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New July 2013

Obama delays Keystone decision — again

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Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before: The Obama administration is delaying a decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. But this is different from all those past delays. This is a brand new delay — and it might push the final determination past the midterm elections. As Politico notes, “A delay past November would spare Obama a politically difficult choice on whether to approve the pipeline, angering his green base and environmentally minded campaign donors — or reject it, endangering pro-pipeline Democrats such as [Sen. Mary] Landrieu, who represents oil-rich Louisiana.” The Washington Post explains the reasoning behind this latest delay: The Obama administration has — again — postponed a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline by giving eight different agencies more time to submit their views on whether the pipeline from Canada’s oil sands to the Texas gulf coast is in the national interest. The 90-day period for interagency comments was supposed to end May 7, but the State Department extended that deadline, citing “uncertainty” created by a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling that could lead to changes in the pipeline route. The State Department, which must make the final decision on the permit because it crosses an international boundary, said it would use the additional time to consider the “unprecedented number” — 2.5 million — of public comments that were submitted by March 7. Queue the predictable outcry from pipeline supporters. That includes not just Republicans (though outcrying is their specialty) but also the 11 Democratic senators from red and swing states who recently wrote Obama a letter calling on him to quickly approve the project. “This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable,” said Landrieu, who organized the letter writers. She vowed to use her new position as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to force approval. (Good luck with that.) Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski from the oil-loving state of Alaska called the delay “a stunning act of political cowardice” and said that “the timing of this announcement — waiting until a Friday afternoon during the holy Passover holiday in the hope that most Americans would be too busy with their families to notice — only adds further insult.” Keystone opponents are of two minds. Billionaire climate hawk and campaign funder Tom Steyer called it “good news on Good Friday.” The League of Conservation Voters went further and called it “great news.” The Natural Resources Defense Council seems to agree: The State Department is taking the most prudent course of action possible. … Getting this decision right includes being able to evaluate the yet-to-be determined route through Nebraska and continuing to listen to the many voices that have raised concerns about Keystone XL. The newly extended comment period will show what we already know: the more Americans learn about this project, the more they see that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in the national interest. But 350.org slammed the administration for its procrastination. “It’s disappointing President Obama doesn’t have the courage to reject Keystone XL right now,” the group said in a release. “It’s as if our leaders simply don’t understand that climate change is happening in real time — that it would require strong, fast action to do anything about it.” Still, the group claimed a partial victory: “this is clearly another win for pipeline opponents.” Anti-Keystoners will, of course, keep fighting the proposal. On Earth Day, April 22, they’ll kick off a Reject and Protect protest on the National Mall. “The encampment will feature 15 tipis and a covered wagon, and begins on Tuesday with a 40-person ceremonial horseback ride from the Capitol down the National Mall,” says 350. “Ranchers from Nebraska, tribal leaders from Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, actor Daryl Hannah, the Indigo Girls, environmental and social justice leaders, and others will take part at the encampment over the week.” And Steyer has promised to help fund political candidates who oppose the pipeline. Politico reports that he “pledged Thursday to leverage his largely self-funded super PAC to support members of Congress who come under attack for their opposition to the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline.”Filed under: Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Politics

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Pro-Beijing camp woo pan-democrats with ‘exclusive’ talks for Shanghai visit

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Pressure is growing on pan-democrat lawmakers to join a trip to Shanghai after pro-government figures said they would find a way for them to have an exclusive meeting with Beijing officials. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert faces jail after graft conviction

<!– google_ad_section_start –> It is the first time a former Israeli premier has been convicted of bribery in what has been called one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history. Sentencing will take place later, but legal experts say such a conviction will almost certainly entail time in prison for Olmert. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Dus Architects claim breakthrough with 3-D printed house in Amsterdam

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Treacle-black plastic oozes from a nozzle at the base of a small tower in Amsterdam, depositing layer after layer of glistening worms in an orderly grid. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Warmer temperatures can lead to warmer tempers, UN report to say

Top scientists are saying that climate change will complicate and worsen existing global security problems

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Brazilian security forces prepare to ‘pacify’ new Rio slum district

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Locals uneasy as 1,400 police and marines descend on Mare complex as part of effort to neutralise gangs before World CupMore than 1,400 police officers and Brazilian marines rolled into a massive complex of slums near Rio de Janeiro’s international airport before dawn on Sundayin the latest security push ahead of this year’s World Cup.The Mare complex of 15 slums became the latest impoverished area to see security forces move in to take control and try to push out heavily armed drug gangs that have ruled Rio’s shantytowns for decades.

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Spanish Journalists Freed After Six-Month Syrian Captivity

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Spanish newspaper El Mundo’s Middle East correspondent Javier Espinosa (above, right) and photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova (above, left), kidnapped six months ago by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a radical Islamist group, have been freed.Read more…

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SNL: Reluctant ‘Obama’ struggles to repeat social media success of ‘Between Two Ferns’

The opening skit of this week’s episode of Saturday Night Night lampooned the Obama Administration’s last-minute efforts to get young people to sign up for Obamacare. The skit begins with “President Obama,” played by Jay Pharoah, praising the effort of his social media guru…

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Brazil police relocate slums in ‘pacification’ effort ahead of World Cup

Massive complex gets pushed near airport in pre-dawn effort

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Erdogan seeks Turkish voters’ support in fierce power struggle

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan looks set to win Sunday’s municipal elections that have become a crisis referendum on his 10-year rule as he tries to ward off graft allegations and stem a stream of damaging security leaks. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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New York Lawmakers Reach Deal on Universal Pre-K and Charter Schools [Updated]

On Saturday morning, officials announced that Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers have agreed on a deal to fund universal pre-kindergarten in New York. As had been predicted, Mayor Bill de Blasio will not get to follow through on his big campaign promise to tax the city’s wealthiest residents in … More »

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From Washington State Mudslide, Glimmers of Lost Lives

After a disaster that has left so many missing, ordinary objects have become connections to loved ones.

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Kerry to meet Russia’s Lavrov for Ukraine talks in Paris on Sunday

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Top diplomats discuss Ukraine and agree to meet in Paris Vladimir Putin calls Barack Obama late FridayHalfway home from Saudi Arabia, US secretary of state John Kerry has abruptly changed course. He will now stay in Europe for talks on Ukraine.The news followed reports from Russia that Kerry had spoken to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, by phone, a day after President Vladimir Putin called President Barack Obama. The Russian foreign ministry said Washington had initiated the call between Kerry and Lavrov, adding that they discussed Ukraine and plans for further contact.

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Lawrence Livermore scientists discover way to help E. coli bacteria produce advanced biofuels

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered how to help E. coli bacteria squirt out advanced biofuels, and the key is held by a pair of genes found in a soil-dwelling bacterium from a rainforest in Puerto Rico. The finding could…

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New July 2013