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Sudan’s Bashir promises development as police fire at protesters | News

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Sudan‘s President Omar al-Bashir has promised the New Year will bring about economic development, as security forces dispersed anti-government protests in the capital using teargas and live ammunition.

In a speech marking 63 years of Sudanese independence, al-Bashir said the 2019 budget, approved on Sunday, would help the country “brave through the current crisis”, referring to anger over rising price and shortages of basic commodities, which has fuelled demonstrations across Sudan over the past two weeks.

“For the first time in history we build [the budget] on development projects … aimed at lessening people’s suffering by maintaining subsidies on certain goods and items, raising salaries, and refraining from tax burdens,” al-Bashir told an audience in Khartoum, the capital.

He also mentioned bilateral partnerships with China, Russia and Gulf States as means to reaching this goal. “We have been engaged in strategic partnerships that aim at raising the efficiency of our economy… [and] providing a solid foundation for our national production base.”

The demonstrations, sparked by price hikes and fuel shortages, started on December 19 and quickly developed into anti-government rallies demanding that al-Bashir step down.

Commenting the speech from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said: “When the protests began al-Bashir said he would take economic measures to reduce the inflation rate. But protesters say they have heard these promises before and throughout his 29 year rule.

“What they want is for him to step down and hand over power to an interim government until elections are held.”

Al-Bashir also called on Sudanese people “from all political sides… to stand united and engage in dialogue … as the only means to resolve differences”, a scenario that appears unlikely given the current unrest.

“Protesters don’t have a certain political body that represents them. It will be very hard for him to negotiate with a group that doesn’t have a certain leader,” explained Morgan.

March to presidency

Al-Bashir’s speech comes after Sudanese security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at hundreds of demonstrators in central Khartoum on Monday, as demonstrators attempted to march at al-Bashir’s palace calling on him to “step down”.

Crowds of men and women chanting “freedom, peace and justice” and “revolution is the people’s choice” gathered in the capital’s downtown area where they were quickly confronted by anti-riot police, witnesses said.

Officers made dozens of arrests, as others looked on from rooftops and armoured vehicles with machine guns parked up in surrounding streets. Hundreds of policemen and security forces deployed to key squares across the capital in the early morning to prevent the march.

According to Sara Abdelgalil, President of the Sudanese Doctors’ Union in the UK, hospitals reported at least four protesters were wounded during the demonstrations. 

“One fractured skull, one live bullet to the thigh, one in the neck and a burn in the neck from the teargas. There are also cases of acute asthma attacks and other minor injuries,” Abdelgalil told Al Jazeera. 

One demonstrator was killed as a result of a live bullet, BBC Arabic reported on Monday. 

Several lawyers on strike outside courthouses in Khartoum and in Sudan’s second-largest city Wad Madani were also arrested, one of the lawyers told Reuters news agency.

Authorities have shut schools and declared states of emergency in several regions since protests first broke out in the northeastern city of Atbara on December 19. Security forces have repeatedly used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition against demonstrations, witnesses say.

According to government estimates, at least 19 people, including two security personnel, were killed in clashes in the initial days of demonstrations. Amnesty International last week said it estimated the death toll to be at 37.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appealed “for calm and restraint” and called on “the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths and violence”.

Addressing police generals on Sunday, al-Bashir cited a Quran verse about retribution in an apparent defence of security measures against protesters: “What is retribution? It’s killing, is it not? It is execution. Our Lord described as life because it is a means of deterring others so that we can maintain security.”

Sudan is facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation despite Washington lifting an economic embargo in October 2017.

Inflation is running at 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.

Monday’s march was called for by a group of professionals including doctors, teachers and engineers, after it organised a similar rally on December 25.

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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