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Donald Trump rushing to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology | USA News

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Washington, DC – The administration of President Donald Trump is bypassing the United States Congress to advance the sale of US nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns it would violate US law guarding against technology transfers, according to a new report by a congressional committee.

Security analysts worry the technology would allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons in the future, potentially contributing to an arms race in the Middle East.

US legislators are concerned about the stability of Saudi leadership under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Multiple unnamed “whistleblowers” have come forward to warn about White House attempts to speed the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to build new nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, according to the staff report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“The whistleblowers who came forward have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes,” Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democrat chairman of the committee, said in a letter to the White House on Tuesday.

The committee is investigating efforts by US nuclear power companies to win Trump administration approval to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

IP3 consortium

A key target of the Oversight Committee’s inquiry is an effort by IP3 International, a consortium of nuclear power producers that began lobbying during the Trump transition in late 2016 and early 2017 to win presidential approval to develop nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia.

Most recently, Trump met on February 12 with the IP3 International representatives and the chief executive officers of major US nuclear energy producers to discuss developing nuclear power plants in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, a meeting that was initiated by IP3’s founder, retired Army General Jack Keane, according to the committee report which cited Bloomberg News.

The IP3 proposal has been repeatedly promoted to White House officials by Thomas Barrack, according to the report. Barrack is a personal friend of the president who raised $107m for Trump’s Inaugural Committee. US prosecutors in New York are investigating the inaugural committee activities.

‘Chaos, dysfunction, backbiting’

The committee released documents describing the IP3 proposal. Cummings’ letter further demands documents and emails from the White House related to its discussions of potential nuclear power development in the Middle East.

Whistleblowers “warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction and backbiting. And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump administration officials to halt their efforts”, Cummings wrote in the letter.

Meanwhile, a US Senate proposal offered by Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat – with support from Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican – seeks to block Saudi Arabia from developing bomb material by prohibiting it from enriching uranium or reusing plutonium from any future power plants.

‘Trump picking favourites’

In addition, the committee report focuses on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a retired army general who in 2016 worked as an adviser to a subsidiary of IP3 while he was also serving in Trump’s presidential campaign.

Flynn was an advocate for IP3’s plan to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia in the transition period after Trump won the US election and when he joined the White House as national security adviser, according to the unnamed whistleblowers cited in the report.

As Trump took office in early 2017, Bud McFarlane, former President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser and now an adviser to IP3, emailed Flynn draft documents for the president’s signature outlining a new “Marshall Plan for the Middle East” centred on development of dozens of civilian nuclear power plants by US companies.

Under US law, any deal to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear energy technology would require a prior agreement, approved by Congress, between the US and Saudi Arabia to place fissionable material under the monitoring and control of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Separately, on January 1, 2017, McFarlane, the founders of IP3 and the CEOs of six companies – Exelon Corp., Toshiba Energy, Bechtel Corp., Centrus, GE Power and Siemens USA – had sent a letter to MBS promoting the proposal, according to the report.

“This is more about Trump wanting to do favours for the Saudis for financial reasons and to buttress the Saudis against Iran in the region. But the Saudis do not need nuclear power, and if they get it, will only push Iran to restart its nuclear programme,” Tom Collina, policy director at the Ploughshares Fund, a non-proliferation advocacy group based in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.

“This is Trump picking favourites in the Middle East which will not end well,” Collina said.

In 2015, Iran reached agreement with five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the European Union not to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Iran is receiving technical assistance from Russia in developing civilian nuclear power.

In May 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear agreement, which had been negotiated by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and re-imposed oil and financial sanctions.

Iran has continued to comply with the agreement. The EU, Russia and China have refused to go along with US efforts to reimpose sanctions.

On Sunday, US Vice President Mike Pence clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the Iran deal in competing speeches given at the Munich Security Conference.

Pence called on European allies to join the US in withdrawing from the agreement, while, for her part, Merkel defended the Iran nuclear deal, saying it effectively limits Tehran’s ability to produce bomb material.

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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