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January in Review, Part I

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Issue: 57 Section: Month in Review Geography: Earth

January 15, 2009

January in Review, Part I

Gaza death toll at over a thousand, US deficit prediction hits a trillion dollars

by Dominion Staff

A woman holds a doll during a protest against Israel's attacks on Gaza in Toronto. Photo: Deanna Beth

The Israeli attacks in the Gaza strip continued, as the number of Palestinian dead climbed to over 1000, with more than 4,700 wounded and tens of thousands displaced but unable to flee. Thirteen Israelis have been killed since the attacks began on December 27. Israeli tank fire killed 42 people at a school run by the United Nations in the Jabalya refugee camp. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) brought out reservists to continue the attack on Gaza. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez expelled the Israeli ambassador and other diplomats due to the ongoing attacks on Gaza, a move which was later followed by Bolivia and Mauritius. Canada was the only country on the United Nations' Human Rights Council that voted against a motion condemning Israel for its recent attacks on the Gaza Strip. Thirteen countries abstained. Media coverage in North America generally favoured Israel. Naomi Klein called for a renewed boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Protests against Isreal's attack on Gaza took place around the world. Nearly 100,000 people took to the streets in London, England; 20,000 in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon; 10,000 in each of Washington, DC, Toronto and Montréal; 2,000 in Ottawa, 1,300 in Edmonton; 1,200 in Calgary; close to 1,000 in Vancouver, and 100 in Halifax. Students at universities in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem protested the IDF. Eight Jewish women were arrested for occupying the Israeli consulate in Toronto.

The Congressional Budget Office in the United States announced that the deficit of the world's largest economy would reach over $1 trillion by September 30, 2009.

Nortel, long one of Canada's largest and most profitable companies, filed for bankruptcy protection. Nortel is the first sponsor of the 2010 Olympic games to go bankrupt.

Fortress Investment Group, the main investor in Vancouver's Olympic Atheletes Village, asked the City of Vancouver to guarantee their loan of $895 million to Millenium Development Corporation, the group responsible for building the housing complex. "The Olympic village is a billion dollar project and the city taxpayers are on the hook for all of it," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Vancouver's 2010 Olympics Organizing Committee (Vanoc) has put a mere $30 million towards the development, which the City of Vancouver is legally obligated to have complete by 2010.

Youth from Fort Chipewyan braved temperatures of -32 Celsius to protest against the tar sands. Photo: Mike Mercredi

Youth from Fort Chipewyan marched to protest against the tar sands in minus-32 degree temperatures. The march was organized by 10-year-old Robyn Courtoreille to protest the tar sands. "Syncrude and Suncor have been poisioning our water, air, so we protested to let them know we want a future, not cancer," said Dailen Powder, 12, after the protest. "I was protesting because I don't want anymore deformed, two-jawed fish in our lake," said Cherish Kaskamin, 11.

Kimberley Rivera, the first woman war resister to come to Canada to avoid returning to Iraq was ordered to leave Canada. She has lived in Toronto with her husband and three children since 2007.

Saint John Mayor Ivan Court decided to refuse all interview requests from the Irving-owned provincial newspaper the Telegraph-Journal. He also canceled the city's subscription to the paper and banned it from his office, saying he is tired of the years of negative coverage of his administration. Mayor Court challenged the newspapers' publisher Jamie Irving to a debate but Shawna Richer, editor of the Telegraph-Journal, dismissed the idea, saying, "The problem is not with the newspaper." Every English daily paper in New Brunswick and all but two community newspapers in the province, as well as four radio stations, provincial newswires and news websites are owned by Brunswick News, which is owned by the Irvings – recently listed as the second richest family in Canada. Calls to bring back a Senate Committee to look at the media monopoly situation in the province stem from the fact that Irving also monopolizes other sectors in the province such as forestry and energy.

A Canadian soldier was charged with second degree murder for killing an alleged Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. Capt. Robert Semrau was given a conditional release and is currently back with his unit in Petawawa, Ontario.

The Band Council of the Mushkegowuk First Nation, whose traditional territory is on the James Bay Coast, passed a resolution against any new mining and exploration activity in their homelands until there is a new Mining Law in Ontario.

A transit cop in San Francisco killed an unarmed 22-year-old passenger by shooting him in the back on New Year's Day on the city's BART rapid transit line.

An Alberta resident began a private prosecution against Syncrude for the deaths of 500 ducks. The birds landed on a Syncrude tailings pond covered in snow and drowned. "We are bringing this forward because this incident of 500 ducks dying ... is further evidence that pollution from tar sands extraction is making the environment too toxic for birds, in this case migratory waterfowl, and people," said Jeh Custer, who launched the suit.

A survey conducted by Alberta's oil industry found that more than fifty per cent of respondents do not believe what oil and gas executives say in the media.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly testified to Senate that the NYPD would consider jamming cell phones in New York City during a terrorist attack in the city. The NYPD has 36,000 members and is the largest police force in North America.

An environmental activist in Salt Lake City posed as a bidder in an oil-lease auction and outbid the other bidders, effectively subverting the auction of state lands for oil drilling. "I've been an environmentalist for pretty much all my life and done all the things that you're supposed to do that are supposed to lead toward change. I've marched and held signs. I've volunteered in national parks. I've written letters and signed petitions. I've sat down with my congressman, Jim Matheson, for a long time... Ultimately, I felt like those things were only mildly effective. And it was having a very tiny effect on a very large problem," said Tim DeChristopher, who has avoided arrest for his actions so far.

SNC Lavalin was chosen for a $50 million reconstruction contract in Afghanistan. SNC Lavalin is Canada's largest engineering firm, with operations from Haiti to Vancouver. The $50 million "signature" project in Afghanistan will see the firm repairing a dam.

Venezuela's Citgo canceled the program by which it was providing cheap heating fuel to US residents. The cancellation was due to falling oil prices on the world market. Days later, after public pressure from US congress people, Hugo Chavez restored the program.

Venezuela deepened trade relations with China, buying a $400 million sattelite which the Chinese launched above Venezuela in October. "This will put an end to media terrorism and help us spread our own truth, to wage the battle of ideas with efficiency and transparency," said President Hugo Chavez.

A riot cop was shot in Greece. Anarchists and students who participated in demonstrations and riots at the end of 2008 were blamed for the incident. "We have to see this through a historical prism: It's tied to the same general theme of the inability of Greek officialdom to crack down hard on these groups, whether terrorists or anarchists," John Sitilides of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington told the LA Times. Participants in the uprising questioned whether the shooting was orchestrated by the state. "Our initial thought is that any individual that is part of our movement, no matter how enraged or in support of urban guerilla tactics they might be, would not chose the area of Eksarhia (literally under police occupation for the past few days) in order to launch an attack of this kind and manage to escape safely," reads a statement posted on Indymedia Athens and translated by OccupiedLondon.org.

Barack Obama admitted that it is unlikely that he can shut down the detention and interrogation camp at Guantanamo Bay within the first 100 days of his administration. There are an estimated 250 prisoners of war still imprisoned at Guantanamo, thirty of whom continued a four year long rolling hunger strike.

A fire caused by arson at the Edmonton home of the former president of Syncrude resulted in $850,000 worth of damages.

Teck Cominco, one of Canada's largest mining companies, cut 1,400 jobs. Four hundred of the jobs lost are in BC; 105 are in Alberta and 45 are from across the rest of Canada.

Enbridge Energy Partners paid out US$1.1 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it by the Wisconsin's attorney general's office. “While some of the individual violations were likely of limited direct impact, the incidents of violation were numerous and widespread, and resulted in impacts to streams and wetlands throughout the various watersheds,” said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

The unemployment rate in the US hit its highest level in 16 years. More than two and a half million jobs were lost in the US in 2008, dropping the unemployment rate to 7.2 per cent by the end of the year, meaning that 11.1 million Americans are jobless. Compounding the problem, an estimated 200,000 Americans will lose their jobless benefits in the coming months.

Nine people were killed and at least 30 injured in car bomb blasts in Baghdad.

In South Africa, the Supreme Court of Appeal reinstated corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress and the party's next presidential candidate in this spring's elections. The charges allege that Zuma accepted bribes in an arms deal with a French company.

South African anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman, one of the few white lawmakers to fight against the injustices of racist rule, died at the age of 91.

A US study found that "noseless" bicycle seats actually enhance the male sexual experience.

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Greek Cop Shot

Here's some info i dug up about the cop shooting in Greece.
* the first quote i included becuz it shows that, despite the police occupation of the area (Exarhia), militant attacks against the cops still happened.
* The second shows that Athens Indymedia itself was referencing the blogsite 'occupiedlondon' regarding speculation about police involvement in the shooting. This article is itself speculative i.e., why did cops at first claim the shooting was fatal, the speed with which the forensics was done compared to when the youth was shot. Neither of these proves anything, of course the pigs would delay info about the forensics for the youth being shot to delay public reaction... and perhaps police would first say it was fatal due to miscommunication or as a way of generating public support for the police...
* the final article from CNN includes quotes from a communique from the group Rev. Struggle claiming responsibility...

Athens Indymedia:
"On the night of 1/2, 50 or so people attacked the riot squads guarding the PASOK's offices in Exarhia with molotov coctails. The cops threw tear gas."

Athens Indymedia:
"Comment taken from http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/ :
the idea that whoever shot the cop would chose to hide in Eksarhia, or would be active in one of the most public and well-known anarchist groups in the city is absurd, to say the least. What is happening in Athens and Eksarhia in particular at this moment is an obvious attempt by the police to predetermine a connection between the shooting and the movement that has been confronting them en mass for the past few weeks

During the day, the police claimed that 31 shots were fired against the cops and that there were two guns used: an AK-47 and an MP-5. The AK-47 said is the same that fired against a riot police van on 12/24th and the MP-5 was used in 2007 by the revolutionary organization “Revolutionary Struggle”. The cop that was hurt is recovering. It is odd however that right after the attack it was said that the cop had died, they later said he was critically injured and in the end that he had two wounds, one in his leg and one in his armpit. A revolutionary organization fires 31 bullets against a bunch of cops and hit one of them in the leg and armpit? There was a comment in the greek indymedia saying “it seems like they were trying to miss”...
Oh and the ballistic tests came out in half a day, when in the case of the murder of Alexandros it took 2 weeks.

It is greatly believed that whoever fired those shots against the cops, is not from inside the movement, since an act like this can only harm it.
“Was the riot cop shooting orchestrated by the state?” read it here: http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2009/01/05/was-the-riot-cop-shooting-orchestrated-by-the-state/"

Greek terror group: We shot policeman

By Anthee Carassava, CNN Jan 15, 2009

ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- Greece's most militant terror group has claimed responsibility for shooting and critically injuring a 21-year-old policeman, according to a long statement published Thursday in a local newspaper.

Police in Athens were caught in running battles with protesters on and off for a month.

Revolutionary Struggle, best known for firing a rocket-propelled grenade against the U.S. Embassy in Athens two years ago, said its attack against a riot police unit earlier this month was in "retaliation to the cowardly murder" of a teenage boy in December.

The shooting sparked the country's worst riots in decades with youths waging weeks of running battles against police, destroying scores of shops and banks and causing an estimated $1.3 billion in damages.

Fanned by mounting discontent over government scandals, rising unemployment and economic austerity measures, the demonstrations spread to 10 Greek cities in the most violent shows of civil disobedience in years.

In an 11-page terror tract entitled "Bullets against Bullets," and published in the Pondiki weekly newspaper, Revolutionary Struggle warned of additional attacks against police and rallied support for its armed struggle.

"The most important reason behind our action [against the riot police unit] was to show not only how necessary but how effective armed action is today," the group said. "We may not have the training or ammunition that cops do, but we are determined and armed with the faith that an armed confrontation with the establishment and its henchmen is not only desired but attainable."

Police officials contacted Thursday said the proclamation, which features a detailed description of the January 5 shooting of a riot police unit in central Athens, was being examined by counter-terrorism experts at the country's national police headquarters.

Authorities had already linked Revolutionary Struggle to the attack but the far-left cell had not officially assumed responsibility.

Earlier this week, an anonymous man telephoned the offices of the Pondiki weekly satirical newspaper to inform editors of the location of the proclamation.

"We found it wrapped in a nylon bag and tucked on the windowsill of a derelict home on the outskirts of Athens," said Pondiki publisher Andonis Delatollas.

Revolutionary Struggle, ranked by the U.S. State Department as one of the most wanted terrorist groups in its 2008 report on global terrorism, also claimed responsibility for opening fire on a riot police van December 23 and an ill-fated bomb attack on Shell's headquarters in Athens.

The elusive group emerged in September 2003, about a year after authorities dismantled the country's deadliest terror group, called November 17.
It has since then established supremacy among a string of shadowy extremist groups, staging at least seven attacks from bombings and an assassination attempt against former culture minister Giorgos Voulgarkis to the spectacular launching of a rocket propelled grenade into the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in January 2007.


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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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