Oliver: Protests will have little effect on pipeline plan
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver appears on Canada AM, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said a protest Monday in Ottawa and one at the White House last month will have little effect on the joint Canada-U.S. plan to extend the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
About 400 people protested on Parliament Hill on Monday, and about 1,000 demonstrated outside the White House in August.
"I don't think they're going to have a significant impact, frankly," Oliver told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.
"It's up to the secretary of state of the United States to determine whether the project is in the national interest and she will consider the final environmental impact statement which was commissioned by her department and which basically says there isn't any significant negative environmental impacts."
Opponents of the massive $7 billion Keystone XL project disagree, claiming the pipeline, which will carry bitumen -- one of the planet's dirtier forms of oil -- will threaten lands and water supplies.
The pipeline would be routed over Nebraska's Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water for drinking and agricultural irrigation to parts of eight U.S. states.
Critics also say the benefits are overstated and the long-term payoff is dubious.
Oliver dismissed the criticism, saying the conditions imposed will ensure the pipeline is among the safest ever built. He also said the project will result in 140,000 new jobs for Canadians and $600 billion in economic activity -- effects that will "reverberate across the country."
"There have been occasional accidents but it's a fact that pipelines are a safer form of transmission of hydrocarbons than the alternatives," Oliver said.
The bottom line, he said, is that Texas needs Canadian oil, and has the means to refine it.
Some critics have suggested that rather than send our oil south, Canada should instead build refineries in Alberta that have the capability of turning crude oil into usable fuel here.
Oliver said it would cost up to $20 billion to build the two refineries that would be required. And a pipeline network would still be required to distribute the refined oil, he said.
He said no new refineries have been built in Canada since the 1980s simply because doing so hasn't been economically viable for the private sector.
Environmentalists on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border have spoken out against the pipeline extension.
The Monday protest was expected to be one of the most public rebukes of the pipeline to date, following in the footsteps of the high-profile protest that took place outside the White House last month and involved more than 1,000 people.
However, the Ottawa protest remained tame, with many protesters climbing over a small barricade only to be politely arrested by police.
The rally in Ottawa was organized by Greenpeace and other groups that oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. Other groups involved include the Council of Canadians, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Polaris Institute.
"Ending capital punishment is our one demand. On September 21st, 2011, the richest 400 Americans owned more wealth than half of the country's population. Ending wealth inequality is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, four of our members were arrested on baseless charges. Ending police intimidation is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we determined that Yahoo lied about occupywallst.org being in spam filters. Ending corporate censorship is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly eighty percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track. Ending the modern gilded age is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing. Ending political corruption is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of Americans did not have work. Ending joblessness is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of America lived in poverty. Ending poverty is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly fifty million Americans were without health insurance. Ending health-profiteering is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America had military bases in around one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty-five countries. Ending American imperialism is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America was at war with the world. Ending war is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we stood in solidarity with Madrid, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madison, Toronto, London, Athens, Sydney, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Milan, Amsterdam, Algiers, Tel Aviv, Portland and Chicago. Soon we will stand with Phoenix, Montreal, Cleveland and Atlanta. We're still here. We are growing. We intend to stay until we see movements toward real change in our country and the world.
You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the bosses. You have wandered over all the countries. Have you harvested the fruits of your labors, the price of your victories? Does the past comfort you? Does the present smile on you? Does the future promise you anything? Have you found a piece of land where you can live like a human being and die like a human being? On these questions, on this argument, and on this theme, the struggle for existence, the people will speak. Join us.
We speak as one. All of our decisions, from our choice to march on Wall Street to our decision to continue occupying Liberty Square, were decided through a consensus based process by the group, for the group. Note: Our use of the one demand is a rhetorical device. This is not an official list of demands.Click Here to learn more about how you can participate in the democratic process of choosing the "one demand"."
"Documentary telling the stories of some of the 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK. It is one of the worst child poverty rates in the industrialised world, and successive governments continue to struggle to bring it into line. So who are these children, and where are they living? Under-represented, under-nourished and often under the radar, 3.5 million children should be given a voice. And this powerful film does just that.
Eight-year-old Courtney, 10-year-old Paige and 11-year-old Sam live in different parts of the UK. Breathtakingly honest and eloquent, they give testament to how having no money affects their lives: lack of food, being bullied and having nowhere to play. The children might be indignant about their situation now, but this may not be enough to help them. Their thoughts on their futures are sobering.
Sam's 16-year-old sister Kayleigh puts it all into context, as she tells how the effects of poverty led her to take extreme measures to try and escape it all.
Poor Kids puts the children on centre stage, and they command it with honesty and directness. It's time for everyone to listen."
"BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) - Was the sign at a mosque on the city's east side intentionally damaged? What makes this incident suspicious is that it happened on Sunday, the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on America.
Police are investigating and have not determined whether it was a was deliberate act, but some residents we talked to believe this was no accident.
Geneva's Auto owner Walter Johnson said, "That was deliberately done and I think it's awful."
A sign outside this a mosque on Genesee Street in Buffalo was wrecked on September 11th, the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers.
Buffalo Police Chaplain Bilal Abdullah said, "I guess it was a 9/11. People maybe looked at it as a way to get back at Muslims in general."
Dorothy Chandler says she saw it happen.
"He was doing about 90 to 100 miles-per-hour. Drove u pon the sidewalk, actually, and crashed into that sign," said Chandler.
Buffalo Police say a truck drove over the lawn in front of the mosque and smashed the sign, which we found in pieces around the parking lot.
Resident Ernest Rainey said, "Everybody has a right to have their own religion."
Rainey lives across the street from the mosque and adjoining school.
"They don't bother anybody. If they do park in front of my house, they don't say nothing to me. They might greet me, if that, and they don't do anything wrong," said Rainey.
Johnson said, "Everyone is not a terrorist. I mean, it's a nice mosque. I know a lot of these guys over here. I do a lot of work on their vehicles. And whoever it is needs to be caught."
The incident, whether intentional or accidental, has some neighbors, like Bruce Austin, quite upset.
Austin said, "I think this is a destruction of property. You know, everyone is not connected with the event that happened on 9/11 and I think it's very unfair."
Police Chaplain Abdullah says there needs to be a better understanding of cultural and religious differences, saying, "I think 9/11 is about bringing things together. Religious organizations together, and that Muslims, people don't look at Muslims as just a big terrorist organization. That's the farthest thing from the truth."
The good news is no one was injured, but it sure has shaken up the immediate neighborhood."
Chances are, if you’ve ever sent a package overnight, bought a PC or a can of soda, you’ve paid your hard-earned money to a major Pentagon contractor. While large defense corporations that make fighter jets and armored vehicles garner the most attention, tens of thousands of “civilian” companies, from multi-national corporations hawking toothpaste and shampoo tobig oil behemoths and even local restaurantsscattered across the United States, all supply the Pentagon with the necessities used to carry on day-to-day operations and wage America’s wars. And they’ve made a killing doing it since 9/11.
In 2001, the massive arms dealers Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman ranked one, two and five among Department of Defense contractors, raking in $14.7 billion, $13.3 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively, in contracts. Last year, Lockheed’s contract dollars were almost double their pre-9/11 level, clocking in at $28 billion, while Boeing’s had jumped to almost $19 billion and Northrop Grumman, still in the five spot, had more than doubled its 2001 take, with $12.8 billion in contracts.
America’s recent wars have obviously been good to these companies. On September 10, 2001, Lockheed’s share price was $38.32. Today, it tops $70 per share. In 2001, the company’s net sales reached $24 billion. Last year, they were almost $46 billion. Likewise, Northrop Grumman’s net income has more than quadrupled in the last decade, according to the investment analysis website,Seeking Alpha. Still, these corporations are just a fraction of the story when it comes to the massive sums of money made by the military contractors since September 11, 2001.
Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project, writing recently at TomDispatch.com, noted that since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has spent about $8 trillion on national security. Even accounting for all the funds paid out for troop salaries,overseas base construction and the training and equipping indigenous allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other costs, it’s clear that vast sums of Pentagon money are flowing somewhere other than to the top weapons-makers. Unknown to most U.S. taxpayers and even many Pentagon-watchers, some of the largest and most recognizable corporations in the world have also been getting rich on America’s wars. Below are five examples of “civilian” companies that have reaped major rewards from the Pentagon during its last decade at war:
1. BP: The oil giant, perhaps most famous for dumping 206 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico last year, is also a perennial power when it comes to Pentagon contracts. Back in 2001, BP nabbed a cool $357 million in contracts from the Department of Defense. Last year, the number hit $1 billion and it’s no secret why. As defense-tech writer Noah Shachtman noted atForeign Policy last year, the U.S. military burns “22 gallons of diesel [fuel] per soldier per day in Afghanistan, at a cost of more than $100,000 a person annually.”
2. FedEx: The overnight shipping giant is a long-time defense-contracting powerhouse that has also seen an exponential increase in contract dollars since September 10, 2001, when its stock was trading at just under $40 per share. By the end of that year, FedEx had been awarded about $211 million in contracts from the Pentagon. In 2010, the company received $1.4 billion from the Department of Defense and this year, with its stock closing in on $80 per share, has already passed the $1 billion mark, again. This includes a $182 million deal, inked in August, to pack and ship fresh fruit and vegetables to U.S. military bases overseas and a joint agreement, which also includes United Parcel Service (UPS) and Polar Air Cargo, which could last up to five years and potentially net the companies a combined $853 million.
3. Dell: If you’re in the military and you want to pilot a drone, transfer supplies or write a memo, you need a computer. That’s just what Dell provides. The desktop- and laptop-maker has been plying the Pentagon with computers for many years and, just like Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, has done especially well by the Department of Defense since 2001. That year, Dell was awarded $65 million in Pentagon contracts. By 2009, that number had jumped to $731 million and, over the course of the decade, has added up to a total of $4.3 billion in contracts for the PC manufacturer.
4. Kraft – From A-1 steak sauce, their signature mayonnaise and Oreo cookiesto Oscar Meyer hot dogs, Planters peanuts and Wheat Thins crackers, this company ranks as one of the largest and best known food concerns in the world. Not surprisingly, it also does a brisk business with the Pentagon which has grown ever larger during the last decade. Back in 2001, Kraft inked $148 million in deals with the Department of Defense, by 2010, its yearly take had risen to $373 million.
5. Pepsi – Once upon a time it was the “choice of a new generation.” These days, it’s the choice of the Pentagon. In 2010, PepsiCo washed down $217 million in Defense Department contract dollars, compared to the mere $61 million in deals it inked back in 2001. Earlier this year, the company continued the trend by signing a multi-million dollar deal to provide the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps with “bag-in-box beverages.” (That very same day, Coca-Cola also received a slightly larger contract to provide drinks for the military.)
Other big-name firms that are regularly awarded large, lucrative deals from the Defense Department include tire titans Goodrich and Goodyear, oil giants Shell and Exxon Mobil, big food suppliers like Nestle, General Mills, Tyson, ConAgra and Campbell's Soup, and tech and telecom stalwarts including AT&T, Oracle, Sony and Verizon.
A decade of waging wars abroad, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan and Libya to Yemen and Somalia hasn’t been kind to average Americans. As the United States poured nearly $8 trillion into national security spending, and the national debt ballooned from $6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, the official unemployment rate has more than doubled -- from 4.5% to 9.1%. Meanwhile the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. has jumped nearly 20% since 2000, according to theNational Center for Children in Poverty. And for older Americans, the risk of hunger has spiked almost 80% since 2001, according to a recent report by AARP. But from car companies to candy makers and even the biggest brands inorganic food, so many of the world’s favorite companies have, over these years, cashed in on America’s wars.
In his famous 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the "acquisition of unwarranted influence" by what he called the "military-industrial complex.” Today, however, the "large arms industry" that Eisenhower warned about is only part of the equation. Civilian firms such as FedEx and PepsiCo form the backbone of what more accurately can be described as a military-corporate complex of “civilian” businesses that enable the Pentagon to function, to make war and to carry out foreign occupations.
Almost a decade after Eisenhower's farewell address, there were still only about22,000 prime contractors doing business with the Department of Defense. Last year, according to U.S. government records, the number stood at almost 135,000. The reasons why are simple. Big war budgets and ever-increasing national security spending have made the Pentagon’s deep, taxpayer-filled pockets especially attractive as a stable source of income in economically uncertain times.
Most Americans will never buy anything directly from Lockheed Martin, Boeing or Northrop Grumman, but many have spent money on Crest toothpaste (Procter & Gamble), Cheerios (General Mills), a PlayStation 3 (Sony) or paid for cell phone service from AT&T or Verizon – all of them big-time defense contractors. These and other large corporations have done very well, reaping rewards not only from Americans at the checkout counter but from their tax dollars by way of the Pentagon. Meanwhile, halfway across the planet, large numbers of Afghans and Iraqis -- who have seen their lives upended, their homes destroyed, and their family members killed and wounded -- have suffered as a direct result of the efforts of these and other members of the military-corporate complex.
Even with the specter of only modest growth (or even cuts) in defense spending on the horizon, the number of companies seeking the stability of a Pentagon paycheck is likely only to rise. And with it, the U.S. civilian economy is sure to become further militarized by stealth corporations cashing in on a state of permanent war, while the American public remains largely oblivious to their role in the military-corporate complex and America’s war-making overseas.
TORONTO - Gilary Massa's high school art class began buzzing with speculation the day a student rushed in to announce that "somebody bombed America." Amid her horror Massa had one hope which proved to be in vain — that the perpetrators wouldn't be Muslim.
From the safety of her home, she heard the frantic phone calls to American relatives who feared being seen in public. Massa's mother tried forbidding her hijab-clad daughter from returning to school for fear of the persecution she might face.
Massa overruled her mother, but found the Toronto classroom she returned to was not the same one she left on Sept. 11, 2001.
Classmates badgered her with questions about her faith, setting the stage for a pattern of behaviour she would witness time and again over the next decade.
"I automatically had to start justifying myself and talking about my beliefs and denouncing what had happened," Massa said.
"It was a weird thing to have to prove that I didn't agree with the actions of 9-11. What person in their right mind would agree with the bombing of innocent people? It was interesting to me that all of a sudden I was having to actually convince people that, no, I didn't know Osama Bin Laden, he was not my leader, I didn't agree with his actions."
Massa said she was never able to relax that defensive stance over the next 10 years, since stereotypical ideas that took root in the days after 9-11 never abated.
Safa Ali was forced to the same realization after encountering a sign of overt racism she had never witnessed before the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers. Her entire family had their passports flagged for no apparent reason, she said, adding the alerts remain in place to this day.
Airport staff treated the family with veiled hostility in the months following 9-11, reserving the bulk of their skepticism for Ali's father and brother, she said. She herself came under attack from a friend's grandfather who had no qualms about bashing her religion and launching a conversion attempt.
Such blatant racism has subsided, but the stereotypes that drove such actions in the past — such as the notion that all Muslim women are oppressed and all believers in the faith are prone to violence — appear to have become more firmly entrenched in society's consciousness, she said.
"When people talk about it, it's almost taken as a given now. There's no need to say it out loud or be aggressive about it," Ali said. "It comes from a place of, you could call it empathy, because they're saying, 'Oh, those poor women and all those poor girls.' But if you dig deeper it comes from this opinion that there's just one way that the majority of people are and it's so sad that they're like that."
Stereotypical thinking gave Yousaf Khan a scare in the summer of 2006 when several of his former classmates were arrested as part of the infamous Toronto 18.
The suspects were dubbed Canada's first homegrown post-9-11 terrorist network when they were arrested in 2006 amid headline-grabbing allegations of a plot to target landmarks in Toronto and Ottawa, behead the prime minister and attack the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Eleven of the men served jail time, while the remaining seven had their charges dropped or stayed.
Khan, 27, had enjoyed nothing but positive experiences with Canadians since arriving in Ontario in 2000, but feared the spectre of a home-grown terrorism network would infringe on his daily life.
Fortunately for Khan, that fear proved groundless in each of the three provinces he's called home, including his current city of Edmonton. The experience, however, did force him to ponder the complex dynamics at play in Canada's Muslim community.
His former schoolmates who turned extremist were driven by a powerful sense of isolation and humiliation, he said, adding their views were fuelled by turbulent politics in the Middle East combined with subtle snubs at home.
Khan and his friends, however, took a different path. The tragedy of Sept. 11 proved beyond a doubt that fundamentalist doctrine had no place in mainstream society, he said.
"From what I've seen amongst my own friends ... before, they might have had some kind of sympathy with Osama Bin Laden and everybody else," he said. "Seeing that there's absolutely no success, there's absolutely no divine support, I have to think the sympathy for him has completely waned away."
Questions of identity also dogged Ali and Massa as they came of age in the post-911 era.
Ali said she questioned her faith more critically in her teens and now calls her belief in Islam a "more salient" part of her identity.
The issue runs even deeper for Massa, who said the systemic distrust of Islam she believes has crept into Canadian culture has made her question the relationship between the religion she practices and the country she calls home.
Massa feels particularly threatened by legislation banning traditional Islamic attire, such as a proposed bill in Quebec that seeks to ban the use of the face-covering burka or niqab when providing or receiving public services.
The law — which has languished in Quebec's National Assembly for months — would ban women from receiving government services while wearing the burka or niqab, which cover the face. Some Quebec legislators want the proposed ban extended to all religious symbols, such as the Sikh ceremonial dagger known as the kirpan.
Such attitudes trouble Massa.
"What exactly is Canadian identity? I thought it was about being Canadian and being able to continue your religious or cultural traditions and having the freedom to do that," she said.
"Those sorts of things are slowly being taken away. It's a small minority of my community that is under fire right now, but I fear that those types of things will be extended."
Not all Muslims have felt the sting of victimization.
Amir Shahzada, a Toronto cab driver who moved to Canada in 2002, said he has never experienced discrimination during his time in North America.
"I'm driving a cab for almost five, six, seven years, and I have a lot of people, different mentality people ... They are very good," he said.
Sohail Raza, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, says any tensions that exist can be traced back to the Muslim community rather than the rest of Canada.
Mosque leaders have capitalized on the notion of Islamophobia, convincing Muslims they are under attack and driving the community towards fundamentalism, he said.
"I'm free to critique Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, but why am I not able to take any critique on myself?" he said. "(Mosque leaders) get away with that. They play with the human rights issue. They play with freedom of speech. They have infiltrated institutions just to harm Canada."
Massa disagrees, saying the post-9-11 years have encouraged more Muslims to educate themselves on the tenets of their religion and question teachings handed down from family members or community leaders.
Still, she said, Muslims should be allowed to grapple with identity questions and sort out their internal differences without judgment or interference from the rest of Canada.
"I'm the first person to criticize the actions of my own community, but I think that is a discussion we have to have as a community."
"A new poll out by Gallup shows that out of all the religious groups in the U.S., Muslims are most likely to reject violence, followed by the non-religious atheists and agnostics. 78 percent of Muslims believe violence which kills civilians is never justified whereas just 38 percent of Protestant Christians and 39 percent of Catholics agreed with that statement.
The poll underlines the misconception held by many in America that their Muslim countrymen are violent. If this poll is correct, it ironically seems Christian Americans are the most in need of a reminder of the peaceful teachings of their saviour and moral model, Jesus Christ."