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Jan. 12 - A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti last Tuesday, killing an estimated 50,000 people and trapping thousands under the wreckage. President Obama may dispatch as many as 10,000 troops to conduct search-and-rescue missions, distribute food and water among residents, provide medical care and shelter to the survivors, dispose of dead bodies and maintain a security presence to discourage looters. Currently, there are 1,700 U.S. military personnel on the ground in Haiti and 5,000 troops stationed off-shore. Reports from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, and the surrounding countryside have indicated that the current humanitarian presence is inadequate to support an estimated 3.5 million people in need of aid. Recently, foreign governments and international aid organizations have pledged to renew efforts to restore access to water, food, shelter and medical care. The European Union promised to send $575 million in relief aid, and the United Nations is considering a proposal introduced by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that would deploy an additional 2,500 troops and 1,000 police.
Jan. 12 - Mexican troops arrested drug lord Teodoro Garcia Simental at a vacation home last Tuesday near the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. U.S. anti-drug officials have shared advanced electronic surveillance techniques with the Mexican authorities for the past five months to help capture Simental, who has smuggled large quantities of drugs over the Mexican-American border. Simental will be charged for complicity in the deaths of at least 300 people, including dozens of assassinations of Tijuana police officers. Simental's capture is part of an intensified drive by President Felipe Calderon to cripple Mexico's powerful drug cartels. In December 2009, drug lord Arturo Beltran Levya was killed in a raid by the Mexican marines just south of Mexico City. His brother, Carlos Beltran Levya, was detained shortly after on Jan. 2, 2010.
New York, N.Y.
Jan. 16 - Officials from the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France convened Saturday at the European Union headquarters in New York to discuss new sanctions on Iran to discourage its nuclear program. The meeting ended before a group consensus could be reached on an appropriate response to the Iranian government, which has continued funding its nuclear program despite international pressure. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki agreed in theory to a proposed one-time exchange of uranium for nuclear fuel in December, but he insisted that the trade take place over an extended period of time. The U.N. Security Council, which has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran in the past, is currently divided over how to halt Iran's nuclear program. Western countries want to impose additional sanctions, but China favors less intrusive diplomatic tactics.