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Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown



DUBAI — Iran was bracing for a renewed wave of protests Thursday, one day after authorities reportedly disrupted mobile internet access across the country.

Iran’s authorities have restricted mobile internet access in several provinces, an Iranian news agency reported on Wednesday, following a trend of social media posts and messages from relatives of those killed in unrest last month calling for more protests and ceremonies to commemorate the dead.

State media, meanwhile, said intelligence ministry agents had seized a cache of 126 mostly U.S.-made guns smuggled to the central city of Isfahan from abroad.



Dec. 6, 201903:37

The protests were initially sparked in November by hikes in gasoline prices but demonstrators quickly expanded their demands to cover calls for more political freedom and other issues.

The government, which launched the bloodiest crackdown on demonstrators in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic, blamed foreign enemies for stoking tensions.

An official denied any order by the authorities to block the internet, which was shut down for about a week in the November unrest. A news agency also cited mobile operators saying their services had not been disrupted.

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The semi-official news agency ILNA quoted an informed source at the Communications and Information Technology Ministry as saying mobile internet access to overseas sites was blocked by “security authorities” in Alborz, Kurdestan and Zanjan provinces in central and western Iran and Fars in the south.

“According to this source, it is possible that more provinces will be affected by the shutdown of mobile international connectivity,” Reuters reported the ILNA as saying.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said on Twitter: “Confirmed: Evidence of mobile internet disruption in parts of #Iran …real-time network data show two distinct drops in connectivity this morning amid reports of regional outages; incident ongoing.”

The shutdown appeared to be spreading.

“I just checked myself and asked a friend, and the internet is off on our mobiles,” a resident in Ahvaz, the capital of the oil-producing Khuzestan province, told Reuters.

But a communications ministry spokesman denied there was an order to shut down the internet. “No such order has been issued by the judiciary or other relevant authorities. The Fake News are at work,” Jamal Hadian said in a Twitter post.

Iran’s three mobile operators also denied experiencing any internet disruptions, the YJC news agency reported.

An Iranian woman uses her cellphone on Dec. 23 in the capital Tehran ATTA KENARE / AFP – Getty Images

In Alborz province, one of the areas affected by the shutdown, authorities this week arrested the parents of a young man who was shot dead during the protests, after pressuring them to call off a commemoration for their son scheduled for Thursday, citing concerns it could create unrest.

The weapons seized in Isfahan included assault rifles, handguns and pellet guns, the state news agency IRNA said. “Most of the weapons carry USA badges and are American-made,” it added.

The internet blockage made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.

The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s communications minister last month for his role in “widescale internet censorship,” a reference to the nationwide shutdown.

Iran has blamed “thugs” linked to exiles and foreign foes — the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia — for stirring up unrest through social media.

During the protests, hundreds of banks and public buildings were attacked and damaged.

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Queen’s track coach terminated following Scott-Thomas social media comments – Global News



A Queen’s track coach has been fired after making comments over social media about a former University of Guelph track coach who was let go due to alleged unprofessional conduct.

Steve Boyd, who has been a volunteer track coach for Queen’s since 2010 and was voted Ontario University Athletics women’s coach of the year last year, was given a termination notice Tuesday.

I actually recorded the conversation in which I was fired and I asked for specific clarifications to what the reasons were. Three times I asked, ‘is this about Guelph, comments on Guelph?’” Boyd said in an interview on Thursday.

And my athletic director who fired me said, ‘yes, it’s about that.’” 

University of Guelph alleges fired track coach Dave Scott-Thomas ‘lied repeatedly’ 

Boyd told Global News he was fired for a social media exchange discussing former Guelph track and field head coach Dave Scott-Thomas, once known as one of the most successful running coaches in Canada. He was let go from University of Guelph last year after a second allegation of an inappropriate relationship with a student athlete came forward.

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In a statement sent to Global News Thursday afternoon, Queen’s University said the social media comments in question “follow a pattern of objectionable social media commentary spanning several years, about which he had previously been formally cautioned. Mr. Boyd failed to heed repeated warnings from the administration to stop his reckless social media activities.”

A week ago, Boyd spoke out on Facebook, after a former University of Guelph athlete posted online about her feelings on the Scott-Thomas fallout.

In an exchange with several other athletes, Boyd discussed whether Guelph’s many track titles should be “vacated,” due to allegations of sexual misconduct made against Scott-Thomas.

His argument was that Guelph’s success in track and field was due its recruitment of the best athletes, which was based, in part, on Scott-Thomas’s stellar reputation as a coach.

A University of Guelph statement released in January of this year said Scott-Thomas was suspended in 2006 following a complaint from a family member of a student-athlete Scott-Thomas was coaching.

“It determined that some misconduct had taken place and, based on details available at that time, the University suspended Scott-Thomas for four weeks,” the statement read.

In 2019, the university received another complaint, which they had a third-party investigate.

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Dave Scott-Thomas, former track coach, removed from Guelph Sports Hall of Fame

“While the 2019 investigation was ongoing, the University received new information related to the earlier investigation that made it clear that Scott-Thomas had lied repeatedly in 2006 about several significant matters,” according to the statement.

This new information led to Scott-Thomas’s firing in December, 2019.

In his Facebook comments, Boyd suggested that if Guelph had fired Scott-Thomas years earlier during the first investigation, their track team would have been vastly different over the last decade. He then questioned if the university’s many track titles garnered under Scott-Thomas’ supervision should be withdrawn.

“Had they known what Dave had done in ’06, Guelph admin would have fired him, do you think that those titles should now be vacated? How many of you would have gone to Guelph had Dave been fired in ’06?”







Boyd then suggested that if the University of Guelph was keeping the information of Scott-Thomas’ alleged misconduct from potential recruits, it would amount to “recruiting fraud, ” something he suggested might warrant a sanction from National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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“Forcing programs that have won titles by fraudulent means (in this case, recruiting fraud — because recruits were unaware of a very important truth about the head coach) to vacate those titles is an established practice in the NCAA.”

Boyd also asked other Guelph athletes in the Facebook thread about their personal involvement in keeping Scott-Thomas’ alleged behaviour secret from potential recruits.

“In spite of the difficulties you and others claimed he created, and that you had to endure, many of you enjoyed the personal benefits of winning, and actively sought to enlist others to come and help you continue to win, all the while potentially exposing unwitting athletes to the abuse some of you were suffering.”

“Recruiting is, after all, a team undertaking, and recruiting is crucial to winning. What, if any, responsibility do Guelph athletes have where that is concerned?”

The Queen’s Gaels control their playoff destiny in OUA women’s hockey.

The Queen’s Gaels control their playoff destiny in OUA women’s hockey.

In an interview with Global News, Boyd said people reacted badly to his line of questioning, saying they thought he wanted the University of Guelph athletes to give up their titles out of a sense of rivalry with the school.

“That’s what set a lot of people off, that this re-traumatized them, because now I was devalued accomplishments and so on,” Boyd said.

In fact, it’s Queen’s University’s opinion that Boyd did just that.

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“Boyd made numerous statements on social media berating and blaming student athletes who were themselves victims and which only served to re-traumatize them.”

What Boyd said he was trying to suggest was that if the university purposely ignored allegations made against Scott-Thomas because he was an excellent coach, some kind of punitive action should be taken.

“If they covered up for Dave Scott-Thomas all those years and they knew they were doing it, they were doing it because there was something of value that he had to offer them, and the value was the team titles,” Boyd said in an interview.

Boyd also told Global News that Queen’s had warned him once before that he was not allowed to speak publicly about the Scott-Thomas controversy following posts on a popular track and field forum called Trackie.

So the first time it was after the complaint about the message board post within which I posed two basic questions like ‘Was Guelph covering up in ’06? And ‘Were they doing it again in 19,’” Boyd said.

University of Guelph’s track and field coach under review

He said the University of Guelph took screenshots of those comments and sent them to Queen’s. This, he claims, prompted his superiors at Queen’s to put a “gag order” on his public speech.

“The thing that troubled me the most about the gag order was that it was unlimited and it applied to every kind of speech. I was told I can’t leave a voicemail, I can’t send a personal email.”

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Boyd said he understands that his contract may allow Queen’s to terminate him for speaking publicly about certain issues, but he doesn’t agree that what he said was grounds for termination.

“There was nothing libelous. There was nothing. I didn’t harass anyone. There was nothing distasteful.”

Boyd said he’s been receiving quite a lot of support from people in the sports community, who feel as if his termination was unwarranted.

One of those people is Brogan MacDouggall, who posted on Instagram about the firing.

“Yesterday was a sad day for running as it lost an incredible coach. Yesterday was a sad day for Queen’s University as they chose to believe the cancel-culture mob over upstanding members of the Queen’s community who excel in sport, in school and in community service,” MacDouggall wrote.

View this post on Instagram

Yesterday our team was informed that our coach was being fired effective immediately. The reasons can be found in the Globe and Mail and for those of you asking if there is more to the story, unfortunately that was it. Steve stood up for what is right and demanded justice be brought to an institution that covered for a rapist for 13 years. Yesterday was a sad day for running as it lost an incredible coach. Yesterday was a sad day for Queen’s University as they chose to believe the cancel-culture mob over upstanding members of the Queen’s community who excel in sport, in school and in community service. This firing has so many ramifications: our team will likely lose funding as we did not comply with the administration’s “gag order”, I cannot see us competing in future cross-country meets and the financial burdens now imposed on several of us relying on scholarships will be costly. This goes beyond running, Queen’s has stifled freedom of speech and, as an institution, decided to silence people demanding accountability for the cover-up . If anyone in the running community or Queen’s community believes in their heart that this is wrong, I would strongly encourage you to send an email to the provost or the principal. There are power in numbers and the more people that voice their anger with the decision, the better chance we have to right this wrong. Finally, we need accountability from the institutions that were involved with this situation : @queensgaels @queensuniversity @gryphonsguelph @usportsca @ouasport @athleticscanada @athleticsont . We need more than the PR statements that have been given. We need to know there can be an open conversation about this without fear of institutional silencing. We need to do better than this.

A post shared by Brogan MacDougall (@brogan_macdougall) on Feb 20, 2020 at 7:45am PST

Now, Boyd says he’s hoping that Queen’s University top brass will choose to reinstate him.

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“They have the power to reverse this and set the thing right. Again, I care just about my athletes. I want to be one to be able to come back and do what I want to do for them.”

— With files from Matt Carty.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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CP Rail conductor fired for social media posts awarded money, but won’t get job back – Global News



An arbitrator says a former Canadian Pacific train conductor who was fired over social media posts is entitled to monetary compensation, but not to getting her job back at the railroad.

Stephanie Katelnikoff was dismissed in November 2017 over disparaging remarks she made about the company online as well as modelling photos that were taken on railway property.

CP Rail says conductor fired for safety issues, not racy social media posts

Union lawyers representing Katelnikoff argued the company’s investigation into her conduct was not fair or partial.

Arbitrator Richard Hornung says in his December decision, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, that he agreed with the Teamsters union.

He says some of Katelnikoff’s behaviour warranted a short suspension, but not a dismissal.

LISTEN: Stephanie Katelnikoff responds to CP Rail’s claim that she was fired for safety issues

However, Hornung says social media posts after her firing, especially a sexually suggestive one mentioning the CP investigating officer by name, make it untenable for her to go back to the railroad.

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He says in the decision that the post “speaks volumes regarding both her lack of respect for the company and her unsuitability to return to the company as a fully participating employee.”

The union also argued at the arbitration hearing that an emailed complaint about Katelnikoff’s online posts came from a fake person the company made up to give it the pretext for an investigation. Hornung says in his decision that it’s improbable the email came from a legitimate functional address.

CP was not immediately available to comment.

Katelnikoff said in an interview that it’s now up to her union representatives and the company to try to work out an appropriate compensation amount. If they can’t agree, it goes back to the arbitrator.

She said she loved her job at the railroad and is sad she’ll likely never get to work as a conductor again. She’s now working in a shop fixing heavy equipment and trailers for a fraction of the pay.

“I’m with a really good company now so that helps take away the sting of not getting to go back to the railroad,” said Katelnikoff, 30. “At least I’m somewhere that I like and they treat me really well and they’re really understanding and progressive.”

Katelnikoff said she eventually wants to go to law school so that she can help others.

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CP Rail fires conductor over racy social media pictures

In addition to the railroad photos, CP seemed to take issue with racy pictures posted to the same Instagram account where there was a 2017 selfie of her in a work vest.

Katelnikoff said she’s tired of hearing about women getting flak for what they do outside of work.

“What a girl does in her spare time when she goes home with her life and her body isn’t anybody else’s business but her own. And if it’s not hurting anyone, then it really shouldn’t matter to the company.”

Katelnikoff’s 2017 dismissal was the second time she was let go from the railway.

Rail line reopens after CP Rail train derailment near Banff

On Boxing Day in 2014, a train Katelnikoff was conducting derailed, sending 15 cars off the tracks in Banff, Alta. The Transportation Safety Board determined that a broken piece of track caused the crash.

She was fired a month later. The company said it was because she violated rules on injury reporting and protecting an accident scene.

In February 2016, an arbitrator found in Katelnikoff’s favour, saying the grounds for her termination were discriminatory and in bad faith.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Social media users claim double standard over German attack – Al Jazeera English



A deadly shooting in the German city of Hanau on Thursday by a far-right gunman sent shock waves around the world.

At least nine people were killed in a shisha bar, with foreign and German citizens among the dead. The suspect, identified as Tobias R, a 43-year-old white male, was found dead at his apartment along with his mother, according to officials.

Germany’s federal prosecutor said the suspected perpetrator’s 24-page manifesto and video messages pointed to “deeply racist views”. 

Despite strong reactions from world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, some social media users pointed out that response to the story was somewhat muted – suggesting it would’ve gained more traction had the attacker been a Muslim.

Others pointed out why some news outlets had chosen to simply refer to the assailant as a “deranged gunman” and not a “terrorist” – or refused to describe the incident as a case of “Islamophobia”.

United States President Donald Trump, who has been criticised in the past for his noticeably more vocal condemnation of attacks committed by Muslims, rather than those targeting Muslims, was yet to comment on the incident at the time of publication.

‘Hated non-whites’

Peter R Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, analysed the suspect’s 24-page manifesto in which he revealed that “he hated foreigners and non-whites”.

“Although he doesn’t emphasise Islam, he calls for the extermination of various countries in North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia (which all happen to be majority Muslim).”

There have been a number of far-right attacks in recent years in Germany, with violence rising sharply in 2015 when the country took in more than one million migrants.

The German domestic intelligence agency estimated that the number of violent crimes with far-right elements rose by 3 percent in 2018, although attacks on centres for asylum seekers fell after a spike in 2015 and 2016.

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