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January In Review, Part II

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February 1, 2010

January In Review, Part II

Haiti comes to Canada, the world loses two literary legends, and Bin Laden becomes a climate change activist

by Dominion Staff

From left to right, Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Canada Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the press conference of the Haiti Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Montreal, January 25, 2010. CC 2.0 Photo: US Mission Canada

Delegates, including Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and representatives from the World Bank and IMF, met in Montreal to discuss a long-term reconstruction strategy for Haiti on January 25. Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned that reconstruction could take "at least 10 years of hard work." The meeting was met by demonstrations calling for "aid not guns" and drawing attention to Canada and the US's history of military and economic intervention in Haiti. Meanwhile a mass exodus of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince is underway, as some of the hundreds of thousands of homeless search for food, water and shelter elsewhere.

The IMF has given an interest-free loan of $100 million to Haiti with a long grace period. These emergency funds are a means to provide services and obtain essential imports needed by the country after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

The UK and France urged Taiwan and Venezuela to cancel their debt claims on Haiti. Last July, the Paris Club —a group of 19 creditor governments, including France and the UK—agreed to cancel $214 million. Haiti owed $167 million to Venezuela and $91 million to Taiwan. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez subsequently wrote off Haiti's debt, saying, "Haiti has no debt with Venezuela—on the contrary, it is Venezuela that has a historic debt with Haiti." Taiwan is still considering.

Renowned activist and historian Howard Zinn addressing a crowd. Zinn passed away on January 27 at the age of 87. CC 2.0 Photo: Jim

Members of the Toronto 18—a group of Muslim Toronto youth accused of ties to terrorist activities—faced sentencing hearings in mid January. Amin Mohamed Durrani, 23, pleaded guilty on January 20 to involvement with known terrorists. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years and credited with time served. So-called "mastermind" Zakaria Amara was sentenced to life in prison on January 14. After sentencing he read an open letter to Canadians stating how "how regretful and sorry I feel."

A New York PETA activist is facing assault charges after shoving a tofu cream pie in the face of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in protest of the federal government's support for the commercial seal hunt. Liberal MP Gerry Byrne told reporters that the incident, and PETA, "meet the test of a terrorist organization" and called for a federal investigation.

The Harper government quietly announced that after decades of support, Canada was ceasing aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The announcements were made by Victor Toews, the president of Canada's Treasury Board, as he was traveling in the Middle East.

The New Brunswick and Quebec governments have reached a new agreement that will sell the majority of NB Power's power generating assets to Hydro-Quebec. NB Power will remain a crown corporation and will retain control of its transmission system while granting Hydro-Quebec transmission rights, giving the Quebec utility company access to the US market.

Bolivian President Evo Morales was sworn in for his second term. In his inauguration speech, Morales promised to develop state-run paper, cement, dairy, and drug companies. Morales also called on foreign investors to help Boliva develop its iron and lithium industries.

Called to testify against Mohammed Harkat at a review hearing of his seven-year-old security certificate in Montreal, a Canadian intelligence official admitted he did not review classified documents about Harkat for fear of divulging information to the public.

Renowned historian and dissident Howard Zinn died of a heart attack at the age of 87. Best known for penning A People's History of the United States, Zinn will be remembered as a prominent intellectual and tireless advocate for global social justice.

Author J.D. Salinger, famous for writing The Catcher in the Rye, passed away the following day. He was 91.

Osama Bin Laden joined the climate debate, placing blame for global climate change on US and other industrialized economies.

Police on Jeju Island in South Korea were called in to break up a blockade protesting the construction of a United States Missile Defense Base. The police of have been accused of using excessive violence—placing a 70-year-old man in a coma—in the process of arresting and detaining over 50 activists. To date no charges have been laid and Koreans are calling for international solidarity in their struggle to keep US military installations off Korean soil.

Statistics Canada released economic data that display a slight increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last November. Economists claim the increase was driven by natural resource extraction and wholesale trade, and are cautious that economic recovery driven by these sectors could see GDP increase without substantial job creation.

Israel has been accused of fast-tracking the immigration of 7,000 members of a "Lost Jewish tribe" living in India, known as Bnei Menashe, in order to subvert a settlement freeze in the West Bank.

The Olympic Torch relay continues to be disrupted and confronted as it makes its way to Vancouver. One protester was arrested in Golden. The Native Youth Movement confronted the torch in Secwepemc Nation, with with the messages, "Secwepemc Say No Olympics," and "Olympic Torch Not Welcome in Secwepemc Nation."

In Uganda, a controversial piece of anti-homosexuality legislation has been returned to cabinet to be debated and amended. Despite domestic support, the bill has caused a flood of international condemnation, citing that it violates basic universal human rights. When questioned about Cabinet's position on clauses proposing the death penalty, Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo answered: "I can only speak in general that there are some clauses or provisions which can be modified."

Barak Obama delivered the State of the Union address in the US, where he announced a massize spending freeze and pushed, but did not openly call, for a repeal of the US military's "don't ask don't tell" policy toward homosexuality in the army.

In Burma, mining companies moved into a "sacrifice" zone and began round-the-clock operations to strip gold from the area soon to be flooded by the Irrawaddy Myistone dam project. "In effect, the company [Asia World] is trying to get as much as they possibly can from the region before they help to bury it," according to Intercontinental Cry. Flooding is expected to displace roughly 15,000 people from 60 villages, although many residents have openly refused to leave.

At least nine civilians were killed in Somalia when anti-government fighters clashed with African Union peacekeepers and government troops in southeastern Mogadishu.

BC coast First Nations have published a report entitled, "Staying the Course, Staying Alive Coastal First Nations Fundamental Truths: Biodiversity, Stewardship and Sustainability." The report is a response to the the United Nations call to action for 2010, International Year of Biodiversity.

Seven BC-based environmental groups have released a report calling for the protection of 50 per cent of BC forests. The report has come under criticism from other environmental and Indigenous activists for handing half of BC's forests to the forestry industry. Many of the same groups behind the report were also involved in negotiating the heavily criticized Great Bear Rainforest Deal and were presented with the BC Fossil of the Decade Award at the end of 2009.

A new study has found that Vancouver's housing market is the least affordable not only in Canada, but also the United States, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

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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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