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Banks With $100 Billion in Shipping Loans Get Strict on Climate

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:48

(Bloomberg) -- A group of financiers with $100 billion of loans to shipowners are about to get stricter on the kinds of vessels they’ll finance as part of a drive to improve the maritime industry’s environmental performance.Eleven major financiers including Citigroup Inc. and Societe Generale SA are for the first time adopting a set of principles requiring them to maintain their lending books in a way that matches goals in the Paris climate agreement, as well as related targets adopted by global regulator the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization.It means banks will favor financing of cleaner vessels while shying away from those carriers that are more polluting. The shift will potentially help to tighten a well-supplied freight market that’s depressed rates, said Michael Parker, global head of shipping & logistics at Citigroup.“Shipowners will think more carefully about the economic life of the asset,” he said. “Climate is a new consideration they haven’t really had in the past.”A lack of bank finance today is already keeping new ordering low and the impact of the principles will become evident in the next two-to-three years as shipowners consider new IMO targets and limit orders to cleaner vessels, which might reduce supply of new ships, Parker said. There’s already a pick up in scrapping of older ships after the IMO imposed clean-fuel rules for ships starting in 2020, he said.The financial institutions’ so-called Poseidon Principles will establish a baseline to assess and disclose whether the lenders’ portfolios are in line with the climate goals. They’ll also serve as a tool to manage investment risks such as those posed by new fuels standards or carbon pricing. Under the plan, a loan book that’s ready for new climate policies would be more valuable than one that isn’t.Banks and pension funds are increasingly pushing for companies in many industries to cut emissions in an effort to reduce the risk of wild stock-market fluctuations caused by climate change and new policies. The Climate Action 100+ group says its goal is to drive change at companies contributing the most greenhouse gas emissions.“The Poseidon Principles rewrite the role that the financial sector can play in helping achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said James Mitchell, a manager in the climate finance and industry programs at environmental group the Rocky Mountain Institute, which helped develop the measures.The principles for shipping, being adopted by banks that also include DNB ASA, are intended to evolve over time as the IMO tightens its policies. Shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S are also behind the initiative.The rules initially mean lending would dovetail with a goal that greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping will peak as soon as possible and fall by at least 50% of their 2008 levels by 2050.“We know that the portfolio that’s aligned with the target today may not be aligned in 2023, when the targets will probably be tightened,” said Parker, who is the chair of the principles’ drafting committee.The shift should encourage shipbuilders to innovate with designs so vessels can, in future, switch to cleaner fuels such as biofuels, hydrogen or ammonia from the heavy fuel they use today, said Tristan Smith, a reader in energy and shipping at University College London who helped develop the principles. Vessels that don’t have the flexibility to switch fuels may limit their useful life.It’s possible some shipowners will continue ordering dirty ships, betting rules that damage their profitability won’t come anytime soon, Smith said.If a carrier isn’t able to attract good rates, its owner will “either have to accept a much lower second-hand value or have to scrap it prematurely,” he said. “It’s a chain of events that isn’t yet in the regulation, but it’s highly foreseeable.”Bloomberg Philanthropies, which along with Bloomberg LP is owned by Michael Bloomberg, helps fund the Rocky Mountain Institute. The nonprofit helped develop the principles.(Updates with analyst comment in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Mathew Carr in London at m.carr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net, Alaric Nightingale, Rachel GrahamFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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EU nations receive mixed scorecard on climate goals

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:45

The European Union urged its member states on Tuesday to accelerate efforts to meet their 2030 climate goals after a review showed them falling short in some areas as the bloc's leaders prepare to debate going carbon-neutral by 2050. With the mid-century target on the agenda at an EU summit this week, the European Commission's audit showed the 28-nation bloc on track to meet its headline pledge of cutting emissions by 40% by 2030.


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Slashing plane emissions a lofty goal, but progress elusive

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:40

The aircraft industry is facing growing criticism over greenhouse gas emissions that are set to soar as more people take to the skies, but experts say game-changing technology for cleaner planes is still decades away. Dozens of firms at the Paris Air Show this week are touting their green credentials, with the industry pledging to halve its carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. From electric quadcopters to new engines powered by natural gas or hydrogen, the projects on display in Paris promise to revolutionise how people will eventually get across town or across the world.


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Indonesian teen wakeboards waterlogged streets to protest floods

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:40

A group of teenagers in Indonesia are wakeboarding the submerged streets of their hometown to protest against the urban flooding that regularly plagues much of the tropical archipelago. After several days of heavy rains in Samarinda city, on Borneo island, the fed-up group launched their waterlogged demonstration in a now-viral Instagram video. Curious onlookers gaped as Muhammad Fahri Ramadhan, 19, showed off a few tricks as he carved-up the dirty, waist-high water -- pulled by a car instead of a boat.


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Ireland to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:30

Ireland has announced it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 as part of its new climate change plan. The government hopes to have 950,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by then, supported by a network of charging stations. The measure is one of 180 proposals covering business, construction, transport, agriculture and waste management intended to put Ireland on a path to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


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Environment Is Everything at This Williamsburg Café by Day, Restaurant by Night

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:01

Apollonia owners Danny Minch and Dylan Dodd wanted to break the mold of how traditional restaurants in New York City work, with an all-day food experience and an adjacent artists' room.


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Ireland to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 05:01

Ireland has announced it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 as part of its new climate change plan. The government hopes to have 950,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by then, supported by a network of charging stations. The measure is one of 180 proposals covering business, construction, transport, agriculture and waste management intended to put Ireland on a path to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


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Bone-Crushing Hyenas Lived in Canada's Arctic During the Last Ice Age

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:49

During the last ice age, bone-crushing hyenas stalked the snowy Canadian Arctic, likely satisfying their meat cravings by hunting herds of caribou and horses, while also scavenging mammoth carcasses on the tundra, a new study finds.The big finding -- that ancient hyenas lived in the North American Arctic -- is based on two tiny teeth, which archaeologists found in Canada's northern Yukon Territory.The two teeth fill a gaping hole in the fossil record. Researchers already had evidence that the wolf-size hyena known as Chasmaporthetes lived in Mongolia and -- after crossing the Bering Strait land bridge -- Kansas and central Mexico. The newfound teeth show where the Chasmaporthetes lived between these two places: about 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers) away from the Old World in Mongolia and 2,500 miles (4,000 km) northward of Kansas, the researchers said. [Image Gallery: Hyenas at the Kill]In other words, Chasmaporthetes was able to adapt to all kinds of environments, study lead researcher Jack Tseng, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University at Buffalo in New York, told Live Science.Archaeologists originally found the two fossil teeth in the 1970s, in a fossil hotspot known as Old Crow Basin. But nobody ever published studies on the teeth, which languished for decades in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottowa, Ontario.In the 1970s, researchers found the two ancient hyenas teeth in the Old Crow River region (known as Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation) in Canada's Yukon Territory. Duane Froese/University of AlbertaTseng learned about the teeth only through word of mouth. Intrigued, he hopped in his car and drove the 6 hours from Buffalo to Ottawa in February, the dead of winter. The teeth, a molar and premolar, were so distinct, that "within the first 5 minutes, I was pretty sure this was Chasmaporthetes," he told Live Science.When most people think of hyenas, they picture the carnivores roaming Africa today. But hyenas actually arose in Europe or Asia about 20 million years ago. Only later did hyenas make their way into Africa, and an even smaller number trekked across the Bering Strait land bridge to North America, at least according to the preexisting fossil record.The teeth are challenging to date because they were found in the inner bend of a river -- meaning that the current washed them away from their original resting place. But based on the geology of the basin, the teeth are likely between 1.4 million and 850,000 years old, Tseng said.These teeth aren't from the oldest hyenas in North America, however. That prize goes to the 4.7-million-year-old hyena fossils found in Kansas, Tseng said.This fossil tooth belonged to an ancient hyena during the last ice age. This tooth has sat in a collection at the Canadian Museum of Nature since it was found in 1977. Grant Zazula/Government of Yukon He added that these ancient hyenas never ran into a human. The beasts went extinct in North America between 1 million and 500,000 years ago, long before humans arrived in the Americas. (One of the oldest human traces in the Americas is a 15,600-year-old footprint in Chile.) It's unclear why these hyenas disappeared, but it's possible that other voracious ice age carnivores, such as the bone-cracking dog (Borophagus), giant short-faced bear (Arctodus) or hunting-dog-like canid (Xenocyon) took over their habitats and outcompeted them for prey, Tseng said.Today, there are only four living species of hyena -- three bone-crushing species and the ant-eating aardwolf. Given that Chasmaporthetes was a bone crusher too, it likely played a large role in disposing of carcasses in ancient North America, much like vultures do today, Tseng said.The new study takes a much-needed dive into carnivore evolution and diversity in North America, said Blaine Schubert, executive director of the Center of Excellence in Paleontology and professor of geosciences at East Tennessee State University, who was not involved with the study."It has long been hypothesized that hyenas crossed the Beringian land bridge to enter North America, but evidence was lacking," Schubert told Live Science in an email. "These new fossils support the Beringian dispersal hypothesis and dramatically increase the range of Chasmaporthetes."The study was published online today (June 18) in the journal Open Quaternary. * My, What Sharp Teeth! 12 Living and Extinct Saber-Toothed Animals * 10 Extinct Giants That Once Roamed North America * Ice Age Animal Bones Uncovered During LA Subway ExcavationOriginally published on Live Science.


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New study finds dogs are 97% accurate when sniffing out lung cancer

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 04:00

A small US study has found that beagles may be able to sniff out lung cancer with nearly 100 percent accuracy, suggesting that using dogs to detect the disease could be an effective way for mass cancer screening. Carried out by researchers at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, the team chose three beagles for the study, a breed of dog known for its excellent sense of smell. The team spent eight weeks training the dogs before carrying out the tests, which involved the dogs sniffing blood serum samples from both healthy patients and those with non-small cell lung cancer at nose level.


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EU urged to halt trade talks with S. America over Brazil abuses

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 03:26

Hundreds of activist groups on Tuesday urged the EU to "immediately halt negotiations" for a trade deal with Mercosur countries over Brazil's alleged harm of its indigenous people and rainforests. The appeal from more than 340 groups could further complicate the European Union's bid to conclude 20 years of talks for a free trade agreement with Brazil and its Mercosur partners Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. In an open letter, Greenpeace as well as an array of NGOs across Europe and Latin America reminded the EU it had previously suspended trade preferences with Myanmar and the Philippines over alleged human rights abuses.


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Facebook Wants Its Cryptocurrency to One Day Rival the Greenback

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 03:00

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. unveiled plans for a new cryptocurrency that the social-media giant hopes will one day trade on a global scale much like the U.S. dollar.Called Libra, the new currency will launch as soon as next year and be what's known as a stablecoin -- a digital currency that's supported by established government-backed currencies and securities. The goal is to avoid massive fluctuations in value so Libra can be used for everyday transactions in a way that more volatile crypotcurrencies, like Bitcoin, haven’t been.Read More: Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Project: Who’s In and Who’s OutLibra is the culmination of a year-long effort to devise an easy way for Facebook users to send and receive money through its messaging services. Private messaging is one of the company’s fastest growing products, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is embracing this by integrating all Facebook’s messaging products to let users communicate between its different apps. This focus comes at a time when user growth of the main social network has plateaued in some major markets, and regulators are scrutinizing the company’s frequent privacy failures. Payments are a potential way to turn messaging into a business that complements Facebook’s advertising operation, which generates almost all its revenue. To come anywhere close to matching the U.S. dollar for utility and acceptance, Libra will need to be widely trusted. So Facebook and its partners are mimicking how other currencies have been introduced in the past.“To help instill trust in a new currency and gain widespread adoption during its infancy, it was guaranteed that a country’s notes could be traded in for real assets, such as gold,” the companies wrote in a white paper. “Instead of backing Libra with gold, though, it will be backed by a collection of low-volatility assets, such as bank deposits and short-term government securities in currencies from stable and reputable central banks."The total number of Libra can change, and new digital coins can be issued whenever someone wants to exchange their Libra for an existing fiat currency, so the price shouldn’t fluctuate any more than other stable currencies, according to David Marcus, head of the Facebook blockchain team that’s spearheading the project.“It would make a scenario where there’s a run on the bank completely impossible, because we are backed one-for-one,” he said. Libra will also be audited, he added, an important step in an industry with limited transparency.Facebook has closely guarded its crypto plans for more than a year, though many of the details have already been reported by Bloomberg News and other outlets. Read about how Marcus tapped PayPal talent to build Facebook’s blockchain team.Marcus, who used to run Facebook Messenger, said Facebook plans to build a new digital wallet that will exist inside Messenger and its other standalone messaging service, WhatsApp. Once Libra is up and running, the currency and the digital wallet should make it easier for people to send money to friends, family and businesses through the apps. Libra will run on the so-called blockchain, a database that can use millions of computers to verify transactions, eliminating risks that come with information being held centrally by a single entity.  Facebook created a new subsidiary, called Calibra, to build the new wallet and focus on the company’s blockchain efforts.Facebook's track record in payments and commerce has been spotty. A few years ago, it began letting people buy flowers or hail an Uber through its Messenger service. Those features have not been huge hits. In 2010, it began offering Facebook Credits, a way to buy virtual goods inside Facebook games. But in 2012 it scrapped Credits, and in 2013 it started working with third-party services like PayPal process some payments. Facebook's revenue from "payments and other service" was less than 2% of total sales in 2018. If successful, Libra could make Facebook a much bigger player in financial services. That’s a big “if,” though. Cryptocurrency companies have been trying to build cross-border, digital currencies on the blockchain to disrupt traditional banking and payments for a decade. Nothing has caught on at the scale of traditional money yet. When it finally arrives, Libra will be late to a party that’s been going on so long, many of the party-goers have either left or collapsed. Some past attempts to make coins usable for commerce, such as Bitcoin, haven’t widely caught on yet because price volatility mainly attracted traders and speculators. Predecessor stablecoins, like Tether, have been used by some traders to park funds in during times of high volatility, but have not been broadly adopted for commerce.Read more about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s early plans for cryptocurrency. U.S. regulations may represent another hurdle for Facebook. Creating a digital currency doesn’t just require buy-in from financial institutions who need to accept it, and consumers who need to trust it, but it requires approval from regulators, too. The Securities and Exchange Commission has shut down about a dozen businesses issuing their own tokens for violations of securities law. Marcus said Facebook has been in contact with regulators and central banks, but added that the company hasn’t received a “no-action” letter from the SEC yet. That would have safeguarded the project from regulatory action by the agency. One way Facebook hopes to appease regulators is through the Libra Association, a governing body tasked with making decisions about Libra. At least 27 other firms, including Visa Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc., are part of the group. Marcus described these members as “co-founders,” and said they will have an equal say in how the cryptocurrency is managed. “Facebook will not have any special privilege or special voting rights at the association level,” said Marcus, the former president of PayPal. “We will have competitors and other players on top of this platform that will build competing wallets and services.”All Libra Association members are putting a minimum of $10 million into a reserve to help support the cryptocurrency’s value. This buy-in comes with voting privileges. However, the association’s governance structure is still in flux, and most of the group’s crucial decisions, including the creation of its charter, have not yet been decided, according to several members of the group. They asked not to be identified discussing private details. “Facebook will not have any special privilege”Libra’s timing could also pose challenges. Facebook is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over the company’s privacy practices. Some have called for the company to be broken up, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Asking consumers to put more trust in the social media giant, and giving Facebook a strong entry into the world of digital payments and banking, will likely draw further criticism. Opinion: Crypto-evangelists hoped digital currencies would challenge Big Tech’s data control. Zuckerberg has other plans.The company plans to keep financial data gathered from Libra users separate from Facebook user data. That’s why Facebook’s digital wallet will exist under the Calibra subsidiary, which will house user transaction data on separate servers, Marcus said. If a WhatsApp user uses her Calibra wallet to send money to a friend or pay a retailer, those interactions won’t be stored alongside her social-media profile. “There’s a clear distinction between Calibra and what Calibra has access to, and what Facebook Inc. has access to,” Marcus said. “It’s very clear that people don’t want their financial data from an account to be comingled with social data or to be used for other purposes.”\--With assistance from Jennifer Surane.To contact the authors of this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netOlga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.netJulie Verhage in New York at jverhage2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Project: Who’s In and Who’s Out

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 03:00

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. made a renewed push into payments on Tuesday, announcing plans for a cryptocurrency called Libra.Read More: Facebook Wants Its Cryptocurrency to One Day Rival the GreenbackIt will be governed by the Libra Association, a group of companies that will have an equal say in how the cryptocurrency is managed. Almost 30 firms have joined and Facebook hopes another 70 or more will enter the fold in the future.Read Facebook’s Project Libra white paper hereWho’s In:Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., the world’s largest payments networks, as well as PayPal Holdings Inc. are on board. For Visa and Mastercard, it’s a chance to offer the world of cryptocurrencies the same services they provide in card payments. All three companies know the challenges of building a network and can offer expertise in encouraging consumers to use the instrument and cajoling merchants into accepting it.Companies such as Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and Spotify Technology SA keep millions of credit cards on file, and they risk losing customers when people get a new card or number. E-commerce firms also pay higher "card not present" rates when processing payments, so anything that can reduce these expenses is welcome.“Libra has the potential to bridge the gap between traditional financial networks and new digital currency technology, while reducing the costs for everyone,” said Peter Hazlehurst, head of payments at Uber.International companies, including e-commerce firm MercadoLibre Inc. and telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc, signed onto Libra, too. Blockchain technology and stablecoins are potential solutions for the messy world of cross-border payments, which suffers from delays and high costs.Who’s out:Large banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., already have their own payments businesses that reap billions of dollars in fees. With regulators still deciding how to treat cryptocurrencies, banks and investment firms are treading cautiously.So far, no large brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Target Corp. and Walmart Inc., are taking part. The industry is always interested in lowering the cost of accepting payments, but traditional merchants have historically been hesitant to accept cryptocurrencies due to volatility and lack of consumer adoption.The largest U.S. technology companies, Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc., are noticeably absent. Many of these firms have their own digital payments businesses and some are experimenting with blockchain technology. Apple has poured scorn on Facebook for repeated privacy missteps and other big tech firms are trying to avoid being associated with the social-media giant.Square Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey is a cryptocurrency fan, but even his firm isn’t part of Libra at launch. Square’s cryptocurrency team made its first hire last week and it’s Cash App is a popular way for consumers to buy and sell Bitcoin.Here’s the full list of founding members and partners:Andreessen Horowitz Anchorage Bison Trails Booking Holdings Inc.Breakthrough Initiatives Facebook’s CalibraCoinbase Inc.EBay Inc. Farfetch Ltd.Iliad SA’s Free Lyft Inc.Mastercard MercadoLibre Inc.’s Mercado Pago PayPal Naspers Ltd.’s PayURibbit Capital Spotify Technology SAStripe Inc.Thrive Capital Union Square Ventures Uber Visa Vodafone Group Xapo Creative Destructive Lab Kiva Mercy Corps Women’s World Banking To contact the reporters on this story: Jenny Surane in New York at jsurane4@bloomberg.net;Julie Verhage in New York at jverhage2@bloomberg.net;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Uganda clears three experimental Ebola treatments, watches for spread

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 02:44

Health workers have got the all-clear to use three experimental Ebola treatments in Uganda, a week after the deadly disease spread over the border from Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Tuesday. Two people who had travelled from Congo died in Uganda last week, the World Health Organization said. A three-year-old boy who was sent back to Congo after testing positive for the disease died at the weekend, Congo's health ministry said.


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Uganda clears three experimental Ebola treatments, watches for spread

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 02:38

Health workers have got the all-clear to use three experimental Ebola treatments in Uganda, a week after the deadly disease spread over the border from Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Tuesday. Two people who had traveled from Congo died in Uganda last week, the World Health Organization said. A three-year-old boy who was sent back to Congo after testing positive for the disease died at the weekend, Congo's health ministry said.


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NASA boss says 'no doubt' SpaceX explosion delays flight program

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 02:23

The explosion that destroyed a SpaceX astronaut taxi in April "no doubt" delays NASA's drive to return Americans to the International Space Station from U.S. soil later this year, the U.S. space agency's chief said on Tuesday. "There is no doubt the schedule will change," Bridenstine told reporters at the Paris Airshow. Bridenstine's comments cast fresh doubt on billionaire Elon Musk's goal of returning astronauts to the orbiting research lab from U.S. soil this year, though a person familiar with the matter said SpaceX has privately expressed confidence that it can rebound.


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Trump to Swap Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ for Modest Upgrades

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 02:00

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration is on track to obliterate former President Barack Obama’s signature plan for combating climate change by replacing sweeping curbs on power plant emissions with requirements for modest upgrades at the sites.The Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil its rewrite of the Clean Power Plan as soon as Wednesday, finalizing a replacement rule that would establish pollution guidelines based on potential gains from efficiency upgrades at individual facilities.Like a proposal released last October, the EPA’s final rule gives U.S. states wide latitude to design their own plans for paring carbon dioxide emissions at power plants, according to people familiar with the measure who asked not to be named before it was released.The effort fulfills President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to rip up the Clean Power Plan and dovetails with his administration’s retreat from a global fight against climate change. Trump announced in June 2017 that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate accord, a global carbon-cutting agreement reached in 2015, and the EPA is now unwinding Obama-era regulations targeting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, automobiles and oil wells.Yet the latest decision -- which faces an inevitable legal challenge -- prolongs uncertainty for electric utilities and power generators that are already eschewing coal-fired power and embracing cleaner natural gas and renewables.Less AmbitiousTrump’s approach is significantly less ambitious than the Obama administration’s rule by relying on a narrow view of the “best system of emission reduction” at coal-fired power plants, said Janet McCabe, the EPA’s former acting administrator for air quality.“It constrains it only to the things that power plants can do within their fence line,” McCabe said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said the agency’s planned power plant changes empower states to pare emissions while ensuring Americans have access to reliable and affordable energy.Environmentalists have already vowed to battle the replacement rule in federal court -- setting up potential legal wrangling that could last years. Already, court action prevented Obama’s Clean Power Plan from going into effect. The Supreme Court put off the initiative in February 2016, amid legal challenges from opponents who said the EPA had overstepped its authority.At the time it was imposed, the Clean Power Plan was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030.In a change from its earlier proposal, the EPA will not simultaneously finalize provisions authorizing companies to upgrade old power plants without triggering requirements for costly pollution control systems, said the people. That change is expected to come later, as the EPA works to overhaul its so-called New Source Review program governing pollution controls at power plants and industrial facilities.A ShiftThose permitting changes were needed to drive more aggressive efficiency improvements at individual power plants, the EPA argued in its proposal. Stripping those provisions out could help justify weaker requirements for bolstering efficiency.The EPA’s power plant rule is set to mark a shift in how the agency credits potential health gains tied to cleaning up air pollution -- specifically fine particulate matter, or soot.Last year, the EPA predicted its initial proposal would mean an uptick in particulate matter pollution -- and the asthma attacks, respiratory diseases and premature deaths tied to it. There could be a range of 470 to 1,400 additional premature deaths in 2030 under even the most stringent proposed power plant improvements, the EPA predicted. Hospital admissions and emergency room visits for asthma would also climb.But the EPA is expected to discount the potential effects of its final rule by comparing its impacts against a baseline scenario without the Clean Power Plan in place.The agency also is set to highlight questions about the health benefits tied to low levels of soot. Administration officials debated the merits of that approach in 2017, as they moved to repeal the Clean Power Plan.In an October 2017 email exchange released as part of a federal rulemaking docket, an EPA official said the agency could choose to discount some health benefits of paring soot by asserting it was the administration’s policy to acknowledge uncertainties about the impacts. That would have the benefit of being a “policy” and not “a purely scientific call” that would require addressing recent scientific studies, EPA lead economist Al McGartland said in a September 2017 message. To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Naspers' Biggest Investor Mulls Cutting $16.5 Billion Stake

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 01:07

(Bloomberg) -- Naspers Ltd.’s biggest shareholder is considering whether to reduce its 245 billion rand ($16.5 billion) stake in Africa’s biggest company because of concern it’s overexposed to a single stock, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund is being encouraged by its manager, the Public Investment Corp., to reduce its Naspers shareholding of about 16%, said three of the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. Any decision is ultimately up to the GEPF.Naspers’s value has grown 72-fold since 2004 on the back of the success of an early-stage investment in Chinese games developer Tencent Holdings Ltd., which listed in Hong Kong that year. That’s turned Naspers, a Cape Town-based internet technology investor once focused on South African newspapers, into a 1.53 trillion rand ($101 billion) global entity. But it’s also made the company dependent on China, where it has little influence. The shares gained as much as 1.9% in Johannesburg as Tencent gained in Hong Kong.“Naspers success is dependent on the Chinese government,” said Tahir Maepa, deputy general manager for members affairs of the Public Servants Association, whose 240,000-members make it the biggest labor union representing contributors to the GEPF. “It’s a huge risk, not only for the PIC, it’s a risk for the South African economy and the JSE,” he said, adding that the GEPF should “definitely” cut its stake.The rapid growth also means Naspers accounts for almost 25% of a shareholder-weighted index on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. While that will be reduced when the company spins off its Tencent stake and other internet-focused assets into a new vehicle listed in Amsterdam next month, its 73% holding in that entity, known as NewCo, will only cut its weighting in Johannesburg by about a quarter, according to Naspers. Furthermore, Naspers and NewCo are both reliant on the Tencent investment, which is worth more than the company as a whole.Tencent has been struggling with a Chinese government crackdown on addiction to computer games, and regulators are currently working on an overhaul to the approval process for new titles.Read More: China Outlines New Approval Process for World’s Top Games MarketNaspers currently makes up almost 21% of the value of the GEPF’s listed equity holdings, the fund said in an emailed response to questions. “The GEPF does review its benchmarks from time to time,” although “not all reviews lead to changes.” The pension fund didn’t answer a query about whether it has held talks with the PIC about the Naspers stake.Naspers declined to comment on discussions with specific investors. “The formation and listing of NewCo is in response to shareholder requests,” spokeswoman Shamiela Letsoalo said in an emailed response to questions. The move will allow investors to move “some of their weight off the JSE onto (Amsterdam’s) AEX index while at the same time continuing to lock in continued high returns,” she said. “This will likely result in shareholders having more balanced weightings and will help to reduce any overhang.”Read More: Naspers CEO Bets on Dutch Listing to Fix Tencent DiscountWhile Naspers acknowledges that the company’s assets and management will overlap with NewCo “there are also important differences,” Letsoalo said. The parent group will separately own news business Media24, online marketplace Takealot and “continue to invest in South Africa’s fast-growing ecommerce and internet segment,” she said. “These differences will cause many investors to view them separately within their portfolio.”NewCo will hold various internet businesses around the world, including Russian social-media network Mail.ru Group Ltd. and Indian food-delivery service Swiggy as well as Tencent.The debate over the stake in Naspers has been going on for months. One element being discussed is whether the GEPF should change its holding from an arrangement known as a full SWIX, or shareholder-weighted index, to one called a capped SWIX, where a single stock can make up a maximum of 10% of the funds, three of the people said. Any sell down would be done in phases, one of the people said.Phased SelldownLast October, another of the PIC’s clients, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, sold Naspers shares to switch from a full SWIX position to a capped one, the fund said in an emailed response to questions. Prior to this it had used derivatives to hedge the risk but found this too costly, it said.What to do with the GEPF’s Naspers stake is being considered by the fund’s board of trustees, one of the people said. Pierre Snyman, a member of the board and chairman of the Public Servants Association, declined to comment.Some senior members of the GEPF are opposing cutting the shareholding, said one of the people.“The PIC does not publicly discuss its strategy on specific investee companies,” Deon Botha, its head of Corporate Affairs, said in a response to queries.(Adds shares in third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net;Loni Prinsloo in Johannesburg at lprinsloo3@bloomberg.net;Janice Kew in Johannesburg at jkew4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: John McCorry at jmccorry@bloomberg.net, ;Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, John BowkerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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AstraZeneca's Lynparza gets EU nod as first-line ovarian cancer maintenance treatment

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 01:05

Lynparza, being jointly developed by AstraZeneca along with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co , can now be used in patients who are in response following chemotherapy for advanced BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer in Europe, AstraZeneca said. BRCA genes are responsible for producing proteins which repair damaged DNA, and if the genes are mutated, they can cause cancer growth.


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Sony Analysts Question Loeb's Push After Strategy Flip Flop

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 00:39

(Bloomberg) -- Dan Loeb is back trying to whip Sony Corp. into shape, but he’s drawing fire this time around after reversing course from his prior thesis.Loeb’s Third Point last week revealed a $1.5 billion stake in the Tokyo-based company and advocated for a spin off of its chip business to finance deeper expansion in entertainment, including games and movies. That’s the opposite of what he championed in 2013, when he called on executives to sell a part of their film division.“Loeb advocated for moving away from entertainment, but Sony is thriving today precisely because they went in the opposite direction," said Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, referring to both movies and games. "Amid trade wars, losing chips would be a negative in terms of Japan’s national security. It’s not something that needs to be done right now."The cool reception came as Sony stakeholders gathered in Tokyo on Tuesday for the company’s annual general meeting. Loeb’s proposals are not up for a vote, although analysts said he will likely be a main topic of conversations among shareholders. Sony declined to comment on the Third Point proposal, but said it takes all shareholder suggestions seriously.Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida repeated that message Tuesday, saying management is constantly studying how to increase long-term shareholder value. “That includes deliberations about how to structure our portfolio of businesses,” he said.Loeb laid out his thesis personally to Yoshida last week in New York. The CEO mostly listened and didn’t rebuff the activist in terms of valuation or feasibility of implementing the proposals, giving Third Point more confidence to move ahead.The hedge fund sees Sony as a different company from six years ago, which is why its focus has changed from shunning entertainment to embracing it. Sensing an opening with Yoshida’s more investor-friendly approach, Loeb is trying again with what he believes he can realistically achieve. The next step is getting a formal reaction from management.Analysts almost universally applauded his effort last week to reduce Sony’s so-called "conglomerate discount," or the idea that its many disparate businesses -- from entertainment to chips to finance -- are collectively undervalued and would benefit from being split apart. But they questioned whether Third Point’s proposals are realistic or make strategic sense.For one, some are not convinced that a standalone chip unit can finance the large investments necessary for growth and said it’s better done as part of a bigger group, which can offset temporary losses. They also argued that the unit currently enjoys strong synergy with Sony’s other product divisions and should be integrated more closely rather than spun out.“We think that spinning off the semiconductor business could in fact reduce its actual value,” Yasuo Nakane and Kenichi Saita, analysts at Mizuho Financial Group Inc., wrote in a report. “The semiconductor subsidiary’s technological assets and intellectual properties are inseparable from the electronics products and solutions.”Others questioned Loeb’s estimate for how much a standalone chips unit could fetch at a time when global phone sales are shrinking and the U.S. is waging war on one of Sony’s largest customers, Huawei Technologies Co.“We think Third Point’s US$33-39bn valuation is too high,” wrote Macquarie Group analysts Damian Thong and Hiroshi Taguchi, who currently value the chips division at $11 billion. "But there is wide scope for price discovery above the current embedded value."Then there’s the issue of Sony’s historically stubborn management. Yoshida has so far side-stepped calls to sell or spin off businesses. Instead, he has carried out two record buybacks this year, pleasing investors and preempting calls for more drastic change. And at $1.5 billion, Loeb’s new stake represents about a third of the 6.5% of voting shares he accumulated in 2013.“Third Point’s key proposals about the divestiture of Sony Financial and spin-off of the semiconductor business are unlikely to be easily accepted by management," wrote CLSA analyst Amit Garg. Still, he said the company could yield given that the buybacks "have failed, with the stock remaining at depressed multiples."Loeb is probably not helping his case by saying that sell-side analysts are part of the problem. In his presentation, he said a lack of familiarity with Sony’s many different businesses results in analysts applying discounts to divisions they’re unfamiliar with, contributing to a lower valuation for the entire company.“The lack of entertainment sector expertise among Sony’s sell‐side analysts may explain the wide skew in valuation methodologies, multiples, and target prices,” Third Point wrote in its presentation last week. "We sympathize with the challenge they face: maintaining an up‐to‐date, informed view on a diverse range of industries, most of which are outside their core expertise."(Updates with CEO’s comment from the fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from 院去信太郎 and Kurt Schussler.To contact the reporter on this story: Yuji Nakamura in Tokyo at ynakamura56@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Roche wins Japan approval for personalized cancer drug Rozlytrek

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 00:29

Swiss drugmaker Roche's push into personalized cancer medicines hit a milestone on Tuesday with Japanese approval of a new drug, Rozlytrek, that targets patients who must be identified via genetic profiling. Japan is the first country to give its blessing to Rozlytrek, also known as entrectinib, targeting people with NTRK fusion-positive solid tumors, across 10 different tumor types including breast, colorectal, neuroendocrine, lung and pancreatic cancers. Rozlytrek aims to treat people with a rare genetic anomaly, called NTRK fusions, that drive growth in a range of tumors found throughout the body.


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