Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Post

Too much going on in the world...

Though a new Keystone pipeline bill passed in the House, Obama swears he will not allow it to go through:

A Keystone bill swept to easy approval in the House Friday, with 31 Democrats joining the Republican majority, and a parallel bill is scheduled for Senate action next week, with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana as a lead sponsor. (Until now Senate majority leader Harry Reid has kept the issue off the Senate floor, in a bid to protect Democrats from a divisive vote.)

Senator Landrieu hopes that passage of a measure to move ahead with the pipeline, with her as high-visibility sponsor, will help persuade Louisiana voters to keep her in office in a December runoff election.

It’s not clear if it will pass (the Senate vote will be close). But if it does and Obama vetoes it, he will look like he’s casting a member of his own party adrift at a pivotal moment, as well as blocking a project the public supports.

A veto would make it easier for Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Republican running against Landrieu, to argue that Democrats are thwarting job creation and energy supplies, and that Landrieu’s efforts can’t fix the problem.

A political argument for a presidential veto, however, is that Landrieu would remain an underdog in the runoff, even if Keystone is approved. A veto would allow Obama to keep his options on Keystone open. 

Traveling in Myanmar, Obama told reporters he “won’t budge” on his position that a Keystone review process including the State Department still hasn’t run its course.

Critics of the president’s policy say a State Department review is already in hand, with estimates of relatively small environmental risks. On carbon emissions, a key concern of environmentalists, the State Department concluded that the Canadian tar-sand oil is likely to be produced whether it ends up flowing through the Keystone pipeline or is transported by some other means.

It's time for impeachment.

At the G20 conference in Brisbane, Prime Minister Stephen Harper greeted Russian President Vladimir Putin with this:

“I guess I’ll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine,” Harper told Putin ...

... which is all very well and good except that no one has shot down a Russian jet or sunk a Russian warship yet.

The Australians are impressed, however:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has earned some love from the Australian media for his dustup with Russia's Vladimir Putin on the first day of the Group of 20 summit.

All-news networks and Australia's Sunday Mail reported on the prime minister's bold admonishment to Putin to "get out of Ukraine" at a private leaders' retreat ahead of the official opening of the summit earlier this weekend.

"Handshake came with a slapdown for Russian leader," read the headline of the Sunday Mail piece. It featured a photo of a beaver chomping on the Russian flag.

Australia's Business Insider also reported that Harper showed Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott "how to shirtfront the Russian president." Shirtfront is an Australian expression for smack down.

Abbott will get around to "shirtfronting" eventually.

Artist's rendition of former boxer Tony Abbott finishing off Vladimir "Gentleman Jim" Putin after two rounds.

You mean that deal didn't include your parents' freedom?

What’s the next step for you?

What can be done has been done, what with Harper raising this issue at the highest levels of government. I don’t know what else is left to do, except for us as a family to keep making sure people don’t forget about it. That’s our goal. But seeing progress like this happen has definitely been a big help.

Russia will return North Koreans:

A new governmental agreement drafted by Russia and North Korea will see Moscow hand over Koreans who have fled the totalitarian regime in their native country.

The deal comes at a time when Russia is strengthening ties with the isolationist leadership in Pyongyang, apparently to snub the United States, said Andrei Lankov, a leading Russian expert on Korea.

The agreement may yet prove to be a formality, experts said — but Russia has handed over escaped North Koreans before.

Russia has similar agreements with many countries and blocs, including Ukraine and the EU. But the North Korean deal stands out because the UN has explicitly advised against the forcible repatriation of North Koreans, who face jail and even execution for fleeing the motherland.

The agreement, available on the Russian government's website, outlines expulsion rules and procedures for illegal immigrants from North Korea, whose leadership has been accused by the UN of crimes against humanity.

The same rules would apply to Russians illegally entering the far eastern state, though experts polled for this story could not recall a single such instance.

An Ottawa professor was extradited to France and will stand trial for the 1980 synagogue bomb attack that killed four people:

Hassan Diab was charged with first-degree murder and other offences in France on Saturday after being extradited in connection with a decades-old terrorism case, and his lawyer says the former Ottawa sociology professor is ready to prove in court there is no real evidence against him.

Diab was removed from Canada on Friday, a day after the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal of the extradition order.

French authorities accuse Diab of involvement in the anti-Semitic 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four and injured dozens — accusations he has long denied.

The plot thickens:

The man who shot and killed a Canadian soldier in October and then stormed the country's Parliament with a rifle before being shot down himself, had taken a tour of the building less than three weeks earlier, a parliamentary spokeswoman said on Friday.

The information suggests that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Muslim convert who struggled with drug addiction, may have planned the Oct. 22 attack well in advance.

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