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August in Review, Part I

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Issue: 71 Section: Month in Review

August 16, 2010

August in Review, Part I

Pickton history revealed, Tamil migrants arrived, First Nations marched against tar sands

by Dominion Staff

A ship floats in the water surrounded by oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Photograph by Kris Krug. Photo: Kris Krüg, CC 2.0

The Attorney General of Alabama announced the state would sue BP for the oil spill, which experts say has released at least 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP was also fined $50 million for safety violations for a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170.

The Indian Coast Guard responded to an oil spill off the coast of Mumbai, caused when two cargo ships collided in rough seas.

A Turkish oil pipeline which transports oil from Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea was targeted by saboteurs, killing two and shutting down the flow of oil.

An Ontario judge ordered the release of Abdullah Khadr after more than four years in prison in Toronto without bail. Khadr is the oldest brother of Omar Khadr, a Canadian youth imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. "This government has been totally unreasonable," said Khadr's lawyer. His release contravened an extradition request from the US Ottawa has one month to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Omar Khadr's US Military Commissions trial took place in Guantanamo Bay, where the youth has been held without a trial for the last six years. Though evidence emerged that Khadr was coerced and intimidated during interrogation, the Military Comission Judge admitted the testimony gained under these circumstances.

The publication ban was lifted in the case against Robert Pickton, a Coquitlam BC pig farmer and serial killer. New information revealed that he had been previously charged with attempted murder in 1997 but the court stayed the charges because the woman, a sex-trade worker who suffered multiple stab wounds and lost three litres of blood, was said not to be a credible witness.

A California judge overturned Prop 8, an anti-gay Proposition that prevented gay marriage in the state of California. Supporters called the verdict a temporary victory, as the decision will be appealed. In Mexico, supreme court justices voted 8-2 to uphold a ruling that grants the right of marriage to same sex couples.

A poster in solidarity with Tamil migrants arriving in B.C. produced by No One Is Illegal Vancouver. Photo: NOII Vancouver

A ship carrying an estimated 490 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka arrived off the waters of Vancouver Island. Mainstream media quoted a discredited "expert" who connected the passengers with the Tamil Tigers, but advocates contested media claims. "We saw a similar unfounded hysteria last October with the 76 Tamil migrants. All were eventually released when Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) was forced to admit they had no evidence of a connection to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In fact, based on a lack of evidence, CBSA consented to the release of the last group of 25 detained refugees in January 2010," said Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal Vancouver.

Kelly Pflug-Black, who turned herself in to authorities in July after learning she was wanted on a number of charges related to G-20 resistance, was granted bail. Activist Erik Lankin remained in prison, marking six weeks inside since his arrest on June 26. "This continued detention and politically-motivated charge is setting a dangerous precedent in the intensifying criminalization of dissent and political speech since the G-20 protest. This is an attempt to intimidate and harass and is a serious assault on freedom of expression and the right to assemble," said Gary Kinsman, a Professor at Laurentian University.

An internal report by the Montreal Police Department found that racial profiling was being used at an "alarming" rate by the force. Among other things, the report revealed that in northern areas of the city in 2006 and 2007, approximately 40 per cent of young black men had been subjected to identity checks, compared to only five to six per cent of whites.

The Vancouver Sun exposed the conditions faced by migrant workers in a remote work camp near Golden, BC Workers laboured 10-12 hours a day, lived in a squalid camp with insufficient food and without proper bathing facilities, were threatened and subjected to racist remarks by employers. "We were really, really tortured," said one man. The company that had hired them, Khaira Enterprises Ltd, was carrying out a $280,000 government contract to clear the brush.

The United Nations began an inquiry into the flotilla massacre, in which Israel attacked an aid convoy bound for Gaza, killing nine people. Observers declared that the inquiry was bound to fail, given the appointment of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe as vice-chair of the investigation. Uribe was president of Colombia for eight scandal-ridden years, during which time the army carried out thousands of false positive assassinations and the government carried out systematic attacks on human rights activists and land defenders.

Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza, killing at least two and wounding dozens of people. "For many in Gaza, last night’s attack was a traumatic reminder of the onslaught during Operation Cast Lead when three hundred F-16 bomb attacks took place during the first two minutes of the campaign," read a release from the International Solidarity Movement.

NATO admitted to killing civilians in a series of bombings in Afghanistan. Al Jazeera reported that the violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the 2001 invasion of the country.

Iraqi government figures showed that July 2010 was the bloodiest month of violence in Iraq in the past two years, in which 396 civilians were killed along with 89 cops and 50 soldiers.

In Mexico, over a thousand journalists marched to demand an end to escalating violence against their peers. "Many here believe the government is not doing enough to protect their colleagues, as more than 60 journalists have been killed in the last four years," said Al Jazeera journalist Franc Contreras.

Protesters set up a blockade near Halifax, demanding that the predominantly black community of North Preston be granted access to a shortcut around a construction site that had previously only been extended to 10 white families. The blockade was later lifted after a meeting with officials, who closed access to the shortcut to everyone.

Workers in Goose Bay, NL, marched on the one-year anniversary of the miners' strike at the Voisey's Bay nickel mine.

Hundreds of Guatemalans launched a case against a supreme court justice for falsification, through which he granted 22 square kilometres of public land to Vancouver-based Goldcorp.

First Nations communities downstream from the tar sands announced a healing walk leaving from Fort McMurray and traveling along the Athabasca River.

Vancouver residents tore down a fence erected around Grandview Park, a community gathering space in East Vancouver. The City of Vancouver is embarking on a program to renovate the park, which some say will displace the diverse communities that frequent the area.

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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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