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Top Hollande aide quits in conflict of interest row

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France (Reuters) - A senior adviser to French President Francois Hollande quit on Friday over accusations of past conflict of interest linked to his work for pharmaceutical firms, adding to pressure on the unpopular Socialist leader weeks before European elections. Aquilino Morelle, Hollande's chief communications adviser, speechwriter and a main political strategist, has denied investigative website Mediapart's report that he had failed to obtain clearance for lobbying work when he was an employee of the public health inspectorate. The furor deals another blow to Hollande after heavy losses for his party in town hall elections at the end of March. "Mr. Aquilino Morelle has offered his resignation to the president of the republic," an official from Hollande's office said.  More »

Compensation battle rages four years after BP's U.S. oil spill

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil is still washing up on the long sandy beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and some islanders are fed up with hearing from BP that the crisis is over. Jules Melancon, the last remaining oyster fisherman on an island dotted with colorful houses on stilts, says he has not found a single oyster alive in his leases in the area since the leak and relies on an onshore oyster nursery to make a living. The British oil major has paid out billions of dollars in compensation under a settlement experts say is unprecedented in its breadth. Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlement.  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 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 »

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 »

Top Hollande aide quits in conflict of interest row

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France (Reuters) - A senior adviser to French President Francois Hollande quit on Friday over accusations of past conflict of interest linked to his work for pharmaceutical firms, adding to pressure on the unpopular Socialist lea...  More »

Top Hollande aide resigns over conflict of interest accusation

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France (Reuters) - A top adviser to President Francois Hollande stepped down on Friday following media accusations of a past conflict of interest between a previous role working for the state and work for the drugs industry, a so...  More »

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