The Latest: Justin Thomas takes early lead at US Open

first_img Associated Press Paul Waring holed out for a birdie from the fifth fairway after driving into the rough. Moments later, Patrick Reed made a hole-in-one on the seventh hole.Leading the way is an amateur, Davis Thompson of Georgia. He was at 3 under. Rory McIlroy wanted to get off to a good start for a change, and he was at 2 under.Tiger Woods was 1 over through seven holes.The course is forgiving enough that Jordan Spieth managed to recover from his tough start. With three birdies, he was back to even par.___ Thompson was an All-American at Georgia and a finalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award given to the top player in college golf. He qualified as the No. 3 player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and is making his U.S. Open debut. No amateur has won the tournament since Johnny Goodman in 1933.10:20 a.m.For a U.S. Open course that’s one of the toughest, and with no spectators allowed, there’s been plenty of cheering in the opening round Thursday.The cheers have come from the smattering of volunteers. And they had reason. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditMAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) — The Latest from the U.S. Open (all times EDT):11:20 a.m.Justin Thomas has moved into the lead of the U.S. Open with three straight birdies while making the turn to drop to 4 under par. ___7:30 a.m.Brandon Wu kicked off the 120th U.S. Open with a drive into the right side of the fairway at Winged Foot.That’s considered a great start.Hitting fairways is paramount at Winged Foot. For starters, it’s tough to advance the ball very far. But the greens are severe, and the bunkers are as much as 8 feet deep. That explains why only two players out of 750 who have started the previous five U.S. Opens at Winged Foot finished under par. The Latest: Justin Thomas takes early lead at US Opencenter_img September 17, 2020 9 a.m.Jordan Spieth already is facing an uphill battle after only two holes at the U.S. Open.He first made bogey from the fairway when his shot rolled down to the bottom of the green and he three putted. And then it got worse.Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa were waiting on the second tee when Spieth in the group ahead arrived in a golf cart. His tee shot got caught in a tree and he had to return to the tee to play his third. He wound up with a double bogey and was 3 over after two holes.Spieth has not won in three years. He was eliminated after the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. And then he missed the cut last week in the Safeway Open. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will get an early start Thursday, though they begin on opposite ends of the West Course. The opening round began with cloud cover. The rest of the week is expected to feature plenty of sunshine and mild weather, unusual for a U.S. Open.Then again, it’s been 113 years since the U.S. Open was played in September. It was moved from its traditional June spot in the calendar when golf shut down for three months in America because of the COVID-19 pandemic.___More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Thomas sank a 9-foot putt on No. 11 to pull ahead of amateur Davis Thompson, who had been out to the early lead. The University of Georgia All-American bogeyed No. 13 to fall to minus-3. No amateur has won the U.S. Open since Johnny Goodman in 1933.Thomas’ best finish in the U.S. Open was a tie for ninth in 2017. He won the PGA Championship that year for his only major victory.___Amateur Davis Thompson is leading the U.S. Open through 13 holes. Thompson birdied Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 11 to drop to 4-under at Winged Foot. That’s a one-stroke lead over Justin Thomas. Rory McIlroy is among a trio that are two strokes back at minus-2.last_img read more

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Airtel to Fly Soccer Fans for Arsenal Games in London

first_imgAirtel Ghana has launched a new promotion, in which its customers, staff and distributors would stand a chance to win fully paid trips and match tickets to go see the Gunners of Arsenal FC play at the Emirates in London between November, 2012 and May, 2013.There are 45 standard and VIP tickets to be won over the period, and the first match under this promotion is between The Gunners and Tottenham Hotspurs, and it is on November 17, 2012.Some of the other games are Arsenal vs West Ham United on December 26, 2012; Arsenal vs Manchester City, January 12, 2013; Arsenal vs Stoke City on February 2, 2013; Arsenal vs Everton, March 9, 2013; Arsenal vs Manchester United on April 27, 2013; and Arsenal vs Wigam on May 12, 2013.But each category of Airtel’s stakeholders such as the average customers/general public, high value customers, enterprise clients, distributors and staff have a different criteria for determining their chance to win.Corporate Relations Manager at Airtel Ghana, Kwame Gyan explained that all of Airtel’s all average customers would have a enter a text and win game by texting ‘ARS’ to 1948 at the premium SMS rate of 50Gp, and continue to answer very simple football questions to earn points and increase their chances of winning.He said Distributors have been given sales targets to meet and that would determine which distributors get the chance to go. For high value customers, the criteria is purely loyalty, and Kwame Gyan said that category of customers would be judged based on their consistency in spending and longevity of stay on the Zain/Airtel network.Enterprise Clients would also be judged on spending and the staff members are going to be judged on how many mobile money customers they win for Airtel to help the company meet its target of being the best mobile money brand in Ghana.Head of Corporate Communications and External Affair at Airtel Ghana, Donald Gwira said for the staff, winners would be determined by “first past the post.”He said Airtel is not oblivious of the fact that Ghanaians are passionate about soccer and that is why the company is taking advantage of its relationship with Arsenal FC to excite its stakeholders and partners with this rare opportunity.“For those who win VIP tickets, they would get the life time opportunity to sit in the VIP area and also enter the dressing rooms and interact with the Arsenal players,” he said. Donald Gwira said ticket winners would be assisted with a letter of invitation from Arsenal FC for visa acquisition, but there is no guarantee that the UK High Commission would grant all winners visas.“In the event that a ticket winner does not get a visa the package would be passed on to the next highest points,” he said.He said the package is also available to Airtel customers in Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda.All the matches would be at the Emirates, home ground of the Gunners.last_img read more

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Clippers interim CEO confident team will be sold

first_imgDick Parsons, the former Citigroup chairman and former Time Warner chairman and CEO, who was named interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers by the NBA league, takes questions during a news conference at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Monday, May 12, 2014. (AP Photo)LOS ANGELES (AP) – The interim CEO hand-picked by the NBA to run the Los Angeles Clippers said Monday he’s confident the league will succeed in forcing a sale of the team owned by Donald Sterling since 1981.Dick Parsons arrived in Los Angeles and met with management and staff of the Clippers. Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA and fined $2.5 million after recordings of him making racist comments surfaced.“My personal belief is the league will prevail, which means there will be an ownership change,” Parsons said during a news conference at Staples Center. “A prolonged legal battle is in no one’s interest, certainly not the league’s. I would hope we could avoid that.”Parsons said he won’t be involved in the ownership fight. He said he’s being paid by the NBA but he doesn’t report to Commissioner Adam Silver or the league’s owners.Donald Sterling has apologized for the racist comments captured during a recorded conversation, saying in a televised interview Monday that they were a “terrible mistake.”“He’s a little late, to be sure,” said Parsons, who doesn’t know Sterling and won’t be talking to him because the 80-year-old owner is banned. “I’m here to turn one of the burners off under the pot, not to turn it up higher.”Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he was aware of Sterling’s apology, although he had not seen the interview.“I’m glad that he did it,” Rivers said by phone from Oklahoma City, where the team plays Tuesday. “That’s what you have to do and you should do it. Probably should have done it right away.”Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, has said she will fight to keep her 50 percent ownership of the team. Parsons said he anticipates talking with her at some point, although he said Donald Sterling is the only controlling owner of the team.Parsons described himself as a conservator of the team, someone who will try to keep it from losing value and ensure there is a viable franchise to work with once the ownership issue is resolved.“I want to leave this place in good shape and in good hands,” he said.With Sterling barred from anything to do with the team or league, and team President Andy Roeser on an indefinite leave of absence, Parsons will be a key contact for the team’s support staff.“A lot of these folks have felt beleaguered, beyond disappointed with the way the franchise has been characterized,” said Parsons, who wore a Clippers lapel pin on his suit. “Part of my job will be to tell the folks here to stay focused on the business. Ultimately, there will be a change of ownership and management.”He said he let them know they are appreciated and the interaction gave him ideas on how to move forward, although he has offered no specifics since taking the job Thursday.“I’m only beginning to get my arms around what I’m going to do,” he said.Rivers endorsed Parsons’ hiring, believing he can calm the situation and allow employees to focus on their jobs.“He’s just gotten in the door, but he’s going to make a big difference, especially for the folks downtown,” Rivers said. “They want to know if they’re safe and where do we go from here.”Parsons has spoken to Rivers, but not yet to the players. The team is tied 2-2 with Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.“I really think it’s going to become America’s team if we get this right,” he said. “Americans love a story where someone gets knocked down and they get back up into the ring. This team has talent.”Parsons, the 66-year-old former Citigroup chairman and former Time Warner chairman and CEO, was set to return to New York in the evening because his wife is having major surgery on Tuesday. He called himself semi-retired, although he is currently a senior adviser at Providence Equity Partners.The folksy Parsons described the team’s crisis as “a very exciting challenge and an interesting time for everybody.” He likened his job to that of a ship’s captain in charge of keeping it afloat, headed in the right direction and possibly picking up speed.“There’s huge danger and pitfalls in front of us,” he said, “but there’s tremendous opportunity for this franchise.”last_img read more

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‘Don’t look away: act against abuse’

first_img24 November 2010Speaking ahead of the launch of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, the minister responsible for women and children has urged South Africans to do more to reverse the scourge of domestic violence in the country.Briefing journalists in Cape Town on Tuesday, Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana said her department was concerned over the increase of contact crimes against women and children.The number of cases of attempted murder against children – most of them aged between 15 and 17 years old – had increased from 782 to 1 113, while cases of murder of children had risen from 843 to 965 from 2009 to 2010.“In addition, child welfare organisations are reporting an increase in the number of abandoned children, including here in the City of Cape Town,” she said.She said her department was in the process of conducting a study looking at why certain people murdered children, by questioning inmates in prison sentenced for such crimes.The 16 Days of Activism Campaign, an international initiative endorsed by the UN, runs from 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, through to International Human Rights Day on 10 December.‘Don’t Look Away’This year’s campaign, themed “Don’t Look Away, Act Against Abuse”, will be launched by President Jacob Zuma at OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha, Cape Town on Thursday.The launch will focus on the effects that alcohol and drugs have on abuse against women and children.Xingwana said that according to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Tracker Survey, released last year, the 16 Days initiative was the second most well known government event after the State of the Nation Address.The survey also revealed that awareness of the campaign in rural areas had risen from 9 percent in 2003 to 33 percent last year.Rights of childrenXingwana said that as part of the campaign, her department would be organising a meeting of children’s rights organisations to look into the rights that are afforded to children through various pieces of legislation.She said the process had become even more urgent following the incident at Jules High School in Johannesburg, where a girl was filmed allegedly having sex with two boys.The department is also concerned that there may still be people in possession of cellphone video clips recorded during the incident. “That video clip constitutes child pornography, and production and/or possession of child pornography is illegal,” Xingwana said.Forced marriagesThe minister said the department had also received increased reports about forced marriages involving children, under the age of 16, which was statutory rape.She said parents often actively took part in arranging these weddings, as they stood to benefit from the lobola when such a wedding took place, adding that she had worked with the district mayor in Eastern Cape’s OR Tambo District, where it was very common.The department also planned to visit the province on this issue, but Xingwana added that the Office of the Premier in the Eastern Cape was running workshops with traditional and religious leaders to tackle the issue.‘Witches’ and widowsThe department was also looking at the issue of witchcraft, which she said was a “backward cultural practice” that often saw old women being targeted as witches and killed.She said the department was also working with non-governmental organisations and other departments on the rights of widows, as some widows lost their rights in the community and had their property confiscated when their husbands died.Preventative strategies neededColleen Morna, executive director of Gender Links, said there was a need to develop more preventative rather than reactive strategies for combating abuse against women and children.She said the country also needed to set up a structure for addressing gender violence which brought together business, civil society and government, similar to the South African National Aids Council.Morna said civil society would be involved with various events during the campaign and emphasised that a big focus would be on women speaking out on violence.Gender Links has also arranged for men who are ex-perpetrators of violence against women to speak out during the campaign.Gender Violence Prevalence StudyThe preliminary results from Gender Links’ Gauteng Gender Violence Prevalence Study found that 51 percent of women in Gauteng experienced violence in their lives and 18 percent had experienced violence in the last 12 months.“Even more shocking is the fact that 78 percent of men in the province admitted to perpetrating those crimes women said they were experiencing,” Morna said.She said 33 percent of women in the survey reported having experienced physical violence, with 25 percent having experienced sexual violence.According to the survey, only one in 25 of rapes had been reported to the police.Women in prisonAlso speaking at the briefing, Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the past decade had seen a significant increase in the number of women in prison in the country, with many of them jailed for killing their spouses after finding themselves trapped in abusive relationships.She said that about 2 percent of inmates were currently women.The department had commissioned the SABC’s Special Assignment to do a series on women who find themselves in conflict with the law after experiencing abusive relationships, with the first episode to air on 23 November.Mapisa-Nqakula said the message was not to wait until it was too late. “It is better to leave an abusive relationship or marriage than to stay until you are killed or until you kill your partner and end up in prison”.She pointed out that many female prison officials continued to work under dangerous conditions, and said the department would also be increasing awareness among both officials and offenders about gender violence.The minister said her department had taken a decision to create dedicated correctional facilities for women, and that any new prison would have to have dedicated sections for women.“Our new generation facilities in Kimberley, as well as two public-private partnership model facilities, are populated with men, while women remain in old dilapidated facilities, at times with very little service,” she said.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

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South African news websites

first_imgSouth Africa boasts a free, robust and flourishing press – and it’s not restricted to print. All the major media operators in the country, and plenty of smaller ones besides, have a healthy presence in cyberspace. Here’s a quick guide to the main sites.Read more: The press in South Africa News24Media24’s online news portal, in partnership with several newspapers such as Beeld, Die Burger, City Press and Rapport. Full local and international news, plus sections on business, sport, science, motoring and more.Website: www.news24.comTwitter: @News24  Independent OnlineThe Independent Newspaper group’s news portal. Full local and international news, plus sections on business, sport, property, careers, technology, travel and more.Website: www.iol.co.zaTwitter: @IOL Mail & Guardian OnlineOne of the first news sites on the continent, this daily ‘pan-African newspaper’ is the companion for the weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper. Updated 24/7 with local, business and sports news. Features all the M&G’s insight and analysis. Discounted digital subscriptions.Website: www.mg.co.zaTwitter: @mailandguardian Business DayMore than just business news here – the newspaper’s site provides local, world and sports updates, as well online financial calculators and personalised listings of JSE share prices. Limited free access. Mobile and table access, e-papers, and BD Live apps available to subscribers only.Website: www.businessday.co.zaTwitter: @BDlive Times LIVEThe Times, a daily sister publication to the Sunday Times, aims to blur the line between print and electronic media, serving up news, business and sport as well as blogs, podcasts and video.Website: www.timeslive.co.zaTwitter: @timesLIVE City Press City Press describes itself as “the most quoted newspaper in South Africa”. The website is updated regularly. News, sports and business news as well as interesting columnists.Website: www.citypress.co.zaTwitter: @City_Press Beeld, Die Burger and Die VolksbladFalling under the Naspers brand, these three Afrikaans newspaper sites have a digital- first strategy, which means they break news online – but charge a fee for it. Some free access, but digital subscriptions (tablet edition and full internet access) available.Website: www.dieburger.com, www.beeld.com, and www.volksblad.comTwitter: @Die_Burger, @Beeld_Nuus SABCNewsNews site of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Specialises in breaking news from South Africa and the world, with links to audio and video bulletins.Website: www.sabc.co.za/newsTwitter: @SABCNewsOnline The New AgeSite of South Africa’s newest national daily newspaper, which promises to focus on “the positive side of news”. Besides national and international news, provides news from each of South Africa’s nine provinces.Website: www.thenewage.co.zaTwitter: @The_New_Age Daily MaverickIndependent online news site, offering quality analysis and opinion. Free, with registration required for some sections.Website: www.dailymaverick.co.zaTwitter: @dailymaverick ITWebExcellent, comprehensive, fast updating internet and business technology news and information site.Website: www.itweb.co.zaTwitter: @ITWebBusiness news Fin24Media24’s business site contains breaking news, the latest financial indicators, company results and more.Website: www.fin24.comTwitter: @Fin24 Business ReportIndependent Newspapers’ business site provides the top stories and features covering media, marketing and IT.Website: www.iol.co.za/businessTwitter: @busrepNetAssetsPersonal finance site pulling material from the Avusa stable (Business Day, Financial Mail, Sunday Times, and Summit). Updated regularly, providing the latest news, market reports, investment advice and a variety of handy online tools.Website: www.netassets.co.za MoneywebIndependent investment information, news, features, analysis and resources.Website: www.moneyweb.co.zaTwitter: @Moneyweb Financial MailOnline home of one of South Africa’s leading weekly financial publications, owned by Avusa.Website: www.fm.co.zaTwitter: @FinancialMailSAinfo reporterReviewed: 5 July 2013Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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a month agoNoble insists West Ham should be targeting top four

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Noble insists West Ham should be targeting top fourby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveWest Ham captain Mark Noble insists they should be targeting a top four this season.Noble feels a win against United can show they are serious about playing in Europe next season.He said: “It’s easy to understand why we’re relishing the visit of Manchester United on Sunday. We’ve only lost once in our past nine League matches and been beaten only twice at home in 2019.“There’s a feeling that the chance exists for a change and at least one different club to break into the top six this season. I would even go one step further. I believe there is an opportunity for someone different to actually make it into the top four!“After that, you look at Arsenal, who could easily have lost at Watford last weekend; Chelsea, where Frank Lampard has done incredibly well to play young English players but are banned from signing anyone and have lost Eden Hazard; plus United, who are, let’s say, in transition. Even Wolves, who did so well last season, are finding it tough with their Europa League commitments.” last_img read more

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Sheryl Crow and Chateau St Jean Partner To Support Breast Cancer Awareness

first_imgChateau St. Jean winery is pleased to announce its support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month alongside winery partner and 9-time Grammy Award winner artist, Sheryl Crow, by donating $1 for every bottle of wine sold (up to $100,000 total) through October 31, 2014.The partners are also launching the Notes of Hope program to rally for the cause.Sheryl Crow and Chateau St. Jean invite consumers to participate in the Notes of Hope program by visiting the website www.ChateauStJean.com where they can select a Notes of Hope inspirational digital card to share with loved ones via social media channels. Consumers can also watch exclusive videos from Sheryl Crow, access select recipes and wine pairings and enter to win Sheryl Crow concert tickets and autographed guitars (where legal).In addition to encouraging consumers to participate and share in the Notes of Hope program, Chateau St. Jean, for the second year, is pleased to support a cause not only close to Sheryl Crow’s heart but to millions of people, by donating $1 for every bottle of wine sold in the US to breast cancer charities during the month of October. As a survivor and research and awareness advocate, Sheryl works tirelessly to keep Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the forefront.“I love this ‘Notes of Hope’ program. It is inspiring, engaging and powerful. I am thrilled to partner with Chateau St. Jean for a second year in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Sheryl Crow said. “This is a cause very close to my heart and to have the opportunity to team with a winery that shares my same passion is incredible. I am very proud to support Chateau St. Jean in this effort,” she added.Chateau St. Jean and Sheryl Crow are a perfect pairing. Both are award winning, have a relaxed, elegant style and are leaders in their respective fields. The duo also offers a nice dose of girl power; Sheryl Crow being a Grammy award winning artist who supports a variety of women’s advocacy initiatives, and Chateau St. Jean with its renowned winemaker, Margo Van Staaveren, who brings over 30 years of winemaking expertise and who was once named ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

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US hits Ukraine separatists Russia officials with sanctions

first_imgWASHINGTON – The Trump administration said Friday it will punish 21 people and nine companies with sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.Eleven of the individuals are Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists, the Treasury Department said. They hold titles such as minister of finance, trade, justice and security in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.The United States is also targeting several Russian officials, including Andrey Cherezov, a deputy energy minister in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. Cherezov is already under EU sanctions for his role in transferring turbines to Crimea. The turbines were sold to Russia by German electricity giant Siemens for use on Russian territory. Several companies involved in building infrastructure in Crimea are also being targeted by the latest sanctions.Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 is not recognized by the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has insisted that U.S. sanctions on Russia related to Crimea will remain in place indefinitely as long as Moscow refuses to withdraw from the territory.“The U.S. government is committed to maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to targeting those who attempt to undermine the Minsk agreements,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, referring to a 2015 peace agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus, that has never been fully implemented.Russia’s government reacted to the sanctions by calling them “senseless” and arguing that previous sanctions have failed to produce results for Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. actions would lead to financial losses for American businesses and that the United States was demonstrating “to the whole world their own helplessness.”“If U.S. authorities prefer to break economic and other ties with Russia, it is their right — just as we reserve the right to respond,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.The new U.S. sanctions came as Tillerson met Friday with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in Davos, Switzerland.___Associated Press writer Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.last_img read more

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Japans minister of cybersecurity has never used computer

first_imgTOKYO — Japan’s minister in charge of cybersecurity is in the spotlight for acknowledging he has never used a computer and making comments showing he has no idea what a USB port might be.Ruling party lawmaker Yoshitaka Sakurada, also in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was replying Wednesday to questions from independent and opposition legislators.“I give instructions to my aide and so I don’t punch into a computer myself,” he said. “But I am confident our work is flawless.”When asked about the power grid and malware, Sakurada said USB was “basically never used” in the utility systems, appearing to not know what it might be.Lawmakers laughed incredulously at his replies, which were highlighted in Japanese media. Questioning and answers in Parliament are also carried live on national TV.Ministers in Japan almost always get parliamentary questions in advance. Often their answers are based on briefings from ministry bureaucrats. In Sakurada’s exchange, bureaucrats were seen rushing over to give him sheets of paper with information.Ministers are tapped by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Sakurada was named to his position in the latest Cabinet reshuffle last month.Although the minister is not expected to have much hands-on responsibility in the handling of either cybersecurity or the Olympics, Sakurada’s high-profile bungling is an embarrassment for Abe.Sakurada, 68, a graduate of Meiji University, was first elected to parliament in 1996, representing Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo.His favourite issues are pushing for Japan’s economic prosperity and supporting its culture. “There is no genius that surpasses effort,” is his favourite motto.___Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyamaOn Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yurikageyama/?hl=enYuri Kageyama, The Associated Presslast_img read more

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States ask court to stop Trump from reviving US coal sales

first_imgBILLINGS, Mont. — Four states that say burning coal will hurt their residents as it makes climate change worse are trying to stop the Trump administration in federal court from selling vast reserves of the fuel that are beneath public lands.Attorneys for California, New Mexico, New York and Washington argue the coal sales have been shortchanging taxpayers because of low royalty rates and cause pollution that puts the climate and public health at risk.The states were joined by conservation groups and Montana’s Northern Cheyenne tribe in a lawsuit that seeks to revive a coal leasing moratorium imposed under President Barack Obama. The moratorium blocked new lease sales from federal lands that hold billions of tons of the fuel.U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, who was appointed by Obama, is presiding over a Thursday hearing on whether the moratorium should be reinstated.The Trump administration said in court filings that ending the moratorium last year was of critical importance to the economy. That claim comes despite the slow pace of lease sales in recent years and a precipitous drop in demand for the heavily-polluting fuel.U.S. lands in Western states including Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Colorado are a major source of coal for mining companies. There are 7.4 billion tons of the fuel in roughly 300 leases administered by the Bureau of Land Management .Morris recently ruled in a separate case that the administration must consider reduced coal mining in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to help combat climate change.The judge has played the role of spoiler to Trump on another Obama administration policy reversal — the contentious Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from Canada. Trump approved the pipeline last year, but Morris blocked it temporarily in March. The judge said further environmental reviews were needed for the line to comply with federal laws.Some of those same laws are at the centre of the coal moratorium dispute.The states and their allies want push to stop further leasing and resume a sweeping review of the program’s environmental impacts. Government attorneys and the National Mining Association say the review started under Obama was a voluntary step and the Trump administration is within its rights to end it.“We view this as a legal issue and believe this is an open and shut case,” said Conor Bernstein with the mining association, which has intervened in the case.Growing concerns over climate change have put a spotlight on the once-obscure coal leasing program, which has gone largely unchanged and not been through a major environmental review since 1979.Companies have mined about 4 billion tons of coal from federal reserves in the past decade, contributing $10 billion to federal and state coffers through royalties and other payments. Backers of the leasing program say those revenues would be at risk over the long term if it ended.The Obama administration blocked the sale of new leases in 2016 out of concerns over climate-changing greenhouse gases from burning coal and to review royalty rates paid by mining companies for federal coal.Federal officials and members of Congress have said for years the royalty rates were shortchanging taxpayers. Under Obama, the U.S. Interior Department was considering raising those royalty rates to offset the effects of climate change from burning coal.On an order from Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke withdrew the moratorium in March 2017. The former Montana congressman said the Obama administration’s environmental review would cost “many millions of dollars” and that improvements to the program could be made without a full-scale environmental study.California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Zinke’s actions fly in the face of the dire consequences of climate change for the U.S. economy as outlined in a government report released last month.“He ignored the law in opening the door to expanded coal leasing without taking a hard look at the environmental consequences,” Becerra said in a statement. “The rule of law can be a stubborn thing for those who don’t wish to respect it.”After the Trump administration ended the moratorium, Zinke appointed a committee to review the royalty rates. Critics contend he’s stacked the panel with industry-friendly representatives interested in maintaining the status quo.___Follow Matthew Brown at https://twitter.com/matthewbrownapMatthew Brown, The Associated Presslast_img read more

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