Macron scraps French fuel tax hike amid violent protests
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron scrapped a fuel tax rise Wednesday amid fears of new violence, after weeks of nationwide protests and the worst rioting in Paris in decades.
Protesters celebrated the victory, but some said Macron’s surrender came too late and is no longer enough to quell the mounting anger at the president, whom they consider out of touch with the problems of ordinary people.
Macron decided Wednesday to “get rid” of the tax planned for next year, an official in the president’s office told The Associated Press. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told lawmakers the tax is no longer included in the 2019 budget.
The decision has ramifications beyond France, since the fuel tax rise was part of Macron’s efforts to wean France off fossil fuels in order to reduce greenhouse gases and help slow climate change. Its withdrawal is both a blow to broader efforts to fight climate change and a warning to other world leaders trying to do the same thing.
2 US warplanes crash off Japan; 1 rescued, 6 missing
TOKYO — A Marine refueling plane and a fighter jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s southwestern coast after a midair collision early Thursday, and rescuers found one of the seven crew members in stable condition while searching for the others, officials said.
The U.S. Marine Corps said that the 2 a.m. crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refueling aircraft during regular training after the planes took off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima in western Japan.
The crash took place 200 miles off the coast.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said the aircraft carrying seven crew members in total collided and crashed into the sea south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island in southwestern Japan.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew members in stable condition. The Marine Corps said the rescued crew was taken to a hospital at its base in Iwakuni and was being treated, but did not provide any other details.
Border Patrol agent charged with capital murder in Texas
DALLAS — A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been charged with capital murder after telling investigators he killed four sex workers whom he considered worthless and that he thought he was performing a service for his Texas border hometown, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said he will seek the death penalty if Juan David Ortiz is found guilty in the September slayings.
“The scheme in this case, from Ortiz’s own words, was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss and that he did not give value to,” Alaniz said at a news conference. Ortiz, 35, thought he was doing his civic service by killing the women, the prosecutor said.
A suspect can be charged with capital murder if he is suspected in more than one killing in the same scheme with an overarching motive, Alaniz said. Three of the women were shot to death and one died of blunt force trauma.
“The evidence that was presented to the grand jury this morning showed that he killed these four innocent individuals in a cold, callous and calculating way,” he said.
From wire sources
Climate reality check: Global carbon pollution up in 2018
WASHINGTON — After several years of little growth, global emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide experienced their largest jump in seven years, discouraging scientists.
World carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to have risen 2.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to three studies released Wednesday from the Global Carbon Project , an international scientific collaboration of academics, governments and industry that tracks greenhouse gas emissions. The calculations, announced during negotiations to put the 2015 Paris climate accord into effect, puts some of the landmark agreement’s goals nearly out of reach, scientists said.
“This is terrible news,” said Andrew Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive, which models greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures but was not part of the research. “Every year that we delay serious climate action, the Paris goals become more difficult to meet.”
The studies concluded that this year the world would spew 40.9 billion tons (37.1 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide, up from 39.8 billion tons (36.2 billion metric tons) last year. The margin of error is about one percentage point on either side.
The Global Carbon Project uses government and industry reports to come up with final emission figures for 2017 and projections for 2018 based on the four biggest polluters: China, the United States, India and the European Union.