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Cdn women joining march on Washington, D.C.

Cdn women joining march on Washington, D.C.

Before this year’s American election, Tina Woodland had never protested anything in her life. But when she heard that thousands of women were planning to march on the U.S. capital the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Yukon resident knew she had to join in. Woodland, who owns a Ford dealership in Whitehorse with her best friend, spent her entire vacation budget for 2017 so that she could take part in the Women’s March on Washington — an event she believes will be “a turning point in North America.” Organizers say the event is meant to promote women’s rights rather than oppose Trump, but for Woodland and others taking part, the president-elect — who has come under fire for his comments about women — is at the heart of the issue. Woodland’s family lived through the Second World War before immigrating to Canada, and the mother of two said she has seen similar extremist views emerge and take hold during the presidential campaign. “The Trump administration doesn’t have any respect for women or minorities,” said Woodland, who hopes one of her adult daughters will join her for the rally. “What I see happening is scary,” she said. “I just think people need to speak out.” Many women across Canada are making plans to take part in the Jan. 21 demonstration near the U.S. Capitol. Some, like Woodland, are flying down on their own. But hundreds more will be boarding buses chartered by a number of organizations specifically to shepherd women in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Windsor, Ont., and other cities to the rally. So far, 10 buses have been booked, organizers say, including six reserved by a Canadian committee affiliated with the march. Meanwhile, others who can’t make the trip are looking to participate in rallies to be held in solidarity in major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. For many, it will be their first act of activism. Anchal Bhatia, 25, said she grew up with parents who “don’t tend to rock the boat very much,” and shied away from getting involved in political causes even though she felt the need to speak out. ...

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UN backs Russian-Turkish Syria efforts as cease-fire wavers

UN backs Russian-Turkish Syria efforts as cease-fire wavers

BEIRUT — The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Saturday supporting efforts by Russia and Turkey to end the nearly six-year conflict in Syria and jump-start peace negotiations, as a fragile country-wide cease-fire wavered. The resolution also calls for the “rapid, safe and unhindered” delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria. And it anticipates a meeting of the Syrian government and opposition representative in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in late January. The resolution’s final text dropped an endorsement of the Syria cease-fire agreement reached Thursday, simply taking note of it but welcoming and supporting Russian-Turkish efforts to end the violence. Western members of the council sought the last-minute changes to the draft resolution to clarify the U.N.’s role and the meaning of the agreement brokered by Moscow and Ankara. U.S. deputy ambassador Michele Sison said the Obama administration strongly supports a cease-fire and “unfettered humanitarian access,” but she expressed regret that additional documentation to the agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey with details about its implementation have not yet been made public. Meanwhile on the ground in Syria, rebels warned on Saturday that cease-fire violations by pro-government forces threatened to undermine the two-day-old agreement intended to pave the way for talks between the government and the opposition in the new year. Airstrikes pounded opposition-held villages and towns in the strategically-important Barada Valley outside Damascus, activists said, prompting rebels to threaten to withdraw their compliance with a nationwide truce brokered by Russia and Turkey last week. Rebels also accused the government of signing a different version of the agreement to the one they signed in the Turkish capital of Ankara, further complicating the latest diplomatic efforts to bring an end to six years of war. Nearly 50,000 people died in the conflict in 2016, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which maintains networks of contacts on all sides of the war. More than 13,000 of them were civilians, according to the Observatory. Various estimates have put the war’s overall toll at around 400,000 dead. If the truce holds, the government and the opposition will be expected to meet for talks for the first time in nearly a year in...

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Ban Ki-moon buoyed by climate accord but laments conflicts

Ban Ki-moon buoyed by climate accord but laments conflicts

Ban Ki-moon ends 10 years at the helm of the United Nations lamenting the “fires still burning” from Syria to South Sudan but buoyed by a global agreement to combat climate change and new U.N. goals to fight poverty and inequality. As a final act before his term ends at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the secretary-general will push the button starting the descent of the glittering 11,875-pound ball in New York’s Times Square in the countdown to 2017’s arrival. At that moment, former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres will start his tenure as United Nations chief for the next five years. Looking back at his stewardship of the United Nations at a farewell news conference earlier this month, Ban told reporters “this has been a decade of unceasing test.” While he has seen collective action improve millions of lives, Ban expressed frustration at the failure to end Syria’s war, now in its sixth year, and conflicts in South Sudan, Yemen, Central African Republic and Congo, to name a few. And in rare criticism of world leaders, he blamed unnamed presidents, prime ministers and monarchs for the turmoil in the world today — and expressed disappointment many care more about retaining power than improving their people’s lives. He singled out Syria, saying he can’t understand why it is being held hostage to “the destiny” of one man, Bashar Assad. Even after leaving the U.N., Ban said he will keep urging new and longstanding leaders to embrace the “pre-eminent 21st century fact” — that “international co-operation remains the path to a more peaceful and prosperous world” — and to demonstrate “compassionate leadership.” To reinforce this, the secretary-general’s final trip this month was to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. “Lincoln was a heroic force for equality, integration and reconciliation; and desperately, we need that spirit today,” Ban said of the U.S. leader during America’s Civil War. Ban has also expressed frustration at the way the U.N. operates and expectations in some quarters that the secretary-general has the power “to be some almost almighty person.” That’s impossible, he told the AP in September, because the U.N.’s 193 member...

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Sunwing pilot faces impaired charges

Sunwing pilot faces impaired charges

CALGARY — A Sunwing Airlines pilot faces charges after police allege he was impaired before takeoff. Police say the pilot boarded the Boeing 737 in Calgary early Saturday for a flight that was scheduled to make stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico. But before it took off, police say the gate crew as well as crewmembers on the aircraft indicated he was behaving strangely. Police allege he passed out in the cockpit. The pilot was escorted from the plane and has been charged with having care and control of an aircraft while being impaired, as well as one count of having a blood-alcohol level exceeding .08 while in care and control of an aircraft. Sunwing spokeswoman Janine Massey says in an email that the suspect was the captain, and the airline praised the rest of the crew for handling what it calls a “very unfortunate matter.” “We can confirm that shortly before 7 a.m. local time, the gate agents, first officer and crew of Sunwing flight 595, departing from Calgary and destined for Cancun, determined that the captain was unfit to fly and reported this accordingly,” Massey stated. “The captain was immediately escorted off of the aircraft and the incident is now under investigation with local authorities.” Police said there were 99 passengers on the flight and six crew. They said the pilot’s name will be released after he has appeared before a justice of the peace. Sunwing said the plane took off a short time later with another captain. “We are very apologetic for any upset that this has caused and would like to assure our customers that safety remains our utmost priority,” Massey said. By The Canadian Press Source...

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Editorial: Celebrity deaths no more important than others

Editorial: Celebrity deaths no more important than others

Carrie Fisher. Alan Thicke. George Michael. David Bowie. Muhammad Ali. Arnold Palmer. Gordie Howe. Debbie Reynolds. It was a tough year to be a celebrity. The list of actors, singers, athletes and other well-known people who died was long in 2016. Each passing reverberated through our lives, leaving fans and admirers reeling. Death can be sudden and random, the final great mystery of our complex existence on this planet. Celebrity deaths, however, should not define our year, or our lives. 2016 was not a bad year because a lot of famous people died. It might be remembered as a bad year because thousands of people died in war-ravaged Aleppo. It might be a bad year for strictly personal reasons. It might even be a bad year for some because Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, despite the fact he hasn’t actually assumed command and isn’t yet leading the so-called free world. It’s OK to remember celebrities for their contributions to our lives. Their legacy will live on through their significant accomplishments. We’ll remember how they influenced our lives and the lives of others. Some of us will grieve, a natural response to death. But often, we place too much importance on their deaths. Like many of us, they struggle with personal demons and do less than admirable things. Yet they often seem to achieve saintlike status on their passing. Word spreads quickly on social media, and in our “me too” world, we jump to add our voice to the welling tide of sadness. While it might be sad that a celebrity has died, it is not one bit sadder than the sudden death of an average Joe who worked down at the plant, lived an ordinary life, and left behind a family and friends who will mourn the hole left in their hearts. It was sad that Carrie Fisher left us too soon. But it was not a tragedy. On Christmas Eve, a father and mother and their two young boys were killed in a fire at their cottage near Peterborough. That was a tragedy. 2016 is winding down, and we look forward to the challenges and opportunities...

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Lions and camels and bears, oh my: Catching up on the Toronto Zoo’s baby boom

Lions and camels and bears, oh my: Catching up on the Toronto Zoo’s baby boom

It’s been nearly a year since Heather Kalka last saw Juno sound asleep. Born more than 13 months ago at the Toronto Zoo and completely hand-raised because her mother couldn’t produce milk, the polar bear now weighs 200 pounds. Her diet now mostly resembles that of an adult bear; although she still receives formula, she can also gobble down 6.5 pounds of meat in a day. But despite how fast she’s grown up, Juno’s keepers say she’s “still very much of a cub.” “Juno being Juno, she definitely has a lot of personality,” said Kalka, zookeeper of the Americas. “I call her our diva bear because she is very stubborn, she’s very set in her ways, she definitely knows what she wants and when she wants it and expects it at that moment.” Kalka says Juno has grown into a mischievous bear: one that’s curious, but also fearless. “Even the first time she was in the large pool, she kind of walked around the edges, she explored and got a sense of the environment and then she just decided to dive in,” said Kalka. “She’s very interactive with the public and anybody that’s here.” On multiple fronts, it’s been a positive year for the zoo after many years of struggle. It saw more than 1.2 million visitors through October, a 16 per cent jump from 2015, and on track to reach its target of about 1.3 million visitors for the year. Revenues for that 10-month period were up 22 per cent from last year, and all visitor-driven revenue streams reached their full-year expectations by early November. In staff reports earlier this year, chief operating officer Robin Hale credited improved attendance in part to the zoo’s recent baby boom. In addition to the highly anticipated births of two giant panda cubs in October 2015, the zoo two and a half weeks earlier welcomed four white lion cubs, Juno in November and an Indian rhino calf in February. A Bactrian camel calf was also born in August. At 15 months old, the zoo’s white lion cubs aren’t too different from your typical teenagers. The four males are eating more...

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Burlington evidence room the final resting place for many ivory artifacts

Burlington evidence room the final resting place for many ivory artifacts

Lonny Coote sweeps his hand over a snow leopard pelt and a tin of caviar, reaches past a stuffed parrot, exotic medicines, $11,000 alligator shoes, and points to a tiny white figurine. It’s ivory, delicately carved into a three-inch elephant and mounted on a little wooden platform. It sits next to a short elephant tusk. “These were seized from 888 Auctions,” he says. Coote is regional director of Environment Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate, the government body that polices the trade of endangered and threatened species. His team’s “evidence room,” in a non-descript government building in Burlington, Ont., is the final resting place for hundreds of trophies, tchotchkes and fashion mistakes imported or exported illegally and confiscated by the government. 888 Auctions, a Richmond Hill-based seller of antiques, pleaded guilty on Nov. 14 to exporting the carved elephant, a small elephant tusk, and a leather case made from python skin. The company and its director, Dong Heon Kim, were fined a combined $12,500 and sentenced to two years’ probation. Their endangered animal goods ended up in Coote’s evidence room. But there are still a staggering number of endangered animal products in basements, living rooms and vintage shops across the country and no shortage of Canadians with trinkets of ivory or antler or claw. Because Canada’s laws on animal products only stretch back 42 years, these heirlooms and antiques are totally legal, though their owners don’t necessarily want them around. Linda Bronfman’s mother gave her a few pieces of ivory Netsuke, carved Japanese figurines, about 45 years ago when Bronfman was a young girl. Bronfman, a self-described animal advocate from Toronto, has since inherited some of her mother’s jewelry, including one or two ivory bangles. “I don’t wear it, I don’t display (the ivory),” said Bronfman, who has campaigned against auction houses selling ivory. “I’m waiting for the day when there is a Canadian ivory destruction and if the government would allow people to add their ivory to it I would add mine.” Canada is one of over 180 countries that have signed on to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) — a global agreement that regulates the movement...

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Pennsylvania trooper shot dead; search continues for suspect

Pennsylvania trooper shot dead; search continues for suspect

JUNIATA TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Pennsylvania State Police continue their search for the suspect in the fatal shooting of a state trooper. The officer, Landon Weaver, was shot Friday night while responding to a report of a protection-from-abuse violation at a home in central Pennsylvania. A remote Huntingdon County area has been closed off in the search. Gov. Tom Wolf says in a statement Saturday that he is confident the suspect will be captured and “brought to justice.” Weaver enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Police in December 2015 and was assigned to the Patrol Unit in Troop G in Huntingdon. He’s the 97th member of the Pennsylvania State Police to be killed in the line of duty. The governor said he will be remembered for his bravery and willingness to serve. By The Associated Press Source...

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