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Nicaragua’s Ortega calls for negotiations to end crisis | Daniel Ortega News

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has said he would resume dialogue with opposition leaders who are calling for early elections, after nearly a year grappling with one of the country’s worst crises since a civil war four decades ago.

Ortega said on Thursday that the government is working to “set the table for negotiations next Wednesday” with representatives from the opposition, which is demanding his resignation.

An attempt at dialogue over welfare benefits last May erupted into protests that lasted for months, fading only under a brutal government crackdown that left at least 320 people dead.

Ortega made the announcement during an event commemorating the 85th anniversary of the death of guerrilla leader Augusto Sandino, to an audience of cabinet members, military personnel, the police and supporters.

It comes as the government faces an economic crisis and a $315m deficit, as it struggles without funding and loans that would usually come in from multilateral organisations.

Protests initially started last April over now-ditched pension reform, and escalated quickly as they were met by a brutal government crackdown.

“Nicaragua is experiencing one of the worst human rights crisis in its recent history,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, the Americas director at Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera.

Negotiations broke down in June as Ortega refused the opposition’s main demands to step down and bring forward presidential elections.

Protests lasted until October, which saw many dead and more than 750 people arrested on “terrorism” charges.

The Nicaraguan opposition accuses former guerrilla leader Ortega, in power since 2007, of establishing a corrupt dictatorship with his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Opposition leader Angel Rocha, who will speak for university students in the dialogue alongside business representatives and politicians, said their pressing demand was for Ortega to release people they consider political prisoners.

Rocha said the opposition would also push for electoral reform, transparent elections and justice for the people who lost their lives in the government crackdown.


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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