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Archive for December 2011

United States war in Iraq ends

December 31, 2011 - IRAQ

As of 1 Jan 2012, according to President Barak Obama on Oct 21, the relationship between Iraq and the United States will be as one sovereign nation to another. Most of the US troops occupying Iraq will be home by Christmas. The remainder will have left by Dec 31, bringing to an end the almost 9-year long US occupation of Iraq and inviting a final tally of its costs and benefits. The cost, particularly in civilian lives and livelihoods, could be found to be staggering.

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Report due ahead of referendum on Australian Aborigines

December 31, 2011 - AUSTRALIA

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants a panel report to parliament before the end of 2011 on ways the country’s constitution can be amended to formally acknowledge Aborigines as the first Australians. The next step will be a constitutional referendum on the amendment, probably in 2013. Aborigines are expected to argue for indigenous rights in the text of the constitution and not just symbolic language in the preamble. The prime minister says Australia must acknowledge that first people of our nation have a unique and special place. Aborigines, who make up 2.7 per cent of the nation’s population of 22 million, are not mentioned in the constitution, which also permits the government to make racially-discriminatory laws.

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Hogmanay launches Britain’s Olympics

December 30, 2011 - EDINBURGH

Edinburgh celebrates New Year with one of the world’s most famous street parties, Hogmanay. The organizers describe the line-up for the rock concerts this time as the best in 19 years, and the three-day festival will be combined with mass games to herald the start of Britain’s Olympic year. Performers will share Edinburgh with competitors in what is billed as the world’s largest series of street games. Landmarks and medieval streets will be used to create an arena for the so-called The New Year Games. Partygoers will be divided into rival teams, the Uppies and the Doonies,

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Pacific Island loses Dec 30

December 29, 2011 - SAMOA

Samoa slips east to west across the dateline on Dec 29, losing Dec 30 until the next time the nation’s leaders decides to fiddle with the calendar. They did it 119 years ago, deciding it was better to align Samoa with United States interests. In 2011 they see Australasian trade more in keeping with Samoa’s interests. The change aligns the island with distant Australasia while separating it from nearby American Samoa by a calendar day. And in 2009, the leaders changed sides on Samoa’s roads.

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United Nations climate change body convenes

December 28, 2011 - SOUTH AFRICA

Durban hosts the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Kyoto Protocol. The United Nations top climate change official wants countries to agree on ways to cut global emissions about twice as fast as promised, then deliver on the promise. An underlying challenge is finding agreement on whether to extend the Kyoto Protocol or replace it. The session will bring some 40,000 visitors, including heads of state, to a city basking in the afterglow of the 2010 World Cup. COP is the governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the parent of the Kyoto Protocol.

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First of three major quakes struck US heartland 200 years ago

December 19, 2011 - UNITED STATES

The first of three earthquakes, ranked among the largest in United States history, struck the US Midwest on 19 Dec 1811. In the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake- and tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster, the 200th anniversary promises to focus attention on the US nuclear reactors that sit on or near major earthquake zones. Some reports say 15 similar in design to the stricken Japanese reactors sit along the New Madrid Fault Zone, which gave rise to the 1811 quakes.

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Infectious Tunisian turmoil began one year ago

December 17, 2011 - TUNISIA

The immolation of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid is likely to be observed as the start of the revolutionary movement that spread from Tunisia and across North Africa and the Middle East. Unknowingly unleashing infectious political forces, Bouazizi doused himself with petrol and set himself alight after police confiscated his produce because he did not have a permit. The anniversary invites a tally of the achievements of the revolution.

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Bombing trial of infamous Carlos the Jackal due to end

December 16, 2011 - PARIS

Accused of killing 11 people in four bombings in 1980s France, Carlos Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, went on trial in November in Paris. The trial is expected to end on Dec 16. The accused, who masterminded a wave of terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s, denies the charges. He faces a second life sentence in prison if convicted. He was sentenced to life in 1997 by a French court for killing two police officers and an informant in 1975.

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