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Willy Lowry

Arusha, Tanzania
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About Willy
Willy Lowry is a Canadian journalist currently based in Arusha, Tanzania. His work appears in The New York Times, Fusion and CBC. He's also appeared on CNN and BBC. As a video journalist, he shoots, writes and edits his own stories. He started his career in Beirut, Lebanon writing for the The Daily Star and online for NOW Lebanon. In 2009 he travelled to Palestine, where he worked with Canadian Filmmakers Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky on Road Movie. The film chronicled the tensions between Israel and Palestine by showing the areas divided infrastructure. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. From 2011 to 2015 he worked as a radio and television journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Montreal. He covered everything from provincial elections to the Lac-Megantic train derailment, which killed 47 people.
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Fact Checking

How young Jewish people are challenging pro-Israel education and marching for Palestine

26 Apr 2024  |  The National
A documentary titled 'Israelism' is influencing young American Jews to question their Zionist education and take a stand against the occupation of Palestine. The film, featuring Simone Zimmerman, showcases the journey from Zionist to anti-occupation activists. It highlights the role of youth movements, campus groups, and sponsored trips in shaping pro-Israel views. The recent Israel-Gaza war has intensified the debate, with Jewish groups leading both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protests. The film has faced controversy, with some screenings canceled over anti-Semitism concerns. It also touches on the British Jewish experience, noting a decline in Zionist identification. Organizations like IfNotNow and Na’amod are gaining prominence in the Jewish anti-occupation movement.

US names new special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues

25 Apr 2024  |  The National
President Joe Biden appointed Lise Grande as the new US special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, replacing David Satterfield. Grande, with a background in UN humanitarian and development operations, is praised for her experience in complex situations. Satterfield, who focused on humanitarian aid in Gaza, will remain as a senior adviser. The Gaza Health Ministry reports over 34,300 deaths since the Israeli offensive, and famine risks are high. The US has urged Israel to avoid military operations in Rafah without a civilian safeguard plan.

US builds loose alliance to thwart Iran's missiles in 'extraordinary feat of co-operation'

18 Apr 2024  |  The National
A coalition led by the US successfully defended Israel against an unprecedented missile attack from Iran, showcasing significant military cooperation among various nations including the US, UK, France, and Jordan. The attack was a retaliation for Israel's strike on an Iranian embassy in Damascus. The US has been working to integrate regional air and missile defense systems, a strategy that proved effective in this instance. Despite the successful defense, the incident highlights ongoing tensions and the complex dynamics of Middle East geopolitics, with calls for de-escalation and careful consideration of future actions.

Are Iranian-made drones being used in Sudan's civil war?

11 Apr 2024  |  The National
Iran is reportedly exerting influence in the Sudanese civil war by supplying the Sudanese military with Iranian-made drones. The conflict, which began on April 15, 2023, involves the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces. Precision strikes by drones have been observed in Omdurman, and there is evidence of new drones, such as the Zargil-3, being used. Iran's involvement aligns with its strategy to expand its presence in the Red Sea and support allies through arms deals. The US has urged regional allies to discourage Iran from further involvement. Both warring parties in Sudan have been accused of committing atrocities, with thousands killed and millions displaced. Peace talks led by the US and Saudi Arabia have failed, but efforts to resume negotiations are ongoing.

US ‘looks forward’ to working with new PA cabinet, Blinken tells Abbas

01 Apr 2024  |  The National
The United States, through Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressed enthusiasm about working with the new Palestinian Authority cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa. The US is advocating for reforms in the Palestinian Authority to improve governance in the West Bank and potentially Gaza. The State Department, via spokesman Matthew Miller, highlighted the importance of a revitalized Palestinian Authority for the Palestinian people's benefit. The new cabinet consists mostly of technocrats, and Washington's support is seen as crucial for altering the perception of the authority, which has faced corruption allegations and has low popular support.

US appoints Tom Perriello as special envoy for Sudan

26 Feb 2024  |  The National
Tom Perriello has been appointed as the new special envoy for Sudan by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Perriello, a former Democratic Congressman with experience in African affairs, will coordinate US policy on Sudan and support the Sudanese people's aspirations amid a civil war that has lasted about a year. The conflict between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces has resulted in significant casualties and displacement. The UN has condemned the violations and abuses committed, and the US, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, has attempted to mediate the conflict. Bipartisan members of Congress had urged the Biden administration to create the special envoy position, which is now filled by Perriello, who aims to empower Sudanese civilian leaders and promote accountability.

US consular officials meet Palestinian-American brothers detained by Israel in Gaza

26 Feb 2024  |  The National
Two Palestinian-American brothers, Hashem and Borak Alagha, were detained by Israeli soldiers in Gaza, with the State Department confirming a meeting with them. The brothers, originally from near Chicago, were accused by Israel of collaborating with Hamas, a charge their family denies. The family has criticized President Biden's administration for its handling of the situation and for not doing enough to help American citizens in Gaza. The State Department has assisted about 1,300 Palestinian Americans to leave Gaza, coordinating with Israeli and Egyptian authorities.

War in Gaza is calling into question America's role as top superpower

20 Feb 2024  |  The National
The United States' reluctance to call for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza conflict is eroding its global credibility. Despite the Biden administration's claims of advocating for reduced civilian casualties and upholding international norms, its continued support for Israel and proposed UN resolution for a temporary ceasefire contrast with global calls for an immediate end to the violence. The Munich Security Conference highlighted America's diplomatic influence, yet its stance on Gaza is seen as an abdication of responsibility. With a rising death toll and increasing domestic and international frustration, the US's position as a leading superpower is being questioned.

Blinken reaffirms 'unwavering' US support for Israel at Munich Security Conference

17 Feb 2024  |  The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the United States' unwavering support for Israel's military campaign in Gaza during the Munich Security Conference, despite growing calls for a ceasefire. Blinken emphasized the potential for Israel's integration into the region, while also urging Israel to minimize civilian casualties and allow more humanitarian aid. The conference also saw China's Wang Yi advocating for a ceasefire and addressing the plight of displaced Palestinians. The US has been a steadfast ally of Israel, vetoing UN ceasefire resolutions and supplying military aid.

Guterres tells Munich Security Conference Gazans are suffering collective punishment

16 Feb 2024  |  The National
Diplomats are gathering at the Munich Security Conference to discuss a ceasefire in Gaza. UN leader Antonio Guterres criticized nations prioritizing their own gains and the collective punishment of Gazans. He called for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid. US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to address the situation, and meetings with international leaders are planned. The conference will also address other global issues, including the crisis in Ukraine. The Munich Security Conference features a significant representation from the Global South and is under tight security due to the presence of numerous high-level officials.

US voices renewed concern over Israeli military operation in Rafah following air strikes

12 Feb 2024  |  The National
The US State Department reiterated concerns about Israel's military operation in Rafah, Gaza Strip, where air strikes killed at least 164 people. Despite the devastation, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated the strikes were not indicative of a full-scale offensive. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to continue operations in Rafah, which now shelters over 1.4 million displaced Palestinians. US President Joe Biden, in a call with Netanyahu, emphasized the need for a plan to ensure the safety of those in Rafah. The Palestinian death toll in the ongoing conflict has surpassed 28,000.

Two US citizens detained in Gaza raid, State Department says

08 Feb 2024  |  The National
Two Palestinian American brothers, Hashem and Borak Alagha, were detained by Israeli forces during a raid in Gaza. Their cousin, Yasmeen Elagha, is urging the Biden administration for their release. The State Department, through deputy spokesman Vedant Patel, acknowledged the detentions but did not disclose identities, citing privacy. The department is seeking more information and providing consular assistance. The Elagha family has previously sued the administration for not aiding the evacuation of American relatives from Gaza as it did for Israeli dual citizens. Approximately 900 American citizens remain in Gaza, with about 1,300 having been assisted to leave amid the conflict.

US will not support any major Israeli ground operations in Rafah, White House says

08 Feb 2024  |  The National
The White House, through National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, stated it would not support any major Israeli military operations in Rafah, Gaza, citing the potential disaster for Palestinian civilians seeking refuge there. Despite Israeli strikes in Rafah killing at least 13, Kirby noted no imminent plans for a ground operation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire proposal from Hamas and indicated an expansion of the offensive. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, concluding his Middle East tour, emphasized Israel's responsibility to protect civilians and provide assistance.

Blinken meets Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh

05 Feb 2024  |  The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh to discuss regional coordination and efforts to end the crisis in Gaza. Blinken's tour aims to prevent the Israel-Gaza war from escalating further into the region. Discussions included a potential deal between Israel and Hamas for a truce and hostage release. The US has refrained from calling for a ceasefire despite high casualties in Gaza. Recent US military actions in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen were also highlighted, focusing on reducing regional tensions and addressing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

US did not alert Iraq before strikes on Iran-backed militias

05 Feb 2024  |  The National
The US clarified it did not notify Iraq before conducting air strikes on Iran-backed militias, contradicting earlier claims. The strikes, in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three US service members, targeted 85 locations in Iraq and Syria. Iraqi officials condemned the strikes as a violation of sovereignty, while the US emphasized its right to defend its personnel. The incident has strained US-Iraq relations, with Iraqi political factions pushing for the expulsion of foreign forces. The Biden administration aims to deter future attacks without escalating into a broader conflict.

US, UK and EU civil servants say their governments could risk complicity in ‘genocide’

02 Feb 2024  |  The National
Hundreds of civil servants from the US, UK, and EU have anonymously signed a letter urging their governments to halt unconditional support for Israel, citing risks of complicity in potential 'genocide' and other grave violations in Gaza. The letter calls for a ceasefire and a strategy for lasting peace. The Biden administration faces growing dissent over its stance, with civil servants and the public increasingly critical. European calls for a ceasefire have also intensified. The impact of the letter remains uncertain, but it highlights frustration among civil servants and the public in Western democracies.

Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and West Bank in latest push

02 Feb 2024  |  The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to return to the Middle East, visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank to engage in diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing the Gaza conflict from escalating. His focus will be on securing the release of hostages, establishing a humanitarian pause in Gaza, and discussing long-term regional security. Amidst rising tensions and casualties, Blinken's visit follows repeated trips to the region and comes at a time when the US faces increasing pressure to support a ceasefire and halt unconditional backing for Israel.

US blames Islamic Resistance for Jordan attack and says response ‘will not be escalatory'

01 Feb 2024  |  The National
The US has attributed the drone strike in Jordan that killed three US service members and wounded about 40 to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which includes groups like Kataib Hezbollah. Despite Kataib Hezbollah's recent announcement to halt military operations against the US, Washington remains skeptical and plans a non-escalatory response to prevent further Iran-backed aggression. The attack occurred at Tower 22, a US outpost in Jordan, marking the first US soldier fatalities in the region since October 7. President Biden is considering how to respond without escalating tensions in the volatile area.

Blinken visits tech, cultural and medical spaces in Nigeria

24 Jan 2024  |  The National
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, visited Lagos, Nigeria, to underscore US support in various sectors. During his tour, he visited a digital technology center, met with local tech entrepreneurs, and emphasized the US's aim to build a '21st century partnership' with Nigeria. Blinken's visit is part of a four-country tour in West Africa, aiming to promote US initiatives and counter Chinese and Russian influences. He also visited the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, highlighting US support for medical research and knowledge transfer. Blinken's next destination is Angola to discuss the Lobito rail corridor project.

Antony Blinken arrives in Cape Verde to start West Africa tour

22 Jan 2024  |  thenationalnews.com
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Cape Verde to begin a week-long tour of West Africa, aiming to promote US investment amidst growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region. Blinken met with Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva and highlighted the Millennium Challenge Corporation's investment in Porto da Praia. He will also visit Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Angola to discuss regional issues, security challenges, and development projects like the Lobito rail corridor. The US announced $45 million in new funding to help Ivory Coast and its neighbors prevent conflict and promote stability.

US strikes failing to deter Yemen's Houthis, Biden says

19 Jan 2024  |  The National
President Joe Biden acknowledged that US and British military strikes have not deterred the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, despite ongoing efforts. The Pentagon reported a fifth strike by US fighter jets on Houthi targets, aimed at anti-ship missiles prepared for launch in the Red Sea. The Houthis have been attacking ships in the region, claiming retaliation for the war in Gaza. The US intends to re-list the Houthis as a global terrorist organization to limit their funding, while experts from the Atlantic Council and Middle East Institute suggest the strikes are symbolic and aimed at preserving freedom of navigation. The Pentagon emphasized a desire to avoid a broader war, and National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that the strikes would continue as necessary.

Blinken trip to West Africa brings Sahel and fallout from coups into focus

18 Jan 2024  |  The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit West Africa to discuss the Sahel's security challenges and the impact of Niger's recent coup. This marks his fourth trip to Africa and first to sub-Saharan Africa since March 2023. The visit follows a military coup in Niger that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, with the US pausing all counter-terrorism training in the country. Blinken's trip also comes after Chinese diplomat Wang Yi's tour of the continent, amidst US efforts to counter Chinese and Russian influence in the region. In Angola, Blinken will promote the Lobito project, a rail corridor development with the EU and regional partners. The visit is part of Blinken's diplomatic efforts, which recently included addressing Israel's military operations in Gaza.

John Kerry to step down as special envoy for climate

14 Jan 2024  |  The National
John Kerry is anticipated to resign as special envoy for climate to assist with President Joe Biden's re-election campaign. Kerry, a former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate, has been influential in promoting Biden's climate policies globally and has been involved in international climate conferences, such as COP 28 in Dubai. Despite his efforts, Biden's approval ratings have fallen, and he is currently neck and neck with Donald Trump for the upcoming election. Kerry's departure date from his climate role is not specified, but he is due to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos soon.

'Only bad options' for US and allies when it comes to dealing with Houthis, expert says

12 Jan 2024  |  The National
The US and UK have conducted strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to attacks on Red Sea shipping. Despite these efforts, Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, is skeptical about their effectiveness in deterring the Houthis. The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, stated the strikes aim to disrupt Houthi capabilities threatening global trade. President Joe Biden has signaled a willingness to take further action if necessary. The Houthis, possessing significant weaponry, have threatened retaliation, posing a challenge for the US to strike a balance in its military response.

US and UK hint at military response to Houthi Red Sea attacks as UN demands halt

11 Jan 2024  |  The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps hinted at a potential military response to the Houthi rebels' drone and missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. The UN Security Council demanded an immediate halt to these attacks. The Houthis, backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the recent attacks and vowed to continue until the siege of Gaza is lifted. The US and UK have warned of consequences, and the US military's Central Command reported thwarting a complex attack by the Houthis. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphasized US commitment to protect Red Sea shipping, and Blinken extended a warning to Iran over its support for the Houthis.

Antony Blinken renews call to protect civilians and prevent escalation

05 Jan 2024  |  The National
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Turkey and Greece to discuss the war in Gaza before embarking on a Middle East tour. He met with Turkish President Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis, emphasizing the need for regional peace, Israel's security, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Blinken highlighted Israel's right to self-defense and the importance of protecting civilians in Gaza. His tour includes Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the West Bank, aiming to prevent further violence. The assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh Al Arouri and attacks in Iran have heightened regional tensions. Blinken's visit follows US support for Israel in the ongoing conflict, including vetoing UN ceasefire resolutions and providing military aid.

US Defence Secretary to press Israel on next phase of Gaza war

17 Dec 2023  |  The National
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin is visiting Israel to discuss the next steps in the conflict with Gaza, following a recent visit by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Austin aims to consult on the operational milestones for Israel's campaign against Hamas. His trip coincides with concerns over Houthi rebel actions in the Red Sea, where the US has increased its naval presence. Austin also led a delegation to Kuwait to honor the late Sheikh Nawaf and is expected to visit Bahrain and Qatar to address the Houthi threat.

Top Pentagon official for Middle East policy expected to step down

12 Dec 2023  |  The National
Dana Stroul, the US deputy assistant secretary of defence for the Middle East, is expected to leave the Pentagon, although no official announcement has been made. Her role has been crucial to US defence policy in the region. Jonathan Lord of the Centre for a New America Security highlighted the challenges of her position, especially after the recent Hamas attack on Israel. The Pentagon also confirmed the departure of Dr. Mara Karlin, who contributed to the National Defence Strategy. These departures occur amid challenges faced by the Pentagon's senior leadership, including a recent dispute over the Defence Department's abortion policy led by Senator Tommy Tuberville, who has since lifted most of his blocks on officer promotions.

Why Christmas isn't coming to Bethlehem this year

08 Dec 2023  |  The National
Bethlehem has officially canceled Christmas celebrations for the first time in decades to show solidarity with Palestinians during the war in Gaza, which has resulted in over 17,000 deaths. The usual festive decorations and pilgrim gatherings are absent, and the local economy, heavily reliant on tourism, has been severely impacted. The decision reflects a collective mourning, with residents acknowledging the inappropriateness of celebrations amidst the conflict. The last cancellation of Christmas festivities in Bethlehem was in 1987 during the First Intifada.

Celebrations muted as Palestinian family embrace daughter released by Israel

25 Nov 2023  |  The National
Marah Bakir, a Palestinian woman, was released from an Israeli prison after eight years as part of a deal between Israel and Hamas, which includes a temporary truce and the exchange of detainees. Despite her family's joy, their celebrations in East Jerusalem were subdued due to Israeli police warnings against large gatherings. Marah, who was imprisoned at 15 for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli Police officer, a charge she and her family deny, is now 23 and coming to terms with her freedom and the circumstances of her release.

Israeli families reunited seven weeks after Hamas kidnapped hostages

25 Nov 2023  |  The National
After seven weeks of captivity by Hamas, 13 Israeli hostages, including Yoni Asher's wife Doron and daughters Raz and Aviv, were released as part of a deal with Israel. The agreement involves a temporary ceasefire and the release of 150 Palestinians in exchange for 50 Israeli hostages. The Asher family's reunion was met with national anticipation and relief, while concerns remain for the hostages still held. Public pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu's government has been significant, with daily gatherings in Tel Aviv. Yoni Asher has pledged to support the families of the remaining hostages and ensure their safe return.

Israelis torn between relief and anguish for hostages left behind

22 Nov 2023  |  The National
Following a truce in Gaza and an agreement to release 50 Israeli hostages, families are experiencing mixed emotions as over 180 individuals remain captive. The Siegel family, particularly Keith and Aviva, are among those abducted by Hamas militants. Their relative, Lee Siegel, expresses hope for their release as part of ongoing negotiations. The sentiment in Israel is increasingly in favor of prioritizing hostage release over military objectives against Hamas. The conflict has resulted in significant casualties on both sides, with calls for a permanent ceasefire and a peaceful resolution.

US and UK impose new sanctions on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders

14 Nov 2023  |  The National
The US and UK announced a new round of sanctions against leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as mechanisms used by Iran to support these groups. The sanctions target individuals such as Nasser Abu Sharif, the PIJ's primary financier, and Akram Al Ajouri, a military leader of the PIJ. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron expressed their countries' commitment to disrupting the financial infrastructure of these organizations. The US State Department also designated Al Ajouri as a global terrorist.

The sweet thereafter: Tareq Hadhad’s warm welcome in a cold land

11 Aug 2022  |  The National
Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee, rebuilt his family's chocolate business, Peace by Chocolate, in Canada after fleeing the Syrian war. The Hadhad family, initially displaced to Lebanon, found a new home in Nova Scotia through a community sponsorship program. Their story of resilience and success has garnered praise from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former US President Barack Obama. The family’s business not only spreads happiness through chocolates but also maintains a commitment to social responsibility, donating profits to causes like the Canadian Red Cross. Their journey exemplifies the welcoming and diverse nature of modern Canada.

US fears that Kabul winter will freeze vital aid flights and evacuations

22 Nov 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
US officials express concern that Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport may struggle to operate during the winter due to Visual Flight Rules and damaged infrastructure. Veterans' groups are working to evacuate Afghans but face challenges assessing the airport's capabilities. Despite the airport's possession of de-icing and snow-clearing equipment, there is uncertainty about its functionality. Nearly 23 million Afghans face food insecurity, and the UN warns of food stocks running out mid-winter. The World Food Programme is confident in its ability to continue aid flights, but visibility limitations may restrict operations. The US State Department urges the Taliban to finalize arrangements with international partners to ensure the airport remains functional throughout the winter.

US veterans urge State Department to rescue Afghans from Taliban

16 Nov 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
US military veterans and aid group representatives met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss accelerating efforts to help Afghans escape the Taliban. The coalition #AfghanEvac, which includes veterans, social workers, lawyers, and advocates, was acknowledged for their work in aiding vulnerable Afghans. Despite a productive meeting, there are calls for the State Department to improve the Special Immigrant Visa process. The US has evacuated over 120,000 people from Afghanistan, but many remain. A bipartisan group of senators seeks to expedite SIV processing as Afghanistan faces severe winter and potential famine.

A Remembrance Day to forget: Canadian military plagued by sexual misconduct scandal

10 Nov 2021  |  www.thenationalnews.com
The Canadian Armed Forces are facing a sexual misconduct scandal that began with allegations against retired Gen. Jonathan Vance. The crisis has led to a charge of obstruction of justice for Vance, the stepping aside of his successor Admiral Art McDonald, and sexual assault charges against Maj Gen Danny Fortin. The scandal has affected the military's command structure, morale, and public trust. In response, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was replaced by Anita Anand, who announced the transfer of sexual misconduct case investigations to civilian courts. The situation has raised concerns about the military's budget and recruitment, as it is currently short about 7,500 troops.

UN chief warns world of climate 'hellscape' as emissions rise

21 Sep 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of a climate 'hellscape' due to rising emissions at the UN General Assembly in New York. He emphasized the urgency for action ahead of the Cop26 meeting in Glasgow. China's President Xi Jinping announced the cessation of funding for coal projects overseas, and US President Joe Biden promised to double the US's international climate finance contribution. The article highlights the disparity between developed and developing nations in climate negotiations and the need for more ambitious climate action and funding.

Deja vu: Canada’s election results almost identical to 2019 vote

21 Sep 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party won 158 seats in the Canadian election, one more than in 2019, maintaining a minority government. The Conservatives led by Erin O’Toole won the popular vote but not the majority of seats. The election, costing $600 million, was questioned for its timing during a pandemic and faced logistical issues, resulting in lower voter turnout. Trudeau's handling of the pandemic was generally supported, but voters showed a preference for a minority government. Trudeau claimed a mandate to get Canada through the pandemic in his victory speech.

United in grief, relatives of 9/11 victims mark 20th anniversary in Guantanamo Bay

11 Sep 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
On the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, relatives of the victims, including Elizabeth Berry, gathered at US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to honor their loved ones and attend pretrial hearings of the accused. The event included a flag-raising ceremony and a chapel service where Navy Capt Samuel White spoke, and the names of the victims were displayed. The hearings resumed after being paused due to the pandemic, and family members like Berry hope for progress in the pursuit of justice.

Family of 9/11 victims optimistic as pretrial hearings resume

10 Sep 2021  |  The National
Elizabeth Berry, whose brother Billy Burke died in the 9/11 attacks, is hopeful for justice as pretrial hearings for the '9/11 Five' resume at Guantanamo Bay after a pandemic-induced pause. The hearings, which have been the longest prosecution in US history, are currently focused on the suitability of the new judge, US Air Force Col Matthew McCall. Accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others have raised objections to Col McCall's impartiality. Meanwhile, defendant Ammar Al Baluchi was unable to attend a hearing after assisting another detainee with a medical emergency.

Inside Guantanamo Bay: lush forests, wildlife and America’s most infamous prison

09 Sep 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
Guantanamo Bay, a US naval base in Cuba, juxtaposes natural beauty with the notoriety of its detention center, which has held alleged terrorists since 2002. The prison, criticized for past torture allegations and high operational costs, remains amidst political efforts to close it. The base, leased from Cuba since 1903, includes American amenities and diverse wildlife, with strict protections for local iguanas. Despite the idyllic setting, the detention center's legacy overshadows the base, reflecting the complex history and ongoing debates over its future.

‘9/11 Five’ back in court after pandemic halted proceedings

07 Sep 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
The '9/11 Five', accused of aiding the September 11 attacks, appeared in Guantanamo Bay's military court for the first time since the pandemic halted proceedings. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ammar Al Baluchi, Mustafa Hawsawi, and Ramzi bin Al Shibh faced allegations of torture by the CIA, which their defense argues makes evidence inadmissible. The case, one of the longest in US history, resumed under Judge Matthew McCall. An appellate ruling reaffirmed McCall's position and rejected a defense appeal against the destruction of a CIA black site. The trial was paused to review the ruling.

Canada's Trudeau halts Afghanistan evacuation efforts

26 Aug 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
Canada concluded its airlift mission in Afghanistan, evacuating over 3,700 individuals, amidst criticism for leaving many behind. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and acting chief of Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre acknowledged the challenges faced due to the rapid Taliban takeover. Afghan-Canadian Rozina shared her ordeal of escaping Kabul, while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the government's response.

'We will get you home,' Biden tells stranded US citizens in Afghanistan

20 Aug 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to evacuate all US citizens and vulnerable Afghans amidst the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, stating 'we will get you home.' Despite the ongoing criticism of his administration's handling of the situation, Biden emphasized the scale of the evacuation efforts, with 13,000 people flown out since August 14 and 18,000 since July. He acknowledged the uncertainty of the final outcome and the challenges of the airlift, while also noting the US forces' communication with the Taliban to ensure airport access. Biden addressed questions about counterterrorism and the ignored State Department dissent cable, taking responsibility for the decisions made.

Afghanistan war veterans are devastated by Taliban gains

15 Aug 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
Veterans of the Afghanistan war express devastation over the Taliban's rapid recapture of the country, questioning the value of their service and the sacrifices made. The US maintains its commitment to withdraw troops by August 31, despite criticism from veterans like retired lieutenant colonel John Baird. The Canadian government has pledged to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees but faces criticism for not acting sooner to evacuate interpreters. Some veterans, like Fausto Parra, find solace in the US's departure and the elimination of targets like Osama bin Laden.

Americans flock to Canada for first time since pandemic closed borders

09 Aug 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
Canada reopened its border to fully vaccinated Americans on August 9, 2021, for the first time since the closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travelers, including Anna Diraddo and Vicki Poulin, expressed joy at being able to visit family and vacation spots. The Canada Border Services Agency did not provide real-time statistics but predicted a 10 to 25 percent increase in traffic. Requirements for entry include proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. While Canadians cannot yet enter the US, the Biden administration is expected to announce its border policy by August 21.

Canada authorises Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15

22 Jun 2021  |  The National
Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, marking the first approval for this age group in any nation. The vaccine has been deemed safe and effective for preventing Covid-19 in this demographic. The US FDA is anticipated to follow with its approval, potentially allowing vaccinations before the next school year. This decision follows a successful trial by Pfizer-BioNTech, and comes as Canada faces a third wave of infections. Vaccine distribution is managed by provincial governments, with Alberta set to offer the vaccine to this age group starting Monday.

Four killed in 'targeted' attack on Muslims in Canada's Ontario

22 Jun 2021  |  The National
A Muslim family in London, Ontario, was killed in a deliberate attack motivated by Islamophobia. Nathaniel Veltman, the suspect, used a vehicle to strike the family, resulting in four deaths and serious injury to a child. London Police and the National Council of Canadian Muslims are treating the incident as a hate crime and potential terrorism. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and London's Mayor Ed Holder have publicly condemned the attack. The incident is reminiscent of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and has sparked calls for action against hate crimes.

Report finds indigenous Canadian women still face forced sterilisation

22 Jun 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
A Canadian Senate report has revealed the ongoing forced sterilisation of indigenous women, a practice with roots in the eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the abolition of laws requiring sterilisation of women deemed 'mentally defective' in the early 1970s, the practice has persisted, particularly targeting indigenous women. The report, based on witness testimonies, includes a case from 2001 where a woman was sterilised without consent after childbirth. The issue has gained attention following the death of Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman who was also sterilised without consent. Over 100 indigenous women, represented by lawyer Alisa Lombard, are involved in a class-action lawsuit in Saskatchewan. The Senate urges Parliament to study the issue further to identify solutions to end the practice, which affects indigenous and other marginalised communities.

IMF looks to tackle climate change through carbon pricing minimums

22 Jun 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
The International Monetary Fund has proposed an international carbon price floor to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, aiming to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The plan suggests a $75 per tonne price for G20 countries, which could reduce emissions by 23 percent if adopted by China, India, the US, EU, UK, and Canada. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva emphasized the need for a flexible, pragmatic, and equitable approach during an event at the Brookings Institution.

World Jewish Congress and Muslim World League celebrate Ramadan together

21 Jun 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
The World Jewish Congress and the Muslim World League held a virtual event to celebrate Ramadan and foster interfaith understanding. Attended by leaders such as Ronald S Lauder and Mohammad bin Abdul Karim, the event aimed to strengthen bonds and increase appreciation between Jewish and Muslim communities. The collaboration is part of the World Jewish Congress's efforts to improve coexistence worldwide.

Biden looks to reset relations with Europe trip

17 Jun 2021  |  www.thenationalnews.com
US President Joe Biden is embarking on his first foreign trip since taking office, aiming to reset relations with G7 members. He will meet Queen Elizabeth II in the UK before attending the G7 summit in Cornwall, marking the first in-person meeting of the group's leaders since the pandemic began. Biden's agenda includes reaffirming America's commitment to allies, attending the NATO summit in Brussels, and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. Despite past tensions, experts anticipate respectful interactions, particularly with Putin, contrasting with the previous administration's approach.

Canada struggles with ‘cultural genocide' past after hundreds of children's bodies found

17 Jun 2021  |  The National
Stewart Gonzales, a member of the Squamish Nation, recounts the abuse he suffered at St Paul's Indian Day School in North Vancouver, starting in 1966. The recent discovery of 215 children's bodies at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has reopened wounds for survivors like Gonzales. The Canadian government's residential school system, which operated from the 1800s to 1996, aimed to forcibly assimilate indigenous children, often involving severe punishment and sexual abuse. The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report labeled these actions as 'cultural genocide.' More than 4,100 children are estimated to have died or gone missing in these schools. The discovery in Kamloops has prompted calls for a deeper acknowledgment of Canada's history and the pain caused by residential schools.

Associated Press says Israel has provided no evidence of Hamas presence in Gaza office

17 Jun 2021  |  thenationalnews.com
The Associated Press has not received evidence from Israel to support claims that Hamas militants were operating from their Gaza building, which was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike last month. Israel's ambassador to the US and UN, Gilad Erdan, visited AP's New York headquarters to discuss the incident, stating the building was used by Hamas to jam the Iron Dome system. AP described the talks as positive but seeks the release of evidence. Erdan offered Israel's help to rebuild AP's Gaza operations.

Easy money: Ohio resident wins $1m in coronavirus vaccine lottery

28 May 2021  |  The National
Abbigail Bugenske from Silverton, Ohio, won $1 million in Ohio's Vax-a-Million lottery, designed to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Joseph Costello, 14, won a full scholarship to any of Ohio's public universities. The initiative by Governor Mike DeWine has been successful, with significant increases in vaccination rates, but has faced criticism from some state representatives. The medical community and the White House have praised the effort. Following Ohio's example, other states have launched similar incentive programs.

Tens of thousands displaced in Gaza amid fighting

17 May 2021  |  The National
Over 38,000 Gazans have fled their homes due to intense Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants, resulting in significant civilian casualties. The UN is providing shelter in schools but faces challenges with cramped conditions potentially exacerbating Covid-19 spread. The conflict has halted the UN's vaccination efforts, raising concerns about a possible third wave of the virus. The situation remains dire with ongoing violence and the risk of increased Covid-19 cases.

Will a proposed menthol cigarette ban in the US really make people quit?

30 Apr 2021  |  The National
The FDA's proposed ban on menthol cigarettes in the US is aimed at reducing smoking rates, particularly among African Americans who predominantly smoke menthols. While some, like a smoker named Tracey, believe it will have little effect on their habits, experts predict a significant market impact. Tobacco companies have seen share prices drop following the announcement. The ban could reduce cigarette sales by up to 40%, according to Imarc Group. Anti-tobacco groups and civil rights organizations support the ban for its potential health benefits, but there are concerns about civil liberties and the creation of a black market. Similar bans in Canada and the EU have shown some positive outcomes.

Tanzanian Tribe Turns to Carbon Offsets to Protect Ancestral Forests

15 Nov 2016  |  www.voanews.com
The Hadzabe, one of the world's last hunter-gatherer tribes, have lived in northern Tanzania for over 40,000 years. Facing the loss of 90 percent of their land since the 1960s, they are now leveraging the global carbon trading market to protect their ancestral forests in the Yaeda Valley.

A video I made looking into the illegal practice of dynamite fishing in Tanzania.

A story my partner and I did on a Tanzanian startup using drones to save Elephants.

This is a story I did for CBC's The National on refugees from Burundi stranded on a remote beach in Tanzania.

Zanzibar Bombings May Be Related to a Disputed Election

02 Nov 2015  |  www.nytimes.com
A series of small bombings in Zanzibar following a disputed election has raised concerns among residents and foreign embassies. The local election results from October 25 were canceled by the election commission chairman due to allegations of fraud and violence, which the leading opposition party contested. The American Embassy in Tanzania has expressed grave alarm and urged for a reversal of the decision. With the presidential race unaffected, tensions in Zanzibar remain high as the opposition demands the release of the election results.

Zanzibar Bombings May Be Related to a Disputed Election

02 Nov 2015  |  www.nytimes.com
Zanzibar has experienced a series of small bombings following a disputed election last month, raising concerns among residents and foreign embassies. A homemade bomb exploded early Sunday near Stone Town, a day after two similar incidents, and an undetonated bomb was found on Friday. Although there have been no injuries, the situation has prompted Britain to issue a travel advisory, warning of the potential for violence to escalate and advising against travel to the center of Stone Town.

John Magufuli Declared Winner in Tanzania’s Presidential Election

30 Oct 2015  |  www.nytimes.com
John Magufuli won Tanzania's presidential election with 58% of the vote, defeating Edward Lowassa, who received 40%. Magufuli's victory continues the dominance of the Party of the Revolution (C.C.M.) in Tanzanian politics since the 1960s. Despite allegations of election rigging by Lowassa, the election has been mostly peaceful. Concerns remain about potential protests due to the opposition's refusal to concede.

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