Al Jazeera: Report says EU nuclear reactors need $ 32 BILLION to prevent disaster!


 

Report says EU nuclear reactors need repair

A leaked report on Europe’s nuclear reactors found that up to $32bn needs to be invested to prevent disaster.
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2012 09:23

Almost all of Europe’s nuclear reactors are in need of an urgent overhaul that could cost as much as $32bn, according to a leaked draft-report by the European Commission.

The Commission is expected on Thursday to finalise its stress test report, which was designed to ensure that a disaster similar to the one at Japan‘s Fukushima could not happen again.

The report will be debated by EU ministers later this month..

After that, the Commission intends in 2013 to propose new laws, including on insurance and liability to “improve the situation of potential victims in the event of a nuclear accident”, the draft obtained by Reuters news agency said.

Of the 134 EU nuclear reactors grouped across 68 sites, 111 have more than 100,000 inhabitants living within 30 km.

Safety regimes vary greatly and the amount that needs to be spent to improve them is estimated at $13-32bn across all the reactors, the draft says.

France‘s nuclear watchdog has already said the country, which relies on nuclear power for about 75 per cent of its electricity, needs to invest billions of euros.

The lesson of Fukushima was that two natural disasters could strike at the same time and knock out the electrical supply system of a plant completely, so it could not be cooled down.

The stress tests found that four reactors, in two different countries, had less than one hour available to restore safety functions if electrical power was lost.

By contrast, four countries operate additional safety systems fully independent from the normal safety measures and
located in areas well-protected against external events. A fifth country is considering that option.

The main finding, the draft says, is that there are “continuing differences” between member states’ safety regimes.

It also says provisions to ensure the independence of national regulators are “minimal”.

Imad Khadduri, a nuclear analyst, told Al Jazeera that this report reflects “what is now an issue in Japan, which is the complacency of the nuclear industry, and the following up with modifications and updates on safety issues.”

“European power reactors should take much more strident efforts in fixing and implementing the safety issues.

Khadduri went on to say that if the public “is going to be alarmed by the $30bn cost of it all, they should be more worried about how much it could cost to decommission reactors, which is incredibly costly.”

Voluntary exercises

The stress tests are a voluntary exercise to establish whether nuclear plants can withstand natural disasters, aircraft crashes and management failures, as well as whether adequate systems are in place to deal with power disruptions.

All 14 member states that operate nuclear plants took part, however, as did Lithuania, which is decommissioning its nuclear units.

From outside the 27-member bloc, Switzerland and Ukraine joined in the exercise.

The tests were meant to have been completed around the middle of the year, but countries were given extra time to assess more reactors.

Non-governmental organisations are among those who have criticised the process as not going far enough and having no powers to force the shut-down of a nuclear plant.

“The stress tests only give a limited view,” said Roger Spautz, energy campaigner at Greenpeace, which believes nuclear power should be phased out.

He cited independent research earlier this year which said some European reactors needed to be shut down immediately, as well as the example of Belgium, where the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors have been halted because of suspected cracks.

The draft report says the stress tests are not a one-off exercise and will be followed up. Existing legislation also needs to be enforced, it said.

The deadline for passing the existing nuclear safety directive into national law was July 2011. The Commission started infringement proceedings against 12 member states that missed it.

To date, two have still not complied but the report did not specified which ones.

The Commission does not comment on leaked drafts.

But on Monday, the EU energy spokeswoman said the recommendations were being finalised and would not be “very,
very detailed”.

In France, the nuclear watchdog and operator EDF said they would not comment before seeing the official report.

 

 

Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions


 

Nikhil Pahwa, of  http://www.medianama.com/ writes on FB
Four points I made yesterday at the FICCI organized meeting with the IT Secretary R. Chandrashekhar and CERT-in Head Gulshan Rai on IT Rules, Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions  (from my scribbled notes):
1. I’m concerned about the broad phrases included in the IT Rules which make illegi

timate censorship of content on the web legitimate, and bring in the scope for unreasonable restrictions. There needs to be specificity in the IT Rules and the broad phrases which allow intermediariesto block content on the web need to be changed/revisited because they create the medium for abuse of the rules as and when the government/a regulator wants.2. Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust. People need to know what has been blocked, why it has been blocked, who has taken the decision to block it, and what is the process of getting the block removed (if it is my page). When citizens visit a blocked page, there should be all of this information for that specific page. Transparency will ensure accountability. (In my haste, a point I’ve made before but forgot to make here – there needs to be a public list of blocked sites maintained by the government).

3. Recourse needs to be established. If my page is blocked, there needs to be adequate protection for me, as a creator of content, a citizen and a business. It’s not possible for me to go to court in each instance, to get a block removed. Let the complainant go to court to validate his complaint within a specified time period, for which the block remains active. If not, the block should be removed. (Someone also mentioned a counter notice mechanism, which I think is fair).

4. Limitations need to be put on the actions of intermediaries when it comes to blocking. The state’s job is to not just prevent malicious content, but also to protect the rights of citizens, in terms of freedom of expression. After Anonymous India hacked into the servers of one intermediary (ISP/Telco), it was revealed that several of the links blocked had not been mandated by courts or the government, but were those critical of the intermediary. This means that ISPs are themselves potentially curtailing freedom of expression online, and this needs to be looked into.

One of the key points I remember being made was about the government also sticking to the rules, because it appears that in the recent blocks, they haven’t followed due process, even though Mr Rai repeatedly claimed that they have, (alarmingly) even with respect to the blocking of some media reports like that on Al Jazeera.

 

Risk of water wars rises with scarcity #mustread


 
 
Almost half of humanity will face water scarcity by 2030 and strategists from Israel to Central Asia prepare for strife.
Chris Arsenault Last Modified: 26 Aug 2012 09:47
 
 

Click on the water conflict map to see some of Al Jazeera’s coverage of an issue which could define 21st century strife

The author Mark Twain once remarked that “whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting over” and a series of reports from intelligence agencies and research groups indicate the prospect of a water war is becoming increasingly likely. 

In March, a report from the office of the US Director of National Intelligence said the risk of conflict would grow as water demand is set to outstrip sustainable current supplies by 40 per cent by 2030.

“These threats are real and they do raise serious national security concerns,” Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said after the report’s release.

Internationally, 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water, according to the United Nations. By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Environmental Outlook to 2030 report.

Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources. 

Dangerous warnings

Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Depth

Environmental conflicts

  Crowded planet
  Climate SOS
  Anatomy of a Drought
  Deep trouble
  Food riots predicted over US crop failure

With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures.

“Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution,” said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. “The world’s water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs.”

“Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems,” he told Al Jazeera.

Of all the water on earth, 97 per cent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet’s drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. Scarcity is defined as each person in an area having access to less than 1,000 cubic meters of water a year.

The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are rife, leading to potentially explosive situations.

Some experts believe the only documented case of a “water war” happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.

But Adel Darwish, a journalist and co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East, says modern history has already seen at least two water wars.

“I have [former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon speaking on record saying the reason for going to war [against Arab armies] in 1967 was for water,” Darwish told Al Jazeera.

Some analysts believe Israel continues to occupy the Golan heights, seized from Syria in 1967, due to issues of water control, while others think the occupation is about maintaining high ground in case of future conflicts.

Senegal and Mauritania also fought a war starting in 1989 over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River.

Middle East hit hard

UN studies project that 30 nations will be water scarce in 2025, up from 20 in 1990. Eighteen of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Israel, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. 

“Water too often is treated as a commodity, as an instrument with which one population group can suppress another”

-Ignacio Saiz, Centre for Economic and Social Rights 

Darwish bets that a battle between south and north Yemen will probably be the scene of the next water conflict, with other countries in the region following suit if the situation is not improved.

Water shortages could cost the unstable country 750,000 jobs, slashing incomes in the poorest Arab country by as much as 25 per cent over the next decade, according to a report from the consulting firm McKinsey and Company produced for the Yemeni government in 2010.

Commentators frequently blame Yemen’s problems on tribal differences, but environmental scarcity may be underpinning secessionist struggles in the country’s south and some general communal violence.

“My experience in the first gulf war [when Iraq invaded Kuwait] is that natural resources are always at the heart of tribal conflicts,” Darwish told Al Jazeera. 

The Nile is another potential flash point. In 1989, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak threatened to send demolition squads to a dam project in Ethiopia.

“The Egyptian army still has jungle warfare brigades, even though they have no jungle,” Darwish said. 

On the Nile, cooperation would benefit all countries involved, as they could jointly construct dams and lower the amount of water lost to evaporation, says Anton Earle, director of the Stockholm International Water Institute think-tank.

“If you had an agreement between the parties, there would be more water in the system,” he told Al Jazeera. The likelihood of outright war is low, he says,  but there is still “a lot of conflict” which “prevents joint infrastructure projects from going ahead”.

Differing views

Water scarcity, and potential conflicts arising from it, is linked to larger issues of population growthincreasing food prices and global warming.

There are two general views about how these problems could unfold. The first dates back to the work of Thomas Malthus, an eighteenth century British clergyman and author who believed that: “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”

In other words, more people and scant resources will invariably lead to discord and violence.

View our special coverage of the population milestone

Recent scholars, including Thomas Homer-Dixon, have analysed various case studies on environmental degradation to conclude that there is not a direct link between scarcity and violence. Instead, he believes inequality, social inclusion and other factors determine the nature and ferocity of strife.

“Unequal power relations within states and conflicts between ethnic groups and social classes will be the greatest source of social tensions rising from deprivation,” said Ignacio Saiz from the social justice group. “Water too often is treated as a commodity, as an instrument with which one population group can suppress another.”

Bolivia, South Africa, India, Botswana, Mexico and even parts of the US have seen vigorous water related protests, says Maude Barlow, author of 16 books and a former senior adviser to the UN on water issues.

“The fight over water privatisation in Cochobamba, Bolivia did turn into a bit of a water war and the army was called in,” Barlow told Al Jazeera. “In Botswana, the government smashed bore holes as part of a terrible move to remove [indigenous bushmen] from the Kalahari desert. Mexico City has been forcibly taking water from the countryside, confiscating water sources from other areas and building fotresses around it, like it’s a gold mine. In India, Coke will get contracts and then build fortresses around the water sources,” taking drinking and irrigation water away from local people. “In Detroit 45,000, officially, have already had their water cut off.”

Human rights

Strife over water, like conflicts more generally, will increasingly happen within states, rather than between them, Barlow says, with large scale agribusiness, mining and energy production taking control over resources at the expense of other users.

The IPPC, the UN panel which analyses climate science, concluded that: “Water and its availability and quality will be the main pressures on and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change.”

Dealing with these pressures will require improved technologies, political will and new ideas about how humans view their relationship with the substance that sustains life.

“People have the right to expect access to a basic life resource like water by virtue of being human, regardless of the social situation they are born into,” Saiz said. “Alongside the worrying development of water scarcity, I am hopeful that we will see increasing struggles to see access to water as a right, and not a priviledge.”

You can follow Chris Arsenault on twitter @AJEchris

Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Said Yousif arrested


 

Published: 15 August, 2012, 22:32,  RT News
Image from twitter.com by user @SAIDYOUSIF

Image from twitter.com by user @SAIDYOUSIF

TAGS: Middle EastHuman rights

 

Human rights activist Said Yousif tweeted that he was arrested at a checkpoint in A’ali, a major Bahraini town. Yousif has spoken out in support of Nabeel Rajab, another activist recently jailed over comments he made on Twitter.

Yousif says security forces manning the checkpoint had contacted his wife so that she could pick up his “two little kids,” but no more information was forthcoming.

The activist, who heads the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), has become a target for security forces in the country as he regularly speaks out against the Bahraini authorities’ crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

The ongoing uprising by the country’s Shiite majority, which claims systematic discrimination by the Sunni monarchy, has begun to lose steam following a series of mass arrests.

At least 80 people have reportedly died and thousands have been put behind bars since the uprising first began 18 months ago.
Among those arrested for criticizing the country’s leadership was Nabeel Rajab.

Nineteen members of the US Congress recently wrote to Bahrain’s king, calling for the release of Rajab, who is serving a three-month sentence for comments made on Twitter, Al Jazeera reported Sunday.

Rajab appeared in court on Sunday in a separate case connected with his participation in an “illegal gathering.”Yousif told Al Jazeera that a verdict on the latest case against Rajab was expected this Thursday.

Rajab was originally imprisoned for “insulting the Muharraq [an area near the capital Manama] people on his Twitter account,” according to state-run Bahrain News Agency.

“The offended accused Rajab of tarnishing their reputation and casting doubt on their patriotism,” Chief Prosecutor Nayef Yusuf Mahmoud was quoted as saying.

The 19 US lawmakers calling for Rajab’s release lauded the monarchy for the “positive reforms” it had initiated in the wake of the uprising, but claimed the case against Rajab ran “counter to the government’s assurances that individuals will not be prosecuted for peaceful political speech.”

The United States has often been accused of turning a blind eye to human rights violations in the kingdom, as Bahrain remains a vital regional partner. Bahrain currently hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is responsible for maritime forces in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and beyond.
In a separate case, 13 imprisoned Bahraini opposition activists who had been swept up in late-night raids last year will have to wait until September 4 to hear the verdict in their appeal.

Those activists received sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment by a military court on charges that included “protesting” and “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution.” One activist was subsequently released after serving six months in prison.

After their sentences were upheld following the military appellate process, the authorities finally allowed them to appear before a civilian court this May.

 

Censorship in China


 

A new law could curb internet freedom.

Users of Sina Weibo, China‘s most popular micro-blogging website, will soon have to register under their real names. Critics of the law say this is further increasing the government’s control over online freedom. Yet despite pouring more and more resources into policing the web, the country’s netizens are finding ways to beat the system.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to Eva Galperin (@evacide), an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Michael Anti (@mranti), a journalist and blogger.

How long can China manage to stem the flow of information and at what cost? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.

Read more at Al Jazeera

Pakistan: Helpline Opens to Help Prevent Violence Against Women


Pakistan has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Asia.

Parliament recently passed laws aimed at improving the rights of women, but practical support for victims of domestic violence is rare but one group in Karachi is making a difference.

The country has now opened its Pakistan’s first helpline for women seeking help for domestic violence.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab reports from Karachi.

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,231 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,799,580 hits

Archives

August 2020
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  
%d bloggers like this: