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As opposition grows, China defends plans for petrochemical plants

By Chen Aizhu BEIJING (Reuters) - China has launched an intense media campaign to defend the safety of producing a chemical used to make polyester fiber, as public opposition to new petrochemical plants threatens to disrupt expansion plans by state energy giants such as Sinopec Corp. Choking smog and environmental degradation in many parts of China is angering an increasingly educated and affluent urban class and after a series of health scares and accidents there is deepening public skepticism of the safety of industries ranging from food to energy. Illustrating this distrust, hundreds of residents in the southern Chinese city of Maoming demonstrated this month against plans to build a petrochemical plant to produce paraxylene, known as PX, a chemical used in making polyester fiber and plastics. The plant is backed by the local government and China's biggest refiner, state-controlled Sinopec Corp. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of PX and polyester, vital for the country's textile industry, which generated $290 billion of overseas sales, or 13 percent of China's total exports last year, according to customs data.  More »

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and offered new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.  More »

Toronto Mayor Ford opens re-election bid with 'cut the gravy' vow

By Cameron French TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford launched his re-election campaign on Friday, acknowledging the crack-cocaine scandal that has made him a topic of water cooler talk across North America, but also happy to trade on his notoriety. Ford, whose authority was reduced last year by a city council fed up with his antics, took over a massive convention center in Toronto's west end for the event, hawking bobble-head dolls to raise funds ahead of the election on October 27. First elected mayor in 2010 on a cost-cutting platform, Ford has become indisputably the most famous leader in the city's history, and continues to poll relatively strongly in spite of a scandal that prompted staffers to desert him and has cost him nearly all of his allies on city council.  More »

Beijing's bid to move polluting firms watched warily in nearby regions

By David Stanway BEIJING (Reuters) - China's capital has ordered more than 50 companies to shut down this year in an effort to cut pollution but pushing factories out could raise objections in surrounding areas reluctant to host Beijing's polluters. Smog-shrouded Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei have become a front in a "war against pollution" declared by Premier Li Keqiang last month. But experts say efforts to cut coal consumption and industrial output in big cities like Beijing is likely to put pressure on other regions to endure more pollution to keep the economy growing, with overall coal consumption expected to rise by a quarter from 2011 to 2015. "Moving Beijing's plants to Hebei isn't the best way," said Yang Fuqiang, a former government researcher and senior energy and environment adviser with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S.-based think-tank.  More »

'X-Men' director hit by sex abuse lawsuit weeks before premiere

By Dana Feldman and Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man who has sued filmmaker Bryan Singer, the director of the upcoming blockbuster action film "X-Men: Days of Future Past," for allegedly raping him as a teenager said on Thursday that his claims of sexual abuse went unheeded by authorities. Michael Egan, 31, who was an aspiring teen actor, said he and his mother told the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI in late 1999 and 2000 that Egan was being abused by an underage sex ring. "What happened was basically it fell on deaf ears," Egan said a news conference seated next to his attorney, Jeff Herman. "We didn't get anywhere and then I basically buried it in me as deep as I possibly could." Herman filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court in Hawaii, alleging that Singer, 48, used his influence as a Hollywood insider as well as a range of drugs and alcohol to force anal and oral sex on Egan while promising him film roles.  More »

Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report

NEW YORK (AP) — The government's latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish. The report counts cases in only 10 states for some of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but is believed to be a good indicator of national food poisoning trends. Highlights from Thursday's report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  More »

Reservoir to be flushed because of urinating teen

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The mix of 38 million gallons of treated water and one teen's urine has proven unacceptable to Portland officials who plan to flush away the whole lot — the second time in less than three years the city has gone to such lengths to keep its water pure.  More »

As opposition grows, China defends plans for petrochemical plants

By Chen Aizhu BEIJING (Reuters) - China has launched an intense media campaign to defend the safety of producing a chemical used to make polyester fiber, as public opposition to new petrochemical plants threatens to disrupt expansion plans by sta...  More »

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and offered n...  More »

Toronto Mayor Ford opens re-election bid with 'cut the gravy' vow

By Cameron French TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford launched his re-election campaign on Friday, acknowledging the crack-cocaine scandal that has made him a topic of water cooler talk across North America, but also happy to trade on his ...  More »

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