Canadian scolding of Saudi Arabia's human rights violations means nothing if they continue to sell them weapons

I’m a proud Canadian. I’m proud that my nation took a stand against the human rights practices in Saudi Arabia. Maybe you’ve read about it. Earlier this week, Canada’s Minster of Foreign Affairs tweeted that our nation was less than impressed with Saudi Arabia’s arrest of a woman’s right activist. It’s a sentiment echoed by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.

From The Guardian:

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested the women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. The arrests were the latest in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. More than a dozen women’s rights activists have been targeted since May.

Most of those arrested campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the country’s male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

On Friday, Canada said it was gravely concerned about the arrests, including Badawi’s. Her brother Raif Badawi, a dissident blogger, has been imprisoned since 2012. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

As a result of Canada commenting on the Saudi treatment of these individuals, the Saudi Arabia kind of lost its shit: After tweeting that no one would be allowed to dictate how the nation administrated its people, the Saudi government called its ambassadors to Canada home and gave Canada’s ambassador to the nation 24 hours to get out of Dodge. The Saudis followed up by ordering many of its citizens who were attending university at Canadian institutions home and messing with established trade deals it holds with Canada. Read the rest

Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it

A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest

Saudi woman celebrates new freedom of driving in rap song

Last Sunday, Saudi Arabia lifted its decades-long ban on women driving. On the same day, a young rapper named Leesa A released a music video celebrating her new-found freedom. The video has since gone viral.

BBC reports:

Leesa A, who previously had a relatively small social media presence, posted her video on Instagram and YouTube where it has attracted more than 1.6 million views combined.

She is filmed driving, pressing the accelerator, changing the gears, all the while rapping: "Yo, you seem to be forgetting that today is the 10th, this means there no taxis," referring to the date of 24 June in the lunar-based Islamic calendar.

YouTube commenter TrueGamerX14 translated the song's entire lyrics:

Yo, you seem to be forgetting that today is the 10th That means no need for taxis The steering wheel in my hands I smash the pedal under my foot I won't need anyone to drive me I'll help myself by myself I've got the drivers license ready with me So put the seat belt on the abaya (the outfit she's wearing) And keep an eye on the sidewalks and the other on the mirror R is for going back, D is for going seeda (straight) Watch out for every car If it was a Ford or Cressida, your life won't be great Come! Pick me up! Take me there! Bring me back! That'll ruin the plan If you want me to come pick you up, you gotta pay up Gas money! Don't underestimate it! Debt!

Read the rest

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is spending billions in renewable energy

Saudi Arabia is known for its oil and sun-soaked deserts. In a move to secure the kingdom’s financial future, its name could soon become synonymous with renewable energy.

According to the New York Times, Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided that Saudi energy company ACWA Power would spearhead the creation of a $300 million solar farm capable of powering 200,000 homes. And that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what the Saudi government plans to spend on renewables.

“All the big developers are watching Saudi,” said Jenny Chase, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm. ... The renewables strategy finally started to take real shape when Khaled al-Falih took over as energy minister in 2016. Mr. Falih made solar and wind a priority for the kingdom, and set up a new unit last year to expedite the work. Much of the staff was drawn from Aramco.

Mr. Shehri, who had worked at Aramco before leading the kingdom’s renewables program, said he faced an “extremely challenging” task. Meeting Saudi Arabia’s targets would require contracts for a series of new facilities to be awarded by the end of 2020. “The only way this was possible,” he said, “was because we have done previous work.”

Saudi Arabia, with its vast oil resources, would seem an unlikely champion for renewables. But the country’s location and climate mean it has plenty of promising sites for solar and wind farms.

By 2019, the Times writes, they’ll have thrown $7 billion at the creation of solar and wind farms. Read the rest

Saudi Airlines confirms that American laptop ban on U.S.-bound flights from Saudi has ended

The U.S. government's ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in the cabins of flights from Saudi Arabia to the United States has been lifted, Saudi Arabian Airlines confirmed today. Read the rest

A right-wing Dem Senator who voted to sell weapons to Saudi is being primaried by an environmental activist

Senator Joe Manchin [D-WV, @Sen_JoeManchin, +1 304-342-5855] is a right-wing Democrat Senator whose inglorious career includes breaking with his party to endorse President Trump's deal to sell record quantities of weapons to the Saudis. Read the rest

Kushner helped clinch $110 Billion Saudi Arabia arms deal with Lockheed before Trump's visit to kingdom

"What has changed... is that the House of Saud is now dealing directly with a member of the Trump family." Read the rest

Teen boy in Saudi Arabia arrested for “unethical behaviour" after flirty chat with YouTube teen girl star

A teen boy has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for “unethical behaviour,” after he did a cute internet video chat with an American YouTube starlet. Read the rest

Pro-tar-sands activists say dirty Canadian oil is better because "lesbians are hot"

The "In Canada lesbians are considered hot!" campaign is the brainchild of Robbie Picard, a tar-sands booster from Fort McMurray, Alberta. Read the rest

Panama Papers reveal offshore companies were bagmen for the world's spies

What do you do if you're a spy and you want to make untraceable transfers of dirty money without having your funding of your country's nominal enemies exposed to the voters whose money you're spending? You hire Mossack Fonseca to open a numbered account in an offshore tax-haven, naturally. Read the rest

Women forbidden from entering Starbucks in Saudi Arabia

The Starbucks café in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has a sign on the front door barring women from entering. Starbucks will accept their money, but only if the womens' "driver" places the order on their behalf.

From the Express Tribune:

The notice, in Arabic as well as English, reads, “Please no entry for ladies, only send your driver to order. Thank you.”

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the most influential law enforcing authority in the Kingdom, ordered the café’s management not to admit women, according to Emirates 24/7.

Starbucks issued the following statement:

Starbucks in Saudi Arabia adheres to the local customs by providing separate entrances for families as well as single people. All our stores provide equal amenities, service, menu, and seating to men, women and families. We are working as quickly as possible as we refurbish our Jarir store, so that we may again welcome all customers in accordance with local customs.

Fedor Selivanov / Shutterstock.com Read the rest

What was this Saudi prince doing with 2 tons of drugs on his private jet?

In Saudi Arabia, drug smugglers are routinely executed. But it's hard to imagine that the Saudi prince, who is being held in Lebanon after officials found two tons of amphetamine stuffed in his private jet bound for Saudi Arabia, will receive any punishment beyond a stern talking to.

Image: Shutterstock Read the rest

BBC helps Saudis whitewash arms trade to Syrian jihadis

The BBC quoted an anonymous Saudi source who insisted that the arms the country imports en masse from the UK are only funnelled to the good Syrian rebels and not the Al Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front. Read the rest

IMF: Cheap oil will bankrupt the Saudis in five years

If oil stays below $50 a barrel for five years, the Saudis' cash reserve will be exhausted, and with it will also go the social stability that lavish spending for the Saudi elites brings. Read the rest

LA prosecutors won't charge Saudi sheik with multiple sexual assaults because “insufficient evidence”

Prosecutors for the county of Los Angeles say they will not file charges against a Saudi prince recently arrested for sexual assault at a gated mansion on the edge of Beverly Hills.

A civil lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court on Sept. 25 says he attacked multiple women inside the home for several days. Read the rest

Saudi PR machine goes bigtime, hires top US muscle for charm offensive

The Saudi royals -- you know, the charming people who exported intolerant, extremist Wahabiism and whose scions get to rape their US-based servants with impunity -- have hired the biggest, most ruthless PR firms in America to run their PR machine. Read the rest

Missing: Saudi prince accused of sexually abusing women held in his $37m Beverly Hills compound

The 'despicable' Saudi prince accused of sexually assaulting 'multiple women' over 3 days in a $37 million Beverly Hills compound has disappeared. Read the rest

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