Sunday, January 31, 2021

Climate Change: Cautiously optimistic

The Climate Change Commission's report was released this afternoon, recommending a stronger Paris target (though one "met" on paper only, by buying "reductions" in other countries, not by actually reducing emissions), emissions budgets for the next fifteen years, and a series of policies to meet them. The latter look quite sensible - and include things like a fossil vehicle and domestic gas phase out, strengthening the message that the gas industry has no future, as well as a reduction in cow numbers. And its pleasing to see from the government's press conference that their initial reaction is to basicly say "yes" and that they plan to adopt it all. "The Government will not hold back" is exactly the attitude we need. Though James Shaw was also quite explicit that the only way they think they can diverge from the advice is to strengthen it, because weakening it without evidence would simply be an invitation to be sued.

Unfortunately the reaction from National is to undermine the experts (who have already tested these policies; that's why they recommended them). So while I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll start seeing the policies we need, there's a high risk of them being reversed if climate-denier National ever gets back into power. So if we want to save the planet - and your grandkids' lives - we need to make sure that doesn't happen.

The sour note is the budgets. The Commission has done what the law demands, and set a downward path to net-zero (except for methane) in 2050. To make it easy to understand what we need to do now, they've expressed these against a 2018 baseline, rather than the 1990 baseline usually used. But when you put it back into the usual numbers (using 1990 emisisons of 63.591 MT, from here), there's a shock: their budgets amount to an emisisons increase of 6.5%, followed by cuts of 10% and 30%, which is miniscule compared to international efforts. Partly this is because the inaction of previous governments means we're starting from a very bad place. But the separate target for agricultural methane also means we're heading for a total cut of somewhere between 62% and 76%. So depending on what the final methane target is, we're doing a bit of backloading, but the Commission is right to say that technology change already in the pipeline means some sources are just going to fall off a cliff. So it might not be an unfair allocation.

It does highlight however just how weak our chosen target of "net zero for everything but cows" actually is. And when the UK is promising a cut of 68% by 2030, and there's an increasing trend of countries announcing they plan to be net-zero in all gases by 2050 or earlier, its clear that the shitty compromise in the Zero Carbon Act's target is unsustainable, and will need to be strengthened. The only question is how long it will take for the government to get the message.

Friday, January 29, 2021

National cannot be trusted on climate change

On Sunday, the Climate Change Commission will release its draft emissions budgets and reduction plans, basicly setting the trajectory for climate change policy to 2050. They're expected to recommend much stronger action than we are taking. So naturally, today the National Party took the opportunity to remind us that they can't be trusted on this issue, with Climate Change Spokesperson Stuart Smith penning an op-ed which sounds a lot like the anti-lockdown cranks' "but muh freedomz!":

It is imperative that the Government does not meddle with the freedoms of New Zealanders and finds solutions to achieving net zero carbon emissions using effective and rational policy.


What will not work is the Government telling you how you should live your life, such as what car you can drive, what days you can drive it, the size of your house or where your energy comes from.

"Telling you how you should live your life" is literally what policy does. We have policies telling you you can't murder people, that you can't cheat people on the stock-market, that you can't bury nuclear waste in your backyard. We also have literally policies about what car you can drive, the size of your house (in your local district plan), and where your energy comes from (likewise). The question isn't whether policy interferes with your decisions - because again, that is what it is supposed to do - but (within the red lines set by the Bill of Rights Act and international human rights law) whether the interference is justified by the goal.

In this case, the goal is quite literally the survival of the planetary biosphere and human civilisation. A mere 2°C of warming - which we are currently on track to exceed - is expected to kill a billion people, and the toll gets higher and higher the hotter it gets. Preventing that justifies... quite a lot. It certainly justifies relatively trivial interventions like saying you can't buy a dirty car, or that we're not going to be burning dirty coal for electricity anymore. And objecting to these just makes you sound like an arsehole, who'd happily see people murdered to avoid the slightest inconvenience to your life.

But then, National has always been like this: reflexively opposed to regulation or change, even when lives are on the line. Thanks to that attitude, we got Pike River and a leaky homes crisis. This is more of the same, but on a vaster scale. And what it tells us is that they simply cannot be trusted on the most important issue of policy to face our planet; that despite their pretence of concern, they don't really care about climate change, and would happily see us all burn rather than make the merest change or suffer the slightest inconvenience. We should not give them that chance, ever.

Not a priority after all

Before the election, then-Justice Minister Andrew Little was saying that transparency was a priority and promising to rewrite the OIA. But now Labour is back in power, it turns out that its not a priority after all:

A promised review of the Official Information Act will be further delayed, the new justice minister has revealed.

A spokesman for Kris Faafoi said the minister remained committed to a review, but it was likely to be “later in this parliamentary term”.

OIA critics say the continuing delays are disappointing and the Government should stop keeping secret official advice about the future of New Zealand’s openness laws.

The Act is now almost 40 years old, and showing its age. There are obvious problems, which need to be fixed. But the government would rather focus on extending the Parliamentary term than doing the basic work of keeping our democracy functioning; on reducing accountability rather than increasing it. On the one hand, at least it stops them from making things worse (which is a real risk where self-interested politicians are concerned). But on the other, they're basicly saying that under Labour, things are never going to get better. Which is kindof them in a nutshell, isn't it?

An unlawful occupation

Back in 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled that UK had violated international law in its ethnic cleansing of the Chagos Islands, and ordered that they be handed back to Mauritius. The ruling was backed by the United Nations General Assembly, but ignored by the UK as it was only "advisory". But now they've been handed another - and binding - defeat, with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (which determines maritime boundaries) ruling that the islands belong to Mauritius:

The UK has been urged to end its “unlawful occupation” of the Chagos Islands by the prime minister of Mauritius, after Britain’s claim to sovereignty over the strategically important islands in the Indian Ocean was comprehensively rejected by the United Nation’s special international maritime court in Hamburg.


The rejection of the UK claim was made by the special chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which ruled that Mauritius was right to claim the Chagos Islands in line with previous international court rulings.

The judgment also determined that the Maldives could not avoid negotiating its maritime boundaries with Mauritius by saying there was a valid live dispute over the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands between the UK and Mauritius.

The UK is now going to have to decide whether it supports international law, or whether it is a rogue state. And if it chooses the latter path, the rest of the world should start on the sanctions to end this unlawful occupation.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Licenced to kill

The English government (and specifically English: Scotland says nay) is currently trying to pass a law to enable its spies and police to break the law, and authorise murder, torture, rape, and other crimes in the name of collecting "intelligence". But it turns out that MI5 already thinks it can do this:

Government lawyers have told a court that MI5 officers could authorise an informer to carry out a murder under controversial powers that ministers want to see continued contained in a bill that passed the Commons hours later.

The admission came in a court of appeal hearing on Wednesday when Sir James Eadie, representing the government, was asked if there was “a power for a Security Service officer to authorise an agent to execute an extremely hostile individual”.

Eadie, defending MI5’s current policy for handling confidential informants, said “there would be the power to do that” under 1989 Security Service Act and the royal prerogative that effectively governed the intelligence agency prior to that.

Opponents of the bill are currently trying to set limits on what crimes the law would authorise, to ensure it is consistent with the UK's human rights obligations. Of course, the English government opposes this. We can trust them, they say. Except that there's a whole history of English death squads in Northern Ireland which says we can't, not to mention basic common sense saying we shouldn't. Sadly, with a Tory majority, it looks like they'll be issuing spies and cops their formal licence to kill in the near future.

Meanwhile, MI5's admission invites an obvious question: have they already? Other than of course the cases we already know about...

Biofuels are back

A part of this morning's transport announcement which hasn't got a lot of attention yet: biofuels are back:

“Our Government has agreed in principle to mandate a lower emitting biofuel blend across the transport sector. Over time this will prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of emissions from cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes.

“There are economic opportunities for New Zealand in strengthening our clean green brand, encouraging innovation and creating jobs. It will also help our economic recovery. A biofuel mandate has the potential to create jobs and boost the economy through encouraging a local industry.

Transport Minister Michael Wood has confirmed that this is basicly the 2008 policy, which was repealed by National along with its gutting of climate change policy the moment they gained power. When they first put it up for consultation in 2006 I thought it was a pretty good policy. Since then the techhnological background has changed: EVs look like the transport solution, so biofuels are more going to be a bridge fuel on the way to electrification. But they'll likely have a longer future for heavy transport, and particularly for air and sea travel. Meanwhile, we've also got the benefit of an extra fifteen years of research on sustainability (which in NZ means making them out of trees), fifteen years for fossil fuel companies to understand the need, and some local adoption already (both Gull and Z already sell biodiesel). So reintroducing this looks to be an easy thing we can do, and the consultation should be largely a question of "how far can we move and how fast" rather than the "don't wanna, don't wanna" we had back in 2006.

Fixing National's whiteness problem

After almost twenty years of ignoring the Māori vote, National may run in the Māori seats again:

A former National MP is excited the party could stand a candidate in the Māori electorate seats for the first time since 2002.

One News reported last night that National's leader Judith Collins will tell the caucus next week the party will reverse its longstanding position not to run in Māori seats.

Collins said last year that the party was exploring it as a possibility.

Good. National's racist cordon sanitaire against Māori was bad for the party, bad for our society, and bad for our democracy. It means their caucus doesn't look like New Zealand, while sending an appallingly racist message that in National's eyes Māori do not and never will matter. And that's the sort of thing that ought to be beyond the pale for any self-declared "mainstream" political party (or really, any party at all).

Doing the minimum

The Climate Change Commission is due to release its draft budgets and emissions reduction plans on Monday Sunday, which will hopefully put a rocket under the government to actually reduce emissions. So perhaps in an attempt to pre-empt this, they've re-announced their election policy of introducing a clean car standard, to gradually lower average vehicle fleet emissions:

The Government is promising to pass a law implementing its long-planned Clean Car Import Standard this year, as part of a suite of climate change measures.

It is also hinting that something like the “feebate” proposal could return, as it is considering some kind of incentive to get Kiwis into cleaner vehicles.


Vehicle suppliers will have different targets to meet, and will only have to ensure that the average efficiency of the cars imported in any given year meet the standard. This means higher emission vehicles will still be allowed to be imported, but will have to be offset by cleaner vehicles.

The average light vehicle in New Zealand currently has CO2 emissions of around 171g/km. It is aiming to get that down for new vehicles to 105g/km by 2025, a standard met by Japan in 2014 and Europe in 2020.

When Labour first announced this policy back in 2019 I called it timid and unambitious. That view hasn't changed. Yes, it will help, and its a good building block to a stronger solution. But planning to do what Japan did a decade ago (and Europe exceeded five years ago by the time the policy is announced) seems like foot-dragging. On the positive side, they're talking about reintroducing a biofuels mandate - a useful way to cut heavy vehicle emissions - and about feebates to encourage EV uptake, but talk doesn't reduce emissions. Transport is our second biggest source of emissions after agriculture, and there are obvious technological solutions to reduce them and policies to encourage their adoption. Given the scale of the challenge - our entire future is at stake - the government needs to be going all-in on this. What they've announced today just isn't enough. we have to start somewhere, but unless this is rapidly followed with stronger action, the government will be committing to failure. And that is something we should all find unacceptable.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Time to tax greed

The ultra-rich have done very, very well out of the pandemic. Globally, the wealth of the ten richest people rose by US$540 billion last year, enough money to pay for the pandemic in its entirity. And in New Zealand, local billionaire Graeme Hart saw his wealth increase by almost NZ$3.5 billion. All this while over two million people have died, millions more have been plunged into poverty, and governments are building up enormous debts to keep everything running during a global disaster. In these circumstances, such staggering growth gives a real impression that they are profiting from our misery.

There is an obvious solution to this massive growth in inequality: tax the rich. But we don't just need to tax them; we need to tax them into oblivion. As Arwa Mahdawi points out in The Guardian, billionaires shouldn't exist. They are policy failures. No human being needs that much money, and the power it grants distorts our democracies. Directly taxing wealth over a certain threshold at a rate high enough to erode it seems more than justified.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Going after the money

Since its demise as an imperial power, and especially its deindustrialisation under Thatcher, the UK's primary economic engine has been its role as a money laundry, using its network of overseas territories as tax havens to enable rich people around the world to steal from the societies they live in. While it was a member of the EU, it was able to protect those tax havens from the sanctions they would normally attract. But now they're out, the European Parliament sees no reason to play along any more, and is going after their money:

The European parliament is pushing for UK overseas territories and crown dependencies, including the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, to be added to an EU tax havens blacklist after the conclusion of the Brexit deal.


The resolution, passed earlier this week by a vote of 587 to 50, included measures calling for the automatic inclusion on the blacklist of countries which use a 0% tax regime. Among these are UK territories and dependencies, viewed by transparency campaigners as havens for tax avoidance.

This is "just" a parliamentary resolution, and the actual decision will be made by the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council. But there's no reason now for them to ignore the UK's laundry states, and the UK won't be able to directly protect them. As for the impact it might have, there's some evidence that blacklisting results in tax reform, and strong evidence that it damages public companies laundering funds. But since 2019 tax havens have been subject to actual financial sanctions from the EU, and that's the thing that will probably really help.

Good riddance again

Last month OMV quit the Great South Basin and surrendered its offshore exploration permits outside of Taranaki. This month, Australian-owned Beach Energy has done the same:

Beach Energy Resources New Zealand has decided to abandon all of its oil and gas exploration permits off the South Island coast, including several off the coast of Otago, raising concerns about the economic impact on the region.

A company spokesman, based in Australia, told the Otago Daily Times the company had three oil and gas exploration permits off the coast, and had expected to begin drilling at the Wherry site in the Canterbury Basin this year.

"We had a certain timeframe to drill the well but we weren’t going to meet that timeframe.

This leaves NZOG's Toroa permit as the only offshore exploration permit off the South Island. They're required to commit to drill an exploration well by April 2022, and they've already had one extension on that. But with the current pandemic uncertainty and no longer being able to share costs with other permit-holders, it will hopefully be completely uneconomic and we'll see it surrendered.

(A bunch of OMV's Taranaki permits also have a requirement to commit to drill by this April, and drill by next April, but they're all marked as "change pending". Is the government cutting another sweetheart deal with the foreign oil industry in an effort to keep them around, and if so, why? If we are to have a future, they can't. It is that simple).

Friday, January 22, 2021

Places to go, people to be

Nothing more from me today - I'm off to Wellington, to participate in the city's annual roleplaying convention (which has also eaten my time for the whole week, limiting blogging despite there being interesting things happening).

Normal bloggage will resume Tuesday.


The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force today, making the development, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons illegal in international law. Every nuclear-armed state is now a criminal regime. The corporations and scientists who design, build and maintain their illegal weapons are now criminals under international law, as are the soldiers who prepare them and the generals and political leaders who threaten to use them. There are no trial and extradition procedures - yet. But that's only an amendment or optional protocol away. And the mere fact of illegality will influence behaviour, particularly by corporate suppliers. To see how this works, we just have to look at the landmine and cluster weapons treaties, which faced similar opposition and boycotts from militaristic states, who have gradually been forced to conform to those treaties even if they still refuse to be parties to them. And hopefully the same will happen to the nuclear powers.

Thursday, January 21, 2021


Last night I stayed up till 3am just to see then-President Donald Trump leave the White House, get on a plane, and fly off to Florida, hopefully never to return. And when I woke up this morning, America was different. Not perfect, because it never was. Probably not even good, because ditto. But at least not plumbing the depths of malignant awfulness it has for the past four years. The ordinary America has returned - arrogant, aggressive, racist and over-armed, but at least not actively heading towards fascism and destroying the world like it has been for the past four years. And the entire world will be breathing a sigh of relief for that.

Sadly, Trump has not been arrested yet (I understand the state of New York would like a word with him, not to mention the whole "inciting insurrection" thing). Hopefully that's coming. Because the only way for America to "heal" after this is for there to be justice and accountability. And that means a full investigation of Trump and prosecution of his crimes. Letting him off the hook because he was President, or pardoning him as an act of "forgiveness", is the cowards way out, and simply encourages further misbehaviour by others in the future. If America wants to be America again, it needs to show that no-one is above the law.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Climate Change: Ending coal in Portugal

Back in 2016, the Portuguese government announced plans to stop burning coal by 2030. But progress has come much quicker, and they're now scheduled to close their last coal plant by the end of this year:

The Sines coal plant in Portugal went offline at midnight yesterday evening (14 January), leaving the country with just one remaining coal power station in operation, which is scheduled for closure in November.

Portuguese energy utility EDP announced its decision to shut down the 1,296 MW Sines coal plant in July last year, bringing the closure forward by two years – from 2023 to 2021. EDP’s initial plans were to close Sines in 2030.

The decision is “part of EDP group’s decarbonisation strategy” and was taken in a context where energy production increasingly depends on renewable sources, the company said back in July.


This leaves Portugal with just one remaining coal power plant in operation, Pego, which is already scheduled for closure in November this year, campaigners said.

Once it closes, Portugal will become the fourth coal-free state in Europe - unless someone else beats them to it, of course. France, Slovakia, the UK, Ireland and Italy are all planning to end coal by 2025, and it seems that once that decision is made, action tends to go faster rather than slower. Meanwhile in New Zealand Huntly is still legally allowed to burn coal. Hopefully that will change once the Climate Change Commission delivers its initial budgets and reduction plans in a couple of weeks.

Friday, January 15, 2021

100 Days 4 Action

School Strike 4 Climate is holding a "100 Days 4 Action" rally outside Parliament on the 26th:

The Youth of NZ will be standing up for climate action once again on January 26th outside of Parliament for School Strike 4 Climate NZ’s 100 Days 4 Action campaign rally.

“We believe it is vital to hold our new Labour-led government to account from the get-go. Like many, we have seen countless promises on policy, actions and goals in the past year - but we often question ourselves, what will they deliver? We are demanding real transformative action during this newly sworn-in government's first 100 days. It is time for real change, to protect our people, whenua & planet, for good.” Says SS4C NZ Coordinator and Media Representative, Ethan Reille


School Strike 4 Climate NZ will meet outside parliament at 12:00pm on January 26th. We plan to chant, advocate and present the demands we have collated from the voices of the public. We invite the public to arrive at 12:30pm approx, where we then aim to present our demands to Labour MP, Ginny Anderson and other representatives of the Government at 12:45 pm. Then we will finish with an open mic session, catered for the public, to allow all voices to be heard, while there is an opportunity.

The Climate Commission will present its draft emissions budgets and reduction plans on February 1st, so its important to speak up and demand action. That said, things are not exactly normal ATM. So, if you go, stay safe, wear a mask, scan in everywhere, and wash your hands.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Paying the BluffGeld

So, Rio Tinto has supposedly reached a deal with Meridian and Contact to give them cheaper electricity prices and keep the Tiwai Point smelter open. Down south, they're celebrating. But the rest of us shouldn't be. I've argued before that the best thing this foreign polluter can do is close. It uses 12% of our total electricity generation, effectively making it responsible for that entire sector's carbon emissions, while receiving huge carbon subsidies (latest figures: 1.7 million tons in 2019, worth $65 million at today's prices if they're getting an equivalent amount this year, a huge whack of their annual "profit", and enough for us to pay every worker there $65,000 a year for the rest of their lives to find something else to do). Added to that, their constant threats of closure to extort ever-more-favourable terms from governments who want it to close, but not on their watch, plays havoc with our electricity market, deterring renewables investment as no-one can be sure whether there will be a glut in three or four years time. The smelter seems to exist solely as a machine for extorting subsidies from the New Zealand government - subsidies paid by you and me, in the form of higher taxes and electricity prices. And our chickenshit politicians keep falling for it, and paying the BluffGeld, to avoid the horrific situation of us not having to pay them anymore.

Rio Tinto says this deal "mak[es] the smelter economically viable and competitive over the next four years." Naturally it expires in 2024, just after the next election, so next election time we can expect them to be claiming that the smelter is economically unviable and uncompetititve and asking for another subsidy. And I expect our chickenshit politicians to roll over and pay them off again, dooming us to higher emissions and more expensive electricity. Because once you pay the DaneGeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

Impeached again

The US House of Representatives has just impeached Donald Trump, giving him the dubious honour of being the only US President to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans voted for impeachement, making it the most bipartisan impeachment ever.

The question now is whether the Senate will rise to the occasion, and vote to convict, or let Trump get away with it. Because that's what not convicting him means: letting a President get away with attempting a coup against the constitution he was supposed to uphold. And doing that effectively means issuing a standing invitation to anyone else to try and do it in future. If the US constitution is to mean anything, if its vaunted "checks and balances" are to mean anything, if the US system of government is to survive, then Trump needs to be removed from office immediately, before he can do any more damage. After what he has done, he cannot be allowed to simply leave the White House peacefully at the end of his term; he must be thrown out, repudiated, as a warning to others.

They won't, of course. The Republicans control the Senate, and I expect nothing but cowardice and venality from them. The party which once stood up to Nixon is no longer interested in defending US democracy, especially from their own efforts to undermine it. The good news is that the House's motion may stop Trump from pardoning himself and anyone involved in his insurrection. So its done some good, at least.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Twitter Purge

In the wake of Donald Trump's incitement of an assault on the US capitol, Twitter finally enforced its terms of service and suspended his account. They've since followed that up with action against prominent QAnon accounts and Trumpers, including in New Zealand. I'm not unhappy with this: Trump regularly violated Twitter's TOS, and the surprising thing is that he wasn't banned sooner. Likewise the NZ accounts highlighted are ones with long histories of violations and suspensions. At the same time, I'm a little bit uncomfortable about the amount of power a handful of US-based dotcoms now have over the global conversation. And while at the moment they're using it against violent extremists, you don't have to think too hard to see how this power could be abused to stifle criticism, interfere in elections, and undermine democracy to the advantage of these dotcoms' billionaire owners.

Many people will argue that Twitter is a private company, so can do what it likes. This isn't government censorship, after all. But private power is still power, and therefore needs to be regulated and controlled to prevent abuse. That's why we have a Human Rights Act, which prevents private bodies using their private power for discriminatory purposes. And its why our Bill of Rights Act applies to anyone performing a public function - a clause which has been regularly used to review and overturn the decisions of private broadcasters on who may participate in election debates. As for what we should be doing about this particular form of power, the Spinoff article quotes the NZ Council for Civil Liberties' Thomas Beagle as suggesting mandatory transparency and appeal processes. That would seem to be a good start.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

One way of fixing it

Yesterday we had the unseemly sight of a landleech threatening to keep his houses empty in response to better tenancy laws. Meanwhile in Catalonia they have a solution for that: nationalisation:

Barcelona is deploying a new weapon in its quest to increase the city’s available rental housing: the power to force the sale of empty properties.

This week, the city’s housing department wrote to 14 companies that collectively own 194 empty apartments, warning that if they haven’t found a tenant within the next month, the city could take possession of these properties, with compensation at half their market value. These units would then be rented out by the city as public housing to lower-income tenants, while the companies in question could also face possible fines of between €90,000 and €900,000 ($103,000 and $1,003,000), according to Spanish news outlets.

That would certainly be one way of fixing the "ghost house" problem, and it would certainly incentivise landleeches to fill their properties. Even fines would be a start on that. Ultimately, we need a mass state house building program to increase supply and crush the market. But in the interim, measures like this may help ensure our housing stock is actually used as intended: as homes, rather than sources of tax-free capital gains.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

The end of US democracy?

When I went to bed last night, I was expecting today to be eventful. A lot of pouting in Congress as last-ditch Trumpers staged bad-faith "objections" to a democratic election, maybe some rioting on the streets of Washington DC from angry Trump supporters. But I wasn't expecting anything like an armed invasion of the US Capitol, forcing the evacuation of Congress in the middle of the count.

People are calling this an attempted coup, sedition, insurrection, terrorism. Whether it is or not ultimately depends on how the US responds to it: with prosecutions or pardons, impeachment or immunity ("for if it prosper, none dare call it Treason...") But Trump incited this, and it is clear that he approves of it (and was still approving of it just quarter of an hour ago). If American democracy is to survive, he needs to be impeached for it, immediately. Because if inciting your armed supporters to storm Congress to disrupt the certification of an election isn't a "high crime and misdemeanour", what the fuck is?

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

A dangerous decision for journalism

Last night, a British court ruled that Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the US. Unfortunately, its not because all he is "guilty" of is journalism, or because the offence the US wants to charge him with - espionage - is of an inherently political nature; instead the judge accepted all the US's arguments that exposing US war crimes is a crime, and accused Assange of violating the UK's draconian Official Secrets Act to boot. Instead, Assange has been saved by his poor mental health: he's likely to kill himself in US custody, and the US wouldn't be able to prevent it. If it saves him from extradition to the US to face persecution and continuing mental torture in a US supermax, that's good. But its no victory for journalism, or the right of citizens to hold their governments to account. But then, did we really expect justice on that front from a British court anyway?