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September in Review, Part II

Issue: 72 Section: Month in Review

September 30, 2010

September in Review, Part II

Attempted coup in Ecuador, more G20 arrests in Canada, austerity protests in the EU

by Dominion Staff

Protesters in Dublin, Ireland, on September 29, 2010. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Europe to protest EU-wide austerity measures. CC 2.0 Photo: William Murphy/Informatique

Police in Ecuador staged a strike in six cities across the country, and trapped President Rafael Correa in a Quito Hospital in an attempted coup d'etat. Thousands of people assembled in the streets in defense of Correa, and the coup attempt was condemned by various civil sectors, including Indigenous organizations who have struggled against his policies. After 12 hours in a police hospital, Correa was freed and returned to the presidential palace.

First Nations in Ontario denounced Premier McGuinty as the Liberal government passed the Far Northern Act, which will create large protected areas in northern Ontario but also allow the government to override First Nations' land use plans. "As we have stated time and time again, [we] do not and will not recognize this legislation on our homelands," said Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in a press release. The NAN represents 49 First Nations, covering two-thirds of the province’s land mass.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Europe protested EU-wide austerity measures. Actions took place in Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Greece, Spain, Britain and Belgium. In addition, at least one million people took to the streets and paralyzed France over a proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

The US Department of Defense bought and destroyed all 10,000 copies of "Operation Dark Heart,"—the first edition of an Army Reserve officer's memoir—citing the need to protect classified information. International anti-corruption group, Wikileaks, responded by tweeting, "Burn all the books you want, Nazi punks. We already have a copy."

Environmentalists criticized the Canadian government for not taking action to stop the shipment of radioactive materials through the Great Lakes. Bruce Power, a private nuclear energy company in southern Ontario, plans to send contaminated generators by ship to Sweden for decontamination, but critics say such shipments open up the possibility of spills, as well as more hazardous shipments. Bruce Power says that the radiation contamination of the shipments is minimal, equivalent to an x-ray.

An Ontario court judge struck down three of Canada's prostitution laws in a case brought by a woman who works as a dominatrix and two other sex workers. The decision invalidates the laws in Ontario, but not in the rest of Canda. The federal government said it will appeal the ruling, which was met with mixed reactions. While conservative groups roundly condemned the decision, opinions were mixed among many feminist and sex-work support groups: some celebrated the ruling as a step toward more secure working conditions for and less criminalization of sex workers; others said it would disable the restrictions used to arrest pimps and sex-worker abusers.

Canadian-Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan was sentenced to a 19-year prison sentence in Iran. The 35-year-old was found guilty of collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic regime, insulting religious sanctity and creating propaganda for anti-revolutionary groups. Derakhshan is known as the blogfather of Iran, having inspired other Iranians—often ciritical of the current government—to launch their own blogs. Derakshan was originally threatened with a death sentence; he is also able to appeal the current verdict.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) announced a $10 million investment from mining company Goldcorp to fund SFU's Art School, which will be renamed the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts and will be located in the Woodward's complex in Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Proponents hailed the investment as a sign of the company's efforts to foster and support community development, but SFU administration is being criticized for ignoring Golcorp's record of human rights and environmental abuses in Latin America and the US.

A report by a UN fact-finding mission about the Israeli raids on the flotilla of boats bound for Gaza last May concluded that the five Turkish citizens and one US citizen killed by Israeli soldiers were shot execution-style, some while lying wounded on the deck of the Mavi Marmara.

A top Canadian oil executive met with David Suzuki to convince the environmentalist to help reach a "progressive solution" to conflicts over the Athabasca tar sands. Marcel Coutu, CEO of Canadian Oilsands Corporation and Chairman of Syncrude, approached Suzuki for help in striking a deal between oil companies and environmental organizations (ENGOs), similar to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), a wide-ranging agreement between Canada's forestry industry and large ENGOs (including the Suzuki Foundation). While some have called the CBFA historic, many have criticized it as silencing environmentalists and for excluding front line, affected communities. Suzuki immediately rejected the overture from Coutu.

James Cameron (left) with Indigenous people flying over the Athabasca River. Photo: Art Manuel

James Cameron, director of 3-D blockbuster Avatar, visited the tar sands region in Alberta and met with Indigenous peoples to learn their perspective on the development. "It will be a curse if not managed properly or it could be a great gift if managed properly... Right now it's going in the wrong direction... I think the federal and provincial government need to play a stronger role," said Cameron, though he also expressed his support for "sustainable industry development."

The UN's special rapporteur on food reported that natural disasters and market speculation are leading to another global food crisis. According to Olivier De Schutter, "A significant contributory cause of the price spike [has been] speculation by institutional investors who did not have any expertise or interest in agricultural commodities, and who invested in commodities index funds or [who invested] in order to hedge speculative bets."

A mudslide in Chiapas, Mexico, killed 16 people. The extreme weather event was the latest in a series of floods and storms in Mexico that have killed 96 people and displaced 81,000 since May 2010.

More than 100 people were arrested en masse in front of the White House while protesting mountain-top removal coal mining. Part of the Appalachia Rising series of events, the protest was attended by people from Appalachia, which has been hardest hit in the US by mountain-top removal mining, one of the most destructive extractive processes.

Vancouverites continued to demonstrate their solidarity with the 492 Tamil migrants who remain in prisons in Burnaby and Maple Ridge, BC.

Elroy Yau, the Toronto Transit Commission employee arrested while in full uniform on his way to work during the G20, published an open letter about the continuing trauma from his arrest and detention. He has refused to sign forms from the Ontario Worker's Compensation Board that would block him from suing the Toronto Police Services, and has therefore been denied worker's comp coverage.

Toronto police made more arrests in relation to the G20 protests. Alex Hundert was preemptively arrested on the morning of June 26, 2010, and re-arrested after speaking on a panel at Ryerson University for allegedly breaking bail conditions that forbade him from participating in public protests. He is still in jail. Jaroslava Avila was arrested on her way home from a health advocacy event at the University of Toronto (UofT). A prominent Indigenous solidarity activist and political science student at the UofT, she is facing conspiracy charges related to the G20.

Over 30 Mapuche political prisoners neared the 80th day of their hunger strike. They are demanding an end to anti-terrorist legislation that is used to criminalize them for defending their territory. Solidarity actions with Mapuche and anarchist prisoners in Chile took place around the world, and dozens of Chileans, including 96-year-old poet Nicanor Parra, have joined the hunger strike.

The federal government announced its "legacy of care" program, devoting $52.5 million over five years to helping injured Canadian veterans and their families. Veterans recently spoke out about their mistreatment in the medical system—especially under the new Veterans Charter—after former veterans ombudsman Pat Strogan was not reappointed to his post in August 2010.

Canada's student loan system maxed out at $15 billion. A Stats Canada report concluded that last year was "the worst labour market" for students: unemployment reached 55 per cent. Although student unemployment in the '70s was 75 per cent, tuition fees are ten times higher now than during the Age of Aquarius, and student debt has doubled since the '80s.

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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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