly unfounded concern that people don’t like onshore wind, and their mistaken belief that removing the virtual ban on new wind projects in England would provoke huge resistance from Conservative voters.

The government removed support for onshore wind in 2015 following pressure from a group of Conservative MPs, some of whom have since changed their minds, left parliament or moved on to other pet peeves. The dislike for visible renewable energy projects from a fraction of the Conservative backbenches has always been out of step with public opinion, which has been consistently behind renewable energy, including onshore wind.

Even a decade ago, two-thirds of people supported onshore wind, with support steadily rising to the 80% at which it currently stands. The British public know that clean energy is the way out of this crisis but, as they watch their energy bills shoot up and face the dismal prospect of cold homes, all they can see is their government dithering and delaying on the clean energy sources that are the quickest and easiest solution.

Instead of fixing this crisis with renewable energy, ministers are reportedly thinking of pursuing nuclear power. Ministers recently tried and failed to argue that onshore wind is too expensive, yet they seem quite happy to argue for bill payers to shoulder the cost of nuclear power, which is about twice as high per unit of electricity as onshore wind.

Given the urgency with which we need to clean up our energy supply and cut energy bills, the sluggish timeframes for new nuclear power projects risk leaving people at the mercy of gas markets for far too long. Wind projects commissioned now can be up and running before the end of next year, while the most recent nuclear projects, announced in 2010, won’t produce any energy until 2026 at the earliest. It is hardly surprising that nuclear power is much less popular than onshore wind, with just a third of people thinking that nuclear power would be affordable and even fewer thinking it is safe.

If the government believes that new nuclear plants will be an easier sell to people than onshore wind on cost or local impacts, they could be in for an unpleasant shock. Ministers who insist that the UK’s energy strategy must prioritise community consent are right. Now they must also recognise that any plan to rush forward with an unpopular, slow and expensive energy source, while keeping the brakes on clean, cheap and quick onshore wind, is unlikely to gain support.

It is time for the government to start listening to what people actually want, which is appropriately placed renewable energy projects that support local people and the local environment and for communities to have a say on the infrastructure in their area. The energy strategy is a vital chance to make this a reality. If the government gets this wrong, we’ll be living in cold homes on a hot planet. If they get it right, this could be the last energy crisis we ever have.

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cracks found in Torness nuclear power station

 Cracks which could increase the risk of a radioactive accident have
appeared at the ageing Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian. The
plant’s operator, EDF Energy, wrote to a local liaison group in February
saying that three cracks had been found in the graphite core of one of the
station’s reactors. According to EDF, the cracks were “entirely
expected” and would not “on their own” affect the safe operation of
the power station.

But campaigners are calling on the company to bring
forward the closure date of Torness, currently set for 2028. In May 2020
The Ferret reported evidence from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)
suggesting that cracks at Torness could lead to a meltdown which could
result in a radiation leak.

In 2020 the ONR predicted the reactors at
Torness would start cracking in 2022, six years sooner than had previously
been thought. This prompted EDF to bring the plant’s planned closure date
forward by two years, to 2028. Anti-nuclear campaigners now argue that
Torness may need to close “as soon as 2024” to avoid “taking any
unnecessary risks as the cracking gets worse”. ONR inspectors have
previously pointed out that there is a difference in design between Torness
and Hunterston, though. Torness and its sister station – Heysham, near
Lancaster – have seal rings between the graphite bricks that make up the
reactor core.

According to the nuclear consultant and critic, Pete Roche,
“logic suggests” that the closure date of Torness should be brought
forward to 2024 or “soon after”. Roche said: “EDF will obviously be
hoping it can keep Torness open as long as possible, but it was only in May
2020 that we learnt that the cores of the two reactors were predicted to
start cracking in 2022, six years earlier than previously thought.
“Torness has a significant design difference, compared with Hunterston B,
likely to make the problem worse. Torness may actually need to close as
early as 2024 – six years earlier than the previously planned 2030 date
– or soon after to avoid taking any unnecessary risks as the cracking
gets worse.” 
The Ferret 6th April 2022 https://theferret.scot/first-cracks-found-in-torness-nuclear-reactor/

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greenpeace maps Ukraine’s nuclear power risks

 The extent of the nuclear threat posed by Vladimir Putin’s illegal
invasion of Ukraine is unprecedented, new Greenpeace International mapping
and technical analysis shows. Created with data from the Institute for the
Study of War and the Centre for Information Resilience among others, and
displaying the proximity of Russian troops and military hardware to each of
Ukraine’s 15 commercial nuclear reactors over time, the interactive map
provides a chilling interactive visualisation of the potential for nuclear
catastrophe at regular intervals since the bloody invasion began on
February 24.

 Greenpeace 6th April 2022

April 7, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

” Renewable Energy Foundation (REF)” – strongly linked to anti-wind power lobby

Charity linked to UK anti-onshore wind campaigns active again. While the
name of the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) suggests it is a charity
dedicated to promoting low-carbon electricity, it appears to spend most of
its time campaigning against onshore wind.

When it was founded in 2004,
with the TV personality Noel Edmonds as its chair, the organisation was
clear it wanted to fight against the “grotesque political push” for
onshore renewable energy in the UK. It styles itself on its website as “a
registered charity promoting sustainable development for the benefit of the
public by means of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy”.

However, many in the energy sector believe the charity to be full of
anti-wind lobbyists. In 2008, the REF had what it described as a
“dialogue” with the Charity Commission over whether it was violating
its charitable status by being too political in its campaigning. The
Charity Commission said it assessed the complaint relating to the REF’s
campaigning activities and determined there was no evidence that it was not
charitable, but also provided guidance about how to achieve its objectives
as an organisation.

The REF has strong links to a group accused of climate
science scepticism, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, started by the
former chancellor Nigel Lawson, who has denied global heating is a problem.
Prof Michael Kelly, a trustee of the REF also has a position on the board
of the GWPF. John Constable, an adviser to the GWPF, has been quoted as an
REF spokesperson and was previously its director of policy and research.
Constable answered the Guardian’s questions for this article on behalf of
the REF.

While the REF has been relatively quiet in recent years, growing
pressure on the government to support wind energy to help solve the energy
crisis seems to have led to it becoming more active again. In recent weeks,
the charity has provided anti-onshore wind research to the Telegraph and
Daily Mail. Colin Davie, a trustee of the REF, has appeared on Radio 4’s
Today programme to oppose onshore wind. Constable added that the REF had
“no blanket policy” on renewables – but that the charity did not see
them as a large part of the net zero strategy. He added: “Each proposal
must be judged on its own merits, and providing that local environmental
concerns offer no obstacle, niche applications may be suitable, as they may
be for all renewables.”

 Guardian 5th April 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/05/charity-linked-to-uk-anti-onshore-wind-campaigns-active-again-renewable-energy-foundation

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Education, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Over 70 Russian soldiers suffering from radiation exposure at Chernobyl nucler site

Over 70 Russian soldiers exposed to radiation at Chernobyl: Ukraine,  KYODO NEWS  6 Apr 22, – About 75 Russian soldiers are receiving medical treatment in Belarus after being exposed to radiation during their temporary control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko.

Galushchenko said in an online interview Tuesday that the troops apparently suffered from radiation after digging around the grounds of the plant, the site of a 1986 disaster, to defend themselves from the Ukrainian military.The troops were affected “very heavily and are in a very difficult situation and now (being treated) in clinics” in Belarus, Galushchenko said, citing information made available.

“I can’t imagine you could order someone to dig into” areas contaminated with “the high level of radiation with signs saying ‘Don’t come in. Don’t stay near,'” he said, speaking in English.”They’re soldiers, and they just follow the orders.”Galushchenko said Ukraine has regained complete control of the nuclear power plant……………..  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/04/33e77e951e22-over-70-russian-soldiers-exposed-to-radiation-at-chernobyl-ukraine.htm

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Belarus, health | Leave a comment

‘Most Dangerous Point in Human History’ Looming, Warns Noam Chomsky

“We are now facing the prospect of destruction of organized human life on Earth.” Common Dreams. JULIA CONLEY, 6 Apr 22,

April 6, 2022  Far-right and authoritarian leaders in the U.S. and Russia are pushing the planet toward “the most dangerous point in human history,” renowned scholar Noam Chomsky said in an interview published by The New Statesman Wednesday, pointing to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the planetary emergency.

Chomsky condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “criminal aggression” in Ukraine, where his forces have killed an estimated 1,430 civilians since their February 24 invasion according to the United Nations, and warned that the U.S. must help to negotiate peace to avoid nuclear war with Russia.

After calling in 2021 for “enhanced military cooperation with Ukraine”—suggesting that NATO expansion to the former Soviet state was possible—the U.S. should help protect Ukrainians from further suffering, Chomsky told senior editor George Eaton.

“We may move on to terminal nuclear war if we do not pursue the opportunities that exist for a negotiated settlement,” said the University of Arizona professor. …………………………………………………….. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/04/06/most-dangerous-point-human-history-looming-warns-noam-chomsky-0

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 We can still avert climate catastrophe – but there is barely time

We can still avert climate catastrophe – but there is barely time. The
IPCC’s latest report shows we have the tools to make fast cuts in
emissions – all that’s missing is the political will. The message is
very clear. In three instalments, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) has told us that humans are “unequivocally” to blame for
rising temperatures, we are outstripping our ability to adapt and, on 4
April, that we can fix this crisis. The fix requires us to ensure that
global greenhouse gas emissions peak in three years and are cut by 43 per
cent by 2030. Achieve that, and we have a 50 per cent chance of staying
under 1.5°C of global warming, the threshold for when climate impacts
become far more damaging. Yet, as the IPCC itself points out, without
stronger policies from governments, global emissions are projected to keep
rising beyond 2025. The current trajectory is for a planet that has warmed
by a hellish 3.2°C. So what reasons are there to think the world can land
at 1.5°C instead?

 New Scientist 5th April 2022

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2314966-we-can-still-avert-climate-catastrophe-but-there-is-barely-time/

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New research links Antarctic ice loss to greenhouse gas emissions

 A new study has provided the first concrete evidence linking ice loss from
the West Antarctic ice sheet with the emission of greenhouse gases, raising
serious concerns over sea level rises.

The West Antarctic ice sheet in the
Amundsen Sea is already one of the biggest and fastest contributors to the
world’s rising sea levels, and if it completely melted, would further
raise sea levels by up to 3 metres.

 Independent 6th April 2022 https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/antarctic-ice-sheet-sea-levels-b2051548.html

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment