North and South
Throughout 2010 rising tensions between North and South Korea had both nations preparing for a full-fledged conflict, while the rest of the world prepared to contend with the fallout.
Despite the fact that the two Koreas are still technically at war with each other, the two nations have remained relatively free of conflict since 1953, after signing an armistice to halt fighting in the Korean War.
However, this March a South Korean warship was sunk and, following an independent investigation, North Korea was found to be responsible, despite not taking accountability.
Additionally, in November, the reclusive North Korea fired over 170 artillery shells and rockets at the South Korean Yeonpyeong Island after a series of announced South Korean military exercises, resulting in the untimely deaths of two marines and a pair of South Korean civilians.
Thankfully, North Korea, one of the most militarized nations on the planet with functioning nuclear weapons, and South Korea, a nation with over 650,000 active troops, refrained from further violence and ended 2010 on a peaceful, albeit tense, note.
Haiti's continuing struggle
On Jan. 12, at about 5:00 p.m. local time, a catastrophic earthquake, with an epicentre about 25 km west of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, hit the tiny Caribbean nation hard.
Registering as an 8.8 on the Richter scale, January’s massive earthquake resulted in over 200,000 casualties and destroyed much of Haiti’s already fragile infrastructure, leaving over one million Haitians homeless.
What is arguably worse than the initial destruction is, nearly a year later, Haiti’s overall situation has only gotten worse.
Widespread homelessness causing adverse living conditions, and an almost universal lack of clean water, has facilitated one of the worst cholera outbreaks in recent memory.
Although cholera is an entirely preventable disease, and extremely easy to cure, Haiti’s lack of resources has left the nation in no shape to contend with an outbreak of this magnitude. Since first surfacing in November cholera has caused the untimely death of over 3,000 Haitians.
Alone in the dark
Chile, the world’s most prolific producer of copper, has long been acquainted with the inherent dangers of copper mining. In the last decade nearly 350 miners have perished in similar accidents.
In a remarkable showing of the human spirit, specialists from across the globe worked tirelessly to ensure that the 33 trapped men wouldn’t experience a similar fate.
After 69 harrowing days, a number of botched rescue attempts, and an estimated $20 million recovery effort, the last of the trapped men emerged from the mine amidst hundreds of ecstatic Chileans celebrating, and millions of intrigued viewers the world over glued to their television sets.
On April 10, an airplane carrying many of Poland’s most high-profile government and non-government figures crashed near the city of Smolensk, Russia. The tragic crash resulted in the untimely deaths of the 89 passengers and seven crew members on board.
The passengers, who included Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, the chief of the Polish General Staff, the president of the National Bank of Poland, senior members of the Polish clergy, and many relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre – a mass murder of nearly 22,000 Polish nationals carried out by the Soviet secret police NKVD in mid-1940 – were on route to Warsaw to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the massacre.
In a state funeral held one week after the accident, over 100,000 mourning Polish nationals grieved the loss of their late president.
BHP buyout goes bust
On Aug. 17, in what was possibly the biggest piece of economic news to hit Saskatchewan in decades, Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp announced that it had rejected a buyout offer by international mining consortium BHP Billiton.
Two months of absolutely furious politicking followed, culminating in what seemed like a standoff between Brad Wall’s provincial government and prime minister Stephen Harper’s seemingly gung-ho federal Conservatives. And then, in early November, the federal government surprised everyone by announcing that its closed-doors review of the investment did not find any net benefit to Canada.
Chagrined and insulted, BHP withdrew its offer. Pundits suggested the government’s net benefit analysis included the seats it stood to lose in Saskatchewan were it to approve the decision; meanwhile, Brad Wall became a nationally-discussed figure. Oh, and the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union sent out a missive decrying BHP and signed the U of R Students’ Union’s name to it with minimal consultation. No biggie.
Will it get better?
After a night out, Hampton and some friends went to the restaurant, where three men verbally, and then violently, attacked him, which he believes was in response to the nail polish he had been wearing. Hampton had to be taken to the hospital, where he received over a dozen stitches.
The incident left Hampton scarred, but also impelled him to do what many victims shy away from. He spoke out about his attack, using the social networking website Facebook to raise awareness and, hopefully, to track down his assailants.
“I wanted to catch them and also, I wanted to expose them,” Hampton said after the attack in October. “I wanted people to know what they had done. I didn’t just want them to get charged.”
Gay bashing like Hampton experienced became a high-profile issue in 2010, not only because of Hampton’s crusade against his attackers, but also in the wake of the startling amount of gay teen suicides reported in North America. These suicides raised concern from the public, and prompted Dan Savage to create the “It Gets Better” online campaign. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and United States president Barack Obama, as well as ordinary people, spoke out via YouTube against bullying, encouraging youth to not use suicide as an option as things will “get better.”
Hopefully, in 2011, it does.
FNUniv in jeopardy
In February, as a result of issues relating to the board of governors as well as accusations of financial mismanagement at the institution, minister of Indian affairs Chuck Strahl announced that the federal government would not be renewing FNUniv’s federal funding as of March 31. Brad Wall’s provincial government quickly followed suit. Incensed students protested the decision for months and, in March and June respectively, the provincial and federal funding were partially restored.
But the invective fired between the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the federal government was enough to at least seem suspicious; in the end, it’s tough to say if the political battle for FNUniv was ever about the students at all.
URSU vs. CFS
After a botched attempt to hold a referendum on defederation late in the winter semester, the Canadian Federation of Students and the U of R Students’ Union reached an agreement to hold a referendum in October. Two weeks before the referendum, URSU’s board of directors voted to endorse the “no” campaign.
That’s when things got ugly. URSU instantly converted its website into a campaign platform; national CFS representatives swooped in to galvanize their on-campus base; “No” campaign organizer Jeph Maystruck canvassed for votes in an enormous fat suit.
As for the results of the referendum, well, that’s less exciting and more plain frustrtating. When the polls finally closed, the eligibility of certain ballots – FNUniv students’ ballots especially – were disputed. On December 21, the Referendum Oversight Committeee’s website was updated to announce.