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Getting politics out of utility bills

Utility Dive - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 06:25

Public utility commissions should explicitly bar utilities from spending customers' money on politics, using clear and common-sense definitions of political activity. 

These Stellar Photos Show the Special Link Between Birds and Native Plants

Audubon Society - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 06:16

A Verdin nest tucked deep into a spiny cactus. An American Robin gulping down a berry. An ‘I’iwi probing for nectar.  These stunning scenes depict common bird behaviors—breeding and foraging—often difficult to capture. But they also emphasize the important link between birds and plants native to their respective regions—a laudable endeavor.

Each year, the Plants for Birds category of the Audubon Photography Awards welcomes photos that place dual focus on the flora and fauna in each shot. Although the 12 images below were not 2022 winners or featured in our Top 100, their perfect pairing of birds and the native plants they rely on still wowed us.

The diversity of species and plants highlighted in these stunning images reiterate a simple yet vital reminder: While birds rely on native plants for key resources, from nutrients to protective nest sites and perching spots, plants need birds for pollination and seed dispersal. This symbiotic relationship is why planting native species—from a simple patch around one’s lamppost or street tree to a lawn-turned-meadow of flowers—is so important. To get started, check out Audubon’s plant finder to discover plants native to your area. And if this gallery so inspires you, consider submitting photos to this category or any others for this year’s  Audubon Photography Awards, which are currently open for entry!

American Robin on Washington Hawthorn (above) Vibrant red berries frame this adult American Robin, an often-overlooked common bird. Commonly considered a harbingers of spring (though many live year-round within their local territories), robins famously eat a lot of earthworms but also rely on fruit still present on trees in fall and winter. Here, photographer Elizabeth Yicheng Shen snapped a shot of the bird poised to swallow a berry from a Washington hawthorn tree. A North American native, Washington hawthorns are commonly planted in parks and residential areas because of its white, showy flowers in spring and orange-red leaves in the fall. The small fruits persist through early winter, providing much-needed forage for birds, including American Robins and Cedar Waxwings.  Florida Scrub-Jay on Southern Live Oak 
    Florida Scrub-Jay. Photo: Carrie Delong Price/Audubon Photography Awards
Though the blue plumage of this Florida Scrub-Jay nearly matches the brilliant blue Florida sky, the bird’s feathers pop in contrast with the four brown acorns stashed neatly in a line in the jay’s bill. This endangered bird inhabits a narrow range in Florida, dependent on low-growing oak, like on which this jay perches. Although the Florida Scrub-Jay eats insects, berries, and even snails and small lizards, acorns are an integral part of their diet. Jays hoard nearly 8,000 acorns each year and, when hungry, hammer the cache open with their sharp bills. Capturing this gorgeous photo required dedication: Carrie DeLong battled copious mosquitoes while walking along the Scrub Ridge Trail with her family at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.   House Finch on Cane Cholla
    House Finches. Photo: Linda Scher/Audubon Photography Awards
Nestled in the prickly embrace of a cane cholla, a male House Finch delicately feeds his mate a tiny morsel of food at their nest. House Finches once occupied only the western United States and Mexico, but now call the entire stretch of North America (including Hawai’i) home, an unfortunate consequence of their release by a pet store owner in 1939. The species inhabits an impressive diversity of habitats, from coastal marshes to the dry desert of New Mexico, where photographer Linda Scher snapped this photo. Scher watched the male fly to the cholla, scan carefully, and then vanish into the cactus’s center—ultimately helping her locate the nest. The male’s coloration is a result of eating the cactus’s magenta flowers and yellow fruit. A diet rich in these colorful carotenoid pigments imparts a more vibrant red hue, as in this male House Finch. American Robin on American Holly
    American Robin. Photo: Malcolm Kurtz/Audubon Photography Awards
Staring directly into the camera, this hungry, hungry American Robin swallows a bright red berry, exquisitely bordered by the bird’s yellow mouth. American Holly provides more than holiday decorations: They also are an important food source—and even nest site and shelter—for robins and other birds. A diecious species that bears thick, waxy leaves year-round, American holly need male and female plants nearby for the female to produce its famous red fruit. Consider planting this shrub—or tree, as they can grow up to 60 feet tall—for a bird-friendly backyard oasis. ‘I’iwi on Māmane
    'I'iwi. Photo: Arthur Yin/Audubon Photography Awards
The bright vermillion feathers of the aptly named ‘I’iwi, or Scarlet Honeycreeper, shine against this photo’s mossy green backdrop. Endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago, ‘I’iwi live in mid-elevation forests on all the main islands except Lanai, where they are now extinct. This endangered bird—their numbers severely depleted by avian malaria—relies on nectar from lobed flowers, like the sunny yellow māmane flowers featured here. ‘Ōhi’a were a major food source for this Hawai’i native, but a fungal disease known as rapid ‘ōhi’a death kills the tree within as little as a few days of infection, threatening the survival of the tree and wildlife dependent on it.  Northern Flicker on Staghorn Sumac Northern Flicker. Photo: Jennifer Miner/Audubon Photography Awards Toes curled tightly around the rigid stem of a staghorn sumac, a Northern Flicker angles its body upward to pluck tiny red berries from the sumac’s desiccated flower head. Northern Flickers occupy forested regions across the United States year-round, consuming ants and beetles chiseled and plucked from the ground in warmer months, and berries and seeds in the winter. A member of the cashew family, staghorn sumac grows commonly in open grasslands, prairies, and disturbed soils along roadsides. A single tree can produce thousands of flowers and, eventually, berries at the tips of branches, providing vital food for birds during the winter. Photographer Jennifer Miner’s profile shot also reveals important field marks: The bright yellow undersides of the tail and wing feathers identify this bird as a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, found on the eastern coast (red plumage would indicate the western, red-shafted subspecies). The black cheek stripe reveal’s the bird’s sex: male.  Chipping Sparrow on Sugarcane Plumegrass
    Chipping Sparrow. Photo: Cameron Kirkpatrick/Audubon Photography Awards
A Chipping Sparrow’s gray body, crisp face stripping, and red cap stand out against a tawny sea of sugarcane plumegrass. Perched upon a single inflorescence bent from the bird’s weight, the sparrow proudly displays a bill stuffed with seeds. Also called sugarcane or giant plumegrass because it can grow up to 20 feet tall, the grass is native to a large area of the eastern and southern United States and feeds skippers and common wood-nymph butterfly larvae, as well as songbirds. Photographer Cameron Kirkpatrick captured this lovely image in the Clay Family Eastern Glades, a restored 40-acre preserve in Houston, Texas. The fauna attracted by the local park emphasize how native plant gardens, no matter the size and location—even in the fourth largest city in the United States—offer food and refuge for birds and other wildlife.  Purple Gallinule on Spatterdock
    Purple Gallinule. Photo: Nancy Malecki/Audubon Photography Awards
The yellow legs of a Purple Gallinule stride effortlessly across giant, green pads of spatterdock, or yellow water lily, floating on the water surface. The bird’s blue frontal shield and red bill draw the eye to a dangling cupcake-shaped seed pod clipped from a lily stem. Gallinules inhabit freshwater wetlands and eat a variety of aquatic plants, including native spatterdock. The lilies provide food, cover, and easy movement—the large pads act as steppingstones to traverse water too deep for the birds’ legs. The more colorful version of the Common Gallinule, Purple Gallinules boast namesake purple, green, and blue feathers. These iridescent shades are the product of physical or structural coloration, awakening when sunlight hits the textured surface of their feathers at just the right angle.  Verdin on Cane Cholla
    Verdins. Photo: Linda Scher/Audubon Photography Awards
Its long black legs clinging to the narrow spines of a cane cholla, the Verdin’s rich yellow head and chestnut shoulder patch pull the viewers’ attention from the cactus—and the more muted gray tail of a second Verdin. The pair’s nest, barely visible at the left edge of the frame, is tucked carefully inside the cactus’s sharp spines. Here, the camouflaged mate feeds youngsters insects and spiders gleaned from nearby desert plants. Cholla cacti offer Verdin—and other species like House Finch (above) and Curve-billed Thrasher—a protected nesting site and reprieve from the desert’s harsh sun. Cholla, along with other cacti species, are ideal for southwestern backyards as their spines minimize water loss.  American Goldfinch on Cup Plant
    American Goldfinch. Photo: Catherine Mullhaupt/Audubon Photography Awards
An acrobatic American Goldfinch precariously grips the stem of a cup plant with both feet, the stem sagging under the bird’s mass. The vibrant yellow goldfinch pulls small green leaves off the flowerhead with its flesh-colored bill. Photographer Catherine Mullhaupt visited the Michigan State University pollinator garden regularly, observing the native fauna and waiting for the perfect shot. A common wildflower in the daisy family, cup plants earn their name from pairs of opposite leaves that join around the stem, collecting water when it rains. These cups of water attract small green frogs, while the flowers feed a bonanza of bees, butterflies, and birds. Red-breasted Nuthatch on Western Larch Red-breasted Nuthatch. Photo: Joanie Christian/Audubon Photography Awards A Red-breasted Nuthatch and the thin green needles of a western larch tree stand in sharp focus against a softly blurred background. The nuthatch emerges from beneath a tree limb, one foot gripping the sharp edge of bark peeling off the trunk. Captured while the bird is in its characteristic upside-down position, the bird’s tweezer-like bill holds a small bug immobilized. Red-breasted Nuthatches primarily eat insects, but during winter they consume conifer seeds from fir, pine, and larch trees. Western larch trees grow primarily in the Pacific Northwest, can live to 900 years old, and produce thousands of seeds each year—an important food source for nuthatches and other seed-eating species like chickadees.  Cactus Wren on Coastal Prickly Pear
    Cactus Wren. Photo: Krisztina Scheeff/Audubon Photography Awards
Here, a Cactus Wren perches on the pad of a coastal prickly pear cactus, a downy feather fanning softly from its bill. The dead, brown blades of grass encircling the opening to the wren’s nest contrast sharply with the sage green pads and decaying yellow flowers from this opuntia—a genus of cactus with these distinctive oval pads or nopales. Coastal prickly pear grows primarily in Southern California, where it can form dense, sprawling patches. Birds feed from the prickly pear fruit, but Cactus Wrens mainly consume insects—just 20 percent of their diet is plant material—and instead use coastal prickly pear cactus and cholla cactus for nesting. Unique from other birds, Cactus Wrens construct multiple grassy nests and will use the extra sites for cushy roosting spots when not breeding.
Categories: G3. Big Green

MMG shuts Las Bambas copper mine due to protests

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 06:13

China-backed miner MMG Ltd has placed its vast Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, the world’s second largest producing nation of the metal, on care and maintenance due to ongoing community unrest triggered by the destitution of President Pedro Castillo late last year.

Nationwide protests continued on Wednesday, in the eighth week of the South American country’s political crisis, local news outlets reported. The wave of intermittently violent demonstrations has already imperilled 30% of its copper output.

According to Peru’s ombudsman’s office 58 people have been killed and 1,792 injured in protests since December 7, when Congress removed President Castillo and arrested him.  

Las Bambas had been operating at a reduced rate since then, but after warning on Monday that it may have to suspend the mine, MMG confirmed Wednesday that it would start a period of care and maintenance.

The copper mine, which accounts for 2% of the metal worldwide, had faced a shortage of critical supplies due to disruptions to inbound and outbound transport.

It currently has about 85,000 tonnes of copper inventory at site.

Commodities analyst for BMO Capital Markets, Colin Hamilton, said the Las Bambas story echoes several around Peru’s southern mining corridor.

“As civil unrest fuels disruption, we expect shipments from Peru, which also produces significant volumes of zinc, tin and silver, to be impacted over the coming months, and congress shows no sign of calling a general election in the immediate future,” Hamilton wrote. 

MMG noted it had made progress in dialogue processes and the implementation of agreements during the fourth quarter across the six communities that participated in the 2022 protests, as well as with other locals who live along the logistics corridor. 

“Discussions with the Huancuire community resumed in January 2023 and ongoing dialogue forums to discuss implementation of agreements with the Fuerabamba community have been established,” MMG said in its fourth quarter report.

“Unfortunately, all dialogue tables have been forced to pause due to security concerns amid nation-wide protests. We look forward to progressing these discussions once the social unrest dissipates,” it noted.

According to Bloomberg, production disruptions in Peru are threatening to choke off access to almost $4 billion worth of red metal. 

MMG’s chief financial officer Ross Carroll said the company has lost 25,000 tonnes of copper production each month the mine has been suspended over the past year.

Disputed tax bill

Adding to the company’s issues in Peru is a $160 million tax bill, issued after an audit on the basis that all of the interest paid under bank loans in 2026 was non-deductible.

The miner has said it would dispute the bill and would even seriously consider international arbitration if local appeal avenues failed.

The halt of Las Bambas comes at a particularly precarious moment for copper markets as inventories stand at historically low levels while miners warn demand is poised to skyrocket with the growing electrification of vehicles.

Besides political reasons, the current unrest is Peru is being fuelled by longstanding grievances about high poverty levels and discrimination felt by many in Peru’s Andean and Amazonian regions. 

The country’s south is rich in copper but locals say the benefits of mining don’t reach the communities who live close to the many operations.

New tech may help lithium-ion batteries last for nine years

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 06:06

Engineers at Australia’s RMIT University are proposing the idea of incorporating a 2D material into lithium-ion batteries to extend their lifetime up to three times longer than today’s technology, that is, to about nine years. 

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers explain that they are using MXene, a class of material that is similar to graphene but has high electrical conductivity.

The big challenge with using MXene is that it rusts easily, thereby inhibiting electrical conductivity and rendering it unusable. To overcome this issue, the RMIT group looked into sound waves and discovered that at a certain frequency, they remove rust from MXene, restoring it to close to its original state.

This innovation could one day help to revitalize MXene batteries every few years.

“Surface oxide, which is rust, is difficult to remove, especially on this material, which is much, much thinner than a human hair,” Hossein Alijani, co-lead author of the study, said in a media statement. “Current methods used to reduce oxidation rely on the chemical coating of the material, which limits the use of the MXene in its native form. In this work, we show that exposing an oxidized MXene film to high-frequency vibrations for just a minute removes the rust on the film. This simple procedure allows its electrical and electrochemical performance to be recovered.”

Alijani and his colleagues believe that their work to remove rust from Mxene opens the door for the nanomaterial to be used in a wide range of applications in energy storage, sensors, wireless transmission and environmental remediation.

The ability to quickly restore oxidized materials to an almost pristine state also represents a game-changer in terms of the circular economy.

“Materials used in electronics, including batteries, generally suffer deterioration after two or three years of use due to rust forming,” Amgad Rezk, senior author of the paper, said. “With our method, we can potentially extend the lifetime of battery components by up to three times.”

While the innovation is promising, the team needs to work with industry to integrate its acoustics device into existing manufacturing systems and processes. They are also exploring the use of their invention to remove oxide layers from other materials for applications in sensing and renewable energy.

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Pittsburgh Green New Deal - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 05:53
สล็อตฝากถอน truewalltet ไม่มีบัญชีธนาคาร777

สล็อตฝากถอน truewalltet ไม่มีบัญชีธนาคาร777 หมดปัญหาการฝากถอนที่ยุ่งยาก ด้วยการฝากถอนผ่านทรูวอเลท เอาใจนักปั่น ที่ยังไม่มีบัญชีธนาคาร หรือใครที่อยากทดลองเล่นเกมสล็อต แต่ยังไม่มีบัญชีธนาคาร ก็สมารถเล่นได้อย่างเพลิดเพลิน เพียงมีแอพ true money wallet เพียงแอพเดียว ก็สมารถเลือกเล่นเกมสล็อตมากกว่า 20000+ เกมกับเราได้อย่างง่ายดายแล้ว

อีกทั้งทางเว็บไซต์ของเรา มีการบริการที่ครบวงจร ได้รับการยอมรับจากนักเดิมพันทั่วโลก รองรับทั้งระบบ IOS หรือ Android ซึ่งจะมั่นใจได้เลยว่า ไม่ว่าจะอยู่ที่ไหน เวลาใด ก้สมารถเล่นสล็อตกับเว็บไซต์ของเราได้อย่างจุใจ ไม่มีสะดุด เพียงมีอินเทอร์เน็ต และยังมีการจัดการที่รวดเร็ว ด้วยระบบการฝากถอนออโต้ ไม่ต้องยุ่งยาก และยังสามารถฝากได้ไม่มีขั้นต่ำ ไม่ว่าจะทุนน้อย ทุนหนา ก็สามารถมาสนุกไปพร้อมกับเราได้เช่นกัน

เล่นสล็อตกับเราดียังไง ? สล็อตฝากถอน true walltet ไม่มีบัญชีธนาคาร777

ในปัจจุบัน การพัฒนาเทคโนโลยี มีความทันสมัยมากขึ้น ทางเว็บไซต์ของเรา จึงได้ปรับปรุง ให้มีความทันสมัย เข้ากับยุคใหม่ได้เป็นอย่างดี มีระบบการดูแลที่ครบวงจร ความปลอดภัยขั้นสูง ข้อมูลของสมาชิกเราทุกคน ไม่มีมีรั่วไหลแน่นอน อีกทั้งยังมีแอดมินที่คอยดูแลตลอด 24 ชั่วโมง หากมีปัญหา ไม่ว่าเวลาใด ก้สมารถแจ้งแอดมินได้ตลอดเวลา จะตอบกลับในทันที ไม่ให้คุณต้องรอนาน

หากท่านใดที่สนใจอยากเป็นสมาชิกกับเรา สามารถสมัครได้ด้วยตนเองง่าย ๆ เพียงแค่คลิ้กไปที่ลิ้งของเว็บไซต์เรา แล้วกรอกข้อมูล ชื่อ – นามสกุล และหมายเลขบัญชีของท่าน เพื่อความสะดวกในการฝาก – ถอน เข้าเล่นเกม แล้วรอรับยูสเซอร์ ที่เป็นของท่าโดยตรง เพียงแค่นี้ ก็สามารถเข้าเล่นได้แล้ว ขั้นตอนง่าย ๆ ไม่เกิน 5 นาที

และแน่นอนว่า สมาชิกใหม่ จะได้รับโปรโมชั่นพิเศษที่คุ้มค่า และลงตัวสุด ๆ ทั้งโปรโมชั่นฝาก 10 บาท รับ 100 บาท โดยไม่ต้องทำเทิร์น เพียงแค่ท่านฝากเงินเข้าเล่นเกม 10 บาท ก็จะได้รับเครดิตฟรี เพื่อเข้าเล่นเกมฟรี ๆ ไปเลย 100 บาท สามารถรับได้ง่าย ๆ โดยไม่มีเงื่อนไขใด ๆ โปรโมชั่นเด็ด ที่หลาย ๆ คนชื่นชอบ

อีกทั้งยังมีโหมดทดลองเล่น โดยที่ไม่มีค่าใช้จ่ายใด ๆ เพื่อให้นักปั่นมือใหม่ ที่อยากลองเล่นเกมสล็อตได้ฝึก และเรียนรู้การจ่ายรางวัลของเกม วิธีการเล่นเกม และการรับรางวัล ซึ่งจะมีเครดิตการทดลองลเ่นแบบไม่จำกัด หากเข้าใจในวิธีการเล่นของแต่ละเกมแล้ว จึงค่อยฝากเงินแล้วเข้าเล่นเกมสล็อตที่คุณชื่นชอบก็ได้

เกมสล็อตน่าเล่นกับเว็บไซต์ของเรา

ต้องบอกเลยว่า ในปีนี้ เกมสล็อตจากค่าย Pg Slot มาแรงจริง ๆ ด้วยรูปแบบเกมที่มีความทันสมัย เล่นง่าย พร้อมฟีเจอร์การซื้อฟรีสปิน ที่หลาย ๆ คนชื่นชอบ จึงทำให้หลาย ๆ เกมของค่าย Pg Slot ได้รับความนิยมเป็นอย่างมาก และได้รับความนิยมอย่างต่อเนื่องมาเป็นเวลานาน

โดยวันนี้ เราจะมาแนำนำเกมสล็อตที่นักปั่นหลาย ๆ คน ต่างพูดเป็นเสียงเดียวกันว่า แจกโบนัสรางวัลโหดที่สุด เล่นง่ายที่สุด ซึ่งมีการซื่อฟรีสปินขั้นต่ำอยู่ที่ 75 บาท พร้อมกำไรที่ได้มากกว่า 5000X เท่าเลยทีเดียว

เกมที่เราพูดถึงคือเกม secrets of cleopatra รูปแบบเกมสล็อตแนวอียิปต์โบราณ ที่ได้สร้างสรรค์ออกมาเป็นเกมสล็อตที่มีความทันสมัย โดยตัวเกมจะเป็นเกมสล็อตวิดีโอแบบ 3 รีล 4 แถว ที่มีการเพิ่มขยายรีลไปเรื่อย ๆ เมื่อมีการชนะรางวัล

พร้อมทั้งมีฟีเจอร์พิเศษการหมุนวงล้อ เพื่อเพิ่มตัวคูณ ซึ่งมีตั้งแต่คูณ 1 ไปจนถึง คูณ 4 ซึ่งหากได้รับ Scatter 3 ตัวขึ้นไป ก็จะได้รับสปินฟรี 10 ครั้ง และจะได้หมุนวงล้อ เพื่อเพิ่มตัวคูณ 12 สัญลักษณ์ ซึ่งแต่ละสัญลักษณ์ ก็จะมีอัตราการจ่ายรางวัลที่แตกต่างกันออกไป โดยมีสัญลักษณ์ หน้าคลีโอพัตรา ที่จ่ายอัตราากรชนะรางวัลสูงที่สุด

ซึ่งภายในเกม จะมีสัญลักษณ์ Wild ที่เป็นสัญลักษณ์พิเศษที่สำคัญ เพื่อช่วยเพิ่มโอกาสการชนะรางวัล แจ็คพอตของเกมให้กับคุณได้มากยิ่งขึ้น ซึ่งสัญลักษณ์ Wild จะสมารถแทนที่สัญลักษณ์อื่น ๆ ภายในเกมได้ทุกตัว ยกเว้นสัญลักษณ์พิเศษ Scatter หากสัญลักษณ์ wild ปรากฏบนรีลเกมมากเท่าไหร่ โอกาสชนะรางวัลโบนัสแบบไม่อั้นของคุณ ก็จะมากขึ้นเท่านั้น

เกมดี ที่คุณต้องลอง ทุนน้อย ทุนหนา สามารถเล่นได้ สนุกได้ง่าย ๆ ด้วยการซื้อฟีเจอร์ฟรีสปินที่เริ่มต้นเพียง 75 บาท สนุกสุดคุ้ม การันตีโบนัสแตกจริง

Credit เครดิตสล็อตเว็บตรง1688upx

อ่านบทความน่าสนใจเพิ่มเติม

The post สล็อตฝากถอน truewalltet ไม่มีบัญชีธนาคาร777 appeared first on climateworkers.org.

Categories: B3. EcoSocialism

What is a Regenerative Economy?

Dogwood Alliance - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 05:37

In a regenerative economy, we operate in harmony with nature. Businesses create conditions that regenerate and heal the planet. This concept builds on ecological design, which tries to restore balance in nature. We need to create a sustainable economy, one that: supports human life and well-being reduces fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions prioritizes climate […]

The post What is a Regenerative Economy? first appeared on Dogwood Alliance.
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Maine PUC OKs 1-GW Longroad wind farm, LS Power transmission line amid equity and cost concerns

Utility Dive - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 04:46

A Maine regulator warned the cost of the energy transition may pose an unfair burden to low- and middle-income people.

Search team finds Rio Tinto’s radioactive capsule lost in Australia

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 04:45

An Australian emergency services search team has found a tiny, but potentially deadly radioactive capsule belonging to Rio Tinto (ASX, LON: RIO) on the side of a highway in Western Australia’s north.

The stainless steel device, just 8 millimetres long and 6 millimetres in diameter,  was lost while being transported from the company’s Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara last week.

The capsule was recovered after a nearly week-long search involving around 100 people along a 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) stretch of highway, officials said.

“I do want to emphasize this is an extraordinary result,” WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Minister Stephen Dawson said in a press conference.

“The search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack,” he said.

Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive, Simon Trott, who had already apologized for the alarm caused, said the company felt a sense of relief and gratitude towards all those involved in the search.

“This device should never have been lost,” he said. “We will be assessing whether our processes and protocols, including the use of specialist contractors to package and transport radioactive materials, are appropriate.”

It was found thanks to a slow-moving roadside hunt using specialized radiation equipment.

“When you consider the challenge of finding an object smaller than a 10-cent coin along a 1400-kilometre stretch of Great Northern Highway, it is a tremendous result,” noted Fire and Emergency Services commissioner, Darren Klemm.

(With Google Maps)

WA authorities have launched an investigation into how the capsule, which holds a small amount of radioactive Caesium-137, went missing.

They also said it was unlikely the capsule had leaked, but will test the area around where it was found.

Rio Tinto is holding its own investigation into the public health fright and also faces an inquiry by Commonwealth authorities.

Though the company said it was willing to pay for the cost of the search if asked by the state government, the incident is a fresh blow to Rio Tinto’s reputation in Western Australia.

In 2020, the company blew up two 46,000-year-old caves of sacred significance to Indigenous Australians as part of an iron ore mine expansion in the state.

Fusion Energy: A Different Take

Resilience - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 04:28

Indeed, one thing seems indisputable: Unleashing fusion in an unbounded, growth-driven economy would be a wholesale disaster.

Tombador Iron halts Brazil mine due to unrest

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:49

Australia’s Tombador Iron (ASX: TI1) has temporarily halted production at its flagship iron ore mine in Brazil, as an ongoing blockade in the state of Bahia is disrupting logistics.

Unrest hit Brazil in early January as supporters of ex President Jair Bolsonaro who refuse to accept his electoral defeat stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential palace. 

Protests have continued despite government efforts to boost security, with right wing leaders calling for blockades and power lines being brought down in a coordinated efforts to cause chaos and prompt a military coup to overthrow Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government.

Tombador said it was working with key stakeholders to reopen the mine, but did not provide further details.

The company and its trading partner, Trafigura, secured last month contracts to supply two export shipments of its high-grade iron ore to the Asian market.

Tombador first produced premium-grade lump and fines hematite iron ore in May 2021. 

Last year, it produced over 754,000 tonnes of high-grade iron ore last year, according to its annual report.

Shares of Tombador fell as much as 14.3% on the news, closing 7.4% lower at A$0.026 each. That left the company with a market capitalization of A$55.56 million ($39m).

There’s a deal to save the Colorado River — if California doesn’t blow it up

Grist - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:45

After months of tense negotiation, a half-dozen states have reached an agreement to drastically cut their water usage and stabilize the drought-stricken Colorado River — as long as California doesn’t blow up the deal. The plan, which was developed without the input of Mexico or Native American tribes that rely on the river, seeks to stave off total collapse in the river for another few years, giving water users time to find a comprehensive solution for the chronically-depleted waterway. 

On Monday, six out of the seven states that rely on the Colorado announced their support for steep emergency cuts totaling more than 2 million acre-feet of water, or roughly a quarter of annual usage from the river. The multi-state agreement, prodded into existence by the Biden administration’s threats to impose its own cuts, will likely serve as a blueprint for the federal government as it manages the river over the next four years, ushering in a new era of conservation in the drought-wracked Southwest. While the exact consequences of these massive cuts are still largely uncertain, they will almost certainly spell disaster for water-intensive agriculture operations and new residential development in the region’s booming cities.

But California, which takes more water than any other state, has rejected the proposal as too onerous, instead proposing its own plan with a less stringent scheme for cutting water usage. If the federal government does adopt the six-state framework, powerful farmers in California’s Imperial Valley may sue to stop it, setting up a legal showdown that could derail the Biden administration’s drought response efforts.

Nevertheless, the general consensus on pursuing immediate, dramatic water cuts is unprecedented.

“It puts something down on the table that we haven’t had before,” said Elizabeth Koebele, an associate professor at the University of Nevada-Reno who studies the Colorado River. “The states are saying, ‘We recognize just how bad it is, and we’re willing to take cuts much, much sooner than we had previously agreed to.’”

The Colorado River has been oversubscribed for more than a century thanks to a much-maligned 1922 contract that allocated more water than actually existed, but it has also been shrinking over the past 20 years thanks to a millennium-scale drought made worse by climate change. Last year, as high winter temperatures caused the snowpack that feeds the river to vanish, water levels plummeted in the river’s two key reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, threatening to knock out electricity generation at two major dams.

Federal officials intervened in June, ordering the seven Colorado River Basin states to find a way to reduce their annual water usage by between 2 and 4 million acre-feet. This was a jaw-dropping demand, far more than the states had ever contemplated cutting, and they blew through an initial August deadline to find a solution. The feds upped the pressure in October, threatening to impose unilateral cuts if state officials didn’t work out a solution.

A century-old agreement divides the Colorado River Basin into two sections, the Upper Basin and the Lower Basin, which are now at odds over how to handle a climate-fueled drought. Grist / Amelia Bates

As the interstate talks proceeded, long-buried conflicts began to resurface. The first major conflict is between the Upper Basin states — Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah — and the Lower Basin states: Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. The Upper Basin states argue that the Lower Basin states should be the ones to cut water in response to the drought. These states use much more water, the argument goes, and they also waste a lot of water that evaporates as it flows downstream through reservoirs and canals. The Lower Basin states, meanwhile, argue that no states should be exempt from cuts, given the scale of reductions needed.

The other main conflict is between Arizona and California, the two largest Lower Basin water users and the main targets of future cuts. California’s water rights trump Arizona’s, and therefore the Golden State argues that Arizona should shoulder almost the whole burden of future cuts. Arizona argues in turn that its farms and subdivisions have already cut their water usage in recent years as the drought has gotten worse, and that water-rich farmers in California should do more to help.

In the middle of these warring parties is Nevada, which takes only a tiny share of the river’s water and has emerged as the Switzerland of the Colorado River system over the past year. Water officials from the Silver State have been trying since late summer to broker a compromise between the Upper and Lower Basins and between Arizona and California, culminating in an intense session of talks in Las Vegas in December.

The talks were only partly successful. Officials managed to work out a framework that meets the Biden administration’s demands for major cuts, bringing an end to a year of uncertain back-and-forth. The proposal would cut more than a million acre-feet of water each from Arizona and California during the driest years, plus another 625,000 acre-feet from Mexico and 67,000 acre-feet from Nevada, adding new reductions to account for water that evaporates as it moves downstream. In return for these Lower Basin cuts, the Upper Basin states have agreed to move more water downstream to Lake Powell, helping protect that reservoir’s critical energy infrastructure — but they haven’t committed to reduce any water usage themselves.

Grist / Jessie Blaeser

“It seems like the Lower Basin states conceded to the Upper Basin,” said Koebele. An earlier version of the six-state proposal called for the Upper Basin to reduce water usage by a collective 500,000 acre-feet, but that call was absent from the final framework.

While the fight between the Upper and Lower Basin states appears neutralized, the conflict between the Lower Basin’s two biggest users is ongoing. Around 40 percent of the agreement’s proposed reductions come from California, where state officials have slammed it as a violation of their senior water rights, derived from a series of laws and court decisions known collectively as the “law of the river.”

“The modeling proposal submitted by the six other basin states is inconsistent with the Law of the River and does not form a seven-state consensus approach,” said J.B. Hamby, California’s lead representative in the talks. Hamby argued that penalizing California for evaporation losses on the river contradicts the legal precedent that gives California clear seniority over Arizona.

Officials from the Golden State released their own rough framework for dealing with the drought on Tuesday. The plan offers a more forgiving schedule than the six-state framework, saving the largest cuts for when Lake Mead’s water level is extremely low, and it forces more pain on Arizona and Mexico. The framework only requires California to cut around 400,000 acre-feet of new water, which the biggest water users already volunteered to do last September in exchange for federal money to restore the drought-stricken Salton Sea. Water users in the state haven’t made new commitments since.

If the Biden administration moves forward with the plan, it may trigger legal action from the Imperial Irrigation District, which represents powerful fruit and vegetable farmers in California’s Imperial Valley. The district sued to block a previous drought agreement back in 2019, and its farmers have the most to lose from the new framework, since they’ve been insulated from all previous cuts. The state’s other major water user, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has signaled tentative approval for the broad strokes of six-state formula, indicating that a compromise between the two plans might be possible, although it’s not clear such a compromise would please Imperial’s farmers.

“I don’t see how we avoid Imperial suing, other than a bunch of big snowpack,” said John Fleck, a professor of water policy at the University of New Mexico. In response to a request for comment from Grist about litigation, an Imperial spokesperson emphasized the need for “constructive dialogue and mutual understanding.” If Imperial did sue and win, the outcome would likely be even further pain for Arizona and Mexico, where farmers and cities are already struggling to deal with previous cuts.

Grist / Jessie Blaeser

Koebele told Grist that while the exact numbers may change, federal officials will likely adopt some version of the six-state proposal by the end of the summer. Even a modified version would alter life in the Southwest over the next four years, imposing a harsh new regime on a region whose water-guzzling produces a substantial portion of the nation’s vegetables and cattle feed. Major cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Tijuana would also see water cuts, threatening growth in those places.

Steep as the new cuts are, though, they will only last until 2026, when basin leaders will gather again to work out a long-term plan for managing the river over the next two decades. Unlike the current round of emergency talks, that long-term negotiation will include representatives from Mexico and the dozens of Native American tribes that rely on the river.

Koebele said that the questions in those talks will be even more difficult than the ones the states are debating now. Instead of just figuring out who takes cuts in the driest years, the parties will have to figure out how to apportion a perennially smaller river while also fulfilling new tribal claims on long-sought water rights. The present crisis has only delayed progress on those bigger questions.

“Because of the dire situation, we’ve really had to turn our attention to managing for the present,” she said. “So these actions feel more like a Band-Aid to me.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline There’s a deal to save the Colorado River — if California doesn’t blow it up on Feb 1, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

EPA issues rare veto, halting Alaska’s Pebble mine

Grist - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:30

The Environmental Protection Agency used the Clean Water Act on Monday to veto a proposed copper and gold mining project near Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Not only does the veto apply to the Pebble mine project, which would have dug into the path of the world’s largest sockeye salmon run, it prevents any similar developments from moving forward in the watershed.

“While there are changes in nuance at the various stages, it has been clear for some time that EPA was determined to do something to safeguard the national treasure that is the Bristol Bay Fishery,” said Western Director and Senior Attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council Joel Reynolds, who was involved in the fight against the Pebble mine.

“It’s the wrong place for any large-scale mining project,” he said.

Plans for the mine date back to the early 2000s, when the California-based company Pebble LP proposed a massive, open-pit mine roughly 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Bristol Bay and its watershed sit on huge deposits of gold and copper. According to Pebble LP, the mine would produce hundreds of thousands of tons of the minerals each year, which it says are essential to the green energy transition (copper is often used in clean energy resources like solar and hydro power, and demand for the mineral is skyrocketing as a result). The company also said the mine would create jobs, employing up to 2,000 people.

But with a footprint over 300 square miles, environmental groups argued the mining project would essentially eradicate the Bristol Bay fishery, along with 3,500 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Sockeye salmon play an important role in Alaska’s economy. Up to 30 million salmon are caught each year during the commercial fishing season, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The industry employs roughly 15,000 jobs in the area and generates around $2 billion annually.

The Bristol Bay fishery is also an important cultural part of Alaska Native communities. “For us, this is about our Indigenous way of life,” said Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, a tribal consortium that has played a crucial role in the protection of Bristol Bay and first petitioned the federal government to use its veto power in 2010. “This is about our ability to remain Indigenous as we move into the future in our traditional homeland.”

In the last 30 years, the EPA has only used its Clean Water Act veto power three times. The agency made similar determinations in 2011 and 2008, blocking a surface coal mine in West Virginia and a flood control project in Mississippi, respectively. As part of its reasoning behind the Bristol Bay veto, the agency focused on the environmental impact of the mine’s waste, banning the disposal of material from the project’s construction and operation. 

“EPA has determined that certain discharges associated with developing the Pebble deposit will have unacceptable adverse effects on certain salmon fishery areas in the Bristol Bay watershed,” the agency wrote in its summary of the final determination.

Following the announcement from the EPA, Pebble LP called the decision “unlawful” and “unprecedented” in a press release, saying it would likely pursue litigation. “The Pebble Deposit is an asset belonging to the people of Alaska,” the company wrote. 

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy also spoke out against the EPA’s decision. “EPA’s veto sets a dangerous precedent. Alarmingly, it lays the foundation to stop any development project, mining or non-mining, in any area of Alaska with wetlands and fish-bearing streams,” Dunleavy said in a written statement.

But Reynolds said the governor’s warning mischaracterizes the agency’s intentions. The veto “has meaning for the upper Bristol Bay Watershed … It does not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggest that EPA will be pursuing similar action elsewhere in Alaska.”

The mine may not be not dead in the water, but advocates say the EPA’s announcement is a massive victory for those concerned about the health of the Bay. 

“Today, the Earth won,” Reynolds said. 

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline EPA issues rare veto, halting Alaska’s Pebble mine on Feb 1, 2023.

Categories: H. Green News

Sustainability can (and must) be beautiful

Resilience - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:23

To fulfill the vision that sets the practice of sustainability in motion—the vision of life coordinating with life in ways that ensure the flourishing of life—ethics and aesthetics must be reintegrated.

Greek Watergate: Behind the Pegasus Spyware Scandal

Green European Journal - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:10

On 27 January, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis narrowly survived a vote of no confidence called by the opposition in light of a government wiretapping scandal. With general elections coming up in July, the widespread wiretapping of journalists, opposition politicians, and military figures is emerging as a major campaign issue. As Alessio Giussani explains, state surveillance has a longstanding, underexamined legacy tracing back to Greece’s decades of military dictatorship.

On 22 October 1981, 27-year-old Greek historian Leonidas Kallivretakis walked into the notorious General Security Sub-Directorate on Mesogeion Avenue in Athens, determined to take full ownership of his political history.

During the military dictatorship of 1967 to 1974, the building had been a site of interrogation and torture of Communists (the country’s “internal enemies”) and others opposed to the junta. Eight years into restored democracy, the political climate had changed significantly: the recent triumph of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in national elections was a decisive sign of reconciliation with the country’s long-persecuted left.

Emboldened by the shifting political atmosphere – and by PASOK’s electoral promises – Kallivretakis was the first of many Greek citizens to formally request access to their personal files. As a student, the young historian had been an activist against the military junta. Now he was claiming ownership to the state files concerning his actions and political beliefs in this regard. His efforts were to no avail. A few days later, Kallivretakis was only briefly granted access to a mere part of his personal files. Access was restricted to the office of the Minister of Public Order, and only in the presence of police escorts.[1]

Other Greek citizens who advanced similar requests had no better luck. It would take another eight years for Greek politics to reach a final decision on the more than 15 million files collected between the interwar period and the Metapolitefsi, the transition phase following the fall of the junta. On 29 August 1989, a peculiar coalition government between the conservative Nea Dimokratia party and the radical left sent all but about 2,000 files for destruction. Most Greeks were never allowed to know what the state knew about them.

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On 12 August 2020, 39 years after Kallivretakis, financial journalist Thanasis Koukakis approached the Greek authorities with a similar query. He sought official confirmation from ADAE, the national watchdog for the privacy of communications, of what he already knew from a source – that his phone had been tapped while he was investigating major banking scandals in the country.

The journalist’s formal request remained unanswered for a whole year – enough time for the government to amend the relevant legislation. From then on, the watchdog was no longer allowed to notify citizens, upon their request, as to whether they had ever been placed under surveillance for national security reasons. In the months that followed, the Koukakis affair spiralled into a full-blown surveillance scandal which, despite all efforts to silence it, made international headlines as the “Greek Watergate”.

The uncovering of two further news stories was involved in escalating things in this way – for one the surveillance of opposition politician and member of EU parliament Nikos Androulakis, and for another, the emergence of the illegal spyware known as Predator, which used highly invasive methods to spy on Koukakis and a still-unspecified number of Greek citizens.

In the four decades separating Kallivretakis’s and Koukakis’s stories, Greece has proven to be a resilient democracy that not even a devastating economic crisis could overturn. The current surveillance scandal, however, raises the shadow of a traumatic past that the destruction of secret files could not erase.

Continuity in state surveillance

The decision to burn state surveillance files in 1989 came as no surprise: it had already been made five years earlier by the first PASOK government, which then retracted at the last minute. What’s more, it was merely part of an established approach to the country’s recent past, rooted in the way the Metapolitefsi was enacted.

When democracy was restored in 1974, the so-called national unity government faced the question of how to deal with the leaders of the military dictatorship and their accomplices. On the one hand, there was the desire to purge the state of its most heinous figures, on the other the need to avoid feeding a sense of revanchism or compromising the functioning of the state apparatus. While the high ranks of the armed forces and the academy underwent more severe dejuntification, the same was not the case in other sectors. As historian Vangelis Karamanolakis puts it, “Most of the state apparatus, including the security bodies, retained strong links with its dictatorial past in terms of personnel and bureaucracy. If the dictatorial regime was turned into an undesired past, its legacies … were not destroyed.”[2]

In the more than 50 years separating the end of World War I and the Metapolitefsi, the volume of surveillance files had continued to increase despite changing governments and regimes: the bureaucratic structure of the Greek state ensured continuity in the collection and cataloguing of information. With the end of the military dictatorship, this “deep state” and its mentality remained largely intact and prone to be instrumentalised, this time around by democratically elected governments.

Between the late 1980s and early 1990s, the two prominent political leaders Konstantinos Mitsotakis and Andreas Papandreou, heads of liberal-conservative Nea Dimokratia and of PASOK respectively, exchanged mutual accusations of having set up a surveillance system against political opponents and businessmen. Today, in the most recent iteration of a dynastic tradition in Greek politics, the accusations concern Konstantinos Mitsotakis’s son, Kyriakos.

Anatomy of a scandal

One of the very first initiatives of the Nea Dimokratia government in 2019 was to bring the national intelligence service under the direct responsibility of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. His nephew Grigorios Dimitriadis took up the role of General Secretary of the Prime Minister’s office, and a legal amendment reducing the required qualifications made Panagiotis Kontoleon eligible as the new head of the National Intelligence Service, the EYP. Both Dimitriadis and Kontoleon resigned last summer when the surveillance of European Parliament member and newly elected PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis was uncovered.

Mitsotakis deemed the wiretapping of Androulakis’s phone by the EYP legal but “politically unacceptable”, claiming that he would have prevented it, had he been aware of it. He denied categorically that the EYP or any other state authority had been involved in purchasing and operating the Predator spyware – a claim he never retracted, despite a plethora of journalistic investigations disproving it.

In November, the weekly leftist newspaper Documento released a list of dozens of names including opposition members, journalists, editors, armed forces officials and even ministers of the government (and their partners) who were allegedly placed under surveillance. According to Documento’s sources, there is a single surveillance system in Greece, run by the state and resorting to both wiretapping and the more intrusive Predator spyware.

To date, the strongest piece of evidence against the government is its clear resistance to shedding light on the use of Predator in Greece. The committee set up for enquiry in the national parliament did everything in its power to cover up the affair, refusing to summon key witnesses and suspects. For months, the Greek authorities failed to search the Athenian offices of the companies trading the spyware in Greece; when they eventually did, they unsurprisingly found nothing useful for the investigation. In early November, the government went to great lengths to obstruct the Greek mission of the PEGA committee, set up by the EU parliament to investigate the use of spyware.

Most recently, the Greek chief prosecutor Isidoros Ntogiakos ruled that the privacy watchdog ADAE cannot conduct audits at telecommunication companies to find out who is under surveillance by the EYP. Opposition forces claim that, in Greece, the very rule of law is under threat.

Ahead of this year’s general election, to be held by the summer, Greece still has an opportunity to start an honest debate on an issue which has long been swept under the carpet.

Spyware fascination

Koukakis’s case wasn’t the only one to be publicly known at the time of its revelation. It had been known for some time, for example, that investigative journalist Stavros Malichudis had also been spied on by the EYP while working on migration issues. Yet it was only after the revelation that a prominent opposition politician such as Androulakis had also been the target of an (unsuccessful) Predator attack that the mainstream media seemed to take notice of the gravity of the case.

When the Greek Watergate eventually blew up, it was met by a polarised public opinion. According to a survey conducted in November by Prorata, convictions were almost equally split on whether the Prime Minister should resign.

Indeed, that Mitsotakis brought the Greek intelligence service under his direct control inevitably heightens his responsibilities for the EYP’s doings. The spying on journalists also exacerbates the decline in press freedom denounced by various independent organisations. In Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index 2022, Greece ranks last among EU countries, a 38-place decline on the previous year. Yet blaming the surveillance apparatus on Mitsotakis alone may overlook wider developments, both in Greece and at the international level. Greece’s interest in spyware predates the Nea Dimokratia government. In 2016, a year after the victory of radical left alliance SYRIZA and at the height of economic crisis, Greece was among over 40 countries where there were suspected infections with the NSO Pegasus spyware.

In December 2022, Greek daily newspaper To Vima revealed that Alexis Tsipras’s government had been aware of a secret mission, conducted by the EYP in early 2019, to evaluate the acquisition of Pegasus from Israeli cyber-arms company NSO. It was the fourth such purchasing attempt since 2016. In an interview, Tsipras conceded that he could not rule out the use of Pegasus in Greece during his term in office.

Spyware aside, the number of authorised wiretaps has more than tripled between 2015 and 2021. The 4,871 targets monitored when SYRIZA came to power had increased to 11,680 by the time of Nea Dimokratia’s victory four years later. In 2021, legal wiretaps totalled 15,475. Over 60 requests to lift the confidentiality of communications for national security reasons are processed daily by the prosecutor, who is not informed of the name and personal details of those being surveilled; only the phone number. “If we are called upon to accept that ‘somewhere out there’ over 15,000 agents of foreign powers or asymmetrical warriors live and breathe among us … we are essentially being told to panic,” journalist Pantelis Boukalas observed.

Just like in the past, the Greek surveillance apparatus seems to follow a logic that is, at least to some extent, independent from the political leadership. As with the Predator scandal, it must be interpreted in the international context of a thriving spyware industry.

The canary in Europe’s coal mine

The presence of Predator was made known in a 2021 report by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. Developed by North Macedonian start-up Cytrox, Pegasus is traded by Intellexa, which describes itself as “EU-based and regulated, with six sites and R&D labs throughout Europe.” Intellexa has a presence in Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, France and Hungary.

Predator is capable of completely taking over the infected device, recording phone calls, browsing pictures and videos, remotely activating the microphone and camera, and accessing chats and conversations – an incredibly effective surveillance asset in the era of encrypted apps.

Unlike Pegasus, Predator needs the target to click on an infected link prior to its installation on any device. At the end of 2021, Meta identified more than 300 links emulating known news outlets and sites that had been set up as traps for Predator targets. Over 40 of those web domains were connected to Greece.

According to Sophie in ‘t Veld, reporting for the PEGA committee investigating the use of Pegasus and equivalent spyware, “Europe has become an attractive place for mercenary spyware”, while the European Union “is ill equipped to deal with such an attack on democracy from within.” Spyware is “the canary in the coal mine: exposing the dangerous constitutional weaknesses in the EU.” The European Council and the national governments, it was reported, are guilty of “omertà”. Worse, “some of the ‘perpetrators’ also sit in the (European) Council”, making use of “national security” as a pretext for ‘eliminating transparency and accountability.”

While the spyware industry is active across the globe, Predator seems to have a particularly close relationship with Greece. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted to the New York Times, for example, that it had authorised the export of Predator to at least one other country, Madagascar. This was yet another blow to the Greek government’s claims to ignorance regarding Intellexa’s operations.

The PEGA committee concluded that in Greece, unlike in other cases such as that of Poland, the abuse of spyware did not seem to be part of an “integral authoritarian strategy”, but rather “a tool used on an ad hoc basis for political and financial gains”. Yet even a targeted use of spyware ends up jeopardising the integrity of elections, with negative consequences for both Greek and EU democratic integrity.

Never waste a good scandal

Ever since the Metapolitefsi, Greece has avoided confronting its traumatic past with surveillance. The decision to burn millions of personal files was the result of a desire for national reconciliation and the suspicion – not entirely unfounded – that should the state have kept the files, it would not have left them unused.

This “reconciliation by decree” left the surveillance mentality within the Greek state apparatus largely untouched, and prevented the development of lasting antibodies in Greek society. Younger generations of Greeks, who did not directly experience the traumatic twentieth century, have shown particularly little interest in engaging with the ongoing scandal.

With galloping inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, the Greek Watergate is not in fact high on the list of most people’s concerns. Normalised notions of surveillance capitalism may also have helped anaesthetise a large part of the Greek population towards the issue.

Nor is the landscape encouraging at the level of the media. Investigative journalists who uncovered the scandal did so at their own risk, exposing themselves to groundless lawsuits (SLAPPs), intimidation and further surveillance. The ADAE confirmed that Tasos Telloglou, a prominent investigative reporter at InsideStory, has been monitored by the EYP. As for the mainstream media, the debate has been characterised by extreme polarisation, reflecting political partisanship and publishers’ interests. Ruling Nea Dimokratia has long enjoyed favourable press coverage, which it cultivated through controversial funding allocations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After a long phase of denial, the Greek government has at least acknowledged the surveillance issue. In December, it passed new legislation criminalising the sale or possession of spyware. Yet it has kept denying its involvement and absolving the state apparatus in general, claiming that there is no Greek specificity but only a European and global problem of a flourishing spyware industry.

As new revelations keep emerging, it is hard to predict the political consequences of the ongoing surveillance scandal. But ahead of this year’s general election, to be held by the summer, Greece still has an opportunity to start an honest debate on an issue which has long been swept under the carpet. Too optimistically has national reconciliation been identified with oblivion.

This article was first published by Eurozine.

[1] The episode is recounted in Vangelis Karamanolakis, Ανεπιθύμητο Παρελθόν. Οι φάκελοι κοινωνικών φρονημάτων στον 20ό αι. και η καταστροφή τους. (Undesired Past: The archives of social beliefs in the 20th century and their destruction), Themelio, 2019, p. 174.

[2] Ανεπιθύμητο Παρελθόν (Undesired past), p. 167

Categories: H. Green News

Report Back from Rally in Solidarity with Tortuguita and Tyre Nichols in So-Called Flagstaff, AZ

It's Going Down - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:10

Report back on solidarity rally with Tortuguita and the movement to stop Cop City in so-called Flagstaff, Arizona. Originally posted to Indigenous Action.

Queer Indigenous femmes held down the Bank of America and surrounding downtown area in solidarity with @defendatlantaforest and @stopcopcity to avenge the murder of Tort and Tyre Nichols by the hands of the police.

Cars drove by blasting Fuck tha Police by N.W.A. The two bootlickers demonstrators encountered were quick to be protected by the cops but the pounding of hand drums and song were fiercely used to remind them who’s streets and who’s land they’re on.

Banners and signs spoke to the current issue of the ongoing legacy of Black and Indigenous genocide, “From Kinlani, Weelaunee Forest, to Tennessee, smash to colonial police state! Avenge Tortuguita. Avenge Tyre,” and “Stolen People, Stolen Land. Black and Native Solidarity.”

The ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples is evident in Flagstaff as at least one man died (that we know of) from exposure last week. Meanwhile, local police were recently involved in a supposed effort to identify victims of trafficking by coercing the supposed victims into giving them hand jobs…over 10 of them. The Flagstaff police chief told the media that, actually, these police officers were victims! “As soon as I got aroused, that’s when I immediately started asking about the money and how much.” Sure sounds like a victim to us!

“Flagstaff” has a 60% higher rate of police killings than the rest of the country. The presence of police in the town of about 80,000 specifically target Indigenous people and especially unsheltered Indigenous relatives, making it one of the meanest in the country to unsheltered people.

How many more Tyre Nicols or Tortuguitas will we tolerate until we burn their precincts, jails, prisons, and courts to the ground?

No amount of reform or “bad apples being held accountable” will stop police from murdering us in the streets or in the forests.

photos via Indigenous Action

Categories: D1. Anarchism

How to Get Your Local Government to 100 Percent Clean Electricity

Rocky Mountain Institute - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:00

Hundreds of cities across the United States have announced 100 percent renewable energy or carbon-neutrality goals. While setting a target is a critical first step, many local governments struggle to determine what comes next — how should they prioritize various energy projects to meet their goals efficiently?

With unprecedented funding quickly becoming available from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), local governments need a more nimble, iterative planning process that can help them determine which energy actions to implement. Here are two fundamental questions cities and counties need to answer:

  1. Which facility types (e.g., office buildings, wastewater plants, airports, fire stations, etc.) should be prioritized?
  2. Which energy actions (e.g., electrification, energy efficiency, renewable energy procurement, etc.) should be prioritized?

To help local governments answer these questions and make progress toward their decarbonization goals, RMI developed the Local Energy Action Framework (LEAF) with six cities and counties across the United States, including Alexandria, VA; Ann Arbor, MI; Atlanta, GA; Boise, ID; Cincinnati, OH; and Miami-Dade County, FL.

What Is LEAF?

LEAF is a step-by-step process that helps local governments map out current and future electricity needs in an integrated, holistic fashion. Planning various decarbonization projects in isolation could lead to sub-optimal outcomes. For example, local governments might buy less renewable energy than they ultimately need if they do not consider the added demand that will come from electrifying buildings and vehicles. Or they could wind up generating massive peak loads, and thus inflating costs unnecessarily, if all of their electric vehicle charging and heat pumps turn on at the same time.

By helping local governments compile the necessary data and develop holistic clean energy plans, LEAF helps cities and counties understand not only the impact of individual energy actions but also how each action will interact with others.

In line with local governments’ desire to support their own communities, a core principle of LEAF is to maximize local resources and investment first. Some examples are electrifying buildings and vehicles, upgrading streetlights with LED lighting, and installing on-site solar with battery storage, etc. These local solutions can increase the flexibility of local electricity systems, create local green jobs, reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality.

Four Things Local Governments Need to Know to Reach Their Decarbonization Goals

Using the LEAF framework, we worked with six US local governments to identify the biggest electricity savings opportunities and evaluate how each energy action fits into the bigger picture. Building upon the data from these cities and counties, here are the most important takeaways cities can use in their own holistic clean energy planning:

1. Prioritizing energy efficiency improvements in facilities with the highest electricity demands leads to more energy savings.

Higher electricity usage often indicates greater potential for energy savings. Water and wastewater facilities are usually among the largest electricity users for most cities and counties — accounting for up to 70 percent of city electricity usage. However, local governments that operate a large airport, like Atlanta, may see that as the largest driver of demand. Other electricity loads, such as office space and outdoor lighting, often account for only a small fraction of overall usage, yet this can vary substantially between communities.

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2. Electrifying heating and vehicle fleets can significantly decrease carbon emissions but will increase building load (excluding water facilities) by 5-17 percent annually.

Electrification has a notable impact on municipal carbon emissions reductions. According to the LEAF analysis, building and vehicle electrification could account for up to 52 percent of the total carbon emissions reductions resulting from all planned decarbonization efforts in these cities by 2030. However, the climate impact of electrification depends on how clean the grid is and will be in the future. Local governments should collaborate with local utilities to ensure the grid is decarbonizing in line with their decarbonization needs and timeline.

Meanwhile, building electrification, especially for heating systems, will significantly increase electricity demands for some local governments at certain times. For cities and counties in a cold climate zone, such as Boise, electrifying heating could increase their winter building load by 170 percent, and particularly drive load peaks in the early morning hours. The impact of building electrification will also tend to be higher for cities and counties that have more large office spaces. Local governments should therefore electrify buildings with efficient technologies, such as heat pumps, to mitigate the impact of increased load.

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3. To achieve 24×7 clean electricity, flexible loads and batteries can help shift demand to hours of the day with lower electricity usage or when more renewable energy will be available.

Across all six local governments, 60–80 percent of their electricity consumption occurs between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., when solar resources are limited, due to large overnight loads of water treatment plants and outdoor lights. To achieve a 24-hour clean electricity supply, cities and counties may need to shift the operating hours of some flexible loads from night to daytime. In addition, using batteries charged with solar resources allows municipal facilities to operate on clean energy in the evening.

Smart electric vehicle (EV) charging is a great example of how deploying flexible electricity loads can have a positive impact. Municipal vehicles such as garbage trucks typically only run in the early morning to avoid traffic, while others, like patrol cars, need to run throughout the day. Cities and counties should identify which types of vehicles can be charged flexibly and optimize EV charging time to avoid charging during peak demand hours or hours without a clean energy supply.

4. Local governments should purchase off-site renewable energy, especially non-solar resources, to fill the remaining gap.

Most local governments do not have enough roofs or local land space to deploy on-site solar to power all their municipal operations. To achieve their 100 percent clean electricity goals, they will need to look to off-site solutions. Non-solar energy, including wind and geothermal resources, can be a good option to power large overnight loads such as streetlights and water facilities. Most US cities and counties will need to procure renewable energy through an off-site power purchase agreement (PPA), virtual PPA, and/or green tariff to fill the gap efficiently.

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Accelerate Municipal Decarbonization Efforts with a Holistic Mindset

For many US local governments at the starting line of the decarbonization journey, the insights derived from LEAF can jump-start decarbonization planning in addition to saving time and money during implementation. Watch our webinar, view our PowerPoint guide, or reach out to Ali Rotatori at arotatori@rmi.org to learn more about how LEAF is helping local governments take charge.

Not sure how to start taking advantage of the upcoming funding from the IIJA and the IRA for your city’s decarbonization projects? Check out RMI’s Federal Funding Opportunities for Local Decarbonization (FFOLD) tool and new Funding Guidance to better understand where to start and which opportunities make the most sense for your local government.

The post How to Get Your Local Government to 100 Percent Clean Electricity appeared first on RMI.

A Season of Firsts: Three Christmas Bird Counts to Remember

Audubon Society - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 03:00

This winter, we rang in the season by participating in our very first Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Both of us—Gabrielle Saleh and Christine Lin—have worked at Audubon for a few years and hail from the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. Despite being avid bird lovers who often elevate CBC events on Audubon’s social media platforms, we had yet to join one firsthand! And what an experience it was—we invite you to read along for three different CBC events around Dallas.

Lake Ray Hubbard December 18

Gabrielle: It’s 6:30 am and 30 degrees Fahrenheit—and I’m mentally preparing myself to travel an hour to my first CBC: the Lake Ray Hubbard count, an area just east of Dallas. I've been birding since I was seven years old, but I’ve never been able to participate in a CBC. Between family emergencies and holiday plans, the timing never aligned. That is until this year—my first year as a full-time employee at Audubon—when I became determined to experience one. 

Today, I’m bringing my boyfriend along, another avid birder, and my driver as I keep my eyes peeled on the road for birds. This allows me to spot the first bird of the day—a meadowlark perched on a barbed wire near a field just before we reach the group. We need to cover several parks around the lake, so we exchange pleasantries and direct our eyes and ears to the world around us. But we’re greeted with…silence? With the cold temperatures, the birds appear shy, to say the least. This leaves us time to get to know each other. We talk about when birds first captured our hearts—some are new to birding while others have been birding for decades. We’re interrupted by two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers hammering away at a tree. 

After encountering a few more woodpeckers, we head to our next destination and hear a flock of Canada Geese flying overhead. The count organizer talks about how CBCs aren’t just about adding a rare bird to the list. They’re also about counting all the common birds, down to the very last starling. It makes us appreciate the Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, and Eastern Bluebird we spot flying from tree to tree. I have to leave early, which only spurs my desire to attend my next one.

Village Creek Drying Beds December 26

Gabrielle: It’s 8 am, and I’m on the way to my second Christmas Bird Count: the Arlington Village Creek Drying Beds count, a wastewater treatment facility right in the middle of Dallas and Fort Worth. Today my boyfriend and I are birding with a couple who have been hosting this count for years. They share a checklist of the birds that have been spotted in the area during the past couple of weeks, and we’re determined to check off a majority of those birds today.

The area provides prime habitat for a variety of waterfowl. But since temperatures have been hovering near freezing, there’s a thin sheet of ice covering much of the water and fewer ducks than usual. The ducks that are left are comically waddling across the ice to get from one patch of water to another. After we share a few laughs, we start the task of counting them. Counting hundreds of Northern Shovelers has never been my specialty, so I start with the individual birds—two Pied-billed Grebes, four Ruddy Ducks, and six Buffleheads—and gradually work my way up to counting a few flocks of Gadwalls. Luckily one of the leaders is skilled at counting flocks and records exactly 322 American Coots.

Ducks stand on a thin sheet of ice covering the water at the Village Creek Drying Beds, while others swim in the background. Photo: Gabrielle Saleh

We’re hours in, and we turn around to spot a coyote gingerly following us, but this doesn’t deter us from completing our route. So far, we haven’t spotted a bird that’s out of the ordinary. That is until we cross paths with a couple of birders who tell us that there’s been a young Sandhill Crane spotted roaming the fields, and they lead us right to it. We stare in awe.

We still have a few more sites to visit before we call it a day. It’s exciting to drive around in hopes of spotting a new bird at each location. Just as we’re about to leave our last site, a local golf course, my boyfriend spots a Loggerhead Shrike, and we later find out that it's the only one recorded through all the zones. We celebrate by meeting up with everyone who participated in various zones and sharing stories of our sightings. It feels like a community knowing that we’re all here to celebrate and help birds.

Cedar Hill – January 1

Christine: What better way to start off the new year than with some morning birding? It’s 8 am, and my mom and I have just pulled up at the parking lot at the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center in Cedar Hill, Texas. While I’m trying hard to suppress a few yawns, the brisk air and excitement of being outside snap me into alert mode.

Like Gabrielle, this is also my first time participating in a CBC, despite being a “budding birder” ever since I started working at Audubon five years ago. My mom, on the other hand, can hardly tell a dove from a warbler, but her enthusiasm makes up for it all the same. With binoculars in hand, our group—led by Katie Christman—jumps into a van and embarks on our first journey.

(Front right) Christine Lin and her mom (front left) walk along a trail while birding. Photo: Katie Christman It's a relatively quiet morning, but between a nature reserve, a frisbee golf course, and a library situated by a pond, we find quite a few feathered friends. American Crows abound, a Northern Cardinal pair poses in a bare tree, American Robins hop around, Black and Turkey Vultures circle overhead, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet peeks out at us. My lack of refined bird ID skills incorrectly identifies a Blue Jay as a Belted Kingfisher in the distance, but the experts in the group quickly make the correction. I also count a Northern Mockingbird, the state bird of Texas, and one of my favorite species to see with their expressive tails.

Gabrielle: It’s 8 am, and clearly, I can’t get enough of CBCs. It's a thrill to bird with others all with the common goal of helping ensure a future for birds. Today, I’m bringing my dad along for the ride. He’s been my personal chauffeur on birding adventures since I was seven, so it’s fitting that he experiences a CBC, too. 

 

Christman drives us to our first location, a quiet preserve in Cedar Hill. There isn’t much activity but this gives us time to listen. We hear a Carolina Wren and a pair of Northern Cardinals. In between sightings, we get to know each other and share what led us to participate in this count. Our group has experienced birders and beginners, so our stories vary, but we all bring with us a love for our feathered friends.

 

We arrive at another location where we finally find some ducks. It’s a small mixed flock, so this time, I take the lead on counting Northern Pintails and Ring-necked Ducks after picking up a few tips from my previous count—what a wonderful way to end my first season of CBCs.

Two Northern Cardinals, a male and female, cling to branches, photographed through binoculars. Photo: Christine Lin

It’s safe to say that both of us thoroughly enjoyed our first CBCs, from how welcoming they are to how they connect participants with our love of birds and our passion for protecting them. Plus, it’s amazing to know that all our sightings will help scientists understand how birds are faring across the hemisphere. Christmas Bird Counts truly show that whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned birder, you can be a community scientist. And now that we have one season under our belt, we’re ready to participate in future counts to come.

 

Interested in joining a Christmas Bird Count this year? Find out how to get involved here.

Categories: G3. Big Green

Is “Polycrisis” the Right Word for Our Times?

Resilience - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 02:56

But as the American anthropologist and historian Joseph Tainter documents in his seminal book, The Collapse of Complex Societies, this is what “advanced,” hierarchical human societies do—they respond to challenges created by their complexity with ever more complexity. This may work in the short-term but usually leads to the underlying crises worsening in the long term.

Report Back from March in Vancouver, BC in Solidarity with Tortuguita and Fight to ‘Stop Cop City’

It's Going Down - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 02:47

Report on march in so-called Vancouver, BC in solidarity with Tortuguita and the movement to stop Cop City. Originally posted to Scenes from the Atlanta Forest.

Solidarity from Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territory (so-called Vancouver, Canada).

On Monday, January 23rd a crowd of masked people coalesced and took over Cambie Street at a major intersection. We walked up the road, singing, chanting, and holding signs to express our support for the Atlanta forest defenders and our rage at another life lost to police violence.

At one point in the walk, an Indigenous man leaned out of his apartment window facing onto the street to drum along with our singing.

After blocking traffic for a 2 kilometers walk we arrived at an island of greenery in the concrete jungle and disappeared among the trees, where we shared words and silence in honour of Tortuguita.

Stay strong, forest defenders!

Categories: D1. Anarchism

Joint letter: Building fit-for-purpose hydrogen infrastructure requires an independent body

Bellona.org - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 02:40

In a recent letter co-signed by several NGOs, we urged members of the European Parliament to adopt the alternative compromise amendment in the Gas and hydrogen markets Regulation that enables the creation of an independent hydrogen network development entity (European Network of Network Operators for Hydrogen – ENNOH). This entity must be run by hydrogen network operators whose mission and interest are solely in planning a cost-efficient and proportionate hydrogen infrastructure development, with no conflict of interest.

Read here: Joint letter to EP – ENNOH

The post Joint letter: Building fit-for-purpose hydrogen infrastructure requires an independent body appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

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