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Space X and NASA launch aborted 16 minutes before takeoff

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From NASA’s youtube page – coverage of pre-launch right up to last minute cancelation.

Next launch date is Saturday at 1:22 PM Mountain time

Return for live launch on Saturday:

Watch history unfold as NASA and SpaceX launch astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. This mission marks the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 that humans will fly to the space station from U.S. soil. Tune in Saturday as NASA and SpaceX provide joint, live coverage from launch to arrival at the space station. Teams are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT for the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  

Learn more about the mission: https://www.nasa.gov/launchamerica/

 

SpaceX ready to launch NASA astronauts, back on home turf

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Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, Amnesty, sex worker advocates say

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OTTAWA — Canada’s sex work laws are creating undue harm and contribute to human rights violations during COVID-19, sex workers and human rights advocates say, which is why they’re now pushing Ottawa to stop enforcing them.

Amnesty International Canada has joined a number of rights and sex work advocates in a lobby effort asking federal Justice Minister David Lametti for a moratorium on prostitution laws.

“We need to make sure the existing laws on the books aren’t enforced,” said Jackie Hansen, women’s rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada.

“Government has put them in a position where they won’t provide them income supports and yet will criminalize them if they work. That just needs to stop.”

They say decriminalizing sex work would help ease the burden workers have faced by taking away police surveillance of their work and their lives.

“Because sex work is not recognized as work, the labour standards and protocols that other industries are receiving right now are not available to the sex industry,” says Jenn Clamen, national co-ordinator of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform.

Businesses employing sex workers often operate in the shadows, so as they reopen they have no way to formalize and co-ordinate safety protocols or access supports for personal protective equipment, which are available to other industries, Clamen said.

These groups have also been raising alarm about how the criminalization of sex workers has caused them to remain ineligible to receive emergency income supports despite seeing their incomes disappear overnight when the pandemic hit.

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest, which has led many workers to prefer to remain undocumented, their incomes undeclared.

This means they don’t have the necessary paperwork to prove eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — a program being administered through the federal tax system.

“Criminalization is a direct barrier for accessing CERB and is a direct barrier for sex workers accessing other legal and social, medical supports in the community,” said Jelena Vermilion, executive director of Sex Workers’ Action Program (SWAP) Hamilton.

Vermilion, who is also a sex worker, says organizations like hers have been raising money through grassroots campaigns to provide aid to those who are struggling. But despite the relative success of some of these local initiatives, this aid has only been able to offer $50 or $100 gift cards and cash transfers to workers.

“That doesn’t pay rent at the end of the day,” she said.

“A lot of us are not surviving. It’s really pushing people who don’t have the option to access CERB into destitution, into further entrenched poverty. It’s going to cause people who were already on the margins, just surviving, to be ruined.”

The federal government has shovelled out millions in COVID-19 aid to shelters, sexual assault centres and a number of organizations that serve women and marginalized groups, including a $350-million investment to support charities and non-profit organizations serving vulnerable populations.

Clamen says these funds, while necessary, are not providing the help sex workers need.

Middle-class Canadians who lost their jobs are getting access to income supports, but sex workers are being helped by charities giving out gift cards, she said.

“The $100 grocery card that dictate where sex workers or people who don’t have income should shop or get their groceries is an extremely paternalistic response to people who actually need income supports,” Clamen said.

“The money needs to go into the hands of people.”

While they continue to push for more direct financial aid, Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform and other rights advocates say halting the enforcement of the laws that criminalize their lives would do much more.

“This is about the human rights of sex workers. When you are just furthering marginalization and you are furthering inequality, this is not where we want to be,” Hansen said.

“In a pandemic it can’t be a response that leads to some groups being disproportionately marginalized and impacted because government finds it hard to figure out how to handle this issue.”

In a statement Friday, Lametti’s office says officials are “aware of the specific concerns” that sex workers and advocates have highlighted but offered no comment on whether it is considering this legal move.

“We continue to engage with individuals and groups affected by the former Bill C-36,” the statement said, referencing the federal prostitution law brought in under the Conservative government of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

That law is up for its mandatory five-year review this year, which Lametti’s office says will provide “an appropriate forum for parliamentarians to examine the full range of effects that this legislation has had since its coming into force.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2020.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

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Rideau Hall suspect owns food business in Swan Lake, Man.

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An image linked to a COVID-19 conspiracy theory was posted to the social media pages of a company owned by a Manitoba man 35 minutes before he allegedly drove a truck through a gate at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall.

The photo about “Event 201” was posted on social media pages for Corey Hurren’s GrindHouse Fine Foods, a company known for selling spicy sausage.

“Event 201” refers to a pandemic training exercise that has been used by conspiracy theorists about the global health crisis.

Facebook and Instagram accounts for GrindHouse also shared many recent images about COVID-19, with jokes about whether the year could get worse.

“I was quite shocked,” Swan River mayor Lance Jacobson said Friday after learning 46-year-old Hurren had been arrested in Ottawa on Thursday.

Hurren appeared in court Friday afternoon on 22 charges, including possession of a restricted weapon and uttering threats.

Swan River, located 385 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, is a small community where everyone knows everyone, Jacobson added.

Hurren moved back to the community about one year ago, said Jacobson. Online posts about Hurren say he grew up in the area.

Hurren also worked with the Swan River Patrol of the Canadian Rangers, said Jacobson. The patrol was formed in the community about two years ago, the mayor said. The community is surrounded by two forests and thick brush and the patrol helps in emergencies and with searches.

Online posts also say that as a ranger Hurren was involved in a hunt in northern Manitoba last summer for two suspected killers from British Columbia.

“I found out a few months later when I went up as one of the instructors for the Wilderness Survival course that the training area used by the Gillam Patrol was only about 10 km away from where the manhunt subjects were found, just on the other side of the highway where we went into the bush,” said a GrindHouse post in January.

Social media accounts also say Hurren was a veteran of the Royal Canadian Artillery and a resume posted online on tripod.com says he served from 1997 to 2000.

The resume adds that Hurren went to Brandon University for computer science in 1994 and trained at Northwest Law Enforcement Academy in 2002. In 2004, he enrolled in distance learning at Red River College in Winnipeg, again for computer sciences.

The resume says Hurren worked in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba as a doorman and in bar security before he started in the meat industry in Swan River in 2005. He started his own company there in 2014.

The sausage Hurren made through GrindHouse was very popular with local snowmobilers, said Walter Pacamaniuk, reeve of the rural municipality of Mintonas-Bowsman.

He said Hurren called the area home for about 10 years before moving to Swan River. He worked at the local grocery store and seemed pleasant, Pacamaniuk added.

The reeve said he learned Hurren had been arrested in Ottawa when people called to tell him photos of the truck involved in the attack had Manitoba licence plates. Photos also showed a leather jacket with a logo for the local rodeo inside the truck.

Bill Gade, a councillor for the Municipality of Swan Valley West and owner of the local radio station, said Hurren has a wife and children in the community.

He seemed like “a nice normal guy,” said Gade.

The radio station started a GoFundMe page late Thursday to support Hurren’s family. Gade said community members want to help his family and don’t condone the alleged crime.

“His wife and kids woke up this morning and are facing the reality dad’s not coming home for a long time,” Gade said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020

Kelly Geraldine Malone and Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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