One month since the death of a Canada Post employee from COVID-19, his sister is speaking out. As Caryn Lieberman reports, she is demanding answers about the outbreak that led to his death.
One month since the death of a Canada Post employee from COVID-19, his sister is speaking out. As Caryn Lieberman reports, she is demanding answers about the outbreak that led to his death.
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.
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
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
The vaccine rollout for Albertans 75 and up began last Wednesday, and since then, more than 39,000 have gotten their first dose with more than 123,000 making appointments. This hasn't been without snags. Seniors have reported major issues with booking appointments. Carillon Cameron, 74, said she got her first dose at Skyview Centre the first day people were allowed to book. She is turning 75 this year. "It's got to be sheer luck," she said of how she got her dose so quickly. "I had a little team of family members working with me." Because of the teamwork, Cameron got in that evening at around 6:40. She said she waited in her car until about five minutes before her appointment, and encountered a massive lineup of people when she got out. People were not social distancing, she said, and things were generally chaotic. Cameron's anxiety was spiking. She said there could have been way better organization with the line outside, maybe someone at the door. "There was no information or anything I could see about what to do," she said. Once she got in, it was a different story. Things ran very smoothly and the person who vaccinated her was calm and professional. "It's an overused word, but … it was all very surreal. We've been thinking about this and dreaming about this and imagining about when the vaccine would happen and then to have it happen that fast, it was quite an emotional experience for me that way." 77-year-old Phillip Raworth just got his first dose Monday. Apart from some nausea, he said then that he was feeling really well. His booking experience was a little harried as well. He tried for a day to get through online and on the phone, with no luck. With some help from his daughter the next day, he was in. "It was frustrating, but I expected it to be, so I wasn't particularly surprised," he said. Raworth said he's lucky because the real line up began after he South Park Centre left Monday morning. Raworth joked that he has never been more rich, as the pandemic has grounded his usual travel plans. Another potential setback in the COVID journey is that his wife is in the vaccine age category below him, so she won't be vaccinated until later. "I would have preferred it obviously if she could have got it, then we both would be protected and we could perhaps go off on holiday [to B.C.]," he said. "Perhaps they had their reasons for it."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has two seats to fill on the influential appeals court in the nation's capital that regularly feeds judges to the Supreme Court. They are among the roughly 10% of federal judgeships that are or will soon be open, giving Biden his first chance to make his mark on the American judiciary. Barring an improbable expansion of the Supreme Court, Biden won’t be able to do anything about the high court’s entrenched conservative majority any time soon. Justice Clarence Thomas, at 72, is the oldest of the court’s conservatives and the three appointees of former President Donald Trump, ranging in age from 49 to 56, are expected to be on the bench for decades. Democrats traditionally have not made the judiciary a focus, but that is changing after four years of Trump and the vast changes he made. Biden’s appointments are also the only concrete moves he has right now to affect the judiciary at large, though there is talk about expanding the number of judges on lower courts. The nearly 90 seats that Biden can fill, which give their occupants life tenure after Senate confirmation, are fewer than former Trump inherited four years ago. That’s because Republicans who controlled the Senate in the final two years of the Obama White House confirmed relatively few judges. Included in the tally are 10 seats on federal courts of appeals where nearly all appeals, other than the few dozen decided by the Supreme Court each year, come to an end. One seat is held by Merrick Garland, whose confirmation as attorney general is expected in the coming days. Another longtime judge on the court, David Tatel, has said he is cutting back on his duties, a change that allows Biden to appoint his successor. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Thomas were appellate judges at the courthouse at the bottom of Capitol Hill before they joined the high court atop the Hill. The late Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg also served on the appeals court, where they first formed their lasting friendship. Following Scalia's death just over five years ago. President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans didn't give him even a hearing, much less a vote. When Trump took office in January 2017, he had a high court vacancy to fill. Trump ended up making three Supreme Court appointments to go along with 54 appellate court picks and 174 trial judges, aided by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's determination to, as he put it, “leave no vacancy behind.” Democrats and their progressive allies say they've learned a lesson or two from the Republicans, and intend to make judicial nominations a greater focus than in past Democratic administrations. “It’s an exceptional situation where you have a president and the people around him people who really see this as a high priority,” said former Sen. Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who served with Biden in the Senate for 16 years. Feingold now is president of the American Constitution Society. “I think President Biden knows that a part of his legacy will be undoing the damage done by Trump to the extent possible,” Feingold said. So far, liberal groups are encouraged by the signals the White House is sending. White House counsel Dana Remus wrote senators in December that recommendations for new judges should come within 45 days of a vacancy. Biden already has pledged to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court if a seat opens up. Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, is the oldest member of the court and could retire, but he has not announced any plans. Democrats are in search of several kinds of diversity, following the Trump years in which more than 75 per cent of judicial nominees were men and 85 per cent were white. In addition to race and gender, liberal groups are pushing for diversity of experience so that public defenders and public interest lawyers are considered along with big law firm lawyers and prosecutors who have predominated in recent administrations. “Our view is we would like to see them prioritize experiential diversity, which would be new and different from the two previous Democratic administrations,” said Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice, referring to the Obama and Clinton presidencies. So far, the judges who have announced they are retiring or taking senior status, the term for a reduced workload, have mainly been appointees of Democratic presidents. Some appear to have put off retirement until Trump left the White House. An additional four dozen or so are eligible to take senior status or will be before Biden's term ends in 2025. Such judges must be at least 65 years old and with 15 years of service on the bench. But Democrats also are eyeing a major expansion of the judiciary for the first time in 30 years. The creation of new judgeships to deal increased caseloads in parts of the country could draw bipartisan support, though it might provide a windfall of judicial appointments for Biden in the short term. Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo recently wrote about the need for another federal judge for his state, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., backs the addition of judges in California and other states. “There is broad agreement here on the dais on both sides," Issa said last month during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on court expansion. But some Republicans and conservative groups are wary about what Democrats might try to do now that they control Congress and the White House. If Democrats conclude “that the courts are somehow out of whack and create judgeships to fill them to skew the courts, I'm not OK with that,” said the Heritage Foundation's John Malcolm, who helped compile a list of potential Supreme Court nominees for Trump. At the same hearing, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said Democrats controlled the House in the last two years of Trump's term, but held no hearings and proposed no legislation on expansion. “I wonder why?” he asked. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
Calgary is expanding its Adaptive Roadways Program to include more roads starting today in order to provide more space for residents to physically distance as the weather warms. The program was first introduced last year as more people spent time outdoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City pathways were widened by closing certain roads and parking lanes to motor vehicles. Today, the city is closing two eastbound lanes on Memorial Drive between Ninth Street N.W. and the lower deck of the Centre Street bridge to cars. The city will also close the entire lower deck of the Centre Street bridge between Riverfront Avenue S.E. and Memorial Drive N.W. "What we're trying to do is really target areas that are super congested. And certainly we saw in Eau Claire the pathway system was packed last weekend," said Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell on the Calgary Eyeopener. "We knew the weather was going to be beautiful on this weekend. And so we're sort of monitoring it. And because we're in a state of emergency, the administration is being incredibly responsive." Other roadways already widened include: Riverfront Avenue S.E. — The westbound parking lane is closed between Fourth Street and First Street S.E. Crescent Road N.W. — The parking lane is closed going east between 7A Street N.W. and First Street S.E. 12th Street S.E. — The parking lane going south is closed between Eighth Avenue and 21st Avenue S.E. Farrell said city council has "learned to be more nimble in a whole number of different ways" and said pop-up patios will also be making a return. "What I've been hearing is people are pretty blue right now … they're tired. And so anything that we can do to get them out to enjoy the fresh air, we'll try and do," she said. The roadways remain widened seven days a week. More locations will be added over the course of the spring and summer.
The Horatio Alger Association of Canada has announced the recipients of their post-secondary scholarships — five Niagara students were among those selected. The Horatio Alger Association of Canada is a charitable organization that awards need-based scholarships annually to deserving students across Canada who have financial needs and persevered through adversity. Two of the students selected are from Welland: Cassidy West and Jessica Gingras. West, who currently attends Notre Dame College School, hopes to study integrated science at McMaster University this fall. “This was a long process,” said West. “ I kind of lost faith. I thought I wasn’t selected.” “When I found out, I was relieved,” she said. “I applied for four or five scholarships, and this was the one that I wanted.” West hopes to use the fund to cover the cost of tuition, books, residence and a laptop. Gingras, who attends Welland Centennial Secondary School, was unavailable for an interview. Two of the students selected are from Niagara Falls, Émilie Blondin, who currently attends A.N. Myer Secondary School, and Josephine Cirillo, who attends Saint Paul Catholic High School. Blondin, who is still deciding what university she’ll attend in the fall, hopes to use the money to overcome financial barriers often associated with post-secondary studies. “This award will provide me the opportunity to focus on my school and less on the cost of attending school,” said Blondin. “I am grateful to the Horatio Alger Association for giving me this opportunity.” While Blondin has yet to determine what school she’ll be attending, she has settled on becoming a professor of archeology. Josephine Cirillo, who attends Saint Paul Catholic High School and Malak Matus, who attends Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School in St Catharines, were unavailable for comment. The charitable organization awarded 160 Scholarships. All of the recipients will receive $5,000 each. They also issued 10 scholarships valued at $10,000 to students who demonstrate a desire and ability to be entrepreneurial in a chosen field. Prem Watsa, president of the Horatio Alger Association of Canada and a Member of the organization since 2012, congratulated this year’s winners in a press release. “In a year unlike any other, it is a privilege to award scholarships to 170 remarkable students who have faced adversity and strived to overcome it,” said Watsa. “Horatio Alger Scholars are selected based on their commitment to furthering their education and giving back to their communities. They are beacons of hope for us all in these trying times and I wish to congratulate them all on behalf of the Members of the Horatio Alger Association.” In addition to the 170 scholarships, the Association will offer 25 Vocational & Technical Education scholarships, 45 Fairfax Financial Holdings Entrance Awards, and five Indigenous Achievement scholarships later this year. Since 2012, $8 million in scholarships have been awarded to 1,338 deserving young Canadians. Annually, the Association awards $1.68 million in need-based scholarships to 245 students. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.com Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.