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Kerry not tipping hand on pipeline

WASHINGTON -- John Kerry offered scant indication Thursday about his position on TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, saying simply that he hopes to make "appropriate judgments" about the fate of the project should he officially become secretary of state.

The Massachusetts senator, appearing at his confirmation hearings, didn't face many questions on either climate change or the Keystone pipeline during almost four hours before the Senate foreign relations committee, of which he's currently the chairman.

"There is a statutory process with regards to the review and that is currently ongoing," Kerry said. "It will not be long before that comes across my desk, and I will make the appropriate judgments about it."

The State Department is making the ultimate decision on Keystone because it crosses an international border. Kerry, meantime, is widely expected to win swift confirmation as secretary of state, replacing Hillary Clinton.

State is "responsible for the environmental review, and there are specific standards that have to be met with respect to that review," Kerry told the hearing.

"I am going to review those standards and make sure they are complete."

He added he hoped the Keystone XL review would be done by the end of March, but made no firm commitment.

Antarctic searchers forced to turn back

A rescue flight on its way to a group of Canadians stranded in Antarctica has had to turn around because of bad weather that isn't expected to improve for at least 12 hours.

But those who know the pilot of the downed Twin Otter say that if anyone would know how to get through, it would be Bob Heath.

"He's a bit of a living legend up (North)," said friend and fellow pilot Sebastien Seykora. "He's a very experienced pilot."

The missing airplane began transmitting signals from its emergency locator beacon early Wednesday. Aircraft tried twice to spot it later that day, but failed due to a heavy, low cloud.

Early indications on Thursday were the cloud had lifted a bit. But those hopes were dashed when the plane got in the air.

"They've gone out and flown over and they haven't been able to see anything," said Steve Rendle from New Zealand's Rescue Co-ordination Centre. "They are heading back to a fuelling depot to wait out the weather."

No information was available on the fate of the three men aboard the ski-equipped Twin Otter, which is owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air.

Old-timers hit the ice... for daring rescue

KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- An old-timers hockey team hit the ice as darkness fell Wednesday, but they weren't chasing a puck.

The Old Dogs jumped into action and probably saved the lives of a woman and two dogs after they plunged into the water from a ledge of ice along the Thompson River.

Team members were having a few beers with a clear view of the riverfront -- a stone's throw away -- when they saw the woman and the dogs break through the ice.

"We were just trying to help the young lady out of the river when she went in," Bert Kant told the Kamloops Daily News while drying out after his January dip.

Kathryn Easton was walking her brother's dog along the shore when the animal fell into the river. With another, smaller dog on her shoulders, she tried to rescue the canine on her own.

Knowing the risks of compounding the crisis -- the ice is unstable, especially at its outer edges -- they seized a flag and used the pole to extend their reach.

By the time police arrived, all were safely ashore.

Paramedics checked Easton's vitals after the incident and she was reported to be OK. Wrapped in a blanket in the back of a police car, she wanted to say thanks to her rescuers.

Alberta premier warns of trouble ahead

EDMONTON -- Alberta Premier Alison Redford is warning of tough fiscal times and multibillion-dollar shortfalls ahead due to falling prices for oilsands bitumen.

Redford, in an eight-minute television address, said the province expects to take in $1 billion less than expected this budget year and $6 billion less in the next.

The budget will be delivered March 7, and Redford said the plan is to hold the line on spending and make changes to some programs.

She said Alberta is getting hit by a double whammy: Oil production in the United States is increasing and Alberta's infrastructure is set up to send virtually all of its oil south of the border.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 25, 2013 A18

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