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Grief over Kobe Bryant’s death in the Grammys

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Host Alicia Keys opened the awards by addressing Bryant’s death, in a “the show must go on” sort-of way, conceding the challenge that posed given the celebratory nature of the event. Tributes continued throughout the evening, with Bryant’s jersey appearing multiple times as the night wore on, and further recognition in a segment devoted to the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who died in March.
Tyler, the Creator and his mother accept the Best Rap Album award at the Grammys. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
While there were fleeting references to current events — including the impeachment of President Trump, gay rights and diversity — the telecast was perhaps most memorably punctuated by emotional moments built around family. Camila Cabello, for example, serenaded her teary-eyed father, and Tyler, the Creator brought his mother on stage with him to accept an award, thanking her for raising him so well.
The Grammys have seldom felt quite as apolitical during the Trump administration. The 2018 edition included a surprise appearance by Hillary Clinton and several pro-immigrant messages; and former first lady Michelle Obama kicked off last year’s show flanked by several female artists, to a raucous ovation. (Obama won the Grammy for best spoken word album on Sunday for her audio book of “Becoming.”)
Notably, the controversy surrounding the organization responsible for presenting the Grammys, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, went unacknowledged on screen. That ongoing public-relations crisis was triggered by the ouster of academy chief Deborah Dugan, who subsequently sued, saying she was fired after raising concerns about sexual harassment and irregularities in the voting process.
The Grammys place a greater emphasis on performances than the other academy-backed award shows — to the point where who wins can feel secondary — and in her back-to-back stints as host, Keys has used her talents to further showcase music by performing in addition to presiding over the telecast.
Alicia Keys performs during the 62nd Grammy Awards (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)Alicia Keys performs during the 62nd Grammy Awards (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
“We got a lot to change, we got a lot to do,” Keys said in closing the show. “Keep speaking the truth.”
Keys, again, seemed to thread that needle, on a night where the much-discussed power of music to heal and unite was tested — to a greater degree than usual — by the somber news of the day.

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The $20B Frontier mine shelved amid escalating rail blockades, CEO says Canada must reconcile climate and oil – National Post

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Teck Resources has officially withdrawn its application to build the $20-billion Frontier oilsands mine, just days before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was expected to issue a ruling on the contentious project.

In a letter to Trudeau published late Sunday, Teck chief executive Don Lindsay said the company made the decision as protests against a separate pipeline project stretch into their second week, blocking rail lines across the country and occupying public spaces. Lindsay said the Frontier project put his company “squarely at the nexus” of much deeper-lying tensions in Canada between natural resource extraction and First Nation land claims.

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development,” Lindsay said in his letter. “Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

He said Canada lacks a “framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change,” and warned that the absence of such an understanding could bar future projects from reaching completion.

The Frontier mine has gone through nearly a decade of regulatory review, and a decision by the Liberal cabinet, which was expected by end of week, would have marked the final stage in the drawn-out approval process.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blamed the decision on “federal inaction” under Trudeau, as protestors block rail lines and other infrastructure in opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

The project, which is entirely separate from the proposed Frontier oilsands mine, would transport natural gas from northern Alberta and B.C. to an export facility on the West Coast.

‘Militant minority’

“The timing of the decision is not a coincidence,” Kenney said in a statement. “This was an economically viable project, as the company confirmed this week, for which the company was advocating earlier this week, so something clearly changed very recently.”

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” he said. 

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer also tied the decision to the federal government.

“Justin Trudeau’s inaction has emboldened radical activists and public safety concerns are now shutting down nation-building energy projects,” he said on Twitter.

Teck had secured community benefit agreements with all 14 of the First Nations who reside near the proposed mine, which would have been built a short distance north of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.


Members of Beaver Hills Warriors and Extinction Rebellion Edmonton protest further expansion of the oil sands, specifically the Teck Frontier Mine, inside Canada Place, in Edmonton Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020.

David Bloom

But pressure had been building on the Trudeau government to cancel the project, due to concerns that it would inhibit the federal government’s ability to meet its 2030 and 2050 climate targets. Frontier would have emitted roughly four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, compared to the roughly 94 million tonnes currently emitted across the oilsands industry, including refineries.

Pausing the project offers immediate relief to the Trudeau government, whose caucus was deeply divided over the mine. The prime minister has long sought to balance interests in both the environmental community and industry, arguing that Canada can both grow its economy while also meeting stringent international climate targets.

But those claims have been heavily challenged in recent weeks amid prolonged protests that have snarled major railway lines, and will likely dent the broader Canadian economy as the movement of goods are halted. Several environmental advocacy groups had called on Trudeau to reject the project. Industry groups and the Conservative opposition have warned that such a move would send a bad signal to investors, who have already turned their backs on Canada amid an inability to build critical infrastructure like pipelines.

The situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects

During the election campaign Trudeau pledged that Canada would reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Ottawa is separately set to fall short of its 2030 commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“As Teck has rightly pointed out, and as many in the industry know, global investors and consumers are increasingly looking for the cleanest products available and sustainable resource development,” federal Environment Minster Jonathan Wilkinson and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a joint statement.

The economics of the Frontier megamine had long been in question after oil prices collapsed in 2014. Large-scale, open-pit mines like Frontier have largely been eschewed in favour of nimbler expansion projects that require much less capital costs.

Many First Nations support projects like Teck. All elected band chiefs along Coastal GasLink, for example, support the project, though a handful Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are vehemently opposed.

Activist groups have promised similar blockades and civil disobedience in response to construction of the $12.6-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a project now owned by Ottawa. That development would nearly triple capacity for oil products flowing from northern Alberta to a port in Vancouver.

Teck’s decision on Sunday came just after Alberta signed updated agreements two First Nations on Frontier, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation. The Chipewyan had recently come out against the Alberta government’s handling of the file, and called for increased funding on several environmental efforts tied to the project.

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Education wars: The 'vile' protest sign, the minister's tweet and 'gutter politics' – Ottawa Citizen

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Members of the Ontario Federation of Labour protest outside the Scotiabank Convention Centre during the Ontario Progressive Conservative party 2020 policy convention in Niagara Falls, Ont. on Saturday, February 22, 2020.


Tijana Martin / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has called on Ontario’s education unions to condemn a protester at an anti-government rally on the weekend who carried a “vile and disturbing” sign.

A teachers’ union leader has criticized Lecce for engaging in “gutter politics” by suggesting the mystery man with the rude sign was a teacher.

And the protester says he has nothing to do with the education wars but was trying to make a point about abortion.

The events that unrolled on Twitter are another indication of the poisonous relations between Ontario’s education minister and the education unions battling for new contracts.

The mystery protester plunked himself among a sea of teachers holding picket signs at a protest outside the Ontario PC party policy convention in Niagara Falls on Saturday.

The rally was organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour and included teachers and others protesting Conservative government policies and budget cuts.

The man’s placard had a photograph of Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff and the words “A problem an abortion could have solved.”

Oosterhoff, the parliamentary assistant for education, is a vocal opponent of abortion.

A photograph of the protester was posted on Twitter by Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley, who called it “a sick and disgusting remark.”

“The teachers at the Ontario PC policy conference are keeping it classy,” Lilley wrote in the tweet.

Lecce retweeted Lilley’s post with his own comment. “I’m calling on all education union leaders to unequivocally condemn this. Our kids need strong role models.”

“We raise our children to be civil, decent, and respectful,” wrote Lecce. “This language has no place in our democracy.”

Teachers on twitter immediately cried foul, saying there was no evidence the protester was a teacher.

Adam Stirr, an animal-rights and pro-choice advocate from the Niagara region, says he was the guy holding the placard.

Stirr said he found out about the controversy when friends told him that former Conservative MP John Baird was retweeting a photo of him.

“I thought I should take responsibility for this before they try to spin it into some anti-teacher bullsh**,” said Stirr in a phone interview.

“I’m not a teacher and I’m not a union member. I’m not affiliated with any of them at all.”

Stirr said he was protesting Oosterhoff’s anti-abortion views. He made no apologies for his sign, saying Oosterhoff “wants to take away bodily autonomy for 54 per cent of the population and that is far more objectionable than any sign.”

The Citizen asked Lecce’s spokesperson, Alexandra Adamo, why the education minister  posted a statement implying the protester was a teacher.

“We live in a democracy where individuals have rights, and we respect those rights,” said Adamo in a statement. “However, there is no place in this country for this vile, disturbing, and divisive language that was present at the union rally. Our youth look to us for moral leadership, and we have a duty to collectively uphold decency and civility in the public discourse. That is why we have called on the education union leaders to swiftly and unequivocally condemn this language that was present at this union rally.”

Harvey Bischof, the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, says Lecce’s tweet is “gutter politics.”

“I do condemn that sign,” Bischof said in an interview Sunday. “And I condemn the minister of education engaging in gutter politics by attempting to link that sign to educators when he knows full well there is no connection.

“It is evident that the minister is tragically out of his depth, to engage in inflammatory politics at a time when calm is what’s called in order to find an agreement that meets the needs of Ontario students.

“It was very clear — calling on the leader of the education unions to condemn (the sign) is meant to link that to us somehow. There is no link. He’s well aware now there is no link, yet he still hasn’t withdrawn his offensive comments.”

jmiller@postmedia.com

Twitter: @JacquieAMiller

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Malaysian politics in turmoil: Is Mahathir-Anwar alliance over? – Al Jazeera English

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The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition is in doubt after surprise talks between Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad‘s party and other groups on forming a new government that would exclude his anointed successor, Anwar Ibrahim.

The tussle between old rivals Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, has shaped Malaysian politics for decades and tension has persisted, despite their alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.

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On Sunday, Anwar accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid widespread corruption accusations.

He also said that a meeting convened on Monday by a group of politicians was a political “betrayal”.

Sources told Reuters that Mahathir’s party and a faction within Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and the Islamist party PAS on Sunday in efforts to form a new coalition.

Asked about what transpired during the Sunday meeting, which triggered talks about a new government, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told Al Jazeera that he was not at liberty to discuss it.

Malaysia’s Mahathir on trade wars and his promise to step down | Talk to Al Jazeera

Saifuddin, who was at the meeting, also would not comment about his future as the country’s top diplomat. The minister is a member of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party.

Malaysian stocks fell more than two percent when markets opened on Monday because of the political uncertainty.

Mahathir’s party, UMNO and PAS met with the king, media said, though it was not clear what they discussed, and whether the new proposed coalition would secure backing from the king, who plays a largely ceremonial role in Malaysia.

Anwar to meet king

The king can dissolve parliament on the advice of the prime minister and his assent is required for the appointment of a prime minister or senior officials.

But it is unclear what his role would be if the ruling coalition changed without a change in prime minister.

Anwar was also due to meet the king at 2.30pm (06:30 GMT) on Monday, his spokesman said, but gave no details of what he would seek.

Earlier in the day, Anwar also held meetings with other politicians from the current coalition government.

Devamany Krishnasamy, deputy president of the Malaysian Indian Congress, who was also present at the meeting, told Al Jazeera on Sunday night that Mahathir had the numbers to form a new government.

“This is politics. It happens around the world. The constitution says the Parliament can decide that any majority can run the government, and you must get the consent of the agong (king), as simple as that,” said Devamany, who is aligned with the current opposition party.

‘Justice will prevail’: Anwar Ibrahim on 1MDB scandal and Malaysia’s future | Talk to Al Jazeera

Anwar and Mahathir united ahead of the 2018 election to drive out the UMNO-dominated Barisan Nasional coalition that had ruled the Southeast Asian country for six decades, in a surprise victory.

But tension between the two in their Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition had been growing, as Mahathir resisted setting a specific timetable for keeping his promise to hand power to Anwar.

The coalition’s political fortunes have been waning with defeat in five recent by-elections.

Anwar also had a split with party mate, Mohamed Azmin Ali, the econonic affairs minister, who was among those who joined the meeting on Sunday night. 

Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy when the latter was prime minister during his first stint from 1981 to 2003. But Mahathir sacked him in 1998 after they disagreed on how to handle the financial crisis.

Soon afterwards, Anwar was jailed for sodomy, charges he says were trumped up.

With additional reporting by Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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