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For the first time in decades, Alberta’s electricity grid has gone without coal power

Alberta used to rely on coal for the majority of its electricity generation but, for the first time in decades, its power grid has gone without any input from the two remaining coal plants in the province. For several brief periods in 2024, those plants contributed zero electricity to the province’s grid, according to data from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). The first coal-free period came on Feb. 2. For 11 hours that day, the grid drew no power from the Genesee 1 or Genesee 2 coal plants west of Edmonton. It happened again in early March, says Blake Shaffer, an economist with the University of Calgary who specializes in electricity markets and tracks the data closely. It’s a notable milestone, Shaffer said, as Alberta continues its “transformative” phaseout of coal power. He said the province has been “long dominated both technically but also politically by coal power” and is now set to be “effectively off coal.” When the Alberta government announced plans in 2015, under then NDP premier Rachel Notley, to completely phase out coal power by 2030, critics questioned whether it should — or could — be done. “The industry was up in arms that it wasn’t possible,” Shaffer said. “Even parts of the government were in disbelief. I think there was a general view that phasing out by 2030 would actually be very challenging, and yet here we are.” The phaseout is now years ahead of schedule, in large part due to natural gas taking over much of the generation. Many coal plants were either replaced by gas plants or converted to burn natural gas instead. Electricity generated from natural gas puts out roughly half the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as compared with coal. Renewables have also picked up a lot of coal’s slack. Combined output from wind, solar and hydro outpaced coal for the first time in 2022, according to an AESO report, accounting for 12.6 per cent of total generation in the province that year. Renewable energy grew even more in 2023, when it accounted for 16.5 per cent of Alberta’s total generation, according to the AESO’s latest Market Statistics Report. “In 2024, it is expected that the remaining coal assets will be converted to natural gas,” the report adds. Capital Power has said it expects to convert its Genesee 1 and Genesee 2 units to natural gas later this year. Shaffer noted there is still one “dual fuel” plant in Alberta — Capital Power’s Genesee 3 unit — which can burn both natural gas and coal. “So if you want to be really technical, there’s potential that coal is being burnt out there; we don’t know,” he said. “But at least this was the first time [in decades] we’ve had zero generation from an exclusively coal-fired power plant.” “By the end of September, we should have no more coal-fired power plants in the province,” Shaffer added. “We may still have one plant that is capable of using dual fuel, but really it’s more than likely to be using gas. It may be depleting some stockpiles of coal that it has sitting there, but they’re certainly not mining any more coal specifically for that plant.”

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Excise policy: ED issues fresh summons to Kejriwal

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has issued fresh summons to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for questioning on March 21 in the excise policy linked money laundering case, official sources said Sunday. The 55-year-old national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been asked to depose at the central agency’s office in central Delhi.The ninth summons have been issued so that Kejriwal’s statement can be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.The CM has repeatedly refused to appear in response to these summons, calling them illegal.A Delhi court on Saturday had granted bail to Kejriwal on two complaints filed by the agency against him for skipping six of the previous eight summons in this case.The agency arrested BRS leader K Kavitha in this case two days back.

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ED summons Arvind Kejriwal in another money laundering case linked to DJB

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for questioning March 18 in a money laundering probe linked to alleged irregularities in the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), official sources said Sunday. This is the second case registered under the anti-money laundering law in which the 55-year-old politician, also the national convenor of Aam Aadmi Party AAP, has been called. He has been issued notice for questioning in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case too. Kejriwal has skipped eight summons in this case till now, terming them illegal. PTI

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Four family members die as house collapses

Four members of a family died Friday night after their house collapsed on them at Masasa, on the outskirts of Mzuzu City. However, two children aged 16 and 10, survived as they were not in the house at the time of the accident. Northern Region Police spokesperson Maurice Chapola confirmed the incident that happened after a heavy downpour in the city. Police identified the deceased as Ivy Banda, 31, of Ndapatila Village in Nkhotakota, Robison Malindi, 37, of Munjilane Village, T/A Kalinga in Machinga and their son Ishmael Malindi, 4, and daughter Aisha Malindi, 7. “This accident happened around 3 am. The bodies were transferred to Mzuzu Central Hospital,” he said. Mzuzu City Council spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said they were saddened by the incident. Said Gondwe: “We have received support amounting to K2 million from the State House and we are grateful to the President. “We are also working with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), but the council will also provide a vehicle to ferry the remains [to Nkhotakota].” Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said they have received a preliminary report from the city council. “We are still waiting for a final report. But since October last year, over 40 000 people have been affected by disasters,” he said.

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Several al-Shabaab terrorists killed in Somalia

This military operation has been carried out with the coordination of popular groups near the city of Harardhere in the African country’s Galmudug province. Reports suggest that 6 terrorists were killed during the operation. Al-Shabaab was formed in Somalia in 2004. By 2010, the group had established control over vast territories, but it had to withdraw from Mogadishu in the summer of 2011 and launch a guerilla war against the country’s government and its allies. In February 2012, an al-Shabaab leader announced joining Al Qaeda. Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with the main threats emanating from al-Shabaab and the Daesh/ISIL terror groups. MP/6056781

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Udhampur | People Laud Union Minister Jitendra Singh, Hope For His Third-Time Win

Udhampur, Mar 17: After the Election Commission announced the dates for the Lok Sabha elections, people in Udhampur constituency expressed their confidence in Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who will contest from here for the third time. Surinder Singh, a resident, said that a lot of work has been done in Udhampur. “In the coming time, I request that this time, when he (Jitendra Singh) wins, there should be further improvement in health and education. Many issues affecting the village people have been solved,” he said. Sanjeet Kumar Sharma, another resident, said that the benefits of the initiatives taken by PM Modi across the country are visible in Jammu and Kashmir and especially in Udhampur. “Our rural infrastructure has also developed. Water projects have been sanctioned for every panchayat. Water is reaching every house under the water scheme. Today, there is electricity in every house. It is necessary to bring tourism here. It can be a major source of employment,” he said. On March 1, the BJP announced Jitender Singh would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Udhampur and Jugal Kishor Sharma from Jammu. A resident of Udhampur also pointed out that Union Minister Jitendra Singh should pay more attention to the education and tourism sectors. “ECI has announced the date of the Lok Sabha elections. This is a matter of great happiness because we get the opportunity to choose the government of our choice. I urge everyone to vote. Dr Jitendra Singh has done a lot of work here in the past. If BJP has given him a ticket for the third time, then they must have given it after some thinking. I want to say that he should pay a little more attention to the tourism and education sectors,” he said. Yesterday, Dr Jitendra Singh expressed hope from the first-time voters of Jammu and Kashmir. The union minister said “We have expectations from all first-time voters. The picture has drastically changed since 2014. This city was so deprived of roads that folk songs were made in Dogri.” “In the last 10 years, roads were constructed in Udhampur under PMGSY. Three medical colleges have opened. A radio station and even a passport office have now opened up here,” he added. The general election for 543 Lok Sabha seats will be held in seven phases from April 19, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar announced on Saturday. The counting will be held on June 4. (Agencies)

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World full of examples on fast-tracking of citizenship: Jaishankar on CAA criticism

New Delhi: Amid criticism of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) from the US and other parts of the globe, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said it is important to put it in the context of the Partition, and underlined that there are a ‘number of examples’ in which many countries have fast-tracked citizenship. During an interaction at the India Today Conclave 2024 Saturday, he also responded to questions on an Indian national, facing charges in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Khalistani separatist on American soil and US Ambassador Eric Garcetti’s remarks a day earlier on its impact on US-India ties. “You keep using India and Canada seamlessly, I would draw a line there, for a variety of reasons. Most notably that all said and done, American politics has not given that kind of space to violent extremist views and activities which Canada has done. So, I don’t think it’s fair to the US, to lump them together. I would distinguish between the two,” Jaishankar said. The relations between India and Canada saw bitterness last year over allegations linked with the killing of Khalistani separatist and designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June in the Canadian city of Surrey. India denied the allegation as “absurd and motivated”. Jaishankar also responded to criticisms surrounding the CAA from Washington and other parts of the world. The US on Thursday said it is concerned about the notification of CAA in India and is closely monitoring its implementation. “Look, I am not questioning the imperfections or otherwise of their democracy or their principles or lack of it. I am questioning their understanding of our history. If you hear comments from many parts of the world, it is as if the Partition of India never happened, there were no consequential problems which the CAA is supposed to address,” Jaishankar said. So, if you take a problem and “remove all the historical context from it, sanitise it and make it into a political correctness” argument, and say, ‘I have principles and don’t you have principles’, “I have principles too, and one of them is obligation to people who were let down at the time of Partition. And, I think, the Home Minister spoke very eloquently on it yesterday”, he added. Garcetti in response to a question on CAA during a panel discussion at the conclave on Friday, had said the principles of religious freedom and of equality under the law is a cornerstone of democracy. “And, that is why we look at these things, it will be easier not to look at our friends. We invite you to do the same with our imperfect democracy, it is not a one-way street. But, you cannot give up on principles, no matter how close you are with friends…,” he had said. Jaishankar while responding to the criticism on CAA, also cited a “number of examples” to make his point. He said he has a problem when people don’t hold up a mirror to their own policies, as he cited Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was about Jews from Soviet Union, the Lautenberg Amendment, Specter Amendment and “fast-tracking of Hungarians after the Hungarian revolution, fast-tracking of Cubans in 1960s”. “So, if you were to ask me, have other countries, other democracies, fast-tracked on the basis of ethnicity, faith, social attributes, I can give you any number of examples,” the minister said. He sought to put the context of the 1947 Partition which cleaved the Indian subcontinent into two independent nations India and Pakistan, and led to a massive bloodshed resulting in large-scale migrations across the border. “Now, if I were to also say, after all why is the situation important, because very often when you have something very cataclysmic, something really very major, it is not possible to deal with all the consequences right then and there. “The leadership of this country had promised to these minorities, that if you have a problem, you are welcome to come to India. The leadership thereafter didn’t deliver on the promise,” he added. Jaishankar said it is “not just our predicament. If you look at Europe, many European countries fast-tracked citizenship of people who were left behind on the World War or in some cases much before the World War Some historical issues which were not addressed…I have a moral obligation to that community”. “So, the world is full of examples, and to me the context therefore is very important,” the minister said. On the upcoming US elections, the Union minister said, “we are prepared for whatever happens”. “We have actually built a very extensive culture of engaging and sort of maintaining relationships…Well before the 2016 November results, we had already reached out to the Trump campaign at a high level. Because, that is the way it would be. It wouldn’t be hypothetically tomorrow,” he said. Because the US-India relationship is “very important” and that is the only way one can get a grip on that relationship, the minister said. On the issue of the Indian national, facing a charge for a murder-for-hire plot to kill a Khalistani separatist on American soil, he also shared how India is dealing with it. “Yes, the US has shared with us some information, some of this in the public domain, some of it is not. And, our interest is to also look into it, because, to us there seems to be a very strong organised crime aspect to it which also impinges on our own security. “So, when we were apprised of this information, we decided to set up a very high-power committee of competent people to look into it and that is an ongoing issue right now,” Jaishankar said. He also came up with some light-hearted responses when asked about the use of social media and diplomacy. “Look, I am paid to fix foreign policy, I am not paid to fix social media,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience. “To be honest no one can fix social media. The nature of the platform is such that everything that you somewhat disapprovingly state is actually something that gets more eyeballs on social media,” Jaishankar said. He said he assumed this is a medium which is very angular, but one can counter it fairly rapidly. “We (MEA) have adjusted to the times too…Short, sharp impactful expressions (on social media) are required then we move out of our, shall we say old comfort zones, and adjust ourselves to respond in that way,” said the minister who has a massive following on X. PTI

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Illegal loggers ‘capture’ Michiru Sanctuary

Illegal loggers at Michiru Mountain Nature Sanctuary in Blantyre have created no-go zones for game rangers. Under the escort of three armed Police Mobile Service (PMS) officers and six game rangers on Tuesaday, Nation on Sunday went close to where the illegal loggers are camping, and moulding bricks. However, we were stopped in our tracks as they pelted us with stones while uttering profanities. Armed with axes, pangas and metal bars, they threatened that any inch close to them meant war and they were ready for it. Noticing the volatile situation, PMS officers suggested a retreat while firing warning shots to scare them. They could be heard laughing, signifying their triumph. On the same day, the loggers also turned away a church youth group that went up the mountain for a social hike. “We were told they would hurt us if we went further,” explained Jonathan Banda. In an interview, a ranger, who opted for anonymity, said they are powerless to act on the illegal loggers. He said: “They are more than 100 up there while we are less than 15. We definitely know that if we go to stop them, we will be fighting a losing battle.” He said the National Department of Parks and Wildlife was better placed to comment, stressing that the illegal loggers are provocative. According to another game ranger, the loggers are from the sanctuary’s surrounding communities. She said: “This makes it tricky for us to act on their illegal activities because we definitely know they would retaliate.” The game rangers recalled a situation in 2023 when they apprehended one of the loggers and his colleagues burnt down offices and houses at the sanctuary. They both said the illegal loggers are now controlling the protected area and restricting people’s movement. National Parks and Wildlife director Brighton Kumchedwa in an interview acknowledged the situation. He said plans are underway to remove the loggers from the mountain. In a separate interview, Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change Michael Usi described the situation as worrisome. He said his ministry is coordinating with law enforcement agencies and local leaders to address the issue and protect the mountain and its surroundings. “We are deploying additional resources and implementing stricter measures to deter illegal logging and encroachments. Furthermore, we are collaborating with local communities and stakeholders to raise awareness and promote sustainable practices. “We take this matter seriously and are committed to preserving our natural resources for future generations,” said Usi. Minister of Tourism Vera Kamtukule also said the government will not relent until the illegal loggers are brought to justice. She said soldiers were deployed to the sanctuary last year to beef up security, but they could not stay longer owing to their initial commitments and lack of financial resources. “It would be an anomaly to assume that they [soldiers] would be there all the time because there is also an issue of logistics and resources. “But we will not relent until we are satisfied that our forests and protected areas are safe and that the gallant rangers who risk their lives every day to protect our forests are well taken care of. They are called protected areas for a reason,” she said. Michiru Mountain Nature Sanctuary, established in 1975, has lately been held at ransom by illegal loggers and others extracting soil for moulding bricks. In November 2023, British High Commissioner Fiona Ritchie called for urgent action to reverse the plunder. Wildlife Society and Environmental Society of Malawi national chairperson Tiwonge Mzumara Gawa also called for coordination between the departments of Forestry and the National Parks and Wildlife to ensure standardised operations in their areas of jurisdiction on the mountain.

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