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Enough, Mr. President. No More!

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On Monday, Mexican president Felipe Calderon continued Mexico‘s tradition of blaming America for its self-induced problems, and continued his personal habit of blaming America’s gun laws for the fact that his policies have failed to dismantle Mexico’s drug cartels and, regrettably, that his failure has contributed to a severe increase in murders in Mexico.

At a White House news conference held in conjunction with his meeting with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, Calderon essentially repeated the claim he made during a speech to Congress in 2010, that Mexico’s murder rate increased when the U.S. “assault weapon” ban expired.

Through a translator, Calderon said that “The expiring of the assault weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest — the harshest — period of violence we’ve ever seen.”

“Almost exactly?”  As the ban’s leading supporter, then-president Bill Clinton, might have said, “it depends on how you define ‘almost.'”

The ban, which prohibited putting attachments such as adjustable-length stocks and flash suppressors on various semi-automatic firearms, expired in September 2004.  Mexico’s sharp increase in murders began after Calderon launched his war against the drug cartels, within days of taking office in December 2006.

Reliable Mexican crime statistics are hard to come by, but cartel-related killings appear to account for the majority of murders in Mexico, and since Calderon put on Mexico’s presidential sash, cartel-related killings have sharply increased.  A chart prepared by the Center of Research for Development (CIDAC) think tank shows that Mexico’s murder rate was gradually decreasing before Calderon took office, then began to rise after his war on the cartels began.  Cartel-related killings rose from 2,800 in 2007, to 6,800 in 2008, 9,600 in 2009, and 15,000 in 2010.

This is not to blame Calderon for trying to destroy the cartels.  We wish him well in that epic struggle.  But if Calderon overestimated his ability to triumph over the corruption that has been entrenched in Mexico for more than a century, he will find no solution in decrying the expiration of the 1994-2004 ban.  Nor will Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer be able to justify his opinion that NRA is a “cartel” that bears a “huge tacit responsibility in the bloodshed that is taking place in Mexico” because we oppose the ban’s reinstatement.  Since the ban expired, the U.S. murder rate has dropped to about an all-time low, while Mexico’s rate has risen to about an all-time high.  Numbers like those tell the story in any language, clearly enough for any politician or two-cent opinion vendor to understand.

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Obama said ready to push partial Keystone XL approval

Obama will be in Cushing, Okla., the start point of the pipeline’s southern half on Thursday

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The Keystone XL project will extend TransCanada Corp.‘s Keystone pipeline that carries oil from northern Alberta to refineries in the United States. (TransCanada Corp.)

U.S. President Barack Obama is reportedly set to announce in Oklahoma this week that he’s expediting the permit process for the southern half of TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Citing a senior administration source, CNN reported on Tuesday that Obama wants to slash several months off a permit approval process that can ordinarily stretch on for as long as a year.

The administration wants to speed things up to deal with a glut of oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, where crude from the Midwest runs into a logjam on its way to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama will make the announcement Thursday at a storage yard in Cushing, the starting point of the pipeline’s southern half.

Pipes that will be used to build Keystone XL to the Gulf Coast are being housed at the facility.

Gas prices rising

The announcement comes as prices at the pump continue to soar. Republicans are blaming Obama’s energy policies for rising gas prices and continue to attack him for rejecting Keystone XL in January.

The U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline rose for the 11th straight day on Tuesday to $3.85 US, and soared to $4 a gallon in some states. That would amount to a little over a dollar a litre in Canada.

Millions of barrels of unrefined crude are sitting in storage facilities in North Dakota, in particular, but there’s a lack of pipeline capacity to carry it to the Gulf Coast and a limited number of rail cars that can transport the oil south. The state is currently in the throes of a major oil boom thanks to the discovery of the so-called Bakken Shale.

Obama’s recent praise of Calgary-based TransCanada’s decision to proceed with the construction of the southern segment of the pipeline signalled a shift in attitude from the White House after it rejected the pipeline outright in January.

The entire length of the proposed, $7.6 billion pipeline would stretch from Alberta’s oilsands through six U.S. states to the Gulf Coast.

No decision from State Dept.

The U.S. State Department has yet to make a decision on the pipeline, saying it needs more time to conduct a thorough environmental review of a new route around an environmentally sensitive aquifer in Nebraska. State department officials are assessing the project because it crosses an international border.

In November, under mounting pressure from environmentalists, the State Department deferred making a decision on Keystone until after this year’s presidential election, citing concerns about the risks posed to the aquifer.

Pipeline proponents cried foul, accusing Obama of making a cynical political move aimed at pacifying the environmentalists of his base and improving his chances of re-election.

Republicans then held the administration’s feet to the fire, successfully inserting pipeline provisions into payroll tax cut legislation in late December.

Within a month, facing a mid-February deadline imposed by that measure, Obama nixed TransCanada’s existing permit outright, saying there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly review a new route before giving it the green light.

But Obama also assured Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the decision did not reflect on the pipeline’s merits, but was merely necessitated by Republican pressure tactics. He welcomed TransCanada to propose another route.

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Obama says not bluffing on Iran military option

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By Matt Spetalnick and Jeffrey Heller
WASHINGTON/OTTAWA | Fri Mar 2, 2012 8:14pm EST

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama issued his most direct threat yet of U.S. military action against Iran if it builds a nuclear weapon, but in a message to Israel’s leader ahead of White House talks he also cautioned against a pre-emptive Israeli strike.

“As president of the United States, I don’t bluff,” Obama warned Iran in a magazine interview published on Friday, three days before he will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

With the meeting expected to be dominated by stark differences over what Washington fears could be an Israeli attack on Tehran‘s nuclear sites, Netanyahu said he wanted to preserve the “freedom of action of the State of Israel in the face of threats to wipe us off the map.”

Monday’s talks are shaping up as the most consequential encounter of U.S. and Israeli leaders in years, with tensions further magnified by Republican presidential candidates slamming Obama over his Middle East policy.

Further complicating the talks is a trust deficit between the two men, who have had a rocky relationship.

There is mounting speculation that Israel, which fears that time is running out to stop Iran’s nuclear advance, could act militarily on its own in coming months unless it receives stronger reassurances from Washington.

Netanyahu is trying to convince Obama to more forcefully define the nuclear threshold that Iran must not cross, while the U.S. president wants to convince Israel to hold off on any unilateral strike and give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work.

Both leaders talked tough ahead of their meeting.

“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic magazine.

Obama repeated the U.S. refrain that “all options are on the table” but spoke in his most direct terms yet of a possible U.S. military response if sanctions and diplomacy fail to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

“It includes a military component. And I think people understand that,” Obama said when asked about U.S. intentions on Iran, which insists it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.

While acknowledging Netanyahu’s “profound responsibility” to protect the Israeli people, Obama cited “potential unintended consequences” as he made clear that it would be unwise for Israel to go ahead with any attack on Iran.

“At a time when there is not a lot of sympathy for Iran and its only real ally, (Syria) is on the ropes, do we want a distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?”

Obama cannot afford to be too tough on Netanyahu, with Republican presidential candidates ready to pounce on any sign of a rift with close U.S. ally Israel. But Obama’s aides are also worried that a new war in the Middle East could sow chaos and bring further spikes in global oil prices.

It was unclear, however, whether Obama’s sharpened rhetoric on Iran would be enough to placate Netanyahu, who was visiting Canada on Friday before flying to Washington on Sunday.

Netanyahu on Friday ruled out the idea of international talks to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, a possibility has raised in recent weeks as sanctions have started to take a heavier toll.

“I think the international community should not fall into this trap,” he told reporters in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Voodoo Environomics

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By H. Leighton Steward
Posted on Feb. 16, 2012

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline wasn’t, as he claimed, based on science or the environment. And it certainly wasn’t based on sound economic policy. The decision was, in fact, the product of Voodoo Environomics: a destructive blend of bad science based on fear-mongering and manipulated research with the bad economics of green job fantasies and “starve the beast” energy politics.

At the very heart of Voodoo Environomics is, of course, the much-hyped theory linking man-made CO2 and climate change. Without the world’s policy focus on CO2 emissions, climate change alarmists would be robbed of the ammunition they need to change and control human behavior via draconian energy policies. They’d also be robbed of the substantial financial support needed to continue their biased research.

When adopted as official government policy, Voodoo Environomics can wreak havoc on the economy and represents a double whammy for working Americans. The admitted goal of CO2-slashing schemes like Cap & Trade is to jack up the price of energies like gasoline and coal to make expensive alternative energies more financially competitive. Of course their proponents hope you don’t realize that it’s ordinary Americans who are stuck paying higher prices for utilities and gasoline.

But the hit working Americans take under Voodoo Environomics doesn’t end with higher utility bills and gas prices. In bowing to environmental extremists in rejecting the Keystone Pipeline project, Obama has abandoned working Americans… or should I say unemployed Americans in search of good jobs.

In fact, Obama managed the rare feat of uniting business and labor in crying foul over this senseless decision. Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers decries the loss of 20,000 direct jobs and another 118,000 spinoff jobs that would have resulted from Keystone. Standing next to him, Terry O’Sullivan, head of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said, “Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this (decision).”

The application of Voodoo Environomics also puts style over substance. Obama’s rejection of Keystone won’t stop the extraction of oil from Canada’s oil sands – the primary objective behind the pressure to kill the project. Canada will proceed without pause in exploiting their oil sands, regardless of what American politicians or environmental extremists say or do.

Anti-Keystone activists also point to the need to protect the Ogallala Aquifer, which encompasses parts of eight states and underlies a portion of the proposed route of the Keystone pipeline. But reviews of the thousands and thousands of miles of oil and natural gas pipelines over the Ogallala, some of which have been transporting oil for more than a half a century, show no contamination of the aquifer.

What it does do is ensure that oil won’t be shipped and refined by Americans and will likely go to other nations, particularly China. This may sound like hyperbole, and I wish it were. But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in lambasting Obama’s rejection of Keystone, said that Canada would look to China to sell their oil.

America’s energy insecurity is moving into a dangerous new phase while our economy remains anemic and unemployment systemic. Rather than strengthening America’s energy position with a close ally and neighbor like Canada, Obama has increased our dependence on energy supplies from less-friendly nations that ensure little or no environmental safeguards.

The negative impact of this decision doesn’t end there. America’s risk exposure to dangerous energy disruptions stemming from global hotspots just went up. Such disruptions, such as those that could result from a crisis such as one brewing in the Straits of Hormuz, would be personal disaster for working Americas and a significant national security crisis for America.

The phantom gains and real losses stemming from Voodoo Environomics are starting to be realized. America needs more opportunities, not lost opportunities. Unfortunately for working Americans, there’s a greater abundance of the latter.

H. Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He currently chairs the organization Plants Need CO2.

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Canadian Minister Tells Enviros to F**k Off on Oilsands Obstructionism

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Ronald Bailey | January 10, 2012

In a no-holds-barred open letter, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver tells environmental radicals to take a hike, preferably off a high cliff.

Canada is on the edge of an historic choice: to diversify our energy markets away from our traditional trading partner in the United States or to continue with the status quo.

Virtually all our energy exports go to the US.   As a country, we must seek new markets for our products and services and the booming Asia-Pacific economies have shown great interest in our oil, gas, metals and minerals. For our government, the choice is clear:  we need to diversify our markets in order to create jobs and economic growth for Canadians across this country.  We must expand our trade with the fast growing Asian economies. We know that increasing trade will help ensure the financial security of Canadians and their families.

Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade.  Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry.  No mining.  No oil.  No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.

These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.  They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects.  They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources.  Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach:  sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further. They do this because they know it can work.  It works because it helps them to achieve their ultimate objective: delay a project to the point it becomes economically unviable.

Wow.

That bit about the “quintessential American approach” hurts only because it’s true.

So what did President Obama do in the face of environmentalist agitation? He caved. Our bravely decisive president tried to put off deciding on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline which would link U.S. refineries to the Canadian oilsands production until after the 2012 presidential election. But as part of the deal to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, the Republicans in Congress set a deadline for President Obama to decide by February 21 whether or not the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest. So which Democratic interest group will the president choose to alienate? The unions or the environmental lobby?

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Canada Will Sell Oil To China If US Keeps Delaying The Pipeline

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by Andrew Shen

The Obama administration put off the decision to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline until 2013.

But that won’t stop Canada from trying to find another buyer, namely China, according to AFP.

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already spoken with Chinese President Hu Jintao about possible oil exports this past Saturday.

Harper told reporters, “This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asian markets for our energy products.”

With plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the rocks, and China looking to diversify its energy supplier portfolio, this might be the perfect opportunity for Canada to get its foot in the door of the Chinese energy market.

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