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Princess Ubolratana to contest Thailand elections as PM candidate | News

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In an unprecedented move, Thailand‘s Princess Ubolratana Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi has been nominated as prime minister for the country’s long-delayed general elections by Thai Raksa Chart, a party founded by allies of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The registration of the 67-year-old, the elder sister of King King Maha Vajiralongkorn, as a candidate on Friday means this is the first time in the country’s history that a member of the royal family is to become directly involved in politics and run for office.

The princess was stripped of her royal title when she married a US national in 1972. She returned to Thailand in the late 1990s after getting a divorce. Although her formal title was not restored, she is regarded and treated as royalty by people in Thailand.

Ubolratana is also known as a long-time friend of the Shinawatra family, which has an influence on the March 24 election through its proxy political parties without fielding a direct family member this time. 

“The unpredictable nature of Thai politics just went up another level,” Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, said/

“This has never happened before in Thai politics; the royal family has always been seen as being above politics even though everyone knows that it’s the most powerful body in Thailand.”






INSIDE STORY: Will Thailand’s election be free and fair? (24:46)

Separately, Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of Thailand’s military government, said in a statement on Friday he would also contest the elections as a prime ministerial candidate for the pro-army Palang Pracharat party.

Prayuth is the army chief who seized power after the military toppled the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, in a 2014 coup and made himself prime minister.

Princess Ubolratana is expected to be one of his main opponents.

Hay said Thaksin – who was also ousted in a coup in 2006 – and Yingluck “have always been seen as being ant-establishment.

“Their supporters and the supporters of the elite have clashed many times over the past decade, so to now come to this stage to have a member of the royal family running to be potentially the prime minister for a party backed backed by the Shinawatras is definitely an intriguing development for Thai politics.”

Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932 but the royal family has wielded great influence and commanded the devotion of millions.


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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