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Police presence in Jewish communities across Canada to be increased following Pittsburgh shooting – National




Toronto police will increase its visibility at synagogues, while Jewish advocacy groups say law enforcement will increase its presence across the country in Jewish communities after a gunman killed at least 11 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday.

11 dead, 6 injured in shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh

A spokesperson for York Regional Police said that it will be “increasing visibility at synagogues in the region.”

“Officers will be attending and will be inside as well,” the official said. “Officers are attending with the goal of trying to give everyone a sense of calm. They’re asking anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact them.”

Toronto police said in a statement that they will “continuously monitor issues and make appropriate adjustments in our plans in order to mitigate potential risks to public safety.”

WATCH: At least 11 dead, 6 injured after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

“We do not disclose the specifics of our security plans,” the statement read.

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said his officers have “made adjustments to local security” in a tweet.

In addition, a statement from Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC), a Canadian Jewish human rights foundation, said Vancouver police chief Adam Palmer reported that his department has instituted patrols around Jewish facilities “right away,” and that the Edmonton police department will do the same.

What we know about Robert Bowers, suspect in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Martin Sampson, a spokesperson for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), a Jewish advocacy group, said “law enforcement across Canada have, as a precaution, directed front line resources to increase presence around Jewish neighbourhoods and Jewish institutions.”

“We are in touch with all major law enforcement agencies, at all levels,” he said. “They have signaled directly to us [that they have increased their presence.]  Local presence has increased — more visible presence of front line police resources in and around Jewish community institutions and neighbourhoods.”

The presence will “certainly” be extended through the weekend, Sampson said.

WATCH: Trump says synagogue shooting is an ‘assault on all of us’

“Canadian law enforcement has reacted quickly and decisively to this situation, and for that we are grateful,” Sampson said. “Though there is no information to suggest an increased security threat in Canada, we have reminded our community right across the country that it is important to remain vigilant.”

Robert Bowers, 46, has been arrested as a suspect in connection with the shooting in Pittsburgh, Pa. that killed at least 11 at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue. CNN has reported that the gunman made anti-Semitic remarks during the shooting and he shot at police who arrive on the scene.

Anti-Semitism has increased in Canada in the last couple years, according to reports.

Trump condemns Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, says ‘vile’ anti-Semitism must end

According to a 2016 report from Statistics Canada, hate crimes against Jewish people saw the largest spike from the year before among religious groups, from 178 incidents reported to police in 2015 to 221 reported in 2016. These increases were recorded mainly in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

Jewish people were also the targets of the most hate crimes out of any religious group in 2016, according to the report.

According to an audit done by B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, 2017 was a record-breaking year for anti-Semitism in Canada. The audit found that there were 1,752 recorded incidents of anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitic vandalism more than doubled across the country, breaking the record for number of incidents at 327.

WATCH: Trump says synagogue shooting is an ‘assault on all of us’

The audit ranked Ontario as the number one region in Canada for anti-Semitic incidents, with a total of 808 reported incidents in 2017. Quebec came in second with 474 incidents of harassment and vandalism — the highest number ever recorded in the 36 year history of the audit, according to B’nai Brith’s Quebec regional director, Harvey Levine.

— With files from Rahul Kalvapalle, Monique Scotti and Anne Leclair

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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