News

Weekly news roundup

Jan. 20-26, 2019

Weekly news roundupphoto by : David Everett via Unsplash
written by Ben Mowat
January 28, 2019 1:01 pm

International news

Venezuela

In Venezuela, at least a 20 people have been killed and dozens more have been injured in protests against and in support of government. At the largest of these anti-government protests on Wednesday, opposition leader Juan Guiado declared himself president following the inauguration of President Nicolás Maduro and an election Guiado says was rigged.

Guiado reached out to the armed forces and all Venezuelans saying that amnesty will be given to those who support him and that he is not looking to commit a coup, but instead that the opposition’s goal is new free and fair elections. The next day the head of the armed forces appeared on television where he pledged the military’s support to Maduro, despite recent rebellious activity within the Venezuelan military.

The Lima Group, a group of countries near Venezuela that includes the Unites States and Canada, support President Guiado while European leaders are calling on sitting President Maduro to hold free and fair elections or they will throw their support behind Guiado in eight days. Russia, China, Turkey, Cuba, and Bolivia are supporting sitting President Maduro and Russia has sent private security forces it has used in Syria and Ukraine to support President Maduro’s government.

Canada has backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as president against the sitting president, Nicolás Maduro, after a disputed election and Canada’s imposition of sanctions earlier this month. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has called on the government to not blindly follow US foreign policy due to the US’s blatant self-interest in regional foreign policy and says that he is against foreign interventionism while criticizing President Maduro.

United States

The longest shutdown in American history ended at 35 days late Friday, after President Donald Trump signed the bill reopening the government for three weeks while negotiations continue on a final budget. Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer has suggested that the President’s capitulation validates the Democrat’s position and polling suggests that he is correct. President Trump’s approval rating has fallen 8% while Democrats have risen five per cent and in a head-to-head Republicans have received 53 per cent of the blame for the shutdown with Democrats at 34 per cent, a split of 20 oer cent.

Afghanistan

On Monday, a Taliban suicide bomber and gunmen have attacked a provincial training compound used by the Afghan intelligence service, with estimates of casualties as high as 126 with at least 36 killed. Experts knowledgeable of the situation have said that this attack is to ensure the Taliban’s leverage in peace talks and to keep morale high. Peace talks ended late this week with a draft agreement stating that within 18 months all foreign troops will leave Afghanistan, that Afghanistan will harbour no al-Qaeda or ISIS militants, and other specifics concerning interim governance, travel bans, and prisoner exchange.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean authorities have killed at least eight people, injured scores of others, detained hundreds of protesters and activists, and shut down the internet following protests against massive fuel price raises. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo new President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in after President Kabila was forced to step down. However, there are concerns of a back-room deal where Tshisekedi has agreed to share power with Kabila in return for Kabila’s rigging the election in Tshisekedi’s favour.

National news

Counterterrorism detectives have arrested a teenager in Kingston and have charged him with facilitating a terrorist activity, specifically bomb-making and other facilitation. A court-ordered publication ban has come into effect, however the police have revealed that this plot was foiled starting with a tip by their US counterparts and the work of hundreds of agents across the country.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made sweeping changes to post-secondary education- ordering fees for domestic students down by 10% (to be paid for by universities and colleges), reforming OSAP by eliminating free tuition for poor students and focussing other OSAP funds towards poor applicants, and making membership in student unions voluntary.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, has resigned after making comments on Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and possible extradition which indicated that her arrest was political, not apolitical as the government has repeated time and time again. The US has confirmed that it will seek Wanzhou’s extradition before her release deadline while China continues to take a hard line in support of Wanzhou and against Canada.

The World Refugee Council, a Canadian-led organization, has published a report calling for a major overhaul of the international refugee system, saying that the current piecemeal system is lacking and that refugees are falling through the cracks. In related news, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning voters to be wary of fear-mongering around immigration during the federal election later this year.

Local news

Minister Randy Delorey has made comments comparing the quality of health care in Cape Breton Island to that of the third world, and said that the Liberal government is aiming to restructure the system to provide modern coverage in the next few years. The NDP held a press conference in Sydney to address the healthcare situation on the island and at this conference a local doctor, Jeanne Ferguson, told reporters that people are dying due to a lack of resources.

The storm that swept across Nova Scotia on Thursday night exceeded wind speeds of 80km/h and power was knocked out power for more than 12,000 people. NS Power worked overnight and into the next morning to restore the outages with the vast majority of customer’s power restored by the next afternoon.

NS Justice Minister Mark Furey has added his criticism to the mounting chorus over the Parole Board of Canada’s decision to release convicted killer William Chrubsall to the United States. Shrubsall sexual assaults against Halifax-area women and Furey highlighted that Shrubsall is a dangerous offender in his criticism.

In response to a federal government tax change where local elected officials are no longer allowed a tax break on their salaries; 26 municipalities have given themselves a raises while 11 municipalities have decided against raises with 12 municipalities undecided. These raises effectively keep the elected official’s salaries the same, as the raises that have gone through are equal to the altered amount of tax.

Jamie Simpson, a naturalist and former Dalhousie University environmental law professor, has sued the government over its failure to protect species at risk under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. Simpson said that he could not wait for another one of his students to ask him why the government’s failure has not been challenged in court and took the idea of a suit to local environmental groups who he now represents.

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