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April in Review, Part II

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Issue: 60 Section: Month in Review

April 30, 2009

April in Review, Part II

Canadian journalists in Afghanistan, UK out of Iraq, "NAFTA" flu

by Dominion Staff

Members of communities affected by Barrick Gold's mining operations converged in Toronto during the company's annual general meeting. Photo: Allan Cedillo Lissner allan.lissner.net

Indigenous people from around the world met in Ahtna and Dena’ina Athabascan Territory (Anchorage), Alaska, to discuss climate change. The majority of delegates supported a full moratorium on oil and gas drilling, but consensus was not achieved. "In my opinion the extractive industries (oil, gas, mining), the World Bank and promoters of REDD (reduced deforestation and forest degradation) have incredible power and resources to cause division amongst our grassroots organizations," said Clayton Thomas-Müller of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation. The over 400 delegates at the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change wrote the Anchorage Declaration, which will be presented to the Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December.

The Academic Senate’s Committee on Committees at the University of California at Santa Barbara decided to proceed with a case against professor William I. Robinson. Two students of Robinson's accused him of sending an anti-semitic email to the class, which caused them to drop out. Robinson is the author of books including Latin America and Global Capitalism and Promoting Polyarchy.

Swine flu took center stage as hundreds of people contracted the disease, and 160 people died from it, most of whom were in Mexico. Some blamed the spread of the virus on immigration, while others used the outbreak as an excuse to call for the closure of the US Mexico border. "The public needs to be aware of the serious threat of swine flu, and we need to close our borders to Mexico immediately and completely until this is resolved," said Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat. Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to calling the virus the "Mexican Flu," echoing calls from the Israeli government to avoid using the term "swine flu" because of Jewish and Muslim sensitivities to pork. Pharmaceutical giants Roche and Glaxosmithklein have seen their stock prices rise in response to the flu. Critics called the flu the "NAFTA flu," because of the industrial farming practices that result in "cities of poultry and pork" that foster the disease.

Three suspected mercenaries were killed and two arrested in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. A cache of weapons was seized by police, who claimed that the group was planning to assassinate President Evo Morales.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa opened the door to the use of Terminator seeds, drawing the ire of environmentalists, who are increasingly critical of the president's environmental policies.

Over 150 migrants were arrested in Calais, France, in a police operation that involved more than 300 cops.

A fresh round of fighting between the army and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka took place, resulting in at least 63,000 people being displaced, an unconfirmed civilian death toll of 1,000, and thousands of wounded. Supporters of the Tamil people continued to hold large protests in Ottawa.

17-year-old Tara-Lyn Poorman's body was found in Regina on April 17, 2009.

The body of 17-year-old Aboriginal youth Tara-Lyn Poorman was found one block away from where she had attended a sweet-sixteen party on December 12, 2008 – the last night she was seen alive. Poorman's mother questioned the search efforts of the Regina Police, which failed to locate her daughter for so many months. The cause of Tara-Lyn's death is still unconfirmed, but is not being treated as a criminal investigation. Over 510 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered in Canada since 1980, a large number of them from Saskatchewan.

The International Monetary Fund announced that bank losses from the financial meltdown may reach US$4 trillion. According to the IMF, banks may require another $1.7 trillion in bailouts to stabilize the system.

The US economy shrank by 6.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2009, and US exports dropped by 30 per cent, the largest such drop since 1969.

General Motors announced that they will cut another 21,000 jobs. The car maker may go into bankruptcy protection on June 1 if restructuring is not completed by then.

Barrick Gold's annual general meeting was met with street-level protests in Toronto, held in solidarity with Indigenous delegates who entered the meeting to confront company executives and shareholders.

The Canadian Press reported that NATO has implemented new rules that affect the ability of Canadian journalists to cover the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The new rules make it even more difficult for journalists to leave the Kandahar airfield to interview Afghans. "It sounds like the more control they have over journalists, where they go, who they talk to, they'll be able to shape the story in a much [sic] effective way," said Mary Agnes Welch, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

A court in Spain opened investigations into the use of torture at the US prison at Guantánamo Bay. US President Barack Obama released four "torture memos" from the Bush administration that gave the CIA the green light to torture US prisoners at Guantánamo and in secret prisons around the world. Obama also stated that waterboarding was torture, contradicting former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense of the technique.

The United Kingdom ended their combat mission in Iraq, and announced their plan to sign a bilateral trade deal with Iraq. "We hope to sign an agreement with the Iraqi government about the future role that we can play in training and in protecting the oil supplies of Iraq and that will be an agreement between our two governments rather than any new United Nations resolution," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki visited the UK and took part in meetings that were attended by over 200 corporations including Shell, Rolls Royce, Barclays Capital and JP Morgan.

Britain ended bilateral military aid to Colombia, citing ongoing human rights violations, including the ongoing false positives scandal. The UK will continue to provide military support to Colombia under the guise of "counter-narcotics assistance."

People across Canada mobilized against the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and hundreds of people called on the Liberals not to support the deal in advance of the Federal Liberal Convention in Vancouver.

The Palestinian Authority opened an embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. It is the first of ten Palestinian embassies to be opened in Latin America.

The International Organisation for Migration published a study that found that there are 1.6 million internally displaced people in Iraq. "People fled either US military operations or the ethno-sectarian violence that erupted in 2006," according to the report.

Border restrictions imposed by Israel have prevented the delivery of US $4.5 billion in reconstruction aid to Gaza. The aid package includes construction materials that are meant to rebuild homes and infrastructure. Israel's attacks on Gaza in early 2009 killed 1,400 people and destroyed at least 5,000 homes.

Fighting between government and guerrilla groups in the north of the Central African Republic displaced at least 8,000 people. "MSF [Médécins Sans Frontières] has visited several empty villages, some of them partially or almost completely burnt down and looted. In Bokayanga, for instance, people fled to the bush due to insecurity, losing their food and seeds for the next harvest, when their houses were burnt," according to MSF.

Daniel Topey, a young man who awoke from a 10-day coma after he was shot in the back of the head by a Montréal police officer to learn that he was being charged with the attempted murder of a cop, appeared in court. His trial was postponed and he will return to court in June.

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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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