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September in Review, Part I

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Issue: 63 Section: Month in Review

September 15, 2009

September in Review, Part I

Drought and Flooding, Spending and Cutting

by Dominion Staff

A puddle in Mexico City, August, 2009.[cc 2.0] Photo: Angel Morales Rizo

British Columbia's Finance Minister Colin Hansen released a fiscal update, predicting a $2.8 billion deficit over the next four years. The previous deficit estimate was $495 million. Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals plan to change BC's balanced budget legislation for the second time this year, allowing them to run a deficit for four years. "Just about everyone was caught off guard by the speed, scope and depth of the economic downturn," said Hansen on September 1. Hansen's comment came almost a full year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which the Toronto Star called the "recession's ground zero." Regardless of bringing in deficit spending, the BC Liberals announced further cuts to education programs including hot lunches and school libraries, and massive cuts to the arts. A new report found that the BC government earns more income from tuition fees than it does from corporate taxation.

In Nova Scotia, Finance Minister Graham Steele admitted that the province's debt is higher than expected, at $12.3 billion, but would not admit whether or not the province ran a balanced budget in 2008-2009.

The federal government changed its economic forecasts, predicting a $51.9 billion deficit instead of $46.5 billion. Harper's Conservatives upped their deficit timeline from four to six years.

The Associated Press reported that one year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of massive federal bailouts of US banks and automakers, banks are back to the same old risk taking. "There have been no significant changes to the federal rules governing their behavior. Proposals that have been made to better monitor the financial system and to police the products banks sell to consumers have been held up by lobbyists, lawmakers and turf-protecting regulators," according to the AP.

A new report showed that two-thirds of all income gains in the US between 2002-2007 went to earners in the top one per cent. "In the three decades since 1976, the incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of households have risen only slightly, on average, while the incomes of the top one per cent have soared," reads the report.

More than three million people in Central America face famine due to droughts. "Across the region, 80 per cent of the corn crop has already failed and many families are left scrounging for anything to fill their bellies," reported the Independent. This summer, 41 people living in the border region between Honduras and El Salvador starved to death.

The International Monetary Fund allocated $164 million to the Central Bank in Honduras, though it is not clear whether the coup regime can access the funds. The US revoked travel visas for Roberto Micheletti, leader of the coup regime.

No Games Toronto held protests against the Pan Am Games at different locations thoughout the city. Photo: No Games Toronto

Five anarchists were arrested in Serbia in connection with a direct action at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade. The action at the embassy was carried out in solidarity with Thodoros Iliopoulos, a political prisoner being held in Athens. At least one of the arrested has denied having anything to do with the action at the embassy. "It is not the first time that authorities have come after him or his comrades for no other reason than the fact that they are radical critics of the state," according to the Anarcho-syndicalist Initiative.

A bomb exploded outside the Athens Stock Exchange, slightly wounding one, and two blasts occured at a government building in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The Stock Exchange opened regardless of the bombing. The Greek guerrilla group Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for the stock market bombing, and the group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire claimed responsibility for the other.

Protests against the election of Ali Bongo, son of former President Omar Bongo, in Gabon's coastal city of Port Gentil led to the destruction of the French embassy and facilities, including a social club and gas stations operated by French oil giant TOTAL.

Indigenous Saami organizations in northern Sweden warned a Vancouver-based mining company, Blackstone Ventures, that they will "do everything we can" to stop the establishment of a mine on their territory. The mine is proposed for a reindeer calving area, and the Saami claim that they were never consulted by the company.

The Toronto International Film Festival opened amid controversy about TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey's decision to spotlight the city of Tel Aviv during the festival. "No one is claiming the Israeli government is secretly running TIFF's Tel Aviv spotlight, whispering in Mr. Bailey's ear about which films to program. The point is that the festival's decision to give Israel pride of place, holding up Tel Aviv as a 'young, dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates its diversity,' matches Israel's stated propaganda goals to a T," wrote Naomi Klein.

Dozens of people belonging to No Games Toronto protested the City of Toronto's bid for the Pan Am games during the Pan American Sports Organization's visit. According to a report posted on Rabble, "No Games Toronto and its supporters would rather see $2.4 billion invested in childcare, public transit, affordable housing, and education."

Right wing protesters in the US demonstrated their opposition to the Obama government's health care reform proposals by rallying in Washington DC. Signs at the rally read "Oust the Marxist Usurper, his Czars and Thugs—Honduras did it!" and "We came unarmed... This time." US journalist Jeremy Scahill weighed in on the protests with a tweet stating "Dear dingbats, you aren't protesters. You are: astroturfers, racists and, sadly, malleable fools being led by snakeoil salesmen."

Montreal's SNC-Lavalin was shortlisted for three construction contracts to build three gas turbines in Iraq. This follows an extensive report by journalist Anthony Fenton revealing Canada's involvement in Iraq.

A NATO airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killed 99 people, 30 of whom were civilians, according to an Afghan government inquiry. The bombing was carried out by US fighter planes under German command.

Convicted pipeline bomber Wiebo Ludwig appealed to the party responsible for a spate of bombings along EnCana pipelines in north east BC. "I want to encourage you not to let anger about such stupidity get the best of you and to realize that these conflicts cannot ultimately be settled by use of force, but by way of informed and patient persuasion. Please give that the time it needs now," he wrote in a letter. The CBC reported that Ludwig's motivation "is to show solidarity with those who share the bomber's environmental concerns but are too frightened to speak out for fear of being criticized by neighbours and friends, or for fear of being harassed by police."

Torrential rains caused flooding in drought-ridden Mexico City. Water shortages continue in the city, despite the rains.

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not just the USA

Those numbers are outrageous. For example, BC's original estimate of 1/2 a million to $2.8 billion now...it's obvious the world has landed on hard times. And I thought it was just the United States that would be turning in a huge defecit.

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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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