The UK government is running a secretive unit inside Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office that’s been accused of ‘blacklisting’ journalists and blocking the release of ‘sensitive’ information. Experts say they’re breaking the law – and it’s an assault on our right to know what our government is doing.
We’re not going to let it stand. We’re launching a legal battle – but we also need a huge public outcry, showing that thousands back our call for transparency. Will you add your name?
“Over the past four years, we have cared for one another,” said Greenpeace USA campaigns director James Mumm. “Now, we must come together to ensure that Joe Biden and the new Congress care for us, and to see that everyone—no matter their race or where they come from—has what they need to thrive.” (Photo: Michael Nagle/Greenpeace)
The “just, green, and peaceful future we deserve is possible and together we can build the power to manifest it.”
This moment “calls us to be visionary in our pursuit to people—not corporations or wealthy elites—at the heart of governance and public life.” —James Mumm, Greenpeace USA
So declares Greenpeace USA’s new “Just Recovery Agenda.” Released Tuesday and packed with more than 100 sweeping policy recommendations for President-elect Joe Biden and members of the next U.S. Congress to embrace, the visionary document plots out a path for erecting new systems that no longer put corporate greed above the public and planet’s well-being.
“Going back to normal is not an option,” the report bluntly states, because what “we knew as ‘normal’ was a crisis.” The coronavirus crisis has thrown that truism into relief, says Greenpeace, but the worsening climate and ecological crises and deep inequality have long made the case for a bold transformation of the dominant economic system.
With post-pandemic policies now being charting out—and a new presidential administration just months away—Greenpeace says it’s crystal clear now is the time for pivotal change.
“The policy choices we make in this disruptive moment will shape the path forward for millions of people—the Covid-19 crisis and clarion call for racial justice in 2020 must mark a turning point for federal policy-making,” the report urges.
Greenpeace USA campaigns director James Mumm put the new report in the context of former Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.
“We the people have chosen Joe Biden, who will arrive in the White House with a forceful mandate to lead our recovery from Covid-19, address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first,” Mumm said in a statement.
“Over the past four years, we have cared for one another,” he continued. “Now, we must come together to ensure that Joe Biden and the new Congress care for us, and to see that everyone—no matter their race or where they come from—has what they need to thrive.”
The report expands on what that means by pointing to “dignified work, healthcare, education, housing, clean air and water, healthy food, and more.” In this new work, says Greenpeace, the world must “shift from an economy that is extractive and exploitative to one that regenerates and repairs.”
Centering all the prescriptions—which range from boosting voting rights to expanding renewable energy—are values of equity, community justice, freedom, compassion, and creativity.
Actions demanded of federal lawmakers include establishing a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour; strengthening the National Environmental Policy Act; enacting and enforcing new antitrust standards to curb corporate power; “passing bold and just recovery legislation in line with the THRIVE Agenda to lay the groundwork for a Green New Deal and world beyond fossil fuels”; enacting the pro-democracy the For The People Act of 2019; banning permits for new or expansions of existing factory farms; “enacting The BREATHE Act to police brutality and racial injustice by investing in Black communities and re-imagining community safety”; and enacting a ban on deep sea mining.
“As we look to recover from the interlocking crises we face as a nation,” said Mumm, “it’s time to use the tools and power of the federal government to solve problems rather than exacerbate them.”
“This moment calls us to be bold and advance solutions at the scale science and justice demand,” he continued. “It calls us to be holistic and navigate out of multiple crises at once. And it calls us to be visionary in our pursuit to people—not corporations or wealthy elites—at the heart of governance and public life.”
Make no mistake—the “us” Mumm refers to really means all of us.
“Telling our story will not be the job of a single, appointed messenger, be it a politician, celebrity, CEO, or activist,” says the report. “That responsibility lies with everyone who believes in the vision of a better world.”
“Together we will build a movement broad, inclusive, and powerful enough to deliver the future our communities need and deserve,” it states. “Together we will rewrite the rules of society.”
Appointments made and contracts awarded during the pandemic have uncovered a web of connections
The anti-establishment claims of a government led by Johnson and Dominic Cummings were always audacious, and in the appointments and contracts awarded during the pandemic, the shape of a Tory establishment has come into focus. Critics are calling it a “chumocracy”.
Neither Bingham nor Harding are being paid for their roles, but critics complain that two central pillars of the pandemic response, vaccines and testing, are being led by two well-connected executives appointed without an evident formal process.
Labour’s Dawn Butler says pandemic being used as a “cover” to avoid accountability, comments come in wake of latest openDemocracy COVID contracting revelation.
The government has been accused of presiding over “a national scandal” by awarding multi-million COVID contracts to companies with minimal oversight and accountability.
Labour MP Dawn Butler told openDemocracy that many of the firms that had received lucrative government contracts had failed to deliver.
“There is public money being given to companies that are not delivering a good service. I think the pandemic is being used as a cover,” said the member of the House of Commons science and technology select committee.
The British government has been accused of “blatant cronyism” after an openDemocracy investigation found that former Tory chairman, Andrew Feldman, was quietly given a job advising a health minister despite potential conflicts of interest with clients of the lobbying firm that he runs.
Lord Feldman, who has been mooted as a contender for Boris Johnson’s next chief of staff, worked as an unpaid adviser to health minister Lord Bethell between March 24 and May 15 this year.
At the time the government was assembling an informal “task force” with private and public sector organisations to scale up coronavirus testing as a precursor to its test and trace programme.
The Tory peer is also managing director of PR consultancy Tulchan. Yet his advisory role, which was supported by a “small civil service private office”, according to officials, was never formally announced by the government.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that the Feldman’s appointment had been “fully documented” – but were unable to point to any examples of where his role had been made public before being contacted by openDemocracy.
As Serco’s share price soars, government accused of “shovelling huge sums of public money to a handful of outsourcing companies without competition, rigour or accountability”.
Outsourcing giant Serco was given a £57 million contract to run COVID testing centres across the UK without any competition, openDemocracy can reveal.
The Department of Health and Social Care handed Serco and other private firms previously secret multi-million pound contracts to provide “management services” at sites across the country.
The news comes as the FTSE-listed firm announced this morning that the government has renewed an earlier contact-tracing contract – worth a reported £410 million – despite a swelling chorus of criticism of the scheme’s failings.
Sage, the government’s scientific advisory team, has warned that “engagement” problems and “delays” means the track and trace system is only having a “marginal impact” on reducing the spread of the virus.
Serco’s unscheduled trading statement Friday sent its shares soaring. The company predicted that profits could hit £165m, thanks largely to a slew of lucrative government contracts.
Under the terms of the newly unearthed contract, the government paid both Serco and outsourcers G4S an initial fee of £57 million to run COVID testing sites at locations across the UK. Another outsourcing firm, Mitie, was given £32 million to provide similar services. All these contracts were awarded without a competitive tender process.
The contracts were only published last week – despite rules stipulating that contracts must be made public within thirty days.
A small, loss-making firm run by a Conservative councillor in Stroud was given a £156m contract to import PPE from China without any competition, openDemocracy has learned.
Steve Dechan’s company, P14 Medical, signed the huge contract to supply medical gowns in May, even though the firm suffered significant financial losses in 2019, and its previous track record in PPE procurement is unclear. Transparency campaigners say the deal “reeks of cronyism”.
Dechan, who stood down from Stroud town council in late August, had previously made headlines when it emerged that P14 Medical had landed a contract worth almost £120m to supply face shields to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The £156m gowns deal was signed in late May, but details were only published at the end of September. Government contracts are supposed to be made public within 30 days.
The Cabinet Office has awarded an £840,000 contract for researching public opinion about government policies to a company owned by two long-term associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings, without putting the work out for tender.
Public First, a small policy and research company in London’s Tufton Street, is run by James Frayne – whose work alongside Cummings dates back to a Eurosceptic campaign 20 years ago – and Rachel Wolf, a former advisor to Gove who co-wrote the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto.
The government justified the absence of a competitive tendering process, which would have enabled other companies to bid, under emergency regulations that allow services to be urgently commissioned in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
However the Cabinet Office’s public record states that portions of the work, which involved conducting focus groups, related to Brexit rather than COVID-19, a joint investigation by openDemocracy and the Guardian has established.
Lawyers Can’t Reunite 666 Seized Migrant Children With Parents—121 More Than Previously Believed
The children were separated from their families under the Trump administration’s widely condemned “zero tolerance” immigration policy. byBrett Wilkins, staff writer
A father embraces his 6-year-old son after entering the United States on May 16, 2019 following a harrowing trek through Guatemala and Mexico. (Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images)
Last month, the world was shocked and outraged to learn that lawyers tasked with locating relatives of child migrants seized by U.S. immigration agents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy were unable to locate the parents of 545 children. Now it turns out that the actual number of children and infants separated from their parents is significantly higher than previously thought, according to an email obtained by NBC News.
In the email, Steven Herzog, the lawyer leading the effort to locate the children’s relatives and reunite the families, says that 666 children—about 20% of whom were under the age of 5 when they were ripped away from their parents—remain separated. Herzog attibutes the initial undercount to the fact that the government did not provide phone number contacts for 129 of the minors.
“We would appreciate the government providing any available updated contact information, or other information that may be helpful in establishing contact for all 666 of these parents,” Herzog wrote to Justice Department attorneys representing the Trump administration.
Last month, the House Judiciary Committee released a scathing report revealing the administration knew it would not be able to reunite migrant families when planning the “zero tolerance” separation policy, but implemented it anyway. The Democratic-led committee spent 21 months investigating the planning and execution of the administration’s policy, which resulted in the seizure of more than 2,500 migrant children—including some with physical and mental disabilities—from their parents, the majority of whom are believed to have been deported from the U.S.
Both parents and children—who were often told by U.S. officials that they would never see each other again—have suffered tremendous emotional and psychological trauma that Physicians for Human Rights has called “torture” and “state-sanctioned child abuse.” The federal government often separated families who presented themselves at U.S. ports of entry and legally requested asylum after fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries, much of it resulting from U.S. policies and actions.
Some of the children have been given to U.S. families, who are sometimes able to petition for permanent custody of them, and some of the children may indeed never see their parents again.
In late June 2018, as public outrage mounted in the face of stories like a breastfeeding baby being torn away from her mother and a father driven to suicide after being separated from his wife and child, the administration reluctantly rolled back the policy—which along with forced surgical removal of reproductive organs of migrant women has been called the Trump administration’s worst domestic human rights violation.
President-elect Joe Biden vowed last month that he will form a task force to reunite all of the separated children with their families. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, continues to defend the separation policy while falsely claiming that the seized children were brought into the country by human traffickers. …
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Comment by dizzy: This is not and should not be regarded as any less serious than – for example – demanding money with a threat of serious injury[ed: Perhaps a bit confused there. How does destroying a family compare to a mugging using a knife or gun. I think that he point is that it doesn’t compare but that the total cnut is not even anything. He gets to destroy families without even – well nothing }. Depriving young children from their families is serious and I suggest criminal. I think that it is treating people as less than people.
Laws should apply to everyone. Individuals should not evade prosecution by having or previously having high office.
2.55/3 GMT Later ed about electoral fraud: Well the point is that the Imbecile appointed the head of USPS to stop mail-in votes, deliberately to disrupt them. That’s obvious electoral fraud – a deliberate attempt to obstruct legitimate votes. Lock Him Up.
ed: There are so many reasons that he should be prosecuted – destroying families, treating them as less than human and electoral fraud are only two of them.
Leaders are happy to set targets for decades ahead, but flinch when immediate action is needed, she says
Greta Thunberg has blasted politicians as hypocrites and international climate summits as empty words and greenwash. Until humanity admits it has failed to tackle the climate crisis and begins treating it as an emergency like the coronavirus pandemic, society will be unable to stop global heating, she said.
In an interview with the Guardian, Thunberg said leaders were happy to set targets for decades into the future, but flinched when immediate action to cut emissions was needed. She said there was not a politician on the planet promising the climate action required: “If only,” said the teenager, who will turn 18 in January.
But she is inspired by the millions of students who have taken up the school strike she began by herself in Sweden 116 weeks ago. Since then she has addressed the UN and become the world’s most prominent climate campaigner. She also has hope: “We can treat a crisis like a crisis, as we have seen because of the coronavirus. Treating the climate crisis like a crisis – that could change everything overnight.”
“So the first thing we need to do is understand we are in an emergency [and] admit the fact that we have failed – humanity collectively has failed – because you can’t solve a crisis that you don’t understand,” Thunberg said.
1. Environment. This is the biggest single issue. Trump is a real-life world-destroying Thanos from the Avengers, and is trying his best to commit planeticide. His policies will kill the earth. The human race has a window of about 20 years to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency. We should have swung into action years ago to vastly reduce our use of coal, gasoline and natural gas. Trump has presided over an increase in our annual carbon dioxide emissions rather than, as he should have, greatly reducing them. If Americans give him another four years to wreak this kind of destruction, it will be game over for normal human life on the planet. We will see gargantuan disruptions, with turbocharged hurricanes, massive wildfires, raging sea level rise, coastal flooding, and mass extinctions. These disasters can be light or heavy. Trump is doing his best to ensure they are heavy.
2. Trump’s second biggest failure was in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. For the most part, he adopted an ostrich policy of burying his head in the ground and pretending that it wasn’t there, or would abruptly disappear “like a miracle,” or that its consequences were not grave.
3. Trump’s failure on the coronavirus is also a failure on the economy. China dealt with the pandemic in a scientific way, and is now past the crisis. It will grow 1.2 percent this year, whereas US GDP will be in negative territory. Trump blames governors’ shutdown orders for harming businesses.
4. Health Care. Trump has tried to kneecap Obamacare, which had allowed an extra 22 million Americans to afford health care insurance. Trump has undermined the program at every turn. He is presently in court attempting get rid of the Affordable Care Act entirely. He has also consistently challenged the requirement that insurers insure people with pre-existing conditions. Trump brazenly lies about his opposition to health care for people and his attempt to get rid of the provision about pre-existing conditions. But you have to look at what he does, not what he says. What he has done is to sue to get rid of them and to get rid of the ACA. He lies and says he has a better plan in mind, but the Republicans have had a decade to produce an alternative and they never have given us a bill to examine.
5. Under Trump, the US trade deficit has climbed 14% from where it was in Obama’s last year. It skyrocketed with China, but then Trump used tariffs (paid for by Americans) to wrestle it back down to just about where it was in 2016. It then just grew with other countries.
[2/11/20 ed: I would say that the scale of the problem was dramatically overstated for political reasons by opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That was enough to get Jeremy Corbyn suspended from the Labour Party despite it being an entirely true and accurate statement.
Aljazeera’s investigation ‘The Lobby‘ documents the Israeli embassy smear-campaign against Socialists in the Labour Party using false manufactured accusations of anti-semitism.
Demonstrators protest the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on October 27, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Mass demonstrations flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the second consecutive night Tuesday as outrage and demands for justice continue to grow in the wake of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who city officers shot at least 10 times earlier this week as he suffered a mental health crisis.
Footage of the incident made public Monday shows Wallace holding a knife and walking toward two officers as they backed up with their guns drawn. Before the officers began opening fire, Wallace’s mother is seen in the clip attempting to hold her son back and deescalate the situation.
“As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people.” —Lynda Garcia, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Shaka Johnson, the Wallace family’s attorney, told reporters Tuesday that Walter’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and an ambulance before the armed police officers arrived.
“When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun… where are the proper tools for the job?” Johnson said.
Lynda Garcia, director of the policing campaign at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement Tuesday that “this killing must be thoroughly investigated, and the officers responsible for Wallace’s death must be held accountable for their actions.”
“As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people,” said Garcia. “We must redefine public safety and prioritize investing in community-based services and non-police responses to assist people with mental health needs so we can prevent more tragedies like this.”
As many as 2,000 people poured into the streets and marched near the site of Wallace’s killing in West Philadelphia Tuesday night, with demonstrators chanting, “Who killed Walter Wallace?” and, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”
Pascale Vallee, a 34-year-old graduate student who took part in Tuesday’s demonstration, told the Washington Post that the killing of Wallace was “shameful.”
An election worker accepts ballots from voters in cars at a drive-through mail ballot drop-off site at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order limiting each county to one mail ballot drop-off site. (Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
In a ruling that critics said served as an endorsement of voter suppression, the Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday evening sided with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott regarding his order limiting each county in the state to just one mail-in ballot drop box.
After a federal appeals court stacked with President Donald Trump’s judicial appointees ruled earlier this month in favor of the directive—which voting rights advocates say will make it particularly hard for voters in largely Democratic, urban areas like Austin and Houston to cast their ballots—the Anti-Defamation League of Texas and Common Cause Texas brought the case to the state Supreme Court. The groups argued Abbott did not have the authority to implement a rule which would disproportionately burden residents of large counties.
“Texas continues to be openly hostile to voting rights,” tweeted Common Cause Texas after the ruling was handed down.
:’ see original ‘
The court claimed in its ruling that Abbott’s order “does not disenfranchise anyone” because Texas voters can cast their ballots in person prior to Election Day and can mail in their ballots—options which could force voters to risk exposure to the coronavirus or use a method of voting which has been undermined repeatedly by Trump, who has baselessly claimed that voting by mail will invite election fraud, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.
New York Times contributing writer Wahajat Ali denounced the ruling as “shameful, naked voter suppression.”
Members of the activist group Rise and Resist gathered for a press conference and demonstration outside NBC News and Fox News in Manhattan on October 22, 2020. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Countering President Donald Trump’s false suggestion Tuesday that tallying votes after Election Day is unlawful, a top official at the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that in fact “counting ballots—all of ’em—is the appropriate, proper, and very legal way to determine who won.”
“An election is not a reality show with a big reveal at the end,” Ellen Weintraub, an election attorney and a Democratic commissioner at the FEC, tweeted in response to Trump’s insistence that a winner be officially declared on the night of November 3.
“All we get on Election Night are projections from TV networks,” Weintraub noted. “We never have official results on Election Night.”
: ‘ … see original ‘
Trump’s comments Tuesday came amid growing fears that the president could attempt to take advantage of slower-than-usual vote counting—which is expected due to the unprecedented surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic—to falsely declare victory on Election Night and dismiss as illegitimate legally submitted ballots counted after November 3.
Those concerns were intensified by Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s falsehood-riddled concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s late Monday ruling that barred the battleground state of Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline. The decision means that ballots received by Wisconsin officials after Election Day cannot be counted, even if they are postmarked by November 3.
In his opinion, Kavanaugh declared that absentee ballots arriving after Election Day—which is allowed in more than a dozen states—could “flip the results of the election.” But as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her dissent (pdf), “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.”
“And nothing could be more ‘suspicio[us]’ or ‘improp[er]’ than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on Election Night,” Kagan added. “To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”
Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern warned late Tuesday that “by deploying so many falsehoods in his 18-page opinion, Kavanaugh sent a signal to lower court judges: Uphold voter suppression at all costs, even if you have to ignore or contort the factual record to do it.”
“Trump’s dozens of hackish judicial nominees will hear this message loud and clear,” Stern wrote. “At least one member of the Supreme Court is willing to construct a fantasy world that is utterly detached from our grim reality of mass disenfranchisement. If we cannot trust the justices to tell the truth now, why should we believe them if they decide the election next week?
President Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event on October 23, 2020 in The Villages, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump late Friday repeated his lie that the United States is on its way to defeating the coronavirus pandemic just before the country reported a single-day record of more than 85,000 new Covid-19 infections, nearly 10,000 more cases than were tallied at the height of the devastating surge in mid-July.
But the president’s remarks during a campaign rally Friday at The Villages, a Florida retirement community, conveyed zero indication that the U.S. is entering what could be the worst phase of the pandemic yet.
“It’s true that country is rounding the turn of the pandemic. We are spiraling out of control.” —Dr. Zoë McLaren,School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
“I mean, you look at what’s going on and we’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. We’re rounding the corner beautifully,” Trump said, recycling an egregious falsehood that has become a staple of his stump speech even as infections and hospitalizations surge nationwide.
The New York Timesreported late Friday that “since the start of October, the rise in cases has been steady and inexorable, with no plateau in sight… By that measure, Friday was the worst day of the pandemic, and health experts warned of a further surge as cold weather sets in. The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 has already risen 40 percent in the past month.”
Consistent with his reckless downplaying of the pandemic from the very start, Trump once again peddled the lie that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” during a late Friday rally in Pensacola, one of many largely maskless and closely packed in-person campaign events the president has held in recent days against the warnings of public health officials.
Just hours after news broke that the US set a single-day record today for new coronavirus cases, Trump absurdly claims in Pensacola that the country is “rounding the turn” of the pandemic pic.twitter.com/fG0uXxluPu
“It’s true that country is rounding the turn of the pandemic,” responded Dr. Zoë McLaren, associate professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “We are spiraling out of control.”
In addition to the record number of cases, the U.S. also reported more than 940 coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the nation’s death toll to nearly 224,000—the highest in the world.
“This is only getting worse,” tweeted epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, warning that the U.S. could soon reach 100,000 new cases per day as the winter months approach.
With the November 3 election less than two weeks away, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Friday that “Trump’s lies and his rejection of science have cost us tens of thousands of lives.”
“We need a new president,” Sanders said.
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This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
“The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental protection principles and has no justification.”by Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Storage tanks for radioactive water stand at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Jan. 29, 2020 in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
Greenpeace sounded alarm Friday over the Japanese government’s plan to release stored water from the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, releasing a new report warning about the presence of carbon-14, which the group says “has the potential to damage human DNA.”
The warning laid out in a new report says the government and plant operator TEPCO’s controversial plan—which has been under consideration for some time—is founded on “a series of myths” and pursues the cheapest option to get rid of the water over what is best for human and ecological health.
The plan allows “the government [to] create the impression that substantial progress is being made in the early decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors,” Greenpeace says.
Entitled Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis, the publication argues that the planned release of the water “will have serious, long-term consequences for communities and the environment, locally and much further afield.”
“Nearly 10 years after the start of the disaster, TEPCO and the Japanese government are still covering up the scale of the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi,” said Shaun Burnie, author of the report and senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. He further accused the entities of having “deliberately held back for years detailed information on the radioactive material in the contaminated water.”
Beyond the remaining radioactive material tritium in the water, an additional problem is the presence of high levels of carbon-14, which belies the government’s assertion that the water is not “contaminated,” said Greenpeace.
According to the report,
If the contaminated water is discharged to the Pacific Ocean, all of the carbon-14 will be released to the environment. With a half-life of 5,730 years, carbon-14 is a major contributor to global human collective dose; once introduced into the environment carbon-14 will be delivered to local, regional, and global populations for many generations. […]
Contrary to the understanding of the Japanese government, water that contains large quantities of radioactive carbon-14 (as well as the other radioactive isotopes including strontium-90 and tritium) can only be described as contaminated.
Burnie said that TEPCO and the Japanese government “have failed to explain to the citizens of Fukushima, wider Japan, and to neighboring countries such as South Korea and China that the contaminated water to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean contains dangerous levels of carbon-14. These, together with other radionuclides in the water will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage.”
“It’s one more reason why these plans have to be abandoned,” said Burnie.
The report puts some of the blame on TEPCO’s decision to rely on technology known as ALPS that the operator should have known was incapable of bringing concentrations of radionuclides down to acceptable levels.
Rather than quickly moving to dump the water into the ocean, the Greenpeace report says the government should pursue “continued long-term storage and processing of the contaminated water.”
“There is no technical, engineering, or legal barrier to securing additional storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is a matter of political will,” said Burnie.
“The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental n principles,” he said, “and has no justification.”
Poor little snowflake Donny’s been super busy throwing tantrums after one of those mean girl reporters hurt his feelings again. When 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl started her interview with, “Are you ready for tough questions?” – and then asked some – he was so mad he left in a huff and posted it all to expose her “bias, hatred and rudeness,” aka her competence as he lied, dodged, stumbled. And earlier he even gave her a big book of all the health care things he’s done! It was blank, but still. Read More… More Further
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A quiz for you today. You may notice that there is a trap for blonde-haired global leaders of the very stable genius variety.
Please identify the items in the images. Answers are at the end.
Thanks to wikimedia for all the images.
The answers are:
Not a windmill. A wind generator or wind turbine are also acceptable answers.
Ace it? Did you notice the trap for blonde-haired World leaders of the very stable genius variety? That’s right both current US Resident Donald Trump and current UK Prime Mister Boris ‘rice pudding’ Johnson mistake wind generators or turbines for windmills.
Boris was using the phrase windmills in his speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday. By misusing the phrase windmills he is associating himself with the World’s most prominent climate crisis denier and climate destroyer, Donald Trump. Is the message that his speech should be regarded as donkey doo?
Here are some extra images which are not part of the quiz.
A floating wind turbine. Windmills generally don’t float Boris.
A new report on plants and fungi features images of the Pitcairn Island’s yellow fatu (Abutilon pitcairnense), left, and the Cayman sage (Salvia caymanensis), right. (Photos: RBG Kew)
Humanity’s destruction of nature has made an estimated two in five plant species worldwide at risk of extinction, according to an assessment published Wednesday by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the United Kingdom.
“The data emerging from this year’s report paint a picture of a world that has turned its back on the potential of plants and fungi to address fundamental global issues such as food security and climate change.” —Alexandre Antonelli, RBG Kew
The fourth annual report, entitled State of the World’s Plants and Fungi(pdf), draws on the expertise of 210 researchers from 42 countries for what professor Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at RBG Kew, calls an “unparalleled collaborative effort” that aims to put the planet and all its inhabitants on a more sustainable path.
“Open your fridge, peek into your medicine cupboard, examine your living room, feel your clothes. For thousands of years, we have searched nature to satisfy our hunger, cure our diseases, build our houses, and make our lives more comfortable,” Antonelli writes in the report’s introduction.
“But our early exploration of useful traits in species relied on rudimentary tools, and Indigenous knowledge was lost as local traditions were downplayed and globalization emerged,” he adds. “As a result, humanity is still a long way from utilizing the full potential of biodiversity, in particular plants and fungi, which play critical roles in ecosystems. Now, more than ever before, we need to explore the solutions they could provide to the global challenges we face.”
The report comes on the heels of a United Nations assessment that the international community has failed to fulfill any of the biodiversity targets that were set a decade ago as well as the latest edition of World Wide Fund for Nature’s flagship publication, which warned that “nature—our life-support system—is declining at a staggering rate.” Specifically, WWF found “an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016.”
Throughout the report’s 12 chapters, researchers address the importance of seeking out species before they disappear and calculating extinction risk; ways that plants and fungi can be used in terms of food, energy, healthcare, and more; how biological resources can be used more wisely; and the conditions in the U.K. and its territories.
“Natural ecosystems provide useful services for humanity, such as regulating climate, preventing floods, and filtering water. As the building blocks of ecosystems, plants and fungi have the potential to help us address current environmental challenges, such as climate change,” the report notes. “However, these natural benefits could be compromised by biodiversity loss, caused by humans clearing or degrading natural vegetation and over-harvesting wild species, as well as by shifting weather patterns.”
Given the importance of plants and fungi, “we need to have a rough idea of the conservation status of every species,” Eimear Nic Lughadha, conservation scientist at RBG Kew and lead author of the extinction chapter, explained in a statement. Lughadha highlighted advancements with artificial intelligence, adding, “the techniques are good enough to say, ‘this area has a lot of species that haven’t been assessed but are almost certainly threatened.'”
In 2019 alone, 1,942 plants and 1,886 fungi were scientifically named for the first time, according to the report—which adds that “current threats to global biodiversity, from climate change, logging, and land-use change, make the task of cataloguing species a race against time.”
Only six species of medicinal fungi have been assessed for conservation status, “one of which, Fomitopsis officinalis, a wood-inhabiting parasitic fungus, has already been pushed to the brink of extinction,” the report says. Out of 25,791 known medicinal plants, 5,411 have been assessed and 723—or 13%—are threatened.
Professor Monique Simmonds, deputy director of science at RBG Kew and lead author of the commercialization chapter, told the Guardian that humanity should look to nature for treating coronaviruses and other diseases with pandemic potential. As she put it: “I am absolutely sure going forward that some of the leads for the next generation of drugs in this area will come from plants and fungi.”
The report also notes that even though there are at least 7,039 plants that hold potential as foods, “just 15 crop plants contribute to 90% of humanity’s energy intake, and more than four billion people rely on just rice, maize, and wheat.” As an RBG Kew statement explained, “Relying on a handful of crops to feed the global population has contributed to malnutrition and left us vulnerable to climate change.”
Stefano Padulosi, co-author of the food chapter, said that “the thousands of underutilized and neglected plant species are the lifeline to millions of people on Earth tormented by unprecedented climate change, pervasive food and nutrition insecurity, and economic disempowerment.”
“Harnessing this basket of untapped resources for making food and production systems more diverse and resilient to change should be our moral duty to current and future generations,” declared Padulosi, former senior scientist at the Alliance of Biodiversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
Antonelli agreed, saying broadly that “the data emerging from this year’s report paint a picture of a world that has turned its back on the potential of plants and fungi to address fundamental global issues such as food security and climate change. Societies have been too dependent on too few species for too long.”
“At a time of rapid biodiversity loss, we are failing to access the treasure chest of incredible diversity on offer and missing a huge opportunity for our generation,” he added. “As we start the most critical decade our planet has ever faced, we hope this report will give the public, businesses, and policymakers the facts they need to demand nature-based solutions that can address the triple threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and food security.”
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