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Journal Archives

Scientists say humans caused spread of virus that’s killing honeybees

Source: Washington Post

The global spread of a virus that deforms the wings of honeybees and kills them in droves was caused by humans, new research has found.

According to the study published this week in Science, the problem dates back to the mid-20th century when Asian honeybees traded widely in the former Soviet Union were introduced to Europe and paired with honeybees there.


When European honeybees were introduced to the Americas and other parts of Asia in subsequent years, a localized endemic in Europe evolved into a global pandemic that led to bee colony collapse disorder and is threatening agriculture that relies on pollinating honeybees to grow food crops.

Making matters worse, honeybees are spreading the virus through their saliva and feces to plants used by other pollinators, such as bumblebees and other solitary bees. “DWV has been detected in various insect groups that play dramatically different ecological roles, including insect predators and scavengers, pollinators, and pest species that live inside the colony,” according to a Science article that announced the study.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/science/2016/02/08/Scientists-say-humans-caused-spread-of-virus-that-s-killing-honeybees/stories/201602080051

Leaked police files contain guarantees disciplinary records will be kept secret

Source: Guardian

Contracts between police and city authorities, leaked after hackers breached the website of the country’s biggest law enforcement union, contain guarantees that disciplinary records and complaints made against officers are kept secret or even destroyed.

A Guardian analysis of dozens of contracts obtained from the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) found that more than a third featured clauses allowing – and often mandating – the destruction of records of civilian complaints, departmental investigations, or disciplinary actions after a negotiated period of time.

The review also found that 30% of the 67 leaked police contracts, which were struck between cities and police unions, included provisions barring public access to records of past civilian complaints, departmental investigations, and disciplinary actions.

Samuel Walker, a professor in criminology at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, said there was “no justification” for the cleansing of officers’ records, which could contain details of their use of force against civilians.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/07/leaked-police-files-contain-guarantees-disciplinary-records-will-be-kept-secret

Assange findings by U.N. panel are legally binding

Source: UPI

A U.N. panel that determined WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was being arbitrarily detained by Sweden and Britain and that he should be allowed to leave an embassy in London said its ruling was "legally binding" on Friday.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in favor of Assange, 44, who has resided since 2012 in Ecuador's London embassy after losing his appeal in Britain's Supreme Court against his extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of sexual misconduct. He has never been formally charged.

The panel called for his freedom and for compensation in a statement released Friday.

The investigating panel said its mandate and opinions are based on international human rights law and can be used as evidence in court, and as such are regarded as legally binding.


Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/02/05/Assange-findings-by-UN-panel-are-legally-binding/5921454672620/

EXCLUSIVE: EU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future


EXCLUSIVE: EU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future

February 2, 2016 by Sonja van Renssen 2 Comments

In a leaked draft document obtained by Energy Post, the European Commission outlines the investments in the EU nuclear industry that it believes are needed out to 2050. The document, originally announced for last year, but off the table again for February, paints a challenging picture for the European nuclear industry. €450-550 billion will have to be spent on new plants and lifetime extensions, costs of decommissioning and waste management are high, competitiveness is a challenge and nuclear’s share in the energy mix will decline from 27% today to 17-21%. Sonja van Renssen investigates.

The “Communication for a Nuclear Illustrative Programme” or PINC is a non-legislative document “periodically” produced by the European Commission, as required by the Euratom Treaty (article 40) that “provides an overview of investments in the EU for all the steps of the nuclear lifecycle”. The last PINC dates back to 2008 so the one currently under preparation will be the first since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. It “provides a basis to discuss the role of nuclear energy in achieving the EU energy objectives”.

The Commission reminds us of a few facts (see also Box below). Nuclear energy is part of the energy mix of half the EU’s Member States. There, it “has a role to play in ensuring security of electricity supply”. It also plays a part in tackling climate change: “With 27% of electricity produced from nuclear energy and 27% from renewable sources, the EU is currently one of only three major economies that generate more than half of their electricity without producing greenhouse gases.”


Why Germany is digging up its nuclear waste


Why Germany is digging up its nuclear waste
By Peter Teffer
Wolfenbuettel, Germany, 2. Feb, 16:15

It seemed such a good idea at the time. At least, to the German politicians in charge.

But in hindsight, the Asse II salt mine should never have been used in the 1960s and 1970s as a site to dump nuclear waste, said Ingo Bautz of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection.


Until 1978, low and intermediate-level radioactive waste was stored in Asse II, the only such site in Germany.

Ten years later, the operator of the mine discovered leaks of radioactive brine. But it was not until 2008, when media reported about it, that the leaks became public knowledge.


The office concluded that the risk of groundwater contamination was too big, and the only truly safe option was to retrieve all the waste from the mine and store it elsewhere. In all, 126,000 containers filled with contaminated clothes, paper and equipment were stored in Asse, the office said.


The Asse case shows how difficult it can be to undo a decision related to nuclear waste storage. It will take longer to retrieve the waste than it did to dump it.


This is second part in a two-part series about Germany's nuclear waste. Part one was about how Gorleben refused to be the country's permanent waste repository.

EDF's union board members to oppose Hinkley Point - sources

Source: Reuters

The six union members on EDF's 18-seat board would vote against the French utility's plans for two nuclear reactors in the UK, but other board members do not want to postpone the project, sources familiar with the situation said.

The unions want EDF to put off the 18 billion pound ($26 billion) project to build two Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point in southwest England until it has strengthened its balance sheet and started up at least one of the four EPRs it has under construction elsewhere.

A united front of EDF's unions opposing a major investment decision would be unprecedented, but the lack of support from other board members removes a major element of uncertainty for the plan.

"If the Hinkley Point project was put to the board today, the six union representatives would all vote against it," one of the sources told Reuters on Tuesday.


Read more: https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718719/edfs-union-board-members-could-vote-against-hinkley-point-sources/

South Africa: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR - Jacob Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians


South Africa: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR – Jacob Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.

Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story
Part 1: In pursuit of satisfying his insatiable greed — Jacob Zuma will liberate us from our constitutional democracy, and destroy the chance of a ‘better life for all’ Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story


I wish to make it clear from the outset that this piece is not about arguing the merits or demerits of nuclear energy. It is whether Zuma’s decision for nuclear energy is based on sound economic principles for the good of the country, or for some other purpose.


EDF project director for UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant quits

Source: Reuters

An executive of French utility EDF in charge of Britain's first new nuclear power station project for 20 years is leaving to join U.S. energy company Entergy Corp , the U.S. firm said on Tuesday.

As an executive director at EDF's British unit, EDF Energy, Christopher Bakken had been project director since 2011 for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in southwestern England.

He was responsible for the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the planned new nuclear plant.

Bakken will become executive vice president and chief nuclear officer for Entergy from April 6, the U.S. firm said.


Read more: https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718466/edf-project-director-for-uk-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-quits/

Secret US flight flew over Scottish airspace to capture Snowden

Source: The National (Scotland)

THE UK GOVERNMENT is facing demands to reveal the details of a secret flight through Scottish airspace which was at the centre of a plot to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The plane, which passed above the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, was dispatched from the American east coast on June 24 2013, the day after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow. The craft was used in controversial US ‘rendition’ missions.


That the flight passed over Scotland, airspace regulated by the UK, has raised questions over UK complicity in a covert mission to arrest Snowden and whether any police, aviation or political authorities in Scotland were made aware of the flight path.

Alex Salmond, the SNP foreign affairs spokesman and Scotland’s First Minister when the flight took place, has called for full transparency from the UK Government over the case.


Read more: http://www.thenational.scot/news/secret-us-flight-flew-over-scottish-airspace-to-capture-snowden.13226

Scientists in Germany Switch on Nuclear Fusion Experiment

Source: Associated Press

Scientists in Germany have switched on an experiment they hope will advance the quest for nuclear fusion, considered a clean and safe form of nuclear power.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a physicist herself, pushed the button Wednesday to inject a tiny amount of hydrogen into the Wendelstein 7-X device at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald.

A massive microwave array then heated up the hydrogen, turning it into a super-hot gas known as plasma similar to that found in the sun.

The Greifswald device won't generate energy but instead test a technology that may be used to hold plasma in place in future reactors.

<snip - not much more>

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/02/03/world/europe/ap-eu-nuclear-fusion.html?_r=0
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