June 22, 2009

The Canwest News Service reports that, "In a significant policy shift, the Canadian government now believes that telling the country’s taxpayers the future cost of the war in Afghanistan would be a threat to national security..."

"When the NDP asked for the (military costs of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan) last year, the military made them public. ...But this year, military censors cited Section 15 of the (Access to Information) act in blocking out the figure."

Section 15 of the act allows the withholding of any “information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada or the detection, prevention or suppression of subversive or hostile activities.”

"The NDP has filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s office to force the release of the figures for the recently started fiscal year of 2009-10, as well as for 2010-11 and 2011-12."

June 22, 2009

A World Water Council media release states, "On Friday, the World Water Council selected Marseille, France as the city and country to host the 2012 World Water Forum."

You will remember that on March 19 at the last World Water Forum in Istanbul, Maude Barlow delivered a speech on behalf of UN president Miguel d'Escoto.

His speech stated, "The forum's orientation is profoundly influenced by private water companies. This is evident by the fact that both the president of the World Water Council and the alternate president are deeply involved with provision of private, for-profit, water services."

His speech also noted that future forums should "conduct their deliberations under the auspices of the United Nations."

The World Water Council media release is at

June 22, 2009

The United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development takes place this week from Wednesday June 24 to Friday June 26.

This past Saturday, UN president Miguel d'Escoto addressed the 'People's Voices on the Crisis', a civil society event in New York preceeding the UN conference.

Highlights from his speech include:

1. "This Conference is about bringing the discussion about economic reforms to the United Nations. We must ensure that the countries most affected by the crisis have a real voice in solving this global crisis. We have had summits of the G8 and the G20 and other ad hoc groups. Now let us give the G192 its opportunity to express its concerns and needs and concrete recommendations."

2. "This Conference should be seen as an opportunity to initiate a global conversation about global economic governance and ways to make our international institutions more representative and inclusive, now and in the decades to come."

June 22, 2009

The BBC reports that, "Indigenous groups in Peru have called off protests after two land laws which led to deadly fighting were revoked. Hailing victory, Amazonian Indian groups said it was an 'historic day'."

"Daysi Zapata, vice president of the Amazon Indian confederation that led the protests, ...urged fellow activists to end their action by lifting blockades of jungle rivers and roads set up since April across six provinces in the Peruvian Amazon."

Zapata said, "This is a historic day for indigenous people because it shows that our demands and our battles were just."

The Associated Press adds, "Indians have opposed 11 pro-investment decrees issued by President Alan Garcia in early 2008 under special legislative powers granted him by Peru's Congress to enact a free trade agreement with the United States."

"The legislature revoked two of the decrees last August after Indians blocked highways, waterways and a state oil pipeline."

"(On Thursday) Congress revoked two (more) decrees that indigenous groups said would spur oil and gas exploitation and other development on their ancestral lands."

June 22, 2009

CBC reports that, "A United Nations food agency says a record 1.02 billion people are hungry around the world (up 11 percent from last year's 915 million), largely due to the global economic crisis and stubbornly high food prices."

"Compared with last year, there are 100 million more people who are hungry, meaning they receive fewer than 1,800 calories a day, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report released Friday."

"Soaring prices for staples such as rice triggered riots in many parts of the developing world last year. ...Average prices at the end of last year were still 24 per cent higher in real terms than in 2006, FAO said. The global economic crisis has compounded the problem for people dealing with pay cuts or job losses. Individual countries have also some lost flexibility in handling price fluctuations, as the crisis has made tools such as currency devaluation less effective."

"Asia and the Pacific, the world's most populous region, has the largest number of hungry people at 642 million."