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NYT journalist David Kirkpatrick barred from entering Egypt | News





Egyptian authorities denied entry to a veteran New York Times reporter without explanation, the latest move in the country’s crackdown on free speech and the media.

David Kirkpatrick, a US citizen, arrived at Cairo International Airport on Monday, but was barred from entering the country, the newspaper reported

Security officials held the former Cairo bureau chief for seven hours without food or water after confiscating his mobile phone, before sending him back on an EgyptAir flight to London on Tuesday, the newspaper said.

“We are deeply disturbed that the government of Egypt detained our correspondent, kept him incommunicado, denied him food or water, and refused to allow him into the country,” Michael Slackman, international editor of The New York Times, said in a statement.

Egypt’s interior ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kirkpatrick was the newspaper’s Cairo bureau chief from 2011 to 2015 and last year authored a book on the Arab Spring uprisings.

His writings have long stirred controversy and pro-government media in Egypt have previously criticised his reporting.

Media crackdown

In 2018, pro-government newspaper Youm7 accused Kirkpatrick of “deliberately distorting Egypt’s [image]” after he reported on Egyptian officials’ “tacit acceptance” of the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Kirkpatrick’s denial of entry is part of a broader crackdown on media in Egypt in recent years.

Egypt under general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has launched an unprecedented assault on Egyptian journalists, imprisoning dozens and occasionally expelling foreign journalists.

Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced a television host to one year in prison for interviewing a gay man.

A British journalist was expelled in February 2018 with officials claiming she broke the law by conducting interviews without a press permit.

‘Severely threatened’

WATCH: Al Jazeera speaks to Mahmoud Hussein’s daughter about his arrest

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Hussein, who has yet to be formally charged, has been in detention and kept in solitary confinement since December 2016. Hussein has now spent 789 days in prison.

He is accused of “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation” – charges long denied by Al Jazeera Media Network.

“Egypt has long been a centre of the international press in the Middle East, a role that is now severely threatened,” Slackman said. “A free and open press is more essential than ever.”

A new law ratified in September tightened internet controls, granting authorities powers to monitor popular social media accounts and block those found publishing “fake news”.

Rights groups say such legislation aims to strengthen state control of the media and curb freedom of expression.

Egypt ranked 161 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index in 2018 and 2017.

Al Jazeera and news agencies


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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling





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





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





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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