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January in Review, Part I

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Issue: 75 Section: Month in Review

January 17, 2011

January in Review, Part I

Prisons protested, shale gas wells leaked, CEOs profited

by Dominion Staff

More than 100 people rallied to support Daniel Garcia, who was deported to Mexico on January 1, 2011. Photo: Sandra Cuffe

2011 was ushered in by Anti-Prison Noise Demonstrations in several Canadian cities. Outside Vancouver, 25 protesters set off fireworks, chanted and blasted hip hop in front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre on New Year's Eve. North Montreal's demo took place at Bordeaux Prison, where anarchists and other activists "staged a boisterous march," according to J Stevens reporting for the Media Co-op. Protesters in Hamilton made noise and held a banner in front of Barton Jail with a mailing address, inviting prisoners to correspond with them.

More than 100 supporters of detained high school student Daniel Garcia gathered in downtown Toronto on New Year's Eve to demand that Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney halt Garcia's deportation. At 8:30 am on January 1, Garcia was forcibly boarded on a plane back to his home country, Mexico, where he and his sister face ongoing homophobic threats and violence.

Alberta dropped homosexuality from its diagnostic guide to mental disorders, 35 years after the psychiatric profession did so. Quebec hasn't yet dropped the diagnosis.

Nepal added a third gender for trans- people to its census.

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan announced the provincial government may accommodate the religious beliefs of marriage commissioners who refuse to perform same-sex unions, despite a unanimous Court of Appeals decision ruling the refusal unconstitutional.

An ad-hoc coalition of unions and activists held a candlelight vigil in Toronto to protest an alliance between the right-wing English Defense League (EDL) and the Jewish Defense League (JDL). The vigil was joined by Anti-Racist Action Toronto (ARAT), who blockaded the street where the EDL and JDL were meeting. Police charged ARAT with horses, arresting four protesters and severely beating one.

Residents of Vancouver's Downtown East Side took to the streets to demand social housing, arguing that the development of expensive condos in the 100-block neighbourhood will displace residents by upscaling three major low-income hotels. A few days earlier, more than 100 people attended a CityHallWatch forum on tall buildings, sharing Downtown East Side residents' own vision of community development.

Supporters of Transit City planned their fight against Rob Ford's war on public transportation in Toronto.

The municipality of Oka, Quebec, announced it will pay Norfolk Financial $300,000 to purchase property subject to negotiations between the federal government and the Kanehsatake Mohawk First Nation. The property is across the road from land at the centre of the 1990 "Oka Crisis" when the town tried to expand a golf course over a Mohawk cemetery.

A report from the Quebec environmental assessment agency indicates that 19 shale gas fracturing, or "fracking," wells in the province are leaking natural gas.

2010 was Canada's hottest year on record, with the national average temperature three degrees above previous average levels.

The Royal Bank of Canada's (RBC) announcement of a new Policy on Environmental and Social Risk Management for Capital Markets was applauded by the Rainforest Action Network, but the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council responded critically. “Unless RBC and other banks suspend financing to Enbridge and other companies that fail to earn consent from communities impacted by their destructive projects, their promises will ring hollow,” said Vice Tribal Chief Terry Teegee.

A group of doctors asked Quebec’s College of Physicians to take a stand on mining and exporting asbestos to developing countries. The College's secretary refused, saying the College does not exist to take sides on a debate, but "to defend the practice of medicine." Exposure to asbestos causes 100,000-140,000 deaths per year. Canada is a world leader in asbestos production.

The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives' study on Executive Compensation revealed Canada’s best paid 100 CEOs earned 155 times that of the average income earner.

Two Toronto police officers accused of beating G20 protester Adam Nobody were accused of another assault in a non-G20-related incident.

Thousands of Tunisians faced off against police, taking over government infrastructure in the capital and demanding the resignation of long-time President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia. More than 60 people have been killed since December 2010, including more than 40 prisoners in two mass breakouts, during popular unrest against the dictator. The food shortage and unemployment riots, which culminated in a demand for democracy and an end to government corruption, were sparked by the suicide by fire of a 26-year-old graduate who was prevented from selling fruit and vegetables to make a living.

A study examining the effectiveness of freedom of information laws in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada ranked Canada dead last. About 16 per cent of the 35,000 requests filed last year resulted in the full disclosure of information.

A US federal appeals court rejected filmmaker Joe Berlinger's argument that as an independent journalist, he should not be ordered to turn over all footage from his 2009 film "Crude" to Chevron.

US drone strikes killed 2,043 people in Pakistan in the last five years, with 2010 being the deadliest, according to an annual report released by the Conflict Monitering Centre.

Mexico's government reported that drug wars killed 34,612 people in the last four years, with 15,273 drug-related murders in 2010 alone.

Reports of mass deaths of wildlife all over the world continued into the new year. Birds, fish, and now crabs have been dying en masse in Arkansas, Louisiana, Brazil, Maryland, New Zealand, Italy, England and several other places.

As a hunter in Belarus tried to kill a fox, the wounded animal reportedly pulled the trigger of the hunter's rifle with its paw during its struggle to escape. The hunter was admitted to hospital with a leg wound. The fox escaped (as foxes do).

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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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