U.S. to Limit Petroleum Drilling on Habitat of Greater Sage Grouse


The Obama administration moved on Thursday to limit petroleum drilling and other activities on some of the wide-ranging habitat of the Sage Grouse in the American West.

The move — which includes a collection of 14 land-management plans across 10 states — stems from a determination in 2010 by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service that the bird, a potent symbol of the West known for its flamboyant courtship strut, was in need of protection. Millions of the birds once ranged across the wild prairies, but their numbers have plunged far and fast, down to 150,000 from 400,000, environmentalists estimate.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has until the end of September to determine what, if any, additional protections the grouse needs. But while many environmentalists say the bird is threatened if emergency action against industrialization is not taken soon, business interests say that adding it to the endangered species list could stifle the development of vast energy resources in Wyoming and nearby states, including natural gas fields, coal mines and wind farms.

The plans released Thursday represent an effort to balance those interests, preserving the grouse but still allowing the recreational, agricultural and industrial uses that underpin the economies of the western region.

“As land managers of two-thirds of greater sage grouse habitat, we have a responsibility to take action that ensures a bright future for wildlife and a thriving western economy,” Sally Jewell, secretary of the interior, said in announcing the plans in Cheyenne, Wyo.

The new plan would establish buffer zones around areas where male grouses gather for breeding, many of which abut or are inside oil and gas fields. It will affect about two million acres, mostly federal land, but would allow the exercise of existing rights for energy development, minerals, rights of way and other permitted projects.

The vast majority of federal lands within the most important sage grouse habitats, Interior Department officials said, have little to no potential for oil, gas, solar or wind energy development. In other priority areas, the plans would limit conventional oil and gas drilling but potentially allow for horizontal drilling that would not disturb the surface.

Several environmental groups applauded the action.

“The greater sage grouse conservation plan is a huge step in the right direction,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “that holds out the promise to save not only this beautiful bird but also hundreds of other species.”

Ken Rait, director of the United States public lands project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said that the Bureau of Land Management’s plans were a significant improvement over drafts released in 2013.

“This is the B.L.M.’s best chance to protect the greater sage-grouse and its habitat,” he said, calling the grouse an indicator of the health of the West’s sagebrush ecosystem, which supports many other species.

Wind industry representatives said they were still reviewing the plans, but said wind energy was important to the fight against global warming. “Sage grouse face numerous human-induced threats including the effects of climate change, which poses the greatest threat to the species,” said David Ward, a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association. “Responsibly sited wind energy, as one of the lowest-cost and most rapidly deployable carbon pollution reduction tools available today, stands poised to help save the species.”

Oil and gas executives, though, were critical of the action, saying that they would put harsh conditions on new drilling permits even on existing leases.

“The restrictions that will be put on oil and natural gas development are not based on good science and exaggerate the threat of energy development to the bird,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president for government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based petroleum industry group. “We continue to believe the states are the best place to conserve the sage grouse.”

The battle between environmentalists and those who want to develop industry has echoed the conflict over logging in Oregon in the 1990s to save the spotted owl. It has even attracted the attention of Republican lawmakers in Congress who have been trying to block the Interior Department, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, from making the designation. Their most recent effort was an amendment to the $612 billion defense policy bill that would keep the lesser prairie chicken and American burying beetle from the list as well.

The threat of the designation also set off an elaborate, multiyear frenzy of planning, negotiation and conservation efforts that included an unusual level of collaboration among government agencies, environmental organizations and business interests.

Many environmentalists have hoped that an endangered species designation would not only restrict housing, mining, ranching and hunting around breeding grounds, but also put the brakes on the fossil fuel industry in several critical states.

But many companies have joined in efforts with local officials to figure out ways to make room for industrial activities and for habitat the bird needs to reproduce. Those include companies like Chesapeake Energy limiting truck traffic in an oil field to avoid disturbing breeding and nesting habits and Shell Oil sowing seeds to grow plants that help nourish the birds and hide their chicks from predators.

Gleaned from the New York Times article dated 29 May 2015


Shell accused of strategy risking catastrophic climate change


Royal Dutch Shell has been accused of pursuing a strategy that would lead to potentially catastrophic climate change after an internal document acknowledged a global temperature rise of 4C, twice the level considered safe for the planet. A paper used for guiding future business planning at the Anglo-Dutch multinational assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will fail to limit temperature increases to 2C, the internationally agreed threshold to prevent widespread flooding, famine and desertification.

The revelations come ahead of the annual general meeting of Shell shareholders in the Netherlands on Tuesday, where the group has accepted a shareholder resolution demanding more transparency about the group’s impact on climate change.

Hundreds of environmentalists took to the seas off Seattle in kayaks, canoes and paddleboards on Sunday to protest against the company’s’s controversial plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. The “Shell No” protest was held close to where Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig is docked. One banner read: “We can’t burn all the oil on the planet and still live on it.”

Ben van Beurden, the Shell chief executive, has repeatedly stated that the fossil fuel giant is a responsible company that fully accepts the need to counter manmade global warming, has campaigned for a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, and is moving its focus from oil to cleaner fuels such as gas.


But an analysis of Shell’s New Lens planning document points to an acceptance that world temperatures will rise to a level that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change argues would have a severe and widespread impact. A 4C global rise by 2100 would entail a sea level rise of between 52cm and 98cm, leading to widespread coastal flooding. There would be widespread risk of animal and plant extinctions and global agriculture would be severely hit. A 4C average would also mask more severe local impacts: the Arctic and western and southern Africa could experience warming up to 10C.

The Shell document says: “Both our (oceans and mountains) scenarios and the IEA New Policies scenario (and our base case energy demand and outlook) do not limit emissions to be consistent with the back-calculated 450 parts per million (Co2 in the atmosphere) 2 degrees C.”

It adds: “We also do not see governments taking steps now that are consistent with 2 degrees C scenario.”

Environmentalists said the presumptions undermine Shell’s ability to talk with authority on climate change.

Charlie Kronick, climate campaigner at campaign group Greenpeace, said Shell and IEA saw fossil fuels continuing to be burned, with the earth facing temperature rises of 3.7°C or 4°C in the short term, mounting to 6°C later on.

“What I don’t see is a realisation from Shell about what exactly would happen to its business if climate change escalated dramatically beyond what is safe with all the negative consequences in the world for food and water never mind energy,” said Kronick.


Louise Rouse, an investor relations specialist and consultant to Greenpeace, said the New Lens document undermined Shell’s claim that ongoing oil and gas exploration helps raise living standards in the developing world by supplying the energy for rapidly expanding economies.

“There is an incoherence at best between oil companies on the one hand positioning themselves as being on the side of the world’s developing countries and while on the other actively pursuing strategies which will entail catastrophic climate change which we already know is having a significant impact on the global south,” she said.

Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands, which has carried out its own review of activities by the Anglo-Dutch oil group, said the company often argues that it is moving away from oil towards cleaner gas but has often concentrated on the most carbon intensive forms of gas such as liquefied natural gas. Shell’s carbon dioxide emissions have risen in 2014 and are set to increase further as it expands the business through a planned £47bn takeover of rival BG.


Shell declined to comment formally on the New Lens scenarios but oil industry experts said they were not meant to be a business blueprint. Instead, they represent “plausible assumptions and quantification” designed to make executives consider events that may be only remotely possible. The expert added: “Scenarios are not intended to be predictions of likely future events or outcomes.”

The Guardian’s Keep it in the Ground campaign seeks to persuade the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation to divest themselves of their shareholdings in fossil fuel companies. According to the latest figures, Wellcome held a stake of £142m in Shell as of September 2014. The Gates Foundation held £6m of Shell’s shares at the time of its latest tax filing in 2013.

The Anglo-Dutch group said the BG takeover would expand its presence in controversial deep-water activities – many of the planet’s untapped fossil fuel resources are now in ocean regions that are difficult to access – but said it would also increase its presence in liquefied natural gas, a cleaner fossil fuel than oil.

It added: “By combining BG’s portfolio and skills set with Shell’s capabilities, we can deliver a step change in the growth priorities for both of our companies. This means more deep water and more LNG, plays where we have strong profitability and capabilities.”



An excerpt from ‘The Guardian’ article written by Terry Macalister, 17 May 2015

The California Drought & Oil Wastewater For Crops


Here in California’s thirsty farm belt, where pumpjacks nod amid neat rows of crops, it’s a proposition that seems to make sense: using treated oil field wastewater to irrigate crops.

Oil giant Chevron recycles 21 million gallons of that water each day and sells it to farmers who use it on about 45,000 acres of crops, about 10% of Kern County’s farmland.

State and local officials praise the 2-decade-old program as a national model for coping with the region’s water shortages. As California’s four-year drought lingers and authorities scramble to conserve every drop, agricultural officials have said that more companies are seeking permits to begin similar programs. The heightened interest in recycling oil field wastewater has raised concern over the adequacy of safety measures in place to prevent contamination from toxic oil production chemicals.

Until now, government authorities have only required limited testing of recycled irrigation water, checking for naturally occurring toxins such as salts and arsenic, using decades-old monitoring standards. They haven’t screened for the range of chemicals used in modern oil production.

No one knows whether nuts, citrus or other crops grown with the recycled oil field water have been contaminated. Farmers may test crops for pests or disease, but they don’t check for water-borne chemicals. Instead, they rely on oversight by state and local water authorities. But experts say that testing of both the water and the produce should be expanded.

Last month, the Central Valley water authority, which regulates the water recycling program, notified all oil producers of new, broader testing requirements and ordered the companies to begin checking for chemicals covered under California’s new fracking disclosure regulations. The law, which legislators approved last year, requires oil companies to tell the state which chemicals they use in oil-extraction processes. The water authority gave producers until June 15 to report their results.


“We need to make sure we fully understand what goes into the wastewater,” said Clay Rodgers, assistant executive officer of the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board. One environmental group has tested the irrigation water for oil field chemicals. Over the last two years, Scott Smith, chief scientist for the advocacy group Water Defense, collected samples of the treated irrigation water that the Cawelo Water District buys from Chevron. Laboratory analysis of those samples found compounds that are toxic to humans, including acetone and methylene chloride — powerful industrial solvents — along with oil.

Water Defense, founded by actor Mark Ruffalo in 2010, works to promote access to clean water by testing local supplies and documenting contamination.

Sarah Oktay, a water testing expert and director of the Nantucket field station of the University of Massachusetts Boston, reviewed Smith’s methods and the laboratory analysis of the water he sampled. “I wouldn’t necessarily panic, but I would certainly think I would rather not have that,” she said, referring to the chemicals identified in the water samples. “My next step would be most likely to look and make sure the crop is healthy.”

State Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) is sponsoring legislation that would require expanded testing of water produced in oil operations. The Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, which regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, is already facing lawmakers’ ire after the recent discovery that about 2,500 oil wastewater injection wells were allowed to operate in aquifers that, under federal standards, contain clean water.

Pavley said it is “obviously unacceptable” that oil contaminants are found in irrigation water. “Anyone would be extremely concerned.”

Chevron and the water district say that the water is safe for use on crops, citing the fact that they are complying with testing requirements under the wastewater discharge permit issued by the Central Valley water authority.


David Ansolabehere, general manager of the Cawelo Water District, reviewed Smith’s results. He said the sampling methods gathered too many solids and not enough liquid for testing. Smith uses a sampling method that gathers water and particles over a longer period of time, from deeper levels, than traditional water testing techniques. That method, Ansolabehere said, casts doubt on the test results.

When I talk to growers, and they smell the oil field crap in that water, they assume the soil is taking care of this.
– Blake Sanden, an agriculture extension agent and irrigation water expert with UC Davis
Ansolabehere said Chevron and the water district, in an abundance of caution, would contract with a third party to test for the broader array of chemicals that is now required by the water board.

“Protection of people and the environment is a core value for Chevron, and we take all necessary steps to ensure the protection of our water resources,” Cameron Van Ast, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement.


In the Kern County program, Chevron’s leftover water is mixed with walnut shells, a process the company says extracts excess oil. The water then flows to a series of treatment ponds. The treated water is launched into an eight-mile canal to the Cawelo Water District, where it is sometimes further diluted with fresh water. The water supplies 90 Kern County farmers with about half their annual irrigation water.
The program is a good deal for oil companies, which view the water as an expensive nuisance. And it’s a bargain for the water districts. Ansolabehere said the cooperative pays Chevron about $30 an acre-foot for the wastewater, about half of open-market rates.

Jonathan Bishop, chief deputy director of the State Water Resources Control Board, said that monitoring oil field activities has been a “low priority” in recent years. He said the onus for disclosure and testing rests on the discharger, in this case Chevron.

In some instances, oil companies have sought permission to reduce the frequency of the tests, which are expensive, because they consistently show the water to be in compliance with regulations. The local water board has the discretion to grant those requests, he said.

“It’s a balancing act,” Bishop said. “We look at the cost of monitoring to assess risk associated with the discharge.”

But Bishop said the water used for irrigation is safe as long as the company and the water district follow the rules of the permit.

The Central Valley water board is responsible for regulating the water recycling program and requires Chevron to collect samples and send them to a third-party lab for analysis.

Smith, the Water Defense scientist, has consulted for the Environmental Protection Agency and other government offices on more than 50 oil spills and spent two years studying the oil wastewater used for irrigation in Kern County.

He traveled the eight-mile Cawelo canal, taking samples of the water as it moved from Chevron’s oil fields through the irrigation canals to farmers’ fields. He said he gathered samples only from areas that were publicly accessible. He took samples from 10 points, collecting water from a number of depths at each site through a process that he said is more comprehensive than the sampling state and local authorities require.


The samples Smith collected contained acetone and methylene chloride, solvents used to degrease equipment or soften thick crude oil, at concentrations higher than he said he had seen at oil spill disaster sites. The water also contained C20 and C34, hydrocarbons found in oil, according to ALS Environmental, the lab that analyzed Smith’s samples.

Methylene chloride and acetone are used as solvents in many industrial settings. Methylene chloride is classified as a potential carcinogen.

One sample of the recycled Cawelo irrigation water, for example, registered methylene chloride as high as 56 parts per billion. Smith said that was nearly four times the amount of methylene chloride registered when he tested oil-fouled river at the 2013 ExxonMobil tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Ark. That spill was declared a federal disaster, spurred evacuations and resulted in a $2.7-million fine for the company.

Chevron told The Times it does not use acetone or methylene chloride in its oil extraction process. The company would not disclose the fluids used in drilling or well maintenance.

Mark Smith, a board member of the Cawelo Water District who grows pistachios and citrus using treated water from Chevron, said he had “never heard a word” about contamination from the oil production process and is satisfied that the water testing is adequate.

“As long as they’re treating the water to the point where it’s allowed by whatever agency governs the quality of water, I think it would be OK,” said Glenn Fankhauser, assistant director of the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards.


Blake Sanden, an agriculture extension agent and irrigation water expert with UC Davis, said “everyone smells the petrochemicals in the irrigation water” in the Cawelo district. But he said local farmers trust that organisms in the soil remove toxins or impurities in water.

“When I talk to growers, and they smell the oil field crap in that water, they assume the soil is taking care of this,” Sanden said.

Microorganisms in soils can consume and process some impurities, Sanden said, but it’s not clear whether oil field waste is making its way into the roots or leaves of irrigated plants, and then into the food chain.

It’s unlikely that petrochemicals will show up in an almond, for example, he added, “But can they make it into the flesh of an orange or grape? It’s possible. A lot of this stuff has not been studied in a field setting or for commercial food uptake.”

Carl K. Winter at UC Davis, who studies the detection of pesticides and naturally occurring toxins in foods, said some plants can readily absorb toxins without transferring them to the leaves or the flesh of their fruit.

Still, he said, “it’s difficult to say anything for sure because we don’t know what chemicals are in the water.”

Some chemists say that the key to effective testing is to cast a broad net that includes all chemicals used in oil production.

“As an environmental health scientist, this is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” said Seth B.C. Shonkoff, a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and one of the researchers analyzing hydraulic fracturing for the state Legislature. “You can’t find what you don’t look for.”


Excerpt from an article written by Julie Cart for the Los Angeles Times May 2 2015

The Scenario Planners


A theater-loving Englishman, Bentham leads Shell’s legendary team of futurists, whose methods have been adopted by the Walt Disney Company and the Pentagon, among others.

The scenario planners, as they call themselves, are paid to think unconventional thoughts. They read fiction. They run models. They talk to hippies. They talk to scientists. They consult anyone who can imagine surprising, abrupt change. The competing versions of the future — the scenarios — that result from this process are packaged as stories and given evocative titles: “Belle Époque,” “Devolution,” “Prism.” Then the oil company readies itself, as best it can, for all of them.

Over the course of almost half a century, Bentham’s predecessors in the scenario-planning group helped Shell foresee and prepare for events like the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Islamic extremism and the birth of the anti-globalization movement. More recently — before California’s historic drought — the team focused on water scarcity. And long before most other oil companies, Shell’s scenario planners helped the company understand that climate change was a strategic and scientific reality.

In early 2008, weeks before Shell bid a record-breaking $2.1 billion on oil leases in the melting Arctic Ocean — the basis for the newly approved drilling plan — the company’s futurists released a new pair of scenarios describing the next 40 years on Earth. They were based on what Bentham called “three hard truths”: That energy demand, thanks in part to booming China and India, would only rise; that supply would struggle to keep up; and that climate change was dangerously real. Shell’s internal research showed that alternative energy systems — wind, solar, carbon capture — would take decades to make just a 1-percent dent in our massive global energy system, even if they grew at 25 percent a year. “It takes them 30 years to just begin to start becoming material,” Bentham explained to me.

One scenario, called “Blueprints,” painted a moderately hopeful vision of green energy and concerted action within the constraints of technological change, of a swiftly rising price on carbon emissions as the world comes together to remake its energy systems. In this vision of the future, there is active carbon trading. There is a strong global climate treaty. There is still far more warming than society can easily bear — approaching 7 degrees Fahrenheit — but the world still averts the very worst of climate change.


The second scenario, called “Scramble,” envisioned a future in which countries fail to do much of anything to reduce emissions, and instead race to secure oil and coal deposits. Only when climatic chaos breaks out does society take it seriously, and by then great damage has already been done. Drilling in the Arctic, thought to hold up to a quarter of the world’s untapped oil and gas, has a role in both scenarios — but under “Scramble,” it is irresistible.

In 2008, Shell surprised observers by announcing that it had a preferred scenario. The company would prepare for both outcomes, but for the good of the world and the good of Shell itself, it hoped for the carbon-constrained future of “Blueprints.” The oil giant awaited government action: a market signal in the form of a carbon price. But when I interviewed him four years later, Bentham admitted to me that the future, so far, was looking a lot more like the chaos of “Scramble.” We had no working international climate agreement and no real price on carbon. Instead, we had a global race for gas, coal and the last drops of conventional oil.

When I talked to Bentham, it was early December 2012. Three weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, Shell’s Arctic drill rig, the Kulluk, crashed into an island off the Alaskan coastline in a violent winter storm — a disaster I wrote about in this magazine. After the accident, political and economic circumstances seemed to turn decisively against Shell’s Arctic aspirations. The Obama administration began talking tough: “Shell screwed up,” said Ken Salazar, the interior secretary at the time. ConocoPhillips and Statoil, Shell’s rivals in the Alaskan Arctic, delayed their own offshore-drilling plans. Global oil prices soon dropped precipitously, making expensive plays in the high north even riskier.

Yet the drilling plan that the Obama administration approved on May 11 is not much different from the one that ran aground along with the Kulluk two and a half years ago. One of company’s drill ships will be the same as before: the Noble Discoverer, a 49-year-old converted log carrier that was previously at the center of eight felony pollution charges. Last month, the vessel failed another Coast Guard inspection in Hawaii. In place of the Kulluk, Shell will use a squarish, 319-foot-tall behemoth called the Polar Pioneer. This replacement rig flies the same Marshall Islands flag of convenience as the Kulluk and will be towed along the same general route to and from the Chukchi Sea from Seattle — a 2,000-mile voyage by tugboat. The Discoverer and the Pioneer will cross the same churning waters in the Gulf of Alaska. They’ll begin drilling in the same assuredly oil-rich patch of seabed in the Chukchi, some 70 miles from shore and a thousand miles from the nearest permanent Coast Guard base from which help could be dispatched if something goes wrong.


The fact that so fundamentally little has changed since the debacle of 2012 is shocking — unless you understand that our leaders have long shared the oil company’s worldview. Drilling the Chukchi is not a choice, say the adults in the room; it’s an inevitability. When the federal government auctioned off the Chukchi leases in 2008, Randall Luthi, a Bush appointee who was then the head of the agency then called the Minerals Management Service, gave a speech in Alaska in which he stumbled repeatedly over the word Inupiat — the name of the Alaska Native people whose villages dot the Chukchi coastline — but managed to present this argument perfectly.

“Our demand for energy is going to increase by approximately 1.1 percent a year over the next generation,” he declared. “U.S. production is not expected to keep pace. Now, it doesn’t take too much to realize that when you’re demanding more than you’re producing, there’s a shortfall.” One of Luthi’s successors under the Obama administration, Tommy Beaudreau, underscored the “tremendous” size of the prize. Estimates held that “the Chukchi Sea contains more than 15 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable oil,” Beaudreau told the Senate, “which is second only to the central Gulf of Mexico.”

For me, living in Seattle as Shell’s Arctic fleet again gathers in Puget Sound and activists in kayaks try to stop it with a blockade, it’s hard not to think of the arc of the president who just signed off on another drilling mission. In his 2008 campaign, President Obama seemed to plan for an optimistic vision of the future, only to have the opposing scenario unfold. Four years later, his campaign’s energy slogan — reiterated in his 2014 State of the Union address — might as well have been written by Shell: All of the above.


Excerpt from an article written by McKenzie Funk for ‘The New York Times Magazine’ May 18 2015

Musician Roy Gaynor had child abuse images – including 15 minute film


A MUSICIAN and songwriter had a USB stick containing more than 300 indecent images of children in his pocket when police raided his home, a court has heard.

Roy Gaynor told officers: “Everything you’re looking for is on there” moments after they visited the property in Sea Road, Boscombe, as part of an investigation into the downloading of indecent photographs of child sex abuse victims.

The 68-year-old had a total of 323 pictures and moving images, including 152 in category A – the most serious of the divisions – as well as 26 in category B and 145 in category C. One distressing film timed at more than six minutes long involved the abuse of a baby less than a year old, while another film of more than 15 minutes in duration involved a youngster under the age of 12.

Gaynor had downloaded the footage and images between March 2011 and March 2015, and told police he had sourced the images “erratically”, admitting he found them “titillating”.

He said he had started accessing such images following the death of his eldest son from a brain tumour 10 years ago.

At a sentence hearing before a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court, prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood said officers from Dorset Police‘s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) attended Gaynor’s home after receiving information from the National Crime Agency. “A search was commenced at the address and in the right-hand pocket of the trousers [Gaynor] was wearing, a USB device was found,” she said.

Gaynor, who admitted 16 counts of making indecent images at a preliminary hearing in March, describes himself as a guitarist, singer and ‘prolific songwriter’ with more than 30 years of experience performing with bands and orchestras on website Starnow.

Earlier this year, the defendant was seeking performers for a new musical called Up the Ressie, said to be loosely based on his own childhood experiences in 1950s London.

Anne Brown, mitigating for Gaynor, said the defendant has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity since the death of his son.

“The defendant recognises that he needs help,” she said.

“He recognised [that] from the moment the police knocked on the door [and he had] the crashing realisation he had done something very wrong.”

Ms Brown said Gaynor ploughed £82,000 of his own money into producing a musical with the express intention that all money raised would be donated to the Brain Tumour Trust, a charity for which he has helped to raise £42,000 in less than a decade.

Recorder Nicholas Haggan QC expressed concern that Gaynor recruits children for parts in his musicals online.

However, Ms Brown said there is “no suggestion whatsoever he has been contacting children on the internet for any nefarious or sexually-linked purpose”.

Mr Haggan – who said the images were “disturbing, to put it neutrally” – sentenced Gaynor to a three-year community order, during which time he will work with specialists from the Thames Valley Sex Offender Programme.

He will also been subjected to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the next five years.

Jailed: Obsessive father who inflicted years of domestic abuse on partner


AN OBSESSED and possessive lover made his ex-girlfriend’s life a misery by “stalking” and harassing her in “a classic pattern” of domestic abuse.

Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that John Webster, 31, and his 32-year-old ex-partner had known each other for about 18 years and had three children together.

But he became jealous, aggressive and threatening and, after 11 years the woman took the “brave” decision to end the relationship. The Grimsby Telegraph has chosen not to name the woman, so as not to discourage other domestic abuse victims from coming forward.

 A shocking 32 per cent of all violent crime incidents recorded in the borough are domestic related – 14 per cent higher than the national average.

The court heard how Webster – who admitted repeatedly breaking a restraining order – tried to break into her Grimsby home and bombarded her with social media messages.

He approached her in the street and repeatedly grabbed her arm – despite her telling him to go away.

And, while the abuse was not physical, she was left frightened by Webster’s jealous and “overbearing” behaviour and felt “physically and mentally drained” by her ordeal.

Grimsby Crown Court heard the woman had regularly contacted the police as a “cry for help”.

Restraining orders were issued by courts, but Webster bombarded her with 24 messages on Facebook and other social media between January 17 and 22.

These made her feel harassed and stalked, said Mr Evans. 

He approached her in Grimsby on January 30 and said: “Hello, stranger” before repeatedly grabbing her arm, despite her telling him to go away.

She felt “physically and mentally drained” as a result of his actions. She was on medication and was scared to move on with her life.

“John’s obsession with me frightens me,” she said. “He does not take ‘No’ for an answer. He continually stalks me. I cannot put into words the fear I feel.”

Webster had convictions for 40 previous offences, including harassment of her, possessing a knife and assault.

Webster had been jailed for a year on August 28 for breaching restraining orders involving the same victim. He was released in January but began offending again within about 24 hours.

Craig Lowe, mitigating, said Webster pleaded guilty and did not want to contact the victim. He just wanted contact with his children.

Judge David Tremberg branded Webster’s actions an “appalling catalogue of behaviour” that was “possessive, obsessive and overbearing”.

He had not used violence but his “calculated and obsessive behaviour” had caused her “many years of misery”.

He had shown “utter contempt” for court orders designed to protect the victim.

Webster, of Rawmarsh, Rotherham, was jailed for two-and-half years and was given an indefinite restraining order banning him from contacting the woman, except to arrange contact with his children.

17,000 police officers have been cut from the British police force, where then will be the officers capable of lending sufficient time to cases like this, in order to have a positive impact and make a difference?

#You don’t have to like the police to appreciate their existence or their help.



News: Operation Elveden & Another Sun Journalist Found Guilty

s18Sun crime reporter, Anthony France, has been convicted of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office.  Mr France had paid PC Timothy Edwards a total of £22,000 for 42 stories over a period of 3 years.

PC Edwards was employed as part of SO15 counter terrorist command at Heathrow Airport.  Mr France was a staff reporter at the Sun from September 2004.  PC Edwards searched police databases and sold personal information about suspects and about victims of crime.

The court was told that PC Edwards had been “given” to Mr France as a source. He was told by a colleague “I’ve spoken to a lawyer and it’s fine” after meeting Mr Edwards at a pub in 2008.

Mr France had told the jury that he never had any idea that paying a source for information was wrong or unlawful.  He said that he never thought that he or PC Edwards were doing something illegal.

The jury was told that cash payments were used because PC Edwards wanted to remain a confidential source and did not want to lose his job.  Mr France said he had not had any training concerning paying public officials.

Mr France accepted under cross-examination that he had not claimed in his Defence Statement that any of the stories  were in the public interest.

In closing the case to the jury, the prosecution suggested that this was not a case about public interest journalism but rather, about a grubby relationship based on the commercially driven pages of the Sun seeking their next big story.

The jury was not told that PC Edwards had pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and was jailed for two years in 2014.

Mr France was released on bail to 29 May 2015 when he will be sentenced. Judge Timothy Pontius said: “I emphasise very firmly that the fact I’m releasing you on bail should not serve as any sort of indication of what the sentence will be.”

Mr France’s trial is the first since the CPS issued new guidance on  cases involving payments made to corrupt public officials by journalists on 17 April 2015.

The Girl Who May Have Cried Wolf….


“I just thought, ‘What the hell is going on?’” her mother said. “I knew what perverting the course of justice meant, so I knew they were arresting her for lying about the rape. So at that time my daughter had just turned 18 and I insisted because of mental health problems that I sit in on the interview.

After her arrest, the girl was on police bail for months while Hampshire police consulted the Crown Prosecution Service about whether to charge her. “It was horrible, because it was like she might have gone to prison. And what would she do, how would she cope, how would I cope, how would the family cope?” her mother said. She added that her daughter’s mental health deteriorated as they waited for the charging decision, and that she began self-harming and attempted suicide twice. “We didn’t find out until a later date that they hadn’t done the forensics on the clothes. And that was partly the decision to arrest her, for perverting the course of justice.”

That’s right, this young lady from Hampshire went out clubbing, alleged she had been raped, then informed her mother. The police were given her statement and her t-shirt which contained the alleged rapist’s sperm. No effort was made to have the t-shirt forensically examined in order to trace the gentleman concerned, because they didn’t believe her story. Lucky for her alleged rapist (because he could pretty much spend the next six months having sex with women regardless of whether they’d consented to it or not) not so lucky for her.


Detectives from Hampshire police decided within two days of the rape report that the girl was lying. A detective inspector, who was supervising the inquiry, told a junior colleague: “Fucking nick her.” But six months later – after a complaint by the girl’s mother about her treatment – a new team of officers reviewed the investigation and informed the mother and her daughter that they believed her. The T-shirt was sent for testing, and the suspect, Liam Foard, was tried and found guilty.

The officers involved in the initial ‘investigation’ were disciplined, three of them chose resignation and early retirement from the police force (a good result all round) one received a written warning. The victim eventually received justice and the police force jettisoned three lousy police officers, but the bottom line is this. With 17,000 police officers cut over a four year period and the demands on the service continuing to grow, more of these kinds of cases are inevitable, because in the words of Debaleena Dasgupta, the young woman’s lawyer, “Many people wrongly assume the police have a legal obligation to investigate crimes. However, the only way victims of crime can seek justice for these sorts of issues is using the Human Rights Act, which imposes a duty on the police to properly investigate very serious offences.”

Properly investigate….the police service has a Comprehensive Spending Review in 2015 with more cuts in expenditure still to be made, leading to a reduction in the service being offered and a reduction in policing numbers. Not excitely an encouraging state of affairs for those who report a rape and are accused of crying wolf.





Top EU companies urge drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions


By Alister Doyle and Geert De Clercq

PARIS, May 21 (Reuters) – Top European companies urged governments on Thursday to set a goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero well before 2100, saying that going green can bring profits rather than costs.

Business leaders from global and European alliances of companies including Unilever, Total and Saint-Gobain also called for a global price on carbon emissions and a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.

“We want a global climate deal that achieves net zero emissions – make it happen,” they said in a statement directed at almost 200 governments which are due to agree a deal to slow global warming at a summit in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Net zero emissions would mean drastic cuts and imply any remaining emissions would be offset, for instance, by planting trees to soak up carbon dioxide or with yet-to-be-developed technologies to extract carbon from the air.

They said global emissions should peak around 2020 and reach net zero “well before the end of the century”.

Organisers of the conference, part of efforts to build momentum for a global deal after past failures, said the statement was backed by 25 business networks representing more than 6.5 million firms in more than 130 countries.

Still, the Business and Climate Summit mainly attracted top European CEOs, whereas large U.S and Asian companies were notably absent. The statement said businesses believed that a goal of net emissions was “achievable and compatible with continued economic growth.”

Cuts in emissions can help avert more droughts, floods and rising seas and have big benefits such as lowering air pollution that causes millions of deaths, especially in big emerging nations such as China and India.

“Business as usual is no longer possible,” said Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, CEO of French building materials group Saint Gobain.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has urged more business involvement to help limit emissions, called the conference “an important milestone” on the way to the Paris summit.

Still, governments are sharply divided about whether to set a goal of net zero emissions at Paris. A report by the U.N. panel of climate scientists last year said net zero emissions by about 2070 would give a good chance of avoiding ever-more damaging warming.

“Three years ago you couldn’t get 50 CEOs to a conference on climate change,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. He said Climate change was an economic threat – a drought in Brazil, for instance, can cut hydro-electric output, shutting down industry.

He said he favoured a goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Such cuts are a radical shift from rises in almost all recent years.

Even Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said OPEC’s top producer was investing in solar power as it anticipates lower global reliance on fossil fuels.

“In Saudi Arabia, we recognise that eventually … we are not going to need fossil fuels. I don’t know when, in 2040, 2050 maybe,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Michel Rose and Jessica Chen; Editing by David Holmes and Ahmed Aboulenein)

Solar-powered ATMs to deliver clean drinking water in Pakistan


LAHORE, Pakistan, May 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Punjab province is set to launch an innovation for water-short Pakistan: Solar-powered ATMs that dispense clean water when a smart card is scanned.

The two-foot-square prototype machine looks and functions like an ATM, but dispenses water instead of cash. Users are issued a card they can use to claim a daily share of water.

The project, a collaboration between the Punjab Saaf Pani (Clean Water) Company and the Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL), a research centre in Lahore, aims to install a water ATM on each of a series of water filtration plants being established in rural and urban fringe areas of Punjab province.

The machine is designed to help the government cut water waste and ensure people have access to clean water, said Jawad Abbasi, a programme manager at IPAL.

“The innovative machines will help the government maintain a record of the exact quantity of clean drinking water being dispensed in a day in a specific locality, besides ensuring its quality,” he said.

The quality and quantity of water being dispensed will be tracked in real time online, through a central server, he said.


The devices play an audio message upon authentication of a scanned card, after which they dispense water for the user. Green and red buttons enable the user to start and stop the flow of water.

A flow control meter manages how much water is dispensed, and sensors measure the amount of water still available.

In its first phase, the project will cover three districts of Punjab including Bahawalpur, Rajanpur and Faisalabad, all areas with particularly serious water contamination issues, experts said.

Each beneficiary family will be entitled to collect a maximum of 30 liters of clean drinking water daily from the filtration plants with their unique identity card, Abbasi said.

“We are planning to install the machines at 20 filtration plants in the first phase that will benefit some 17,500 families,” he said.

He said that his organisation was seeking $23,500 in aid from the UK Department of International Development to put the prototype into production and install more of the dispensing machines at existing water filtration plants in Punjab.

Similar card-based water dispensing systems are already in use in neighbouring India.


According to Punjab Saaf Pani Company, only 13 percent people in rural areas have access to tap water, compared to 43 percent of people in urban areas of Punjab. The province, with 98 million people, is the country’s most populous.

The government of Punjab aims to provide clean drinking water to over 35 million people by the middle of 2017 and some 20 billion rupees (almost $200 million) is being allocated for the effort in the upcoming budget, said Muhammad Farasat Iqbal, chief executive officer of Punjab Saaf Pani Company.

“It’s one of the top priorities of the provincial government, to ensure provision of clean drinking water in each locality, as access to clean water is a fundamental human right,” he said.

Iqbal said the clean water would be provided free of cost but beneficiary communities would pool money each month to pay for maintenance of the ATMs and filtration plants.

According to Pakistan’s national drinking water policy, 35 percent of Pakistan’s population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water. The policy estimates that diseases related to water, sanitation and hygiene issues cost Pakistan’s economy about 112 billion rupees ($1.1 billion) each year in health costs and lost earnings.

Nazir Ahmed Wattoo, an environmental expert with the Punjab Anjuman Samaji Behbood (Organisation for Social Welfare) said few water conservation systems are in place in Pakistan, resulting in waste both in daily use and in agriculture.

By regulating and measuring the water used daily in a specific area, he said, the government can better manage the scarce resource.

The real test, he said, will be whether the water dispensing centres are maintained and effectively monitored.

He said the centres also need to be supported by a concerted national effort to build new water reservoirs. Pakistan’s water storage capacity is currently just 30 days, a quarter of what neighbouring India says is needed.

(Reporting by Aamir Saeed; editing by Laurie Goering)