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Jan. 26, 2010 at 12:05 PM   |   Comments

Canadian summit on Haiti sets 10-year goal

MONTREAL, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The Canadian government has proposed 10 years of aid for earthquake-ravaged Haiti at a Montreal summit of governments and financial officials.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that 10 years of hard work awaits the world in Haiti," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday to the group known as the Friends of Haiti. "The international community must be prepared for a sustained, significant effort in Haiti."

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said one of the problems his government faces after the massive Jan. 12 earthquake that flattened Port-au-Prince was a loss of skilled government workers, the Canwest News Service reported.

"We've lost a lot of managers," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed a follow-up meeting of the group in New York in March after more damage and needs assessment had been completed.

The group of countries includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Uruguay. The European Union, Japan and Spain are also significant contributors of aid, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

Representatives of the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank also attended the meeting.


Barak: Lack of Mideast deal biggest threat

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the lack of a Mideast peace deal is a greater threat to Israel than an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Speaking Tuesday at a conference in Tel Aviv, Barak said the continued stalemate in the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks posed huge risks to Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"The lack of defined boundaries within Israel, and not an Iranian bomb, is the greatest threat to our future," he said while calling on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table.

"I am proud to be a member of a government that has taken upon itself the responsibility of addressing issues pertaining to the Road Map." the newspaper quoted the defense minister as saying.


6 hurt in blast near U.S. base in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Six people were wounded Tuesday when a suicide car bomber struck near a U.S. base in Afghanistan, officials said.

An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said the huge blast happened at the Camp Phoenix facility on the eastern edge of Kabul and was apparently aimed at international troops who were training Afghan security forces there, The New York Times reported.

The spokesman said it was possible bodies would be found because the explosion destroyed five cars.

The Times said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force did not immediately report any casualties from the suicide blast.

Officials said the bomb was hidden in a minivan and went off during the Tuesday afternoon rush hour at the camp's front gate, marking the first suicide bombing in the Afghan capital since Jan. 18 when an attack was staged near the gates of the presidential palace.


McChrystal hints at Taliban reconciliation

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A goal of the troop surge in Afghanistan is to set the conditions for striking a political deal with Taliban insurgents, the U.S. commander in Kabul indicated.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal told Tuesday's Financial Times that the influx of 30,000 U.S. troops into the country, many of whom are being sent to the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province, is meant to help "shape conditions which allow people to come to a truly equitable solution to how the Afghan people are governed."

Such a political solution, he told the newspaper, would necessarily include "wide participation" of the "entire Afghan population."

Asked if he could envision a future Afghan government with Taliban participation McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told The Financial Times, "I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past," and went on to note that "it's impossible to paint the Taliban all with one brush. If you try to say the Taliban organization has this relationship with al-Qaida, it varies through the organization."

McChrystal made the comments as NATO countries prepared to gather in London to lay out the future of Afghanistan and discuss the Helmand troop surge.


Internal strife upsetting Tea Party's cart

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Internal disputes threaten to upset the teacart as the Tea Party movement's plans for a national convention in Nashville are taking some lumps, observers say.

Sponsors and participants are pulling out of the convention, planned for February, to protest its expense, while expressing concerns about organizers and others making a profit, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The convention has some heavy political hitters, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivering the keynote address. Some groups, however, are critical of the cost -- $549 per ticket plus fees, plus hotel accommodations and travel -- and cringe at Palin's reported $100,000 speaking fee, a sum organizers won't confirm or deny, the Times said.

The Tea Party movement burst onto the U.S. political scene last summer, notably disrupting healthcare town halls, united by fiscal conservatism and a belief that the federal government has overstepped its bounds.

Philip Glass, national director of the National Precinct Alliance, announced during the weekend that its group would not participate in the convention organized by Tea Party Nation.

"We are very concerned about the appearance of T.P.N. profiteering and exploitation of the grassroots movement," Glass said in a statement. "We were under the impression that T.P.N. was a non-profit organization like N.P.A., interested only in uniting and educating Tea Party activists on how to make a real difference in the political arena."

Sherry Phillips, who founded and runs Tea Party Nation with her husband, Judson, told the Times the organization is a non-profit.

Phillips said Glass's group sought $3,000 in compensation.

"Our budget on this convention is very tight and we could not afford them," Phillips said.

If the convention turns a profit, "the money will go toward furthering the cause of conservatism," she said.


Airlifts in rain-soaked Machu Picchu begin

LIMA, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Peruvian authorities have begun airlifting the nearly 2,000 tourists and residents stranded by heavy rains near the mountain ruins of Machu Picchu.

The government declared an emergency Monday and began evacuating tourists from Machu Picchu Pueblo near the famous pre-Columbian Inca tourist attraction, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Officials said two deaths were caused by days of heavy rains triggering up to 40 landslides in the area. One slide has blocked rail service between Machu Picchu and Cuzco since Saturday.

Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Rey Rey said five military helicopters were deployed in the airlift operation, the Peruvian news agency Andina reported.

Hundreds of acres of crops were destroyed when rivers overflowed their banks, officials said.

The Peruvian government placed the historic city of Cuzco and other nearby villages under a state of emergency for 60 days because of the rains.

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