Protests by Wet’suwet’en supporters spread across British Columbia again on Monday afternoon, blocking public transit, the Port of Vancouver and the stairs to the B.C. Legislature.
The fresh demonstrations came after police in Ontario made several arrests earlier Monday while clearing a rail blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory erected in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.
All West Coast Express trains heading east from Vancouver to Mission were cancelled Monday afternoon during the rush hour commute as protesters blocked tracks in the Port Haney area.
The tracks were clear by evening, and the trains are expected to run regular service Tuesday morning.
Crowds gather at B.C. Legislature
By mid-afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered near the entrance to the B.C. Legislature.
Police stood on the stairs flanking protesters, but there were no reports of arrests. Later, protesters blocked the progress of a police van that arrived at the legislature. They linked arms and chanted, “peaceful and with love, unarmed and non-violent.”
We’re bringing one of our vans to the Legislature driveway. This is to keep our officers warm – it’s chilly down there. This is NOT a precursor to arrests. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/yyj?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#yyj</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/F208353?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#F208353</a>
Some protesters locked themselves to a gate at the legislature, which was the scene of a large protest on Feb. 11, which prompted the province to obtain an injunction when entrances to the building were blocked.
Organizers said Monday they’re staying for the long haul.
“We are not here seeking arrest,” said Indigenous youth leader Ta’Kiaya Blaney, speaking with a megaphone. “We are here as our duty as Indigenous youth. Bring your blankets, it’s going to be a long night.”
Protest at Vancouver port
Nearly 100 people also blocked access to the Port of Vancouver at East Hastings Street and Clark Drive, preventing container trucks from leaving the port.
WATCH | Protesters march through Vancouver blocking traffic:
A line of seven trucks en route from the port quickly backed up after demonstrators blocked the intersection around 2:30 p.m. PT. Vancouver police rerouted traffic from the area.
An injunction, granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 9, is still in effect at the port. A spokesperson with Port of Vancouver said it is working with police to address the protest.
More than 50 demonstrators were arrested at ports in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in earlier protests this month.
A new CN Rail blockade was also set up in northwestern B.C. on Monday near New Hazelton, about 280 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert, less than two weeks after one was dismantled at the same location.
The railway runs through the territory of Gitx’san Nation, members of which were at the blockade.
“We wanted to show our solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and also with the Mohawks,” said Gitx’san Nation Hereditary Chief Spookw.
“Divided, we are weak. But when we stand together, we’re strong.”
A number of people had been occupying the Mohawk territory for weeks in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, who oppose the development of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline — a project that would cross their traditional territory in northern B.C.
The Ontario blockade has brought freight and passenger rail traffic to a virtual standstill since it was built on Feb. 6, near Belleville. On Monday morning, dozens of police officers arrived at the encampment and began making arrests after demonstrators stayed past a midnight deadline.
Numerous similar rail and road blockades have sprung up in multiple provinces throughout the month, halting freight and passenger train service for much of the country.
A representative with Monday’s demonstration in Vancouver said solidarity actions will continue until the demands of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been met.
Courts block two Biden administration COVID vaccine mandates
The Biden administration was blocked on Tuesday from enforcing two mandates requiring millions of American workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a key part of its strategy for controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe, Louisiana, temporarily blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers until the court can resolve legal challenges.
Doughty’s ruling applied nationwide, except in 10 states where the CMS was already prevented from enforcing the rule due to a prior order from a federal judge in St. Louis.
Doughty said the CMS lacked the authority to issue a vaccine mandate that would require more than 2 million unvaccinated healthcare workers to get a coronavirus shot.
“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” wrote Doughty.
Separately, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in Frankfort, Kentucky, blocked the administration from enforcing a regulation that new government contracts must include clauses requiring that contractors’ employees get vaccinated.
The contractor ruling applied in the three states that had filed the lawsuit, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, one of at least 13 legal challenges nationwide against the regulation. It appears to be the first ruling against the contractor vaccine mandate.
The White House declined to comment.
The legal setbacks for President Joe Biden’s vaccine policy come as concerns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could trigger a new wave of infections and curtail travel and economic activity across the globe.
Biden unveiled regulations in September to increase the U.S. adult vaccination rate beyond the current 71% as a way of fighting the pandemic, which has killed more than 750,000 Americans and weighed on the economy.
Republican state attorneys general, conservative groups and trade organizations have sued to stop the regulations.
Tuesday’s rulings add to a string of court losses for the Biden administration over its COVID-19 policies.
The most sweeping regulation, a workplace vaccine-or-testing mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, was temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court in early November.
In August, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the administration’s pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)
Putin hits back as NATO warns Moscow against attacking Ukraine
Russia would pay a high price for any new military aggression against Ukraine, NATO and the United States warned on Tuesday as the Western military alliance met to discuss Moscow’s possible motives for massing troops near the Ukrainian border.
President Vladimir Putin countered that Russia would be forced to act if U.S.-led NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could strike Moscow within minutes.
Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that now aspires to join the European Union and NATO, has become the main flashpoint between Russia and the West as relations have soured to their worst level in the three decades since the Cold War ended.
“There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Stoltenberg, saying: “Any escalatory actions by Russia would be a great concern to the United States…, and any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences.”
Tensions have been rising for weeks, with Russia, Ukraine and NATO all staging military exercises amid mutual recriminations over which side is the aggressor.
Putin went further than previously in spelling out Russia’s “red lines” on Ukraine, saying it would have to respond if NATO deployed advanced missile systems on its neighbour’s soil.
“If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed. Just imagine,” the Kremlin leader said.
“What are we to do in such a scenario? We will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in that way. And we can do that now,” he said, pointing to Russia’s recent testing of a hypersonic weapon he said could fly at nine times the speed of sound.
EU and other Western leaders are involved in a geopolitical tug-of-war with Russia for influence in Ukraine and two other ex-Soviet republics, Moldova and Georgia, through trade, cooperation and protection arrangements.
NATO foreign ministers began two days of talks in the Latvian capital Riga to debate what they say is the growing Russian threat, with Blinken due to brief his 29 alliance counterparts on Washington’s intelligence assessment.
Blinken, speaking at a news conference with his Latvian counterpart, said he will have more to say on Wednesday on how to respond to Russia after holding talks with NATO allies.
“We will be consulting closely with…allies and partners in the days ahead…about whether there are other steps that we should take as an alliance to strengthen our defences, strengthen our resilience, strengthen our capacity,” he said.
Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmygal accused Russia https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/exclusive-ukraine-pm-says-russia-absolutely-behind-coup-attempt-2021-11-30 of trying to topple the elected government in Kyiv, which the Kremlin denies, after Ukraine’s president last week unveiled what he said was a coup attempt.
Shmygal also said Ukraine would seek more weapons from the United States – precisely the course of action that Putin has warned against.
The Kremlin annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then backed rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country. That conflict has killed 14,000 people, according to Kyiv, and is still simmering.
In May, Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders numbered 100,000, the most since its Crimea takeover, Western officials say. Ukraine says there are more than 90,000 there now.
Moscow has dismissed as inflammatory Ukrainian suggestions that it is preparing for an attack, said it does not threaten anyone and defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it wishes.
Britain and Germany echoed the NATO warnings.
“We will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malign activity,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “NATO’s support for Ukraine is unbroken…Russia would have to pay a high price for any sort of aggression.”
(Additional reporting by John Chalmers in Brussels; writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Robin Emmott and Mark Trevelyan; editing by Mark Heinrich)
Jazz singer Josephine Baker first Black woman honoured at France’s Pantheon
Josephine Baker, the famed French American singer and dancer, was inducted on Tuesday into the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris – one of France’s highest honours – at a ceremony attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Baker, who also served in the French Resistance during World War Two and was a prominent civic rights activist after the war, is the first Black woman and sixth woman to enter the Pantheon, a Paris landmark dominating the city’s Latin Quarter.
She was “a Black person who stood up for Black people, but foremost, she was a woman who defended humankind,” Macron said during a speech.
He spoke shortly after Baker’s most famous song, “J’ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris” (“I have two loves, my country and Paris”), was played at the ceremony.
Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906 but went on to find much of her fame after arriving in Paris in the 1920s, as many Black Americans stayed on in the French capital after World War One and brought over with them American jazz culture.
Baker, who became a French citizen in 1937, died in 1975 and is buried in Monaco.
In accordance with her family’s wishes, Baker’s remains have not been moved to the Pantheon. To represent her presence there, a symbolic coffin was carried into the mausoleum by six pallbearers containing handfuls of earth from four locations: St. Louis, Paris, Monaco and Milandes, in the Dordogne department of France, where Baker owned a castle.
Baker’s empty coffin will lie alongside other French national icons in the mausoleum such as authors Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, the philosopher Voltaire and politician Simone Veil.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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