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China blasts Canada for Kyoto move

It's not a great day for Canada when it's being lectured by China for its environmental policies:

"It is regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community for Canada to leave the Kyoto Protocol at a time when the Durban meeting, as everyone knows, made important progress by securing a second phase of commitment to the Protocol," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a news briefing.

"We also hope that Canada will face up to its due responsibilities and duties, and continue abiding by its commitments, and take a positive, constructive attitude towards participating in international cooperation to respond to climate change."

China's state news agency, Xinhua, denounced Canada's decision as "preposterous", calling it "an excuse to shirk responsibility". It urged Canada to retract its decision so it could help reduce global emissions.

China, the world's largest greenhouse emitter, won an extension of the protocol until 2017 at the conference. To be fair, since it's still designated, for the purposes of Kyoto, as a developing country, China -- as well as India, which also criticized Canada today -- doesn't face the binding, quantitative emissions cuts that countries like Canada do under the protocol.

With Canada having paved the way, can it be long before other Kyoto discontents such as Russia and Japan follow its lead? 

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Playmates, Tweeters, and Yetis: Meet the Duma's class of 2012

A boxer, a nude model, a tennis star, and a reindeer expert walk into parliament. It's not the set-up for a bad joke, it's Russian politics. Despite receiving a lower-than-expected share of the vote in this year's elections, the ruling United Russia party has continued its proud tradition of packing the body with reality show-level celebrities. 

The Moscow Times' Nickolaus von Twickel has the run-down on the new arrivals: 

The list of new United Russia lawmakers includes Maria Kozhevnikova, who stars in the "Univer" television series and was Russian Playboy's front-page girl in 2009. Before being elected into parliament, she was voted the country's sexiest woman by the Maxim magazine this fall.[...]

Other parliamentary newcomers are former heavyweight boxer Nikolai Valuyev, who famously claimed to have uncovered evidence of a Siberian Yeti during his campaign in the Kemerovo region, tennis star Marat Safin, actors Lyudmila Maksakova and Vladimir Mashkov and Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum.

Also new to parliament will be Dmitry Khorolya, a native of the Arctic Yamal region who heads the country's reindeer association.

In a sign that online campaigning is gaining significance, Vladimir Burmatov, who could be called United Russia's first Twitter activist, will enter the Duma. Burmatov, who has almost 50,000 Twitter followers, rose to fame in September when he initiated a campaign with the "SPASIBOPUTINAZAETO," or "Thank Putin for That," hashtag, which became the first Russian-language topic to enter Twitter's global trending top 10.

The valiant quest of Valuev -- the former world heavyweight champion known as the "Beast from the East"-- to track down the abominable snowman is definitely a frontrunner for my favorite oddball news story of the year. 

As for Burmatov, it makes sense that United Russia would want to try to co-opt the "Twitter activist" designation from the opposition, but let's hope he keeps it cleaner than some of his colleagues


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