The world at a glance . . . Americas



Overcrowded ERs: Emergency rooms in Canada are so crowded that patients are dying while they wait to be treated, Canadian doctors said this week. Treatment is free in Canada’s national health-care system, and in many hospitals, packed ambulances idle outside for hours because there is no place to leave patients. Doctors are asking the provinces to adopt a plan in which patients are either admitted or discharged within six hours. “We’ve had people have heart attacks in the waiting room, people seize in the waiting room, and patients have miscarriages in the waiting room,” said Dr. Brian Rowe of the University of Alberta Hospital. “It’s like a Third World country.”

Mexico City

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Rights for illegals: Mexico’s Human Rights Commission called on the government this week to change the law so that illegal immigrants wouldn’t be deported when they reported crimes. Under current law, police automatically check the immigration status of anyone who reports a crime. That means that the thousands of undocumented Central Americans who cross Mexico each year on their way to the U.S. are afraid to go to the police to report the many robberies, rapes, and assaults against them. “Mexico has become the scene of the most shameful violations of migrants’ rights,” said Commission President José Luis Soberanes.

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Yemeni gets life: A U.S. military jury has sentenced Osama bin Laden’s media specialist to life in prison for terrorism. Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, 39, a native of Yemen, made propaganda videos for al Qaida before he was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001. He also hooked up a satellite receiver so that bin Laden and his cohorts could hear live coverage of the 9/11 attacks in their Afghan caves. An unrepentant terrorist, al-Bahlul said he had volunteered to be the 20th hijacker, but that bin Laden told him he was more valuable as a propagandist. “I think the 20th hijacker comment pretty much sealed the deal,” said al-Bahlul’s lawyer, Air Force Maj. David Frakt. “But he might have gotten life anyway.” The military has yet to decide where he will serve his sentence.

Bogotá, Colombia

Murderous generals: The Colombian government has fired 27 army officers and soldiers, including three generals, charging that they randomly killed poor people to inflate body counts in the war against guerrillas. “There has been negligence in the army, and that has permitted some people to involve themselves in crimes,” President Álvaro Uribe said, “which in some regions ended in the killings of innocents to show success against the criminals.” At least 11 young men were reportedly lured from the slums of Bogatá with the promise of jobs and then killed in the jungle, where army units then presented their bodies as those of militants killed in combat. Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said he was working to change the perception in the army that success is measured in “dead guerrillas.”

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