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February In Review, Part II

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Issue: 67 Section: Month in Review

March 2, 2010

February In Review, Part II

Great Lakes protected, Afghanistan bombarded, Africville controversially compensated

by Dominion Staff

US Marines and Afghan National Army troops exchange fire with Taliban fighters in Helmund province. CC 2.0 Photo: ISAF Media

An unpublished United Nations report blamed the world's 3,000 largest corporations for $2.2 trillion in environmental destruction, totaling one third of their collective profits.

A report filed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission alleges upwards of 217 workers may have been in contact with dangerous levels of radiation while working on refurbishing a reactor at the Bruce nuclear power facility on Lake Huron last November. Workers were exposed to highly dangerous and carcinogenic alpha radiation in excess of government mandated safety levels and 12 to 25 times that experienced by Canadians outside of the nuclear industry—the equivalent of receiving ten x-ray scans.

Israel's Reut Institute defined the international social justice movement as an "existential threat" to the country and called for a government plan to "attack" and "sabotage" solidarity groups working around the globe, including in Canada.

On February 18, a group of Nigerian military commanders calling themselves the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy seized control of the nation from President Mamadou Tandja. Coup leader Colonel Adamou Harouna has called the action a "patriotic act" to restore democratic processes following Tandja's move to extend his presidential term through an allegedly fraudulent referendum.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon met with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in Niagara Falls in June 2009 to discuss the environmental health of the Great Lakes, including nuclear power and general ecology. cc 2.0 Photo: US Mission

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach unveiled a plan for Alberta to incorporate the tar sands and carbon capture technology into its K-12 provincial education program through "a flow of age-suitable information about the energy industry, its importance and its future". Environmental groups are concerned that this "energy literacy initiative" will be provincial propaganda targeting young people. This plan comes at the same time as budget cutbacks targeting air and water monitoring in the province.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called on the federal government to match funding for renewable energy development with the amount for carbon capture, despite the technology remaining unproven.

Members of the indigenous Jummas nation in Bangladesh were attacked by government security forces supporting Bengali settlement expansion onto traditional Jumma territories. Local reports state soldiers opened fire on civilians, killing at least six, and aided settlers in burning five villages.

Amidst of the so-called Olympic truce, NATO launched a US-led offensive in the town of Marjah, Helmund province, in southern Afghanistan. Operation Mushtarak caused a massive population displacement of Afghans and involved over 15,000 US, Afghan and NATO troops. The operation has killed at least 15 civilians, including 12 as a result of a targeted attack by the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, an advanced surface to surface missile system. A separate air-strike on a three-vehicle convoy on its way to Khandahar killed 27 civilians. In a public statement NATO defended the attack, saying they believed the convoy to be transporting Taliban insurgents.

Doctors in interior BC have voiced their opposition to the development of a gasification plant in Kamloops. The plant would use old creosote-soaked railway ties to create a synthetic gas—comparable to propane or natural gas—for electricity production. Health professionals and environmental groups state the process will release dangerous pollution into the air-shed of the Thompson Valley, potentially harmful to human and ecological health.

Thousands across the Ivory Coast have taken to the streets since President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the government and the electoral commission on February 12, further delaying a national election that has been avoided for the past five years. Five demonstrators were killed on February 19, when police opened fire on a crowd in Gagnoa, around 200 kilometers northwest of the economic capital, Abidjan.

The Okanagan Indian Band began a protective blockade at Bouleau Lake, near Vernon, BC, on February 22. The blockade has been organized to prevent logging in the regional watershed—which provides fresh water to 1,800 residents—by Tolko Industries Ltd.

Canadian-based uranium extraction company Denison Mines has begun mining uranium on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, despite a US government moratorium on new uranium mines and legal challenges from the Havasupai and Hualapai Nations, who maintain ancestral claim to the Grand Canyon. This move comes shortly after the Obama administration announced nearly $8 billion in loans for new nuclear power plants as part of the US plan to combat climate change.

Four key witnesses in the case of Palestinian solidarity activist Rachel Corrie's death are to be allowed to testify at a hearing in Haifa, northern Israel, next month. In 2003 Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer; her family filed a civil case against the Israeli defense ministry after the driver of the bulldozer was acquitted for allegedly not seeing Rachel Corrie.

Halifax mayor Peter Kelly delivered an official apology to former residents and descendants of Halifax's Africville, a predominantly black community bulldozed in the 1960's to erect the MacKay Bridge. The $3 million dollar compensation package offered by the city is being disputed by a group who says the decision to accept the package was undemocratic and illegal.

Hypothermia, due to an unusually wet winter, caused a higher number of deaths among immigrants attempting to cross the Arizona-Mexico border. Increased sercurity along the border is also pegged as a contributing factor, forcing longer travel distances over more difficult terrain for those attempting the trek.

The death of Boa Sr marks the extinction of the Bo language. Boa Sr was the last speaker of Bo, the language of the Bo tribe who have lived on India's Andaman Islands for as many as 65,000 years. The Great Andamanese, a combination of the tribes of the Andaman Islands, now has only 52 members, down from 5,000 when the British colonised the Andaman Islands in 1858.

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced it will spend $2.2 billion over the next five years to help restore the Great Lakes. The funds will be used to prevent pollution, clean up toxic hot spots, and fight invasive species. $475 million have been approved to date for the cleanup, and more will be sought in the coming years.

South African climate justice groups launched a global campaign to block the World Bank from loaning $3.75 billion to Eskom, most of which would finance the Medupi coal-fired power station. Campaign organizers vowed to lobby countries to vote against the loan, and threatened to revive the the World Bank "bond boycott" as a tool to stop the loan. Opposition is primarily based on concerns Eskoms activities will cause SA's climate debt to grow and negatively impact communities near coal mines.

A report from the ombudsman of Quebec has criticized the process for reviewing police misconduct, which currently calls on other provincial police forces to carry out the investigation. It called for the establishment of a civilian review panel to investigate cases in which civilians are harmed or killed by police actions. The report was, in part, a response to the clearing of two Montreal police officers responsible for the shooting death of 18-year-old Fredy Villeneuva last summer.

A proposed highway development in Saskatchewan is facing opposition from wildlife advocates who claim the Humbolt highway bypass will be "effectively opening up a killing zone" by cutting too close to a wildlife refuge established for the protection of local grassland plants and animals.

CSIS has been implicated in the detention and torture of Ahmad El Maati, one of three Canadians detained and tortured in Egypt and Syria. An investigation has found that correspondence between CSIS and Egyptian intelligence officials may have contributed to his being abused.

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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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