Ten protesters have been charged by Ontario Provincial Police officers who moved against the rail blockade near Belleville, Ont. this morning — where protests by the Mohawks of Tyendinaga have crippled passenger and freight train traffic for more than two weeks in solidarity with anti-pipeline protests in northern B.C.
Police and CN Rail had warned protesters to clear their encampments by midnight Sunday. Hours after the deadline passed, provincial police moved in and arrested several protesters. At least one was wrestled to the ground soon after police moved in around 8:15 a.m. ET.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the OPP announced that 10 demonstrators who were given the option of leaving the protest refused, were arrested and now face charges. All were released on conditions.
Journalists covering the protest were forced to move far away from the camp site, but video footage from the protest side showed a short struggle between protesters and police.
WATCH: Police move in on Mohawk rail blockade
Real Peoples Media hosted a livestream of the confrontation between OPP officers and Indigenous demonstrators; a version was later posted online.
Just before the 39-minute mark in the video, which lasts a little over an hour, an Indigenous protester, his face obscured, tells the OPP that he has no intention of leaving.
“You’re on sovereign territory, every single one of you, unceded, every single one of you,” he said. “Your ancestors came here, sick, tired and oppressed. Your ancestors came here wanting a better place and our ancestors took care of them.”
When asked to leave, he refused. “I’ll stand where I want,” he said.
Seconds later on the video, a scuffle breaks out between the man, some of the demonstrators and police. The voice of the cameraman can be heard counting the number of people he said he saw arrested, a number that is difficult to confirm based on the camera angle.
The protest along the Ontario railway corridor began Feb. 6 in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of the $6-billion Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, restricting the transport of goods across the country over the past two weeks.
The OPP said in a statement Monday morning that it has a legal responsibility to enforce the injunction CN Rail obtained from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice earlier this month to end the demonstrations, adding that “use of force remains a last resort.”
“We have remained respectful of the ongoing dialogue, including issues of sovereignty between our Indigenous communities and various federal ministers, and have hoped for productive communication leading to a peaceful resolution,” said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson.
“Unfortunately, all avenues to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution have been exhausted and a valid court injunction remains in effect.”
WATCH: Reporter describes how quietly the OPP moved in before arresting protesters
Two industrial-sized tow trucks were brought in Monday afternoon to haul away a snow plow that has been part of the the protest site since the blockade began 19 days ago.
CN Rail said its crews are out inspecting the tracks.
“We are also monitoring our network for any further disruptions at this time,” wrote a spokesperson in an email to CBC News.
A second encampment set up by the protesters nearby remains in place, Dickson told the Canadian Press.
Tires were seen burning in that location Monday morning. By midday, the encampment was still in place and some demonstrators banged drums and chanted while workers from CN, which owns the railway, arrived on site and started inspecting the tracks.
“We condemn the use of force being used … on people who are standing up for human rights and the land and water,” said a statement from the Mohawk people of Tyendinaga. “The rule of law includes human rights and Indigenous rights.”
‘Essential’ for barricades to come down — Blair
The Mohawks of Tyendinaga have said they will remain by the railway until the RCMP withdrew from Wet’suwet’en territory.
Earlier this month, B.C. RCMP enforced a court injunction against those preventing contractors from accessing the construction area for the Coast GasLink project.
On Friday, the RCMP in British Columbia moved its officers out of an outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory to a nearby detachment in the town of Houston. While the RCMP says it won’t stop patrolling the area, the move partially addresses a demand made by the nation’s hereditary chiefs late last week.
WATCH: Ministers react to arrests
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau changed his tone on Friday, calling for the barricades to come down.
“We cannot have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table. For this reason, we have no choice but to stop making the same overtures,” he said.
This morning, he met with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and key members of his cabinet — Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, House Leader Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller — to discuss the blockades.
We’re focused on ending the blockades and supporting the Canadians impacted across the country. I called opposition leaders earlier today to give them an update on the situation and the work we’re continuing to do to find a peaceful and lasting resolution.
Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s office issued a statement after speaking with Trudeau earlier Monday, saying Trudeau showed “weak leadership” in his response to rail blockades and arguing the resulting “political unrest” led Vancouver-based Teck Resources to withdraw its application to build a massive oilsands mine in northern Alberta.
“These blockades are a dress rehearsal for protests against other projects across Canada,” notes the Conservative media statement.
“Mr. Scheer asked the prime minister to take stronger action before these protests shut down the economy completely.”
The protests prompted both CN and Via Rail to temporarily lay off 1,500 railway workers and disrupted the transport of food, farm products, consumer goods and essential items like chlorine for water treatment and propane for home heating.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he was concerned about the use of police force and called for more dialogue during a press conference in Ottawa Monday related to pharmacare.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Monday the government is committed to its reconciliation agenda, but the rail blockades have had such a negative impact on Canadians that they have to come down.
“The impact of these real disruptions and the barricades is untenable. It can’t continue, it cannot persist. It’s absolutely essential that those barricades come down and that rail service be resumed,” Blair said after the cabinet committee meeting.
“I think the police of jurisdiction are doing their job, and we’ll let them continue doing their job.”
Meanwhile, Quebec’s Transport Department warned that Highway 344 is closed in both directions because Mohawks in Kanesatake, northwest of Montreal, have blocked the highway running through the community in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en chiefs. Highway 344 connects Kanesatake and neighbouring Oka.
The roadblock follows an earlier action in Kahnawake, south of Montreal, where Mohawks unhappy with Monday’s police intervention in Ontario staged a rolling blockade that briefly disrupted traffic heading to a major bridge.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake put out a statement condemning the OPP’s actions at Tyendinaga, and Trudeau’s comments Friday.
“The MCK feels strongly that today’s police actions would not have taken place had Prime Minister Trudeau not made his inflammatory statements on Friday, leaving no doubt about his planned course of action,” says the statement.
“We cannot state strongly enough our extreme disappointment in the absolute lack of good faith shown by a prime minister who continually expresses his government’s priority is improving its relationship with Indigenous Peoples. What has happened over the past few days has, in fact, undone progress in building relations with Indigenous Peoples.”
A few hundred protesters angry over the government’s handling of the file are moving through downtown Ottawa today. Ottawa police are expecting traffic disruptions near Parliament Hill and ByWard Market and are asking drivers to avoid the area if possible until further notice.
Zimbabwean lecturer develops low-cost sun cream set to help people with Albinism
Harare, Zimbabwe- Dr. Joey Chifamba, a University of Zimbabwe (UZ) chartered industrial chemist and pharmaceutical nanotechnology expert has developed a low-cost sun cream which is set to help people with Albinism.
According to Dr. Chifamba, the sun cream harnesses zinc and titanium from natural sources as well as indigenous trees and was made using 5th generation emerging technologies including nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Speaking to a local publication, The Herald, Dr. Chifamba said his ground-breaking sun cream will help people living with Albinism who suffer from actinic (solar-induced) skin damage, freckles, sunburn as well as other various skin cancers.
“No product has ever been developed to protect Albinistic persons from actinic damage. The sunscreens that are given to them are designed for white-skinned people and do not take into consideration specific conditions and differences found on Albinistic skins.
This makes them not very effective and not very suitable especially for all-day everyday wear since Albinism is a lifelong condition.
We employ nanosized metallic oxides sunblocks conjugated together with nano-optimized indigenous herbs with antibacterial, antifungal and wound healing effects to create aesthetically pleasing cosmeceutical products for every day all day use by Albinistic persons.
In our innovation we have developed ground-breaking cosmeceuticals which are not only sunscreens but complete actinic damage retarding treatments that consider Albinistic skin differences and deal with various symptoms of actinic damage including wrinkles, premature aging, inflammation, bacterial and fungal infections,” said Dr. Chifamba.
Furthermore, Dr. Chifamba said the products which were developed in consultation with the Albino charity organization of Zimbabwe and other Albino welfare groups, are already available to people living with Albinism who are registered with the charity organization.
People with Albinism have skin that is very sensitive to light and sun exposure. Sunburn is one of the most serious complications associated with Albinism because it can increase the risk of developing skin cancer and sun damage-related thickening of the skin.
Albinism is a rare genetic condition caused by mutations of certain genes that affect the amount of melanin your body produces. Albinism can affect people of all races and all ethnic groups
For most types of Albinism, both parents must carry the gene in order for their child to develop the condition. Most people with Albinism have parents who are only carriers of the gene and don’t have symptoms of the condition.
Other types of Albinism, including one that only affects the eyes, mostly occur when a birthing parent passes the gene for albinism on to a child assigned male at birth.
Donald Trump loyalist, Alex Jones ordered to pay US$49 million in punitive damages
Austin, United States of America (USA)- A jury in Texas on Friday ordered Alex Jones, a loyalist to former US President Donald Trump, to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.
The jury announced its decision a day after awarding the parents more than U$4.1 million in compensatory damages and after testimony on Friday that Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of his media outlet, Infowars, were worth US$135 million to US$270 million.
Prior to Friday’s Court proceedings, Jones told his audience that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax and that the grieving parents of those who died were actors.
The total of US$49.3 million is less than the US$150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the deadliest classroom shooting in US history.
“He stood up to the bully Adam Lanza and saved nine of his classmates’ lives. I hope that I did that incredible courage justice when I was able to confront Alex Jones, who is also a bully. I hope that inspires other people to do the same. This is an important day for truth, for justice, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Lewis.
Before the jurors began deliberating about the punitive damages, Wesley Todd Ball, a lawyer for the family, told the jury that it had the ability to send a message for everyone in the country and perhaps this world to hear.
“We ask that you send a very, very simple message, and that is, Stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies. Please,” said Ball.
Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that the attack was 100 percent real and that he was wrong to have lied about it, but Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wouldn’t suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.
The parents told jurors about how they have endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed, gunshots fired at the home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via Infowars.
Jones who was in the courtroom briefly on Friday but not there for the verdict still faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut.
Nevertheless, Jones has also claimed, among things, that the Pentagon was using chemical warfare to turn people Gay, that COVID-19 is not real and that September 11 was an inside job perpetrated by the government.
FBI still worried of another attack from Afghan rebel groups
Washington D.C, United States of America (USA)- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), head, Christopher Wray has expressed grave concerns over another attack from Afghanistan rebel groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.
His comments come just days after the US killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan via drone strike.
“I am worried about the possibility that we will see al Qaeda reconstitute, ISIS-K potentially taking advantage of the deteriorating security environment, and I am worried about terrorists, including here in the United States, being inspired by what they see over there,” said the FBI director during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike, ending a years-long manhunt which placed al-Zawahiri near the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list. The 71-year-old Egyptian national headed up the group after the death of terrorist kingpin Osama Bin Laden in an American raid in 2011 and is thought to have helped plan the 9/11 attacks.
The Department of State also cited it believes there is a higher potential for anti-American violence given the death of al-Zawahiri.
Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating a possible assassination plot against Iranian-American journalist, Masih Alinejad.
According to US news sources, a man was arrested carrying a loaded AK-47 rifle in a possible plot to assassinate her.
Alinejad herself shared security camera footage of the suspect at her front door on Twitter on Sunday, saying, “My crime is giving voice to voiceless people. The US administration must be tough on terror.”
The arrested man was taken in by Police after a traffic stop. They said he ran a stop sign and when they checked his vehicle, they found a gun in the backseat, according to the complaint filed by the FBI.
He was charged with possessing a firearm without a proper serial number. At his Friday (last week) hearing, the Judge ordered him to be held without bail.
The suspect initially claimed that he knew nothing about the weapon and said he was just in the area looking for an apartment, but later he told the investigators that he owned the gun and that he was looking for someone in Brooklyn.
In July last year, US prosecutors charged four Iranian spies with trying to kidnap Alinejad from her home in Brooklyn and taking her to Venezuela. Investigators said that they had also tried to lure her to the Middle East before that.
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