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EU faces legal action after including gas and nuclear in ‘green’ investments guide

European Commission accused of acting unlawfully in two separate cases bought by environment groups

Jennifer Rankin in BrusselsTue 18 Apr 2023

The European Commission is being sued by environmental campaigners over a decision to include gas and nuclear in an EU guide to “green” investments.

Two separate legal challenges are being lodged on Tuesday at the European Union’s general court in Luxembourg – one by Greenpeace and another by a coalition including Client Earth and WWF – after the classification of fuels in the so-called taxonomy, a guide for investors intended to channel billions into green technologies.

The EU executive, argues Greenpeace, acted unlawfully when it designated gas and nuclear as bridge technologies in the taxonomy, which is intended to help meet the bloc’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Client Earth, along with three other NGOs, is challenging the inclusion of gas, which it says breaks the EU climate law that sets a legally binding target of reaching net zero emissions by the middle of the century.

The cases are the latest legal action against the EU’s “taxonomy for environmentally sustainable economic activities”. Last year a lawsuit was launched by Austria and supported by Luxembourg.

Eight national and regional Greenpeace organisations including France, Germany and EU office in Brussels are asking the court to rule the inclusion of gas and nuclear invalid.

Nina Treu, the executive director of Greenpeace Germany, said: “The taxonomy was meant to be a tool to meet the 1.5C target [on global heating] and make the European Union climate neutral, fostering social and economic restructuring for the European economy by shifting funds. Instead of hindering greenwashing, it has become a tool for greenwashing.”

Gas and nuclear had been included because of “politically motivated lobbying”, Treu said. Greenpeace will tell the court that gas cannot be considered a “transition fuel” because any gas-powered plant that comes online today will still be running beyond 2050.

The environment group will also say the construction of new nuclear plants – which usually take one to two decades to build in Europe – will delay the move away from coal power, hinder development of renewables, risk accidents and create pollution. “Nuclear is dangerous, expensive, vulnerable to climate change and too slow to stop the climate breakdown,” Treu said.

Greenpeace has hired the lawyer Roda Verheyen, who acted for the group in a landmark case that resulted in Germany’s climate protection laws being ruled inadequate by the country’s constitutional court in 2021.

Verheyen said the inclusion of gas and nuclear was not in line with the EU’s original taxonomy law. “The European Commission has violated the very idea of the taxonomy regulation. This is especially obvious as including nuclear activities does pose significant harm to the environment, which is expressly prohibited by the regulation.”

The lawsuit was “essentially an enforcement claim”, she said. “Observe your own law. Actually carry through with the European green deal,” she said, referring to the EU’s flagship climate plan.

The EU taxonomy became law in July 2020, but legislators left important details to be resolved through so-called delegated acts – secondary legislation meant for technical issues that is not subject to the same degree of ministerial and parliamentary oversight.

The campaign groups are challenging one of the delegated acts.

The separate legal challenge by the coalition including Client Earth and WWF covers the inclusion of gas but not nuclear. Anaïs Berthier at Client Earth said the European Commission had violated a requirement to make science-based policy and broken the EU climate law that required policymakers to carry out checks to ensure all actions by the bloc were consistent with the goal of achieving net zero by 2050.

“Labelling fossil gas as ‘sustainable’ is as absurd as it is unlawful,” said the coalition, which also includes the NGOs Transport & Environment and Bund. “It goes against the EU’s own scientific advice and fundamentally undermines the credibility of the EU’s climate action. Fossil gas is not clean, not cheap and not a secure source of energy.”

A judgment is expected in 2025, although participants expressed the hope the court would act faster. “There is confusion in the market, because the current law infringes European law,” Verheyen said.


April 19, 2023 Posted by | EUROPE, legal | Leave a comment

Lawsuit seeks to uphold closing California’s last nuke plant

By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, April 11, 2023

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An environmental group on Tuesday sued to block Pacific Gas & Electric from seeking to extend the federal operating licenses for California’s last nuclear power plant.

A complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court by Friends of the Earth asks the court to prohibit the utility from sidestepping its 2016 agreement with environmentalists and plant workers to close the twin-domed Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant by 2025.

The possibility of a longer operating run emerged last year after Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature opened the way for PG&E to seek an extended lifespan for the twin reactors. The company intends to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of the year to extend operations by as much as two decades.

The operating license for the Unit 1 reactor expires next year and the Unit 2 license expires in 2025.

Hallie Templeton, legal director for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement that “PG&E has been acting as if our contract has disappeared.”……………..

Newsom’s decision last year to support a longer operating run for Diablo Canyon shocked environmentalists and anti-nuclear advocates because he had once been a leading voice for closing the plant…………….

At issue in the lawsuit is how a complex 2016 agreement figures in the Legislature’s decision reverse itself and to try and keep the reactors running. At the time the agreement to wind down Diablo Canyon was made, California utility regulators, the Legislature and then-Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to the closure………..

“PG&E acts as if it has no remaining contractual obligations,” the complaint said, while asserting that the utility still has a responsibility to retire the nuclear power plant on schedule.

It’s not clear if the reactors will continue operating beyond the expiration of their 2024 and 2025 licenses — and if so, for how long — since many regulatory milestones and unanswered questions remain. Last year, PG&E CEO Patricia “Patti” Poppe warned that the “permitting and relicensing of the facility is complex and so there’s a lot of hurdles to be overcome.”……

Newsom’s decision last year to support a longer operating run for Diablo Canyon shocked environmentalists and anti-nuclear advocates because he had once been a leading voice for closing the plant…………..

At issue in the lawsuit is how a complex 2016 agreement figures in the Legislature’s decision reverse itself and to try and keep the reactors running. At the time the agreement to wind down Diablo Canyon was made, California utility regulators, the Legislature and then-Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to the closure.

The complaint describes the 2016 agreement as a “contract,” and asks the court to find it binding. It also asks for an order prohibiting PG&E from violating the contract.

“PG&E acts as if it has no remaining contractual obligations,” the complaint said, while asserting that the utility still has a responsibility to retire the nuclear power plant on schedule.

It’s not clear if the reactors will continue operating beyond the expiration of their 2024 and 2025 licenses — and if so, for how long — since many regulatory milestones and unanswered questions remain. Last year, PG&E CEO Patricia “Patti” Poppe warned that the “permitting and relicensing of the facility is complex and so there’s a lot of hurdles to be overcome.”

For example, it’s not yet publicly known what it will cost to update the plant for a longer run given that the company was preparing to close it for years. The state could consider backing out if capital costs climb over $1.4 billion and a string of state agencies also has to review extending the plant’s lifespan…………………

The lawsuit also named labor groups from the plant that were involved in the 2016 agreement as defendants, including the Coalition Of California Utility Employees.

April 19, 2023 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Legal case begins against Sizewell C nuclear project.

 High Court hearing for Sizewell C legal challenge campaigners. Campaigners
who have issued a legal challenge against the building of nuclear power
plant Sizewell C have a High Court hearing starting on Wednesday 22 March.

Together Against Sizewell C will argue that the environmental impacts of
securing a permanent water supply of two million litres per day at the
proposed site in Suffolk were never assessed.

As a result, the government
cannot guarantee the date the nuclear power plant will open, which means it
has no way of knowing for sure that the plant’s contribution to climate
change is enough to override the environmental harm it will cause.

Together Against Sizewell C will also make the case that no alternatives to nuclear
power, including renewables, were considered when the Secretary of State
for Energy, then Kwasi Kwarteng, gave the go ahead for the building of
Sizewell C on 20 July 2022. He rejected the recommendation of the Examining
Authority which ruled in February 2022 that unless the outstanding water
supply strategy could be resolved and sufficient information provided to
enable the Secretary of State carry out his obligations under the Habitats
Regulations, there was no case for a development consent order.

 Leigh Day 20th March 2023

March 23, 2023 Posted by | legal, UK | Leave a comment

National remembrance day , and huge civil case penalty for Tepco executives, but memory of Fukushima now fading in Japan

Japanese offered tearful prayers Saturday on the anniversary of the deadly
tsunami that triggered the Fukushima disaster, but public support for
nuclear power is growing as memories of the 2011 meltdown fade. A minute’s
silence was observed nationwide at 2:46 pm (0546 GMT), the precise moment
when a 9.0-magnitude quake – the fourth strongest in Earth’s recorded
history – devastated northeastern Japan 12 years ago.

In January, Tokyo’s,High Court upheld the acquittal of three former TEPCO executives, again
clearing them of professional negligence over the disaster. But in a
separate civil verdict last year, the trio – plus one other ex-official –
were ordered to pay a whopping 13.3 trillion yen ($97 billion) for failing
to prevent the accident. The enormous compensation sum is believed to be
the largest ever for a Japanese civil case, although lawyers acknowledge it
is well beyond the defendants’ capacity to pay.

The government also plans
to start releasing more than a million tonnes of treated water from the
stricken Fukushima plant into the sea this year. A combination of
groundwater, rainwater that seeps into the area, and water used for
cooling, it has been filtered to remove various radionuclides and kept in
storage tanks on site, but space is running out. The water release plan has
been endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency but faces staunch
resistance from local fishing communities and neighbouring countries.

France24 11th March 2023

March 12, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, legal | Leave a comment

Outline of Greenpeace’s legal arguments against including gas and nuclear in the EU Taxonomy

Greenpeace’s legal arguments against including gas and nuclear in the EU
Taxonomy. This briefing provides a short outline of Greenpeace’s request
for internal review (RIR), sent to the European Commission on 8 September
2022, concerning the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1214 of 9 March 2022
which qualified economic activities in the nuclear energy and in the gas
energy sectors as “sustainable” for the purpose of the EU Taxonomy

Greenpeace 9th Feb 2023

February 11, 2023 Posted by | EUROPE, legal | Leave a comment

The Belmarsh Tribunals Demand Justice for Julian Assange

Never before has a publisher been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act. The Assange prosecution poses a fundamental threat to the freedom of speech and a free press.

President Biden, currently embroiled in his own classified document scandal, knows this, and should immediately drop the charges against Julian Assange

JANUARY 26, 2023, By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

“The first casualty when war comes is truth,” U.S. Senator Hiram W. Johnson of California said in 1929, debating ratification of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a noble but ultimately failed attempt to ban war. Reflecting on World War I, which ended a decade earlier, he continued, “it begins what we were so familiar with only a brief period ago, this mode of propaganda whereby…people become war hungry in their patriotism and are lied into a desire to fight. We have seen it in the past; it will happen again in the future.”

Time and again, Hiram Johnson has been proven right. Our government’s impulse to control information and manipulate public opinion to support war is deeply ingrained. The past twenty years, dominated by the so-called War on Terror, are no exception. Sophisticated PR campaigns, a compliant mass media and the Pentagon’s pervasive propaganda machine all work together, as public intellectual Noam Chomsky and the late Prof. Ed Herman defined it in the title of their groundbreaking book, “Manufacturing Consent,” borrowing a phrase from Walter Lippman, considered the father of public relations.

One publisher consistently challenging the pro-war narrative pushed by the U.S. government, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, has been the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Wikileaks gained international attention in 2010 after publishing a trove of classified documents leaked from the U.S. military. Included were numerous accounts of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the killing of civilians, and shocking footage of a helicopter gunship in Baghdad slaughtering a dozen civilians, including a Reuters journalist and his driver, on the ground below. Wikileaks titled that video, “Collateral Murder.”

The New York Times and other newspapers partnered with Wikileaks to publish stories based on the leaks. This brought increased attention to the founder and editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange. In December, 2010, two months after release of the Collateral Murder video, then-Vice President Joe Biden, appearing on NBC, said Assange was “closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers.” Biden was referring to the 1971 classified document release by Daniel Ellsberg, which revealed years of Pentagon lies about U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam.

With a secret grand jury empanelled in Virginia, Assange, then in London, feared being arrested and extradited to the United States. Ecuador granted Assange political asylum. Unable to make it to Latin America, he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He lived inside the small, apartment-sized embassy for almost seven years. In April 2019, after a new Ecuadorian president revoked Assange’s asylum, British authorities arrested him and locked him up in London’s notorious Belmarsh Prison, often called “Britain’s Guantánamo.” He has been held there, in harsh conditions and in failing health, for almost four years, as the U.S. government seeks his extradition to face espionage and other charges. If extradited and convicted in the U.S., Assange faces 175 years in a maximum-security prison.

While the Conservative-led UK government seems poised to extradite Assange, a global movement has grown demanding his release. The Progressive International, a global pro-democracy umbrella group, has convened four assemblies since 2020 called The Belmarsh Tribunals. Named after the 1966 Russell-Sartre Tribunal on the Vietnam War, convened by philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sarte, The Belmarsh Tribunal has assembled some of the world’s most prominent, progressive activists, artists, politicians, dissidents, human rights attorneys and whistleblowers, all speaking in defense of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

We are bearing witness to a travesty of justice,” Jeremy Corbyn, a British Member of Parliament and a former leader of the Labour Party, said at the tribunal. “To an abuse of human rights, to a denial of freedom of somebody who bravely put himself on the line that we all might know that the innocent died in Abu Ghraib, the innocent died in Afghanistan, the innocent are dying in the Mediterranean, and innocents die all over the world, where unwatched, unaccountable powers decide it’s expedient and convenient to kill people who get in the way of whatever grand scheme they’ve got. We say no. That’s why we are demanding justice for Julian Assange.”

Corbyn is joined in his call by The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel–major newspapers that published articles based on the leaked documents. “Publishing is not a crime,” the newspapers declared.

Never before has a publisher been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act. The Assange prosecution poses a fundamental threat to the freedom of speech and a free press. President Biden, currently embroiled in his own classified document scandal, knows this, and should immediately drop the charges against Julian Assange.

January 29, 2023 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, media, USA | Leave a comment

Take Japan to court for nuclear water dumping

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily 2023-01-05

The Japanese government had announced in April 2020 that it plans to dump nuclear waste water from its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean from the spring of 2023.

As the date approaches, and given Japan’s record, it will not be surprising if Japan starts dumping the water any time soon without giving other countries advance notice.

While the action will save the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company money and trouble, it will also shift the trouble and cost onto other nations, the Pacific ones in particular. There is a precedent here. Years after the United States carried out nuclear tests on the Bikini Atoll, also in the Pacific, from 1946 to 1958, radiation levels there were considered too high to allow resettlement in 1998.

Fishermen from China, the Republic of Korea and other Southeast Asian countries, including from Japan, depend on the waters in the region to make a living. No wonder, Japanese fishermen were protesting the move to dump nuclear waste into the waters.

The US, which Japan always looks up to, has supported Japan’s plan despite studies showing that the region most polluted by the discharge will be the US’ west coast in two years…………

Senior Japanese officials, despite bowing politely at news conferences, have shown no sincerity in negotiating with their Pacific neighbors. When they announced the decision to dump the water into the ocean, they did not ask for understanding from any side except the US.

There is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and multiple nuclear safety conventions to which Japan is a signatory, but it has helped little. It is time for all sides involved to sue the Japanese government in international courts. Japan cannot do this evil deed and just walk away unpunished.

January 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Legal challenge to UK nuclear plan by groups Stop Sizewell C and Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), and others

 Campaigners against Sizewell C say they will not give up their fight to stop the nuclear power project and now have a date for a High Court case in London. The next stage of the legal challenge against the plans for the £25billion power station is set to take place with an oral hearing before a judge.

Campaign groups, including Stop Sizewell C and Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), have pledged to fight despite chancellor Jeremy Hunt announcing in his Autumn Budget that the Government would continue to provide £700m towards the cost of the project.

Chris Wilson, legal liaison officer with TASC, said the oral hearing would be held on December 14, during which the campaigners’ barrister will be able to present their arguments against the project before a High Court judge. If the judge deems there’s a case, the next stage will be a formal judicial review hearing
before the High Court, which could result in the development consent for the nuclear power station, granted by the Government in July, being overturned.

Even if the legal challenge is rejected at the oral hearing, the campaigners will still have the option of going to appeal. A first stage review of the legal appeal by the High Court initially recommended refusal, but the next stage, the oral hearing, will determine whether the challenge goes to a formal judicial review hearing.

 East Anglian Daily Times 27th Nov 2022

November 28, 2022 Posted by | legal, UK | Leave a comment

Mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city fined for speaking Russian

The Kharkov city head has been accused of violating the law by addressing his fellow residents in a “non-state” language. 24 Nov 22

Kiev has slapped the mayor of Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkov, with a fine for using what the authorities called a “non-state” language in an official TV address. Mayor Igor Terekhov is known for addressing his fellow residents in Russian.

Terekhov will have to pay a fine of 3,400 hryvnas ($92) for violating Ukrainian law, Taras Kremin, the Ukrainian government’s commissioner for the protection of the state language, said in a statement on Thursday.

The mayor had “used non-state language in his addresses to the residents of the city of Kharkov” during a news telethon, the statement read, calling this an “administrative offense.” The language commissioner’s office also issued an administrative warning to the mayor’s office, telling it to only use Ukrainian on the mayor’s social media pages.

Terekhov has until December 4 to appeal the commissioner’s decision, the statement read. The Ukrainian authorities did not specify what language the mayor had used during the telethon, but the Ukrainian media reported that he was known for regularly addressing his fellow residents in Russian.

According to the language commissioner’s office, Terekhov and some Kharkov city council members have already been found in violation of the state language law. It is unclear if they were sanctioned back then as well.

The Ukrainian state language law was signed by then-President Pyotr Poroshenko back in 2019, five days before his presidential mandate expired. The legislation requires Ukrainian public officials to use only the Ukrainian language when discharging their duties.

Ukrainians are also required to use the Ukrainian language in the fields of public services, medical care, education and science, as well as in the media, although certain exceptions are allowed. A person found in violation of this law might face a fine of up to 8,500 hryvnas ($230), which can be further doubled for a repeated offense.

In mid-June, the language commissioner was granted the right to impose fines on those found in violation of the law. In October, an assistant professor at the Ukrainian National Aviation University was slapped with a fine of 3,400 hryvnas ($92) for teaching through a “non-state language.”

November 25, 2022 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nuclear Industry Liability under the Paris Convention

 The Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear
Energy and the Brussels Convention supplementary to the Paris Convention
established a special legal regime in relation to the compensation payable
in the event of an accident involving a civil nuclear power installation or
the transportation of nuclear substances to and from that installation.

Unlike general tort law, which is based on fault or negligence, under the
convention, the plant operator or party involved in the transportation is
exclusively liable for damages in the event of an accident and is always
deemed to be liable, regardless of whether fault can be established.

These two conventions were amended by agreement between the contracting powers,
including the United Kingdom, on 17 December 2021. After 1 January 2022,
nuclear plant operators became liable to pay compensation of up to €700
million in the event of an accident.

This level of liability will be increased by €100 million in each of the next five years leading to an
ultimate maximum liability of €1.2 billion towards claims involving
‘personal injury or loss of life, economic loss, the cost of preventive
measures and of measures of reinstatement of impaired environment’.

 NFLA 21st Nov 2022

November 22, 2022 Posted by | legal, UK | Leave a comment

A Father Fights for His Son & What’s Left of Democracy

The film Ithaka, about the quest of Julian Assange’s father to save his son, makes its U.S. premiere on Sunday in New York City. It is reviewed by Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

To the extent that the media has covered the tragedy of Julian Assange at all, the focus has been on politics and the law.

Consortium News, which has provided perhaps the most comprehensive coverage of the prosecution under the Espionage Act of the WikiLeaks publisher, has also focused more on the case and less on the man.

The great issues involved transcend the individual: war, diplomacy, official deception, high crimes, an assault on press freedom and on the core of what little democracy is left in a militarized and money-corrupted system.

Assange supporters sometimes also overlook the person and concentrate instead on the larger issues at stake. Ironically, it has been Assange’s enemies and detractors who’ve long focused on the person in the worst tradition of ad hominem assaults.

He has been attacked to deflect public attention from what WikiLeaks has revealed, from what the state is doing to him and to hide the impact on freedom in the media and standards in the courtroom.

There has been a steady and organized stream of smears against Assange, from ridiculous stories about him smearing feces on Ecuadoran Embassy walls to the widely reported falsehood that he was charged with rape. That case was dropped three times before any charges were filed, but the “rape” smear persists.

These personal attacks were planned as far back as March 8, 2008 when a secret, 32-page document from the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessment branch of the Pentagon described in detail the importance of destroying the “feeling of trust that is WikiLeaks’ center of gravity.” The leaked document, which was published by WikiLeaks itself, said: “This would be achieved with threats of exposure and criminal prosecution and an unrelenting assault on reputation.”

An answer to these slurs and the missing focus on Assange as a man is Ithaka. The film, which makes its U.S. premiere Sunday night in New York, focuses on the struggle of Assange’s father, John Shipton, and his wife, Stella Assange, to free him.

f you are looking for a film more fully explaining the legal and political complexities of the case and its background, this is not the movie to see. The Spanish film, Hacking Justice, will give you that, as well as the more concise exposition in the brilliant documentary, The War on Journalism, by Juan Passarelli.

Ithaka, directed by Ben Lawrence and produced by Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, humanizes Assange and reveals the impact his ordeal has had on the people closest to him.

The title comes from the poem of that name by C.P. Cavafy (read here by Sean Connery) about the pathos of an uncertain journey. It reflects Shipton’s travels throughout Europe and the U.S. in defense of his son, arguably the most consequential journalist of his generation.

The story begins with Shipton arriving in London to see his son for the first time behind bars after the publisher’s rights of asylum were lifted by a new Ecuadoran government leading to him being carried out of the embassy by London police in April 2019.

“The story is that I am attempting in my own … modest way to get Julian out of the shit,” Shipton says. “What does it involve? Traipsing around Europe, building up coalitions of friendship.” He meets with parliamentarians, the media and supporters across the continent. Shipton describes the journey as the “difficulty of destiny over the ease of narrative.”……………………………

We learn that Julian Assange’s frustration with the inability to stop the 2003 Iraq invasion, despite the largest, worldwide anti-war protests in history, motivated him to start WikiLeaks.

The releases he published about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, leaked by Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, were published not only by WikiLeaks but by its partners at The New York Times, Die Spiegel and The Guardian, yet only Assange has been prosecuted.

The main focus of the film is the extradition hearing in Westminster Magistrate’s Court that began in February 2020 and ended in September of that year…………………………

One of several scenes that drives home the personal side of the story is audio of Assange speaking from Belmarsh Prison to Stella about what children’s books to read to their two sons. The toll it is taking on her is seen as she breaks down emotionally during the recording of a BBC interview that has to be paused.

“Extraditions are 99 percent politics and one percent law,” Stella says. “It is entirely the political climate around the case that decides the outcome. And that is shaped by the media. For many years there was a climate that was deliberately created through false stories, smears; through a kind of relentless character attack on Julian to reduce that support and make it more likely to successfully extradite him to the United States.”

“This is the public narrative that has been spread in the media for ten years,’ Nils Melzer, the now former U.N. Special rapporteur on torture, says in the film.

“No one has been able to see how much deception there is. Why is this being done? For ten years all of us were focused only on Julian Assange, when he never wanted it to be about him. It never was about him. It was about the States and their war crimes and their corruption. That’s what he wanted to put a spotlight on – and he did. And that’s what made them angry. So they put the spotlight on him.”

“He just needs to be treated like a human being,” says Stella, “and be allowed to be a human being and not denied his dignity and his humanity, which is what has been done to him.”

Ithaka makes its first theatrical showing in the U.S. at the SVA Cinema, 333 W. 23rd St, New York, N.Y., on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 7:45 pm. There will be a Q&A following the first screening with Ben Lawrence, Gabriel Shipton, Adrian Devant, cinematographer Niels Ladefoged, and John Shipton.

For ticket information:

November 11, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Maryland Nuclear Engineer and Wife Sentenced for Espionage-Related Offenses

A Maryland man and his wife were sentenced today for conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data related to the design of nuclear-powered warships.

USA Department of Justice, 9 Nov 22.

Jonathan Toebbe, 44, of Annapolis, was sentenced today to 232 months, over 19 years, of incarceration. His wife, Diana Toebbe, 46, was sentenced to 262 months, more than 21 years, of incarceration. The Toebbes pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in August 2022.

…………………………………. According to court documents, at the time of his arrest, Jonathan Toebbe was an employee of the Department of the Navy who served as a nuclear engineer and was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, also known as Naval Reactors. He held an active national security clearance through the Department of Defense, giving him access to “Restricted Data” within the meaning of the Atomic Energy Act. Restricted Data concerns design, manufacture or utilization of atomic weapons, or production of Special Nuclear Material (SNM), or use of SNM in the production of energy – such as naval reactors. Jonathan Toebbe worked with and had access to information concerning naval nuclear propulsion including information related to military sensitive design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of the reactors for nuclear powered warships.

According to court documents, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, containing a sample of Restricted Data and instructions for establishing a covert relationship to purchase additional Restricted Data. Jonathan Toebbe began corresponding via encrypted email with an individual whom he believed to be a representative of the foreign government. The individual was really an undercover FBI agent. Jonathan Toebbe continued this correspondence for several months, which led to an agreement to sell Restricted Data in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

On June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan Toebbe as “good faith” payment. Shortly afterwards, on June 26, Jonathan Toebbe serviced a dead drop by placing an SD card, which was concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich and contained military sensitive design elements relating to submarine nuclear reactors, at a pre-arranged location. After retrieving the SD card, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment. In return, Jonathan Toebbe emailed the undercover agent a decryption key for the SD Card. A review of the SD card revealed that it contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. On Aug. 28, 2021, Jonathan Toebbe made another “dead drop” of an SD card in eastern Virginia, this time concealing the card in a chewing gum package. After making a payment to Jonathan Toebbe of $70,000 in cryptocurrency, the FBI received a decryption key for the card. It, too, contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. The FBI arrested Jonathan Toebbe and his wife on Oct. 9, 2021 after he placed yet another SD card at a pre-arranged “dead drop” at a second location in West Virginia.

The FBI and NCIS are investigating the case…….

November 9, 2022 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

EU Taxonomy Labelling Gas and Nuclear as ‘Green’ Faces Legal Challenges

Activists and environmental organisations immediately opposed the decision, saying the new law discredits EU efforts to establish itself as a global leader on climate policy and only risks delaying Europe’s transition to a net-zero economy by further encouraging investments in the fossil fuel industry.

In September, Greenpeace and a separate alliance of environmental groups, including Client Earth and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), requested a legal review of the decision. Austria’s recent lawsuit is now adding to the legal challenges the European Commission is already facing.  MARTINA IGINIE OCT 13TH 2022

Austria has filed a lawsuit against the European Commission’s decision to label nuclear and gas as ‘green’ investments. The controversial EU taxonomy approved by the European Parliament in July is already facing two other legal challenges from environmental groups. 

On Friday, Austria submitted a lawsuit to the Court of the European Union, asking for an overturn of the contentious EU taxonomy

Approved in July, the legal text designated natural gas and nuclear as environmentally sustainable energy sources, encouraging investments in these energy sources. Under the EU taxonomy, new nuclear and gas-fired plants built through 2030 will be recognised as a transitional energy source as long as they are used to replace dirtier fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

The country’s minister for climate action and Green politician, Leonore Gewessler, described the EU’s decision as “irresponsible” and “unreasonable” and said it was “misleading” to consumers and investors to label gas – a fossil fuel responsible for climate change for its greenhouse gas emissions – as “green”.

However, Brussels reassured that gas and nuclear-related activities may be labeled as “green” only if they meet certain criteria.  Particularly, the legal text specifies that gas projects should only be financed if direct emissions are kept under a maximum cap and they switch to fully renewable energy by 2035. Similarly, nuclear power may be funded only in compliance with certain standards for the disposal of radioactive waste.

Activists and environmental organisations immediately opposed the decision, saying the new law discredits EU efforts to establish itself as a global leader on climate policy and only risks delaying Europe’s transition to a net-zero economy by further encouraging investments in the fossil fuel industry.

In September, Greenpeace and a separate alliance of environmental groups, including Client Earth and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), requested a legal review of the decision. Austria’s recent lawsuit is now adding to the legal challenges the European Commission is already facing.

Despite not joining the legal action, Germany supported the country’s decision to file a lawsuit, adding that “it is good that the objections to the taxonomy regulation will now be reviewed by the courts.”

October 12, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, legal | Leave a comment

Austria has filed a legal case against European Union’s inclusion of nuclear and gas as “clean” in the EU “taxonomy”

Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria said on Friday it had followed through on a
pledge to file a legal challenge to the European Union’s inclusion of
natural gas and nuclear energy in a list of “green” investments. At issue
is the European Union’s so-called taxonomy, a rulebook defining which
investments can be labelled climate friendly and designed to guide
investors toward green projects that will help deliver the bloc’s
emissions-cutting targets.

 Reuters 7th Oct 2022

October 9, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, legal | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands to receive U.N. support over nuclear legacy KYODO NEWS -8 Oct 22,

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution Friday aimed at assisting the Marshall Islands in its efforts to secure justice for people suffering from the impact of the United States’ former nuclear testing program in its territory.

“We have suffered the cancer of the nuclear legacy for far too long and we need to find a way forward to a better future for our people,” Samuel Lanwi, deputy permanent representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in Geneva told the body in an emotional speech.

The United States conducted dozens of nuclear weapons tests in the islands of the Pacific state in the 1940s and ’50s, including the 1954 Castle Bravo test at Bikini Atoll, the biggest U.S. bomb ever detonated.

The text tabled by five Pacific Island states — the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa and Vanuatu — was backed by Australia and did not demand reparations.

It called on the U.N. rights chief to submit a report in September 2024 on the challenges to the enjoyment of human rights by the Marshallese people stemming from the nuclear legacy.

The United States as well as other nuclear weapons states such as Britain, India and Pakistan expressed concern about some aspects of the text but did not ask for a vote on the motion. Japan did not speak at the meeting.

The Marshallese people are still struggling with the health and environmental consequences of the nuclear tests, including higher cancer rates. Many people displaced due to the tests are still unable to return home.

A concrete dome on Runit Island containing radioactive waste is of particular concern, especially in relation to rising sea levels as a result of climate change, according to the countries that drafted the resolution.

The Marshall Islands says a settlement reached in 1986 with the United States fell short of addressing the extensive environmental and health damage that resulted from the tests.

The U.S. government asserts the bilateral agreement settled “all claims, past, present and future,” including nuclear compensation.

Observers say some nuclear states fear the initiative for the Marshall Islands could open the door to other countries bringing similar issues to the rights body.

October 7, 2022 Posted by | environment, legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment