- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CANADA

Separatists regain lead in Quebec

OTTAWA | The separatist Bloc Quebecois has regained a lead in support among Quebec voters in the Canadian election campaign, a Leger poll showed Monday.

The pollster previously had the Conservatives two points ahead of the Bloc in the French-speaking province. But the separatists now are ahead, by 33 percent to 26 percent.

The Bloc seeks independence for Quebec but cannot achieve it in the federal Parliament.

The Conservatives still have a strong lead in national polls, but this latest poll suggests their scope for strong gains in Canada’s second most populous province will be limited on the Oct. 14 election day.

The Liberals are polling at 23 percent in Quebec, the left-wing New Democrats at 12 percent and the Greens at 5 percent.

Pollsters say Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been hurt by perceptions that he does not support subsidies for arts and culture, particularly important in Montreal.

In Montreal, the Conservatives might continue to be shut out, but the Journal de Montreal, which published the poll, said the Conservatives could sweep the less-populous Quebec City region.

VENEZUELA

Russia to help build nuke energy

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that Russia will help Venezuela develop nuclear energy - a move likely to raise U.S. concerns over increasingly close cooperation between Caracas and Moscow.

Mr. Chavez said he accepted an offer from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for assistance in building a nuclear reactor.

Mr. Putin offered Mr. Chavez assistance in developing nuclear energy during a meeting in the Russian city of Novo-Ogaryovo last week. The prime minister did not specify what kind of cooperation he could offer Venezuela, but Russia is aggressively promoting itself as a builder of nuclear power plants in developing nations.

MEXICO

Report slams probe of reporter’s death

MEXICO CITY | State and federal police have mishandled investigations of the 2006 slaying of a U.S. journalist-activist, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission said Sunday.

The commission said its own probe of the Bradley Roland Will killing found that Oaxaca state investigators failed to interview witnesses, collect relevant evidence or complete an autopsy of Mr. Will.

The 36-year-old reporter for indymedia.org was fatally shot in October 2006 while videotaping a clash between protesters and gunmen on the outskirts of Oaxaca City.

The conflict in Oaxaca began as a strike by teachers seeking higher pay. It quickly grew into a broader movement including Indian groups, students, farmers and left-leaning activists, who claimed Gov. Ulises Ruiz rigged his electoral victory and repressed opponents. At least nine other people were killed in the violence.

State investigators arrested two town officials in Mr. Will’s killing but later released them after then-state Attorney General Lizbeth Cana suggested that he may have been shot by someone in the group of protesters he was accompanying at the time.

The commission said its own analysis found Mr. Will’s killer shot at least 100 feet away from him.

MEXICO

Police find 97 tons of marijuana in field

MEXICO CITY | Mexican authorities say they have found and destroyed 97 tons of marijuana in a field in the northern border state of Sonora.

The Public Safety Department said Sunday the plants were spotted in a 13-acre field during an aerial search over the town of Nacori Chico in Sonora state, across the border from Arizona. The department said the plants were pulled out and incinerated.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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