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Number of journalists killed on the job in 2018 rises | Freedom of the press News





The number of journalists and media workers killed while carrying out their jobs rose again in 2018, reversing a downward trend of the previous three years, according to a new report by an an international trade association.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said on Monday that 94 journalists and media workers died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents this year.

The figure, up from 82 killings recorded in 2017, included 84 journalists, camera people and technicians as well as 10 media staff members including drivers and protection officers.

Six of the victims were women and there were also another three work-related accidental deaths, the Brussels-based group’s annual report said.

Afghanistan: 16

Mexico: 11

Yemen: 9

Syria: 8

India: 7

Pakistan: 5

Somalia: 5

United States: 5

Philippines: 3

Ecuador: 3

Brazil: 3

Colombia: 2

Palestine: 2

Guatemala : 2

The most dangerous place to be a journalist was Afghanistan, where 16 media workers lost their lives. At least nine journalists were killed in an explosion in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, in April after arriving to the scene to cover the aftermath of an earlier suicide bombing.

In Mexico, where organised crime often targets journalists, 11 media workers were killed.

Nine were killed in Yemen, eight in Syria, seven in India, six in Somalia and five each in Pakistan and the United States. Three were killed in the Philippines, Ecuador and Brazil, and two in Colombia, Guatemala and the besieged Gaza Strip – Palestinian journalists Ahmad Abu Hussein and  Yaser Murtaja were killed by Israeli forces in April while covering months-long mass protests along the fence with Israel.

The list “paints a situation of on-going safety crisis in journalism, which was highlighted by the cruel murder of the Washington Post columnist and Saudi national, Jamal Khashoggi“, the IFJ said in a statement.

Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. His body has not been found.

Khashoggi wrote critically of Saudi Arabia’s government, and the alleged involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the journalist’s slaying has put the governments of other countries under pressure to sever economic and political ties.

“Jamal Khashoggi was a very well-known figure, but you know, the most shocking statistic is that we know that nine of 10 journalist murders remain unpunished in the world,” IFJ President Philippe Leruth said.

Leruth demanded that United Nations member states adopt a convention on the security and protection of journalists that it presented to UN missions in New York in October.

“This convention, supported by the profession as a whole, is a concrete response to crimes committed against journalists in full impunity,” he said.

‘Sad reminder journalists’ safety remains elusive’

The IFJ connects some 600,000 media professionals from 187 trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries.

Imprisoned in Egypt: Two years since arrest of Mahmoud Hussein

The group said the new report showed that journalists face dangers apart from the risks of reporting from war zones and covering extremist movements.

“There were other factors, such as the increasing intolerance to independent reporting, populism, rampant corruption and crime, as well as the breakdown of law and order,” the IFJ said.

Anthony Bellanger, the group’s general secretary, called the numbers on the group’s list “a sad reminder that the safety of journalists will remain elusive as long as countries boasting institutions which should be enforcing the law but have been paralysed by corruption and incompetence in the face of unrelenting assault on journalism”.

He added: “As such, they stand as a damning indictment of the authorities for their failure to uphold the journalists’ right to their physical safety and to guarantee an informed public discourse in a democracy.”

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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