The Canadian government is condemning the detention of thousands of protestors in Russia, who have been pushing for the release of number one Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny. Ross Lord reports on the nationwide unrest.
The Canadian government is condemning the detention of thousands of protestors in Russia, who have been pushing for the release of number one Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny. Ross Lord reports on the nationwide unrest.
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
Muslim women and women from other faiths will gather online Saturday for a special event to mark International Women's Day, which takes place on Monday. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association is bringing together presenters from different perspectives under the banner "Women as Nation Builders." The organization says the event is about celebrating and fostering excellence, along with challenging misconceptions about the contributions of women from different backgrounds in establishing successful societies. "It's a very unique and extraordinary event for women, by women," said Maham Anna Malik with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association. "Our goal is to provide a forum for women from diverse backgrounds to build connections with a shared respect and mutual understanding. "We have Christian speakers, Indigenous speakers, Sikh speakers, Muslim speakers and other guests with women attending from across the prairies." The virtual event takes place at 4 p.m. MST with hundreds of women expected to take part. The list of attendees includes dignitaries, faith leaders and academics. The program includes presentations from female faith leaders, elected officials, multimedia presentations and an interactive question and answer segment. "We feel it's important to empower women, to provide a safe, encouraging and educating dialogue to learn the essential role of women as leaders and nation builders across faiths," said Malik. "Despite our differences, we have so much in common." For more information on the webinar, click here.
China's proposal for Hong Kong electoral reforms could prevent a "dictatorship of the majority", pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Martin Liao told Reuters on Saturday. The Chinese parliament is discussing plans to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure Beijing loyalists are in charge. Hong Kong representatives, in Beijing for an annual session, say the change is necessary and desirable.
New rules governing how temporary foreign workers can isolate upon entering New Brunswick are sowing fears about significantly higher expenses for farmers this year. Spring is around the corner and New Brunswick farmers are preparing to bring in another crop of foreign workers, mostly from Mexico and the Caribbean. However, unlike last year when workers were allowed to self-isolate in shared dwellings on their employer's property, the provincial government has said they'll now need to isolate for 14 days in accommodations that don't include shared amenities. According to a Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour memo shared with CBC News, that means temporary foreign workers won't be able to stay in accommodations that have shared sleeping quarters, shared bathrooms and showers, shared kitchen facilities or shared laundry facilities. The memo suggests employers rent hotel rooms for their workers for the 14-day period. "These changes are public health measures to minimize the risks related to the highly transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus," the memo states. For Tim Livingstone, co-owner of Strawberry Hill Farm near Woodstock, N.B., the new rules put an added burden he's not sure he can handle. Tim Livingstone, co-owner of Strawberry Hill Farm, said he could have to spend up to $5,000 to have his workers self-isolate upon arriving in New Brunswick.(Mike Heenan/CBC) Last year, three workers he brought in were able to self-isolate in a home where they shared common amenities. While it only had one kitchen, it did have a bedroom with its own bathroom in the event one of them became sick and needed to be separated from the others. "Now, with these new rules, the house can only have one person because there's only one kitchen, even though there's, you know, multiple bedrooms and you even have two sets of laundry," Livingstone told CBC's Shift New Brunswick. "It means that we're going to most likely ... be required to put them in a motel somewhere, where they can be completely isolated for those 14 days." Livingstone said he estimates that if he had to foot the bill to put his workers in a motel, he'd possibly end up spending up to $5,000. For other farmers who expect to bring in more workers, that figure could be significantly higher, he said. On top of that, he said some farmers already went through the costly process last year of setting up accommodations for workers to isolate in shared dwellings on their property, with one farmer he knows spending $170,000 to do so. "So it's bringing a new expense, a new hurdle, right at a time when, you know, we're getting into the season, we're buying inputs, we're trying to get things lined up and all of a sudden now what we were counting on no longer fits the rules." At Friday's COVID-19 briefing, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said she had "no clear answer" to the concerns raised. After a 2020 plagued by pandemic and drought, the province's new rules will only make life harder for farmers, and potentially consumers, said Lisa Ashworth, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick. Lisa Ashworth, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, said the new rule by the province could worsen New Brunswick's problem of food insecurity.(Submitted by the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick) With farmers still feeling the economic effects of a less-than-stellar year, some won't be able to plant this year if the new rules remain in place, she said. And while New Brunswick has typically relied on importing its produce from other parts of the world, strains on production elsewhere could even jeopardize that in the future, she said. "We don't want to go into another season handicapping our own province's food security if we don't have to," she said. "It's a delicate balance and that is the challenge. We want to have rigorous health and safety protocols, but they have to be realistic and they have to be economically viable at the end of the day or people will simply not plant crops."
CAIRO — A trailer-truck crashed into a microbus, killing at least 18 people and injuring five others south of the Egyptian capital, authorities said. The country’s chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement the crash took place late Friday on a highway near the town of Atfih, 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Cairo. The Cairo-Assiut eastern road, located on the eastern side of the Nile River, links Cairo to the country’s southern provinces and is known for speeding traffic. Police authorities said the truck’s tire exploded, causing it to overturn and collide with the microbus. The victims were taken to nearby hospitals, the statement said. The truck driver was arrested. Traffic accidents claim thousands of lives every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. The crashes are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws. The country’s official statistics agency says around 10,000 road accidents took place in 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available, leaving over 3,480 dead. In 2018, there were 8,480 car accidents, causing over 3,080 deaths. The Associated Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Dozens of Orthodox Christian faithful held up wooden crosses and sang Church hymns outside of Cyprus' state broadcaster on Saturday to demand the withdrawal of the country’s controversial entry for the Eurovision song contest — titled “El Diablo” — that they say promotes satanic worship. Some of the protesters, including families, held up placards reading in Greek, “We’re protesting peacefully, no to El Diablo,” “Repent and return to Christ” and “Christ saves, Diablo kills.” The broadcaster and the singer of the song insist it has been misinterprested and the song is actually about an abusive relationship between two lovers. The protest came several days after the powerful Orthodox Church called for the withdrawal of the song that it said mocked the country’s moral foundations by advocating “our surrender to the devil and promoting his worship.” The Holy Synod, the Church’s highest decision-making body, said in a statement that the song “essentially praises the fatalistic submission of humans to the devil’s authority” and urged the state broadcaster to replace it with one that “expresses our history, culture, traditions and our claims.” Last week, police charged a man with uttering threats and causing a disturbance when he barged onto the grounds of the public broadcaster to protest what he condemned as a “blasphemous” song that was an affront to Christianity. The state broadcaster insisted that the entry won’t be withdrawn, but its board chairman, Andreas Frangos, conceded that organizers should have done a better job explaining the core message of the song, whose lyrics include, “I gave my heart to el diablo...because he tells me I’m his angel.” Even the Cypriot government waded into the controversy, with Presidential spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos saying that although the views of dissenters are respected, the government cannot quash freedom of expression. “The Government fully respects creative intellectual and artistic freedom that cannot be misinterpreted or limited because of a song’s title, and unnecessary dimensions should not be attributed,” Papadopoulos said in a written statement. The song’s performer, Greek artist Elena Tsagrinou, said that the song is about a woman who cries out for help after falling for a “bad boy” known as “El Diablo” and coming to identify and bond with her abuser. Tsagrinou insisted that any other interpretation is “unfounded.” “The song sends a strong message, one against any form of abuse, such as the one conveyed in ‘El Diablo,’” Tsagrinou told The Associated Press in a written statement. “In these ‘Me Too Movement’ times that message is extremely relevant and can be felt not only in Cyprus but also across Europe and beyond.” She added that she is a Christian and her faith was very important to her. Addressing the song’s detractors, Tsagrinou said “we must all embrace the true and intended message of the song” and that people are now stepping forward with their own stories of abuse. “Music unites and empowers. Let’s focus on that and the important issues around us and leave misinterpretations and dark thoughts behind,” Tsagrinou said. Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll has risen to at least 20 after a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a popular restaurant in Somalia’s capital on Friday night, with 30 wounded, the government news agency reported Saturday. The Somali National News Agency cited the Aamin ambulance service for the death toll. Police spokesman Sadiq Ali Adan blamed the attack on the local al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida and often targets Mogadishu with bombings. The Luul Yamani restaurant also was attacked last year. Some houses near the restaurant collapsed after the dinnertime blast, and police said that caused a number of deaths. Security in Mogadishu had been especially heavy, with thousands of government forces deployed in anticipation of a planned demonstration on Saturday by an alliance of opposition leaders over the country’s delayed national election. The demonstration was later postponed. The Associated Press
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan handily won a vote of confidence from the National Assembly on Saturday, days after the embarrassing defeat of his ruling party’s key candidate in Senate elections. Khan secured the votes of 178 members of the lower house of Parliament, which is comprised of 340 lawmakers. The 11-party opposition alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement —boycotted the assembly’s special session. Khan needed 172 votes to show a simple majority and dispel any suggestion he had lost the support of the majority of lawmakers in the National Assembly. In the National Assembly, Pakistan's lower house, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party has the support of 180 members, including 157 members from Khan's party and 20 members from allied parties and two independents. The need for the confidence vote arose after former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Senate elections Wednesday defeated Hafeez Sheikh, the finance minister in Khan’s Cabinet. The Senate vote was seen as a test for Khan, who came to power in the 2018 parliamentary elections. It boosted the number of Senate seats for the opposition, which has a slight, 53-47 majority over Khan and wants Khan to step down. Responding to the opposition demand, Khan decided to seek the vote of confidence, noting that it was the democratic right of lawmakers from his own party to vote against him if they oppose his policies. Frustrated over the defeat of Sheikh, Khan criticized election authorities who he said failed to ensure a free and fair vote. Earlier, he claimed that 15 or 16 lawmakers from his party “sold” their vote but they could not be identified because the vote is done by secret ballot. “In August 2018 Imran Khan got 176 votes to become prime minister and today he secured 178 votes to show his majority in the house,” said Asad Qaiser, the speaker of the lower house, after the vote. Khan said his party members went through agony after the Senate vote but now he wants to make the country great. “We have to apprise our young generation about the purpose of the creation of Pakistan,“ he said. “Pakistan was created to make a welfare Islamic state and not made to generate politicians like (former president Asif) Zardari and (former Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif, who have been accused of corruption. The resolution of confidence was presented to the assembly by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Members who voted in favour of Khan signed a register and then entered the Parliament building lobby. Outside Parliament, opposition leaders from the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League argued heatedly with Khan’s supporters. Zarar Khan, The Associated Press
Sea cucumbers are among the most bizarre looking creatures in the ocean. They are truly unique, not just in appearance, but also in their structure. They are echinoderms and they cover the sea beds worldwide. One of the most numerous of the sea animals, they are found in the shallows and also at great depths. Eyeless creatures, elongated in their shape and possessing leathery skin, they don't much resemble the animals that we know. They lack the bilateral symmetry of the majority of the creatures of the animal kingdom. Their bodies have five distinct sections instead of a left and a right. They are aptly named because most of them are close in appearance to a cucumber, they move almost imperceptibly slowly. They could easily be mistaken for a plant. Many are harvested and eaten throughout the world. But more important than their contribution to feeding the people in many countries, they provide a service for the ocean by filtering the water of bacteria, plankton and plant debris. Many species use their tentacles to draw food into their mouths as they slowly move over the ocean floor. Like millions of small ocean "Roombas", they work constantly, ridding the reefs, rocks, and sand bottoms of decaying plant matter. Without them, many animals would suffer from habitat loss. Algae that provide food could not grow and the silt and debris would simply accumulate and clog corals. Scuba divers enter the ocean with a sense of wonder for the incredible abundance of life that exists below the waves. The plants and animals there are unlike anything that we see above the surface. This undersea domain is alien and beautiful and each trip to the depths is an ad venture beyond description.
WARSAW, Poland — A bus carrying dozens of Ukrainian citizens rolled off an embankment into a ditch in Poland, killing six people and injuring 41, Polish media reported on Saturday. The accident occurred around midnight on the A4 motorway near the town of Jaroslaw, which is in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. TNV24, a private all-news station, reported that the bus had a Ukrainian license plate and was travelling with 57 Ukrainian citizens, including two drivers. A large rescue operation early Saturday involved dozens of firefighters, paramedics and helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals. There was no immediate cause given for the accident. Ukrainians travel for work to Poland, a European Union state on Ukraine's western border. Ukrainians fill gaps in the labour market in Poland, which has experienced fast economic growth in recent years. The Associated Press
SYDNEY, Australia — Sydney’s annual iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras went ahead on Saturday, only in a different format due to coronavirus restrictions. It was being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where people can socially distance in their seats rather than on the traditional route down Oxford Street. Up to 23,000 spectators will be allowed in the stands while the performers will be on the pitch. Organizers say this year’s parade will move away from the traditional large floats and instead focus on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props. Face masks will be mandatory for participants and there will be temperature checks and screening at entry points. Meanwhile, LGBTQI rights protesters have been given the green light to march down Oxford Street in a separate event before the parade. Health officials in New South Wales state agreed to make an exception to the 500-person limit on public gatherings after organizers agreed to enhanced contact-tracing processes. The marchers are protesting social issues including transphobia, the mandatory detention of asylum-seekers and the criminalization of sex work. The Associated Press
Six months after the tragic death of a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman at a Quebec hospital, the federal government's response to ongoing systemic racism in Canada's health-care system remains partial and ad hoc. The death of Joyce Echaquan, who bravely recorded her own racist encounter with two health-care workers, proves that cultural change is needed in Canada's health-care system to prevent further deaths and harm to Indigenous and other racialized patients. Unlike the absence of response in the death of Brian Sinclair, the federal government acted on pleas from Echaquan's family and community, as well as individuals and groups across Canada, to address racism in Canadian health care. Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett hosted a series of national dialogues. The most recent, held in late January, brought together more than 400 people representing Indigenous partners, governments, educational and professional institutions, and health-care organizations to share calls to action and discuss plans, with the premise that substantial interruption of ongoing racism can only happen through dialogue. We acknowledge and value this national dialogue. However, the government of Canada's response remains tepid. Tangible commitments are minimal. WATCH | A Jan. 28, 2021, report on Ottawa's promise to address racism in health care: They include supporting the co-development of distinctions-based (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) Indigenous health legislation, $4 million to improve physician training, and $2 million to the First Nations governing authorities of Manawan Atikamekw Council and Atikamekw Nation Tribal Council in Quebec for training and education on the right to access equitable social and health services. These commitments are inadequate. First, distinctions-based legislation does not address jurisdictional issues and may not have helped someone like Brian Sinclair, who died in 2008 after sitting ignored for 34 hours in the emergency department at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. Mr. Sinclair was a non-status Anishinaabe man who accessed services as a citizen of Manitoba. Second, all health-care staff share a responsibility to confront Indigenous-specific racism. Directing funding only to physician training misses the fact that the fatal racism suffered by Brian Sinclair, Joyce Echaquan, and many, many others occurred in encounters with nurses and other hospital staff. Furthermore, education, while valuable, is insufficient without broader structural transformation in conjunction with accountability mechanisms, policy directives, and organizational change. Enshrine anti-racism in Canada Health Act Alongside education, we recommend a direct and universal measure: adding anti-racism as a sixth pillar of the Canada Health Act. The act outlines five pillars that provinces and territories are bound by in order to receive health-care funding: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability and public administration. We came together as the Brian Sinclair Working Group during the inquest into the 2008 death of Brian Sinclair, in which a judge ruled that racism would not be considered as a factor. We hosted provincewide discussions on structural racism and the inadequate provincial response. We also issued a report with recommendations. The Brian Sinclair Working Group released its interim report in 2017. The group also hosted provincewide discussions on structural racism and the inadequate provincial response. (Brian Sinclair Working Group) Since Joyce Echaquan's death, we renewed our efforts and proposed that anti-racism be a guiding value for all health-care systems, organizations, and providers. More specifically, we as a group asked that all stakeholders in the health-care system (including the federal government, the provincial government, health authorities, unions, professional organizations, and post-secondary institutions that deliver services and train the next generation of health professionals) adopt anti-racism policies and implement meaningful strategies. This will require resources committed to providing anti-racism training, accountability mechanisms, program review and independent investigations to hold institutions accountable to these mandates. We concur with the recommendations from recent inquiries, reports, and guidelines that eradicating racism in health care requires a national effort. We contend that adding anti-racism to the Canada Health Act would trigger the development of universal policies and programs to interrupt systemic and interpersonal racism in health care across health systems throughout the country. To date, more than 2,000 individuals and organizations have signed our open letter calling on the federal government to adopt anti-racism as a pillar of the Canada Health Act. (The letter can be found on the Anti-racism as a Sixth Pillar of the Canada Health Act Facebook group.) A denial of basic human dignity On Nov. 5, 2020, Sen. Mary Jane McCallum tabled a motion to call on the government to adopt anti-racism as the sixth pillar of the Canada Health Act, stating that "concerted action at the highest levels of influence and authority in Canada is required to disrupt racism in the Canadian health-care system." While Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has not officially ruled out this approach, his department maintains a "carrots over sticks" (education, not law) approach to addressing racism in Canada. Although every Canadian is entitled to constitutional and human rights protections against discrimination, the horrific treatment of Indigenous individuals within health-care systems demonstrates an ongoing denial of basic human dignity that is deeply rooted in Canada's history of colonialism and segregation. Measures to increase accountability to the Canada Health Care Act are needed to raise standards of care to existing commitments to public administration, accessibility, comprehensiveness, universality and portability. Enshrining anti-racism as a sixth core principle would acknowledge the cultural change needed to prevent further deaths and harm to Indigenous and other racialized patients.
OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. Internal reviewers found several of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's preparatory steps for the execution of warrant powers needed strengthening. Among the shortcomings were insufficient training of personnel and a lack of quality-control measures. In underscoring the importance of the process, the report notes warrants are authorizations issued by a federal judge that enable CSIS to legally undertake actions, including surveilling people electronically, that would otherwise be illegal. "Failure to properly apply or interpret a warrant at the time of its execution exposes the Service to the risk of its employees committing unlawful actions, and in certain situations, criminal offences," the report says. "The investigative powers outlined in warrants must be exercised rigorously, consistently and effectively." Potential misuse of these powers could result in serious ethical, legal or reputational consequences that might compromise the intelligence service's integrity, the report adds. The Canadian Press requested the 2012 audit under the Access to Information Act shortly after its completion, but CSIS withheld much of the content. The news agency filed a complaint through the federal information commissioner's office in July 2013, beginning a process that led to disclosure of a substantial portion of the document more than seven years later. CSIS operates with a high degree of secrecy and is therefore supposed to follow the proper protocols and legal framework, particularly concerning warrants, said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, which includes dozens of civil society organizations. "Seeing a report like this, it just raises a concern ... to what degree they're really following that framework with the most rigour possible." CSIS can apply to the Federal Court for a warrant when intrusive collection techniques are needed because other methods have failed or are unlikely to succeed. Once a judge approves a warrant but before it is executed, a step known as the invocation process takes place. It involves a request from CSIS personnel to use one or more of the authorized powers and a review of the facts underpinning the warrant to ensure appropriate measures are employed against the correct people. However, the reviewers found CSIS policy did not "clearly define or document the objectives or requirements of the invocation process." "When roles and responsibilities are not documented, they may not be fully understood by those involved. As a result, elements of the process may not be performed, or be performed by people who do not have sufficient knowledge or expertise to do so." Overall, the report found the invocation process "needs to be strengthened" through a clear definition of objectives, requirements and roles, and better monitoring, training and development of quality-control procedures. In response, CSIS management spelled out a series of planned improvements for the auditors. But concerns have persisted about the spy service's warrant procedures. A Federal Court of Canada ruling released in July said CSIS had failed to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism. Justice Patrick Gleeson found CSIS violated its duty of candour to the court, part of a long-standing and troubling pattern. "The circumstances raise fundamental questions relating to respect for the rule of law, the oversight of security intelligence activities and the actions of individual decision-makers," he wrote. Gleeson called for an in-depth look at interactions between CSIS and the federal Justice Department to fully identify systemic, governance and cultural shortcomings and failures. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, the key watchdog over CSIS, is examining the issues. Another review, completed early last year by former deputy minister of justice Morris Rosenberg, called for improvements, including better training and clarification of roles, but stressed they would not succeed unless the "cultural issues around warrants" were addressed. CSIS spokesman John Townsend said the intelligence service continuously works to improve training and updates its policies and procedures accordingly, informed by audits, reviews and best practices. The Rosenberg review prompted CSIS to launch an effort last year to further the service's ability to meet its duty of candour to the court, resulting in a plan that was finalized in January, Townsend said. "The plan includes specific action items directed at ensuring the warrant process is more responsive to operational needs, documenting the full intelligence picture to facilitate duty of candour and ensuring CSIS meets expectations set by the Federal Court," he said. "In addition to training on CSIS's duty of candour already provided under the auspices of the project, additional training on a variety of operational issues including warrant acquisition will be developed by the project team and offered to employees." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Artists, get out your spray cans. The Fredericton Trails Coalition wants to revitalize part of the city trail between Rookwood Avenue and Smythe Street, near the New Brunswick Exhibition horse barns. "It's nothing but a big canvas," said Stephen Marr, vice-president of the Fredericton Trails Coalition. So, the group hopes to turn it into a huge mural and is looking for proposals. The idea came about last year, when organizers were trying to come up with ways to celebrate the community trails — while following physical distancing rules because of COVID-19. Bringing history and art together "It's something that's happening all over Canada," he said. For years, the horse barns have been spray painted with bubble letters or funny looking smiley faces. "Why not beautify it and put something meaningful on there that would actually become a destination for people on the trail?" he said. The canvas is about 100 metres long and art applications are pretty open-ended. "If you pigeonhole them you're not going to allow them their creativity," he said There are a lot of people who pass by the area while cycling to work or out for a stroll with kids. So the group is hoping for something that focuses on community and its history. "The topics are just too numerous to count." 'It's about community' A call for artists was sent out in the middle of February. The group has received about 28 applications so far. People have until the end of March to apply. Then, the proposals will be evaluated by Fredericton's art community, including gallery owners and art instructors. Five artists will be selected in June. Then, they will be asked to do a mockup of the canvas. The finalist will be announced on June 15, and will get to work after Canada Day. The artist will receive about $20,000 for the project and potential grants. The artwork is expected to be finished by September. The paint is expected to last five to six years. Marr said he isn't worried about taggers destroying the artwork. He said there's an unwritten rule between taggers that once a mural goes up, it's off limits. "It's about community involvement and appreciation and inclusiveness on the trails."
Ivory Coast voted on Saturday in a legislative election, with President Alassane Ouattara's allies facing a combined challenge from opposition parties led by two of his predecessors. The poll comes only months after Ouattara won a third term in an election marred by unrest that killed at least 85 people, the country's worst violence since a 2010-2011 civil war. After boycotting the presidential election in October to protest Ouattara's decision to seek a third term, the parties of former presidents Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo are fielding parliamentary candidates on joint lists.
HONG KONG — A group of 11 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists accused of subversion will stay in jail for at least another five days while judges consider whether to release them on bail, a court said Saturday. The group, which includes three former legislators, will have hearings Thursday and on March 13, the High Court said. A court agreed this week to release them but prosecutors appealed the decision. They are among 47 people who were charged under a national security law imposed on the Chinese territory last year by the ruling Communist Party after pro-democracy protests. They were arrested after opposition groups held an unofficial vote last year to pick candidates for elections to the territory’s Legislative Council. Some activists planned, if elected, to vote down major bills in an attempt to force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. The national security law was imposed following months of rallies that began over a proposed China extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy. The law prompted complaints Beijing is undermining the “high degree of autonomy” promised when the former British colony returned to China in 1997, and hurting its status as a business centre. People convicted of subversion or other offences under the law can face penalties of up to life in prison. Hong Kong traditionally grants bail for non-violent offences but the new law says bail cannot be granted unless a judge believes the defendant “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.” On Friday, four of the 47 people charged were released on bail after prosecutors dropped a challenge to the decision. The group due to appear in court Thursday includes former legislators Helena Wong, Jeremy Tam and Kwok Ka-ki. The next hearing for the 47 defendants is May 31. The Associated Press
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Saturday for a binding deal by the summer on the operation of a giant Ethiopian hydropower dam, as he made his first visit to neighbouring Sudan since the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir. Egypt also signalled support for Sudan in a dispute with Ethiopia over an area on the border between the two countries where there have recently been armed skirmishes. Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Addis Ababa says is crucial to its economic development.
Have you ever wanted to try biking part of the Yukon? Now you can give it a test drive of sorts before actually going. A Yukon museum has a new venture which is part exercise video, part tourism ad. Janna Swales, executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum, filmed a bike ride down the South Klondike Highway toward the White Pass. And now, the Yukon Transportation Museum project is allowing that video to be rented online. The idea is for people to watch the scenery, as they pedal on a stationary bike. "It reaches out to people in other parts of the world and they get to experience our roads, and perhaps pique their interest in coming to visit us when they're able to," Swakes said. Videos like this are becoming more common as more stationary bikes incorporate screens or tablets. Janna Swales, executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum, recorded her point of view bike ride in the fall, beginning a new series called Yukon Spin.(Philippe Morin/CBC) Two videos have been released by the museum online so far. They are available for rental between $1.50 to $5. Swales says she'd like to record more videos when conditions are right. Future runs could include bike rides form Carcross Corner to Mt Lorne, the Silver Trail into Mayo and more. Swales says the videos are a novel way to discuss roads and transportation at a time when the museum is closed for renovations and dealing with COVID-19. The series is called Yukon Spin.
A Northwest Territories committee is changing its process for determining species at risk with the goal of better reflecting Indigenous and community knowledge. The N.W.T. Species at Risk Committee (SARC) made the announcement in a news release Tuesday. It says it will now use two separate sets of criteria based on Indigenous and community knowledge, and scientific knowledge, respectively. The final species assessment can be supported by criteria from either, or both, knowledge systems, depending on the best available information, the release says. "Around the world, accepted standards for species at risk assessments are based strongly in western science," Leon Andrew, chair of the Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee, said in a statement. "However, there is increasing acceptance that Indigenous and community knowledges are systems of knowing in their own right that do not need to fit within a model of, or be verified by, western science." Both knowledge systems to exist as equals The release says it became "clear" to the committee that the assessment process needed to be "rethought and rebuilt" so that it "recognizes the local, holistic, eco-centric and social-spiritual context of Indigenous knowledges." The new guidelines are consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity, it says. "Through a more balanced and holistic approach to species assessment, SARC hopes to provide room for both knowledge systems to exist and interact as equals," the release reads in part. The committee's assessment process and objective biological criteria now significantly differ from those used by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, according to the release. The new assessment process will be applied for the first time to the re-assessment of polar bears in April 2021. The committee says it will regularly review the effectiveness of the new assessment criteria.
CAMEROON, Cameroon — An attempt to get U.N. Security Council approval for a statement calling for an end to violence in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and to spotlight the millions in need of humanitarian assistance was dropped Friday night after objections from India, Russia and especially China, U.N. diplomats said. Three council diplomats said Ireland, which drafted the statement, decided not to push for approval after objections from the three countries. The press statement would have been the first by the U.N.’s most powerful body on the Tigray crisis, which is entering its fourth month. Fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government and alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people. No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. On Tuesday, U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that “a campaign of destruction” is taking place, saying at least 4.5 million people need assistance and demanding that forces from neighbouring Eritrea accused of committing atrocities in Tigray leave Ethiopia. The proposed statement made no mention of foreign forces or sanctions -- two key issues -- but did call “for an end to violence in Tigray.” The draft statement also noted “with concern” the humanitarian situation in Tigray, “where millions of people remain in need of humanitarian assistance” and the challenge of access for aid workers. It called for “the full and early implementation” of the Ethiopian government’s statements on Feb. 26 and March 3 committing to “unfettered access.” Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations were private, said China wanted the statement to focus only on the humanitarian situation, with no reference to the violence in Tigray. India only wanted a minor change, and Russia reportedly supported its ally China at the last minute, the diplomats said. Accounts of a massacre of several hundred people by Eritrean soldiers in the holy city of Axum in Tigray have been detailed in reports by The Associated Press and then by Amnesty International. Federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after elections disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Human Rights Watch echoed the reports on Friday, saying Eritrean armed forces “massacred scores of civilians, including children as young as 13," in the historic town of Axum in Tigray in November 2020. It called on the U.N. to urgently establish an independent inquiry into war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Tigray. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press