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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

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

Former CEO of failed V.C. Summer nuclear project pleads guilty to fraud charges

Former SCANA CEO pleads guilty to fraud charges for failed nuclear power project,    https://abcnews4.com/news/local/former-scana-ceo-pleads-guilty-to-fraud-charges-for-failed-nuclear-power-project by Tony Fortier-Bensen, Wednesday, November 25th 2020  COLUMBIA, SC (WCIV)     

The former chief executive officer of SCANA pleaded guilty on Tuesday to fraud charges for the failed V.C. Summer project in Fairfield County.

Kevin Marsh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obtaining false property by false pretenses, according to a plea agreement.

The agreement also said that Marsh would serve 18 to 36 months and has agreed to pay $5 million in restitution.

In June, retired SCANA chief operating officer Steve Byrne entered a guilty plea for his actions in relation to the failed nuclear power plant.

The U.S Attorney’s office alleges Byrne and Marsh conspired with other SCANA executives to deceive state and federal government overseers, stock holders and power customers in order to keep funding coming in to build two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

The expansion project cost Santee-Cooper and the defunct South Carolina Electric & Gas over $9 billion before the two entities abandoned the project in July 2017.

In addition, Marsh agreed to waive indictment and arraignment and work with authorities to provide further information on the failed project.

Under the plea agreement, Marsh could be sentenced to serve 18 to 36 months in prison. Marsh has also agreed to pay $5 million in restitution.

November 26, 2020 Posted by | legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a second lawsuit to stop bailout of nuclear reactors

November 17, 2020 Posted by | legal, USA | 1 Comment

Kings Bay Plowshares peace activists get lighter sentences than expected

Martha Hennessy Sentenced to 10 Months

November 13, 2020

Martha Hennessy, the sixth of the Kings Bay Plowshares defendants to be sentenced, was ordered to serve 10 months incarceration as well as three years supervised probation and restitution. This was a downward departure from the guidelines of 18 to 24 months recommended by the probation department. Conducting the sentencing virtually from the Brunswick, GA… Read More

 Carmen and Clare Sentenced Lighter Than Expected

November 13, 2020

Today two more of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 were sentenced by video conferencing with Judge Wood in the court in Brunswick, GA. They both received less time than was expected according to the sentencing guidelines prepared by the probation department. Carmen Trotta was sentenced to 14 months in the morning session. This was a… more https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/?link_id=0&can_id=195a0feb9877cdd62aa2d9960e728695&source=email-carmen-and-clare-sentenced-lighter-than-expected-2&email_referrer=email_995104&email_subject=martha-hennessy-sentenced-to-ten-months

November 14, 2020 Posted by | legal, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments