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December in Review, Part I

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Issue: 66 Section: Month in Review Geography: Earth

December 16, 2009

December in Review, Part I

Italian Berlusconi attacked, Chilean "Berlusconi" ahead, coral reefs poisoned and Canada fossil fooled

by The Dominion

Photo: Christopher Cohoon

Thousands marched this month for "system change, not climate change" in Copenhagen, and around the world. Photo: Christopher Cohoon

Canada was at the centre of daily criticism during the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen, receiving four Fossil awards for being a major obstacle to negotiations; being the target of a Yes Men hoax to highlight lack of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and witnessing climate justice protests across Canada, including a banner drop from the Parliament Buildings calling for the tar sands to be shut down, and a brief sit-in during a House of Commons Environment Committee meeting.

In Copenhagen, the Inuit Circumpolar Council called for global action to protect Inuit populations, and scientists announced they are now working with Inuit communities to help research climate changes impacts in the North.

One hundred thousand protesters took to Copenhagen's streets to call for a strong commitment from global leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement climate justice legislation. The nine-kilometre march was peaceful, with the exception of fewer than 15 protesters who threw rocks at windows, which was followed by a mass arrest of nearly 1,000 people. Danish human rights organizations demanded an inquiry into controversial mass preventative arrest tactics, or "kettling," a police trend in Copenhagen this month.

Thousands of people attempted to breach security at the climate negotiations conference centre in Copenhagen. The action coincided with protests within the centre, with the purpose of converting the negotiations into a "People's Assembly." Police used tear gas, dogs and plain-clothed officers to infiltrate and break up the groups of protesters. Hundreds were arrested.

British scientists reported rising CO2 levels in the air are causing oceans to absorb the molecule, raising the acidity of the water, putting all forms of aquatic life at risk. They warned current targets of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 at 450 parts per million could prove lethal to coral populations worldwide.

Hondurans continued to protest the contested presidential elections held November 29 which saw conservative Porfirio Lobo elected president. A Canadian delegation that observed the elections denounced Canadian Minister of State for the Americas Peter Kent's statement that "there was a strong turnout for the elections, that they appear to have been run freely and fairly, and that there was no major violence." The delegation reported witnessing low turnout, and violence and oppression against civilians. Regional state coalitions ALBA and MERCOSUR rejected the elections, and ALBA approved economic sanctions against the government of coup-president Roberto Micheletti.

Twelve hundred residents of Sept-Iles, Quebec, marched against uranium exploration taking place just outside of the town and less than 13 kilometres from the local drinking water source. The protest was also in support of 24 doctors who resigned en masse to protest provincial government inaction on the issue.

Plans are moving ahead to build Alberta's first nuclear power plant after the Albertan government decided not to impose a moratorium on nuclear power in the province.

The Israeli government announced a freeze on further construction in illegal settlements in the West Bank, while also allowing settlers to benefit from new funds meant to go to economically deprived areas, which are primarily inhabited by Arab Israelis.

Former Sri Lankan army chief General Sarath Fonseka spoke out against his own government, accusing the defence secretary of having ordered Tamil rebel leaders killed as they tried to surrender during the height of last spring's civil war.

Houston City Controller Annise Parker was elected mayor of the Texas city, making Houston the largest American city to elect an openly gay mayor.

The Federal Court of Canada struck down the security certificate against Hassan Almrei, saying that the federal govenrment had not presented justification for renewing the certificate last year, relying instead on "stale" and "contradictory" evidence. Certificate detainee Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub was released from the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, dubbed "Guantanamo North," for medical care as his health deteriorated due to a hunger strike he began in June. Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan announced a major review of Canadian security certificate laws.

Extradition hearings against Hassan Diab continued in Ottawa. Diab, a University of Ottawa professor, faces deportation to France under allegations of carrying out a bombing there in 1980. French anti-terror laws have been severely criticised for undermining the rights of the accused.

Three hundred people protested the Olympic Torch as it passed through Montreal.

The Crying Room art gallery in Vancouver was forced by the city to remove a mural critical of the Olympics.

Land defenders arrested for occupying the Site 41 dump site in Ontario saw their charges stayed or dropped. Ina Wood, 75, who was hospitalized from a recent stroke, was one of two people whose charges were immediately dropped. She said she was disappointed that others only had their charges stayed.

Residents of Sudbury, Ontario, launched a campaign to clear the name of John Moore, a member of the Serpent River First Nation who grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, and who was imprisoned for 10 years for a 1978 murder prosecutors admit he did not commit. He was convicted under a since-repealed law that allowed him to be prosecuted for allegedly knowing a murder may take place.

A new report ranked the economic well-being of Canadians as ninth out of 14 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-opertaion and Development. Norway ranked first, Spain last, and the US thirteenth.

Twenty-two million "lost" emails from the George W. Bush administration were recovered by computer technicians following two lawsuits brought by two government watchdog organizations. The current US government is still searching for missing emails from dozens of days during the Bush administration.

Sebastian Pinera, known as the "Chilean Berlusconi," won the first round of Chile's presidential election. A run-off is scheduled for January 2010. If he wins, Pinera would be the first right-wing president elected since the end of Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship 19 years ago.

Three hundred fifty thousand Italians gathered in Rome for "No Berlusconi Day" to call for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's resignation. Berlusconi has had his immunity from prosecution lifted over corruption charges. Days later, the prime minsiter was attacked by a man carrying a metal replica of the Duomo Cathedral, breaking his nose and two front teeth; the arrested attacker has apologized and may be remitted to psychiatric care. A prominent Italian journalist told BBC Newshour, “If we were in America, where madmen carry guns, Berlusconi would be dead. We are in Italy. Madmen carry souvenir replica of the Duomo.”

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Correction Re Hassan Diab

Just a correction. You wrote:

> Hearings into the security certificate against
> Hassan Diab continued in Ottawa. Public Safety
> Minister Peter Van Loan announced a major review
> of Canadian security certificate laws.

In fact, Hassan Diab does not have a security certificate against him. Maybe you have him confused with security certificate detainee Hassan Almrei, recently freed.

Hassan Diab is a Canadian citizen of Lebanese descent who
lives in Ottawa. In 2008 the RCMP arrested him in response to an extradition request from France. French authorities believe he is responsible for a 1980 synagogue bombing in Paris. If extradited he faces the prospect of conviction in a system of justice that is unduly weighted in favour of the prosecution, leading to a life sentence with no chance for parole.


Hello Zerra,

Thanks for writing. I did indeed mean to write Hassan Diab, but I was inaccurate in writing that he faces a security certificate. The piece will be corrected today. Apologies for the innacuracy.

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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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