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As Trump heads to border, federal workers rally against shutdown | USA News

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Washington, DC – As US President Donald Trump headed to the country’s southern border with Mexico on Thursday, federal workers, unions and some Democrats rallied in the nation’s capital against the ongoing partial government shutdown.

Trump’s trip to Texas to make his case for a wall on the US-Mexico border comes on the 20th day of the shutdown, which was born from Trump’s demand that Congress provide more than $5bn in funding for the wall, a measure that Democrats have opposed.

“Let’s call this shutdown what it is: It’s a lockout,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a federation of unions, told the crowd. “Shame on the Senate. Shame on the White House. This lockout has to end, and it has to end now.”

Trumka added, “Instead of going to the border for a photo op, president Trump should be on the Hill negotiating a deal to open the federal government and put out people back to work.”

Demonstrators chanted against Trump, while placards blamed him for the ongoing shutdown. “Do your jobs, so we can do ours,” several protesters chanted. 

“Stop the shutdown,” others screamed. “We want to work.” 

The shutdown started on December 22 and has affected key government agencies, forcing many federal workers to continue working without pay and others to simply stay at home.

At least two unions have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration over the shutdown.

‘Lives as political pawns’ 

Trump walked out of a meeting with top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Wednesday, and he had no additional negotiations scheduled when he took off for McAllen, Texas, on Thursday morning.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, Trump suggested that he may declare a national emergency in order to obtain funding for the wall without congressional approval. If he moved forward with that threat, it would likely be challneged in the courts. 

Trump has blamed Democrats for the shutdown, accusing them of standing in the way of national security. 

But a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll published on Wednesday found that nearly half of voters blame Trump for the shutdown, while only 33 percent blame Democrats. 





A demonstrator holds a sign, signifying hundreds of thousands of federal employees who won’t be receiving their paychecks as a result of the partial government shutdown [Carlos Barria/Reuters] 

Last week, with pressuring mounting, Trump said he would allow the partial shutdown to continue for “months or even years” if he did not get funding for the border wall.

At Thursday’s rally in Washington, DC, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, accused Trump of inflicting “pain” on federal workers. “Shutting down the government is not a policy that should be followed,” he told the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to keep yelling and screaming and hollering until this president opens up that government – of the people, for the people and by the people.”

US Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, called on Senate politicians to pass bills to reopen the federal government.

“You want to fight about border security? We’ll have that discussion,” he said. “But do not hold 800,000 people’s lives as political pawns.”

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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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