Labor’s environment lobby backs Albanese over climate target omission


“The lack of specific climate change targets in the draft platform is no surprise to LEAN,” national co-convener Felicity Wade said.

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“Albo [Mr Albanese] and [energy spokesman] Mark Butler signalled ages ago that Labor will commit to interim targets, based in science, to ensure delivery of net zero by 2050.”

Ms Wade said the electricity grid already had about 25 per cent penetration of renewable energy so she had high hopes Australia would have “well and truly over-shot the 50 per cent renewables target by 2030”.

“We need a credible pathway to deliver decarbonisation by 2050 and interim targets are an essential tool to ensure we deliver. Labor has committed to delivering interim targets based on science and they will be announced in due course. LEAN is fine with this,” she said.

Ms Wade took a swipe at the Morrison government for proposing “large transfers of public wealth to cronies in the gas industry” and said her organisation would be advocating that Labor’s platform explicitly ruled out any public subsidy for fossil fuel development.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday promised a “gas-led recovery” from the coronavirus recession, backing the construction of a gas-fired power station and the opening up of new gas supplies.

Labor’s resources spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, who has backed taxpayer support for expanding the gas sector, last month hit out at LEAN for pushing Labor to “fundamentalist” ­positions.

The 2018 platform committed a Labor ­government to an emissions ­reduction target of 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030, as well as a 50 per cent renewable energy ­target.

Mr Albanese offered the Morrison government a climate olive branch in June for a bipartisan energy policy framework that would be “scalable” for the parties’ different levels of ambition.

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A spokesman for Mr Albanese said there were currently no targets in the preliminary platform but it was premature to say Labor would not take interim targets to the next election.

Former leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday repeated his calls to frame future climate policies through the prism of creating local jobs.

“Climate’s important, but let’s face it, so are jobs,” Mr Shorten told Nine’s Today Show.

“What I learnt out of the last election is that if you want to convince people that the value of taking action on climate, you’ve got to explain to people where the jobs are going to come from as well.”

He said “everyone”, from farmers to industry, was saying Australia needed to have lower emissions by 2050.

“I think the important part for all parties to do is show how we get there,” Mr Shorten said.

The preliminary platform, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, says Labor will ensure Australia becomes a “renewable energy superpower” by harnessing its natural advantages to become energy independent from the world, while lowering power prices and reaching zero net emissions by 2050.

“Labor believes Australia’s future prosperity lies as an energy superpower, built on our world-class renewable energy resources and technical skills,” the document says.

“We will develop and implement practical, collaborative policies informed by the best ­science and consistent with the goals of the Paris Accord to realise Australia’s huge renewable energy opportunities and ensure all ­Australians benefit not only through stronger economic growth but also access to more ­affordable energy.”

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Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said either Labor was no longer committed to Paris or it had accepted the government’s sensible emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent.

“Australians deserve to know what Labor’s 2030 target is and how much it will cost them,” Mr Taylor said.

“What we do know is that the climate change plan Labor took to the last election would have had a disastrous impact on the economy, cutting the wages and jobs of Australian workers. It would have made Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that much harder.”

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Saint emerges as trade target for Bulldogs


St Kilda small forward Jack Lonie has emerged as a trade target for the Western Bulldogs.

According to Fox Footy’s Tom Morris, the Bulldogs will pursue Lonie who comes out of contract at the end of the season.

It’s understood the Dogs will be prioritising a small forward once the trade and free agency period begins in November.

The 24-year-old inked a two-year extension in 2018 but did attract interest from several clubs, including Carlton and Collingwood.

Lonie has played just 10 games this season after being dropped twice by coach Brett Ratten.

He’s kicked 66 goals in 73 matches for the Saints since making his debut in 2015.


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Russia, China and Iran hackers target Trump and Biden, Microsoft says


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Both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden’s campaigns have been targeted, Microsoft says

Hackers with ties to Russia, China and Iran are attempting to snoop on people and groups involved with the US 2020 presidential election, Microsoft says.

The Russian hackers who breached the 2016 Democratic campaign are again involved, said the tech firm.

Microsoft said it was “clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts” targeting the election.

Both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden’s campaigns are in the cyber-raiders’ sights.

Russian hackers from the Strontium group have targeted more than 200 organisations, many of which are linked to US political parties – both Republicans and Democrats, Microsoft said in a statement.

The same cyber-attackers also targeted British political parties, said Microsoft, without specifying which ones.

Strontium is also known as Fancy Bear, a cyber-attack unit allegedly affiliated with Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

What else did Microsoft say?

“Similar to what we observed in 2016, Strontium is launching campaigns to harvest people’s log-in credentials or compromise their accounts, presumably to aid in intelligence gathering or disruption operations,” said Tom Burt, a Microsoft vice-president in charge of customer security and trust.

The firm said Chinese hackers had launched attacks targeting individuals connected to Mr Biden’s campaign, while Iranian hackers had continued efforts targeting people associated with the Trump campaign.

Most of the cyber-attacks had not been successful, according to Microsoft. The attacks have also not been launched on groups that handle the voting systems themselves.

“What we’ve seen is consistent with previous attack patterns that not only target candidates and campaign staffers but also those they consult on key issues,” Mr Burt said.

“These activities highlight the need for people and organisations involved in the political process to take advantage of free and low-cost security tools to protect themselves as we get closer to election day.”

Microsoft reported that Chinese groups had launched attacks on the personal email accounts of people affiliated with the Biden campaign, as well as “at least one prominent individual formerly associated with the Trump Administration”.

“Prominent individuals” in the international affairs community, academic institutions and policy organisations were also said to have been targeted by the Chinese hacking group, known as Zirconium.

The Iranian group known as Phosphorus has unsuccessfully sought to access accounts of White House officials and Mr Trump’s campaign staff between May and June of this year.

Microsoft was unable to determine the aims of the Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers. Google said back in June that it had detected similar cyber-hack attempts by China and Iran.

Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Thea McDonald said: “We are a large target, so it is not surprising to see malicious activity directed at the campaign or our staff.”

A Biden campaign official said: “We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them.”

The report comes a day after a whistleblower at the US Department of Homeland Security alleged he was put under pressure to downplay the threat of Russian interference in the US as it “made the president look bad”.

Election interference a bipartisan issue

Analysis by Nada Tawfik, BBC North America reporter

In 2016, Russia’s attempts to influence the election quickly became politicised and labelled a hoax by some of the president’s supporters. Microsoft’s findings highlight the fact that election interference is a bipartisan issue, with both Republicans and Democrats at risk.

Going into 2020’s consequential vote, it is not just intelligence agencies, but also the private sector that is concerned and taking action to prevent threats to the democratic process.

But they can only do so much without government action. Tom Burt made a point in his post to encourage Congress to pass additional state funding to protect election infrastructure.

He then went further, encouraging countries to ensure peace and security in cyberspace through global initiatives, including one underway at the United Nations.

How did the Trump administration respond?

The Department of Homeland Security’s top cyber-official, Christopher Krebs, said Microsoft’s warning confirmed what the US intelligence community had already stated.

“It is important to highlight that none [of the targets] are involved in maintaining or operating voting infrastructure and there was no identified impact on election systems,” Mr Krebs said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Trump administration charged a Russian national with plotting to interfere in the US political process.

The US Department of Treasury also imposed sanctions against a Moscow-linked Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Derkach, who is accused of similar meddling.

Mr Derkach allegedly released edited audio that was intended to smear Democrat Joe Biden. The recordings have been touted by President Donald Trump.

The Ukrainian met the US president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, last December.

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Media captionFrank Luntz: “You cannot look at this election and feel good about it”

What has US intelligence said?

The US intelligence community said in August that China, Russia and Iran were actively trying to meddle in the forthcoming presidential election.

The assessment found that Russia was seeking to “denigrate” Mr Biden. It also found that China and Iran wanted Mr Trump to lose the vote.

Iran, US intelligence warned, could try to “undermine” US democratic institutions and the president through online content.

What happened in 2016?

US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, with a state-authorised campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found Russian hackers gained access to Democratic National Committee systems as well as Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s personal email.

They leaked tens of thousands of emails from the campaign.

Facebook later testified that Russian-backed content sent out around the election reached up to 126 million Americans on the platform.

Mr Mueller did not determine that the Trump campaign had colluded with the alleged Russian election meddling.



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Matildas skipper Sam Kerr on target for Chelsea in English Women’s Super League


Matildas skipper Sam Kerr has bounced back from a disappointing FA Community Shield performance to score for Chelsea in the opening round of the English Women’s Super League season.

The star striker scored in the 25th minute of Chelsea’s 1-1 weekend draw with Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village Stadium.

Kerr was replaced in the 66th minute, with United equalising 13 minutes later to grab a share of the points.

https://twitter.com/BarclaysFAWSL/status/1302609253866274816

“I’m pleased that Sam has got off to a scoring start in the league and I think for her now she has to build on that,” Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said.

Kerr had been criticised a week earlier for missing a host of chances in Chelsea’s 2-0 Community Shield win over Manchester City.

She had earlier told the Chelsea website: “ It’s good to have a full pre-season with the team. I feel like I’ve settled in these last five weeks more than I did last season with everything that was going around us. I feel really good being back with the team.”

Meanwhile, Kerr’s Matildas’ teammates Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord featured for Arsenal in their 6-1 thrashing of Reading.

Arsenal’s Australian coach Joe Montemurro said: “We can do even better than this, we have to keep our standards very high.”





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Canada not on pace to meet target to cut methane emissions by 2025


Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is open to imposing tougher regulations to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas sector if that’s what it takes to hit a 2025 target to cut them by almost half, his staff said Friday.

Canada set a goal in 2016 to cut methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent in 2025 compared to what they were in 2012. A new report from the Pembina Institute and Environmental Defence says the regulations in place now for methane will achieve only a 29 per cent cut by 2025.

“They’re not on track to meet the target,” said Jan Gorski, a senior analyst at the Pembina Institute.

A statement released through Wilkinson’s office did not question the analysis, saying only that the federal government is “committed” to hitting the promised target.

“We will continue to review progress towards the federal methane targets, and are committed to strengthening these measures if required,” reads the statement.

Half of methane emissions from oil and gas 

Natural gas is composed almost entirely of methane, a colourless and odourless gas which, like carbon dioxide, lingers in the air after being emitted and traps heat inside our atmosphere. One tonne of methane emitted will have approximately the same impact on global warming over the course of a century as about 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide — roughly what five passenger vehicles emit in one year.

Canada’s most recent emissions report shows in 2018, methane emissions were the equivalent of 91 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Almost half comes from the oil and gas industry, with landfills and livestock contributing most of the rest.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says he is open to imposing new regulations on the oil and gas industry to reduce methane emissions further. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set the methane target in 2016 and his government brought in regulations in 2018 meant to meet the target. The regulations initially were to be implemented between 2018 and 2020 but were delayed. The first steps took effect in January and the full rollout won’t be in place until 2023.

Earlier this year, Gorski said, the government released some new data when it reached agreements with Alberta and Saskatchewan to have them use their own regulations to hit the national targets.

Neither agreement is finalized yet, though a similar agreement with British Columbia has been implemented.

No word on whether regulations will change

The new data adjusted the amount of methane assumed to come from different sources in the oil and gas industry. Methane is emitted when oil and gas is extracted or processed, and can also leak out of oil wells or storage tanks. The new data found some sources were producing more than thought, and others less. That meant the regulations were not targeting the problem the right way to achieve the target.

“It’s not unusual that you have these kind of changes but what’s missing is a clear plan to actually correct course and adjust the regulations if it becomes apparent they’re off track, which is the case now,” said Gorski.

Methane cuts were to contribute almost 10 per cent of the total cuts to emissions Canada must make to hit its target under the Paris climate-change agreement. Gorski said unless the regulations are improved, this will make hitting the Paris target that much harder.

Wilkinson’s staff did not say when any changes to the regulations might be considered. In April, as a move to help the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government promised $750 million for a new fund to help eliminate methane from oil and gas production.

Gorski said methane is one of the easiest emissions to cut because the technology is available and is affordable. Capturing methane, which can then be used as a source of energy, is also very cost-effective, he said.



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As Coronavirus Reappears in Italy, Migrants Become a Target for Politicians


POZZALLO, Italy — As the summer vacation season draws to a close in Italy, a flare-up of Covid-19 cases is fueling a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment, even though the government says that migrants are just a small part of the problem.

Sicily’s president, Nello Musumeci, ordered the closure of all migrant centers on the island last weekend, saying it was impossible to prevent the spread of the illness at the facilities. And although a court blocked him, saying that he did not have the authority to close them, his order underlined the challenges Italy faces as right-wing politicians seek to rekindle a polarizing debate about immigration in a country hit hard by the pandemic.

In Pozzallo, a town in southern Sicily that has the highest rate of infection among newly arrived migrants, Roberto Ammatuna, the center-left mayor, has found himself trying to balance fears of a coronavirus influx with an obligation to rescue migrants in distress at sea.

“Our citizens need to feel safe and protected, because we are here in the front lines of Europe,” he said in an interview in his office overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. “No one wants migrants who are sick with Covid,” but, he said, “we can’t stop rescuing people at sea.”

In one week in August, 73 migrants tested positive out of about 200 quarantined in Pozzallo. About 11,700 migrants have reached Sicily since June, and 3 percent either tested positive upon arrival or during the quarantine period that the Italian authorities imposed inside shelters.

But Franco Locatelli, the president of Italy’s Superior Health Council, a government advisory body, said migrants’ role in bringing Covid-19 back to Italy was “minimal.”

In the first two weeks of August, around 25 percent of new infections registered in the country were imported from abroad, according to Italy’s National Health Institute. Over half of those were Italians who had traveled abroad, and many others were foreigners who already lived in Italy and were returning to the country.

Less than 5 percent of the total were new immigrants, according to Italy’s Health Ministry.

Although there have been outbreaks in migrant centers, the seasonal summer flow of migrants heading for Italy across the Mediterranean and from Eastern Europe has intensified fears of a more general resurgence of the virus.

Last weekend, a ship carrying hundreds of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, about 20 of whom had tested positive for Covid-19, circled the waters around Sicily. They were turned away by mayor after mayor, before eventually docking in Augusta, in the southeast.

“Outlaw state,” Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant League party and a former interior minister, said of Sicily on Twitter this week. “An invasion of illegal migrants, a boom of infections, Sicily is collapsing.”

The message being pushed by Mr. Salvini, whose political rise was forged by stoking fears of immigration and criminality before he and his party were ousted from the government last year, has been taken up by other right-wing politicians, even as the League has declined in popularity.

“We can’t afford that this land, after all its efforts and the success in the fight against the pandemic, finds itself in a difficult situation because of the lack of controls,” said Massimiliano Fedriga, a League member and president of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.

Mr. Fedriga was speaking at a rally outside a facility in the northeastern city Udine from which nine had escaped. The center, designed for 320 people but hosting 460 asylum seekers, had been put under quarantine after several coronavirus cases were discovered there.

Many Italians say the real issue regarding migrants is the need to limit the spread of the virus at existing centers, which are not designed to quarantine and isolate people.

“There is no explosion of arrivals,” Gianfranco Schiavone, the vice president of the Association of Juridical Studies on Immigration, said in a telephone interview. “The big difference, however, is the complexity of managing arrivals, with isolation and quarantine.”

Showers and bathrooms for six people are generally adequate in such centers, said Carmelo Lauretta, a doctor in charge of disease control in the Pozzallo area. “But not for Covid.”

This month, Italy’s government banned dancing in nightclubs and dancing halls, recognizing that people were letting down their guard. Many regions introduced testing at ports, airports and train stations. But controlling the spread of virus among the roughly 60,700 migrants who live in large shelters scattered throughout the country has been a bigger challenge.

“Foreigners in Italy are more in danger of getting sick, because they are more segregated, live in poorer hygienic conditions and in large groups,” Matteo Villa, an immigration researcher with Italy’s Institute for International Political Studies, said in a telephone interview. “But that has to do with segregation, not with their ethnicity or origin.”

In early August, the virus spread through a migrant center in Treviso, in northern Italy, infecting 256 of the 293 people housed there, making it one of the country’s biggest recent coronavirus clusters.

“Everybody got it,” Baxso Sanyang, a 28-year-old Gambian migrant who shared a room with two young men who had tested positive before catching the virus himself, said in a telephone interview. “There was no choice.”

Mario Conte, the mayor of Treviso, from Mr. Salvini’s party, said that given the conditions in the center, the spread was inevitable. “This shows a failure by the state,” he said.

Keeping nearly 300 people in one place is “already complicated when things are normal,” he said. But with Covid, “it is completely unmanageable.”

Many of the migrants coming to Italy are passing through the Western Balkans as the easing of anti-Covid measures allows them to travel from Greece, through Italy and then to northern Europe. Right-wing regional governments in Italy have asked Rome to close down small crossings with neighboring Slovenia and are increasingly sending people back across the border.

Among those trying to cross into Italy was Shahid Mehmood, 23, from Pakistan, who was sent back to Slovenia in June.

“When I told my parents Italy pushed me back, they didn’t believe me, because they said Italy doesn’t push back,” he said by telephone from the camp in Bosnia where he later ended up. “But that changed with coronavirus.”

Even as some politicians stir up anti-immigrant sentiments, many Italians say they are far more concerned about people throughout the country letting down their guards after travel links reopened, despite required testing for those coming from many destinations.

In Pozzallo, a 800-passenger boat now offers fast daily connections with Malta, which Italy considers risky after a recent coronavirus outbreak there.

“I am more worried about that and the young going to parties and discos with no face masks to find out two days later that they have Covid,” said Isabel Gugliotta, 17, sitting at a Pozzallo beach bar.

“Why should I worry about migrants?” she said. “Any person can transmit it. We all simply need to act responsibly.”



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Target is selling new pool floats shaped like a llama, sloth, and baby narwhal, and they are perfect for summer


  • Pool floats can bring a surprising amount of joy – especially if they inflate into a fun shape.
  • Target recently released a new collection of vibrant pool rafts from its Sun Squad line, the majority of which range from between $US15 to $US40 at the time of writing.
  • The floats come shaped like animals, including a llama, sloth, and baby narwhal.
  • The retailer’s other summer-themed pool rafts include ones shaped like a vintage cassette tape, fruit, and a motor boat.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Target’s recently released collection of pool rafts includes an assortment of whimsical shapes that will make any summer occasion even more colourful.

As scoped out by fan Instagram account @TargetDoesItAgain earlier in May, Sun Squad – a line exclusive to Target – launched a handful of floats that inflate to look like animals, including a pink and white llama, a blue narwhal complete with a rainbow horn and a tail, and a sloth that looks rather relaxed.

The rafts vary in price on Target’s website – the narwhal raft, which the website says is meant for babies, retails for $US15, the llama-shaped raft retails for $US15, and the sloth float retails for $US20 at the time of writing.

If a zenned-out sloth isn’t your thing, there are other unique pool rafts in Target’s new collection.

For example, one float is shaped like a motorboat, and it includes a cooler compartment. It’s available online for $US40.

There are also floats that look like colourful pieces of fruit, such as this $US15 watermelon raft; and nostalgic shapes like a cassette tape, which also retails for $US15.

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WSJ Live Chat: How Might Trump Target the H-1B Skilled-Worker Visa Program? – India Real Time



President Donald Trump has criticized the H-1B skilled-worker visa program as a source of “cheap labor,” and the White House is considering a draft executive order calling for it to be re-examined to protect U.S. workers’ jobs.

That’s bad news for technology firms like Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc., which depend on H-1B visas to recruit top foreign talent. It also threatens Indian outsourcing firms that send thousands of workers to the U.S. every year.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said last week it plans to temporarily suspend fast-track processing for the visas, which will slow down the hiring of foreign workers.

The WSJ’s South Asia Deputy Bureau Chief Eric Bellman and reporter Newley Purnell were live on Facebook discussing the potential new restrictions and taking questions.

For breaking news, features and analysis from India, follow WSJ India on Facebook.

 



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