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Michael Holden, Reuters.
Britain said on Saturday it was investigating reports that a man believed to be a British national suspected of carrying out beheadings in videos released by Islamic State had been wounded in a U.S.-led air strike last week.
The man, dubbed “Jihadi John” by the British media, was believed to have been injured in an air attack on a summit of IS leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last Saturday, Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.
The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was also said to have been wounded in the attack, the paper added.
“We are aware of reports,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said. “We cannot confirm these reports.”
A speech purporting to be by Baghdadi was released on Thursday following contradictory accounts out of Iraq that he had been wounded last Friday in U.S. air strikes.
U.S. officials said on Tuesday they could not confirm whether Baghdadi was hit in a strike near Falluja in Iraq.
According to the Mail on Sunday, which said its source was an unnamed nurse, “Jihadi John”, Baghdadi and other wounded IS figures were taken to hospital and then driven to the Syrian city of Raqqa.
The paper said it was not clear how serious their injuries were.
In videos released by Islamic State, the masked, black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have carried out the beheadings of two Americans and two Britons.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Andrew Hay)
Fracking’s potential has been ‘overhyped’ by politicians and shale gas will not reduce energy prices or reliance on gas imports, says UK Energy Research Centre.
The fracking site at Barton Moss, Greater Manchester. “Any talk of shale gas making the UK self-sufficient again … is far-fetched,” says the UKERC report. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Politicians have overhyped fracking’s potential and the prospect of shale gas making Britain self-sufficient in gas again is far-fetched, according to government-funded researchers.
The UK became a net importer for gas in 2004 as North Sea production declined, and the coalition has heavily promoted shale gas on the grounds of energy security and economic growth. David Cameron says the UK is “going out all for shale” and on Wednesday the government announced the first ‘national shale gas colleges’.
But a new report by academics at the Imperial College-based UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) says significant shale gas production in the UK is unlikely to get underway until next decade and will not reproduce the American ‘shale revolution’ that has put the US on course to energy self-sufficiency.
Jim Watson, an author of the report and professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex, said that industry and politicians had “overhyped” the impact shale will have on prices and energy security.
“Looking at the evidence base, it’s very hard to support some of the statements made both by industry and some politicians that it’s going to bring down prices, strengthen energy security or create jobs through cheaper energy any time soon. It may have an impact. But a lot depends on how fast shale develops,” he said.
The authors are unambiguous that shale gas will not reduce energy prices or reduce the UK’s reliance on gas imports, which are mostly supplied by Norway and Qatar today.
“Any talk of shale gas making the UK self-sufficient again, let alone allowing significant exports, is far-fetched,” says the report, The UK’s Global Gas Challenge. It also cautioned against “a blind belief that a future UK shale gas revolution will solve all our problems”.
A second report by UKERC warns that by 2025, the time any such shale gas industry is up and running in the UK, global gas consumption must have peaked and begin rapidly tailing off to avoid dangerous levels of global warming.
With the development of widespread technology to capture and store the carbon emissions from those gas plants, that deadline moves back to 2035.
But carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is so far largely unproven at scale and the world’s first major CCS power plant only switched on last month. UKERC’s report says “whether CCS will actually be commercialised or not is currently far from certain”, though Watson says recent developments in North America mean he is more optimistic than two years ago.
The report, A Bridge to a Low-Carbon Future? Modelling the Long-Term Global Potential of Natural Gas, suggests gas’s role as a quick fix to cut carbon emissions – gas emits significantly less CO2 than coal when burned – could be short-lived.
Gas has been hailed by some advocates as a ‘bridge’ or ‘transition’ fuel as economies move to renewable energy and nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.
If CCS doesn’t take off, to keep temperature rises under 2C as governments have agreed to do, the report’s modelling showed “gas consumption peaked in 2025 and declined terminally thereafter: the role that gas can play as a transition fuel was thus substantially reduced”.
However, despite the short window of opportunity, the authors say the amount of coal that could be displaced by gas is significant in terms of cutting emissions.
Dr Christophe McGlade of UCL, who led the modelling work, said: “Gas could play an important role in tackling climate change over the next 10 to 20 years.”
Watson added: “In those countries which a have a lot of coal in their energy systems, China being the prime example, gas has a role to play with or without CCS.” He said ensuring gas consumption peaked and declined rapidly in 2025 or 2035 would “require significant policy intervention” from governments.
Separately on Tuesday, the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced the creation of the UK’s first specialist colleges for training people for the shale gas industry. Headquartered in Blackpool, the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas National College will be linked to colleges in Chester, Redcar and Cleveland, Glasgow and Portsmouth.
Matthew Hancock, the new Tory energy minister, said: “Families, villages and towns across the UK could benefit from this new industry and its supply chain which could create 64,500 jobs. That’s why we are investing in the people behind project. Only by arming people with the skills they need to be shale specialists can we provide career opportunities for thousands of young people, boost the power and competitiveness of our firms and help the UK economy remain strong and competitive.
“To make a world-class cluster of expertise in the North West of England, just as Aberdeen is a world class cluster of expertise for offshore oil and gas.”
Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth north west campaigner said in response: “The north west deserves investment in jobs and skills, but this should be in energy sectors of the future such as tidal, wave and solar which the region has in abundance – not dead-end fossil fuels.”
Gas consumption in the UK has already peaked, and development of UK shale gas has been slower than expected. Hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas will not resume until 2015, the first exploratory fracking in the country since 2011.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Confederation of British Industry annual conference in London. Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters.
LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron has said Britain does not want a new Cold War with Russia, but signaled he was ready to back tougher sanctions against Moscow if it continued to destabilise Ukraine.
Addressing an audience in London at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, an event traditionally dominated by the foreign policy crisis of the day, Cameron said Russia’s actions posed a grave threat to the rest of Europe but that it wasn’t too late to avoid a new Cold War.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned last week that East-West tensions over the Ukraine crisis were threatening to push the world into a new Cold War.
“That is not an outcome we believe to be inevitable and neither is it one we seek,” said Cameron. “And I will make that clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brisbane this weekend.”
Cameron and Putin will both attend a meeting of G20 leaders in Australia on Nov. 15-16.
The British leader was speaking after a weekend that saw the heaviest shelling in a month in Ukraine hit the main rebel stronghold in the east and signs that Moscow had dispatched troops and tanks to reinforce separatists.
Up for re-election next year and faced with domestic difficulties over his policy on Europe and immigration, Cameron is keen for voters to see him as a serious player on the world stage and to make the point that Britain’s own economic fortunes depend on engaging internationally to stem instability.
Cameron said “a military solution” to the Ukraine crisis was not an option, but that European Union sanctions against Russia were having an impact and he was ready to keep upping the pressure on Moscow if it continued to destabilise Ukraine and violate its territorial integrity.
“Russia’s actions pose a grave danger to the rest of Europe,” he said. “We shouldn’t need to be reminded of the consequences of turning a blind eye when big countries in Europe bully smaller countries.”
“If Russia continues on its current path, then we will keep upping the pressure and Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world will be radically different in the future.”
I don’t know about you but I am sick to death of hearing of every Tom, Dick or Harriet blaming society for the failures of its people; most seem to have the impression that ‘society’ is the group of men and women who make up the government when in fact it is all of us who reside in these beautiful and free group of countries we call the United Kingdom, we are all part of society whether we feel like it or not.
First there was the white ‘disadvantaged’ living on council estates around the country, many living on state benefits, who said ‘society had failed them’ as the reason that they turned to drugs and crime, then there were the ethnic minorities who said ‘society failed them’ for the reason for their failures and now we have some religious leaders singing from the same song sheet! Society has not failed you! If anything, you have failed society.
I am only talking about a small minority of our population here as I’m sure many of you are aware that most people of all colours and religious backgrounds thrive in our society, this is what has made Britain great.
I am not a religious person, though I do believe in good and evil, and any religion, be it Catholicism, Islam or any of the many others that says a man must kill another because they do not share your beliefs, then it does not belong in any civilised society, religion should be about love for one another and not hate, if there is a ‘god’ then surely it is for him (or her) to punish or judge and not man, we do not have the right to judge a person because of who they are, or what they believe in so long as they are not hurting anyone else. We are after all equal!
And it is up to us ‘old’ people to teach our young from an early age, that at times life is tough but together we can build a better place for ALL men, women and children to live in peace regardless of our religious beliefs (or lack of them).
So enough of this ‘society had failed me’ crap the only one who has failed you is YOU! We are all in control of our own destiny, and if you feel let down, you need to pick yourself up, dust off your feelings, and try again, failure is not an option!
Peace to all!
You thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated