Ottawa pressed to help kidnapped reporters, Obama in Canada, all-black program registration

Time goes by fast and loose story threads can fray and get twisted with neglect. Here we go around the horn updating a few story bits of interest to On Deadline constant readers.

CANADIAN JOURNALISTS PRESS OTTAWA TO HELP KIDNAPPED REPORTERS

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) has urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to redouble efforts to secure the release of Canadian journalists kidnapped abroad.

 Today, Feb. 23,  marks six months to the day since Amanda Lindhout was abducted in Somalia and more than three months since Khadija Abdul Qahaar was taken on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

“Every day that Amanda Lindhout and Khadija Abdul Qahaar remain missing is another day that their lives are in grave danger, and another day of distress for their families, friends and colleagues,” said CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch, in a statement.

 “We once again call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to focus his undivided attention and all resources possible on finding and rescuing Amanda and Khadija,” Welch said.

Lindhout was abducted in Somalia on Aug. 23, 2008, along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan who is also still missing. Lindhout’s kidnappers threatened to kill her unless a ransom was paid by Oct. 28, a deadline that passed with no word from her captors. One month ago, on Jan. 23, her kidnappers reportedly lowered their ransom demand.

Qahaar was reported to have been seized at gunpoint on Nov. 11, 2008. She had noted on Oct. 22 that she had serious concerns about that possibility.

On Deadline has followed the Lindhout kidnapping for some time now, posting some pieces but chose to not report an unverified report issued, earlier this month, claiming Lindhout and Brennan had attempted to escape and were recaptured.

Some debate has been raised that by writing more about Lindhout’s kidnapping actually hurts her chances of release. Some international journalism agencies, familiar with such abductions, say that abductors use the reported furor about the kidnappings, and this includes Internet chatter and postings, as leverage in their ransom negotiations.

We have layed low on this ongoing tense story out of respect for such observations and for the family. We now provide this update to answer the questions of concern expressed by our constant readers here and to support the CAJ call of the federal government to help Lindhout and Qahaar.

– with files CAJ and CNW

OBAMA VISITS CANADA

President Barack’s Obama visit to Canada was a smashing success, nothing concrete was really set on this “working visit” but it was a PR smash for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama.

President Obama was eloquent in complimenting Canada’s heavy lifting, commitment and fighting in Afghanistan. He essentially said Canada’s commitment to open combat was its own issue to deal with but that Canada can still play a vital role in the region beyond active fighting.

The two nation leaders also said they would begin an open dialogue on energy conservation and fighting  carbon emissions via a North American model. Canada has the resources to burn and the U.S. has the need for them. Thankfully, President Obama has an eye on green technology and burning cleaner to create energy.

ALL-BLACK PROGRAM REGISTRATION BEGINS IN TORONTO

Registration has begun for Toronto’s groundbreaking  public school all-black program. The program is essentially an alternative program in a public school not solely restricted to black students, for the record.

The catalyst for the program was to help fight a stubborn 40 per cent dropout rate among black students by providing more diverse teaching staff and lessons. Initial outrage to the program called it segregation, however, initially, the concept proposed was in fact an all-black school. The proposal has been watered down and made more acceptable by eing modelled as an alternative program open to all.

Sixty kids have been registered so far for the program, with strong numbers in the kindergarten levels and between Grades 3 and 5, various reports note.

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