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Archive for January 2010

Government sets deadline to close Tamil refugee camp

January 31, 2010 - SRI LANKA

The Sri Lanka government plans to close the camps where it has detained internally-displaced Tamil civilians since the defeat in May of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Some 300,000 Tamils fled the fighting during the final offensive, and some 160,000 have been held in the makeshift camps. Criticised for detaining them, Colombo insisted that detention was necessary while the refugees were being screened for possible links with the rebels and while their home areas were de-mined.

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Second man on the Moon turns 80

January 30, 2010 - UNITED STATES

Buzz (Edwin) Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, turns 80 a few months after the 40th anniversary of the feat. The former NASA astronaut, whose achievements include the first extravehicular space walk, in 1966, could use his 80th birthday spotlight to reiterate his objections to NASA’s plans to return to the Moon: He wants NASA aiming instead for Mars. He could also speak out about coping with being second, not first, on the Moon, a challenge he writes about in the autobiography Magnificent Desolution.

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Prohibition era began 90 years ago

January 29, 2010 - UNITED STATES

The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution ushered in the 13-year period known as Prohibition. Ratified on 29 Jan 1919, it went into effect on 29 Jan 1920. The National Prohibition Act banned, nationwide, the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption. The 90th anniversary invites a look at the unintended consequences of prohibition as a tactic, and could prompt new questions about whether the so-called war on drugs should be continued.

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Court sets deadline for participants in polygamy case

January 28, 2010 - CANADA

Jan 28, a deadline for applications from participants, begins a constitutional case that has implications for polygamous groups across Canada. The British Columbia Supreme Court will consider during 2010 whether Criminal Code provisions prohibiting polygamy are consistent with the guarantee of freedom of religion provided in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Winston Blackmore, Canada’s best known polygamist, predicts doom for those who break up families or interfere with a person’s freedom.

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British prime minister hosts conference on Afghanistan

January 28, 2010 - LONDON

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO allies, Afghanistan’s neighbours, regional powers and key international bodies to a conference in London on Jan 28 to set a political and security timetable for Afghanistan for 2010 and beyond.

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European Commission votes on candidates

January 26, 2010 - BRUSSELS

The European Commission began seven days of hearings on Jan 11 for 26 aspiring European Union commissioners, and the European Parliament will vote on the body as a whole on Jan 26. The nominees will be tested on their knowledge of their assigned portfolios. Once on the job, they will be expected to adhere to the aims of the Lisbon Treaty of Dec 1, a key goal of which is to give Europe a greater voice on the world stage in talks with major powers like China and the United States.

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President calls early presidential election

January 26, 2010 - SRI LANKA

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, with two years left in his six-year term, in November called early presidential to take advantage of a rise in popularity after the army’s defeat in May of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The defeat ended Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war. His main rival — or perhaps only rival — will be retired General Sarath Fonseka, who is credited with leading the final victory. Gen Fonseka says he has never lost a battle yet, and can win the election battle too.

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India became a republic 60 years ago

January 26, 2010 - NEW DELHI

India observes its 60th anniversary as a Republic on Jan 26 with a near two-hour military parade in New Delhi that will highlight its nuclear-powered arsenal. The display of India’s advanced weaponry is intended to match China’s show of the same during the 60th anniversary parade in Beijing in October. Maoists rebels (Naxals) in the hinterland states represent a potential threat to the commemorative events. Under pressure from the government, they will observe the anniversary as a Black Day.

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International Renewable Energy Agency one year old

January 26, 2010 - ABU DHABI

The International Renewable Energy Agency, the first and only intergovernmental agency to focus solely on renewable energy development, was established officially one year ago. Enthusiasm appears to be waning. Only a handful of the signatories have ratified the treaty, which, as of Sep 2009, needs 25 more to come into force. IRENA is banking on a boost from its choice of Helene Pelosse of France as interim head and Abu Dhabi’s very green Masdar City for the secretariat.

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Governing Scottish Nationalists plan to introduce independence bill

January 25, 2010 - SCOTLAND

The governing Scottish National Party plans to publish the so-called Referendum Bill around Burns Night on 25 January, aiming for a poll on independence for Scotland in Nov 2010. In the draft referendum bill, Scots would be asked to state whether or not they agreed that the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state. The other parties say, “Not so fast!,” and accuse the SNP of cheating.

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World Social Forum celebrates 10th birthday

January 24, 2010 - BRAZIL

The Greater Porto Alegre 10 Years Social Forum marks the 10th birthday of the World Social Forum. A global entity, it brings together anti-globalization, anti-capitalist and social justice movements to challenge the actions of the ruling elites of nations and corporations that meet each year in Davos, Switzerland. Instead of its usual vast gathering to coincide with the annual Davos forum, the WSF will hold seminar-type events in Brazil in January and similar events around the world during 2010.

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War Resisters International holds mobilizing conference

January 22, 2010 - INDIA

Ahmedabad hosts a conference of the venerable War Resisters International body, founded in The Netherlands in 1921, in a pivotal year. The 40th anniversary of the coming into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty falls in March, with a NPT review conference in May. WRI and affiliates are mobilizing for protests and events to highlight the anti-war movement and their opposition to nuclear weapons Indian activists Arundhati Roy and Ashish Nandy will address the opening session.

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