Take 5 Newscast: Why the Swiss are afraid of minarets; Stimulus funding goes to conservative ridings; Alberta faces up to Aboriginal education gap; Hunting blockade in B.C.

banff gondolaWell, after a long hiatus due to a two-week workshop at the Banff Centre for Emerging Aboriginal Writers (super awesome, check out the pics here), and a cold, I’m finally back on Take 5 News.  Here is my selection of world and national news for Wednesday, October 14th.

And a hot tip:  We interviewed filmmaker Dennis Allen this morning on his CBQM doc about a radio station that is acting as a modern social network in the Far North – the elders on air are colourful and delightfully funny – check it out at its imagineNATIVE premiere this Friday afternoon.


Euthanasia?  Oui, Oui!
Three out of four specialist doctors in Quebec say they want the government to legalize euthanasia.

That’s according to a survey conducted by their professional association –  and the doctors are urging the association to take a public stand on the matter.

But 20 per cent of those polled say that even if euthanasia were legalized, they would refuse to perform it.

The Federal Stimulus stimulates Conservative ridings
That’s according to Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy…  he’s suggesting that the recent wave of federal infrastructure stimulus funding favoured Conservative ridings.

Kennedy’s report claims that in several provinces the Conservative ridings received an average of $3-$4 million dollars more than opposition ridings under the Building Canada Fund.

And under the $500-million dollar Recreational Infrastructure Canada program, 18 of the top 20 Ontario ridings by number of projects are held by Conservatives.

Yesterday, National Conservative caucus chair and MP Guy Lauzon, dismissed the claims saying the Liberals are trying to create another excuse to have an election.  He says it was up to the municipalities to apply for funds.

Don’t shoot our moose
In Northern B.C…   the Tahltan Nation continues its standoff against the government over hunting rules – but the Environment Ministry says it won’t come to the table until the blockades are down.

New roads into the northern territory and the longest moose hunting season in the province is causing unchecked hunting in Tahltan territory and its decimating the moose population, say local Elders and protesters.  They are patrolling a blockade preventing hunters from coming into the territory.

One hour south, Iskut residents occupy another blockade – this one against Royal Dutch Shell’s exploration for coalbed methane in an area known as the Sacred Headwaters – only this blockade started four years ago.|

Elder Lillian Campbell, says the two blockades are linked, “It’s about bears, it’s about wolves, it’s about salmon — it’s about our culture,” she says.

The Environment Ministry says moose populations are healthy and it won’t talk to the Tahltan Nation until they stop the blockades.

Alberta addresses its failing grade for educating Aboriginal youth
Yesterday the Alberta Government and eight members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities made the first move to formally address the education gap facing Aboriginal youth.

They formed a ministers’ council on Aboriginal education – expected to meet several times a year.

The move is being heralded by education consultant Thomas Erasmus of Goodfish Lake First Nation.

He says problems with gangs and drugs on reserves, and among native youth in Edmonton’s downtown, are tied to gaps in education and worrying school drop-out rates.

He says the on-reserve school system is failing – schools are often isolated and use a hodgepodge of curriculum.  Teachers are paid less than in nearby provincial schools, so they often move on quickly after gaining experience.

Erasmus hopes that by sitting down with aboriginal people, the council will force ministers to give education for aboriginal youth higher priority.

In Vancouver…. a memorial mass is being held today…
marking the second anniversary of Robert Dziekanski’s death moments after he was tasered and pinned to the ground by four RCMP officers at the Vancouver International Airport.

Dziekanski’s mother, Zofia Cisowski will attend the 5 o clock mass at the city’s  Holy Rosary Cathedral.

The Braidwood Inquiry investigating Dzienkanski’s death is hearing closing statements this week by lawyers from both sides.

Meanwhile Dziekanski’s mother is reiterating her calls for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to look into whether criminal charges can be laid against the four RCMP officers who confronted her son.

Hands off the beverage cart
The pilot of an Air Canada Jazz flight from Vancouver to Fort McMurray grounded the plane after a passenger stole a beer from the flight attendant’s beverage cart.

The RCMP whisked the man in question off the plane – they say he nicked the beer and then tried to hide the evidence by flushing the empty can down the toilet.

The plane then got on its way, leaving some passengers hankering for the good old days when beer was included with your plane ticket.

Al-Qaeda’s credit crunch

The US Treasury claimed yesterday that Al-Qaeda is in its worst financial state for many years while the Taliban’s funding is rising.

The Taliban are in better financial shape partly because of Afghanistan’s booming drug trade.

Senior Treasury official David Cohen says the al-Qaeda leadership has warned that a lack of funds is hurting its recruitment and training efforts.

Cohen says without money, Al-Qaeda is losing influence.

Unsafe abortions are killing about 70,000 women around the world every year, says a new report by the U.S.- based Guttmacher Institute.

And five million women are treated every year for complications arising from unsafe abortions.

While the number of abortions worldwide fell from 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003 – the number of deaths has not been reduced.

The report blames the high death rate on rising populations of women in parts of the world where safe abortions are not widely available.
Half of the deaths due to unsafe abortions are in Africa, followed by South Asia.

The report claims the key to prevention is contraception – and it calls on governments to expand high quality family planning services, liberalize abortion laws and make investments to make safe abortion services available.

Who’s afraid of a Minaret?
Well some people in Switzerland are. That country is divided as it readies to vote in a November referendum to ban the construction of minarets on mosques.

The controversial campaign is being led by right-wing Christians like Daniel Zigg, a member of the Federal Democratic Union.  He sees minarets as symbols of Muslim victories over newly conquered lands – and a source of quote “ideological emissions.”

The move is so radical that even some die-hard members of right wing parties are expressing discomfort with the issue.


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