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Czech president to keynote Heartland conference despite objections to billboard campaign

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Václav Klaus, the Czech president and prominent climate sceptic, has condemned a controversial billboard campaign used by a rightwing US thinktank to advertise the forthcoming conference at which he is scheduled to give the keynote speech. However, his spokesman said Klaus will not join other speakers who have pulled out in protest and says he still intends to proceed with the engagement.

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Last week, the Heartland Institute, a thinktank based in Chicago that promotes climate scepticism, withdrew an advertising campaign that compared people concerned about climate change with mass murderers and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski. Despite later removing a billboard which appeared over an Illinois expressway featuring a picture of Kaczynski with the caption: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”, the group refused to apologise for the campaign, instead describing it as an “experiment”.

Klaus, who is scheduled to give the keynote speech at the Chicago Hilton on 21 May, has previously appeared at the thinktank’s annual conference for climate sceptics, as well as given keynotes for similar climate sceptic groups such as Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK and the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia.

Klaus’s spokesman told the Guardian: “President Klaus is principally against non-serious, aggressive and provocative billboard campaigns of the kind the Heartland Institute used recently.” Asked if Klaus would now be pulling out, his spokesman said: “Mr president will attend this conference.”

Ross McKitrick, a Canadian economist, and Donna Laframboise, a Canadian climate sceptic blogger, have both confirmed that they will no longer speak at the conference in protest at the billboard and Heartland’s continued refusal to apologise.

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The controversy has led to a wave of corporate donors publicly stating that they will no longer financially support the thinktank. On Wednesday, the United Services Automobile Association, an insurance and financial services company for US military families, confirmed on its Facebook page it was the latest donor to abandon Heartland. It joined other insurance companies, such as State Farm, and the drinks giant Diageo in cutting ties with the group. The Sierra Club, one of the US’s leading conservation groups, said on Wednesday 20,000 people had backed its call for corporations to pull the plug on Heartland.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

[A billboard in Chicago, Ill., published by climate denial group The Heartland Institute.]

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Erdogan threatens to restart Syria operation after Trump insists Turkey ‘very much wants the ceasefire’

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Scattered fighting flared in northern Syria on Friday despite a ceasefire deal as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned he would resume a full-scale operation against Kurdish forces if they do not withdraw from a border "safe zone."

US President Donald Trump said Erdogan told him there had been "minor sniper and mortar fire" in the region "that was quickly eliminated" and the Turkish leader assured him in a call that "he very much wants the ceasefire, or pause, to work."

Mustefa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), accused Turkey, however, of violating the ceasefire deal reached during a visit to Ankara on Thursday by US Vice President Mike Pence.

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Bizarre Trump fan has dreamed of sitting on president’s gold toilet since she was a child

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An event held at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. earlier this year featured a group of fanatical Trump supporters, including one who said she has dreamed for years of sitting on the president's gold toilet.

As the Washington Post reports, a June 22nd gala at Trump's D.C. hotel thrown by the organization Virginia Women for Trump to celebrate the president's birthday included a talk delivered by a woman named Lucretia Hughes, who said she has been fascinated by Trump ever since seeing a "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" that showed off a solid-gold toilet in his home.

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Trump blurts out a startling statement: ‘We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East’

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President Donald Trump made a startling statement Friday afternoon while boasting about how he believes he handled his widely-condemned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Northern Syria – a move that had opened the gate to ethnic cleansing of America’s now-former allies, the Kurds.

“We’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East, the oil that we’re talking about, the oil that everybody was worried about. We have the U.S. control of that,” Trump said, minutes after concluding a talk with the first two women astronauts to participate in an all-women spacewalk.

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