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India responds to Trump’s ‘Afghan library’ dig at PM Modi | Trump News

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India has rejected US President Donald Trump’s comments mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funding a library in Afghanistan, saying New Delhi has provided $3bn in development assistance to the war-torn country.

The US president on Wednesday took a swipe at what he said were Modi’s frequent comments about building the library: “You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend.

“And we’re supposed to say, ‘Oh, thank you for the library.’ I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan,” Trump said.

A statement provided to AFP news agency by government sources in New Delhi said: “India plays a significant role as a development partner,” in Afghanistan, with projects aimed at achieving “a tangible improvement in the lives of its people”.

As the “largest donor in the region”, New Delhi has helped with infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance and economic development, the statement said.

The projects include a 218-kilometre road, a dam providing irrigation to farmers and training programmes for more than 3,500 Afghans in India.

New Delhi has also provided 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as well as a 400-bed children’s hospital built in 1972 and renovated after the fall of the Taliban in 2002.

Trump also said in the cabinet meeting that the former Soviet Union, which invaded Afghanistan in 1979, was “right to be there” because “terrorists were going into Russia” at that time.

The Afghan government on Thursday has demanded an explanation following the comment, Afghanistan’s Presidential Palace said.

The palace said in a statement that the request for clarification was lodged through official diplomatic channels.

The statement added that the Afghan government understands that, “there is a difference between remarks and the official policy of a country”.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, the son of a former leader who fought against the invasion, tweeted that the “Soviet occupation was a grave violation of Afghanistan’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty.”

Trump also said that currently Russia, Pakistan and India should be intervening in Afghanistan, not the US.

“Why are we there 6,000 miles away?” he said. Some 14,000 US troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan.

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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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