Mayors of 7,400 cities vow to meet Obama’s climate commitments – Daniel Boffey Last modified on Wednesday 28 June 2017 06.42 EDT


‘Global covenant of mayors’ to work together on climate change whether current White House resident agrees or not

Mayors of more than 7,400 cities across the world have vowed that Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord will spur greater local efforts to combat climate change.

At the first meeting of a “global covenant of mayors”, city leaders from across the US, Europe and elsewhere pledged to work together to keep to the commitments made by Barack Obama two years ago.

Cities will devise a standard measurement of emission reductions to help them monitor their progress. They will also share ideas for delivering carbon-free transport and housing.

Kassim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, told reporters he had travelled to Europe to “send a signal” that US states and cities would execute the policies Obama committed to, whether the current White House occupants agreed or not.

“Right now you have a level of collaboration and focus and sharing of best practices that I haven’t seen. I came from Brussels from a meeting of the US conference of mayors … and more than 300 mayors signed a letter reflecting our will to deliver the Paris accord commitments.”

He added: “My firm belief is that President Trump’s disappointing decision to withdraw from the agreement will actually have the opposite effect in terms of execution.

The European commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, who along with the UN’s special envoy for cities and climate change, Michael Bloomberg, co-chairs the board of the new organisation, conceded that it as yet it lacked any members from China, although he said he was confident that this would change.

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Venezuelan Police Helicopter Fires On Supreme Court, Interior Ministry – Doreen McCallister June 28, 2017 4:57 AM ET


During a protest in Caracas this week, an opposition activist stands near graffiti against a constituent assembly proposed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the constitution. A political and economic crisis has spawned often violent demonstrations by protesters demanding Maduro’s resignation. | Federico Parra /AFP/Getty Images

When explosions were heard Tuesday night in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, it was unclear exactly what was happening and who was responsible for the attack. Details are still being sorted out.

Reports quote unidentified officials saying a rogue faction of Venezuela’s police department dropped grenades from a helicopter on the country’s Supreme Court. Other reports say men in a stolen police helicopter fired on Venezuela’s Supreme Court and Interior Ministry.

The New York Times reports:

“A video shot from a window and posted on Twitter shows a helicopter swooping in a circle around a building as explosions are heard.

“Another video posted on social media on Tuesday showed a uniformed man identified as Oscar Pérez, flanked by masked, heavily armed men in uniforms, taking responsibility for the operation. The speaker said he represented a coalition of military, police and civilian personnel who opposed what he called “this transitional, criminal government.”

President Nicolás Maduro, who happened to be speaking live on state television at the time of the incident, said a “terrorist attack” aimed at ousting him from power had been thwarted.

Opponents of Maduro accuse him of orchestrating the attack to justify a crackdown on Venezuelans who are trying to block his plans to rewrite the constitution.

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‘Vaccine’ created for huge cyber-attack – Dave Lee June 28, 2017


Graphic of hand coming through a laptopThinkstock

Security researchers have discovered a “vaccine” for the huge cyber-attack that hit organisations across the world on Tuesday.

The creation of a single file can stop the attack from infecting a machine.

However, researchers have not been able to find a so-called kill switch that would prevent the crippling ransomware from spreading to other vulnerable computers.

Experts are still unsure about the attack’s origins or its real purpose.

Given that the ransom amount – $300 – was relatively small, some are speculating that the attack may be a front for causing wider disruption or making a political statement.

Among the victims of the attack were the Ukrainian central bank, Russian oil giant Rosneft, British advertising firm WPP and US law firm DLA Piper.

Also caught up in the attack was at least one hospital in the US city of Pittsburgh.

A perfc solution

But for those concerned about the attack there appears to be fix, albeit one with limited effectiveness.

By creating a read-only file – named perfc – and placing it within a computer’s “C:\Windows” folder, the attack will be stopped in its tracks.

An explanation of how to do this has been posted by security news website Bleeping Computer and has been backed up by several other security experts.

However, while this method is effective, it only protects the individual computer the perfc file is placed on. Researchers have so far been unable to locate a kill switch that would disable the ransomware attack entirely.

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Why is the GOP so terrible at health care? So many reasons — but largely because they don’t understand political reality – MATTHEW SHEFFIELD


John Boehner saw all this coming — and despite this week’s debacle, Republicans will likely push on toward disaster

On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally decided to call off a health care vote that he and other senior Republicans had been pushing toward for weeks.

Straddling a mere two-seat majority in the chamber, McConnell had to beat a hasty retreat after a number of his members indicated that they would not support the Senate’s version of the Obamacare repeal bill, officially called the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The cancellation paralleled an earlier move in March by the House GOP leader Paul Ryan to scuttle a vote doomed to fail.

One person who saw all this coming was former House Speaker John Boehner. Out of Congress since the end of 2015 following a conservative attack on his leadership, Boehner told a high-dollar health care industry conference in February of this year that there was no way that Republicans were going to be able to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.

“In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once,” Boehner told attendees, according to a report by Politico’s Darius Tahir.

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GOP governors could help bring down Senate health bill – Nathaniel Weixel 06/28/17 06:00 AM EDT


© Getty Images

GOP governors opposed to the Senate healthcare bill’s changes to Medicaid are exerting influence on their home-state senators, making it more difficult for Republican leaders to net the 50 votes they need to pass the legislation.

The GOP governors could give cover to senators who oppose the bill, but they could also make it more difficult for a Republican senator to stake out a dissenting position.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) announced his opposition to the Senate bill at a press conference where he stood side by side with Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), highlighting the issue.

Sandoval has been protective of his state’s Medicaid expansion, and Heller — seen as the most vulnerable senator up for reelection next year — raised doubts about whether he could support any phase-out of federal funds for Medicaid expansion.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes,” Heller said. “You have to protect Medicaid expansion states. That’s what I want.”

The mounting criticism from GOP governors may be enough to convince some Republicans to kill the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal legislation. So far, nine GOP senators oppose the bill, which leaves Republicans with a steep climb to get the measure through the Senate.

With a slim 52-48 majority in the upper chamber, GOP leaders can only afford to lose two votes, assuming Vice President Pence breaks a tie.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) have also been weighing in, urging their senators to change or oppose provisions of the legislation that could cost their states millions of dollars.

Kasich has been the most vocal Republican governor opposed to the Senate’s bill. He’s ripped the Medicaid cuts and urged Democrats and Republicans to work on a better, bipartisan solution.

Kasich ratcheted up his criticisms on Tuesday during a joint press conference with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D). He didn’t want to talk about how Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) might vote, but said Portman understands his objections to the Senate plan.

“I’ve talked to Rob a million times; he knows exactly what my concerns are,” Kasich said, adding that he’s warned Portman against being swayed by minor concessions from leaders.

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