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March in Review, Part I

Issue: 59 Section: Month in Review

March 15, 2009

March in Review, Part I

by Dominion Staff

Protesters shut down the Capitol coal-fired power plant in Washington, DC, on March 2. Photo: Greenpeace, Tazz

Indigenous youth from nations across Canada demonstrated outside Senator John Kerry's office as Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice met with him in Washington, DC. "Animals are dying, disappearing and being mutated by the poisons dumped into our river systems. Our traditional lands and water houses our culture. They are one and the same. Once we have destroyed these fragile ecosystems, we will have also destroyed our peoples. The tar sands are killing us," they wrote in a letter delivered to Kerry before his meeting with Prentice.

CBC television broke the story that in February 2008 tar sands giant Suncor and two of its contractors had been charged with over 100 counts of dumping untreated waste water into the Athabasca River. The government of Alberta came under fire for having kept the charges a secret. "I certainly got the briefing on it myself and was under the assumption all along that this had gone through a process or news release or disclosure or whatever," said Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner.

Thousands of people engaged in mass civil disobedience against the Capitol coal-fired power plant in Washington, DC.

Representatives of the Innu Nation in northern Québec met with New York State Governor David Peterson, asking him to not classify hydroelectric dams built on Innu land as "renewable energy."

A fire broke out at the world's largest nuclear power plant in Niigata, Japan. The fire was quickly extinguished and authorities claim that there was no radioactive leakage as a result.

An oil spill off the coast of Queensland, Australia, was caused when a tanker leaked an estimated 230 tonnes of oil into the ocean.

One hundred and fifteen people bought Abousfian Abdelrazik a plane ticket, defying a Canadian government decree that makes it a federal offense to give money to or support him. Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen jailed in Sudan in 2003, was interrogated by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and since his release in 2006 has been unable to return to Montréal. His flight leaves on April 3.

Terry Holdbrook, a former prison guard at Guantanamo Bay, spoke out in favour of Omar Khadr, a 21-year-old Canadian citizen who has been held in the US detention centre since he was 16 years old. "I kind of look at him as I look at a lot of the other detainees that were down there. He was kind of caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Holdbrook.

US airstrikes in Pakistan killed 21 people, according to local reports.

After a Canadian spy drone had its wings clipped in an accident in January on the tarmac in Kandahar, Afghanistan, military officials refused to comment to Canadian press and tried to prevent CP from publishing details of the event. The damaged drone was a Heron, which Canada purchased from Israel, and is operated by Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates, which has a $95-million contract with the Department of Defense to perform surveillance in southern Afghanistan.

The US announced that 12,000 troops would be withdrawn from Iraq over the next six months. The withdrawal will decrease the number of troops to approximately 138,000. In February, it was announced that an additional 17,000 US troops would be sent into Afghanistan.

Muntadher al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at George W. Bush in December 2008, was sentenced to three years in jail.

Protesters disrupted a Toronto press conference held by the Assembly of First Nations, the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC), Royal Bank Corporation and Coca Cola to announce the Aboriginal torch bearers for the 2010 Olympic Torch relay. "If you thought leaving B.C. would make it safer to do press conferences, you were wrong. The resistance is all across the country," said one protester.

VANOC announced the transportation plans for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, which include turning various arteries into "Olympic-Only" lanes. It was also revealed that during the Olympics, 200 workers at the Hastings Park casino will lose their jobs and local flights will be diverted or cancelled, affecting local travel. "We're told it's all about security. The small airlines can't properly screen their passengers. And God forbid if al-Qaeda were to hide a bomb under a jockey's saddle at the track," wrote Vancouver Province columnist Micheal Smythe.

Seven hundred and fifty workers at GM Place in Vancouver set up a picket line around the hockey arena. They are demanding higher wages, health benefits, a better locker room for women workers, and a guarantee that they will remain employed through the 2010 Olympics.

Richard Livingston Nicholas, pictured here in a famous photograph from the 1990 Oka crisis, died in a car crash. Later the same day, the photographer who took the picture died after collapsing during a hockey game. Photo: Tom Hanson

A new report by Natural Resources Canada predicted that spending on mineral exploration in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories will fall by nearly 80 per cent in 2009. The economic downturn and falling commodity prices are to blame.

Colombia's Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, declared that Colombia would attack "terrorists systematically attacking the country even if they are not located inside its own territory." The declaration caused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to remark that Santos hopes to "turn Colombia into the Israel of South America."

Colombian journalist Hollman Morris and Colombian-Canadian activist Manuel Rozental were falsely linked to the FARC in Cambio magazine. The alleged evidence against them emerges from "magic laptops" recovered by the Colombian military from a bombed-out FARC camp in Ecuador. Rozental and Morris are both outspoken critics of the regime of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

In Ecuador, the government of Rafael Correa shut down the environmental NGO Acción Ecologica by revoking the group's legal status. It is suspected that the move comes because Acción Ecologica has been a vocal critic of Correa's pro-mining policies.

The Sri Lankan government continued its assault on the Tamil Tigers. The United Nations estimates that as many as 200,000 civilians are caught up in the conflict zone, and approximates that over 10,000 people have been killed or wounded over the last two months. No journalists or aid workers are allowed into the area where the combat is taking place.

Pharmaceutical giant Merck announced plans to buy Schering-Plough, another major drug company, in a merger estimated to be worth US$41 billion.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting released a report that found that the US media has essentially blacked out discussions about single-payer healthcare as President Obama's government discusses proposals for healthcare reform in the US.

The US economy continued to decline as billionaire business mogul Warren Buffett claimed that it has "fallen off a cliff."

US President Barack Obama signed a US$410 billion bill that will fund the federal government until September 2009. In the first 50 days of Obama's presidency, US$1.2 trillion in spending has been approved by congress.

Over 700 people applied to a job posting for a a full-time position as a janitor at a high school in Stark County, Ohio.

Statistics Canada calculated that more than 82,000 people in Canada lost their jobs in February. Total job losses in Canada between November and March of 2009 amount to 295,000.

Workers at a Sony factory in France held the CEO and the Head of Human Resources as hostages overnight after learning that the factory would shut down. Over a thousand freshly fired workers in Clairoix, France, pelted the Director of tire company Continental AG with eggs and burned tires in protest against losing their jobs. More than 454,000 workers are expected to lose their jobs in France in 2009.

Thousands of people turned up at the Davis Cup tennis match in Malmo, Sweden, to protest Israel's participation. More than 100 people rioted in the streets during the protest.

An Israeli human rights group claimed that Israeli mining and quarrying operations in occupied Palestinian territory amount to "the illegal practice of brutal economic exploitation of a conquered territory to serve the exclusive economic needs of the occupying power."

During his visit to the Gaza Strip, UK Member of Parliament George Galloway was given a Palestinian passport by a leader of Hamas in recognition of his ongoing support for the Palestinian people. "If anyone is calculating that by starving and sieging and bombing the Palestinian people that they will one day surrender, I'm sure that they are wrong," said Galloway. "The spirit of the Palestinian resistance remains."

The report of the Davies Commission Inquiry into the killing of Frank Paul was finally released. Paul was killed by members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in Vancouver in December 1998. "What this review has revealed is systemic flaws in the manner in which the Vancouver Police Department conducted criminal investigations of police-related deaths at that time, which continue today," noted Commissioner Davies, who suggested that a civilian body be set up to investigate the VPD.

The Braidwood Inquiry into the 2006 murder of Robert Dziekanski revealed that RCMP officers killed Dziekanski with a taser because he grabbed a stapler. "In my view, it's rather embarrassing to the RCMP that each of these four armed, young, fit, male police officers would be afraid of a man with a stapler," said Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward.

The government of Saskatchewan announced that it will spend $87 million to build a new maximum-security prison after six prisoners escaped from a Regina jail by digging a tunnel with tools that included nail clippers.

Canwest Media, one of Canada's biggest media conglomerates, announced that it will miss a debt payment for US$30 million on March 15.

The Globe and Mail revealed that the Conservatives are secretly preparing a "sweeping" new series of rules that apply to First Nation peoples. The documents acquired by the Globe indicate that the new rules hearken back to the proposed First Nations Governance Act, which was successfully rejected by Native groups in 2002. "The documents suggest the new policy will revive the central elements of the Governance Act, including mandatory rules for bands on how to conduct elections and make their spending public to members," according to the Globe. Sources noted that the Conservatives might try to implement the changes as new policy effective April 1, 2010.

The Conservatives also sought to revive "anti-terror" powers that would allow for preventive arrests and force people alleged to have knowledge about "terrorist" activities to testify in front of a judge.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon cancelled a trip to India. He would have been the fifth Canadian Cabinet Minister to visit India in 2009.

Barclays Bank of England was accused of facilitating the money laundering activities of a corrupt regime in Equatorial Guinea. "If resources like oil and timber are to truly help lift Africa and other poor regions out of poverty, then banks must be made to stop doing business with corrupt dictators and their families," reads a new report prepared by Global Witness.

Richard Livingston Nicholas, lifelong activist and the masked Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) warrior depicted in one of the most famous photos from the 1990 Oka crisis, died in a car crash. Later the same day, photojournalist Tom Hanson, who snapped the famous photograph, collapsed during a hockey game and died. They were both 41. During the Oka crisis, 2,700 soldiers surrounded the Kanienkehaka communities of Kanehsatake and Kahnawake. The famous photograph depicts a masked Nicholas standing atop crushed Quebec Provincial Police cars, holding a rifle above his head in a victorious gesture.

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Comments

Omar Khadr etc

Gee, what an interesting online news source this is. I will probably be linking to this site on at least one of my sites:

http://fakirscanada.spaces.live.com/default.aspx

in the near future, after I've checked out your site.

As for Omar Khadr, I don't believe he is ever coming back to Canada, and here's why: http://fakirsca.blogspot.com/2009/02/life-and-times-of-omar-khadr.html

Regards and best wishes.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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