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Japan’s new pro-business government set to dismantle ‘zero nuclear power by 2040’ goal

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Japan’s new leaders set to work Thursday on dismantling plans to rid the country of nuclear power by 2040, pledging to review a post-Fukushima policy.

The pro-business Liberal Democratic Party-led government also said they would give the green light to any reactors deemed safe by regulators, indicating shuttered power stations could start coming back online.

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“We need to reconsider the previous administration’s policy that aimed to make zero nuclear power operation possible during the 2030s,” Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference.

Shinzo Abe, who was elected as prime minister and unveiled his cabinet line-up on Wednesday, appointed Motegi as his economy, trade and industry minister, also in charge of supervising the nuclear industry.

Abe’s LDP won a landslide victory in the December 16 election, returning to power after a three-year break.

Despite anti-nuclear sentiment running high in Japan following the Fukushima disaster, parties opposing atomic energy made little impact at the ballot box.

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Motegi said he was ready to give the go-ahead to resuming generation at nuclear power plants “if they are confirmed safe”.

All but two of Japan’s reactors remain offline after being shuttered for regular safety checks following the crisis at Fukushima when a tsunami knocked out cooling systems.

Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless by meltdowns, which spewed radiation over a wide area of farmland.

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Power plant operators must get permission from the newly-formed Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) before their reactors can be restarted.

In June then-prime minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the restarting of reactors at Oi amid fears of a summer power shortage, but he vowed ahead of the election to phase out nuclear power by 2040.

Motegi said abandoning Japan’s only reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel at Rokkasho in the far north “is not an option”.

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Some experts have warned the plant could sit on an active seismic fault and would be vulnerable to a massive earthquake.

If regulators agree they will have to order its closure and Japan would be without any recycling capacity of its own.

Resource-poor Japan, which relied on atomic power for around a third of its electricity has poured billions of dollars into its nuclear fuel recycling programme, in which uranium and plutonium are extracted from spent fuel for re-use in nuclear power plants.

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2020 Election

Maddow warns Russia is interfering in the 2020 election in ‘exactly the same way’ as they did in 2016

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MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday warned that Russia and the Republicans are running the "exact same play" against Democrats in 2020 -- and this time will be aided by the United States Justice Department.

"And they are playing it again already for the next election. And some of it is happening just like it did in 2016. And some of it is worse and I think it’s going to be more powerful than it was in 2016. In part because this is a second draft for these guys, right? They ran this play in 2016. They worked out some of the kinks," she explained. "Now they’ll do it again with the benefit of knowing what worked for them and what didn’t work the first time around. It’s a second draft. It’s going to be better and more polished."

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Ex-Defense Secretary lays into Trump’s Syria pullout: He ‘plays into’ authoritarians’ hands to ‘weaken the United States’

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On Monday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta blasted President Donald Trump over his foreign policy — particularly his withdrawal from Syria.

"Secretary Panetta, just generally what do you make of how this whole withdrawal, non-withdrawal is being handled by the White House?" asked Cooper. "We're seeing the administration trying to walk back a broad policy announcement from the president."

"I think from the very beginning this has been a — probably the most disastrous foreign policy blunder in recent history," said Panetta. "And there is no way when you commit a blunder like this that involves the consequences we're now seeing, there's no way to paint this picture as if somehow everything's going well."

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Trump says he’ll ‘probably terminate’ the New York Times and Washington Post ‘from the White House’

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President Donald Trump's Monday night Fox News interview was a televised version of his Twitter rants. Typically The Washington Post is his favorite foe, due to ownership by actual billionaire Jeff Bezos, but in his interview with Sean Hannity, Trump also attacked The New York Times.

"The media is corrupt. Not all the media. I know some great people, including you, but I know some great journalists," Trump said. "Look, they give Pulitzer Prizes to people that got it wrong. In all these people from The New York Times which is the fake newspaper, we don't even want it in the White House anymore, and we're probably going to terminate that and The Washington Post from the White House they are fake."

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