TIME energy

Could Iran Play a Part in E.U. Energy Security?

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As Europe looks for alternatives to Russian gas, Iran could provide Europe "new routes"

Azerbaijan’s energy minister, Natig Aliyev, says the gas pipeline originating in his country can also transport fuel to Europe through the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) from Iran and other neighboring nations in both the Middle East and Central Asia.

“Gas from Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, as well as from Israel and Cyprus, can be connected to the Southern Gas Corridor,” Aliyev told the Caspian Oil & Gas Conference in Baku on June 3. “The extensive work done by Azerbaijan stands behind all of this.”

The minister said that as Europe is looking for alternatives to Russian gas, its attention is being drawn increasingly to Azerbaijan because it could provide “a new source of energy for Europe, and it offers Europe new routes.”

Azerbaijan could become a major source of energy for the West, Aliyev said, given that it produced 42 million tons of oil and 29 billion cubic meters of gas in 2014. Looking to the future, he said, his country intends to maintain that level of oil output, or even increase it to 45 million tons per year, and that it plans to double its output of gas.

Aliyev pointed to Europe’s growing concern about its current reliance on gas deliveries from Russia via a pipeline that transits Ukraine. Because of political and pricing disputes between Kiev and Moscow, these deliveries have been briefly interrupted three times in the past nine years. “Europe imports about 90 percent of oil, 60 percent of gas and 42 percent of coal,” he said.

TANAP would run west from Baku, through Turkey, then the Balkans and connect with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which finally would deliver the gas to Italy and on to the rest of Europe. Already Turkmenistan, on the other side of the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan, has expressed interest in joining TANAP, and Aliyev said Iran, with its huge energy resources, also would be a prime candidate.

“Iran’s cooperation with the world was always good,” Zanganeh said at the time, “but they were unkind to us. However now they are returning to the cooperation.” Besides, he said, Iran has more energy reserves than it can consume domestically.

And on June 3, addressing Aliyev’s comments, Mohsen Pakaein, Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, said his government was considering the invitation to join TANAP as part of Tehran’s plans to establish a strong presence on the world’s gas market.

Construction already has begun on TANAP, while a rival pipeline through Turkey, sponsored by Russia, is still in the planning stages. Whichever of these two conduits is completed would replace Russia’s South Stream pipeline to Europe, a project that was scuttled in late 2014 because of an EU rule that forbids one entity from owning both the pipeline and the gas it carries.

The 1,100-mile-long TANAP is expected to begin delivering natural gas by 2020. The initial volume of fuel will be about 16 billion cubic meters per year, increasing eventually to 31 billion cubic meters per year.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

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TIME Security

Edward Snowden: Privacy Remains ‘Under Threat’

Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via videoconference during a parliamentary hearing on improving the protection of whistleblowers, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 24, 2014.

"Technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world"

Edward Snowden has penned a new op-ed celebrating recent reforms of the National Security Administration.

President Barack Obama this week signed into law tighter restrictions for the agency, barring the organization from mass collection and storage of American phone records. Snowden, the man who revealed these practices to the public, is in the New York Times Friday, celebrating the work of Congress and the President as a “profound” achievement, and “a historic victory for the rights of every citizen.” Still, Snowden believes surveillance reform has a long way to go.

Here are some other choice quotes from the article:

  • Snowden had worried at one point that he might have, “put [his] privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.” But the changes to the law have, in part, vindicated his decision to risk imprisonment by leaking classified information
  • He calls this weeks events, “only the latest product of a change in global awareness,” citing other events like The U.N. declaring “mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights,” as evidence of a broader movement to curtail spying powers.
  • He also laments that there is more work to do. Writes Snowden: “the right to privacy . . . remains under threat. Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them.”

Check out the full article over at The New York Times.

TIME Ireland

FIFA Is Being Asked to Explain Why it Paid $5.5 Million to the Irish Soccer Association

Ireland say they received the money to stop them taking legal action against FIFA

FIFA paid Ireland’s soccer association(FAI) $5.5 million to avoid legal action after Ireland were knocked out of a World Cup qualifying playoff by a goal that involved a blatant handball.

Ireland were beaten by France, who qualified for the 2010 South Africa tournament, but the decisive goal in the second leg came after a handball by the French player Thierry Henry.

There was an international outcry but FIFA insisted the result would stand.

John Delaney, the chief executive of the FAI speaking about the payment, told Irish TV:”It was a payment to the association… not to proceed with a legal case.”

FIFA said on Thursday the payment was actually a loan.



London Is Officially the Cocaine Capital of Europe

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At least according to its sewer system

How do you measure how much drugs a city’s residents are using? One way is to check the sewers. According to new research from the E.U., London residents flush away the most cocaine of any major European city.

The study, which looked at 50 cities around Europe, found that 737 mg of cocaine was flushed per 1,000 people each day last year, according to the BBC. Amsterdam came in second place with 716 mg, and Antwerp in third with 632 mg.

Peak days for cocaine-flushing in London are Fridays and Saturdays, with Sundays and Mondays showing a significant drop-off.


TIME Pakistan

Malala Gunmen Secretly Set Free in Pakistan

Previous reports had indicated all 10 were sentenced to life in prison

News reports in April indicated that 10 men had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison in connection with the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in 2012. But now, it seems eight of those men were actually acquitted.

Several Pakistani officials confirmed to the BBC that only two men had been sentenced, with one blaming misreporting for the confusion. But one public prosecutor had specifically told the Associated Press after the trial (which was held in secret), “It is life in prison for the 10 militants who were tried by an anti-terrorist court.”

The discrepancy emerged when reporters tried to locate all 10 men; the whereabouts of the eight who were acquitted are now unknown.

Yousafzai was targeted by the Taliban at age 15 after becoming an advocate for girls’ education. She and her family now live in the U.K. to escape death threats in their native Pakistan. She was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.


TIME facebook

Facebook Users Upset by Video of Baby Dunked in Water

The baby was held upside down and lowered into a bucket of water while crying

A video that appeared to show a crying baby being held upside down and dunked in a bucket of water has upset members of the Facebook community.

While some have asked Facebook to remove the video, the social media platform has said that it is not in violation of policy. Its U.K. policy director, Simon Milner, told BBC Radio 4 that since the video “is being shared to draw attention to and to condemn what’s happening and ideally to try and help this child then yes, there is a place for it on Facebook.” By contrast, “If it was being shared to praise it or make fun of it then absolutely not and in cases like that we will take it down.”

The video apparently shows “baby yoga”, a controversial technique supposed to imporve the mind and physique of babies that originated in Russia.

Facebook has added a warning message before the video, but critics say that is not enough. The U.K.’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says that social media sites like Facebook should be “held to account for the content on their sites and pay more attention to their safeguarding duties to protect children and young people, whether they are viewing the content or appearing in it.”

Milner says Facebook has been in contact with the authorities who are hoping to find the child depicted in the video, and that in the past, sharing content like this on the Internet “can and does lead to the rescue of the child.”


TIME portfolio

See How the World Celebrates Key Historical Events

Starting from D-Day, Marc Beckmann went around the world to photograph anniversaries with historical significance.

When German photographer Marc Beckmann was in college 11 years ago, he assigned himself to shoot the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, which made a mesmerizing impression on the 26-year-old photography student. In the next decade, without any editorial support, he went on to photograph another 15 anniversaries of historical significance, from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Prague Spring, to the erection of Berlin Wall, the Islamic Revolution, 9/11 and the most recent conflicts in Egypt.

The biggest and perhaps most ambitious project to date for Beckmann, now 37, is to explore how these events shape collective memories and affirm national identities. “The project looks at how we remember the past, and how we work with history today,” he tells TIME.

At these orchestrated events, often in the form of spectacular military parades, state ceremonies and even demonstrations, Beckmann tried to shy away from prescribed images such as those ones of decorated veterans, heads of states or wreathes of flowers. Instead, his vibrant images, shot entirely on a Mamiya 7 medium format camera, offer quiet observations that are, in many cases, countering the propaganda images governments hope the press will produce.

“With this format you automatically have to step back a little, you make very different compositions, you work much more calmly,” he said.

Beckmann quickly realized that he would be unable to photograph all of the anniversaries being celebrated around the world. “I decided to take events from the last 100 years, then try to do the key events of history that affected us in the western world,” he explains. While he mostly documented events around Europe, he also photographed a few other anniversaries outside, including the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.

Marc Beckmann is a German photographer based in Berlin. His personal project, Anniversaries, will be exhibited at C/O Berlin from June 20 to August 16.

Ye Ming is a writer and contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME russia

Edward Snowden Hits Out at Russia’s Privacy Laws

He also attacks Canada, France and Australia for expanding their surveillance powers

Former CIA officer and NSA contractor Ed Snowden has taken a surprising swing at his new home, accusing Russia of ‘arbitrarily passing’ new anti-privacy laws.

The sideswipe struck an odd note in an otherwise triumphant op-ed published in the New York Times Friday, in which Snowden celebrated recent moves by Congress and the U.S. courts to end the NSA’s call-tracking program, which Snowden said followed “nearly every phone call in the United States.”

Snowden fled to Russia after exposing the scale of NSA snooping two years ago, receiving first asylum, then a three-year residency permit, from President Vladimir Putin.

However, Russia has been busy cracking down on internet and media freedoms in general since Snowden’s arrival, banning majority foreign ownership for mass media, and drafting new laws to make sure that restrictions on promoting ‘extremism’ also apply to bloggers as well as news sites and publications. Like many other countries, Russia’s also bringing a new law to force companies to store personal data on its own citizens locally. That law is due to come into force in September.

Snowden’s op-ed comes in a week that has seen key provisions of the Patriot Act, which form the legal foundation for much of the NSA’s monitoring of suspected terrorist activity, lapse after a filibuster by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul stopped them being extended.

“After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated,” Snowden wrote. “This is the power of an informed public.”

Snowden also sided, if only implicitly, with Apple Inc. Tim Cook over the development and spread of encryption tools to stop government snooping.

“Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them,” he argued.

Snowden warned, however, that countries are still using terrorist attacks justify invasive new powers for their security services. He singled out Canada, France and Australia, and also criticised U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s declared intention to expand surveillance powers.

He made no mention of the three terrorist attacks in those countries in the last six months that claimed 15 lives. Nor did he mention the increasing body of evidence showing how organizations like Islamic State have used encrypted messaging services for the purpose of recruiting jihadis. European countries in particular are worried by the prospect of their citizens learning terror techniques in warzones such as Syria and Iraq and then returning to use them at home.

This article originally appeared on fortune.com

TIME China

China Shows the World How to Turn a Tragedy Into an Embarrassment

An aerial view shows rescue workers standing on the sunken cruise ship Eastern Star in Jianli
Reuters An aerial view shows rescue workers standing on the sunken cruise ship Eastern Star in Jianli, Hubei province, China, June 4, 2015

The prone Eastern Star may finally have been righted but personal tragedy remains cruelly submerged

If, in the early hours, there was any small affirmation in tragedy, it was this: the squadrons of scuba divers, the implacable cranes, the search-and-rescue teams prying open a ship’s hull were striving ceaselessly to rescue victims of the June 1 cruise ship disaster on the Yangtze River. Few could argue against the efficiency of a one-party state. Amid driving rain and wind, China’s Premier Li Keqiang rushed to the scene, his shirt-sleeves rolled up, the conductor of a sorrowful symphony for the sunken Eastern Star.

Yet, four days on, we are left not in awe of the galvanizing power of autocracy but with aversion to its inelegance. So determined has Beijing been to stage-manage the wake of the storm capsizing — as of the morning of June 5, the confirmed death toll stood at 97, with 14 survivors and hopes rapidly fading for the remainder of the more than 450 passengers and crew — that they have turned a potential PR boon for the Chinese Communist Party into an embarrassment.

Family members of the ferry victims, who have converged on the town of Jianli in China’s central Hubei province, have been warned not to talk to the media. Some have been followed by security personnel, as if their loss somehow makes them suspect. Reuters reported that other relatives in Shanghai, where the tour agency that filled the ship is based, were physically assaulted by uniformed Chinese police.

Many have complained about a lack of information from government sources. Censors are scouring the Internet, even targeting the words “Eastern Star.” Members of the Chinese media have been hushed. Why? “I can’t rule out that even among Chinese journalists there are people who want to smear the government,” Hu Shining, the deputy police chief of Nanjing, the city where the ship embarked on its journey, told family members, according to Reuters.

On June 4, China’s President Xi Jinping convened a special meeting of the nation’s most powerful leadership committee to discuss the tragedy. A statement from the meeting, reported by China’s state news agency Xinhua, called on “local party committees and governments to ‘sincerely understand the families’ grief, carry out appeasement efforts and earnestly safeguard social stability.’”

But grief is messy. It is not “coordinated, scientific and pertinent,” as Premier Li described the equipment being used for the Jianli rescue effort. The families of those lost on the Eastern Star, most of whom were elderly, were not looking to disturb social stability. But now that their bereavement is being treated like criminal activity, how will they proceed?

Other disasters have made unlikely dissidents out of ordinary Chinese. When parents and others protested the shoddy construction of schools that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, some were jailed for their troubles. When families of New Year’s Eve revelers, who were trampled to death in Shanghai this past holiday, tried to commemorate their loved ones, police and censors converged. Back then, Chinese media were instructed to stick to state-sanctioned versions of events, a pattern that is being repeated with the Eastern Star sinking.

That has prompted some ferry relatives to speak anonymously to the press or to merely identify themselves by their last name. Yet again, personal tragedy was left submerged under the weight of preserving social stability.

TIME South Korea

Fourth Death Confirmed in South Korea’s Worsening MERS Outbreak

More than 1,300 schools have closed as officials scramble to contain the virus

A fourth person has died in South Korea after being diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, health authorities have confirmed.

The 76-year-old man passed away Thursday as he was being treated for the virus in a public hospital, the state-backed Yonhap News Agency is reporting.

Public-health officials say five new cases of the respiratory virus have been identified. Forty-one people in total have been diagnosed nationwide with the potentially fatal viral disease.

Officials this week also ordered more than 1,500 people to self-quarantine after they unknowingly attended a meeting with a physician who was infected with MERS.

According to CNN, the doctor attended a symposium in Seoul in late May despite experiencing MERS-related symptoms. He was finally diagnosed on June 1.

The outbreak has introduced large-scale anxiety into South Korea, forcing officials to close more than 1,300 schools and spurring thousands of tourists to cancel scheduled vacations in the country.

“There are a lot people worried about the situation,” President Park Geun-hye told top officials during an emergency meeting earlier this week, according to Reuters. “Everything must be done to stop any further spread.”

Public-health officials have been under heavy scrutiny as they struggle to prevent the virus from spreading on a daily basis.

A leading health expert in Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post this week that South Korean authorities should learn from the city’s own experience battling Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 — an outbreak that eventually claimed almost 300 lives in the territory and up to 800 worldwide.

“Hong Kong learned a painful lesson from SARS that scattering patients around increases the death toll,” Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, told the Post, urging transparency and centralizing treatment efforts.

On Friday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon declared an all-out offensive to contain the virus.

“From now on, Seoul city is embarking on a war against MERS,” said Park, according to Agence France-Press. “We will take swift and stern measures … to protect the lives and safety of our citizens.”

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