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Trudeau joins London march marking anniversary of deadly attack on Muslim family

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LONDON, Ont. — Relatives, community members and dignitaries called for an end to racism and Islamophobia on Sunday during an emotional tribute marking the one-year anniversary of a deadly attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont.

Leaders from the Muslim community and friends of the victims called on all levels of government for action to address Islamophobia.

Pleas for compassion and tolerance mixed with expressions of grief and mourning for the four people killed in what prosecutors have described as a hate-motivated act of terrorism.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, died after police say they were deliberately hit by a truck during an evening walk in London on June 6, 2021. The family’s nine-year-old son was hurt, but survived.

Esa Islam, a cousin of the Afzaal family, said the attack has left a gaping wound in his heart.

“Last year, I would never be able to understand how all it took was one act of hatred to change my entire life,” he said.

Islam made his remarks before hundreds of mourners who gathered at the football field of the high school his cousin Yumnah attended before her death.

“I miss being able to go over to their house and have fun conversations about Harry Potter with Yumnah,” Islam said.

“I miss the simple things, the things we always take for granted until they’re gone.”

Maryam AlSabawi, a close friend of Yumnah, said she misses having lunch and going to the mall with her.

“I miss talking about our plans for the future,” she said. “I just miss your presence, the sound of your laughter, the stories you would tell me and the 3 a.m. texts about the most random things.”

AlSabawi said she has been struggling with sleepless nights, fear of trucks and an inability to go for walks.

“We didn’t just lose you and your beautiful family, but we lost our sense of belonging, our sense of community, our sense of safety, our sense of self,” the 16-year-old girl said.

“We even lost our innocence. The world isn’t as kind as we had believed it to be.”

She said she and a group of friends have started a group called the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia.

“The world placed the responsibility on our shoulders that would have crushed a mountain, but we will carry it because others haven’t,” she said.

The coalition organized the event and a march that took place in London on Sunday, where hundreds walked to the school of the London Islamic Centre.

“It’s been a very difficult year for the Muslim community here in London,” said Asad Choudhary, a former principal at the London Islamic Centre and youth mentor.

On top of organizing events to raise awareness about Islamophobia, the youth coalition has developed a lesson plan on the issue of Islamophobia, with the help of educators, for teachers to use in their classes in London, Ont.

“Essentially, it talks about what Islamophobia is, what happened on June 6, 2021, here in our city, and how do we support the combating of Islamophobia,” he said.

“What the youth came up with is that people need to understand what a stereotype is, when people look at Muslims and that stereotype that … comes forth, and that creates implicit biases, which creates hate.”

Islam said politicians should follow their supportive words with action to prevent similar attacks in the future.

“I’m tired of not seeing action by the politicians that we elect to lead us, hearing them make unfulfilled promises and speak hollow words of sorrow,” he said.

He singled out Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government for not committing to pass a law to fight Islamophobia and other forms of hate.

A bill tabled by the Ontario NDP earlier this year — called the Our London Family Act — would have established a provincial review of hate crimes and hate motivated incidents in Ontario.

The bill would also have designated safe zones around houses of worship, prevented white supremacist groups from registering as societies and established an anti-racism council that would provide input on government policies.

However, it was defeated shortly after being introduced.

The bill was created with the National Council of Canadian Muslims and follows recommendations put forward by that organization.

“Despite all of the promises we heard last year, one year later, it feels there’s still an unwillingness by our elected leaders to take concrete action against … Islamophobia,” Islam said.

While Ford didn’t attend the Sunday event, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra were among the attendees.

Trudeau said people should not ignore the reality that millions of Canadians are facing microaggression, discrimination and systemic racism every day.

He said the government has taken action to address hate and racism in Canada and added that there is more work to be done.

“On this day that we grieve, we also come together in commitment and resolve to make sure that tomorrow and next year, and all the days in the future, are also better,” said Trudeau.

“The lives of three generations of the Afzaal family were taken by a brutal, cowardly and brazen act of terrorist violence.”

He said his government has launched a new anti-racism strategy and a national action plan to combat hate and has allocated millions of dollars in funding to grassroots organizations, many led by Muslims, to combat hate.

“We’re also launching a process to appoint Canada’s very first special representative on combating Islamophobia,” he said.

There are several other events planned to commemorate the first anniversary of the June 6 tragedy, including a vigil on Monday.

A 21-year-old man faces four counts of first-degree murder in the attack. The case has not yet gone to trial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2022.

 

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

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Three die after head-on collision between pickup truck and Honda Civic in Cape Breton

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MABOU, N.S. – Three people have died after a head-on collision in western Cape Breton involving a pickup truck and a Honda Civic.

RCMP say the collision occurred early Saturday morning on Highway 19 near the community of Mabou.

The two youths in the Honda Civic, both residents of Inverness County, died in the crash.

A passenger in the truck, a 71-year-old man from Utah, was transported by paramedics but died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

The other three occupants in the F-150, also from Utah, suffered serious injuries and were transported to hospital for treatment.

A release from the RCMP says they are investigating the cause of the accident.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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A 7-month-old tree kangaroo peeked out of its mom’s pouch at the Bronx Zoo and here are the photos

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NEW YORK (AP) — The second baby of a tree-dwelling kangaroo made its public debut this week in New York, poking its pink head head out of its mom’s furry white pouch.

The tiny Matschie’s tree kangaroo, or Dendrolagus matschiei, was born in December and is the second born to the same mother since 2022. It also was the third of its kind born at the Bronx Zoo since 2008.

The tree kangaroo species only gestate for about six weeks before they are born and immediately crawl into their marsupial moms’ pouches, the zoo said in a statement. It takes around seven months for the young to start peeking out of the pouch.

There are only around 2,500 tree kangaroos in the wild and 42 in captivity, the zoo said. In a statement Friday, a Bronx Zoo spokesperson said that the kangaroo’s birth was significant for the network of zoos that aims to preserve genetic diversity among endangered animals.

“It’s a small population and because of that births are not very common,” said Jessica Moody, curator of primates and small mammals at the Bronx Zoo. “So it’s a rare and exciting event,” adding that baby tree kangaroos are “possibly one of the cutest animals to have ever lived. They look like stuffed animals, it’s amazing.”

The tree kangaroos are native to the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea, where they are threatened by human activities such as habitat destruction and hunting, the statement said. They live primarily in trees and are smaller than Australia’s better-known red kangaroo. An adult tree kangaroo weighs between 20 and 25 pounds (9–11 kilograms). The joeys are about the size of a human thumb when they are born, but grow to as long as 30 inches (76 centimeters).

Wildlife restoration programs often lean on zoos for genetic diversity. For example, wolves reintroduced to the wild are often given zoo-born pups to raise, reducing the risk of inbreeding while expanding wild populations.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Harris, endorsed by Biden, could become first woman, second Black person to be president

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WASHINGTON (AP) — She’s already broken barriers, and now Kamala Harris could become the first Black woman to head a major party presidential ticket after President Joe Biden abruptly ended his reelection bid and endorsed her.

Biden announced Sunday that was stepping aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy.

Harris is the first woman, Black person or person of South Asian descent to serve as vice president. She joined the Biden ticket after a rocky and abbreviated run of her own for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden said Sunday that deciding on Harris as vice president was “the best decision I’ve made.” He wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that she had his full support and endorsement to run against Donald Trump for the presidency. “Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump,” he said. “Let’s do this.”

However, her nomination is hardly a sure thing. The party is split over whether Harris should ascend or there should be a quick “mini primary.”

A recent poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Democrats believe Harris would do a good job in the top slot. About 2 in 10 Democrats don’t believe she would, and another 2 in 10 say they don’t know enough to say.

The poll showed that about 4 in 10 U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of Harris, whose name is pronounced “COMM-a-la,” while about half have an unfavorable opinion.

A former prosecutor and U.S. senator from California, Harris will face doubters as she seeks to reassure the party she can win the presidency in November. Her first test will be at the Democratic convention in Chicago in August.

Even before Biden’s endorsement, Harris was widely viewed as the favorite to replace him on the ticket. Actively campaigning in recent weeks, she’s had a head start over potential challengers, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.

Harris will seek to avoid the fate of Hubert Humphrey, who as vice president won the Democratic nomination in 1968 after President Lyndon Johnson declined to run for reelection amid national dissatisfaction over the Vietnam War. Humphrey lost that year to Republican Richard Nixon.

Nixon resigned in 1974 during the Watergate scandal and was replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford. Ford never won a term of his own.

Vice presidents are always in line to step into the top job if the president dies or is incapacitated. However, Harris has faced an unusual level of scrutiny because of Biden’s age. He was the oldest president in history, taking office at 78 and announcing his reelection bid at 81. Harris is 59.

She addressed the question of succession in an interview with The Associated Press during a trip to Jakarta in September 2023.

“Joe Biden is going to be fine, so that is not going to come to fruition,” she stated. “But let us also understand that every vice president — every vice president — understands that when they take the oath they must be very clear about the responsibility they may have to take over the job of being president.”

“I’m no different.”

Harris was born Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, to parents who met as civil rights activists. Her hometown and nearby Berkeley were at the heart of the racial and social justice movements of the time, and Harris was both a product and a beneficiary.

She spoke often about attending demonstrations in a stroller and growing up around adults “who spent full time marching and shouting about this thing called justice.” In first grade, she was bused to school as part of the second class to integrate Berkeley public education.

Harris’ parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised by her mother alongside her younger sister, Maya. She attended Howard University, a historically Black school in Washington, and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which became a source of sisterhood and political support over the years.

After graduating, Harris returned to the San Francisco Bay Area for law school and chose a career as a prosecutor, a move that surprised her activist family.

She said she believed tht working for change inside the system was just as important as agitating from outside. By 2003, she was running for her first political office, taking on the longtime San Francisco district attorney.

Few city residents knew her name, and Harris set up an ironing board as a table outside grocery stores to meet people. She won and quickly showed a willingness to chart her own path. Months into her tenure, Harris declined to seek the death penalty for the killer of a young police officer slain in the line of duty, fraying her relationship with city cops.

The episode did not stop her political ascent. In late 2007, while still serving as district attorney, she was knocking on doors in Iowa for then-candidate Barack Obama. After he became president, Obama endorsed her in her 2010 race for California attorney general.

Once elected to statewide office, she pledged to uphold the death penalty despite her moral opposition to it. She refused to defend Proposition 8, a voter-backed initiative banning same-sex marriage. Harris also played a key role in a $25 billion settlement with the nation’s mortgage lenders following the foreclosure crisis.

As killings of young Black men by police received more attention, Harris implemented some changes, including tracking racial data in police stops, but didn’t pursue more aggressive measures such as requiring independent prosecutors to investigate police shootings.

Harris’ record as a prosecutor would dog her when she launched a presidential bid in 2019, as some progressives and younger voters demanded swifter change. But during her time on the job, she also forged a fortuitous relationship with Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who was then Delaware’s attorney general. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015, and his friendship with Harris figured heavily years later as his father chose Harris to be his running mate.

Harris married entertainment lawyer Douglas Emhoff in 2014, and she became stepmother to Emhoff’s two children, Ella and Cole, who referred to her as “Momala.”

Harris had a rare opportunity to advance politically when Sen. Barbara Boxer, who had served more than two decades, announced she would not run again in 2016.

In office, Harris quickly became part of the Democratic resistance to Trump and gained recognition for her pointed questioning of his nominees. In one memorable moment, she pressed now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on whether he knew any laws that gave government the power to regulate a man’s body. He did not, and the line of questioning galvanized women and abortion rights activists.

A little more than two years after becoming a senator, Harris announced her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But her campaign was marred by infighting and she failed to gain traction, ultimately dropping out before the Iowa caucuses.

Eight months later, Biden selected Harris as his running mate. As he introduced her to the nation, Biden reflected on what her nomination meant for “little Black and brown girls who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities.”

“Today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way, as the stuff of presidents and vice presidents,” he said.

Once in the job, Harris worked to stem migration from Central America, but her efforts did not stop the movement of people leaving their corrupt and impoverished countries to seek safety and prosperity in the U.S.

Nor was there much progress to be made on voting rights, another issue that was part of Harris’ portfolio. When Republicans limited ballot access in various states, Democrats lacked the necessary muscle in Congress to push back at the national level.

Harris eventually carved out a role as the administration’s most outspoken advocate for reproductive rights after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that had guaranteed abortion access nationwide.

Much of Harris’ work has focused on bolstering her party’s coalition of women, young people and voters of color. And in halls of power dominated by men — both in Washington and around the world — she has remained keenly aware of her status as a political pioneer.

She often repeated a line she credited to her mother: “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.”



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