Vocal Coach Reacts to Disturbed's "The Sound Of Silence"

Corus Radio Peterborough

Corus Radio Peterborough

Corus Radio Peterborough

 

I was watching a few videos on YouTube yesterday and for some reason this popped up as something I might be interested in.

A vocal coach reacts to Disturbed’s version of “The Sound of Silence” which came out in 2015.

David Draiman’s vocals will make the hair stand up on your arms but for some people they can’t get past the fact that he’s the lead singer of the rock band Disturbed and dismiss his abilities.

Case in point…this vocal coach who refused to give it a listen when it first came out.  After years of pressure from his YouTube followers he gave in and listened to the track earlier this year..

Needless to say he was blown away and admits he was wrong.

 

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

‘Highly polluting’: Why lawn care can be hazardous to health, environment

WATCH: Are gas-powered leaf blowers damaging to your health?

Canadians should rethink the way they upkeep their lawns and move towards more eco-friendly options, experts say.

With fall in full swing across Canada and winter not far away, many will be dusting off their leaf and snow blowers.

While these gadgets may help polish off the yard’s look in record time, gasoline-powered garden equipment — including lawn mowers and hedge trimmers — can be hazardous to the environment and our health, polluting the air we breathe.

“People may be surprised to think that a leaf blower actually produces a lot more pollution than a pick-up truck,” said Michael Brauer, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.

Read more:
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According to some estimates, using a leaf blower is equivalent to 100 cars on the road, he said.

This is because gas-powered garden equipment tend not to have a well-developed emission treatment system that most modern vehicles do, said Greg Evans, a professor in the department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry at the University of Toronto.

“These are quite primitive engines, not very different than they were 30, 40, 50 years ago, and they’re really, highly polluting,” added Brauer.

Lawn machines that use a two-stroke engine, where the oil and gas is mixed, spew a combination of gases including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides.

They also emit polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are known to be carcinogenic as well as fine particles, called PM2.5, that can penetrate deep into the lungs, affecting organ function.

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In the case of the leaf blowers, they end up stirring a lot of dust as well.

What makes the use of such equipment particularly hazardous is the proximity to the person handling them and others living in the area.

“They do have very high emissions of pollutants per amount of fuel burned,” said Jeffrey Brook, an environmental health expert and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

“Plus they’re operating very close to us, so our own individual exposures can be quite high.”

In the United States, in 2011, approximately 26.7 million tons of pollutants were emitted by gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment — accounting for 24 to 45 per cent of all non-road gasoline emissions, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A 2020 report by the California Air Resources Board found that emissions from small off-road engines, such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, trimmers and chainsaws, were higher than those emitted from the state’s 14.4 million passenger cars.

In most urban areas, Brauer estimates that lawn equipment would be contributing 10 to 20 per cent of overall emissions.

Besides that, noise pollution is another concern — not just in terms of annoyance but the health impact, as it can trigger strokes and heart attacks that could prove to be fatal, said Brauer.

“I think we just need to take this a little bit more seriously,” he said.

“Even though there may be a benefit in terms of having the equipment that can keep leaves off … there is a cost to using them.”

In 2018, Canada amended regulations for small off-road spark-ignition engines, imposing stricter emission standards in alignment with the U.S. EPA.

Over the years, on a local level, some jurisdictions have imposed bans on the use of leaf blowers, but the equipment is still widely used across the country.

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2021-2022 winter weather forecast: Here’s what Canadians can expect

Given the health hazards, moving toward cleaner and quieter electric and battery-powered options is highly recommended, experts say. Where possible, manual push mowers can also come in handy.

Evans said leaving some leaf cover on the lawn can also have ecological benefits.

“I think there needs to be a rethink about our love affair with green lawns,” said Brook.

“We should step back and think about more sustainable ways to grow our yards and maintain them.”

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

Painting gifted to France in Tory ‘act of cultural vandalism’ heralds Liberal cabinet swearing-in

Because it’s an abstract work of art, the top portion of the Jean-Paul Riopelle masterpiece that formed the backdrop of Tuesday’s swearing-in of the new federal Liberal cabinet can be interpreted as a balled fist with just the middle finger thrust upward.

See it? Is it just me?

It’s unlikely that’s what Riopelle — one of Canada’s most renowned artists on the world stage — had in mind when he created the five-metre-wide Point de rencontre (Meeting Place) in 1963.

But it would explain why the painting, the largest ever executed by the late Montreal-born artist, was rushed into place on the front wall of the Rideau Hall Ballroom just a few days before Tuesday’s ceremony.

Read more:
Trudeau unveils new cabinet with 9 new faces, major shake ups to top jobs

If the new Liberal government could have picked one oil-on-canvas on Earth to send a subtle, snarky message to the recently vanquished Conservatives — to add an artistic insult to the injury of the Liberal election victory that led to Tuesday’s unveiling of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet — it would have been Point de rencontre.

Commissioned by the Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson in 1963 to celebrate Riopelle’s rising reputation in the art world, the painting was unveiled the following year at the Toronto International Airport, which was posthumously named for Pearson in 1984.

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‘Vent du nord,’ Canada’s second most expensive artwork, sells for over $7.4M

Before Tuesday’s ceremony, it had been 32 years since the artwork was last in the national spotlight. In 1989 it was at the centre of a transatlantic political controversy after then-Tory prime minister Brian Mulroney had it plucked from a wall at the Toronto airport and gifted to the people of France.

The grand gesture, meant to mark the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and symbolize the close relationship between France and Canada, was instantly assailed by opposition critics and editorialists as a crime against Canadian heritage that typified what they considered the Progressive Conservative government’s dismissive attitude towards arts and culture.

NDP MP Ian Waddell — who had been drawn to politics by the Nobel Prize-winning Pearson and served as his chauffeur during the 1962 election campaign — even held a press conference in front of the blank wall at Pearson airport where the painting had been displayed for a quarter-century.

“Prime Minister Mulroney has engaged in an act of sophisticated cultural vandalism in order to curry favour with the French government,” Waddell stated at the time. “No other government in the world — especially not the French — would even consider such a give-away of its national heritage.”

Read more:
Riopelle work nets $1.2 million at auction

Amid the furore, a Riopelle spokesperson told the Toronto Star that the artist was “very, very sad” about the painting’s move to France, where it was first displayed at a Paris opera house and later at a Parisian art gallery — the Centre national des arts plastiques — which still owns it.

“The work was made specifically for the airport,” said the Riopelle spokesperson. “He thinks it should remain in the place it was meant for.”

An Ottawa Citizen editorial echoed the point: “To rob a building of a work of art specially created for it shows an amazing lack of sensitivity to the relationship between the painting and the space it was meant to occupy,” the paper opined. “What’s more, to take back what was essentially a present to the Canadian people and give it instead to the (presumably more deserving) French, borders on the insulting.”

Mulroney, most recently spotted giving his enthusiastic endorsement to Conservative leader Erin O’Toole five days before the Sept. 20 election, defended the gift to France in 1989 as a celebration of “the richness of art and the creativity and friendship between Canada and France.”

More than three decades after Riopelle’s famous monumental painting left the country, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art secured it on loan for its recent retrospective exhibition on the Quebec painter, who died in 2002.

The painting was shipped to Ottawa ahead of the Liberal cabinet installation ceremony — a mere coincidence, no doubt. Rideau Hall issued a tweet late last week showing a time-lapse video of Point de rencontre being unloaded, unpacked and reassembled on the main wall of the refurbished ballroom at the Governor General’s official residence.

“The title of this artwork,” stated an Oct. 21 press release announcing the painting’s arrival at Rideau Hall, “refers to a Huron word meaning ‘place of meeting’ (point de rencontre in French), which describes the area where Indigenous peoples made their way between lakes Ontario and Huron.”

Perhaps I’m just seeing things in that finger-like swirl of colours at the top of the artwork.

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Point de rencontre will remain at Rideau Hall until 2024, when it will be shipped back to Paris.

Evidently, France isn’t giving it away.

Randy Boswell is a Carleton University journalism professor and a former Postmedia News national reporter.

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

Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens crushed by the Seattle Kraken

It’s a four-game road trip through the west coast of the United States for the Montreal Canadiens. It starts with the first game in over 100 years in Seattle for the Canadiens as the Kraken played their second game in their new home at Climate Pledge Arena in the shadow of the Space Needle.

Montreal now has only one win in its first seven games as the Canadiens were humiliated yet again — this time by a score of 5-1. It’s getting extremely concerning that this season could be a disaster.

Read more:
Montreal Canadiens dominate the Detroit Red Wings (Oct. 23, 2021)

Wilde Horses

With another convincing loss, it is difficult to fill this section, but there were some encouraging performances. Cole Caufield had his best game of the season for Montreal. He still remains at zero for goals, so this Calder Trophy hopeful season looks more like a campaign of growth, rather than arrival and stardom. And this was a game of growth. Caufield looked better overall. He had the puck more. He took more shots. He broke into the zone effectively. He handled his defence well.

Mike Hoffman was the best forward for the Canadiens on the night. He’s a goal scorer and he scored a goal again. That’s two goals in two games for Hoffman.

Nick Suzuki also held his own in this one as he continues to try to get more comfortable facing the best lines in the league instead of the second-best. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is huge. Match-ups are everything, and Danault not handling the hardest ones has been an eye-opener for Suzuki. It’s going to take Suzuki a while to be the number one centre for the club. In fact, it might be a challenge too hard for him overall. You have to be among the top 15 centres in the league to be effective to handle the other teams’ best lines. In this one, he looked better, but expect ups and downs in this battle.

Read more:
Carolina Hurricanes hand Montreal Canadiens their 5th straight loss of season (Oct. 21, 2021)

Wilde Goats 

The Canadiens are extremely difficult to understand right now. They are the worst team in hockey. The talent level is so much better than the way they are playing. They are lost out there: poor line changes, odd-man rushes given up regularly, poor finishing around the net, backing into their own goalie all the time, not physical enough, undisciplined penalties, suspect goaltending, horrendous special teams.

They have so much wrong with their game, they don’t resemble a well-coached team at all. Heck, they don’t resemble a coached team at all.

The players themselves are not even close to this bad. Offensively, they are way better than this. Defensively, they are likely better than this. On special teams, they are certainly better than this as Montreal is near last in the league in both the power play and penalty killing.

The supposed best line on the team — Jonathan Drouin, Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak — were minus three each on the first three Seattle goals. That’s your best line against an expansion team getting schooled.

Look at the players’ histories for proof. Mike Hoffman regularly scores 20 goals per season. Tyler Toffoli also pots goals regularly. A lot of players on this squad have 20- and 30-goal seasons. Brendan Gallagher, Nick Suzuki, Jonathan Drouin — these are players we all know as talented. So where is it?

The offence, with seemingly only one-goal-per-game potential every night but one against Detroit, is struggling horribly. The defence we knew had holes and they are definitely getting exploited.

This is beginning to look not like a blip but the actual tenor of the season. It does not appear at all that the Canadiens have the potential to win more than they lose this campaign.

This is actually looking like a long season already.

Coming into the season, it was said that the Canadiens would have to get through the first 20 games facing several challenges: dealing with injuries; getting comfortable with each other after so many changes to key players; and having younger players who need to learn in their new roles. But the team didn’t make it through five gives, never mind 20.

There are 75 more games. The head coach just received a three-year contract extension. He is not going anywhere. Where are the answers going to come from? Will everyone accept a season of this? Can Joel Edmundson’s return make that much of a difference overall?

Is there any difficult organizational question that anyone feels certain that they can answer yes to?

Being serious, the only one that comes to mind is the 31st-ranked power play and penalty kills will be better than this. The habit of getting one goal per game should be replaced by a habit of getting two goals per game. This should mean a handful of more wins, but not many more.

This is a grim Wilde Goats. It would be nice to eat all of the words of it for the sake of Habs fans.

Read more:
Carolina Hurricanes troll winless Montreal Canadiens, adding fuel to rivalry

Wilde Cards

Jonathan Drouin accidentally caused a bit of a stir in Seattle on Tuesday. He mentioned that Shea Weber is retired from hockey. This was a surprise to everyone who quickly announced it as if this were some form of formal news. However, all Drouin was saying is philosophically he is retired, and he has likely played his last game.

That’s fair. We all knew this already. It is just that when this comes from someone who has been in close contact with Weber and who is a friend, it made it sound official.

Canadiens public relations director Paul Wilson, who clearly has his ear to the media’s doings each and every day, quickly issued a release that Weber has not retired from the NHL and no papers have been signed to indicate anything of the sort.

There would be no reason for Weber to sign those papers and relinquish the $12 million that he still has coming to him in the contract that he signed ages ago. This is terrific news to the Nashville Predators who would be on the hook for a massive salary cap recapture penalty if Weber were to make it official and retire.

As it is, Weber remains on long-term injured reserve and therefore is a cap exemption for Montreal. General Manager Marc Bergevin has indicated that he has plans for Weber when he does make it official. In fact, Weber has already done some scouting.

I’m not sure what Weber is interested in himself, but the man is a leader and it is easy to see him become an outstanding coach, if he has that desire. He has the ability to get the most out of people. He truly is an amazing leader who has the respect of his teammates like no other. Imagine the leadership skills as a coach.  There’s a spot for him in hockey should these injuries not heal sufficiently for him to ever return.

It will be interesting to see how it develops. After Luke Richardson’s excellent work behind the bench in the Canadiens playoff run when Dominique Ducharme caught COVID-19, there is a head coaching job in the future for the now boss of the Canadiens blue line. It’s easy to see Weber handling those duties in the future for the Canadiens.

 

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

Toronto police release suspect vehicle image from weekend plaza parking lot shooting

WATCH ABOVE: Toronto sees at least 6 shootings within the past 48 hours. Rosen has more on the city's latest surge in gun violence.

Toronto Police have released a photo of the suspect vehicle seen driving ‘aggressively’ away from the scene of a shooting during the day on Saturday.

Police said crews were called to the Weston Road and Highway 401 area at 3:42 p.m. Saturday for reports of a shooting in a plaza parking lot.

When officers arrived, they found a man who had been shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Read more:
Daylight shooting marks 3rd homicide investigation in Toronto in less than 24 hours

He was later identified by police as 24-year-old Mathio Youkhanna from Toronto.

Police said the suspect vehicle, believed to be involved in the shooting, is described as a black Lexus SUV. It was seen driving away in an aggressive manner a few minutes after the shooting, police said.

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

Halloween prank leads to 911 call in South Carolina

Police in South Carolina received a 911 call about a toddler trapped head-first in a storm drain.  When police arrived they quickly discovered that someone had recreated a scene from the horror movie “It.”

The Spartanburg Police Department posted a photo of the prank which shows the legs of a child sticking out of the gutter, and the head of a white-faced clown hidden in the shadows.

The pranksters did a pretty good job!

The department saw the humour and roasted the pranksters on Facebook for leaving out the clown’s terrifying calling card: a single red balloon.

© 2021 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Convicted B.C. murderer, who now identifies as a woman, denied parole

A long-term sex offender who fatally shot a woman 10 years ago in B.C.’s Interior failed in an attempt to get released on parole.

Roger Dale Badour, 73, who now identifies as a woman but committed his crimes while identifying as a man, was eligible for parole this year.

Badour is serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of Gisele Duckham, 56, on a rural property near Princeton in 2011.

Read more:
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Badour moved into a trailer on Duckham’s property in 2011 in exchange for labour.

Badour was first employed as a painter, then as security for a grow op, according to Parole Board of Canada documents.

Following an argument, Badour shot Duckham twice, wrapped her body in material, then fled the property.

At the time of the murder, Badour was out on parole and supposed to be living in a halfway house in Victoria in addition to abstaining from friendships with women.

Badour had been serving a sentence for the 2008 violent sexual assault of a pregnant woman and the parole board indicated there were ongoing issues during years of incarceration. As such, RCMP sent out warnings that Badour was a high-risk offender, a particular threat to women. Badour had managed to walk away from supervision in Victoria without detection.

When police eventually caught up with Badour, he confessed to shooting Duckham, though he later recanted.

In 2014, Badour pleaded guilty to the shooting. At the time, Badour said he killed Duckham because she threatened to turn him in.

Badour has been incarcerated ever since, according to the Parole Board of Canada, and is still at a high risk to re-offend.

The case management team noted Badour as a “poor historian having shown you will lie to police or others in positions of authority in order to protect your own interests. Your case management team believes it is difficult to ascertain what is true or not in your case.”

“Various psychiatric/psychological reports on file indicate (she is) a high risk for violent and/or sexual recidivism,” reads the Parole Board of Canada document outlying the decision to deny parole.

“(She has) not internalized learned skills despite completing programs during several periods of incarceration. (She has) planned crimes and also reacted impulsively by attacking victims verbally, physically, and often times with weapons (rope, knife, guns).”

The parole board highlighted a number of circumstances where Badour was falling short of expectation, showing aggressive behaviour and poor problem-solving abilities, threatening staff and fellow prisoners alike, the latest of which was toward a parole officer in August 2021.

At that time, Badour twice threatened to kill her parole officer the next time she saw him despite being given time to cool off, the parole board said.

Some improvement has been made since they started identifying as female, the parole board wrote, noting that Badour feels better now that she is open about her gender status.

“(She) did, however, believe that (her) new gender identification led to conflict and mistreatment on (their) living unit,” reads the document.

“(She) made a request to move to another living unit, one where other inmates had identified as female as well. Once (she) made the move, the conflict and problem behaviour reduced.”

That, however, was not enough to gain release.

“Overall, given (her) extensive criminal history, lack of programming and limited progress reported during this incarceration, the Board assesses (her) aggravating factors significantly outweigh the mitigating circumstances, and that a release at this time will pose undue risk and will not protect society,” the parole board ruled.

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

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

From the street, it looks like just another Kabul compound, but that’s the point. The families inside don’t want to be found. They’re hiding from the Taliban who patrol the city in their pickups.

Occupied by former employees of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan, the compound is self-contained so they don’t have to go out, where they risk getting stopped and questioned.

Behind a heavy gate, there is a courtyard so packed with kids it’s like a playground at recess, as well as a large dining hall and rooms where almost 250 Afghans stay while they wait to escape to Canada.

“Some of them were carpenters, some of them were mechanics, some of them were interpreters,” said Mohammad Umer, a former Canadian Forces interpreter living at the safe house.

“Do not leave us alone.”

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

Hundreds of Afghans left behind by Canada’s stalled evacuation effort are scattered throughout Kabul in safe houses like this. The locations of the apartments, homes and hotels are a closely guarded secret.

But Global News was able to visit three of the facilities last week, rare access to Afghans stranded between the homes they abandoned in Kandahar as the Taliban seized the country and the promise of a new life in Canada.

As former employees of Canada’s military when it was deployed to Kandahar, they were told the Canadian government would resettle them because of the risks they faced under the Taliban.

But that promise remains unfulfilled, and since August they have been living in Kabul safe houses with their families, fearing the Taliban knows who they are and will come for them.

Boy at a Kabul safe house for Afghans awaiting evacuation to Canada.

Boy at a Kabul safe house for Afghans awaiting evacuation to Canada.

Stewart Bell/Global News

A former security guard at the Canadian base in Kandahar who is now hiding in Kabul said the Taliban had kidnapped her son, sent her his photo, and told her to turn herself in.

Another said the Taliban abducted his brother and beat him while asking him to reveal his location. Several spoke of the Taliban visiting their homes in Kandahar, looking for them.

“We are their enemies,” said a resident of the safe house, a former Canadian Forces interpreter who goes by Eric and did not want his full name published.

“They will take their revenge.”

He said former Canadian military employees thought Kabul would be secure when they fled there. They didn’t believe the Taliban would not take it. They didn’t expect the government to collapse, but it did.

Gun-mounted pickups rolled into the city flying white flags, claiming power for the first time since the Taliban was ousted in 2001 for providing safe haven to the Al Qaeda terrorist network behind the 9/11 attacks.

Taliban members pose with their flag at Massoud Circle, where portraits of the anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud have been torn down.

Taliban members pose with their flag at Massoud Circle, where portraits of the anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud have been torn down.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Their arrival was chilling for Eric.

When he worked at Forward Operation Base Graceland, he said he got threats from the Taliban in the form of phone calls and letters. His uncle, who worked for the U.S. forces, was shot dead while on his way home, he said.

With the Taliban on the doorstep of Kandahar, Eric packed up his family and fled to Kabul in June. He applied for resettlement a week after the program was announced in July, he said.

Though he received his visa in August, Kabul airport was chaos. Crowds thronged the airport and he couldn’t find any Canadians to help him get on an evacuation flight.

Since then, he’s been living in a top-floor room at the safe house. There are no more planes, and the land borders require visas that are hard to get, especially for those lacking passports. He mostly stays indoors.

“The environment is not safe,” he said. “It’s risky to be here.”

Children at a safe house for Afghans awaiting evacuation to Canada.

Children at a safe house for Afghans awaiting evacuation to Canada.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Canadian military veterans have been able to extract almost 300 Afghans to Pakistan in convoys, but they said another 10,000 resettlement applications remained in the country.

Canada’s door is open but out of reach.

Emails sent to the Canadian government about his case generate auto-replies, he said. Afghans helped the Canadian Forces when they were in his country, Eric said.

“Well, it’s time for them to help us.”

The safe houses were meant to be temporary shelters, short-term accommodation for at-risk Afghans while they transited between Kandahar and Canada, but evacuations have all but ended.

And with the resettlement process lagging, the Canadian non-profit that operates the facilities, Aman Lara, said it was running out of money and would have to begin shutting them on Nov. 5.

Former Canadian Forces employee Driver Gafar shows an email authorizing him to travel to Canada, but he said he remained stranded at a Kabul safe house.

Former Canadian Forces employee Driver Gafar shows an email authorizing him to travel to Canada, but he said he remained stranded at a Kabul safe house.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Sitting in the safe house dining hall with more than 40 Afghan men, who all claim to have links to Canada’s military, Umer said the families had depleted their savings and had nowhere else to go.

Even if they had money, bank withdrawals are limited to $200 a week, due to the country’s economic crisis. “This is really a restless time for all of them,” Umer said.

Only 40 per cent of the families at the safe house are approved for resettlement to Canada, but there is way out of Afghanistan anyway, he said.

There are few evacuation flights and Pakistan is difficult to enter.

Kabul, October 2021.

Kabul, October 2021.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Those living at the safe house said they were frustrated at the slow pace of their immigration cases, and the Canadian government’s failure to help them leave the country.

“Speed up the evacuation process,” Umer said.

Taliban members and officials assured Global News in interviews they would not retaliate against Afghans who worked for the Canadian and other international forces during the 20-year conflict.

But few in Kabul give much weight to what the Taliban has been saying as it attempts to persuade the world to recognize it as Afghanistan’s new government and re-open the flow of international aid.

Having witnessed the Taliban’s conduct over the past 25 years, and the way it threatened and targeted Afghans who supported the coalition forces, there are widespread fears of a looming crackdown.

Children at a Kabul safe house for Afghans waiting to be evacuated to Canada.

Children at a Kabul safe house for Afghans waiting to be evacuated to Canada.

Stewart Bell/Global News

According to some Afghans, it is already underway.

A mother of two, Dorkhani, showed Global News a certificate of appreciation she received in 2006 for her contribution to the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar.

As a member of a local security team, she conducted body searches of women for the Canadian Forces. She also had a certificate from the U.S. Army.

Six months ago, she said her son, 22, a former driver for the Canadian Forces, was killed when the Taliban bombed his vehicle. She left Kandahar for Kabul three days later.

But last week she said her 19-year-old son was abducted by the Taliban in Kandahar. The Taliban got her phone number from her son and sent her messages on WhatsApp, telling her to turn herself in.

When she refused, they threatened her, calling her a slave of the infidels. Her son was released after three days. She said the Taliban hated her because she worked for the international forces.

She said she had applied for resettlement to Canada but did not know where her case stood.

A room at a Kabul safe house for Afghans trying to get to Canada.

A room at a Kabul safe house for Afghans trying to get to Canada.

Stewart Bell/Global News

At another safe house in a different part of Kabul, the bolted front gate opens to a children’s slide. Out back, three kids play on a swing set.

The house has burgundy carpets and a basement stocked with food, drinks and medicine. A spiral staircase connects levels occupied by eight families. All are waiting to find their way to Canada.

“The Taliban are telling us, ‘You helped the Canadian Forces, you are infidels,’” said Alokozay, a safe house resident who did not want his full name published.

“Just get is out of this Afghanistan.”

Read more:
Fearful of Taliban, targeted by ISIS, persecuted Hazaras flee Afghanistan

On another level, a man who said the Canadian troops nicknamed him Driver Gafar sat on a cushion surrounded by his kids, recalling how he had escorted Canadian military convoys around Kandahar, using his knowledge of local roads to keep the troops safe.

As Kandahar was falling to the Taliban in July, Gafar applied for resettlement to Canada. He left his barbershop and grocery store to bring his wife and seven children to Kabul, only to find it was a dead end.

“If they catch me they will do bad things to me,” he said of the Taliban, adding they had already abducted his son.

Former Canadian Forces employee Driver Gafar and his son, 13, abducted by the Taliban when he strayed from their Kabul safe house.

Former Canadian Forces employee Driver Gafar and his son, 13, abducted by the Taliban when he strayed from their Kabul safe house.

Stewart Bell/Global News

In mid-September, the 13-year-old left the safe house without permission to get ice cream and was caught by the Taliban.

They took him to the Panjshir Valley, where the Taliban was fighting the remnants of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance rebels.

“There were rockets, there were gunshots everywhere, so I was very afraid,” the boy said in an interview.

Put to work in the kitchen, he hauled water, washed dishes and helped with the cooking, he said. He was then moved south to Helmand Province, where his father finally found him. He had been missing for 18 days.

Gafar said he wanted to get his children to Canada so they could live without fear and return to school. “This is the most important for us,” he said. “All we need from Canadians is to push our cases.”

Global News met dozens of Afghans with similar accounts of leaving their homes and jobs in Kandahar, and moving to Kabul with the understanding that Canada would evacuate them.

Many had photos showing them working with the Canadian Forces, as well as certificates of appreciation from the Canadian military — although others said they had burned their records so the Taliban wouldn’t find them.

Haji Toor Jan has photos showing him working with the Canadian Forces, but said he is stranded in Kabul.

Haji Toor Jan has photos showing him working with the Canadian Forces, but said he is stranded in Kabul.

Stewart Bell/Global News

Some showed emails indicating they had been accepted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Others said their immigration cases were being processed and questioned the pace of Canada’s resettlement program.

“The process is really bad,” said Abdul Baqi, who said he was known as Haji Toor Jan when he was head of security at the Canadian Armed Forces camp in Kandahar.

Since fleeing to Kabul, he said he had been moving weekly to avoid the Taliban. He disguises himself by wearing glasses and switches his clothing, he said.

He said while a handful of former colleagues had made it to Pakistan and on to Toronto, he was frustrated to be among the many left behind to fend for themselves.

“The people that need to be evacuated soon are still here,” he said.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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

Police in Halifax region seek public's help in locating missing 10-year-old

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 10-year-old who was last seen on Tuesday in North Preston.

The Halifax RCMP said Ashayo Johnson was last seen wearing a blue puffy jacket with black sweatpants and light blue sneakers.

Police say Ashayo is described as being black, 4 feet tall and 75 pounds with dark hair and dark eyes.

“When someone goes missing, it has deep and far-reaching impacts for the person and those that know them,” Nova Scotia RCMP said in a news release Tuesday.

“We ask that people spread the word through social media respectfully.”

Anyone with information on Ashayo Johnson’s whereabouts is asked to contact Halifax District RCMP or Crime Stoppers.

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

Who is Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the military strongman behind Sudan coup?

WATCH: Sudan military dissolves transitional government in apparent coup

The general leading Sudan’s coup has vowed to usher the country to an elected government. But Abdel-Fattah Burhan has powerful allies, including Gulf nations and a feared Sudanese paramilitary commander, and he appears intent on keeping the military firmly in control.

Burhan first gained prominence in 2019, when he and other top generals toppled Omar al-Bashir, under pressure from mass demonstrations against the autocrat’s 30-year rule.

He remained in charge for several months, until international pressure forced the military to reach a power-sharing deal with the protesters. That established a joint civilian-military Sovereign Council headed by Burhan that was supposed to rule Sudan until elections, set for 2023.

Burhan’s record was relatively clean and he was not indicted by The International Criminal Court like al-Bashir and others for crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict of the early 2000s. He was a rare non-Islamist among the top generals during al-Bashir’s military-Islamist regime. That helped Sudan emerge from the international pariah status it had under al-Bashir.

Read more:
Sudan coup: Protesters block roads, burn tires after military takeover

On Monday, Burhan swept away the vestiges of civilian government. He dissolved the Sovereign Council and the transitional government, detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other officials, and declared a state of emergency. Hamdok was released Tuesday, but others remain in custody.

The takeover came just weeks before Burhan, 61, was scheduled to be replaced by a civilian as head of the council. He has promised that the military will hand over power once a government is elected in July 2023.

Civilian control would not only undermine the military’s political power, but also threaten its extensive financial resources and could lead to prosecutions for rights violations in the past 30 years.

Burhan has been backed in recent years by Egypt, led by a general-turned-president, and Gulf countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates. He trained in Egypt’s military college and has made multiple visits since 2019 to the Emirates’ de-facto ruler, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In a sign of the decisive behind-the-scenes role of Gulf countries, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the foreign minister of regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia about Sudan on Tuesday. A State Department statement said both men condemned the military takeover.

On Monday, Egypt and some of the Gulf countries had avoided criticizing the coup, calling instead for calm and dialogue.

“There’s a general preference for a strong military leader who is very transactional. That fits Gulf interests more than a democratic government,” said Cameron Hudson, a former U.S. State Department official and Sudan expert at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

“They’re fearful of what an Arab Spring success story looks like,” he said, referring to the uprisings in 2011 that helped inspire the Sudanese protests.

Also standing behind Burhan is another general, one who is more feared: Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the Rapid Support Forces — a paramilitary unit that grew out of the al-Bashir-backed Janjaweed militias notorious for atrocities and rapes during the Darfur conflict.

RSF fighters were prominent in Monday’s coup, taking part in arresting Hamdok and other senior officials and clamping down in the streets. The force is virtually a “de facto parallel army of tens of thousands of battle-tested fighters,” said Suliman Baldo, senior adviser at The Sentry, an investigative and policy group focusing on war crimes in Africa.

Read more:
Sudan military seizes power in apparent coup, arrests prime minister

Burhan has a long connection with Dagalo, who is also known as Hemedti. Burhan was a commander in Darfur, where the military and RSF waged a brutal campaign to crush an insurgency, Baldo said. As many as 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were displaced in a campaign of mass rape and abuse.

He distanced himself from the atrocities, once telling the BBC, “I am not responsible for any bad actions in Darfur… As far as I’m concerned, I was fighting an enemy just as all regular forces do.”

In 2015, Burhan and Dagalo coordinated the deployment of Sudanese troops and RSF fighters to Yemen to fight with the Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels. Their forces received hefty payments from the Saudis and Emiratis, building those countries’ connections to the two commanders.

In the uprising against al-Bashir, Burhan and Dagalo refused orders to violently disperse the protesters and even met with them at their sit-in camp. Behind the scenes, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates encouraged them to push out al-Bashir.

Read more:
2 killed after Sudan forces fire at demonstrators marking anniversary of uprising

But protests continued after al-Bashir’s fall, with demands for the military to give up. On June 2, 2019, security forces and RSF fighters attacked the protesters. More than 100 people were killed, and soldiers raped dozens of women. Prosecutors blamed paramilitary forces, but the bloodshed stained Burhan and Dagalo in the eyes of protesters.

“Burhan was responsible because he was the leader, it’s that simple,” said Osman Mirgany, a Khartoum-based columnist and editor of the daily al-Tayar. “He promised not to touch the sit-in and then a massacre occurred. From that point on, people realized he would never keep his promises.”

For the military’s opponents, that skepticism hangs over Burhan’s promises of civilian rule. Baldo, of the Sentry group, said the general and Dagalo are both intent on remaining free from civilian oversight.

Moreover, he said, they are “concerned about being held accountable for atrocity crimes committed under their command” — in Darfur and in the 2019 sit-in killings and rapes.

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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