Briefs News

World in Brief: COVID-19, avalanche in Austria, at least ten dead in Quanzhou hotel collapse

As COVID-19 cases keep rising in the United States, health officials warned older individuals to avoid large gathering places and travelling on planes. Reuters confirmed that the number of cases was nearing 550 with 22 deaths on Sunday in the US alone. New measures were implemented in European countries as well; with Italy having the second-most cases of COVID-19 after China, the government quarantined nearly a quarter of its population. This weekend saw 133 new deaths in Italy alone, reported the Agence France Presse. France also banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more as yet another preventative measure to counter the spread of the virus. The first death in Africa was also reported last weekend. In Canada, there are 31 cases in Ontario, 27 in British Columbia, three in Quebec, and the first case in Alberta, as of Sunday.

Two avalanches in the Austrian alps killed at least six last Sunday. Five individuals who were believed to be Czech died during a snowshoeing trip while a 33-year-old police officer died in a separate incident, presumably while doing training. Around 100 rescuers were sent to the sites by helicopter. Both avalanches happened in the Dachstein mountain range, around 80 kilometres south-east of Salzburg.

At least 10 people died last Sunday in a hotel in China that was used as an isolation hub for people infected by COVID-19. The seven-story building located in the southeast city of Quanzhou suddenly collapsed, trapping 71 people in the ruins. China’s Ministry of Emergency Management reported that 38 individuals had been rescued and 23 were still missing. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation but the CBC reported that the building was undergoing construction and a pillar was reportedly deformed a few minutes before the incident.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Briefs News

World in Brief: Al Qaeda claims fatal shooting, SuperBowl Sunday and National Emergency in Somalia

The Islamist militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) allegedly claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting that happened last December in Pensacola, Florida. A Second Lieutenant from the Royal Saudi Air Force undergoing training in the naval base opened fire at American soldiers before being killed, reported The Concordian. The claim was made on a leaked audio recording, but the militant group did not provide evidence, reported Reuters.

France declared it was sending more military troops to the Sahel desert amid increasing violence from jihadist groups. French military presence will increase from 4,500 to 5,100 soldiers by the end of February in the border zones of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Defence Minister Florence Parly said in a statement on Sunday that the operation was to increase “pressure against ISIS-GS,” the ISIS group of the Greater Sahara. According to an article in Al-Jazeera, there have been more than 4,000 reported deaths in 2019.

The Kansas City Chiefs were crowned champions of the 54th Super Bowl on Sunday, in Miami. The National Football League team played against five-time winner San Francisco 49ers, who were designated favourites by most oddsmakers initially. But Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter of the game and brought the team to victory, 31-20, over the 49ers. This year’s halftime show was performed by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira after other artists such as Jay-Z and Rihanna turned down the offer over NFL racism controversies.

On Sunday, Somalia declared a national emergency over a major locust infestation. The Desert locust is a grasshopper species that rapidly devastated huge amounts of crops in the region. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Unions, a locust swarm of one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people. This puts the upsurge at an even more worrisome level, as the East African country is already experiencing an alarming level of food insecurity.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


The line between conversation and action

France’s new catcalling law brings up a larger question about meaningful change

In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood and the rise of the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment has become an issue at the forefront of everyone’s minds. France is hoping to take action against one particular form of harassment—catcalling.

Catcalling is the act of whistling or shouting sexually suggestive comments to passers-by, usually women. France is looking to make this form of sexual harassment a ticketable offence. A CNN report states: “Men who catcall, harass or follow women on the street in France could face on-the-spot fines under a new sexual abuse law.” However, France isn’t stopping there, according to a report in The New York Times. The law would extend the statute of limitations on reporting sexual assault involving minors as well as fining men who make overt, lewd comments or are aggressive towards women.

While this appears to be a major step forward for women in France, I have doubts about the effectiveness of these potential laws. In a perfect world, this new legislation would come into effect and women in France would feel much safer in their day-to-day lives. These kinds of laws could also set a precedent for other countries in Europe and around the world. However, for all that to happen, these laws will have to overcome many obstacles, the first and most cumbersome being existing free speech laws.

The right to express opinions is ingrained in the French constitution. The constitution states, “Any citizen may therefore speak, write and publish freely, except what is tantamount to the abuse of this liberty in the cases determined by Law.” Based on this, can catcalling be qualified as an “abuse” of this right? In my opinion, there is potential for catcalling and other forms of street harassment to be considered as such in France.

Also, there is a risk that even if this law does get passed, it will be respected and policed the same way jaywalking is. Most people jaywalk because, if they aren’t caught in the act, they won’t face consequences. I believe catcalling could fall into the same trap. If someone isn’t caught in the act, they won’t face any repercussions. The law would be on the books in France, but I think it would serve more of a symbolic role than anything else.

Symbolic laws and movements, like hashtags, have their advantages. Take the women’s marches that happened around the world after Trump’s election, or the #MeToo movement. All these actions started conversations. However, they also run the risk of fading away. In my opinion, real and recognizable action, like this potential law, is needed for meaningful change to occur.

Laws like the ones being considered in France could be the beginning of that real change. However, I worry this is just a really nice idea that will calm peoples’ rage about sexual harassment rather than actually take a step towards solving a real and pervasive problem.

The fact that these powerful movements have created such a strong outpour of emotion and caused governments to consider new laws fosters great hope. But talking about it and actually getting it done are very different things. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” rings true in this case. I don’t want to undermine how incredible it is that people are starting to have very open and honest conversations. Talking about important issues is always helpful for getting the ball rolling. However, if real, enforceable action isn’t taken in some capacity, whether it be through education or, in this case, new laws being implemented, then we risk living in an endless cycle of talking instead of doing.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Talking to a French Survivor

Football player Jeremih Mogni shares his journey to Canadian university football

Jeremih Mogni has a pair of cleats hanging in his room, with “2017” written on them. That’s when the cornerback for the Concordia Stingers football team aims to return from a season-ending injury. Mogni tore his right ACL two days before the start of the 2016football season, but admits the injury was a life-changing event.

“When I say to others that it’s the best injury that’s happened to me in my life, they say, ‘what are you saying?’” Mogni said. “It made me better as a person.”

Like many student-athletes, Mogni has faced many challenges in his young life. This dreadful injury has been Mogni’s toughest roadblock yet. But a knee injury wasn’t going to hold him back.

“I came too far, I paved a long path to get here. It’s impossible that one injury like that ruins my dreams and my objectives,” Mogni said.

Mogni’s journey to Concordia is an interesting and unique one. It started in Sevran, France, an impoverished suburb just outside of Paris. The town saw over 10,000 crimes committed  in 2014, according to Linternaute.

“[It’s] One of the most dangerous cities in France,” Mogni said. “It’s crazy, a lot of drugs.”

This rough lifestyle did not knock Mogni or his tough character down. Rather, it helped him become stronger and realize the only way out is through success. He said too many athletes from Sevran don’t grasp that concept.

“I know there are a lot of guys like me there who could be here and are stronger than players here, but it’s their choices that makes the differences,” Mogni said.

Mogni is lucky to have made the right choices which allowed him to excel in his football career. Surprisingly, he only began playing football as a teenager. He practised taekwondo as a kid, and did not watch his first football game on TV until he was 15 years old. He immediately fell in love with the sport and started playing flag football. He eventually got into tackle football at 17.

In 2013, at 19 years old, he came to Canada to play for CEGEP de Thetford. He helped contribute to a rebuilding football team, as they went to the Division III semi-finals in 2013, and finals in 2014. He just missed out on a championship ring, as the CEGEP won the Division III championship last season, while he was playing in his rookie year with the Stingers.

Mogni played as a receiver with Thetford and in his first season with the Stingers, but was asked to switch to cornerback this year.

The French Survivors are a group of five football players from France. Photo courtesy of Jeremih Mogni.

He was shooting upwards until his injury tried to keep him grounded. With his dreams on the brink of falling apart, he remembered his journey. He remembered all the guys who could be in his position, and he took a positive view on life.

“Sometimes, like after my surgery, I wanted to quit, I wanted to find something else,” Mogni said. “But I think of where I came from. I think of the guys who want to be here. I am blessed.”

Mogni, who comes from a family of six children, also thought about how his mother has supported him over the course of his football journey. He said he plays for his family and has never played for only himself.

“People around me think I play football to go to the NFL or CFL,” Mogni said. “But in reality, I never started football with that in my head. I started football because I loved it, and I wanted a way to make my life better, and that of my parents.”

For these reasons, Mogni sees himself as a survivor, and created a group called the “French Survivors.” The group consists of five hard-working football players in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) division who hail from France. He said he hopes to grow the French Survivors and include students from other sports and disciplines too.

“French Survivors is not just about football, it’s about life,” Mogni said. “You’re struggling to pay rent, but you’re still going to school to play football and earn a degree. You are a survivor.”

The group’s origin story reflects the kind of life Mogni has lived. He said he was sitting in his dorm room in Thetford Mines, and he thought, “Life is tough.” Looking back on it, he wanted to create the group to unite football players who were going through tough times.

Mogni made the group after getting injured, and he said he has matured since. He views life in a positive way, and knows everything happens for a reason. He said he kept wondering why he was injured. He’d heard about ACL injuries happening to other players but never considered that it might happen to him. He he has allowed it to become a positive experience he has grown from. After all, he is a survivor.

“Everything starts in the head. If everything is well in the head, everything else will be fine,” he said. “You have to stay positive. Life is made of steps, and you can’t be crying, ‘oh why always me?’ There’s always worse than you in the world.”


Burkini backlash

This past week, images surfaced from Cannes, France where four armed police officers surrounded an innocent woman on the beach. They forced her to remove her garments amongst a bevy of bystanders and issued her a hefty fine for defying a new ban that prohibits her apparel.

The burkini is a swimsuit that essentially covers the entire body and is worn by Islamic women around the world when swimming or sunbathing. It adheres to their religious beliefs regarding veiling, while also allowing them to enjoy typical aquatic activities, such as going to the beach on a sweltering summer day.

Several French municipalities banned the religious swimwear, with the French Prime Minister saying that the swimsuit symbolizes “the enslavement of women,” according to the CBC. However, this past Friday the ban was overturned by a French high court, ruling that municipalities cannot issue fines, according to another report by the CBC.

Nevertheless, the debate has even spread overseas to Quebec. CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy recently advocated for a province-wide ban of the burkini, and linked the religious garment to radical Islam, according to the CBC. Meanwhile, Parti Quebecois leadership candidate Jean-Francois Lisée said to CTV that the hijab and burkini represent “the ultimate symbol of oppression of women.”

These remarks are reminiscent of Pauline Marois’ mandate back in 2012, when her government tried to introduce the draconian Charter of Quebec Values, which drew upon the dark underbelly of Quebec’s xenophobia. Although the charter was never passed, it stirred up quite the controversy and casted many religious minorities—including Muslim women—to the peripheries of society.

Here at The Concordian, we are absolutely mortified by the conversation amongst Quebec’s political elites, and we fully oppose any ban on religious garments. Since when is it appropriate for the government to tell its citizens how to dress?

It was nearly a century ago that women were subjected to similar harassment from the police in North America, but it was because their swimsuits were too short and revealed too much skin, according to an article published in The Huffington Post. An accompanying photo featured in the article reveals a policeman using measuring tape to see if the length of a woman’s bathing suit is preserving her modesty.

It is preposterous and paradoxical to create a policy that would aim to impose that same kind of control. Furthermore, it is blatantly oppressive and misogynistic to tell women how to dress, in order to meet certain standards, or to better blend into society.

We should all have the right to wear whatever we want, whenever we want—even if it signifies our religious beliefs. The beauty of living in a secular and pluralistic society is that people have the power to determine their own destiny, and we think that wearing the burkini or practicing Islam is a part of that. We should be advocating for tolerance and acceptance, rather than resorting to divisive tactics that drive minority groups further towards the fringes of society.  


Montrealers gather in honour of Charlie Hebdo victims

Gunmen’s attack on French magazine’s bureau makes 12 victims, 10 injured

On Wednesday, Jan. 7, three armed attackers entered satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s office located in Paris and opened fire on the employees, killing 10 and wounding over 10 others. Two policemen were also casualties of the shootout.

Thousands of people braved the cold and gathered in front of Montreal’s French Consulate situated on McGill College Ave. on Wednesday night in solidarity with the 12 victims of the attack.

Another vigil was organized by Montreal City Hall in which Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre participated. A great number of these spontaneously organized gatherings took place around the world.

The movement adopted the iconic phrase “Je suis Charlie” in support to the victims of the attack.

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine known notably for its 2006 caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, but also for its overall tendency to stir up controversy. A Molotov cocktail attack burned down the publication’s office in 2011. Charlie Hebdo was the target of numerous threats in relation to their controversial cartoons. Three well-respected cartoonists, Charb, Cabu and Wolinsky, were of the 12 victims.

An 18 year-old alleged accomplice delivered himself to the authorities. French police is still looking for the two other suspects, two Parisian brothers.

Thousands braved the cold weather to attend Wednesday night’s vigil. Photo by Keith Race.



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