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Nature deal reached at COP15 summit in Montreal : In The News for Dec. 20

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Canada and nearly 200 other countries around the world now have eight years to set aside almost one-third of their land and marine territories for conservation under a landmark new biodiversity deal reached in Montreal on Monday.

Host nation China’s environment minister, Huang Runqiu, lowered the gavel and declared the deal to be done at around 3:30 a.m., prompting a standing ovation from participants at the COP15 summit.

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“This is a historic moment,” Huang said through a translator in Montreal, where the nature talks were held due to challenges resulting from COVID-19 restrictions in China.

Canada’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, called it “a bold step forward to protect nature, to protect the air that we breathe, the water that we drink.”

“We work on these things for months and months and you really hope that you’ll be able to land it,” he said. “It’s complicated. The file is complex, the politics. There’s so many things that could have gone wrong and so many things that are challenging, and to be able to to land it … was a really amazing moment.”

The UN warned in 2019 that one million species are threatened with extinction this century and a majority of land and marine areas have been altered by human activity.

The result is a threat to human health and safety, including from pollution, dirty water, food insecurity and growing risk of the spread of animal-borne viruses. It is also exacerbating climate change, because fewer trees and wetlands are there to absorb carbon dioxide and fewer natural protections against extreme weather remain.

Also this …

A 73-year-old man suspected of gunning down five people at a condominium north of Toronto had a lengthy history of threatening members of the building’s board and believed they had a conspiracy to “systematically murder” him, court documents and online posts indicate.

York Regional Police said Francesco Villi killed three condo board members and two others at a Vaughan, Ont., highrise on Sunday night while a sixth shooting victim _ the wife of a board member _ remained in hospital with serious injuries.

Villi shot the victims in three different units in the building before an officer shot and killed him, police said.

Court documents involving a man with the same name, who lived at the building where the shooting took place, indicate a long dispute with the condo board.

Villi lived on the first floor of the building, in unit 104, court documents show.

He was set to return to court Monday as the board sought to have a judge find him in contempt for violating a previous order to not contact the board, to stop threatening its members and building staff and to cease posting about them on social media.

The condominium wanted Villi gone _ it sought a penalty from court to force him to sell and vacate his unit within 90 days, a factum filed in court by the condominium corporation last month said.

Villi never made it to court.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

Suspense mounted at the U.S. border with Mexico on Tuesday about the future of restrictions on asylum seekers as the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower-court order to stop turning back migrants based on rules set in place at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conservative-leaning states won a reprieve _ though it could be brief _ as they push to keep limits on asylum seekers, arguing that increased numbers would take a toll on public services such as law enforcement and health care, warning of an “unprecedented calamity” at the southern border in a last-ditch written appeal to the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts granted a stay pending further order, asking the administration of President Joe Biden to respond by 5 p.m. Tuesday _ just hours before restrictions are slated to expire on Wednesday.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for enforcing border security, acknowledged Roberts’ order _ and also said the agency would continue “preparations to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane way when the Title 42 public health order lifts.”

Migrants have been denied rights to seek asylum under U.S. and international law 2.5 million times since March 2020 on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19 under a public-health rule called Title 42.

The decision on what comes next is going down to the wire, as pressure builds in communities along both sides of the southwestern U.S. border.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

The United States flew nuclear-capable bombers and advanced stealth jets near the Korean Peninsula for joint drills with South Korean warplane on Tuesday, as the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un derided doubts about her country’s military and threatened a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile test.

The deployment of the U.S. B-52 bombers and the F-22 stealth fighter jets was part of an agreement to protect South Korea with all available means, including nuclear, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

The drills, which also included F-35 and F-15 fighter jets from South Korea, took place in the waters southwest of Jeju island, the ministry said. The U.S. F-22 jets were deployed in South Korea for the first time in four years and will stay throughout this week for training with South Korean forces, it said.

The drills were held after North Korea claimed to have launched rockets to test its first spy satellite under development, and tested a solid-fueled motor to be used on a more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile in the past several days.

North Korea already has performed a record number of missile tests as a warning over the previous U.S.-South Korea military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. There are concerns it may react to the latest aerial training by the allies with a new round of missile tests.

Earlier Tuesday, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, used a slew of derisive terms _ such as “malicious disparaging,” “rubbish” and “dog barking” _ when she dismissed the outside assessments that cast doubt on its developmental spy satellite and long-range missiles.

North Korea said its rocket launches Sunday were tests of its first military reconnaissance satellite and released two low-resolution photos of South Korean cities as viewed from space.

Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the photos were too crude for a surveillance purpose and that the launches were likely a cover for North Korea’s missile technology. South Korea’s military maintained North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles.

On this day in 1973 …

Ottawa announced plans to establish a Commission of Human Rights and Interests to protect people from discrimination. (It was established in 1977 with the creation of the Canadian Human Rights Act.)

In entertainment …

A respected Toronto recording studio linked with an array of prominent Canadian musicians was damaged in a fire over the weekend.

Firefighters were called to Number 9 Audio Group, located in a renovated Victorian home in downtown Toronto, on Saturday evening after reports of the blaze.

Owner George Rondina says the fire damaged much of the studio’s high-end vintage equipment, though it appears to have spared their nine-foot concert grand piano.

He says the cause of the fire is still unclear.

Rondina’s company has been in business for more than 40 years, moving to various locations around the city before settling into the home on Gerrard Street in 2004.

Over the years, the company’s recording spaces have welcomed Barenaked Ladies, who recorded part of their well-known 1991 independent release “The Yellow Tape” at the studio’s former Jarvis Street location.

Did you see this?

The federal government plans to target a Russian oligarch using a law to confiscate and divert assets held by people who have been sanctioned, said Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.

Canada will try to seize and forfeit US$26 million, or about C$36 million, from Granite Capital Holdings Ltd., a firm owned by Roman Abramovich, her office announced Monday.

Abramovich is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the former owner of Chelsea Football Club in England. He is the partial owner of Evraz, a multinational steel manufacturer with a large Regina plant and a facility in Calgary.

Joly’s office said she “will now consider making a court application” to seize these assets and divert them to the reconstruction of Ukraine _ marking the first time the law has been used in this way.  Parliament granted these powers in June.

Joly told reporters in Montreal that the RCMP is independently pursuing investigations into people Ottawa has sanctioned who hold assets in Canada.

She did not say when she would be filing a court application, but her office said they hope to do so this month. She said the idea is to pursue sanctioned people who have assets in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2022.

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St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes

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Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.

St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.

The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.

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But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.

The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few

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History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?

When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?

America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?

White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.

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The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?

When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.

Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???

I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?

” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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By the numbers for British Columbia’s overdose crisis

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British Columbia’s chief coroner released overdose figures for 2022, showing 2,272 residents died from toxic drugs last year. Lisa Lapointe says drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.

Here are some of the numbers connected to the overdose crisis:

189: Average number of deaths per month last year.

6.2: Average deaths per day.

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At least 11,171: Deaths attributed to drug toxicity since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016.

70: Percentage of the dead between 30 and 59 years old.

79: Percentage of those who died who were male.

65: Children and youth who have died in the last two years.

82: Percentage of the deaths where the toxic opioid fentanyl was involved.

73,000: People in B.C. who have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

8.8: The rate that First Nations women are dying, is a multiple of the general population’s rate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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