Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mid-Week Post

Quickly now...

Just a reminder that Earth Achievement Hour is this week-end. Take some time to thank your lucky stars that you don't live in North Korea where it's Earth Hour everyday.

Speaking of North Korea:

North Korea test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, South Korea and the U.S. said, a defiant challenge to a rare three-way summit of its rivals Seoul, Tokyo and Washington that focused on the North's security threat.

The launch of the Rodong missiles — for the first time since 2009 — violates UN Security Council resolutions and marks a big escalation from a series of shorter-range rocket launches the North has staged in recent weeks to protest ongoing annual military drills by the U.S. and South Korea that Pyongyang claims are invasion preparation.

The missiles flew about 650 kilometres off North Korea's east coast early Wednesday morning, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. It wasn't immediately clear where the missiles splashed down. Kim said the missiles were likely fired from a mobile launcher.

The North's arsenal of an estimated 300 Rodong missiles could in theory be fitted with nuclear warheads — once Pyongyang masters the ability to miniaturize atomic bombs — and, with a range of up to 1,300 kilometres, could reach Tokyo and key U.S. military bases in Japan.

Given how harshly deftly Obama has dealt with Russia on Syria and Crimea, Japan and South Korea should start nuclearising now.

Why standing up to Russia is important:

Canada may be upset at Russia over Ukraine, but conversations with the bear continue over the Arctic.

Government officials confirm that a Russian delegation is attending a meeting in Yellowknife this week held by the Arctic Council, an eight-member group of countries that ring the North. All members are attending, even though the council includes some of Russia's harshest critics, such as Canada and the United States.

How much of the Arctic are we willing to surrender? Moving troops into Ukraine and Moldova wasn't a stretch for Russia. Russia need not militarise but make a partial military presence there. It's important for Canada to halt any gradual encroachment, letting Russia have only what has been properly allotted to it.

During the War of 1812, Canada was not successfully invaded or occupied but the White House was burned to the ground:

Against all odds, the War of 1812 managed to work its way into the American debate on the Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday.

It began as a good-natured joke at a news conference on Capitol Hill, became a running gag throughout the event and, by the end, it managed to morph into a serious point about U.S. energy security.

Pipeline proponents held the event to bolster their case by pointing to the dispute with Russia.

Their reasoning is that energy dependence leads to weakness — which is why Europe can't impose serious sanctions against Russia, one of its major gas suppliers. In a similar vein, they say, the U.S. lives in fear of instability or hostility in oil-producing countries.

The expanding North American oil-and-gas sector now provides, they say, a historic opportunity to secure supplies from a trusted ally.

That's when the two-century-old conflict came up.

Canadian ambassador Gary Doer noted that it's been a while since the neighbours fought each other.

"Ever since the War of 1812 we've been allies," Doer said, drawing laughs by adding: "I won't get into that war."

Republican Sen. John Hoeven cut him off to say: "We won that war."

But Doer wasn't prepared to let that go unchallenged: "No, no," the ambassador replied. "You did not win that war, senator. I'll show you references."

A few minutes later, Alex Pourbaix, vice-president of pipeline-builder TransCanada Corp., joked that his company has been waiting since 1812 to get its line approved.

In a word, yes, because Omar Khadr is a terrorist:
One of Canada's most notorious inmates returned to the news this week when it was confirmed that war criminal Omar Khadr recently underwent shoulder surgery at an Edmonton hospital for an injury suffered during an Afghanistan firefight.

And now, this move is brilliant:

A Belgian math teacher seems to have found a solution for unruly kids: threaten them with 'Game of Thrones' spoilers.

When the teacher learned that his students were major fans of the HBO television series, he threatened to reveal the deaths from the unreleased seasons of the show, reports the Guardian.

He has read all of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice novels, giving him knowledge of the deaths that will be revealed in the upcoming television shows.

“I've read all the books,” he told the class, as reported by a student who blogged about the incident on the French site DansTonChat. “If there is too much noise, I will write the name of the dead on the board. They are enough to fill the whole year and I can even describe how they die.”

Students who questioned the teacher's commitment to his word were stunned when, after they acted up, he diligently wrote out all the names of the characters who perished in the third season.

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