More rain for BC, fighting Islamophobia in Ontario schools : In The News for Dec. 2

·9 min read

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. 2 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Several rivers in British Columbia were under flood warnings on Wednesday as hundreds of homes remained evacuated because of heavy rainfall.

There were 12 evacuation orders involving 350 homes in the Fraser Valley Regional District in its coverage area from Boston Bar to Abbotsford.

Another 1,664 homes were on alert, most of them in Hatzic Valley, where numerous rivers and streams were at or near overflowing.

The Coquihalla River was one of several major waterways where the River Forecast Centre upgraded flood watches to warnings, meaning that river levels have exceeded their banks or will exceed them imminently, causing flooding of adjacent areas.

Flood warnings were also issued for the Chilliwack River, the Lower Fraser tributaries and the Tulameen, Similkameen, Coldwater and Lower Nicola rivers, as well as Spius Creek.

The flood warnings come as southern and coastal British Columbia entered the tail end of severe weather that meteorologists have described as a "parade" of storms with dozens of weather warnings in place across the region.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said while there was a lull in the weather Wednesday, residents of southwestern B.C. should prepare for more rain before an expected reprieve Thursday.

Environment Canada says the rain should ease on Thursday and Friday, but a smaller storm system is expected to affect the south coast of B.C. late on Friday.

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Also this ...

Ontario students and teachers now have access to a set of online resources aimed at combating Islamophobia in schools.

The Muslim Association of Canada, a national non-profit organization, has launched a website today that features three courses, four workshops and six hours of educational videos to help address anti-Muslim biases that teachers and students may have.

Memona Hossain, a member of the association's team that developed the site, says the resources on offer are important to help schools address Islamophobia.

The federal government convened an emergency summit on Islamophobia in July, a few weeks after a Muslim family was run down in London, Ontario, in what police have called a targeted and deliberate act.

Four members of the family died and a nine-year-old boy was seriously injured.

In recent months, a spate of hate-motivated attacks have targeted hijab-wearing Muslim women in Alberta.

In September of last year, a Muslim man was stabbed to death while volunteering at a Toronto mosque.

The Muslim Association of Canada received a $225,000 grant from the Ontario government in June that supported its work on the website.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden has unveiled his new HIV/AIDS strategy to end the more than 40-year-old epidemic, calling for a renewed focus on vulnerable Americans.

The new strategy says that gay and bisexual Black and Latino men are too often stigmatized even as they are disproportionately affected by HIV.

The new strategy, which declares racism a "public health threat," was released Wednesday on the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day. It is meant to serve as a framework for how the administration shapes its policies, research, programs and planning over the next three years.

The epidemic has killed more than 36 million worldwide, including 700,000 Americans.

Biden acknowledged that the country still needs to work to destigmatize HIV/AIDS and noted that LGBT and racial minority groups have “endured the brunt” of the epidemic.

"I want to make sure that everyone in the United States knows their HIV status, and everyone with HIV receives high-quality care and treatment that they deserve and that we end the harmful stigma around HIV and AIDS," Biden said.

New HIV infections in the U.S. fell about eight per cent from 2015 to 2019, but Black and Latino communities — particularly gay and bisexual men within those groups — continue to be disproportionately affected, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

African Americans make up about 13 per cent of the U.S. population but accounted for more than 40 per cent of new infections. The Latino population accounted for nearly 25 per cent of new infections but makes up about 18.5 per cent of the U.S. population.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

RIGA, Latvia — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military organization was a victim of mission creep in Afghanistan as the international community went from fighting extremists to trying to rebuild the conflict-torn country.

Stoltenberg addressed NATO's role on Wednesday after foreign ministers debated a report on the lessons from the alliance's 18-year presence in Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg said Afghan security forces “were hampered by corruption, poor leadership, and an inability to sustain their own forces” before the Taliban returned to power in August. He said the chaotic airlifts from Kabul revealed the need “to strengthen NATO’s ability to conduct short-notice, large scale non-combatant evacuation efforts.”

Stoltenberg said the report's main findings will be made public.

NATO took over the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2003, almost two years after a U.S.-led coalition invaded the country to oust the Taliban for harbouring Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader who masterminded the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S. and was shot dead in Pakistan in 2011.

The international force helped build up an Afghan army said to be around 300,000-strong, although the army was so riddled with corruption that its real troop numbers were unclear. Whatever its size, the Afghan army withered within days in August in the face of a Taliban offensive.

Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that NATO had helped prevent the launch of international extremist attacks from Afghan soil for almost two decades.

“For 20 years, NATO made sure that Afghanistan could not again become a safe haven for terrorists who threaten our countries and our people,” Blinken said. “Now, NATO remains fully committed to the fight against terrorism worldwide and we will use all our capabilities to aid in that fight.”

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On this day in 1989 ...

Audrey McLaughlin became the first female leader of a national political party by defeating Dave Barrett in Winnipeg for the NDP leadership.

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In entertainment ...

NEW YORK — Canadian actor Sandra Oh has been named in People's magazine's list of "2021 People of the Year."

Country legend Dolly Parton, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, and teachers in the United States were also recognized by the magazine.

Oh, who is from Ottawa, was celebrated for fighting anti-Asian hate and working on "transformative stories." She stars in and produces the Netflix series "The Chair," and in 2018 was the first Asian woman to be nominated for a lead actress Emmy, for "Killing Eve.''

The magazine also notes Oh spoke out after the spa murders in Georgia as levels of anti-Asian hate crimes rose significantly.

Parton was cited for giving away millions of books and supporting COVID-19 research, and the magazine said Biles' focus on mental health "redefined what it means to win in sports."

People also lauded America's more than three million teachers, who have "gone above and beyond to ensure our nation's kids have bright opportunities ahead."

Oh was singled out for her efforts to showcase marginalized perspectives and voices.

"Progress is not just sticking a bunch of people of colour (into a show) and having them speak like everyone else," she says in the magazine.

"The thing that I'm most proud about with 'The Chair' is how it's translated to people of colour who are living and working in mostly white spaces. What I hope is that anyone who's watching it can say, 'That could easily be me.' "

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ICYMI ...

IRVING, Texas _ Major League Baseball plunged into its first work stoppage in a quarter-century when the sport's collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night and owners immediately locked out players in a move that threatens spring training and opening day.

The strategy, management's equivalent of a strike under federal labour law, ended the sport's labour peace after 9,740 days over 26 1/2 years.

Teams decided to force the long-anticipated confrontation during an off-season rather than risk players walking out during the summer, as they did in 1994. Players and owners had successfully reached four consecutive agreements without a work stoppage, but they have been accelerating toward a clash for more than two years.

"We believe that an off-season lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season,'' baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in a letter to fans. "We hope that the lockout will jump-start the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the players' association's vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive.''

Talks that started last spring ended Wednesday after a brief session of mere minutes with the sides far apart on the dozens of key economic issues. Management's negotiators left the union's hotel about nine hours before the deal lapsed at 11:59 p.m. EST, and players said MLB did not make any new central economic proposals this week.

MLB's 30 controlling owners held a brief digital meeting to reaffirm their lockout decision, and MLB delivered the announcement of its fourth-ever lockout _ to go along with five strikes _ in an emailed letter to the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"This drastic and unnecessary measure will not affect the players' resolve to reach a fair contract,'' union head Tony Clark said in a statement. "We remain committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that enhances competition, improves the product for our fans, and advances the rights and benefits of our membership.''

This stoppage began 30 days after Atlanta's World Series win capped a complete season following a pandemic-shortened 2020 played in empty ballparks.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2021

The Canadian Press

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