The week that was | The Jackal

15 Apr 2011

The week that was

On Tuesday, Japan upgraded the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis to the highest severity level 7 for major accident, this and an earlier admittance that the radiation being released was far greater than first realised, confirms many peoples fears. The International Atomic Energy Agency says the plant is showing “early signs of recovery” but is still in a critical condition.

The stark assessment reinforced the sense that this nuclear emergency ultimately will cause problems that exceed those first predicted by the government, which has downplayed long-term safety concerns and only expanded its mandated 12-mile radius evacuation zone on Monday, something other countries had been concerned with for some time.

The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill passed under urgency this week and sparked some controversy because of possible Internet suspensions, guilt by accusation and termination. A black out campaign on Facebook has ensued with many believing the legislation targets individuals, and removes from institutions (libraries, universities, schools, businesses) the protections that the previous legislation gave.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand has sent the Navy and Police to intervene in a peaceful protest by Greenpeace and local iwi off the East Coast of New Zealand. The protesters managed to halt an oil exploration ship. The Governments actions have caused wide spread condemnation from the public, East coasters as well as Maori and Green Party representatives. John Key believes Petrobras has a legal right under their permit because the Government granted that right. However this was undertaken without proper consultation with local iwi who are looking into legal options to protect the coastlines.

Greenpeace is organising a day of Action for April 20th a date that also marks one year since the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill disaster that leaked around 4,900,000 oil barrels (779,000 m3) into the ocean.

Scuffles between protesters and security guards marred BP's first annual shareholder meeting in London since the Gulf oil spill, with shrimpers blocked from entering Thursday's meeting to demand more compensation. The protesters included five Gulf Coast residents who had planned to tell investors about the loss of their livelihoods and health problems resulting from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Government formally apologised to an autistic man wrongly convicted of rape and agreed to pay Mr Farmer $351,575 in compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. With revelations today that two police officers have been suspended and face sexual violation charges and a Police officer charged with grievous bodily harm being acquitted despite seven officers giving evidence against him, this has not been a good week for the Police. Last week the new Commissioner of Police Peter Marshall admitted that the culture within the force needed to be cleaned up and a recent poll has shown that public esteem for the police has plunged to an all time low.

Singer Tiki Taane, who was arrested at a Tauranga tavern on Sunday morning for allegedly singing the rap anthem "Fuck the police”, will defend a charge of disorderly behaviour on the basis that he was exercising freedom of speech.

With an earlier move to remove free advice through legal aid, more extreme measures have been implemented in what many consider the most drastic cuts to legal aid in its 60-year history. The National Government seek to reduce the number of civil law cases by 547,000 a year in what ministers describe as an attempt to save money and "discourage a culture of litigation". There is strong opposition to this move with many predicting miscarriages of justice and hearing times increasing through self-representation.

Leaders of Britain, France and the United States have vowed to continue their military campaign in Libya until Muammar Gaddafi leaves power. Col Gaddafi's daughter accused the leaders of "insulting" Libyans. "To speak of Gaddafi's resignation is a humiliation for all Libyans," Aisha Gaddafi told young loyalists at a rally in Tripoli. Fighting also continued in the rebel-held city of Misrata, western Libya, which has been besieged by pro-Gaddafi forces for nearly two months. Rebels said a rocket attack by pro-Gaddafi forces killed 23 people on Thursday morning but this could not be independently verified.

Silvio Berlusconi the 74-year-old ruler of Italy who is alleged to have paid for sex with a 17-year-old belly dancer called Karima El Mahroug, as well as 32 other women has vowed to not stand for re-election. Miss El Mahroug, it is alleged, was under the legal age for prostitution and Mr Berlusconi is also facing a charge of abuse of office.

Berlusconi is accused of using his power as prime minister to secure the release of Miss El Mahroug. She had been arrested for theft last May and Mr Berlusconi told Milan police she was related to the then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Prosecutors recently outlined their case against the prime minister in a closed hearing in Milan concerning Berlusconi's broadcasting empire.

A soil fumigant used in a strawberry farm caused adverse effects and around 40 people were evacuated from hotels near the Auckland Airport Thursday night. Chloropicrin was used in large quantities during World War One and as a riot control agent. It has similar characteristics to tear gas.

Jean-Claude Duvalier AKA Baby Doc the exiled former dictator of Haiti, who is accused of brutality and embezzlement while ruling Haiti from 1971 to 1986, was charged with corruption when he in a surprise move returned to Haiti in January. The theft and misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars, which funded an opulent lifestyle in France after a popular uprising and international pressure, exiled him and his wife from Haiti, have not been recovered. On Thursday a lawyer for a Human Rights Watch organization said there is enough evidence to charge Duvalier with abuses from the 1980s with records showing the former dictator was at least aware of the torture and killings by his forces.

Tunisia has drawn up 18 criminal charges, including manslaughter and drug running, against its former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who triggered a wave of revolutions across the Middle East by fleeing into exile.