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Trump slams US judge's decision to block Keystone XL pipeline

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A U.S. judge in Montana has halted construction of the Keystone XL pipeline designed to carry heavy crude oil from Canada to the United States, drawing a sharp rebuke on Friday from President Donald Trump.

The ruling out of a U.S. Court in Montana late on Thursday dealt a major setback to TransCanada Corp, whose stock dropped 2 per cent in Toronto. Shares of companies that would ship oil on the pipeline also fell. TransCanada said in a statement it remains committed to building the $8 billion, 1,180 mile (1,900 km) pipeline.

The ruling drew an angry response from Trump, who approved the pipeline shortly after taking office. It also piles pressure on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to assist the country’s ailing oil sector.

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It was a win for environmental groups who sued the U.S. government in 2017, soon after Trump announced a presidential permit for the project. The ruling also rewarded tribal groups and ranchers who have spent more than a decade fighting the planned pipeline.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris wrote that a U.S. State Department environmental analysis of Keystone XL “fell short of a ‘hard look’” at the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and the impact on Native American land resources.

“It was a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities,” said the Sierra Club, one of the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.

Representatives of Trudeau and Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi did not immediately comment. The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.

The pipeline would carry heavy crude from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect to refineries in the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast, as well as Gulf export terminals.

Shares of Canadian oil producers Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Cenovus Energy shed 3 per cent. Canada has long sought more arteries to move oil out of Alberta, where the tarlike bitumen is extracted.

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Several pipeline projects have been scrapped due to opposition, and the Trans Mountain line project still faces delays even after the Canadian government purchased it this year to move it forward.

“You have to wonder how long investors will tolerate the delays and whether the Canadian government will intervene again to protect the industry,” said Morningstar analyst Sandy Fielden.

Ensuring at least one pipeline is built is critical to Trudeau’s economic and environmental plans, with a Canadian election expected next autumn.

Canada is the primary source of imported U.S. oil, but congested pipelines have forced oil shippers to use costlier rail and trucks.

Alberta has felt the financial pressure, and an industry source said the provincial government last month solicited proposals from companies on ways to move crude faster by rail. The source said proposals included ideas such as buying rail cars and investing in loading terminals.

“I’ve never seen (the Alberta government) so active on this front,” said the source, who asked not to be identified because the matter is politically sensitive. “That is a shift.”

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The Alberta government did not immediately comment. In a statement to Reuters on Thursday, a spokesman for its energy ministry declined to specify options under consideration.

Morris, in his ruling, ordered the government to issue a more thorough environmental analysis before the project can move forward. He also said the analysis failed to fully review the effects of the current oil price on the pipeline’s viability and did not fully model potential oil spills and offer mitigations measures.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama rejected Keystone XL in 2015 on environmental concerns.

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Viral video shows China hotel staff cleaning cups, sinks and toilets with same sponge

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Fri, Nov 16, 2018 – 4:07 PM

[HONG KONG] Luxury Chinese hotels run by Hilton, Marriott and several other chains apologised for unhygienic practices after a video went viral on the Internet showing housekeeping staff using the same sponges to clean cups and sinks, and wiping down bathroom surfaces with guest towels.

The statements came after an 11-minute video was posted on Weibo, a popular social networking site, claiming to show hidden-camera footage of cleaning staff at hotels operated by Shangri-La Asia Ltd, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc and others.

The video has gotten 29 million views and elicited tens of thousands of comments and shares.

Bulgari Hotel Shanghai, which is run by Marriott International Inc, apologised in a statement posted on Thursday on Weibo, saying it will investigate and take appropriate action.

A similar apology came from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which said it would strengthen room-check rules, and work with government to respond.

The video, which was posted Nov 14, shows a housekeeper at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Shanghai using a single sponge to clean cups and the sink.

The housekeeper then takes the same sponge and cleans the toilet, according to text shown in the video.

The hotel chain apologised in a statement posted to Weibo.

At the Bulgari Hotel in Shanghai, a worker is shown reusing a plastic-cup cover fished out of a garbage bin.

A worker at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Shanghai uses a gel that the video describes as shampoo to clean cups.

A statement issued on Thursday by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said “all levels of cultural and tourism authorities should draw inferences and give high priority to the supervision of tourism service quality”.

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Major hotels in China inspected after room cleaning expose

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BEIJING — The Chinese tourism ministry has asked authorities in Beijing, Shanghai and three provinces to investigate room cleaning at 14 major hotels after hidden camera video showed workers using used towels to clean cups and glasses and other questionable practices.

Several of the hotels including a Shangri-La, Sheraton and Waldorf Astoria have apologized since an activist blogger posted the video online earlier this week. In several clips, workers in bathrooms wipe down sinks, coffee cups and glasses with the same used towel.

The Peninsula hotel in Beijing said Friday that city inspectors had tested its cups and found they were cleaner than standards required. The Park Hyatt in Beijing called what happened an isolated occurrence.

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UPDATED: Crew of Centennial Harmony safe, carrying on with voyage despite flooding, power issues

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The bulk carrier Centennial Harmony is experiencing flooding and intermittent power issues, but it is under control and there are currently no intentions to abandon ship.

There are 21 crew on board.‎

“All crew members are safe,” said Jocelyn Lubczuk, press secretary for the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a phone call shortly after 9:30 p.m. “They’re carrying on with their voyage.”

Major Amber Bineau, a public affairs officer with the Joint Task Force Atlantic told The Telegram by e-mail that the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax responded to the incident about 250 nautical miles East-South East of St. John's in the South Grand Banks region beginning at 2:30 p.m.

The ship required technical assistance due to the intermittent power issues.

Responding to the carrier are Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft CC-130 Hercules and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfred Grenfell.

Bineau said weather is an issue with poor visibility, high winds and rough seas but conditions are expected to improve.

“The sea state was originally reported as being between 18-20 meters that have since abated to about 10-12 meters. Winds were reported at 85 knots and are reported to have decreased to about 65 knots,” Bineau wrote.

A resupply ship – Maersk Cutter – is about 80 nautical miles away from Centennial Harmony and is on standby to assist if required.

Earlier story:

The Telegram has received reports a bulk carrier is in distress about 60 miles from the Terra Nova oilfield.

A source familiar with marine traffic told The Telegram the crew onboard the Baltic Shipping bulk carrier Centennial Harmony were heading to lifeboats after the ship took on water and lost power this afternoon.

Those details have not been confirmed by Coast Guard, however Coast Guard has confirmed the Sir Wilfred Grenfell is on the way to assist the ship and that the case is being co-ordinated out of Halifax.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m., a spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard said their office is “incredibly seized by the situation” and are compiling details before issuing a statement.

Calls to the Coast Guard in Halifax have not yet been returned.

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