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AUKUS an unwelcome guest at the table of nuclear disarmament.

AUKUS is emblematic of a belligerence that is at odds with moral and ethical demands for the future. It posits a vision of military aggression and confrontation that increase the risk of war and war turning nuclear; and concedes authoritarianism and lack of debate as defining principles for the present

AUKUS an unwelcome guest at the table of nuclear disarmament, Pearls and Irritations,
By Sanjay BarboraJan 16, 2022
   Despite many shortcomings, the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a symbol of an inconsistent effort to ensure a world without threats of nuclear war.

The 2022 Review Conference (RevCon) of the Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which was to meet from January 4 to 28 in New York has been postponed because of the resurgent virus. Consultations are under way to set a new meeting time.

………………As governments and civil society consider their priorities for the review conference, what then are we to expect? This question assumes greater significance for Australia, as the country’s leaders respond to the changing climate following the hastily announced AUKUS trilateral pact for the supply of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in 2021.

Three closely related aspects ought to be considered by the country’s decision makers as they address the review conference. They are (a) Australia’s commitment to international obligations, (b) security implications of the proposed AUKUS submarines, and (c) reactions within civil society, either as they exist now or as may be anticipated in the future.

………………. In the past, Australia’s stated position was to aim for greater accountability from the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS), while widening the scope of non-nuclear weapons states (NNWS) to pursue the development of domestic nuclear energy. However, this position was undermined by its active opposition to and attempts to derail the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2017.

A decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS partnership would threaten this fraught history with further uncertainties. It would offer the United States an even greater say in Australian foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean region.

The specious defence that eight-nuclear propelled submarines do not constitute a breach of Australia’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has two obvious problems.

Firstly, politicians and political commentators have made it clear that current tensions with China have played a substantial role in the current government’s decision to override earlier agreements for creating domestic capacities to build submarines with French support.

Secondly, this dystopian vision of a future world of nuclear showdowns could encourage governments of other NNWS in the region and elsewhere to follow a similar disingenuous narrative for nuclear militarisation.

In any case, the pathway from civil use to military weaponisation remains an issue of concern, that any sovereign country might follow. This could undo several decades of Australian diplomacy that sought to place the country as a reliable partner for securing peaceful policies and development in the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean region.

AUKUS is emblematic of a belligerence that is at odds with moral and ethical demands for the future. It posits a vision of military aggression and confrontation that increase the risk of war and war turning nuclear; and concedes authoritarianism and lack of debate as defining principles for the present…………..

The NPT Review Conference, therefore offers an opportunity to revive Australian civil society’s responsibility to reiterate its commitment to regional and global peace and a world free of nuclear weapons.

Professor Sanjay Barbora, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India, is a Research Affiliate with the University of Melbourne’s Initiative for Peacebuilding. This article was stimulated by a closed-door roundtable discussion, “Would AUKUS undermine the NPT?” hosted by the Initiative for Peacebuilding on December 10. https://johnmenadue.com/aukus-an-unwelcome-guest-at-the-table-of-nuclear-disarmament/

January 17, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Australian media colludes with USA, UK and Australian governments’ persecution ofJulian Assange -”Crikey journal” typifies this

After seven years of arbitrary detention followed by three years of solitary confinement and other tortures in London’s Belmarsh Prison, Assange thinks of suicide constantly. That the U.S. is slowly killing this Australian journalist, partner and father before our eyes for exposing war crimes while the Australian Government does nothing and the majority of our press either remains silent or – when they say anything at all – write flippant and inaccurate stories about him demonstrates just how broken this country’s media is.

Australian media must stand up for Assange’s freedom, https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/australian-media-must-stand-up-for-assanges-freedom,15918 By Matilda Duncan | 10 January 2022,  For far too long the Australian media has remained silent in the face of Julian Assange’s persecution and that must change, writes Matilda Duncan.

LAST MONTH, Crikey’s legal correspondent Michael Bradley wrote a bizarre analysis of Julian Assange’s impending extradition to the U.S. without any regard for basic facts.

It’s worth examining, as it typifies the failures and absurdities of Australian press responses to Assange going back a decade — filled with lies, smears and false narratives that prevent the public from understanding the significance and substance of his case.

In writing about one of the gravest threats to press freedom in years, Bradley went as far as to include a cringeworthy – if not downright pernicious, given Assange recently suffered a stroke and is in precarious health – reference to a Monty Python quote being inscribed on Assange’s tombstone that ‘he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’. 

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In allowing his thoughts to remain mired in diversionary debates and myths about WikiLeaks and Assange, Bradley completely misses the point of the U.S. extradition case and fails to mention the dire threat to investigative journalism around the world it presents.

He does not confront or condemn the alarming legal precedent of the United States charging a foreign national, one of our citizens, with espionage under U.S domestic law — despite Assange not being a U.S. citizen and WikiLeaks not being a U.S.-based publication.

Continue reading

January 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

The Australian government is complicit with USA and UK, imperilling the health of Julian Assange, may well cause his death.

AUKUS alliance driving Assange to his death,  https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/aukus-alliance-driving-assange-to-his-death,15904, By John Jiggens | 6 January 2022,   The actions of the U.S., UK and Australia are imperiling the health of Julian Assange and could result in the tragic death of the publisher, writes John Jiggens.

THE NEWS THAT Julian Assange has suffered a stroke while detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison has strengthened the fears of Assange supporters that the AUKUS alliance is comfortable with the WikiLeaks’ founder’s death at their hands.

But would an Australian Government be complicit in a plot against one of its own citizens?

Consider these recent stories.

In September 2021, Yahoo! News revealed that Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA Director in 2017, became party to a scheme to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy or to assassinate him.

The Yahoo! investigation was based on conversations with 30 former U.S. officials. Among those interviewed, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange.

Greg Barns SC, a barrister and advisor to Julian Assange, told Bay FM:

“It was like something out of a James Bond film, except sadly, it was very true. There was a clear plan to take Assange out. We now have the Australian Government on notice that one of its citizens was the subject of a conspiracy to murder plot by the CIA.”

Further, he remarked:

The conduct of the CIA was outrageous, unlawful and represents a complete breach of the so-called alliance or friendship between Australia and the United States.

The CIA acts essentially as a criminal enterprise. It is state-sanctioned criminality. To be overtly planning to murder someone in any circumstances would amount to a conspiracy to murder for anyone else and the persons would face very serious criminal charges.

The Yahoo! report prompted prominent Assange supporters to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking if the Australian Government accepted the behaviour of an ally plotting to murder an Australian citizen and questioning whether Australian intelligence agencies participated in the plot or were notified about it.

Five weeks passed while Morrison’s office composed a 100-word reply.

It acceped no responsibility or accountability whatsoever. Indeed, Morrison’s reply did not deny Australian involvement or knowledge of the plot.

Instead it passed the buck, advising:

Concerns about the legality or propriety of the activities of Australian intelligence agency are best directed to the IGIS, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security.’

During the UK High Court extradition appeal in October, the Courier Mail ran another story, titled ‘Assange snubbed Aussie help 29 times, says Payne’.

Why, in the middle of Assange’s High Court hearing, was Foreign Minister Marise Payne using her friends in the Murdoch media to portray Assange as un-Australian, snubbing her patriotic ‘’Aussie help’’?

Assange’s father John Shipton commented:

“I get no help from Marise Payne in any way whatsoever. Saying I have been snubbed 29 times by Julian is to defend her. It’s only to defend her. It’s nothing to do with Julian.”

The family have continually asked for Payne and Morrison to actively engage with Australia’s UK and U.S. allies. They see extradition as an outrageous surrender of Australian sovereignty and they expect that Morrison and Payne should tell UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden so.

Shipton, who has travelled to 50 countries to garner support for Julian, said:

“Everywhere I go, people ask where is the Australian Government in this? What is the substance of Australia in its relationship with the UK that it allows this show trial to go on without comment?”

 

January 6, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Secretive transports returning nuclear waste from UK to Australia

Nuclear waste from Britain heading to Lucas Heights,    THE AUSTRALIAN,   JACQUELIN MAGNAY   30 DECEMBER 21, LONDON@jacquelinmagnay,

Australia is to receive a two-tonne shipment of nuclear waste from Britain that will arrive under tight security and amid high secrecy in the coming months.

The shipment of intermediate-level nuclear waste has been ­prepared for delivery to the Australian Nuclear Science and Tech­nology Organisation facilities at Lucas Heights, in Sydney’s south.

It will be just the second tranche of intermediate-level nuclear waste returned to the country, and its arrival shines a spotlight on Australia’s lack of a long-term storage plan for nuclear waste classified above low-level material.

The radioactive uranium and plutonium waste has been vitrified in four glass containers and then encased in an outer container made of specialised steel, known as a TN81 cask.

ANSTO says its previous experience in receiving intermediate-level nuclear waste – which occurred in 2015 when a larger shipment was returned from France – will mitigate any risks.

In that shipment, all local roads along the route were shut for more than five hours, and the ­operation involved the NSW Riot Squad and other police units to contain antinuclear protesters.

In the coming weeks, the ­nuclear waste will be moved by rail from the decommissioned ­nuclear plant at Sellafield in Cumbria to the British coast before being loaded onto a ship operated by Nuclear Transport Solutions.

It is expected to travel through Australian waters, including some maritime parks, before berthing.

The cargo is likely to be unloaded at Port Kembla in Wollongong under heavy guard, arriving sometime before the middle of next year.

Wherever the ship berths, the container will be loaded onto a truck for transport through ­residential and industrial areas, as well as along the Princes Highway through the Royal National Park south of Sydney and on to the Lucas Heights facility.

ANSTO says the final route will be a closely guarded secret and will be decided in consultation with NSW authorities.

NTS confirmed that the return of the intermediate-level waste in the form of vitrified residue to Australia had first been expected to take place last year.

Preparations for the shipment have been carried out since 2014……..

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has recently certified “the transport package”, and it will allow ANSTO to “temporarily” store the nuclear waste in the ­Interim Waste Store at Lucas Heights before another temporary storage facility for intermediate waste – currently being considered for Napandee, near the town of Kimba in South Australia – is ready to receive it.

This planned alternative storage solution, which is known as the ­National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, would bring together all the low-level radioactive waste from 100 different sites around the country and allow temporary storage of intermediate-level waste.

However, the proposed site in Kimba is being contested, with a judicial review requested earlier this month by traditional landowners the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation.

Longer-term storage plans for the intermediate waste are yet to be considered.

Despite this uncertainty, Australia is committed to receiving the waste after 114 ANSTO spent fuel rods were sent to Dounreay, Scotland, to be reprocessed of ­plutonium and uranium in 1996.

The processed waste being ­returned is of an equivalent radioactive level, but in a more condensed form than was originally exported to Scotland, and it has now been transported to the old Sellafield power station.

This means that instead of 52 500-litre drums of cemented waste, the British shipment will comprise four canisters of glass waste of an equivalent level.

It is classified by British authorities as having radioactivity levels greater than four GBq/tonne for alpha emitters and Beta/gamma emitters greater than 12 GBq/tonne – which puts it in the intermediate category.

ANSTO says it has experience in handling and storing such waste, citing the 2015 arrival of 25 tonnes of similar-level nuclear waste from France.

The new shipment will be stored next to that waste……………..

It is unclear if local councils positioned along the expected transport route will be notified when the shipment lands.

Previously, some export transportation of spent nuclear fuel rods from ANSTO to France for reprocessing has been carried out in the middle of the night with tight secrecy and no prior notice. Several councils, including Wollongong through which the nuclear waste will be carried, have called for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Australia can expect to have to receive further shipments of returned waste every six or seven years, including spent fuel elements from the Opal reactor sent to La Hague in France for reprocessing before being returned. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/nuclear-waste-from-britain-heading-to-lucas-heights/news-story/e5e8511403cd24de66c79be3d1d96fe6

December 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Aboriginal ttraditional owners lodge legal challenge to planned South Australian nuclear waste dump.


Traditional owners lodge legal challenge to planned Kimba nuclear waste dump, 
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-21/barngarla-challenge-kimba-radioactive-waste-facility-napandee/100717404?fbclid=IwAR3QiztQ5454cuTfmjLaBaCb_nK4usDM43TObZV5R
ABC North and West SA / By Declan GoochPatrick Martin, and Gillian Aeria  Tue 21 Dec 2021 raditional owners on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula have formally lodged a legal challenge to the federal government’s plan to build a nuclear waste dump in the region.

Key points:

  • The Barngarla people have begun legal action against a planned radioactive waste dump
  • The federal government wants to build the facility near Kimba
  • Traditional owners have complained they were not consulted properly

The government wants to store low and intermediate-level waste at a property called Napandee, near the town of Kimba.

The Barngarla people say they were not included in the consultation process, which included a ballot of ratepayers.

“We don’t want it to be at Kimba because we were excluded from the vote under white man’s law,” Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation chairman Jason Bilney said.

The group filed for a judicial review of the site selection process in the Federal Court on Tuesday.

The ballot of Kimba ratepayers, which the government has repeatedly cited as evidence of community support, showed about 60 per cent of voters were in favour of the plan.

“The government says broad community support — well what broad community support did you have, let alone with the native title holders of Kimba or on the Eyre Peninsula?” Mr Bilney said.

The ballot of Kimba ratepayers, which the government has repeatedly cited as evidence of community support, showed about 60 per cent of voters were in favour of the plan.

“The government says broad community support — well what broad community support did you have, let alone with the native title holders of Kimba or on the Eyre Peninsula?” Mr Bilney said.

He said South Australian law required a parliamentary inquiry if nuclear waste was to be brought in and stored.

“We are going to see continual opposition emerge over the next five to 10 years, and this has got a long way to run.”

He expected the court to decide in the Barngarla group’s favour.

“They have a clear and strong case. They were excluded from the community ballot, and they do have native title rights, and it’s essential the Federal Court stands up and protects those rights.” 

The government had initially tried to legislate the location of the facility in a way that would have eliminated the possibility of a judicial review.

It later amended the legislation in response to pressure from Labor so it received the support needed to pass both houses of parliament.

In a statement, resources minister Keith Pitt said the declaration of Kimba as the site for the facility was a “significant step”.

He said his facility was a crucial piece of national infrastructure for Australia’s nuclear medicine industry and nuclear research capabilities. 

December 24, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, legal, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia is racing towards 100 per cent renewables. What does that look like? —

When too much wind and solar is not nearly enough! What does a grid look like when it is nearly 100 per cent powered by renewables? The post Australia is racing towards 100 per cent renewables. What does that look like? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Australia is racing towards 100 per cent renewables. What does that look like? — RenewEconomy
 The share of wind and solar has nearly quadrupled, and AEMO, whose main
responsibility is to keep the lights on, is modelling a 79 per cent share
of renewables (that’s an average over the year) by 2030 as its most
likely and now central scenario.

Even the mainstream political parties are
keeping up, even if some don’t like to admit it: Labor’s emissions
target (a 43 per cent cut by 2030) proudly assumes an 82 per cent share of
renewables by 2030. The federal Coalition, which demonised Labor’s 50 per
cent renewables target from the 2019 election campaign as “economy
wrecking”, quietly assumes a 69 per cent share in renewables by 2030 in
its emissions modelling. i.e. when too much wind and solar is not nearly
enough.

The biggest reasons for the extraordinary pace of this renewables
transition, and the dramatic change in expectations, are many. Mostly they
fall around the rapid falls in technology costs, and the subsequent embrace
of wind, solar and storage by state governments of both sides of the
political divide, and by corporate demand, keen to have cheaper and greener
power.

The Liberal government in South Australia is heading towards 100 per
cent renewables in the next few years, on its way to 500 per cent
renewables via renewable hydrogen exports, and the Tasmania Liberal
government aims for 200 per cent renewables for the same reason.

 Renew Economy 23rd Dec 2021

 https://reneweconomy.com.au/australia-is-racing-towards-100-per-cent-renewables-what-does-that-look-like/

December 24, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, renewable | Leave a comment

An irreverent call to Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison – ACT NOW to free Julian Assange

December 18, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie implores the Australian Prime Minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange,  https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/7548246/mp-urges-pm-to-pick-up-phone-over-assange/?cs=9397Dominic Giannini   

MP urges PM to pick up phone over Assange,  https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/7548246/mp-urges-pm-to-pick-up-phone-over-assange/?cs=9397

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has implored the prime minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution of Julian Assange.

The former intelligence analyst said the prosecution of Mr Assange has always been political which meant it could be solved politically by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“The reality is this has always been an intensively political matter and it can be solved politically by Scott Morrison picking up the phone to Joe Biden and Boris Johnson,” Mr Wilkie told the ABC.

It comes after reports the 50-year-old WikiLeaks founder suffered a stroke in prison in October.

“Jail is killing Julian Assange,” Mr Wilkie said.

“There is no way he will survive continued incarceration in the UK.”

Mr Assange has just suffered a legal blow after the UK High Court ruled he could be extradited to face charges in the US.

Mr Assange’s lawyers say they intend to appeal the decision in the UK’s highest court.

December 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Australian government urged to push UK and US to free Julian Assange.

Australian government urged to push UK and US to free Julian Assange, SBS , 12 Dec 21,

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says officials have raised issues of due legal process and access to proper medical care for Julian Assange with officials in the UK and the US.  By Alexander Britton

The Australian government has been urged to weigh in on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as supporters vowed to continue to fight against his extradition……………..

Senator Rex Patrick told SBS News the Australian government has not placed enough pressure on the US and UK governments about the case but was hopeful “common sense will prevail”.

He said: “We have a Deputy Prime Minister (Barnaby Joyce) who spoke in support of Julian Assange while on the backbench who is in Washington in quarantine.

“He could be using his time pushing his views, speaking to the (US) Secretary of State.

“The Deputy Prime Minister was very clear as to what the Government should be doing, but has remained quiet since he rejoined the cabinet.”

‘Dangerous and misguided’   

In a statement, Mr Joyce said: “My position remains the same….In regards to the current UK proceedings, I note he was not in the US at the time of the action he is accused nor was he a US citizen at the time so should not be bound to US laws.”

The US said the release of the classified information put lives in danger, but Mr Assange’s backers say the case is retaliation for his exposing of wrongdoing in overseas conflicts.

His fiancee, Stella Moris, said his legal team would appeal against the decision and said Friday’s verdict at the Royal Courts of Justice in London was “dangerous and misguided”.

“This goes to the fundamentals of press freedom and of democracy. We will fight,” she said outside the court. 

“Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society, of what it means to have press freedom.”

The ruling has been the subject of criticism from a range of campaign groups, as well as a number of politicians in Australia.

Labor MP Julian Hill said the Australian government “must stand up to the US and the UK and stop this extradition”.

In a series of tweets, he said: “Julian Assange, an Australian citizen is fighting for his life in London, as the USA seeks his extradition to face an effective death sentence.

“This Australian, who exposed US war crimes, is treated worse than a war criminal. He’s NOT receiving a fair trial.

“There will never be a legal solution to Julian Assange’s case. It is an inherently political witch-hunt.

“The Australian Government must stand up to the US and the UK and stop this extradition.”

Federal Independent MP Andrew Wilkie urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “end the lunacy” and demand the release of Mr Assange.

“The PM must end this lunacy, pick up the phone to his counterparts in the US and UK, and urge them to release Mr Assange immediately and allow him to return to Australia. He is a hero, not a villain, and journalism is not a crime.”

Greens senator Janet Rice added: “Julian Assange’s prosecution has always been political. It’s going to need a political response from our government to get justice for him.”

And MP George Christensen, who introduced a private bill to address the illegal detention of journalists last month, titled “free Julian Assange”, called on US President Joe Biden to drop the case.

He wrote on Facebook: “A foreign court just ruled that an Australian journalist – Julian Assange – should be extradited to another foreign nation to face trumped-up charges of hacking and espionage. 

“This is an affront to freedom of speech and Australian sovereignty.”

Concerns about Assange’s health………..

The legal wrangling will go to the Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s final court of appeal.

Amnesty International’s Europe Director Nils Muižnieks said the decision was a “travesty of justice”.

“The US government’s indictment poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad.”

While Nils Melzer, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, noted the court’s decision came on the same day as Human Rights Day and expressed concerns about Mr Assange’s health.

He said: “It’s just like a car crash happening in slow motion and every now and then someone asking you to comment on what you’re seeing.

“Well it’s still a car crash happening in slow motion, we know exactly what’s at the end of this.

“At the end, Julian Assange is crushed as a person and our rights have been done away with.”……………..

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said they have made available consular assistance and continue to monitor the case. [ed note: a fat lot of good that will do!]………….. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australian-government-urged-to-push-uk-and-us-to-free-julian-assange_1/057ebae4-4cc9-40ba-9536-f6a2b74cf6e7

December 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Assange facing extradition to US: where is the outrage?

How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?”

Assange facing extradition to US: where is the outrage?   https://redflag.org.au/article/assange-facing-extradition-us-where-outrageTom Gilchrist11 December 2021

The US government has won its appeal against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with the UK’s High Court overturning an earlier decision to block Assange’s extradition to the US. The case will now be sent back to the Magistrates Court with instructions to allow the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to approve or deny the extradition request.

This is a massive blow to press freedom. Assange faces one charge of conspiracy and 17 espionage charges, begun by the Trump administration but continued by the Biden administration. These 17 espionage charges relate to the publication and release of secret government documents, a crucial right for serious journalists trying to hold governments to account. As a statement from Wikileaks in response to the ruling puts its, Assange is “accused of publishing true information revealing crimes committed by the US government in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and details of CIA torture and rendition”.

For telling the truth about these war crimes Assange has faced a decade long campaign of persecution. As Amnesty International’s Europe Director Nils Muižnieks said in response to the High Court decision: “The US government’s indictment poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad. If upheld, it would undermine the key role of journalists and publishers in scrutinising governments and exposing their misdeeds, and would leave journalists everywhere looking over their shoulders.” Muižnieks has labelled the decision a “travesty of justice”.

In the earlier decision in January which blocked Assange’s extradition, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the harsh conditions of the US prison system would put Assange at an unreasonable risk of suicide. The High Court has allowed the appeal against this decision on the basis of various “assurances” given by the US government to Assange. These included assurances that he would not be subjected to Special Administrative Measures which restrict contact with the outside world, and that he would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia if the Australian government made such a request.

These assurances, however, come with caveats. The US government has said that they must be allowed to hold Assange in these restrictive conditions if they fear he could be responsible for a “breach” of “national security”. As Muižnieks argues “The fact that the US has reserved the right to change its mind at any time means that these assurances are not worth the paper they are written on”.

Earlier this year an investigative report from Yahoo! News revealed that leading figures in the US government had discussed the possibility of kidnapping or assassinating Assange during the seven years he was taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Over the last decade it has subjected Assange to a campaign of persecution which Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, says amounts to psychological torture. The idea that this same government is now able to give assurances that it cares about the health and safety of Assange is absurd. As Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, says “How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?”

Moris is a part of Assange’s legal team and says they will be appealing the decision. Such an appeal would be heard by the UK Supreme Court. Assange, meanwhile, remains imprisoned indefinitely in a maximum-security UK prison.

As one of the world’s most high-profile political prisoners, and an Australian national, the Australian media and government might be expected to be up in arms over the plight of Assange. But the shameful lack of concern about his fate persists. Loyalty to the US empire, and willingness to cover up its many crimes, comes first for Australian capitalism.

December 13, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

How the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body

AUSTRALIA CAPTUREDHow the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body, MICHELLE FAHY, DECLASSIFIED AUSTRALIA 9 DECEMBER 2021

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has veered away from its founding vision of providing an array of independent diverse views, to now promote an aggressive militaristic solution to the heightened tensions in Australia’s region.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra is the government’s primary source of outside-government advice, research and analysis on military and strategic affairs. Since its establishment in mid-2001, it has veered away from its founding vision.

There is a jarring disconnect between the lofty goals of independence expressed in ASPI’s charter, and the infiltration of ASPI by tentacles of the military-industrial complex. This has been barely mentioned in Australia’s mainstream media.

Declassified Australia investigation has uncovered a casebook example of ‘state-capture’, with the development of deep connections between ASPI, and the world’s largest and most powerful military weapons manufacturers.

Australia is a significant participant in the global arms trade at present. Its $270-billion decade-long spending spree upgrading weapons and war machines is large by international standards, and Australia is increasingly becoming an arms seller too. As Australia moves militarily ever closer to the US, even defence insiders say the defence industry is ‘awash with money’.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen have made the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers richer, larger, and more influential. At the lesser-known end of the spectrum, the Yemen war is notable for its extensive human rights abuses and war crimes: it has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite pleas from the UN, the arms still flow and the war continues. The weaponry for this war has been supplied by the world’s top arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, and missile-maker Raytheon.

ASPI and the Weapons Lobby

The Australian subsidiaries of these and other global weapon-makers have been regular ASPI sponsors for years. Some of them have successfully used the back door to gain access to ASPI’s top table, its governing council. ASPI council members have included former senior military officers, defence ministers, and federal MPs who are also on arms and cyber company boards. It has also included former and current arms industry executives. The challenge to ASPI’s independence is large and real.

ASPI’s founding charter, since it was established in 2001 by then prime minister John Howard with bipartisan support from Labor leader Kim Beazley, declares it must ‘operate independently of Government and of the Defence Organisation’.

Further, it states that ‘the perception, as well as the reality, of that independence would need to be carefully maintained’. Thus, from the outset, the government was acknowledging how such an important think tank would be vulnerable to capture by vested interests, both ideological and commercial………..

Our investigation shows that the ASPI council has numerous members who represent or have close links to the military-industrial complex. Of the 11 non-executive directors on ASPI’s governing council, five sit on the boards or advisory boards of weapons or cybersecurity corporations, while numerous past council members have had similar connections.

The current council includes former Howard defence minister Robert Hill. He’s on the supervisory board of German weapon-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, and will soon also produce and export ammunition for the US Joint Strike Fighter program. Hill is also chair of Viva Energy Group, a major supplier of fuel to the Australian Defence Force (ADF)…………………….

Declassified Australia put questions to ASPI and the current council members. Dr Nelson declined to comment. No other council member responded by deadline. ASPI replied saying it manages conflict of interest matters in line with other Australian proprietary limited companies, and that ‘Council members will recuse themselves from discussions which may give rise to the perception of a conflict of interest matter’.

ASPI has a history of council members with interests in the defence industry. Jim McDowell was chief executive of BAE Systems in Australia for a decade, and then ran BAE in Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi military has since used BAE arms in the catastrophic war in Yemen. Returning to Australia, he was engaged by Liberal defence industry minister Christopher Pyne, and Defence, on numerous sensitive defence projects while also on ASPI’s Council. BAE Systems is in the running to provide Australia’s planned nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact.

Former Labor senator Stephen Loosley’s Council membership, including seven years as chair, coincided with board roles at French arms multinational Thales Australia, manufacturer of the Austeyr, the service rifle for all the Australian military, as well as armoured vehicles, submarine sonars and munitions. The Thales group has been accused of selling weapons to the Indonesian military who are running a war in West Papua against the independence movement.

Former Labor defence minister Kim Beazley was an ASPI distinguished fellow for two years in 2016-2018. For the majority of that time he was on the board of Lockheed Martin Australia while writing regularly for ASPI, without ASPI disclosing his board position at Lockheed.

………..ASPI’s independence is drawn into question not just by its board appointees but also by some research fellows. One recent example is the former director of cyber, intelligence and security at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Rajiv Shah, who cowrote a report on collaboration within the intelligence community that was sponsored by BAE Systems. Shah is now an ASPI fellow and a consultant to government and industry. ASPI does not disclose either in the report nor in his website bio Shah’s previous employment with BAE Systems, one of the world’s top 10 arms companies. Dr Shah did not respond to questions.

Declassified Australia does not imply any illegality by any past or present ASPI council members, fellows, or staff. The issue is the deep involvement of people associated with global weapons manufacturers, and the potential for, and perception of, conflicts with ASPI’s charter of independence.

The Reshaping of ASPI

At its foundation, the ASPI Council was instructed by the government to ensure its independence. As set down by the defence minister, it is required not only to be ‘politically non-partisan’ but also, most crucially, to ‘reflect the priority given to both the perception and substance of the Institute’s independence’.

The Howard government had envisaged that ASPI would do this by maintaining a ‘very small’ permanent staff while relying mostly on short-term contracts, secondments and similar arrangements for its research work. It would not publish views in its own name but would provide a forum for the views of a wide variety of outside experts.

20 years on, ASPI has morphed into a very different organisation.

A decision by Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd to make Stephen Loosley the ASPI Council chair in 2009, while Loosley was on the Thales Australia board, tested perceptions of independence. Then, in 2012, the Gillard Labor government appointed the current executive director directly from the senior position of Deputy Secretary of Strategy in the Defence Department. In the late 90s, Peter Jennings had been chief of staff to Liberal defence minister Ian McLachlan when the Howard Government first mooted the idea of creating ASPI.

Under this new leadership, ASPI set about expanding. Staff numbers have quadrupled in nine years from 14 to 60, plus there are now 29 research fellows and nine interns.

ASPI receives its core funding via a grant from the Defence Department. In 2018, the Morrison government approved a $20 million grant to cover five years’ of ASPI operations. In May 2021, this grant was increased by $5 million to cover two years of operations of a new Washington DC office.


Since 2012, ASPI has vigorously pursued additional funding. Within two years, annual income from commissioned research jumped from $37,000 to $1.1 million, and sponsorships were up 235% to $746,000. ASPI’s own-sourced revenue has continued to grow dramatically. In 2011-12, ASPI received less than $500,000 above its base funding, by 2020-21 it had exploded to $6.7 million.

The single largest source of ASPI’s funding in 2020-21, beyond its core funding, was from the US Government’s Departments of Defense and State ($1.58m), followed by additional funding from Defence ($1.44m) and other federal government agencies ($1.18m). The NSW and Northern Territory governments provided $445,000. In the private sector, the largest source was social media, tech and cybersecurity companies ($737,362), with Facebook ($269,574), Amazon ($100,000) and Microsoft ($89,500) being the largest. From the arms industry, ASPI received $316,636, with more than two-thirds of that coming from two of Australia’s largest defence contractors, Thales ($130,000) and BAE Systems ($90,000).

In 2019-20, Twitter gave ASPI $147,319 for its cyber research. Significantly, Twitter last week announced a partnership with ASPI said to be dealing with misinformation from the Chinese communist party that was seeking to counter evidence of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. As a result of ASPI’s research, thousands of “state-linked accounts” were shut down by Twitter.

While the cash from the arms industry may not appear substantial, as we have seen, the arms industry wields its major influence via its representatives finding their way on to seats at the top table.

The substantial extra funding from the US government, Defence and other Australian government departments, as well as corporate interests, provides a real challenge to ASPI’s responsibility to remain independent. It raises serious questions about undue influence, including foreign influence, at ASPI.

ASPI responded to our questions about protecting the perception of its independence by saying it retains ‘complete editorial independence on the material we choose to research’. It said it would not accept funding from parties attempting to constrain its editorial independence.

But just what does the US government get in return for its $1.57 million funding of ASPI, beyond its research projects on human rights violations, disinformation, and cybersecurity in China?

And what might BAE Systems get for its $90,000 grant to ASPI, other than a new report on the need for a ‘collaborative and agile’ intelligence community?

And what about Thales Australia, in return for its $130,000 grant to ASPI, beyond just being lead sponsor of the 2020 ASPI Conference?

The answer for them all, is ‘influence’.

ASPI’s role in advising the Australian government on defence strategy and procurements and cybersecurity would better serve the Australian people if it was to return to its original charter of researching and publishing a diversity of views from a position of uncompromised independence.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at undueinfluence.substack.com   https://declassifiedaus.org/2021/12/09/australia-captured/?fbclid=IwAR0_MMo3hIrY7uDHK4d2l5M-nxdsGBFyA_6Xtim8jxjotqPkMXmFheeGNWM

December 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian government using a loophole to evade international non-proliferation treaties, to get nuclear submarines?

“interesting interpretation” that the government would try to qualify for an exemption from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection regime by claiming military submarines, which will be fuelled with weapons grade uranium, are for peaceful purposes.”

Labor questions whether nuclear subs breach international law,   AFR,  Andrew Tillett, Political correspondent, 30 Nov 21,  Labor MPs have raised concerns about Australia breaching its non-proliferation obligations under the Morrison government’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines from Britain and the United States.

Parliament’s Treaties Committee has begun a snap inquiry into the first element under the AUKUS deal, an agreement between the three countries to allow the sharing of highly classified nuclear technology with Australian officials.

The nuclear agreement also covers training opportunities for Australian submariners and technicians with the British and American programs.

Under the AUKUS pact, the government will acquire up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, promising they will be built in Adelaide. The first is due to be delivered sometime before 2040.

The government is adamant the nuclear submarine deal will not be a precursor to acquiring nuclear weapons.

The inquiry is due to report by December 17 but at its first hearing on Monday, Labor MP Josh Wilson highlighted significant uncertainty over the government’s plan to use a loophole in the international nuclear safety regime, which had never been used before, to acquire the submarines.

Mr Wilson and fellow Labor MP Peter Khalil grilled officials from the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Attorney-General’s departments over how Australia could acquire nuclear-powered submarines while still complying with its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Training ‘needs to start now’

Mr Wilson said it was an “interesting interpretation” that the government would try to qualify for an exemption from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection regime by claiming military submarines, which will be fuelled with weapons grade uranium, are for peaceful purposes.

“If it was determined that was acceptable, we will have broken new ground in weakening the existing non-proliferation regime,” Mr Wilson observed……….. https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/questions-over-whether-nuclear-subs-breach-international-law-20211129-p59d0h

November 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

CSIRO study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires.

CSIRO study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires, The Age, By Mike Foley, November 26, 2021 Climate change is the dominant factor causing the increased size of bushfires in Australia’s forests, according to a landmark study that found the average annual area burned had grown by 800 per cent in the past 32 years.

The peer-reviewed research by the national science agency, CSIRO — published in the prestigious science journal, Nature — reveals evidence showing changes in weather due to global warming were the driving force behind the boom in Australia’s bushfires.

Lead author and CSIRO chief climate research scientist Pep Canadell said the study established the correlation between the Forest Fire Danger Index – which measures weather-related vegetation dryness, air temperature, wind speed and humidity – and the rise in area of forest burned since the 1930s.

“It’s so tight, it’s so strong that clearly when we have these big fire events, they’re run by the climate and the weather,” Dr Canadell said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison went to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow to commit Australia to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and to upgrade his expectations for Australia’s 2030 carbon cuts, but he defied a global push to commit to phasing out fossil-fuel use. Instead, the Coalition government is backing a significant expansion of the gas industry, which it predicts will be 13 per cent larger in 2050 than it is now.

Under the federal government’s gas industry strategy, taxpayers will support the private sector to develop viable new gas fields and develop an extensive network of new pipelines and related infrastructure.

The bushfire royal commission identified climate change as a key risk to ongoing bushfire catastrophe but did not make recommendations about reducing greenhouse emissions to curb the threat.

The CSIRO report found other factors have an impact on the extent and intensity of bushfires such as the amount of vegetation or fuel load in a forest, the time elapsed since the last fire, and hazard reduction burning. But Dr Canadell said the study showed the link between weather and climate conditions and the size of bushfires was so tight, it was clear these factors far outweighed all other fire drivers…………….

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Mega-fires, which burn more than 1 million hectares, have “markedly” increased with three of the four recorded from 1930 occurring since 2000, while the gap between big blazes has had a “rapid decrease”, the study says.

Last year, the bushfire royal commission reported fuel-load management through hazard reduction burning “may have no appreciable effect under extreme conditions” that typically cause loss of life and property.  https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/csiro-study-proves-climate-change-driving-australia-s-800-percent-boom-in-bushfires-20211126-p59cgr.html

November 27, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit. 

New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment https://thegrayzone.com/2021/11/17/files-australian-julian-assange-prison/ KIT KLARENBERG· NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Documents provided exclusively to The Grayzone detail Canberra’s abandonment of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and provide shocking details of his prison suffering

Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK? 

Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?

The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”

Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public. 

Continue reading

November 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Australian TV blatantly advertises weapons sales, in absurd claims about China invading Australia

Australian War Propaganda Goes Off the Rails https://consortiumnews.com/2021/11/17/australian-war-propaganda-goes-off-the-rails/ November 17, 2021 In a blatant advert for arms sales masquerading as news, 60 Minutes tries to tie Taiwan to the fantasy of China randomly invading a continent of white foreigners thousands of miles away, writes Caity Johnstone. By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

60 Minutes Australia has churned out yet another fear-mongering war propaganda piece on China, this one so ham-fisted in its call to beef up military spending that it goes so far as to run a brazen advertisement for an actual Australian weapons manufacturer disguised as news reporting. 

This round of psychological conformity-making features Australian former major general Jim “The Butcher of Fallujah” Molan saying that in three to ten years a war will be fought against China over Taiwan and that Australians are going to have to fight in that war to prevent a future Chinese invasion of the land down under.

He argues Australia will need to greatly increase its military spending in order to accomplish this, because it can’t be certain the United States will protect it from Chinese aggression.

“Australia is monstrously vulnerable at the moment; we have this naive faith that American military power is infinite, and it’s not,” says Molan, who is a contributor to government/arms industry-funded think tanks Lowy Institute and Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Decrying what he calls “panda huggers” (meaning people who aren’t China hawks), Molan claims that “the Chinese Communist Party’s aim is to be dominant in this region and perhaps dominant in the world.” Asked when war might break out, he claims “Given the power that they have in their military they could act any time from now on, and that’s what frightens me more than anything.”

“The next war is not going to be ten or twenty years away, it’s going to be in the next three to ten years,” Molan asserts.

“My estimate is that in a serious fight the Australian Defense Force only has enough missiles for days. This is not going to be resolved in days. And of course we’re not big enough. We should expand the defense force significantly… We should fund defense now based on our assessment of the national security strategy which is based on the war that we want to win.”

“In short do you think Australia needs to prepare for war tomorrow?” the interviewer asks Molan.

“Absolutely,” he replies.

Molan makes the ridiculous argument that if Australia does not to commit to defending Taiwan from the mainland then it won’t be long before they can expect a Chinese invasion at home, as though there’s any line that could be drawn between the resolution to a decades-old Chinese civil war and China deciding to invade a random continent full of white foreigners thousands of miles away.

Suppose we said okay Taiwan you’re on your own up there and the Chinese snapped it up, and the Chinese started looking around the world and they might snap up other liberal democracies like Australia,” Molan argues. “And we might then turn to America and say America well could you give us a bit of a hand here? And the Americans might say what we said to Taiwan. Where do you draw the line? This situation that is developing now is an existential threat to Australia as a liberal democracy.”

Incredibly, the 60 Minutes segment then plunges into several minutes of blatant advertising for Australian defense technology company Defendtex which manufactures weaponized drones designed to be used in clusters, saying such systems could handily be used to defeat China militarily in a cost-effective manner.

The segment also promotes bare-faced lies which have become commonplace in anti-China propaganda, repeating the false claim that Chinese fighter planes have been “breaching Taiwanese airspace” and repeating a mistranslation of comments by Xi Jinping which it used in a previous anti-China segment made to sound more aggressive than they actually were.

This segment follows a cartoonishly hysterical fear porn piece on China put out by the same program this past September which featured Australian Strategic Policy Institute ghouls insisting that Australians must be prepared to fight and die in defense of Taiwan and that a Chinese invasion of Australia is a very real threat. That 60 Minutes segment was preceded by an equally crazy one in May which branded New Zealand “New Xi-Land” for refusing to perfectly align with U.S. dictates on one small foreign policy issue.

To be perfectly clear, there is no evidence of any kind that China will ever have any interest in an unprovoked attack on Australia, much less an invasion, and attempts to tie that imaginary nonsense threat to Beijing’s interest in an island right off its coast which calls itself the Republic of China are absurd.

As we’ve discussed previously, anyone who’d support entering into a war against China over Taiwan is a crazy idiot. In the unfortunate event that tensions between Beijing and Taipei cannot be resolved peacefully in the future there is no justification whatsoever for the U.S. and its allies to enter into a world war between nuclear powers to determine who governs Taiwan.

The cost-to-benefit ratio in a conflict which would easily kill tens of millions and could lead to the deaths of billions if it goes nuclear makes such a war very, very, very far from being worth entering into, especially since there’s no actual evidence that Beijing has any interest in attacking nations it doesn’t see as Chinese territory.

There’s so much propaganda going toward generating China hysteria in westerners generally and Australians in particular, and it’s been depressingly successful toward that end.

Watching these mass-scale psyops take control of people’s minds one after another has been like watching a zombie outbreak in real time; people’s critical thinking faculties just fall out their ears and then all of a sudden they’re all about cranking up military spending and sending other people’s kids off to die defending U.S. interests in some island.

Please don’t become a zombie. Keep your brain. Stay conscious.

November 20, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, weapons and war | 1 Comment