Documentary film-makers face decades in prison for taping oil pipeline protests https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/20/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-protest-film-makers-face-prison
Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel face felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press, Guardian, Sam Levin , 23 Oct 16, Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press.
The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges filed againstDemocracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests.
But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations, raising concerns that the lesser-known journalists are not getting the same kind of public support and national attention.
Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota, with prosecutors alleging that she was “recruited to record the criminal activity”.
The 36-year-old – who produced a documentary called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change – could face 45 years in prison. US whistleblower Edward Snowden recently tweeted his support of Schlosberg, writing: “This reporter is being prosecuted for covering the North Dakota oil protests. For reference, I face a mere 30 years.”
Grayzel, an independent film-maker from Portland, Oregon, was also arrested and jailed on 11 October while filming at a separate pipeline protest in Skagit County, Washington. She and her cinematographer, Carl Davis, had their footage and equipment seized and were kept behind bars for a day.
The two were filming activist Ken Ward attempting to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline, and they now face 30 years in prison for a felony burglary charge, a felony “criminal sabotage” charge and a misdemeanor trespass offense. There were a series of pipeline protests across the US on 11 October.
“Everyone needs to be afraid when our first amendment rights are in jeopardy,” Grayzel, 41, told the Guardian on Thursday before her criminal arraignment. “This is not just about me. This is not just about Carl. This is not about Amy Goodman … This is about the public’s right to know what is going on in this country.”
Free-speech advocates said that both cases are unusual and troubling given that prosecutors have admitted that the defendants were acting as film-makers and are still pursuing aggressive felony cases.
While it’s not uncommon for journalists to face arrest and misdemeanor charges for trespassing or disorderly conduct while reporting at controversial protests, conspiracy, burglary and sabotage offenses are rare for members of the media.
“It’s outrageous. It’s an assault on the first amendment,” said Neil Fox, one of Grayzel’s attorneys. “It’s shocking, but it is the kind of climate that we’re living in right now.”
Fox cast blame on the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who has made vicious attacks on the media a cornerstone of his campaign. “This is certainly the result of the toxic language that Trump brings to the election.”
Although Ward, a climate activist, had gained access to a fenced enclosure owned by the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the Skagit County sheriff’s report noted that Grayzel and her cinematographer were “just outside the enclosure … taking photographs and video”. The report said they confiscated the film-makers’ phone and “assorted camera equipment”, actions that have raised further concerns about press intimidation and free speech violations.
Washington prosecutors are relying on laws that were passed in the early 20th century to target labor rights’ protesters, Fox added. “There’s been a revival in the state of Washington of the use of these statutes against labor activists and against environmental activists.”
In Goodman’s case, a judge forced prosecutors to drop a serious “riot” charge, which was centered on Goodman’s viral coverage of the intense Native American-led protests. But prosecutors and sheriff’s officials said they may continue to pursue other charges against the critically acclaimed journalist.
In Schlosberg’s charges, North Dakota prosecutors have alleged that she was part of a conspiracy, claiming she traveled with protesters “with the objective of diverting the flow of oil”.
“I was surprised at the conspiracy charges. I never thought that would ever happen,” her attorney Robert Woods told the Guardian. “All she was doing was her job of being a journalist and covering the story.”
Prosecutors in both cases declined to comment.
The fervent Trump supporter has told his viewers that the both US president, Barack Obama, and the Democrat nominee, Hilary Clinton, were “literal demons” who smelt of sulphur. I kid you not.
In Australia, we have a senator who similarly sees climate change as a thing made up by the UN. Our top-rating radio host, Alan Jones (no relation), has said climate science is “witchcraft”.
There’s now a whole media ecosystem that climate science denialism can exist inside, where there’s little scrutiny of the views of deniers. US-based sites like the Drudge Report, Infowars, Breitbart and Daily Caller are part of that ecosystem.
For a while, maybe the Trumpocene and the Anthropocene can coexist.
But even though they exist on separate plains, can we really afford to dismiss the impact of either of them?
We are approaching the Trumpocene, a new epoch where climate
change is just a big scary conspiracy https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/oct/21/we-are-approaching-the-trumpocene-a-new-epoch-where-climate-change-is-just-a-big-scary-conspiracy Graham Readfearn
Websites pushing climate science denial are growing their audience in an era where populist rhetoric and the rejection of expertise is gaining traction For years now geologists have been politely but forcefully arguing over the existence or otherwise of a new epoch – one that might have started decades ago.
Some of the world’s most respected geologists and scientists reckon humans have had such a profound impact on the Earth that we’ve now moved out of the Holocene and into the Anthropocene.
It’s not official. But it’s close.
Dropping nuclear bombs and burning billions of tonnes of fossil fuels will do that to a planet, as will clearing swaths of forests to make way for food production and supermarket car parks and the like.
That’s all in the real world though, and sometimes you might get the horrible, chilling idea that when it comes to the production of our thoughts and ideas, that’s not the place a lot of us live anymore.
So I’d like to also propose the idea of an impending new epoch – the Trumpocene – that in the spirit of the era itself is based solely on a few thoughts held loosely together with hyperlinks and a general feeling of malaise.
In the Trumpocene, the epoch-defining impacts of climate change are nothing more than a conspiracy. Even if these impacts are real, then they’re probably good for us.
The era is named, of course, for the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, the Republican pick for US president whose candidacy has been defined by a loose grasp of facts, jingoistic posturing, populist rhetoric, his amazing hair and his treatment of women.
So what are the things that might define the Trumpocene?
Is it the point at which large numbers of people started to reject the views of large groups of actual experts – people with university qualifications and things – in exchange for the views of anyone who agrees with them? (Brexit, anyone?) Continue reading
At a special late-night tender committee meeting, Eskom executives agreed to hand a Gupta company R587-million – money that was used, two days later, to help pay the R2.15-billion purchase price for Optimum Coal. By Susan Comrie for AMABHUNGANE.
Six hours after the banks refused to give the Guptas a R600-million loan for their controversial Optimum Coal deal, Eskom came to their rescue.
amaBhungane can reveal that at a special late-night tender committee meeting, Eskom executives agreed to hand a Gupta company R587-million – money that was then used, two days later, to help pay the R2.15-billion purchase price for Optimum Coal.
The deal, which documents show was clinched via a 21:00 teleconference call, involved extending Tegeta Exploration and Resources’ coal supply contract with Arnot power station by R587-million.
The fact that Eskom also agreed to pay the money up front reinforces the impression of preferential treatment.
Details of these hurried meetings – all held on April 11 this year – are contained in a report by the business rescue practitioners for Optimum Coal and in minutes of Eskom’s 21:00 meeting that were leaked to Carte Blanche in June.
The report by the business rescue practitioners, Piers Marsden and Peter van den Steen, was made to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in terms of section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
amaBhungane understands that the section 34 report, submitted on July 1 this year, also forms part of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report.
The business rescue practitioners refused to confirm or deny the existence of the report, but amaBhungane has seen a copy, which sets out in detail what happened on April 11:
- On that morning, Nazeem Howa, the chief executive of Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, called the business rescue practitioners and asked for a meeting.
- At 10:00, Howa sat with the practitioners at Tegeta’s office in Sandton and delivered the bad news – Tegeta was R600-million short of the purchase price for Optimum Coal.
- At Howa’s request, the practitioners called an urgent meeting with Optimum’s three bank creditors – First Rand Bank, Investec and Nedbank – and a representative of Optimum’s then-owner, Glencore. At the meeting, held at about 13:30 at First Rand’s Sandton offices, the practitioners asked whether the consortium of banks would offer Tegeta a R600-million bridging loan.
- At 15:00, Marsden phoned Howa to tell him the banks had refused the request.
Leaked Eskom minutes, broadcast on Carte Blanche in June, show that about six hours after Howa was informed that the banks would not stump up the funding, Eskom held a “special tender committee meeting” where it decided to hand Tegeta a R587-million prepayment for coal.
Two days later, Tegeta delivered the full purchase price of R2.15-billion for Optimum Coal.
Tegeta’s purchase of Optimum from Glencore has been muddied by allegations of political interference and favouritism, particularly directed at mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane and Eskom.
Tegeta is partly owned by the Gupta family through Oakbay Investments, but smaller stakes are owned by President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma, Gupta-linked businessman Salim Essa and an opaque offshore company registered in the United Arab Emirates.
Eskom has repeatedly denied showing Tegeta favourable treatment.
Tegeta, through Oakbay Investments, declined to comment on this detailed timeline, saying it was “subject to an apparent ongoing investigation and the provisions of the Public Protector Act”.
Eskom and Oakbay deny that the approach for the R587-million prepayment was made after Tegeta failed to secure financing from the banks, saying that Eskom had been in discussions with Tegeta for some time.
“Following negotiations (of which we have proof and necessary documentation) we agreed that a prepayment be made against onerous provisions,” Oakbay said. “We cannot comment on how Eskom dealt with the transaction on their side save to mention that a formal agreement was reached, signed pursuant whereto an invoice was issued and paid.”……..
In written statements, Eskom and Oakbay Investments denied that the mine was entitled to receive any part of the prepayment.
Belatedly, Eskom is now seeking to characterise the prepayment as a loan, albeit one that would be repaid in coal at a very high price……….This story was produced by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-10-20-amabhungane-r587m-in-six-hours-how-eskom-paid-for-gupta-mine/#.WAqNwOV97Gg
Amy Goodman showed us the perils of standing up to the fossil fuel industry https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/18/amy-goodman-perils-standing-up-fossil-fuel-industry
The rights of activists and journalists are under threat wherever communities challenge Big Oil – in North Dakota and beyond. For far too long, the world had been ignoring the North Dakota anti-pipelines protests. Then the Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman captured private security forces (employed by a fossil fuel company)sicking dogs on Native Americans during a peaceful demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which encroaches on their sacred lands and waters. For that, she nearly went to jail.
The video made Goodman a target of North Dakota authorities, who brought charges of trespassing and rioting against her and the native leaders on the ground during the dog attack. Yes, a journalist was threatened with punishment for reporting on the horrific attack on indigenous people.
Authorities said Goodman didn’t deserve press protections because her opinions made her an “activist” instead of a journalist. Are we to punish every journalist who calls out state violence as he or she sees it? How could you not have an opinion in the face of such brutality? Should Walter Cronkite have gone to prison for his words about Vietnam?
Clearly not. Organizations defending freedom of the press decried the charges against Goodman. Activists like ourselves rallied behind her cause online because we understand the importance of a free press to social change. And on Monday, a North Dakota judge dropped the charges due to lack of probable cause.
It’s a win for freedom of the press, but intimidation by the fossil fuel industry and its government allies is far from over. Native leaders at the Standing Rock camps know this all too well, as they continue to face arrests by North Dakota police and pressure by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline.
There’s no question that Goodman’s fearless reporting helped make this act of brutality a turning point in the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Soon after her broadcast, the Obama administration stepped in and paused the project until there could be “further consultation” of indigenous peoples. Suddenly, TV news and the mainstream media took up the story in a serious way for the first time. Thousands of more people headed out to the camp.
The trampling of our rights as activists, or as journalists, isn’t just a problem in North Dakota. It’s also a fight that’s playing out around the world wherever communities stand up to the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests destroying our communities and climate.
We see it in the murder of activists like Berta Cáceres in Honduras. We see it in the Philippines, where anti-mining activists are being murdered by paramilitary groups. According to a report by Global Witness, 185 environmental activists in 16 countries were killed last year and the number is just going up.
Despite this violence, the movement to challenge the fossil fuel industry has continued to grow more powerful, and we’re not backing down. As the work to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline continues, I’m honored to stand in solidarity with the incredible Native American leaders at Standing Rock who are putting their bodies on the line to shut this destructive project down. The photos and videos of their brave actions have become lightning rods, channeling tremendous new energy into this movement. This is a historic fight unfolding in real time.
The images of resistance at Standing Rock are a call to action. We cannot let the rights of indigenous peoples be sidelined by the fossil fuel industry, and we can’t afford another pipeline if we want to maintain a livable planet.
We also must fiercely defend the rights of activists and journalists alike to tell stories like these, stories that often unfold in sacrifice zones far from the “halls of power”, and to tell them fairly and honestly. This won’t be the last fight against a pipeline and Amy Goodman won’t be the last journalist brought to court for reporting about the fossil fuel industry. The struggle continues, together.
Washington moves to silence WikiLeaks, WSW, 19 October 2016
The cutting off of Internet access for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is one more ugly episode in a US presidential election campaign that has plumbed the depths of political degradation.
Effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over four years, Assange now is faced with a further limitation on his contact with the outside world.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry of Ecuador confirmed WikiLeaks’ charge that Ecuador itself had ordered the severing of Assange’s Internet connection under pressure from the US government. In a statement, the ministry said that WikiLeaks had “published a wealth of documents impacting on the US election campaign,” adding that the government of Ecuador “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and “does not interfere in external electoral processes.” On that grounds, the statement claimed, the Ecuadorian government decided to “restrict access” to the communications network at its London embassy……
WikiLeaks cited reports that Secretary of State John Kerry had demanded that the government of Ecuador carry out the action “on the sidelines of the negotiations” surrounding the abortive Colombian peace accord last month in Bogota. The US government intervened to prevent any further exposures that could damage the campaign of Clinton, who has emerged as the clear favorite of the US military and intelligence complex as well as the Wall Street banks.
Whether the State Department was the only entity placing pressure on Ecuador on behalf of the Clinton campaign, or whether Wall Street also intervened directly, is unclear. The timing of the Internet cutoff, in the immediate aftermath of the release of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches, may be more than coincidental…….http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/10/19/pers-o19.html
“This is a basic crackdown on freedom of speech. If RT UK incited terrorism or cultural violence, the blocking of its bank accounts could have been understandable,” he said. In this vein, he pointed to the UK’s current bad record of press freedom, saying that among such countries as Latvia, Ghana and Uruguay in terms of backsliding on human rights.
“It looks like another stage in a propaganda war between the two sides,” he pointed out. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the issue by saying that London has seemingly abandoned all of its freedom of speech obligations. According to RT UK, National Westminster Bank said its parent organization Royal Bank of Scotland Group would refuse to service the broadcaster and was “not prepared to enter into any discussion.” Earlier, a member of the Russian Lower House’s International Affairs Committee told Sputnik that Russian lawmakers will demand an explanation from UK authorities over the actions. “We will also demand that international organizations, including the United Nations and the Council of Europe, clarify their stance on the issue,” Sergey Zheleznyak said.
Following Simonyan’s statement on Twitter earlier in the day, RT UK said it had been informed by National Westminster Bank that it “will no longer provide” banking arrangements for the broadcaster. RT operates a number of cable and satellite television channels in a multiple languages and is directed at a foreign audience. The channels provide 24-hour news coverage, as well as airing documentaries, talk shows and debates.
Cyber-attacks Against Nuclear Plants: A Disconcerting Threat INFOSEC Institute, Pierluigi Paganini OCTOBER 14, 2016 A cyber-attack against critical infrastructure could cause the paralysis of critical operations with serious consequences for a country and its population.
In a worst case scenario, a cyber-attack could affect processes that in case of fault could cause serious damages and consequent losses of human lives.
Let’s think for example to a refinery or a nuclear plant, in both cases; a cyber-attack represents a threat to the infrastructure, its processes, and people that work within.
Nuclear plants are critical components of any countries; critical functions depend on their operations, and an incident could have dramatic effects on the population.
Is a cyber-attack against a nuclear plant a possible event?
Unfortunately, the response is affirmative. Nuclear plants are composed of an impressive number of components such as SCADA/ICS, sensors and legacy systems that could be hit by a hacker.
The most popular case of a cyber-attack against a nuclear plant is Stuxnet, which was launched more than five years ago. Stuxnet is the malware developed by experts from the US and Israel with the intent of destroying the Iranian nuclear program. Nation state hackers hit the plant of Natanz in Iran in 2010 interfering with the nuclear program of the Government of Teheran.
The Stuxnet targeted a grid of 984 converters, the same industrial equipment that international inspectors found out of order when visited the Natanz enrichment facility in late 2009.
The cyber-attack against the Cascade Protection System infects Siemens S7-417 controllers with a matching configuration. The S7-417 is a top-of-the-line industrial controller for big automation tasks. In Natanz, it is used to control the valves and pressure sensors of up to six cascades (or 984 centrifuges) that share common feed, product, and tails stations” states “A Technical Analysis of What Stuxnet’s Creators Tried to Achieve” written by the expert Ralph Langner.
Stuxnet was designed with a number of features that allowed to evade detection; its source code was digitally signed, and the malware uses a man-in-the-middle attack to fool the operators into thinking everything is normal.
Stuxnet is the demonstration that it is possible to use a malicious code to destroy operations at a nuclear plant.
In the last years, security experts and authorities confirmed at least three cases of cyber-attacks against Nuclear plants.
Who are the threat actors that could hit a nuclear plant?
There are many actors, such as cyber criminals, hacktivists, nation-state actors, cyber terrorists and script kiddies, that are threatening critical infrastructure worldwide
Let’s see which are the principal incidents that affected nuclear plants in the last years.
According to the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, a nuclear power plant in Germany suffered a “disruptive” cyber-attack two to three years ago……..
This isn’t the first time that we receive the news of cyber-attacks on nuclear plants. There are three publicly known attacks against nuclear plants:
- Monju NPP (Japan 2014)
- Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power plant (S.Korea 2014)
- Gundremmingen NPP (Germany 2016).
It is likely that Amano was referring the cyber-attack against the Gundremmingen nuclear plant that occurred earlier this year. Security experts, in that case, discovered the presence of the Conficker and Ramnit malware in the target systems……
2014 – Malware based attack hit Japanese Monju Nuclear Power Plant
On January, 2nd 2014 one of the eight computers in the control room at Monju Nuclear Power Plant in Tsuruga, Japan, was compromised by a cyber-attack. The local IT staff discovered that the system in the reactor control room had been accessed over 30 times in a few days. The experts observed the intrusion started after an employee updated a free video playback application running on one of the computers in the plant…….
Cyber-attacks against the organizations operating in the Energy industry were already observed in the past, in 2012 the Japan Atomic Energy Agency was targeted by a cyber-attack that compromised a computer at the JAEA headquarters at Tokaimura by infecting it with malware.
2014 – Nuclear plant in South Korea hacked
In December 2014, the South Koran government revealed that a nuclear plant in the country was hacked. …..
2016 – A malware infected systems at the Gundremmingen nuclear plant in Germany
In April 2016, the German BR24 News Agency reported the news of a computer virus that was discovered at the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant in Germany……..The experts involved in the investigation discovered the presence of the Conficker and W32.Ramnit malware in unit B of the Gundremmingen. Conficker is worm with the ability of rapidly spreading through networks, while W32.Ramnit is a data stealer.
The RWE also added that malware had been found on 18 removable data drives, mainly USB sticks, in office computers maintained separately from the plant’s operating systems………
Stuxnet, which targeted nuclear power plants in Iran, is still the most widely publicized threat against such systems.
Security experts are aware of the possibility that hackers could cause serious problems to these critical infrastructures worldwide, for this reason, several governments already launched internal assessments of their infrastructure.
This summer, the European Parliament has passed the new network and information security (NIS) directive that establishes minimum requirements for cyber-security on critical infrastructure operators. http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/cyber-attacks-against-nuclear-plants-a-disconcerting-threat/
the long-term effects of low-level radiation exposure have consistently been downplayed, distorted or concealed by scientists, the nuclear industry and the government.
It seems that while the US and the USSR had a hard time cooperating on nuclear arms at that time, they had a tacit agreement to cover up each other’s nuclear power mistakes.
these facts, like all those about nuclear power and nuclear weapons testing, were kept secret and released only through the efforts of private citizens and a few courageous researchers and journalists.
At least 250,000 American troops were directly exposed to atomic radiation during the 17 years of bomb testing here and in the Pacific, but they have been totally ignored by the government and the Army.
There is little doubt that hundreds died and that countless others developed illnesses that led to death from various cancers, blood disorders and chronic body ailments. Today the government still rejects all claims for such illnesses.
The press also played a role in soothing public fears.
the US has led the world in setting examples of deliberate deceit, suppression of information and harassment of nuclear critics
Professionals, in order to perform their work, resist truth strongly if it calls the morality of their work into question. They sincerely believe they are helping humankind. In addition, scientific research involves so many uncertainties that scientists can, with an easy conscience, rationalize away dangers that are hypothetical or not immediately observable. They also have an intellectual investment if not a financial one in continuing their work as well as families to support, and nuclear science in particular has been endowed not only with government money and support but great status and prestige.
In order to perform professional work, one must not only believe one is doing good but must also rationalize the dangers. Indeed, with regard to ionizing radiation, this is quite easy inasmuch as the risks of radiation exposure at any level are statistical and not immediately manifested.
Pro Nuclear Propaganda: How Science, Government and the Press Conspire to Misinform the Public http://www.lornasalzman.com/collectedwritings/pro-nuclear.html by Lorna Salzman Hunter College, Energy Studies program, 1986 After the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in the Soviet Union, there was much finger-wagging in the US about the suppression of information there, and the purported differences in reactor design and safety requirements between Russia and the US, which made a similar accident here unlikely if not impossible Continue reading
Critics accuse nuclear safety official of acting as industry cheerleader http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/critics-accuse-nuclear-safety-official-acting-as-industry-cheerleader/article32341301/ GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Oct. 12, 2016 Opposition politicians and environmentalists are questioning the priorities of the man responsible for nuclear safety in Canada after a string of incidents in which he publicly defended the industry and was dismissive of concerns about potential hazards – a stance that runs contrary to his mandate at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Eskom will finance South Africa’s R1 trillion nuclear plans: minister, Business Tech October 11, 2016 Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has told Parliament that South Africa’s ambitious and controversial nuclear energy plans will be entirely funded by Eskom, with no money coming from National Treasury.
The minister was briefing Parliament’s energy oversight committee on Tuesday.
The process around South Africa’s nuclear plans, which will see 9,600MW of nuclear power added to the grid, has been a mysterious one, where the DoE has not revealed any of the details surrounding the project – including its cost.
Conservative estimates have put the build at R500 billion, while experts have noted – taking into consideration the country’s much-delayed Medupi and Kusile power station builds – that costs may balloon to well over R1 trillion.
No funds will come from Treasury or the fiscus, she said, with Eskom turning to global markets to raise money it needs.
Eskom’s handling of Medupi and Kusile have drawn much criticism as both projects have seen massive delays, labour issues and come in billions of rands over budget………
DA shadow minister of energy, Gordon Mackay, said that Pettersson’s announcement “is nothing short of an elaborate sleight of hand aimed at muddying the water and subverting effective parliamentary oversight over the R1 trillion nuclear deal”.
Mackay said that in designating Eskom as the procuring agent for the nuclear new build the following must be considered:
- The tender will be subject to Eskom’s board tender committee, the very same tender committee found to be corrupt by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
- The tender will be subject to internal Eskom processes, effectively shielding the nuclear deal from direct parliamentary oversight.
- A nuclear deal not directly subject to parliamentary oversight will cost more and be subject to greater levels of corruption, in the same way as Kusile and Medupi have been with regard to their association with Hitachi.
- While tax payers will not be directly liable for the build costs of the new build programme – like the costs of Kusile and Medupi – they will be passed onto consumers via higher electricity prices. Higher energy costs will kill economic growth and jobs.
“Far from providing much needed clarity and assurance, the Minister has created greater uncertainty and has all but ensured that Zuma and his cronies will enrich themselves at South Africa’s expense,” the DA’s energy lead said. http://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/139651/eskom-will-finance-south-africas-r1-trillion-nuclear-plans-minister/
Britain’s Nuclear Cover-Up, NYT,OCT. 10, 2016“………If the Hinkley plan seems outrageous, that’s because it only makes sense if one considers its connection to Britain’s military projects — especially Trident, a roving fleet of armed nuclear submarines, which is outdated and needs upgrading. Hawks and conservatives, in particular, see the Trident program as vital to preserving Britain’s international clout.
A painstaking study of obscure British military policy documents, released last month by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, demonstrates that the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain’s nuclear submarine program.
For proponents of Trident, civilian nuclear projects are a way of “masking” the high costs of developing a new fleet of nuclear submarines, according to the report. Merging programs like research and development or skills training across civilian and military sectors helps cut back on military spending. It also helps maintain the talent pool for nuclear specialists. And given the long lead times and life spans of most nuclear projects, connections between civilian and military programs give companies more incentives to make the major investments required.
One might say that with the Hinkley Point project, the British government is using billions of Chinese money to build stealth submarines designed to deter China.
One can certainly say that the British government is using an ill-advised civilian nuclear energy project as a convoluted means of financing a submarine program.
The British government must be more transparent about its military spending, if only so that those expenditures can be measured against the needs of other public programs. According to the Science Policy Research Unit study, the government itself estimated in 2015 that renewing the Trident deterrent force will cost nearly $38.5 billion. In comparison, the deficit of the National Health Services for the fiscal year 2015-6, a record, was about $3 billion.
Hiding the true costs of a project like Trident by promoting a questionable and ruinous project like Hinkley Point C distorts the economics of both the defense and the civilian energy sectors. It also skews energy policy itself.
If Britain’s energy policy were solely about energy, rather than also about defense, the nuclear sector would be forced to stand on its own two feet. And the government would have to acknowledge the growing benefits of renewable energy and make hard-nosed comparisons about cost, implementation, environmental benefits and safety.
These commendations are perhaps overly enthusiastic. They exaggerate Kazakhstan’s commitment to nuclear safety; actually, Kazakhstan’s leadership has done little to address pressing humanitarian issues at Semipalatinsk, failing to provide adequate funding for environmental clean up and adequate security for the site itself. How can the world talk about nuclear safety in Kazakhstan when it is the only place on Earth where thousands of people still live in and around an atomic test site? How can there be safety, when residual radioactivity and environmental damage are a normal part of life for people who live there? Nuclear security should mean more than the physical protection of nuclear materials. Nuclear security must also mean the physical protection of individual citizens from radioactivity.
Today, most of the abandoned Semipalatinsk territory is accessible to anyone who wishes to enter. Except for a 37-mile area “exclusion zone” at the Degelen Mountain complex, guarded by drones and other surveillance equipment, few signs indicate radiation danger. For the thousands living nearby, it is no secret that the former nuclear testing area is poorly secured. I have been conducting anthropological fieldwork in the region since 2009, living in Koyan, a remote village on the nuclear test site’s border. I know first hand the ease with which people make use of the territory. (“Koyan” and “Tursynbek,” the name of an ethnographic interlocutor mentioned later in this article, are pseudonyms, used to protect village residents and the interlocutor following the convention of confidentiality spelled out in the American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics on professional responsibility).
Koyaners, like most everyone else living in and around Semipalatinsk, use the test site in a number of ways: They drive across the dusty steppe during warmer months to visit relatives in nearby villages. In July and August, men, women, and children come back from the site, buckets brimming with wild strawberries they have picked from its shallow valleys. Many graze their herds of sheep, goats, horses, and cows on the Semipalatinsk pastures, sometimes near craters formed by underground explosions. Many of these places are known to contain radioactive “hot spots,” but since the area around Koyan is mostly unmarked, no one in the village is certain where the hot spots are. Koyaners are not privy to this information, because no one in the government shares it with them.
On a hot, sunny day in July 2015, Tursynbek, a burly stockbreeder and miner in his mid-50s, decided we should go out and measure radiation on our own. As we got in the car, he complained that when he has had a chance to ask scientists, who occasionally do research in the area, if there is radiation, they dismiss his concerns by saying, “There is nothing here; no radiation.” I made sure to bring my Geiger counter on this trip, and a short car ride later I was looking down from the rim of a nuclear crater, trying to hear the Geiger counter readings Tursynbek was shouting. His camouflage jacket was barely visible on the steep pitch, among the tall grasses; a rather sizeable water hole was beyond, inside the crater. He scanned the ground for radioactivity, his white paper sanitary mask pulled down under his chin, rather than over his mouth. The sanitary mask was meant to protect against small particles of plutonium or other radioisotopes that are dangerous when inhaled but can be stopped by a sheet of paper. But Tursynbek was not afraid. Tursybek knows this area well; he was born in Koyan and has decades of experience raising livestock, sheep, goats, cows, and horses, which includes grazing them on the test site.
Still, he had never been here on this kind of mission. As he climbed out, he eagerly used the Geiger counter to check the wreckage of the atomic landscape: trenches, mangled barbed wire enclosures, scattered cement blocks with clusters of electrical cables jutting from them. The frantic clicking of the Geiger counter disturbed the otherwise calm summer afternoon. Not far from us, Kazakhstan’s Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology (IRSE) wazik (van) carrying “geologists,” as the scientists are known to Koyaners, passed by. “They have never shared any of this information with us,” Tursynbek said motioning to the van and pointing at the .700 milliRem per hour reading displayed by the counter.
Normal background is between .008-.015 milliRem/hr. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Americans receive an average radiation dose of about 620 milliRem per year. Half of this dose comes from naturally occurring radiation found in soil, rocks (uranium), and air (radon). The other half comes from man-made sources, like radiation therapy, x-rays, and nuclear power plants. At the crater, five weeks is enough time to receive the average yearly dose of radiation described by the NRC. In one year that dose is equal to 6,136 milliRem.
Looking around the abandoned test site, it is almost never obvious what went on here, except at a few key experimental locations, which have decaying cement structures and other visible points of interest. The once high levels of security have long since disappeared. Yet for 40 years various technical sites at Semipalatinsk were used to experiment with different types of nuclear explosions. At “Ground Zero” for example, 116 aboveground tests were conducted, as part of a full-scale experiment designed to record damage done to animals (sheep, goats, cows, and pigs), plants and soil, building construction, military equipment, and people living in settlements found near the site. At other technical areas, more than 300 underground nuclear explosions were used to test their peaceful applications. Several of these high-yield tests produced nuclear craters and contaminated much of the area nearby.
Near the nuclear crater Tursynbek and I visited, only a small and badly faded radiation warning sign clung to a mangled barbed wire enclosure that once provided some level of protection. The plight of people who suffered from radiation exposure during the Soviet-era is well known in the country and abroad, even if the level of radioactive pollution and its impact on human health are hotly disputed, in local and international peer-reviewed scientific journals.
In an August 2015 editorial for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the United States, Kairat Umarov, highlighted the fate of 1.5 million Kazakh citizens whose lives continue to be affected by nuclear testing. He wrote with the optimism of a man hoping to promote a nuclear-weapons-free world. But Umarov ignored an obvious fact: The Nazarbayev government, lacking financial resources, has done very little to address the security problems at Semipalatinsk and has not spent a penny to clean up the area. Praise of the nation’s leadership for making Kazakhstan a non-nuclear state has come at a price: It has overshadowed and limited conversations about lack of oversight of Semipalatinsk and the toxic mess that the Soviet nuclear testing program left behind and continues to endanger thousands of citizens living in the area. Given this unresolved and underreported situation at Semipalatinsk, the international community should offer financial help and expertise for the cleanup of Semipalatinsk, or at the very least help with cordoning off the most contaminated areas of the site.
Irish Security Services leak truths to the UK Press. And nuclear-news and others are banned in Ireland #UNCHR
Censored! This article is generally off topic for this blog but this article and nuclear-news.net post have been blocked from Google Search in Europe (and possibly further afield). Ireland based blogs and nuclear-news.net based in Australia are affected as far as I can ascertain. Also, Shannonwatch.org (An Irish peace group) have tried to get out a press release stating problems they are having in the Limerick area and this too has been banned! Could you share directly to any Irish people you know these banned articles.
Sellafield are having a meeting with Irish Stakeholders who have doubts as to the safety and transparency of the UK nuclear industry. This meeting is in the next week or so and it is vital that people are aware of alleged criminality to Parliament by Sellafield representatives. Many thanks for your support –
Evidence for the blocking and hacking over a few days can be found here;
Shaun McGee aka Arclight
Sellafield – Contempt of Parliament – BBC News missed it.
Irish Security Services leak truths to the UK Press.
A recent article by The Sunday Times UK edition stated that the Irish Security Services (Likely the Irish Defense Force) have claimed that Gardai (Police ) in Athlone had been facilitating the distribution of heroin to local towns.
Picture Source http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/wpoc-young-people
Due to Irish Laws the name of the whistle-blower has not been reported in Ireland but was on the Sunday Times UK edition on Sunday the 2nd of October 2016.
Why are the Irish “Security Services” leaking this fact to the UK Press? So, as to allow Irish readers the option of reading this article we will not name the brave whistle-blower who leaked the criminality in 2014 but it can be found on the Sunday Times article link ..
This is what the “Security Services were quoted as saying in the article;
“…Security sources say collusion between gardai and heroin dealers in the midlands town has been a significant factor in the area’s worsening drugs problem. The region has a growing population of heroin users and the town is now considered to be a pivotal point in the distribution of opiates to addicts in Longford, Westmeath, Offaly and Laois…..”
Earlier in the article the Times quotes also the “Security Sources” thus;
“…..According to security sources, the internal inquiry concluded that one Garda was in a relationship with a female heroin dealer in the town, which resulted in him compromising planned searches and raids. One witness told investigators he was present when this Garda alerted local criminals to a planned Gardai search the following day, ensuring they had time to dispose of incriminating evidence, including mobile phones. The witness refused to make a statement under caution or agree to testify, however…..”
It might be noted that a government report said that in 2014 the Irish Defense Force did not apply for any orders for surveillance on criminals. We here at Euroupeannewsweekly have been asking the question;
Who is doing surveillance now in Ireland? In 2014 a Gardai and Security Services operation against a dissident IRA group ended with a successful arrest of the whole group at a remote farmhouse, to name but one crime that was widely reported and would have required constant surveillance tactics.
Is there a connection between the ending of the use of the Security Services (or end any of transparency in Government reports) and the evidence that they were holding for the investigation?
We can not claim these last points to be fact, they are only questions posed because of the Irish Security Services leak to the UK. We can present the basic facts to you and let you make up your own minds though.
So what is at stake here? We know for a fact that the Irish Security Services are not happy and have released this information to the nearly 10 million Irish Diaspora in the UK but no publication has reported any of this in Ireland. Yet it is important for the real victims of this criminality that these facts become known and that some in the Government are not happy with this current situation. The security services were tapping all the phones and know all the connections of these criminal gangs and their enablers.
Here is a statement from a local ex Heroin user from Longford on the desperate situation that exists in this region and what funding opportunities for the proven victims of this criminality;
IN YOUR PHONE, IN THEIR AIR A TRACE OF GRAPHITE IS IN CONSUMER TECH. IN THESE CHINESE VILLAGES, IT’S EVERYWHERE. WASHINGTON POST, STORY BY PETER WHORISKEY PHOTOS BY MICHAEL ROBINSON CHAVEZ VIDEOS BY JORGE RIBAS OCTOBER 2, 2016 “…….BEING WATCHED
One of the main obstacles in clearing the pollution, villagers said, is the powerful alliance between local government officials and the owners of the graphite plants. The officials, the villagers said, protect the factories from environmental complaints.
At three of the five villages visited by Post journalists in May and June, a village official either tried to attend interviews or soon after inquired of the interviewees what had transpired in the interviews. Moreover, plant managers and party officials sometimes discouraged journalists from speaking with villagers.
After Post journalists visited the Haida Graphite plant in Pingdu, for example, a plant employee jumped in a car to follow their taxi off the property and through the village streets.
The taxi stopped twice in the village so The Post could interview more people. At each stop, the driver of the Haida car approached to within a few feet and blared the car horn continuously, making talking to villagers impossible. The driver relented only when The Post’s taxi left the area. Asked to comment later about the pollution complaints, a Haida official accused a Post reporter of “espionage” and refused to answer questions.
Similarly, after The Post visited a BTR graphite factory in Jixi, two cars with several men inside began following the reporters’ taxi. Three times, over several miles, the taxi pulled over to let them pass. Each time, the following cars pulled over and stopped behind the Post taxi. Confronted, the men in the cars told reporters that it was just a coincidence that they had stopped at the same time that the taxi did. The men said they were mapping out a bicycle race.
The intimidation has an effect on villagers.
Not far from the Hensen graphite plant in Laixi is a small factory that makes women’s underwear. Han Wenbing, 48, is the owner. A large man, proud of his workshop, he was eager to talk about the graphite pollution.
He readily invited reporters into his home, showing the dust quickly gathering on his kitchen table and showing how his well water, which had been fine for drinking, now is topped with a gray film.
But as he made his case against the graphite plant, his wife grew nervous — and then angry. To speak out would only cause trouble with the plant manager and village officials, she warned her husband.
“Yes, there is absolutely an impact [from the graphite], but we don’t want to be on TV,” she said. “This could offend the boss of the company, which could affect our lives. You [reporters] wash your hands and walk away, but we live here.”
Han nevertheless wanted to make his complaints known. Once his wife acquiesced, he offered to point out a field that showed some of the worst effects of the pollution. The field had been used by small farmers, he said, but industrial runoff had affected the soil so much that “not even the weeds can grow.”………Story by Peter Whoriskey. Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez. Videos by Jorge Ribas. Graphics by Lazaro Gamio andTim Meko. Design by Matt Callahan, Emily Chow and Chris Rukan. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/graphite-mining-pollution-in-china/
US trade negotiators are now working to include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in as many new treaties as possible, including both of the massive new free trade deals coming down the pike. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Obama signed in February 2016 and which Congress will likely ratify before he leaves office, already includes ISDS.
The Secret Tribunals That Corporations Use to Sue Countries, Moyers and company
These ad hoc courts are a main reason why so many politicians and activists are against trade agreements like the TPP. BY HALEY EDWARDS | SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK SHADOW COURTS: THE TRIBUNALS THAT RULE GLOBAL TRADE BY HALEY EDWARDS.
The environmental activist Jane Kleeb was driving down Highway 281 near Lincoln, Nebraska, on a gray day in January 2016, when she got a call from a reporter.
At the time, Kleeb was still riding high off of her success organizing local farmers, ranchers and environmentalists in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have carried petroleum products from Canada’s tar sands across the Nebraska plains to the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to her and other activists’ efforts, President Barack Obama had announced in November 2015 that his administration would deny the Canadian company TransCanada permission to move forward with the project, ending an eight-year-long effort to get the pipeline built.
The reporter was calling to ask Kleeb about a new twist in the saga. Earlier that day, TransCanada had announced it was suing the US government for $15 billion on the grounds that Obama’s decision to block the project violated the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was the first Kleeb had heard of the suit. “I’m an organizer, so my reaction was, ‘When are the hearings? Where is this happening? Who’s the judge?’” she said recently. If TransCanada was challenging the decision in court, she wanted to be there. Could she protest on the courthouse steps? Arrange for a rally in a nearby town?
But that, Kleeb learned, was not how this case would go down. TransCanada wasn’t suing the US in a US court, or in a Canadian court for that matter. Its argument would not be heard by a judge, and the merits of the case would not be considered under the auspices of either country’s legal system. There would be no protest on any courthouse steps. Instead, the case would be heard by a tribunal, manned by three private arbitrators, operating under a supranational legal system that Kleeb had never heard of. “It was totally strange,” she told me. “A foreign company can sue us in some secret tribunal? How is that even possible?”
Investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, first appeared in treaties in 1969. The idea behind the mechanism was straightforward: If a foreign investor believed that his host country — the nation where his company was operating had violated an international treaty by seizing or destroying his factories, oil fields or other assets, he could file an ISDS claim directly against that country. He could do that without involving his own government and without having to wait endlessly for a developing country’s corrupt or biased court system to dispense judgment……..
ISDS was supposed to be a cool, efficient and apolitical dispute resolution system that kept powerful nations from interfering in the affairs of weaker countries, and that offered an extra layer of protection for foreign investors operating in countries with unreliable courts. But in the last 20 years, the mechanism has quietly changed, evolving into something much more powerful — and very political indeed……..
That modern interpretation has only cropped up in the last 20 years, but it has opened up a vast new gray area. Where ISDS claims were once about seized oil fields and bulldozed factories, now they are about tax increases and environmental regulations. Where is the line between a government’s right to regulate in the public interest and a foreign corporation’s claim to its own property?
US trade negotiators are now working to include ISDS in as many new treaties as possible, including both of the massive new free trade deals coming down the pike. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Obama signed in February 2016 and which Congress will likely ratify before he leaves office, already includes ISDS. Whether the mechanism will be inserted into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, linking the US and Europe, is a subject of controversy…….http://billmoyers.com/story/shadow-courts-secret-tribunals-trade/
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
- climate change
- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- PERSONAL STORIES
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
- MIDDLE EAST
- NORTH AMERICA
- SOUTH AMERICA
- Christina's notes
- Christina's themes
- global warming
- RARE EARTHS
- resources – print
- Resources -audiovicual
- World Nuclear