JAKK Tuesdays liquor licence suspension extended until appeal hearing concludes

JAKK Tuesdays Sports Bar in Kingston will have its liquor licence suspension extended, the Alcohol and Gaming Comission said Wednesday.

It’s another setback for the owners of the Kingston sports bar, whose owner, Kelly Hale, has been openly bucking Ontario’s COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols since September.

In October, the bar had its liquor licence suspended by the AGCO for not complying with Reopening Ontario Act protocols, like enforcing masks, but Hale appealed that decision, which was due to expire Wednesday.

Read more:
Kingston restaurant appeals liquor licence suspension after ignoring COVID-19 mandates

The appeal hearing began Tuesday but did not finish. With things still up in the air for that process, the AGCO has extended the suspension until the hearing concludes.

During Tuesday’s deliberations, the lawyer for the commissioner recommended that JAKK’s liquor licence be suspended permanently, since Hale said that he would not be following COVID-19 guidelines if the licence was reinstated.

Hale, represented by a local paralegal, argued at first that bylaw searched his restaurant illegally, but rescinded that argument. Hale’s main argument is that he disagrees with COVID-19 regulations and feels they are more harmful than helpful.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Homicide investigating after man dies following crash in Scarborough

The homicide unit is investigating after a man died following a crash early Thursday morning in Scarborough, Toronto police say.

Emergency services were called to the scene in the area of Washburn Way and Tapscott Road just before 3:45 a.m.

Police said a car crashed into the wall of a townhouse. The driver was injured and unresponsive and was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Officers said they found evidence of gunfire at the scene.

The driver’s identity is not known at this time.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Rising seas: Delays to safeguarding Chignecto Isthmus worry N.S., N.B. politicians

According to the UN, the land link between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change in all of North America. Alicia Draus has more.

Legislators on both sides of the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick boundary say efforts to safeguard their area from a potential climate disaster have dragged on too long.

An engineering study commissioned to develop “three viable solutions” to the risk of the 35 kilometres of dikes being overwhelmed on the Chignecto Isthmus, which straddles the boundary, was expected in the spring but still hasn’t been released.

Meanwhile, an Oct. 15 deadline for seeking Ottawa’s help under the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund for such projects has passed.

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, the Independent member of the legislature for Cumberland North _ the Nova Scotia riding on the provincial boundary _ said in an interview Wednesday that she is preparing a private member’s bill that would call on the new Progressive Conservative government to commit to funding Nova Scotia’s share of a solution.

Read more:
N.S. politicians critiqued for vague response to threat of rising seas

“Even though the past (Liberal) government said it was a priority, there isn’t any money allocated for it, and it’s going to take significant dollars,” she said.

“I don’t know the real cause of the delays. But as a member for the area, I’m asking for it to be made a priority, and soon.”

Megan Mitton, the Green Party member representing the New Brunswick riding of Memrancook-Tantramar, also said the delays are unacceptable given the risks to about 20 kilometres of rail line, highway, energy and communications infrastructure in the low-lying region that connects the two provinces.

“We don’t want to end up with a situation where whole communities have been flooded, sewage lagoons damaged and people are displaced,” she said in an interview. Mitton’s riding includes the community of Sackville, which has key infrastructure, including a sewage treatment plant, protected by the dikes.

Experts have for decades warned that the combination of a high tide with a powerful storm up the Bay of Fundy could overwhelm aging dikes and flood large portions of the Amherst, N.S., area, as well as neighbouring Sackville. Meanwhile, the sea level at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy has been rising at a rate of about 2.4 millimetres a year over the past century, even as the dikes and coastal land continue to subside.

In 2019, Real Daigle, a meteorologist who models sea level rise, told The Canadian Press the dikes could be breached by a once-in-a-fifty-year storm occurring during the period of highest tides and with sustained winds gusting to 80 kilometres per hour over the Bay of Fundy _ potentially adding 40 to 50 centimetres to the height of the water.

The New Brunswick government has taken the lead on overseeing the engineering study being funded by Ottawa and the two provinces, but it did not provide an official for an interview.

“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure was waiting for the federal cabinet to be sworn in. We look forward to working with our counterparts in Nova Scotia and the new federal cabinet on this project,” Jeremy Trevors, a department spokesman, wrote in response to a request for an interview with the lead engineer.

In Nova Scotia, the Progressive Conservative government’s new Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act, which was tabled Wednesday, doesn’t include a specific mention of a fix to the Chignecto Isthmus in its list of goals.

Tim Halman, Nova Scotia’s minister of Environment and Climate Change, said the risk of flooding at the isthmus is a “major issue impacting the province” but offered no details on when the study might be completed.

READ MORE: Bids sought for ways to protect Chignecto Isthmus from risk posed by rising seas

Potential costs also remain largely unknown. A 2016 federal study concluded possible costs ranged from $90 million to build up and alter the existing dikes to $345 million to completely reroute highways and railways.

Jeff Ollerhead, who teaches coastal geography at Mount Allison University in Sackville, said in an interview that governments have long known how to protect the low-lying communities and could have proceeded with an analysis of the dikes section by section.

He said options include raising and reinforcing the dikes; removing the dikes and restoring salt marshes; and relocating infrastructure such as highways and the rail line to higher ground.

“In some cases it will make sense to reinforce them (dikes) and preserve critical infrastructure, but in other cases it makes no sense to spend the money to raise and reinforce dikes that could be turned back into salt marshes that could be turned into places where carbon is stored and fish habitat restored,” he said.

He argues that a strategic plan for the dikes, including close consultations with the communities involved, should have been underway years ago.

“You have to get on with the work of deciding on a kilometre-by-kilometre basis what options are going to apply to each section of the dike,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Story of Edmonton teen gifted basketball net from community spurs Kelly Clarkson Show appearance

More than two months after the story of an Edmonton community coming together to give a teen a basketball net went viral, the heartwarming gift drew the attention of a well-known TV talk show host in California.

“I’m kind of surprised she reached out in the first place cause she’s all the way out in L.A.,” 14-year-old Anthony Muobike told Global News on Wednesday, just days after being interviewed on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

“She’s really, really nice… It was just amazing.

“It’s not a dream, you’re really on The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

Muobike, whose dream is to play professional ball in the NBA one day, was interviewed by Clarkson along with his neighbour, Ian Ray, via Zoom.

In the summer, Ray decided to take action after he noticed Muobike’s skills dribbling the ball on his driveway without having a net to shoot at.

He put out plea for donations on Facebook and the community raised $750 for a Sport Chek gift card. The Ray showed up at Mubike’s home with a new net, custom basketball and gift card.

“He’s still just the kid on the driveway dribbling his ball (but) now he’s shooting on the net,” Ray said Wednesday.

“It’s cool — everything that happened. (I’m) just happy for the kid.”

Read more:
Hoops-loving teen impresses, Edmonton neighbours gift him with basketball net

Clarkson, who during the interview told Ray “I love your Canadian accent,” finished by telling Muobike that Pilot Pen, a stationary company that is a partner of her show, was moved by the story and would be giving him $1,000 to help him chase his NBA dream.

“That just meant so much to me,” Muobike said.

The teen’s mother, Leticia Muobike, told Global News she too has been amazed by the support her son has received from her neighbour, the community and now beyond.

“The truth is that I didn’t believe it until it actually happened — until the day of the show,” she said of her son’s TV appearance. “She came on live.

“I’m like, ‘If I’m dreaming, I don’t want to stop dreaming.'”

Clarkson told Muobike she’d like to have him on her show again when he reaches the NBA.

Muobike said ever since he got the net, it has been “a huge booster” for his game and that he often ends up shooting hoops with neighbourhood kids who wander past and ask if they can play with him.

Edmonton teen Anthony Muobike outside his home on Wednesday, Oct. 287, 2021.

Edmonton teen Anthony Muobike outside his home on Wednesday, Oct. 287, 2021.

Global News

He said the whole experience has been heartwarming.

“When you go viral… It’s almost like you know everybody’s standing behind you, supporting you, pushing you further,” Muobike said. “It’s very empowering… It really is a blessing.”

Muobike’s mother said her son continues to play pretty much every day after school.

“He says he’ll be doing it until the snow hits the floor and he can’t go anymore,” she said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Boardroom battle for Rogers is putting the reputation of a telecom giant at risk

Finance expert Kelley Keehn breaks down the latest finance headlines including a right-to-disconnect policy gaining traction, the great resignation, lending rates, and Rogers drama.

In the early 1990s, as a young spokesman for the federal minister of telecommunications, I had a memorable meeting with Ted Rogers.

In one of his legendary risks, Rogers had bought out the other shareholders of Cantel, and would later re-brand it as Rogers Wireless. Intense and often unrelenting, he asked for the meeting to share his strong views about Canada’s telecommunications policy. Was he motivated by self-interest? Of course. But with both reason and passion, he also articulated the connection between his vision and a greater good for the country: one in which entrepreneurship, investment and innovation would fill unmet consumer needs.

Read more:
Rogers family drama — What to know and why you should care

The legendary founder is often invoked today, as his family feuds for control of the empire he left behind. But in all the media statements, comments from anonymous sources, and legal filings made public, they forget what Ted Rogers never did: the need to articulate why this debate matters to anyone outside the Rogers boardroom.

There is little or nothing about why the status quo, or any alternative, is desirable or undesirable for shareholders — or stakeholders. As a result, all reputational boats sink. It looks like a shallow conflict based on ego and personality.

To be fair, it began with a highly sensitive question: the board chair’s dissatisfaction with the CEO’s performance. No sensible person would want to discuss this in public, given the legal, financial, operational, and reputational risks of doing so.

Now, however, with the story dominating headlines for weeks, the risks have become the reality.

The affair is a ratings winner. Two big things make it so: first, it’s about a widely known brand, a $29-billion public company, and a bitter, personal conflict between high-profile protagonists; and second, it has implications for the governance of public companies, and for millions of people who are its customers, shareholders, or employees.
There have been a few references to the world beyond the boardroom — cursory allusions to shareholder interests, network performance and customer service. But unlike other high-profile corporate control battles, there is no hint of a clash of visions, nor even a divergence on major decisions such as Rogers’ proposed $26 billion takeover of Shaw Communications.

All the communication is about the protagonists themselves — including revelations about Edward Rogers’ conflict with the popular president of the Toronto Raptors, and cringe-worthy reminders of his ill-considered family photo with Donald Trump last spring.

The irony is that there is much at stake for those concerned with Rogers’ success.

Read more:
Ousted Rogers board chair Edward Rogers re-elected as chair in ‘illegitimate’ meeting

At a time when investors are increasingly focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk, concerns about the ‘G’ — governance — loom large. As Mark Wiseman, a veteran pension-fund leader, wrote this week: “A structure whereby the son of the founder sits as the chair of a trust and basically controls all the voting power in a company, publicly traded since 1979, is more akin to the Soviet politburo than anything resembling a responsible corporate governance structure.”

And as per a Bloomberg analysis, Rogers’ price-earnings ratio lags those of its competitors — not just because of sluggish growth, but because of governance concerns.

Part of the challenge is that a company’s risks are interconnected. Ask yourself a simple question: would recent events make you more or less likely to want to work there? At a time when the top talent is more mobile than ever, that is a competitive disadvantage for Rogers — and an opportunity for its competitors.

It’s not surprising that analysts have lowered their target prices for Rogers by as much as 10 per cent within the next 12 months. That would have an impact on the company’s market capitalization of almost $3.5 billion.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Having advised many leading Canadian and global companies, I’ve seen how family-led businesses can enjoy more trust from their stakeholders, because their commitment to the business and the community is often deeper. The key to success is continuous, public demonstration of these motives, in both words and actions. It means managing family conflict with skill, and the greater good in mind. And it means being more transparent, not less, at times of crisis.

This is an era in which much — and often most — of a company’s market value comes from intangible assets such as reputation. It’s also a time when leadership communication matters more than ever, and leaders must stand for something bigger than themselves.

Ted Rogers understood this. It remains to be seen whether his successors can follow his example.

Daniel Tisch is CEO of Argyle, one of Canada’s largest communications and public engagement advisory firms. A specialist in corporate reputation and leadership communication, he has advised a long list of public, private, and non-profit organizations and leaders.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ontario to introduce legislation on long-term care standards Thursday

After the pandemic revealed long-standing issues within the long-term care system, Ontario’s minister in charge of overseeing the facilities is pledging to hire more inspectors. Along with questions on what additional penalties may be involved, critics say the government isn't doing enough to overhaul a system with glaring issues. Matthew Bingley reports.

TORONTO — The Ontario government says it will introduce legislation today aimed at reforming standards in the province’s long-term care sector.

Full details of the proposed law will be laid out this afternoon.

Read more:
Province aims to add 2,000 more nurses in Ontario’s long term care home sector

Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips has said the legislation will aim to better protect residents in the sector that was hit hard with COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths during the pandemic.

The province says the legislation will cover new accountability and enforcement measures and residents’ rights.

Phillips has said the government’s pledge to provide an average of four hours of daily direct care for each resident by 2025 will be included in the legislation.

The law would also give long-term care inspectors the power to lay charges on the spot.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Case of workers challenging Toronto hospital network's COVID-19 vaccine mandate in court

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday he is speaking with hospital officials before deciding on whether to introduce a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. He said he’s concerned about the impact a COVID-19 vaccine mandate might have on the system “months down the road” if the government has to let go of a large number of healthcare workers.

TORONTO — The case of unvaccinated workers challenging a Toronto hospital network’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is set to be in court today.

Last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy issued a temporary injunction that paused enforcement of the hospital network’s deadline for staff to be immunized.

Read more:
Several Ontario hospitals move to enact mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for visitors

The University Health Network had said that any staff members who didn’t receive both shots by Oct. 22 would lose their jobs.

The temporary injunction, which will expire this week unless an extension is granted, only applies to the employees involved in the case.

Read more:
COVID-19: Toronto hospital network plans to fire employees who aren’t vaccinated

Dunphy is set to hear arguments today on whether the court has jurisdiction in the matter.

The hospital network’s vaccine mandate goes beyond the province’s policy, which requires health and education workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested regularly.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Toronto long-term care resident gets Fido/Rogers bill of more than $1,000

Lena Ip says her 92-year-old mother was distraught when she saw her monthly Fido mobile phone bill balloon to 18 times the normal amount in just one month.

“She felt hit by a rock,” Ip told Global News in an email asking for help.

Ip’s mother, Yuk Ling Wat, lives in a long-term care home in Scarborough. She relies on her phone to communicate with others, including her daughter in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In 2019, Wat agreed to a two-year contract with Fido, a subsidiary brand of Rogers. The monthly bill included the cost of a wireless device, phone service and air time, and a flat-rate long-distance plan allowing her to call distant family members in China inexpensively.

Read more:
Rogers agrees to cancel Ontario senior’s $1,200 disputed cable, phone bill

Her total bill in July was $56.50. But the following month it had skyrocketed to $1,059.94.

Wat had actually spent less time on the phone but paid dramatically more in August.

When the two-year contract elapsed, the “long distance promotion” on her account, which included 1,000 international minutes, was no longer in force, according to the company.

A Fido/Rogers spokesperson told Global News that Fido sent out three notices to Wat: in April, May, and June of this year.

“We always want to be clear and transparent with our customers and whenever a promotion is set to expire on a customer’s account we inform them multiple times before it ends to make sure they have significant advance notice,” a spokesperson told Global News by email.

Ip says her mother faithfully pays her bills on time but was not made aware of any pending changes to her account that would increase the charges.

The same $5 flat rate international calling plan is still offered by Fido.

Global News mystery-called Fido’s customer service to seek out a mobile phone device, cellular service, and flat-rate long distance plan to China for a senior.

A customer representative assured the caller that there was no cause for worry: he said there would be no increase in price at the end of the contract.

In fact, he said the price would be reduced because the phone would be paid off in full by then.

The representative said there was no reason anyone should fear their bill would go up at the end of the contract.

But Ip says her experience reveals a different story.

“We talked to seven managers…they (told) us they don’t agree to anything,” Ip told Global News.

“It felt like we were talking to a wall for several days,” she said in an interview from Florida.

Each wireless provider has its own terms and conditions on phone plans.

Global News contacted the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) for an interview to discuss how wireless carriers are expected to handle a contract ending, especially pertaining to seniors.

The CWTA, which speaks for the Canadian wireless industry, acknowledged the Global News request but did not provide comment.

Originally, Ip said representatives insisted her mother pay the higher bill over time. She said a payment plan was unacceptable in the circumstances.

“Does Rogers prey on uninformed customers? Especially the elderly?” she asked.

Read more:
Aeroplan points policy costs loyal member everything, nearly half a million miles lost

Eventually, after more calls and persistence, Rogers reversed the high bill.

“We added an international preferred rate to reduce further long distance charges for the customer,” the Fido/Rogers spokesperson wrote.

Questioned about the apparent unfairness of charging someone more for long distance when a discounted plan exists, the company acknowledged the concerns raised by Global News.

“We know this is an issue for some of our customers and are working to put a solution in place that when a promotion ends, we can move a customer to a suitable in-market plan without them needing to contact us or make the change themselves,” a spokesperson told Global News.

Ip expressed worry that other Canadian seniors could run into unforeseen problems like her mother did, especially if they have no one overseeing their monthly wireless accounts.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Hopes crushed by return of Taliban, Kabul women see no future in Afghanistan

Khalida looked out the window of her Kabul apartment tower at a city that no longer seemed to have a place for her since the Taliban returned with their gun-mounted pickups.

The 30-year-old once represented the promise of Afghanistan, an educated, professional breadwinner with degrees in computer science and law, and a job at a national company.

Starting as a receptionist, she climbed her way into management, while supporting a brother with health problems that prevent him from working, and parents who are refugees in Uzbekistan.

But she hasn’t been allowed to return to work since August, when the Taliban looted her company’s vehicles and told women to stay home while its fighters learned how to behave around women.

Read more:
Inside the Kabul safe houses where Afghans wait to be evacuated to Canada

“I was supporting 11 people in my family,” Khalida said, after cooking lunch for visitors at the apartment she shares with her brother, his wife and an aunt. “And now I don’t know what to do.”

The economy has collapsed, bank withdrawals have been restricted, the country has been renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and women are facing the loss of hard-earned freedoms.

“I don’t see any future for the women in Afghanistan,” said Khalida, one of many Afghans who told Global News they would leave, many to Canada, rather than live under the Taliban.

Khalida, at her home in Kabul.

Khalida, at her home in Kabul.

Stewart Bell/Global News

The return of the Taliban has shattered the lives of many Afghans, particularly women, who were all but enslaved by the militants when they held the country from 1996 to 2001.

Khalida is part of the generation of Afghans who grew up believing their country was on the path to modernity. Just 10 years old when the Taliban was ousted in 2001, she dared to want more.

Western military intervention was a response to 9/11. The Taliban had harboured Al Qaeda and its training camps. But the NATO mission’s end goal was to stabilize the country so Afghans could build a nation.

International development and education programs focused heavily on women, who returned to schools and universities, rejoined the paid workforce and became part of the government and civil institutions.

That could have been the legacy of a military operation that cost the lives of 158 Canadian troops. But after 20 years, the U.S. wanted out and a clumsy withdrawal precipitated the collapse of the government and allowed the Taliban to take over.

Two-and-a-half months into the Taliban’s second attempt at governing, there is little reason for optimism: women are excluded from cabinet, women’s sports are banned, the women’s ministry has been converted into the ministry of vice and virtue, and secondary school girls have been sent home.

Photos of women covered up in Taliban-controlled Kabul.

Photos of women covered up in Taliban-controlled Kabul.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Taliban officials were vague when asked about the place of women under their rule. In an interview at his Kabul office, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said women would be allowed to return to work once it was safe for them.

Asked by Global News whether girls would be returning to secondary schools, he gave much the same answer. “The leaders are working on regulations to provide the proper environment for school girls,” he said.

Other Taliban members and officials were equally unclear in their responses to questions about women, referring to shariah and head coverings, or simply saying the government would decide.

The last time the Taliban came to Kabul, Khalida was a four-year-old. Her family fled to Peshawar, Pakistan, and remained there for eight years, until the Taliban was gone.

She began working for a Kabul company (she asked Global News not to identify the firm or her last name) in 2010, while furthering her education, and fighting her way into management.

Read more:
At an Islamabad hotel, Afghans who worked for Canada’s military await a new life

Over the years, her immediate family left. One brother, a former U.S. Army interpreter, moved to the U.S. in 2014. Another brother went to Calgary, along with her grandparents.

Earlier this year, her parents and two sisters crossed into Tajikistan, hoping to get to Canada. Khalida stayed behind. She had to keep working. Her family depended on her income.

She was at the office when the city fell in August. Focused on her work, she didn’t know until her father called to tell her the militants were taking the city. She grabbed her laptop and went out into streets filled with people on the run.

That evening, she saw the Taliban from her apartment window, in their vehicles, flying their white flags. A night watchman at her office phoned and said the Taliban were taking the company’s vehicles and papers.

“I was very scared,” she said.

Gunmen in truck flying Taliban flag in Kabul.

Gunmen in truck flying Taliban flag in Kabul.

Stewart Bell/Global News

She never went back to the office, and she is no longer collecting a salary. She saw the Taliban on television, telling women to stay home because its fighters didn’t know how to conduct themselves around women.

Her company may never re-open, at least not in the same way. The owner was linked to the previous government, making it vulnerable, and the Taliban considers her industry religiously forbidden.

She heard Canada had offered to resettle 20,000 Afghans, a number later raised to 40,000, and she applied. “I think for the ladies, there is no hope in Afghanistan,” she said.

Many in Kabul have given up. Disheartened and seemingly still in shock that it happened, and so quickly, they can’t imagine living in a Taliban nation. And they are afraid for their children.

Muska Azizi, an engineer working on her MBA.

Muska Azizi, an engineer working on her MBA.

Jeff Semple/Global News

Muska Azizi said she didn’t intend to find out what the Taliban had in store this time around. She had seen enough. She and her husband, who works for a Canadian NGO, have applied for resettlement in Canada.

Azizi, who kept her name when she married, was working as an engineer at a government ministry and studying for her master’s degree in business at night when the Taliban came to town. She hasn’t returned to work since.

“We don’t know about our future,” she said.

She said it was hard for professional women to accept the Taliban and their rigid codes that restrict women’s clothing, education and careers.

A mother of two, she was concerned about her girl and what it will mean if she grows up under the confinements imposed by the Taliban. “We’re thinking about our daughter’s future,” she said.

Nasiba Hashimi.

Nasiba Hashimi.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Nasiba Hashimi was also desperate to leave Taliban Afghanistan. In the courtyard of a compound secured with razor wire, she held a small photo in her hands. It showed her eye swollen and bruised.

Hashimi came to Kabul from Aybak, in northern Afghanistan. At age 17, she married a man who turned out to be violent and believed women belonged at home, she said in an interview.

He would lock her in the home when he left to pray. He forbid her from furthering her studies. And he beat her and threatened to take her children if she left him, she added.

Eighteen months ago, her husband came home at around 11 p.m., having visited his parents, and attacked her, she said. She said she didn’t know why, but that he dragged her to her room.

Telling her he would make sure nobody else ever married her, he beat her, punching her face, choking her and smothering her with a pillow until the neighbours heard her children crying.

A Kabul park that has become a tent city for Afghans who fled to the capital from other parts of the country.

A Kabul park that has become a tent city for Afghans who fled to the capital from other parts of the country.

Stewart Bell/Global News

She reported him to the police and left him, but her husband and his family later phoned her and said they would kill her if she remarried, and that they knew people in the Taliban, she said.

She remarried a human-rights activist and they moved to Kabul when the north fell to the Taliban. They are staying at a safe house while they wait to be accepted as refugees to Canada.

“I want to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible,” she said.

She said she couldn’t sleep. Her husband was at risk under the Taliban because of his work promoting women’s rights. And she worried about her daughters, ages five and six. She didn’t want them growing up under the Taliban.

“Every moment here, we are at risk,” she said.

Girls at Cam private school.

Girls at Cam private school.

Stewart Bell/Global News

At the Cam private school in Kabul, the next generation of Afghan girls seemed mercifully carefree. They paid no attention to the white flag the Taliban ordered the school to erect in the playground.

They sang “If you’re happy and you know it” at recess while their principal explained that enrollment was cut in half when the Taliban forbid education for girls above Grade 6.

“I feel really bad for them,” said the principal. Like the rest of the staff, he was not receiving a salary because the students’ families were not being paid and couldn’t afford school fees.

In her office, where a Taliban flag rests on her desk, she said she tells the girls that everything will return to normal and that they will be able to continue their studies. Whether that will happen remains to be seen.

Ali Khanzada, who founded the school nine years ago, told Global News he had fled Afghanistan after receiving threats from the Taliban, who tore down the school banners and expressed their disapproval over his plan to partner with a Canadian university.

He said he received a letter from the Taliban accusing him of encouraging Western thought and turning students into infidels. He is now trying to flee to Canada.

Maheia Bita, 18, in Islamabad.

Maheia Bita, 18, in Islamabad.

Jeff Semple/Global News

Across the border in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, an 18-year-old Afghan girl on her way to Canada with her parents and little brother said it was humiliating to live under the Taliban.

You had to do whatever they said, just because they had guns, said Maheia Bita, the daughter of an exiled women’s rights activist. “They don’t accept anybody else’s logic.”

Maheia was one of the lucky ones. She was able to escape. Soon, she will be in Canada, but she wasn’t sure what to feel about that. She was worried about being alone and missing her friends.

One of them recently got engaged, she said, although she is younger than Maheia. Another arranged a fake engagement, after hearing that girls were being married off to Taliban fighters.

She couldn’t say what would have happened had she stayed in Kabul.

“Maybe I would just be married off,” she said.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Taiwan must 'rely on itself' to defend against potential attack from China: minister

WATCH: Taiwan president vows to uphold 'democracy and freedom'

Taiwan’s defense minister said Thursday that Taiwan must be prepared to defend itself and could not entirely depend on other countries to help if China were to launch an attack against the island, even as Taiwan’s president said she had faith the U.S. would defend it.

“The country must rely on itself, and if any friends or other groups can help us, then it’s like I said before, we’re happy to have it, but we cannot completely depend on it,” the minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, told reporters after being questioned in the legislature as part of a session on national defense.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades, with China sending record-breaking numbers of fighter jets toward international airspace close to the island, stepping up a campaign of military harassment. Taiwan’s defense ministry has said that China would have “comprehensive” capabilities to invade the island by 2025.

Read more:
North Korea slams U.S. for ‘reckless’ support of Taiwan as tensions with China grow

China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory although the island has been self-ruled since it split from the communist-ruled mainland in 1949 after a long civil war.

Chiu has called the rising tensions between China and Taiwan the most “severe” he has seen in 40 years.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in an interview with CNN that aired Thursday that she was confident the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China made a move against the island.

“I do have faith given the long term relationship we have with the U.S. and also the support of the people of the U.S. as well as Congress,” Tsai said.

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden seemingly contradicted decades-long U.S. policy toward Taiwan when he said the U.S. was committed to protecting the island if China attacked it.

The U.S. has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, where it has been deliberately vague about whether it would defend the island in the face of an assault. However, the U.S. also has a policy to support the island’s self defense, including by providing it arms, as declared in the Taiwan Relations Act.

The White House later said Biden’s comments did not represent a change in policy toward the island.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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