Trump to roll back Obama clean power plan

Speaking on ABC’s Sunday talk show “This Week,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said rolling back Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan would bring back coal jobs.

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“The past administration had a very anti-fossil fuel strategy,” he said. “So this is a promise (Trump) is keeping to the American people to say that we can put people back to work.”

Told by ABC host George Stephanopolous that most coal-job losses took place a decade ago under Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush — as natural gas increasingly replaced coal — Pruitt dismissed concerns that Trump had made a promise he can’t keep.

“It will bring back manufacturing jobs across the country, coal jobs across the country,” he said of the president’s forthcoming order.

“For too long over the last several years, we have accepted a narrative that if you’re pro-growth, pro-jobs, you’re anti-environment,” he added, accusing the Obama administration of making “efforts to kill jobs across this country through the clean power plan.”

He said Trump’s order would also lower electricity rates for Americans.

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan say it would help create thousands of clean-energy jobs.

A known fossil-fuel ally, Pruitt’s appointment to head the EPA — an agency he repeatedly sued as a state attorney general — has been deeply contentious. 

Earlier this month, the climate change skeptic said he believes carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, as scientists have said for decades.

Trump’s action comes as the Clean Power Plan rule has been on hold since last year while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly Republican-governed states and more than 100 companies.

Trump’s proposed federal budget unveiled earlier this month already envisioned ending funding for the plan along with a number of other programs aimed at combating climate change.

Trump’s order — along with his promise to reverse rules about vehicle emissions — would make it impossible for the United States to reach its commitments under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

But Pruitt criticized the accord as a “bad deal.”

“This is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in,” he said of Trump’s executive order, “and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment.”

He called Obama’s emissions rules “counter-helpful to the environment.”

As attorney general for Oklahoma, the 48-year-old Republican filed or joined in more than a dozen law suits to block key EPA rules, siding with industry executives and activists seeking to roll back various regulations on pollution, clean air and clean water.

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Scotland’s hopes still alive after late Martin winner

The Scots’ hero turned out to be centre forward Martin, who received some boos when he was brought on as a last-ditch hope for the home team but, within minutes, was being cheered to the rafters.

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The victory breathed new life into the Scots’ dismal campaign, putting them on to seven points in fourth place, now just one behind Slovenia, who slipped back to third in the table behind Slovakia, nine, and runaway leaders England on 13.

It also gave them fresh hope as they look forward to their next group match, a clash with their oldest rivals England at Hampden Park in June.

“The players can be proud of themselves. We have got ourselves back in contention and we look forward to the next game now,” Strachan, whose own future as Scotland manager has been the subject of much speculation, told Sky Sports.

A half-empty Hampden had looked resigned to seeing Scotland fail to prevail against Slovenia in what Strachan had described as a “must-win” match.

The Scots were left cursing their bad luck after a first half during which Leigh Griffiths struck the woodwork twice in the space of a minute and Russell Martin had a headed goal ruled out for pushing.

Their chance of the crucial win looked lost when substitute Ikechi Anya missed a great chance but Chris Martin, brought on in the 81st minute, latched on to debutant Stuart Armstrong’s threaded through ball to strike home a left-foot shot.

It was a remarkable finale, especially as Derby County striker Martin, who is on loan at Fulham, is not too popular with a section of the Scottish fans.

“Chris Martin gets a good reception from the players and the staff. That is why we pick him,” Strachan said.

“He is in great company. Kenny Dalglish was booed, so was Gary McAllister, so was Alan Hansen. He must be some player.”

Strachan also had extravagant praise for the Celtic midfield newcomer Armstrong. “I think his could be the best Scottish debut I have ever seen,” said the manager.

(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Clare Fallon)

Stosur reaches fourth round at Miami Open

Samantha Stosur has claimed her maiden fourth-round WTA berth of the year thanks to a tough three-set victory over Shuai Peng at the Miami Open.

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The 14th-seed Stosur set up a clash with world No.5 Simona Halep after fighting back from a set down to claim a 4-6 6-3 7-5 third-round victory over the world No.43 from China on Sunday (Monday AEDT).

Stosur, who beat in-form fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty in the second round, broke Peng in the match’s penultimate game to claim victory in two-and-a-half hours at Key Biscayne in Florida.

The 32-year-old Stosur started poorly, broken in the opening game of the match on the way to losing the first set before regrouping to take the second.

The deciding set was a see-sawing affair, with Peng losing serve in the first game before breaking back two games later.

The Australian veteran finished strongly to break Peng to love with the set poised a 5-5 before using three match points to see off her opponent’s challenge in the following game.

The result improves on Stosur’s previous best tournament showings of 2017 when she reached the third rounds in Doha and Taipei.

She will play third seed Halep after the Romanian dominated on serve to dispatch qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-0 on centre court.

“(It) definitely will be a tough match,” Halep said of the encounter with Stosur.

“I know Sam pretty well and I know it’s going to be very difficult. But I know how I have to play against her.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for me. I’m coming after a break so I have nothing to lose. I just want to enjoy and give everything, like today.”

Top seed Angelique Kerber rallied after going down 2-4 in the second set to overcome American Shelby Rogers 6-4 7-5.

“It’s always good to have close sets, especially when you win them at the end,” German world No.1 Kerber said.

“They give you confidence that you can go out in your next match knowing you can win close matches because you’ve just done it a day ago.”

Three-time champion Venus Williams made the most of her home-court advantage to steamroll qualifier Patricia Maria Tig 6-3 6-0.

The American will next play No. 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won in Miami in 2006 and was the runner-up last year.

Kuznetsova beat American qualifier Taylor Townsend 6-4 6-2.

Briton Johanna Konta set up a clash with Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena after the pair were victors over Pauline Parmentier of France and American Madison Keys respectively.

Daley to keep NSW Origin captain waiting

NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley has declared he won’t reveal his new Blues captain until he names his team for the series opener.

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Prop Aaron Woods is considered the frontrunner among a host of candidates to take over from long-serving skipper Paul Gallen, including Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson and Wade Graham.

Veteran rake Robbie Farah is the only player apart from Gallen to have led the Blues under Daley’s watch.

“You’ll find out the night of May 21 I think, when we announce the team. We won’t announce who it’ll be until right up until that date,” said Daley at the Origin series launch in Sydney on Monday.

“We don’t know who’s going to be available. Until then, we’ll keep it pretty close to the chest but we haven’t even discussed who the captain will be at this stage.

“We’ve got an idea of a group we’re looking at and seeing how they’re developing.”

Woods, who hasn’t missed an Origin game since debuting in 2013, was on hand with Daley to officially kickoff the countdown to game one, which will be played at Suncorp Stadium on May 31.

“Woodsy’s a great leader and he’d certainly be someone that we’d consider,” Daley said.

He’s been a part of the team now for the last couple of years and he’s grown as a leader for the Tigers.

“He’s certainly learnt on the run with what he’s been through over the two years. But he’s certainly figured in a lot of the discussions.”

Wests Tigers captain Woods played down his chances of leading the Blues but admitted Gallen’s representative retirement has left a gaping hole in the Blues’ squad.

Gallen signed off last year holding the record for most games as captain of the state.

“It’ll be difficult without big Galza,” said Woods.

“Obviously when you normally refer to NSW the last 5-6 years, it’s always big Gal, big G-train. It’s going to be different without the big fella here.

“Some young guy’s going to have to step up now. It opens up a spot for Dave Klemmer, big Pig (Shannon Boyd) from Canberra, he’s been playing some really good footy, and Jake Trbojevic.

“We’ve got some really good forwards, but everyone’s going to have to pick up their game because Gal does 20 hit ups and 40 tackles. We’re going to have to share the workload around.”

Le Pen plan to jettison euro spooks French business

Le Pen calls the single European currency a “a knife that you stick in a country’s ribs to force it to do what its people don’t want to do”.

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The leader of the National Front (FN) blames the euro for driving up prices, hurting exports and adding to France’s already colossal trade deficit.

She has pledged that, if elected, she will throw off the shackles of the common currency and restore France’s monetary sovereignty by resurrecting the franc.

With all opinion polls showing her getting past the first round of the election on April 23, making the once-unthinkable prospect of a far-right presidency no longer completely implausible, economists and business leaders are worried.

Although Le Pen, 48, currently looks set to lose the May 7 runoff, probably to independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, no one is being complacent.

“No one knows what will happen,” said Jean-Lou Blachier of France’s Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, referring to Britain’s surprise vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s shock election as US president. 

Le Pen argues that bringing back the franc would help retool France’s ailing industrial sector.

She believes a devalued national currency would make exports cheaper, boosting job creation.

Emboldened by Britain’s taboo-breaking Brexit vote, Le Pen also promises to hold a “Frexit” referendum, saying the EU “shuts us in, constrains us, bullies us”.

“The European Union is going to die because people do not want it anymore,” she said on Sunday in Lille.

“We are going to change Europe because the European idea has been undermined by these federalist gravediggers.”

If elected, she would hold six months of talks with the EU on “retaking sovereignty” in terms of budget, territory, legislature and monetary policy after which she would call a referendum on leaving the EU — and would step down if the people chose to stay. 

‘Whole eurozone could disappear’

Most experts however say that scrapping the euro would be disastrous, and not just for France.

Ratings agencies have warned that the eurozone’s second-biggest economy could be headed for a default if the country converts its towering 2.2 trillion-euro debt into francs. 

“If France leaves the single currency, the whole eurozone could disappear,” said Mathieu Plane of a French economic think tank, the OFCE, warning of an “unprecedented crisis”.

Benoit Coeure, who sits on the board of the European Central Bank, warned that France’s borrowing costs would rise and that prices would rise, rather than fall.

“Inflation, which would be out of the hands of the ECB, would eat into savings, fixed incomes and pensions,” he said.

“Leaving the euro would be choosing impoverishment.”

‘Project Fear’

Le Pen has dismissed the criticism as scaremongering.

“That’s called Project Fear. It was used before Brexit,” she told her conservative rival Francois Fillon during a TV debate this month when he warned her programme would trigger “economic and social chaos”.

Le Pen has said she can organise an orderly exit from the eurozone and suggested bringing back the European Currency Unit (ECU), a pre-euro basket of currencies, that businesses could use alongside the franc.

But polls show voters are still unconvinced.

Paris University economics professor Dominique Meurs said that despite the resistance, he expected Le Pen to stick to her guns.

“Leaving the euro and the EU is completely consistent with the FN’s obsession with the national identity (and) its total rejection of multilateral decisions,” she said.

Such a move would be a “dramatic break” with European convention, Meurs said. 

“What she is proposing is not some small change, it’s really a big deal because she could potentially be elected.”

It is not just in France that big business is worried about Le Pen’s election pledges.

Giant Swiss bank Credit Suisse said this month a Le Pen victory in May was the biggest risk to European stability.

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Chinese premier dismisses ‘so-called’ military build-up

Chinese premeir Li Keqiang’s visit to Canberra was billed as talks on economic ties, but it was always going to involve the South China Sea issue as well.

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Emerging from talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and asked about militarisation in the South China Sea, Mr Li said China is only interested in maintaining freedom of movement.

“With respect to the so-called militarisation, China never has any intention to engage in militarisation in the South China Sea. China’s facilities, Chinese islands and reefs, are primarily for civilian purposes, and, even if there is a certain amount of defence equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, because, without such freedom, or without stability in the South China Sea, the Chinese side would be among the first to bear the brunt of it.”

Mr Turnbull says he discussed regional security issues with Mr Li and the importance of maintaining the international rules-based order.

He says that order has been vital for peace in the region.

For his part, Mr Li says China is committed to peace in the region.

He and Mr Turnbull say they discussed the threat posed by North Korea and the need for North Korea to curtail its nuclear program.

Mr Turnbull welcomed China’s decision to freeze North Korean coal imports in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Mr Li says China has long maintained a consistent position on North Korea.

“About the situation on the Korean Peninsula, for example, China has a consistent position that is, ‘China is committed to the denuclearisation of the Peninsula and peace, to peace and stability on the Peninsula, and to resolving issues through dialogue.’ The situation there has, indeed, become quite tense, so we hope that all the parties concerned will work together to de-escalate the situation and uphold regional stability, because any instability in the region will only do harm to the parties involved.”

While referring to the regional-security discussions, Mr Turnbull has focused his remarks on the positive, though, following the meeting.

He has tried to accent trade discussions.

“This visit provides the opportunity to reflect on our achievements over 45 years and map a future course for our relationship. In our meeting this morning, it was clear we have a strong set of common interests, which we will pursue for the benefit of both nations. And during this visit, as you’ve seen, Chinese and Australian companies have signed deals which will contribute billions to our economies and create thousands of jobs.”

The two leaders announced a new trade deal to allow greater access into China for Australian chilled-meat exports.

The deal will expand access from 11 exporters to all eligible Australian exporters.

Mr Turnbull says China shares a mutual interest in free and open trade.

“We’re very committed to, as you know, free trade and open markets. We recognise there is a protectionist sentiment in many parts of the world, and, as I’ve said before, as I said in Hangzhou at the G20, protectionism is not the ladder to get you out of the low-growth trap. In fact, it’s a big shovel to dig it a lot deeper. And so, we welcome President Xi’s (Xi Jinpeng) recent statements, notably his speech at Davos, on the importance of free trade and open markets. And, of course, our two countries are manifestly great beneficiaries of that.”

After Canberra, the two were set to travel to Sydney for a number of business meetings and functions.

 

 

 

Split race-hate law reforms: Lambie

A key crossbench senator says the Turnbull government must carve up its overhaul of race-hate laws if it wants to see any elements of the reforms passed.

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Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie says if a contentious section of the Racial Discrimination Act is left untouched, she is open to discussing other changes with the attorney-general.

“I think he’s going to have to split the bill – it’s as simple as that if he wants a result,” Senator Lambie told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

The Turnbull government wants the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act changed to “harass and intimidate”.

Labor, the Greens, Senator Lambie and the Nick Xenophon Team are all opposed to the re-wording.

However, Senator Lambie is open to giving the Australian Human Rights Commission power to head off frivolous claims at an early stage, as well as implementing a “reasonable person” test.

Greens Senator Nick McKim is staunchly opposed to such a test.

“It is logically absurd for the government to try and establish a benchmark for racism in this country that doesn’t solely rely on the lived experience of the group of people being impacted by that racism,” he said.

“It’s a crazy suggestion – it’s another attempt to water down protections against racial hate speech in Australia and we won’t have a bar of it.”

The draft laws are expected to come on for debate shortly after an inquiry report is tabled on Tuesday.

The AHRC and Law Council say the existing Act has worked well but acknowledge processes could be improved to ensure greater fairness for people lodging complaints and those complained against.

Salt to blame for late night loo visits

The annoying need to pee in the middle of the night is related to the amount of salt in your diet, researchers say.

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Nocturia, or the excessive need to urinate during the night, mostly affects people over the age of 60 and can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life because of the disruption to sleep.

Scientists in Japan have discovered that reducing your salt intake can significantly reduce the need to wee in the night.

“Research generally focuses on reducing the amount of water a patient drinks, and the salt intake generally is not considered. Here we have a useful study showing how we need to consider all influences to get the best chance of improving the symptom,” said Dr Matsuo Tomohiro from Nagasaki University.

A study of more than 300 men and women found reducing daily salt intake by 10.7 grams to eight grams reduced the number of times participants needed to urinate, from 2.3 times a night to 1.4 times.

Participants who had their average salt intake increased to 11 grams needed to use the loo more frequently. Their need to urinate rose from 2.3 times a night to 2.7 times.

The researchers also found that daytime urination was reduced when salt in the diet was reduced.

The findings of the small study was presented at the European Society of Urology congress in London at the weekend.

Dr Tomohiro says larger studies are needed to confirm the work but believes their findings are very promising.

“Night-time urination is a real problem for many people, especially as they get older. This work hold out the possibility that a simple dietary modification might significantly improve the quality of life for many people,” Dr Tomohiro said.

Fired-up Hodge a boost for humbled Hawks

Hawthorn are banking on a fired-up Luke Hodge to help kickstart their season after the Hawks stumbled out of the starting blocks against Essendon.

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Alastair Clarkson’s side appeared slow at times and lacked composure in key moments in the season-opening 25-point loss to the Bombers on Saturday night.

Hodge’s return from a club-imposed ban won’t help with any leg speed issues, but it will certainly help calm frayed nerves when the heat is on.

“He’s been a fantastic player for our club and when he plays we win more often than not,” vice-captain Isaac Smith said of the former skipper.

“It’s a great confidence boost for the side. He’s going to be fired up and ready to go against a pretty strong Adelaide outfit.”

The 32-year-old is primed to return against the Crows at the MCG on Saturday after he had a final tune-up with VFL side Box Hill at the weekend.

Hodge’s absence after he was banned for missing a pre-season training session was all the more glaring with premiership teammates Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis starring for new clubs West Coast and Melbourne respectively.

Smith backed the club’s bold off-season moves, adding it would take time for Clarkson’s overhauled line-up to find chemistry.

He conceded the Hawks didn’t do themselves any favours against the emotion-charged Bombers, who ran away with the game in the last quarter and a half.

“You have six months to try and win the first game of the year and we stuffed it up,” he said.

“But there are 21 games to go.

“A little bit went wrong but we think a lot went right … a lot of our key indicators we ticked off.

“I think a lot of it was our finishing, we kicked 12.19 and if we kick 19.12 we probably win the game.”

Smith is confident the Hawks can cure their goal kicking yips in time to face the high-flying Crows, who kicked the highest score of the round in their 56-point demolition of flag favourites Greater Western Sydney.

“I don’t know if the Crows were shocked but I think a lot of people in footy were shocked with just how well they moved the ball and how quickly they scored,” Smith said.

“They were brilliant and it’s going to be a really tough test, but it’s our home ground with our supporters there so we’re looking forward to it.”

Four-time premiership star Cyril Rioli was restricted by a corked thigh against the Bombers but is expected to face Adelaide.

Russian opposition leader Navalny among hundreds arrested

On the streets across several Russian cities, protesters gathered in defiance of the authorities, accusing their government of corruption.

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The largest rally was in Moscow with conservative police estimates of around 8,000 people who packed into the city’s central Pushkin Square.

They chanted “Russia without Putin!” and “Down with Putin!”, but were met with heavily armed riot police.

The protests were unsanctioned and illegal, but demonstrators risked the prospect of arrests.

One protestor, Lyudmila, said they believed it was important to make their voices heard.

“One man cannot do anything, but a large number – they can at least show that it is impossible to live like this any longer, impossible. But I am afraid it will not be enough. I am afraid the authorities need to be hit over the head – then they maybe will realise what’s happening. But so far the people are silent.”

Hundreds of people were detained across the country, with at least 500 in Moscow alone, including Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

In chaotic scenes protestors attempted to stop the 40 year old’s arrest by preventing the police van from taking him away.

And in a tweet from the van, he urged fellow protesters to continue with the demonstration.

The call to protest came following a video made by Mr Navalny and Anti-corruption Foundation about corruption linked to the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

The video, which alleges that Mr Medvedev has amassed a collection of luxury mansions, yachts and vineyards, has been watched on YouTube more than 11 million times.

There’s been no official reaction to the allegations.

But this protestor says it’s clear who she supports.

“First of all, I’m a Navalny supporter. I think he’s a fighter and a very honest man – an altruist, which is very important. I’ve been watching his activity for a long time and I think that the time will come that he will become our president. It’s just that the time hasn’t come yet.”

And many are calling for Dmitri Medvedev to resign.

“If the prime minister is guilty of these lies, this corruption, all which is stated in the framework of the constitution – then of course he must be punished. How? Of course it is up to the court. But because our higher courts today are subject to this very corruption, this case will not be investigated.”

Next year Russians will vote in presidential elections which President Vladimir Putin is expected to contest in what would be his fourth term.

Alexei Navalny, a lawyer by training, had announced plans to also run for the presidency after he won a surprise 27 per cent of the vote in the Moscow mayoral election in 2013.

But he has been the subject of several legal prosecutions in recent years.

In February he was found guilty of embezzlement and given a five-year suspended sentence which could make him ineligible to run in next year’s vote.