- - Monday, September 19, 2011


Parliament opens with new conservative majority

OTTAWA — After leading minority governments since 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally got to flex his conservative political will Monday at the helm of his first majority in parliament.

Lawmakers returned to a vastly changed House of Commons after a summer break with the leftist New Democratic Party as official opposition for the first time in its history. However, the party lost its longtime leader, Jack Layton, to cancer last month.

The Liberals, which had governed the country of 34 million people for most of the last century, were reduced to a paltry 34 seats in May elections just prior to the break, forcing leader Michael Ignatieff to step down after losing his seat.

The French-Canadian separatist Bloc Quebecois is back with just four seats, down from 47, and without leader Gilles Duceppe, who lost his seat two decades after he was first elected to parliament.

With a majority of seats in the House and all three parties across the aisle tangled up in leadership races, Harper’s Conservatives are expected to face few real challenges in the fall session of this 41st parliament.


Morales criticizes UN over action against Libya

HAVANA — Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales, upbraided the United Nations Monday for approving NATO military action against Libya, calling its chief decision-making body “a council of insecurity.”

Mr. Morales, who arrived in Cuba over the weekend for talks with President Raul Castro, was to travel to New York Tuesday for the opening of the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

Before leaving, he told state-run Prensa Latina he would devote his U.N. speech to “some reflections on the crisis of capitalism and on the inhuman interventions like the one in Libya.”

He said the U.N. Security Council’s approval of military action against the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was “a shame for humanity.”

“What Security Council? I would say it is a council of insecurity,” he said.

Mr. Morales and Venezuela’s anti-American president, Hugo Chavez, have been among the most outspoken opponents of the NATO-backed uprising against Col Gadhafi, insisting it was a Western grab for Libya’s oil reserves.


Peacekeepers in custody over assault on Haitian man

MONTEVIDEO — Five peacekeepers from Uruguay accused of sexually assaulting a young Haitian man were taken into custody in their home country to await trial, military officials said Monday.

The soldiers, who were based in southern Haiti, stand accused of attacking an 18-year-old man in the small coastal town of Port-Salut.

They arrived back in Uruguay on Friday and were immediately detained, said Marta Iturvide, secretary of the Supreme Military Court, said.

They have been charged with “disobedience” and failure in their mission, with punishment for the first offense ranging from four months to four years in prison, and the second a maximum of three years in prison.


Police arrest two suspects in Amazon killings

SAO PAULO — Police say they have arrested two fugitives suspected in the killings of two Amazon activists earlier this year.

Authorities say brothers Jose Rodrigues Moreira and Lindonjonson Silva Rocha were found hiding in a rural area of Para state over the weekend.

Para is where activists Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria, were killed in May while trying to help landless families.

A judge ordered the men’s arrest in July based on evidence presented by police and prosecutors. They had been on the run since then.

The watchdog group Catholic Land Pastoral says more than 1,150 rural activists have been killed in Brazil over the past 20 years. It says the slayings are mostly carried out by gunmen working for loggers, ranchers and farmers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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