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In the papers today - 28th May 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people were hit by electricity blackouts yesterday when seven power stations shut down. The unscheduled stoppages were regarded as an unprecedented sign of the fragility of Britain's power infrastructure. Operations were cancelled, people were stuck in lifts, traffic lights failed and fire engines were sent out on false alarms - The Times

Denmark will today launch an effort to calm the scramble for the Arctic, bringing together the five coastal nations competing for what are believed to be the largest unclaimed reserves of oil and gas left on the planet. The gathering in Greenland begins in the shadow of a new "oil shock" as soaring prices force governments to reassess their energy policies and heat up already feverish interest in who owns the seabed beneath the Arctic Ocean - The Independent

The axis of greater Paris will swing several kilometres to the west over the next five years with the creation of a "Manhattan-sur-Seine" of mega tower blocks on the city's boundary. A design by the French architect Jean Nouvel, the recent winner of the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel of architecture, has been selected for construction alongside the existing skyscrapers at La Defense - The Independent

Underlying profits at British Energy, the UK's main nuclear operator, slumped by more than a quarter last year after problems with its ageing power stations continued to weigh on its performance. A string of shutdowns and maintenance problems at the power stations, which cut 24% of its capacity in the year, wiped 28% off the nuclear generator's earnings, it revealed today – The Times

Gordon Brown's ministers on Tuesday paved the way for a new tax retreat, signalling the government may unpick another aspect of the Budget by reversing proposed new duties on motorists and hauliers already hit by rising fuel prices. As hundreds of lorry drivers blockaded the streets of London, ministers signalled that Alistair Darling, the chancellor, would take pity on road users when he draws up his pre-Budget report in the autumn - The Financial Times

Gordon Brown has been urged to stand firm against calls to abandon green tax rises on fuel as environmentalists warned that scrapping the proposals would risk undermining Britain's drive towards a low carbon future and send the wrong message about the Government's commitment to tackling greenhouse gas emissions - The Independent

A mainline station linking Heathrow to the national rail network and Channel tunnel could transform Europe's most congested airport into a world class transport hub, according to a proposal put forward by Arup, the civil engineering consultant. Under the plans the new rail station built on the Great Western main line would make the airport more accessible to the west, the south-west, Wales and the Midlands. Cities such as Birmingham, Oxford and Cardiff would have direct services to the airport - The Financial Times

Chinese officials on Tuesday revealed plans to evacuate more than 1M people from the city of Mianyang, as water levels continued to rise in a large upstream lake created by this month's earthquake in Sichuan province. In meetings with residents, city officials outlined their intention to relocate as many as 1.3M people in Mianyang to higher ground if the Tangjiashan "quake lake" bursts its banks completely, state media reported - The Financial Times

New aftershocks in south-west China toppled 420,000 houses and injured 63 people, six of them critically, yesterday afternoon, Xinhua news agency said. A magnitude 5.4 aftershock rocked Sichuan province's Qingchuan county and another tremor hit neighbouring Shaanxi province but no deaths were reported - The Guardian

Ministers are preparing to raid an "untouchable" £2.2bn emergency fund set aside for last-minute costs of the 2012 Olympic Games. A large slice of the official contingency fund that Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister, has said would remain "locked away" for the next few years, may have to be used to ensure that the Olympic village is built as planned - The Daily Telegraph

The power company E.ON yesterday launched a nationwide "watt-loss" competition that challenges people to reduce their home energy consumption. Six volunteers will take "The 99 Day Watt Watcher Challenge" to reduce their energy consumption and lower carbon emissions to win prizes worth £1,500 - The Daily Telegraph

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