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December in Review, Part II

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Issue: 66 Section: Month in Review

January 5, 2010

December in Review, Part II

Egypt blocks protesters, China buys tar sands, Platinex backs down and Mackenzie pipeline is approved

by Dominion Staff

A woman holds a photo of anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca, killed in Chiapas, Mexico, at a vigil in Toronto. Abarca is one of five Latin American anti-mining activists assassinated this fall, all of whom were cirtical of Canadian mining companies. Photo: Eric Akaoka

Egypt refused to let 1,300 protesters march into Gaza, saying only 100 may legally enter. The group from around the world gathered in Cairo to mark the one-year anniversary of Israel's bombardment of Gaza, which left 1,400 Palestinians dead; and to protest the continued Israeli blockade which has stopped reconstruction materials from entering Palestine. Egypt confirmed it was building an underground metal wall to block tunnels leading to Gaza. Israel bombed suspected smuggling tunnels.

The Copenhagen climate talks were declared a failure after governments agreed to only a non-binding accord to limit emissions and pay into a climate change fund for developing nations. A poll found half of Canadians rejected the Conservative government's stance against strict reductions at the negotiations; 19 per cent supported the stance. Another poll found half of Albertans believe the Canadian and Albertan governments should be doing more to protect the image of the tar sands.

The Canadian government approved PetroChina's $1.9 billion investment in the tar sands.

A man climbed the flagpole in front of the BC legislature to protest the Gateway pipeline, dubbed by some the "Gordon Campbell pipeline," proposed to run from the tar sands to the BC coast. ForestEthics Canada's Tzeporah Berman awarded BC Premier Gordon Campbell with a prize for "Climate Leadership."

A panel approved the $16.2 billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline proposed to run through the Northwest Territories. The panel recommending developers establish greenhouse gas emission targets and wildlife protection areas to address NWT residents' concerns of leaks and habitat destruction.

A tug boat hit the same Alaskan reef the Exxon-Valdez did 20 years ago, spilling an unknown amount of oil and causing a five kilometre-long oil slick. In 1989 the Exxon-Valdez spilled over 11 million gallons of crude oil into the sea.

Nigerian rebels attacked an oil pipeline operated by Shell and Chevron.

A Dutch court agreed to hear the case of Nigerians claiming Royal Dutch Shell has not appropriately cleaned up a 2005 oil spill.

France passed legislation to compensate Algerian and South Pacific victims of France's nuclear tests carried out from 1960 to 1996.

The Shinecock Indians on Long Island, NY, won preliminary recognition by the US government, ending a 30 year battle by the group to gain official recognition, and granting them access to funding for health care, housing and child care, and the right to run gaming operations.

New Brunswick's Savage Island was renamed Eqpahak, a Maliseet word meaning "place where the tide stops coming in."

Canadian mining company Platinex accepted a $5 million settlement from the Ontario government to stop development on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) territory in northern Ontario, after a four-year battle by the KI Nation to stop the development. The Ontario government also agreed to establish a Memorandum of Understanding with KI over future land development.

El Salvadoran anti-mining activists Ramiro Rivera Gomez and Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos, who both opposed Canadian mining company Pacific Rim's El Dorado mine, were murdered within a week of each other. Sorto Recinos was pregnant. These murders follow the assassinations this fall of three other opponents of Canadian mining companies' operations across Latin America.

The Ontario coroner launched an investigation into the death of a Czech immigrant who died while in detention. A UN human rights working group reported that Mourad Ikhlef, deported by the Canadian government six years ago to Algeria under a security certificate, faced abuse and was denied a lawyer. Canadian immigration began releasing Tamil migrants taken into custody from a boat off the BC coast earlier this fall.

Bangladesh deported 9,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, and Thailand deported more than 4,000 Hmong refugees back to Laos.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued parliament until after the Olympic Games, resulting in accusations of an "elected dictatorship." Critics accused the Conservatives of avoiding an inquiry into the torture of detainees in Afghanistan. The move kills more than 30 bills, but allows private members bills, including one which would dismantle the long-gun registry, to remain.

A gunman killed five people and himself in Finland—the third mass shooting in the country in three years—prompting calls for greater gun control.

Up to 18 Afghan civilians were killed in attacks by US-coalition forces meant to target Taliban fighters. More than 1,400 Afghans died because of coalition attacks in 2009, nearly the same number as US-coalition deaths since the beginning of the invasion in 2002. A Canadian journalist and four Canadian soldiers were killed by a Taliban attack, bringing the total number of Canadian soldiers killed since 2002 to 134.

A Vancouver street vendor refused to leave the spot she has occupied for 15 years; the city hopes to install a new street map in her place in time for the 2010 Olympics. University of British Columbia fraternities announced they are evicting 200 students to rent their rooms out during the Olympics.

Protests against the Olympic torch took place in Toronto, London, Kitchener, Stratford, Guelph and Barrie. The torch was blocked from Six Nations and Oneida land. Anishnabe and other First Nations announced they will use the torch's passage through their territory in Manitoba to highlight the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women by holding their images along the route, but would not block the flame.

Two Argentinian men became the first gay couple to marry in Latin America. Two Malawi men were arrested after taking part in a marriage ceremony. Mexico City legalized gay marriage, while Portugal and Washington, DC, took steps to do the same.

A US judge dismissed all charges against employees of US military contractor Blackwater for the murder of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007; the Iraqi government expressed outrage and vowed to appeal.

A BC appeal court upheld a ruling that the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski may find misconduct against the RCMP officers who tasered the Polish national at the Vancouver airport, and a US appeal court made a landmark taser-related ruling, finding officers cannot justify use of the weapon in situations of simple non-compliance.

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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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