Canada/U.S. Border stops for people of Iranian descent spark outrage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)

 

Border stops for people of Iranian descent spark outrage

The reaction to the detentions at a Canadian crossing and a New York airport came after the U.S. killing of an Iranian military commander.

CBP agents

Reports of Iranians and Iranian-Americans being detained for questioning upon entering the U.S. kicked off a furor on Sunday from Washington state to Washington, D.C., marking a new domestic blow back to the Trump administration’s targeted killing of a key Iranian leader.

The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a prominent Muslim civil liberties group, said on Sunday that more than 60 people of Iranian descent, including American citizens, were held for hours long periods of questioning over the weekend at the Peace Arch checkpoint in Blaine, Wash., along the border with Canada. CAIR noted that many Iranian-Americans would continue to approach the port of entry over the weekend as some return to the U.S. after attending an Iranian pop concert Saturday in Vancouver.

The initial reports and the backlash they triggered — with references to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II — highlighted the potential risks inside the U.S. even before the fierce retaliation promised by the Iranian government for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces, by a U.S. military drone on Thursday.

CAIR said in its statement that a source at U.S. Customs and Border Protection had reported that the agency received a national directive from the Department of Homeland Security to “‘report’ and detain anyone with Iranian heritage entering the country who is deemed potentially suspicious or ‘adversarial,’ regardless of citizenship status.”

“We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance,” Masih Fouladi, executive director of CAIR’s Washington chapter, said in a statement.

Len Saunders, an immigration attorney in Blaine, said his contacts through CBP indicated that headquarters in Washington had ordered new vetting procedures, which appear to be directed toward people born in Iran, that require port directors to sign off on admitting anyone held for questioning.

A CBP spokesperson denied that DHS or the agency had issued any such directive.

“Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” the spokesperson said.

The agency says it often adjusts operations and staffing to balance security needs with lawful travel and trade. Processing times at the Blaine port of entry reached an average of two hours Saturday evening, though CBP said some travelers waited up to four hours to cross.

Sam Sadr, who lives in North Vancouver, said he was held for nearly nine hours at the Peace Arch border crossing on Saturday after the birthplace printed on his Canadian passport caught the attention of the U.S. customs officer.

Sadr, who was born in Tehran, told POLITICO he was on his way to Seattle for the day with his family. The officer, he said, asked him to pull over and go into the border office to provide more information.

Sadr recalled arriving at the border at 11:07 a.m. Pacific time. He and his family were finally allowed to enter the U.S. around 7:45 p.m.

In between those times, the officers took their passports and asked lots of questions, he said. After a couple of hours, the officers asked the same questions again.

They wanted to know where they were coming from, where they went to school, whether they had military backgrounds and whether they had firearms licences, Sadr said.

“Why me? Why my parents? Why my sisters, brothers? I don’t know,” said Sadr, a professional photographer who received his Canadian citizenship two years ago.

“We are innocent. … This completely discriminates.”

While he was waiting, he said, he saw many other people of Iranian descent also held up at the border crossing. He said some people, including officers, appeared to be frustrated with the situation.

Sadr, who left Iran more than 12 years ago, said he and his family stayed in the U.S. for only about an hour since it was so late and the stores had closed.

Asked for comment on Sadr’s story and to explain the discrepancy between the “four hours” figure in CBP’s statement and Sadr’s nearly nine hour ordeal, a CBP spokesperson said the agency stood by their earlier statement.

Attorneys monitoring the situation at the border in Washington state said they had not seen any evidence that American citizens with Iranian ties were denied entry to the U.S. Those being held for questioning are now being processed more quickly — within 30 to 60 minutes, rather than upwards of 10 hours as some experienced on Saturday, said Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Seattle office.

“It doesn’t make any sense, because these are individuals who are U.S. citizens and don’t have any individualized suspicion associated with them, other than the fact that they’re Iranian or of Iranian heritage,” he said. “What’s clear is that they are being targeted for the secondary inspection because of their Iranian background, and there must be some kind of directive” to CBP officers to pull them over, he added.

Attorneys in Washington state said CBP officers’ questions focused on travelers’ family members and where they went to school or worked, as well as whether they or a relative had any ties to the Iranian military.

The questioning of Iranians and Iranian-Americans wasn’t unique to Washington state.

John Ghazvinian, an Iranian-American historian and U.S. citizen, said he was subject to additional questioning on Sunday when he flew back on Air France from a trip to Egypt.

“Well, just landed at JFK and — no surprise — got taken to the special side room and got asked (among other things) how I feel about the situation with Iran,” he wrote in a tweet that went viral. “I wanted to be like: my book comes out in September, preorder now on amazon.”

In an interview, he said that the first CBP officer flipped through his passport and asked him, “When was the last time you were in Libya?”, to which he replied, “I’ve never been to Libya.” The officer quickly corrected himself to say “Iran,” to which Ghazvinian told him that he had last been there in 2009. He then was asked more questions in a private secondary screening, he said, the first time he’s ever been held up when returning to the U.S.

Asked whether he felt he was pulled aside because he was Iranian-American, he said he didn’t “want to speculate on another person’s private thoughts or motivations, but [the officer’s] first question was about the last time I had been to Iran.”

Ghazvinian, the interim director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the officers told him they had flagged him for extra scrutiny because it looked as though he had bought a one-way ticket to the U.S., when in fact he hadn’t. The female CBP officer, whom he described as “very friendly,” also asked him in the secondary screening whether he had family members in Iran and what they thought of what is going on. He told them he hadn’t talked to them about the situation.

Then she asked him what he thought of the tensions between the U.S. and Iran, to which he responded by saying he didn’t think the question was relevant. “She said, ‘We are just curious about what people think about these things,’ and I said, ‘It feels a little political,’ and then she dropped it,” he recalled.

The events, which he called “inherently a stressful experience” and “nerve-wracking,” involved a five- to 10-minute wait and around three minutes of questioning, he said.

Soon after he cleared immigration and customs, he sent out the tweet and said he was “surprised by the attention it got. … It was not my intention to paint myself as some type of victim here. I don’t feel that way.”

“To be honest, I thought it was just funny and so I just sent out what I thought was a lighthearted tweet,” he said.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said the accounts made public thus far were “very disturbing” and were stoking fear among a population already sensitive to border issues, given the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on Iranian nationals.

“The government has a legitimate interest in verifying identity, citizenship or legal status at the border, but it has no business infringing on the constitutional rights of citizens and legal permanent residents by detaining and invasively questioning them about their associations, religious or political beliefs or practices,” Shamsi said.

Reps. Adam Smith and Pramila Jayapal, both Seattle-area Democrats, tweeted Sunday that they were trying to gather more information on the detentions at the border with British Columbia.

“Let me be clear: Instituting xenophobic, shameful and unconstitutional policies that discriminate against innocent people, trample over basic civil rights, and put fear in the hearts of millions do not make us safer,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat whose district includes Blaine, said she was also investigating the reports.

Parmida Esmaeilpour, a director with the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians in Vancouver, said concerns related to crossing the U.S. border had been building in her community for several days.

“It’s my understanding that [authorities] said that they would be detaining or questioning people who may have some sort of suspicious ties to the [Iranian] government,” said Esmaeilpour, whose association works to encourage Iranian-Canadians to engage more in Canada’s political process. “But in practice we’re seeing that it’s actually being applied much more indiscriminately to anyone of Iranian background who’s trying to cross the border.”

A Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson directed inquiries to DHS.

One former DHS official said he was worried that in the future, as part of a tit-for-tat with Iran, CBP could tighten its screening of potential visitors to the U.S. even more “to take a harder look and a longer view of somebody‘s travel history,” which would lead CBP port-of-entry directors and officers to “err on the side of caution absent any formal guidance.“

Saunders, the immigration lawyer, said two of his clients, both Persian-Canadians and one of whom is an American citizen, encountered hours of questioning at two different ports of entry in Washington state on Saturday.

“Why were 50 to 100 Persians sitting inside the Peace Arch port of entry yesterday for hours upon hours?” he said Sunday. “They were being singled out. I saw it myself.”

Andy Blatchford reported from Ottawa. Nahal Toosi and Connor O’Brien contributed reporting from Washington.

Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

KEY POINTS
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a news conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.
  • The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
  • Hours before it was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic apparently mocking Trump.
GP: Donald Trump NATO Summit 191204 BRITAIN-NATO-SUMMIT
US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) pose for the family photo at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019.
Peter Nicholls | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a press conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.

“When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!” Trump said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Great progress has been made by NATO over the last three years. Countries other than the U.S. have agreed to pay 130 Billion Dollars more per year, and by 2024, that number will be 400 Billion Dollars. NATO will be richer and stronger than ever before….

14.5K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….Just finished meetings with Turkey and Germany. Heading to a meeting now with those countries that have met their 2% GOALS, followed by meetings with Denmark and Italy….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington. We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!

14.2K people are talking about this

The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Hours before the news conference was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic mocking Trump.

Watch Trudeau, Macron and Johnson appear to gossip about Trump on hot mic

Trump offered a blunt retort when asked Wednesday about Trudeau’s comments.

“He’s two-faced,” Trump said, before adding, “I find him to be a very nice guy but the truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it.” Trump has long griped about NATO members paying less than their “fair share” toward the alliance, and brought up the issue repeatedly over the two-day anniversary meeting this week.

In an audio clip later published by reporters covering the NATO event, Trump appeared to compliment himself for his harsh words toward Trudeau. “That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced,” Trump is heard saying.

Trudeau, speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said that Trump “was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau said at another point in the video, raising his eyebrows and motioning with his hand for effect.

None of the politicians in the hot mic video, which emerged on social media Tuesday evening, mentioned Trump by name. But Trudeau reportedly said Wednesday that it was Trump’s surprise announcement of the location for next year’s Group of Seven summit that made “his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

Trump revealed Tuesday that the 2020 G-7 summit will be held at Camp David in Maryland, weeks after he retreated from a plan to host it at his own Miami golf resort.

Later Wednesday, while sitting alongside Conte, Trump explained that “There’s no reason to have press conferences because you had about eight of them,” apparently referring to his lengthy prior remarks to reporters.

The hot mic gossip was the latest point of tension at the meeting, but it was far from the only dispute between leaders on display.

Macron defended his recent claim that NATO was suffering from “brain death” from critics including Trump, who had called that comment “very nasty.”

The French leader also called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his threat to oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if it does not recognize groups Turkey deems as terrorists. The White House announced Wednesday morning that Trump had met with Erdogan during the NATO event.

Trump calls Canada’s Prime Minister ‘Two Faced’ at NATO meeting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

London (CNN)After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.
Trudeau indicated that he wasn’t concerned about his comments impacting the US-Canadian relationship, but Trump reacted angrily earlier Wednesday calling Trudeau “two-faced,” before adding, “honestly with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy.”
Trump also canceled his own press conference scheduled for the end of his trip to the NATO summit. The President was caught on a hot mic of his own after the cancellation, saying, “Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”
The 25-second clip was first reported by CBC, begins with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.
“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asked.
Macron nodded, as Trudeau replied, “He was late because he takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top.”
At no time in the video do the leaders mention Trump by name.
None of them seemed to be aware that the conversation was being recorded, although they were talking openly and loudly enough to be heard by others.
“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau also appears to say at one point. Trudeau said during his press conference that the comment was made in reference to Trump’s announcement during their bilateral meeting that the upcoming G7 summit will be hosted at Camp David.
“Every different leader has teams who now and then (had) jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video for itself, for example,” Trudeau said.
Johnson at a press conference said it was “nonsense” to suggest the video indicated he didn’t take Trump seriously.
“I don’t know where that’s come from,” he added.
Microphones could only pick up snippets of the conversation at the reception, which the press was given limited access to.
Trump also criticized Trudeau over the fact Canada does not currently meet NATO’s 2% defense spending target.
“The truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said, adding that “he should be paying 2%” and that Canada “has money.”
“I can imagine he’s not that happy, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said.
A spokeswoman for Macron at the Elysée Palace told CNN they had “no comment. This video does not say anything special.” A spokesperson for Rutte also told CNN they do not comment on closed-door sessions.

Clash with Macron

Trump spent Tuesday in meetings in London headlined by a clash with a key ally, France. He met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau, making extended remarks and taking questions from the press on each occasion.
Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Macron was remarkably tense as the French President refused to back down from remarks that Trump called “nasty” and “insulting.” Last month, Macron had described NATO as suffering from “brain death” caused by American indifference to the long-time alliance.
But the two leaders appeared to be on good terms as they walked onto the road leading to 10 Downing Street together for another reception following the gathering at the palace. It appeared that Trump had given Macron a lift in his motorcade vehicle commonly referred to as “the beast.”

Iran says Canada’s sale of properties ‘unlawful’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Iran says Canada’s sale of properties ‘unlawful’

Xinhua

Iranian Foreign Ministry has said that the recent sale of Iran’s properties in Canada by the Canadian government is “unlawful,” Iran’s state TV reported on Saturday.

Based on a Canadian ruling back in 2016 and later an endorsement by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, seized Iranian government properties worth of tens of millions of dollars have been sold in Canada and the proceeds have been handed to “victims of terrorist groups (allegedly) sponsored by Iran.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Friday dismissed the Canadian move, saying that it is “a clear breach of the international law.”

Mousavi urged the Canadian government to “immediately” return the properties and revoke the decision.

“If Ottawa fails to immediately revoke the unlawful decision and does not compensate the damage, Tehran will take action to restore its rights based on international regulations,” he was quoted as saying.

“The government of Canada will be held responsible for all the consequences,” he added.

8 of the Largest Man-Made Lakes in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

8 of the Largest Man-Made Lakes in the World

Humans (and beavers) have been manipulating water flow for millennia, but it wasn’t until recently that we developed the materials we’d need to create enormous bodies of water. Once we did, we created some of the largest lakes and inland seas the Earth’s ever held. Here are eight of the largest man-made lakes in the world.

Williston Lake | British Columbia, Canada

Credit: WildLivingArts/iStock

70 Billion Cubic Meters

Williston Lake was formed in 1968 with the completion of W.A.C. Bennet Dam, blocking the Peace River and creating the largest body of freshwater in British Columbia. Besides being a huge source of electricity, the lake’s nice to look at. It’s bordered by the Cassiar Mountains to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east, both being striking natural features. In fact, Williston Lake comes close to a fjord in some respects.

Krasnoyarsk Reservoir | Divnogorsk, Russia

Credit: Evgeny Vorobyev/Shutterstock

73.3 Billion Cubic Meters

Besides its massive size (a size that’s earned it the informal name of the Krasnoyarsk Sea), the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir’s claim to fame is being the world’s largest power plant from 1971 to 1983. In 1983, it was unseated by the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. The reservoir and the dam also appear on the 10 ruble bill, meaning most Russians have at least seen the thing in a picture, if not in person. A final note on the dam is the fact that a substantial section of the river below it doesn’t freeze over, even though it’s in frigid Siberia. This is because the water’s moving much too fast coming out of the dam and for miles downstream.

Manicouagan Reservoir | Quebec, Canada

Credit: Elena11/Shutterstock

138 Billion Cubic Meters

The Manicouagan Reservoir is a perfect intersection of human engineering and natural phenomena. Human engineering produced the reservoir when the Daniel-Johnson Dam was built in the 1960s. The natural aspect concerns the reservoir’s unique ring shape. The shape was created by an asteroid impact roughly 214 million years ago. That means Manicouagan Reservoir is actually a flooded crater, similar to Crater Lake (except Crater Lake is far younger and a volcano). There’s a theory that the Manicouagan crater is actually part of a multiple impact event spanning modern day North America and Europe.

Guri Reservoir | Bolivar, Venezuela

Credit: CarmeloGil/iStock

138 Billion Cubic Meters

It doesn’t look like the publicity around the Guri Reservoir is entirely good. For one, apparently the Guri Dam generates more carbon emissions than the fossil fuel alternative, which is about as hard to do as you’d think. There have also been some substantial blackouts in the 21st century, and the reservoir has a tendency to fall below optimum levels for electrical production. Still, it’s a big lake, right?

Lake Volta | Ajena, Ghana

Credit: Robert_Ford/iStock

153 Billion Cubic Meters

Just like all the other lakes on this list, Lake Volta wouldn’t be around without a dam to fill it up. In this case, it’s Akosombo Dam, built between 1961 and 1965. Interesting to note about Lake Volta, before the dam was built, the Black Volta and White Volta rivers used to meet, but once the lake started filling in, that confluence was wiped away. It’s a navigable lake, which was probably part of the point of building the dam. With it, the trip from the savanna to the coast and vice versa got a lot easier.

Bratsk Reservoir | Bratsk, Russia

Credit: fibPhoto/Shutterstock

169 Billion Cubic Meters

As much as we hate to play into stereotypes, it seems like Russians really know how to handle the cold. The Bratsk Dam was built through Siberian winters, far away from the things needed to build it, including supplies, laborers and construction support. But they did it anyway and ended up with the Bratsk Reservoir to show for it. The reservoir is on the Angara River and just to show it’s not a one-off, there are four other power-producing facilities on the same river, with stations in Irkutsk, Ust-Ilim and Boguchany.

Lake Nasser | Egypt and Sudan

Credit: Shootdiem/Shutterstock

169 Billion Cubic Meters

The construction of the Aswan High Dam, and by extension the formation of Lake Nasser, came with some uniquely Egyptian challenges. Namely, the fact that a large number of historical sites would be submerged by the filling lake, with the tombs and temples of Philae and Abu Simbel at the greatest risk. Luckily, the Egyptian government didn’t plow ahead the way other countries have been known to. The Egyptians worked with UNESCO to move the sites to higher ground.

Lake Kariba | Zambia and Zimbabwe

Credit: Lynn Yeh/Shutterstock

180 Billion Cubic Meters

The impressive Lake Kariba is an excellent example of lake creation done right. The dam produces plenty of electricity for the surrounding area, and its existence has given rise to a thriving tourism industry and also increased biodiversity. There was a short five-year period when the rate of earthquakes increased, but that hasn’t stuck around. What has is the tiger fish, tilapia, catfish and vundu, all supporting a strong fishing industry. And the water. A truly awesome amount of water has stuck around. It’s closer to an inland sea than anything else.

Ten arrested in connection with Montreal’s eighth homicide of the year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MONTREAL GAZETTE) 

 

Ten arrested in connection with Montreal’s eighth homicide of the year

One minor was among the 10 arrests in connection with a street fight in the Villeray district in July.

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Montreal police arrested 10 people — including one minor — on Thursday in connection with the city’s eighth homicide of the year.

According to the SPVM, the suspects reside in Montreal, Terrebonne and Boisbriand. Police apprehended the suspects after conducting searches related to the investigation on July 25 and Aug. 15.

The suspects will be questioned by investigators in the coming days.

On the morning of July 21, a man died from a head injury inflicted by a sharp object during a street fight in the Villeray district, becoming Montreal’s eighth homicide of the year.

The previous night, police drove to Louis-Hémon St. after a call was placed to 911 at 9:10 p.m.

They found two men: the 49-year-old victim and a 24-year-old man whose injuries were not life-threatening. Both were taken to a hospital.

The attackers had fled the scene by the time police arrived.

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Quebec Superior Court overturns province’s ban on homegrown cannabis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MONTREAL GAZETTE)

 

Quebec Superior Court overturns province’s ban on homegrown cannabis

Ruling means that Quebecers are now free to cultivate up to four cannabis plants at home without facing legal repercussions.

“As a Quebec citizen, I subscribe to the idea that it’s better to control cannabis by allowing it to be grown at home,” said Julien Fortier, the lawyer who led the challenge. ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

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Quebec Superior Court Judge Manon Lavoie overturned the province’s ban on homegrown cannabis on Tuesday, meaning that Quebecers are now free to cultivate cannabis at home without facing legal repercussions.

In June 2018, the provincial government passed Quebec’s cannabis law, which included provisions banning the cultivation of cannabis at home.

However, Lavoie ruled that these provisions are unconstitutional as they infringe upon the jurisdiction of the federal government, which has sole responsibility for legislating on criminal matters.

As a result, homegrown cannabis in Quebec is now regulated by Canadian law, which allows citizens to grow up to four cannabis plants.

“As a Quebec citizen, I subscribe to the idea that it’s better to control cannabis by allowing it to be grown at home,” said Julien Fortier, the lawyer who led the challenge.

Fortier took on the case after being approached by Janick Murray Hall, who wanted to bring the action to court on behalf of all those in Quebec who have been prosecuted for being in possession of cannabis plants.

According to the lawyer, Lavoie’s ruling fits with why the government opted to legalize cannabis in the first place.

“The entire idea behind the legalization of cannabis was that the government wanted to remove the production of this plant from organized crime,” Fortier said. “If you allow people to cultivate this plant themselves, that purpose would be achieved.”

Still, Fortier is urging Quebec home growers to avoid celebrating prematurely, as the provincial government has 30 days to file a petition to the Court of Appeal. In fact, he warns there is a “very strong chance” the government will seek an appeal.

“I don’t think the Quebec government will do nothing and let it slide,” he said. “Regardless, we’re looking forward to the fight.”

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3 Countries in North America No One Remembers – But Should

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Countries in North America No One Remembers – But Should

When you think of North America, you probably focus on the three nations that currently occupy the continent — Canada, the United States, and Mexico — from top to bottom. And for the most part, these are the only official countries that have claimed a part of this landmass since explorers began venturing across the pond. But the reality is, many people called this continent home long before the first European scientist realized that the Earth was round and one’s ship wouldn’t fall off the side at the end of the ocean. Here are three former countries, or rather lands, that predate the current North American nations.

Cherokee Nation

A beautiful mountain valley
Credit: anthony heflin / Shutterstock.com

To be clear, while we’re highlighting countries that no longer exist, there’s a bit of ambiguity around the Cherokee Nation. The original Cherokee Nation that we’re discussing in this article references an autonomous tribal government that lived in what is now the American South before being moved to Northern Oklahoma and existed between 1794 and 1907. In addition to being composed of Cherokee Native Americans, the nation also included Cherokee freedmen (former slaves), people of the Qualla Boundary, and other Native Americans who relocated either voluntarily or were forced to because of the Trail of Tears.

After relocating to Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation relied on cattle ranching to maintain its economy and autonomy from the U.S. government. But federal interference and refusal to lease land to Cherokee cattlemen had a negative effect. This was part of an effort to undermine tribal infrastructure and dissolve the Cherokee claim to the land so that it would be ceded back to Oklahoma during their quest for statehood. Eventually, the original Cherokee Nation government was dissolved in 1906. However, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a new tribal government for the modern Cherokee Nation, which still exists today, was ratified in 1938 after the passing of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Vinland

A lighthouse on a cliffside overlooking a sunset over the ocean
Credit: Scott Heaney / Shutterstock.com

Long before the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish empires laid claim to North America, the Vikings were braving the elements to explore beyond their original homelands in Scandinavia. While not a formal country, Vinland deserves recognition because it was a settlement spearheaded by the famous Viking Leif Erikson some time around 1000 CE. To be clear, even today archeologists and historians aren’t sure where exactly Vinland existed. Experts theorize that the settlement could have been located somewhere in Eastern Canada, including Newfoundland and areas flanking the St. Lawrence Seaway.

There are conflicting theories about exact locations, and a lot of that is because of the name Vinland. In Old Norse, it translates to “Wineland.” But in the case of Newfoundland, there aren’t — nor have there ever been — any grapes growing in that region. However, there’s better evidence to suggest that areas around the St. Lawrence Seaway such as Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick are more likely options because they have thriving grape crops. Still, Vinland was a short-lived Viking experiment as references to hostile locals and the extreme distance from their homeland caused the settlement to be abandoned 10 years after its founding.

Toltec Empire

Ruins of a Toltec Empire pyramid
Credit: Lukiyanova Natalia / Shutterstock.com

Let’s move a bit south to Mexico and discuss one of the most influential Pre-Columbian cultures from the Mesoamerica period. Also known as the Toltec Kingdom, the Toltecs existed between 674 and 1122 CE. While the Toltecs don’t get a lot of attention in traditional world history classes, they impacted many of the surrounding Pre-Columbian cultures, not just in Mexico but in Central America. Most notably, many of the characteristics that we associate with Aztec culture were influenced by the Toltecs. And their architectural style of building pyramids can be found in some Mayan settlements.

The Toltecs were expert architects, weavers, metal workers and artisans. According to many historians, even their name “Toltec” came to be synonymous with “artisans.” Unfortunately, aside from the remaining ruins of their former cities like the capital of Tula (northwest of Mexico City) and artwork, little is known about the inner workings of the society. Like many cultures of this period, their writings were based on a hieroglyphic system that isn’t found on surviving buildings or artifacts.

Each of these cultures represent a fascinating aspect of North American history. And although western education tends to focus on the achievements of our European descendants, it’s important to remember the ancient cultures that came before.

China says US, Canada staged political farce on Huawei executive’s detention

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY “SHINE’)

 

China says US, Canada staged political farce on Huawei executive’s detention

Xinhua
China says US, Canada staged political farce on Huawei executive's detention

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Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court appearance in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

The United States and Canada have echoed each other, distorted facts and staged a political farce on the matter of a Huawei senior executive’s detention, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Friday.

The remarks came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland commented on the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou by Canada and the detention of two Canadians by China.

When meeting with the press on Thursday in Ottawa, Canada, Pompeo said that the “arbitrary detention” of two Canadian citizens in China was a “fundamentally different matter than the Canadian decision to apply the rule of law that’s consistent with the way decent nations work.”

The extradition of Meng is not a political matter, Freeland said.

Spokesperson Geng Shuang tore apart these remarks at a routine press briefing, saying the US side trumped up Meng’s case and resorted to state power to crack down on Chinese high-tech enterprises, while the Canadian side played an inglorious part in the process.

Meng’s case is a serious political incident, while the two Canadians, Michael John Kovrig and Spavor Michael Peter Todd, were arrested on suspicion of crimes against state security, Geng said.

What the United States and Canada have done to Meng is true “arbitrary detention,” he added, saying that out of pure political motivation, the two countries have abused the bilateral extradition treaty and severely violated a Chinese citizen’s legitimate rights and interests.

Geng called on other countries to be vigilant to avoid falling into the “American trap.”

He also urged Canada and the United States to earnestly deal with China’s serious concern, correct its mistakes, release Meng immediately and let her return home safe and sound.

When meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Freeland on the same day, Pompeo said it is wrong that the two Canadians were being held and the US side is focused on helping them be released.

Geng refuted Pompeo’s remarks by stressing that China is a country under the rule of law, and that China’s judicial organs handle cases independently and protect the legitimate rights of Canadian citizens in accordance with the law.

“The cases of Canadian citizens have nothing to do with the United States. The US side is not entitled to make irresponsible remarks,” Geng said.

10 Most Educated Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Educated Countries

For most countries, the average education level of the population can be an indicator of its financial stability and literacy rates. It can even contribute to how healthy the country is overall. With all of this in mind, do you know which countries rank as the most educated in the world? While you might be able to guess a few, there may be some countries on the list that surprise you. Here are the top 10 most educated countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

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Luxembourg comes in as the smallest country to make the list. The country has only around 615,70 residents. Luxembourg is a landlocked country, surrounded by Germany, France, and Belgium. According to the OECD, 87% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed at least a secondary education (compared to the OECD average of 84%). Also, 54% of residents in this age group have completed at least some level of higher education. Maybe this has something to do with why Luxembourg comes in as the wealthiest country in the world.

Norway

Norway

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It probably comes as no surprise that Norway ranks among the most educated countries. The European nation consistently ranks high for various quality of life factors, including healthcare, environmental awareness, and overall happiness. Colleges in Norway are tuition-free, which gives citizens greater access to higher education. The rate of adults with higher education has been increasing in Norway, and the country saw a 5% jump from 2007 to 2017. In 2017, 48% of adults aged 25 to 34 had some level of tertiary education.

Finland

Finland

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Another country with free education, this Scandinavian nation ranks among the most educated in the world. It’s not just Finnish residents that can take advantage of the free education. Non-native residents can get free schooling, as well. The Finnish education system is a stark contrast to that in the United States. Some key differences are that Finnish children receive 75 minutes of recess every day (as opposed to 27 minutes in the U.S.), there is no mandated testing until the age of 16, and most teachers stick with the same group of students for at least five years. It’s no wonder Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for two years running.

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Australia

Australia

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The land down under just barely misses the top five when it comes to the percentage of adults who have a higher education. An impressive 52% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed higher education courses. The country also ranks among the highest level of citizens who have a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is despite how Australia has some of the highest tuition rates in the world.

United States of America

United States of America

Credit: Sean Pavone/iStock

Public opinion on the state of the education system in the United States varies, depending on who you ask. The country is known to have an unbelievable amount of student debt, and tuition continues to be on the rise. On the other hand, the United States has some of the best universities in the world and is one of the world’s strongest powers. So it’s probably not surprising that the U.S. comes in smack dab in the middle of the top 10 most educated countries. The U.S. Census estimates that 59% of adults have completed some college.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

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One thing that sets the United Kingdom apart from other countries is its focus on early education. The country sees high enrollment levels for young children. Education is a top priority for citizens as reports have shown a direct correlation between education level and pay. In fact, one study found that residents with upper education earned on average 48% more than their peers without upper education. The United Kingdom is home to two of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

South Korea

South Korea

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South Korea places high demands on its students. Consequently, the country has a high number of adults with upper education. When it comes to students graduating from secondary school, Korea ranks number one. 98% of citizens graduate from secondary education. South Korea also ranks number one for attaining tertiary education, with nearly 70% of its residents completing some higher education.

Israel

Israel

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The education system in Israel is different from those in most of the world, but it still ranks as one of the best. In Israel, most schools are divided by the student’s faith. It is also not uncommon for schools to include weapon training. Because of its strong focus on education, the country has more university degrees per capita than any other country in the world. According to the OECD, nearly 25% of all residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Japan

Japan

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It may be hard to believe, but Japan does not come in at the top spot when it comes to education. Though the country is world-renowned for its education levels, it falls just short of number one. The amount of tertiary schooling comes in at a staggering 60% for adults between the age of 25 and 34. While the country has one of the highest percentages of adults expected to complete a bachelor’s degree, it has one of the lowest levels for doctorate degrees. Just 1% of its citizens are expected to attain a doctorate.

Canada

Canada

Credit: DenisTangneyJr/iStock

Canada just barely edges out Japan when it comes to adults who will complete some amount of college. A whopping 60.9% of Canadians between the age of 25 and 34 have completed some level of college, whereas that number is 60.4% in Japan. There seems to be some level of correlation between education level and happiness because Norway, Finland, and Canada all ranked among the happiest countries in the world.