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Controversial billboard tribute to JK Rowling in East Van taken down


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The famous British author was criticized this summer for a series of tweets based on her own experience of domestic abuse that were cited as discriminating against trans women.

The tweets opened the flood gates to comments from members of the LGBTQ community and gender activists, as well as from actors  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, all of whom starred in the movies based on the author’s Harry Potter novel series.

Rowling tweeted about an opinion piece with the headline: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate. Rowling said: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

In later tweets, Rowling said: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth. The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is nonsense.”


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What Normalizing Relations Could Mean for the Middle East


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Air Canada reroutes flights over Middle East following Iran crash that killed 63 Canadians


TORONTO —
Air Canada has rerouted its flights over the Middle East after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed in Iran killing all on board.

Iranian officials told The Canadian Press they suspected a mechanical issue brought down the 3 1/2-year-old Boeing 737-800 jet, which crashed shortly after takeoff at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran.

Sixty-three Canadians were among those killed in the crash.

Transport Canada tweeted that Air Canada is the only Canadian carrier operating in the region.

“Air Canada.. has altered its routes to ensure the security of its flights into and over the Middle East,” the department tweeted January 8.

The Canadian airline has already rerouted a flight from Toronto to Dubai through Egypt and Saudi Arabia to avoid travelling over Iraq.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was barring American pilots and carriers from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.

The flight restrictions reflected fears that the conflict between the U.S. and Iran could ratchet up, following Iranian ballistic missile strikes Tuesday on two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops.

Those strikes were retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad last week.

At least 500 commercial flights travel through Iranian and Iraqi airspace daily, Dubai-based aviation consult Mark Martin told The Canadian Press.

A raft of European airlines have also changed routes to bypass Iranian airspace.

The Russian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, issued an official recommendation for all Russian airlines to avoid flying over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman “due to existing risks for the safety of international civil flights.”

Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth, Australia, route to avoid Iranian and Iraqi airspace until further notice.

Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines flights are also rerouted to avoid Iran.

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation advised Indian commercial carriers to avoid Iranian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf airspace.





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Students east of Edmonton take on project to build beds for children in need – Edmonton


A number of schools east of Edmonton have partnered with a local charity to help ensure children in the area who don’t have a proper bed will get one.

On Wednesday, Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) issued a news release about the initiative, which sees Bev Facey Community High School, F.R. Haythorne Junior High School and Strathcona Christian Academy Secondary work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a charity that operates in Strathcona County.

EIPS said students at the schools had learned from the charity about sleeping conditions some families in the area are enduring and “agreed to turn their construction labs into bed-producing workshops to help the charity meet demand.”

“Each school pledged to build 60 beds, and under the guidance of their construction teachers, students of all grade levels got to cutting, routing and sanding bedframes and bundling the finished pieces for delivery,” Laura McNabb, director of communication services for EIPS, said in a news release.



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According to the school division, many students took part in assembling the beds themselves.

“Building these beds with my class made me realize how fortunate I am,” said Sarah Weidmann, a Grade 12 construction student at Bev Facey. “I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have a bed with pillows and blankets to sleep on.

“These families who are having trouble meeting their basic needs are out there and we don’t even realize it. By building these beds, I know we’re helping to make a difference for these kids.”

Students at F.R. Haythorne also planned a school dance and a “game-a-thon” to raise money to buy bedding for the initiative. EIPS said that fundraising campaign raised nearly $2,250 and was able to purchase 44 sets of bedding.

“The initiative students have shown in organizing this fundraiser is inspiring,” said Erin Clark, an assistant principal at F.R. Haythorne. “They were responsible for all of it, from the initial planning, to the organizing and running of the events.

“We’re so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish.”


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According to EIPS, some beds were already delivered to families but more are still to come.

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What Are Protests in the Middle East Signaling?


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