Archive for February 20th, 2020

GoFundMe to send bullied Australian boy in viral video to Disneyland raises $121K – New York Post

February 20th, 2020

More than $121,000 in charity money has been raised to send a bullied Australian boy filmed in a viral video sobbing after school to Disneyland.

Thousands of donors have chipped in to a GoFundme supporting the vacation for Quaden Bayles, 9, who was born with Achondroplasia dwarfism.

The outpouring of support was inspired by a heartwrenching video his mother posted of Quaden crying in the family car after another child at his school mocked him for his height.

“I wish I could stab myself in my heart,” Quaden says through tears in the clip. “I want someone to kill me.”

The page organizer, Brad Williams, wrote that he launched the fundraiser to show Quaden “there is good in the world” and claimed to be in touch directly with his mother, Yarraka Bayles.

“I’m setting up this GoFundMe to let Quaden know that bullying will not be tolerated, and that he is a wonderful human being who deserves joy,” Williams wrote. “I want to fly Quaden and his mother to America, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland.”

Yarraka Bayles originally shared the video to illustrate the effects of bullying and to get parenting advice from others.

“I want people to know, this is the effect bullying has,” she says in the video. “This is what bullying does. All it takes is one more instant, and you wonder why kids are killing themselves.”

The clip has been viewed more than 15 million times since Bayles uploaded it to Facebook Tuesday, rallying encouragement from across the globe.

“Sending love to you from Minnesota!” wrote one contributor. “You are an amazing boy with so much to share with the world!”

Another added, “We love you Quaden and Family! Have a great trip from Somerset, MA, USA!”

Back home, athletes from the Indigenous Australian professional rugby league invited Quaden to lead the Indigenous All Stars team out onto the field for an upcoming match.

“Just want to wish you all the best brother,” said Latrell Mitchell, one of the team’s players, in a video to Quaden. “We know you’re going through a hard time right now but the boys are here, we’ve got your back. We’re here to support you, bud.”


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February 20th, 2020

China finds spike in coronavirus cases in two jails, officials fired – Yahoo News

February 20th, 2020

BEIJING, Feb 21 (Reuters) – The new coronavirus has spread in two prisons in China, infecting 234 people, and top officials deemed responsible for the outbreaks have been fired, authorities said on Friday.

The infections found in the two jails, in the northern province of Shandong and the eastern province of Zhejiang, made up most of the 258 newly confirmed cases outside the central province of Hubei, the epicentre of the virus, on Thursday.

Authorities sacked the chief of the provincial justice department in Shandong after the extent of the outbreak in Rencheng prison in Jining city was detected. In all, 207 people at the jail tested positive.

The jail discovered its first case in a prison officer on Feb. 13. Seven prison officials were also fired, authorities told a media briefing.

The outbreak revealed that some departments had “poorly implemented their responsibilities, their work was not solid and epidemic prevention measures are inaccurate”, said Yu Chenghe, deputy secretary-general of Shandong provincial government.

A prison in Zhejiang province has also reported an outbreak, with 27 prisoners found to be newly infected this week.

The director and Communist Party chief of the Shilifeng prison in Zhejiang were sacked and an investigation into the outbreak has been launched, the provincial government said on its social media site.

Shandong health officials said they had designated a hospital in Jining to treat the virus patients and would also allocate facilities within the prison for treatment.

The surge in cases detected at the two prisons ended 16 straight days of declines in new cases in China excluding Hubei.

China has found 74,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 2,100 people have died, most in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan. (Reporting by Dominique Patton Editing by Robert Birsel)


U.S. intel officials warn lawmakers Russia is helping Trump win 2020 election: sources – Global News

February 20th, 2020

Intelligence officials have warned lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election campaign to help President Donald Trump get re-elected, three officials familiar with the closed-door briefing said Thursday.

The warning raises questions about the integrity of the presidential campaign and whether Trump’s administration is taking the proper steps to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. saw in 2016.

The officials asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. They said the briefing last week focused on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2020 election and sow discord in the American electorate.

READ MORE: Trump offered to pardon Julian Assange if he denied Russian meddling, lawyer says

The warning was first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Times said the news infuriated Trump, who complained that Democrats would use the information against him.

Over the course of his presidency, Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s 2016 election interference as a conspiracy to undermine his victory.

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2:17Trump declares victory, calling Russia campaign “BS”

Trump declares victory, calling Russia campaign “BS”

One day after the Feb. 13 briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Trump berated the then-director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and he announced this week that Maguire would be replaced by Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist.

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the 2016 election through social media campaigns and stealing and distributing emails from Democratic accounts. They say Russia was trying to boost Trump’s campaign and add chaos to the American political process.

Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that Russian interference was “sweeping and systematic,” but he did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t meddle in the election’: Trump points joke at Putin during G20 sit-down

Republican lawmakers who were in last week’s briefing by the DNI’s chief election official, Shelby Pierson, pushed back by noting that Trump has been tough on Russia, one of the officials said.

While Trump has imposed severe economic sanctions on Russia, he also has spoken warmly of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and withdrawn troops from areas, like Syria, where Moscow could fill the vacuum. He delayed military aid last year to Ukraine, a Russian adversary — a decision that was at the core of his impeachment proceedings.

The Times said Trump was angry that the House briefing was made before the panel’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment proceedings.

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0:40Pompeo refutes Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov, says Trump raised election interference in meeting

Pompeo refutes Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov, says Trump raised election interference in meeting

Trump on Thursday formally appointed Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to replace Maguire as the new acting director of national intelligence. Maguire was required to step down soon under federal law governing acting appointments.

The Times cited two administration officials as saying the timing, after the intelligence briefing, was coincidental.

Grenell’s background is primarily in politics and media affairs. He lacks the extensive national security and military experience of Maguire, as well as previous holders of the position overseeing the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

READ MORE: White House adviser on Europe, Russia placed on leave pending an investigation

His appointment does little to heal the president’s fraught relations with the intelligence community, which Trump has derided as part of a “deep state” of entrenched bureaucrats that seek to undermine his agenda. The administration has most notably feuded with the intelligence community over the Russian interference and the events surrounding Trump’s impeachment.

Pierson told NPR in an interview that aired last month that the Russians “are already engaging in influence operations relative to candidates going into 2020. But we do not have evidence at this time that our adversaries are directly looking at interfering with vote counts or the vote tallies.”

4:36Mueller says his investigation was ‘not a witch hunt’

Mueller says his investigation was ‘not a witch hunt’

Pierson, appointed in July 2019 by then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, works with intelligence agencies like the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to identify anyone seeking to interfere with U.S. elections.

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Pierson told NPR that the U.S. doesn’t know exactly what the Russians are planning, but she said it’s not just a Russia problem.

“We’re still also concerned about China, Iran, non-state actors, hacktivists and frankly — certainly for DHS and FBI — even Americans that might be looking to undermine confidence in the elections.”

READ MORE: Putin calls reasons behind Trump impeachment process ‘far-fetched’

At an open hearing this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that Russia was engaged in “information warfare” heading into the November election, but that law enforcement had not seen efforts to target America’s infrastructure.

He said Russia is relying on a covert social media campaign to divide the American public.

Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Ivo van Hove’s ‘West Side Story’ Broadway Revival Aims to Shock, but Ends Up Lost in Time – The Daily Beast

February 20th, 2020

It can be a muffling word, “classic”—as West Side Story is often described. Yes, it has been around a while, is influential, and much-loved. But it is not a “classic” as in safe object set in aspic. The original 1957 Broadway musical—a redo of Romeo and Juliet set on New York’s streets, featuring two racially opposed gangs, the whites-only Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks—was a bomb to tradition.

A director as radical as Ivo van Hove seems, on paper at least, a wise choice to direct the Broadway revival set in the present day, which opens tonight at the Broadway Theatre. (One of the show’s producers is Barry Diller, the owner of Daily Beast’s parent company IAC.)

West Side Story is a template for artistic radicalism. From the first moments of the 1961 movie, the directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ innovative vision is clear, even emphatic. The screen is peppered with a series of lines, which eventually reveal the familiar shape of Manhattan. The movie’s alignment with abstraction and non-convention persists throughout with block colors, the dancers looking direct into the camera at moments such as singing “Cool,” its joy in ballet, its almost blasé staginess and musical invention, and its typographically stunning graphics by Saul Bass with Elaine Makatura Bass.

The film slinks like a cat—think about all the clicking of fingers, the edging down streets, the gorgeous score of lush arias and loopy percussion. The streets of gangland New York are not made to look gritty and real in the movie, but are an extension of the stage of the original Broadway musical, which Robbins had conceived, and Arthur Laurents had written the book for, with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim crafting the stunning music and lyrics.

This “classic” invites reinvention; indeed, it set the template for it. And so, bring it on van Hove—king of extravagant and bizarre staging, with his fondness for big TV screens and misty deluges of water. (The stage becomes a giant, sodden, steaming puddle in this West Side Story revival, too.)

However, most shockingly, van Hove’s West Side Story is not shocking; it is tame and impatiently brisk, having ejected songs like “I Feel Pretty.” It is also a strange mélange of the good, bad, and baffling—especially in what it seeks to coherently say (or sing, when it comes to “Gee, Officer Krupke”) about the hot-button issues of 2020 it zeroes in on, like racism, immigration, and police brutality. Its engagement with those issues—more on this below—comes to feel lazy and manipulative, rather than shocking or shattering.

The production also comes with its own off-stage controversy, having decided to stand by Amar Ramasar—who plays Bernardo, leader of the Sharks—who was fired from New York City Ballet in 2018, after sharing explicit images of female dancers without their consent. Sporadic protests outside the theater have called for his removal from West Side Story.

On stage, the first puzzles are right in front of us. There is, bluntly, a lot of stage and not much happening on it, barring the odd, big dance sequence which come to feel far too rare and far too welcome. Otherwise, the sets (designed by van Hove’s partner and longtime collaborator Jan Versweyveld) are hidden at the back of the stage, like little jewel boxes which occasionally open their doors to us, the action within projected on to a giant screen on the back of the stage.

Here, the recessed rooms are Doc’s, the drugstore where Tony (the excellent Isaac Powell) works, and the bridal shop where friends Maria (Shereen Pimentel) and Anita (a standout Yesenia Ayala) work. We see little explosions of light and activity on stage from both locations, but nothing else. And so, our eyes drift up to the screen, where the best videos we watch come from a camera slowly roving over dark streets and alleyways.

Screens are now well used in theater; we are used to them. But we are also used to them all day in workplaces, cinemas, and in our homes. Our eyes feel comfortable with screens, and they drift to them easier than they do to stages, which are generally not part of our day. This is why theater is such a treat; the stage is different to what we know.

What a waste of money it feels—the production’s, the theater’s, the audience’s—not to use a Broadway stage for all its worth, particularly if you are reviving West Side Story. Nothing is revealed anew via the use of the big screen in West Side Story; it merely serves as a visual channel of entertainment that we are used to. Yes, it is arresting, but it makes us lazy.

This screen-reliance is a shame, because when the stage is used by the performers it feels used as it should be, and our eyes rest on what is happening on stage more actively (as they should be).

When Tony and Maria and the dancing gang members are on stage, we watch them keenly because—just as in the film—West Side Story is an entertainment fundamentally about movement, and in this regard the musical revival succeeds. Tony and Maria’s courtship is beautifully sung and choreographed. So much of West Side Story is about freedom of movement—literal and symbolic. The gangs patrol and fill the streets they aspire to own beyond the constraints of the law. Van Hove has Tony and Maria chasing after one another. They run around the expanse of the stage.

Powell plays Tony as the archetypal doe-eyed dreamer, and is especially charming. His smile makes us smile—briefly. This is a determinedly dour production; “I Feel Pretty” was likely cut for encouraging too much levity.

It looks less like gang warfare, and more as if a group of muscle boys have suddenly stopped feeling horny, and started arguing about the merits of Pete Buttigieg as an out-gay candidate

The orchestra itself (led by Alexander Gemignani, with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick) is the unseen scene-ruler and hero of the evening, playing every single song richly. Tony sings “Maria,” toying with her name as if it’s the most beautiful, unexpected thing that has come into his life. Their songs together, “Tonight,” and “Somewhere,” are as anticipatory and aching as they should be.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreography is more combative in design than Robbins’, but it is not such a volcanic departure from his vision. When the Sharks and Jets go at it, they do so as physical ballet, at one point stripped off, water showering down, soaked to their skins, tumbling over one another angrily. It looks less like gang warfare, and more as if a group of muscle boys have suddenly stopped feeling horny, and started arguing about the merits of Pete Buttigieg as an out-gay candidate.

Maybe it is in the brisk storytelling or in the performances, but the stakes for Maria and Tony as a couple do not feel as acute as they come to do between Maria and Anita (Pimentel and Ayala play their warmth and anger with one another movingly). Pimentel also evokes Maria’s moment of anger and fury at the end with raw precision.

The most significant flaw of this West Side Story is around its new adopted era and cultural politics. It is set now, 2020; we see that in what most of the characters are wearing and the videos playing during some of the songs. Two of these video moments stand out in terms of political intent. During “America,” performed with an apparent tentativeness and restraint, we observe videos of border walls.

There is no added context in the story, and the words of “America”—contrasting the dreams and realities of Puerto Rican immigrants around their country of origin and the country they have moved to—neither match the severity of the visuals, nor underline the more profound theme the video implies.

Playful as the lyrics of “America” are, they advertise the American dream as the answer to all the dysfunctions of living in the supposed nightmare of Puerto Rico (including hurricanes), with the added barb that the American dream is symbolized by acquiring stuff.

But if this musical is set in 2020, should there be not a more overt acknowledgment of what Puerto Rico and its people have gone through, from natural disaster to government upheaval? The revival of West Side Story’s engagement with Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture feels as gestural and performative as its engagement with the wider issues of immigration and the Trump administration’s racism.

The musical’s approach to race becomes even more confusing with the gangs’ compositions. On one side, just as in the original West Side Story, there are Puerto Ricans (again, apparently not experiencing anything that Puerto Ricans in 2020 are actually experiencing), and on the other is now not an all-white gang, but a gang of many ethnicities—who are apparently (it isn’t explained why) all joined in their hatred of Puerto Ricans.

The Jets’ leader, Riff, is played by black actor Dharon E. Jones. How does the racism of the white gang members of the Jets not extend to the people of color in their own gang? How do the people of color in the Jets experience racism themselves in 2020 (especially from the police), and where does their racial animus against the Puerto Ricans come from? Nothing is explained.

Would it have been more radical in this Trump era to make the Jets all-white as they were in 1957, to highlight the increasing presence and volubility of white supremacy in recent years?

In this context, where race remains central to West Side Story’s canvas in 2020, color-embracing casting works against the musical and its material. The faces on stage have changed to reflect modern times, but the musical’s book has not. Result: gaping holes. Would it have been more radical in this Trump era to make the Jets all-white as they were in 1957, to highlight the increasing presence and volubility of white supremacy in recent years?

Van Hove’s approach becomes even more unstuck in his take on “Gee, Officer Krupke,” which Sondheim described as vaudeville, and a “sustained comic sneer.” Here, the accompanying video shows police racism, and the racist mechanics of the legal system more generally.

But the knockabout, sarcastic lyrics of “Gee, Officer Krupke” in no way match or echo these stark images, even if the performers snarl and stomp as angrily as possible to give the words the most damning interpretation as they do here.

More problematically, given the song’s video accompaniment, Officer Krupke (Danny Wolohan) and Police Lieutenant Schrank (Thomas J. Ryan) seem to have teleported from the 1950s, along with Doc (Daniel Oreskes), both in clothes and manner. Just as in the original version, they are brusque, hard-boiled, dismissive, and Doc kind, liberal, and almost mute. Krupke is barely on stage long enough to form an opinion of him. We perceive the cops’ racism and laziness to fully engage with all the youths in front of them, but in the revival it is not expressed by a fresh, added 2020-sense of brutality or vicious bent for discrimination.

The Krupke video feels like over-reach to make a 2020 theater audience feel easily outraged. Just as in The Inheritance, when characters spouted hot-button LGBTQ issues at the audience as a list, so in West Side Story you feel a production straining for contemporary relevance that its source material does not contain—and which has not been freshly adapted, set here in the present day, to embrace.

‘West Side Story’ cares about racism in 2020 because it knows it should, not because it sketches it on stage thoughtfully or deeply

West Side Story, we are told, has been updated here for modern times. It hasn’t. It has been accessorized by contemporary documentary footage to provide a sheen of relevance. But it is lazy theater, and even lazier cultural virtue signaling, simply to pump provocative images at an audience for effect, when the material around those visuals does not echo, illuminate, or build on that provocation.

West Side Story cares about racism in 2020 because it knows it should, not because it sketches it on stage thoughtfully or deeply. Its brooding videos want to provoke us to be rightfully angry about police brutality, racism, and the viciousness of this current administration around immigration, but its relationship with these issues is surface at best—a battery of images to sigh at and be infuriated by, rather than anchored in a script or narrative that directly addresses such themes head-on.

The end of West Side Story the movie shows an empty lot; the two sides exiting together in shared grief at the needless deaths of three of their number. At the end of this revival, van Hove first conceives a biblical-seeming image derived from the Crucifixion, and then the final image—in accordance with his contemporary aspirations—is collective and confronting.

It makes modern sense certainly, even if it caps a musical that doesn’t meaningfully confront the racism and bigotry it aspires to skewer. The final on-stage tableau becomes another visual, just like those videos, that feels too easy—and too calculated for an audience to have its liberal anguish safely nourished.


Galaxy S20 pre-orders start now: Here are the best deals from carriers, retailers, and Samsung – Android Police

February 20th, 2020

Amie Harwick was strangled before being thrown from balcony, coroner says – Page Six

February 20th, 2020

Dr. Amie Harwick, the noted Hollywood sex therapist allegedly slain by her ex-boyfriend, was strangled before plunging to her death from a balcony, authorities said Thursday.

An autopsy determined that Harwick, 38, suffered “manual strangulation” before being flung from a third-floor balcony Saturday, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said.

Harwick’s primary cause of death was from the blunt-force injuries to her head and torso that she suffered in the fall, the coroner said.

The prominent therapist’s ex-boyfriend, Gareth Pursehouse, is accused of breaking into her Hollywood Hills apartment and killing her after a fight.

Pursehouse, 41, was charged with murder and first-degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. The charges make him eligible for the death penalty.

Harwick — also the ex-fiancée of “The Price Is Right” host Drew Carey — had previously filed a restraining order against Pursehouse, which had expired.

Pursehouse is being held without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for March 4.

With Post wires


COVID-19 concerns grow in Japan as hundreds of cruise ship passengers finish quarantine – Global News

February 20th, 2020

Hundreds of Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship near Tokyo on Friday amid growing disquiet in Japan about whether the government is doing enough to stop the virus spreading.

The scheduled departure of more than 400 passengers from the Diamond Princess after weeks in quarantine comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a low-level travel advisory for Japan. Meanwhile some public gatherings in the country are being scrapped in a bid to contain the virus, which has killed more than 2,200 people in mainland China so far.

READ MORE: COVID-19: China reports decline in new cases as total deaths number 2,236

More than 600 travelers aboard the liner, quarantined off Yokohama since arriving on Feb. 3 with 3,700 people aboard, have been infected with the virus. Two of them – both Japanese in their 80s – died on Thursday, and some 80 people around Japan, including 25 in the capital of Tokyo, have tested positive for the virus.

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While foreign travelers leaving the ship face more quarantine at home, Japanese do not — a situation that has stoked concerns about Japan’s quarantine practices. A number of countries have flown nationals who were aboard the liner home: Two Australians tested positive for the virus after their arrival, Australian authorities said on Friday.

1:48Canadians leave quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship

Canadians leave quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship

At a briefing on Friday, Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga defended the government’s handling of those aboard the cruise ship as appropriate. More than 1,000 passengers and crew will remain aboard after Friday’s disembarkations.

Suga faced questions about one of the two former passengers on the ship who died, an 84-year-old woman who developed a fever on Feb. 5 but was not tested for the virus until a week later.

“The woman was removed from the ship on the 12th after the fever continued for days,” he said. “A decision was made not to wait for the test results before moving her to hospital to protect the health of those remaining on the ship.”

READ MORE: Containing the novel coronavirus — Is COVID-19 here to stay?

Many Japanese on social media expressed concern about their government’s handling of the situation.

“There are still crew testing positive on the ship, yet people are being allowed to disembark – and told it’s okay to use public transportation to get home, then told by the health ministry to avoid using public transportation after they are home,” wrote one Twitter user using the handle ‘Homo Sapiens’.

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“What the heck is this?”

1:45COVID-19: Two former Diamond Princess cruise passengers die from virus

COVID-19: Two former Diamond Princess cruise passengers die from virus

In the United States, the CDC said in a note on its website that it had put Japan at “Watch Level 1,” the least serious of a three-level travel advisory scale. It said that while it didn’t recommend postponing or canceling trips to Japan because of the virus, travelers should take precautions including “avoiding contact with sick people” and rigorous hand-washing.

In the latest in a series of sports events to be curtailed or canceled, a women’s marathon in the central Japanese city of Nagoya set for March 8 will be limited to elite runners only, while the Nagoya City Marathon scheduled for the same day has been canceled, organizers said.

READ MORE: COVID-19: 16 U.S. evacuees from Japanese cruise ship moved to hospitals

Both the Tokyo Marathon, which will be limited to elite runners, and the Nagoya race are Olympic qualifying events for Japanese marathon runners, deepening concern about whether the Summer Games set to start on July 24 in the capital will go on as planned.

Chief cabinet secretary Suga said the government would take all steps necessary to secure the Games in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The International Olympic Committee has told us that they consider Japan’s handling of the new coronavirus outbreak to be appropriate,” he added.

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2:26Quarantine process for coronavirus questioned aboard Diamond Princess

Quarantine process for coronavirus questioned aboard Diamond Princess

© 2020 Reuters

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New Windows 10 Fluent Design icons ditch flat monochrome looks for good – SlashGear

February 20th, 2020

‘That’s not the way of our ancestors’: Wet’suwet’en matriarch speaks out about pipeline conflict – The Globe and Mail

February 20th, 2020

Rita George, one of seven hereditary chiefs of the WFN (formerly Broman Lake) photographed outside the Pleasant Valley Cafe in Houston, B.C., on Feb. 20, 2020.

Nancy Macdonald/The Globe and Mail

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary subchief who helped translate a seminal Supreme Court decision that laid the foundation for greater control for Indigenous communities over their land says she opposes the blockades that have been roiling the country.

Rita George also said Thursday that she and other matriarchs have been feeling sick about the conflict and how it has split their community. She said the opposing hereditary chiefs and some of the people around them – including outside activists who have embedded themselves in the protest camp – have disrespected ancient feast-house traditions of how to treat one another.

Ms. George said it caused her great pain to have to exercise her leadership by speaking out against some of her own and particularly those outsiders who have turned her northern British Columbia community into a battleground over issues of climate change policy, resource extraction and reconciliation.

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“I want the world to know why I am stepping forward as a matriarch,” the trim, curly-haired 80-year-old said in an emotional interview at the Pleasant Valley Cafe in Houston, B.C. “The world thinks the matriarchs are behind all the protests going on and that’s not true. None of the matriarchs were contacted.”

A group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline have been mounting a years-long campaign to have the project halted. The pipeline is needed to feed natural gas to an eventual LNG facility, an $18-billion export terminal slated for Kitimat that carries the economic hope of the region.

Leaders of the 20 elected bands along the pipeline route have endorsed the project, but eight hereditary house chiefs representing the five Wet’suwet’en clans are firmly opposed and have been maintaining a protest camp at the construction site. After a judge ordered the area to be cleared for workers last December, the RCMP moved in, prompting a cascade of solidarity protests across the country, blockading rail lines and snarling commuter traffic.

Ms. George belongs to the elected Wet’suwet’en First Nation, which is part of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. She is both a band member and part of the hereditary system.

“There is no love, there is no respect. That’s not the way of our ancestors,” Ms. George said, saying she is speaking on behalf of the matriarchs and elders of her community. “If I keep quiet, if I don’t come forward to address our point of view, it will look like we are supporters. We are not.”

Ms. George says she was a young woman when her Wet’suwet’en community selected her for a leadership role that she knew she would spend a lifetime fulfilling.

A grandmother of 10 who speaks Witsuwit’en, Ms. George was once entrusted by her community to help translate the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in Delgamuukw. That case established for the first time that aboriginal title had not been extinguished. The case was fought by the Wet’suwet’en and neighbouring Gitxsan.

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Ms. George said the current influx of outside protesters who are pursuing their own policy goals has put a damper on the exchange of opinions inside the community. Instead, she said even the elders are afraid to voice their concerns.

“I want the world to know what’s been happening to us. We are being bullied, it’s so shameful, so hurtful. We are being humiliated.”

Ms. George said she has spent several sleepless nights preparing to speak out against what is happening in her community. She said she has been worried about causing more pain, but she said it is also important that the truth be told.

She said she wants her community to have the time and quiet to discuss these important issues among themselves in an atmosphere of peace and respect. She decried the inability of those who oppose the pipeline to listen to community members who may disagree with them.

“I have had my name, The Bear That Sleeps All Winter Long, since 1964,” Ms. George said, referring to the feast house ceremony that gave her a name, Gulaxkan, and with it, endowed her with a leadership role.

“It hurts me to see them [pipeline opponents] wearing regalia in the snow and mud and marching in the cities. That’s not right. That’s affecting all of us. Our ancestors would say they are dirtying the names and the regalia.”

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