Another historical group opposes Bernard Landry REM station


A number of small crosses are installed all around the area of the Irish Commemorative Stone also known as the Black Rock to commemorate the buried during the annual Walk to the Stone on Sunday, May 28, 2017.


The Black Rock memorial at the foot of the Victoria Bridge.


Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

A Quebec historical group is adding its voice to those opposing naming a future station of the Réseau express métropolitain in Griffintown for former premier Bernard Landry.

In an open letter to Mayor Valérie Plante, the Fédération Histoire du Québec says the station should be named for Montreal’s Irish community, noting the area holds historical importance for them.

About 6,000 typhus victims died on the Montreal waterfront in 1847-48 after fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. Some of the victims are buried near the site of the future station, at the Black Rock memorial at the foot of the Victoria Bridge. The community later settled in the Griffintown neighbourhood and helped develop it.

The federation said it supports an earlier position taken by the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network.

“Associating this station with the history of the Irish community would be a recognition of this community and a testimony of their proud contribution to our history,” the letter states.

The group called on the city or province to find another important infrastructure or site to name in Landry’s memory.

Plante has said naming the REM station after Landry would be an appropriate way to honour the sovereignist politician, who died over a year ago. She noted the station will be not far from the multimedia district Landry was instrumental in founding and said she had discussed the proposal with Landry’s family and admirers, as well as the developers of the REM.

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B.C. bans logging in border area after urging from Seattle mayor



This photo is looking from near the top of Silverdaisy Peak.


Wilderness Committee / PNG

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government has banned logging in an ecologically sensitive area along the United States border after Seattle’s mayor and environmental groups called for protection of the watershed.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says B.C. will no longer award timber licences in a 5,800-hectare plot called the Silverdaisy or “doughnut hole” in the Skagit River Valley.

He says the province’s previous Liberal government awarded a timber sale licence for the area in 2015 but that approval has now ended and no future licences will be granted.

B.C.’s forestry industry is in a slump but Donaldson says his government is working to ensure access to new harvest areas and he doesn’t expect the protection of the Silverdaisy to immediately affect jobs.

Imperial Metals, owner of the Mount Polley mine, owns copper mineral claims in the Silverdaisy and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission says it’s working to acquire those rights to ensure preservation of the area.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote to the B.C. government last year urging it to halt logging in the area, which she says provides more than 30 per cent of the fresh water flowing into Puget Sound.

 



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Canadians to pay $487 more for groceries next year with biggest hikes to meat and veg


The average Canadian family can expect to pay 4 per cent more for groceries next year led by meat because of a complex interplay of environmental, biological, geopolitical and trade issues, new university research says.

The cost of food for the average Canadian family will rise by $487 to $12,667 next year, according to Canada’s Food Price Report by Dalhousie University in Halifax and the University of Guelph.

One in eight Canadian households is food insecure and food affordability is a major issue

Guelph project lead Simon Somogyi

British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island are expected to exceed the national average increases, while price hikes in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia are forecast to be lower, the researchers said. Consumers in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador are likely to see price hikes similar to the national average, according to the report.

“Food inflation is desirable, but when prices increase quickly families can be left behind,” Sylvain Charlebois, the report’s lead author and a professor at Dalhousie, said in a statement Wednesday. “One in eight Canadian households is food insecure and food affordability is a major issue,” Guelph project lead Simon Somogyi said.

The ever-increasing use of food banks across the country shows us how many Canadians can’t afford to put food on their plates

Simon Somogyi

Meat led the forecast with a projected price rise of 4 to 6 per cent, while vegetables may rise 2 to 4 per cent, fruits may cost 1.5 to 3.5 per cent more and seafood 2 to 4 per cent extra, the report shows. Dairy items are marked for a 1 to 3 per cent hike while bakery goods may come in at up to 2 per cent more expensive, according to the forecast using predictive analysis and machine learning algorithms.

Most of those estimates are near double Canada’s current overall rate of inflation of less than 2 per cent. The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate at 1.75 per cent for its ninth consecutive meeting on Wednesday, a move in part to stem rising household borrowing.

“Canadians aren’t making more money, so they’re taking money away from other parts of their budgets just to eat and that gets tougher and tougher,” Somogyi said. “The ever-increasing use of food banks across the country shows us how many Canadians can’t afford to put food on their plates.”

Some 863,000 Canadian use a food bank each month, a 28 per cent increase since 2008, according to a Nov. 29 report by the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

The main catalysts for higher food prices are climate change, geopolitical conflicts, single-use plastic packaging and the effect of increasingly protectionist trade environments on Canada’s exports, Dalhousie researcher Eamonn McGuinty said. He also cited disease outbreaks and the disruption of the supply chain by technology that’s led to more customized food options.

Canadians have embraced plant-based foods, if the response to fake meats at fast food chains this year is any indication, but vegetables are predicted to rise in price only second to meat, the report shows.

Dalhousie’s Charlebois called on the agriculture sector and the government to support policies promoting the year-round production of fruits and vegetables, including subsidies for indoor and greenhouse farming and funding for research that helps it.

Canada should also develop alternatives to single-use plastic materials, legislate plastic use, and implement tax regimes that encourage producer responsibility, he said.

“Canada’s new Food Guide encourages Canadians to eat more vegetables, but they’re getting more expensive,” Dalhousie’s Charlebois said. “Increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits we produce domestically would be a great start in solving this problem.”

• Email: [email protected]





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Teen arrested, toddler injured after Hamilton standoff


A toddler suffered “traumatic injuries” at a home on Hamilton Mountain where a teenager had barricaded himself.

Hamilton Police say the 21-month-old girl was rushed to hospital after they were called to a home on Rymal Rd. E. around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Hamilton Paramedics Supervisor Dave Thompson told CHCH the child was taken to a Hamilton-area trauma centre. Her injuries are serious but non-life-threatening.

The standoff with the 16-year-old boy ended around 11:30 a.m. when cops said he was “safely secured.”

Investigators said the teenager was taken to hospital for examination.

Police did not release the nature of the girl’s injuries. The suspect’s relationship to the child also was not released.

Throughout much of the morning, the house was surrounded by police negotiators and a tactical team dealing with the barricaded suspect. He was reportedly armed with a knife.

Officers shut down the area around then scene and are asked residents and students of the nearby Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School to avoid the area.

Police said there was no threat to the general public and the school remained open during the standoff.



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Did the queen ‘scold’ Princess Anne for not greeting Trump? Many sure think so


LONDON – So much in a shrug, and a side-eyed glance.

Forget NATO. Brits were obsessing Wednesday on a viral snip of video that appeared – appeared, mind you – to show Queen Elizabeth II seeming to chastise her daughter, Princess Anne, at the moment the monarch was greeting President Donald Trump and the first lady at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night.

The queen was hosting Trump and other world leaders, who are in London for a NATO leaders summit, when an exchange between her and her daughter was caught on camera.

The tabloids went a little nuts.

The Mirror headline: “Princess Anne’s incredible reaction after ‘scolding’ from Queen for not greeting Trump.”

While the Sun went with, “HEIR-RAISING: Princess Anne shrugs as The Queen ‘scolds her during Trump greeting.’ ”

The Daily Express saw her majesty and daughter “having a silent argument” and the Mail Online said “Queen ‘directs’ Anne while welcoming Trump to Buckingham Palace.”

But what did the short video clip show?

It was all a bit of a Rorschach test, that allowed viewers to interpret as they like.

Some saw Anne loath to meet Trump – and that view was trending on British Twitter, as posters poured on the love for Anne for dissing the unpopular American president.

Others saw the Notorious Q at work – “side-eyeing” her only daughter Anne to get in line, like a naughty corgi.

In the video, shared widely on social media, the Trumps walk forward to approach the queen, who is standing next to her eldest son, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla. Trump exchanges a few words with the queen, who smiles back, and then he shakes Camilla’s hand; Melania then greets Charles and Camilla.

Bit of a snore, so far.

Handbag, check. Hat, check. Gloves, check. Protocol, check.

But then, the queen, 93, turns her head toward Anne, 69, who is nearby but not in the receiving line.

Mum shoots… a look.

Daughter flashes another look back at her mother and shrugs her shoulders.

She appears to say, “What?”

The footage quickly went viral.

David Lammy, a Labour Party politician and outspoken critic of the Trump family, tweeted the video and said, “Princess Anne’s shrug when it appears she is asked by the Queen to greet Donald Trump speaks for the nation.”

Many agreed with Lammy’s take. They thought they saw something political. One poster on Twitter wrote, “Anne is like ‘nahhh thanks!’ ”

Others called Lammy a “wally” (a silly or inept person) and said it showed nothing of the sort.

Richard Fitzwilliams, a royal commentator, told the Sun Online he was “fascinated” by the video clip.

He defended Anne and said she would not have been expected to be part of the reception line beside the queen or Charles and Camilla.

Meaning, there was nothing really to see here – nobody was dissing anyone.

The Mail Online found a body-language expert, Judi James, who told the tabloid, “the Queen appeared to ‘wave’ to her daughter, as if signalling she should come over and join the conversation, or continue the procession.

“In response, Princess Anne simply shrugged toward her mother. James speculated she might have been indicating that she could not move on until the Trumps had gone ahead.

“Anne’s open-armed shrug to her mother suggests she’s staying put, but more through helplessness than stubbornness, which could imply the Trumps needed to move along before she could take her place,” the body-language reader told the newspaper.

The royals were out in force on Tuesday night, doing their thing, sprinkling royal star dust on an event in as grand a setting as they come.

However, there was no sign of Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son, who announced he was stepping back from royal duties following his disastrous interview on the BBC about his links to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.

Nor were Prince Harry or his wife, Meghan, anywhere about – the couple had earlier announced they were taking a weeks-long break for family time.

But the queen is the star of the show, and nobody works a room like her. The queen has, with very few exceptions, steered clear of politics during her long reign and has won praise from political rivals.

After his state visit in June, Trump called the queen a “great, great woman.” When then-President Barack Obama was in Britain for the queen’s 90th birthday, he described her as “truly, one of my favourite people.”

During a recent televised debate, the leaders of Britain’s two main political parties were asked about the monarchy in the wake of the scandal with Andrew. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, said it needed “a bit of improvement.”

Choosing his words carefully, Johnson said “the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.”

Anne is known as the queen’s most down-to-earth child, she notably didn’t give her children royal titles

Anne is the queen and Prince Philip’s second child and only daughter. She is the first royal to have competed in the Olympics – taking part in equestrian events – and her daughter, Zara Tindall, won a silver medal in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As fans of “The Crown” television series will know, Anne is known as the queen’s most down-to-earth child – she notably didn’t give her children royal titles. She is often dubbed the “hardest-working royal” by the British press for taking part in more royal “engagements” than any other member of the royal family.

Anne was seen in another video clip from Tuesday that has also gone viral.

In a hot mic moment, a conversation was picked up between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron. The group appeared to be joking about Trump, who turned photo calls into impromptu news conferences earlier that day.

Trudeau can be heard saying, “he was late because he takes a 40-minute news conference off the top,” and later said, “you just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

Anne then chimes in, but it’s unclear exactly what she said.





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Mayor John Tory pitches substantial property tax increase to fund transit and housing projects


Mayor John Tory is making the most significant financial move of his mayoralty, pitching to substantially increase property taxes to help fund a massive backlog of transit repairs and affordable housing, the Star has learned.

In a speech Wednesday morning at a Canadian Club breakfast in downtown Toronto, Tory is expected to make the case for increasing an established special levy on all property taxes, called the city building fund, that would see that levy increased to a cumulative 10.5 per cent over nine years rather than the currently planned 2.5 per cent over five years.

The levy, which was approved by council in 2017 at Tory’s urging — what was then a departure for a mayor who has insisted on keeping property taxes low — is dedicated to funding affordable housing and transit capital infrastructure projects.

Council already approved a plan to increase the city building fund by 0.5 per cent every year until 2021, when it would max out at 2.5 per cent.

Tory now wants to introduce a motion at the upcoming council meeting later this month that, if approved, would see an additional 1 per cent increase in 2020, an additional 1 per cent increase in 2021 and an ongoing 1.5 per cent increase through 2025 for a cumulative 10.5% tax once the increases are fully implemented — adding 8 per cent over the original council-approved plan, a source with knowledge of the proposal who spoke under the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement confirmed to the Star.

A 1.5 per cent increase would cost the average homeowner an additional $43 a year, according to the source, or fewer than 12 cents per day.

That levy on home and business owners, under Tory’s plan, would give the city the ability to support $6.6 billion in recoverable debt, which the city could start borrowing now to put towards immediate transit and housing needs, the source said.

“What we are hearing from our professional city staff is that despite our continuing efforts to run an efficient and responsible government, we need to do more to make sure we are actually building up our city,” Tory is expected to say, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by the Star.

The speech outlines that an anticipated review of the city’s services by outside firm Ernst and Young, also to be released Wednesday, has found “millions” of dollars in efficiencies, but that even if those savings are realized it won’t help the city tackle its most pressing problems.

“We are saving millions a year but we still need billions to build for the future and to invest in maintaining what we have built so far,” Tory’s written speech says. “And I will not as Mayor carry on the old practice of just postponing these investments, sometimes indefinitely.”

The move comes amid a decade of austerity measures that have included tax freezes that were effectively cuts when inflation is considered and saw the city spend less and less per person as residents felt the squeeze of services in a booming Toronto — a situation perpetuated by former mayor Rob Ford’s government and then Tory’s even as successive city managers rung alarm bells about the city being on the edge of a financial cliff.

Though Tory has consistently promised to keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation, including as part of repeated criticism of mayoral challenger Jennifer Keesmaat during the 2018 campaign, with the city building fund considered, that promise has not been met. Homeowners, under this plan, would continue to see above-inflation increases.

Tory’s latest move also comes after he and a majority of councillors rejected a request by Coun. Mike Layton (Ward 11 University-Rosedale) this October to get a report during the 2020 budget process on how a one per cent increase to the city building fund would help accelerate TTC capital plans.

The new funds Tory proposes raising now, which requires council’s approval, could help make a dent but not cover the $24 billion in unfunded TTC state-of-good repair projects which are needed just to maintain current levels of service.

In his speech, Tory will say the funds would help invest in new subway cars, streetcars, signal systems and station upgrades as well as meeting his own campaign target of building 40,000 new affordable housing units over the next decade.

City staff, in a report released Tuesday, are recommending council ask the federal and provincial governments for financial help with the housing goal, saying their investment is needed to fund half the affordable units.

Tory plans to say the city cannot simply wait for other governments to step in and notes decisions like the former provincial government’s rejection of the city’s request for permission to toll the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway and Premier Doug Ford’s government move to cancel increases to cities’ shares of gas tax revenues that helped fund transit repair needs were “wrong.”

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“We are at a key point in the history of our city where we must invest in our infrastructure to move the city forward,” the speech says.

The speech will also say the savings identified in the Ernst and Young review — including in the city’s procurement processes — will be implemented as part of the 2020 budget process. That is also subject to council approval, but likely to pass with Tory’s advocacy.

Jennifer Pagliaro

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

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CNRL 2020 budget rises by $250M on oil curtailment ease; putting more rigs to work



Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. says its 2020 capital budget will be $250 million higher than last year as it adds about 60 drilling locations across Alberta and puts three additional rigs to work.

The company says the increased spending will create the equivalent of about 1,000 full-time jobs.

Canadian Natural says it made the decision after the Alberta government eliminated curtailments for some conventional drilling in the province, and because of reduced corporate income tax rates.

In November, Energy Minister Sonya Savage said the move to increase drilling activity is aimed at drawing investment back to the province and supporting struggling communities.

READ MORE: Alberta allows producers to drill new conventional oil wells without production limits



Production limits were enacted by the previous NDP government to better match supply levels with pipeline capacity and alleviate wider-than-usual local price discounts for Alberta oil blamed on high inventory levels.

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CNRL also says that it would look to put six more drill rigs to work if the government expanded the elimination of curtailment to include newly drilled conventional heavy oil wells.

The company’s overall 2020 budget is targeted to be $4.05 billion, including $1.55 billion for conventional and unconventional assets and $2.5 billion for what it calls long life low decline assets.

READ MORE: Canadian Natural Resources reports $1.03B third-quarter profit

The company says it expects to produce the equivalent of about 1.172 million barrels of oil a day.

READ MORE: CN Rail strike, Keystone pipeline spill lead Alberta to extend oil curtailment levels











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‘Deadly serious’: Ex neo-Nazi and Iron March user speaks out on de-radicalization


TORONTO —
A ‘data dump’ by an anonymous anti-fascist activist in November exposed the world to the inner workings of one of the most prolific neo-Nazi forums in recent history, the now-defunct Iron March website.

The site’s metadata, including IP addresses, usernames, emails, messages and posts were suddenly exposed to the scrutiny of the media, researchers and law enforcement.

Many former Iron March users that were identified from their data have since pulled their social media profiles and effectively “gone dark.”

One is refusing to remain silent.

An American ex-Iron March user and disavowed former fascist has gone semi-public with his plea for people to leave the hate movement.

The man, who CTVNews.ca has agreed to refer to as “S.G.” due to his fear of violent reprisals, took the Iron March data leak as an opportunity to reach out to the community he left behind and ask them to de-radicalize.

Using the Twitter handle “@ExIronMarch,” S.G. has been documenting his ascent out of extremist views and his process of integrating back into society.

CTVNews.ca was able to verify S.G.’s story of being an Iron March user by comparing the email address, username and archived posts from the leaked data files with his testimony to confirm his identity.

Descent into hate

“I was introduced to Iron March through an online friend,” S.G. told CTVNews.ca in a Skype interview Monday, adding that he was already flirting with hateful ideology through “irony poisoning.”

Irony poisoning is a term used to describe the process of desensitization to extremist, hateful rhetoric by the use of “humour,” and especially on the internet – memes – that assist in sliding a person further into the spheres of fascism, white supremacy and violence.

“I had a lot of friends, you know, who would make casual jokes of the sort that you might see [in irony poisoning]” S.G. said. “At first any social aversion you might have to this sort of ideology gradually goes away as you’re constantly bombarded by this content.”

S.G. said that as time went on he found that he was open to having friends who espoused hateful ideology “non-ironically,” and then sympathizing with them led to gradually believing in some of those ideas himself.

But S.G. wants to make it clear that by the time he was on the Iron March forum, the fascist views he sympathized with were no longer “ironic” or the subject of “edgy” comedy.

“Anyone who made it to the stage where they were signing up to Iron March…there was probably no chance they were ironic at that point,” he said. “What Iron March wanted to do, was it wanted to take these people who already espoused extreme ideologies…and it wanted to shape them into a more extreme, uncompromising variety.”

“Iron March definitely did make people more extreme than they were before they joined the forum,” he said.

The key to making Iron March users increasingly radicalized was “social pressure,” S.G. said, adding that users would receive social validation for being “the most extreme person in the room.”

Figures like Anders Breivik – the mass murderer from Norway – would be “lionized” on the site, but the Iron March users would not necessarily be “inclined to commit such acts themselves.”

But the major turning point, S.G. said, was the introduction of a “how-to” manual – that CTVNews.ca has declined to name due to the extremist content- to the forum between 2014 and 2015.

“That text became the blueprint for the ideology,” S.G. said. “That’s when you started seeing groups like Atomwaffen pop up…these groups had a terrorist ideology…there’s no two ways about it, it’s just flat out a terrorist ideology.”

S.G. said in the years after the introduction of that publication to Iron March, the militant hate groups who were active on its pages were “consolidated,” which intensified the social pressure on users to commit violent acts.

It would be acts of violence linked to Iron March that would serve as the catalyst for S.G. to leave the website, the fascism movement and to seek de-radicalization.

Wake-up call

Violent global events, and the reaction to them on Iron March, shook S.G. out of his extremist mindset.

CTVNews.ca agreed not to specify which acts of violence S.G. referred to as they may identify him.

“I obviously had come to embrace this…extreme ideology, but it was still at odds with me to the extent that I…did not want anyone to get hurt regardless of who they were,” he said.

After the Iron March users treated the outside acts of violence with disdain online, S.G. felt that it was time for him to leave the movement.

“I had become so desensitized…so detached…it was my personal wake-up call,” he said.

But leaving is easier said than done.

S.G. said when he left Iron March and the extremist movement he had almost “no support” except for a few personal friends, and did not seek professional help, something he said he probably “should have” done.

S.G. cautioned that leaving the site “didn’t mean the ideology went away…that was a gradual process,” explaining that it has taken years to get to the point he is now.

In his own personal journey of de-radicalization, S.G. told CTVNews.ca that the “single most important element of deprogramming” from hateful rhetoric was to “extricate” himself from the movement by cutting contact with anyone associated with it.

“These extremist ideologies, they thrive off of that social affirmation, they thrive off of that reinforcement from your peers,” he said, adding that once the peer reinforcement is removed, the whole movement becomes “shaky.”

Kindness and empathy from friends on the outside helped S.G. re-integrate into society he said, and gave him the ability to scrutinize his own descent into the fascism movement.

A key element was even though he didn’t think of himself as a bigot, S.G. said he “held bigoted beliefs that [he] never personally confronted,” adding that he was a “fairly isolated” person that allowed for a “much more negative social circle” to appeal to him than would be his norm.

But S.G. is aware that while those are contributing factors to his journey into extremism, they are not an excuse.

“I still feel something of a responsibility for all this, even though I never became part of any of the activist groups or anything I still feel a deep responsibility for ever having been a part of it,” he said. “Even though I have been out for a few years, it’s been a horrifying few years for me to watch from the outside, knowing that I had ever espoused ideas like that.”

S.G. was adamant that although he was grateful for the opportunity to share his journey and potentially help other neo-Nazi extremists to seek de-radicalization by speaking to the media, he credits the ANTIFA movement for doing the majority of the work necessary to break down barriers.

“As someone who was, you know, on the other side, I can say the work that they [ANTIFA] are doing is indispensable,” he said. “The anti-fascists have probably done more than any authorities to disrupt and combat the rise of fascism.”

“There is no ‘both sides’ when It comes to the anti-fascists,” S.G. said. “They are right.”

A dire warning, a message of hope

Now that he has been out of the fascism movement for several years and is using the opportunity presented by the data leak to try to reach out to other Iron March users, S.G. has a message to the public – “the rising tide of fascism is very real.”

“It’s something to be taken very deeply, deadly seriously,” he said, adding that things have gotten exponentially worse in regards to violent acts committed in the name of fascism since his years on the site.

“Anyone with children needs to be aware…if their kids are online, they are probably being bombarded by racist, anti-Semitic content.”

S.G. said that if parents notice their children “regurgitating” hateful content that is a giveaway that they have “bad friends” that they need to be aware of.

But there is hope.

“I want people who are in, who might listen to this [and] who are still within the movement or maybe having second thoughts, to know that…they can get out, it is more than possible,” he said.

A major part of that, S.G. said, is going out and meeting members of the community they have been taught to hate – whether it be visible minorities or the LGBTQ community.

Exposure is “probably the best antidote there is” to fascism, S.G. said, as he believes that extremist ideologies thrive off social affirmation that causes them to become “disconnected from reality.”

By bringing people “back into reality” and giving them experiences that are going to directly contradict the sort of things they are consuming on sites like Iron March, is what S.G. thinks is the best way to help them , adding that de-radicalization is a gradual process and won’t be like “flipping a switch.”

“You will be ashamed of your ideas if you give the people you have been taught to hate a real chance,” he said.

——-

Edited by Phil Hahn





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Iran’s bloody crackdown could mark a historic turning point



But activists, international organizations and local journalists have pieced together a startling portrait of what took place: an unprecedented wave of state-sanctioned violence against unarmed protesters that may have led to as many as 450 deaths in the first four days after protests flared on Nov. 15. Based on its collation of reports and video footage — thousands of clips recorded on mobile phones have still made their way out of the country — Amnesty International estimated the death toll to be at least 208 people, with “the real figure likely to be higher.”

Though Tehran was affected by disturbances, the most dramatic scenes came from poorer towns and working-class suburbs elsewhere in the country. A piece by New York Times reporters Farnaz Fassihi and Rick Gladstone looked at a grisly massacre in the southwest city of Mahshahr, where members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard allegedly gunned down some 40 to 100 unarmed protesters who had fled to a marsh.

The Times quoted an unemployed 24-year-old college graduate who participated in protests blocking roads in the city and who said his best friend and older cousin were among those killed. “He said they both had been shot in the chest and their bodies were returned to the families five days later, only after they had signed paperwork promising not to hold funerals or memorial services and not to give interviews to media,” reported the Times.

The events of the past month revealed a deep well of discontent among ordinary Iranians. Officials in the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have hailed the uprising as the result of the administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy, which has choked off the oil revenue the regime desperately needs to help subsidize sectors of the country’s flagging economy. But ordinary Iranians have been bitterly affected by the bite of U.S. sanctions, too, which have raised the price of food and threatened access to key medicines.

Hard-liners at odds with President Hassan Rouhani’s administration sought to piggy back off the discontent and distance themselves from the government’s decision to cut subsidies, but they were also caught off guard by the scale of the protest movement. The protesters’ anger over the economy dovetailed with long-standing frustrations over mismanagement and the corruption of political elites and in some places prompted calls for the exit of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The stunning death toll from just a few days of unrest makes clear that Khamenei and his allies are worried. A decade ago, 72 people were killed in months of protests after an election widely seen as fraudulent. This time, with hundreds dead in the span of a few days, something more seismic seemed to be at work.

“The recent protests are different than the protests of 2009, when people took to the streets after Reformist presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi declared that the ballots were rigged. Those protests had leaders and political goals,” explained Rohollah Faghihi in Al-Monitor. “The 2019 events have no leader or specific goal. … [They] are an expression of deep-rooted anger and pain.”

Mousavi, who remains under house arrest, issued a warning to the regime over the weekend, likening the crackdown last month to a massacre in 1978 that preceded the downfall of Iran’s shah and the rise of the Islamic Republic. “The killers of the year 1978 were the representatives of a nonreligious regime and the agents and shooters of November 2019 are the representatives of a religious government,” read an online post attributed to Mousavi. “Then the commander in chief was the shah and today, here, the supreme leader with absolute authority.”

Other analysts suggest a more apt analogue may lie slightly further back in history. Vali Nasr, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, pointed to large-scale protests that broke out in 1963 in reaction to the shah’s reform plans. Thousands may have been slaughtered by security forces, including an infamous crackdown in Tehran on June 5 of that year.

“The gang leaders responsible for the Tehran uprising were tried and hanged, and all physical signs of destruction in Tehran were quickly removed,” Yale historian Abbas Amanat wrote in his 2017 tome on Iran’s modern history. “Yet the psychological wounds inflicted by the revolt remained unhealed.”

Nasr told Today’s WorldView that the moment “marked a turning point” for Iran, which “radicalized the opposition and united it against the monarchy” and set Iran on its way to the 1979 revolution. “The lesson of 1963 is that we cannot always expect this sort of bloodletting to lead to a bigger conflagration immediately, but it could ultimately manifest itself in politics down the road,” he said.





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Bloody Sunday: 25 witnesses to be called in case of Soldier F | UK news


Twenty-five witnesses are to be called in the prosecution of a former serviceman accused of two murders on Bloody Sunday.

The case of Soldier F, who also faces five attempted murder charges in relation to the shootings in Derry on 30 January 1972, was heard before a district judge in Derry magistrates court.

The veteran was not present for the short hearing on Wednesday.

The ex-paratrooper’s barrister, Mark Mulholland QC, is to challenge any decision to send his client for trial.

He confirmed that 25 witnesses were being lined up as part of the prosecution but said some of those may not necessarily be called.

After the case Ciarán Shiels, solicitor for the McKinney family and four wounded victims, said: “We have indicated to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that we intend to challenge the anonymity order that has been granted to the soldier.

“The position of the families is that there is a significant departure from the principles of open justice, that this defendant is being treated more favourably than other people charged with homicide and indeed murder.”

The case was adjourned until 17 January.



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