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Fingering Our Saudi Allies for the 9/11 Attacks

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/13/2016 - 11:02

It's the briefest of glimpses into what the American 9/11 Commission learned about the role played by the Saudis in the attacks but it may be enough to force the government to release the redacted 28-pages of the commission's report. From The Guardian:

Investigators for the 9/11 commission would later describe the scene in Saudi Arabia as chilling.

They took seats in front of a former Saudi diplomat who, many on the commission’s staff believed, had been a ringleader of a Saudi government spy network inside the US that gave support to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers inCalifornia in the year before the 2001 attacks.
At first, the witness, 32-year-old Fahad al-Thumairy, dressed in traditional white robes and headdress, answered the questions calmly, his hands folded in front of him. But when the interrogation became confrontational, he began to squirm, literally, pushing himself back and forth in the chair, folding and unfolding his arms, as he was pressed about his ties to two Saudi hijackers who had lived in southern California before 9/11.

Even as he continued to deny any link to terrorists, Thumairy became angry and began to sputter when confronted with evidence of his 21 phone calls with another Saudi in the hijackers’ support network – a man Thumairy had once claimed to be a stranger. “It was so clear Thumairy was lying,” a commission staffer said later. “It was also so clear he was dangerous.”

Could Obama drop a bomb on Riyadh and the House of Saud? What a lovely parting gift for an outgoing president to bestow on his nation and on Saudi Arabia.
Barack Obama has said he is nearing a decision on whether to declassify the 28 pages, a move that has led to the first serious public split among the 9/11 commissioners since they issued a final report in 2004. The commission’s former chairman and vice chairman have urged caution in releasing the congressional report, suggesting it could do damage to US-Saudi relations and smear innocent people, while several of the other commissions have called for the 28 pages to be made public, saying the report could reveal leads about the Saudis that still need to be pursued.

Earlier this week, a Republican commissioner, former navy secretary John F Lehman, said there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees were part of a support network for the 9/11 hijackers – an allegation, congressional officials have confirmed, that is addressed in detail in the 28 pages.

The 9/11 investigation was terminated before all the relevant leads were able to be investigated,” he said on Thursday. “I believe these leads should be vigorously pursued. I further believe that the relevant 28 pages from the congressional report should be released, redacting only the names of individuals and certain leads that have been proven false.”

This would probably not be good for prime minister Slick and his boy, Steffie. These guys don't waste a chance to tell us what good allies Canada has in the Saudis.
As a footnote, I've been stumbling across references to Canadian support or participation in the Saudis war against the Houthis in Yemen. This goes beyond furnishing the Saudis with death wagons which now do, indeed, seem to be in action in Yemen. There is strong evidence that the Saudis are committing war crimes in attacking civilians in Yemen and, if we're actively assisting them (one report labeled Canada as a member of the Saudi-led coalition), then we may be party to those same war crimes. No wonder Steffi goes all wobbly.

While Slick is Up In Fort Mac...

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/13/2016 - 10:45

When our prime minister finishes his photo-op standing in the now cold ashes of Fort Mac maybe he should make his way to the air base at Cold Lake. From there he could commandeer one of those Hercules transports and wing his way up to the Beaufort Sea to witness the astonishingly early break up of the Beaufort sea ice. Wowser, it's months ahead of normal!!

Hmm, I wonder what that's all about? Maybe the villagers of Fort Yukon, Alaska could help Slick out on that one. Of course they're probably larking about. It's 75F up there now, 24 degrees above normal. They might be working out recipes for a delicious perma-defrost souffle.

Over the past 365 days, temperatures over the Arctic have been much higher than the rest of the world. Arctic sea ice is in a bad shape, ocean heat is very high... and rising, and high temperatures are forecast to hit the Arctic over the next week. Chances are that the sea ice will be largely gone by September 2016.

Arctic Sea Ice gone by September 2016?

Fort Mac's Lingering Demise. End of the Road for Canada's Petro-Pimps?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/13/2016 - 10:12

The fire is a separate matter. Fort Mac was going terminal well before the blaze began. The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk writes of the other fire, "a slow economic burn" that's been smouldering, unmentioned for some time.

Although the chaotic evacuation of 80,000 people through walls of flame will likely haunt its brave participants for years, a slow global economic burn has already taken a nasty toll on the region's workers.

That fire began last year when global oil prices crashed by 40 percent and evaporated billions of investment capital in the tarsands.

As the project's most high cost producers started to bleed cash, corporations laid off 40,000 engineers, labourers, cleaners, welders, mechanics and trades people with little fanfare and even less thanks.

Many of these human "stranded assets" endured home foreclosures and lineups at the food bank.

Worker flights to Red Deer and Kelowna got cancelled and traffic at the city's new airport declined by 16 per cent. Unemployment in Canada's so-called economic engine soared to nearly nine percent.

...What resembles a string of bad luck may actually be the unfortunate consequence of rapidly developing a high risk and volatile resource with no real safety net.

The first undeniable factor is weakening demand for oil, the engine of global economic growth. China's economy, the world's largest oil importer, is faltering as its industrial revolution peaks and fades.

Europe, Japan and the United States are also using less oil, and their economies are stagnating too.

In such a world, little if any bitumen will be needed in the international market place. In fact economists now trace about 50 per cent of the oil price collapse to evaporating demand.

...Murray Edwards, the billionaire tycoon behind Canadian Natural Resources, one of the largest bitumen extractors, has decamped from Alberta to London, England.

Edwards and company slashed $2.4-billion from CNRL's budget in 2015.

Since the oil price crash, by some accounts, Murray's company has lost50 per cent of its market value.

(Cenovus, another oilsands player, got cursed with junk bond status.)

...In addition Carbon Tracker, a market friendly group, now informs investors that low oil prices will favor existing production from low carbon and low cost conventional sources.

That's a terrible forecast for Alberta's oilsands and its product which is neither low cost to produce nor low carbon to refine.

...In February the Alberta government set a minimum value for bitumen at $10 per cubic metre. That equates to a value of about $1.50 per barrel of bitumen.
But in 2014 the government's monthly report valued bitumen at $421 per cubic metre. The data suggests that bitumen has lost 97 per cent of its value during the price collapse. In other words companies once worth billions are now worth millions.

Could that be why Edwards sailed to England?

...When oil prices stood at $100, rash bitumen development made some sense. But when prices fell below $45 the gamble turned into Russian roulette.
Unlike Saudi oil, most bitumen projects require prices of at least $60 to $70 a barrel to survive.

And so most tarsands extractors (except those who own refineries) are now bleeding cash; many banks have developed nervous twitches; and thousands of workers have found themselves unemployed.

The overproduction of bitumen explains why, says [former CIBC chief economist, Jeff] Rubin, "the oilsands morphed from an engine of economic growth into the epicenter of a made-in-Canada recession."

...The wise course of action for Alberta and Canada, therefore, rather than being caught by surprise, would be to plan for an orderly transition that protects communities and oilsands workers, and rewards them for the economic contributions they've made by providing funds for retraining and industry diversification.

It'll be interesting to hear what prime minister Slick has to say when he shows up for his photo-op in Fort Mac today. He'll probably go all Churchillian with grand promises of how we'll rebuild Fort McMurray bigger and better than ever, new pipelines and a great future for "the beating heart of the Canadian economy for the 21st century." Sorry, that quote was from the previous Liberal petro-pimp, Ignatieff.

Oh, yes, one other thing. Do make sure those energy giants clean up all those tailing ponds and restore those pits before they switch off the lights. Please? 

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/13/2016 - 09:11
Assorted content to end your week.

- Ben Casselman writes that rather than looking to manufacturing jobs alone as a precondition to gains for workers, we should instead focus on the unions which helped to make the manufacturing sector the source of stable, higher-wage work:
Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions. The Midwest was, at least until recently, a bastion of union strength. Southern states, by contrast, are mostly “right-to-work” states where unions never gained a strong foothold. Private-sector unions have been shrinking across the country for decades, but they are stronger in the Midwest than in most other parts of the country. In Michigan, 23 percent of manufacturing production workers were union members in 2015; in South Carolina, less than 2 percent were.

Unions also help explain why the middle class is healthier in the Midwest than in the Southeast, where manufacturing jobs have been growing rapidly in recent decades. A new analysis from the Pew Research Center this week explored the state of the middle class in different parts of the country by looking at the share of households making between two-thirds and double the national median income, after controlling for the local cost of living. In many Midwestern cities, 60 percent or more of households are considered “middle-income” by this definition; in some Southern cities, even those with large manufacturing bases, middle-income households are now in the minority.
For all of the glow that surrounds manufacturing jobs in political rhetoric, there is nothing inherently special about them. Some pay well; others don’t. They are not immune from the forces that have led to slow wage growth in other sectors of the economy. When politicians pledge to protect manufacturing jobs, they really mean a certain kind of job: well-paid, long-lasting, with opportunities for advancement. Those aren’t qualities associated with working on a factory floor; they’re qualities associated with being a member of a union.- Meanwhile, Hanna Brooks Olsen writes that we should be looking to recognize that service work is skilled work which should be compensated accordingly - a point which is emphasized by Canada's high demand for labour in areas where employers expect to get away with paying less. Christine Saulnier points out how a fair minimum wage represents a broad, bottom-up solution to both inequality and economic stagnation.

- But Nadia Prupis writes that economic trends are headed in the wrong direction, with workers falling further behind both past standards of living and (especially) the current upper class. And Jim Hightower offers his take on how the gig economy makes matters worse for workers.

- Jeff Spross highlights how a housing first system represents a simple starting point in combating both homelessness and numerous other related problems. And Carol Off interviews Marni Brownell about the effectiveness of small cash investments in improving child health.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig makes the case for postal banking to improve both the sustainability of Canada Post, and public access to needed financial services.


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