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Trump threatens to seal US-Mexico border if wall is not built | US-Mexico border News

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US President Donald Trump has threatened to seal the United States-Mexico border “entirely” if Congress does not approve billions of dollars in funding for a wall.

In a burst of early morning tweets on Friday, Trump said the alternative to funding his controversial wall project would be total separation from Mexico – including making US car companies pull out their factories based on the other side of the frontier.

The threat yet again upped the ante in a political dispute that has led to a partial shutdown of the United States government and seems set to dominate the start to the third year of Trump’s presidency.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall,” Trump tweeted.

Trump said he would then take US-Mexican relations back to the days before the NAFTA agreement opened free trade across Canada, Mexico and the US.

That would “bring our car industry back into the United States where it belongs,” he said.

It was not clear how separating the two huge neighbours would work. Bilateral trade totalled an estimated $615.9bn in 2017, according to US government figures.

Neither did Trump make any mention of the new free trade agreement, known as the USMCA, which he only recently signed with the two neighbouring countries to replace NAFTA and which he has repeatedly praised as a huge boost for American commerce.

Democrats and some Republicans view the wall as a costly, unneeded and ineffective project, but some Republicans support the idea and back Trump’s demand for $5bn in partial funding.

Democrats, on the other hand, have refused to approve funding and Trump, who has made hard line immigration policies a centrepiece of his presidency, has retaliated by refusing to sign off on a wider spending bill, leaving some 800,000 federal employees without pay.

In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sidestepped Trump’s threat, telling journalists: “We don’t want to be imprudent and we don’t think we should get into this.”


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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