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Tunisia: Police, protesters clash again after journalist’s death | News

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Tunisian protesters have clashed with police for a third consecutive night following the death of a journalist who set himself on fire to denounce economic hardship in the country.

Housameddine Jebabli, spokesperson for the National Guard, said on Thursday that protests took place in six different towns, including Kasserine in west central Tunisia, where Abderrazak Zorgui self-immolated earlier this week.

Fourteen people were arrested overnight, according to Interior Ministry spokesperson Sofiane Zaag. Authorities on Wednesday announced the arrests of 18 others.

Protests started after 32-year-old Zorgui posted a video online before his self-immolation in Kasserine, describing his desperation for a revolt over poor living conditions and corruption.






WATCH: Tunisia: Protesters clash with police after journalist’s death (02:10)

He expressed his frustration at unemployment and the unfulfilled promises of Tunisia’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution.

“For the sons of Kasserine who have no means of subsistence, today I start a revolution. I am going to set myself on fire,” Zorgui, who died of his injuries on Monday soon after being taken to hospital, had said in his video.

A similar self-immolation, by a street vendor lamenting unemployment, corruption and repression, led to nationwide protests fueled by social media that brought down Tunisia’s long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

That ushered in democracy for Tunisia and unleashed similar movements around the Arab world.





Abderrazak Zorgui, a 32-year-old journalist, left a final message before he set himself on fire  [Screengrab/Youtube] 

Journalists call strike

Despite the country’s democratic transition after Ben Ali’s removal and a recent return to economic growth, authorities are still struggling to improve living conditions amid high unemployment and poverty.

Inflation fueled by the devaluation of the Tunisian dinar and persistent unemployment sparked protest across the country last January.

Tunisia’s journalists union has called for a general strike on January 14 to mark the eighth anniversary of the revolution, and to protest the “deplorable condition” of media workers in the country.

Reporters in Tunisia expressed solidarity with Zorgui, lamenting precarious conditions for freelancers with no legal protections and low pay amid Tunisia’s struggling economy.

“The reasons for this young man’s suicide are poverty and marginalisation, as well as the fragile situation of most journalists,” Latifa Labiadh, of radio station Amal, said earlier this week.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Kasserine said another individual who threatened to kill himself was arrested by police on Thursday. 


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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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

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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

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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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