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Doctors’ strike continues in Sudan as protests enter eighth day | Sudan News





Medical students at the University of Gadarif in eastern Sudan joined doctors at a central hospital on Wednesday to demand that President Omar al-Bashir step down, as anti-government protests entered their eighth day. 

Sudanese doctors, who launched a strike on Monday to protest the government, called on members of other professions to join the nationwide work stoppage. 

The medical students chanted slogans against the government as they left their university campus and entered the nearby hospital, witnesses told Al Jazeera. 

Is it Sudan’s version of the Arab Spring?

Security forces responded by cordoning off the hospital, reported activists.

“The protest staged by Gadarif’s medical students and doctors is part of the wave of demonstrations that have continued throughout this week,” Al Jazeera’s Altaher al-Mardi reported from Khartoum.

“The students and doctors expressed their support for their fellow demonstrators and their condemnation of the government’s use of force against them,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Doctors’ Association released a statement saying nine protesters had been injured during demonstrations in the capital city of Khartoum on Tuesday. One of the protesters is in critical condition, according to the statement.

Riot police in Khartoum had used live ammunition and tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters marching towards the presidential palace on Tuesday. Videos posted online appeared to show crowds of several hundred people heading towards the palace.

Also on Wednesday, an umbrella coalition of independent professional unions said a protester injured in anti-government demonstrations had died of his wounds, reported Associated Press. The victim, identified as Abuzar Ahmed, was reportedly shot in the head last week in Gadarif.

The coalition had called for a nation-wide work stoppage on Monday, after doctors began an indefinite strike. Striking doctors have refused to work – except to treat emergency cases – in a bid to bring the government to a standstill.

At least 12 protesters have been killed since demonstrations decrying price hikes and wider economic woes gripped the country since December 19.The protests have since escalated into calls for al-Bashir to step down.

Amnesty International said it had “credible reports” that Sudanese police have killed 37 protesters since the protests began.

Probe into killings

Meanwhile, Sudan’s top Islamist party, a member of Bashir’s government, called for a probe into the killings of protesters in demonstrations.

At a press conference in Khartoum, Popular Congress Party senior official Idris Suleman said his party’s own reports indicated that 17 people “were martyred” and 88 wounded in the demonstrations.

Condemning the killings, the party urged the authorities to find those responsible.

“We call on the government to launch an investigation into the killings,” Suleman said.

“Those who committed these killings must be held accountable.”

Police and security officers remained deployed in several parts of the Sudanese capital on Wednesday.

Bashir has sought to clamp down on the protests by vowing to “take real reforms” to solve Sudan’s economic woes.

But his statements appear to have done little to appease protesters angered by financial hardships.

Sudan is mired in economic difficulties including an acute foreign currency shortage and soaring inflation.

The crisis has worsened despite the lifting of an economic embargo by the United States in October 2017.

Inflation is running at close to 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages in bread and fuel have been reported across several cities including Khartoum.

Since the start of the protest movement, Sudanese authorities had arrested several anti-government figures with liberal and communist backgrounds.

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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