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North and South Korea to pledge cross-border road and rail links | North Korea News

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A South Korean delegation has left for North Korea to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for reconnecting roads and railways across the divided peninsula despite stalled denuclearisation talks.

A nine-car special train carrying some 100 South Koreans, including officials and five people born in the North, was seen leaving Seoul railway station early on Wednesday morning for a two-hour journey to the North’s border city of Kaesong, according to AFP news agency.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un agreed to hold the ceremony by the end of this year when they met at their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

Concerns arose that the train and other materials being brought into the North for the ceremony could breach various sanctions imposed on the isolated country over its nuclear weapons programme, but the UN Security Council reportedly granted a waver for the event.

Seoul stressed that the ceremony would not herald the start of actual work on reconnecting and modernising road and rail links between the two Koreas – which remain technically at war after their 1950-1953 conflict ended without a peace treaty.

The event is a mere “expression of a commitment” to the projects, a South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson said, adding that construction would depend on “progress on the North’s denuclearisation and circumstances concerning sanctions”.

The two sides wrapped up their joint railway and road inspections for the projects this month.

South Korea has set aside some $620,000 for the endeavour.






WATCH: North Korea’s Kim agrees to ‘dismantle’ key missile test sites (02:23)

The ceremony comes as the United States ramps up efforts to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

Following a rapid rapprochement earlier this year that culminated in a historic summit between Donald Trump and Kim, progress has stalled with both sides accusing each other of dragging their feet and acting in bad faith.

Critics say North Korea has made no concrete commitments and is unlikely to surrender its atomic arsenal, while Washington’s policy of maintaining pressure through isolation and sanctions has left Pyongyang seething.

Trump said on Monday that he was “looking forward” to his second summit with Kim, which Washington says may take place early next year.

He tweeted the statement after he was briefed by Stephen Biegun, the US special representative on North Korea, who wrapped up a three-day trip to Seoul on Saturday.

Biegun said last week Washington will be more lenient in enforcing its blanket ban on US citizens’ travel to the totalitarian state when dealing with aid workers, a goodwill gesture as Trump seeks a fresh summit.

The Trump administration has generally refused to let US aid groups operate in North Korea, seeking to both maximise pressure on Pyongyang and ensure the safety of Americans.

Biegun also said in Seoul last week Washington was willing to discuss trust-building initiatives with Pyongyang.

Senior transport officials from Russia, China and Mongolia as well as several foreign ambassadors to South Korea will attend Wednesday’s ceremony, the South’s Unification Ministry said.

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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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