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Rick Perry authorised secret nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia, without Congress approval

November 14, 2019 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Jared Kushner’s, Donald Trump’s secretive meetings with Saudi Arabia, Putin, Kim Jong Un

JARED KUSHNER, DONALD TRUMP BROKE THE LAW BY MEETING SAUDIS, PUTIN, KIM OFF THE RECORD: WATCHDOGS  https://www.newsweek.com/jared-kushner-donald-trump-broke-law-saudis-putin-kim-1418596

BY JESSICA KWONG ON 5/7/19 President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner have been accused of breaking the law by failing to keep records of their meetings with foreign government officials including Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and top Saudi officials.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Trump and the executive office of the president, the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleged that White House officials including the president and Kushner seem to have violated the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act by intentionally neglecting to create and keep records of meetings with Putin and Kim, among other foreign officials.

“There are a lot of questions surrounding Jared Kushner and the extent to which he, like the president, has an agenda that also serves his own personal and family business interests,” CREW’s chief FOIA counsel Anne Weismann told Newsweek on Tuesday.

The suit cites news reports that Trump had at least five different meetings with Putin with no notetaker in the room, meaning an official record of the meeting does not exist. Trump also confiscated a State Department interpreter’s notes after meeting with Putin in Germany, and had a private meeting with Kim in Vietnam with two interpreters but no record was produced, according to the suit.

In addition, the suit raises a recent meeting Kushner had with top Saudi officials that did not include State Department officials, and from which no record was created.

“The absence of records in these circumstances when the President and his top advisers are exercising core constitutional and statutory powers causes real, incalculable harm to our national security and the ability of our government to effectively conduct foreign policy,” the suit states, “Because the documentary record of this administration’s foreign policy regarding Russia, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia will be unavailable to policy makers and forever lost to history.”

Weismann said Kushner—whom Trump tasked with creating a supposedly soon-to-be-released Middle East peace plan—is meeting with very sophisticated and possibly adversarial foreign leaders and “that alone raises concerns.”

“He may be compromising American interests in ways that we don’t know about,” Weismann said. “Even if he’s not acting to pursue his business or financial interests, he doesn’t come to the job with experience in foreign relations.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Tuesday.

Co-plaintiffs in the suit are the National Security Archive and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, which has nearly 1,000 members.

“The problem goes beyond improperly shredding records, to the deliberate failure to create the records in the first place,” stated Tom Blanton, director of the archive, which has sued past presidents who failed to keep records.

Neglecting to make and preserve records “undermines the principle of government accountability that is the very bedrock of democracy,” the historians society president Barbara Keys stated.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

In framing Julian Assange, The FBI tried to make Iceland a complicit

The FBI tried to make Iceland a complicit ally in framing Julian Assange https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/the-fbi-tried-to-make-iceland-a-complicit-ally-in-framing-julian-assange,13277

By Sara Chessa | 5 November 2019 Former Icelandic Interior Minister tells Independent Australia how he blocked U.S. interference in 2011 in order to defend WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Sara Chessa reports.

Former Icelandic Interior Minister tells Independent Australia how he blocked U.S. interference in 2011 in order to defend WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Sara Chessa reports.

A MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR wakes up one summer morning and finds out that a plane full of United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents has landed in his country, aiming to carry out police investigations without proper permission from the authorities.

How many statesmen would have the strength to say, “No, you can’t do this”, to the United States? Former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, in fact, did this — and for the sake of investigative journalism. He understood that something wrong with the sudden FBI mission in Reykjavik, and that this had to do with the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Continue reading

November 12, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

Julian Assange’s father comes to Ireland, Europe, to campaign for his son’s release

Will you come and help?’ Father of Julian Assange on campaign to free his son, Irish Examiner,  MICHAEL CLIFFORD  November 09, 2019    At 80, John Shipton thought he would be enjoying his retirement, he tells Michael Clifford. Instead, he is touring European capitals campaigning for his son, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

A parent’s work is never done. John Shipton entering his ninth decade. He’d like to kick back, maybe learn a few recipes, stroll at a leisurely pace towards the declining years.

But his son needs him. His son’s health is in serious danger and his future looks dark, with the prospect of spending decades, if not the remainder of his life, in prison.

His son is Julian Assange. It’s a name that is familiar to most people, although many would, at this remove, find it difficult to couple his celebrity standing with his talent or achievement.

Assange is an Australian who has been a serious thorn in the side of the powerful. His Wikileaks organisation was responsible for disseminating information that showed what exactly the US and its allies were getting up to in foreign wars.

Wikileaks exposed war crimes. It was the receptor for whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s treasure trove of documents that painted a picture of torture and maltreatment by US forces in Iraq, among other crimes.

Vanity Fair described the resultant stories as “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years… they have changed the way people think about how the world is run”…….

Assange is a category B prisoner, which means he’s not considered an immediate danger to fellow human beings or society in general, but his conditions of detention are still onerous.

“He’s locked up 22 or 23 hours a day,” his father says. “It’s a grade A maximum security prison. Because those in it are treated like terrorists, that’s what Julian is being subjected to.”

Shipton was in Dublin recently on a flying visit that now forms part of his current “job”. That entails lobbying, meeting, and publicising on behalf of his son. Shipton is on a tour of European capitals trying to round up support……

Assange is in a bad way, there is no doubt about that. Both physically and psychologically, his condition is deteriorating. The prison conditions are onerous but they come following eight years cooked up in the embassy, at times under serious stress. The day before arriving in Dublin Shipton had been in to see his son.

“As you would expect after nine years of persecution, he’s a bit down in the dumps,” he says.

“The report of the UN rapporteur on torture says it all really, pointing out that he has every sign of having suffered torture with both physical and mental results…..

The UN rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, did visit Assange with two doctors in June in Belmarch and were highly condemnatory of the conditions in which he was being kept.

Last week, Melzer issued a further statement, saying Assange’s life was at risk and that he must not be extradited to the US as a consequence of “exposing serious governmental misconduct”…..

Melzer goes further and offers an opinion on what is driving the harsh treatment.

“In my view, this case has never been about Mr Assange’s guilt or innocence, but about making him pay the price for exposing serious governmental misconduct, including alleged war crimes and corruption,” he says. “Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”…..

Since coming to power, Trump has railed against many forms of the free press. And his government has requested Assange’s extradition to stand trial for spying.

If he is extradited, his father doesn’t have much confidence in the prospects of a fair trial.

“The espionage law courts are held in Elizabeth, Virginia,” says Shipton. “It’s a town where all the constituents are from the intelligence community. Every judgement in the espionage courts they say just go to jail. It’s not theoretical. If he’s tried he will go to jail.”

The next hearing on extradition isn’t scheduled until February and on the basis that he previously did skip bail while awaiting an extradition hearing he is unlikely to get bail. For his family and close friends, the most immediate issue is his health rather than the political and legal vortex into which he has been drawn.

At a recent court appearance on October 21, he was described by eyewitnesses as appearing “distressed and disorientated”.

He is subject to a legal process, but few could argue that it is anything more than political. Assange published leaked material. In that he was performing an act of journalism.

Manning, for instance, was prosecuted and served seven years of what was originally a 35-year sentence. But Assange’s role was that of publisher.

Much of Wikileaks most serious material was presented in collaboration with leading global newspapers, including the New York Times and The Guardian.

His father believes that the attack on the press through Assange is not fully appreciated.

“It’s in the self interests of all journalists and news corporations to ensure that this is fought,” he says…… https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/michael-clifford/will-you-come-and-help-father-of-julian-assange-on-campaign-to-free-his-son-962776.html

November 11, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s media on a campaign for freedom of press, but not when it comes to Julian Assange

Mainstream Media Fights for Own Freedom, But Not for Assange’s, Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 02/11/2019 BY PAUL GREGOIRE Major Australian mainstream media outlets joined forces a fortnight ago to launched the Right to Know campaign. It aims to see public interest journalism decriminalised, and safeguards for whistleblowers enhanced.This unprecedented display of unity has seen The Guardian, the ABC, Nine, News Corp, SBS and the MEAA join forces in calling on the government to enact reforms. And this is rather significant, considering some of these organisations have been much criticised for towing the party line.

The Right to Know has six demands: exceptions so journalists can’t be prosecuted under national security laws, freedom of information reform, defamation law reform, a narrowing of the information classified as secret, protections for whistleblowers and the right to contest warrants.

Of course, the campaign was sparked by the June AFP press raids, which saw agents rifle through the house of a News Corp journalist, as well as the offices of the national broadcaster, in what was understood by many to be a warning to the media and whistleblowers to keep quiet.

However, a glaring campaign omission is the case of an Australian publisher who’s currently being remanded in the UK over charges that apply in the US, which relate precisely to public interest journalism. Yet, the Australian media has all but forgotten their colleague, Julian Assange.

Silenced by association

“The Right to Know campaign drives to the heart of the matter more than many journalists realise,” remarked Ian Rose, a member of the Support Assange and Wikileaks Coalition.

“While on the one hand, they’re right to finally be calling out the creeping incursions and restrictions into media freedoms,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “On the other, they don’t have the inner fortitude to stand up for Assange.”

According to Rose, there are two reasons that the Australian media has abandoned the Walkley award-winning journalist. One is that he’s “an egalitarian”, which “frightens the hell out of the ruling class”, as most of the work of WikiLeaks has been all about exposing their lies.

The second reason behind the silence is that the “oligarchs” are the “journalists’ paymasters”. And for this reason – which is underscored by the justifiable fear of losing their lives – journalists have refrained from “calling these people out”.

An excuse for silencing

Attorney general Christian Porter spoke out against the Right to Know campaign, claiming that by providing the media with the right to contest warrants could hinder criminal investigations. And he also asserted that the campaign demands could lead to national security threats.

As an example of how the media could become such a threat, Porter pointed to Assange having published leaked classified documents on WikiLeaks. The top lawmaker further set out that while this act of publication was widely condemned, the local industry still awarded Assange a Walkley……..

Neglecting an ally

And as for what the Australian media should be doing about one of its own locked away in isolation in circumstances that undermine the rule of law, Mr Rose says that it “ought to get over its jealousy and unite to support Assange”.

Indeed, the Right to Know campaign should embrace Assange’s cause, as it’s the quintessential example of the concerted crackdown on journalists that’s currently taking place across the western world. And there’s a clear correlation between his silencing and the local AFP raids.

“The way Assange is being treated is the way journalists are starting to be treated, and the way all of society will be treated if we don’t collectively call for a stop to the new dictatorial world order,” Rose warned.

And as an example of how this silencing of dissent is spreading beyond the media, Rose pointed to the recent assault on nonviolent climate activists, which has seen the application of ongoing arrests,  draconian bail conditions,  intimidatory procedures and the passing of restrictive laws……..https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/mainstream-media-fights-for-own-freedom-but-not-for-assanges/

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

USA’s intercontinental ballistic missiles- epitome of nuclear corruption

 

November 7, 2019 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The mockery of justice that was Julian Assange’s extradition process

November 7, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Ruthless and relentless – USA-UK destruction of Julian Assange

The charge against Julian is very specific; conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the Iraq War logs, the Afghanistan war logs and the State Department cables. The charges are nothing to do with Sweden, nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with the 2016 US election; a simple clarification the mainstream media appears incapable of understanding.

The campaign of demonization and dehumanization against Julian, based on government and media lie after government and media lie, has led to a situation where he can be slowly killed in public sight, and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing, while receiving no assistance from “liberal” society.

Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?

The Annihilation of Julian Assange,  https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-annihilation-of-julian-assange/, Craig Murray  “In Defense of Julian Assange,” edited by Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler, is now available for OR Books.

I was deeply shaken while witnessing yesterday’s events in Westminster Magistrates Court. Every decision was railroaded through over the scarcely heard arguments and objections of Assange’s legal team, by a magistrate who barely pretended to be listening.

Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated aging. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly skeptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and skeptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness. Continue reading

November 2, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Whistleblowers and the safety problems at Hanford nuclear waste site

October 31, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, investigative journalism, USA | Leave a comment

Officials confirm that Indian nuclear power plant’s network was hacked

Indian nuclear power plant’s network was hacked, officials confirm

After initial denial, company says report of “malware in system” is correct. SEAN GALLAGHER – 10/31/2019 

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has acknowledged today that malware attributed by others to North Korean state actors had been found on the administrative network of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP). The admission comes a day after the company issued a denial that any attack would affect the plant’s control systems.

In a press release today, NPCIL Associate Director A. K. Nema stated, “Identification of malware in NPCIL system is correct. The matter was conveyed by CERT-In [India’s national computer emergency response team] when it was noticed by them on September 4, 2019.”

That matches the date threat analyst Pukhraj Singh said he reported information on the breach to India’s National Cyber Security Coordinator.

“The matter was immediately investigated by [India Department of Atomic Energy] specialists,” Nema stated in the release. “The investigation revealed that the infected PC belonged to a user who was connected to the Internet connected network used for administrative purposes. This is isolated from the critical internal network. The networks are being continuously monitored.”

Lazarus in the house

It’s not clear if data was stolen from the KKNPP network. But the nuclear power plant was not the only facility Singh reported being compromised. When asked by Ars why he called the malware attack a “casus belli”—an act of war—Singh, a former analyst for India’s National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), said, “It was because of the second target, which I can’t disclose as of now.”

The malware in question, named Dtrack by Russian malware protection company Kaspersky, has been used in widespread attacks against financial and research centers, based on Kaspersky data collected from over 180 samples of the malware. Dtrack shares elements of code from other malware attributed to the Lazarus threat group, which, according to US Justice Department indictments, is a North Korean state-sponsored hacking operation. Another version of the malware, ATMDtrack, has been used to steal data from ATM networks in India.

DTrack appears to be an espionage and reconnaissance tool, gathering data about infected systems and capable of logging keystrokes, scanning connected networks, and monitoring active processes on infected computers. The malware may have been delivered by an “in-memory implant,” Singh said, though he added that he is waiting for confirmation from other sources. He added that he had not seen any data indicating whether data had been stolen from the KKNPP network. “I didn’t have the full indicators,” Singh said.

While the attack may not have given direct access to nuclear power control networks, it could have been part of an effort to establish a persistent presence on the nuclear plant’s networks. As a paper published in May by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the human cost of cyber operations pointed out, “the majority of the computer devices in the world are only one or two steps away from a trusted system that a determined attacker could compromise.” Lukasz Olejnik, a security researcher who co-authored the paper, noted that “preemptive compromise of trusted systems would make attacks significantly easier,” and that establishing a persistent presence on a network could aid in things such as supply-chain attacks—attempts to use software update processes or other potential opportunities to move to isolated networks to deliver an attack in the future.

That’s similar to the route demonstrated by Stuxnet, the malware attributed to US and Israeli intelligence that managed to jump an “air gap” into Iranian nuclear enrichment equipment controls. While the administrative network of KKNPP was likely not a good route for such an attack given standards for nuclear control systems security, it certainly could provide information about maintenance operations that would be useful for espionage—or for a future attempted cyber-attack. more https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/10/indian-nuclear-power-company-confirms-north-korean-malware-attack/

October 31, 2019 Posted by | India, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Assange’s lawyers’ plea to Australian government for help – falls on deaf ears

Why is it that the Australian government is so helpful to Australian murderers and drug dealers imprisoned overseas, but so relentlessly unhelpful to an Australian whose only crime is to tell the truth?

Assange legal team asks for Australian government help amid growing health fears, https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/assange-legal-team-asks-for-australian-government-help-amid-growing-health-fears-20191028-p534xw.html, By Rob Harris

October 28, 2019, Julian Assange’s British legal team has requested Australian diplomatic help as fears grow for his health and mental state in a London prison.

The WikiLeaks founder has been held in HM Prison Belmarsh since his April 11 arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had lived in asylum for almost seven years.

Australian officials told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday that diplomats had not heard back from Assange’s lawyer since writing to her last week asking that she raise with him their offer of consular assistance.

The 48-year-old is fighting US attempts to extradite him to face 17 counts of spying and one of computer hacking in relation to WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of classified Pentagon files regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Barrister Greg Barns, an adviser to the Australian Assange campaign, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald his UK lawyers on Friday requested consular assistance following a recent inquiry from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Julian’s lawyers are asking for the Australian government’s assistance in dealing with their client’s inhumane conditions in Belmarsh prison which has led to, and is continuing to cause, serious damage to Julian’s health,” Mr Barns said.

His supporters say he is being kept in solitary confinement and is allowed out of his cell for only 45 minutes a day. At a court appearance last week, he appeared gaunt and disorientated.

Assange was due to be released on September 22 but was told at a court hearing last month he would be kept in jail because there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) passed a motion at its national conference on Saturday calling for the Australian government to do “all it can” to bring Assange home and resist US attempts to extradite him.

ALA national president Andrew Christopoulos said it was an important issue about the rule of law and protecting an Australian in a vulnerable position overseas.

“This is about standing up for the rule of law, fairness and the freedom to expose wrongdoing,” he said. “The reported decline of Julian Assange’s physical and mental health heightens the need for urgent government intervention. The government has intervened in cases like this before and should do so in this circumstance.”

If the case goes to a series of appeals, Assange could remain in a UK jail until at least 2025.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne last week acknowledged the publicity around the case and that Assange had high-profile and loyal supporters. She said it was important to let the legal process run its course.

“He has been offered consular services … like any other Australian would,” Senator Payne told the Senate committee. “I think it’s important to remember that as Australia would not accept intervention or interference in our legal processes, we are not able to intervene in the legal processes of another country

October 29, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties | Leave a comment

Suppression of media freedom in Australia

‘It is all part of the same disease’: media and other key institutions under threat, https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/it-is-all-part-of-the-same-disease-media-and-other-key-institutions-under-threat-20191028-p534z6.html, By Nick O’Malley, October 28, 2019 —The prosecution of journalists, cuts to the ABC budget and the appointment of “dud” politically connected officials to roles in key agencies present an unprecedented threat to democracy in Australia.“Media provides crucial accountability and transparency functions,” said a report by the Centre for Public Integrity, due to be released this week. “Investigative journalists often unearth wrongdoing long before any public integrity agencies investigate, for example the recent Crown Casino investigation by Nick McKenzie at The Age [and The Sydney Morning Herald], and the Four Corners investigation of police corruption in Queensland that triggered the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

“Media outlets have faced attacks in the form of centralisation of private ownership, funding cuts to public broadcasters, and potential prosecution of journalists, including News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.”

One of the report’s authors, Geoffrey Watson, SC, former counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said he had been shocked by how quickly the brutal type of politics that evolved in the United States and the United Kingdom, and partly led to the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, had taken root in Australia.

“One day you see the judiciary attacked and the next someone in the media,” said Mr Watson, who is a director of the Centre for Public Integrity. “On the third day it might be the CSIRO, they even attack our scientists. Some people don’t recognise it as the same problem, but it is all part of the same disease.”

He said the effectiveness of the media in Australia as a watchdog was not only threatened by personal and legal attacks by the government, but by regulations that had allowed ownership of newspapers to be reduced to an effective duopoly.

The report, entitled “Protecting the Integrity of Accountability Institutions”, said that a range of institutions – including the judiciary and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the public service, integrity commissions such as the ICAC, statutory authorities such as the Human Rights Commission and the Fair Work Commission, and the CSIRO – had all been targeted in recent years by interested parties seeking to undermine their independence and public trust.

“These institutions are important not only because they ensure actual accountability, transparency and good governance but because they build confidence and trust within the Australian community,” it said. “When this confidence and trust is diminished, divisiveness and conflict increase. This impacts social cohesiveness and the economy, and the welfare of all Australians suffers. Ultimately, as international experience has shown, it is a threat to democracy itself.”

It cited as examples of interference attempts by federal ministers to influence the Victorian Court of Appeal in 2017 terrorism cases, sustained funding cuts and personal attacks on the ABC, and the de-skilling of the public service through the outsourcing of up to 50 per cent of government departments to contractors.

The report listed a series of principles that needed to be respected in order to protect the independence of the threatened institutions. They include protection from political retribution, secure and sufficient funding, secure tenure of senior officials and public access to advice to the government from accountability institutions, as well as the creation of an effective federal integrity watchdog.

The Centre for Public Integrity, a independently funded think tank, was formed earlier this year in part to champion the case for a such a body. The report comes in the midst of a campaign by Australian media, including the Herald and The Age, to defend the public right to information in the face of increasing attempts by government and government agencies to suppress information, prosecute whistleblowers and criminalise legitimate public interest journalism.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Misuse of funds in South Africa”s nuclear reactor project

Is this outfit similar to Australia’s ANSTO and its Lucas Heights reactor?   They both seem like mavericks running their own show without accountability

Explosive letter sent to Parliament’s energy oversight committee by Necsa board, https://www.ee.co.za/article/exposed-financial-mismanagement-at-sas-nuclear-energy-corporation.html
October 28th, 2019, by Chris Yelland, investigative editor, EE Publishers   An explosive letter, dated 17 October 2019, from the current Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) board to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy, reveals startling new information relating to the misuse of Necsa’s funds by the former board under fired former chairman Kelvin Kemm and former CEO Phumzile Tshelane.

The letter reveals that Necsa has been making massive operating losses since 2014, which have deteriorated over the years, and has resulted in various ring-fenced funds being irregularly used to meet operating expenses, including salaries.

For example, the letter says that in financial year (FY) 2018/19, Necsa raided R268-million from the Safari low-enriched uranium (LEU) spent Fuel Waste Disposal Fund, which was meant for future disposal of spent nuclear fuel waste, in order to meet operating costs.

The Safari-1 reactor became one of Necsa’s cornerstone facilities, especially during the mid 1990’s, where it’s main application was to be a cost-sustainable facility operating as a commercial production facility of radioisotopes and the rendering of irradiation services.

Furthermore, in FY 2017/18, the letter indicates that Necsa borrowed R58,5-million from its subsidiary, NTP Radioisotopes, which was to be repaid in 2019, but was subsequently unilaterally extended to 2021 when it became clear that Necsa could not afford to repay NTP Radioisotopes.

In FY 2016/17, Necsa is said to have used R100-million of investments of the Safari LEU Spent Fuel Waste Disposal Fund as security for a R100-million overdraft facility from Nedbank, which the bank later withdrew due to the absence of a turnaround strategy to address Necsa’s strained financial position.

This, according to the letter, then forced Necsa to raid R100-million from the Safari LEU Spent Fuel Waste Disposal Fund to meet operating costs, and this R100-million was later repaid to the Fund from government grant funding.

The effect of the unconventional funding interventions in previous years, says the letter, was that about R445-million of ring-fenced funds were used for operations, despite being meant for other purposes, thus negatively affecting Necsa’s liquidity and solvency.

The letter further says that Necsa has been technically bankrupt since about 2016, and has survived using ring-fenced funds, which has cumulatively had an impact on the going concern status on the entity – a challenge which the current board is now faced with.

This letter from the new Necsa board to Parliament follows a damning audit report by the Auditor General of South Africa detailing the maladministration and irregular expenditure under the former Necsa board. The qualified audit report was attached Necsa’s financial statements for FY 2017/18, which were tabled about six months late by the former board.

Necsa’s financial statements for FY 2018/19 are also late, as the new board grapples with the political turmoil and disruptive actions by labour union NEHAWU. It is expected that there will be further explosive revelations by the Auditor General.

The entire former board of Necsa was removed by the former minister of energy, Jeff Radebe, in December 2018, and there is ongoing litigation in this regard.

 

October 29, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

The reprehensible pro nuclear campaign for bailing out nuclear power in Ohio

Melting Ice, Crumbling Nukes, Cecile Pineta Newsletter Sunday, October 27, 2019 For anyone following or attempting to follow nuclear energy news in the United States, what’s been going on in the State of Ohio is a solid indicator of just where we stand, technologically, and from a style of government standpoint.

Without going into stupefying background detail, I’ll try to sum up the Ohio situation with help from the summary published Oct. 26 by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman who have been birddogging this issue for decades now. And I quote:

  • In July, the gerrymandered Ohio Legislature passed HB6, a massive

[1 billion-dollar] bailout to keep the two dying nukes operating on Lake Erie, [Davis-Besse, and Perry].

  • Akron-based First Energy is bankrupt…[demanding] a promised $1 billion bailout.
  • Signature gatherers were offered as much as $2,500 to turn over their signed petitions. [Contrast this with receiving only $.25 cents a signature.]

While disrupting legitimate [signature] gatherers, pro-nuke thugs aggressively collected multiple duplicate signatures for a fake non-binding petition.

Deep Pockets

  • First Energy then claimed it had gathered more than 800,000 “pro-nuke’ signatures.
  • First Energy accompanied [thug] assaults with a massive radio/TV/mailer campaign [with the ridiculous claim that] “Chinese Communists” were buying Ohio’s grid.
  • OACB’s court filing showed that state regulations imposed on certification have vastly reduced the number of referenda Ohioans can vote on.
  • Wednesday last, Oct. 26, a federal judge rejected OACB’s request for more time to gather signatures, and sent the case to the Ohio GOP-dominated Supreme Court.
  • OACB is rumored to have about 225,000 signatures on hand, 40,000 short of the threshold. Far more will be needed to overcome a [Republican] Secretary of State certain to disallow as many as [possible].
  • [And here’s the kicker:] Polls show Ohioans [who will be the rate-payers] vehemently opposed to the bailout. [That’s why] most observers believe if it [got] on the ballot, the referendum would pass by a large margin.
  • [But] should Federal appeals fail, and the Ohio Supreme Court refuse the request for more time, the referendum process will have suffered a potential death blow nationwide. It will mean Fascist thugs will be free to assault legitimate signature gatherers at will.

This last point is the main take-away. First Energy mounted this campaign in major Ohio cities: Youngstown, Akron, Toledo, and Columbus among them. It underwrote its million-dollar-plus cost-of-doing business in flyers, TV/radio/mailer announcements. It paid thousands of goon-disrupters to do their thuggish business on the streets.

At play is a $1 billion bailout. A million-dollar cost-of-doing business is a mere investment, a drop in the corporate bucket. At issue is that its cost will be passed directly to ratepayers.

Core tests conducted at Davis Besse show that its containment vessel is critically embrittled. Should there be an accident (like Three-Mile Island for example} Lake Erie is at serious risk of nuclear contamination. First Energy’s ratepayers draw their water from Lake Erie, the fourth largest of the Great Lakes and source of fresh water for Canadians and Americans living in the area.

Already in 2011, following the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, I covered the issue of Davis Besse’s critical embrittlement in Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step.

That was 8 years ago….. https://devilstangobook.blogspot.com/2019/10/melting-ice-crumbling-nukes.html?showComment=1572237519303#c7332297197888828316

October 28, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

Governments manipulate social media – Twitter executive is a British army psychological operations officer

governments have a long history of trying to manipulate the media,” and are steadily moving into the realm of social media.
Facebook’s gigantic user base and its design make it an enormously influential media organization, one that can make or break politicians’ chances.
there is one rule for the powerful and quite another for the rest of us, and how the big social media platforms are increasingly acting like arms of Western governments, adopting their perspectives on what are and are not acceptable political viewpoints.

Media Ignore Unmasking of Twitter Exec as British Psyops Officer  https://fair.org/home/media-ignore-unmasking-of-twitter-exec-as-british-psyops-officer/comment-page-1/#comment-3169114  

Government penetration and control over media of little interest to those who are subject to it, ALAN MACLEOD, 24 Oct 19, A recent investigation from independent news outlet Middle East Eye (9/30/19) uncovered that a senior Twitter executive is, in fact, an officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to psychological operations (psyops), propaganda and online warfare.

Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company in 2013, is its head of editorial for the Middle East and North Africa. While both Twitter and the British Army attempted to distance themselves from the implications of the report, it is unclear why MacMillan would have this role if not to manipulate and propagandize the public. (The British Ministry of Defense describes psyops as a way of getting “the enemy, or other target audience, to think and act in a way which will be to our advantage”—BBC6/20/08.)

For media so committed to covering news of foreign interference with US public opinion online (see FAIR.org, 8/24/16, 12/13/17, 7/27/18), the response was distinctly muted.The story did not appear at all in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News or virtually any other mainstream national outlet. In fact, the only corporate US outlet of any note covering the news that a person deciding what you see in your Twitter feed is a foreign psyops officer was Newsweek, which published a detailed analysis from Tareq Haddad (10/1/19). When asked by FAIR why he believed this was, Haddad agreed it was major news, but downplayed the idea of media malevolence, suggesting that because it was a small British outlet breaking news involving a British officer, US media may have overlooked it.

Yet the bombshell was also largely downplayed in the UK press as well, with only the Independent, (9/30/19), the London Times (10/2/19) and the Financial Times (9/30/19) producing reports on the news, bland and even-toned as they were. There was no other reporting of it in the national press, including in the BBC or the Guardian, the latter having already “gotten rid of everyone who seemed to cover the security services and military in an adversarial way,” according to one current employee.
Furthermore, the news was the focus of alarmed reports in alternative media (Moon of Alabama9/30/19Consortium News10/2/19), as well as from foreign government-owned outlets that have been labeled propaganda mills, and have been demoted or deleted from social media platforms like TwitterYouTube and Facebook. Turkey’s TRT World (10/1/19), Venezuela’s TeleSur English (10/1/19), Iran’s Press TV (9/30/19), and Russia’s Sputnik (9/30/19) and RT (9/30/19) all immediately covered the scandal, suggesting the lack of Western coverage was a political rather than a journalistic choice.

Deep State and Fourth Estate

Haddad also noted that “governments have a long history of trying to manipulate the media,” and are steadily moving into the realm of social media. Regular FAIR readers will already know this. Last year Facebook announced that, in its fight against “fake news,” it had started working with the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, two organizations involved in covertly assisting the overthrow of foreign governments through propaganda campaigns, among other methods (FAIR.org9/25/18). It also began partnering with the Atlantic Council (FAIR.org5/21/18), a NATO-funded think tank, whose board of directors is a who’s who of ex-CIA chiefs, army generals and Bush-era neocon politicians. That the likes of Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and David Petraeus are deciding what Facebook’s 2.4 billion worldwide users see in their news feed is tantamount to state censorship on a global scale (FAIR.org8/22/18).
Facebook’s gigantic user base and its design make it an enormously influential media organization, one that can make or break politicians’ chances. Media (e.g., New York Times11/1/17Buzzfeed News4/18/19USA Today4/22/19) have consistently implied that a relatively small Russian ad campaign on the platform swung the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. Less well known is that an American advertising team met with far-right party Alternative für Deutschland at Facebook headquarters in Berlin to devise a campaign of micro-targeting ads on the platform that led to a massive increase in their vote, the strongest fascist showing in Germany since the 1940s (FAIR.org6/19/19).

A Fact-Free Zone

Facebook has rules against accepting advertisements containing “deceptive, false or misleading content.” Yet earlier this month, it announced it was rescinding these rules for political ads, allowing politicians who pay them to lie to its users. Referencing the long run-up to the 2020 election, where it is sure to cash in on both sides, a spokesperson justified the decision on the grounds of free speech: “We don’t believe that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates.” It did note, however, that it would continue to ban ads by non-politicians that “include claims debunked by third-party factcheckers, or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”

Yet factchecking organizations are not neutral arbiters of truth, but part of an increasingly elite class of people with their own biases and preconceptions. In practice, they have tended to espouse a “centrist” ideology—a word with its own problems (FAIR.org, 3/23/19)—and are hostile to anyone challenging the status quo from either right or left. Factcheckers have been carrying out something of a war against Bernie Sanders’ campaign, constantly rating the Vermont Senator’s statements as misleading or untrue without due reason.

Furthermore, the choice of who gets to decide what is true and what is false is an important one. Facebook has already partnered with conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, a publication that was crucial in pushing arguably the greatest fake news stories of the 21st century: those of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s links to 9/11 (Extra!9/09). “There is no debate about the facts” that “the Iraqi threat” to the US is “enormous” and that Saddam’s henchmen helped Osama Bin Laden, it wrote in 2002 (1/21/02). Yet Facebook picked this organization to help it gauge the veracity of viral stories across its platform.

Silencing Dissent Online

In September, Twitter suspended multiple accounts belonging to Cuban state media. And along with Facebook and YouTube, it also suspended hundreds of Chinese accounts it claimed were attempting to “sow political discord in Hong Kong” by “undermining the legitimacy” of the protest movement. These social media giants have already deleted thousands of Venezuelan, Russian and Iranian accounts and pages that were, in their own words, “in line with” those governments’ positions. The message is clear: Sharing opinions that do not fall in line with official US doctrine will not be tolerated online.

In contrast, Western politicians can continually flout Twitter’s terms of service with no consequences. Sen. Marco Rubio threatened Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with torture and execution, sharing a video of Moammar Gadhafi being tortured and killed in a not-so-subtle message that broke multiple Twitter rules. Meanwhile, Donald Trump announced that we would “totally destroy” North Korea with “fire and fury,” and promised he would bring about the “official end” of Iran if it angered him again. Twitter has continually refused to delete tweets like that on the grounds that this would “hamper necessary discussion,” although it later saw fit to delete those from Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Decisions like these highlight how there is one rule for the powerful and quite another for the rest of us, and how the big social media platforms are increasingly acting like arms of Western governments, adopting their perspectives on what are and are not acceptable political viewpoints.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment