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Sudanese police fire tear gas to halt protest march | News





Riot police in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, have used live ammunition and tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters marching towards the presidential palace.

Video clips posted online appeared to show large crowds of several hundred people heading to the palace, located on the bank of the river Blue Nile in the heart of Khartoum.

The demonstrators could be heard singing patriotic songs and chanting, “Peaceful, peaceful against the thieves” and “The people want to bring down the regime”.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said calls for the president to step down were growing louder with people turning up in significant numbers for the protest, which had been planned for a number of days.

“[Protesters] seemed to agree they want to see change and the police had to use tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the crowd,” Morgan said.

“Unfortunately, for the police that is, people continued [marching]. We’ve heard people say they want the ‘regime’ to go, they want to see a new ‘regime.'”

“Even with the tear gas being fired at them, some people have been using headscarves and went on to proceed against the riot police with their demands that the president must leave.”

Embattled president

Tuesday’s protest was organised by The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella coalition for professional unions, and supported by the National Umma Party, one of the country’s top opposition parties.

They said they planned on marching to the palace and hand the presidency a memo calling for him to step down immediately.

In his first address to the nation since the anti-government protests began in Atbara city seven days ago, Sudan’s embattled President Omar al-Bashir on Monday vowed to introduce “real reforms” but warned the protesters to not respond to attempts “at sowing discord” in the country.

The demonstrations are the biggest in several years against Bashir’s 29-year rule, with protesters enraged over rising prices, shortage of basic goods and a cash crisis.

The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) quoted Bashir as saying that the state was “continuing with economic reforms that provide citizens with a decent life”.

‘No specific plan’

Morgan said that Bashir did not specify his plan for economic reforms, which he said would provide citizens with a better life.

“The president said he is going to offer reforms, but he did not mention how and what kind of reforms is he planning,” the Al Jazeera correspondent said.

“Meanwhile, people are saying they don’t want any reforms since his government hasn’t done much in decades of rule.”

Government officials, however, blame the unrest on “infiltrators”. Officials have recorded at least 12 deaths, though Amnesty International on Monday said it has “credible reports” that police have killed at least 37 protesters in clashes during anti-government demonstrations.

Security forces in Sudan’s Sennar state arrested 25 people for “working to incite sabotage” and “planning to burn the Sennar municipal building and a number of governmental and private institutions”, SUNA reported on Monday.

Police reports were also filed against suspects for “crimes of sabotage” in Gadarif state, private TV channel Sudania 24 reported.

Authorities have shut schools and declared a state of emergency and curfews in several states.

Al Jazeera and news agencies


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister





Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa





OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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