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January In Review, Part I

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Issue: 66 Section: Month in Review Topics: Fortnight in review

January 15, 2010

January In Review, Part I

Ludwig arrested and released, Sea Shepherds hit and sunk, Haiti shaken and eyed

by Dominion Staff

Villages across Haiti suffered devastating damage following a 7.3 earthquake on January 12 [cc 2.0] Photo: MINUSTAH

Convicted oil-patch saboteur Wiebo Ludwig was arrested on January 11 in connection to an RCMP investigation into six bombings of an EnCana sour gas development near Dawson Creek, BC. He was released without charges, prompting concerns the RCMP is manoeuvring to look tough on so-called "domestic terrorism" in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.

A new poll revealed Canadians believe climate change is a greater threat than terrorism, with about half of respondents fearing changes in the weather and about a quarter pre-occupied by terrorist attacks.

Following the recent defeat of two security certificates in Canadian courts, the Canadian government announced it will use a little-known immigration law to present secret evidence against 25 Tamil refugee claimants who are currently being detained under suspicion of belonging to the Tamil Tigers. Neither the claimants nor their lawyers will be allowed to be in the court room, see the evidence or respond to accusations.

Canada's 100 highest paid CEOs pocketed an average compensation of $7.4 million in 2008, in the middle of a worlwide economic recession. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) revealed that the top CEOs were paid 174 times the Canadian average income. The CCPA estimates that the top CEOs' income increased by 70 per cent between 1998 and 2008, with the inflation taken into account. During the same decade, the Canadian workers' income decreased by six per cent.

New Brunswick announced it will increase the provincial minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour over the next two years, in line with a recently adopted anti-poverty action plan.

Haiti was shattered by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, burying the capital city Port-au-Prince in rubble and leading to widespread damage across the country. Death tolls are estimated at over 100,000. Canada pledged to give $5 million and match donations up to $50 million and deployed the DART quick-response team. Aid organisations began a widespread disaster relief campaign. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in the United States involved in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, is eyeing the disaster as a way for American interest to expand in the nation.

Political sparring over Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue parliament continued, with the Liberals rolling out a new ad campaign. A grassroots movement against the suspension of parliament has also gained some steam, promising actions across Canada on January 23.

Sea Shepherd crew member Laurens De Groot hurls a bottle of butyric acid (rotten butter) at Japanese harpoon whaling ship, the Yushin Maru No. 1, as the Sea Shepherd helicopter flies overhead, in February, 2009. Photo: Adam Lau/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society [cc2.0]

Intrawest, the resort company that owns and runs the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort that will host the 2010 Winter Olympics, was unable to continue payment on its $524 millon debt, raising concerns that the Canadian goverment will need to bail it out.

Homeless people were displaced from Whistler as more areas become locked down for the Olympics. Social wokers reported that homeless people were being provided round-trip bus tickets to Squamish, the community with the nearest 24-hour emergency shelter.

Vancouver officials backtracked on plans to sell Olympic housing as low-income units after the Games because of cost over-runs, with many favouring renting the condos out at market value.

Mercenary company Blackwater, now known as Xe, has settled seven lawsuits out of court that allege operatives engaged in illegal activities causing death during their time in Iraq. Representatives of Xe were "pleased" with the result. In related news, two former Blackwater employees have been arrested and are facing charges related to the killing of two Afghan civilians in 2009.

The US lifted its HIV/AIDS travel ban. The ban, which had been in place since 1987, prevented travellers with the virus from visiting the country. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese welcomed the change, stating, "Today, a sad chapter in our nation's response to people with HIV and AIDS has finally come to a close and we are a better nation for it.”

Japanese whalers collided with an anti-whaling ship from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on January 6, sinking the $1.37 million dollar lightweight speedboat Adyl Gyl. All six crew members aboard the vessel were safely rescued. This is the first incident of a boat being sunk in the six years of conflicts between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese.

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales called for an Alternative Climate Meeting, inviting Indigenous peoples, social movements, environmentalists, scientists and governments to a summit in April 2010. The goal would be, among other things, to come to an agreement over climate debt and discuss establishing an international tribunal to hear cases of environmental crimes.

A new study linked Monsanto-produced genetically modified corn to organ failure in mammals. The various types of corn have already been approved by US, European and other countries' food safety agencies. Researchers at the University of Guelph found traces of DNA from GMO plants, such as Monsanto's RoundUp Ready corn, in ground animals including worms, proving that transgenic, or GMO, DNA does not significantly degrade and can persist in the environment.

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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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