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Volunteers ready US aid for Venezuela, Maduro vows to block it | Venezuela News

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Cucuta, Colombia – Volunteers in the Colombian border city of Cucuta began preparing US aid packets for Venezuelans, despite Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowing to not let in what he called on Friday “fake humanitarian” assistance.

The aid, which arrived in Cucuta on Thursday, includes flour, lentils, rice and cooking oil as well as personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap, Colombian, Venezuelan and US officials told reporters.

The items were being packed by volunteers into individual bags for Venezuelan families.

High protein energy supplements were also included for young Venezuelan children suffering from malnutrition. This is the first aid to arrive and would only last for a short time, but officials said it would benefit thousands of people unable to get hold of basic medicine and food inside Venezuela.

The aid was requested by Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month with the support of the United States and several other Latin American countries. Guaido maintains that Maduro’s second term as president is illegitimate, citing the May 2018 election that faced widespread international condemnation. 

Maduro accuses Guaido and his supporters, including the US, of staging a coup.

Bridge remains blocked

It is still unclear how the aid will get through the Colombian-Venezuelan border. On Wednesday the Venezuelan military, which backs Maduro, barricaded its own side of the border, vowing not to allow the aid to enter. Maduro has consistently denied that a humanitarian crisis is happening in the country, blaming food and medicine shortages on the US sanctions, which have mostly targeted individuals and the state-owned oil company.

In a plea for the aid to pass through, exiled politician and Guaido’s spokesperson in Colombia, Lester Toledo, sent a message to Venezuela’s military.

“Dear military personnel, this aid is also for you … here comes food for your children, here comes medicine for the people who are suffering,” he said.

Toledo also said that more points of aid were going to be established in countries neighbouring Venezuela soon, to speed up aid delivery into the country.

Venezuela’s socialist economic system has been severely hit following the collapse of world oil prices in 2014. Inflation has skyrocketed, and since 2015, more than three million Venezuelans have fled to neighbouring countries due to scarcity of food, jobs and medicine. Venezuela has gone from being one of the richest countries in the region, to the poorest. 

Maduro said in a press conference in Caracas on Friday that the aid should be given out to Colombians because “Venezuelans are not beggars”.

“Take all that humanitarian aid and give it to the people of Cucuta, where there is a lot of need,” Maduro said. “Venezuela is not suffering the humanitarian crisis made up by Washington over the last four years to justify intervening in our country.”

Maduro also accused US President Donald Trump of orchestrating a coup.

“There’s an attempt to violate our national sovereignty with this ‘show’ of a humanitarian operation by the government of Donald Trump,” he said.

‘I can’t believe Maduro can be so cruel’

On Friday morning an awning was set up on the Venezuelan side of the Simon Bolivar pedestrian bridge, the main point of entry between the two Andean countries, in aim of collecting signatures in support of Maduro to remain president of Venezuela. Passersby shouted “Maduro out”, while military officials replied “long live the revolution”.

Omaria Perez, 44, was at the entrance of the Tienditas bridge early on Friday morning, writing messages on placards. A Venezuelan migrant from Valencia State, Perez left her home 10 months ago in search of a better life in Colombia.

“I am here to support my country and we need this [aid] to enter,” she said.





Omaria Perez, 44, was at the entrance of the Tienditas bridge on Friday morning, on her knees writing messages on placards. Her sign reads, ‘In the name of God, we declare peace and freedom for our beautiful Venezuela. Humanitarian aid now. United public outcry’ [Steven Grattan/Al Jazeera]

Perez has been separated from most of her family, some back in Venezuela while others have gone to Peru and other countries to search of job opportunities.

“I don’t have words to describe how I feel about what he [Maduro] is doing. I can’t believe a person can be so cruel,” she told Al Jazeera.

Jose Mendoza, 22, held up the poster that Perez had made earlier, which stated, “in the name of God, we declare peace and freedom for our beautiful Venezuela. Humanitarian aid now. United public outcry.”

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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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