Some University of Alberta students are calling for an end to the use of online monitoring services meant to prevent cheating, as final exams approach. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the university to use remote learning, many U of A classes have used online proctoring services like Smart Exam Monitoring and Exam Lock. They run in the background of students' computers while they write tests, monitoring movement to flag anything that could be a sign the student is cheating. "Fundamentally, what this software does is it tries to prevent cheating. But all it does instead is make it so that you're more scared and the assessments themselves are less effective," said David Draper, University of Alberta Students' Union vice-president academic. Student representatives have raised concerns about e-proctoring since May. Draper said the type of suspicious activity it flags include things as simple as students reading questions aloud, going to the bathroom or people walking in the background of the camera's view, a problem for people living with roommates or family. They also have led to equity issues, Draper said. He's heard from students of colour who say the programs sometimes don't recognize their face, asking them to move to rooms with better lighting. He's also heard from students with disabilities about e-proctoring not working with accessibility programs that are provided by the university, such as screen readers. "It sends a message to students about who is welcome within a university and who this university caters to," Draper said. "Online proctoring, in my opinion, does more to enforce compliance and does more to enforce structural and systemic views of what somebody should look like, rather than actually enforcing academic integrity." Some also see it as invasive. Inaara Kanji, a second-year criminology student, has had to use online proctoring in many of her classes this year. Privacy is often the main concern for her and other students, she said, with many questioning the security of the video recording them writing tests in their home. "Online proctoring really just feels like you're trying to avoid getting caught for something that you didn't even do," Kanji said. University strikes task force A blog post by University of Alberta president Bill Flanagan on Jan. 28 announced a task force on remote teaching and learning that would include students and instructors, with a goal to reduce online proctoring in the spring and summer term. "We know that this is a challenging time for everyone and continue to remind members of our teaching and learning community to reach out if they are experiencing added challenges or barriers because of the COVID-19 emergency," said deputy provost Wendy Rodgers on Tuesday. Lucas Marques, vice-president external at the U of A's International Students' Association, said he's frustrated the university hasn't acted more swiftly. Marques spent the fall semester studying from home in Brazil. The four-hour time difference was enough for him to sometimes be awake past midnight writing tests. With some students having to do this while living in a timezone more than 10 hours away, Marques said more students are feeling fatigued and burned out this year, especially as they see the high price of their university tuition come with a seemingly declining quality of education. "Students need help now," Marques said. "They have midterms around this time of the year; this semester is almost ending, and just now we are starting to get some sort of talks into it." Some schools were worried last summer that studying from home could lead to more academic dishonesty. But Draper says from what the students' union has gathered, students aren't cheating more often, but are instead are getting more confused over what is and isn't cheating. Similar concerns about online proctoring services have been raised across Canada, including at the University of Manitoba, the University of Regina and Carleton University. Other schools have rejected using it. The University of Calgary opted not to use online proctoring for exams this semester, citing privacy issues with technology that records people in their homes. Increasing burden on instructors Tim Mills, vice-president of the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta, has been teaching online for several years. He said he's used remote proctoring in the past, but finds it too awkward and invasive. Last fall, Mills worked in a support role to help staff use e-proctoring programs. He said the burden on instructors this year has been difficult after provincial budget cuts led to larger classes and an increased workload. On top of this, Mills says, it's been hard for professors to find the best way to assess their students to the same standard as the structure of their in-person courses. "We don't have that substantial training or the time to build up the experience to deliver these alternative formats the way we would want, or even, I think, to really understand all the ins and outs of remote proctoring," Mills said. David Draper, vice-president academic of the University of Alberta Students’ Union, worries about how often online exam proctoring is used.(CBC) Draper is happy to see more students and staff raising concerns to the university, but he said the onus should be on administration to restrict use of online proctoring and promote alternatives. And while the university's task force is a positive step, it can only offer recommendations or guidelines, but students need to see more action, Draper said. "It's been eight months more or less since we started talking about these issues and we know the issues," Draper said. "We know the problems, we don't need to scope them out anymore. We don't need to do the research on it, it's already been done."
Britain's Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth who is in hospital for tests for a heart condition and treatment for an infection, is "slightly improving", Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall said on Wednesday. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been in hospital for over two weeks since he was admitted having felt unwell, and on Monday moved hospitals to one specialising in cardiac treatment, for tests and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. On a tour of a vaccination centre in south London, Camilla, the wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, told a volunteer the Duke was "slightly improving" and that "we keep our fingers crossed".
A wild rally in shares of Rocket Companies that saw the stock rise 70% in an apparent short squeeze has attracted fresh bets that the stock price will decline. Shares of Rocket, the parent of mortgage lender Quicken Loans, were down 31.7% to $28.43 in afternoon trading on Wednesday. The heavily-shorted stock had surged more than 70% on Tuesday in a move that analysts said was likely sparked by bearish investors unwinding bets against the stock as its share price surged.
Music's ability to connect us, even if only virtually, is on display in the latest film project by Vicki Van Chau in collaboration with the Calgary Chinese Orchestra. Van Chau is co-director and editor for a new documentary and music video called Off to the Races. The film features interviews and a music collaboration of 72 musicians playing a classic Chinese erhu song, Horse Race. The erhu is a Chinese violin. The idea to produce the 12-minute doc came from Jiajia Li, the artistic director of the Calgary Chinese Orchestra and a flutist. Vicki Van Chau is the co-director and editor of the film.(Kai Sunderland) Li wanted to do something to honour the Lunar New Year despite restrictions on the ability to gather. Van Chau and Li connected in November and opened up the call for submissions from artists playing the song on their instruments. Li chose the song, which was composed in the 1960s, for its upbeat and hopeful theme. And because it's less than three minutes long, it would be easy for submitting musicians to learn and record in time. There were so many submissions that the music producer, Warren Tse, wrote an intro and interlude so that more musicians could be included in the final performance. Erhus, pipas, fiddles, pianos and other instruments are played alongside each other in the video featuring 72 submission from Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Singapore, the United States and China. The video was released via YouTube on Feb. 14. With files from Huyana Cyprien and the Calgary Eyeopener.
Britain is more than doubling to 100 pounds ($139.75) the limit on contactless payments made with debit or credit cards, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, as COVID-19 accelerates a shift to electronic payments from cash. The finance ministry said that while legally in force from Wednesday, the changes to limits from the current ceiling of 45 pounds will not happen in practice immediately, as firms will need to make the necessary systems changes. The banking industry is due to implement the new 100 pound limit later this year, it said.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A blast smashed five windows at a coronavirus testing centre in a small Dutch town early Wednesday, police said. Nobody was hurt in the explosion, which was condemned by the government and health officials. “For more than a year, we've been leaning heavily on the people on the front line. And then this. Crazy,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge tweeted. The head of the country’s umbrella organization for local health services that carry out coronavirus testing called the blast a “cowardly act.” “Our people have to be able to do this crucial work safely,” Andre Rouvoet tweeted. Police in the province of North Holland tweeted that “an explosive went off” near the testing centre in Bovenkarspel just before 7 a.m. Police cordoned off the area, which is 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Amsterdam, and were investigating the cause of the blast. Police spokesman Menno Hartenberg said it was unclear whether the testing centre was deliberately targeted or when the facility would be able to reopen. He said it was clear that the explosive didn't "get there by accident. But we have no idea at the moment who exactly left it there and what the intention was.” Police said a metal cylinder that had exploded was found outside the building. The northern regions of North Holland province have been identified as a virus hotspot in recent weeks, with infection numbers higher than the national average. In January, rioters torched a coronavirus test facility in the fishing village of Urk on the first night of a 9 p.m.-to-4:30 a.m. nationwide curfew imposed as part of the government’s latest coronavirus lockdown. Attacks health workers and facilities around the world have increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report by the Geneva-based Insecurity Insight and the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center identified more than 1,100 threats or acts of violence against health care workers and facilities last year. Some Dutch lockdown restrictions were relaxed Wednesday with hairdressers, masseurs and other “contact professions” allowed to reopen if they adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene measures. Nonessential shops also were allowed to reopen in the Netherlands for the first time since mid-December, though only to very limited numbers of customers who make an appointment in advance. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ The Associated Press
Orban announced the decision in a letter to the chairman of the EPP, Manfred Weber, on Wednesday, making good on his threat to leave the grouping over changes to its rules.View on euronews
On March 1, Grey Bruce became one of nine public health regions moved to a new level of the provincial framework to re-open. Previously housed in the yellow level since the lockdown was lifted, the region was moved to the green- prevent zone. The province, in a release on Feb. 26, said this decision was made in “consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions.” "While we continue to see the number of cases and other public health indicators lowering in many regions across the province, the recent modelling shows us that we must be nimble and put in place additional measures to protect Ontarians and stop the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "With COVID-19 variants continuing to spread in our communities, it is critically important that everyone continues strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures to help contain the virus and maintain the progress we have made to date." According to Grey Bruce Public Health, “the green – prevent status includes standard measures that focus on education and awareness of public health and workplace safety measures; restrictions reflect a broader allowance of activities; and highest risk settings remain closed.” In the green-prevent zone, gathering and close contact restrictions remain the same as in the yellow-protect zone, with private events and gatherings allowing 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Organized public events are allowing 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Religious, wedding and funeral services are allowed to operate at 30 per cent capacity and may have 100 people outside. All businesses must adhere to screening all employees and limiting capacity of guests in order to maintain a two-metre distance. Everyone (with some exceptions), including staff and guests, must wear a mask or face covering. Workers are required to use PPE protecting their eyes, nose and mouth when coming within two-metres of anyone not wearing a face covering, mask or separated by plexiglass. Continued disinfecting of often-touched surfaces is required. Staff must manage line ups to make sure customers are at least two-metres apart and wearing face coverings or masks. Businesses must create a safety plan, post it in a place where workers and patrons will see it and have it available upon request (for example, to inspectors or law enforcement officers). Restaurants, bars and food and drink businesses must seat guests at tables at least two-metres apart. Guests (with some exceptions) are required to wear masks or face covering except when eating or drinking. Staff must keep guests two-metres apart when lining up and ensure everyone is wearing a mask. One person per party will be required to leave contact information. Buffets are still not allowed to open. More information and restrictions are available at www.ontario.ca. Even with eased restrictions, the province is urging residents to continue staying at home and limit trips outside their household and to other regions unless the trips are essential. Residents should continue to wear a face covering, keep a two-metre distance from people outside of their household and not gather with individuals outside their home. These precautions will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health system capacity. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Consumers filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in record numbers in 2020, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a non-profit consumer advocacy group. Credit reporting issues were cited in 282,000, or 63%, of the complaints. The majority noted “incorrect information” on credit reports or “information belongs to someone else,” the report said. Not only did complaints about credit report errors lead the list of consumer grievances, but the three major credit-reporting bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — were the top three companies complained about. ERRORS CAN ENDANGER YOUR SCORE Accuracy matters since credit report errors can suggest identity theft or fraudulent activity on your accounts. And because credit report data provides the raw material for credit scores, errors can lower your score. Some of the volume of complaints may be an unintended consequence of payment accommodations mandated by the 2020 coronavirus relief bill and temporary concessions offered by lenders and credit card issuers. But credit report errors were common even before the pandemic, says Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of the advocacy group’s Federal Consumer Program and author of the report. Payment accommodations may have led more people to check their credit reports and find those errors, he says. Mierzwinski recommends that “any consumer with any credit account” check their credit reports. People who have common names may be at particular risk of a mix-up, he says. HOW TO GET YOUR FREE CREDIT REPORTS You can get a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus by using AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll be asked to provide personal identifying information — your name, Social Security number, birthdate and address. You will also be asked security questions to verify your identity. Some of those can be tough. If you aren’t able to answer correctly, call 877-322-8228 to request your credit reports by mail. You can also download and mail a request form to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. HOW TO READ YOUR CREDIT REPORTS Your reports from the three bureaus won’t look exactly the same. Not every creditor reports to all three and the bureaus present information in different formats. But you can use a similar procedure for reading your credit reports. First, check your identifying information. Errors such as misspellings of a former employer are unimportant, but something like an address you’ve never lived at could suggest identity theft. Next, check account information. Each credit account you have (and some that are closed) should be listed and include: — Creditor’s name, account number and date opened. — Type of account (credit card, loan, etc.). — Account status and whether you’re current on payments. Accounts that were in good standing when pandemic-related payment accommodations began must continue to be reported that way until the accommodation ends. — Whether you are a joint account holder, primary user or authorized user. — Credit limit and/or the original amount of a loan. — There may be negative information, such as collections accounts or bankruptcy records. Be sure that you recognize it and that it is accurate. HOW TO DISPUTE ERRORS The Fair Credit Reporting Act holds both the creditor that reports to the credit bureaus and the credit bureaus responsible for making sure the information in your credit reports is accurate. If you spot an error in one credit report, check for it in the other two. Dispute the error with each bureau that’s reporting it. You can dispute by mail, phone or online — the credit report will include information on how to file your dispute. Credit bureaus must investigate and inform you of the result. You can also contact the business providing the incorrect information. It must inform the bureaus of the dispute and, if it finds the information was wrong or incomplete, ask the credit bureaus to delete it. If disputing doesn’t resolve the issue, Mierzwinski recommends filing a complaint with the CFPB and asking for an investigation. That can bring additional pressure to correct misinformation, he says. The CFPB’s acting director, Dave Uejio, has said one of his goals is “making sure that consumers who submit complaints to us get the response and the relief they deserve.” ______________________________ This article originally appeared on the personal finance website NerdWallet. Bev O’Shea is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @BeverlyOShea. RELATED LINKS U.S. PIRG: Consumers in peril https://uspirgedfund.org/reports/usf/consumers-peril NerdWallet: How to Get Your Annual Credit Reports From the Major Credit Bureaus http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-credit-reports AnnualCreditReport.com request form https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0093-annual-report-request-form.pdf NerdWallet: How to Read a Credit Report http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-report-reading NerdWallet: How to Dispute Credit Report Errors http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-report-errors Bev O'Shea Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Peel police say they've charged five people with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in Brampton late last year. The shooting happened in the basement of a home in the area of Scott and Church streets on the night of Dec. 17, 2020. In a statement Tuesday, police identified the victim as 23-year-old Uchenna Achioso. The five people charged range in age from 17 to 33 years old and include two men, two women and a boy. All five were arrested at different points between January and March this year and have already appeared in court, police said. The victim and all of the accused are from Brampton, police said.
Denis Giles, the editor of a small Indian newspaper, received a phone call as he sat typing in his one-room office in Port Blair overlooking the languid waters of the Andaman Sea. The caller, Mohammed Siddiqui, was frantic and largely incoherent. Giles said he was about to hang up until he heard, in broken Hindi: "Please help me... Many people may die."
ORLANDO, Fla. — “Trump needs you,” one fundraising email implored. “President Trump’s Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded. Others advertised “Miss Me Yet?” T-shirts featuring Donald Trump's smiling face. While some Republicans grapple with how fiercely to embrace the former president, the organizations charged with raising money for the party are going all in. The Republican National Committee and the party's congressional campaign arms are eager to cash in on Trump's lure with small donors ahead of next year's midterm elections, when the GOP hopes to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress. But there's a problem: Trump himself. In his first speech since leaving office, the former president encouraged loyalists to give directly to him, essentially bypassing the traditional groups that raise money for GOP candidates. “There’s only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect ‘America First’ Republican conservatives and, in turn, to make America great again," Trump said Sunday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. “And that’s through Save America PAC and donaldjtrump.com.” The comment was particularly notable because Trump is generally loath to ask for money in person. It amounts to the latest salvo in the battle to shape the future of the GOP, with Trump making clear that he holds no allegiance to the party's traditional fundraising operation as he tries to consolidate power. That could help him add to an already commanding war chest, aiding his effort to influence the party. Save America has more than $80 million cash on hand, including $3 million raised after the CPAC speech, according to a person familiar with the total. Some of that money could help Trump settle scores with incumbent members of Congress who have crossed him. In his Sunday speech, Trump read aloud the names of every Republican who voted against him and called for them to be defeated. He's already endorsed a Republican challenger to GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who voted to impeach him over the U.S. Capitol riot. “Trump’s call to give directly to him shows that the normal organs of the party ... are going to have to fight for relevance in the 2022 cycle,” said Dan Eberhart, a longtime Republican donor who has given large sums to all three as well as to Trump’s campaign. Bill Palatucci, a RNC member from New Jersey, called Trump's comments “unwelcome" and “counterproductive" and voiced concern that the GOP would suffer further losses, like Georgia' Senate runoff elections in January, if they don't work together. “Listen it’s a free country. Anybody can form a federal PAC or a super PAC and there's always lots of competition for dollars. But the crossing the line there is then to also tell people to not give to the important committees of the national party," said Palatucci. “There’s got to be a willingness on the former president to look beyond his own self-interest." The RNC and spokespeople for the House and Senate campaign committees declined to comment. But others sought to downplay the apparent tensions. They noted, for instance, that Trump is scheduled to speak at the RNC's spring donor retreat — a major fundraising source — in April in Palm Beach. And Trump told the party’s chair, Ronna McDaniel, in recent days that he wants to continue fundraising for the RNC, according to a person briefed on the conversation who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations. Before making his money pitch on Sunday, Trump's team quietly updated its fundraising filings. They converted his Save America leadership PAC to an entity that can also support other candidates, and turned his main Donald J. Trump for President campaign committee into the Make America Great Again, or MAGAPac. Money raised through Trump's website now goes to Save America JFC, a joint fundraising agreement between the two. While Trump left office as a deeply unpopular figure, he remains a powerful draw for small-dollar, grassroots donors, a reality that has been abundantly clear in fundraising appeals over the last week. Over the course of a single hour last Thursday, the RNC, both GOP congressional campaign committees and the Republican State Leadership Committee, which tries to elect Republicans to state office, blasted supporters with urgent fundraising appeals that included urgent references to Trump. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee warned this week that its “limited edition” T-shirts featuring Trump were almost sold out. Regardless of Trump's next move, the GOP is unlikely to remove him from its sales pitch anytime soon. “Our digital fundraising strategy is simple: raise as much money as possible," said Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the RSLC. Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Parler, a social media app popular among right-wing groups, filed a new lawsuit accusing Amazon.com Inc of trying to destroy its business following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The lawsuit seeking a variety of damages, including triple damages for anticompetitive conduct, was filed in Washington state court on Tuesday, two weeks after Parler returned online following a monthlong absence. Parler went dark when Amazon suspended its web-hosting services following the Capitol attack, saying Parler had failed to effectively moderate violent content on its website.
SoftBank aims to double user numbers at its PayPay QR code payment app in the next three to four years, an executive at its domestic internet subsidiary Z Holdings told Reuters on Wednesday, as it seeks to extend its lead in cashless payments. PayPay has used SoftBank's sales network and aggressive rebates to attract 36 million users in the three years since launch, driving a shift to push Japanese consumers to digital payments away from their traditional preference for cash. "We want to double the user base during the investment phase," Z Holdings co-CEO Kentaro Kawabe said in a joint interview with fellow co-CEO Takeshi Idezawa.
From models strutting inside an empty museum to designers absenting themselves from the catwalk calendar, this season's virtual fashion weeks have been re-styled with a new look many expect will endure when traditional runway shows resume. COVID-19 restrictions forced New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks to go virtual in the past year, with brands rethinking how to keep the buzz of catwalk shows online. While many are optimistic of a return to the events usually attended by buyers, editors and celebrities, digital presentations - which have opened up fashion week to a wider audience - are likely to stay on.
Les municipalités de Saint-David-de-Falardeau et Dolbeau-Mistassini ont été sanctionnées par l’Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) après qu’elles aient accordé illégalement des contrats à des entreprises privées sans que ces dernières détiennent d’autorisation de contracter en vertu de la Loi sur les contrats des organismes publics (LCOP). L’AMF explique qu’en août 2018, Saint-David-de-Falardeau a accordé un contrat d’une durée de deux ans à l’entreprise JRM Excavations pour des travaux d’entretien d’hiver de chemins d’une valeur de 1,3 M$. Les vérifications faites par l’AMF ont révélé que cette entreprise ne détenait pas d’autorisation de contracter au moment du dépôt de sa soumission. Le conseil municipal a procédé au renouvellement du contrat pour la saison hivernale 2020-2021 par le biais d’une résolution adoptée le 4 mai 2020. L’exécution du contrat se terminera au printemps 2021. Le même scénario s’applique à la même époque dans le cas de Dolbeau-Mistassini, alors que la municipalité a accordé un contrat à l’entrepreneur Excavation Unibec alors que le soumissionnaire ne détenait pas d’autorisation de contracter au moment du dépôt de sa soumission. Selon René Bouchard, directeur des Affaires publiques à l’AMF, en vertu de la LCOP, toute entreprise voulant offrir des contrats de services de plus d’un million ou de construction de plus de 5 M$ doit obligatoirement apparaître sur le registre des entreprises autorisées à contracter avec le gouvernement. « Les entreprises qui veulent obtenir des contrats de plus de 1 M$ en services professionnels ou de 5 M$ en construction doivent déposer une demande à l’AMF qui transfère le dossier à l’Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC) qui, elle, vérifie la situation de ses dirigeants », explique-t-il. l précise que la problématique dans les deux cas cités plus haut se situe à deux niveaux, soit le fait que les deux entreprises n’étaient pas autorisées à contracter et que les deux municipalités n’ont pas effectué les vérifications requises. En vertu de la décision de l’AMF, Saint David-de-Falardeau et Dolbeau-Mistassini devront se doter de procédures afin de s’assurer que toute entreprise ayant remporté un contrat public selon les critères fixés détient une autorisation de contracter et qu’elle maintient son autorisation durant l’exécution du contrat. De plus, ces municipalités doivent assurer la formation de leurs employés œuvrant en gestion contractuelle tout en établissant un processus de contrôle. Elles disposent de 45 jours pour informer l’AMF des changements apportés à la suite des recommandations déposées. Le directeur des communications a précisé que chaque fois que l’AMF dépose des recommandations, les dossiers des municipalités sont transférés à l’UPAC pour examen par le Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales, lequel peut intenter des poursuites. Pour ce qui est des entreprises concernées, elles doivent se conformer à la loi si elles souhaitent obtenir de nouveaux contrats gouvernementaux. Depuis deux ans que l’AMF rend des décisions de cette nature, M. Bouchard mentionne qu’une trentaine de cas ont été traités, excluant les interventions de nature administrative. Environ 5000 entreprises au Québec ont obtenu leur droit de contracter avec des organismes gouvernementaux selon la loi. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Eighty U.S. House of Representatives Democrats urged President Joe Biden on Tuesday to repeal Donald Trump's "cruel" sanctions on Cuba and renew engagement, an early sign of support in Congress for easing the clamp-down on the Communist-run country. In a letter to Biden seen by Reuters they urged the Democratic president to sign an executive order "without delay" to end restrictions on travel and remittances, noting that well over half of Cubans depend on the latter. "With the stroke of a pen, you can assist struggling Cuban families and promote a more constructive approach," they said.
PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron has met with four grandchildren of an Algerian independence fighter to tell them that Ali Boumendjel had been tortured and killed by French soldiers in 1957. It was a further step in Macron's efforts to reconcile France with its colonial past while offering an outstretched hand to Algeria, which France occupied for 132 years. In a statement late Tuesday, the presidential Elysee Palace said Macron wants to give families of the disappeared on both sides of the Mediterranean “the means to learn the truth.” Macron is the first French president born after the end of Algeria's brutal seven-year war of independence in 1962, and had promised to reckon with colonial-era wrongs and, put an end to the two countries' still rancorous relationship. Algeria held a special place among France’s colonial conquests, becoming part-and-parcel of France like other French regions. While Algerians make up a large portion of immigrants in France, the North African country harbours enmity from the years of colonization that culminated in the war, its brutal secrets locked in archives that Macron said he is gradually trying to reopen. “No crime, no atrocity committed by anyone during the War of Algeria can be excused or left hidden,” the Elysee statement said. “They must be faced with courage and lucidity, with absolute respect for those whose lives were torn apart by them and whose destinies were broken.” France’s bid to seek reconciliation is part of a larger movement of reckoning with the dark past of nations, notably in the United States where Civil War-era statues honouring southern heroes who defended slavery are being torn down. Macron has said he is opposed to removing statues to erase history. He has also said he doesn’t want to apologize to Algeria — even though he surprised everyone when he said, while campaigning for the presidency he won in 2017, that France’s colonization was a “crime against humanity.” Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country is still awaiting an official apology. A report commissioned by Macron from historian Benjamin Stora, considered France’s top expert on Algeria, said the “excesses of a culture of repentance” don’t contribute to facing the past. However, Stora also said that healing wounds demands improving understanding of what the colonial system entailed, including its daily reality and ideological goals and “how some in Algeria and France resisted this system of domination.” Among recommendations was recognition of the killing of Boumendjel. His wife Malika had spent a lifetime trying to uncover the truth of her husband’s death during the especially brutal Battle of Algiers when, the presidential statement said, “he was arrested by the French army, placed in a secret (location), tortured, then killed on 23 March 1957.” It said a French general, Paul Aussaresses, “admitted to have ordered one of his subordinates to kill him and cover the crime as a suicide.” Aussaresses was convicted in 2004 of defending torture. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the 1957 death of a dissident in Algeria, Maurice Audin, admitting for the first time the military’s use of systematic torture during the war. Macron wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of wartime torture. He hopes to have her reburied at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. ___ Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed. Elaine Ganley, The Associated Press
As Amazon sets its sights on central and eastern Europe, the e-commerce giant will need to convince long-time Allegro shoppers like Elzbieta Modrakowska to click away from the region's leading online marketplace. While prioritising its expansion to other, bigger markets, Amazon has given companies such as Allegro the time to lay deep roots and prepare for its arrival - something the Polish firm has done with loyalty programmes, free delivery and other perks. "I don't think we will switch ... Allegro has set the bar very high," said Modrakowska, whose weekly shop spans everything from organic food to batteries.
Britain's Prince Harry and American wife Meghan decided long ago they would not play the traditional royal media "game", and on Sunday they depart from the norms of engagement again with an in-depth interview with U.S. chat show host Oprah Winfrey. Smarting from sometimes critical tabloid headlines and press intrusion in Britain, they have already announced they will step down from official duties, move to California with young son Archie and cut off contact with Britain's biggest tabloids. Last month, Meghan successfully sued the Mail on Sunday for breaching her privacy by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her father.