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Serbia: Thousands rally against President Aleksander Vucic | News

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Thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade for the third consecutive week to protest against the government of President Aleksandar Vucic.

More than 5,000 people marched towards the Serbian state broadcaster RTS on Saturday – widely seen as supportive of Vucic – before moving to the government headquarters.

The protests, which first began in response to the beating an opposition politician, Borko Stefanovic, during a rally in a southern city, have escalated, and now include calls for greater accountability and more freedom of speech. 

Stefanovic was approached by a group of young men in hoodies who smashed his head and briefly knocked him unconscious.

Al Jazeera’s Marko Subotic, reporting from Belgrade, said the number of protesters on Saturday exceeded those seen in previous weeks.

“This was the largest protest of citizens because they are not organised by any political party but was actually organised by some public figures and student organisations, albeit backed by opposition parties in Serbia,” Subotic said.

“They will return next Saturday to tell President Vucic, who has been in power for six years, they don’t agree with the current situation in Serbia, especially that there is no freedom of speech and opposition leaders can’t be heard on national television, including Serbia’s public service.”

Vucic mocked the first rally in Belgrade, saying it was small and that “even if there were five million” he would not cede to their demands.

The second protest was held under #1od5miliona (one of five million).

Although Serbia is nominally a democratic society with political opposition and free elections, Vucic’s firm grip on power has made it difficult for opponents to make their voices heard or answer verbal outbursts against them.

Vucic has publicly condemned the attack on Stefanovic and police swiftly arrested the assailants, but opponents like Dragan Djilas say he has fostered an “atmosphere of violence” that made such an attack possible.

His Progressive Party has dominated parliament in the three parliamentary elections since 2012. Vucic started a five-year term as president last year.

The Serbian opposition, aweakened by internal strife, corruption scandals and low exposure on state and pro-government media since Vucic took over, has been fully marginalised.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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