Investor network says utilities should face climate change stress tests

LONDON Electric utilities should undergo stress tests to show how their business models are in line with limiting global warming, a global network of investors said on Friday.In a guide published on Friday, a network of more than 270 institutional investors with assets worth more than 20 trillion euros ($23 trillion) said they were concerned that utilities' strategies are not consistent with a global target to limit the planet's average temperature rise, compared with pre-industrial times, to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).With renewable energy generation expected to increase, and overall demand low due to efficiency improvements and modest economic growth, traditional centralized power generation is being pushed out of the merit order. The report said such plants would ultimately need to be shut down or retained to provide emergency backup in return for state payments.New entrants such as Google are emerging as competitors with power management solutions. So electric utilities need to design new business plans and focus on cleaner energy, networks, new services and keeping customers, it said. "As investors, we need to know how electric utilities will deal with the vast shift already underway within their industry, how they will address the considerable risks posed by these trends and how they plan to profit from emerging opportunities," the report said.Utilities need to set long-term strategies for managing climate-related risks and opportunities, it added. Even though fossil fuels would continue to have a role in power generation for years to come, utilities needed a clear long-term strategy for lowering their emissions and dealing with a future higher carbon price. "It is vital that utility companies undertake comprehensive under 2 degree stress testing of their business activities and disclose to investors how their business model will fare in the face of climate change," said Emma Herd, chief executive at the Investor Group on Climate Change Australia and New Zealand. (Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Rain expected to boost Australia crops, help farmers

SYDNEY Australia is expected to see higher rainfall than average from May to July, watering crops and boosting the fortunes of farmers in one of the world's top exporters of commodities ranging from grains to beef.As the strongest El Nino in the last 20 years eases, there is a 70-percent chance much of Australia will see above average rainfall over the next three months, the country's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Thursday. The El Nino weather pattern typically brings dry weather to many regions.Greater production could drag on global prices for grains such as wheat and corn, which are already under pressure from ample global supply.Wetter weather would be particularly welcomed by wheat growers, who have just planted their latest crops."Higher-than-average rains will boost the national (wheat) production prospects, which are heavily reliant on Western Australia as the largest producer and largest exporter," said Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank. Australia is expected to produce 24.5 million tonnes of wheat during the 2016/17 season, the highest level in three years.But analysts noted that much of the rainfall predicted by the BOM was expected to arrive in June, two months after the start of the season, meaning its impact could be blunted in parts of east Australia that have been suffering from dry conditions. Analysts said production in areas such as Victoria, the country's fourth largest wheat producing region, may fall short of official estimates.Wet weather will also water pasture and refill reservoirs, helping cattle farmers in the world's No.3 beef export rebuild herds.Australia is expected to see beef exports fall to a three-year low after drought in key producing regions meant farmers were forced to slaughter animals at record levels - pushing the size of the national herd to a 20-year low. But as supplies have been exhausted, farmers have embarked on rebuilding efforts, ending a three-year boom for cattle exporters, which have been forced to idle processing plants as supplies dwindle. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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Art detective says female and male model used for Mona Lisa face

FLORENCE, Italy Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile draws millions of viewers from across the world, all eager to see the art world's most famous female face. But is it?An Italian art detective is arguing that research backs his long-standing claim that Leonardo Da Vinci used both a female and male model to create the acclaimed portrait that hangs in Paris' Louvre museum.While the identity of the woman is not certain, historians believe Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, sat for Da Vinci for the painting. But Silvano Vinceti, who heads Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, says he used infrared technology to examine the painting and made key findings in its first layer."In that layer we can see that she was not smiling and joyful but looked melancholic and sad," he said, adding the second model was Gian Giacomo Caprotti - Da Vinci's male apprentice, known as Salai. Using Photoshop, Vinceti compared the "Mona Lisa" face to other Da Vinci works Salai is believed to have posed for, including "St John the Baptist". "We have used all the paintings in which Leonardo used Salai as a model and compared them to the 'Mona Lisa' and certain details correspond perfectly; so he used two models and added creative details which came from his own imagination," he said. "I believe that this goes with a long-time fascination of Leonardo's, that is, the subject of androgyny. In other words, for Leonardo, the perfect person was a combination of a man and a woman."Vinceti also bases his theory on claims by 16th Italian art historian and painter Giorgio Vasari that Gherardini's husband hired clowns to try to make her smile for the sitting. Salai's name has in the past been linked to the "Mona Lisa", but other historians have dismissed the claims. (Reporting By Antonio Denti in Florence; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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Art detective says female and male model used for Mona Lisa face

FLORENCE, Italy Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile draws millions of viewers from across the world, all eager to see the art world's most famous female face. But is it?An Italian art detective is arguing that research backs his long-standing claim that Leonardo Da Vinci used both a female and male model to create the acclaimed portrait that hangs in Paris' Louvre museum.While the identity of the woman is not certain, historians believe Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, sat for Da Vinci for the painting. But Silvano Vinceti, who heads Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, says he used infrared technology to examine the painting and made key findings in its first layer."In that layer we can see that she was not smiling and joyful but looked melancholic and sad," he said, adding the second model was Gian Giacomo Caprotti - Da Vinci's male apprentice, known as Salai. Using Photoshop, Vinceti compared the "Mona Lisa" face to other Da Vinci works Salai is believed to have posed for, including "St John the Baptist". "We have used all the paintings in which Leonardo used Salai as a model and compared them to the 'Mona Lisa' and certain details correspond perfectly; so he used two models and added creative details which came from his own imagination," he said. "I believe that this goes with a long-time fascination of Leonardo's, that is, the subject of androgyny. In other words, for Leonardo, the perfect person was a combination of a man and a woman."Vinceti also bases his theory on claims by 16th Italian art historian and painter Giorgio Vasari that Gherardini's husband hired clowns to try to make her smile for the sitting. Salai's name has in the past been linked to the "Mona Lisa", but other historians have dismissed the claims. (Reporting By Antonio Denti in Florence; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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U.S. appeals court restores Brady's 'Deflategate' suspension

NEW YORK A U.S. appeals court on Monday restored the four-game "Deflategate" suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, handing the National Football League a victory in the latest round in a battle with one of its marquee players.The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a federal judge's ruling that had overturned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to penalize Brady, twice the league's most valuable player, over his alleged involvement in a scheme to deflate footballs used in a 2015 playoff game.The Patriots won that game over the Indianapolis Colts, sending them to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the defending champion Seattle Seahawks to give Brady his fourth championship title.Writing for the majority, U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker said that under the players' collective bargaining agreement, Goodell had "especially broad" authority as an arbitrator to decide whether to confirm Brady's suspension."Our review of the record yields the firm conclusion that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion to resolve an intramural controversy between the League and a player," Parker wrote.Neither the Patriots, nor representatives for Brady were immediately available to comment on the ruling. The National Football League Players Association, the union which pursued the court challenge, said in a statement it was disappointed and would "consider all of our options." Those options could include seeking rehearing from the 2nd Circuit or asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.A statement from the NFL welcomed the decision for recognizing that Goodell "properly exercised" his authority as laid out by the collective bargaining agreement "to act in cases involving the integrity of the game."The ruling came in a 2-1 vote by the three-judge panel, and followed arguments last month where a lawyer for the players' union faced tough questioning that signaled the likely reversal of U.S. District Judge Richard Berman's ruling. U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann dissented, calling it "ironic that a process designed to ensure fairness to all players has been used unfairly against one player."Brady, 38, was suspended in May 2015, four months after under-inflated footballs were used in the Patriots' 45-7 victory over Indianapolis in January 2015's AFC championship game.The NFL suspended Brady after Ted Wells, a lawyer hired by the NFL to investigate the incident, said Brady was "generally aware" that two Patriots employees had conspired to deflate the balls, which could make them easier to grip. Goodell upheld the suspension on July 28, prompting the legal challenge on Brady's behalf. Brady has denied knowing about any plan to deflate footballs. Berman overturned Goodell's decision Sept. 3, allowing Brady to play the full 2015 NFL season. He said Brady "had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs."Berman's decision allowed Brady to play the full 2015 NFL season. The Patriots made the playoffs but did not reach the Super Bowl. (Reporting by Nate Raymond and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alan Crosby)

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