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The 10 European countries with
the highest rates of climate-changing
emissions from energy use are spending
about 6.3 billion euros ($9.95 billion)
year on coal subsidies, money that
could instead be invested in energy
technologies of the future, researchers
Those countries — from Britain to
Spain — produce 84% of the European
Union’s energy-related greenhouse gas
emissions, with Germany and Poland
the largest emitters.
“Governments have often used the
energy transition, including a shift
to renewables, as a justification for
extending and introducing new subsidies
to coal,” the researchers said in a report
Part of the reasoning is that “when the
wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t
shine, you need power on standby to
provide the grid”, Shelagh Whitley, a
co-author of the report and head of the
climate and energy programme at the
Overseas Development Institute (ODI),
a London-based think tank, said.
“Instead of governments supporting
technologies which are part of the future
energy system . . . they ’re subsidising
centuries-old technology,” she said.
A better use of the funds could be
investment in new technologies such
as batteries to store renewable power, as
well improvements in energy efficiency
and installing demand systems in
factories and businesses that can help
them power up or power down in times
of high demand or low supply.
“ We know that renewables are more
intermittent,” Whitley said. But “we
need an (electricity) grid and systems
within people’s homes and businesses
that can manage that — and the
Smart technologies can be installed
that allow factories, for example, to turn
down their refrigeration units when the
energy grid has less capacity, and get
paid for that in the same way people are
paid to supply energy from their solar
panels, she said.
Reducing coal use would also have
health benefits, the report said. About
23,000 early deaths every year are linked
to coal burning — 10,000 of them in
Poland and Germany, ODI said.
The European Commission has
repeatedly urged member States to phase
out environmentally harmful subsidies
by 2020, including those for fossil fuels.
In some countries — including
Germany — subsidies for renewable
energy are significantly higher than
those for coal, ODI noted.
European countries are among the
first big nations to try to switch away
from fossil fuels as part of a global
attempt to keep global warming to well
below 2degC, under the Paris climate
Others countries — including heavily
coal-dependent developing countries —
will be watching their experiences, and
the costs involved, Whitley said.
Right now, “we very much focus on the
clean and green and renewables, and not
about how we get off the fossil fuels”, she
“It’s about getting to the bottom of
what are the resources needed and who
should be paying for this — should it be
taxpayers or the private sector?” she said.
The problem is that without a good
look at how to do things differently,
“ we’re seeing a lock-in and an extension
of coal in a way that makes it harder for
countries to meet the pledges (to phase
out coal)”, she said.
The countries studied were Britain,
France, Czech Republic, Germany,
Greece, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands,
Poland and Spain. — Reuters
Duterte names former general as environment minister
Philippines President Rodrigo
Duterte has appointed former army
general and ambassador Roy Cimatu
as the new environment minister, the
country’s agriculture minister said on
his Facebook account on Monday.
“Let us put an end to all
speculations,” D uterte said as he
announced the appointment of
Cimatu, according to a Facebook post
by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel
Pinol, that shows a photo of Cimatu
with Duterte and other cabinet
Cimatu will take over from Regina
Lopez whose appointment was
rejected by the Commission on
Appointments last week.
Lopez’s 10-month stint was marked
by her strong anti-mining stance,
particularly her order to close down
and cancel the contracts of some
large mining firms.
announced by presidential spokesman
appointment of Mr Roy A Cimatu
as Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources.
We are confident that Secretary
Cimatu shall faithfully ser ve the
interest of the country and the
Filipino people in his capacity as the
new DENR Secretary,” Abella said in
Cimatu was earlier appointed by
Duterte as special envoy for Overseas
Filipino Workers refugees and special
envoy to the Middle East.
After her rejection, Lopez earlier
said only President Duterte has the
“guts” to assume the post of DENR
chief to “step on business interest. ”
Cimatu is a member of the
Philippine Military Academy Class
of 1970 and ser ved as AFP chief of
staff from May to September 2002.
A young Australian’s nightmare stint
in a New York federal detention centre
could soon be over with a crucial hearing
set to decide if he can fly home.
Baxter Reid, 26, from Canberra, made
headlines around the world when he was
detained at the United States-Canadian
border last month for overstaying his US
visa by just 90 minutes.
He has been held in the Batavia
Detention Center in Buffalo, New York,
for more than two weeks but his lawyer is
“ very hopeful” a court hearing tomorrow
(Thursday 5am NZT) will secure his
release and he will be immediately
allowed to fly home to Australia.
“ We’ ll be requesting that he will be
released from custody so he can return
to Australia,” Reid’s lawyer, Julie Kruger,
Reid crossed into Canada with his
American girlfriend, Heather Kancso,
just before his visa expired at midnight
on April 23, but Canadian border
authorities held him and then sent him
back to the US about 1.30am despite his
visa no longer being valid.
US border authorities took him
into custody and charged him with
overstaying his lawful status in the US.
Kruger said Reid had no criminal
background or history of violating
US immigration laws “and was clearly
attempting to do the right thing by
departing the country”.
“ I think they (US authorities) could
have done something differently,” the
Reid was frustrated with his detention,
but grateful for all of the support he has
received from family, friends and people
around the world.
His clean record has allowed him to be
housed in a less restrictive section of the
“ He is not necessarily in a jail cell,” the
“ He is able to move around a little bit
“They do have access to a gym facility
and a reading room and that kind of
But it is still a harrowing experience for
a young Australian in a foreign country.
“ It is absolutely a detention facility,”
“ He can’t move around whenever he
“There are lockdown periods.
“ He can’t visit with friends and family
in an open setting.” — AAP
set to end
The Utah mansion where
convicted paedophile and
polygamous religious sect leader
Warren Jeffs once lived is being
purchased by one of his former
wives, who hopes to make it a
tourist attraction and home for
people who have left the church.
The house and adjacent buildings
are part of a walled compound that
straddles two blocks in the town of
Hildale, a twin border community
with Colorado City, Arizona,
where many members of the
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints lived.
Jeffs, 61, was the spiritual head
of the breakaway sect, which the
mainstream Mormon Church has
condemned for promoting marriage
between young girls and older men.
He is ser ving a life sentence in a
Texas prison for sexually assaulting
two underage girls he had married.
Photos of the sprawling mansion,
whose estimated value is $1.2
million, reveal its 41 bedrooms,
meeting and prayer rooms, dining
rooms and two commercial-size
Brielle Decker, who said she was
forced to be the 65th of Jeffs’ 79
wives when she was 18, is hoping
to buy the mansion for a reduced
“ Everything would flourish
more if this thing was turned into
something good,” Decker, who
escaped from the FLDS five years
ago, said. “ That ’s my main goal. ”
Decker, 31, has occupancy of
the property while she raises
funds to purchase it. The mansion
is big enough for public events
and to house ex-FLDS members
transitioning to the outside world,
With its secretive history and
proximity to Grand Canyon and
Zion national parks, the house
should attract inquisitive tourists,
“ We could do tours upstairs,” she
said, “and the middle floor, where
the kitchens and the conference
rooms are, could be used for events,
a restaurant and a gift shop.”
Decker spent several months at
the mansion while Jeffs, who was
once on the FBI’s most wanted list,
eluded police. Their marriage was not
considered legal, and she is planning
to wed her fiance next month.
Properties belonging to the
sect were held in a trust that was
established in the 1940s so that
members could benefit from its
shared assets in line with their
religious beliefs. The State of Utah
seized the trust in 2005 and is
selling back its assets to FLDS
members and ex-members.
The compound is one of several
FLDS sites sprinkled throughout
Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and
South Dakota. — Reuters
Ex-wife of polygamous sect leader opening doors to secretive home
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader
Warren Jeffs, walks past an outdoor chimney marked with “Pray and Obey” at the compound where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah.
The hormone testosterone plays a
vital role in a man’s sex drive, and now
new research has found it can protect
them against asthma too.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of
Medical Research says the discovery
helps to explain why females are
two times more likely to develop
the lung disease than males after
“ We identified that testosterone is a
potent inhibitor of innate lymphoid
cells, a newly-described immune cell
that has been associated with the
initiation of asthma,” Dr Cyril Seillet
from the institute said.
One in nine Australians, about two
and a half million people, have asthma
— a disease that causes inflammation
of the airways making it difficult to
breathe during an attack.
In adults, asthma is two times more
prevalent and more severe in women
than men, despite more being more
common in boys than girls before
A study, published in the Journal of
Experimental Medicine, found high
levels of testosterone in males protect
them against the development of
allergic asthma by inhibiting the
production of immune cells known
“ Testosterone directly acts on ILC2s
by inhibiting their proliferation,”
Seillet said. “So in males, you have
less ILC2s in the lungs and this
directly correlates with the reduced
severity of asthma.”
ILC2s are found in the lungs,
skin and other organs and are
responsible for the production of
inflammatory proteins that can
cause lung inflammation and damage
in response to common triggers
for allergic asthma, such as pollen,
dust mites, cigarette smoke and pet
Immunologist Professor Gabrielle
mechanism that drives the sex
differences in allergic asthma could
lead to new treatments.
“Current treatments for severe
asthma, such as steroids, are very
broad based and can have significant
side effects,” Belz said.
“This discovery provides us with
a potential new way of treating
asthma, by targeting the cells that
are directly contributing to the
development of allergic asthma,” she
While more research is needed,
findings open up the possibility of
mimicking this hormonal regulation
of ILC2 populations as a way of
treating or preventing asthma.
“Similar tactics for targeting
hormonal pathways have successfully
been used for treating other diseases,
such as breast cancer,” Belz said.
Sex hormone protects men against asthma
The theory that the trillions of
microbes living in the human gut are in
constant communication with the brain
affecting the way a person feels has been
strengthened thanks to the increasing
prevalence of faecal transplants.
Anecdotal evidence that recipients of
a faecal transplant — a procedure to
restore the gut microbiota — mimick
the mood and other characteristics of
their donor was presented at the Royal
Australasians College of Physicians
annual Congress in Melbourne today.
Associate Professor Patrick Charles
from the Department of Infectious
Diseases at Austin Health says they
have heard of some “ very interesting”
things from faecal transplant recipients,
experiencing fluctuations in mood.
“There have even been reports that
patients with no prior history of
depression have become depressed after
receiving a transplant from someone
with depression,” he said.
“There have also been cases where
dramatic body changes have occurred —
both rapid weight gain and weight loss,
each time aligned to the donor.”
A faecal microbiota transplant,
sometimes known as an FMT, is a
procedure which replaces the “gut
bacteria” in an unhealthy individual with
those of someone who is healthy.
Essentially, it involves taking “healthy”
poo from a donor and using it to
create a liquid preparation that is then
transplanted into the patient, normally
via a colonoscopy.
It is becoming increasingly popular
for the treatment of conditions
including chronic fatigue, irritable bowel
syndrome, Parkinson’s and autism.
Typically its performed to treat
someone with Clostridium difficile
infections when antibiotics fail.
needed, Charles says its only now that
scientists are beginning to recognise
and understand the influence of the
microbiome on both the mind and body.
“ We’re still just scratching the surface
of what impacts microbiomes have
on health and disease but as DNA
sequencing techniques advance so will
our understanding of their role,” he said.
boost mind-gut link
An Alabama woman was jailed on
Friday for stealing at least $US38,000
(NZ$54,000) by portraying herself as
a terminal cancer patient in a pair of
on-line fundraising schemes.
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, 37, was
charged with two counts of theft by
deception, according to a statement
from the Alabama lawyer general’s
office. Bond was set at $100,000.
Cataldo did not yet have a lawyer
to speak on her behalf, court records
Cataldo was accused of using two
Gofundme drives to solicit money
for medical bills and a family trip to
While the campaigns portrayed
Cataldo as someone with a terminal
case of cancer, authorities said an
investigation showed that was not
Gofundme said such cases were rare
and donors would get their money
“ We are working with law
enforcement officials. If the funds
cannot be recovered, Gofundme will
refund donors,” company spokesman
Bobby Whithorne said. “Either way,
donors are fully protected.”
Authorities said they believe Cataldo
Cataldo signed a form stating that
she was married, has been unemployed
for five years and has no income,
Cataldo is in need of mental health
care and could pose a risk to herself
and her family, prosecutors said in a
court document. — n e w s.com .au
Fake cancer claimant jailed
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo
Six die after hospital wall collapses
At least six people, including four
children, were killed in Kenya’s port
city of Mombasa overnight after a
hospital wall collapsed under heavy
rain, officials said.
“Among the dead are four children
aged between five and 15, and their
mother. The other is a man who is a
local businessman,” Lucas Ogara, a
police chief in the city, said.
The six who died were inside
neighbouring houses which
were crushed as the wall fell.
Red cross officials dug through
muddy rubble amid the rainfall
for possible remaining sur vivors,
The downpour caused the main
highway linking Mombasa to the
northern tourist hubs of Malindi
and Lamu to be closed after floods
submerged a bridge near a town
along the highway.
Kenya has struggled to find homes
for its fast-growing population, and
developers often put up buildings
to cater for the soaring demand in
violation of construction codes.
Last year, at least 51 people
died after a multi-storey building
collapsed in the capital Nairobi’s
The six-storey structure had been
built near a river and collapsed after
People were living in the
building despite authorities having
condemned it as unsafe. — Reuters
Iranian mine toll confirmed as 35
The confirmed death toll in a
mining accident in north-eastern
Iran rose to 35after rescue teams
found the bodies of another 13
Sadegali Moqadam, head of
the Emergency Department of
Golestan province, where the
coalmine is located, told official
workers found the bodies in
tunnel No 2, where the explosion
The incident happened on May 3
at a depth of 1200m when miners
were trying to power a locomotive
using an external battery.
The first 22 bodies were recovered
on the day of the incident, but
efforts to find the others, which
were deeper underground, took
longer due to the concentration of
Some 70 people were injured, the
majority requiring treatment for
burns and inhalation of toxic gas.
The Zemestanyurt coalmine is
located near the city of Azadshahr
and had a workforce of 500 people.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
visited the site on Sunday, where
he came under fire from family
members of the miners who were
critical of the labour conditions.
crocodiles have been
removed from a North Queensland
aquaculture farm after recently
installed croc-proof fencing backfired
by trapping the reptiles inside.
Wildlife officers captured the
animals — the largest of which was
almost 3m long — from the business
near Innisfail and relocated them to
a local zoo over the weekend.
It is thought even more are
lurking within the fenced-off
part of the farm, with “further
crocodile capture exercises” planned
to flush them out, a Department
of Environment and Heritage
Protection statement said. — AAP
Croc-proof fence traps four reptiles inside
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