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Trump picks Canada Ambassador Kelly Craft for top UN envoy | News

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US President Donald Trump said on Friday he was nominating Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to Canada, to replace Nikki Haley as his envoy to the United Nations after a four-month search.

Craft, a top Republican donor from Kentucky, rose this week as a serious contender for the post based on a recommendation by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian.

Craft will not hold a Cabinet-level position, as Haley did, a senior White House official told Reuters news agency, after Trump decided to downgrade the post.

Regardless, she will need to be confirmed by the United States Senate.

“Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level,” Trump said in a tweet announcing his decision.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Craft “extremely well-qualified” and an “outstanding advocate for America’s national security and economic interests in Canada.”

Challenges ahead 

Craft will face a variety of challenges, including championing US efforts to contain Iran’s influence in the Middle East and ensuring the global body maintains tough sanctions on North Korea as Washington tries to negotiate an end to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

The US has also gone to the UN in recent weeks to seek international recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela‘s legitimate president over socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

Craft was Trump’s second choice for the UN position. He had planned to nominate former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, but she withdrew her name from consideration last week for family reasons.

Trump had also considered other candidates including US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and Republican John James, who lost a bid for a US Senate seat in Michigan last November.

Former senior White House aide Dina Powell was also on Trump’s radar, but she was believed to be uninterested in the position after she returned to Goldman Sachs Group a year ago.


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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