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The latest News on the Environment. Articles for residents and businesses of Australia from National and International resources.

 
 

Chinese firm sues Venezuela as crisis tests ally's patience

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — One of China's biggest state-run conglomerates has sued a Venezuelan counterpart in a U.S. court in a dispute over unpaid bills, a sign of Beijing's growing impatience with its socialist South American ally as it slides into bankruptcy.

In the lawsuit filed Nov. 27 in a Houston federal court, a U.S. subsidiary of Sinopec sought more than $23 million in damages from Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA. Sinopec alleges it never received full payment for 45,000 tons of steel rebar it agreed to sell PDVSA for $43 million and which was delivered in 2013.

The lawsuit, while small in size, says PDVSA through its U.S. subsidiary Bariven reneged on repeated promises to pay Sinopec, at one point costing the Chinese company $2 million in losses after it entered into arbitration with a supplier it agreed to purchase the steel from to carry out the deal.

"This is...


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U.S. athletes may not attend Olympics as threat of nuclear war with North Korea rises, Haley warns

Nikki Haley says it’s an “open question” whether the U.S. will participate in the Winter Olympics.

“I think those are conversations we’re going to have to have. But what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything. We live our lives," Haley, who serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview with FOX News on Wednesday.

PyeongChang, in South Korea, is set to host the Winter Olympics in less than two months, but the city's location -- less than 50 miles from the border of North Korea -- has sparked some security fears, especially after the North Korean officials reported the successful launch of its largest and most powerful ballistic missile yet.  

Meet the athletes:

Haley insisted that no final decision had been made, but noted that safety of American athletes would be a number one concern. 

“What we will do is we’ll make sure that we’re taking every...


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This Church Banner Perfectly Captures How Progressive Christians Feel Right Now

An Episcopal church is causing a stir in Washington, D.C., after putting up banners that attempt to capture the mood of many progressive Christians in the nation’s capital.

The signs from St. Thomas’ Parish express frustration over some of the political positions taken by conservative Christians on topics such as gun rights and science. The banners feature an image of Jesus holding a hand to his face, a gesture that some are calling “faithpalming.” 

One sign, which went viral on Twitter last week, illustrates the congregation’s feelings about President Donald Trump. Trump is a Presbyterian (though faith doesn’t appear to play a large role in his life), and has continued to enjoy the support of many conservative Christians in the country.

The Rev. Alex Dyer, the priest in charge of the 126-year-old parish, is the one who designed the banner campaign. He told HuffPost that his...


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Ex-South Carolina cop gets 20 years in prison for black motorist's death

By Greg Lacour

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - The white former policeman caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back after a 2015 traffic stop in South Carolina was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison, with a federal judge ruling that the killing amounted to murder.

The decision came a year after Michael Slager's state murder trial for the death of 50-year-old Walter Scott ended with a deadlocked jury. Slager, 36, is one of the few police officers in recent years in the United States to receive prison time for an on-duty shooting.

"Everyone recognizes that this was a tragedy," U.S. District Judge David Norton told a Charleston courtroom packed with members of both men's families.

"What’s just for the Scott family is not necessarily just for the Slager family, and what’s just for the Slager family is not necessarily just for the Scott family," he said. "It’s a...


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Should a healthy environment be a human right? These Norwegians think so - ABC Online

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Greenpeace and the environmental group Youth and Nature are suing the Norwegian Government for granting Arctic oil drilling licenses.

Their argument is based on an article in the Norwegian constitution protecting the right to an environment that’s healthy and that long-term consideration be given to digging up natural resources.

Greenpeace Norway head Truls Gulowsen told Hack it all comes down to climate change and oil licenses.

"We had challenged the Norwegian state for handing out new licenses for drilling in the arctic in spite of the fact that they have signed the Paris Agreement," he said on his way to court.

"They acknowledge climate change is a problem, and they know that the world has already found more carbon, fossil carbon, than we can ever afford to burn."

He said Norway's constitution gives future generations the right to a healthy environment.

"[That] puts duties on the state...


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Kellyanne Conway Defends Trump's 'Tremendous Moral Standards' After Roy Moore Endorsement

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday morning to defend Donald Trump’s endorsement of Roy Moore, hailing the president’s “tremendous moral standards” in backing the Alabama Senate candidate whom numerous women have accused of sexual assault and harassment.

Conway discussed Moore’s Senate race opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, and how his various platforms are “out of step for Alabama voters,” citing tax policy as a potential reason to vote for Moore instead. Host Chris Cuomo immediately fired back that it seems like the president has “no standard of morality” and that this endorsement for Moore is all “political pragmatism.”

“The president has tremendous moral standards. He has said, the White House has said, the allegations are troubling,” Conway retorted.

Cuomo responded by saying that the allegations are apparently “troubling, but not...


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Johannesburg (AFP) - The most complete skeleton ever found of an australopithecus, a forerunner to modern man, went on display for the first time in Johannesburg on Wednesday following a 20-year process to excavate and assemble the 3.67 million-year-old remains.

Known as "Little Foot" because four small foot bones were the first to be discovered, the skeleton is the most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years yet discovered. It will now be available for public viewing at Wits University in Johannesburg.

"This is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research and it is a privilege to unveil a finding of this importance today," said Ron Clarke, the Wits University academic who discovered Little Foot.

Australopithecus -- Latin for "southern ape" -- are considered to be either closely related to, or the ancestors of,...


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Court asked to stop suit against prosecutor in man's death

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A lawyer for Baltimore's top prosecutor asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit by five police officers who claim she maliciously prosecuted them in the death of a black man gravely injured in custody.

Assistant Attorney General Karl Pothier told the three-judge panel that as a prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby has immunity from the lawsuit filed by officers who were charged but later cleared in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Pothier urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a judge's decision to allow parts of the lawsuit to go to trial.

"A prosecutor's protective cloak of absolute immunity is not so easily removed," Pothier said.

Lawyers for the officers, however, said Mosby acted as an investigator — not simply as a prosecutor — and is therefore not immune from the lawsuit.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, 2015, from a fatal spinal...


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Republicans Are Trying To Figure Out How Not To Shut Down Government At Christmas

WASHINGTON ― House Freedom Caucus leaders are easing off their demands that any bill to keep the government funded past this week go until after Christmas ― lest members take a bad deal just so they can go home and spend the holidays with their families ― but they now have a new hard line: spending.

Meeting conservatives’ fiscal demands isn’t exactly looking likely at the moment, with Democrats and Republicans not far off in recent negotiations. But any theoretical agreement would be fragile ― particularly with Donald Trump as president ― and GOP and Democratic leaders are walking softly.

Republican leaders especially have a tricky path to navigate, with House conservatives potentially throwing obstacles in the way of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on spending bills that many House Freedom Caucus members have no real intention of voting for.


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Lorde Predicted The Downfall Of Predatory Men Back In January

An outpouring of sexual assault accusations have destroyed the reputations of some of the most powerful men in entertainment, media and politics ― and Lorde apparently predicted it.

In January, the pop star tweeted a short but ominous prophecy: “these old men in power have a storm coming, the likes of which they cannot comprehend.”

these old men in power have a storm coming, the likes of which they cannot comprehend

— Lorde (@lorde) January 29, 2017

Three months after the tweet, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly was ousted from the network after a report revealed that he and Fox News had paid $13 million in sexual harassment settlements.

In October, The New York Times and the New Yorker reported accusations that film mogul Harvey Weinstein had raped, sexually harassed and intimidated women for decades. In light of the damning reports, Weinstein was forced out of his own production...


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Japan’s Midget Submarine Attack on Pearl Harbor Was a Suicide Mission

Unfortunately for officials in Tokyo, the Japanese Navy had struck a powerful blow, but not a crippling one. The bombardment failed to hit the repair facilities and fuel depots, which allowed the U.S. Pacific fleet to get back on its feet relatively quickly. Just as importantly, not a single U.S. aircraft carrier was in Pearl Harbor at the time. The flattops would swiftly prove their dominance over battleships in the coming Pacific War. Despite the debacle, the Japanese Navy continued sending Kō-hyōteki into combat. As at Pearl Harbor, the submariners in their tiny ships had very limited successes in operations from Australia to Alaska to Madagascar.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy rained devastation upon the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. But Japanese warplanes didn’t actually fire the first shots that brought America into a massive Pacific War.


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Don't go in the water, Environment Protection Authority warns - The Age

Don't go swimming at Melbourne's beaches today – it could make you sick.

That's the message from the authorities, who are urging people to steer well clear of every Port Phillip beach as the bacteria-filled runoff from the weekend's storms pours into the bay.

P-plater crashes car into Coburg home

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Healthier diet leads to a healthier environment, study shows - Good Food

So, you want to reduce your carbon footprint? You might consider improving your diet.

It turns out that healthy eating isn't just good for your body, it can also lessen your impact on the environment.

Scientists say that food production including growing crops, raising livestock, fishing and transporting all that food to our plates is responsible for 20 percent to 30 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, 33 percent of the ice-free land on our planet is being used to grow our food, researchers say.

But altering our diets could change that.

A new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA (PNAS) found that if citizens in 28 high-income nations such as the United States, Germany and Japan actually followed the dietary recommendations of their respective governments, greenhouse gases related to the production of the food they...


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Victorian Environment Protection Authority is failing on climate change - Green Left Weekly

The EPA is reviewing the licence conditions of Victoria’s coal-fired power stations, such as Yallourn in the Latrobe Valley.

A new report by Environment Victoria, Licence to Pollute: Why climate pollution is the unfinished business of reforms to the Environment Protection Authority, found the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is failing to tackle climate pollution, despite undergoing a $162 million reform process.

Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said: “While the EPA currently fines Victorians for dumping litter, it lets large companies dump millions of tonnes of climate pollution into the atmosphere and get off scot-free.”

He said until this is addressed Victoria’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases will continue to pollute, Victoria will fail to meet future emissions targets and the EPA reforms will remain half-finished.

Alberle said: “It...


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Chinese ban on plastic waste imports could see UK pollution rise - The Guardian

Sorting paper and plastic waste in Oregon, US. In 2016, China imported 7.3m tonnes of waste plastics from developed countries including the UK, US and Japan. Photograph: Natalie Behring/Getty Images

A ban on imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste by the Chinese government from January could see an end to collection of some plastic in the UK and increase the risk of environmental pollution, according to key figures in the industry.

Recycling companies say the imminent restrictions by China – the world’s biggest market for household waste – will pose big challenges to the UK’s efforts to recycle more plastic.

Analysis of customs data by Greenpeace reveals British companies have shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012 – two-thirds of the UK’s total waste plastic exports.

Graphic

Pressure is growing on Thérèse Coffey, the environment...


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Princeton, Stockholm University team up to explore 'Earth in 2050' global environment - Princeton University

Simon Levin at Earth in 2050 workshop

Simon Levin, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton, opens the workshop, setting goals for the two-day session. Levin serves on the SRC board.

Photo by

Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy

Princeton University welcomed researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) of Stockholm University from Nov.12-14 to collaborate on key areas related to the environment in the global context.

The meeting, "Earth in 2050: Boundaries, Obstacles and Opportunities,” was sponsored by the Princeton International Fund, the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

Presentations sparked conversation about feeding the world, urban infrastructure, biodiversity and conservation biology, human behavior, and water quality. The symposium was held in the Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building and...


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Eating healthy diet also good for environment, study finds - My Fox Boston

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Eating healthy is not only beneficial to your body -- it benefits the environment, too, according to a recent report.

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Researchers from universities in the Netherlands recently conducted an experiment, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, to determine how dietary choices impact the environment.

To do so, they used Exiobase, an input-output database that represents the world’s economy. The platform allows users to track the environmental costs of growing a variety of foods and the machinery needed to produce and distribute it to supermarkets. The site is also able to adjusts its figures based on a different countries’ production efficiency.

Scientists gathered information on the average diets of citizens living in 39 countries as well as its nationally recommended diets. They then entered the data into Exiobase to...


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Explained: Donald Trump's 'attack' on the environment - Aljazeera.com

Climate change activists have chastised Trump for his environmental policies [Lukas Schulze/Getty]

City officials from the United States and around the world met in Chicago this week to outline a collective plan to combat climate change at the local level, an effort they say is "more ambitious" than their respective national governments.

The North American Climate Summit brought together city and other local leaders who have signed onto a plan to combat climate change, known as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

Nearly 7,500 localities, representing more than 680 million people around the world, have committed to the plan, according to organisers.

Among other goals, the covenant aims to reduce carbon emissions to meet the aims of the Paris Agreement, the international accord that seeks to reduce global carbon emissions and keep the world's temperature below 2...


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World's environment officials set goal for contamination-free planet - Chemical & Engineering News

Top environmental officials from around the globe pledged on Dec. 6 to improve people’s lives by cutting contamination of land, air, fresh water, and oceans.

Meeting as the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, the officials set an international goal of a pollution-free planet. They did not establish a time frame for reaching this lofty objective, calling it “a long-term endeavor.”

“We have put the fight against pollution high on the global political agenda,” says Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

One activity that must be improved to eliminate pollution is use of commercial chemicals, the assembly determined.

“We believe that it is both inexcusable and preventable that tens of thousands of chemicals are used in everyday objects and applied in the field without proper testing, labelling or tracking,” the environment ministers say in...


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World commits to pollution-free planet at environment summit - ReliefWeb

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Nairobi, 6 December 2017 – The world today committed to a pollution-free planet at the close of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, with resolutions and pledges promising to improve the lives of billions across the globe by cleaning up our air, land and water.

If every promise made in and around the summit is met, 1.49 billion more people will breathe clean air, 480,000 km (or around 30 per cent) of the world’s coastlines will be clean, and USD 18.6 billion for research and development and innovative programmes to combat...


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