News breakdown: March 17-23

A sandal lies on the ground at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 21, 2018. (Courtesy Omar Sobhani/CNN)

A sandal lies on the ground at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 21, 2018. (Courtesy Omar Sobhani/CNN)

International

Thirty-one people have been killed and 65 wounded in a suicide bombing near a Shia shrine during the start of Norwuz, a New Year’s festival, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The mother of a dead child ripped off her head scarf and cried, “When you left this morning, you wanted to go to the Sakhi Jan shrine, and you said you wanted to pray for your future, for a better future, for the future of our family, for Afghanistan. Oh my Mustafa. Now who will pray for you?”

Fifteen hundred Ahrar Al-Sham rebel fighters and 6,000 civilians have fled Eastern Ghouta in Syria, after a deal with the Syrian regime and Russia for their safe passage amidst a hostage exchange. Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels captured Afrin in northern Syria from the Kurds after Kurdish militias withdrew following Turkish envelopment and a two-month siege.

A self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) soldier killed three people and wounded five in a terrorist attack in Southern France. Police shot and killed the gunman after a four-hour standoff where the gunman had taken hostages and demanded the release of the IS mastermind of the November 2015 Paris attacks.

Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm, was caught boasting that it orchestrated a Kenyan election campaign in which 1,000 were killed in the resultant violence. Cambridge Analytica’s actions in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have also been called into question. They exploited a Facebook security deficiency to obtain data from 50 million Facebook users, used in the Trump campaign.

Vladimir Putin has won the Russian presidential election with 76.7 per cent of the vote, resulting in the extension of his presidential tenure until 2024, when his term ends and he’s legally obligated to step down. Independent election monitoring group Golos reported hundreds of irregularities including voting papers being found in ballot boxes before voting started, observers being banned from polling stations, Putin supporters being bussed around to multiple polling stations, and security cameras being purposely obstructed.

May, centre, and Stewart, left, lined up with other protesters against a gate at a Trans Mountain worksite — violating a court-ordered injunction to stay away from the company properties. (Courtesy of Rafferty Baker/CBC)

May, centre, and Stewart, left, lined up with other protesters against a gate at a Trans Mountain worksite — violating a court-ordered injunction to stay away from the company properties. (Courtesy of Rafferty Baker/CBC)

National

British Columbia MP and Green Party leader Elizabeth May and New Democratic Party BC MP Kennedy Stewart have been arrested at a Kinder Morgan facility. The two defied a court injunction banning protesters from disrupting construction work on Trans Mountain terminals. May and Stewart were released within a half hour of their arrest and charged with civil contempt. More than 100 people have been arrested at this specific site and protests are scheduled to continue until Kinder Morgan’s deadline for clearing trees.

Service Canada employees have been directed to adopt gender-neutral language when interacting with the public, specifically to avoid “portraying a perceived bias toward a particular sex or gender.” A number of Conservative and Bloc opposition members have been very critical of the directive. In response a government press secretary said that the directive was issued following requests from members of the public.

The Conservatives are pushing the federal government for answers following a Global News investigation which revealed Canada’s ineffectiveness at removing individuals for public safety and security concerns. The Canada Border Services Agency had conducted only four removals in 2017, the least in the past five years. The specific case of a former Sudanese soldier, who committed aggravated assault in 2003 and has not been deported, caused the most anger.

The federal government released draft rules on marijuana packaging and rules limiting crop size for smaller producers. Marijuana packages can display only the product’s name and a brand element or logo, and “micro” growers are limited to production over 200 square metres.

The Liberal Caucus Research Bureau paid $100,000 to Christopher Wylie from Cambridge Analytica to undertake a pilot project involving surveys, constituent recruitment, communications infrastructure and social media monitoring tools. While preliminary work was undertaken it did not move further, because of the Liberal Party’s feeling that his methods were wholly inappropriate, including methods that were used in President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

At around noon on Thursday, Halifax roads were covered with a mix of freezing rain and snow. (Courtesy Craig Paisley/CBC)

At around noon on Thursday, Halifax roads were covered with a mix of freezing rain and snow. (Courtesy Craig Paisley/CBC)

Local

A nor’easter hit Nova Scotia on Thursday morning with 15-20 cm of freezing rain, ice pellets, and snow coming down until the late evening. All primary and secondary schools across the province except for those in the HRM were closed, as well as a number of NSCC campuses, Acadia University and Cape Breton University.

In the provincial budget the current Liberal government projects an increase of $400 million in debt by the end of their mandate, despite projecting a surplus of $29.4 million for this fiscal year. The budget’s major funding announcement has already been announced, but we’ve learned that the province is projecting $20.8 million in tax from sales of recreational marijuana.

In a new CRA poll, more than 40 per cent of women in Atlantic Canada have reported experiencing sexual harassment, with nearly half of Nova Scotian women saying that they have experienced sexual harassment.

Abdoul Abdi’s deportation had been adjourned until a federal court decides on the case of his judicial review. The immigration and refugee board will have to wait until after the judicial review where a hearing is set for May 29.

The Acadia branch of the Canadian Association of University Teachers says that they’re looking into Acadia University’s decision to investigate controversial conservative professor Rick Mehta. The CAUT says that they will launch an inquiry as the case has issues of “broad significance to all academics in Canada.”