Winston Specer Churchill has been my political inspiration, example and idol for 50+ years, I visited just about everything from him to his grave in the UK. This hurts, the theft shows no respect for the statesman and world famous photographer, I very much hope it gets back where it should be. He foresaw what is happening in Europe now, people never wanted to listen. @annozijlstra
Iconic Churchill photo stolen months ago, theft only discovered now
The Canadian capital Ottawa is under the spell of the disappearance of a photo of Winston Churchill. The iconic portrait of the frowning British statesman hung in a hotel, but turns out to have been swapped for a copy months ago. The theft was only discovered last week. Police have launched an investigation.
The photo was taken in 1941, shortly after Churchill addressed the Canadian Parliament about World War II. It is the best-known work of Canadian-Armenian portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh, who wanted a photo without Churchill’s inseparable cigar.
“I held out an ashtray, but he wouldn’t throw the cigar away,” Karsh later recalled. “Then I walked up to him and said, forgive me sir, and I plucked the cigar from his mouth.” The moment the photographer returned to his camera, Churchill looked “so combative he could have devoured me”. The photo was later used, among other things, on the British 5 pound note.
Professionally done The picture hung in the Château Laurier hotel in Ottawa, where Karsh stayed for a long time and had a studio. A collection of his work has been on display in the reading room for decades.
Last week, employees noticed that the frame with Churchill’s photo was not straight. They then discovered that the frame did not match the frames of other photos of Karsh, also hanging in the lounge. After investigation and consultation with Karsh’s heirs, it was determined that the photo has been replaced by a copy.
After a call from the public to send photos of the reading room, the manager concludes that the theft must have taken place between December 25, 2021 and January 6, 2022. “I showed this photo to guests almost daily and we never noticed it”, said hotel manager Geneviève Dumas. “It’s done professionally. It’s very similar to the original.”
An art theft expert thinks it’s the thieves for the money, reports CTV News. “The thief knew what he was doing, this was not a whim. The person who did this is neither an art lover nor a photography enthusiast.” According to the expert, the photo could fetch more than $100,000.
It is all political and political party’s benefit from it money pull out the same with the NPO that is financed through taxes, bosses drive around in expensive cars and earn top incomes on the backs of the average Dutch and the same in Germany. TV can simply be free through the commercial broadcasters. RTL news is no less than ‘broadcasting news’, most of it is already online before it is ‘discussed’. @annozijlstra
C’est tous les partis politiques et politiques qui en profitent, l’argent en retire la même chose avec le NPO qui est financé par les impôts, les patrons conduisent dans des voitures chères et gagnent les meilleurs revenus sur le dos du Néerlandais moyen et la même chose en Allemagne. La télévision peut simplement être gratuite grâce aux diffuseurs commerciaux. L’actualité de RTL n’est rien de moins qu’une « actualité audiovisuelle », la plupart d’entre elle est déjà en ligne avant d’être « discutée ».
Crisis in German broadcasting system over excessive spending by top woman ARD
The crisis within the German public broadcaster ARD is complete. The top people of eight regional ARD departments no longer have faith in the management of the ninth department, the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB). The reason is a corruption scandal involving former RBB top woman Patricia Schlesinger. She recently had to leave the field as RBB boss and as chairman of the ARD.
The breach of trust is unique to the German broadcasting system, where normally people always speak with one voice and where the broadcasters often work together. But the state of affairs within the RBB has seriously damaged mutual trust. It is feared that the scandal at the RBB will also affect the other broadcasters and the ARD as a whole. The broadcasters think that the current RBB summit cannot solve the crisis.
The crisis revolves around accusations of nepotism against 61-year-old Schlesinger. According to German media, she arranged an assignment for her partner at the RBB worth 100,000 euros, drove an expensive Audi A8 with a massage chair that she also used privately and had the broadcaster pay for expensive meals from private chefs at her home.
The boardroom was also refurbished with parquet and luxurious furniture for 650,000 euros. Schlesinger also received a substantial salary increase of 16 percent to 303,000 euros and there was a bonus system for top officials within the public broadcaster.
8 billion a year The issue is causing great anger among the German public, politicians and other broadcasters. The interest of the German justice system has also been aroused, which is investigating the case. Together with the ZDF, the ARD raises more than 8 billion euros in viewing and listening fees. To this end, 21 TV channels, over eighty radio channels and countless websites and theme channels are maintained.
The system works differently than in the Netherlands, where public broadcasting is financed through taxes and where broadcasting is also considerably cheaper.
The liberal coalition party FDP wants to reform and downsize the broadcasting system, something coalition partners SPD and the Greens don’t like. The right-wing populist AfD wants to get rid of the broadcasters completely. The broadcasting system is also criticized within the CDU/CSU.
No trust The new ARD boss Tom Buhrow, who also heads the WDR (North Rhine-Westphalia), says the directors of the other broadcasters no longer have faith in the management of the RBB and do not want to talk to the current management. According to news agency DPA, they already stayed away from a meeting yesterday. This increases the pressure on the rest of the RBB top to resign.
“We are convinced that peace will not return with this management,” says Buhrow. According to him, there is also increasing unrest among the staff of the broadcaster. “There is a danger that the structures of the RBB will begin to crumble.” He thinks the RBB needs a fresh start.
R.I.P Bram, ik vond het een top kerel, Rotterdammer ten voeten uit. Tijdens de bonnetjesaffaire , een Hoax , kwam er een einde aan zijn huwelijk met Neelie Kroes:” ik was een stuk minder interessant” zei Peper zelf , wat een *** wijf is het nog steeds . PvdA ging slecht met hem om, jammer. Hij had beter hoogleraar kunnen blijven, want in de politiek is het niet altijd lachen. @annozijlstra
Bram Peper (82) overleden, ‘Er zal altijd een Rotterdam voor en na zijn tijd zijn’
Bram Peper, oud-burgemeester van Rotterdam en voormalig minister van Binnenlandse Zaken, is overleden. De 82-jarige PvdA-prominent overleed vanmiddag na een kort ziekbed in het bijzijn van zijn naasten, meldt zijn familie.
Peper werd in 1982 burgemeester van Rotterdam en bleef dat tot 1998, toen hij minister van Binnenlandse Zaken werd in het tweede kabinet-Kok. Begin 2000 trad hij af vanwege de ‘bonnetjesaffaire’, waarin hij ervan beschuldigd werd gemeentegeld te hebben gebruikt voor privézaken. Na een jarenlange juridische strijd werd Peper in het gelijk gesteld, maar zijn politieke carrière was voorbij.
PvdA-voorzitter Esther-Mirjam Sent reageert bedroefd op Pepers dood. “Tijdens mijn laatste bezoek aan hem stond zijn deur wagenwijd open. Hij sprak bezorgd over de afbraak van de overheid en pleitte juist voor een sterke staat. Opmerkzaam, slim en betrokken. We gaan je missen, Bram.” PvdA-partijleider Kuiken spreekt van een zeer verdrietig bericht.
Ook premier Rutte zegt zeer bedroefd te zijn door het overlijden van Peper. “Er zal altijd een Rotterdam voor en na zijn tijd zijn. Hij maakte van Rotterdam een van de modernste steden ter wereld. Hij was een kundig bestuurder en goede vriend”, meldt hij op Twitter.
Bram Peper overleden
Bram Peper (1940) groeide op als zoon van een metaalbewerker en werd na zijn studie hoogleraar sociologie, maar hij kwam al snel in de politiek terecht. Zijn eerste politieke baan was adviseur en tekstschrijver van prominente PvdA’ers. In 1982 volgde hij zijn vriend André van der Louw op als burgemeester van Rotterdam. Hij bleef het zestien jaar.
Peper wilde afrekenen met het idee dat Rotterdam alleen een haven is: zo kreeg de stad tijdens zijn burgemeesterschap een skyline. De Erasmusbrug is een van Pepers wapenfeiten. Het leverde hem populariteit op, maar toch zou de PvdA’er nooit een echte burgervader worden. Veel mensen noemden hem arrogant, bot en horkerig.
Een interview dat Vrij Nederland-journalist Ischa Meijer in 1984 met Peper en zijn toenmalige vrouw optekende, deed de burgemeester wat dat betreft geen goed. De twee hadden duidelijk te veel gedronken en lieten zich laatdunkend uit over de inwoners van Rotterdam.
Het ministerschap, aansluitend op zijn burgemeesterstijd, kende in 2000 een ongelukkig einde toen hij moest vertrekken vanwege declaraties uit zijn periode in Rotterdam. De affaire zou bovendien een lange nasleep hebben.
Gedoe over declaraties
In 1999 schakelde de Commissie tot Onderzoek van de Rekening (COR) van de gemeente Rotterdam accountantskantoor KPMG in voor een onderzoek naar de declaraties van oud-burgemeester Peper. Die was inmiddels ruim een jaar minister van Binnenlandse Zaken. De aanleiding voor het onderzoek waren geruchten dat Peper in zijn tijd als burgemeester gemeentegeld had gebruikt voor privédoeleinden.
Volgens KPMG klopte dat beeld grotendeels, maar Peper vocht de uitkomsten van het onderzoek aan. Het College van beroep voor het bedrijfsleven noemde het rapport “onvolledig” en “deels onjuist”. Daarna troffen Peper en KPMG een schikking. De affaire bleef echter aan hem kleven. Burgemeester Opstelten van Rotterdam erkende jaren later dat het rapport nooit naar buiten had mogen komen.
“Je leert ermee leven”, zei hij in 2014 over het feit dat hij geen politieke functies meer kreeg. “Je ziet dat mensen voor functies worden gevraagd waarvan ik soms denk: volgens mij heb ik daar wel wat meer zicht op. Maar ik ga niet met de pet rondlopen om mensen te vragen mij een baantje te bezorgen. Daar houd ik niet van.”
De declaratieaffaire veroorzaakte een breuk in zijn relatie met de PvdA, “zoals een verlies van iemand van wie je houdt”. Voor die tijd had hij gezag als strateeg en denker binnen de PvdA. Ook schreef hij mee aan de toespraken van bijvoorbeeld Joop den Uyl en Wim Kok. Maar tijdens de affaire voelde hij zich niet door de partij gesteund, zei hij later. Ook raakte hij gebrouilleerd met het stadsbestuur van Rotterdam, de stad die hij als burgemeester van internationale allure hielp voorzien.
Het is in Rotterdam gebruikelijk dat er van oud-burgemeesters een portret komt te hangen in de eregalerij. Maar door de bonnetjesaffaire lag Bram Peper in de clinch met de nieuwe burgemeester Opstelten en daarom ontbrak van hem lange tijd een schilderij. In 2008 legden de twee hun vete bij en kreeg Peper, tien jaar nadat hij was vertrokken als burgemeester, alsnog een schilderij.
“Een beetje rumoer heb ik wel gehad, als je van een understatement houdt”, zei Peper later. Dat gold overigens niet alleen voor zijn carrière. Ook zijn liefdesleven ging niet altijd over rozen; zelf omschreef hij het als “gematigd rampzalig”. Peper trouwde drie keer, waarvan de laatste keer met VVD-coryfee Neelie Kroes. Hun huwelijk strandde na acht jaar in 2003. Of de bonnetjesaffaire daar debet aan was, durfde Peper niet te zeggen. “Ik was natuurlijk wel een stuk minder interessant.”
Vorig jaar zei Peper zeer bedroefd te zijn over de positie van de PvdA. “De verzorgingsstaat is geweldig uitgekleed, ook onder de ogen van de PvdA”, zei hij bij 1 op 1 op NPO Radio 1. Hij zei dat de markt te veel was gaan overheersen. “Die markt lacht zich rot, want die speelt de overheid op een heel verschrikkelijke manier uit.”
Ukraine is waging a counter-offensive towards Kherson city, which Russia captured in the early days of the war.
“The destruction of the road bridge of the Nova Kakhovka dam was ensured, with the result that it was taken out of operation,” the Ukrainian army’s Operational Command South posted to Facebook.
In a daily intelligence update, UK defence officials said Ukrainian precision strikes were likely to have made the road crossing over the Dnieper River “unusable for heavy military vehicles”. Nova Kakhovka lies about 55km (34 miles) north-east of Kherson.
Russian forces had only succeeded in making superficial repairs to the main Antonivsky Bridge, the officials said, which Western military sources said was “completely unusable” after a Himars artillery rocket attack last month.
older Ukraine lady talks to Russian soldiers asking them to leave
US attorney general: I personally approved Mar-a-Lago search warrant
The US Department of Justice is asking a Florida court to unseal the warrant that let FBI agents search former President Donald Trump’s home.
If granted, the rare request would make the documents available to the public.
Attorney General Merrick Garland also revealed he personally approved the warrant, which was executed at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property on Monday.
The justice department has so far not revealed the reason for the search – but the unsealed warrant could.
Mr Trump has until Friday to object to the unsealing – or could release details of the warrant himself.
According to the Washington Post, citing anonymous sources, classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents were looking for in the Mar-a-Lago raid.
The sources did not tell the newspaper whether the information involved US weapons or some other nation’s.
Monday’s FBI search is believed to be connected to an investigation into whether the former president removed classified records and sensitive material from the White House.
Mr Trump argued on Thursday on his Truth Social platform that there had been no need for the raid since he said his lawyers had been “co-operating fully” and “the government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it”.
He also alleged that the federal agents had rummaged through former First Lady Melania Trump’s closet and personal items.
Until now, the justice department has followed its normal practice of remaining silent during an active investigation – and documents such as search warrants traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation.
But Mr Garland said he was asking a court to make documents connected to the search warrant publicly available, in the public interest.
He said his decision was also influenced by Mr Trump publicly announcing the search had taken place.
“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favour of unsealing,” Justice Department lawyers said in a motion filed in federal court on Thursday.
Monday’s search was the first time in American history that a former president’s home has been searched as part of a criminal investigation. It was condemned by Mr Trump and other Republicans as politically motivated.
But speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Garland defended FBI agents and justice department officials from the accusations.
“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Mr Garland told reporters.
He also said the decision to search was not taken lightly. “Where possible it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means,” he said.
Garland fights back
There was no detail in Merrick Garland’s press conference about what the search warrant contained, what was found, or whether it was – as media reports have suggested – an inside Trump source that provided the FBI with the key information.
But not nothing either. The attorney general revealed he had personally authorised the search warrant. And he said that the DOJ is seeking a court order to have the warrant and the list of items taken from Mar-a-Lago made public.
Prosecutors don’t tend to reveal their cards in public during an ongoing investigation – something Mr Garland made clear was for good reason.
But the accusations from the Republican movement – and from Donald Trump himself, of course – that the department is being weaponised by the Democrats, have been damaging.
And without any formal statement, it’s a narrative that’s been left largely unchallenged.
This was Mr Garland insisting that far from being an assault on the law, the search was the law taking its proper course.
Trump records probe timeline
January 2022 – The National Archives retrieves 15 boxes of White House records from Mar-a-Lago, and says some of the documents it received at the end of Trump administration had been torn up
February – Reports emerge that classified files were found in the Mar-a-Lago cache and National Archives has asked DoJ to investigate
April – US media report the FBI has begun a preliminary investigation into how apparently classified material ended up at Mar-a-Lago
3 June – A senior DoJ official and three FBI agents travel to Mar-a-Lago to review items in a basement and Mr Trump drops by to say hello, according to reports
8 June – Federal investigators reportedly write to a Trump aide to request a stronger lock be used to secure the room storing the items in question. Trump says that request was quickly fulfilled
22 June – The Trump Organization reportedly receives a DoJ summons for CCTV footage from Mar-a-Lago
8 August – Dozens of agents execute a search warrant of Mar-a-Lago, removing about 10 boxes from the property
In the past, political investigations that have threatened Trump have only increased his superpower appeal to supporters. But federal agents on Monday acted on a judge-approved warrant, which suggests they had probable grounds to believe a crime had been committed. They focused on Trump’s offices and personal quarters in his Mar-a-Lago winter residence while the former President was away in New York.
The news was one of the most staggering twists yet in the story of Trump, who was impeached twice, incited a mob riot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss and constantly tore at the guardrails of his office and democracy during his single term, and afterward, like no other President.
It threatened to inject new toxins into the political life of a nation that is hopelessly divided — with millions of Trump supporters already believing his lies that the 2020 election was stolen — and that on many issues no longer has a common understanding of truth itself.
It also comes with the ex-President itching to launch a 2024 campaign rooted in his false claims of electoral fraud, which his authoritarian rhetoric suggests would present a profound challenge to democracy. That looming campaign will likely feed on the political rocket fuel of a perception among Trump supporters — which he himself created in his statement announcing the search Monday — that he is being unfairly persecuted.
Trump seizes on the search to fire up supporters
Trump was quick to put a political spin on the operation, claiming that his “beautiful home” was “under siege, raided and occupied” while complaining that he was a victim of the “weaponization of the Justice system” by Democrats who wanted to stop him from becoming president after the 2024 election. His statement used the same explosive language and sense of grievance that motivated some of his supporters to violence in Washington on January 6, 2021.
“Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe!” Trump said. He did not mention that the search was conducted on the basis of a legally authorized warrant.
In some ways, his statement, in itself, read like the opening salvo of a new presidential campaign built around a narrative of persecution by deep-state forces, familiar from the approach of other strongmen leaders around the world.
The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment on the search. President Joe Biden was unaware of the search of Mar-a-Lago until after it was reported on the news, according to a senior administration official.
Without knowing whether Trump had broken any laws, many Republicans picked up Trump’s lead, reacting furiously, demanding the Justice Department explain itself and claiming the ex-President was victim of a political vendetta. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose hopes of becoming speaker rely on Trump’s patronage, immediately vowed to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans win the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who’s facing voters this fall, tweeted: “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships But never before in America.” Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, wrote on Twitter: “We need answers NOW. The FBI must explain what they were doing today & why.”
The instant reactions supportive of the former President, more testimony to his enduring power within the Republican Party, were also an early sign how this investigation will face extreme political pressure. Those responses may also show that the ex-President’s potential 2024 campaign could benefit from the rallying effect of a government investigation that he can portray as politicized and unfair — and that potential GOP rivals may have little option but to rally around too.
But the magnitude of Monday’s events should not be underestimated, even if the question of whether the former President was in real danger of being charged with a crime — in what would be a stunning, historic step — was not immediately clear on Monday night. The exact parameters of the search warrant were also not available. Presidents have the capacity to declassify sensitive information, and it was not clear whether Trump might have taken such steps with the material involved. Former Presidents do not have such powers, however. CNN reported that boxes of items were taken by the FBI after the search on Monday. And Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, said the bureau seized “paper” after what she said was “an unannounced raid.”
A most sensitive decision
Taking such action against any major political figure would be highly delicate. Given Trump’s status as a former commander-in-chief, it is especially grave. And the ex-President’s history of inciting anger and violence makes this about as sensitive a move as is possible to make.
It is clear that the top levels of the Justice Department and the FBI would have signed off on the decision to search Trump’s resort — in full knowledge of the explosive political reverberations that were certain to be unleashed.
“I cannot overemphasize … how big of a deal this would have been within the Department of Justice and the FBI,” former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said on CNN on Monday evening.
“This is something that would have been planned out and reevaluated and legally examined from every possible angle by the entirety of the leadership structure of both organizations,” McCabe, a CNN law enforcement analyst, said.
Given the political implications, there is no room for error for the Justice Department or for the FBI, whose director, Christopher Wray, is a Trump appointee. There was never a doubt that Trump would react to the search by lighting a political touch paper. His false claims that the 2020 election was stolen have already helped incite an insurrection.
The stakes for the investigators and for the country’s political future are, therefore, enormous. Those implications would only become more critical if it later emerges that the FBI search was not conducted by the book or was not critical to the nation’s national security. The political sensitivities are so acute that it is easy to see how a failure to prosecute Trump after taking such a public step would raise questions over whether the search was justified. That said, in order to secure a warrant to search Trump’s property, FBI officials would have had to prove to a judge that there was probable cause to believe that a federal crime had been committed and that evidence of such could be obtained at the resort.
Trump faces multiple investigations
The Justice Department has two known active investigations connected to Trump, one on the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the events surrounding January 6, 2021, and the other involving the handling of classified documents.
This search appears to be linked to the latter investigation. The National Archives, which is responsible for collecting and sorting presidential records, has previously said at least 15 boxes of White House documents were recovered from Mar-a-Lago, including some that were classified. Members of Trump’s former White House team have frequently said that he was careless or contemptuous of the legal requirement to archive all presidential documents and cavalier with classified information. Earlier Monday, newly revealed photos, which New York Times reporter and CNN contributor Maggie Haberman is publishing in her forthcoming book, showed documents apparently in Trump’s handwriting that he allegedly tried to flush down the toilet.
News of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago comes after CNN first reported last week that the former President’s lawyers were in discussions with the Justice Department in connection with its investigation into the events in Washington surrounding the Capitol insurrection. Trump may also have some legal jeopardy in a separate probe in Georgia into attempts by the former President and his aides to overturn Biden’s election win in a critical swing state.
Monday’s search at Mar-a-Lago also comes against the backdrop of the House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol insurrection, which has uncovered damning new evidence about Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election and his failure to try to stop the violent assault on the Capitol once it was underway. The committee has not yet said whether it will recommend criminal action against the ex-President by the Justice Department.
While Democrats might take comfort in a sense that legal problems are piling up for the former President and serious criminal investigations are getting ever closer to a GOP presidential favorite, they might do well to remember the history of attempts to call him to account.
The then-President managed to wriggle clear of the Robert Mueller investigation, even though the special prosecutor noted multiple strange links between his 2016 campaign and Russia and compiled a list of occasions when many outside observers considered he tried to obstruct justice.
Trump’s two impeachments in the US House — for trying to coerce Ukraine into investigating Biden ahead of the 2020 election and over the insurrection — did not result in convictions in Senate trials or any efforts to bar him from future federal office. His extraordinary support among grassroots Republicans makes it all but impossible for politicians who want a political future to oppose him. And it doesn’t seem like anything but a clear criminal case against the ex-President could turn his supporters against him — and even that might not change their opinion of him if he responds with the right rhetoric.
That is even more true after FBI agents crossed a Rubicon on Monday by entering Trump’s pride-and-joy residence in a move that will have massive political implications, however the investigation eventually turns out.
Kaitlan Collins, Katelyn Polantz, Zachary Cohen, Evan Perez, Sara Murray, Kevin Liptak, Dan Berman, Whitney Wild and Gabby Orr contributed to this report.
the package is financed by a tax increase of 15 percent for companies and the very rich , can not be against it as long it is done in this way @annozijlstra
Democrats in the US Senate have agreed on a multi-billion dollar investment package. The package includes large-scale investments in areas such as clean energy, childcare, housing and jobs.
It is a slimmed-down version of President Joe Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better plan, which has long been without a majority within the party. Now that the Democrats have reached an agreement, that removes an important barrier to approval in the Senate.
Since the party only controls half of the Senate, Democrats must vote unanimously for plans Republicans won’t support. CNN reports that all Republicans intend to vote against.
The Inflation Reduction Act won’t just be the largest investment in clean energy and American energy security in history. It will be the largest investment in American manufacturing as well.
The investment package was one of Biden’s election promises, which linked the success of his presidency. But the original version — worth $3,500 billion — didn’t pass Congress. Some Congressmen thought the plans went too far, others not far enough.
In the end, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema – a pivotal vote – agreed to a modified version today. She was initially opposed because the package is financed by a tax increase of 15 percent for companies and the very rich.
Senator Joe Manchin, who previously blocked the plan, agreed last week. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said a procedural vote could be taken on the investment package on Saturday.
FILE – Workers walk around a construction site for a planned shaft at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), in Futaba town, northeastern Japan, on March 3, 2022. The construction of facilities needed for a planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant began Thursday, Aug. 4, despite opposition from the local fishing community. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)National
Construction begins at Fukushima plant for water release
The construction of facilities needed for a planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant began Thursday despite opposition from the local fishing community.
Plant workers started construction of a pipeline to transport the wastewater from hillside storage tanks to a coastal facility before its planned release next year, according to the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings.
The digging of an undersea tunnel was also to begin later Thursday.
Construction at the Fukushima Daiichi plant follows the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s formal approval last month of a detailed wastewater discharge plan that TEPCO submitted in December.
The government announced last year a decision to release the wastewater as a necessary step for the plant’s ongoing decommissioning.
A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems, causing triple meltdowns and the release of large amounts of radiation. Water that was used to cool the three damaged and highly radioactive reactor cores has since leaked into basements of the reactor buildings but was collected and stored in tanks.
TEPCO and government officials say the water will be further treated to levels far below releasable standards and that the environmental and health impacts will be negligible. Of more than 60 isotopes selected for treatment, all but one — tritium — will be reduced to meet safety standards, they say.
Local fishing communities and neighboring countries have raised concerns about potential health hazards from the radioactive wastewater and the reputation damage to local produce, and oppose the release.
Scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to not only tritium but also other isotopes on the environment and humans are still unknown and that a release is premature.
The contaminated water is being stored in about 1,000 tanks that require much space in the plant complex. Officials say they must be removed so that facilities can be built for its decommissioning. The tanks are expected to reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons in autumn of 2023.
TEPCO said it plans to transport treated and releasable water through a pipeline from the tanks to a coastal pool, where it will be diluted with seawater and then sent through an undersea tunnel with an outlet about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away to minimize the impact on local fishing and the environment.
TEPCO and the government have obtained approval from the heads of the plant’s host towns, Futaba and Okuma, for the construction, but local residents and the fishing community remain opposed and could still delay the process. The current plan calls for a gradual release of treated water to begin next spring in a process that will take decades.
On Wednesday, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori and the two mayors visited Tokyo and asked Economy and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda to ensure safety and prevent further damage to the reputation of Fukushima fishing products.
Akira Ono, TEPCO chief decommissioning officer at the plant, promised the highest efforts to ensure safety and understanding.
“We are aware of various views on reputational impact and safety concerns (of the release) and we’ll keep explaining throughly to stakeholders,” he said.
TEPCO said Wednesday that weather and sea conditions could delay a completion of the facility until summer 2023.
Japan has sought help from the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure the water release meets international safety standards and reassure local fishing and other communities and neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, that have opposed the plan.
IAEA experts who visited the plant earlier this year said Japan was taking appropriate steps for the planned discharge.
If Pelosi doesn’t go, the Democrats will lose face, big words but no actions. This would never have happened under Trump. @annozijlstra
The US and Chinese leaders have held virtual meetings before
The US and Chinese leaders have warned each other over Taiwan during a phone call that lasted more than two hours.
President Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the US strongly opposed any unilateral moves to change the island’s status.
But he added that US policy on Taiwan had not changed.
Beijing said Mr Xi had told Mr Biden to abide by the one-China principle, warning him that “whoever plays with fire will get burnt”.
Tensions over the issue have increased ahead of a rumoured plan for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan.
The state department says Ms Pelosi has not announced any travel, but China has warned of “serious consequences” if she were to proceed with such a visit.
Last week, Mr Biden told reporters “the military thinks it’s not a good idea”, but his White House has called Chinese rhetoric against any such trip “clearly unhelpful and not necessary”.
Ms Pelosi, who is next in line to the presidency after the vice-president, would be the highest-ranking US politician to travel to Taiwan since 1997.
During Thursday’s phone call, Mr Biden and Mr Xi also discussed arranging a possible face-to-face meeting, a senior Biden administration official said, describing the bilateral as “direct” and “honest”.
When Mr Biden was US vice-president he hosted Mr Xi during a visit to the US by the Chinese leader in 2015, but they have not met in person during Mr Biden’s presidency.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that must become a part of the country – and has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve this.
Under the one-China policy, Washington does not recognise Taipei diplomatically. But the US does sell weapons to the democratically self-governed island so that it can defend itself.
The White House said that apart from Taiwan, the two leaders discussed a range of other issues, including climate change and health security.
The Biden administration has been considering whether to lift Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports, arguing that such a move could ease soaring US inflation. But the US president did not discuss that issue with Mr Xi on Thursday, the senior US official said.
Analysts believe that both Joe Biden and Xi Jinping want to avoid an open conflict, the BBC’s State Department Correspondent Barbara Plett Usher reports. But neither has made any attempt to alter their competing narratives, which was illustrated again by their contrasting statements about Thursday’s call.
In a brief summary, the White House said it was part of efforts to “responsibly manage differences” and work together where “interests align”.
In a much longer one, Beijing said many of their interests did align. But it blamed the US for the deteriorating relationship, criticising the Biden administration’s view of China as a “primary rival” and Washington’s “most serious long-term challenge.”
Difficult to see anything positive
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, Taipei
Much is being made of the fact that President Xi told President Biden that “those who play with fire will get burned”.
It is a strong warning to America – but is not unprecedented. China’s foreign ministry used exactly the same language when a US congressional delegation visited Taiwan earlier this year. The same phrase was used by China’s defence ministry in a warning to Taiwan last year.
The fact that it has now been used by President Xi does give it more weight.
But it doesn’t mean China is preparing military action against Taiwan, if – for example – Nancy Pelosi arrives here next week. It is instead telling America that if it continues down the current path, it will eventually lead to conflict.
It’s difficult to see anything positive from this phone call in terms of the wider US-China relationship.