News Breakdown: October 14-20

Smoke rises from a police compound in Gardez, Afghanistan, that was attacked by Taliban militants on Oct. 17, 2017. (Reuters)

Smoke rises from a police compound in Gardez, Afghanistan, that was attacked by Taliban militants on Oct. 17, 2017. (Reuters)

International

Amidst efforts by the U.S. to restart Afghanistan peace talks, the Taliban carried out a string of attacks (AOP News) this week, killing at least 200 and injuring at least 300.
– On October 17 a government compound and a police compound were both attacked (Washington Post) with suicide bombers and gunmen. On the October 19 a military base and a police building were attacked (BBC) by gunmen and bombs. On the 20th of October two mosques were struck (CBC) by suicide bombers.

358 were killed and 228 injured in a deadly suicide truck bombing (Reuters) in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on the 14th of October.
– The truck was stopped (Guardian) at a checkpoint and was about to be searched when the driver accelerated, crashing through a barrier, exploding, and igniting a nearby fuel tanker. Thousands of Somalis demonstrated (Reuters) on October 18 against the perpetrators of the bombing, Al-Shabaab.

Opposition leaders in Venezuela decried (Guardian) regional governor’s elections as rigged, with the ruling Socialist party taking 17 of 23 states on October 15.
– The Socialist party purportedly put up barriers for the opposition including relocating voting centres, refusing to update ballots, barring opposition candidates, a series of technical glitches, and vote-rigging. After the opposition released evidence of electoral fraud, the ruling party barred  (Wall Street Journal) opposition leaders from taking office in the five states they won and replacing them with ruling party substitutes.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defeated (Reuters) the Islamic State (IS) and captured their capital of Raqqa on the 16th of October.
– The SDF made a deal with the IS to let a convoy of Syrian IS members and their families as well as civilians to leave Raqqa on the 14th of October, leaving only a few hundred foreign fighters to hold the city. The four month-assault resulted in total victory, with clearing operations (BBC) now underway to clear out sleeper cells and to remove landmines.

The national Spanish government is going to suspend (Guardian) Catalonia’s autonomy and impose direct rule after the region declined to stop pushing for independence.
– Article 155 of the Spanish constitution will be invoked on the 21st of October to “restore constitutional order”. The Catalan President accused Spanish authorities of repressing the independence movement as Spain detained (BBC) two independence leaders.

The Iraqi military and allied Shia militias have advanced (Guardian) against the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga in the aftermath of an independence referendum on the 25th of September.
– The forces of the Iraqi national government and the Kurdish Autonomous Region are engaged (Rudaw) in heavy battle 60km south of Erbil, the Kurdish capital. The Iraqi national forces have captured (BBC) Kirkuk city, K1 military base, a number of oil and gas fields as well as oil company offices.

Warda Naili, who first donned a niqab six years ago, said she decided to cover her face out of a desire to practise her faith more authentically and to protect her modesty. (GRAHAM HUGHES / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Warda Naili, who first donned a niqab six years ago, said she decided to cover her face out of a desire to practise her faith more authentically and to protect her modesty. (GRAHAM HUGHES / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

National

Quebec passed a Bill 62 on October 18 barring people wearing face coverings from receiving (New York Times) public services or working in government jobs, a move criticized as bigoted towards Muslims.
– The law effectively bars Muslim women who wear face veils from using public transport or obtaining public health care services, although it will be possible to apply for exemptions. Those who are behind the legislation say it would ensure state religious neutrality and foster social cohesion while others say that this law discriminates against Muslims.

Black people in Ontario spent longer behind bars than white people when awaiting trial (Reuters) when charged with the same crimes over the past five years.
– In 11 of 16 offense categories over the last four years, black people spent more time in jail than their white peers when awaiting trial. Black people spent twice as long for weapons offenses to 36 per cent longer for obstructing justice.

Airbus has bought (CBC) a 51 per cent stake in Bombardier’s CSeries passenger jet project on October 16, hopefully avoiding the U.S.’s new tariffs on foreign aircraft.
– According to the new agreement, Bombardier’s headquarters in Mirabel, Quebec will be supplemented by a plant in Mobile, Alabama. The plant is designed to circumvent the tariffs on foreign aircraft, but may be subject to trade manipulation laws.

The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie died (Macleans) of terminal brain cancer during the night on October 17 surrounded by his children and family.
– His last album, Secret Path, was used to address the government’s forced assimilation of Indigenous children. Downie’s last concert in Kingston was broadcast (Globe and Mail) nationwide in Kingston, his hometown, to an audience of 11 million.

Canada has the sixth best rates of pollution-related (CTV) deaths in the world, with 5.31 per cent of its deaths attributable to pollution, according to the Lancet medical journal.
– The journal did not give Canada a glowing review, highlighting areas of concern in northern Alberta and Ontario that negatively impact First Nations communities through oil and natural gas exploration and production as well as chemical manufacturing.

Dalhousie University student Masuma Khan is under investigation for an online post she made related to Canada 150 celebrations. (MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON/ The Chronicle Herald)

Dalhousie University student Masuma Khan is under investigation for an online post she made related to Canada 150 celebrations. (MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON/ The Chronicle Herald)

Local

Dalhousie’s Student Vice-President Academic and External Masuma Khan is facing disciplinary action (CBC) from the university over a Facebook post this summer made from her personal page that was critical of the Canada 150 celebrations.
– Khan says (Chronicle Herald) she was given the option to undergo counselling and write a reflective essay after Dalhousie conducted an investigation into a complaint about her online comments, but she refused.

The provincial New Democratic Party is pressing the Nova Scotia government (Chronicle Herald) to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
– The minimum wage is $10.35 for inexperienced workers and $10.85 for experienced workers. On October 18 NDP Labour Critic Tammy Martin introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Labour Standards Code, setting the minimum wage to reach $15 by 2020.

A Halifax regional council report lays out Halifax’s bid to attract (Metro) Amazon’s second North American headquarters, including proposed location, financial incentives, labour force details and quality of life attractions.
– Critics have dismissed Halifax’s bid, pointing out that the city doesn’t meet the criteria, including population requirements. But the Halifax staff report said preparing the bid benefited the city, regardless of where Amazon decides to build its new offices.

Premier Stephen McNeil acknowledged that Nova Scotia suffers from institutional racism as the government introduced a report outlining its role in decades of abuses at a former Halifax-area orphanage (Metro).
– Premier McNeil tabled the eight-page report in the legislature on October 20, saying that the report represents an important opportunity to address the “legacy and impact of systemic racism and inequality in our province.”

Erik Nolan, working at a restaurant on the Halifax Harbour, went to see about a crowd who has gathered to watch a juvenile bird frantically flap its wings in the water. He promptly asked the woman beside him to watch his stuff and stripped down to his boxers, quickly jumping in the water. Nolan swam over to the entangled bird with the aid of a life preserver, unwound the line tangling it, and freed the bird from hooks. Nolan said he’s happy he could make a difference (CTV).