MPs to run convoy gauntlet and Ukraine showdown: In The News for Jan. 31

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MPs to run convoy gauntlet and Ukraine showdown: In The News for Jan. 31

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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

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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 Jan. 31 … What we are watching in Canada …

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 Jan. 31 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — MPs plan to return to the House of Commons this morning as a Parliament Hill protest against government-imposed COVID-19 measures enters its third full day.

Many of the horn-honking demonstrators who brought Ottawa to a near standstill on the weekend showed no signs of budging as parliamentarians, businesses and school administrators were left wondering when the national capital’s usual rhythm would resume.

Alexandra Maheux, a spokeswoman for government House leader Mark Holland, says the ongoing protest is not interfering with parliamentary business.

She notes that MPs have the flexibility to work in a hybrid House in this sitting, which remains in effect until June, to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

That means some MPs will be in the chamber today and beyond, and others will participate virtually.

A memo circulated yesterday by Patrick McDonell, the House sergeant-at-arms, said security plans were being developed to ensure personal safety.

Several criminal investigations are underway into actions — including the desecration of monuments — during the ongoing protest of vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions, Ottawa police said Sunday.

Also this …

OTTAWA — Police haven’t reported any physical violence at the ongoing Ottawa rally against vaccine mandates and other government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, but critics warn that conflating the absence of bloodshed with “peaceful” protest downplays the dangers of the weekend demonstrations.

For two days, the downtown core of the nation’s capital has been a no-go zone as trucks and crowds have snarled traffic, with some members defacing monuments and wielding signs with violent and hateful imagery. Police are also investigating what they describe as threatening behaviour toward officers, city workers and other individuals, as well as damage to a city vehicle.

But as of Sunday afternoon, there were no arrests related to incidents of physical violence during the demonstrations, a police spokeswoman said, though a statement issued that evening said “confrontations and the need for de-escalation has regularly been required.”

This has prompted many media reports to describe the protests as “peaceful.” Activists and academics on social media have taken issue with this characterization, saying it undermines the fear, damage and disruption the protests have wrought.

Catherine McKenney, the councillor for Ottawa’s downtown, said the protests have been very disruptive for local residents, adding many have also found them disturbing.

“They’re also seeing the images that we’re all seeing, of very right-wing extremist messages: the flags that display the swastika, confederate flags, images of a prime minister being lynched,” McKenney said.

Josh Greenberg, professor of communication and media studies at Carleton University, echoed many of McKenney’s concerns.

He explored the issue in a series of tweets in which he argued the evidence of intimidation and harassment, alongside the blatant flouting of public health measures and limiting access to key city infrastructure, do “not meet a common definition of ‘peaceful.'”

And this …

Canada’s most populous provinces are easing some COVID-19 restrictions today, while students head back to classrooms in two Maritime provinces.

Ontario and Quebec have reported declines in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in recent days and Monday marks the start of the two provinces’ gradual reopening after surging cases of the Omicron variant prompted tighter rules last month.

In Ontario, the number of people allowed to attend social gatherings has increased to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors until another planned increase on Feb. 21.

Restaurants and bars may reopen indoor dining at half capacity, and many other businesses, such as gyms and cinemas, may also reopen to vaccinated patrons.

Indoor dining has also resumed in Quebec, with certain limits, while the second phase of that province’s reopening plan scheduled for Feb. 7 is set to allow places of worship, entertainment and sports venues to reopen with capacity restrictions.

On the East Coast, schools were set to reopen to in-person learning in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Monday, with added safety measures in place.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

ST. PAUL — Testimony will resume for a second week as the federal trial continues for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao deprived Floyd of his rights when they failed to give him medical aid as Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.

Kueng and Thao are also charged for failing to intervene.

The former head of training at the Minneapolis Police Department is expected to be back on the stand today.

Katie Blackwell testified last week that the three officers did not follow department policy when Floyd was killed.

But Kueng’s defense attorney says training is lacking in some areas and new officers are trained to obey senior officers.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

CAMEROON — The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet today for the first time on Russia’s troop buildup and threatening actions against Ukraine at the request of the United States.

All key players are expected to square off in public over the possibility of a Russian invasion and its global impact.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia’s actions pose “a clear threat to international peace and security and the U.N. Charter.”

Council members “must squarely examine the facts and consider what is at stake for Ukraine, for Russia, for Europe.”

Russia’s deputy ambassador called the proposed meeting a “PR stunt.”

Also this …

SEOUL — North Korea has confirmed it test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam in its most significant launch in almost five years.

Sunday’s launch could be a prelude to bigger provocations by North Korea such as nuclear and long-range missile tests that pose a direct threat to the U.S. mainland, as the North tries to further pressure the Biden administration.

North Korea said the test verified the accuracy of the Hwasong-12 missile.

White House officials said North Korea’s escalating provocations have become increasingly concerning.

The Biden administration plans to respond to the latest missile test in the coming days with an unspecified move meant to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to its allies’ security.

In entertainment …

NEW YORK — Nils Lofgren is joining Canadians Joni Mitchell and Neil Young in removing their music from Spotify.

Mitchell says on her website she stands in solidarity with Young because “irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives.”

Lofgren writes on his website when scientists, doctors and nurses “cry out for help you don’t turn your back on them for money and power.”

Young pulled his music from Spotify to protest the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” for an interview it did with an infectious disease specialist who has been banned by Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.

Rogan is one of Spotify’s most lucrative stars.

Spotify says it’s now adding a content advisory for podcasts that include discussions of COVID-19, with a link to Spotify’s COVID trusted information hub.

Rogan responded on Instagram saying he wasn’t trying to be controversial and welcomed the addition of the advisories.

Also this…

NEW YORK — Howard Hesseman, who played the radio disc jockey Dr. Johnny Fever on the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” and the actor-turned-history teacher Charlie Moore on “Head of the Class,” has died.

He was 81. His manager Robbie Kass said Sunday that Hesseman died Saturday in Los Angeles due to complications from colon surgery.

Hesseman, who had himself been a radio DJ in the ’60s, earned two Emmy nominations for playing Johnny Fever on CBS’ “WKRP in Cincinnati,” which ran for four seasons from 1978-1982.

The role made Hesseman a counterculture icon at a time when few hippie characters made it onto network television.

ICYMI …

HAMILTON — Canada continued its march to Qatar 2022 on Sunday, bundling the 11th-ranked United States out of its way in a 2-0 victory.

With four games remaining in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the 40th-ranked Canadian men are turning heads while turning aside all comers in the region.

Unbeaten Canada is on the verge of booking its ticket to soccer’s world showcase for the first time since 1986 — and only the second time ever.

But with a game in El Salvador looming on Wednesday, coach John Herdman is not looking too far ahead — yet.

“We’ve got a long way to go. We’re not qualified yet,” he said. “The first thing we said when we brought the boys together at the end of the game is, ‘it’s not done. It starts again — tomorrow. We’ve got El Salvador.’

Also this …

MELBOURNE — Rafael Nadal won a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title with a comeback five-set victory over second-ranked Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.

He had to do it the hard way after Medvedev won the first two sets in a final that started late Sunday local time and ended almost 5 1/2 hours later on Monday morning.

The 35-year-old Spaniard now has one more than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, his long-time rivals in the so-called Big Three.

Nadal also became just the fourth man in history to win all four of the sport’s major titles at least twice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2022

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