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Archives for : Politics

Dear Censor Board, stop shoving sanskaar down our throat

Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha was refused a censor certificate for being “lady oriented” and exploring women’s sexual fantasies.

A still from Lipstick Under My Burkha

Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha is not the first victim of the Censor Board’s snip-happy tendencies. From bra shots in Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif-starrer Baar Baar Dekho to lines like “I have the Indian figure” in Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has repeatedly resorted to chopping off whatever it deems un-sanskaari.

As for Lipstick Under My Burkha, Alankrita’s film has been denied a certificate because “the story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life.” To give you some context, the film tells the story of the sexual awakening of four women (their ages ranging from a teenage college girl to a 55-year-old widow) in Bhopal, who want to break the barriers of the patriarchal society and explore their inner selves. Ratna Pathak Shah’s voiceover in the film’s trailer tells you what the film is all about – “Khandar se ghar ke ek bandh kamre mein Rosy qaid thi… Apne jawaan rangeen armaano ke saath bilkul akeli. (In a dingy room of the old house, Rosy was trapped… Alone with her racy dreams and desires)”

But for the CBFC, sex is that-dark-deed-which-must-not-be-named. And a film on women’s sexuality? How dare you! According to a report in The Times Of India, the 2015 film Badmashiyan faced a bizarre instance of censorship – in a scene where the girl files a complaint of molestation, the words “hum-bistri” had to be muted from her dialogue. The baffling part is that the CBFC had no objection to the same words, when used by the guy.

The CBFC’s reasoning shows the way they think – “lady oriented” films dealing with their fantasies must be locked into a box and thrown into the depths of the ocean, never to be even accidentally stumbled upon. Although it is not really the CBFC, but one man – CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani.

Nihalani has often been accused of forcibly passing his dictatorial decisions off as the call of the Censor Board. But as member Ashoke Pandit’s tweet would show, the decision is not unanimous. “I condemn the denial of #CensorCertificate to @prakashjha27’s film #LipstickUndermyBurkha. Its an act of arrogance by Pahalaj Nihalani (sic),” he tweeted this morning, outraged by the CBFC’s decision to deny Lipstick Under My Burkha a certificate. Nihalani has been shoving sanskaar down our throats for a long time; and even James Bond was not spared. Remember how Daniel Craig’s kiss with Monica Bellucci in 2015’s Spectre was snipped by half?

In an interview with The Hindu in 2015, Nihalani had openly taken on the role of the moral police and said that he does not mind being conservative if his actions are in the “interests of the nation”. “I will give the right kind of content. I will monitor the sensitive things that might harm the society,” he had said, adding, “In the name of modern, we can’t barter our country. We can’t sell our culture.” In the interview, Nihalani self-appoints himself as a guardian of our culture, arguing that youngsters will get a wrong impression if they are exposed to films which do not have, as he calls it, “the right kind of content”. One wonders if that was the rationale behind allowing films like Mastizaade and Great Grand Masti to have a smooth release. Or allowing kisses galore in Befikre because the protagonists are Indians in Paris who do not reflect our sanskaar.

According to The Cinematograph Act, “a film shall not be certified for public exhibition, if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the States, friendly relations with foreign State, public order, decency or morality or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence”. Given that “decency” and “morality” are subjective terms with no set standards, who decides what is unacceptable?

In fact, a report prepared by the Mudgal Committee appointed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to “examine the issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act 1952,” admits that there can never be watertight or rigid guidelines for certifying a film. It’s the context that is of more relevance. “The courts have over the years attempted to grapple, with little success one might add, to give precise meanings to terms such as morality, obscenity and excessive violence etc. These are concepts which are incapable of surgically precise definitions and interpretation of such terms will vary from person to person.”

Keeping this in mind, the entire concept of censorship becomes redundant. Films have fought a bitter battle against the censors and won. 89 cuts were suggested for Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor-starrer Udta Punjab, including the removal of the word Punjab from its title. The Bombay High Court overturned the directive and told the CBFC that its job was to certify, not censor.

And with all the piracy and easy access to the internet, it isn’t effective, anyway.

To give Lipstick Under My Burkha an ‘A’ certificate is understandable, but to ban it altogether is patently unconstitutional. And ridiculous, to say the least.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/lipstick-under-my-burkha-feminist-censor-board-pahlaj-nihalani/1/890624.html

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India – Is PM Modi endorsing violations of environmental laws in the country?

Is Modi endorsing violations of environmental laws in the country?

By unveiling a 112-feet-tall Shiva idol on Friday, constructed by flouting environmental laws and building regulations, at Isha Foundation, a spiritual organisation founded by yoga guru, Jaggi Vasudev in Coimbatore, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsing violations of environmental laws in our country?

Isha Foundation, situated in the foothills of Velliangirihills in the Western Ghats famous for its elephant corridor, Coimbatore, has been a controversies’ child since its inception in 1994. It has been accused of violating government laws, environmental and building construction rules and affecting the biodiversity of the region.

Now, by inviting Prime Minister to unveil an idol embroiled in controversy, on Mahasivarathri day, it looks like a well orchestrated plan by this high profile jet-setting godman to legitimise his illegal activities and silence his long time criticisers. It also reflects his gross disregard for the laws of the land and his high handedness and influence in the bureaucracy of the country.

The statue erected in Ikkarai Boluvampatti village, Coimbatore, comes under the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA), where HACA permission is mandatory for any kind of construction. Also, the land in which the construction has been carried out, is classified as wetland, where paddy, sugarcane and plantations are grown. “The construction is illegal because it is in a revenue village and Isha Foundation has not received the approval from the HACA and Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP)”, says Srinivasan Kuppuswamy who initiated a campaign on change.org saying, “Modiji, Please don’t attend the Sadhguru Jaggi’s Function, Destroyer of tribals & elephants”.

Isha foundation built the statue in violation of Madras High Court order issued by the then Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice R Madhavan. I think Modi has fallen into a trap laid by godman Jaggi Vasudev and he is endorsing illegal construction by unveiling Shiva statue. It also has a built up area of 13 lakh square feet of illegal construction in the same village

Mohanraj, Environment activist

Echoing Mohanraj’s concerns, a Coimbatore based rights activist Ponniah Chandran says, “Prime Minister’s unveiling of the statue sanctifies all violations of environmental laws. Sangh Parivars statement that he is on a personal spiritual enquiry is superficial and condemnable as he is not coming in a personal capacity as Narendra Modi, but as the Prime Minister of the country”.

The construction of Shiva statue went unchecked despite Isha Foundation being issued a ‘locking and sealing and demolition notice’ by the Deputy Director, Town and Country Planning, Coimbatore region on 24 December, 2012, directing the organisation to demolish all illegal constructions in the campus. A petition before the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), filed recently by Adv M Vetri Selvan, demanding a permanent injunction restraining the organisation from conducting the Mahashivarathri Festival and other cultural extravaganza within the buffer-zone, stated, “As of now, Isha Foundation owns buildings, lake, ornamental gardens, parking bay, playground, etc. to the extent of 4,27,700 sq. mt. and Isha Foundation never obtained permission either from the Hill Area Conservation Authority, nor did it obtain ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the forest department in accordance with law”.

The petition goes on to say, that, “All the above lands are situated in the elephant corridor. Due to the construction of buildings, and the increasing population of the visitors to the Isha Foundation everyday and due to the fact that all the vehicles coming to the Isha Foundation use the forest – connecting – road to the Thanaikandi tribal hamlets, and due to the large number of vehicles, the elephant corridor is obstructed and due to this obstruction, the confrontation between man-animal (elephant) is increasing”.

Prime Minister’s visit amidst protests raised by environmentalists, Association of Tribals and Association of farmers along with political parties like CPIM and CPI also reinforce BJP’s soft corner towards godmen and it turning a blind eye towards their illegal activities.

While environmentalists and government authorities confirm that at least two dozen institutions have come up in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Coimbatore district in the last two decades, only small and less powerful people were punished by the government so far for encroaching on traditional migratory paths of wild elephants. On loosing AICTE accreditation for Indus College of engineering in 2015, citing environmental laws, the lament of the then college Chairman V P Prabhakaran, “We are targeted to save the big fishes in the region”, points towards this double standards of the government.

A pending public interest litigation (PIL) in the Madras HC filed by the Velliangiri Hill Tribal Protection Society citing to demolish the unauthorised construction, points out that the activities of the organisation disrupts the peaceful co-existence of the native tribes (Irular) and the nature. The PIL also adds, that the organisation started constructing the statue 2 years ago, without even submitting an application of approval for the construction. Even the belated application submitted on 19th October, 2016 was only for 300 sq meters while the actual construction is being carried out in 9000 sq meters.

As part of Modi’s visit, 44 acres of land belonging to Tribals have been now taken over by Isha and heavily guarded. How can they do this when the writ petition is pending in the Madras High Court

Mohanraj 

Meanwhile, an unperturbed Isha Foundation claimed that it had got all necessary permissions. Also, in a blog post Isha Foundation stated, “The accusations laid down in the petitions filed against Isha Foundation in the Madras High Court are frivolous and a compilation of twisted allegations.”http://en.southlive.in/spotlight/2017/02/24/is-modi-endorsing-violations-of-environmental-laws-in-the-country

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Hitachi hackers cashed in on security gaps in India’s worst-ever cybersecurity breach

MUMBAI: From late May to end July of 2016, India was struck by what till now is the worst cyber breach to compromise the country’s payments network. Bank customers, including several foreign travellers, using as many as 3.2 million debit cards feared that their accounts had been hacked. Weeks after the panic — by when thousands had lost money — it surfaced that hackers had penetrated the network of Hitachi to which some banks had outsourced their ATM transaction processing. RBI sent out a flurry of dos and don’ts to banks, held meetings with payments companies such as VISA, MasterCard and National Payments Corporation of India; and Hitachi hired a Bengaluru-based payments security firm to carry out a forensic audit.

The audit report, which was submitted to the regulator last week, brings out an uncomfortable truth that most Indian banks and corporates will now have to deal with: anti-virus and anti-malware devices they have installed are no match for targeted cyber attacks. What this means is that if the code of a malware, floated by the hacker, is written in a clever way, it can overcome most anti-malware walls.

The forensic team, stunned by the level of sophistication and ingenuity of hackers who targeted Hitachi, has found that the malware (which is nothing but a software) was so ingenuously written that it could spread within the Hitachi system at an alarming rate. This was despite Hitachi using some of the best security devices.

ET learns that the hackers created a ‘dummy code book’ within the Hitachi system — capturing all possible four-digit numbers from 0000 to 9999 — to steal the PINs (personal identification numbers) of customers as and when they used their cards to withdraw money from ATMs of a private bank in India.

“What has happened is something of a very sophisticated nature and we have not seen this in our other investigations. I will not able to provide further specifics of Hitachi breach as SISA respects client confidentiality in forensic investigations… We have received a direction from National Security Coordinator, Government of India, to share this report only with Hitachi…” Dharshan Shanthamurthy, founder-CEO of SISA, the company which was hired by Hitachi for the forensic audit, told ET. SISA has shared some learnings with government agencies. After repeated requests from NPCI, Hitachi is learnt to have shared the report with the national payments company.

THE KILL-CHAIN
There are four stages in the ‘kill-chain’ of a cyber breach: (1) how the malware gets in; (2) how it escalates within the system; (3) how data is taken out; (4) how effectively the hacker cleans the system it penetrates. Besides the scale and extent of the compromise, what distinguishes the Hitachi breach compared with past attacks is the pace at which the malware travelled within the Hitachi network once it was inside. “The code was written in a way that it made sure the malware worked on the Hitachi system… it was virtually sitting on the administrator’s laptop,” said another person familiar with the investigation.

According to KK Mookhey, founder of Network Intelligence, which investigated the matter on behalf of one of the banks, the Hitachi breach, with its advanced and targeted nature, was a “watershed moment in the Indian cybersecurity space”. “Incident response is an area in which most Indian organisations have very nascent capabilities. This breach brought those gaps to light. It also served notice that attackers see Indian financial institutions as lucrative targets,” he said.

While banks have focussed on protecting against malicious code (or malware), attackers are using spear-phishing to get valid usernames and passwords, and then use built-in capabilities of the operating systems like Windows to complete the hack. “Trying to catch malware is a strategy doomed to failure. Banks have a lot of focus on guarding the perimeter (city walls). However, once somebody sneaks through, they cannot detect the ‘privilege escalation’ and ‘lateral movement’ phase of the attack (behind the city walls). I feel the Hitachi attack was highly targeted, with a specific goal in mind and also succeeded without any prior detection,” said Sahir Hidayatullah, CEO of Smokescreen, which specialises in deception tactics to battle cyber crime.

BEYOND ATMS
Besides the sinister power of smartly coded malware, other lessons from the Hitachi breach are:

** It’s a mistake to believe that such an attack is isolated to ATM processor environment and will not impact other verticals and establishments in the payments industry.

“This attack vector can happen to any payment environment — banks, wallet companies, UPI (Unified Payments Interface), IMPS (Immediate Payment Service), retailers (ecommerce/brick-and-mortar), national switches and processors. These attacks are not restricted to cardholder environment and can apply to any payment form factor,” said SISA’s Shanthamurthy.

** For businesses, the focus has to shift to ‘detection’ rather than ‘prevention’ as preventing the attacker getting an initial foothold is almost impossible. A malware has to be detected before the attacker succeeds at ‘lateral movement’ and ‘privilege escalation’, said Hidayatullah.

** If an attack has been successful in one environment, it will most likely be used again and it is not necessary that it will happen in the same industry vertical.

“The bad guys have a better information-sharing mechanism than what we have. They in all probability will go behind the next most vulnerable organisation where they can compromise larger payment data,” said Shanthamurthy

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/banking/finance/banking/hitachi-hackers-cashed-in-on-security-gaps-in-indias-worst-ever-cybersecurity-breach/printarticle/57300779.cms
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From DU to Jodhpur, there’s a grand design to silence dissent

JNUTA STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION IN DELHI UNIVERSITY AND OTHER UNIVERSITIES (23 FEBRUARY 2017)

The JNU Teachers Association condemns in strongest terms the violence and hooliganism perpetrated in Delhi University by the ABVP over the last two days, reported widely in the media. What is also worrying, along with the violence unleashed is, that by all accounts, the police seemed unwilling to control the violence and remained a mute spectator. The events at Delhi University are part of a larger pattern by which the university as a space for freedom and the adventure of ideas is being attacked by.

The Delhi University Incidents
The latest event in this series of attacks on the universities in Delhi University unfolded in two related episodes. Two JNU students, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, were invited to speak at a seminar on “Cultures of Protest”, organized by the English department of Ramjas College. On 21st February, the seminar was not allowed to begin and hooligans went on a rampage: stones were thrown on the seminar hall, the electricity connection to the hall was cut, the students and teachers were locked inside. The college principle was forced to cancel the talks by both JNU students, as the police expressed an inability to guarantee their safety and protests, in what is a serious infringement on their fundamental right to speak and express their thoughts and opinions in any part of the country.

The second episode in this event of ABVP orchestrated violence happened yesterday (22nd February). Some students and teachers of Delhi university had given a call for a march from Ramjas College to Maurice Nagar police station to protest the previous day’s violence and the police inaction and to file FIR against the perpetrators of the violence. After 1 pm on the 22nd, when the protesters had gathered near Ramjas college, violence was again unleashed by the ABVP that went on for hours. Many students and teachers of the university were roughed up, media persons were attacked and their equipment damaged. In these incidents, some of our colleagues, including Dr. Prasanta Chakravarty of the English Department, were injured and had to be taken to the hospital. By most media accounts. it is also clear that police, while present at the site, appeared to unwilling to take any action against the perpetrators of the violence, and chose to look the other way most of the time.

The grand design
In the last couple of years, the universities in India have witnessed a consistent pattern of attack on the universities as spaces of the adventure of ideas and freedom of thought by the votaries of Hindutva wherein the student wing of RSS, the ABVP plays the role of their foot soldiers. This was seen in Hyderabad Central University, Jadavpur University, JNU, the Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh, JNV University Jodhpur, and latest in Delhi University. In a similar incident, Dr. Rajshree Ranawat of the English Department of JNVU, Jodhpur, is being hounded by the same Hindutva fascists along with our colleague Prof. Nivedita Menon. Dr. Ranawat has been suspended by the Jodhpur University. Her “crime” is that she had invited Prof. Menon to speak at a national seminar. In a similar incident last year, the students and teachers of the Central University of Haryana, Mahendragarh, were hounded, harassed and threatened for performing a play by Mahashweta Devi! What is common in all these incidents is that all cultural and intellectual programmes, all thoughts, ideas, and forms of expression perceived to be objectionable by the Hindutva forces are threatened and in effect forcibly stopped using violence, threat, and the use of various means of intimidation. As a matter of fact, any ideological-political formation that doesn’t agree with their ideas of nationalism and patriotism feels threatened by the continuously haunting spectre of being called “anti-national.” This is an extreme form of intolerance that needs to be resisted and rebuffed by all means at our disposal as a responsible academic community committed to the democratic pluralism guaranteed in the constitution.

Another worrying aspect of this pattern is the state’s abdication of its responsibility as a protector of constitutional rights of the citizens. The protection of citizen’s fundamental rights should be the default position of the state authorities. Unfortunately, in most of these case, what we have seen is just the opposite of this as the police, in most cases, have miserably failed to perform its constitutional duty by either remaining mute spectator to the unfolding violence and intimidation or as seen in some cases, by siding with the perpetrators. Institutions of higher education in fact need special protection as they are spaces for the adventure and experiments in ideas, and freedom of thought and discussion is the very prerequisite of research and experiment in ideas.

Like teachers across the country, the JNUTA finds that there is a grand design underlying this orchestration of violence against freedom of speech, thought, and expression—the extermination of the very idea of university. The JNUTA expresses its profound solidarity with the teachers and students of the Delhi University and stands in unequivocal support for the defence of our fundamental rights.

Ayesha Kidwai
President, JNUTA
Pradeep K. Shinde
Secretary, JNUTA

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Art of Living Foundation must pay remaining fine for damaging Yamuna floodplains: NGT

 
 

Sri Sri Ravishankar’s organisation went back on its commitment to pay the fine for hosting a three-day festival that affected Yamuna floodplains

 An expert committee told the National Green Tribunal in August 2016 that the festival had
An expert committee told the National Green Tribunal in August 2016 that the festival had “completely destroyed” the riverbed. Credit: Arne Krueger / Flicker

The Art of Living Foundation, which is led by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar, must pay remaining Rs 4.75-crore fine for hosting a massive festival on the banks of the River Yamuna in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said today.

Strongly criticising organisation for going ahead with the three-day “World Culture Festival” on the banks of the River Yamuna, the country’s top environment court said that the organisation has tried multiple legal cases “in order not to pay the fine” and that questions the “conduct of the foundation’.

The Art of Living paid Rs 2,500,000 last year and then went back on its commitment. An expert committee had told the NGT in August 2016 that the festival had “completely destroyed” the riverbed.

Hundreds of thousands of devotees attended the event at what was called the world’s largest stage, spreading over seven acres. It was alleged that the permission given to the festival was vague, in excess of the powers vested in the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and not in consonance with the previous orders of the NGT.

Both, the NGT-constituted committee as well as the committee formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had agreed that the event posed great danger to the floodplains.

Environmentalists had accused organisers of destroying vegetation and ruining the fragile ecosystem by damaging its bed and disrupting water flows.

However, the organisers claimed having “left the site in better condition’ that they found it. They will move the Supreme Court to challenge the NGT order.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/art-of-living-foundation-must-pay-remaining-fine-for-damaging-yamuna-floodplains-ngt-57207

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Unwarranted Hysterectomies- Would authorities help if Men’s Genitalia Had Been Removed?

Docs Remove Women’s Uteruses for Profit, Authorities Refuse to Help. Would it be Different if Men’s Genitalia Had Been Removed?

By Ila Ananya

Kalaburagi

Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

On 6th February, around 600 Dalit and Lambadi women from different tandas in Aland, Kalaburagi, Chittapur and Chincholi districts in Karnataka gathered outside the office of the Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner (DC).

Most of these women were victims of unwarranted hysterectomies — the complete removal of the uterus — performed by doctors in private hospitals. The women had been conned by these doctors, who diagnosed a risk of cancer for problems like irregular menstrual cycles, white discharge or pain in the lower abdomen. An urgent hysterectomy, these doctors said, was the only way their lives could be saved. Hysterectomies had become a business, and women’s bodies were the new market.

On Monday the 6th, the protesting women were angry and aggressive. They demanded to meet the DC, and when told that he was ‘out on business’, the women decided to storm the office. “It almost became a law and order situation,” says Akhila Vasan, state convener of the Karnataka Janarogya Chalavali (KJC), a group of public health activists. “But because of the aggressive pressure, the government responded.” The Additional Regional Commissioner assured the women that the doctors would now be booked with criminal cases immediately, and hospitals that had performed such hysterectomies would also be immediately closed. Additionally, the women would also be given compensation after a committee was formed to identify the victims.

Vasan says that the matter had first come to light back in 2015 during KJC’s ‘Health as Human Rights’ workshop in Gulbarga. One of the activists found that women in the villages were talking of a big “bimaari” (illness) in the villages, where their doctors told them they were at the risk of cancer when they went to them with any gynecological problems. “You have had children,” they were told, “so why do you need this organ?”

IMG-20170218-WA0003

Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

6th February was the second time these women came together to protest this injustice and exploitation. Their first protest, also in front of the DC’s office, had been a year-and-a-half earlier, demanding an enquiry into mass unwarranted hysterectomies that had been performed in the area. The KJC had submitted a report while a second report was submitted by a committee set up by the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare. In both reports, 98 percent of the 707 women spoken to reported undergoing hysterectomies in private hospitals. Thirty eight hospitals were named. What was additionally shocking was how young these women were — 65 percent were less than 35 years old, while 25 percent were less than 30 years old.

In its fact-finding report, the KJC analysed the women’s medical records and whether they had really needed the hysterectomies. They found that, besides the unnecessary and cruel operations, no medical procedure was followed even in cases where women had died of hysterectomies. There was no post-mortem done, the body was cremated in a suspicious manner and families were bribed to stay silent. Between 25th January and 2ndFebruary, 2017, KJC had campaigned in 35 tandas showing women the state’s reports about hysterectomies, asking them what they thought should be done. This was when the women decided to go on an indefinite protest.

Also Read:  Women Out and About in Hyderabad, You Will Have to Cross Your Legs and Wait to Pee

Till date, no FIRs or cases have been filed against these criminal doctors and hospitals. “The reports have been with you for one-and-a-half years, but what have you done,” Vasan describes the women as asking. She sounds furious when she says that private hospitals in India enjoy maximum impunity.

Maitreyi Krishnan, an advocate who has been helping women in Kalaburagi file complaints, says that they had first approached the police to file an FIR a year-and-a-half ago. No FIR was registered and the police didn’t take suo moto cognisance either. The hospitals continued to function and the doctor’s licenses were not revoked. Next, the women had approached the Kalaburagi bench in the Karnataka High Court. On 5thJanuary 2017, the bench had finally issued a notice to the Health Department demanding a response.

Women protesting at Kalaburagi. Photo courtesy Vinay Sreenivasa, ALF.

Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

Amidst all this, Vasan says, some of the women have been threatened to withdraw their complaints — they speculate that the rich privileged doctors are behind this. According to Narendra Gupta, who filed a PIL on unwarranted hysterectomies in the Supreme Court back in 2013, many such accused doctors have tried to bribe protesting women and used local politicians to exert pressure on them to withdraw their cases.

Hysterectomies have many health impacts. Sapna Desai, Health and Research Coordinator at Sewa Co-Operative, a women’s organisation that operates a community-based health insurance scheme, says that the procedure results not just in early menopause but also causes a decrease in oestrogen production and increases the risk of cardio-vascular disease and osteoporosis. The women in Kalaburagi were never told of these consequences.

Krishnan says that either the Medical Council (a statutory body regulating medical colleges and doctors registration) or the consumer court can be approached in such cases, but neither is a strong option. “In consumer courts, the only possible result is compensation for the victims. The doctors face no other punishment, even if their actions have resulted in death,” says Vasan.

On the other hand, she says that if the police are required to file an FIR for medical negligence under the current law, the complainants first need to get the approval of the Medical Council. The next barrier comes here –Medical Council enquiries are conducted by peers. “If members to the Medical Council are elected by their own fraternity, do you think they are going to act against them?” Vasan asks.

In Kalaburagi, too, the KJC first approached the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) with a fact-finding report about a case where a young woman had died on the operation theatre table during a hysterectomy. After spending a year on the case, the KJC was dismissed on flimsy grounds two months ago. “The KMC allowed the doctor to go free even though there was proof that the doctor had threatened the victim’s family and bribed her husband with Rs 3 lakh,” Vasan says. According to her, the doctor had got the husband to say that he didn’t want to press charges. The husband said that he believed that the cause of her death was anaphylactic shock. The KMC dismissed the case without even calling for the Karnataka Women’s Commission’s video proof, in which the man supposedly said he had been bribed and made to sign a paper without knowing its contents.

Also Read:  Our Blind Spots on Rural Pregnancy in India Revealed, One Video at a Time
DCIM100GOPROG0033970.

Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

Such unwarranted hysterectomies have been happening across the country. Jashodhara Dasgupta of SAHAYOG, a voluntary organisation working on women’s health, says that hysterectomies have also been wrongfully carried out in other parts of India as well — and sometimes these scams even deploy government health schemes. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bhima Yojna, a government health scheme for unorganised workers in India, for instance, provides Rs 30,000 for a family of five. But the money can only be used if patients are admitted in hospitals. Between 2010 and 2012, Dasgupta says, many women were diagnosed with great urgency that they absolutely had to have hysterectomies. The doctors then admitted them into hospitals and charged them the full Rs 30,000 available on the scheme.

Similarly, hysterectomies became a scam under the Aarogyasri scheme in 2008. The scheme itself was started in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2006. SV Kameswari, from Life-HRG, an NGO providing basic healthcare services in Medak, Telangana, found that 163 hysterectomies had been performed by private hospitals (as compared to eight in government hospitals) in Medak alone, between October 2008 and June 2009. In private hospitals, the discharge summary for the women was found to be mostly blank with no information about the procedure done or follow-up instructions.

Vasan argues that we must begin to hold the state responsible for being unable to protect these women against such criminal doctors. She is hopeful that there will finally be some justice after the protest this month. However, given how reluctant the police have been to begin investigations and how slowly the legal appeal has progressed, these women worry if the Additional Regional Commissioner’s promises will hold any meaning after all.

http://theladiesfinger.com/kalaburagi-hysterectomies/

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RSS planned to assassinate top CPI(M) leaders, create communal riots : Former RSS Sakha Karyakartha

“RSS planned to assassinate top CPI(M) leaders and orchestrate communal riots at Kozhikkode”

Former Kokkallur RSS Sakha Karyakartha T.N. Anoop made a shocking revelation in a press conference that the RSS had planned to assassinate top leaders of the CPI(M) in Calicut.

Anoop has been one of the main RSS leaders of Kokkallur Sakha for over 9 years. When Anoop questioned the assassination plot, the RSS leadership turned against him. RSS were planning to kill DYFI Calicut Unit Secretary Nijish and DYFI Kokkallur East Branch secretary TN Ganesan. RSS leadership planned to turn the killings against CPI(M) and thus orchestrate riots in Malabar.

Four years back Anoop had to face the music for not informing the leadership that he saw a CPI(M) leader P.N. Ashokan at the Thrissur pooram. A plan was on to assassinate him during his journey from Thrissur to Kozhikode. In 2015, P.N. Ashokan was attacked and injured by an RSS gang of criminals armed with with sharp weapons. His house was also attacked. In 2008, Kottol Suresh was severely wounded in an attack orchestrated by the RSS. Suresh was a CPI(M) activist. Anoop, who is well aware of the plans behind such attacks also revealed that a bike was set on fire in front of DYFI activist Abhin Sathyan’s house by a group led by an RSS shakha shikshak.

Anoop said that he has decided to sever his association with the Sangh Parivar in protest against their heinous attempts to disrupt peace.

Anoop is now a target as he is deemed to be a target by the Sangh Parivar. He has filed a case against RSS to the Vadakara Rural SP alleging that his life is in danger.

(Balussery (Kozhikkode) — 22nd February 2017)

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

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1984 anti-Sikh riots case: Delhi court orders discussion with Jagdish Tytler on lie detector

1984 anti-Sikh riots case: Delhi court orders discussion with Jagdish Tytler on lie detector

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday ordered discussion on lie detector test on Congress leader Jagdish Tytler on March 16 in connection with 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Abhishek Verma, an arms dealer, who was also issued notice by court on CBI plea agreed to lie detector test, saying he needed security.

During the earlier hearing, Tytler opposed a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea seeking a lie detector test on him in a 1984 riots case.

Tytler, who did not appear before the court personally, filed an application through his lawyer stating that the CBI plea was a “gross misuse of law” and it was filed with “malafide intention”.

Arms dealer Abhishek Verma, who was also issued notice by the court on the CBI plea, had appeared before the court and said he stands by his statement given to the probe agency earlier and was ready to join investigation.

The case pertains to death of three Sikhs in the aftermath of the riots that broke out after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Tytler has been given a clean chit by CBI thrice in the case but the probe agency has been directed by the court to further investigate the matter.

Verma has made several statements to CBI against the senior Congress leader that he allegedly pressurised witnesses in the case.http://zeenews.india.com/delhi/1984-anti-sikh-riots-case-delhi-court-orders-discussion-with-jagdish-tytler-on-lie-detector_1980514.html

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Sexual harassment – underbelly of the Indian startup ecosystem exposed #Vaw

With the startup ecosystem polarised over the recent sexual harassment accusations by some women entrepreneurs, it is time to explore why women do not speak up. 

Women always think twice before they put anyone, especially sexual offenders, under the bus. In fact, they think thrice, four times, even five until it is so late that they talk themselves into believing that they were the ones at fault.

If you have been following the recent multiple sexual harassment episodes involving investor Mahesh Murthy reported on social media, you may have noticed the undertone of the conversations that is steering the blame squarely on the doors of these women entrepreneurs.

For those of you late to the party, here’s a quick brief. On Saturday, entrepreneur Pooja Chauhan, who is the co-founder of Vayuz, posted on her LinkedIn page saying she finally gathered the courage to make public a lewd message from Murthy as a response to her Christmas greetings. Another entrepreneur, Wamika Iyer, Founder of FrshDay.in, too shared her conversation with Murthy that had made her uncomfortable because of its implicit sexual nature.

When YourStory reached out to Wamika, she said her conversation had taken place a year ago and at that time she had reached out to various media platforms to “expose” Murthy. “No one responded to my plea then. I can understand that he is a powerful man and has a lot of influence,” she told me over a phone call from Mumbai.

While working on her startup, Wamika was looking for mentorship and had reached out to Murthy as he is a “renowned VC who offers mentorship and funding to entrepreneurs.” She described the chat conversation (screenshots below) that she had with him that not only made her “uncomfortable but also demotivated her from pursuing her dreams.”

 

But when she found no support from anyone in the media or the startup ecosystem, she decided to lie low and continue with her work. “In May, I read about a woman entrepreneur recounting a similar experience with Mahesh Murthy that was reported in a digital media,” she says, adding, “again, I reached out for my story to be covered but I was discouraged.”

Finally, on Saturday, February 12, when Pooja wrote of her experience on LinkedIn, Wamika was inspired to speak up as well. And if you have noticed in the comments that Pooja’s post received, a number of women have shared that they have been at the receiving end of a similar treatment from Mahesh Murthy.

Screenshot from the comments section of Pooja Chauhan’s post.

At the time of writing this, Murthy had apologised to Pooja, which she accepted.

Did we ask for it?

This is 2017, for God’s sake. Why are the young, independent women of today still afraid to speak out?

Still afraid that what they say will not be believed or at best be brushed off as trivial.

Last week, a young colleague sought my help regarding a voice message she had received on the night of Valentine’s Day. A male voice slurred a ‘happy Valentine’s Day’ to her. It was a recording of a few seconds, but it rang for a long time in my ear — a creepy sort of after-effect making my hair stand on end.

I was furious, but I saw that tears had welled up in her eyes. She whispered, “Did I do something wrong here?”

After the initial shock had evaporated that it was a known personality who had left the late night voice message, I attempted a weak laugh — ‘these things happen; he must be taking his chances; you know how it is; the society is more open now; there may have been cases where his advances have been reciprocated, blah, blah, blah,’ I went on. If this was my way of comforting her, it was not helping one bit. She sat there guilty-faced.

Is that all I had to say? It was almost as if I was alluding to the ‘you-must-have-asked-for-it’ argument. Making excuses for a middle-aged man sending messages to young girls in the middle of the night.

Last year, another colleague had filed an official complaint with the IIT Bombay authorities against sexual misconduct and stalking by an IItian. No action has been taken yet by the authorities, despite her outing him on social media.

What makes us — the supposedly independent and strong-willed women — to bury such incidents deep within our psyche and throw the key away? It’s like telling a man it is okay if the guy on the road punched your face because you accidentally hit his car.

A new casting couch?

At a time, when we are talking about participation of more women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and encouraging them to dream big, incidents like these act as roadblocks. Yet, many women are so caught up battling the inherent gender biases prevalent in the system that they often ignore or brush aside cases of sexual harassment.

Should they be more worried that the investor is concerned that they will change their priority once they become mothers and neglect their business?

It is an open secret that many women entrepreneurs have been asked at investor pitches if they planned to get married anytime soon, or were planning to have a baby — as the case may be. They have had to sign difficult term sheets, more complex than their male counterparts.

Term sheets, some say, that will pale such incidents in comparison.

No wonder then, the coming out of these women has polarised opinion. One comment by a woman referred to them as complaining “school girls”, asking them to “grow up.” There are other suggestions from friends and buddies that this is Murthy merely displaying his “devil-may-care-attitude” and not many can understand his “sense of humor.”

It is clear women are not finding this funny.

Wamika asks if this is what mentorship is like in the Indian startup ecosystem. “We encourage women to fulfill their passion but if there are perverts like him, then how would women pursue their dreams? I was deeply hurt by this kind of behaviour from a senior mentor in the industry,” she says, adding, “If we do nothing about such cases and just stay calm thinking about the society, such people will continue to behave this way. It is a shame to have such experienced professionals in the VC industry, and it is our responsibility to stand up together and protest against such people and show them that money cannot buy everything.”

Murthy had since posted an unapologetic clarification on his Facebook page, which has now been pulled down. When YourStory contacted him, he said it was not deleted but had been set to ‘Friends Only’ view. Over a telephonic conversation, Murthy suggested that this was merely an opportunism displayed by the women. At the time of publishing, we had not received his email responses. However, he wrote back saying that he had instead written a piece on Medium “that should more than reasonably answer your questions.”

Anahita Thukral, Manager at Axis Capital, commented that his explanation reminded her of the time when Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” statement was dismissed as locker-room talk.

“Kissing someone under a mistletoe without consent (especially someone you aren’t that intimate with) is not okay,” she notes. “To my fellow women talking about how women should ignore this kind of talk and ‘be tough’, let me remind you that we did not fight for our voices to be heard for this long just so we can put up with things that are clearly beyond the line of ‘professionalism’. Staying silent has almost never helped — maybe talking about this might actually help both sides see the other side’s point,” she adds.

Disrupt but how

The startup culture built on its inherent ‘disruptive’ nature is breaking all the old rules and rewriting new ones as it goes along. The boundary of work and personal life is dissolving. Men and women work in close proximity for long hours, chill out at bars together and it is no surprise that they may find themselves in a zone that is later difficult to navigate.

The testosterone-dominated Indian startup ecosystem that takes its smoke breaks on Twitter lets the women down badly. The boys club rules here. Now, people are suggesting that like the casting couch, there perhaps exists an ‘investing couch’ too.

Time to call out

We’ve seen this in professions like legacy media, advertising, and of course, the film and entertainment industry. Recall Tarun Tejpal, Mahmood Farooqi, or even Phaneesh Murthy. It all started with ‘harmless banter and teasing’ which quickly turned into criminal sexual offense.

Terming it foreplay, veteran journalist and author Ammu Joseph says, “Despite the relative freedom enjoyed today and the rise in consensual relationships, the sexual jokes and innuendos do not seem to have disappeared.”

She adds that often, it is a case of powerplay where the woman is forced to back off because of the status and position of those making the advances.

Adds veteran journalist Laxmi Murthy, “Men operate on a buddy system, and often in such cases make the woman look silly, making her think perhaps she needs to pull up her socks and stop complaining.” She advises that women should instead counter it in their own style. Gather enough people with same concerns and provide a reasoned argument. “Be informed and put it out there,” she adds.

Sometime ago, I watched this interesting video that explained consent in a very simple way. It says,

“If you are still struggling with consent, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you are making them a cup of tea.”

Women say that men today cannot understand the concept of consent. Sure, anyone has a right to proposition, but if it goes on persistently, despite the other party’s ‘no’, then it is a serious matter.

Legal recourse

And surprise, surprise. There is legal recourse at hand. Pointing towards the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, lawyer Kanti Joshi, Convener, SASHA (Support Against Sexual Harassment), says,

“The aggrieved party, whether she is employed in the offender’s company or not, has the right to file a complaint to the anti-sexual harassment committee at the offender’s workplace.”

According to the law, organisations have to display the guidelines prominently and give a fair hearing to the aggrieved. In the event that the plea is not addressed to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party, she can take her complaint to the local complaints committee. However, this is easier said than done. Says Laxmi Murthy, “Most lawyers will push women to go for a criminal complaint which then becomes complicated.”

Every organisation with 10 or more employees is expected to have a committee against sexual harassment under the Vishakha Guidelines which is now the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013. Kanti says in the past three, four months, her organisation has been approached by many startups with requests to implement the provisions of the law.

It takes a lot of courage to call out a bully, especially the powerful and mighty, on a public forum. As the women say, it is always our word against theirs.

There is a Bantu word, Ilunga, that aptly captures the sentiments of the women in the startup ecosystem at present — “You are ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”

https://yourstory.com/2017/02/sexual-harassment-indian-startup-ecosystem/

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Nuclear Power Is Not “Green Energy” #mustshare

Nuclear lobbyists and some scientists are under the mistaken impression that nuclear power is virtually carbon-free, and thus must be pushed to prevent runaway global warming (if you don’t believe in global warming, please forward this to your friends, family and colleagues who do so).

But this is a complete and total myth …

Former Commissioner for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Peter Bradford explains that building nuclear plants to fight global warming is like trying to fight global hunger by serving everyone caviar.

Dr. Mark Jacobson – the head of Stanford University’s Atmosphere and Energy Program, who has written numerous books and hundreds of scientific papers on climate and energy, and testified before Congress numerous times on those issues – notes that nuclear puts out much more pollution (including much more CO2) than windpower, and 1.5% of all the nuclear plants built have melted down.  Jacobson also points out that it takes at least 11 years to permit and build a nuclear plant, whereas it takes less than half that time to fire up a wind or solar farm. Between the application for a nuclear plant and flipping the switch, power is provided by conventional energy sources … 55-65% of which is coal.

Keith Barnham – Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London – notes that claims that nuclear power is a ‘low carbon’ energy source fall apart under scrutiny.

Mark Diesendorf – Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW – writes:

Unfortunately, the notion that nuclear energy is a low-emission technology doesn’t really stack up when the whole nuclear fuel life cycle is considered. In reality, the only CO2-free link in the chain is the reactor’s operation. All of the other steps – mining, milling, fuel fabrication, enrichment, reactor construction, decommissioning and waste management – use fossil fuels and hence emit carbon dioxide.

Amory Lovins is perhaps America’s top expert on energy, and a dedicated environmentalist for close to 50 years.  His credentials as an energy expert and environmentalist are sterling.  Lovins is a former Oxford don, who taught at nine universities, most recently Stanford.  He has briefed 19 heads of state, provided expert testimony in eight countries, and published 31 books and several hundred papers.  Lovins’ clients have included the Pentagon,  OECD, United Nations, Resources for the Future, many national governments, and 13 US states, as well as many Fortune 500 companies, major real-estate developers, and utilities.  Lovins served in 1980-81 on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Research Advisory Board, and in 1999-2001 and 2006-2008 on Defense Science Board task forces on military energy efficiency and strategy.

Lovins says nuclear is not the answer:

Nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard  climate protection.

Here’s how. Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about 2-10 times less carbon savings, 20-40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: efficient use of electricity, making heat and power together in factories or buildings (“cogeneration”), and renewable energy. The last two made 18% of the world’s 2009 electricity, nuclear 13%, reversing their 2000 shares–and made over 90% of the world’s additional electricity in 2008.

Those smarter choices are sweeping the global energy market. Half the world’s new generating capacity in 2008 and 2009 was renewable. In 2010, renewables except big hydro dams won $151 billion of private investment and added over 50 billion watts (70% the total capacity of all 23 Fukushima-style U.S. reactors) while nuclear got zero private investment and kept losing capacity. Supposedly unreliable windpower made 43-52% of four German states’ total 2010 electricity. Non-nuclear Denmark, 21% wind-powered, plans to get entirely off fossil fuels. Hawai’i plans 70% renewables by 2025.

In contrast, of the 66 nuclear units worldwide officially listed as “under construction” at the end of 2010, 12 had been so listed for over 20 years, 45 had no official startup date, half were late, all 66 were in centrally planned power systems–50 of those in just four (China, India, Russia, South Korea)–and zero were free-market purchases. Since 2007, nuclear growth has added less annual output than just the costliest renewable–solar power –and will probably never catch up. While inherently safe renewable competitors are walloping both nuclear and coal plants in the marketplace and keep getting dramatically cheaper, nuclear costs keep soaring, and with greater safety precautions would go even higher. Tokyo Electric Co., just recovering from $10-20 billion in 2007 earthquake costs at its other big nuclear complex, now faces an even more ruinous Fukushima bill.

Since 2005, new U.S. reactors (if any) have been 100+% subsidized–yet they couldn’t raise a cent of private capital, because they have no business case. They cost 2-3 times as much as new windpower, and by the time you could build a reactor, it couldn’t even beat solar power. Competitive renewables, cogeneration, and efficient use can displace all U.S. coal power more than 23 times over–leaving ample room to replace nuclear power’s half-as-big-as-coal contribution too–but we need to do it just once.

(Read Lovins’ technical papers on the issue here.)

Nuclear engineer and former nuclear industry executive Arnie Gundersen noted last year:

Does the nuclear industry’s latest claim that it is the world’s salvation from increasing levels of CO2 hold up under scrutiny? No! The evidence clearly shows that building new nukes will make global warming worse.

***

Nuclear power lobbyists and their marketing firms want us to believe that humankind’s current CO2 atmospheric releases would have been much worse were it not for those 438 nukes now operating. How much worse? The World Nuclear Association industry trade group estimates that an additional 1.1 GT of CO2 would have been created in 2015 if natural gas plants supplied the electricity instead of those 438 nukes[17].

Do the math! 1.1 additional GT out of 36 GT emitted is only a 3% difference. This 3% value is not a typographical error. Worldwide, all those nukes made only a 3% dent in yearly CO2 production. Put another way, each of the 438 individual nuclear plants contribute less than seven thousandths of one percent to CO2 reduction[18]. That’s hardly enough to justify claims that keeping your old local nuke running is necessary to prevent the sea from rising.

Let’s fast forward to 2050. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) estimates that even if the 2015 Paris CO2 accords (COP 21) are implemented and 1,000 new nukes are constructed, global CO2 emissions will still increase to a minimum of 64 GT[19]. While this increase appears counterintuitive given the Paris agreement, it is on target because pent up energy demands from large populations in India, China, Southeast Asia, and Africa who want to achieve the standard of living in western developed countries.[20]

Can new nukes really help cut CO2 by 2050? Unfortunately, what is past is prologue. To do so, the World Nuclear Association claims 1,000 new nukes will be needed by 2050 to combat CO2 buildup and climate change[21]. The MIT estimate also assumes 1,000 nukes must be in operation by 2050. Using the nuclear trade association’s own calculations shows that these new nukes will offset only 3.9 GT of CO2 in 2050. Do the math again! 3.9 GT out of 64 GT is only 6.1% of the total CO2 released to the atmosphere in 2050, hardly enough for the salvation of the polar bears!

If those 1,000 nuclear power plants were cheap and could be built quickly, investing in nukes might still make sense. However, Lazard Financial Advisory and Asset Management[22], with no dog in the fight, has developed a rubric that estimates that the construction cost of those new nukes will be $8,200,000,000,000. Yes, that’s $8.2 TRILLION to reduce CO2 by only 6%![23]

Surely that huge amount of money can be better spent on less expensive alternatives to get more bang for the buck! Lazard also estimates that solar or wind would be 80% less expensive[24] for the equivalent amount of peak electric output.

Atmospheric CO2 releases are not going to go on vacation while waiting for those 1,000 nukes to be built. According to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016[25], the mean [average] construction time for 46 nuclear plants that began operation between 2006 and 2016 was 10.4 years, not including engineering, licensing and site selection. Contrast that with a two year design and construction schedule for a typical industrial scale solar power plant.[26],[27] Atmospheric CO2 levels will increase by almost 70 PPM during the 35 years it will take to construct those 1,000 new nukes, an increase that these new nuclear plants will never eliminate – if they ever operate.

***

Global climate change is a now problem that requires now solutions[28]. Governments will make the CO2 problem worse by allocating precious resources for alleged atomic power solutions to reduce CO2 when the cost of such proposals is unknown and when implementation only begins in 2030. Fortunately, lower cost renewable solutions are readily available and can be implemented on the necessary time scale needed to reverse the rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2.

Building new nukes applies a 20th century technology to a 21st century problem. Moreover, building nuclear reactors in a tradeoff for CO2 reduction creates a toxic legacy of atomic waste throughout the world. Proponents of nuclear power would have us believe that humankind is smart enough to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but at the same time humankind is so dumb that we can’t figure out how to store solar electricity overnight. I disagree.

Let’s not recreate the follies of the 20th century by recycling this atomic technology into the 21st century. The evidence proves that new nukes will make global climate change worse due to huge costs and delayed implementation periods. Lift the CO2 Smoke Screen and implement the alternative solutions that are available now – faster to implement and much less expensive.

Alternet points out:

Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School … found that the states that invested heavily in nuclear power had worse track records on efficiency and developing renewables than those that did not have large nuclear programs. In other words, investing in nuclear technology crowded out developing clean energy.

BBC notes:

Building the [nuclear] power station produces a lot of CO2 ….

Greenpeace points out:

When it comes to nuclear power, the industry wants you to think of electricity generation in isolation …..  And yet the production of nuclear fuel is a hugely intensive process. Uranium must be mined, milled, converted, enriched, converted again and then manufactured into fuel. You’ll notice the [the nuclear industry] doesn’t mention the carbon footprint of all steps in the nuclear chain prior to electricity generation. Fossil fuels have to be used and that means CO2 emissions.

An International Forum on Globalization report – written by environmental luminaries Ernest Callenback, Gar Smith and Jerry Mander – have slammed nuclear power as catastrophic for the environment:

Nuclear energy is not the “clean” energy its backers proclaim. For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been quietly polluting our air, land, water and bodies—while also contributing to Global Warming through the CO2 emissions from its construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases, radioactive particles and toxic materials that poison the air, water and land. Nuclear power plants routinely expel low-level radionuclides into the air in the course of daily operations. While exposure to high levels of radiation can kill within a matter of days or weeks, exposure to low levels on a prolonged basis can damage bones and tissue and result in genetic damage, crippling long-term injuries, disease and death.

See this excellent photographic depiction of the huge amounts of fossil fuel which goes into building and operating a nuclear power plant.

Nature reported in 2008:

You’re better off pursuing renewables like wind and solar if you want to get more bang for your buck.”

***

Evaluating the total carbon output of the nuclear industry involves calculating those emissions and dividing them by the electricity produced over the entire lifetime of the plant. Benjamin K. Sovacool, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore, recently analyzed more than one hundred lifecycle studies of nuclear plants around the world, his results published in August in Energy Policy. From the 19 most reliable assessments, Sovacool found that estimates of total lifecycle carbon emissions ranged from 1.4 grammes of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (gCO2e/kWh) of electricity produced up to 288 gCO2e/kWh. Sovacool believes the mean of 66 gCO2e/kWh to be a reasonable approximation.

The large variation in emissions estimated from the collection of studies arises from the different methodologies used – those on the low end, says Sovacool, tended to leave parts of the lifecycle out of their analyses, while those on the high end often made unrealistic assumptions about the amount of energy used in some parts of the lifecycle. The largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for 38 per cent of the average total, is the “frontend” of the fuel cycle, which includes mining and milling uranium ore, and the relatively energy-intensive conversion and enrichment process, which boosts the level of uranium-235 in the fuel to useable levels. Construction (12 per cent), operation (17 per cent largely because of backup generators using fossil fuels during downtime), fuel processing and waste disposal (14 per cent) and decommissioning (18 per cent) make up the total mean emissions.

According to Sovacool’s analysis, nuclear power, at 66 gCO2e/kWh emissions is well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, which emit 960 gCO2e/kWh, and natural gas-fired plants, at 443 gCO2e/kWh. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic, at 32 gCO2e/kWh, and six times as much as onshore wind farms, at 10 gCO2e/kWh. “A number in the 60s puts it well below natural gas, oil, coal and even clean-coal technologies. On the other hand, things like energy efficiency, and some of the cheaper renewables are a factor of six better. So for every dollar you spend on nuclear, you could have saved five or six times as much carbon with efficiency, or wind farms,” Sovacool says. Add to that the high costs and long lead times for building a nuclear plant about $3 billion for a 1,000 megawatt plant, with planning, licensing and construction times of about 10 years and nuclear power is even less appealing.

***

Money spent on energy efficiency, however, is equivalent to increasing baseload power, since it reduces the overall power that needs to be generated, says Sovacool. And innovative energy-storage solutions, such as compressed air storage, could provide ways for renewables to provide baseload power.

Thomas Cochran, a nuclear physicist and senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group in Washington DC … argues that the expense and risk of building nuclear plants makes them uneconomic without large government subsidies, and that similar investment in wind and solar photovoltaic power would pay off sooner.

***

Another question has to do with the sustainability of the uranium supply itself. According to researchers in Australia at Monash University, Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, good-quality uranium ore is hard to come by. The deposits of rich ores with the highest uranium content are depleting leaving only lower-quality deposits to be exploited. As ore quality degrades, more energy is required to mine and mill it, and greenhouse gas emissions rise. “It is clear that there is a strong sensitivity of … greenhouse gas emissions to ore grade, and that ore grades are likely to continue to decline gradually in the medium- to long-term,” conclude the researchers.  [And see this.]

Beyond Nuclear notes:

The energy consulting firm Ecofys produced a report detailing how we can meet nearly 100% of global energy needs with renewable sources by 2050. Approximately half of the goal is met through increased energy efficiency to first reduce energy demands, and the other half is achieved by switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees and predicts close to 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid‐century.

***

Since nuclear power plants are reliant upon the electrical grid for 100% of their safety systems’ long‐term power, and are shut down during grid failure and perturbations, it is “guaranteed” only as long as the electrical grid is reliable. When the Tsunami and earthquake hit and power was lost in the Fukushima Prefecture, nuclear energy wasn’t so “guaranteed.” Instead, it became a liability, adding to what was now a triple threat to the region and worsening an already catastrophic situation.

***

[The claim that] Nuclear power is “low‐carbon electricity” … is the propaganda line commonly used by the nuclear industry which conveniently leaves out every phase of the nuclear fuel chain other than electricity generation. It ignores the significant carbon emissions caused by uranium mining, milling, processing and enrichment; the transport of fuel; the construction of nuclear plants; and the still inadequate permanent management of waste. It also ignores the release ‐ by nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities ‐ of radioactive carbon dioxide, or carbon‐14, to the air, considered to be the most toxic of all radioactive isotopes over the long‐term.

In fact, studies show that extending the operating licenses of old nuclear power plants emits orders of magnitude more carbon and greenhouse gases per kilowatt hour from just the uranium fuel chain compared to building and operating new wind farms.

***

Nuclear might begin to address global carbon emissions if a reactor is built somewhere in the world every two weeks. But this is an economically unrealistic, in fact impossible, proposition, with the estimated construction tab beginning at $12 billion apiece and current new reactors under construction already falling years behind schedule.

According to a 2003 MIT study, “The Future of Nuclear Power,” such an unprecedented industrial ramping up would also mean opening a new Yucca Mountain‐size nuclear waste dump somewhere in the world “every three to four years,” a task still unaccomplished even once in the 70 years of the industry’s existence. Further, such a massive scale expansion of nuclear energy would fuel proliferation risks and multiply anxieties about nuclear weapons development, exemplified by the current concern over Iran. As Al Gore stated while Vice President: “For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program.”

Many experts also say that the “energy return on investment” from nuclear power is lower than many other forms of energy. In other words, non-nuclear energy sources produce more energy for a given input.

David Swanson summarizes one of the key findings of the International Forum on Globalization report:

The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy.

Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

Also not counted is any mitigation of the relatively routine damage done to the environment, including human health, at each stage of the process.

***

Nuclear energy is not an alternative to energies that increase global warming, because nuclear increases global warming. When high-grade uranium runs out, nuclear will be worse for CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels. And as global warming advances, nuclear becomes even less efficient as reactors must shut down to avoid overheating.

Also not counted in most discussions is the fact that nuclear reactors discharge tremendous amounts of heat directly into the environment.  After all – as any nuclear engineer will tell you – a nuclear reactor is really just a fancy way to boil water.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists noted in 1971:

In terms of thermal efficiency, current nuclear reactors are even worse off than the coal plants.  Against the 50 per cent loss of heat in the newest coal plants, as much as 70 per cent of the heat is lost from nuclear plants.  This means that thermal pollution can be even more severe ….

1971 was a long time ago, but some nuclear plants are older.  For example, Oyster Creek was launched in 1969, and many other reactors were built in the early 1970s.   Most American nuclear reactors are old (and they are aging very poorly).

Indeed, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service claims:

It has been estimated that every nuclear reactor daily releases thermal energy –heat– that is in excess of the heat released by the detonation of a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb blast.

It doesn’t make too much sense to dump massive amounts of heat into the environment … in the name of fighting global warming.

The bottom line – as discussed above – is that scientists pushing nuclear to combat global warming are misinformed.  (True, nuclear industry lobbyists may be largely responsible for the claim that nuclear fights climate change. Indeed, Dick Cheney – whose Halliburton company builds nuclear power plants, and which sold nuclear secrets to Iran – falsely claimed that nuclear power is carbon-free in a 2004 appearance on C-Span. But there are also sincere environmental scientists who are pushing nuclear because they have only studied a small part of the picture, and don’t understand that there are better alternatives.) http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/02/nuclear-energy-increases-co2-greenhouse-gasses.html

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