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Quote de jeur #5 May 14, 2007

Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", Environment, Quotes.
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In his book Looting Africa, Patrick Bond quotes the following from a petition to the World Petroleum Congress ,written during a 2005 conference organised by groundWork:

At every point in the fossil fuel production chain where your members ‘add value’ and make profit, ordinary people, workers and their environments are assaulted and impoverished. Where oil is drilled, pumped, processed and used, in Africa as elsewhere, ecological systems have been trashed, peoples’ livelihoods have been destroyed and their democratic aspirations and their rights and cultures trampled…

Your energy future is modelled on the interests of over-consuming, energy-intensive, fossil-fuel-burning wealthy classes whose reckless and selfish lifestyles not only impoverish others but threaten the global environment, imposing on all of us the chaos and uncertainty of climate change and the violence and destruction of war. Another energy future is necessary: yours has failed!

Can men be raped? May 11, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Life, News, rant, Society, South Africa.

The South African Constitutional Court ruled yesterday that while non-consensual, penile penetration of a woman, whether it be anal or vaginal, constitutes rape, the same does not apply to men.

This kind of thing makes me really angry. It employs the same flawed and deeply conservative non-logic that says that only penis-vagina penetration constitutes sex (alright, in heterosexual relationships we might be prepared to throw in penis-anus penetration as a compromise).

The implication is that men can’t have sex with other men by definition, and that women most certainly can’t have sex with other women. The ruling is also a shameful insult to the thousands of men, especially young men and boys who get raped every day.

Melanie Judge from OUT makes the point: “OUT believes that all acts of forced sex should be treated equally.”

Men and women can be raped in a number of ways. It’s happening right now, whether or not the Constitutional Court Judges deem it to be so or not!

Important Update on Alcan Protests on 9th of May 2007 May 9, 2007

Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", Coega, Environment, News, South Africa.

Just found this updated press release on today’s Alcan protest here. If your planning to take part in the activities, please note the changes.

Press Release: Important Update on Alcan Protests on 9th of May 2007
Earthlife Africa Jhb
8th of May 2007

The National Day of Action against Alcan has had to alter the schedule of its protests in Port Elizabeth. Demonstrations outside of the Coega Development Corporation will start at 10:00am, not at 11:30am as previously stated. The organisers apologise for any inconvenience this may incur.

In related news, the Richards Bay protest has had to be cancelled for unforeseen circumstances. This will be rescheduled for a later date.

The Johannesburg protest will go ahead as planned, starting at 2:30pm.

Revised Details of protests on the 9th of May 2007:

Johannesburg: 2:30pm to 4:30pm
Place: Alcan National Office
Fredman Towers
13 Fredman Drive

Port Elizabeth: 10:00am to 11:30am
Place: Coega Development Corporation
Libra Chambers
Cnr Oakworth Road & Carnarvon Place

National Day of Action Against Alcan May 7, 2007

Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", Coega, Environment, News, South Africa, Sustainable Living.

Here’s a press release from Earthlife Africa Johannesburg. If you are concerned about our environment, about South Africa’s energy future and about what’s going on at Coega, I suggest you should read it and support the day of action.

National Day of Action Against Alcan

On Wednesday the 9th of May 2007, social and environmental justice activists will demonstrate in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Richards Bay against Alcan and its secret deal with Eskom. In Johannesburg, Earthlife Africa Jhb (ELA Jhb) will coordinate a protest outside Alcan’s head office. NiMBLE and other local groups will de demonstrating outside the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) in Port Elizabeth. In Richards Bay, Groundwork will be at Alcan’s local office. See below for addresses and times.

Culminating in 2006, Alcan was engaged in a lengthy negotiation with Eskom regarding the building of an aluminium smelter at Coega (in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan area, outside of Port Elizabeth). The subject of this negotiation was the long-term purchasing of electricity from Eskom. Aluminium smelters are such intense energy users that plant location is determined by the price at which electricity is made available, rather than location of raw materials.

At the end of 2006, Alcan signed a series of deals with Eskom, the CDC, and Department of Trade and Industry. To date, none of these parties have answered detailed questions about their deals. In particular, the lack of disclosure regarding the price and possible resale of electricity is highly problematic, given Alcan’s history of buying subsidised electricity from governments and selling it back to the same governments at a profit.  

The Coega aluminium smelter will require around at least 1300MW of generation capacity and employ at most a thousand people (enough to power a city; currently, Eskom cannot ensure provisioned of a similar amount of power to the people of Cape Town). The power for the smelter will be heavily subsided (with tax-payer money) through the externalised costs of electricity generation, borne by society as a whole. This subsidy will be in addition to the R1.93 billion in tax-incentives already showered upon Coega. A reasonable estimate of the price of electricity granted to Alcan is around 15% of the price charged to Soweto residents (or about 5 cents per kilowatt hour). This would be substantively lower than the industry and residential average rates (16c and 29c per kwh respectively). This deal covers the next 25 years.

In response to civil society requests (Promotion of Access to Information Act applications) for information on the deal between it and Eskom, Alcan exploited loopholes in South African law, claiming that it would violate its trade, financial, and/or commercial interests. ELA Jhb first requested the Department of Public Enterprises to hold public consultation on the parameters of the deal early in 2005. The department and the Coega Development Corporation have refused to disclose information about their agreements. This ominous wall of silence on a long-term commitment with far-reaching impacts, from a supposedly transparent and accountable government, is reminiscent of Apartheid deals with foreign corporations.

Tristen Taylor, the Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Jhb, states, “The sale of electricity to Alcan is the sale of publicly produced assets. Given Eskom’s current inability to deliver enough electricity to business and citizens and the fact that 30% of the population is still without access to electricity, a 25-year firesale to Alcan hardly seems appropriate. If we were getting a good deal out of Alcan, why would they refuse to disclose it?”

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg demands that:

1) Alcan discloses details of its contract with the state-owned electricity company, Eskom, including prices, linkages to commodity prices, reselling of electricity provisions, and guarantees of supply.

2) Eskom and Alcan support transparent and accountable governance of state-owned enterprises and incentives to global capital.

3) Government implements its 1998 policy commitment to incorporate externalised costs in electricity prices (along with a commitment to provide free and adequate basic energy services to the poor).

4) All government departments disclose their agreements with Alcan and the CDC and urgently conduct and publish a comprehensive review of incentives, concessions and any other forms of subsidy to energy-intensive industries.

The list of questions put to Alcan, Eskom and government departments is available on request, as are background-briefing papers on the subject.

Details of protests on the 9th of May 2007:

Johannesburg: 2:30pm to 4:30pm

Place: Alcan National Office

Fredman Towers
13 Fredman Drive

Port Elizabeth: 11:30am to 1:30pm

Place: Coega Development Corporation

Libra Chambers
Cnr Oakworth Road & Carnarvon Place

Richards Bay: time to be determined

Place: Alcan’s Regional Office

4 Chloorking
Alton – Richards Bay



For more information, please contact:


Tristen Taylor

Energy Policy Officer

Earthlife Africa-Johannesburg Branch

Tel: +27 11 339 3662

Fax: +27 11 339 3270

Cell: +27 84 250 2434

Email: tristen@earthlife.org.za


Quote de jeur #4 May 7, 2007

Posted by Andreas in anarchism, Life, Politics, Quotes, Society.
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There is no universal moral code that should dictate human behaviour. There is no such thing as good or evil, there is no universal standard of right and wrong. Our values and morals come from us and belong to us, whether we like it or not; so we should claim them proudly for ourselves, as our own creations, rather than seeking some external justification for them.

– CrimethInc.

Nuclear power is dangerous May 3, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Environment, Nuclear Power, rant, Sustainable Living.

In March, the Oxford Research Group released a briefing paper entitled Secure Energy? Civil nuclear power, security and global warming, which summarises detailed evidence to show that a worldwide expansion of civil nuclear energy generation would significantly increase the risk of nuclear terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation.

For some reason, I never thought of this aspect of nuclear energy as a big problem, but reading this report changed my mind.

A greater role for atomic energy would result in many more nuclear research and production facilities as well as transit routes for radioactive materials, providing a growing number of hard-to-secure targets for direct terrorist attack and theft of nuclear weapons-usable materials.

There is not enough sufficiently high-grade uranium ore in the Earth’s crust to sustain the anticipated expansion of nuclear power for very long. The report claims that the “energy cliff” for nuclear power (i.e. the point in time when the system as a whole would consume as much energy as it can generate in usable electricity) based on uranium will be reached between about 2050 and 2075.

As a result, the nuclear industry will be forced to rely increasingly on reprocessing spent uranium fuel into Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) and reactor-grade plutonium. There are several reprocessing plants in operation, for example in the UK, Japan and France, at the moment, but more would have to be built in future to satisfy demand.

The problem is that even with the most sophisticated technical safeguards available today there is always a degree of uncertainty about exactly how much plutonium is produced by such reprocessing plants.

This is inherent to the system and is not a matter of efficiency or competence of operators and safety inspectors. Even based on the most optimistic estimates (more than 99% efficiency), the potential amount of plutonium that may go statistically unaccounted for in one reprocessing plant, and could be diverted by unscrupulous governments or employees without being detected, is enough to manufacture a nuclear weapon each month.

Some atomic energy enthusiasts suggest that so-called “Generation IV” or “breeder” reactors are the answer. These reactors use mostly plutonium and only little uranium, and in theory they produce more nuclear fuel than they use – they “breed” plutonium-239.

After 50 years of very expensive and intense research, no one has so far been able to demonstrate that this technology is actually technically feasible. Two of the current “breeders” have been out of operation for years and one has a long history of serious accidents. None of them have actually ever “bred” any plutonium-239.

If they ever should become viable, “Generation IV” reactors will only add to security worries because they produce super-weapons grade plutonium.

An increase in worldwide nuclear power generation will thus lead to a massive increase in radioactive material that can be used to manufacture atomic bombs.

To build such weapons is easier than most of us imagine. It has been estimated that 19 people with about US$10 million would be able to assemble a nuclear weapon in a year – not out of the question for a terrorist organisation or a rogue government.

If you live in Cape Town and are not yet sufficiently worried about the dangers of nuclear power plants, read this excellent report about Koeberg atomic energy station, written on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.