Saturday, July 31, 2010
MINISTRY OF ENERGY & INFASTRUCTURE
SMART METER PRICING INFO
Westario Power uses Elster products (meters, collectors, etc) for our mass deployment.
SMART GRID SOLUTIONS
Westario Power bringing smart meters to Brockton, Canada
By: angus on Fri, 15 Aug 2008 01:21:01 GMT
You might notice that you've got a different looking meter on your house, explained Guy Cluff, CEO of Westario Power. You won't see anything different in the way you're billed for energy until 2010.
The Ontario Government has passed legislation to install 4,000,000 smart electricity meters in homes and small businesses by 2010.In support of this, Westario Power has been installing smart meters in its service territory since July 7, 2009. Mass deployment commenced August 24, 2009, with multiple crews changing out the meters. Once the change-out occurs at a property, a doorhanger will be left entitled Getting Smart About Smart Meters Answer Book. While the smart meters are installed, we will continue to read the meters monthly as we would a conventional meter.Westario Power has nearly completed the deployment of approximately 21,000 smart meters to its customers.The new smart meters record not only the amount of electricity consumed, but also when the electricity was used. This will enable a Time of Use (TOU) pricing structure. Unlike the current system in which customers pay a fixed rate, TOU pricing has three different rates for electricity consumed during off-peak, mid-peak or on-peak periods of the day. Weekends and holidays are always off-peak.It is important to know, the customer does not have to sign anything at the time the smart meter is installed, and nothing will change from the way you are currently billed.
NOTE: Contracted meter installers are in the clean-up stage of the deployment project. Westario Power anticipates having all meters changed out by Spring 2010.In 2010, it is anticipated that Westario Power will begin implementing the software changes necessary to begin reading the smart meters remotely. That is, we will download the meter readings directly into our data collection computers.At this time, Westario Power plans to phase in TOU pricing in early 2012. Prior to implementating TOU rates, customers will be notified well in advance of the change. We will post information on our website, circulate notices in the local newspaper and inserts in your monthly invoicing to let customers know when these changes will take effect.Time of Use (TOU) pricing more accurately reflects the actual real-time market cost of electricity which fluctuates widely throughout the day. Electricity demand peaks in the mid to late afternoon triggering a corresponding increase in the market price.During the hot summer months, air conditioner use pushes electricity demand to its highest levels of the year. Ontario must often rely on more expensive and polluting forms of power generation to meet daily peaks. On the hottest days, electricity must be purchased at a premium from power plants that, in some cases, only operate a handful of days a year.A key objective of the smart metering initiative is to reduce peak demand by encouraging consumers to rethink their consumption habits. By reducing daily peaks and shifting some demand to off-peak periods, consumers can help avoid the shared cost and environmental impact of building additional power plants and upsizing the grid.
Smart meters and TOU pricing will also enable customers to take steps to manage their electricity costs. In the near future, customers will be able to monitor their consumption online or through in-home displays. For a list of cost reduction strategies visit www.smartmetersontario.ca.The installation of smart meters is part of a broader initiative to modernize Ontario's electricity grid. Similar initiatives are underway in the United States and the European Union. The new smart grid will employ sensors, monitoring, communications, automation and computers to improve the flexibility, security, reliability, efficiency, and safety of the electricity system. Other benefits of a smart grid include the ability to integrate more renewable energy sources and avoid blackouts.The information in the following links is designed to assist you in understanding how smart meters work and how your energy usage can help you change your energy patterns in order to reduce peak demand in Ontario and save money on your electricity bill.
SMART METERS AND TIME-OF-USE RATES
A smart meter tracks how much electricity you use and when you use it — key information to help you better manage your electricity costs. In Ontario, all homes and small businesses will be equipped with smart meters by the end of 2010. By 2011, most consumers in Ontario will have made the switch to Time-of-Use rates, where the price of electricity depends on when it is used. The exact timing and rollout of Time-of-Use rates will vary by electricity utility. Most residential and small business served by Milton Hydro Distribution Inc. and Newmarket-Tay Hydro are paying Time-of-Use rates. Toronto Hydro, Powerstream, Horizon Utilities and Chatham-Kent Energy are currently rolling out Time-of-Use rates for their customers.The IESO is responsible for the management of the province-wide data repository that collects and manages smart meter consumption data used to create Time-of-Use bills.
HOW YOUR SMART METER WORKS
SMART METER SYSTEM-IMPLEMENTING PROGRAM
http://www.smi-ieso.ca/ (LINKS TO READ)
A smart meter electronically tracks how much electricity is used and when it is used, paving the way for Time-of-Use pricing.
Electricity Consumption in the Digital Age
As digital technologies are increasingly used in electrical equipment and appliances around the house, the time has come to use these same technologies to manage overall electricity consumption. Smart meters track the energy use in your home on an hourly basis and send this information automatically to your local distribution company (LDC). By automating the meter-reading function, smart meters deliver a number of benefits: They support the implementation of Time-of-Use prices. By time-stamping your consumption data, local distribution companies will be able to determine how much electricity was used during off-peak times and how much was consumed during on-peak periods. This capability allows homeowners to find electricity savings by shifting their electricity use. By tracking electricity use remotely, all bills will be based on real-time consumption - eliminating the need for estimated bills.
They provide greater operational efficiencies in the management of local distribution systems.
Ontario's Smart Meter Infrastructure
Much like your telephone or internet connection, the smart meter connects you into a wide computer network.From your home, the smart meter puts into play a series of actions: collecting energy use information, verifying its accuracy and processing it for monitoring and billing. In its role as interim Smart Metering Entity, Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is responsible for the central data repository that will manage the consumption data for residential smart meters.The IESO is working with LDCs to connect to the meter data repository. LDCs will be integrated into the system on an individual basis as meters and communications systems are ready. Consumers will be notified in advance when Time-of-Use rates are to be phased in.
ENERGY INFORMATION LOOP
Here's the path information takes from your smart meter to your electricity bill.
On an hourly basis, the amount of electricity you use is tracked by the smart meter on your home.
Each day, this hourly information is sent by wireless connection or through telephone or power lines to a data collector located in your neighbourhood.
Meter Data Collection
These collectors relay energy usage information to larger control computers operated by your Local Distribution Company (LDC) which ensure that all the meters have been read and all the necessary information has been captured.
Smart Meter Data Repository
The LDC then sends this information to the provincial smart meter data repository which calculates how much electricity was used during on-peak, mid-peak and off-peak hours. In its role as interim Smart Metering Entity, the IESO is responsible for managing this repository. This energy use information will also help in the development of electricity forecasts and will help the Ontario Energy Board determine future time-of-use prices. Only authorized parties, such as LDCs, will have access to the highly secure database.
Customer Information and Billing
Information from the data repository is sent back to LDCs and other billing agents so it can be used to prepare invoices.
Home Energy Management
Homeowners will have access to their energy use data in two ways: LDC invoices will provide consumption data each billing cycle; and in many communities, the previous day's energy consumption information will be available each morning on a secure personalized web page. This information allows you to manage your energy use based on time-of-use prices.
SMART METER FAQ
A smart meter records when as well as how much electricity is used by each consumer. Here are some answers to common questions about smart meters and Time-of-Use prices.
How will Time-of-Use prices affect my bill?
It all depends on your current consumption patterns and how much electricity you use at different times of the day. Even if you don’t make radical changes in your energy consumption patterns, there are a lot of very simple things you can do to conserve energy at all times of the day. Note that any reduction in total consumption will also lower other charges on your bill. Your regulatory, debt retirement and most of your delivery charges are also determined by how much electricity you use.
When will the Time-of-Use prices take effect?
Time-of-Use rates are in the process of being implemented by local distribution companies (LDC). Milton Hydro and Newmarket-Tay Hydro have implemented Time-of-Use rates, while Toronto Hydro, Powerstream and Horizion Utilities will be rolling out these rates to thier customers this year. The majority of Ontario consumers will be on Time-of-Use rates by 2011. Customers will receive advance notification from their LDC of when Time-of-Use rates will be phased in.
Will Time-of-Use periods ever change?
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is responsible for setting prices and daily and seasonal Time-of-Use periods. In November 2009, off-peak time periods moved from a 10 p.m. start to a 9 p.m. start, allowing consumers to start saving money earlier in the evening. More.
How do these prices compare to wholesale rates?
Wholesale prices are set every hour and fluctuate to a much greater extent. Time-of-use prices are designed to provide the benefits of variable rates without the same level of volatility. You can compare regulated prices against the average monthly and yearly wholesale prices. Note that the prices posted here do not include adjustments such as the Provincial Benefit that are incorporated in the Time-of-Use prices.
What if I have a contract?
If you purchase your electricity through an electricity retailer, you will continue to pay the rate agreed to in the contract, for the duration of the contract. If you are a residential consumer, note that the price you have agreed to pay is likely a fixed rate and does not vary according to the time the electricity is used. You will remain on the contract price, even if Time-of-Use prices are in effect for residential consumers in your LDC's service area. The Ontario Energy Board offers consumer information about retail contracts.
Will there be a cost for the smart meter?
There are incremental costs associated with developing and maintaining smart meters and the supporting infrastructure. These costs are regulated by the Ontario Energy Board. Contact your LDC to find out more about these charges.
Smart Meters: A New Way To Think About Electricity
Your Smart Meter is a key part of Ontario’s new smart metering system – and of building a culture of conservation across this province. By 2010, every home and small business in Ontario will have a Smart Meter.This site explains what Smart Meters are, why Ontario is introducing them, and how they can help you manage and reduce your electricity costs.As you’ll see, with smart metering, you’ll have new options for managing and reducing your electricity costs. And as you’ll learn, if we all make some small changes to how we use electricity, we can also have a positive impact on the environment and Ontario’s energy system. This site is a source of general information to help you to take advantage of Smart Meters when they become fully operational. For those of you in areas that have already moved to time-of-use pricing, please contact your local distribution company with any questions you may have.
Smart Meters Give More Power To You - And Less To Your Hydro Bill
2009/06/17 | CityNews.ca Staff
What are you doing between 10pm and 7am and how much is it costing you? No, we're not getting personal about your after hour activities.It's actually a legitimate question about how much electricity your family is using - and when they draw the most juice.It comes as Toronto Hydro gets ready to expand its smart meter program, replacing those old record keepers on the side of your house with a digital version designed to let you take control of your power usage - and hopefully save you money.
It's designed to take what's easily confusable - like kilowatt hours and peak demand times - and make it simple to understand.
New Peak-Use Hydro Rates Announced
2009/05/15 | CityNews.ca Staff
Starting next month, some Toronto residents could benefit from a new pricing system being introduced by Toronto Hydro. But that's only if they use electricity at certain times of the day.On June 1st, 10,000 homes equipped with so-called smart meters will be charged higher rates during peak demand times - in the middle of the day in summer and in the morning and early evening in the winter. The price will drop overnight and on weekends and holidays.The electricity generation situation in Ontario is very, very serious, noted Toronto Hydro spokesperson Blair Peberdy.
There's a plan to shut down the coal plants, which cause serious health problems. [But] the coal plants supply a lot of electricity to us. So, we have to shift consumption out of the peak periods to relieve pressure on the grid while we build up renewable energy and other types of generation in the province.The time-of-use fees are a way to get consumers to cut their use of power-draining appliances like washers, dryers and air conditioners when demand is highest.Particularly on extremely hot and cold days, demand can exceed supply, causing brownouts and blackouts. But the expensive generating stations built to cover these periods sit idle for most of the year.The first homes to go online with the new rates are in Toronto's former suburbs - Etobicoke, Scarborough and North York. But Toronto Hydro expects to have the all of the city's single-family dwellings onboard within the year.Residents of Milton and Newmarket already use smart meters.
Sep 16, 2009 5:47 AM Smart Meter Lies
The Hydro web site claims that seniors at home most of the day will not be penalised by the time of use pricing of electricity. They use misinformation and faulty maths to come to this conclusion. Taking use over which there is no control, heating, refridgeration, for example, the current rate is 5.7 cents per KWh. With 93 hours of 4.2 c, 45 hours of 7.6 c (conveniently forgotten by the Hydro web site) and 30 hours of 9.1 c, this averages out to 6 c per KWh, an immediate increase of 5%. Given that many of the other items such as lighting, radio/TV/web use, and sustenance preparation will still be needed during the day, the average rate for that will be 6.8 KWh, an increase of 19%. It would be very difficult for any normal, healthy person to rearrange their total schedule to neutralise that and break even. These lies MUST be exposed before the next election.
GOOGLE THE CIA AGENT OF TRACKING US ALL WORLDWIDE AND GENERERAL ELECTRIC ARE INVOLVED IN THIS TRACKING SYSTEM ALSO.THIS SHOULD NOT SURPRISE ANYONE.
Utilities energized by the possibilitiesPublished On Mon May 18
By Tyler Hamilton
Energy and Technology Columnist More than 200 households in Milton got to test drive the future of power management last year and the results show that homeowners, given the right tools and motivations, are more than capable of conserving energy.The pilot project, conducted between July 2007 and Sept. 2008, was a collaboration between Milton Hydro, Direct Energy and Bell Canada. Households were given the ability to monitor their energy use through the Internet, as well as through BlackBerry-like devices, and to remotely control the lighting and operation of appliances in their homes.An easy-to-use Web interface, designed by Toronto-based Lixar SRS, gave them a detailed view of how much electricity individual appliances were using at any point in time. The results showed that one in 10 households given the control used 16 per cent less electricity over 12 months and 18 per cent less during peak periods.Just 10 per cent of participants achieved the higher savings, which could be interpreted as a poor result. But the point of the pilot was to show what could be done, not necessarily what's likely to be done today. The challenge now is to refine the technology alongside the introduction of energy conservation programs and policies that drive behavioural change. Change is coming, and local utilities seem energized by the opportunity. Ontario passed its Green Energy Act last week, making conservation a priority as the province evolves its electricity system.Also last week, Toronto Hydro announced that its first 10,000 residential customers will get shifted on June 1 to time-of-use pricing now that a substantial number of GTA homes have a smart meter.
The utility hopes to have all single-family homes on the new pricing by year's end, and since peak pricing is more than double off-peak pricing, you can bet that over time households will desire, if not demand, more control over their power consumption.Energy management is also a major component of Burlington Hydro's GridSmartCity demonstration project, announced last week. Company president David Collie says local utilities are realizing that their businesses are no longer just about pushing electrons to homes. Utilities are morphing into multi-faceted energy companies that can influence change in a community, and enabling conservation is now a big part of the job. There still exists, however, some skepticism in the market. Some energy executives downplay the new high-tech tools that give homeowners more control. All the bells and whistles are overkill, they argue, adding that most people don't have the time to monitor their energy use or participate in demand-response programs.There's an element of truth there, but only for those stuck in the present. Don't believe it? Then ask yourself why Internet giant Google announced in February that it was entering the residential energy-management market with prototype software called PowerMeter? The software, which is expected to be distributed for free, offers the same kind of feedback on power use that homeowners got from the Milton Hydro trial using Lixar SRS's technology.
Google has also teamed up with General Electric on smart grid development. It's about more than simply knowing how much power your home or an individual appliance is consuming. It's about tracking and analyzing historical use.You can't improve it if you can't measure email@example.com
Smarten up on smart meteringPublished On Sat Aug 22 2009
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Tying electricity use to its true cost – and giving Ontarians ways to reduce that by running appliances during off-peak hours, for example – is the theory behind using smart meters to drive conservation.It's a sound argument and a particularly important one at a time when energy prices are set to rise and we need to reduce consumption so we don't have to build as much new generating capacity.Unfortunately, the province badly bungled the introduction of smart meters in apartments. It allowed landlords to take advantage of tenants who are now so leery it may undermine their long-term support.Half the households in Toronto and a third in Ontario are renters and most have utilities included in their rent. Changing that with sub-meters, so individuals pay, creates a conservation conundrum: A tenant can make sure to turn the TV and lights off when no one is home, but can't buy an efficient refrigerator or replace single-pane windows. Those big ticket items – offering the greatest conservation gains – remain in the landlord's hands.So how do we ensure that smart meters achieve maximum energy savings in apartments – something beyond a mere name change on the bill? And what is the best way to determine a fair rent reduction for tenants who assume responsibility for their electricity costs?
The province did not answer these difficult questions, as it should have, with regulations. It announced, with much fanfare, its desire to have smart meters in everyone's home by the end of 2010 – and then sat back. Remarkably, it never passed the necessary legislation to legalize these meters in apartments and protect tenants.
That created a wild-west scenario where landlords, getting out ahead of the law, made up their own rules. Some tenants were pressured into deals that provided rent reduction far smaller than their new bills.Now, the province's energy regulator has stepped into the fray to try and clean up the mess. An Ontario Energy Board ruling last week creates interim rules for installing sub-meters in rentals – including conducting building energy audits, and getting informed consent from tenants. It also appears to wipe out all the deals that were previously made, declaring them unenforceable.The board did not, however, resolve two key issues: how to adjust rents; and how to encourage landlords to make buildings more energy efficient if they are no longer footing the bill (and reaping the savings).This is clearly the government's responsibility; it has abdicated too much to the energy board already. In March, the board ordered a halt to sub-metering in apartments, noting there was no law to allow it – prompting a promise from Energy Minister George Smitherman to bring in legislation this fall.The board's interim rules have filled a void. It's time for the government to do what it should have done long ago: Plan properly for future energy conservation, rather than operate by the seat of its pants.
Friday, July 30, 2010
11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences;(CHEMICAL,BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS) and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood:(bitter,Poisoned) and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.(poisoned)
3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.(enviromentalists won't like this result)
4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
6 For they(False World Church and Dictator) have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
LIVE BP OIL FEED
OBAMA ON OIL SPILL-VIDEO
PART 1-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 2-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 3-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 4-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 5-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 6-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 7-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 8-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 9-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 10-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 11-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 12-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 13-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 14-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 15-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 16-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 17-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 18-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 19-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 20-OIL SPILL NEWS
PART 21-OIL SPILL NEWS
GRANT JEFFREY ON WORLD GOVERNMENT CONTROL AND THE ENVIROMENTAL RELIGION CULT SCAM OF GLOBAL WARMING UNDER FOR THE GOOD OF THE EARTH SCAM.CARBON TAX,INVISIBLE SKY HOOKS AND INVISIBLE SMOKE SCAM.
WW3 COMING TOGETHER-GRANT JEFFREY-RUSSIA WANTS OIL CONTOL DOMINATION.
HOLLY SWANSON ON OBAMA CAP & TRADE SCAM-ENVIROMENTALS DICTATORSHIP JUNE 21,10 HR 1
OIL SLICK REACHES FLORIDA
WHAT COULD HAPPEN BECAUSE OF THIS OIL SPILL-LAST 30 MINUTES OF SHOW
OIL SPILL IRAN CONNECTION-ALL MUT LISTEN
TOXIC WATER AT SPILL
NUKE THE WELL CNBC
OIL RAIN POISON
GEORGE HUNT-WORLD BANK-ENVIROMENT-DISASTER STAGED BANKERS=WORLD GOVERNMENT
OBAMA NEEDS TERRORIST ATTACK TO SAVE ADMINISTRATION-STAGED
FALSE FLAGS (SET UP OR STAGED BY SOMEONE)
JONES ON BP FALSE FLAG TO GET CAP & TAX SCAM THROUGH
ITS DAY 97 OF THE POISON DISASTER-SUN JULY 25,10.SEE WHATS UP TODAY.
ITS DAY 98 OF THE POISON DISASTER.NOW PEOPLE ARE IN FEAR OF WHO IS WORKING ON THE POISON DISASTER,IS IT CRIMINALS FROM JAIL OR PEACE LOVING LAW OBIDING WORKERS.
ITS DAY 99 OF THE POISON DISASTER TUE JULY 27,10 AND HAYWARD GETS FIRED FINALLY.BUT THIS IS PROBABLY JUST A COVERUP SO HAYWARD CAN GET MILLIONS IN COMPENSATION AND END UP WORKING FOR GOLDMAN SACHS OR A HIGH UP IN ANOTHER OIL COMPANY AND BP CAN GET A TRILLION DOLLAR BAILOUT TO COVER ALL ITS LOSSES IS MY PREDICTION.
ITS DAY 100 OF THE POISON SPILL WED JULY 28,10.
ITS DAY 101 THU JULY 29,10 OF THE POISON DISASTER.
ITS DAY 102 OF THE POISON DISASTER FRI JULY 30,10.
BP lawsuits over oil spill take center stage By George Prentice – Thu Jul 29, 7:35 pm ET
BOISE, Idaho (Reuters) – More than 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, a panel of U.S. judges heard arguments from lawyers on Thursday on how piles of oil spill-related lawsuits against BP Plc should be merged.The panel, meeting in Boise, Idaho, as part of its regularly scheduled rotation among federal courts, did not immediately rule on how it would handle the mounting civil litigation brought against BP and other defendants involved in the worst offshore oil disaster in U.S. history.
A decision is expected within several weeks.
At stake is whether civil lawsuits from injured rig workers, fishermen, property owners, investors and others will be combined in Houston, where BP has its U.S. headquarters and wants the cases heard, or New Orleans, the preferred venue for many plaintiffs -- or elsewhere. Some lawyers argue the litigation is too massive for any one court to handle.The environmental havoc wreaked by the oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers could take years to reverse. A temporary cap has halted the gusher a mile below the sea's surface while crews try to plug the well for good next week, but the massive spill has wrecked the Gulf's fishing and tourism industries.BP could start its static kill plan to pump mud into the Macondo well -- the first in a two-step process to choke it off with mud and cement -- by this weekend, ahead of the scheduled start time on Monday, the top U.S. official dealing with the spill said on Thursday.There's a chance that that schedule can be accelerated, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told reporters in New Orleans.He also said the U.S. government is laying the groundwork to shift its massive oil spill clean-up operation from acute disaster management to long-term recovery, and that the clean-up could take years.
Millions of gallons of oil leaked into the ocean over nearly three months -- until the well was capped two weeks ago.But clean-up boats have found it increasingly hard to find oil on the surface and officials say much has dispersed or evaporated, although hundreds of miles of coastline are polluted with orange or black deposits.
The disaster has posed a huge challenge for U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration has tried to halt deep-sea oil drilling until the causes of the BP spill are clear.A U.S. court overturned a six-month moratorium imposed after the spill but the government is seeking a new one.Potentially adding its name to the line of claimants, Royal Dutch Shell Plc idled seven rigs and took a $56 million charge related to the drilling ban on Thursday. Saying the ban would reduce its production by almost 3 million barrels this year, the company did not rule out reclaiming the cash from BP.Shell, one of the biggest oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico, said it had idled rigs rather than move them elsewhere because the ban's six-month duration meant it was not profitable to redeploy them to other areas.BP, which has created a $20 billion fund to compensate companies and individuals affected by the spill, declined comment on compensating Shell. Executives at the London-based group believe it is not liable for damages resulting from the ban.
HOUSTON VS NEW ORLEANS
At the packed Boise federal courthouse, attorneys were given a few minutes each to make their case to the seven-judge panel during the hour-and-a-half-long hearing.
Plaintiffs' attorney Russ Herman of Louisiana pressed for lawsuits pending in various federal courts to be moved to New Orleans. He said the spill has devastated the city, which is still climbing back after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Our culture rises as a gumbo of Cajuns, Creole, French, German and Spanish, he said. All of that is threatened now. This disaster threatens our hope and faith. That's why New Orleans is the best avenue of justice.The U.S. Justice Department also requested that the lawsuits be handled by a New Orleans federal court. The U.S. is not a party at present in the cases against corporate defendants, but we think we will be, Justice Department representative Steven Flynn told the panel. He said New Orleans would provide the best access to all litigants.Whichever court, or courts, end up overseeing the cases could grapple with them for years. The panel, formally known as the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, will decide whether the cases belong under the umbrella of one court, or potentially several. BP asked that the cases be combined in Houston, the U.S. oil capital, as did an attorney for Cameron International Corp, manufacturer of the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded on April 20.
BP pushed ahead with plans to sell assets in Vietnam, Colombia and Venezuela, as it scrambles to hive off $30 billion of assets to pay for the cleanup. Bankers said many of the most likely bidders are already part owners of the assets BP wants to sell, and this could help speed up the sales. Incoming Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Wednesday BP would stay involved with the cleanup long after the well was finally plugged, which he said could happen next week. Although the flow of oil has been stopped, experts say the clean-up operation will take months. The major oil slicks appear to have dispersed and experts are analyzing the extent of pollution in the sea. An area of nearly 60,000 square miles (150,000 sq km) of Gulf of Mexico waters is closed to fishing and more than 600 miles of coastline in four U.S. states is affected by oil, according to the latest U.S. government reports. Environmentalists have said it could be years before some Gulf beaches are declared free of toxic pollutants. Shares of BP -- which has lost about 40 percent of its market value since the blast -- closed 2 percent higher in New York on Thursday. Its London shares closed up 2.7 percent.(Additional reporting by Chris Baltimore in Houston, Quentin Webb in London and Joseph Chaney in Hong Kong; writing by Martha Graybow and Ed Stoddard; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
Censored Gulf news: People bleeding internally, millions poisoned says EPA whistleblower July 21, 9:44 AMHuman Rights Examiner Deborah
...we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do... Congressman Markey and Nadler, as well as Senator Mikulski, have been heroes... Mark Kaufman, EPA whistleblower, Democracy Now!
Poisoning millions of people
In its report, EPA Whistleblower Accuses Agency of Covering Up Effects of Dispersant in BP Oil Spill Cleanup, Democracy Now! states that many lawmakers and advocacy groups say the Obama administration is not being candid about the lethal effects of dispersants,so Amy Goodman interviewed Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and a leading critic of the decision to use Corexit who disclosed how the officials are lying about many things related to the catastrophe poisoning millions of people.The rushed transcript includes Kaufman saying, And I think the media now has to follow the money, just as they did in Watergate, and tell the American people who’s getting money for poisoning the millions of people in the Gulf. (Emphasis added)While concerns over the impact of chemical dispersants continue to grow, Gulf Coast residents are outraged by a recent announcement that the $20 billion government-administered claim fund will subtract money cleanup workers earn by working for the cleanup effort from any future claims.The Vessels of Opportunity program has employed hundreds of Gulf Coast out of work people because of the spill which Kaufman says is viewed as yest another way to limit the number of lawsuits against BP.And the government—both EPA, NOAA, etc.—have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. (Emphasis added)Kaufman concurs with MSNBC's report last week, that "sole purpose in the Gulf for dispersants is to keep a cover-up going for BP to try to hide the volume of oil that has been released and save them hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of fines... not to protect the public health or environment. Quite the opposite..He says to follow the money, and that leads to individuals in the Obama Administration, naming Mr. Geithner, Mr. Summers with close ties to Larry Fink who owns BlackRock that owns most BP shares.
He commented on the children being poisoned:
...you know, when you’re on the sand with your children and they dig, and there’s a little water?—they documented there was over 200 parts per million of oil waste in the water, and it’s not noticeable to the human eye... On top of it, the contamination in one of the samples was so high that when they put the solvent in, as a first step in identifying how much oil may be in the water, the thing blew up, just as he said, probably because there was too much Corexit in that particular sample.When Goodman asked Kaufman to comment on the similarities between the Ground Zero of the Gulf catastrophe and what happened at Ground Zero of 911, he explained that he did the ombudsman investigation on Ground Zero, where EPA made false statements about the safety of the air ... since proven to be false.
Red herring: No more tests needed. Corexit known to be dangerous.
The largest ingredient in Corexit is oil. But there are other materials. And when the ingredients are mixed with oil, the combination of Corexit or any dispersant and oil is more toxic than the oil itself. But EPA has all that information.That’s a red herring issue being raised, that we have to somehow know more information. When you look at the label and you look at the toxicity sheets that come with it, the public knows enough to know that it’s very dangerous. The National Academy of Science has done work on it. Toxicologists from Exxon that developed it have published on it.So, we know enough to know that it’s very dangerous, and to say that we just have to know more about it is a red herring issue. We know plenty. It’s very dangerous.[T]he media now has to follow the money, just as they did in Watergate, and tell the American people who’s getting money for poisoning the millions of people in the Gulf.
No mention was made by the whistleblower about military involvement in this operation, nor that the DoD has been in bed with EPA for decades, testing aerosol sprayed chemicals on unwitting individuals and large populations.With all eyes on big bad BP, could it be the real red herring?
Deborah Dupré, with post-graduate science and education degrees from U.S. and Australian universities, has been a human and environmental rights advocate for over 25 years in the U.S., Vanuatu and Australia. Support her work by subscribing to her articles and sharing the link to this article. For a more just and peaceful world, see Dupré's Vaccine Liberty or Death book and Compassion Film Project.
BP dispersant likened to Agent Orange
Fri, 16 Jul 2010 15:47:48 GMT
The US government says it will take years to cleanup its fouled coastlines. BP's use of chemicals to disperse the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill has become a source of concern for the US, with lawmakers warning of another Agent Orange scandal. Agent Orange is the codename for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the US military in its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.
According to Vietnam Red Cross as many as 3 million Vietnamese people have been affected by Agent Orange including at least 150,000 children born with birth defects.The US lawmakers at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep a closer eye on the dispersants used by BP to properly analyze their effect on the ocean ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico.
I don't want dispersants to be the Agent Orange of this oil spill and I want to be assured on behalf of the American people that this is OK to use and OK to use in the amounts we're talking about, said Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the science panel of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, reported Reuters. The London-based energy giant applies Corexit to the massive oil slick gathered both on the surface and undersea in the disaster zone. BP has so far used about 1.8 million gallons of the chemical agent in the Gulf, an amount unprecedented in the US history to be directly applied to the spill.The EPA said preliminary results of a federal review of Corexit pointed to no impact on marine life.The good news is that we've not seen signs of environment impacts from the use of dispersants so far,EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told legislators, urging more scientific study.The EPA, however, is still awaiting review of chemical's effect when mixed with oil, and environmentalists are also concerned.I suspect that the toxicity impact will in fact be way worse than reflected by the tests that are being conducted by EPA,because animals chosen for testing are less sensitive than those inhabiting the Gulf, said Doug Rader, chief oceans scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. New estimates by the International Energy Agency about the BP oil spill suggest that so far at least 2.3-4.5 million barrels of crude have poured into the Gulf of Mexico since the April event, which triggered the worst ecological disaster in US history.The Gulf of Mexico oil spill began after an April 20 explosion at the BP-run Deepwater Horizon rig shattered the well and left 11 people dead.
Officials ready criminal probe of oil spill: report
Wed Jul 28, 7:35 am ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Several U.S. government agencies are preparing a criminal probe of at least three companies involved in the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, though it could take more than a year before any charges are filed, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.BP Plc, Transocean Ltd and Halliburton Co are the initial targets of the wide-ranging probe, which aims to examine whether their cozy relations with federal regulators contributed to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the newspaper said, citing law enforcement and other sources.The federal government is assembling in New Orleans a BP squad composed of officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies to look into whether company officials made false statements to regulators, obstructed justice, or falsified test results for devices such as the rig's failed blowout preventer.On Tuesday, BP said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department had launched a probe into market trading connected to the spill.
The oil giant's newly named chief executive, Bob Dudley, on Tuesday called the spill a wake-up call for the entire industry as the company tallied up its losses.The newspaper said one emerging line of inquiry for the BP Squad is whether inspectors for the government agency that regulates the oil industry went easy on the companies in exchange for money or other inducements.Investigators plan to get witnesses to turn against others to get insider information, the Post said.The newspaper cited a law enforcement official saying no decisions are imminent and You can bet it would be more than a year before any indictments.(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Philip Barbara)
BP replaces CEO Hayward, reports $17 billion loss By JANE WARDELL, AP Business Writer - JULY 27,10
LONDON – BP's much-criticized CEO Tony Hayward will be replaced by American Robert Dudley on Oct. 1, the company said Tuesday as it reported a record quarterly loss and set aside $32.2 billion to cover costs of the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill.BP said the decision to replace Hayward, 53, with the company's first ever non-British chief executive was made by mutual agreement.In a mark of faith in its outgoing leader, BP said it planned to recommend him for a non-executive board position at its Russian joint venture and will pay him 1.045 million pounds ($1.6 million), a year's salary, instead of the year's notice he was entitled to.The BP board is deeply saddened to lose a CEO whose success over some three years in driving the performance of the company was so widely and deservedly admired, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said in a statement.Svanberg said the April 20 explosion of the Macondo well on the Deepwater Horizon platform run by BP in the Gulf of Mexico has been a watershed incident for the company.BP remains a strong business with fine assets, excellent people and a vital role to play in meeting the world's energy needs,he said.But it will be a different company going forward, requiring fresh leadership supported by robust governance and a very engaged board.
Besides permanently plugging the oil leak and cleaning up the spill and the company's image, Dudley will oversee the sale of $30 billion in assets over the next 18 months to bolster the company's finances.Appearing briefly outside BP's London headquarters with Hayward and Svanberg, Dudley said that sealing the well was his priority and that he planned to focus on building relationships on the Gulf Coast and in Washington D.C.There's no question that we are going to learn a lot from this ... and I'm sure there will be changes, Dudley told reporters, as Hayward and Svanberg looked on without speaking.Hayward, who has a Ph.D in geology, had been a well-regarded chief executive. But his promise when he took the job in 2007 to focus like a laser on safety came back to haunt him after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and unleashed a deep-sea gusher of oil.He became the lightning rod for anti-BP feeling in the United States and didn't help matters with a series of gaffes, raising hackles by saying I want my life back,going sailing, and giving what was viewed as an evasive performance before U.S. members of Congress in June.In a statement on Tuesday, Hayward said it was right that BP embark on its next phase under new leadership.The Gulf of Mexico explosion was a terrible tragedy for which — as the man in charge of BP when it happened — I will always feel a deep responsibility, regardless of where blame is ultimately found to lie,he said.On top of the payout, Hayward retains his rights to shares under a long-term performance program which could eventually be worth several million pounds if BP's share price recovers. The stock has lost around 35 percent, or $60 billion, in market value to around $116 billion since the well explosion. The stock started out marginally higher on Tuesday, but was trading almost 1 percent lower at 413.35 pence in afternoon trade on the London Stock Exchange.Hayward, who will remain on the board until Nov. 30, will also be entitled to draw an annual pension of 600,000 pounds from a pension pot valued at around 11 million pounds.Svanberg described Dudley, 54, who was thrown out of Russia after a battle with shareholders in the company's TNK-BP joint venture, as a robust operator in the toughest circumstances.Currently BP's managing director, Dudley grew up partly in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and has so far avoided any public missteps. He spent 20 years at Amoco Corp., which merged with BP in 1998, and lost out to Hayward on the CEO slot three years ago.
Dudley will be based in London when he takes up his appointment and will hand over his present duties in the United States to Lamar McKay, the chairman and president of BP America. BP said the $32.2 billion charge for the cost of the spill led it to record a loss of $17 billion for the second quarter, compared with a profit of $4.39 billion a year earlier.It is the loss in 18 years. The charge includes the $20 billion compensation fund the company set up following pressure from President Barack Obama as well as costs to date of $2.9 billion.But the company also stressed its strong underlying financial position — revenue for the quarter was up 34 percent at $75.8 billion — and Hayward said it had reached a significant milestone with the capping of the leaking well. Crews were restarting work to plug the leaky Gulf well after the remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie blew through, forcing a short evacuation. The U.S. government's oil spill chief, Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Monday that the so-called static kill — in which mud and cement are blasted in from the top of the well — should start Aug. 2.If all goes well, the final stage — in which mud and cement are blasted in from deep underground — should begin Aug. 7.BP said the bottom kill could take days or weeks, depending on how well the static kill works, meaning it will be mid-August before the well is plugged for good.Hayward said the company expects to pay the substantial majority of the remaining direct spill response costs by the end of the year. Other costs are likely to be spread over a number of years, including any fines and penalties, longer-term remediation, compensation and litigation costs,Hayward said.
BP said the sale of $30 billion in assets will come primarily from its $250 billion Exploration and Production portfolio and assets will be selected on the basis that they are worth more to other companies than to BP.The company has already made a start with the $7 billion sale of gas assets in the United States, Canada and Egypt to Apache Corp. In London, Greenpeace protestors closed more than 50 service stations in a protest timed to coincide with the company's earnings update. The environmental action group is calling on Dudley to focus the company on greener and renewable sources of energy.Richard Hunter, head of U.K. Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said that significant challenges remain for the company but it is moving aggressively to position itself for the tough times ahead.The triple pronged approach of increased provisions, asset sales and a new CEO should be a potent mix in forming a strong future foundation,Hunter said.Behind the obvious headlines, the underlying trading performance was robust with a significant improvement having been made on a like for like basis.The company reported that underlying replacement cost profit — the measure most closely watched by analysts — was $5 billion for the three months between April and June when adjusted for one-off items and accounting effects. That compared favorably with a $2.9 billion profit for the second quarter of 2009.Outside the Gulf it is very encouraging that BP's global business has delivered another strong underlying performance, which means that the company is in robust shape to meet its responsibilities in dealing with the human tragedy and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,Hayward said.Higher prices for oil and gas made up for slightly lower output and a loss in gas marketing and trading in Exploration & Production, while Refining & Marketing reported increased profits as a result of strong performance in the fuels value chains and the lubricants and petrochemicals businesses.The company said it planned to reduce net debt to a range between $10 billion and $15 billion within the next 18 months, compared to net debt of $23 billion at the end of June, to ensure that it had the flexibility to meet its future financial obligations.Capital spending for 2010 and 2011 will be about $18 billion a year, in line with previous forecasts.AP Reporter Bernard McGhee in Atlanta contributed to this story.
Oil cleanup brings strangers, tension to towns By VICKI SMITH, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jul 26, 6:02 am ET
GRAND ISLE, La. – The women of Grand Isle are nervous. Used to be, they say, they could walk the streets of their beachside town alone, getting a little exercise after the hottest part of the day or setting out the trash after midnight.Now, a waitress won't let her 14-year-old daughter stroll to the store for a Coke, a souvenir shop owner is afraid to sit on her porch after dark and a bartender deadbolts her door, a newly purchased gun nearby.The vacationing families and sport fishermen who make this tourist town of 1,500 what it is are absent this summer, replaced by an army of workers brought in by BP to clean up the massive Gulf Coast oil spill.The outsiders walk in small groups along Route 1 at workday's end and sometimes cut across lawns and under elevated houses to reach bars like Daddy's Money, where women wrestle in oil. Some wear low-slung jeans, which prompted this warning note on one convenience store door: No pants on the ground allowed.What do such reactions mean? A BP official says some culture clash is understandable, though he's occasionally seen outright racial bias at work. But talk to some of the mostly white residents, and they don't directly mention the skin color of the workers, most of whom are black.The workers, they say, just act different. And that makes some people uneasy, even though the vast majority of the workers pose no threat.Vicki McVey, a 44-year-old who pours beers at Artie's Sports Bar, says she's not taking any chances.
Never had a gun. Never had a weapon. Now I got a weapon right next to my bed, says McVey, who stopped taking her grandson to the park when cleanup workers moved into a trailer nearby.You go to the park and they come and they touch you and want to talk to you and they harass you, she complains.Fears like McVey's don't surprise the men whose presence prompts them. Friday night, several black men in town for the cleanup sat in a grassy area near the island's only grocery store, deciding what meat to buy to grill for dinner. They said they hadn't been treated badly, though like most cleanup workers along the coast, they didn't want to give their names for fear of losing their jobs.This little town is just like any little town in the country, said one, who identified himself only as Daryl. A bunch of strangers are going to scare them. A bunch of black strangers are going to scare them even more.Another worker said he and his peers mostly just keep to themselves.People treat you OK, he said. But they haven't put any picnics on for us.People in town are talking about a recent stabbing, the first anyone can remember in ages (one published report said both victim and attacker were cleanup workers). Locals suspect the workers when items go missing now, including golf carts that folks often use to get around.No one offers facts and figures to back up the stories. Neither the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office nor Police Chief Euris DuBois, who's upset over recent media reports about his town, would provide crime statistics or speak to The Associated Press.
But the perception of a problem is undeniable.
You used to be able to go and enjoy yourself, you know? Have a few drinks with your friends,says 68-year-old Emma Chighizola, who used to sit outside and listen to the waves after a day of selling T-shirts and seashell tchotchkes at Blue Water Souvenirs. Now it's kind of dangerous. There's too many strangers.Parish Councilman Chris Roberts says he's witnessed hostile environments ... no question.Tension is natural when a small town has a sudden influx of outsiders, Roberts says, and parish officials are monitoring it. But bringing in help is necessary, he said: There's not (local) people lining up to go work in 105-degree heat to clean the beach.BP spokesman Jason French says some 1,800 workers from around the country report to Grand Isle at least once a day, including almost 300 who clean the town's beaches. BP tried to hire locals, he says, but no more than three dozen submitted applications for jobs that pay as little as $12 an hour. Some tension in town is over cultural differences, he says,but I can't deny there has been some racism.While BP won't respond to complaints it considers motivated by bias, French says it does promptly address any legitimate behavioral problems. Workers, for example, were told to stop crossing lawns because they were trespassing.BP also dismissed some cleanup workers for unspecified misbehavior, though French can't say how many because they worked for subcontractors. The oil company has begun requiring those contractors to screen workers for drug and alcohol use as a condition of employment.As someone who's been here for months, I get frustrated when workers are painted with a broad brush or the community is painted with a broad brush, French says.It's not a community of racists any more than we have convicts working the beach. These are hardworking people working the beaches,he says, and there are people who are nervous because they're seeing something they haven't seen before.All along the Louisiana coast, the flood of oil spill workers has temporarily altered towns. Quiet fishing villages in St. Bernard Parish have become small cities that bustle like military bases, with security checkpoints, a round-the-clock police presence and the never-ending rumble of trucks hauling food, trash and equipment on narrow country roads.
And besides the influx of men and machines, there's a deeper factor underlying locals' mood. They talk of frustration over the loss of something simple — the joy of a summer on the water. That disappeared when the Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 oil rig workers and spilling millions of gallons of oil.You don't hear no fishing stories, no beach stories, no talking about their kids and how they caught their first fish. None of that,says Buggie Vegas, owner of the Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle. It's just work, work, work. Every day, from a Saturday to a Monday to a Wednesday. We don't know what day it is. It don't matter what day it is.
Vegas' 30 rental units are full and his store still has some business, but it's different: Instead of selling bait and tackle or T-shirts, he's stocking green plastic hardhats, black rubber boots and tie-down straps.Everybody's like robots, he says. They just trying to get hired on.Artie's Sports Bar normally employs 16 bartenders who serve 2,000 people and pocket at least $250 in tips on a Saturday night. Now, it takes just six of them to wait on a crowd of 100. Security guards who used to work only on weekends now monitor the door at Artie's every night, checking patrons for weapons and watching closely for trouble.When she doesn't like how things are going, McVey plays country music, hoping the crowd will move on.Shannon Ronquille, a 33-year-old waitress, says authorities patrol the beach on four-wheelers at night, protecting waterfront homes that owners are reluctant to rent to cleanup crews.It doesn't help that business is off more than 60 percent at Barataria Seafood Grill, the island's only fine dining establishment — a place where, in normal times, dressed-up vacationers often wait an hour for seating.Now, Ronquille says, looking over the empty, white linen-covered tables,we have guys coming in with oil all over their boots.Two and a half hours away in Arabi, the tension manifests itself differently.
There, a former school, renamed Camp Hope after Hurricane Katrina, has for five years been home to volunteers from across the country who came to rebuild storm-wrecked homes.But in June, the volunteers were told to move: BP was converting the building to a work camp.All the locals were more than happy to see AmeriCorps people here, that people were helping to rebuild, and it's just a stark contrast to that, says 20-year-old AmeriCorps worker Kyla Philbrook, of Albany, N.Y. St. Bernard Parish has been spared the complaints that mar Grand Isle for several reasons: In Hopedale, Shell Beach and Delacroix, there's no infrastructure to support thousands of workers. No grocery stores. No bars. No motels. Many workers are bused in for the day.Law enforcement, citing lessons from Katrina, also set the tone early on: In May, Sheriff Jack Stephens declared the community won't tolerate a criminal invasion in the guise of people claiming they are arriving to help.A month later, he asked federal immigration officials to investigate claims illegal immigrants were working for BP.We're not worried about people who want to earn an honest buck, he said at the time.Since then, deputies have made only a handful of arrests. Under a deal with BP, off-duty deputies provide paid security at worker encampments. And deputies engage every chance they get, whether at a traffic stop or a checkpoint, says Chief Deputy James Pohlmann, who notes that BP has strict rules for the Arabi camp. It's like an extension of the job. There's no alcohol, no weapons, he says. If you leave, you have to leave on a shuttle bus to a parking lot that's offsite.Though workers are free to leave in their own vehicles, they are not free to walk around the neighborhood. If caught doing so, their ID is seized, and what that means is, you lost your job.In Hopedale, oysterboat captain Michael Anglin says the strategies are working. He's even made some friends among the outsiders.There's tension sometimes, but it's just like any job, he says. It's mostly been on where you park your car. In the wrong spot, somebody gets a little arrogant. And fishermen don't put up with that. It's our town, ya know. You just visiting.Traffic, in fact, is the biggest complaint among residents who watch weed-filled lots slashed and burned to make way for trailers. At the end of Hopedale Highway in Breton Sound Marina, BP runs a mess tent that feeds workers three meals a day. That means a steady stream of vehicles.
I'm scared to let my kids cross the highway,says 55-year-old former fisherman Kurt Guerra, his 9-year-old daughter Cassie playing on a swingset a few hundred feet from the pavement.The presence of so many strangers is unsettling, Guerra says, but with barely a place to buy a beer, problems are few.Thank God they keep em working all the time,he says.Associated Press writer Mary Foster contributed to this report.
Ships head back to oil well, ready to resume work By DAVID DISHNEAU and HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writers - JULY 25,10 9:15AM
NEW ORLEANS – Ships were getting back in place Sunday at the Gulf of Mexico site of BP's leaky oil well as crews raced to resume work on plugging the gusher before another big storm stops work again.Now that Tropical Storm Bonnie has fizzled on Louisiana's coast, engineers are hoping clear weather lasts long enough for them to finish their work on relief wells. But as peak hurricane season approaches, the potential for another storm-related delay is high.We're going to be playing a cat-and-mouse game for the remainder of the hurricane season, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said Saturday. Sure enough, another disturbance already was brewing in the Caribbean, although forecasters said it wasn't likely to strengthen into a tropical storm.Meanwhile, British media reported that BP chief executive Tony Hayward was negotiating the terms of his departure ahead of the company's half-year results announcement Tuesday.Citing unidentified sources, the BBC and Sunday Telegraph reported detailed talks regarding Hayward's future took place over the weekend. A formal announcement was expected in the next 24 hours, the BBC reported.
BP spokesman Toby Odone said Sunday that Hayward remains BP's chief executive, and he has the confidence of the board and senior management.Hayward, who angered Americans by minimizing the spill's environmental impact and expressing his exasperation by saying I'd like my life back, has been under heavy criticism over his gaffe-prone leadership during the spill.Back on the Gulf, a rig drilling the relief tunnel that will pump in mud and cement to seal the well returned to the spill site after evacuating the area.Crews corked the relief tunnel Wednesday and the temporary halt had an unpleasant consequence: Efforts to solidly seal the well were pushed back by at least a week, Allen said.Completion now looks possible by mid-August, but Allen said he wouldn't hesitate to order another evacuation based on forecasts similar to the ones for Bonnie.We have no choice but to start well ahead of time if we think the storm track is going to bring gale force winds, which are 39 mph or above, anywhere close to well site, Allen said.In the past 10 years, an average of five named storms have hit the Gulf each hurricane season. This year, two have struck already — Bonnie and Hurricane Alex at the end of June, which delayed cleanup of BP's massive oil spill for a week even though it didn't get closer than 500 miles from the well.Usually you don't see the first hurricane statistically until Aug. 10,said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 2010 hurricane season is running just ahead of a typical pace.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
Even though the evacuation turned out to be short-lived, it revealed one important fact: BP and the federal government are increasingly sure that the temporary plug that has mostly contained the oil for eight days will hold.They didn't loosen the cap even when they thought they'd lose sight of it during the evacuation, although in the end, at least some of the real-time cameras trained on the ruptured well apparently kept rolling.Ironically, the storm may even have a positive effect. Churning waters could actually help dissipate oil in the water, spreading out the surface slick and breaking up tar balls, said Jane Lubchenco, leader of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Beaches may look cleaner in some areas as the storm surge pulls oil away, though other areas could see more oil washed ashore. I think the bottom line is, it's better than it might have been,Lubchenco said. At the site of the relief well, workers who spent Thursday and Friday pulling nearly a mile of segmented steel pipe out of the water and stacking the 40-to-50 foot sections on deck will now have to reverse the process. It will likely be Monday before BP can resume drilling. By Wednesday, workers should finish installing steel casing to fortify the relief shaft, Allen said, and by Friday, crews plan to start blasting in heavy mud and cement through the mechanical cap, the first phase of a two-step process to seal the well for good. BP will then finish drilling the relief tunnel — which could take up to a week — to pump in more mud and cement from nearly two miles under the sea floor. Meanwhile, folks in the oil-affected hamlet of Grand Isle, La., spent a gray Saturday at the beach, listening to music. The Island Aid concert, which included LeAnn Rimes and Three Dog Night, raised money for civic projects on the island. For the afternoon at least, things were almost back to normal. Young women in bathing suits rode around on golf carts while young men in pickup trucks tooted their horns and shouted. This is the way Grand Isle is supposed to be but hasn't been this year,said Anne Leblanc of Metairie, La., who said her family has been visiting the island for years.This is the first we came this year. With the oil spill there hasn't been a reason to come, no swimming, no fishing.Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in New Orleans and Mary Foster in Grand Isle, La., contributed to this report.
PALESTINAN STATE IN JUDEA SAMARIA
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
1 TIMOTHY 4:1-2
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
2 TIMOTHY 3:13
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
THESE FALSE CHRISTIANS WILL PAY BIGTIME AT THE JUDGEMENT OF THEIR BODIES IN FRONT OF JESUS.WHEN THEY GO TO THE DARKEST OF THE LAKE OF FIRE OF BURNING AND TORMENT FOREVER FOR DENYING JESUS AND TURNING THEIR BACK ON HIM.WE ALSO HAVE A LOT OF CHRISTIANS (FAKES)TURNING TO NOAHIDES AND DENYING JESUS ALSO.THIS IS THE WORST YOU CAN DO -IS TO ONCE BE A BELIEVER IN JESUS(YOU CLAIM TO BE)THEN LET SATAN DECIEVE YOU AND FALL AWAY AND DENY JESUS AS GOD.
Novelist Anne Rice says she's leaving Christianity By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer – Thu Jul 29, 9:07 pm ET
NEW YORK – Anne Rice has had a religious conversion: She's no longer a Christian.In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control, the author wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. In the name of ... Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.Rice, 68, is best known for Interview With a Vampire and other gothic novels. Raised as a Catholic, she had rejected the church early in her life but renewed her faith in recent years and in 2008 released the memoir Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.In a telephone interview Thursday, Rice said she had been having doubts for the past two to three years. She was troubled by the child abuse scandals in the church, and the church's defensive reaction, and by the ex-communication of Sister Margaret McBride, a nun and hospital administrator who had approved an abortion for a woman whose life was in danger.I believed for a long time that the differences, the quarrels among Christians didn't matter a lot for the individual, that you live your life and stay out of it. But then I began to realize that it wasn't an easy thing to do, said Rice, speaking from her home near Palm Springs, Calif. I came to the conclusion that if I didn't make this declaration, I was going to lose my mind.
Rice said she is a Democrat who supports the health care legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama and believes gay marriage inevitably will be permitted throughout the country. Although no longer part of any denomination, she remains a believer and continues to read theology and post Biblical passages on her Facebook page. She has no immediate plans to write about her leaving the church and will continue with her metaphysical fiction series, Songs of the Seraphim.Rice will not be taking up vampires again, but she said she is a big fan of the HBO series True Blood, enjoyed the first two Twilight movies (she has yet to read any of the Stephenie Meyer novels) and is interested in seeing her most famous character, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, return to the screen.We're in talks about it, she said. But then we've always been in talks about it. Hope springs eternal in California.
Egyptian Journalist Describes Absolute Prosperity in Gaza
by Maayana Miskin JULY 30,10
With Hamas telling tales of deprivation and suffering in Gaza, Egyptian journalist Ashraf Abu al-Houl has added his report to others who were surprised to discover a prosperous Gaza in which prices are low and luxury businesses are booming. Al-Houl's story of his trip to Gaza and his realization that in actual terms, Gaza is not under siege was written up in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast. Further, the site of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me he reported.Concerned that his initial impression of prosperity may have been misleading,I toured the new resorts, most of which are quite grand, as well as the commercial markets, to verify my hypothesis. The resorts and markets have come to symbolize prosperity, and to prove that the siege is formal or political, not economic,Al-Houl said.Gaza's markets are filled with a plethora of goods,he wrote. Prices on many items, particularly food, are much lower than they are in Egypt, he said. With goods entering Gaza from both smuggling tunnels to Egypt and humanitarian aid shipments coming in via Israeli crossings,supply is much greater than demand, he stated.
The evident prosperity is not enjoyed by all, or even most, of Gaza's residents, according to Al-Houl. The problem is the vast differences in the distribution of wealth. The luxury resorts and wide range of consumer goods are enjoyed by only a few groups, he said, primarily those who own smuggling tunnels to Egypt and those who work for international organizations such as the United Nations' UNRWA and who do not include or aid the rest of the population.Most of the new resorts are owned by members, or associates, of Hamas,he reported. In addition, the Hamas municipalities charge high fees, in Gaza terms, for the use of public beaches,he added.Al-Houl quoted political activist Mustafa Ibrahim as saying that while Gaza's rich invest in the leisure industry, 80% of residents rely on UNRWA, and unemployment is approximately 45%. This creates a distorted picture,Ibrahim explained.(IsraelNationalNews.com)
Abbas: PA State To Be Judenrein
by Maayana Miskin JULY 30,10
If a Palestinian Authority state is created in Judea and Samaria, no Israeli citizen will be allowed to set foot inside, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said this week in a meeting with members of the Arab League. The PA chairman also stated that he would block any Jewish soldiers from serving with an international force stationed on PA-controlled land. I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land, Abbas declared. Abbas addressed the Arab League during a discussion over the possibility of holding direct negotiations with Israel. Like Abbas, Arab League members agreed to direct talks in theory, but only if a number of measures and conditions were met. De facto, both Abbas and the League nixed the talks, but the constant discusiion of conditions is seen as an attempt to throw the ball back into Israel's court after PM Netanyahu, in Washington recently, succeeded in putting the onus for agreeing to talks on Abbas.The agreement depends on what will be discussed [in Israel-PA talks] and the manner in which negotiations are conducted, said Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin-Jassim bin-Jabor al-Thani.Abbas has demanded that Israeli completely freeze construction for Jews in areas east of the 1949 armistice line, including north, south, and east Jerusalem, and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commit to creating a PA state with borders based on the armistice line. Until those conditions are met, Abbas has said, the PA will not negotiate.
Arab League members claimed they had received new support from United States President Barack Obama. A recent letter from Obama to Abbas included guarantees, according to League head Amr Moussa. He did not specify the alleged promises.During his meeting with the Arab League, Abbas gave his explanation for why negotiations with the previous Israeli administration, headed by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, failed to yield a peace deal. We almost reached an agreement, and I agreed to a land swap for 0.19% of the territory, while he suggested 6.5%. I refused, and we did not reach an agreement,he said.The land swap idea is meant to allow Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria to remain in their current locations even in the case of an Israel-PA peace deal.Abbas reiterated his support for the right of return, the demand by Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence when their leaders promised them a quick return after the Jews' annihilation, to come back to the country along with the hundreds of thousands of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren born since. That demand is the reason they remained in squalid refugee camps as opposed to the larger number of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands in 1948 who became productive citizens of the land of Israel. Abbas said he had discussed the right of return with Olmert, and had warned that the issue was very dangerous and must be resolved according to the Arab initiative.(IsraelNationalNews.com)
Italian MPs Call to Ban IHH in Europe
by Maayana Miskin JULY 29,10
Six Italian Members of Parliament have called to consider banning the IHH, the Turkish pro-terrorist group whose activists clashed with IDF soldiers aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla in late May. Germany has already banned the group, and 87 United States Senators have signed a call to classify it as a terrorist organization in their country.The Islamic fundamentalist nature of IHH has been documented by numerous declarations praising martyrdom and Israel's destruction, said MPs Fiamma Nirenstein, Enrico Pianetta, Guglielmo Picchi, Antonio Martino, Gennaro Malgieri, and Massimo Polledri in an official parliamentary question. Several such declarations were made shortly before the ship Mavi Marmara, part of a larger Gaza-bound flotilla, set sail, they continued. IHH members aboard the Marmara told reporters before departing that their purpose was religious martyrdom,they noted.
The MPs pointed out that IHH is a member of the Union of Good, a Saudi Arabia-based umbrella group for Islamic organizations that is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Union of Good funnels money to Hamas; it has been banned by Israel and designated as supporting terrorism by the United States.The Turkish government itself was formerly concerned over IHH, they said, and investigated the group in the late 1990s over its links with Al-Qaeda. The group was investigated in the U.S. for alleged involvement in an attempted terrorist attack in Los Angeles, and in France for funding Islamic terrorist groups.The MPs concluded by asking, We would like to know the following: What is the position of the Italian government regarding the possibility of including the NGO known as the IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) in the EU list of terrorist organizations and whether or not it intends to push an action to discuss it.(IsraelNationalNews.com)
Israel Wants Even More Research & Development
by Elad Benari JULY 29,10
A new Israeli initiative is attempting to convince international banks to set up research & development centers in Israel by having the country pay part of the employees’ salaries.In an interview he gave to Bloomberg on Monday, Finance Ministry Director General Haim Shani said that Israel’s government will pay as much as 50 percent of the workers’ wages at the banks’ R&D units for up to five years. The amount of payment by the government will vary depending on whether the center is based in the central part of Israel or in the periphery, as well as on the level of salary. The reason for the initiative, explained Shani, is that We want to attract large financial services companies, particularly big banks. It will make part of their competitive advantage in the years to come.Shani is currently conducting meetings with officials at US financial companies. Several months ago he conducted meetings in the UK. The economic news out of Israel has been positive despite hard economic times for many other countries during the last recession. This past May, Israel was accepted into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and it was also recently announced that Jerusalem was chosen as the venue for the annual OECD conference in October. Tourism ministers from the 31 countries in the OECD will attend the meeting which will be attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.
Israel has also historically invested in research. In 2008, for example, the country spent 4.9 percent of its GDP on R&D.Israel, being the greatest per capita producer of technology, also wants to capitalize on this industry. The country is already home to R&D centers for companies such as Intel, IBM, Motorola, Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. Approximately 35,000 Israelis are employed in R&D. Technology exports in Israel rose an annualized 68 percent in the first 11 months in 2009. According to a recent forecast by Israel’s Finance Ministry, the country’s economy will grow by 3.6 percent this year, according to a June 6 Finance Ministry forecast, and by 3.8 percent next year. Shani’s initiative is, in fact, much more than just about bringing more R&D to Israel. He also hopes that if his proposed program is successful, it will result in more new immigrants being lured to the country.We know there are people who would like to return or make aliyah,he said.It's part of a larger strategy of bringing minds back to Israel.(IsraelNationalNews.com)
DOCTOR DOCTORIAN FROM ANGEL OF GOD
then the angel said, Financial crisis will come to Asia. I will shake the world.
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
19 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.
16 And he(FALSE POPE) causeth all,(WORLD SOCIALISM) both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:(CHIP IMPLANT)
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.(6-6-6) A NUMBER SYSTEM
WORLD MARKET RESULTS
HALF HOUR DOW RESULTS FRI JULY 30,2010
09:30 AM -2.25
10:00 AM -17.45
10:30 AM -41.16
11:00 AM +7.56
11:30 AM -17.56
12:00 PM -11.39
12:30 PM -13.55
01:00 PM -13.32
01:30 PM -48.93
02:00 PM -72.91
02:30 PM -31.64
03:00 PM -31.94
03:30 PM +28.45
04:00 PM -1.22 10,465.94
S&P 500 1101.60 +0.07
NASDAQ 2254.70 +3.01
GOLD 1,182.00 +13.60
OIL 78.99 +0.63
TSE 300 11,713.40 -15.20
CDNX 1427.36 +5.07
S&P/TSX/60 685.03 -1.17
YEAR TO DATE PERFORMANCE
Dow -80 points at 4 minutes of trading today.
Dow -118 points at low today.
Dow +31 points at high today so far.
GOLD opens at $1,174.00.OIL opens at $77.76 today.
Dow -118 points at low today so far.
Dow +31 points at high today so far.
Dow -118 points at low today.
Dow +31 points at high today.
GOLD ALLTIME HIGH $1,260.90 (NOT AT CLOSE)
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast(THE EU,REVIVED ROME) shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth,(7TH WORLD EMPIRE) which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.(TR BLOCKS)
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise:(10 NATIONS) and another shall rise after them;(#11 SPAIN) and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.(BE HEAD OF 3 KINGS OR NATIONS).
Commission official to bridge supervision gap of Swift agreement
VALENTINA POP 29.07.2010 @ 17:44 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Pressed by the coming into force of the Swift agreement on 1 August, the EU commission is about to appoint an interim technician to oversee the searches conducted by US authorities on European bank transactions as part of anti-terrorist investigations.The supervisor's task is to check the way American investigators are conducting their searches through the personal data of Europeans whenever they have a lead on a terrorism suspect receiving or sending money via the old continent.The main company targeted by this agreement is the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift), which had been supplying the US with this data for its Terrorism Finance Tracking Program - initially a covert operation set up in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The appointment of this independent EU person was a condition laid down by the European Parliament for approving the deal last month, after it had struck down a previous version in February citing poor data protection provisions.
Under the job description, the interim supervisor, pending security clearance from the US authorities, will have the authority to block any or all searches that are broader than the scope of the agreement – for instance random searches or algorithmic profiling or computer filtering.But as the regular selection procedure is expected to last two to three months, the EU commission is about to send someone provisionally to Washington, until the definitive appointment is made, a spokesman said Thursday (29 July).The appointment was very technical, not political and the name of the interim official will not be made public, Michele Cercone, spokesman for home affairs, said during a press briefing.The interim person could be someone holding a position within the EU mission in Washington and dealing with home affairs, which would mean that he or she already has the necessary clearance to take up the post next week.Washington is eager to have the agreement in place as soon as possible, warning that the months lapsed since the beginning of the year, when the data flow was interrupted, resulted in a security gap.It is expected that an information request will be put forward by the end of next week, with the first data flowing around 20 August, after Europol, the EU police co-operation agency, had given its approval.Because everything was rushed through, in the name of the security gap, we are now facing a supervision gap. But it's better to have someone provisionally than nobody at all,Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld, one of the critics of the agreement, told this website. As to the secrecy surrounding the interim appointment, Ms in't Veld said this was a wrong approach.We don't want someone in the secret service, we need transparency, to be able to ask questions. It doesn't have to be a terrorism fighter, the job of this person is to oversee the implementation of the agreement. He or she should be a data protection specialist, she explained.The EU commission points to the fact that the final appointment will be the result of an open contest, but does not exclude that the interim person keeps the job permanently.A spokesperson for the US government said that Washington is working very closely with the Eu to implement all aspects of the agreement, including the role of the EU-appointed monitor.
Italian gag law threatens bloggers with €25,000 fines for ‘incorrect' facts
LEIGH PHILLIPS 29.07.2010 @ 17:44 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Bloggers, podcasters and even anyone who posts updates on social networks such as Facebook all face being slapped with fines of up to €25,000 for publishing incorrect facts, if a bill that journalists' organisations are calling authoritarian currently before the Italian parliament is passed.A provision within the government's Media and Wiretapping Bill will extend Italy's obbligo di rettifica, or rectification obligation - a law dating back to 1948 that requires newspapers to publish corrections - to the internet and indeed anyone responsible for information websites.According to the draft law, bloggers and other online publishers - which lawyers believe includes users of Facebook and Myspace - will be obliged to post corrections within 48 hours of any complaint regarding their content.
If authors do not comply, they face fines of up to €25,000. European digital rights campaigners and Italian journalists warn that the move could darken much of Italian cyberspace as for small-scale bloggers, website owners and even those who comment on discussion pages, it would be a near impossibility to deal with a complaint within the alloted time span.Furthermore, warns the European Digital Rights (EDRI), a pan-European coalition of online civil liberties advocacy organisations, the law implies that bloggers must register with a legal domicile with some authority, facing the same bureaucratic formalities as the written press and that they will have to connect to the internet every single day in order to check whether there is a request for correction and place the correction in due time.Attempts to soften the law by extending the correction period and reducing the fine to €2500 were rejected last week by the head of the chamber's justice committee.EDRI warned on Wednesday in a statement that the law will add new barriers to freedom of expression on the internet, and would discourage bloggers who will hesitate to write on economical or political issues that might bother certain personalities.The bill as a whole, whose main purpose is to restrict the use of wiretapping and the ability of publications to quote wiretap transcripts, has provoked an outcry by journalists.The law proposes to prohibit the publication of transcripts of wiretap recordings, leaks of which in recent years have become something of a staple in the Italian press, particularly in cases of alleged government corruption and organised crime - and indeed Prime Minister Berlusconi.Journalists or editors that publish such transcripts would face fines of up to €464,700.The government defends the bill as a necessary to protect the privacy of individuals that are the targets of judicial investigations. In Italy, we are all spied on. There are 150,000 telephones that are tapped and it is intolerable,Mr Berlusconi recently said, explaining why the law was required.On 8 July, the FNSI press union led a publication strike in which most of the country's newspapers apart from a handful of conservative papers and ones published by Prime Minister Berlusconi's media empire. The press black-out was intended to show the kind of silence that the law would impose,according to the union.
Reporters Without Borders told EUobserver the law was authoritarian.This is not just an attempt to gag bloggers and actually all journalists, but more widely it is about stopping the investigation of corruption and organised crime,said Olivier Basille, the head of the group's Brussels office. Privacy is important, but in these sort of cases, the public interest in knowing this information outweighs such concerns, he continued.He said the bill should be seen as an embarrassment by the whole of the European Union: This is an important issue for Italy, but it is crucial for the EU. Italy is sending a signal to countries beyond the EU that it is okay to severely restrict press freedoms.When the EU speaks to China or Syria or whoever about press freedoms, they will say, Ah, but the EU is already doing the same thing.It's not just Italy though. There are problems with Ireland, Bulgaria and Romania as well. In January last year, Ireland passed an anti-blasphemy law under which you can be fined €20,000. When our organisation raised concerns about a journalist being jailed for blasphemy in the Yemen, they said right back to us: But Ireland does the same thing, and to some extent they're right.Reporters Without Borders has complained to the commission about the Italian law several times, but the commission cannot oppose this because it is not related to commerce, the single market, these sorts of things.
Commission fundamental rights spokesman Matthew Newman told this website that Brussels will wait until the final law is passed before commenting on whether any aspect contravenes EU law. It's a moving target at the moment, with all sorts of amendments. It's too early to comment.In response, the Reporters Without Borders has written to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, hoping that at the member-state level some pressure could be brought to bear on Rome.While Brussels is keeping quite on the legislation, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in June condemned the bill in June, saying it could seriously hinder investigative journalism in Italy.Mr Berlusconi's arch-rival in his conservative People of Freedom party, Gianfranco Fini, has also sharply criticised the draft law.The bill was due to be discussed by Italian MPs on Thursday, as the government had hoped to have it passed before the summer recess at the end of the month. Due to agenda problems, it is now expected to be considered some time in early September.In 2007, the country's then centre-left government of Romano Prodi proposed a similar bill that was subsequently abandoned. Journalists went on strike to protest that legisation as well.
Norway tops up funding scheme for south-eastern EU states
VALENTINA POP 29.07.2010 @ 09:27 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on Wednesday (28 July) agreed to donate €1.79 billion to the EU's poorer southern and eastern members in the coming five years for green projects, labour rights, research and human resources, a top-up of 22 percent compared to the previous period.The funding scheme is part of the European Economic Area agreement which ties the three countries to the EU, allowing them to participate in the internal market without actual membership of the bloc.Norway provides 97 percent of the funding, amounting to €1.73 billion, and has expressed its satisfaction that the original demand put forward by the EU – over €2 billion – was scaled down. The negotiations have been long and challenging. The demand originally put forward by the EU has been reduced to a sum that is acceptable, and we have agreed on how our contribution is to be targeted in order to ensure good results for both Norway and the EU, Norway's foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement.Initial disagreements over fish quotas for Norway, which are also part of the agreement, dragged the talks on until December 2009, when Oslo agreed to the terms of the deal. Since then, EU member states on the receiving end – all eastern European countries plus Greece, Spain and Portugal – have been quarrelling over who gets what.
This means that although the funding period is supposed to cover the years 2009-2014, money will not actually start flowing until 2011, pending bilateral agreements which still have to be signed with each recipient country.Poland will continue to be the biggest recipient of the scheme, with €578.1 million, followed by Romania, for whom €306 million have been earmarked.The bulk of the money will be allocated to environment protection programmes, renewable energy and the development of carbon capture and storage technology aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.We are entering into a critical phase in the global climate efforts, and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the EU on giving priority to climate change in the EEA cooperation with new member states, Mr Store said.A novelty of the renewed agreement is the set-up of a fund worth €8 million targeting the promotion of decent work and tripartite dialogue with labour unions, employers and government officials, in line with the Nordic model of social democracy that Oslo is proud of.Meanwhile, Iceland, who just started accession negotiations with the EU, gave reassurances it would not abandon its financial commitments even if it were to become a member before 2014 when the scheme is again up for renewal.Switzerland, also a non-EU member integrated in the internal market and the border-free zone of the EU, has a parallel funding scheme for the new member states. Brussels is now looking at ways to integrate Bern into the EEA agreement – to which Swiss voters said no in a referendum in 1992.
25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Flash floods kill over 110 in Pakistan, Kashmir
Thu Jul 29, 12:46 pm ET
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – At least 113 people have died and thousands more have been made homeless as flash floods triggered by torrential rains hit northwest Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir, officials said Thursday.The army has been summoned to tackle the problems caused by the flood waters, with Swat and Malakand districts the hardest hit.I can confirm the death of 91 people in the last two days in different areas, senior minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Bashir Ahmad Bilour, told AFP.More than 60 people were killed in Malakand alone while Swat itself was cut off as heavy rains swept away several bridges and disrupted communications.We are facing severe difficulties in the rescue work as rain hampered helicopter flights, Bilour said.The floods came as the country mourned the death of 152 people in a plane crash. The crash near Islamabad on Tuesday was also caused by bad weather, officials said as investigations continued.Bilour said more than 30,000 people had been displaced in Peshawar alone.Provincial planning minister Rahim Dad put the toll at 96.Latest report is that flash floods have claimed 96 lives, he told AFP.Most of the dead were killed after houses collapsed on them or drowned in overflowing streams, he said, adding that the waters washed away homes and shops in several areas, he said.
The military said in a statement that it had sent boats to rescue stranded people and army engineers were attempting to open roads and divert the waters from key routes.The floods have destroyed thousands of hectares (acres) of cultivated land, officials said.Meteorological office chief Qamar Zaman predicted more rains over the next 24 hours as the monsoon continues, but with less intensity.At least 22 people were killed and more than 30 injured Thursday as dozens of houses collapsed due to heavy rains in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, state premier Sardar Atique Ahmed told a late night news conference.The situation is very serious, it could worsen, as almost all rivers were flowing above the normal level, he said.Residents said announcements were made over mosque loudspeakers warning people that floods may hit the state capital Muzaffarabad as water levels of the River Neelum were abnormally high.We fear the floods this time will be worst than we saw in 1991 when around 150 people were killed in the region, the premier said.The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both.
US Fed official warns of Japanese-style stagnation
by Andrew Beatty – Thu Jul 29, 5:19 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US economy risks Japanese-style stagnation, a top Federal Reserve official warned Thursday, as a key economic report was expected to show the recovery is losing pace.Bluntly cautioning about the peril of deflation, James Bullard -- a member of the Fed's interest rate-setting panel -- said the United States was closer to a Japanese-style lost decade than at any time in recent history.
Escape from such an outcome is problematic, he wrote in a Fed journal.Hope is not a strategy.Given any risk of an external shock that would spark falling prices -- squeezing firms and forcing ever-slower growth -- Bullard said the central bank should consider restarting crisis measures.Since the beginning of the financial crisis in late 2007, the Fed and Treasury Department have purchased hundreds of billions of dollars of US debt in the hope of boosting economic activity, part of a process known in economic jargon as quantitative easing.But with interest rates at historic lows, the Fed has few levers left to prime the economy. Bullard warned that the bank would find it difficult to bring interest rates back to normal levels to help exit the spiral.Promising low interest rates at zero for a long time is a double-edged sword, he said. A better policy response to a negative shock is to expand the quantitative easing program through the purchase of Treasury securities.
Until recently, the central bank had been looking forward to unloading such investments and putting its balance sheet back in order.But with the recovery teetering on the brink, it is being forced to consider stepping back into the breach.
On Friday, the US government will publish its growth estimates for the second quarter. Analysts expect gross domestic product to have slowed to 2.5 percent in the period, down from 2.7 percent in the first three months of the year.Still, Bullard's comments appeared to paint a darker picture of the economy than that presented by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who recently told lawmakers he was prepared to take further action but only if the recovery seems to be faltering.We are going to continue to monitor the economy closely and continue to evaluate the alternatives that we have, Bernanke said.If the recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, the incentive would be less.Bullard is widely considered an inflation hawk, so his comments were seen by many as a sign of a tectonic shift within the central bank.But a Fed official denied any policy shift, telling AFP that Bullard had only sought to spark debate.
That view was shared by analysts.
Bullard's comments should be taken in the context of contingency planning and not as indicative of an imminent policy move, said Michael Gapen of Barclays Capital.It is more likely that the analysis is meant to influence the direction that the Fed would move should conditions warrant.
Italy seeks private sponsors to restore Colosseum
Thu Jul 29, 10:59 am ET
ROME – Italian officials are seeking to raise some euro25 million (about $32 million) in private money to finance the restoration of one of the country's iconic landmarks: the Colosseum.The Culture Ministry says the government will accept bids from possible sponsors from Aug. 4 to Sept. 15.The ministry said in a statement that sponsors funding the project will be able to promote their image, but that any ads will have to be compatible with the decorum of the 2,000-year-old arena.Officials said Thursday the Rome city hall is also looking to charge tourists a few extra euros (dollars) in tax for hotels and some museums.The tax, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will apply to other tourism services as well, such as double-decker tour buses, bars and restaurants set up along the bank of the Tiber river and tour boats, said Mauro Cutrufo, deputy mayor of Rome.The tax is expected to bring an extra euro50 million into the city's public coffers, he said.
China allows release of critical IMF report
by P. Parameswaran – Thu Jul 29, 5:20 pm ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) – China allowed an IMF report critical of its currency policy to be released Thursday for the first time in four years, signaling Beijing's confidence that it can control the debate on the yuan.The Washington-based International Monetary Fund staff report charged that the yuan was substantially undervalued despite Beijing's decision more than a month ago to let the currency be traded more freely.Aside from a clear difference in view on the current value of the yuan, which the United States and other nations think has been kept low by Beijing for a trade advantage, the report also reflected an opinion split on China's current account surplus -- the broadest measure of its trade with the world.I would hope to believe the fact that the Chinese decided to release the staff report reflects a view on their part that the report was balanced, was fairly reflective of their views as well as the staff's views and the overall picture that it was even-handed, said the IMF China mission chief Nigel Chalk.Obviously there was a difference of view on the currency and there was a difference of view on the prospects of the current account, said Chalk, who led an IMF mission to China for annual consultations on Beijing's policies ahead of preparation of the report.China has disallowed the annual IMF staff report from being made public since 2006, protesting against the fund's characterization of its currency and pressuring the board to omit its findings, sources said.Under IMF rules economies can choose whether to allow the body's staff reports to be publicly released.Many analysts believe the yuan is vastly undervalued against the dollar -- by as much as 40 percent -- despite a June 19 decision by the Chinese central bank to let the yuan trade more freely.Since the move, the yuan, which had been effectively pegged at 6.8 to the dollar since mid-2008, has appreciated by less than one percent.Beijing's allowing the publication of the IMF staff report signals increasing confidence on China's part that it can control the debate about its currency, Eswar Prasad, former head of the IMF China division, told AFP.
The debate has divided the IMF.
The split appeared between the IMF executive board and the staff, who went on the mission, as well as within the board.The IMF board, in a report Tuesday on the consultations with China, said not all directors agreed the exchange rate was undervalued and that a number of them disagreed with the staff?s assessment of the exchange rate.The staff report points out that the yuan exchange rate is substantially below the level that is consistent with medium-term fundamentals.The executive directors' report felt the yuan was just undervalued and that a number of them supported China's position.The fact that the IMF executive board was clearly much more supportive of China's currency policy than the IMF staff seem to have been may also have emboldened China because it feels that it has fewer detractors in the international community, said Prasad, economics professor at Cornell University.The board also accused the staff of basing China's current account surplus projections on uncertain forecasts.The Chinese authorities argued that China's current account surplus will remain about four percent of gross domestic product whereas the IMF staff projected that it will revert back to eight percent of GDP. This issue has broader implications because if China runs a big current account surplus, somebody has to be running a current account deficit on the other side, Prasad said, citing the constant trade deficit row with the US. Often blaming the burgeoning US trade deficit with China on the undervalued yuan, US lawmakers have been pushing Beijing to allow its currency to rise, saying it could reduce the flood of red ink.
Last year, the deficit rose to a whopping 227 billion dollars.
A key US House of Representatives committee with power over taxes and trade said Thursday it would hold a September 15 hearing to weigh possible new steps to press China over its currency policy, the panel's chairman said Thursday. There is no real question that China's deliberately undervalued exchange rate is unfair, contributes to global trade imbalances, and costs the United States jobs and economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector,he said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin.
Saudi king in Syria amid regional tensions By ALBERT AJI, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 29, 4:13 pm ET
DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria on Thursday warned the United States to stop trying to interfere as Arab leaders try to defuse heightened tensions in the Middle East.Saudi King Abdullah, who arrived in Syria on Thursday, was expected to travel with the Syrian president to Beirut on Friday to help calm concerns over pending indictments in the 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister.U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington this week that he hoped Syrian President Bashar Assad would listen very attentively to Abdullah, a U.S. ally.
Washington has urged Syria to move away from its alliance with Iran.
Syria responded that the U.S. has no right to determine our relationships with regional states or interfere in the content of the talks.Syria and Saudi Arabia have long been on opposite sides of a deep rift in the Arab world. The kingdom is a U.S. ally, along with Jordan and Egypt, while Syria backs militant groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.Syria also is Iran's strongest ally in the Arab world — a major sticking point with the U.S.Relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia have begun to thaw in recent years, and Thursday's visit by the Saudi monarch is a sign the countries are trying to show a united front as tempers mount in the region, including those in Lebanon over the investigation into who killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.Late Thursday, Syria's official news agency said Assad and Abdullah agreed that the challenges facing Arabs, mainly in occupied Palestine, necessitate that all (Arabs) double their efforts to upgrade inter-Arab relations.Many in Lebanon blame Syria for Hariri's assassination, a claim that Damascus denies. Hariri was a Sunni leader with strong Saudi links, and his killing exacerbated already-strained tensions between Riyadh and Damascus.Hariri's death was followed by the rise of a U.S.- and Saudi-backed coalition known as March 14, named after the day of massive anti-Syrian protests in 2005 dubbed the Cedar Revolution. The demonstrations eventually led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops, ending almost three decades of Syrian domination that was established during Lebanon's civil war.
An international tribunal investigating Hariri's death has not announced who will be charged, but the leader of the Shiite Hezbollah said last week members of his group will be among those indicted.Hassan Nasrallah's announcement appeared to be an attempt to undercut the effects of any indictment, and he dismissed the tribunal as an Israeli plot.Many in Lebanon worry that if the tribunal implicates Hezbollah in the Hariri's assassination, it could lead to another round of clashes between Lebanon's Shiite and Sunni communities, such as the bloody conflict that convulsed Beirut in 2008.Assad's expected trip to Lebanon on Friday will be his first trip there since Syrian troops were forced out.Regional tensions also are high over recent reports that Syria sent Scud missiles to Hezbollah and suspicions that Hezbollah patron Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons. Syria denies sending Scuds.As part of his tour, Abdullah has already visited Egypt and is also to travel to Jordan.
Canada think tank sees loophole in emissions plans
By Ka Yan Ng – Thu Jul 29, 5:57 pm ET
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Proposed Canadian regulations to cut emissions from cars and trucks may have little to no effect as early action credits banked by automakers may be able to carry them through the compliance period, an environmental think tank said on Thursday.The Pembina Institute said its analysis of the planned measures showed that automakers might be able to avoid improving fuel economy beyond business-as-usual levels until 2016, or even for the full life span of the regulations.The new standards are due to come into effect this fall for 2011 model year vehicles.
Early action credits, awarded to automakers if certain measures are exceeded in a specific time frame, may be collected in the lead-up to the new standards. In turn, these credits may be used at a later date. However, that effectively creates a loophole for automakers, Pembina said.It looks quite plausible ... (that) companies would manage to comply with regulations for the entire period, up to and including 2016, without having to make any changes to fuel economy beyond business as usual, said Matthew Bramley, director of the institute's Climate Change Program.He cautioned that Pembina's analysis used the best available information, and that there were some inadequacies in some of the government's numbers.We didn't release our analysis immediately because, frankly, we were a little bit shocked by the conclusions, he added.That is why Bramley is calling on Environment Minister Jim Prentice to publish a fully transparent analysis of the proposed regulations before they are finalized in the fall.In May, Prentice said Ottawa expects to release draft regulations this autumn that will spell out the requirements for heavy-duty vehicles and engines, starting between the 2014 and 2018 model years.
That followed an earlier agreement between Canada and the United States on common rules governing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and light trucks.At the time, automakers praised the plans, which to Bramley, suggested a bit of a hint that the industry got pretty much what it wanted in the regulations.Prentice's office dismissed the criticism on Thursday, and said other environmental groups had praised the proposals.The proposed regulations are realistic and ambitious and will contribute greatly to reducing vehicle GHGs in Canada and the U.S. the government said in an e-mailed statement.By 2016, the government projects the new measures will cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by about 25 percent from those sold in 2008. Transportation accounts for about one-quarter of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions.The North American auto industry is highly interlinked, and Canada has said its strategy for emissions also hinges on U.S. policy because of the two nations' integrated economies.Prentice has previously said the two countries will effectively share common standards for limiting vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. A spokesman for the minister was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Pembina's Bramley said Ottawa should not follow the U.S. lead because Canadians will not only lose the advantage of lower gasoline bills, it means the country will be making less progress environmentally than the United States.Canada is frequently criticized by green groups for not doing enough to protect the environment and for allowing emissions of greenhouse gases to rise steadily over the last two decades.
(Reporting by Ka Yan Ng, Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson)
Jerusalem hosts subdued gay pride march By KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 29, 4:04 pm ET
JERUSALEM – Thousands of Israelis marched calmly Thursday in Jerusalem's longest gay pride parade despite opposition from anti-gay demonstrators.The subdued march from Jerusalem city center to the parliament building contrasted with flamboyant gay pride parades elsewhere in the world. Organizers said they were adjusting to the city's religious character and using it to promote their political agenda.Carrying rainbow banners, several thousand demonstrators walked along the 1.5 mile (2.5 kilometer) route. Absent were standard features of many such parades — multicolor floats carrying scantily and provocatively dressed participants, loud music, wild costumes and explicit public examples of homosexual activity.Even so, a few dozen black-suited ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters at the beginning and end of the route held signs denouncing homosexuals, with slogans like Gays Play in Hell, Not Jerusalem.Many ultra-Orthodox Jews consider homosexuality to be an abomination.
Marchers said such opposition has forced Jerusalem's gay community underground in most parts of the city.In a religious society, a lot of people still don't realize we actually exist, said Sarah Weil, 26, who helps run an organization for lesbians who are also Orthodox Jews.The march marked the one-year anniversary of a shooting attack at a Tel Aviv gay youth center that killed two.This is first of all a march of mourning, said organizer Yonatan Gher, and at the end we will try to put the mourning behind us and look forward to the coming year, and declare tonight the beginning of gay rights year.
Thousands of Israeli police guarded the marchers.
The Jerusalem parade has been marred by violence in the past. In 2005, an Orthodox Jewish protester stabbed three marchers. Organizers said the fear of attack still keeps many people at home.But parade participants say there are signs the climate in Jerusalem is changing.I don't think it's dangerous anymore, said Yair Lieberman, 23. But even if there's danger, that shouldn't stop us from walking.
Arab League backs Palestinians on restarting talks By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 29, 3:23 pm ET
CAIRO – Arab nations on Thursday backed the Palestinian president's refusal to immediately restart direct talks with Israel despite heavy U.S. pressure.The Arab foreign ministers endorsed the idea of direct negotiations, said Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, but left the timing up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has laid down several conditions.The U.S. and the Europeans have been pushing a reluctant Abbas to dive back into face-to-face negotiations with Israel, which broke off in 2008.We haven't discussed when and how the direct negotiations will start — this is a matter for the Palestinian side to decide, Al Thani said.The Arab foreign ministers also sent a letter to President Barack Obama explaining the Arab position on direct negotiations and their requirements for talks.Al Thani said that the ministers had originally been against endorsing direct talks, but due to the serious situation in the region they were willing give it a try.We have confidence in America and in President Obama to reach peace, but the question is can that be achieved? he said, expressing doubt that it would be possible under the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. welcomes the Arab endorsement of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and will be consulting with all parties in coming days to find a way forward.We are encouraged by reports that Arab states meeting in Cairo agree on the need to resume direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to reach a final status agreement, Crowley said.
In the days ahead, we will continue to work with the parties, consult further with Arab countries and our international partners to try to launch these negotiations as soon as possible.This week, The Associated Press obtained a Palestinian document that revealed that U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell warned Abbas that if he does not agree to direct talks, Obama will not be able to help the Palestinians achieve a state of their own.But the Palestinian president said he first wants to see progress in indirect talks that have been taking place since May under U.S. mediation, specifically movement on the issue of borders for a future Palestinian state. He has also called for a halt to settlement building.Netanyahu, who has appealed for direct talks, has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations. The Israeli prime minister has accepted the idea of Palestinian statehood with conditions but has ruled out giving up control of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital.In response to the Arab League's decision, the prime minister said he is willing to begin direct, honest talks with the Palestinian Authority already in the next few days, said a statement from his office.On settlements, Israel has instituted a 10-month slowdown in construction in the West Bank, but not east Jerusalem. That is due to expire in September and Netanyahu this week strongly indicated it would not be extended.Netanyahu's hawkish coalition partners insist the freeze cannot be renewed for ideological reasons, but they have not threatened to pull out of his government and force an election.Polls show the hard-liners have no guarantee of remaining in power if an election is held.Netanyahu opposes all conditions for renewing direct talks, including a settlement construction freeze. In any event, Palestinians have rejected the current limits as insufficient, because they do not include construction in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. The issue of settlements, along with all the other core issues ... should be discussed in the negotiations, Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told The Associated Press on Thursday. On Thursday Jewish settlers took over a building in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, evicting the Palestinian residents. The Israelis apparently bought the building in the 1980s but needed a court order to remove the residents.
Israeli police would not say if they had the order.
U.N. envoy Robert Serry deplored the takeover and called on Israel to refrain from provocative actions.About 2,000 Israeli settlers are living in houses bought by Jews in established Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, many in the Old City. This week Netanyahu indicated that he would not extend the freeze. As the expiration date approaches, Netanyahu can be expected to seek a political compromise to try to satisfy both the U.S. and his coalition partners. In an interview Thursday, Abbas said he would require written assurances either from Netanyahu or the Americans on borders and settlements to start the direct talks. Egypt said a day earlier it has received U.S. assurances that may help in restarting direct talks but refused to make the details public.The militant Hamas movement issued a statement on Thursday criticizing the Arab nations' move, maintaining that direct negotiations would only lead to to more Palestinian suffering as Israel goes on constructing settlements.Associated Press writer Mark Lavie contributed to this report from Jerusalem.
Russia grants more powers to KGB successor agency By MANSUR MIROVALEV, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 29, 8:50 am ET
MOSCOW – Russians may now face jail time for crimes they have not yet committed under a new security law signed Thursday by President Dmitry Medvedev.The law restores Soviet-era powers to the Federal Security Service, the KGB's main successor agency, a move that rights advocates fear could be used to stifle protests and intimidate the Kremlin's political opponents. They also say the law's obscure wording leaves it too open to local interpretation.The agency, known by its initials FSB, can now issue warnings or detain people suspected of preparing to commit crimes against Russia's security. Perpetrators face fines or up to 15 days of detention.It's an ugly law with obscure formulas, independent political analyst Yulia Latynina told The Associated Press. In case a drunken FSB officer is shooting at you — and there have been many such cases — you might end up getting jailed for 15 days for merely trying to escape.The new law was described as part of an effort to combat extremism and thwart terrorist attacks. It was submitted to Russian lawmakers in April after twin subway bombings in Moscow killed 40 people and the Kremlin faced critical media coverage of its anti-terrorism efforts.A senior lawmaker said the new powers will protect people from abuse by law enforcement officers — a significant problem in Russia.
Officers of law enforcement agencies have long talked about the necessity of switching from investigating crimes to their prevention, Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin-connected head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, said in a statement. The amendments do not turn the FSB into a new edition of the once-almighty KGB but protect Russian citizens from outrages by men in uniform.Some of the law's most stringent sections — including ones that toughen control over the media for extremist statements or allow the FSB to publish warnings in the press — were removed or toned down following severe criticism from the opposition and even Kremlin loyalists.Still, a lawmaker with the Communist Party, the largest opposition force in Russia's rubber-stamp parliament, said the latest changes did not tone down the law's repressive character.Despite all the promises to correct the most odious articles, by the second reading nothing had been changed in the text, Viktor Ilykhin told the AP.A Kremlin loyalist, meanwhile, praised the law for its preventative measures.This is not a repressive law, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic party, told Gazeta.ru online daily.We're only talking about preventive measures.The opposition has accused the Kremlin of turning Russia into a Soviet-style police state, and many Russians say they have experienced or fear abuse at the hands of FSB officers. Government critics say corruption among the FSB and other agencies stifles business activity and stunts the economy.
Some rights activists say the law simply legalizes practices that FSB officers have been using for years.I don't think it adds anything to what the FSB has been doing without any laws, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, former Soviet dissident and head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, told the AP. But it's very sad when a law approves the outrage of such a dangerous service as the FSB.The legislation continues a trend under Vladimir Putin, who as president for eight years rolled back many of Russia's democratic reforms of the 1990s. The former KGB officer and FSB head allowed the security services to regain power and influence at the expense of Russia's democratic institutions.Putin is now prime minister, and many see his intolerance of dissent as influencing Medvedev, his hand-picked successor.The bill has raised doubts about Medvedev's commitment to promoting full-fledged democracy and freedom of expression. Medvedev often has spoken of instituting judicial and police reforms, and has taken a less hard line on many issues than Putin. Medvedev, who initiated the bill, responded angrily to criticism of it. He said earlier this month that each country has the right to perfect its legislation.