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Mark Jaccard, Ex-Harper Appointee, Calls Canada A ‘Rogue State’ On Environment

Mark Jaccard, Ex-Harper Appointee, Calls Canada A ‘Rogue State’ On Environment.

WASHINGTON – A former Harper government appointee used a keynote speech at a Washington event Monday to trample Canadian authorities’ message on oil pipelines while describing the country as an environmental “rogue state.”

Mark Jaccard became one of the first people nominated by the Conservatives to the environmental file when he was named in 2006 to the federal government’s now-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Seven years later, the environmental economist delivered a lengthy rebuke of Canada’s climate-change performance at Monday’s event while the Obama administration grapples with whether to approve the Alberta-U.S. pipeline.

Jaccard, an adviser to different governments and a professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, said he doesn’t want the oilsands shut down — he just doesn’t want them to grow.

“On climate, Canada is a rogue state,” Jaccard said.

“It’s accelerating the global tragedy … The U.S. government should reject Keystone XL and explain to the Canadian government that it hopes to join with Canada (on a global climate plan).”

That message stands in sharp contrast to that of the Canadian government, which has spent millions to publicize the benefits to both countries of developing the oilsands.

Jaccard was the headline speaker at a summit tied to a well-connected Democratic donor, the so-called “green billionaire” Tom Steyer, and attended by a number of U.S. media outlets.

Jaccard has become an increasingly bitter critic of the federal government. He was even arrested last year after joining a blockade on a train carrying U.S. coal from B.C.

His disenchantment with the Conservative government reached a boil after the 2011 election, Jaccard said in an interview after his speech.

He said he tried to work with the government — not only at the Round Table, but as an adviser to then-environment minister Rona Ambrose. But after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, the rhetoric hardened, the Round Table vanished and it became clear they had no interest in tackling climate change, Jaccard said.

“In 2011, the gloves came off.”

In his career as an author, academic, and adviser to different governments since the Mulroney era, Jaccard also criticized the Liberals for a climate approach he still derides as a “labels-on-fridges-and-Rick-Mercer-ads” strategy to encourage behaviour changes.

More drastic policies are in order, he told his audience: greenhouse-gas emissions need to drop 50 to 75 per cent by 2050 to limit temperature growth to a 2C target — an impossible task with a growing oilpatch, Jaccard said.

The event, and the choice of location, were designed to arm-twist the Obama administration as it faces its Keystone dilemma.

Last June in Georgetown, President Barack Obama delivered a speech in June saying Keystone would not be approved if it significantly increases greenhouse-gas emissions.

The title of Monday’s event was, “Can Keystone Pass The President’s Climate Test?” One speaker after another suggested that, no, Keystone cannot be approved without a significant increase in carbon pollution as a result.

In the hallways, the many Obama supporters speculated about when the long-awaited decision might finally come down. And some suggested they’ve become increasingly hopeful the project will be blocked, given Obama’s choice of words.

Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm even allowed herself to daydream about what an eventual presidential rejection might sound like. A decision is expected in early 2014.

“I think he could deliver a speech that could give him a legacy he would be proud of,” Granholm, the event moderator, said from the stage.

Earlier, Steyer described Keystone as a logical investment for the oil industry that would drive up the value of Canadian oil and ramp up development — which is precisely why he believes it shouldn’t be allowed to proceed.

“(Keystone) is a literal and a figurative line in the sands,” Steyer said. “Keystone is the economic key to unlocking the tarsands and, as such, it fails the president’s test.”

The other side of the Keystone debate was not represented at the event. TransCanada boss Russ Girling (TSX:TRP) and Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., both declined to attend.

The federal government later issued a lengthy statement condemning the characterization as a “rogue state.”

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said that, whether or not Keystone goes ahead, the Canadian oil industry will represent a minuscule fraction of global emissions. His statement also noted that 62 per cent of Canada’s electricity is generated from renewable sources — first in the G8, compared with 12 per cent in the U.S.

Canada has taken action to shut down coal plants, the largest source of greenhouse gases in the world, he added. While the Obama administration has taken steps to impose emissions restrictions and is believed to be planning more, coal remains an important source of energy in the U.S.

TransCanada, for its part, derided Monday’s event as a sham.

It said the project had been reviewed for five years by nearly two dozen state and federal agencies and that the “professional opponents” of Keystone are obscuring the central question: “about where America wants to get a source of oil from that it clearly needs.”

 

War on Democracy: Spain and Japan Move to Criminalize Protests | A Lightning War for Liberty

War on Democracy: Spain and Japan Move to Criminalize Protests | A Lightning War for Liberty.

As might be expected as political and economic policy failures pile up and citizens become increasingly mad, the status quo is becoming increasingly authoritarian (recall blogger “Mish” was just fined 8,000 euros for a blog post).

In the latest disturbing news from a desperate power structure, the conservative government in Spain has passed an Orwellian bill titled the Citizens’ Security Law, which allows for fines of up to 600,000 euros ($816,000) for “unauthorized” street protests, and a 30,000 fine for merely having signs with “offensive” slogans against Spain or for wearing a mask.

This law is a perfect example of the increasing neo-feudalism being implemented across the globe by a corrupt, decadent and depraved status quo. Such laws must be immediately resisted or they will only get worse, much worse. It is quite obvious what the power structure in Spain in trying to do. It is putting into place an egregious punishment framework that could bankrupt a person by merely protesting. Such a threat is intended to make people not even consider their rights as human beings to express grievances to a crony government.

Instead of eye for an eye, it is like 25 eyes and a limb for an eye. If this does’t tell the Spanish people all they need to know about their government I don’t know what will. Below are some excerpts from a Reuters story covering the law:

(Reuters) – Spain’s conservative government agreed on Friday to toughen penalties for unauthorized street protests up to a possible 600,000 euro ($816,000) fine, a crackdown that belies the peaceful record of the anti-austerity protests of recent years.

Street protests and strikes have became increasingly frequent in recent years following huge cuts to education and health spending aimed at shrinking Spain’s public deficit to adhere to European Union demands.

But in contrast to Greece and elsewhere, where many similar protests have turned violent, Spain’s have remained largely peaceful, despite unemployment of 26 percent, rising poverty, and changes in labor laws that make firing easier.

Among other measures, protesters who cover their faces at demonstrations could be fined up to 30,000 euros while “offensive” slogans against Spain or its regions could reap a similar sanction.

The government also plans a new law restricting labor protests.

“This law … attempts to criminalize the act of protest,” said United Left lawmaker Gaspar Llamazares, questioning whether it complied with Spain’s constitution. “The government is trying to turn its political opponents into delinquents.”

 ”Compare events in Spain with those of other countries around us,” wrote conservative columnist Jose Antonio Zarzalejos on the website El Confidencial. “This security law … will add the stigma of authoritarianism to the political failure of the PP.”

It’s not just Spain though. This sort of panic attack from desperate members of the status quo is popping up elsewhere. Japan is another example, and over the weekend I read that Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba compared demonstrations to “acts of terrorism.” From the Japan Times:

Citizens demonstrating against the controversial state secrets bill are committing “an act terrorism,” according to Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba.

In a blog post Friday, he wrote: “If you want to realize your ideas and principles, you should follow the democratic principles, by gaining as much support as you can. I think the strategy of merely shouting one’s opinions at the top of one’s lungs is not so fundamentally different from an act of terrorism.”

My take is that people worldwide will not stand for such nonsense. Increasingly citizens have very little to lose and if they all say no together, there is not much the state can do. Just look at how Ukrainians responded to a ban on protests. Hundreds of thousands of them filled the streets in defiance. Below is a video of just one of the many incredible street scenes from over the weekend. In this case we see demonstrators using a tractor to break police barricades.

Interesting times indeed.

In Liberty,
Mike

 

The IEA raises a little warning flag on future oil production – World Energy Outlook 2013 | ASPO International | The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas

The IEA raises a little warning flag on future oil production – World Energy Outlook 2013 | ASPO International | The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.

By Kjell Aleklett
Uppsala University
Department of Geosciences and
Visiting professor at University of Texas at Austin
Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

On 12 November the International Energy Agency (IEA) released this year’s edition of their World Energy Outlook report, WEO-2013. I have not studied all the detail in the report but I listened to the presentation that the IEA’s chief economist, Dr Fatih Birol, gave in London. During the past 10 years I have studied and analysed the World Energy Outlook reports. One of the first detailed analyses that I did was in 2004 regarding WEO-2004. At that time the IEA thought that oil demand in 2030 would be 121 million barrels per day (Mb/d). The conclusion I drew from my analysis was that their prognosis was unrealistic. (http://www.peakoil.net/uhdsg/weo2004/AnalysisWorldEnergyOutlook2004.pdf)
Last year the IEA focused on shale oil in the USA as their main story and the news spread around the world that the USA would overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer. The news generated many new declarations in the world’s press of “Don’t worry, be happy”. Every year the IEA also focuses on one particular nation or phenomenon that is presented as a large source of oil in future so that we do not need to worry about Peak Oil. Last year it was Iraq that would help to solve all our problems and this year it is Brazil. With this as a background, it is time to look a little more closely at the presentation of the newly released WEO-2013 report.

First, Maria van der Howeven, the Executive Director of the IEA, made some introductory remarks. She noted that the trend we currently have of fossil fuel use will lead to an inability to limit climate change to +2 C of temperature increase. At the same time she also noted that one fifth of the world’s population did not have sufficient access to energy. However, her most remarkable statement was:
“For billions more, any true sense of energy security is undermined by high energy prices. It is now more than five years after the onset of the global financial crisis, yet the recovery remains fragile; for many consumers and businesses, energy prices remain stubbornly high. Alarmingly, oil prices have averaged over $110/barrel since 2011. Such a sustained period of high oil prices is without parallel.

Security, sustainability, and economic prosperity – this is the classic “energy trilemma” that we face.”
When I read those comments I thought of what Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in Davos last January regarding the megatrends she saw ahead,

”Increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change, with the potential for major social and economic disruption”.

We have never previously had global economic growth without increased use of energy. In reality, that means energy from fossil fuels for which oil is the leading component. Ten years ago the coupling between increased energy use and economic growth was what led the IEA to predict an energy demand of 121 Mb/d in 2030. Now they have reduced their expectations to around 100 Mb/d and the analyses we have made of the future show that this level of supply/demand cannot be realized. As IEA this year makes a detailed analysis of oil I have to come back and discuss this. The warning flag that the IEA has now raised should be taken with utmost seriousness.
Dr Fatih Birol’s slides and oral presentation can be found at the IEA’s website (www.iea.org). Considering the limits he probably has on making statements on the future I would regard this year’s presentation as much more nuanced than last year’s. Last year I was actually present when he repeated his presentation in Stockholm. Below are some comments on his presentation.
I share his view that high oil prices affect the economies of oil-importing nations. The fact that the USA has increased production of shale oil means that they do not have the same severity of economic problems with oil as the EU. To import oil at higher prices one must be able to pay for it with increased exports of goods and services. Sweden has succeeded quite with this well while other nations in the EU have not been as successful. The fact that the IEA now asserts that the high oil prices will persist means that it is time for oil importing nations to make fundamental changes in their energy policies.
When the IEA studies which regions have a need to increase oil use it is mainly in the Middle East and India that this is seen. That the increase in use in China is slowing down is expected since they will become increasingly efficient with their energy use in future. The rate of increase of renewable energy use is not expected to grow more than for fossil fuels which means that the proportion that renewables make up of total energy use will continue to be the same as 20 years ago. This rate of increase of fossil fuels points to global warming of +3.6 °C.
Regarding transport fuels the demand for diesel increases three times more than the demand for gasoline. This confirms what I wrote approximately 6 months ago. Another significant change is that the proportion of NGL, natural gas liquids, that is included in oil production statistics increases. In the USA, NGL has already replaced large volumes of oil feedstocks in the chemical industry and this will be an increasing trend.
Then it was time to look at shale oil in the USA. Dr Birol asserted that there would be no second chapter of the shale oil success story that is now playing out in the USA. If one includes NGL then it may be that the USA becomes the world’s largest oil producer around 2020 but its production will then decline. Last year the IEA played down the future importance of the Middle East in oil production but this year they indicated that an increase in oil production from the Middle East is necessary. Those projects that are now seen ahead as necessary have long lead times and the investments must be made now. The increase in oil production that the IEA regarded as necessary from Middle Eastern sources was 6 Mb/d.

Regarding production of conventional oil the IEA maintained its position that the decline in production from existing producing fields is 6% per year, i.e. that same decline rate that we published in 2009. The current rate of production of around 67 Mb/d will decline to 17 Mb/d by 2035 (i.e. in 22 years). Earlier, we don’t see that a realistic compensation for this decline in oil production could be envisaged. A later, more detailed study will show how things progressed this year. What the IEA currently presents as very important is Brazil. Thus, it is time to show again Olle Qvennerstedt’s illustration that describes the World Energy Outlook.

IEA_EIA_OPEC_Qvennerstedt
IEA, EIA and OPEC say “Don’t worry be happy”. Brazil is the happy soccer player in the back corner.

Regarding production of natural gas in the USA expectations are still quite high and my judgment is that these expectations are far too great. To make a better analysis I will need to read the complete WEO-2013 report and that will take some time. The conclusion that the IEA makes is that the price of natural gas in the USA will continue to be much lower than in other parts of the world and this will be significant for global industrial production. This must be interpreted as meaning that industrial production will increase in the USA.

A detailed reading of WEO-2013 will probably give a more nuanced picture of the current and future situation than that I have gained from Dr Birol’s presentation in London. I see future developments of oil production to be weaker than expected and I can definitely say that the polished future predictions made by the IEA ten years ago are well and truly dead and buried. My 2004 analysis has proven justified.

(Comments at Aleklett’s Energy Mix)
Bloomberg has made released an journalist analysis of WEO-2013 that can be read here (Bloomberg)

 

Between a Rock and a Squishy Place | KUNSTLER

Between a Rock and a Squishy Place | KUNSTLER.

The rock is reality. The squishy place is the illusion that pervasive racketeering is an okay replacement for an economy. The essence of racketeering is the use of dishonest schemes to get money, often (but not always) employing coercion to make it work. Some rackets can function on the sheer cluelessness of the victim(s).

Is it fair to suppose that money management is at the heart of the sort of advanced, complex economy that developed early in the 20th century? I think so. Money is the lifeblood of trade and of investment in productive activities that support trade. Of course, in order for money to have meaning, to function in such transactional relations, the people must be convinced that it legitimately represents its face value. Otherwise, money must be labeled “money” — that is, a medium of exchange suspected of false value. An economy that uses “money” — especially an economy of rackets — is an economy in a lot of trouble, and that is where ours is in December 2013.

The trouble reached escape velocity in the fall of 2008 when a particular brand of racket among the Wall Street kit-bag of rackets got badly out-of-hand, namely the business of selling securitized bundled mortgages and their “innovative” derivative “products” to dupes unaware that they were booby-trapped for failure which would, perversely, hugely reward the seller of such trash paper. These were, in the immortal words of Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich), the “really shitty deal[s]” propagated by the likes of the Goldman Sachs crypto-bank — so-called collateralized debt obligations — pawned off on credulous pension fund managers and other “marks” around the world greedy for “yield.”

It turned out that all the large banks trafficking in such booby-trapped contracts ended up choking on them when “the music stopped” — that is, when the derivative “swaps” payoffs at the heart of this particular racket began to fail, sending up a general alarm that all such “products” were primed to blow up the entire “banking” system. By the way, the quotation marks I so liberally resort to are necessary to denote that in such a matrix of rackets things are not what they appear to be but only what they pretend to be.

The failure of Bear Stearns followed by the implosion of Lehman Brothers and the near-death experience of AIG alerted “civilians” outside Wall Street that the banks were linked in a web of fraud and insolvency and had to be “rescued” in order for the rest of America to keep its “way of life” going. The rescue remedy proved to be several new layers of fraud that have now matured into institutionalized rackets. The best known are the Siamese twins of “Quantitative Easing” and zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). The lesser-known racket was the 2009 rule change by the Financial Accounting Standards Board that allowed banks to make up whatever numbers they felt like in reporting the value of their holdings (“assets”).

Hence, these dishonest, regularized operations can be labeled a hostage racket with coercion at their core. The coercion comes in the form of the threat that any let-up in the stream of QE “money” enjoyed by the banks in the form of carry-trade “loans” and “primary dealer” premium cream-offs will send the economy back to the stone age. Overlooked in this equation is the ongoing destruction of ordinary citizens (a.k.a. the “middle class”) who have already lost their grip on the emblematic “way of life” Wall Street is working so tirelessly to defend. Politicians are, of course, deeply implicated and indeed directly involved in all these rackets, since these hired handmaidens make and execute the laws protecting Wall Street’s looting operations.

The catch to all this, lately, lies in the cognitive dissonance between the symptomatic euphoria of record stock market indexes versus the conviction of a few hardcore skeptical observers that the rackets are now so reckless and impudent as to be beyond any hope of control and on a trajectory to bring about hardships orders of magnitude above anything imagined in 2008.

So-called “health care” is also a hostage racket, since sick people are hardly in a position to bargain for anything, but it is only a sub-system of the larger matrix of rackets that have made this such an unusually dishonest society. My guess is that ObamaCare is sure to make it worse, and pretty quickly too, since the rules for ObamaCare were written by the hireling lobbyists of the industries that benefit from the racketeering.

The big mystery in all this remains: where are the people with some institutional power who might stand up and denounce all this perfidy? What has made us such a culture of cowards and cravens that the best we can do is produce a couple of comedians who speak truth to power in the form of jokes. Most of this is not that funny.

By the way, one reason for the vulgar orgy of “consumerism” that, in recent years, has turned the Thanksgiving holiday into a sort of grotesque sporting event, is to mount a crude demonstration that our “money” is a viable medium of exchange. The dumbest people in the land are induced to swarm through the merchandise warehouse stores and fight to exchange their “money” for hard goods offered at false “bargains.” I wonder how much of it is a dress rehearsal for what happens in a hyper-inflation?

 

Guide Claims Warsaw COP19 Climate Talks Were Captured By Corporate Fossil Fuel Interests | DeSmogBlog

Guide Claims Warsaw COP19 Climate Talks Were Captured By Corporate Fossil Fuel Interests | DeSmogBlog.

THERE were two logos on the grey felt conference bags offered to delegates at the recent COP19 United Nations climate change negotiations in Warsaw.

One was the official COP19 logo, embroidered onto the flap of the document bag inside which negotiators, observers and UN staff could carry around the draft texts which were supposed to pave the way for a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

Nestled unashamedly and proudly alongside this COP19 logo was the official mark of the Lotos Group – an oil and gas company majority owned by the Polish Government.

The juxtaposition was emblematic of the talks in Warsaw, which some observers described as the most “corporate captured yet” of any of the United Nations climate talks since the first “Conference of Parties” was convened in Berlin, Germany, in 1995.

Alongside LOTOS Group, other major corporate sponsors of COP19 included fossil fuel energy giant Alstom Power – delegates were greeted with that company’s logo whenever they took a drink from the free water coolers scattered around Poland’s National Stadium, the venue for the talks.

The main negotiating rooms and plenary rooms were elaborately constructed canvas and steel marquees on the stadium’s playing surface and were provided with cash from another sponsor, ArcelorMittal, which lays claim to be the “world’s leading steel and mining company.”

Seats and coffee tables came from Dubai’s government-owned airline Emirates. Pen sets and organic notebooks? Thanks go to Polska Grupa Energetyczna — operator of more than 40 coal power stations, including the coal-fired Bełchatów Power Plant — one of the biggest fossil power plants on the planet.

As if rubbing the delegates’ faces in fossil fuels wasn’t enough, the Polish government, as official hosts and organisers of the COP19 talks, also hosted a two-day international “clean coal” conference in the same city at the start of the second week of the climate talks. It was this move which many of the hundreds of environment and civil society group members voiced as a catalyst for their decision to stage an unprecedented walkout from the talks with a day of negotiations left to go.

Iain Keith, a senior campaigner at Avaaz.org, told DeSmogBlog at the talksthat “inviting coal to be the voice of business” at the Warsaw talks had been a “a terrible choice” and had  “created a huge amount of bad will.”

In a guide released during the talks, research groups Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute rebranded the event the “Conference of Polluters” and documented the full extent of the corporate involvement at COP19. The report said:

Big business, industry and finance, keen to set the agenda and shape the rules in the interests of their profits – and at the expense of climate justice – have infiltrated COP19.

Corporate capture on the scale that is exhibited at COP19 runs the risk of rendering the UN climate negotiations not merely ineffective, but counterproductive to tackling climate change.

It is time for the UN and the international community to open its eyes to corporate spin and powerful vested interests, and work towards real alternatives that embody the principles of social, environmental and climate justice.

The report – COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying: Climate crooks and the Polish government’s partners in crime – also details some of the lobbying and industry organisations that are currently registered to attend the series of COP talks, including COP19.

These include the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, the World Coal Association, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association and the International Chamber of Commerce.

The report is also critical of groups such as the Carbon Markets and Investors Association and the International Emissions Trading Association, which in advocating for expansion of carbon markets and emissions trading the report says are part of a “false solution.”

In an interview with Democracy Now!, Pascoe Sabido, of CEO and a co-author of the report, said: “These organisations are here on the inside and they have their logos plastered all over this conference centre. They are able to wrap themselves in the colours of the UN and claim – wrongly of course – to be climate champions, and that’s incredibly damaging.”

 

Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance | World news | The Guardian

Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance | World news | The Guardian.

Ben Emmerson

Ben Emmerson: ‘The Guardian has revealed an extensive programme of surveillance which potentially affects every one of us.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The UN’s senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden’s revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages.

The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.

The inquiry will make a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next year.

In an article for the Guardian, Emmerson said Snowden had disclosed “issues at the very apex of public interest concerns”. He said the media had a duty and right to publish stories about the activities of GCHQ, and its American counterpart the National Security Agency.

“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who has been the UN’s leading voice on counter-terrorism and human rights since 2011.

“It is the role of a free press to hold governments to account, and yet there have even been outrageous suggestions from some Conservative MPs that the Guardian should face a criminal investigation. It has been disheartening to see some tabloids giving prominence to this nonsense.”

Emmerson’s intervention comes ahead of Tuesday’s hearing of the home affairs select committee, which is conducting its own inquiry into counter-terrorism.

The Guardian’s editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger, will give evidence to MPs on the committee on Tuesday afternoon, followed by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.

Over the last six months the Guardian, along with other international media organisations, has revealed the existence of mass surveillance programmes, such as GCHQ’s Tempora, which taps into the cables that carry internet traffic in and out of the UK.

Last month, the heads of Britain’s three intelligence agencies, MI5, GCHQ and MI6, gave evidence before parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

During a 90-minute hearing, they accused Snowden of leaking material that had been “a gift to terrorists”.

But Emmerson said such claims “need to be subjected to penetrating scrutiny”.

He said his inquiry will be requiring further testimony from GCHQ’s director, Sir Iain Lobban, the director of MI5, Andrew Parker, and MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.

“I will be seeking a far more detailed explanation than security chiefs gave the (ISC) committee. They must justify some of the claims they have made in public, because as matters stand, I have seen nothing in the Guardian articles which could be a risk to national security. In this instance, the balance of public interest is clear.”

He added: “When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest there are often borderline cases. This isn’t one of them. The Guardian’s revelations are precisely the sort of information that a free press is supposed to reveal.”

Emmerson said nobody had suggested the Mail on Sunday should be prosecuted when it published revelations from the former MI5 officer,David Shayler, and that the attorney general had rightly abandoned a prosecution against Katharine Gun, the GCHQ whistleblower who in 2003 revealed the US and UK were trying to manipulate a vote at the UN security council in favour of military intervention in Iraq.

No jury would ever have convicted her even though she had broken the Official Secrets Act, Emmerson said.

“The Guardian has revealed there is an extensive programme of mass surveillance which potentially affects every one of us, but has been assiduous in avoiding the revelation of any detail which could put sources at risk. The Mail on Sunday, on the other hand, published material that was of less obvious public interest.”

Emmerson said the Snowden disclosures had caused reverberations across the world.

“There can be no doubt the revelations concern matters of international public interest. Wholescale reviews have been mooted by President Obama, Chancellor Merkel and Nick Clegg. In the US, a number of the revelations have already resulted in legislation.

“In Europe, the political class is incandescent. Many states have registered serious objections at the UN, and there are diplomatic moves towards an international agreement to restrict surveillance activity.”

Chaired by Keith Vaz, the home affairs select committee called for the Guardian to give evidence following the ISC hearing.

However, a number of civil liberties groups and campaigners have raised concerns about the intense political pressure put on the Guardian, and condemned the UK government’s demand that it destroy the Snowden files it was researching in the UK.

The freedom of expression group Article 19 and the Open Rights Group are among two signatories to a letter sent to Vaz ahead of Tuesday’s session. They describe their deep concerns that the review of the Guardian “could restrict media freedom in the UK by discouraging future reporting on important matters of public interest”.

The letter calls on MPs to take into account “international human rights standards, and in particular those that relate to the right to freedom of expression and media freedom”.

 

Hong Kong confirms first human case of bird flu | Top News | Reuters

Hong Kong confirms first human case of bird flu | Top News | Reuters.

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong confirmed its first case of deadly H7N9 bird flu on Monday in a further sign that the virus is continuing to spread beyond mainland China’s borders.

The case coincides with the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 300 people in Hong Kong and had a significant impact on the city’s travel and retail industry.

A 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper with a history of contact with poultry and travel to Shenzhen in mainland China just north of Hong Kong has been confirmed infected by H7N9 and has been hospitalized in critical condition, Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man told reporters late on Monday.

(Reporting By Twinnie Siu and Donny Kwok; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

 

Putin Announces Russia Not Involved In Ukraine Unrest, Says Local Events Are Not A “Revolution” – Live Stream | Zero Hedge

Putin Announces Russia Not Involved In Ukraine Unrest, Says Local Events Are Not A “Revolution” – Live Stream | Zero Hedge.

While events in the Ukraine continue down a very slippery path, and just a few short minutes ago the Prime Minister Azarov fired the Kiev chief of Police who got into hot water over the weekend for various clips showing Police brutality in dealing with demonstrators, one specific party that is keeping a very close eye on the ongoing developments is Russian leader Vladimir Putin who scored a major victory over Europe when he managed to realign the Ukraine away from the EU and sign a trade pact with the “European bread basket” nation, an event which according to the prevailing narrative the main reason for the surge in civil discontent as hundreds of thousands took to the streets over the weekend. As such, it is important to keep track of news not only from Kiev but also from Moscow. One such update which came moments ago was the following:

  • President Vladimir Putin has said Russia respects any choice made by Ukraine, Dmitry Peskov tells Bloomberg in Yerevan, Armenia.
  • Russia not in talks with Ukraine on loans, bailout
  • Russia not involved in current unrest in Ukraine: Peskov

This came just hours after Putin stated that events unfolding in Ukraine should not be described as a revolution, but were rather more reminiscent of a “pogrom.

In other words, Russia is most certainly in talks with the Ukraine on loans, and one can bet any amount ok kopeks that Russia is involved in the current unrest, if not formally then certainly informally. Furthermore, since a grand geopolitical realignment appears to be taking shape in Eastern Europe, it was inevitable that some promptly suggested that the CIA’s involvement in local events, with an eye toward destabilizing the government, is tangible. To be sure this would be right out of the CIA playbook (see Libya and Egypt).

Which also means keep an eye on Brent, which has finally awoken to the instability in the Ukraine.

Also keep track of what president Yanukovich is doing: Reuters reported that he will travel to China as planned on a state visit, a television anchorman said, summarising the interview. A visit, or a potential asylum bid if things spiral out of control?

Finally, for those who enjoy keeping tabs on current events, below is a live streaming link from Kiev.

Live streaming video by Ustream

 

Food Bank Use Near Record Level In Ontario, Report Says

Food Bank Use Near Record Level In Ontario, Report Says.

A near-record number of Ontarians are using food banks, according to a new report.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) says that 375,789 people made use of a food bank in the province this March – more than one-third of whom were children.

That’s more than nine-tenths of the number that used food banks in the previous March, when a record high of 412,998 was recorded.

Nearly half of the families (46.1 per cent) making use of Ontario food banks have children at home. A similar proportion of those relying on food banks (43.6 per cent) are single people, while the remainder of families using food banks (10.3 per cent) are couples without children.

Food banks in the province also served more than 1.2 million meals to Ontarians during the month of March, which is part of an ongoing trend in which food banks have expanded the services they offer to meet the needs of clients.

“As a province with so much, there is no reason that any child should have to go to bed hungry,” Bill Laidlaw, the OAFB executive director, said in a statement accompanying the release of the 2013 Hunger Report.

“To meet these growing needs, food banks are now having to do so much more than provide emergency support. They are becoming hubs for social innovation, health and child care support, learning and training opportunities, and community development that stretch far beyond the traditional idea of a food bank.”

 

Ukraine Government Admits Protests “Spinning Out Of Control” | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Government Admits Protests “Spinning Out Of Control” | Zero Hedge.

With Ukraine’s CDS spiking and the protests growing ever more violent, the government is oddly honest:

  • *AZAROV SAYS KIEV PROTESTS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL: INTERFAX
  • *AZAROV SAYS GOVT AWARE OF PLAN TO SEIZE PARLIAMENT BUILDING:IFX
  • *AZAROV SAYS UKRAINE ASKING WEST FOR HELP TO CALM PROTESTS: IFX

Of course, the only voice that matter is still calm:

  • *PUTIN SAYS CRISIS IN UKRAINE WILL SUBSIDE

Is that a directive or a statement…?

 

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