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Top stories Haiti, Kabul attack, federal Cabinet shuffle, Toronto 18 sentence, Olympics (Jan. 18)

Two Presidential Palaces have been in the news, and not for good reasons.

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It's almost a week since the earthquake in Haiti reduced Port-au-Prince, and much more, to rubble.  The Presidential Palace is a symbol of just how badly the country has been hit.  However, symbols and television reports cannot convey the horror of the reality.  Canada continues to support the Haitians but it is obvious that providing assistance is going to continue to be difficult. Expect continued reports of lawlessness, death and destruction, as well as severe logistical problems inherent in the topography, the ruined infrastructure, and the lack of law and order.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, the National Post reports that the Taliban made a concerted attack on government buildings near the Presidential Palace, the Central Bank, and a hotel popular with foreigners this morning. The purpose appears to have been to interrupt the swearing in of some cabinet members.  By mid-afternoon in Kabul, the National Post said, President Hamid Karzai was claiming everything was under control.

National Post: "Canadians safe after Taliban attacks in Kabul", by Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service.

The National Post is itself the subject of news.  CBC reports a group is getting ready to bid for three of the Canwest newspapers.

CBC News: "Group prepares bid for National Post,
Offer to include Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen"

The national media, including The Globe and Mail, are saying there will be a federal cabinet shuffle tomorrow (Tuesday).  Lisa Raitt moving down, Rona Ambrose rising, says the Globe.

Globe and Mail:  "Cabinet shuffle will see Raitt demoted, Ambrose get second shot", by Danielle LeBlanc and Campbell Clark.

Zakaria Amara, the so-called ringleader or mastermind of the "Toronto 18", a group who tried to set off explosions in Toronto in 2006, was given a life sentence for crimes of terrorism today.  His earliest eligibility for parole will be in six years, says The Globe and Mail.

Globe and Mail:  "Terrorist mastermind given life sentence", by Colin Freeze.

In happier news, the Olympic Torch relay arrived in Calgary on Monday. Calgary was the last Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics, in 1988. Calgarians have a particular fondness and enthusiasm for the Olympics as a community event. It was the Olympics that, arguably, put volunteerism at the top of every Calgarian's mind.

As it happens, I was among the Calgary people lined up along MacLeod Trail today to watch the Olympic Flame come back to the city. It was touching to see so many others waiting too. I met a lady wearing one of the 1988 volunteer jackets, one of about six I spotted today. She had been a seamstress in 1988, working in a secret location, sewing pieces of uniforms in conditions not unlike the fabrication of a top secret aircraft. No one group could see the whole garment pattern, just their own section, until the final assembly.

With this lady was her daughter-in-law, who would have been a toddler in 1988, and a new grandson, only five months old.

The former Olympic volunteer said to me, "It's really good to have something happy like this, to take our minds off what's happening elsewhere."

And our minds are very much on Haiti.

CTC Calgary:  "Torch arrives in Calgary"

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