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Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law

“Lliving in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance. This truth terrifies those in power.”

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law — Rise Up Times Julian exposed the truth.  He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite.
Chris Hedges gave this talk at a rally Thursday night in New York City in support of Julian Assange. John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s father and brother, also spoke at the event, which was held at The People’s Forum.  By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

BY MODERATOR  June 11, 2021  This why we are here tonight.  Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family.  Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended.  Yes, we honor him up for his courage and his integrity. But the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher.  It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era.  And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law.  They turn the law into an instrument of injustice.  They cloak their crimes in a faux legality.  They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality.  Those, such as Julian, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

I was in the London courtroom when Julian was being tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an updated version of the Queen of Hearts in Alice-in Wonderland demanding the sentence before pronouncing the verdict. It was judicial farce. There was no legal basis to hold Julian in prison.  There was no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Julian in the embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Julian and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Julian is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration.

The U.S. government directed, as Craig Murray so eloquently documented, the London prosecutor James Lewis.  Lewis presented these directives to Baraitser.  Baraitser adopted them as her legal decision.  It was judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted they were not attempting to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press while they busily set up the legal framework to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press. And that is why the court worked so hard to mask the proceedings from the public, limiting access to the courtroom to a handful of observers and making it hard and at times impossible to access the trial online.  It was a tawdry show trial, not an example of the best of English jurisprudence but the Lubyanka.

Now, I know many of us here tonight would like to think of ourselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries.  But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is in fact conservative, it is the restoration of the rule of law.  It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning democracy, be incendiary.  But living in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance.  This truth terrifies those in power………..https://riseuptimes.org/2021/06/14/chris-hedges-julian-assange-and-the-collapse-of-the-rule-of-law/

June 15, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, UK | Leave a comment

Boris Johnson’s plan for more nuclear weapons in Scotland ‘breaks international law’

Boris Johnson’s plan for more nuclear weapons in Scotland ‘breaks international law’,The National, By Gregor Young  19 May, 21  BORIS Johnson’s plan to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads would breach international law, experts have warned.

The Tory government announced in March that it wants to raise the legal limit on the number of the weapons of mass destruction, which would be available to its submarine fleet at Faslane. Currently, the cap is set at 180, but the new defence review revised that up to 260.

Downing Street will also send more troops abroad “more often and for longer” as part of the £24 billion hike in defence spending.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary previously described the proposals as “utterly unacceptable”, while Washington think tank, the Arms Control Association (ACA), said they were inconsistent with the UK Government’s prior pledges under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

That conclusion has now been backed by two academics at the London School of Economics who were commissioned to examine Johnson’s pledge by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Record has reported.

Led by Professor Christine Chinkin, a long-time consultant for the UN, and Dr Louise Arimatsu, a former fellow at the NATO Cyber Defense Centre, the legal report finds the increase constitutes a breach of article six of the NPT treaty.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson told the Record: “The increase in the UK’s nuclear arsenal has been exposed to intense criticism nationally and internationally, including from the United Nations. Thanks to the work of highly respected academic experts, we now know it is illegal under international law.

“Everything points to the decision costing tens of billions of pounds. During this pandemic, there are other urgent uses for public money.

“The decision breaks with the gradual nuclear reductions implemented by successive governments going back nearly 30 years and is at odds with the decision by Presidents Biden and Putin to continue bilateral nuclear reductions.”……………https://www.thenational.scot/news/19309984.boris-johnsons-plan-nuclear-weapons-scotland-breaks-international-law/

May 20, 2021 Posted by | legal, UK, weapons and war | 3 Comments

Ratepayer advocate calls on New Jersey Supreme Court to reverse decision allowing subsidy to nuclear power

Nuclear subsidy gets new challenge, NJ Spotlight TOM JOHNSON, ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT WRITER | APRIL 14, 2021 | ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT, NJ ratepayer advocate asks Supreme Court to consider decision on $300 million subsidy. Regulators are poised to add more,

New Jersey Rate Counsel Director Stefanie Brand is asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to reverse last month’s appellate court decision upholding the award of hundreds of millions in ratepayer subsidies to the state’s nuclear power plants.

In a notice of a petition for certification, the Division of Rate Counsel argued the lower court erred when it upheld the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ decision in 2019 to approve $300 million in new surcharges on customers’ gas and electric bills. Without the subsidies, Public Service Enterprise Group, whose subsidiary operates three nuclear units in South Jersey, has threatened to close the plants because they are no longer profitable.

If the high court decides to review the case, it could result in the justices taking up the case at roughly the same time as the BPU, which is scheduled to decide whether the plants — Hope Creek, Salem I and Salem II — qualify for additional subsidies from ratepayers for another three years. The BPU is expected to rule on those applications on April 27. The first subsidy added about $70 a year to what residential customers pay for electricity………   https://www.njspotlight.com/2021/04/nj-rate-counsel-director-stefanie-brand-seeks-supreme-court-reversal-300-million-nuclear-subsidy-pseg/

April 15, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, legal, USA | Leave a comment

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment 

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment    InsideClimateNews,   7 Apr 21, International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.By Nicholas Kusnetz, Katie Surma and Yuliya TalmazanApril 7, 2021  The Fifth Crime: First in a continuing series with NBC News about the campaign to make “ecocide” an international crime.

In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II, the United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action. Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. 

Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of existing legal conventions: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.

The Pope describes ecocide as “the massive contamination of air, land and water,” or “any action capable of producing an ecological disaster,” and has proposed making it a sin for Catholics. 

The Pontiff has also endorsed a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to make ecocide the fifth crime before the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a legal deterrent to the kinds of far-reaching environmental damage that are driving mass extinction, ecological collapse and climate change. The monumental step, which faces a long road of global debate, would mean political leaders and corporate executives could face charges and imprisonment for “ecocidal” acts. 

To make their case, advocates point to the Amazon, where fires raged out of control in 2019, and where the rainforest may now be so degraded it is spewing more climate-warming gases than it draws in. At the poles, human activity is thawing a frozen Arctic and destabilizing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. 

Across the globe, climate change is disrupting the reliable seasonal rhythms that have sustained human life for millenia, while hurricanes, floods and other climate-driven disasters have forced more than 10 million people from their homes in the last six months. Fossil fuel pollution has killed 9 million people annually in recent years, according to a study in Environmental Research, more than tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined. 

One in four mammals are threatened with extinction. For amphibians, it’s four in 10.

Damage to nature has become so extensive and widespread around the world that many environmentalists speak of ecocide to describe numerous environmentally devastated hot spots: 

  • Chernobyl, the Ukrainian nuclear plant that exploded in 1986 and left the now-deserted area dangerously radioactive;
  • The tar sands of northern Canada, where toxic waste pits and strip mines have replaced 400 square miles of boreal forest and boglands;
  • The Gulf of Mexico, site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people, spilled at least 168 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean over 87 days and killed countless marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and migratory birds; 
  • The Amazon, where rapid deforestation encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prompted Joe Biden, during his presidential campaign, to propose a $20 billion rescue plan and threaten the Brazilian leader with economic sanctions.

The campaign to criminalize ecocide is now moving from the fringe of advocacy into global diplomacy, pushed by a growing recognition among advocates and many political leaders that climate change and environmental causes are tied inherently to human rights and social justice.

The effort remains a long shot and is at least years from fruition, international and environmental law experts say. Advocates will have to navigate political tensions over whether national governments or the international community have ultimate control over natural resources. And they’ll likely face opposition from countries with high carbon emissions and deep ties to industrial development. …………………

Into the Mainstream

While the campaign for an ecocide law could take years—if it is successful at all—advocates say the effort could bear fruit much sooner: The ecocide campaign has thrust the concept into public discussion. 

Mehta doesn’t expect the campaign to catch fire in the United States, but after four years of President Donald Trump, she’s heartened by the arrival of John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy. “We don’t expect the U.S. to join the ICC any time soon, but that said, the conversation around ecocide itself, we don’t see any reason why it can’t start happening in the U.S.,” she said.  

The State Department released a statement saying that the U.S. “regularly engages with other countries” on “the importance of preventing environmental destruction during armed conflict,” but added, “We do not comment on the details of our communications with foreign governments.”

Mehta’s campaign is also part of a wider effort by activists who have been looking to the courts to force more aggressive action on climate change.

As of July 1, 2020, at least 1,550 climate change cases have been filed in 38 countries, according to a U.N. report.

In the landmark Urgenda case, a Dutch court ruled in 2015 that the government had acted negligently by failing to take aggressive enough action to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. The decision, upheld by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in 2019, ordered the government to hit specific emissions reductions targets and sparked a series of similar lawsuits in other countries………….. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07042021/climate-crisis-ecocide-vanuatu-the-fifth-crime/

April 8, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, legal | Leave a comment

A view from the law: The Danger Of Sole Presidential Authority Over Nuclear Weapons

Without being removed from office, in the absence of a Senate trial, could a leader described as “increasingly isolated, sullen and vengeful” be a dangerous decision-maker with the world’s deadliest arsenal, and what is US policy and law with respect to the limits on such authority?
The Congressional Research Service notes that Presidents have sole authority to authorize U.S. nuclear weapons use, inherent in their constitutional role as Commander in Chief.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | legal, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Amid ongoing lawsuits about nuclear corruption, Ohio regulators will stall the nuclear bailout law

January 14, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

According to experts, the U.S. military cannot legally prevent Trump’s accessto nuclear codes

January 11, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Seven regions in Italy to take legal action against plan for nuclear waste dumping

January 7, 2021 Posted by | Italy, legal, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

High court drops TEPCO’s appeal against order for compensation to affected Fukushima worker

High court drops TEPCO’s appeal against order for compensation to affected Fukushima worker

http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=13357, December 17, 2020

In a lawsuit filed by a worker who was engaged in emergency work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, the Sendai High Court on December 16 issued a ruling upholding a lower court decision, ordering Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay 300,000 yen in damage to the plaintiff.

In the court battle, the man, who worked for the TEPCO subsidiary Kandenko at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, stated that he experienced anxiety over health problems due to radiation exposure during emergency work he was assigned to do at the crippled nuclear power plant. According to the worker, he was assigned to emergency work that included connecting cables to a power panel in the basement of the No. 3 reactor’s turbine building. He suffered external exposure to radiation of up to 10.81 mSv and internal exposure of 5.8 mSv. The worker demanded a total of 1.1 million yen in damage from his company and TEPCO on the grounds that they failed to fulfill their responsibility to ensure workers’ safety.

At the appeal hearing, TEPCO demanded that the district court decision be reviewed because the amount of radiation which the worker received was less than that needed to be compensated.

The high court ruling pointed out that it is generally accepted that exposure to some levels of radiation may increase the risk of health problems such as getting cancer. Stating that the plaintiff’s health anxiety is understandable, the court turned down the utility’s demand.

At a press conference after the ruling, lawyer Hirota Tsuguo on behalf of the plaintiff’s legal team said, “It is significant that the court ordered TEPCO, which has dominant power in the nuclear power-related industry, to compensate the worker. The company should abide by the court judgement.”

Past related article:
> Radiation-exposed worker sues TEPCO [May 8, 2014]

January 7, 2021 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Legal case on extradition of Julian Assange an alarming precedent for freedom of speech

January 4, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, UK | 1 Comment

Glenn Greenwald: Julian Assange’s Imprisonment Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom

January 4, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Kingston Fossil Plant and Oakridge Nuclear Facility – an unholy alliance of radioactive pollution

While no one was killed by the 2008 coal ash spill itself, dozens of workers have died from illnesses that emerged during or after the cleanup. Hundreds of other workers are sick from respiratory, cardiac, neurological, and blood disorders, as well as cancers.

The apparent mixing of fossil fuel and nuclear waste streams underscores the long relationship between the Kingston and Oak Ridge facilities.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, so much cesium-137 and mercury was released into the Clinch from Oak Ridge that the Department of Energy, or DOE, said that the river and its feeder stream “served as pipelines for contaminants.” Yet TVA and its contractors, with the blessing of both state and federal regulators, classified all 4 million tons of material they recovered from the Emory as “non-hazardous.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis confirms that the ash that was left in the river was “found to be commingled with contamination from the Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation site.

For nearly a century, both Oak Ridge and TVA treated their waste with less care than most families treat household garbage. It was often dumped into unlined, and sometimes unmarked, pits that continue to leak into waterways. For decades, Oak Ridge served as the Southeast’s burial ground for nuclear waste. It was stored within watersheds and floodplains that fed the Clinch River. But exactly where and how this waste was buried has been notoriously hard to track.

A Legacy of Contamination, How the Kingston coal ash spill unearthed a nuclear nightmare, Grist By Austyn Gaffney on Dec 15, 2020  This story was published in partnership with the Daily Yonder.

In 2009, App Thacker was hired to run a dredge along the Emory River in eastern Tennessee. Picture anindustrialized fleet modeled after Huck Finn’s raft: Nicknamed Adelyn, Kylee, and Shirley, the blue, flat-bottomed boats used mechanical arms called cutterheads to dig up riverbeds and siphon the excavated sediment into shoreline canals. The largest dredge, a two-story behemoth called the Sandpiper, had pipes wide enough to swallow a push lawnmower. Smaller dredges like Thacker’s scuttled behind it, scooping up excess muck like fish skimming a whale’s corpse. They all had the same directive: Remove the thick grey sludge that clogged the Emory.

The sludge was coal ash, the waste leftover when coal is burned to generate electricity. Twelve years ago this month, more than a billion gallons of wet ash burst from a holding pond monitored by the region’s major utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA. Thacker, a heavy machinery operator with Knoxville’s 917 union, became one of hundreds of people that TVA contractors hired to clean up the spill. For about four years, Thacker spent every afternoon driving 35 miles from his home to arrive in time for his 5 p.m. shift, just as the makeshift overhead lights illuminating the canals of ash flicked on.

Dredging at night was hard work. The pump inside the dredge clogged repeatedly, so Thacker took off his shirt and entered water up to his armpits to remove rocks, tree limbs, tires, and other debris, sometimes in below-freezing temperatures. Soon, ringworm-like sores crested along his arms, interwoven with his fading red and blue tattoos. Thacker’s supervisors gave him a cream for the skin lesions, and he began wearing long black cow-birthing gloves while he unclogged pumps. While Thacker knew that the water was contaminated — that was the point of the dredging — he felt relatively safe. After all, TVA was one of the oldest and most respected employers in the state, with a sterling reputation for worker safety.

Then, one night, the dredging stopped.

Sometime between December 2009 and January 2010, roughly halfway through the final, 500-foot-wide section of the Emory designated for cleanup, operators turned off the pumps that sucked the ash from the river. For a multi-billion dollar remediation project, this order was unprecedented. The dredges had been operating 24/7 in an effort to clean up the disaster area as quickly as possible, removing roughly 3,000 cubic yards of material — almost enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool — each day. But official reports from TVA show that the dredging of the Emory encountered unusually high levels of contamination: Sediment samples showed that mercury levels were three times higher in the river than they were in coal ash from the holding pond that caused the disaster.

Then there was the nuclear waste. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | employment, environment, history, legal, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, Reference, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Ohio House Fails To Take Any Action On Nuclear Bailout Law.

Ohio House Fails To Take Any Action On Nuclear Bailout Law, WOSU Radio, By ANDY CHOW 24 Dec 20• Ohio House Republican leadership says 2020 will end without  a vote on any proposal to change HB6. With no delays or repeal, the law stays in place despite being connected to the largest alleged bribery scandal in Ohio history.

When it comes to HB6, the nuclear bailout law connected to a racketeering investigation, House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has gone from saying the House will find a way to repeal and/or replace the law, to wanting more discussion on the issue, to saying the House ran out of time to come to a consensus.

That was in the span of five months. Now it appears the House will finish the legislative session without making a single change to HB6……….

In their lawsuit, the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati argued that HB6 amounted to an unconstitutional lending of state credit to a private entity. https://radio.wosu.org/post/ohio-house-fails-take-any-action-nuclear-bailout-law#stream/0

December 24, 2020 Posted by | legal, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power industry stunned by Osaka District Court canceling central government approval for reactor restarts.

Japan Times 9th Dec 2020, A ruling Friday by the Osaka District Court canceling central government
approval for the operation of two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant run by
Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco), saying its calculations for standards
involving earthquake safety were flawed, has stunned the nuclear power
industry. The decision, which is the first of its kind, is likely to be
appealed and could still be overturned. But the result has resurrected
fundamental questions about nuclear power safety and the future role of the
energy source.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/09/national/oi-restart-ruling/

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

For the first time ever, a Japanese court rules against a government approval on nuclear safety

Japan court nixes approval of post-Fukushima nuclear safety steps,  KYODO NEWS – Dec 4, 2020 , 

A Japanese court on Friday, for the first time, revoked the government’s approval of operating a nuclear plant under new safety regulations developed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Osaka District Court ruled in favor of about 130 plaintiffs who claimed that the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture are vulnerable to a major earthquake.

A Japanese court on Friday, for the first time, revoked the government’s approval of operating a nuclear plant under new safety regulations developed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Osaka District Court ruled in favor of about 130 plaintiffs who claimed that the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture are vulnerable to a major earthquake.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Hajime Morikagi said the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screening “has errors and flaws that should not be overlooked” as its estimates needed to factor in a potentially much larger earthquake around the plant…..

It is the first time a Japanese court has withdrawn government approval granted to a power company to operate a nuclear plant under the safety standards set in 2013 following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant triggered by a major earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

While the two reactors in Oi in the central Japan prefecture have been idle due to regular inspections since earlier this year, the ruling will not take effect if the NRA appeals the decision.

But the ruling may have an impact on the operations of not only the nuclear plant on the Sea of Japan coast but also other reactors in the country that went back online under the new rules…….

The utility, meanwhile, has decided to decommission the aging Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Oi plant. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/8c717cf8568d-urgent-japan-court-nullifies-approval-of-oi-nuclear-reactor-safety-steps.html

December 8, 2020 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment