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By Valerie Volcovici and Amanda Becker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rick Perry's farewell speech to the Texas legislature listed the accomplishments expected from an outgoing Republican governor of the country's largest oil-producing state. "We have expanded our economy while protecting our environment," said Perry, who is openly exploring a second White House run in 2016. It was a greener message than the one he delivered ahead of his last presidential campaign, when he called climate change a "contrived phony mess," and it reflects an expectation among some in the party that voters in 2016 will want Republican candidates to develop a more sophisticated climate change message. "'I'm not a scientist' won't be a winner in the presidential field," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said of the now common response Republican lawmakers and candidates offer when asked about climate change.
Chinese officials feasted on a critically endangered giant salamander and turned violent when journalists photographed the luxury banquet, according to media reports Tuesday on the event which appeared to flout Beijing's austerity campaign. The 28 diners included senior police officials from the southern city of Shenzhen, the Global Times said. The giant salamander is believed by some Chinese to have anti-ageing properties, but there is no orthodox evidence to back the claim. The species is classed as "critically endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, which says the population has "declined catastrophically over the last 30 years".