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Canada’s indigenous communities must not be guinea pigs for useless Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

From the Hill — Small Modular Reactors, The Rossland Telegraph , by Dick Cannings MP on Monday Nov 30 2020,   Earlier this year, Seamus O’Regan, the Minister of Natural Resources said in a speech that “We are placing nuclear energy front and centre… This is nuclear’s moment.” And in discussions around building a new economy after COVID, the government is doubling down on those sentiments.  The latest debates are slightly different from those of the last fifty years as they involve a new technology:  Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs.   Spoiler alert–I don’t necessarily share the Minister’s unbridled enthusiasm for nuclear energy as the answer to all our prayers……..can nuclear power help us in our efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the next few years?  SMRs represent an experimental technology that, according to industry experts, will not be producing power anywhere in Canada for about a decade.  Once the technology matures and SMRs can be produced in quantity, they could theoretically be cheaper than present, very expensive nuclear plants.  But those claims are very difficult to assess.

SMRs are often touted as a solution to get remote indigenous communities off diesel power.  While I am very much in favour of helping these communities find alternate power sources, SMRs do not fit the bill.  These communities want power generation solutions that they can build and manage themselves.  They want alternative power sources now, not in ten years.  And they do not want to be the guinea pigs for brand-new nuclear technology that will likely provide few jobs for local residents and cost significantly more than mature technologies such as solar, wind, and bioenergy.  A Special Chiefs Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations passed a unanimous resolution in December 2018 demanding “that the Government of Canada cease funding and support of the Small Modular Nuclear Reactors program.”

……… [smrs] shouldn’t be relied on by present day governments as the panacea to a clean energy future.  Even the Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) predicts that SMRs will collectively contribute only the equivalent of half of a conventional hydro dam by 2050.

To reach meaningful targets by 2030 and 2040, we need to double down on technologies we know will get us there…… And energy efficiency efforts alone could get us almost half-way to our targets.  These are the routes to success.https://rosslandtelegraph.com/news/column-hill-small-modular-reactors#.X8Ven2gzbIU

December 1, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Grid flexibility a better choice than nuclear – could save UK $millions

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

When even a right wing news medium like Forbes start questioning the ”wisdom” of nuclear development , that industry must be getting worried.

Ditch Nuclear And Save $860 Million With Grid Flexibility, U.K. Told, Forbes,   David Vetter Senior Contributor, 30 Nov 2, 

The U.K. could save money, reduce the risk of blackouts and more quickly achieve its carbon-cutting goals by abandoning plans to build more nuclear power facilities and instead invest in a flexible electricity grid, new analysis has found.

According to the report from Finnish energy tech firm Wärtsilä, the U.K. would stand to save $860 million per year if, instead of new nuclear power, the government backed grid flexibility measures, such as battery storage and thermal generation. That equates to a saving of about $33 dollars per British household per year. Crucially, the analysis revealed that even if energy generation was to remain the same as it is today, Britain could increase renewables’ share of that generation to 62% simply by adding more flexibility (renewables currently account for around 47% of electricity used, according to the government).

The Wärtsilä report is timely because, in a ten-point plan released earlier this month, prime minister Boris Johnson promised an additional $684 million for the nuclear sector, and the building of new large and small nuclear power stations. Notably, grid flexibility was not mentioned in the plan.

The report also raises questions about the necessity of the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, under development in Somerset, southwest England, which has been dogged by controversy and delays since its inception. In addition to coming with all the usual challenges associated with nuclear fission—not least the storage of radioactive waste—the project is at least $3.6 billion over budget and has been the target of numerous lawsuits and both local and international complaints.

Speaking to Forbes.com, Ville Rimali, growth and development director at Wärtsilä Energy, explained why his firm determined that grid flexibility is a preferable alternative to nuclear, as Britain looks for a pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Flexibility unlocks more renewable energy by balancing the intermittency of wind and solar power to ensure the power supply always matches demand,” Rimali said. “For example, when more power is generated than needed, you can store the surplus in batteries to be used later. The alternative is paying renewables to switch off, which is expensive and inefficient.”

“It’s a bit like running a bath where the volume of water and the size of the plug keep changing,” he explained. “The smaller the bathtub, the more likely the water is to overflow or run out. Flexibility is like having a bigger bathtub—you can pour more water in, without the risk of running out or overflowing.” ………

 investing in nuclear power could, according to Wärtsilä, entrench an inflexible grid while making renewables such as solar and wind less cost-effective.

“New nuclear sites will rely heavily on government subsidies, negatively impact market prices and ultimately weaken the business case for renewables and flexibility,” Rimali said………   https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/11/30/ditch-nuclear-and-save-860-million-with-grid-flexibility-uk-told/?sh=2733622b1975

December 1, 2020 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Australia’s Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announces hypersonic missiles for Australia

Australia to begin testing hypersonic missiles within months, The Age, By Anthony Galloway, December 1, 2020 Australia will begin testing hypersonic missiles that can travel at least five times the speed of sound within months under a new agreement with the United States to develop prototypes of the next-generation weapons…….

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will announce the multi-billion-dollar plan on Tuesday, saying the Australian government is committed to “keeping Australians safe, while protecting the nation’s interests in a rapidly changing global environment”. …
The government hopes to begin testing prototypes of the air-launched, long-range missiles within months, with the Australian Defence Force wanting them as part of its arsenal in the next five to 10 years.
The new deal with the United States – known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) – is the culmination of 15 years of research between the two nations on hypersonic scramjets, rocket motors, sensors and advanced manufacturing materials.

The Australian government will now begin talking with Australian industry about rolling out a range of technologies to bring the hypersonic missiles from the testing phase to the production line for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Defence will not reveal the estimated cost of developing the new hypersonic missiles but it is expected to run into billions of dollars. A total of $9.3 billion was earmarked in this year’s Force Structure Plan for high-speed long-range missile defences.

The ADF also wants to develop hypersonic missiles that can be launched from the sea and land……

Under the plan, the hypersonic missiles would be carried by the RAAF’s existing arsenal of aircraft including the Growlers, Super Hornets, Joint Strike Fighters and Poseidon surveillance planes. The missiles could also be attached to unmanned aircraft such as the new Loyal Wingman drones.

Senator Reynolds discussed the agreement with her US counterpart Mark Esper at the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations in Washington in July this year, but the deal was signed last week.

The Australian Defence Minister said the experiments with the US would include demonstrations to show how the weapon performs in operational conditions, which would then inform future purchases.

“Developing this game-changing capability with the United States from an early stage is providing opportunities for Australian industry,” she said…..

Michael Kratsios, the Acting Under Secretary for Research and Engineering for the US’s Department of Defence, said the agreement was “essential to the future of hypersonic research and development, ensuring the US and our allies lead the world in the advancement of this transformational war-fighting capability”. ….. https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/australia-to-begin-testing-hypersonic-missiles-within-months-20201130-p56j5a.html

December 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hypersonic Missiles- ‘we program weapons that don’t work to meet threats that don’t exist.’

Like a Ball of Fire, London Review of Books, Andrew Cockburn on hypersonic weaponry, Vol. 42 No. 5 · 5 March 2020 “……….   Putin’s bellicose claim – two weeks before the presidential election in which he was running for a fourth term – and the more recent official announcement that Avangard had now entered service, drew alarmed and unquestioning attention in the West. ‘Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race’ the New York Times blared. ‘The new Russian weapon system flies at superfast speeds and can evade traditional missile defence systems. The United States is trying to catch up.’

Across the military-industrial complex, the money trees were shaken, showering dollars on eager recipients. A complaisant Congress poured money into programmes to develop all-new missile defences against the new threat, as well as programmes to build offensive hypersonic weapons to close the ‘technology gap’. The sums allocated for defensive initiatives alone exceeded $10 billion in the 2020 Pentagon budget, including $108 million in seed money for a ‘Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor’ – an as-yet undesigned array of low-orbit satellites that would detect and track Russia’s weapons.
Last September, Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms manufacturer, hefted a golden shovel to break ground in Courtland, Alabama, on new facilities to develop, test and produce a variety of hypersonic weapons. By then Lockheed already had more than $3.5 billion of hypersonic contracts in hand. Excitement was running high. ‘You can’t walk more than ten feet in the Pentagon without hearing the word “hypersonics”,’ one official remarked to an industry sponsored conference. Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defence for research and engineering, a hypersonics enthusiast, has spoken of the need for ‘maybe thousands’ of hypersonic weapons. ‘This takes us back to the Cold War,’ he announced cheerfully, ‘where at one point we had thirty thousand nuclear warheads and missiles to launch them’.
Welcome to the world of strategic analysis, where we program weapons that don’t work to meet threats that don’t exist.’ This was what Ivan Selin, a senior Pentagon official, used to tell subordinates in the Defence Department in the 1960s. Such irreverence regarding high-tech modern weaponry is rare: the norm is uncritical acceptance of reality as the arms industry and its uniformed customers choose to define it.
This credulity persists partly because of the secrecy rules deployed to cloak the realities of shoddy performance and unfulfilled promises. More important, complex weapons programmes, however problematic, benefit from a widespread and unquestioning faith – not least among journalists – in the power of technology to challenge the laws of physics.
…….. the funds continue to flow smoothly, accompanied by breathless headlines such as the Washington Post’s declaration that ‘the Pentagon’s newest weapons look like something out of Star Wars.’ …….
in 2014 the Russian programme was nearly cancelled when the designers reported that they couldn’t make the system manoeuvre – the essential selling point for any hypersonic weapon.
Hypersonic endeavours in the US have an even longer history, having originated in the imaginations of German scientists during the Second World War. Walter Dornberger, a favourite of Hitler who oversaw the V2 rocket programme and its extensive slave labour workforce, emigrated to the US after the war and soon found employment in the arms industry. In the 1950s he presented the US air force with a proposal for a ‘boost-glide’ weapon, first conceived by his former colleagues in Germany. …….
the dream never died, lingering on in obscure budgetary allocations over ensuing decades, none of them yielding anything of practical use. Despite the bombast on both sides of what we have to call the New Cold War, current efforts will almost certainly be no more successful than their predecessors – except in improving arms corporations’ balance sheets – for reasons that bear some scrutiny………..
 True to form, the UK Ministry of Defence is still investing heavily in this problematic technology…………
[This article outlines the technical problems in implementing hypersonic missiles]
….  At least $200 billion has been showered on missile defence since Reagan unveiled the Star Wars programme in 1983, and yet as Tom Christie – the Pentagon’s director of Operational Test and Evaluation under George W. Bush – puts it, ‘here we are, almost forty years on, and what have we got to show for it?’ Very little, it seems. As he told me recently, ‘We’ve tested against very rudimentary threats, and even then [the defence systems] haven’t worked with any degree of confidence.’ An apparently insoluble problem is that no defensive system is able to distinguish reliably between incoming warheads and decoys, such as balloon reflectors that mimic missiles on radar and can be deployed by the hundred at little cost. ‘There’s a very simple technical reason there’s essentially no chance – and, I mean, really essentially, no chance – that these missile defences will work,’ Ted Postol of MIT, a long-term critic of Star Wars, told me……….
 the US is lavishing large amounts of money on anti-hypersonic programmes. Given the gross deficiencies of both hypersonics and current missile defence systems, this indicates that the US and Russia have both taken Selin’s axiom a step further: they mean to deploy a weapon that doesn’t work against a threat that doesn’t exist that was in turn developed to counter an equally non-existent threat.
The notion that the Cold War was a nuclear ‘arms race’ with each side developing systems to counter the other’s increasingly deadly initiatives is generally taken as a given. Today, hypersonic weapons are depicted as products of a similar competitive impulse. But when you look more closely at the history of the Cold War and its post-Soviet resurgence, you see that a very different process is at work, in which the arms lobby on each side has self-interestedly sought capital and bureaucratic advantage while enlisting its counterpart on the other side as a justification for its own ambition.   In other words, they enjoy a mutually profitable partnership. …..

The ease with which the chimerical menace of hypersonic weapons has been launched into the budgetary stratosphere by the arms lobby suggests that their luck will hold for a long time yet. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n05/andrew-cockburn/like-a-ball-of-fire

December 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority doesn’t know how much the waste clean up wiill cost or when it will finish


David Lowry’s Blog 27th Nov 2020, The nuclear industry has perpetrated a lot of untruths in six decades of dissembling. But the brazen atomic assertion repeated endlessly in the1950s that atomic energy would produce power “too cheap to meter” ( originally said by the then chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, Lewis Stauss, on 16 September 1954, speech to the US National Association of Science Writers when he opined: “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter..”)
Parliament’s public spending watchdog body, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) revealed on 27 November the huge costs escalations for dealing with the British nuclear waste stockpile, stating: “The cost of the long-term liability to decommission the UK’s civil nuclear sites now stands at £132 billion, though by its nature this estimate is inherently uncertain. Even the cost to take the Magnox sites to the care and maintenance stage of the decommissioning process is highly uncertain, with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) currently estimating that it will cost anything from £6.9 billion to £8.7 billion.”
The PAC goes on to explain that the timetable for completing this work is “similarly uncertain,” with a current estimate of anything from 12 to 15 years, adding “past experience tells us that these estimates could increase further.” The MPs believe that the efforts to produce a reliable estimate are “made more difficult by the historical legacy of decommissioning being an afterthought when the nuclear industry was established, and poor records of what hazardous materials are on the sites.
In this context, the NDA faces a considerable challenge to produce a reliable cost estimate. However, lack of knowledge about the sites was a significant factor in the failure of the Magnox procurement and original contract, which seriously damaged the NDA’s reputation and has now cost the taxpayer in excess of £140 million, and it continues to be a major barrier to making
progress.”

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2020/11/nuclear-dissembling-from-too-cheap-to.html

December 1, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

With independence, Scotland will remove allnuclear weapons from the Clyde

The National 29th Nov 2020, EVERY single nuclear weapon will be removed from the Clyde once Scotland
becomes independent, according to Ian Blackford. The SNP Westminster leader
was unequivocal as he opened the second day of his party’s conference via
video link from Skye.

https://www.thenational.scot/news/18907017.ian-blackford-desperate-tory-bid-prevent-independence-doomed/

December 1, 2020 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran considers barring international nuclear inspectors, following assassination of scientist

Telegraph 29th Nov 2020, Iran was weighing its response Sunday to the killing of its top nuclear
scientist, which it blames on arch-foe Israel, as his body was taken to
Shiite shrines ahead of being buried. Two days after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
died following a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen
outside Tehran, parliament called in a statement for international
inspectors to be barred from nuclear facilities.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/11/29/iran-considers-barring-access-nuclear-sites-inresponse-assassination/

December 1, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Today’s Google headlines on nuclear issues – weapons and Iran dominate the stories.

30 Nov 20, Todays news headlines –   92 articles on nuclear issues.

41 of these concerned  nuclear weapons and issues around international diplomacy, and the upcoming Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

By far the most often mentioned topic was the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear weapons expert,  Mohsen Fakhrizadeh ( pictured at left).

In general, articles about nuclear weapons tend to be factual accounts of national policies and weapons development. There are also articles with strong opposition to nuclear arms and testing.

Articles on so-called non military nuclear issues.  Most (29) of these have been in support of, or promoting nuclear power.  During the past week there has been a plethora of articles enthusing over small nuclear reactors (SMRs) . Today, of the 19 articles advocating new nuclear power, 9 were focussed on small nuclear reactors.  Other pro nuclear themes were – reassurance that radiation is not such a worry, space research, fusion, hydrogen, and nuclear as climate solution.

Anti-nuclear articles (18) argued against new nuclear power, especially small reactrors, on grounds of costs, wastes, safety , climate uselessness, comparison with renewables.

4 “neutral” articles just set out information on decommissioning reactors, UK policy,health issues.

 

November 30, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

UAE, Jordan Condemn Killing of Iranian Nuclear Scientist, Call for Self-restraint

UAE, Jordan Condemn Killing of Iranian Nuclear Scientist, Call for Self-restraint, https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/.premium-uae-condemns-killing-of-iranian-nuclear-scientist-calls-for-self-restraint-1.9335920 The states cautioned against regional escalations after the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

The United Arab Emirates condemned on Sunday the killing of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and called on all parties to exercise self-restraint to avoid sliding the region into new levels of instability, the state news agency reported on Twitter.

Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally also condemned the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, state media reported, and called for collective efforts to avoid an escalation in tensions in the Middle East region.

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Jordan, politics international, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Why we shouldn’t be talking about nuclear waste “disposal”

All casked up with nowhere to go  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/11/29/all-casked-up-with-nowhere-to-go/ November 29, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational

Why we shouldn’t be talking about nuclear waste “disposal” By Linda Pentz Gunter, 29 Nov 20 

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. You don’t “dispose” of nuclear waste.

The ill-suited, now canceled, but never quite dead radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain was not a “disposal” site.

The radioactive mud being dredged from the sea bed at the Hinkley C nuclear site in the UK, is not going to get “disposed of” in Cardiff Grounds (a mile off the Welsh coast).

When Germany dumped radioactive waste in drums into the salt mines of Asse, it wasn’t “disposed” of.

Taking nuclear waste to Texas and New Mexico border towns and parking it there indefinitely is not “disposal”.

To talk about radioactive waste “disposal” is simply dishonest. It’s disingenuous at best and deliberately misleading at worst.

In Cardiff Bay, that radioactive waste will get “dispersed.” At Asse, the waste leaked out of the barrels and “dispersed” into water that has flooded the site.

At Yucca Mountain, were it to get a renewed green light, water will eventually carry off those radioactive particles, sending them into groundwater and drinking water downstream of the dump.

“Once you have made radioactive waste, then you are looking at long-term isolation, not disposal,” says Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. “And its cost. And if you are looking to manage the liability of cost, then don’t make it.”

That’s the easiest kind of radioactive waste to “dispose” of. The kind you haven’t made. Because, as Gunter says, “there is no alchemy for radioactive detritus.” Once we’ve made it, it’s with us pretty much forever.

Federal agencies and nuclear corporations continue to wrestle over what to do with the already tens of thousands of tons of high-level radioactive waste (at least 90,000 at last count) generated by America’s commercial nuclear power plants — all casked up with nowhere to go (and a lot of it still in the fuel pools). Because, absent alchemy, that waste is always going to be somewhere, even if we can’t see it.

Once upon a time, the general public understood this. In 1986, when the US Department of Energy was looking for a geological burial site for commercial nuclear waste, it began giving serious consideration to the “granite state” of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire towns — some of which would have been seized and razed by eminent domain to make way for the repository — rose up in opposition. A stunning 100 of them signed a resolution that not only opposed the burial, storage, and transportation of high-level nuclear waste in New Hampshire, but also its production.

A law was eventually passed in New Hampshire that forbade siting a nuclear waste repository in the state, but not banning its generation. The construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant on the New Hampshire coast progressed, and today the single unit of the two originally planned is duly generating radioactive waste for the state of New Hampshire, with still no place to go.

In fact, the law banning a repository in New Hampshire was quietly, almost covertly, overturned in the New Hampshire state legislature in 2011, a fact uncovered by State Rep. Renny Cushing while writing legislation in 2016. (Cushing is a founder of this country’s first anti-nuclear power group, the Clamshell Alliance, which vigorously opposed the construction of Seabrook.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLeYKkA2V7EA German four-part animation piece, humorously demonstrated the impossibility of disposing of radioactive waste. This is the second segment.

In a characteristically stealthy way, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ensured there will be no repeat of that New Hampshire defiance. Today, under what was once called the Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision, but is now termed the “Continued Storage of High-Level Waste”, (presumably because no one dare claim any “confidence” about finding a waste solution), an intervention against a reactor license renewal can be disallowed if it is based on contentions challenging the absence of a long-term radioactive waste solution.

This means that our aging fleet of nuclear reactors are free to generate yet more radioactive waste, some of them for another 20 or even 40 years, even though there is still no sign of land when it comes to finding a safe, long-term management plan for what to do with it.

That’s remarkable hubris this far into the nuclear game. Even if one could (very reluctantly) forgive the initial optimistic procrastination — when Fermi achieved the first chain reaction in 1942, but everyone decided the waste problem would be solved later — there is no forgiving it now, 78 years on. That’s more than ample time to have realized that continuing to make more of a lethal substance that you can never dispose of is scientifically and morally reprehensible.

We cannot dispose of radioactive waste. But we can dispose of nuclear power. We should hesitate no longer and do just that.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and edits Beyond Nuclear International.

November 30, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The Australian government”s intimidation of whistleblowers – the torture of Julian Assange

Torture of Julian Assange by Australian governments sends powerful message to whistleblowers, Michael West Media by Lissa Johnson | Nov 26, 2020

Australia has used a range of torture techniques against Julian Assange, writes Dr Lissa Johnson. Governments have isolated and demonised him; flatly rejected evidence of ill-treatment; refused to respond to specific allegations; and divested themselves  of any responsibility. Leaders can’t, or won’t, accept the difference between psychological torture and ‘a legal matter’.

Julian Assange has set a number of firsts for Australia, including:

  • The first Walkley award winner whose journalism has attracted a possible 175 years in US prison.
  • The first journalist to be prosecuted as a spy by the US government, under its 1917 Espionage Act.
  • The first citizen of an ostensibly democratic state (Australia) whom a UN official has found to be the target of a campaign of collective persecution and mobbing by other so-called democratic states.

As the UN Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, observed:

In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.

As part of this mobbing and collective persecution, Assange is the first Australian journalist to be tortured for journalism in the UK.

On 9 May 2019, Professor Melzer visited Assange in Belmarsh prison, accompanied by two medical experts specialising in the assessment and documentation of torture. On 31 May, Melzer reported that they had found Assange to be suffering all symptoms typical of prolonged exposure to psychological torture.

On 1 November 2019, Melzer warned that, unless the UK government urgently changed course, it may soon end up costing his life.

What torture?

Julian Assange is being held in ‘Britain’s Guantanamo’, Belmarsh prison, a high-security facility designed for those charged with terrorism, murder and other violent offences. He has been held in solitary confinement for 22 to 23 hours a day.

He knows that US-aligned security contractors have written in emails that he will make a nice bride in prison, and needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo. He knows he is headed for life in US supermax prisons, where prisoners are held in perpetual solitary and chains.

‘If this man gets extradited to the United States, he will be tortured until the day he dies’, Profesor Melzer has cautioned.

To heighten the torment, Assange has been prevented from preparing his defence against extradition in violation of his human rights as a defendant.

He has been granted negligible access to his lawyers and is prevented from researching his own defence. The only purpose is to render him helpless, intensifying his trauma.

A Message from the Australian Government

Assange’s experience sets an example to anyone thinking of airing the dirty secrets of those in power: the genuinely dirty secrets, such as wantonly slaughtering and torturing innocent people and covering it up.

Like all public torture, it sends a message to onlookers: this could happen to you.

And the message from the Australian government to any Australian journalists looking on? You’re on your own.

The US government is seeking to retrospectively apply its own Espionage Act to non-US citizens in foreign lands, while simultaneously withholding the free speech protections of its Constitution. The upshot would be that non-US citizens, and non-US journalists, would be vulnerable to prosecution wherever they may be, whenever the United States saw fit.

Should a host country oblige, that journalist’s only hope would be the protection of their own government. And the message from the Australian government? Not a chance.

A climate of consent

But can the government do anything to stop the torture of Assange in the UK? Or are its hands tied?

Australia ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1989. It therefore has a positive duty to take ‘effective legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures to prevent acts of torture’ of its citizens. According to the Federal Attorney-General’s website, however, that duty applies to ‘territories within Australia’s jurisdiction’.

So who is responsible for protecting Australian citizens from torture overseas?

Australian officials can raise concerns with their overseas counterparts when they are concerned about gross violations of citizens’ rights as happened in the cases of Melinda Taylor, James Ricketson, David Hicks and Peter Greste.

 

They could also make a submission to the Committee against Torture that a state is ‘not fulfilling its obligations under this Convention’.

n Assange’s case, however, the government has opted for ‘consent and acquiescence’ under Article 1 of the convention. Consent and acquiescence is listed alongside inflicting and instigating torture as part of the very definition of torture.

 ‘Standard’ fare

DFAT representatives say repeatedly that Assange’s treatment In the UK is perfectly normal. ‘Standard’. ‘No different’ from the treatment of other UK prisoners. Routine, in other words. Nothing to see here.

When reminded that Assange had been handcuffed 11 times, stripped naked twice and moved between five holding cells after the first day of his extradition hearing, a DFAT representative described this as ‘standard prison to court and court to prison procedure’.

What the official failed to explain is that treatment is only ‘standard’ and normal for prisoners charged with terrorism or other violent offences.

It is not remotely normal for journalists with no criminal history, and no history or risk of violence, to be detained under the most punitive conditions that UK law enforcement has to offer.

As an exercise in “consent and acquiescence” DFAT representatives performed their duties well.

Sanitising, normalising language minimises and trivialises abuse………….

‘Not our responsibility’ has been the Australian government’s refrain. Australian government officials ‘don’t provide running commentaries on legal matters before the courts in other parts of the world’, asserted the Foreign Minister.

Australia is ‘not a party to the legal proceedings in the United Kingdom’, stressed a DFAT official when asked why Australia had not intervened in Assange’s case during Senate Estimates. ‘We have no standing in the legal matter that is currently before the courts.’

Perhaps the Australian government doesn’t understand the seriousness of the abuses taking place in the UK. Perhaps ministers and their advisors are unaware of the difference between psychological torture and a ‘legal matter’. Psychological torture is, after all, not commonly well understood.

It is possible that the Australian government merely fails to grasp the gravity of ignoring Professor Melzer’s warnings. However, when the group Doctors for Assange wrote to the Australian government in December 2019, they detailed the medical and psychological basis of their concerns for Assange’s life and health…………..

New normal in Australia?

Assange is not the first person in Australia to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Australia’s abuse of asylum seekers and refugees has been found to violate the Convention Against Torture. Aboriginal Australians, among the most incarcerated groups on earth, have been dying in custody, buried under acquiescent consent, for decades, and historically for hundreds of years.

The Human Rights Measurement Index 2019 has given Australia a 5.5 out of 10 rating for ‘freedom from torture’, noting, ‘Torture is a serious problem in Australia … a large range of people [are] at particular risk of torture or ill-treatment, with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders at the top of the list’…….

Through sending a message to journalists worldwide by torturing Assange, the abusive licence deployed against other persecuted groups is being expanded to take in journalism. The targeting of journalists around the world matters because journalists cut across the acquiescence and consent, remove the deadbolt on the torture chamber door, turn down the music, and expose what is going on inside. Every persecuted and abused group or person needs them, to break the cycle of violence by breaking the silence.

We do torture here. It is our problem. In Julian Assange’s case, the biggest problem appears to be that torturing journalists is becoming the new normal in Australia.

This edited extract is reproduced from A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés, edited by Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau, Monash University Publishing, December 2020. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/torture-of-julian-assange-by-australian-governments-sends-powerful-message-to-whistleblowers/

November 30, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, legal, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 2 Comments

Japanese local governments depend on “nuclear money”

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

It is likely that Trump gove the nod for assassination of Iran nuclear scientist

Observer 29th Nov 2020, As the president lashes out wilfully during his last days in office, it seems likely that he at least gave the nod to this killing. Iran’s leaders, mindful of previous, unexplained killings of its nuclear experts, have been quick to blame Israel for Fakhrizadeh’s death. But American and regional analysts suggest that if Israel was involved, it would only have acted after getting the nod from Trump.

This explanation makes sense for several reasons. Like last January’s assassination of the Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Suleimani, Friday’s outrage is an extraordinarily provocative act. It risks goading Iran into armed retaliation against its most prominent enemies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and US forces based in the region. The assassination, in this sense, is tantamount to a declaration of war.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/29/observer-view-on-donald-trump-and-murder-of-iran-top-nuclear-scientist

November 29, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

UK’s beautiful Lake District – no “final solution” for the nuclear waste problem.

Radiation Free Lakeland 28th Nov 2020, Millom Rock and Deer Parks, This is a lovely description of a walk in an amazingly beautiful area.unbelievable it could be seriously considered as a nuclear waste dump. This quarry and surrounding area is being seriously considered by Radioactive Waste Management (a government quango) for the “disposal” of heat generating nuclear wastes.

In order to justify new nuclear build such as that at Hinkley Point, there needs to be a “final solution” for the
nuclear waste. This is no solution it is an excuse. A very dangerous excuse.

https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/millom-rock-deer-parks/

November 29, 2020 Posted by | environment, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Dismantling Duke Energy’s Crystal River nuclear plant

November 29, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment