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Trump-Kim summit: North Koreans pessimistic about ‘gimmick’ talks | News

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Seoul, South Korea – Sae In Han is a 24-year-old high-school graduate who fled North Korea with her mother and sister in 2012.

Unlike a big number of North Koreans who have escaped the country, Han is hopeful the upcoming talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump will bring about change in her country.

“Even though I now live in South Korea, I can feel changes taking place in the North,” Han told Al Jazeera. “And that’s why I’m hopeful of a good outcome in Vietnam. Even people in North Korea are hopeful from what I hear, especially of improving the economy and thus their lives.”

Following the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore last year, the two leaders will meet in Vietnam on February 27-28. 

Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula will be a key point on the agenda again with the US seeking the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for security guarantees.

On the streets of North Korea, economic prosperity is what people desire, said Han, adding that it should feature high on the agenda in Hanoi.

In 2017, North Korea’s economy contracted at the sharpest rate in two decades, according to an estimate by South Korea’s central bank, as international sanctions and drought hit growth hard, amidst signs that living conditions were beginning to deteriorate.

Last June, Singapore spent nearly $15m to pay for Kim’s accommodation, summit logistics as well as security for the two world leaders. International sanctions made it difficult for Kim to cover his overseas accommodation.

“North Korea should denuclearise in order to invite foreign investment. That would boost economy and improve people’s lives,” added Han.

“More isolation means more devastation. And I think Kim is aware of that which is why he’s talked about economic development as a goal.” 

Progress on the economic front could also include resuming trade with South Korea as well as the rail connection across the border and reopening the Kaesong Industrial complex that was shut down three years ago when relations between Pyongyang and Seoul were close to the lowest they had been.

The Kaesong complex brought together South Korean management and investment, with North Korean labour – to offer a glimpse of what a unified economy might look like.

Additionally, the state of human rights in North Korea is once again missing from the headlines leading up to the Vietnam summit, said Yong Hwa Kim, a public security officer who fled North Korea in 1988.

“Just the other day I heard people’s lives in North have gotten worse since the Singapore summit,” said Kim.

“In Singapore, they never talked about the human-rights situation in North Korea. Without that, the summit is heading in the wrong direction and will make lives of North Koreans worse.” 





Chul Hwan Kang, a former journalist, is not hopeful that the talks will make a difference in North Koreans’ lives [Al Jazeera]

In 2017, almost 130,000 people were believed to be held in North Korea’s gulags – prison camps where inhabitants are subjected to torture and inhumane conditions.

North Korean defectors told the International Bar Association’s War Crimes Committee that torture included a prisoner’s newborn baby being fed to guard dogs, and a variety of violent measures designed to induce abortions, including injecting motor oil into women’s wombs. 

Chul Hwan Kang, who was once kept in a gulag, is president of the North Korea Strategy Center. According to him, if talks could solve the North Korean issues, it would have happened a long time ago.

“I don’t have much hope from the summit,” said Kang. “The North has kept lying for the last 20 years. Now, most of the Korean defectors see this as a gimmick. Nobody thinks any progress will be made or the regime will change. 

“I don’t mean to say that the talks are useless. They are meaningful. But the context is what’s lacking. There are not talks around the human rights issues and denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is different from denuclearisation of North Korea. And that’s what is needed.

“The US, and the world, should not be fooled by the North’s plan which is disguised as one of peace.”

Kang also called the Vietnam summit a “last chance” for North Korea, an opportunity that the US should “use wisely”.

Unlike Han, who felt a change in North Korea was under way, the mood among others is one of pessimism. And some say it is for a good reason.

“If you escape Hitler, it is hard to welcome him or see him in a good way,” said Seong Ha Joo, a journalist who defected 18 years ago.

“They were suppressed during the regime, and they experienced so much hardship. It’s natural for them to react emotionally. They are still suffering from the horrible memories of that time. It is hard for them to trust what Kim says, of course.” 

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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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